For those of you who aren’t familiar with art school life, I studied at a prestigious design school internationally ranked the best. As soon as I got there, I was surrounded by hundreds of others from all over the world (but mostly from Korea and for some reason, New Jersey) who were just as skilled, if not better than me and it was intimidating.
Imagine having a limited time to use all your wit, brain-power and research skills to come up with a concept as fast as you can, and then spend HOURS crafting, designing, measuring, illustrating, building, creating. Whether you’re proud or unhappy with your work, when the time is up you have to display in front of your professor and peers and listen while they talk about everything that’s right or wrong with it. And if they ask you questions, you have to arm yourself with intelligent, non-defensive answers. That’s just for one studio class. You’re taking three (sometimes four if you have a time turner) every semester along with writing essays, reading Machiavelli, and memorizing art history dates. That’s more hours of work than someone with a 9-5 spent on projects that might just get criticized when you only want praise and validation. Could you handle that?
Yes you could, if you separate judgement from critique. When you receive a comment, no matter how much it hurts your ego to hear, you have to try to filter the negativity and judgement from it and listen to the message. And when you give a critique, you try to do it objectively and without judgment. It’s not about developing a thick skin, it’s about taming your ego. That’s how you grow.
I’m writing this because so many of you think humility is about wearing turtlenecks and pretending like you hate yourself when really it’s about recognizing the flaws and working to improve them.
A prominent name in the Harlem Renaissance movement, Augusta Savage was not just an artist, but also an important Civil Rights activist.
While Augusta showed a passion for art at a very young age, her religious father disapproved greatly. She never let her family’s opinions deter her, as she continued to refine her talents and accepted encouragement elsewhere. Her talent and hardwork did not go ignored, as she enrolled in tuition-free Cooper Union and even received a scholarship which covered living expenses. However, as clearly gifted as Augusta was, many could not see past her race. After completing her schooling, she applied for an art program in France, and was rejected due to her race. Rather than let her set this back, she used her experience to draw attention to these hateful prejudices.
Augusta was finally able to travel and become even more well-known as she received fellowships and grants which allowed her to travel over Europe, later returning to a poor America as the Great Depression was in full effect. Commissions were lacking during this time, but it did not slow Augusta. She opened a studio in 1932, became the first black artist to join the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, and was a founding member of the Harlem Artists’ Guild.
By the time of her death, in the 1960’s, Augusta Savage was almost completely forgotten and was far from a famous name at the time. Thankfully, she is remembered today for her Civil Rights achievements through art.
Above: Bust of Gwendolyn Knight, who was a close friend of Augusta, one of her most famous busts: Gamin (1929), and The Harp (1939). The Harp, also known as Lift Every Voice and Sing, was created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. It was extremely popular, but was destroyed with the other installations at the end of the event.
the first place my mind went with this was maybelline because HAVE YOU SEEN YUURI’S EYELASHES and maybe yuuri’s born with it, maybe it’s maybell—hahaha who am i kidding he’s definitely born with it.
anyways. yuuri considers himself a dime a dozen photographer at cooper union and he’s on his way to a photography final when he loses his portfolio. which phichit convinced him to make self portraits. victor has had his images on the covers of everything from time magazine to vogue—and he’s had his face on them too. he finds yuuri’s portfolio and FALLS IN LOVE. cartoon hearts circle his head. someone thinks it’s an advertisement for a strip club a few blocks away. that got away from me.
so, portfolio in hand, victor decides to go into cooper union to find the model, not realizing the model (yuuri) is also the photographer.
“pose for me!” victor begs, “i will literally get on my knees for you. in more ways than one. i’d really like if it were in more ways than one.”
“i….what???” yuuri says, doing his best impression of edvard munch’s the scream.
“you can’t fuck talent into him, victor.” yurio snarls, clutching his own portfolio which is heavily inspired by yuuri’s anonymous tumblr of portraits of people around new york.
victor definitely fucks him, but yuuri was already talented.
he gets a picture on the cover of time magazine and in the engagements announcement section of the new york times.
In 1993, seven students from Cooper Union formed an artists’ collective called Art Club 2000 with the help of Colin de Land, who gave them an exhibition at his gallery, American Fine Arts. There, they showed “Commingle,” a series of staged photographs shot around New York City in which all the members of the collective wore clothing purchased at the Gap (and returned shortly thereafter because of the store’s lenient return policy).
Founded in the 1920′s as a security force for the Ku Klux Klan, The Black Legion were a white supremacist organisation, prevalent in the Midwest of the United States. By the mid-1930′s, they had accumulated 20,000 to 30,000 members, mainly lower-class Southern Protestant whites. They perpetrated violence predominantly against African Americans, who they felt had stolen their jobs while completely disregarding that they lacked any useful skills for said jobs. They also targeted Catholics, Jews, labor unions, farm cooperatives and fraternal groups.
On 12 May, 1936, the organisation kidnapped Charles A. Poole, a Works Progress Administration organiser. Poole, a French Catholic, had married a Protestant. They shot him dead and it was this murder that eventually led to their downfall. It is believed that they killed up to fifty people in Detroit alone.
On my blog posts on contemporary artists are few and far in between, especially those of digital artists, but American artist Larry Carlson is certainly one worth mentioning. Involving himself in not just collage painting and photography, but also animation, sound design, and a number of other medias. Having a formal artistic education, Carlson studied painting and video-art Cooper Union School of Art, however much of what he now focuses on is self-taught. His works are influenced heavily with surrealism. With bright and vivid colours, Carlson’s works truly reflect his psychedelic mind-frame. Positioning of subject matter - which he has either photographed or digitally drawn himself - and colour are, quite obviously, signatures of his work as he aims to bend the viewer’s perception.
Rant about Grantaire and Les Amis from a modern Marxist
Ok so I am a dedicated member of the Grantaire Defence Squad, but I want to say something about Grantaire’s place in Les Amis (particularly in modern AUs)
I am actually a member of an activist organisation with revolutionary Marxist politics, which I like to think Les Amis would also be in a modern context, having learned the lessons of the past: primarily that a revolution cannot be fought and won by a tiny group of student activists, no matter how dedicated. As a result, in modern AUs where Les Amis are activists in a non-revolutionary context, I would assume that the bulk of their project would be building their organisation, specifically it’s working class membership. I also need to emphasise that there is NO WAY IN HELL that an activist group with less than a dozen members could have ANY IMPACT WHATSOEVER on the direction of a political campaign, be it for marriage equality, refugee rights, defending higher education, etc. There are dozens of different groups on the left of non-parliamentary politics, all of whom will attempt to pull campaigns in different directions. In my own context, the primary argument that my organisation has to have with the rest of the left is not to put our faith in lobbying the government or holding polite discussions with supposedly left wing politicians, but that we should focus on organising mass actions like student protests and especially that we should cooperate with the trade union movement to coordinate industrial action (i.e. STRIKES!)
It would not be possible for Les Amis to win these kinds of arguments and lead a campaign, or for Enjolras to be a keynote speaker at rallies, unless the organisation had a BROAD, ACTIVE membership. That means that the Amis we know and love would actually just be the leadership body of the organisation- the most dedicated, passionate and experienced activists, people who are willing to sacrifice a great deal of their personal time to organising campaigns etc.
Which brings us to Grantaire. What is he doing there? I have to assume that he is not a part of the leadership- it just wouldn’t happen. So let’s say that the regular meeting in the Musain are open to all members, but most people who aren’t part of the leadership only come every few weeks- except for Grantaire, who is there every week without fail. Now don’t get me wrong. I fucking adore Grantaire. I will fight you in Grantaire’s defence. BUT! I have to say that in my experience, if you have dedicated your life to the project of building a revolutionary organisation, encountering the kind of apathy and cynicism that Grantaire shows is fucking intolerable. It’s infuriating. I honestly do not blame Enjolras for losing his temper with R, he must be losing his mind trying to understand what the fuck he’s even doing there. If you’re desperately trying to convince someone that humanity is actually capable of BETTER than this shit system and they’re just refusing to engage in an actual debate in favour of spouting comments like “nah people are assholes and life is meaningless”, eventually you’ll either snap at them or conclude that it’s a pointless discussion and walk away.
THE ONLY REASON you might let them hang around and provide a deeply unhelpful running commentary is if it’s a person you actually care about. For example; one of my best friends is like, Grantaire reincarnated. She is witty and cynical and she likes to wind me up with long speeches on how my movement is pointless and capitalism has won and we should all just accept that the world is a shitty place and it’s everyone for themselves out here. But I know her, and I know that just because she claims to accept the way the world is, doesn’t mean she likes it. I know that even though she doesn’t see a bright future for humanity, some small part of her still hopes for it. So I don’t let her cynicism bother me. I’m used to it, it’s become a part of our banter. I try to convince her the world can be better, she declares that it can’t- it’s what we do.
So what I’m saying is that the Amis wouldn’t let Grantaire stick around unless they actually really loved him, and knew him personally, and had faith that despite his cynicism towards their cause, his MORALS were sound. All of them, including Enjolras, must have some small hope that underneath his apathy and defeatism, he’s actually waiting to be proved wrong. They must hope that there’s a REASON he keeps coming back week after week, and if you try to tell me it’s just to get into Enjolras’ pants I will fucking cut you. Grantaire is the ultimate cynic- the disappointed idealist. He’s someone who maybe once had faith in humanity, but lost it along the way through years of suffering and darkness. He’s someone who WANTS to believe- and I think the reason he keeps coming back and latches onto Enjolras is because he thinks if anyone is going to convince him, it will probably be the “marble lover of liberty”. His resistance to belief means he plays an important role in the dynamics of the organisation. He’s the test of Enjolras’ faith, the crucible through which the leader has to strengthen and purify his ideas. So their relationship is quite balanced in the sense that, just as if anyone is going to convince Grantaire it will be Enjolras, so too then if Enjolras can convince Grantaire, he can convince anyone.
So yeah basically I’m communist trash over here crying about the fact that Les Amis fucking love Grantaire so much that they refuse to give up on him (me too les Amis, me too) and also the fact that once again Enjolras and Grantaire have been proven to compliment and balance each other just as much as they challenge each other.