Friday, May 7, 2010

Emulation Project

I chose to emulate the style of artist Matthew Craven. He has a series of mixed media drawings entitled: "History is Written by the Winners." I chose to focus on a religious figure rather than a figure of a Native American or cowboy because my previous work for this class has been to highlight some of the terrors and absurdities of modern and primitive religious practices in the US. This piece was a specific reaction to the recent sex abuse scandals by the catholic church highlighted in the news. I chose to cut out the priest's hands and face because I feel that they are allowed to get away with whatever they want, simply by donning the particular garb a priest would wear. It is almost like a suit of armor for them to hide behind, and I find it atrocious. The simple pattern in the face and hands were simply ornamental, to coincide with Mr. Craven's "horror vaccui," or the need to fill up space with ornamentation. I found the concept interesting because I have been told that white space and minimalism is hot right now, and I wished to do the opposite.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2 new pieces!

I find myself drawn to the unknown reaches of space. Those around me seem less then thrilled to look up and enjoy the amusement that is the night sky. Okay, occasionally when a meteor shower news gets thrown around people make an event of it. And that is a great thing. But there is more than just that out there. I want everyone to have the same level of enthusiasm about space and its secrets as I do. I ran across an amusing thought the other day that inspired this piece to be made. It was saying something to the effect of imagining that space could only be viewed for 5 minutes every year and that there would only be one viewing port in which to experience looking at space. I thought I would recreate that effect in an old wooden box. Something that looks unimportant when in fact the opposite is true. You can also view a key that is in the foreground directly against the viewing glass of the piece. This is symbolic of the fact that we are SO close to truly exploring space, but are not quite there yet. Space is the "key" to our existence and survival.

I felt so saddened when manned space missions were put on hold recently, in lieu of other efforts. Now who will kids look up to growing up? We nee astronauts to be heroes, and we need manned space flight. I agree with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson who pleads for that very subject and shouts out to everyone that WE ARE MADE OF SPACE! I wanted to shout that out, while highlighting the sadness of the loss of the space heroes. I quote a line from 2001:A Space Odyssey for the title because it was one of the forces driving my initial interest in space, along with Dr. Tyson. The gold in the piece is meant to symbolize hope for the future space exploration.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Influences and Sources

I. Artistic Influence & Sources

As an Art student, I have come across many artists and there work, but have studied comparatively few in depth. Those Artists that I have studied have helped me to get a deeper understanding of where I want to go as an artist and designer.

Looking for the typical influence for today’s designer would probably land you in the realm of contemporary or pop artists such as Damien Hirst or Takashi Murakami. I find minimal influence from these kinds of artists, and instead focus more intently on the past. That is not to say that I do not enjoy these kinds of artists, or think less of their work. I simply try not to draw a significant amount of inspiration from contemporary art.

I would have to say that I have been inspired and touched the most when viewing the works of Francisco de Goya. His approach to Classical style, but was revolutionary and gives me insight into the mind of a genius. I enjoy his Straightforward candor and honesty that I see in much of his paintings. The subversive and subjective elements in his art, as well as his bold handling of paint are intensely inspirational. I find myself drawn to the haunting mystery and satire of his etchings. I would also strongly agree with Goya’s belief that the artist's vision is more important than tradition. I love the wide range of his work and subject matter, but my favorite period of his was his Black paintings that he did late in his career. The dark mood slipping into insanity that was brought on by the intense political situations in Spain are similar to how I feel about today’s political turmoil.

I would not say that I am a huge fan of Surrealism per se, but a lot of the questions that it deals with I am interested and influenced by. The surrealist artist that I connect with the most would be Giorgio de Chirico. His metaphysical period, which are memorable for the haunted, brooding moods evoked by their images. At the start of this period, his subjects were still cityscapes inspired by the bright daylight of Mediterranean cities. It is interesting, because I do not have an affinity for architecture, but rather the emptiness and the shadows and the overall composition of his work.

That de Chirico was a poet, and a great one, is not in dispute. He could condense voluminous feeling through metaphor and association. One can try to dissect this magical experience, yet not find what makes them fit together... Early de Chiricos are full of such effects. Et quid amabo nisi quod aenigma est? ("What shall I love if not the enigma?")—this question, inscribed by the young artist on his self-portrait in 1911, is their suggestion. The thing that I have come to love is the enigma. I have surrounded myself with mysterious things and was pleased to find an artist who fit this ideal.

Light is also something that I find mysterious and wonderful. No other artist painted light like JMW Turner. I envy the masterful control of color and space. I am not particularly interested in his landscapes necessarily, but simply the impressionistic way he rendered them. That impressionism inspired many other influential artists, and in turn has inspired me. My fascination with light springs from a connection I have with its natural beauty and its obvious importance in our lives. It is the purest thing in the universe, as far as I am concerned.

JMW Turner had the same respect for light, and how it envelops us all. Perhaps he would tie it closer to God and religion for my taste, but I confess I do not know his spiritual leanings. I did read somewhere that on his deathbed he gave his testament that “The Sun is God.” I entirely agree, but in more of a figurative sense.

II. Influences and Sources From Outside the Art World

There are many arenas outside the world of art that I draw inspiration from. In fact, I would say that I draw most of my inspiration from places other than an art museum.

I am constantly thinking about the impossible and the mysterious. Anything that is strange or causes my brain to hurt is something that I want to invest time in studying. From a young age, I have always been full of questions about mysterious things. My youth pastor became quite annoyed with my questions about God and the mysteries of the Universe. I no longer align myself with Christianity, but I appreciate what it gave me; the ability to spot inconsistencies and lies, as well as to question everything. But I digress. My questioning mind at this moment is thinking about whether the universe is finite or infinite. Either answer would be equally amazing and bewildering. Our place in the universe is obviously quite small, and I am reminded of one of my hero’s, Carl Sagan, who taught me that the earth is a mote of dust in the morning sky. So when I see or here all of the problems in the world, I laugh and think that it is taking place on such an insignificant speck so why bother worrying. I would not say that I am a nihilist, I believe there is meaning in the world, I just feel that everything is alright because we are so incredibly small.

My fascination with all things mysterious also manifested itself in the realm of conjuring and illusion growing up. At every family gathering I would put on a show for my (mostly willing) relatives. I loved the fact that I knew something that they did not. I had a secret power that could bewilder and amaze. I enjoyed living in Appleton, Wisconsin for a summer, for that was the birthplace of Harry Houdini. I studied all of the conjuring books and was fascinated by all of the dangerous (or seemingly dangerous) stunts and impossibilities being performed. This also drew me in to the art of the handbill, engraving, and vintage posters and photographs that were used to promote the shows for the magicians. The imagery involved, like demons and spirits and lightning and thunder aroused quite a response from me. I feel like that in actuality there is no such thing, but the imagery itself is so powerful and persuasive and enticing that I cannot look away.

When I was twelve years old, I went to see David Copperfield and was in awe of everything I saw. Flashing lights, smoke, mirrors, and beautiful women all being controlled masterfully by Mr. Copperfield. He performed a trick that he called the “Magic Box,” and he explained that anything could be transported from that box to some far off location. It was the climax of his act and almost nothing else has captivated me in quite the same way before or since. I wish to convey the same kind of captivation and wonder in my art, and I see myself as sort of a magician. Instead of a wand, I have a pencil.

I believe I have always had a strong relationship with the world of film, in large part due to my father showing me films ever since I was a young boy. And I mean actual film films, not your typical Disney animated feature. I’m talking The Great Escape, Citizen Kane, and The Hound of the Baskervilles. My father treated me with intellectual respect, and whatever he would watch, I would watch. At first, I must admit that I was less than captivated with some of his choices (mostly the more feminine features like Much Ado About Nothing or Before Sunset). But he more than made up for it with all of the mysterious and awe inspiring films he showed me.

The movie that influences me most to this day is Pulp Fiction. Oozing style and creativity from every pore, I had to view it again immediately upon finishing Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. The characters, non-linear storyline, set pieces, and most of all, cinematography inspire my creative process. Every shot is perfectly balanced and has vivid color. It is clear that with all of the pop culture references, vintage style, and gritty action and mystery that this movie would influence me strongly.

III. Personal Influences and Sources

If I were to describe and label myself, some of the words would include middle class, Midwestern, white, intelligent, sarcastic, and artistic.

I believe that I am more aware of my whiteness than those suburban Caucasians around me. I notice the privileges in my life simply for being white. It creeps into the realm of white liberal guilt, but then I realize that I am just a person, and being white is simply imaginary and of social construction.

My sarcastic and cynical nature springs from the relationship I have with my father. We always crack jokes and made snide comments about people and experiences. Perhaps the pleasure I get from being clever comes from the closeness I felt to my father.

I am equally at home in a museum or library as a stream or valley. My wish is for the world of the indoors and outdoors to be fused together. Where some would see a separation, I see integration.

Personal experiences politically have also had great influence in my life. I am a liberal and an egalitarian, believing that everyone deserves equal attention and equality of outcome, not just opportunity.

My first touch of politics was my high school civics class, where I felt like I was shown how the world of people operates. I felt charged to become more involved in the political world, mainly because I felt like everything around my was crumbling: The Constitution, Infrastructure, and the American Dream were all dying under George W. Bush. I do not demonize the man like some liberals do (I feel like he is a retarded baby moose being told what to do), but I believe those who really ran the country were blood-sucking, evil-loving, hell spawn.

So upon reaching a blood boiling level of anger at the George W. Bush Presidency, I began trying to actively fight against it. Going to protests and reading alternative blogs were regular activity for me. But after awhile I realized nothing was really getting accomplished. It was more of a holier-than-thou mentality that fueled an excuse to party. Unfortunately, a bunch of people marching down the street with effigies and inflammatory signs does little to change a single law or even force a congressman to bat an eyelash.

I feel in some ways that my generation has really been at the mall instead of fighting for what they believe in. I am not any better, because what have I done? Nothing of substance. I suppose I did become part of the Obama-zombie nation, and even volunteered at the Target Center and got to meet him and all of his other top volunteers, but really it goes back to self motivation and altruism. I have little of the first and don’t believe in the second. So what good was it too see Obama and volunteer and campaign for him? It did show me that government is not too be trusted and that a legitimate Third Party Candidate is what this country really needs.

A lot of what I believe in strongly comes from the minds of stand up comedians. The Ones who have influenced me the strongest are Bill Hicks, George Carlin, and Lewis Black. All three of these comedians were really more than comedians. They are modern day philosophers that give guidance and perspective on the world. They do more than “tell it like it is,” they explain the internal machinations of man and make the almost undecipherable clear and meaningful. They are the ones that guide us and point out the things that we miss. My favorite quote comes from comedian Bill Hicks, and it sounds like something Ghandi or even the Dalai Llama would preach:

All matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration,

that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself

subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only

a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves.

I live by this short diatribe, and try to evoke it in my art as clearly as possible. Everyone should here this message, and I intend to broadcast it through my art.

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Critique

I thought this critique was much more about the art and less about personal frustrations. My words to follow were "Ambiguous Spirituality," "Canvas," and "Huge." In my research I came across a headline that said, "Brad Pitt Does Not Believe in God." After laughing for about 5 minutes, I decided to respond to this piece. In retrospect, I wish I could have found an old canvas and used gold foil instead of ink.
I was inspired by a few of the pieces, notably Lauren's arduous task of drawing on sandpaper. Even though she did not finish, I felt the way she approached the drawing was fantastic, going beyond what some of the other's achieved. There was beauty and thought in every mark.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blog Update 3/11

I felt that discussion we had in class today did nothing more than create animosity and divisions among the class. Both sides were correct from their own viewpoints. Artists should have conviction as well as designers, but designers also need to know if the client is satisfied. Pretending to be a fine artist if your a designer is fine. I get that. But fine artists need to realize that there are viewpoints besides their own.
As far as the actual critiques, I felt it a bit underwhelming that certain works were not completed. I almost feel that they should not have been critiqued at all.
I sound like I am full of frustration, but I did enjoy what people had to say about their own work. Most interesting to me was the explanation of the Devil's Punch bowl relating to an area back where the artist was from.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Art lessons Summary

I am not sure exactly where I stand on the definition of an artist. Both sides make valid points. Carl Sandburg takes what I think is an elitist approach, But I also do not think Beuys is correct in saying that it just takes intention to be an artist. Aesthetic sensitivity and a dedication to pushing the boundaries are what are the most valuable traits of an artist in my opinion.
I found it interesting to learn the etymology of vocation ("vocatio"). I have sensed this calling in some sense, from my own thoughts to praise from friends and family.
Many of the students I see around me, and even myself, have a lack of knowledge about the past, are apathetic about the present, and do not care enough about the future. A facebook status update will not change the world. But will a drawing? A painting? Traditional art has certainly been lost among the myriad distractions, but that doesn't mean all art is lost and nothing is getting through.