Art World

Atlanta Gallery Hop

One week of rest or one week of work-thats the coin toss that is "Spring Break 2017".

 

The break doesn't officially start until tomorrow, but already I have taken advantage of the down time and caught up on some things I've neglected around my house and my studio. I washed the floors of my studio space and wiped down the dust that had accumulated everywhere. I finished my largest sculpture and set it up to dry at a slow and even pace...hopefully. I slept in for a change and tried to use the day light savings to my advantage and readjust my internal clock by just sleeping through the time change. Most importantly though I made it a point to use the first weekend of the break to make my way up to Atlanta with some of my fellow grads for a day of gallery hopping around town.

I picked up Usman early at 6:15am on Friday and we headed for Midtown down I-16 for the long three hour and twenty minute drive. We left early to avoid traffic and ended up getting there much earlier than planned, so we had breakfast at West Egg. Afterwards we drove over to our first scheduled stop of the day, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. It didn't open until eleven so we walked down to Amélie's French Bakery for a coffee while we waited for Jessamy, Cyndy, and Josie (Cyndy's daughter) to arrive. While we waited we looked at all the different Mona Lisa portraits on the walls and made the joke that one of Zak's paintings would fit right in with the theme of the place. Once the rest of the crew showed up and it was closer to opening time we made our way down to the see the current exhibition on display by outsider artist Lonnie Holley called I Snuck Off the Slave Ship, on display until April 2nd. The gallery director walked us through a few of the pieces and got rid of Josie's hiccups for her. We even got to meet her dog Monster, a mix between a pit bull and a dachshund. The show is described as:

Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (Atlanta Contemporary) is pleased to announce a solo exhibition with Lonnie Holley. Holley is a man of many myths and talents. Born in Jim Crow-era Birmingham, Alabama, as the seventh of 27 children, Holley traveled across the South and held a wide array of jobs before making his first artwork at the age of 29.

Well known for his assemblages, Holley incorporates natural and man-made objects into totemic sculptures. Materials such as steel scrap, sandstone, plastic flowers, crosses, and defunct machines commemorate places, people, and events. The exhibition will feature a selection of sculptures and drawings on loan from the artist. In addition to these works, Holley will create site specific installations reflective of the spontaneous and improvisational nature of his creative process.

Curator Daniel Fuller says “Lonnie Holley is one of the most influential artists and musicians of the 20th/21st centuries. His powerful work is improvisational and free in that it goes beyond the autobiographical and chronicles daily life and history of people all over the South. It is as much concerned with all of mother earth as it is cosmic.”
— Atlanta Contemporary Art Center Wedsite
 

Afterwards we went to a few galleries downtown to include the Hathaway Gallery, the Sandler Hudson, and the KAI LIN gallery. We had planned on going to the MOCA but we ran out of time and opted to just go to White Space gallery instead where we met the gallery assistant Emily Sorgenfrei. We talked to her for nearly an hour about how she got her job in the gallery, the things she did along the way, and how we could propose our work to the space. (Unfortunately, Marcia Wood, one of my favorite galleries was between shows and wasn't open.) I also made my way to the Signature Gallery in Buckhead, which ended up being the highlight of my weekend. The Signature Gallery, run by Carr McCuiston located on Roswell Road NE Atlanta, GA houses contemporary ceramic works by just about all the artist that I am interested in currently. It was cool going into the gallery and meeting SarahBeth Merritt, the gallery assistant, and talking to her about all the works on display. She graduated from Georgia State three or four-ish years ago and has been working at Signature, as well as the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. My sisters friend Abbey Hull also works there currently and she's been a greta help in answering my questions about the studio and how it's run.

Basically, I got a lot out of this weekend. I made some great connections with the staff at the galleries I would like to show at in the future. It's all about making those small one on one connections, and really pushing forward with getting your work out in the world that matters. I feel like this weekend might have helped that "snowball" get rolling.


After all the gallery fun Cyndy and Josie left and the rest of us went to Krog Street Market for a beer and some small eats. We ended up eating at this place called Nexto, where my sister works. It's a Japanese Noodle restaurant and we ate our weight in ramen deliciousness.

Saturday morning I went to Davens Ceramic supply store for some things for my studio. It's basically an adult toy store if you're into clay. I also acquired a long list of new books to purchase after perusing the selection at Davens. I took the opportunity to go to the Atlanta Barnes and Nobles and glanced through their craft ceramic section for books and ended up getting the three listed below on glazing and making. Very exciting stuff to introduce into my work.


As for studio time, here is a few snippets of whats been happening. Most things are still in progress, drying, or getting ready for more firings.

Incorporeal Transformations

For the first time in a long time I took a weekend for myself, and stayed in Statesboro instead of venturing out into the great beyond for school, work, play, or educational purposes and actually accomplished a number of things on my to-do list. I managed to do laundry, grocery shop, and pay attention to my two cats-all of which needed to be done badly in terms of my home-life and the general maintenance that is required on ones part for keeping their living quarters, well, livable.


Studio time has been used to great success I must say, in that I have really up'ed my game this week in terms of work completed and started. It is midterm week at Southern, which means midterms were made, given, and graded. New projects were distributed ate discussed, and this next week will consist of due dates and critiques within my classrooms. That hasn't slowed my progress in the studio though. I am at about what I will say is the 95% completion of my largest piece in the making, and intend on finishing it off later today, along with a few smaller pieces I am working on.

Last Friday was the all faculty critique day, since then my presentation has been re-examined in our class group crit Monday and Tuesday. I appreciated the honesty of my classmates and what they had to say about my current work on when they got a chance to see it in person. Even though they saw the pieces in their "half baked state" because the kiln they were misfired and nothing fully fluxed, I feel they could still see somewhat my vision. The partially developed colors and the hazy white-wash over the five pieces wasn't talked about much to my relief, and instead we discussed the forms themselves, the craftsmanship, and their maximalist aesthetic.

My pieces after the misfire of the kiln. It did not reach temperature, so the pieces are covered in a hazy white wash, which is the clear glaze that did not flux fully.

We also talked about all my major influences in the work and where I was headed. I read off to them my topics of interest, which I have mentioned multiple times in previous blog posts, but my professor Derek brought up some new points I hadn't thought of. He mentioned that I should look into the more "surface" and "face value" topics that my work references. I brought up people like Hieronymus Bosch and Bernard Palissy, who are both from the 16th century as some of my historical influences and then all the new contemporary artists I referenced in last weeks blog ATL Vs NYC. Derek told me that my work has much more potential than just what I've been touching on and that bringing in some current politics such as the new EPA regulations as of 2017. I intend on discussing the topic further with him this week during my studio visit with him on Tuesday.

Wednesday was a day full of building, and back tracking in my notebook for past references, comments, and techniques. I have been trying very hard to make it a point to expand upon all the information given to me when someone references an artists, or a topic to me. Usually I would just go and look up whatever was said to me and then read a bit on it and move on, but now I try and relate it all. Seems like it would be obvious to have done this in the first place but in all honestly I wasn't starting to connect all the bigger ideas until recently, with the help of my current theory class, Art in the Age of Networks taught by Jason Hoelscher.

This is where the title of this blog post comes into play, sorta.

In class we have been reading articles all relating to system aesthetics and the network analogy to the artworld and the artworld discourse, that we as students of art play a role in. Even though I am just scratching the surface of the theories within the artworld and how they are all inner related to one another I still find the theory itself fascinating to say the least. Every essay we read is a new brain busting explosion of ideas, and concepts that opens up a whole new set of "adjacent possibilities" in the grand scheme "effectuations" (all these quotation-ed words are new things that I am just beginning to understand, so bare with me). Things like "Incorporeal Transformations", which is Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical account of expression and content in “The Geology of Morals” and “Postulates of Linguistic” chapters of their book A Thousand Plateaus. It is from my understanding the idea of change without actual change occurring-- just a change based off of implication, context, and language. This along with the collective assemblages of enunciation in language can then open up new understandings to art related things such as a vitrine. Which is what I am writing my argument driven paper on for the class, as well as hopefully later presenting a small version at Southerns Graduate Research Symposium, and then the full developed version of the paper at SECAC in October in their panel regarding the use of a vitrine and it's implied context.

So what does all this theory talk have to do with my artwork then? If I am getting hung up on the language of things, how does my art then relate back to it all? Well I am learning that it is all in the way you talk about things that ends up making the art work successful or not. Of course the artist statement is just a small part of the "whole" of being an artist, but how you talk about the work in general is also key. Knowing the discourse, or all the presuppositions (PSP's) about the work in question places you within the three art world ontologies, and lets your opinion actually matter. By knowing what my work is, and is not, I can explain better to my audience what is it I am making, and most importantly why. For me, the articles we have been reading, the presentations I have been preparing for is all just part of the bigger game, again, as a "whole".

Knowing the bigger context provides the content for the work. This I am learning to be fact, and I feel like my work is developing along the same speed of understanding, the more I read and write about my work.

In terms of new developments within my research practice for influencing artists, and artworks I have been back tracking and looking into old references. After spending most of my Saturday prepping for this weeks overhaul in the studio by making/doing all of the following:

  • 150 triangle test tiles for glaze tests
  • testing new materials/textures for possibly making my work "lighter in weight"
  • new glaze tests at lower temperatures at cone 04, instead of cone 6
  • developing a new gallon of casting slip slightly different from my original formula
  • making a half batch of my porcelain dunking slip, to cast more fabric
  • hunting and gathering $56.00 of ceramic plates, teacups, mugs, saucers, and bowls from goodwill
  • re-firing my "half-baked pieces" to cone 6, only to realize most of my bright colors burned out
  • finishing up my large piece to 95% completion
  • casting a whole new set of molds (about 15 different molds)
  • started on 3 new smaller pieces (two frogs, and an owl)
  • tweaked my artists statement and the specific terminology used

I really haven't looked too deeply into a new artist, because I spent so much of my time actually making in the studio along with digging into the theory of incorporeal transformations by reading additional material by Deleuze and Guattari. I needed it though. I needed to just work and try to generate my own, internal influence this week.

Sometimes I feel like even though all the reading and research I do is all beneficial to my work, finding that balance between working and reading has been hard for me. I tend to go all in on something. Either I read for hours on end, or a work. I'm not too good at doing one or the other, if it isn't obvious in my blog posts (They are much longer than the required length and cover much more than they need to.) But this is just how I am, and how I have been working since I got here (to grad school). Everything is written down, and researched to the point where I feel at least comfortable with the topics.

Fresh out the re-fire. My piece with some of the colors washed out, because of the high heat.

My professor Jeff keeps telling me that as long as I keep working the answers to what the work is about will come, in time. So I just keep putting in the hours and hope that eventually I'll get some kind of "ahh-ha" moment. I feel that I am close. I think after I sit down and actually have a solid meeting with my chair for my thesis committee, and get some of my "facts" laid out about my work I will be in an even better place than I am now.

Plans for next week are to dive into working on a new piece incorporating more negative space into the work, as well as less weight. I am also having to make new sculptures from cloth, string, fabric, and cardboard, just so I can then break them for use in my current work.  All that materials research I did two semesters ago, to make my "fabric" sculptures, has now become a part of the process for the new works seen here. I also have all my 30hr MFA Candidacy Review artwork up on my website now, so look for that final upload so you can see the jumping off point from last semester to what I am doing now.

Here's to being half way through the semester already!

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".

 

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