Sadly, the limited time left at the end of school has meant that I won't be able to finish my oil painting. However, that is not to say that I haven't learned a lot from the project. After doing a quick brunaille I started on the grisaille, which I found extremely difficult, but also satisfying. While I'm not happy with the grisaille as it is (especially the flat grey unfinished bottle), I can tell that I'm moving in the right direction, and the level of value and detail is building up and coming along. I wish we had more time to complete this, but I might be able to find time over the summer to work a little more on it.
I am finally "done" with this project that has taken an excessively long amount of time. I am actually really proud of it, considering all the different elements that were involved: a ceramic tree that needed to be assembled, a frame with eyehooks, and then the entire assembly suspended by wire. While I don't have all the suspending wires in place, and they may never be in place, I think the piece as it is does have a nice level of polish and finish. While I began this project unsure of where I was going, I am satisfied that I was able to pull together a cohesive idea that directly related to and represented my content.
The Lunchtime Lecture with John Freyer was really enjoyable and interesting - perhaps more so than any other Lunchtime Lecture that I've been to. Freyer seemed like an immensely motivated and creative person, and I was impressed by his openness to the audience. Knowing little about social practice art, I was intrigued by his work, and his various collaborations. I think previously in my mind I had separated social practice art from other more "artistic" types of art, but Freyer's lecture really changed how I saw that kind of work. He described the intent and content and meaning of his art projects in much the same way as someone could describe the content of a painting or drawing. That really resonated with me, and made me recognize the importance and value that social practice art has, partly because of the inherent interaction with people and partly because of the uniqueness of it. While Social Practice Art hasn't really been something I've thought about, I'm beginning to think it could be something interesting to explore and experiment with.
Freyer's Website: Freyer
Over the past two weeks I've continued to work on my sculpture. After the various pieces were fired, they ended up in sizes that didn't match up quite how I'd originally made them, so it took quite a lot of sanding and scraping to get them to fit together nicely. Then I glued them together with some toxic E6000 and they seem to have held well. Unfortunately, there were a couple gaps and crevices that diminished the overall effect, however, I added caulk to those seams and am now in the process of cleaning that up to make it look nice and intentional. I also have took the canvas off the frame from one of my practice AbEx paintings, and have drilled holes and added eye-hooks around the inside perimeter. Unfortunately, I didn't quite think the process through, and had to remove all the hooks in order to spray paint the frame. The frame and the tree will be painted the same white, while the wires along with the eye-hooks will remain silver.
Visiting the Try-Me Gallery was really different than most of the other field trips we've been on. The collection was much smaller than that of the VMFA, and even though we usually only look at a small part of the collection of a museum, having the contents curated and displayed so carefully was a different experience. The fact that each piece had been bought and chosen to fit into the gallery as a whole gave each piece a new meaning relative to the works around it. There were certainly some pieces there that I did not like, but many more that I really did like, and many which inspired me.
I think one of the things that I was most impressed by was the craftsmanship - especially of the sculptural works. Of course all professional artists make use of good craftsmanship, but the level of perfection and attention to detail was really astounding to me, especially having worked some with sculpture and being able to appreciate the difficulty of maintaining good craftsmanship in three dimensions.
In addition, I was especially inspired by Chiharu Shiota and her wide variety of works. I'd like to look into her more and into her use of thread and yarn. It seems like that style or technique might be applicable to my work too.
Chiharu Shiota's Website
This week I finalized the branches of the tree and left them out to dry completely. I had left a couple to dry on Wednesday, so on Friday I was able to go in with some sandpaper to refine the edges and corners and make sure the geometry of the branches really stood out. Unfortunately, the smaller branches that I formed around the high-temp wire cracked when they shrunk around the wire. However, I will fire them anyway to see how they turn out, and if they don't work, it won't be any great loss. My plan for the foliage is to make it out of a wire - hopefully a thin-ish and shiny wire that I can manipulate to create a kind of canopy effect.
Next I have to choose whether to construct a frame from which to suspend the tree, or just rip the canvas off the frame for my abstract expressionist practice painting.
This week I continued to work on the tree that will form the center of my sculpture. I finished the main central branches, and made a couple smaller off-shoots that I formed around pieces of the high-temp wire to give them a little more stability. I also had to make a decision about the texture of the tree, as the clay has been slowly hardening. My initial thought was to make the tree as realistic as possible, so I thought about how to represent bark. I tried taking a bit of clay and scribing lines into it, however that looked nothing like bark. I also tried taking some of the wood I had experimented with earlier in the process and pressed it into the clay to try to get the same look. Unfortunately, that just made it look messy and incomplete. I came up with another idea, somewhat based off of Raina's work, to make the tree geometric. I liked this idea somewhat better because the result would look much cleaner and more finished, whereas the "bark" texture would just look sloppy and unfinished. I decided that that really was the way to go, and that it wouldn't really harm or change the content of the work. With the geometric shape, it merely further emphasizes the role of humans in the shaping of the natural world. Next I have to work on the frame - which should be relatively simple. I just need to make a solid plan so the construction of it goes smoothly. I'm really excited for how this project is going.
Working with thread and hoses, exclusively in black, white, and red, Chiharu Shiota creates large scale installations within and between rooms. Shiota creates networks out of space and thread, and moves between creating completely non-objective and organic spaces and more rigidly defined areas framed in wood or steel. In her complex and almost psychedelic networks, Shiota often includes everyday objects, and meaningful items that tie into her themes of "life, death, and relationships." Her work, shown at the Try-Me Gallery, inspired me and connected with my ideas of representations of suspension, support, and unstable balances. In addition, the 'obscuring' effect that much of her work creates intertwined with my concepts of limiting view to my sculpture and balancing what is hidden with what is shown.
Sources to Look at:
Look through Shiota's other work. Take some notes and save a couple pieces that stand out to you and that show the different styles/mediums/concepts that Shiota focuses on: https://www.chiharu-shiota.com/works
Read this Article about Installation Art. It's a little long but get through as much as you can: https://www.theartstory.org
Watch the following short video. Pay attention to the cross media concepts she discusses.
1. Shiota talks some about other media in the video, and had experience with performance art among her other artistic work. What connections do you see between Shiota's different styles and mediums, and what differences? Compare her use of an unorthodox medium to Mark Bradford's "painting with paper."
2. What is something you learned about the use and purpose of installation art as opposed to traditional art that is contained as an object? How does Shiota use installation to augment and emphasize her work, and would her art work without the installation aspect?
3. What lessons or ideas do you take away from Shiota (either negative or positive) for your own art and sculpture? Do you think your work might benefit, either now or in the future, from becoming more of an installation-style work?
This week I continued work on my sculpture, building the various parts of the tree. Unfortunately, as usual, my progress with clay was slower than I anticipated and wanted, which is very frustrating at times. However, I think I am making very real progress, and as I figure out my process, it has become a lot easier and quicker. I want to add two more major branches, and a couple small pieces that I will probably attach with the high-fire wire. I think my major concern at this point is finishing in time to fire and glaze the piece, as well as the question of texture. I think the texture of the clay will be the aspect that makes the piece most resemble a tree, and thats not something I've perfected or even really figured out at all yet. I have a couple ideas involving scoring or scratching the surface lightly, but I'm not sure yet which way to go.
I'm excited to move on to the next part of this process - constructing the frame and figuring out exactly how to suspend the tree.
This week our class visited the Try-Me gallery and saw a variety of extremely impressive two and three dimensional work. One of the sculpture pieces that really impressed and inspired me (below right) was what appears to be a ceramic dress suspended in what is almost a matrix of thread. This sculpture really resonated with me, and because of my frustrations with the material that had caused me to be pretty much unable to realize my vision, I decided that I should take my inspiration from that piece and embark in a different direction. I still really wanted to focus on the interplay of nature and industry or the modern world, but I wanted to reverse the situation - so the man-made material (the wire) was no longer inside the element of the natural world and holding it together, but was instead outside the natural element and essentially holding up. With this in mind, I decided I wanted to create a frame, almost like the stretcher of a canvas, and in the middle of the frame create a miniature tree that would be suspended by radiating wires that were tied and stretched to eyehooks screwed into the inside of the frame. So this week I began constructing the ceramic tree out of stoneware. The tree will be made in segments in order to retain structural integrity, and then will be assembled either right before or after firing.
I'm very excited for this new approach and I think it holds real promise and possibility.