Monday, January 31, 2011

residency response group one

After leaving my first residency I felt very little discord or conflict. I came to Boston with a strong sense of what interested me and what my subject matter encompassed, although I lacked the clarity to describe it very eloquently both in words and within my pieces. The conflict was not with the themes of my work but rather inherent to the subject matter. In particular, my shortcoming was the lack of conflict within my work that had an obvious duality. During the residency I was able to whittle down all my interests and thoughts on science, the body, and anatomy into a concise statement that relates to this body of work. It was a great accomplishment to find a succinct answer to, “ What are you trying to convey?” 
I am trying to create a visual representation for the dual physiological/psychological act on ones body. I am trying to create a visual for what happens on the inside when all we typically see is the outside. I was originally trying to portray this by combining the recognizable medical documentation with additional alteration to the anatomical elements to describe the emotional states of the person within the event.  Due to the specific anatomical textbook style imagery, unconnected collage elements and scientific style diagrams the message of my pieces was unclear to the viewer. There was a consensus that the subject matter was interesting but the meanings of the pieces were not being portrayed clearly.   A main problem lies in the homogenous nature of each piece. Each piece in the series features the same  group anatomical drawing  with only a slight alteration.  The work also leaned too far to the neutral nature of scientific documentation rather than showing, as Hannah put it, “ultimate pain” of affliction.  They showed little of the subject being affected.  The collage elements did little to connect or further that emotional state.
Suggestions to remedy this lack of clarity were extensive.  Going back and rereading notes I was able to divide the comments into several common veins to explore.
First, I need to vary my source material away from drawn anatomical textbooks I had previously and almost exclusively been using.  Hannah suggested I try to get into a rigorous anatomy class, preferably one with access to a cadaver. I have to admit I have been waiting a very long time for someone to justify my curiosity in viewing a cadaver. I feel my work would greatly benefit from trying to create my own source material from an actual anatomy not the one step removed versions already created. Some other ways to accomplish this if I cannot gain access to a cadaver range from surgical videos, anatomical textbooks with photos rather than drawings, history of medicine and dissection texts. Medical museums were also added to my list of places to gain more sources. Tony also suggested that I look at other types of anatomy ranging from anatomy found in nature, (trees and plants,) to other types of flesh, (meat, whole chicken, fruit). 
 In addition, Tony and Oliver suggested I think about also how the inside of the body is accessed and viewed.  In the past it was mostly done with dissection but with current advances in technology, (MRI, X-rays, tiny cameras), give a whole new vantage point of the inner recesses of the body.

             I also need to search for other modes of representing the body whether through material or process. This knowledge will broaden my ability to portray the figure more effectively.
The first and over arching suggestion was to start with discovering artists that I primarily identified with and focus on the way they create marks and materials they use. I’m now looking at artists and their work with a critical eye to find why I am drawn to it and also documenting the formal devices they use to reveal the meaning in their work. Secondly, I am to look at artists that are somewhat similar in relation to with my subject matter such as Mark Quinn, Chloe Piene, Roxanne Jackson, KiKi Smith, Kate MacDowell,  Marc Dion, and Jenny Saville .
It was also recommended by Oliver to research contemporary digital ways of portraying the body versus the 19th century aesthetic that I was emulating. He proposed looking at Virgil Wong and his work in digital anatomy models.  He encouraged me to define why I am so drawn to that aesthetic and what it means that the current way of portraying and accessing the internal body is done with advanced technology.
Judith Suggested I look at performance art. In particular, Viennese Actionists, female performance artist and specific artists like Stelarc and Herman Nitsch. These artists use their own bodies as a canvas for depicting pain and other afflictions of the body. The process of destruction and alteration their bodies to explain the abstract idea of pain or illness will help me to understand how to more effectively depict the duality.   I was also asked to read texts that describe the cultural significance of illness pain and afflictions such as Susan Sontag and Elaine Scarry.
Something else was missing from my work. It remained very neutral and objective. Several peers wanted to know where I stood and what conflict I was trying to portray. In order to depict a more moving artwork my work needs some type of subject, something to tie it to the being or person being affected. Peter suggested that I look at the work of Joe Coleman. His work depicts his subjects in a manner that their character permeates their physical characteristics.  Peter suggested that not all anatomical hearts look like the unflawed versions in a textbook. “What would a heart from an asshole look like?”
Only one person brought up a slightly inconsistent idea and of course it was my last critique on the last day of the residency.   Just when I thought I had everything figured out Tony brought up that perhaps I’m not as interested in portraying the body/mind’s reaction to an affliction but simply the body and how it has been viewed and represented in art and in culture.  I do agree with his thoughts but I feel after exploring all of the ways of portraying affliction it may lead back to this broader idea. I feel that sorting through all my research and resources it will become apparent how strong this interest really is.
With all of this in mind, I move forward.  I have begun researching and absorbing all of these sources with a conscious effort to translate the information into more effective pieces. I feel that broadening my resource material, defining mark making, and finding a ties to the affected being will result in stronger pieces for the next residency.  

notes from crits

Notes from crits

Make process more evident
Make stages more evident
Change the focus
Panel is distracting /wood doesn’t help
Work on paper
Size: chart size?
Images are muddy at this scale
What is my point of view?
How do I feel/ what am I trying to say?
Reference Tree of Life Kabbalah diagrams
Reference alchemy diagrams
Cross sections

Which is better to represent the body 2d or 3d or combo
Get beyond reproduction of diagram
More change from healthy to ill
Intention with image
Inside verses outside
Healthy verses unhealthy

Subjective verses objective:

Where is the person?

How does your work produce meaning/ what vehicles are you using

Create own anatomical language
Decide what kind of mark making you respond to
Specimen board
Too homogeneous
Susan Sontag-
Elaine Scarry-
Performance art
 Viennese Actionism- destroy body
Hermann Nitsch
Chloe Piene
Anatomy theaters
Foucault- birth of the clinic
Werner Herzog
History of dissections
Too much visual info
Inigo manglano ovalle
Alex grey
luc tuymans
Marleen mcarty
Where do I stand?
Look at real cadaver not illustrations
Try to create my own performance piece
I am trying to create a visual representation for a physical / psychological event by combining the scientific and the emotional.
Neutral idiosyncrasy
Vienna fools tower
Anatomical main
Sally Mann- what remains?
What is my intent?
Why does it look like 19th century anatomical studies?
Nostalgic… but why
Marc Dion
Alexis Rockman
Digital mapping space
Technology to see inside/outside
Scale- actual size? HUGE?
Look at 3-d modeling
Virgil Wong
Cavity gravitas
Jess collage artist
 Look at artists who Paint with blood/blood as pigment
Mark Quinn frozen blood busts
Organ transplant
CIA guy who makes face prosthetics
Joe Coleman
Each person’s anatomy doesn’t necessarily look the same… what if they were an asshole, would their heart be smooth or knarly
Signs of decay on the outside/person at every level
OR are you interested in how the body is portrayed both scientifically and metaphorically
Work with wax
Kiki smith
corporal manifestations at mutter museum 
Pin on dissecting trays
Cornell boxes
Display object
What is the connection Archive/ collections
James Alkins
Spectacular body Barbara Stafford
Martin Kent
Draw meat/flesh is flesh
Flesh of people/animal/fruit/nature
 Go back into drawings to gain more continuity with background,
Metaphors of what your after.
Modern vs 19th century depictions of anatomy
How has the body been seen (microscope,x-ray,camera)
When someone decays its either dry or mushy
Life of man

List of 5 words from Adams crit.

Chart like



Different views

Interior verse exterior
Neutrality if medical imagery versus the ultimate pain

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A place to leave my thoughts

A word about sketchbooks.... I have gone to at least 8 art supply/bookstores since I have been back looking for MY sketchbook. Since undergrad I have experimented with different sizes and I found I end up keeping a notebook and a sketchbook at the same time, (because I write a lot of lists and things on top of creating drawings). My dream sketchbook would have been half notebook half sketchbook. And don't worry, I tried many times unsuccessfully to make one.  So last spring finally found something perfect.  It has a hard cover in dark gray, spiral bound (for laying flat or holding in one hand), has lines on the left side and white drawing paper on the right.  Awesome right? Until i try to find a new one. 8 stores later... I give up and order it online. Which, yeah, I should have just ordered it in the first place but my instant gratification impulse just wouldn't let this one go. 

After my unsuccessful shopping trip told Michael my tale of woe and he looked at me like I was nuts and said, " You couldn't just buy A sketchbook?!?" No. I couldn't. 

So, just curious if you are as particular as I am? What are your preferences and why? 

Monday, January 24, 2011

new artist!

I found a new artist I like. Derek Overfield draws and paints the figure in limited slightly abstract way. I really like his work because of the editing choices he makes in relation to drawing the figure.  I like that he uses line to inform  the viewer of the figure without overloading the details. The figures have a strong sense of anatomy and gesture. He then adds color and more detail to specific areas on the figure which creates the narrative of the piece. The figures are anonymous but not necessarily objective which is something I'm looking to accomplish within my work.

Winter Gallery Night

        So in Milwaukee 4x a year galleries, (and the art museum), stay open late and typically have openings of their new shows. I managed to brave the sub zero Midwest temps to go to the Marshall building and see a few shows.

      The first show I went to was at  Luckystar Studio. Luckystar is a longtime favorite of mine in Milwaukee. Growing up in the Midwest and working in small galleries in the lovely little resort town of Lake Geneva  I was surrounded by pretty paintings of sailboats and gardens.  Needless to say that was never really my thing and I ran as fast as I could to the nearest largest city to try and find art with a little more edge. Luckystar was the answer to my prayers then and now. Their latest show features regional artist that depict landscapes.  Sounds initially like what I was trying to avoid my whole life, but these modern landscapes are of the city and urban environments I adore so much.  Amy O'Neill 's landscapes feature urban environments, the places in between the sprawling cityscapes that  have been forgotten.

Tom Berenz was also featured at the gallery night opening. His work explores the urban landscape after a traumatic natural event.  The images of houses and buildings with their "bones" exposed was really exciting for me. I am beginning to find connections in imagery to anatomical structures/references even if there is no figure present, which in the past I might have overlooked.  I like the idea that no matter what the structure it still has skeleton and furthermore a skeleton that can be broken.

And lastly Mike Fredrickson who paints my beloved Milwaukee neighborhoods and kitschy Wisconsin landmarks with what Luckystar describes as,  "realism with a touch of pop".

I also stopped and checked out Elaine Erickson Gallery   which featured a show on self portraits.

I still want to check out  Katie Gingrass and their "White" exhibition  and Caggio featuring Stephanie Barenz another local favorite artist of mine.

What I brought to the party....

 A selection of the work I applied with and brought to Boston for my first residency for my MFA....