One artist's journey

Monday, May 9, 2011

Guerra's Woodblock

Exhibtion Review

Working in a group show has been a truly rewarding experience. In addition, however, I have learned that without complete communication from everyone, the show will not go smoothly and could potentially erupt in total failure.
Seeing my work surrounded by others, was very enlightening. These people are ones that are fighting the same struggles as I am and discovering so much about their practice and themselves. I feel I learned such a great deal about my own work and my own ability to create something that I thought deserved gallery space. I now also somewhat understand the politics of working with other artists, working with staff and ultimately working with reputation.
I was surprised by how different my work felt in the gallery space. I had been working for months in a dark garage, with concrete walls and clutter of all kinds. To then take my piece and free it from its constraints (also including a wood frame), felt liberating and unbelievably real.
When I installed my work, many people offered to help. After strings were tied and hooks were placed, it was time to hoist my work of the ground and into the air. I looked p and stared at my piece, finally falling into its right place, into the place that I could only have imagined it would ever exist in. I fell silent. Those surrounding me asked, "is this right? Tell us where to change it." For a long moment I did not respond-all at once I had been taken out of the University setting a placed into a gallery, as an artist, being asked what I wanted for my piece. The feeling struck me as eerie and all together unfamiliar to my student-self, but yet quite familiar to my self as an artist, collectively understanding what artists understand. I reveled in it, soaking up the uneasy feeling and putting out the knowledge that this would not be the last time. This is just the beginning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Crit Comments

Comments for other members of my thesis crit group 
During Sasha's critique I suggested using white glitter, if some pieces are gold and some are white, and how to maybe tie those two together. White glitter could be a strong adherence to the use of the strong gold, gaudiness but the whiteness of the glitter could still be subtle enough that it wouldn't be overpowering and might not be as tacky. Also, we discussed using fur on some pieces or as external materials for how the pieces can sit in the gallery. Flemington Furs in Flemington, NJ has a discounted fur store across the street, where all furs are used and can be found at a very reasonable price. This might be a good place to find some materials.
I was wondering through out the crit whether graphic design is going to play into the thesis piece or not. It does not have to just because it is his concentration, but I am curious if graphic design could play a key role in laying out the drawings or in constructing any text. I really found a lot of Eduard's ideas to be interesting and compelling, but I feel as though he is deciding to focus without looking at all ideas and their benefits. I was interested in the idea of fixing things, and people being taught again how to repair things so that there is less waste. I think that this concept can still be put into the broader idea that he has of showing how things are made and then how they are thrown away. While drawings of the step by step process can be informative, they did not seem to draw me in; I personally felt I already knew these generalized processes and movements towards the garbage heap. Using a direct quote or a very specific product could reign in the drawings and have people become more interested.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

2nd Thesis Critique, Friday, Feb 18th

I have come up with some new ideas for the layout of my installation and I shared this with my group on Friday. I want to create a shape similar to an industrial salt dome (see image below) because I feel that this shape is a very strange one; it looks almost alien to me. I still want the outside to be reminiscent of the slightly translucent plastic and wood frame from Kabakov's Palace of Projects, the only problem is, will the shape still read the same way? When talking to my group I didn't really envision exactly how it would look, but creating that type of shape with the Palace of Projects structure, it might not read like a foreign place. However, even though the salt dome looks very alien and out of this world, it still reads as industrial which is a big part of my overall work.

I am now working towards incorporating industrial buildings or aspects of these fixtures that have become a part of our everyday life, especially in New Jersey. Plants, mining, and electrical towers are everywhere, and it is not only their industrial qualities and their cause of pollution and environmental problems that I notice them, but also the status that they have in our way of life, in our culture. I have found that electrical towers remind me a lot of totems and statues erected in the ancient world, people all over the world created ways of worshiping the Gods they believed in, and it seems as though the over bearing, tall, arms outstretched towers represent the electricity gods that we bow to, the oil gods, the cell phone gods that loom in the background of our towns and cities, highways and local roads, trailing off far into the distance but constantly a reminder. How easily we forget that they are there, how easily we can forget how they have completely changed our landscape.
I realized through talking to my painting teacher that when I used to take a lot of photographs of night scenes, tree lines, or even mounds of sediment, rock, or anything that I found to look romantic in a way, but yet strange at other times, industrial or not,  I often wanted or liked having the bright orange cones of construction or caution to be lingering at the bottom of the photograph, or bright strips of light from cars rushing past. I looked for the industrial that was so invading my life, I wanted to be reminded of what I was really in front of me--no longer is it just a tree line, no longer is it a vast forest, but a new world, a new place filled with wires, currents, and construction, constantly building, taking down, and putting more cones on the ground and more cars on the roads.
I found an artist, Edward Burtynsky, who photographs oil refineries and other industrial areas like this:
I want to bring together the wires, the structural elements and the qualities that they remind me of from the ancient structures.

Also artists like Brice Marden and Suzanne McClelland are becoming greater influences in my work.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Speaking to artists

I have had the amazing opportunity to meet many artists through interning at the Brodsky Center for Innovative Editions over winter break and into this semester. Through this I have had many wonderful and immensely insightful conversations and critiques. I will post aspects of some of the critiques on my blog. My first post will be about my recent discussion with local artist, Harry Naar.
          We first began talking about space in a painting--how size of marks, color, and placement can change the visual perception of the space in a painting monumentally. Looking originally at figurative paintings and landscape paintings, Harry Naar elaborated on the importance of the color changing as it recedes in space and the attention to how the marks interact with a mark next to it or a color next to it. These seem like obvious aspects to making a figurative painting, but in fact, when not done, they leave the observer lost in a sea of marks that do not fully form the image or contain holes of understanding. When a shape of an arm comes out of a sleeve of a shirt, the artist must make the choice to render the shadow as it wraps around the form of the arm coming out of the shirt, so that it becomes understood that the shirt is above the arm or on top of the arm in space. In landscape painting as well, light sources must correlate, especially when reflected, and how the color changes just slightly can move the viewer's eye back and forth in a painting tremendously, instead of just sitting on the surface. In addition, if using a photograph to make the work, what will the use of it be? Is the artist using it to gain useful information or is it considered a photograph, and used for its ability to already see space and calculate information for the eye? By the end of the discussion the main point that arose was the idea of consideration, the consideration of mark, color, size, and how the artist decides to control the viewer's understanding or seeing of the painting. Making the painting with integrity, with consideration of everything at their disposal, using the eye to their advantage and the way in which the eye works, is a part of painting that seems at this moment to be the most important. In the beginning, I did not relate these comments to my own work, but as I looked at the marks I am making in my more abstract pieces I found myself seeing the same problems. My paintings do not have any true or considered relation to space; my colors do not have any considered relation to each other or the whole, and my composition does not spatially bring the viewers eye anywhere except the center of the painting with no useful reason.
         As if seeing my work with completely fresh eyes, I began to understand the problems I was having so immensely, connecting on what felt like another level with Harry Naar's suggestions and comments. I also realized that during the making of a painting I would often question myself, why am I putting a mark here, why am I choosing this color, why am I choosing this size of mark, and I have never been able to really answer these questions or find ways to answer them. I finally feel now that I have some footing that I did not seem to grasp as a young undergrad. In addition, other comments that Naar made were about connecting the viewer's eye to a mark and continuing throughout the painting: when a mark starts in a certain place, with a certain color, start at the end or the top of the previous mark further along on the canvas and keep a consistent correlation between marks/brushstrokes. Though these ideas may seem to make things calculated, they give things reason, they give my paintings a certain credibility that they are seriously lacking. Many people  have remarked that I tend to place things in the center, and when seeing that, as well as my tendency to break up the canvas into two sections or multiple sections, Naar said that it forced the eye to move to the center or stay divided, stay in one place and hardly move around; but then when the eye moved to that area, what was there to look at? What becomes the importance of being made to look at that place? What do they gain?
     Naar also suggested using a painting by Piero della Francesca and recreating it in terms of my own mark making and painting style, using the color, composition, space, and interaction of these things, with everything there already. I can learn greatly from an exploration of work such as this and understanding why it works the way it does. Also, creating a painting using just mark and using only 2 or 3 colors, limiting the palette and really considering each mark, each decision.
    Being extremely attentive to the way in which I place a brush mark, a line, a stroke of the hand, a calligraphic word or phrase, being completely obsessive and immersed in my approach, the reason for my approach and the choices I am making will create paintings of more interest, more depth, and more credibility.
     This conversation will continue to be enormously important as the months progress and I continue to work on my final thesis project: an installation covered in my paintings. Taking serious steps to create an elaborate and fully immersive environment with only paint and canvas will be hugely influenced by this conversation, as I will begin to hone in my consideration and attention to every decision I make.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spring 2011 First Thesis Crit: Jan. 28th. 2011

First Thesis Critique Response:
For my first thesis critique I showed the two works on either side, but I primarily focused on my ideas for the final thesis project. I discussed that my thesis would be an installation, placed in the main gallery space. I discussed how and what materials I will find and use to create my installation, room-like structure. My influences come from the following sources below, which I also discussed in my critique: Ilya Kabakov's Palace of Projects, 1998 - I am specifically looking at the outside structure of the work and how that translates to the work.
David Edgar's play, Pentecost, which discusses a found fresco from the 1400s as well as the writing of refugees, writing to tell their families where they are on the same wall as the fresco, which is more important?
Thomas Hirschhorn's Cavemanman, 2002 - a contemporary cave, filled with tons of found images, contemporary books, magazines, and mass produced aspects of society.   Cavemanman Video