Monday, February 1, 2010

Using Nature as a Point of Departure – Second Residency Summary

Figure 1. Cy Twombly
Figure 2. Melissa Chandon
Figure 3. Robert Motherwell

"There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about." - Helen Frankenthaler 1

During my second residency it was my black and white paintings that were the pieces that received most of the attention during the critiques. The work was described as lyrical, graphic, and organic. The consensus was that the vivid brush strokes and expressive randomness was interesting and held the viewer’s attention. Through imagery these paintings conveyed an idea of a grid, interconnectedness, and some implied system of counting. I have been encouraged to take the next semester to further explore this series and see how it develops.

My research this semester will include the artist using nature as the point of departure. I have been encouraged to investigate Abstract Expressionism with written materials beginning with the 1980s to the present. Hannah Barrett suggested the following idea as a starting place for my paintings: using 10 to 12 pieces of paper all the same size with a limited amount of black in order to explore positive and negative space - using small to large shapes. This would push my understanding of possible compositions for future paintings. By the end of my third residency I will need to decide if this endeavor is working or if I need to come “off the wall” and explore other works that might better address some of the environmental and social concerns that keep coming up as issues in my writing.

This past residency, which included two field trips to the Museum of Fine Art and the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, were engaging. We viewed works on paper from the collection at the MFA. The pieces that resonated for me were Richard Serra, Gerhard Richter, and Robert Rauschenberg. At the ICA Krzysztof Wodiczko’s OUT OF HERE: The Veterans Project and Damian Ortega’s Do It Yourself were both thought provoking. In particular I found Wodiczko’s piece riveting. It prompted me to questions our practices of commercial advertising in movie theaters. I was wondering what the effect would be on young men and women’s desire to join the military if we showed Wodiczko’s piece as opposed to the propaganda films currently being shown. Should the military have such a huge marketing and advertising budget? I would like at some point to explore the justification for this use of our tax dollars when we don’t have enough to support the National Endowment for the Arts.

The artist talks during the residency were once again fantastic with an element of controversy. Vincent Desiderio’s talk in many ways bothered me - his aloofness and inability to articulate his influences was a disconnect for me. It did appear that he does knows how to paint large paintings, thought I felt like he was painting very large paintings simply to strategically place them in museums to further his career. In direct contrast to Desiderio’s talk, Rita McBride was a real inspiration for me personally. Her presentation helped me realize that I have a choice to work as a painter or perhaps explore other venues. Her rattan Toyota Celica really inspired me and I found myself day dreaming about painting a life size VW bug in hot pink, wow! Tony Apesos’s talk was interesting and probably well calculated. He introduced himself as Apesos the art historian, who was going to talk about Apesos the artist. I personally found comfort and inspiration with this tactic of depersonalizing one from their work in order to talk about their work. I feel his talk gave us an example of a possible mental attitude that could be effective in presenting our own work during our final artist talk. One of the most powerful parts of Tony’s talk was that he openly discussed how very personal his work is, to paraphrase him, “Art is Personal”.

I am going to continue to work with Tom Holland, my previous mentor. I feel this is the wisest thing to do as our semester is shorter. Since Tom knows my work and my process I feel this allows me extra time to work in the studio. The mentor component of the program is an added benefit but one that I feel has or can have a significant influence on one’s studio work. I’m also going to use this semester to think about future mentors and try to get them lined up in advance if I can.

The artists that were recommended for me to investigate during this semester are: Peter Doig, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Laura Owens, Robert Motherwell, Agnes Martin, Donald Sultan, Jennifer Bartlett, John Walker, Kristin Quinn, John Chamberlin, Cy Twombly and Helen Frankenthaler.

1. Helen Frankenthaler, Wrong: Rules and Irrevence in the Arts; 1945 - 1975. HTTP://WRONGSHOW.BLOGSPOT.COM/

Semester Bibliography:

Alberro, Alexander, Stimson, Blake. Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. The MIT Press, 2000.

Foster, Hal, Krauss, Rosalind, Bois, Yve-Alain. Art Since 1900, Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, Volume 2, 1945 to the Present. Thames & Hudson, 2007.

Markonish, Denise. Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape. Cambridge. The MIT Press, 2008.
Mitchell, W.J.T., ed. Landscape and Power. Chicago, 1994.

Novak, Barbara. Nature and Culture. New York. Oxford University Press, 1980, 1995. Print

Stiles, Kristine, Selz, Peter. Theories and Documents, Contemporary Art, A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings. University of California Press, 1996.

Stimson, Blake. Why I am a Humanist. Filed under: POV — dhi @ 4:14 pm January 19, 2010.

Wamberg, Jacob. Landscape as World Picture. Tracing Cultural Evolution in Images. Aarhus University Press, 2009

Warnke, Martin. Political Landscape. The Art History of Nature. Harvard, 1995.

Michael Pollan. The Botany of Desire. Director Michael Schwarz, 2009

The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED, Director Daphne Zuniga, Steven Latham. 2007