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November 30, 2006

ThinkGirl Poster 2

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ThinkGirl Poster 1

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ThinkGirl

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November 8, 2006

Ping-yao Chen

Taotie 1: The face of the beast. Diptych. Inkjet print on paper, 28"x56", 2006.

Taotie 2: The face of the beast - drawing. Inkjet print on paper, 22"x30", 2006.

Cross-world oracles. Magnetic sheet on steel, 14"x28", 2006.

Oracle circuit. Transfer of digital images to copper, 14"x18", 2006.

I am interested in various phenomena underlying globalization. Due to the advance of technology, time and distance can no longer separate any resident on earth. Everyone is deeply connected and related. However, this nearness also brings with it contradictions and causes conflicts among diverse groups. The result is a different kind of separation. I am especially fascinated by the influences of multiple cultures on a community. I was raised in Taiwan, a place that is full of conflicts. However, I can see a new life and confidence emerging from the search process for self-identification. Seeing new hope and life from the encounter of multiple cultures inspires my art making.

As a Taiwanese, my memories and experiences are filled with political turbulence: martial law, white terror, and the endless argument and conflict about the identity and the independence of my country. These experiences compel me to investigate my own identity, care about the minority, and search for the possibilities of healing the hurt. Art is the most appropriate language for me to use to express these concerns. I believe that art can initiate a dialogue among diverse groups, and that through it, helps build mutual understanding and trusting relationships that may gradually re-cover the wounds.

I am also interested in the mutual influence between Taiwan and China, and how their interaction can possibly affect the world. In my work as an artist, I re-visit conventional Chinese culture through a contemporary lens to see how it affects the life of Asian as well as Asian American, and how this impacts the dominate cultures in the United States. I am also interested in the generation of a hybrid culture, and how this new hybrid culture can affect the mother countries in Asia.

Currently I am appropriating two motifs from ancient Chinese culture as visual analogies to my concerns regarding globalization. The Taotie motif, found on sacrificial vessels, inspired both awe and terror, and symbolizes the ritual system that aristocracy employed to retain the feudalism; the oracle bone motif, the oldest known form of Chinese written language, carries answers to a divination, and represents nothing but the myth of the power of divine right of kings.

Various contemporary 'Taotie' icons and absurd oracles prevail in the third world culturally, economically, politically, and militarily such as Disney, Hollywood, Coke, or the Nuclear Clubs. By comparing past motifs to current ones cross-culturally, abstracting them, and creating analogies to contemporary counterparts, I attempt to demystify the myths embedded within the motifs, humorously (and elegantly) revealing the lie and injustice.

My ultimate goal is to bring what I learn back to Taiwan. My hope is that one day my country will no longer be isolated from the world, and can contribute to the global village in art, economy, and many other dimensions as well.

Taotie 1

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Taotie 2

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Cross-world oracles.

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Oracle circuit.

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Katherine Hart

Color, texture, shadows. These things immediately stand out when looking at my paintings. I have been working with low relief in my paintings for four years now and still the possibilities seem endless. There have been many different subjects, including sunsets and underwater scenes, although lately the pictures have been moving towards total abstraction. The paintings have many vibrant and intense colors juxtaposed to create areas of high contrast and areas of similarity. These colors are painted and blended over weather stripping clay which is also textured to create contrast or similarity. The interplay between the colors and underlying structure of clay is very interesting to me. My pictures usually reference nature, although in some of the abstract pieces these forms remain unrecognizable. In addition to acting like paintings hung on the wall, my work also functions like sculpture in that the angle of viewing changes what forms, colors and shadows are seen. From different angles, new patterns and color combinations appear. The angle of lighting also can create interesting shadow effects. I really enjoy all of this variation as it allows much more to play and experiment with than a two dimensional flat surface.

The materials I use are very important to me. I know that painting and sculpture each have long traditions and that to mix the two sometimes is frowned upon, even today in our very open-to-new-possibilities art world. I am not concerned with breaking traditions and my materials are not meant to comment on anything. I attach weather stripping clay to stretched canvas or canvas board and paint over it with acrylic or oil paints solely for the tactile quality that results. I love working with my hands and sculpting. I also enjoy the way the paint flows, blends, spreads, and the painting mediums that change the consistency and interplay between paints. My paintings encompass what I feel is the perfect mix between the two media. When I get out a new canvas I am always excited about all the possibilities and I thoroughly enjoy the way the clay and paint layers build up to make the finished product.

One influence on my art has been working at the Weisman Art Museum. From working there I have gotten lots of exposure to the arts community by attending openings, gallery talks, art auctions, fundraisers, and other events. It has been very interesting to see how a museum operates, collects and displays artwork; as has attending events all around the Twin Cities. These experiences have all influenced my artwork by giving me exposure to many artists I would never have seen. I have spent hours looking at the contemporary art the museum owns, and during some events I get to see art by practicing local artists. This exposure constantly gives me new ideas to try out in my artwork. Three shows specifically have had a big impact on my art: Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, Mir Iskusstva: Russia’s Age of Elegance, and Charles Biederman: (1906-2004) In Memorium. All three of these shows had very big, colorful paintings that I absolutely loved looking at. I especially am influenced by the Charles Biederman painted aluminum works. They are hung on the wall like paintings but geometric and abstract forms stick out from the flat panel in relief. They are painted in bright colors, with shadows that change depending on the location of the light source. I try to do all of these things in my art, although mine are painted in a more painterly fashion than the flat colors on the Biedermans.

Another influence on my art has been scuba diving. I was certified three years ago and have gone on diving trips to the Bahamas, the Mediterranean Sea, Lake Superior, and numerous to Minnesota lakes. I always have a waterproof camera with me and I take pictures of everything. I use these pictures to generate the forms I put into my abstract paintings. The coral forms and reef structures are almost abstract by themselves, and I use them as a starting point. I also am intrigued by the number of bright colors that occur naturally underwater in the coral and fish; I try to use these memories when deciding on my color choices. In the way I apply paint in blended layers I think of the distortion of objects underwater, and the way water looks over different colors and forms. There are endless possibilities for exploration in the ocean and I draw on this every time I come up with a new painting.

I really enjoy the reaction I get from the viewer. Usually people stop next to one of my paintings and ask “whoa, what is that?? People are not expecting to see a painting hanging on the wall with this level of relief. Instead of being a flat surface like most paintings, it is a painting that is no longer flat; it breaks out a little into the viewer’s space. When looking at sculpture, people expect this, but when looking at a painting on the wall it is very fascinating. In my classes, usually other students enjoy this juxtaposition. I have had frustration with the teachers though. Some painting teachers have told me its not actual painting because I’m not moving the paint around enough, and some sculpture teachers have told me its not sculpture because its not freestanding and too much time was spent painting rather than constructing. Even though this was frustrating to hear, I still enjoy that reaction because it means that some people still have boundaries in their thinking about art that I can push. I am making these paintings solely because I enjoy the mix of sculpture and painting, but if I can expand some people’s thinking about the relationships between the two media at the same time, I will definitely enjoy that as a nice side effect.

Signature in Style

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Berries

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Underwater

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Prague Skyline

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Lindsay Noble

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Lindsay thru the years

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Tonja Torgerson

My artwork evolves from my experiences growing up on the edge of the White Earth Indian Reservation in rural Minnesota. I feel strongly shaped by the experiences of my childhood, but at the same time I feel a strong disconnect with the values and culture of this place. Many of the girls I went to elementary school with are now married and have children, and my choice to pursue a career has made me an outsider. I am further alienated by my vegetarianism, pacifism, and political positions. While there is much I love about the place I still call home, I can no longer deny my revulsion of its inherent racism, homophobia, and chauvinism. Slowly, but decisively, a barrier has formed between my homeland and myself. Through my art I hope to become more resolved with the era and environment that I come from.

Printmaking is remarkably versatile; it can serve many functions on both high art and craft levels. This serves my artwork well, as I am interested in the position of women in our current society and examining my own connections to femininity through the use of color, pattern, and craft. My prints are often direct responses to memories and interactions with friends and family about the role of women. The ThinkGirl images comment on a childhood memory of my mother advising me to marry a rich man so my life could be easier than hers. Similarly, the title of the print Stitch & Bitch is a term an old boyfriend used whenever he encountered a group of women talking. I feel women are constantly bombarded by such defining experiences, and it is only by turning these definitions in on themselves through my art that I begin to feel control over them.

My prints are often direct responses to memories and interactions with friends and family about the role of women. The title of the print Stitch & Bitch is a term an old boyfriend used whenever he encountered a group of women talking. The ThinkGirl images comment on a childhood memory of my mother advising me to marry a rich man so my life could be easier than hers. After this series, I created at set of ThinkGirl posters. They are hand-made screenprints which comment on the lack of feminine imagery in street art. Along with pastel colors and female figures, the pattern in the background of both posters consists of the iconic feminist clenched fist encased in a star. This subject matter was chosen to encourage the discussion of feminist issues in public spaces, such as advertising. The text “THINKGIRLTHINK? begs women who see the posters to consider the context and form an opinion.

What interests me most about these prints is the possibility they offer the “viewing public? – that is, anyone passing by on the street. In some cases I have filled in the thought balloon with text of my own, and in other cases left the balloon blank. I also distributed them to dozens of people, allowing them to fill in the thought bubble and to wheat-paste them in a location of their choosing. By leaving the balloons empty, I aim to enable any passerby to express themselves in whatever way they see fit. People have written a variety of messages into the blank thought balloons, ranging from the absurd to the enraged, and thus these prints have served precisely the purpose I had hoped they would – to create a free space in our collective mental environment for subversion, reinterpretation, irony and protest. Finally, by participating and filling in my own messages, I have reentered my own work, and engaged the process of creating a public dialogue through street art. I feel women are constantly bombarded by such defining experiences, and it is only by turning these definitions in on themselves through my art that I begin to feel control over them.

An important turn in my work in the last year is the embrace of a feminine aesthetic. Before this I created work about obsolete and dying architecture, such as motel signs and abandoned buildings (I still continue with this body of work in photography). During this time I was very conscious of making work that was devoid of female imagery. This carried out into my personal identity as well, as I tried to avoid acting too feminine at all costs. I think this is a crisis many young women have, both artists and others. Femininity often is thought of as a weaker quality, and women feel that they must try to be ‘one of the boys’ to be taken seriously. I did this for a long time, but I have been able to slowly realize that the negative connotations attached to femininity are constructed by society. I now feel in order to really respect myself, as a woman and a feminist (which should be a given adjective for any woman), I must appreciate feminine qualities and understand them as a facet of gender roles.

The medium I work in was a great influence on my art. I am interested in printmaking because it allows me to work in multiples, thus working to debunk the myth of the rare object in my art. Working in multiples also allows me to fracture the cost of my art. I can price my work so that my peers can afford to purchase it, and I can still feel that I have placed appropriate value on my work. Printmaking is also remarkably versatile; it can serve many functions on both high art and craft levels. Printmaking can be applied to create gift cards and wrapping paper in the same manner that it is used to create complex editions. This serves my artwork well, as I am interested in the position of women in our current society and examining my own connections to femininity through the use of color, pattern, and craft.

In addition, printmaking has largely been held by its users as a democratic practice. Printmakers will often give demonstrations to others in order to share information and techniques. Printmakers also regularly participate in print exchanges, and free print distributions. This idea of producing art in a way that avoids commodity also serves themes in my art; an example of this can be seen in the ThinkGirl posters.

More specifically, my artwork is primary screenprint. The appeal of screenprint for my artwork is multiple and complex. I am greatly influenced by street artists such as Erosie, El Cartel, and Shepard Fairey. All of these artists have used screenprinting to mass produce and distribute posters with social commentary in urban centers worldwide. Their ability to hold the attention of the general public and still create work respected by the art world is something I strive for in my own work. I also share their interest in making work that comments on society. Their appropriation of imagery is also something I use within my artwork. Screenprinting allows for the use of appropriated imagery with a seamless ease. The ability to add layers of pop culture into my work smoothly enforces my interest in confusing ideas of authorship and authenticity.

My artwork evolves from my experiences growing up on the edge of the White Earth Indian Reservation in rural Minnesota. I feel strongly shaped by the experiences of my childhood, but at the same time I feel a strong disconnect with the values and culture of this place. Many of the girls I went to elementary school with are now married and have children, and my choice to pursue a career has made me an outsider. I am further alienated by my vegetarianism, pacifism, and political positions. While there is much I love about the place I still call home, I can no longer deny my revulsion of its inherent racism, homophobia, and chauvinism. Slowly, but decisively, a barrier has formed between my homeland and myself. Through my art I hope to become more comfortable with the era and environment that I come from.

In this sense, much of my artwork can be seen as extremely local; based on a singular environment. I do think it is important for an artist to make work with a strong connection to their own experiences instead of focusing on larger abstract themes. However, this must be done with extreme care to avoid a feeling of isolation or elitism in artwork. While powerful art often requires strong context, I also feel that art focus solely on its surrounding environment can become narcissistic and chauvinist.

Michael Vegell

Printmaking is traditionally focused on process, and that is part of the interest for me. Many of my images come from pop culture, but in the transfer process I abstract them. Then I transfer the imagery to the block by hand by means of a graphite transfer. Next I carve the block, which the most enjoyable part for me because of a Zen like repetition of cuts—each cut mirroring the next yet shifting to crate an angle that sculpts form. Then there are the numerous ways of printing the same block. The physical block is important to me also, wether it is wood and what type of wood or fresh soft linoleum. Differing types of wood can create a variety of textures, and the softness of the wood can create a refined detailed image as well as a choppy gestural image. The blending of and knowledge of these elements can create a vast catalogue of mark making that sculpt any form.

I am working on a series of five state reduction blocks with a montage/ collage sort of imagery. The interpretation of the content is left to the viewer but I did have a theme involved, which was the inter-connectiveness of human interaction. Different character’s eyes create vectors to lead the viewer around the piece and into the layering of the collage. The fact that it is a reduction block (carving back into the same block multiple times to maximize the usage) is also related to the finalization of the interactions that take place in the piece, paralleling the incidents that take place in any given day. Also the decisive carving of the block creates more directional forces that lead the viewer around the piece. The overwhelming nature of the piece engages the viewer to stand and view the complexity of the composition as a whole.

The obsession for details is something that I strive for in my own work, by making sure that every cut is very planed out, including the angle of the cut, where my hand will be stabilized in my cut, and the depth of the cut that needs to be made. I feel that in relief the carver of the block is sculpting the image through lines that we only associate as form, and viewing the actual block is sometimes more interesting than seeing the print that is achieved.

One main thing that I strive for in my work is the absence of the elitism of many pieces in Fine Art, that needs a course in art history to appreciate. I think that it is important to make art that can cross the boundary between fine art and an aesthetic that the average person can admire. Through questioning many people of varying backgrounds about criticism, an artist can create a stronger piece of work. Through using images from popular culture and advertising as source materials of my work I am trying to create a reconnection of the uneducated about art with the fine art world.

Celabration

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Lisa Wegener

I love feeling the clay slide between my fingers when I am throwing a pot on the wheel. It is not just about using your hands: when you make a ceramic object, you are thinking about each step. One mistake and you may have to start over again. It’s almost like a computer game: completing one stage, to move on to the next, then the next, but too many mistakes piled together means you must start over. It’s neither quick nor immediate; it is an additive process. Working with clay forces you to stop and think. It forces you to become attached to the object and think about what choices you are making.

I see clay in terms of food qualities. If I feel smooth, plasticy porcelain with my fingers, I feel like I am squishing butter. The smooth texture combined with the pure ivory color gives me an impulse: I want to eat the clay. It’s not about the taste; it’s about having the ability to if I wanted. I can take a chunk of smooth, white, buttery porcelain and dig my fingers into its surface, destroying its perfection. Red, coarse clay also has food qualities. It is rough and sandpapery. I imagine the clay crunching, even when it is wet. Clay is like a blank canvas, if you could then take the blank canvas and carve it into chunks, then stick it together again.

Recently I have found a connection with design. I will walk past a furniture store and find myself stuck up against the window, tracing the outline of a funky chair with my finger. I love visiting museum stores and browsing through the button purses, the paper chandeliers, the oddly shaped bookshelf. I have begun to think of my work in bright, contrasting colors and have allowed the shape to do as it wishes, while I focus on the pattern of the surface. In the design world, they take functionality to the limits. That is what I enjoy doing with ceramics: throwing away all preconceived notions of what a functional object is. My resulting works are sometimes functional, sometimes non-functional that use design themes, such as contrasting colors and unexpected patterns.

I believe ceramics should be about more than aesthetics. It should be a visual discovery of meaning. I love offering fresh playfulness with the roles of ceramic materials.

cake plate

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Pipe Box

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Girl Forest

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Crazy Teapot Set

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Eli Zimmerman

When I was a kid I remember closing my eyes and gently pressing my fingers onto my eyelids. Doing this creates a reaction causing you to see changing patterns of yellow, orange, and white shapes. To this day I am still fascinated by unique patterns and senses that go unnoticed or seem mundane, such as how the sun hits the pavement on a hot day, the smell of worms after a spring rain, or the pattern that is made if you look at a light source for too long.

My work explores how meaning can be discovered through patterns and the layering of information. By simplifying the complicated structures around us, we are able to see what might have otherwise gone unseen. There is no correct way of seeing, but rather, there are many different ways of seeing. What I do through my work is to bring these different ways of seeing out through the creation of different patterns. It is not about being right, or seeing something better, just different.

For instance, some of my work includes the use of gum wrapper foil. The silver foil is used as a design mechanism adding a layer of texture, while exploiting its ability to reflect light. My goal is to utilize a material and change the way in which we perceive the original. Currently I am creating landscapes of layered watercolor, ink, pen, and silver foil to create a play between the unexpected and planned pattern.

Gunshot Wound to the Face

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Untitled Landscape

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The Bee Hive

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Hunter Jonakin

As an artist I am interested in the technical aspects of rendering and creating. When I was younger I was drawn to the surrealist painters because of their use of dream imagery and also because they excelled at the technical aspects of painting. After studying these painters I learned that the artists of the Renaissance influenced most of the surrealists. I, in turn, began to study the painters of the Renaissance. I gravitate toward the artists of the northern Renaissance because of their attention to detail. In particular I like Hans Holbein the younger and Jan Van Eyck. I am attracted to combining the detail and craft of these artists with contemporary contexts and symbols.

An aspect of the everyday world that influences my work is the notion of time and history. I like to capture the passing of time on a single frame of a photograph. I try to find ways to manufacture new methods of seeing the world as it relates to the passage of time and how the human brain decodes it. I usually use an open shutter technique, an infrared filter, or a combination of the two to achieve this end. This is another example of the technical aspect of my work. These techniques, while not necessarily ground breaking, still involve a great deal of time to set up and expose properly. This process interests me almost as much as the subject matter itself.

This brings me to the discussion of materials. I draw great inspiration and sometimes frustration from experimenting with new materials. This is another reason I am attracted to the artists of the Renaissance. They spent countless hours finding the perfect recipe for medium so that they could achieve the most desirable translucence in their paintings. I draw inspiration from experimenting with new materials and I am excited by new technology and its different uses. I would consider myself a computer advocate and a technology buff. I took two semesters in 3D animation because I was obsessed and tormented by the most complex piece of software that I had ever laid eyes on. The software is called Maya and it consists of menus layered in menus layered in menus layered in menus. Its complexity is only matched by its ability to produce anything that one can imagine, in a virtual setting. Maya allows me to digitally re-create a realistic and animated world, and it is this ability that intrigues and inspires me. Linear and conventional methods do not spark my curiosity, but utilizing the program for a high art purpose is more to my taste. I am excited by the possibilities than can occur when compositing 3D animation onto video footage and I like the flexibility and endless options that this combination supplies.

Aside from expensive, modern software, my choices for materials have gone back to the basics and I have enjoyed using charcoal, graphite and oil paints again. I feel that there is a reason that artists have used these materials for centuries. Their simplicity strikes a chord in people and there is an instant resonance that is produced when an audience views works made with traditional materials.

There are four works featured on this blog. Two works are drawings and the other two works are photographs. For the black and white photograph of the penguin statue, entitled Fair Penguin, I used the previously described open shutter technique with an infrared lens. I took this photo at the Minnesota State Fair and the methods that I employed to capture the photo allowed me to construct a ghostly image of a place that is ordinarily seen as happy and fun. The state fair is full of sweet and salty foods, exciting rides, boisterous crowds, music, and many other activities that exist to thrill and also pacify. In essence, the state fair is stimulation. I like the idea of presenting the Fair as a darker version of itself and highlighting this notion of duality. I like to express the concept that, under that colorful rosy façade, a reality of overindulgence and gross consumption exists. I also employ the open shutter technique to draw attention to the travel of people and objects in motion. This technique provides a kinetic record of a single space in a prolonged exposure of time. This method makes people appear ghostly, transparent, and otherworldly and adds to the overall alien appearance of an otherwise familiar place.

Another element that is present when working with infrared images is that most vegetation appears to be white, which is a component that makes the familiar appear recognizable but different. The infrared spectrum is invisible to the human eye and can only be viewed by exposing film or a digital sensor to light by filtering out the red portion of the spectrum with a filter. This method enables something that is normally invisible to become visible and it lets one view the world in a manner that exists beyond the normal capabilities and limitations of ones eyes. The realization that the world can be viewed in multiple ways not only adds to the context of the photograph but also adds to my excitement as it pertains to discovering additional methods with which to see the environment.

The second photograph was taken at the State Fair as well and it features a ghostly crowd moving below a blurred sky ride. When the photograph was taken the crowd was very dense and the open shutter technique that I employed caused the individual people in the crowd to disappear and merge into one another. The sky ride was active and moving so it appears blurred in the photo as well. This photo is different than Fair Penguin in that it has an overly stated sense of speed, due to the blurred lines that occur from the open shutter technique. The ride appears to be going very fast due to our association of blurring and speed. Traditionally, we have been conditioned to equate blurring in photography as speed because when we take conventional snapshots we typically use a very fast shutter speed to eliminate blurring. So, when blurring occurs it is because a person or an object has to be moving very fast in order to appear blurry in a quick shuttered photo. Therefore the sky ride reads as an object that traveling very fast because it is very blurred. It juxtaposes the much more subtly blurred crowd. Fair Penguin, on the other hand, is much more reserved and contemplative. Even though it is kinetic and chaotic, the photo has a much more meditative quality to it than Sky Ride, which is due, in part, to the solemn expression on the penguins face. Expressions are not visible on any of the people in the crowd in either of the photographs and this gives the crowd a sense of anonymity and adds an element of mystery and timelessness to the works.

One piece that I have finished within the past year is a large charcoal drawing of a fish in a plastic bag. It is five feet wide by four feet tall and I used black charcoal on white paper. I decided to make the piece big because I felt I would be challenged by trying to create a drawing this large and also because I liked that the size made the work attention-grabbing from far away as well as up close. The subject of the fish interests me because it is an old symbol that resonates with many different people for many different reasons. It has religious connotations as well as connections to nature and our environment. The fish is placed in water in a plastic bag and appears to be dead. I like using the plastic in the work because it provides a contrast between the natural world of the fish and the man-made world of the plastic. Visually the plastic is aesthetically pretty because it is transparent and reflects light in an interesting way, but the idea of plastic as suffocating and toxic is a contrast that I am drawn to. The work also reflects the unsettling idea that man owns everything. The fact that the fish is inside of the plastic bag and appears to be dead mirrors this ideology. Another contrasting element in the work is the value of the charcoal on the work itself. I used a special kind of charcoal that contains pastels so that I could achieve a velvety blackness that would contrast completely with the stark white paper. This aesthetic contrast parallels the conceptual contrasts in the work.

Another work that is part of this series features the upper half of a human skull and a sharp triangular piece of plastic, which is jutting down from the mouth. The plastic resembles a bird beak but reads as man-made. The work is five feet tall and four feet wide and consists of charcoal and graphite on paper. I used a pastel charcoal on this work as well and it exhibits the deep velvety blacks that Fish and Plastic contains. This drawing, which is entitled Skull and Plastic, follows the same concepts as the previously described work. It juxtaposes the organic and inorganic and it also features conceptual as well as aesthetic contrasts. The human skull is a powerful symbol that contains many unwanted allusions to popular culture, such as imagery used in heavy metal music marketing, but when viewed in a series the piece settles in to the unified theme that is intended. The titles of the drawings are purposefully bland. They only describe the most obvious aspects of the work. I did this so that the title would not color the viewers perspective and influence her or his reading of the work. I like titles that are conceptual to a certain extent but I feel that these drawings can be interpreted on their own and do not need any help in regard to their titling.

A contrast that I am interested in is the contrast that exists in my life as related to the notion of home and place. My work is greatly influenced by place. Although the notion of place is not always a first generation concept when applied to my art, it is a theme that is both conscious and unconscious.

I grew up in the deep south and never felt like I fit in completely. I was always restless and never fully happy with my surroundings. When I moved away from the south, to the far north, I was able to see the south in a different light, as opposed to how I saw it when I was immersed in the culture. It mad me nostalgic for that region as well as making me feel separate from the northern region in which I was currently residing. When I go home now all of my friends say that I sound like a northerner and everyone in Minneapolis says that I sound like a southerner. This phenomenon gives me a distinct feeling of not belonging, which lends to my work a sense of desolation and a contemplative sadness. I have always had a loner mentality and perhaps I would have had these feelings regardless of my nomadic life choices. I, however, am very comfortable in my outsider role and it is a part of my personality that I would not change.

All in all, my work is concerned with technique and the technical, as well as with an aesthetic beauty that emanates from a lonesome, contemplative awareness. I am interested in uncovering the hidden layers that exist right in front of our eyes and placing those layers in highly contrasting compositions as well as using opposing symbols and themes. I am concerned with making art for myself and discovering new ideas and methods that inspire me to create.

Fish and Plastic

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Skull and Plastic

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Fair Penguin

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Sky Ride

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Julia Kouneski

My work is not material driven, but rather experience driven. Instead of using materials as a starting point, I think of the experience I want the audience to have as the basis from which I work. This experiential nature relates to my interest in bodies, which is a common thread in much of my work. I like to think about bodies in a broad sense, encompassing both the exterior physical body and the internal sensing body. I am interested in the way in which we move through and interact with our environment with our bodies. I explore this through sculptural and video installations, as well as photography.

I am influenced and inspired by the work of artists during the 1960’s and 1970’s. During this time, artists pushed the boundaries of the discipline to create new forms out of the gallery such as earth art and performance art. It is this spirit of experimentation that inspires my work.
Along with the experimentation of the 60’s and 70’s, dance is an influence in my work that I have become more aware of recently. I started taking modern dance classes in college and became interested in the internal sensing that is taught, of sensing the energy through one’s body and sensing one’s body in space. The experiential nature of dance directly connects to the experiential nature of my work, involving the relation between oneself and the surrounding environment.
In addition to this experiential quality, my work relates to dance in other visible ways. My pieces often involve movement, taking the form of kinetic sculptures and video installations. There is frequently a performative quality to the work, in which I video myself moving or stage photographs. Pieces such as this have involved video of myself rolling down a hill and making prints in the snow with my body. I then project these onto various surfaces. For example, I projected myself rolling down a hill onto a stairway. In this way, people physically passing through the space have a relationship of their own bodies to these tiny projected bodies. I use myself as the subject in these pieces not in an autobiographical way, but as a way to visibly put myself in the work. The process of performing and playing in this way is one of the most fun aspects of creating the piece for me.
In some of my other works, it is the audience who becomes the performer. These pieces are more directly interactive, requiring participation for the success of the piece. Drop me up and Lift me Down, a collaborative piece, centers around a 40 ft. by 40 ft. black plastic tarp. The participants, or “performers? hold onto the tarp and play with it: lifting it, running through it, sitting inside it. This piece changes according to the participants and according to the wind.
Last semester I had the opportunity to expand the possibilities for interactive pieces in New Media: Making Art Interactive. In this class I created an installation in which an object responds to a person’s breathing. The person wears a strap with a sensor that rests on their upper chest. When a person’s chest expands, this pressure makes an electrical connection with the sensor. Then a cricket (a device that creates input from the output of a sensor) makes a motor turn on. This motor is inside an abstract form I created covered with white, balloon material. I then placed this form on the white wall so that it blended in with the architecture and environment of the room. In this way, when the person wearing the strap breathes, the abstract form on the wall “breathes? with them. My idea was to create the experience of a connection between someone’s internal awareness of their body and their external environment.
"Shadow Dancing," another interactive piece, involves freezing people's shadows onto the Barbara Barker Dance Building. This piece takes live video of people in front of a screen with a light that creates shadows. When enough pixels in the frame change, a program called Jitter takes this frame out of the video and projects it. Thus, people must interact physically by making large movements in order to project their shadows. This piece is a good example of the way in which I like to place my installations in “real? locations outside of exhibition spaces. By placing my installations in locations that are themselves full of activity, the interaction between the location and the piece creates an experience that I feel is richer than the sterile environment of traditional exhibition spaces. I often place the pieces in areas where people pass by on a regular basis, thus accessing those outside of the Art building.
Many of my pieces create the experience of a childlike sense of play that is a natural rather than a learned response. I am interested in these natural feelings sparked in children as well as adults, educated as well as non-educated people.
I like to think of art as a broader concept than simply the visual qualities of a piece. I am interested in the feelings people have in their bodies and the actual experience that the piece creates in the audience. In placing my work in “real? environments, the art becomes part of the environment and part of life rather than separate from it. I see my art as a way of experiencing the world by making visible relationships between oneself and one’s surroundings, and inviting people to become active participants in this experience.

don't make a mark

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shoe piece

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breathing

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shadow dancing

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Anna Mansell

Yellow

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Maria Stracke

Description

Sarah Vanphravong

Description

Patrick Vincent

My first engagement with “art making? was when I was five years-old trying to draw Superman with my older brother. To this day I am still fascinated with a graphic image like Superman. Moreover, I am also interested in how something like Superman functions as an icon in popular culture. The themes I have investigated in my art at the University of Minnesota are largely concerned with popular images, either taken from or inspired by mass media imagery. I am interested in how popular culture sees and consumes these images.

I am favor mass media imagery because it reveals popular culture’s attractions, fears, desires, and insecurities. Mass media imagery in popular culture, or mass images, can also reveal how we use the images communicate aspects of our culture. In my work I have attempted to make these very common images feel strange. In other words, I am trying to approach the uncanny— the dual sense of the strange and familiar. In doing so I hope to jar the connection between what these mass images signify and how they appear in our daily lives. I want to confuse and expand possible interpretations of mass images.

I favor printmaking as a medium for using mass images because multiples allow for the greater dispersal of my own imagery. Prints themselves are an archaic form of mass media. Printmaking, I think, retains the mystique and reverence that often accompanies media such as painting but is not as restricted to its place like painting.

Conversely, I have also been investigating sculpture. Unlike most prints, sculpture is very much connected to place. With regards to my investigation, I can communicate the power of symbolic imagery through a sculpture better than I can through a print. Sculptures made available to the public, such as equestrian statues or public art, become mass images in that the public can see them and consume them.

This act of consumption runs through my work as well. I don’t think that we just passively glance at television ads or these equestrian statues. We consume and digest them (and are often left with a stomach ache). I favor teeth and bees in my work because I think that they are the mass images that are most often used to speak about consumption.

How does this all relate to Superman? My drawing Superman is just a cute story, but it does reflect my attraction and interaction to mass media at an early age. All of us in the United States are bombarded by these images and we should consider how our culture is largely referenced through mass media. This may seem scattered and disjointed, but if I could talk about all of these aspects of popular culture in words I wouldn’t need to make

Molly Wicks and I interviewed each other for an assignment for the BFA seminar. This passage illustrates a major drive in my art making:

Molly: First, I want you to talk to me about comic strips.

Patrick: Comic strips?

Molly: And, I want you to talk to me about their influence on your work.

Patrick: OK. What’s actually really funny is that I was reading this article by Art Spiegelman, you know the guy that did the MAUS comics and he did the World Trade Center thing somewhat recently, called “Drawing Blood.? The influence of comics on me is, and this is what his article said too, is that they require you to condense these really complicated subjects into these little images. Especially in old comics, like a crocodile has to mean all these things, or a bunny has to stand in for just this whole idea that someone would have to describe in a 50-page paper, but instead in cartoon you do it with a little image. In my artwork, I use those compacted icons and images to try and talk about something bigger. At the same time, people think that the images are already arrested— that they are decided. Like a rabbit means this or bee means that. I say rabbit and bee because as you know I use those images a lot. I think they’re more complicated because there’s a shared assumption of what they mean. There’s also more complicated personal interpretations. I also like that aspect that they’re very complicated but seemingly simple images— it seems that everyone knows what it means. But, then there is always this kind of discrepancy with what people really mean and what you personally interpret and things like that.

When I talked with Molly Wicks I am talking about how mass images are made to mean more than they actually are. Thus, our everyday lives are invested in a symbolic language wherein advertisements communicate more than their face value.

My primary influence from the art world and canon would have to be Salvador Dalí. I researched Dalí in Spain during the summer of 2005. In my research, I dug beyond the melting clocks and curled mustache— although they were important as well to my interests. I concentrated on Dalí’s involvement in mass media and kitsch. Dalí made advertisements and products for Osbourne brandy and contributed several illustrations for Towne and Country magazine, along with other endeavors. I have integrated my study of Dalí into my own work.

The everyday influence in my art is mass media imagery— more specifically that of product packaging and television ads. I grew up in Minneapolis, within one of the more concentrated areas of the city. I grew up surrounded by advertisements on billboards and television, like any one else. While my parents insisted I attend the Minneapolis museums, particularly the MIA, I had more of an intimate interaction with the cartoon rabbit on the Trix cereal box than I did with a Van Gogh painting, or a Whistler etching. Today I have isolated myself more from these mass media images, but they are unavoidable and I still find them to be inspiring. I have become contemplative about how I know more about the world around me through mass media representation than I really do from my own experiences. I create visual pieces— “artworks? if the term is apt— to explore, reconcile, and/or complicate the juxtaposition between the real world and the representation of it through mass media.

I work between multiple disciplines because I think that each material and method communicates something distinct about an artwork. I favor printmaking because it connects to mass media while preserving the artist’s hand in the work. Printmaking— i.e. intaglio, silkscreen, and lithography— began a mass dispersal of imagery that has expanded into television and digital processes. I favor the older, hands-on techniques because I think a person’s interaction with an image or object that he/she creates makes that image/object more interesting and more mysterious. Why would a printmaker make this image? Moreover, why would a person duplicate by hand when he/she can use digital processes? I like printmaking because it can directly connect a creator or artist to mass media.

The work that best exemplifies my themes and medium is a silkscreen print entitled “Splehendid.? The print appropriates a logo from a British beer called “Old Speckled Hen.? The logo is a well-dressed, anthropomorphized fox holding a tall glass of the ale. I situated the fox in a backdrop, done in the same style of the logo, where other foxes greedily drink from a wooden cask and chickens carry other chickens to be boiled and distilled into the Old Speckled Hen beer. I made this print because of two reasons: first, I have an attraction to certain animal imagery; second, I wanted to explore the implications of the logo. I gravitated to this logo before I thought of using it as an artwork. I love the fox as a symbol; a fox reads as swif and clever, and its fur radiates an uncommon orange speckled with white and black. The logo uses this cultural currency of the fox, but it also uses it to compliment its namesake. In some advertisements the fox drinks the beer and exclaims, “Splehendid?— playing up the notion that the beer must involve hens for him to enjoy it. I teased out this idea by creating an image where the beer is nothing but the product of a vat of processed chickens.

I don’t believe this is my best work but it exemplifies my fascination with mass media imagery and printmaking as a medium. I borrow from Dalí in that I use kitsch art to elaborate larger perspectives about imagery and image production. Dalí investigated his motifs by attaching them to consumer goods because they expanded mundane objects into a broader range of interpretations. Furthermore, the “Splehendid? print echoes my discussion with Molly Wicks. The print involves mass media violence and incorporates a comic-book aesthetic.

I feel that my approach to art resonates with Dario Robleto’s interview, “The Magic That’s Possible.? Dario Robleto infuses his artworks with various materials. They are intricate in how they speak volumes through material but are relatively subtle in their form. He borrows from his personal history with DJ culture by seeing art as a process of “sampling.? Just as DJs sample music, Robleto samples material. I feel that this sampling aspect is present in my own work. I sample ad images and transform them into larger statements. In another work of mine, I “sampled? several ad images of bees— ranging from the Honey Nut Cheerios icon to Honey-Toasted cigarettes— to create a grotesque, toothed bee sculpture. With this sculpture I hoped to comment on the consumption of images and products by sampling those very products/images, and then reorganizing them into a different form.

In the article Robleto states, “One of the most beautiful and radical things about sampling is its open door policy to cultural memory.? I enjoy Robleto’s wording because he allows an individual to have his/her own place with or within an artwork while also admitting that there are cultural factors that inform the work. The two works I have discussed admit this same interaction. The pieces are products of a culture forged from mass-produced icons and television commercials, but when re-contextualized an individual has a new perspective on the images and objects.

The bee sculpture and the “Splhendid? print also illustrate my interest in mass media images’ connection to consumption. These works are directly borrowing food-related images because I think image viewing is more than just viewing; looking at mass media images is a consumption of images. We consume and digest images. This notion of viewing as consumption is borrowed from Dalí’s writings. Dalí also saw images as a sort of food of which we are “connoisseurs.? This intrigues me and I try to talk about image consumption by sampling and playing with these very images.

As I move forward with my art making I will undoubtedly expand and change my interests and themes. Nonetheless, I feel confident that the mass media language I have tried to use and talk about will remain fascinating to me.

Run, Rabbit, Run

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Pulp Panic

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Hungry Bee

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... Like Bees

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Molly Wicks

I know that color affects me. I have always been the girl who is drawn to any piece of artwork in a museum that is bright and colorful, and quite often I find that I like this art no matter the content. A few artists that come to mind are Mondrian, Matisse, and Kirchner. These artists were not afraid of using pure rich color. In this series that I’ve been working on, I use pure color and very rarely will I tint or shade the paint. I mix pure cadmium red light with pure yellow ochre. The piece for my senior show and those pieces similar that preceded it are incredibly bright.

I am constantly aware of color and shape as I walk through and experience the world. I have recently been using very geometric and not organic shapes. I think that simple advertisements or signs influence this desire to be geometric. The way that grass and nature affect my work comes back to the color. I love the color green and I always tend to notice it when going through the day. I like red also, and I think that is because it’s the complementary color of green. These colors definitely dominate my work because they dominate what I notice in the outside world: the ground, and oh so many signs and advertisements.

The dot work I do now is very material specific. I use acrylic paint and do so because I know that oil would not be an option for this project. The work is very textured and I have found that so often when I use oils, I tend to smear or ruin texture because the thickness takes too long to dry. I’ve also noticed that environmental dust or debris very often attracts itself to wet oil paint, and because I do not work in a facility that is clean to my liking I will not paint as textured with oils. I also do not mix the paint with any mediums or extenders because as I paint with one color I like to see how the paint naturally dries and how that affects the dot itself. At the end of painting one square the paint is often gooey and thick, and I like that effect on the piece itself. It gives a variety in the dots and changes the way a viewer’s eye moves through the piece. I really like having my hand attached to a paint brush, pencil, or utensil that is making a mark, and I therefore consider the materials I use to be very important.

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