Grad School

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!

ATL vs NYC

Two blogs in one day! Who would have thought! This particular blog is going to be the actual blog recap for the week, like standard in terms of my usual blog posts. Rewind and Explain, the blog before this was the recap for New York and really for me was just a collection of the places I went now online in a solidified place so that I can come back to it later and do more research. This weeks 'Atlanta Weekend" is the culmination of a weeks worth of stress, chaos, and a bit of a crazy harebrained idea on my part for what happened this week in the studio.


This weekend I made my way up to Atlanta to stop in at my fav galley in town as well as drop off one of my pieces for a small pop up down in Midtown called Materials and Craft. It may just be one of my small ceramic mugs I made earlier in the semester, but it's still worth it to me to make the trip up here and kill multiple birds with multiple stones. And here's why...

First of all, Atlanta is a relatively close (to my current location near Savannah), huge hub for the art world, coming in behind New York and then Miami in terms of places to network in the USA. It is easy for me to come visit because most of my high school, and undergrad friends now call the city home. Plus I am familiar enough that it isn't a huge expenditure every time I visit.

Second, the galleries up here are right on par with places in Miami and New York. For one, I have noticed that a number of dealers that I saw in Art basel, and just last weekend in New York, have galleries in Atlanta too. Why? I am not sure but it is something that I plan on asking my professors why I see them next week.

Third and most importantly- it's the closest place to where I am at right now that I could see myself actually living and working in. I mean technically New York would be a dream big or go home kind of deal, but Atlanta is actually attainable in terms of financial reason too. It's not out of my price range right out of grad school. So maybe I can treat Atlanta like a stepping stone and jump to NYC after getting in the door in the ATL. Or---do both?


As for this week in the studio I really pushed the envelope to get things done. Friday was our first all faculty critique of the semester, meaning we needed to all have work down and ready to show for the past two months worth of time we'd been on classes. I hustled and came back from New York with a strong idea of what I wanted to present the faculty so I hit the ground running glazed my work in an orderly, painterly style. The final five pieces I intended to present were in the kiln on Tuesday for the final glaze firing and I was set. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, the problems with the kilns (if you have been following my blogs I have mentioned the issue before) are still rearing their ugly heads, and I ended up not presenting any work at all. You read that correctly, I, Courtney Ryan, did not present any work. Not presenting work, is not-I repeat, is not, something that I do. It was hard for me to present at the critique the way I did, and I don't intend to rehash the order of events here because it is irrelevant in terms of my blog post. Just know that I really had a hard time doing the presentation that I did and I really hope that I don't have to do it again. I felt like I let my fellow students down, like I was taking a pass on the critique for not showing. But more so, I was sad at myself. Which is why coming to Atlanta this weekend to get away from the studio and just put my work out there in a different kind of way was needed.

As for artists I am into this week- I had intended to talk about Annabeth Rosen, whom I have seen now in three different cities...New York, Miami, and now Atlanta. Zemer Peled and my Instagram relationship of following her work as it progresses in relation to my own skills and techniques. Xu Zhen and his use of the icing piping for his paintings, which I saw in New York and it inspired me to get larger frosting tips for my own ceramic pieces. And lastly Hieronymus Bosch and his maximalist aesthetic, which visiting artist Claire Ashely re-mentioned to me last week during the studio visit I had with her.

Below are some images of these artists work and I think that the visuals alone show their influence on my pieces, which are seen, bisqued (the first firing in the kin) and unglazed above.

Here is also a clip from Zemer's website, showing how she works in the studio. I relate to her work the most out of the artist I have talked about today just because she is such a personable artist, despite her fame. (And for her obsessive tendencies, which can be seen in this clip.)

Film by Eric Minh Swenson. Zemer Peled utilizes a process of creation and destruction to make sculptures consisting of thousands of handcrafted porcelain shards resulting in works that can be read in relation to art historical tradition, outsider art, and natural phenomena. The sculpture’s narrative impulses lean to encounters with the otherworldly—like complex topiaries marking a not-so-distant land--yet they remain distinctly tied to earth’s patterns. This conflation of the foreign and familiar creates a frenzied dislocation in the work. Inspired by migratory habits of birds, a sweep of feathers, and cycles of change, the works spiral outwardly in rhythmic patterns, interpreting not only the dynamism of nature, but also the startling strangeness of a life lived in transition. Using white and colored porcelains, Peled transforms sharp slivers of porcelain into feathers, petals, leaves, and spines that describe objects of unknowable origins: seductive but untrustworthy. The forms are complexly ordered from the inside out, often bulging or spilling over with textures both delicate and severe. In some works, large scale-like ceramic pieces appear airy, delicate, and fluffy, as if one's breath might break it. In others, Peled's fragments are geometric barbs that mysteriously take on an alluring form - offering a sense of softness despite a sharp actuality. The forms are never static; the visual dance of sharp ceramic parts conveys a sense of constant movement. Like a murmuration of starlings, the sculptures appear to shift shapes as you move around them, an identity becoming and unbecoming in front of you. The act of making for Peled is a feat of endurance, improvisation, and adaptation with the aim to embody a fleeting but fundamental feeling of mystery. The construction of her sculpture parallels negotiations any outsider makes in encountering a new world as they delicately construct a self that is both adaptable and resilient. Peled (b. 1983) was born and raised in a Kibbutz in the northern part of Israel. After completing her BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (Jerusalem), she earned her MA at the Royal College of Art (UK). In recent years, her work has been exhibited internationally, including such venues as Sotheby's and Saatchi Gallery (London), Eretz Israel Museum (Tel Aviv), and the Orangerie du Senate (Paris), among others. The artist currently lives and works in Long Beach, CA. 
 For more info on Eric Minh Swenson visit his website at thuvanarts.com. His art films can be seen at thuvanarts.com/take1 Eric Minh Swenson also covers the international art scene and his writings and photo essays can be seen at Huffington Post Arts : http://m.huffpost.com/us/author/eric-minh-swenson/

 

 

 

Studio Visit Overload

When you have the opportunity to sign up for a studio visit from the visiting artist, lecturer, gallery director, or whatever important person happens to be on campus that day, you take it.  It's usually a problem to get a time slot in to speak to them so when I know there is a visit opportunity coming around I keep my phone on hand so that as soon as the email goes out I can sign up for a time slot.

This week was full of people, to include Jason Sweet from Atlanta, Nancy Bookhart who is a friend of my Professors, and Leonie Bradbury a gallery director in Boston.  I feel like this past month has been so packed with studio visits they are starting to run together in my head.  Luckily I keep track of them in my notebook which helps me to look back on the things we discussed.  I received some very enlightening feedback from Jason Sweet, who happens to be the instructor to one of my friends from undergrad.  He told me that my work represented landscapes of a home environment and that the new direction I was taking in my most recent work reflected those same thoughts, except it added the emotion of anger and rage.  I think he only said that because I gauged out the eyeballs of a stuffed teddybear, but I did it so I could put them back in at a later point in time.  I know that sounds awful, but I couldn't run his entire body through the kiln, eyes intact.

Leonie Bradbury shared a number of her secrets about running a gallery, and how to create call for entries and sending out prospectus opportunities to artists.  Later in June I will be curating a show at Augusta University with my friend Jessamy, completely by ourselves.  So we wanted to do a little research in the mind of someones who's been doing it for years...which is basically all we talked to Leonie about.  She is a curator of contemporary art and currently works as the Director and Curator of the Galleries at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA. She is also the co-founder of "Alter Projects" an independent curatorial collaborative that designs custom arts programming.  She came to visit us because she is in the same Ph.D. program as my Professor in Philosophy and Art Theory at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in Visual Art.

Also this week I will be completing my project from my third research symposium.  I made 240 test tiles with my undergraduate copartner and this week we will be glazing the tiles for our final project.  I have not seen any new art work outside of whats been happening in the Center for Art and Theater, the BFA Juried Art Show and the Form and Content show.  Which might I say were both amazing.  The awards ceremony which was held just this past Friday night was packed out with students, faculty, and family members.  I was awarded the Roxie Scholarship and acknowledged along with a number of other students!  The semester is winding down and things are getting tight on the calendar.  I have a lot to get done and only a little time to do it, so I'm headed back to the studio to work on pieces for the next critique, the ENOP Bird for Howard Lumber, two papers, and a revised artist statement.  Noting too crazy.....yet.

Deadlines and Self Reflection

This week at school was full of deadlines and a much needed period of reflection on my own work because of the stress I was under.  Nothing will kick you into high gear like realizing you have a test, a paper, a critique, and two meetings with professionals to make you step back for a minute and think what needs to be done to remedy the situation...best known as procrastination.

See my medium of choice does not allow for too many short cuts.  It's ceramic.  Which means I have to measure and make the actual clay mixture I use first.  This is about a 3 hour process of measuring, mixing, sifting, and then mixing again to insure an even consistency.  Then I have to make the work which is a few hours to a few days time.  Then its time to dry into greenware, again, another day or two.  Next is bisquing in the kiln, a minimum of 3 days, then glazing, another 3 days minimum, but could be longer if I decide to reglaze a piece over and over again at lower temperatures each time working on the color.

Basically it's a long process.  Therefore I always have work ready for critique because I make the work in advance, on a rolling basis.  I always have a project going, I always have things to do, things to test, things to get done.  This is where the stress comes in.  Couple that constant need with the other tasks I have to complete and it makes for a very stressful person.  To fight the stress I added another task to my day, but it's a necessary evil which is helping me work on myself as well as my art.  The solution- I go to the gym.  And oddly enough I get a lot of mental work done while I am there working out.  It's my time to question my next move in the studio, without being distracted by all the other tasks at hand.  This has by far been my best solution to all my problems as of lately.  I can think clearer when I am just running on the treadmill, because I've got nothing else to do.

I've spent this week so stressed out that I was losing steam in the studio and I hadn't made anything worth looking at, or at least I thought so.  But now that I go to the gym early in the morning, and then come to the studio a whole hour before anyone else arrives, I've had the time to focus and actually think about what needs to happen next.  Ive finally started my journey in Porcelain, and I have 3 different pieces which just need to be clear glazed and maybe colored for them to be finished.  My professors been gone all week long so I've held off on glazing them until we sit down and talk about their current form and how I made them.  They are very different from the past works in my mind.  Not just because of their material, but because of their visual qualities.  I'm excited to see where it goes.  I've attached all kinds of studio photos from over the past weeks in this blog entry as well, because I haven't photographed them professionally yet and I think studio clips help show myself and others the process I work through.

Over the weekend I managed to go to the grand opening day of the Statesboro Open Farmers Market, and I meandered through the Averitt Gallery to see an undergraduates students first solo installation as well as a ceramic innovational exhibition.  Zak Kelly has his paper making show, where he installed floor to ceiling paper that he made on all the surfaces of the gallery space.  Including a table top, chair, a toy gun, a box of cards, and some dice.  It's all covered in paper.  It was refreshing to see such a large scale work installed by a student who will soon be a fellow graduate student in my department.  As for the ceramic work, people like Nia Rementelas, Eric Jones Hall, and Jason Stanley Hall had works on display showcasing a variety of material choices and styles of execution.

I am looking forward to the next few weeks, with the prospects of new visiting artists, fellow student visits, and more hectic deadlines looming.  It's getting closer to the end of the school year and this last month will be a big push to the finish line.  So I know I have a busy life ahead of me.

Process and Porcelain

It's one small step for some, but it's one giant leap for me!  I have transitioned to working in porcelain this week and can't wait to begin working in this new, strange material.  Over the week I have made eight different test tiles to run through both reduction and oxidation, in hopes to find the purest white of the whites...to the point where the clay has an almost blue hue to it.

Its been a pretty complicated process but I enjoy making the small 100 gram batches of liquid clay and then pouring them out on a plaster bat, to watch them dry almost instantaneously.  I've learned a lot over the week about what roles materials play in clay bodies, and how to manipulate them.  I won't go into the details about how I make the tests and what kind of notes I take from the results, but its all been very exciting!

I made my way down to SCAD Museum on Friday and saw some great fabric and bead work by Steven and William Ladd.  They have a show titled Blood Bound on display from February 16th- May 1st and it's a must see.  The reason I wanted to write about them this week was that they work in tandem, in collaboration with each other.  One brother is a master seamster and the other is a master bead maker.  They lived apart for a while doing their own work but then came back together and started to create elaborate beaded fabric works together.  Later this month I'll be working on a collaboration project with my friend Jessamy, and I believe it'll be a bit of a challenge at first to get used to making things together...especially when we'll be painting together on the ENOP Bird.  (Plus the way their signature was stuck up on the wall was very cool!)

More than anything though, I spent this last week working solely in the studio.  I really want to transition from working in stoneware to porcelain. [crazy right?]  I made a new burlap piece out of stone ware, and tried something new...but I'm not sure how I feel about it at the moment.  And I just took out my largest piece thus far, a Cone 4 Matte White box piece...which I'm in love with.  Guess I'll see what happens in the studio this next week when I make a large scale batch of this new, strange white material!

(Above are some images of the process in making the clays and glazes.)  

[This process secretly makes me both a mad scientist and an artist!]

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