Rewind and Explain

Let me begin by saying that this blog post will not be the typical flavor you may be accustomed to in terms of my weekly updates. Last week I traveled up to Manhattan with Jessamy for a weekend of gallery hopping, museum exploring, and conference attending...which prompted no blogs from either of us by the usual Sunday at 5pm deadline. Fortunately however, we asked in advance to gain the support of our instructors within the department, and were given a pass to make the blog post up at a later time. That blog post will be this right here and now. I intend to just give a recap of the places we went, the art we saw, and the overall gist of what living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for 3 days was like.

To begin-our flight was at 6:45AM on Friday morning, meaning we woke up in Atlanta around 4AM (Jessamy at 3:30AM) to get to the airport on time. A nice flight and a bit of a nap later, we landed in the LGA airport and were officially in New York by 9:10AM. From that point on we went non-stop for the next 3 days straight. Not actually resting until we were back on the plane to Atlanta Sunday evening.

Myself in front of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon, and originally titled The Brothel of Avignon)

Friday was a day filled with galleries in the Chelsea District of Manhattan with our professor Jason Hoelscher, a New York native of ten years. He met us at our hostel on 88th street right next to Central Park, and rode the subway down to Chelsea. For me it was like seeing the "as seen on tv" art galleries. It was all the places you hear about as a student in class, but going to the physical location really made the world seem much smaller, and more importantly-more attainable.

Some of the galleries we went to and that I grabbed a press release for are:

  • Driscoll and Babcock 525 West 25th Street
  • DC Moore Gallery 535 West 22nd Street
  • Danese Corey 511 West 22nd Street
  • Allan Stone Projects 535 West 22nd Street
  • P.P.O.W. 535 West 22nd Street 3rd Floor
  • Ron Gorchov 547 West 25th Street
  • UNIX Gallery (No address listed...very odd...but this was the Univ, of Tennessee show called Orange)
  • Nancy Margolis Gallery 523 West 25th Street
  • 303 Gallery 555 West 21st Street
  • Gladstone Gallery 515 West 24th Street
  • Paula Cooper Gallery 534 West 21st Street

At the end of the day after taking in the art for miles and miles of walking in downtown Manhattan, we went out for dinner with Jasons' friend Andy and had an overall exciting discussion about owning a gallery, working in New York, how to market yourself as an artist, and what it is like to work professionally in the art world in the city itself. Andy will be coming down to visit GSU soon, and I feel like ALL the students can benefit from his extensive knowledge and charismatic character. He was one of the nicest, coolest, and most down to earth people Jason could have introduced us to. He cared about what we had to say, was interested in our work, and really did make Jessamy and I feel totally welcomed. Plus-he can pick a pretty fantastic dinner spot in the city! Jessamy had a Cauliflower Steak and I had Grilled Baby Chicken...both of which were to die for.

Looking at big art in a big coat.

Saturday we got up and made it a museum day, as well as seeing a bit of the sites in the city. We went to:

  • The MoMA
  • The Met
  • Central Park
  • The High Line
  • Time Square
  • The Flat Iron
  • Grand Central Station
  • Wall Street
  • The 9/11 Twin Towers Memorial
  • Broadway
  • Columbus Ave
  • Empire State Building
  • 42nd Street
  • 5th Ave

....the list goes on and on...we walked everywhere, ate everything, and really just explored the city as much as possible!

Jessamy and I in front of 303 Gallery, which inspired the 303 Gallery at GSU...we think.

Sunday was our last day in the city, so we got up and mulled around Central park. Went and found a coffee shop were we met a gentleman named Matt, who actually is the cousin of a UGA student we know and will be in the Trifecta show this summer. Which again made the world so much smaller. We gave him our number and he ended up texting us and told us that he was glad we stopped in and to keep in touch. So more connections to add to the books! Like Jeff and Derek said-make friends and get connected--both of which Jessamy and I did at every moment possible. We managed to explore the Guggenheim Museum for the majority of the day and then it was back to the airport for us after walking around more of the Upper West Side of town, as well as the Upper East Side.

After a long day of walking around the city-our feet were dying. So we took advantage of the subway bench.

After a long day of walking around the city-our feet were dying. So we took advantage of the subway bench.

Honestly, I could see myself living in New York if I was in the gallery scene or was teaching at a University there. The city is a jungle, but one that I think I could manage to live in for a bit. It felt so much like Dublin, London, and Atlanta that I could easily make the transition to the city life. Just need to find the job to support the lifestyle or the gallery to represent my work. I'll let the pictures tell most of the story for the weekend however. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words and this trip can't be described fully in words. It was one for the books.

 

 

New to New York

This week marks a special time in my life, in that I will be traveling to New York City for the first time. It has been called the city that never sleeps, at least so I've been told by every main stream media outlet that references the place. But for me it's going to be a non stop, go go go kind of adventure looking at art, going to a super art conference, and eating everything I can get my hands on. Jessamy (my grad school battle buddy) and I are going up there this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the annual CAA conference, which is summed up as:

The College Art Association Annual Conference is the largest international gathering of professionals in the visual arts. The program is filled with opportunities to join more than 250 stimulating sessions and meetings on a wide range of topics on art scholarship and practice; to engage in in-depth discussions on new scholarship, innovative art, and issues in the arts today; and to connect with colleagues from across the country and around the world.
— CAA

We will be staying at an old international student youth hostel in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, two blocks out from Central Park and only a short subway ride to the conference center and all things New York. What I am most looking forward to aside from going to NYC, is the conference itself. CAA is the largest art conference currently, and I feel like I have been climbing the ladder up to this point. Although I am not presenting at this conference, I hope to do so in the future. This year I applied for a number of things at CAA, but it was all revolving around simply attending the event. I applied for the graduate travel grant which allows students from far away access to the conference with a travel stipend, and lodging, as well as complimentary conference admission. Unfortunately however I was not awarded that grant, but I was offered a position to work the conference by Katie Aspey, the Director of Programs at CAA. She was very helpful in attempting to get me involved in working the event, but after some talk with my professors they advised that this first go around I should just attend the conference and explore the city. Ms. Aspey gave me a rain check for next year's conference so theres hope for the future in getting more involved like I have at SLSA and SECAC. As for the conference, Jessamy and I will be using the new and improved CAA-Pay as you Wish day passes for the conference. Which gets us in for the day and lets us not be so locking into the full registration of the conference cost, even at the discounted student rate.


Lately I have been reading up on things to do in the city and places to see as well as artists who might have shows going on that I have to put on my to do list. What has been extremely helpful has been the New Yorkers "Goings On About Town" column online. You can actually click through what sort of things you want to see and the art column is fantastically jam packed with the current things to do and see in the city. Galleries such as the Gagosian Gallery on 24th Street, The Pace Gallery downtown, Matthew Marks Gallery, and the Sean Kelly Gallery are a few on my list of maybe swinging into and seeing what exhibitions in a top tier gallery are like in person. In particular the Gagosian is having a showing of a new Mark Tansey work called "Reverb" which he completed just early this year. I really enjoyed learning about Tansey in class with Julie McGuire, and the theoretical reasoning behind his work has always interested me. His work deals with:

Each of Tansey’s paintings is a visual and metaphorical adventure in the nature and implications of perception, meaning, and interpretation in art. Working with the conventions and structures of figurative painting, he creates visual corollaries for sometimes arcane literary, philosophical, historical, and mathematical concepts. His exhaustive knowledge of art history accumulates in paintings through a time-intensive process. Images are mined from a vast trove of primary and secondary sources assembled over decades—magazine, journal and newspaper clippings, as well as his own photographs—which he submits to an intensive process of manipulation. The strictly duotone paintings have a precise photographic quality reminiscent of scientific illustration, achieved by applying gesso then washing, brushing and scraping paint into it.
— Gagosian

Next up lets talk about museums. New York is the stomping ground for good art and some of the best museums around are located in the big city. On our list of places to see are The Met, the MoMA, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim. If there were any bigger names in the art world this blog couldn't handle them all at once. Old school Velasquez paintings art housed in the Met, but then right down the hall new works by up and coming artists flood the walls. Down the road in The Metropolitan Museum of Art there is an exhibition on Maiolica, Italian Renaissance Ceramics by Timothy Wilson, which I know some of the ceramic students would love to hear about since they just completed their very own maiolica project last semester.


As for a quick update on whats happening in my studio...here's the deal...I have no idea, well, yes I do. I put up on my wall about 725printer points worth of color images of all sorts of things. Let me just leave you with some images of what has been happening, and I'll explain more later. For the rest of the day I am going to Savannah to grade assignments, read heavy theory articles for homework, and probably have some kind of fancy dinner.

Terminals in Art

Greetings from East Alabama, to all those who follow my blog and are interested in my travels! I decided quite irrationally to leave Statesboro for the weekend and drive to my hometown of Columbus, GA which is on the opposite side of the state about three and a half hours away. However, by the time I reach my sleeping arrangements out at my mothers in Salem, AL its a long haul of four hours and fifteen minutes...including a snack/rest stop along the way. I am delaying my return to Statesboro as long as possible since it'll be back to reality come Monday morning, so for my blogging purposes this week I am writing on a sketchy portable wifi connection in the woods, and then will continue at my fav local coffee shop in downtown Columbus, Fountain City Coffee.

Julian behind the bar at Fountain City in Columbus, GA

For starters this past week has been pretty spectacular. Monday and Tuesday the first critique of the semester within the graduate department went underway and needless to say the roast was not as "hot" as I expected. I am trying out a new style of making that incorporates all my past research into one collective piece, and am attempting the defy gravity as best I can. Since January, I have used class-studio time attempting to develop my artist statement in a way that makes it reflect my work and vice versa. Needless to say this is quite difficult and is probably the single most bothersome thing to deal with as a studio artist. When a new method of making comes into play, the statement must change as well to reflect this new style which is proving irksome indeed.

Let me break it down my past semesters and what all has happened within my studio so you can understand my current studio situation a bit better.

Semester 1, I came to Southern wanting to do basically what I had left off doing in undergrad which was welding and making large sculptural works.  After I graduated undergrad in '13 I spent two years trying to get into a graduate program any and everywhere. I traveled, read abundantly, and felt like every application fee was just a waste of money because the work I was making outside the university system wasn't what I wanted to be doing. I was making mixed media paintings (I know right...me...painting...ha!) It was all I could get my hands on materials wise so I called the body of work Making it By, By Any Means Necessary, which is what is seen below.

Losing access to a studio space with tools and equipment made me harshly reassess my craft and purpose during those two years. So upon arrival at GSU, I landed in an enormous open room to myself, with limitless directions in art I could take--- I felt completely lost. The solution? Do what you know-weld, paint, sculpt. That whole semester I spent it making crap. Literally, it was some of the worst work I feel I have ever made looking back at them. They had purpose for the moment and they opened me up to new possibilities for me down the road. In terms of their depth theoretically, historically, and their placement in a contemporary art world context: what a bunch of total crap. I count them as stepping stones to what happened next.

Semester 2, I had no where to go for Christmas break so I just lived in the studio while the rest of the town vacated to bigger and better things. This is when I feel back into clay. I had spent the whole first semester working in the ceramics studio as the graduate assistant and had been making things here and there on the side, but I decided give it a shot and work in the material I had worked in a majority of my undergrad, all of high school, and even so far back as sixth grade when I took my first ceramics class. That semester I developed new techniques with clay, fabrics, and clay bodies. It really was an eye opening semester of research and development.

Semester 3, was the moment of all out turmoil. It was my 30hr review, in which I had to make work to survive, literally. This semester I pushed the processes I had worked on further and further and made more relatable work to what my artist statement had been hinting at. I was getting closer to where I am now and I really felt like the introduction of casting ceramics, as well as using wheel thrown pieces, and hand built parts made my work better. I was pulling out all the stops for my defense and in the end I passed allowing me to get to where I am now.

Semester 4, the semester of "last chance experiments" before the final year of thesis work begins. I am combining all my past experiences in the studio into one complete work. Expanding off the pedestal, onto the floor and the wall. Removing work form the obvious context and putting it into a more developed and understandable realm. I finally feel like my pieces are starting to get to the meat and potatoes of my statement, but I've got plenty more research to do. The last actual class I am taking aside from studio time and thesis work this semester, Art in Systems taught by Jason Hoelscher has opened me up to so many new things in the discourse of art. In the class we read articles, papers, magazine posts, and even some of his personal conference papers on topics spanning the art world. I really enjoy it, and believe it's making my work stronger than it's ever been, which is why I choose Hoelscher as my Thesis Chair for the next year. Having him help me push my ideas further is really going to challenge me and I look forward to the outcome.


Thats where I am at; it's been a long haul, much like my drive out here to Columbus but worth the trouble. We had an visiting artist Alicia LaChance come down from St. Louis to talk briefly about her work in the exhibition in the Contemporary Gallery at GSU, Flatbed Picture Planes as well as do individual visits with us graduate students. She was beyond inspiring, mostly because of the support she showed me throughout our talk in my studio. I showed her what I was currently working on (soon to be finished for you viewing pleasure), as well as past work and my website. We talked about future plans and what sort of things I needed to get into during my last year. The Craft Alliance Center for Art and Design was the biggest thing she turned me on to. After hearing about my residencies in Ireland, and some of my recent shows she insisted I reach out to them and make a connection. I've looking into their page and what they stand for in the arts and I have to say I am really interested in what could happen. It's one of the many things to dig into on my list of things to well, dig into!

Alicia Lachance

She also mentioned an artist to me named Kahlil Robert Irving. LaChance mentioned him mostly I believe for his use of materials, as well as his fellowships and exposure in the art world. After looking into his page and reading a few articles on him I can see why she made the connection. his website describes his work as:

Kahlil Robert Irving creates installations and sculptures that collage pattern color, complex forms, and recognizable objects relating to different signs and symbols from his cultural and social environment.
— Kahlil Irving

I intend to keep in tough with Alicia in the future just in case I am ever up in St. Louis and want to grab a coffee and a small pick me up of kind words and harsh criticism. It's always nice when a visiting artist makes a real connection with us graduate students. Makes the future of "what do we do after we graduate" so much better feeling. Aside from that, it's been a busy week of planning travel, trips, and adventures.


This summer the graduate department will be taking a trip to Germany for a study abroad extravaganza. I am in the works planning the itinerary, where we are staying, and what we are doing with my Professor and fellow grad student Jessamy and Cyndy-and what a rush it is! Kassel, Germany for the Documenta 2017. Venice, Italy for the Venice Biennale 2017. And Berlin, Germany because well it's Berlin and why not?! Thats just a small two week stent of my eight week adventure. I'll be in Ireland again for five weeks for the EC Waterford, Ireland program as the resident, and then I'm taking a personal six day trip around Europe while I wait for my Germany trip to start. Edinburg, Scotland, London, England, and Ireland all over again is on the to do list with my step mom who is coming over to take part in the shenanigans with me.

As for me I am going to enjoy the rest of my Sunday with some light reading in my Networks book for class, as well as maybe take part in some Super Bowl festivities. I don't follow football, but apparently it's kind of a big deal that some team as made it this far. In my attempts to be well rounded, I guess I should know a little something about whats happening outside my "world".

 

Understand Fear as Modern Curiosity

As a child I was taught to always be curious, but never too curious.

Things in this great wild world we live in tend to be mysterious and beautiful, with a subduction that can draw a young child in. Especially, one like myself, who was more often than not free to roam the outdoors unaccompanied for hours on end.

Detail of new work in the studio, January 2017.

A majority of my childhood up until I started high school was spent outdoors. I remember living in Louisiana and my brother and I getting our first TV, a small heavy box of a thing with a screen about the size of a standard sheet of writing paper. It went in his room, because he had the bunkbed but we were only ever allowed to watch it after we had finished our homework and gone outside for a bit. Honestly, I think my mother just needed a break from us, but back then going outside was not as dangerous as it is today. My family lived on a military base and it was completely normal for a group of like aged kids to walk the streets until the lights came on. All the families dads and mothers probably worked together on base in some way, and it was customary for parents to feed each others kids snacks in a kind of unspoken agreed upon rotation. Today that would never happen. I remember there being some houses that I was told not go inside of, even though I was friends with the kid that lived there, but these were just rules I followed. The woods were a different story. Rules did not apply the same way they did while in the neighborhood. It was all up to me to keep myself safe, aware, and alive. It may sound a bit of a exaggeration, but some of the things I did as a a child should and very well could have killed me. Jumping off the water tower with a rope around my waist, climbing into the sewer during a thunder storm, shooting bottle rockets at other kids in a game of war---the list goes on and on.


What I am getting at here is that "sense of curiosity" and what it does for an artist. In the woods, particularly in Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia---there are plenty of beautiful, colorful, and eye catching things in nature that can hurt you and still be so interesting. My professor Jeff explained to me that in my work there has still got to be some hope, something that gives the viewer a sense of curiosity and most importantly hope. Snakes, spiders, and four legged things are not the things that give people hope and are the more obvious ones people list off when they talk about dangerous creature sin the woods; which is why I was always interested in the smaller more unassuming plants and critters that were around me. Bugs, mushrooms, creepy crawlies, ivies, fungi, and what lived in the ground where smaller than me so I guess I was more curious than afraid. These things were just as dangerous as the larger counterparts but without fail I collected them in glass jars like the old Victorian glass terrariums seen below, and brought them home. Only to then get scolded by my mother for bringing them in the house. But I loved them. Loved them to the point where I'd create tiny habitats for the critters I captured, only to have them die after a week or two of captivity despite my best efforts.

It's been a good long while since I was out in the woods just to explore though. Something changed mentally and that curiosity I used to have shifted. The fear I lacked as a child only grows the older I get and something about going out in the woods alone as an adult is extremely terrifying and at the same time oddly appealing. But I believe the fear itself has transformed too, because its not that I am scared of whats out there, it's just that I know. I am more educated, and more prone to overthink situations rather than just take them at face value like I did as a kid. That idea of dropping everything and walking into the woods- it's the pioneers dream and probably most cubicle working adults.


I feel my work in the studio lately has the same love that I had for the tiny critters in the jars I collected as a child. I've gone back and researched images of things that are common in the woods where I grew up and the pieces I am developing scream "natures bounty." They reference Bernard Palissy, whom I've mentioned in previous blog posts but they also have new influences such as Mister Finch, a textile artist in the UK. I've seen his work before, in passing while trolling through Pinterest, but it was not until I came upon his series from 2014 called Specimen, where combined various clashing nature forms that I really took interest. He explains the work in this collection as:

Here’s a new collection of my latest work. I wanted to create specimens that look like they have been collected from somewhere else... wherever that may be.... Ive mixed wings with fungus and plants with foxes....spiders with feathers and a bird with translucent plastic fins underneath its plumage and over sized feather collar.
— Mister Finch

I related to this because my most recent work has been combining what I find in nature as well as what i find in the domestic space, and creating new works from that combination. But when I went hunting form more artists who use the theme of domestic spaces with nature in their work artist Giselle Hicks came to light. Her work from 2013, where she created floral arrangements on the wall influenced my work with a few floral additions into my sculptures. Turns out she too went to Alfred for her MFA in 2010-which is apparently where all the great clay people come from! She has taken part in various artist-in-residence programs including the Anderson Ranch Art Center, the Arts/Industry Program at the Kohler Company, The Clay Studio in Philadelphia (where I believe a former student here at GSU now works, Lois Harvey), The Greenwich House Pottery and The Archie Bray Foundation. Her resume is also quite extensive and has given me multiple opportunities to now look into. Most importantly however is her view on the pieces shown nelow, where she describes the domestic space as:

This work investigates the sites within a domestic space that are routinely and ritually inhabited, particularly the bed/bedroom and table/dining room. For me, the bed and table personify human relationships. Their design and function determines our proximity to one another affecting our actions and interactions. I imagine their surfaces as absorbent, retaining traces of our presence and our histories. This work is an abstraction of the expansive and complex life experiences that take place across surfaces of these sights within the home
— Giselle Hicks

As for my personal studio work this week, I have really worked hard for my first critique of the semester which is Monday and Tuesday of this week. I have two pieces complete and ready to show in addition to three smaller pieces that accompany the larger two. I had a third, but it collapsed under the weight of the materials I was adding to it, despite me efforts to keep it upright. Lesson learned...and learned hard. But thats ok-because it's body parts can now be used to build something else.

Nothing is ever a waste in clay-it can always be remade and reused.

The Things We Carry

Much like the famed novel by Tim O'Brien The Things They Carried which highlights the both tangible and intangible things the soldiers of Alpha Company brought with them during their service in the of the Vietnam War, people today tend to carry quite peculiar things with them throughout their lives. Things that cannot be seen, such as fear and guilt, and also those things more visible such as a lucky penny or an heirloom ring. This week I sat down in my studio and contemplated what it was that I carried with me that others could relate to when viewing my art. What was it that interested me so much in the excessive nature of consumers today, and why do I myself fall into the trap of excessive consumption and acquire material things for no reason at all other than to simply have them.

We all do it, we buy into the market. We purchase the twenty four pack of water bottles instead of drinking out of the sink. We get the to-go meal because it's faster than sitting down and waiting to be served. We grab a quick cup of coffee through the drive thru because we just don't have the time. It happens now without us even noticing it; we are wasteful. Americans in particular generate an average of 4.3 pounds of household waste per day, all of which goes to over 3500 landfills, and yet two-thirds of it is actually compostable.  But Americans don't do too well when it comes to recycling, composting, or reusing. It simply collects, piles up, and eventually gets buried or left to the elements. But why?

These images are from a protest against animal cruelty where humans became the meat, thus becoming the waste.
— http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/spanish-protestors-strip-naked-human-meat-packages-animal-cruelty-demonstration-1561606

I asked myself repeatedly why was it that the society I was raised in was so wasteful. I come from an average middle class, military family. We moved often but generally stayed in the south United States, where recycling was not mandatory and growing food in your garden didn't get past a tomato plant for one season. My family hunts, so we always had meet in the freezer, particularly venison, and occasionally wild boar, but beyond that we relied heavily on the market. It provided us with everything else needed to survive; as it did for everyone else. That is where I think the big shift happened, and I'm sure it's been proven somewhere that when we became reliant on oil, the stock market, and technology---we as a society became less concerned with the preservation of whats around us here are now.

Thus we became more wasteful.

It was cheaper for us to go out and buy something new than to repair the thing we had before. Recently I read an article addressing a women's wardrobe. It caught my eye because I recently pared down my closet and was amazed at the number of "repeat" pieces I owned. Back in the 1950's and 1960's the average middle class American woman owned about 30 pieces of clothing, which she repaired, maintained, and kept. Today, the average woman owns over 140 pieces of clothing, of which are almost all manufactured outside the United States. Talk about mind blowing! A majority of my closet space was just repeats of the same styled items, but the faux pas of re-wearing something in todays fashion generated the excess closet clutter on its own. Again...I bought into the market.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder, The Triumph of Death (c. 1562) in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Brueghel was strongly influenced by the style of Hieronymus Bosch.

This trend isn't just in clothing, it's in all aspects of life. Above is Pieter Brueghel the Elder's painting The Triumph of Death from 1562 that depicts everyday life during the mid 16th century. Clothes, games, household dishes, food, and death himself are all depicted here. This image came to mind because it shows the full span of life, from rich to poor, young to old, everyone is present. It's a broad sweeping statement of the times, but the same can be said about today, for instance lets think about food in America. Actually, on second thought let's not even talk about excess food because a majority of it goes to waste due to wanting and not needing. The common phrase "my eyes were bigger than my stomach" should never be said, yet I hear it all the time.

However, I'm not alone in noticing of the consumer culture that we live in and the excess consumption of materials and products around us, artists talk about the problem all the time. Some address it in a negative light and get all apocalyptical like photographer Cheech Sanchez whom I found on Pinterest while doing a search for the key word "consumption." Although I cannot find an official background for Sanchez, the work alone speaks volumes. Referencing the classical Vanitas portraits of the 16th and 17th century in Flanders and the Netherlands, artists such as Pieter Claesz who's piece Still Life with a Skull and a Writing Quill from 1628 is described as:

This is one of the earliest dated still lifes by Claesz, a Haarlem painter who gave extraordinary presence to familiar things. Here a skull, an overturned glass roemer with its fleeting reflections, an expired lamp, and the attributes of a writer suggest that worldly efforts are ultimately in vain.
— http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/49.107/

It was so interesting that the topic of familiar things was noted by The Met in regards to this work from 1628. Going back to the topic of the things we carry---we all carry familiar items with us everyday, and I found it so interesting that this painting is described as a representation of items attributed to the efforts of the person who owned them. (The thought that our possessions are what make us scares me...and yet its been a topic of discussion for centuries apparently.)

Finding more about the Vanitas paintings does however make my work feel a bit more grounded in the context of their creepiness, as does the semi apparent theme I've picked up on concerning the increased obsession with death and decay seen in the Ars moriendi, the Danse Macabre, and the motif of the Memento Mori. I can appreciate the wording spun by the ever so beloved quick access wikipedia, in that "paintings executed in the vanitas style were meant to remind viewers of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death."

Philippe de Champaigne's Vanitas (c. 1671) is reduced to three essentials: Life, Death, and Time

So then what about other forms of art that reference this excessive nature aside from still life photography you ask...since I am working in the realm of three dimensions? Well, I came across Judith Scott who was a visual artist isolated by Down Syndrome and profound deafness, who achieved world recognition for her enigmatic fiber sculptures. Her sculptures also oddly enough popped up when searching key words such as "excess" "waste" "collection" and "piles" just to name a few. This short youtube clip I've attached below is about her history and work. It is a good watch if you've got eight minutes to spare, as well as have an interest in art made by a non educated artist...something we discussed in my theory class this last Thursday. I argued that "outsider art" is just as good as anything other art, which is right, but we concluded that the context of the art and its viewer is what places the work into a particular "art world" as Danto would put it.

There it all is, I suppose. Quite a bit of new information thrown into the world and not much resolution to show for it.

My work will continue to develop and next week I will have posted new images of my work up to date. I took photos this past week and now just have to edit them down into more manageable bits to upload. In regards to my own work however, I spent this week getting ready for a massive undertaking of casting and building. I made 300pounds of high grog clay for extreme rigidity and stability as well as a full batch of casting slip, a new formula I tested from Val Cushing's book called Wally's Wonder Slip. I also went to the local GoodWill to hunt for white plates and saucers to use in my work. Overall I am looking forward to what the week holds and what new influences will pop up in my work now that it's clear I need to drag in the life, death, and time aspect.

Already Existing, But Still New

One week into the fourth semester of my grad experience and despite it being the repetitive process of coming to class on time, doing the assignments, and not binge eating at all hours of the day...its still all around a new experience.

So yes, lets take a moment and bask in the glory of the newness of things. Much will be changing in 2017- to include a new president of the free world for better or worse, a solar eclipse that hasn't happened since 1918, a march of women on the White House, new gym memberships that will get at least some use, technology will continue to evolve, conflicts shall arise, and we will all get a little older. But let's get real, all of these things have already been happening in the world for who knows how long, and yet with each new year they magically become new again, and the bit of hope in our own existence is renewed.  It's a cycle, endless as it may seem, the only things really that come with a new year are realizations of what was not accomplished in the last.

Therefore I want to talk about some things that I did not accomplish and what I learned that I intend to apply to 2017 moving forward. They are less resolutions and more so just board concepts I hope to apply to myself as we circle around this bright star.

1. Understanding- What I mean by this is that I honestly just want to take the time to understand better. To listen to what someone has to say and before I give my option, take a moment and reflect on what was just given to me and then and only then respond if it is actually worth my two sense. Often I noticed last year I had a tendency of letting my strong personality dominate others. I am strong willed, a leader, and have a extreme confidence which is great for what I want to do in life, but not so great when it comes to actually taking the time to understand those around me who are less confident or who have opposing ideas/personalities. Understanding is not a resolution, it's just a better way of going about my day in general.

2. Knowledge- I will, at all opportunities, look into and read up on things suggested to me. In grad school its not uncommon to have ten new things you'd never heard about thrown at you in one conversation. This year I intend to look into all of them on some level. Knowledge is more than understanding, which is why it's number two on my list of things because it's being able to take what you know and apply it through understanding as an application, a tool.  Reading essays on art theory will boost my own art process as well as my teaching in the classroom. Plus I'm sure we could all use a little less social media, television, and internet for a change and actually get into some literature thats been around for decades.

3. Health- Now this last one also builds on the previous two in a way. Over the last four semesters here I have taken it upon myself to be mindful of my heath while in school. It is easy to lose track of an eating schedule (especially when you teach a class from 11-1:30...the prime lunch hours) and then consume low quality, cheap food. Grad school does that to you. The lack of money, time, and energy is begging for health problems down the road. Therefore health is a combination of understanding and knowledge. Understanding that I need sleep, water, and exercise, and knowing that I can educate myself on bettering my daily life through research into a healthier lifestyle.

Understanding, Knowledge, and Health-what do these have to do with a grad students art blog you might be asking? Well they all already existed but now I am giving them priority over the smaller things in my life.  I can already see small changes in the way I am going about my day now that I put a focus on these three broad concepts. For instance I did some significant digging on how to throw larger ceramic pots without hurting myself and came across an immense amount of information that I didn't even know was out there. This interest was spurred on by somewhat of a failure of mine from last semester in that I limited the scale in my work and gave in to gravity.  This year I am changing that for the better I hope. I've got quite a few things going in my studio right now in terms of larger thrown pieces but I can already tell that just after this first week and the few discussions I've had with my professors that I need to sit down and draw out my plans. At this point in my program I can't go about my work so intuitively, and I need to develop my sketches of my ideas further before I begin actually making. Of course the work will evolve as I make it, but I need an end goal in mind before I begin.


As for artists that I came across this week while looking for inspiration and technique ideas, I found Bryan Yerian. In looking for a youtube video on composite, or coil throwing I found this artist and then realized that his artists statement is actually quite referential to my own. Here is a snippet of his artist statement:

I view art as a byproduct of a process; the pursuit of preserving a moment in time. My artworks are reactionary artifacts inspired by life experiences and memories. Objects, materials, colors, and patterns are the vehicles I use to communicate the striking contrasts I observe in everyday experiences.

Mold making is a symbolic process of capturing and preserving an objects likeness. By utilizing molds to replicate objects I am able to transform objects into symbols meant to evoke a sense of familiarity, as well as unknown. The objects I choose to replicate carry inherent meanings I associate with contrasting themes such as mortality, vulnerability, comfort and safety, and real and surreal.

I intentionally use archival and timeless materials as a method of preservation and transformation. Clay and glaze are unique materials, in that they can easily mimic other known materials, such as metal and fabric, and are simultaneously densely archival, yet extremely fragile. These are characteristics I intentionally exploit in my art.
— http://www.bryanyerian.com/artist-statement.html

His work looks interesting but I don't see the relationship with the words in the statement to the actual work, which is my exact same problem so I've been told. Connections with the concepts to the actual work is the struggle we all face as artists but it's really the struggle of a graduate student and the ten or so professors critiquing work. I've got to connect the ideas in my head to the work in my hands at some point, or at least get closer than I am now. The video on composite throwing surely helped me though. Already in the studio I have three new vessels working, and a forth made from building together thrown donuts and hollow bowls. Here's hoping that will pan out a bit more.


I know that the goal of these blog posts is for use to research artists and get involved in their work on some level, but I take them more as a stream of consciousness in terms of whats happening within my studio and then with myself in the larger art world. I was bad and didn't post a single blog post last semester. So much has happened to me since I last wrote back in April 2016, that I feel a brief but elaborate recap is in order.

First of all I went to Ireland for five weeks as the resident assistant for the European Council Water Ireland Program and had the time of my life. Learned how to direct 44 students in a foreign country and did my job well enough to be offered a return position for Summer 2017 as the single resident assistant.

I went to conferences. A lot of them. Specifically I attended SECAC in Roanoke, Virginia with my friend Cyndy Epps and presented on a panel titled Letters to a Young Artist. My paper focused on the "artist on their phone" and how media is interfering wth their working process in the studio. I also presented at SLSA in Atlanta, Georgia on a senior panel for theory in art regarding "object-ness". I was the youngest on the panel, and also the only graduate student in a group of four other well established professors across the country. At SLSA I also presented a poster on the Inherent Qualities of Clay and was one of four art students in the entire poster session of art historians and theorists, which was over two-hundred in number.

My show Trifecta, which I curated with my friend Jessamy McManus was a great success over the summer at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. It had eighteen artists from across the state participate, and highlighted the three public master of fine art schools in the state- Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and University of Georgia. Trifecta prompted a connection to within all three schools and has since developed a "show swap" within the universities as well as Trifecta 2.0 happening this summer at the GA State campus. So that was an enormous success in my book!

In December the graduate group went to Miami again for Art Basel 2016, and this time brought along a few deserving undergraduate seniors as well. The trip brought about discussions of art and the art market as well as the context of the fairs and their purposes.  Places like Pulse and NADA, who have more so emerging artists verses the big names like Art Basel who focus on the well known and the classics.

I also taught that dreaded 2-2 load at Georgia Southern that I mentioned in my previous blog posts and it in fact was not that bad at all. I actually really loved it.  I ended up teaching 2D Design and 3D Design Monday thru Thursday in addition to taking my own classes, and am currently doing the same thing again this semester. Teaching I feel is what really got me to the point of my three new years goals/concepts.  It put myself into a bigger picture and allowed me to see myself in a new light. So I have immense gratitude for the opportunity given to me in that respect.


As for 2017 so far, I have kept up with myself but it's too early to tell what will happen this semester. Jessamy and I bought out tickets this week to attend the CAA Conference in New York in February and thats about as much excitement as I can muster at the moment. I intend to continue presenting at conference, want to get into more shows, and am in progress of trying to establish opportunities elsewhere for myself. Just have to keep pushing forward and things will happen.

Thanks for the read if you made it this far and welcome to 2017, the new year, new semester, and new opportunities!

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