For Week 12 we looked at pieces ranging from ceramics to illustration to printmaking to photography. I decided to focus on the work of Timothy Cooper. The unofficial title of the piece is “Something that means Something”. Timothy’s piece includes 145 hand-thrown plates produced using stoneware clay and a “satin glaze fired to just above 2250 degrees Fahrenheit. Timothy’s stated goal for this piece was to have it “bear witness to the ability of multiple individuals to work together to produce a positive personal, social and aesthetic experience.” He goes on to talk about the changing roles of objects/materials from stictly utilitarian to perhaps something more symbolic, like being used in an art exhibit, for example. I like pieces that use household or common objects in a way that we maybe aren’t used to. Even though these plates were produced specifically for this exhibit (as well as for a celebratory event in October), they just as easily could have been rounded up from people’s houses. My first thought was that it had some religious overtones, judging by the cross-like layout of the plates, though perhaps that was just my mind looking for patterns. Nevertheless, being a physical/environmental geographer (sustainability, recycling, etc.), I keep going back to Timothy’s point about all objects at one time having some utility to either a person or group, before perhaps being recycled and reused for other purposes down the line. I look forward to hopefully seeing more work from Timothy in the future!
For week 11 I mainly focused on the work the “Shifting Focus” exhibit of Romina Del Castillo’s work with pastels and chalk. I found each of her pieces to be impressive, though the two I included pictures of stood out the most.
For some reason I was particularly intrigued by the pastel and chalk (presumably) self-portrait entitled “Late Night Vices”. It almost had the effect of taking a picture of yourself taking a picture in a mirror, where the image can just repeat itself infinitely, though obviously in this case there is no actual “mirror” just a representation of one. I loved that there was also a small recreation of the nun/baby/halo piece titled “Let the Devil In” within the self-portrait. This felt like a peak inside the process of the entire exhibit, and as such it conveyed a clear emotional and personal touch. I liked the “Let the Devil in” piece as well as it seemed to play up the innocence of childhood with the “devil’s advocate” tendencies of adulthood, with the child seemingly placing the halo, a sign of angelic nature and goodness, on top of the nun’s head, though the child looks decidedly angry or at least indifferent. Perhaps it’s a message or warning to not take things at face value? Either way, I found it thought-provoking and intriguing.
Time and Money
For week 10 I chose to focus on the work of Almira Nikravesh, particularly the piece entitled “Honest Abe”. I loved how the materials listed for the project are “Time and Money” and I just loved the simplicity of it. First off, the meticulous nature of the project is apparent right away. Just thinking about the time it took to perfectly arrange and organize all of those pennies into a uniform pattern makes me tired and makes my fingers hurt. The title is an obvious allusion to the moniker of perhaps the most popular president in history, though I think the material list could be just as appropriate for a title, considering the phrase “Time is Money” and the materials being “time and money”. since it questions the value of time and the value of money, and the way in which these things matter (or don’t) when it comes to art. Though the piece perhaps looks simplistic, I am drawn to pieces that make use of objects that in and of themselves have no artistic relevance perhaps, but when utilized in the proper way, could be quite thought provoking and profound.
“God is Greater than God”
Ink on Bristol
For week 9 I chose to focus on Lauryn Hutchens piece, “God is Greater than God”, which is ink on Bristol. I liked it because of some of the (perceived) statements it was trying to make. The first vibe I got was almost a traditional, native look based on the feather in the headband and the traditional native hair style, or at least that’s what the stereotypes seem to portray the look as. The next thing I noticed was the word “consumerism” running across her dresses hemline. Then you notice that there aren’t actually any legs drawn on her, just words combined to form the shape of legs. Some of the words include disparity, resentment, anger, disease etc. obviously, at least in my mind, alluding to her concerns about consumerism and what it causes. Any art piece that is this thought-provoking is extremely intereting, at least in my book.
For Week 8, I focused most of my attention on Susan Patt’s “Deserted” piece. The ominous image of the closed doorway, as well as the effects of the quality of the image itself served to pull me in. I found the piece captivating as the image is of a deserted building, with a closed-door further giving the sense of it being locked or abandoned, and the after effect on the image itself leaves the edges looking worn, dated as if the piece itself had been “deserted”. I don’t know if it’s from the multitude of scary movies I’ve watched over the years, or else perhaps it’s just a natural fear, but abandoned/deserted buildings, specifically ones in the shape of this building, with the paint peeling and cracks throughout, are just the epitome of fearful and negative energy for me. Something about the absence of life, or at least the perceived absence of life, gives it all a very unwelcoming vibe. Any way, considering how transfixed I was and the feelings the piece stirred, I felt compelled to write about Susan Patt’s piece.
During week 7 the one exhibit that stood out to me the most was Kenita Hale’s eerie sculpture/circus tent. I think most people tend to think of art as only drawing and paintings, and maybe some sculptures, but there’s so much more that goes into it. The context, environment, materials, lighting, signage etc. all combine to create the artists’ preferred lens through which to view their piece. I felt that Kenita did an amazing job with all of the details BEYOND the actual sculptures. The circus tent plays up the subject of the sculptures – circus performers and physical deformed outcasts, while the eerie lighting and dark tone with intermittent candle-light all set the stage for the emotional feel of the sculptures and subject-matter. It says something about the potential “accuracy” of Kenita’s work that part of the message being sent with her sculptures is the objectification of physical or mental abnormalities, and here we all are staring and perhaps laughing or gasping at the sight of sculptures. One thing I keep going back to with Kenita’s piece is the importance of the context and environment of her exhibit. The sculptures themselves wouldn’t have drawn me in as much without the darkened tent and eerie atmosphere.
During week 6 I was mesmerized by “Labryinth”. The artists for this sculpture exhibit are Angel Franco, Isiah Ulloa and Juan Martin. “Labryinth” is described as a show that explores Digital Manufacturing along with already-established methods of production to alter the perception of how you go about creating art. It seems to me to be an expression of diversity and interrelations. I like how the artists compare the world of art to the world of geometry, as this seems to give a clearer picture of the ways in which you can, and they did, “mulitiply, dock and/or warp” the “expansive” world that you are essentially creating. With geometry so many things (angle, direction, size) can be slightly altered or manipulated to create something entirely different and unique. This applies to art just as well. There is no “one way” to do things, and it’s amazing how easily it is to assume this piece is created one way when you initially see it, then another way as you get closer to it, then another as you really examine it closely, and so on and so forth. Almost as if the piece is moving or changing as you examine it. The processes is, most often, just as important if not more important than the final result, and I think this project nailed that concept.
The above are the examples of David Yamamoto’s work that I found to be most interesting and apt for the current times. These three photographs are part of David Yamamoto’s “Recession” series, which, in his own words, “…documents the evolving landscape as businesses are closed in the face of our economic downturn. The images show the remnants of businesses and the attempts at erasing the previous tenants. In the absence of the logos and signage, the remaining structured spaces reveal attempts to construct and control the movement and experience of the customer. The locations are haunted by a failed consumer economy and memories of the economic prosperity that defines the recent past”. I found these photos to be particularly interesting given the proximity of the photograph sites, my own experiences during the recession and the widespread ability to identify with the abandoned and foreclosed stores and businesses. I liked how each of the photographs included this sort of dichotomy between the wasted/abandoned semi-permanence of the man-made wastelands, vs the natural and renewable beauty of the sky and/or surrounding environment.
During week 4 I spent the class period checking out Maccabee Shelley’s incredible glass and ceramic work. Maccabee uses molds to establish the basic shape and then adds to that and builds off of it. Overall he tends to incorporate broken glass, melted glass and ceramic bowls and molds throughout his pieces.
Maccabee said he likes to use glass because of the beauty of each piece and because of how each intricate piece fits together to make a whole. He mused that there was “something to” breaking the pieces and then building them back up again. I really identified with the fragility vs stability dynamic that he was playing up. It’s interesting how easy it is to break a glass bottle, hence it’s fragile, but that same glass will probably be around in one form or another for much longer than anyone realizes, hence its stability/durability. Maccabee said he felt like with his art, but most art in general, it is really up to the viewer to interpret the piece on their own and to generate their own meaning and to essentially “create” your own meaning using his piece as your inspiration, and I couldn’t agree more. Art is more of an “in the eye of the beholder” sort of thing. I greatly enjoyed the back and forth with Maccabee and felt that it contributed to a greater appreciation for, and interest in, each of his pieces.
“Teen Idol Poster Series, James Franco”
During week two, I wanted to take the opportunity to revisit some of the pieces that I may have overlooked or missed the previous week. So I made a point of going only to those pieces that I didn’t recognize instantly. The one that I came across that had the biggest immediate impact on me was Pilar Gallego’s piece on Teen Idol, James Franco: the headless version. Jokes aside, my first thought was this piece had to do with equality of some kind. Essentially, if you take two guys with similar builds and you remove their heads, they are gonna look the same. The longer I stood there the deeper I went in that direction. I started thinking about how much effort and worry and time and energy and money people put into perfecting, modifying, painting, tattooing and or admiring their face. The face is the “front page” of the body. It’s the most identifying part of a person’s body, and we seem to base our daily mood on how we feel when we look in the mirror at the face, and/or how others react to it. Coming back full circle now, Pilar’s piece amazed me because of just how much she was actually removing when she “removed” James Franco’s head. She was removing so much of his identity, and so much of his (perceived) daily cares/worries.
After reading over Pilar’s page on the GLAMFA website, I’m not so sure that I hit the mark when it comes to the message she was trying to convey. Her goal was to explore semiotics, particularly with regards to “archetypal masculinities”. However, at this point, just to be able to extract some personal deeper meaning from a piece is an important and worthwhile pursuit.