This year I was an associate at my school’s gallery. I had the privilege to work with Angélica Dass. The goal of her project, “Humanae”, is to record and catalog every possible skin tone. She took several of my fellow students pictures as well as mine.
Ever been scared of cake? No, but Scott Hove aims to change that with his cake sculptures. Hove creates guns, animal (like) heads, and installations from cake alone, all with more skill than you’ve ever seen in a pastry. The pieces are impressive in execution but go further than most art by looking delicious. Would I eat them? Yes, probably.
This isn’t quite my normal type of post, but it’s midterms week and we could all use a study break, right? This beautifully animated short film by Kristen Kemper reminded me of why, deep down, I wouldn’t trade college (even with the essays and exams) for anything. It’s a fairy tale in the most comforting sense of the term. (That, and it has mermaids.)
Last year my Senior Seminar professor handed out these teaching notes by late modern artist Paul Thek, if you ever feel like you’re in an artistic rut, turn to these notes that Thek would pass out to all his students and I am sure one will prompt an idea.
Paul Thek’s “teaching notes”:
Name Age Birthdate Place of birth Position in family Nationality Religion Education Hobbies Career plans Parents’ education Parents’ birthplace Parents’ religion Where do you live now? With whom? For how long? What income do you have? From what source? What property do you own? What are your requirements in a friend? Lover? Mate? What kind of art do you like? Painting? Sculpture? Music? What do you read? How often? Do you buy books? Records? What is your favorite color? What are your politics? Have you ever been seriously ill? Serious accidents? What do you do on a date? What is the purpose of dating? Do you believe in premarital sex? What happens after death? Tell us about other members of your family. Tell us about a close friend. Tell us about someone who inspires you. Tell us about the most exciting thing you ever saw, did. How many rooms are there in your home? How many floors? What floor do you live on? Do you have your own room? Do you share it? With whom? What does your room look like? On what do you sleep? In what? In what position? Do you take baths or showers? Do you use perfumes or deodorants? What style or look do you prefer? Are you interested in sports? Which? How often? Do you believe in abortion? Do your parents? What is your worst physical feature? Your best? What is the main source of difficulty between you and your parents? Teachers? Friends? What annoys you the most in others? What kind of teacher do you prefer? If you were a teacher what would you propose? How would you grade your students? What is eternity? What is love? What is art? What is a symbol? What is religion? What is psychology? Who are your role models? Who is the person closest to you at the moment? Who is the person physically closest to you at the moment? What in your life is your greatest source of pleasure? How do you know you love someone? How do you know that someone is interested in you? How do you know that you are happy, sad, nervous, bored? What does this school need? This room? You? This city? This country? What is abstraction? What is a mystery religion? What would it be like if you behaved with absolute power? Redesign a rainbow. Make a French-curve rainbow. Design a labyrinth dedicated to Freud, using his photo and his writings. Design a Torah. Design a monstrance. Illustrate the Godhead. Add a station of the cross. Design an abstract monument to Uncle Tom. What is a good temple? A bad temple? Who is your favorite character in the Bible? Who is your favorite character in Gone With the Wind? Why does an icon have to be human? What is sacred? Profane? What is the most beautiful thing in the world? Make a paperdoll of yourself. What is theology? What is secular? Explain the Zen doctrine in your own words. What does it mean? What does it mean “In the beginning was the Word”? Can you find a book on making sculptures of paper? Make a spaceship out of a cereal box. Make a paper chain out of a book. Redesign the human genitals so that they may be more equitable. Design a feminist crucifixion scene. Design something to sell on the street corner. Design something to sell to the government. Design something to put on an altar. Design something to put over a child’s bed. Design something to put over your bed when you make love. Make a monkey out of clay. Design a flying saucer as if it were The Ark. Make a large folded-paper airplane, paint on it a slogan which you think will revolutionize your life. Make an icon out of popcorn. Pain a balloon gold, paint a balloon silver. Make a necklace out of coal. Paint a series of playing balls like planets, be accurate. Design a black mass out of any materials you can find. Design a work of art that fits in a matchbox, a shoebox. Design a new clock face. What is the difference between philosophy and theology? Who is Hans Kung? What is liberation theology? What is mysticism? Who was Meister Eckhart? What is the purpose of art? What does ‘spiritual’ mean to you? What is the most difficult thing in life for you? Can art be helpful in dealing with this difficulty? In what way? What is ‘service’? What is the purpose of society? Of government? What is the surest way to happiness? Who is Savanarola? Augustine? What is attractive in a woman? A man? What are the qualities of physique most attractive? What are the personality problems of being an artist? What is it like to be an American in the 20th century? Who is Roosevelt? What is action painting? Pop art? The Louvre? What languages do you speak? Spoken at home? What religious articles do you have in your home? Make a skyscraper out of inappropriate materials. Make a prisoner’s pillbox hat. Make scatological object, or use scatological words. Illustrate your strangeness, act out your most frightening perversity. Design a box within a box to illustrate selfishness. Design a throne. Why are you here? What is a shaman? Make a piece of curative art. Make a piece of psychological art. What do you think has been the greatest hurt, mental and physical, that you have suffered? What do you think are the qualities of a life fully lived? Can you suggest a project, for yourself or for a group, or for any number, which might deepen your sensitivity to time? What is greed? What is verbal knowledge? What does tactile mean? Can you show me an example of tactile sensitivity in your personal life? What do you do to make yourself more attractive sexually? Why do you do this? Do you really like very beautiful people? Do they really have special privileges? What is polygamy? Explain its function in the society? Make a design of your favorite literary person. Event. History. Project for Ellis Island. How much time should you work on a class project? How much time should you think about it? Discuss it? What do you think of money? Make a structure to me explaining your concept of money, or out of money. Should art be useful? Useless? What is pablum? What is capitalism? Communism? Socialism? What is leisure? Make a structure out of photos of primitive people. Make a structure illustrating anything from the book of proverbs. Can you construct a functioning lamp that illustrates the concept of freedom? Can you construct a functioning ashtray that illustrates the passage of time? What is waste? Who was Malthus? How can we humanize the city? How can we humanize Cooper? How can we redesign the Cooper triangle? What should the student lounge look like? Where?
Remember, I’m going to mark you, it’s my great pleasure to reward real effort, it’s my great pleasure to punish stupidity, laziness and insincerity.
These marks won’t make much difference in your later life, but my reaction to you will, but the reactions of your classmates to what you do will.
Your classmates are your world, your future will be like this now, as you related to your present, you will relate to your future, recognize your weakness and do something about it.
During one of my recent guarding shifts at the Gund Gallery, I happened to catch a glimpse of the message that Israeli artist Ori Gersht is trying to convey through his current exhibit on display at our gallery. I watched as the security guard walked over to the large window in the front room and stood there, looking outside at the snowy world below. Framed by the white, still falling snow, and the tall evergreens, I was taken aback by how much this landscape resembled those in Gersht’s photos. At the gallery opening, one of my classmates asked me if one of the stills (my personal favorite of the collection) from Gersht’s film Evaders entitled Lost There was photographed on Kenyon’s campus. The photo was taken in the Pyrenees mountains of France.
Despite this geographic detail, the message is clear – these images are universal. They could happen any where at any time, even somewhere as sleepy and remote as Gambier. Dramatic scenery and horrific events do not go hand-in-hand as it would seem. I remember that last year, on the anniversary of 9/11, I happened to be driving out in the country. It struck me that on such a tragic day, there was such a clear blue sky up above. One may say that nature has no memory in that sense but the artwork of Ori Gersht, the juxtaposition of craggy mountains and quite forests that hide chilling narrative of survival and cruelty during World War II, implores us to question that statement. For this, I am grateful. While the sakura blossoms in Gersht’s Chasing Good Fortune series provide a much needed respite from the chilly February winds, they also provide us with moments of meaningful reflections of our past.
In her own words, Kate Clark’s work “studies the tension between personal and mythical realms by creating sculpture that synthesizes the human face with the body of wild animals”. Her work, at first startling, blurs the lines of reality. A stark gallery setting juxtaposes with Clark’s strikingly anthropomorphic sculptures. Clark tames the wild beast and presents its altered, less threatening form to visitors, urging them to ponder notions of humanity, ethics, life and death. While Clark’s sculptures are not alive, they are so uncannily familiar that they seem to breathe. That familiarity comes from Clark’s skillful rendering of the human face. Kate Clark originally used friends and family as references earlier in her career, but she now occasionally uses models to present work that bridges the gap between human and animal.
Title: Bully Medium: Canadian White Wolf hide, clay, foam, thread, pins, rubber eyes, wood, paint Size: 82 X 42 X 54 inches Year: 2010
The work of San Francisco-based artist Barry McGee might overwhelm the eye and, to an extent, that’s exactly what he’s trying to accomplish. Influenced by the visual overstimulation of advertising and urban décor, McGee paints bright, geometric, and illusory patterns, as well as sullen, city subjects. He’s associated with the Mission School–a contemporary movement composed of artists across many mediums that draw inspiration from urban landscapes and varying cultures of the street. In recent years, he and his wife, Clare Rojas, have collaborated on several exhibitions. Rojas grew up in nearby Columbus and her paintings echo Ohio’s rural imagery and folky aesthetic. Together, their work makes for a complementary dynamic, their presentation oftentimes closer to that of installation art. These photos were pulled from www.arrestedmotion.com and were taken at an exhibition in Bolinas, California a few years back.