May 18, 2009

Artist Research Project- Jennifer's Group

I chose to research Shazia Sikander because I've recently been aquainted with her work and I really like what I've seen. She is definitely a new favorite artist of mine, an inspiration for sure.
Sikander paints miniature pictures, in the style of indian and persian miniature paintings, on hand-made paper that she soaks in tea to 'age' it a little. She also has painted the complete opposite scale of these minis, large murals, and more recently, she has used mixed-media techniques. She mixes her own paints from powder and vegetable dyes as well. When she began to learn this old tradition, it was considered a dead art. Perhaps it was, as she infuses her work with a new twist to the old, has taken a dead form and made it into something else. Sikander does this by using imagery from her life and modern situations, and by blending two different painting traditions, Pakistani and Indian.
She also deals with issues of cultural identity in her images. She has said that she aspires to transcend boundaries in her work, which I would say it definitely does. Cultural, gender, religious tradtions are all challenged in her pictures. It's funny how when looking at some of them, I don't immediately see how they're any different from other miniature paintings of the syle, but them I look closer and see things happening that have never occured in pictures like this before. And she has mixed both Muslim imagry as well as Hindi into a nice blend of the two.
I compare Sikander to Shirin Neshat because they are both women from Muslim, Middle-Eastern backgrounds who include this in their work, and because they both aim to challenge the current status quo through their art. They are also both exiles. Not in a politcal way, but they both have lived in the U.S.A for quite a while now, and are estranged from their homeland, home culture, their roots.
I love the itty bitty tiny details in her paintings. And I love her use of a long-held traditional practice in new and scandalous ways. I love the whimsy in some of them, the subtle humor,and the beauty of color and compositon. I will most surely recommend her to other people, and as I said, she is a major influence in my creative ideas right now.

Gallery Visit- Jennifer's Group

I went to see the work of one of my high school classmates during the St. Paul art crawl, Kelsey Anderson. She showed her paintings with one of her friends, an african artist.
She had eight paintings left when I arrived, having sold quite a few during the day. I noticed a lot of pallette-knife technique, and she replied that she used that exclusively! Even the tiny details on the piece that I bought a print of, a tropical boat scene from her honeymoon in Thailand. It was amazing. One painting she had looked like brushwork, but she said that she used her fingers! Wow.
Most of her paintings were of nature, either of Australia, where she lived for a few years after marrying an Aussie, or of Africa, where she did some sort of teaching for a while after college. There was one self-portrait in the gallery. That one in particular showcases her skill in rendering life-likeness.I can't think of anyone that we've studied in class who resembles Kelsey in their work, but I would liken hers to Ansel Adams, except that it's painting instead of photography.
My favorite of her dispayed works was the aforementioned tropical boat scene. I've included a picture of the print that I purchased from her. There is no title. It was painted this past year from a photograph from 2005.
I would definitely recommend anyone check her work out. In fact, it was a mutual friend who took me to the gallery!

May 13, 2009

Rowan's Group: Artist Research Project

Theo Jensen
Kinetic Sculptor

For my artist research project I choose the kinetic sculpture Theo Jensen. I first remember seeing his sculptures on a BMW commercial a while back. Some time this year I came across some of his videos on youtube and for the sake of doing an artist research project I choose him.
Theo Jensen is a native to the shores of the Netherlands, born in Hague and a graduate of Delft in the Netherlands, works on perfecting his moving, “living” sculptures. He didn’t always see him self as an artist since he graduated with a degree in physics, but messed around with painting until he began working on his “strandbeests”.
He likes to call them strandbeest but they are no more than sculptures or creatures capable of surviving in an environment between the dunes of a beach and the surf of the sea. His is capable of accomplishing this by simply using electrical tubing (like PVC), pneumatic tubing, used lemonade bottle and plastic sheeting. By putting these elements together and with enough wind, his creatures are able to come alive. His goal is to make it so that his sculpture can survive on the beaches by themselves. He hopes to do this by a type of evolution where models that work best are crossed with another to make a superior strandbeest.
He like to pull his ideas for new sculptures from nature and what has already been proven to work. From there he can mix and match features that work best for a model. He even says that when deciding on how to build the next “beest” he thinks purely practical and that they come out looking like awesome sculpture only because that’s how it worked out.
To him the motivation for his work is to understand what it takes for life to occur and continue. By making these “creatures” he is able to understand the needs and limits that can be impressed on a creature.
One of the biggest reasons that I choose Jensen’s work was because of the way that I first saw it. I was surfing YouTube and I came across his strange pipe built creatures and just from seeing them and how they moved I wanted to look at more of his work and mainly do this essay on his work. So after looking at how I was able to see his work I’d like to compare that to the way Susan Opton and the way that she was able to display her work and the controversy that sprung out of it.
Though the ways that that Jensen and Opton display their work in different ways the fact that there is a certain amount of mystery behind them is what really pulls their viewers in. Watching a minute long clip of Jensen’s “beests” I tried to figure out exactly what these things are and what there supposed to do. You’re able to make out legs and wings but the movements of multiple parts make it impossible to identify. But for Opton and her soldier photos, there’s questions like “is that solder alive or dead” and “why is he on the floor with that face.” I find that these artist that although they work in different mediums there art work isn’t strait forward and make the viewers have to answer some of their own questions.

If someone asked me if they had the chance to see work from Theo Jensen or hear him speak, I would have to express my jealousy towards them. Jensen having the thought process of an engineer and the products of an artist, and the fact that very few other people have tried to approach something like this way before make him a unique person that I think anyone would enjoy.


Continue reading "Rowan's Group: Artist Research Project" »

Rowan's Group: Artist Research Project

Rosson Crown was born in Dallas, Texas in 1982. She studied art in New York where she began painting in her junior and senior year of undergrad. She studied in Paris before show moved to Los Angeles where she currently lives and works. Crow has gallery shows around the United States and also in Paris. She works on a large scale in oil, enamel, and acrylic. Rosson Crow works with places of former glory. She captures the feeling and energy of a space “as if capturing the moment after a party has ended” (whitecube). Crow has a very loose style of painting that enhances the theme of her work. Her vivid colors and elaborate strokes evoke a feeling of presence that lasts longer than a single moment. She’s not interested in the fuss. She paints in a couple big blocks of time, and leaves the piece be. Although she does plan her palette, she wants the spontaneity and energy to stay in tact.

Rosson Crown appreciates the classical and neoclassical work of western art. She paints with Baroque and Rococo influences, with an intention to be over the top. Many of the spaces she paints are those of the bourgeoisie. Old night clubs of L.A. and Paris in times gone by. She wants the viewer to be overwhelmed with a lingering presence. Crow paints without anthropomorphic imagery. She removes the figures to focus on the space. Even without figures, her paintings hold so much energy; the viewer still experiences a feeling of nostalgia. She is interested in “lost spaces” (Brooks) Crow takes inspiration from places she’s been. Not just on place, but a mixture of her experiences and her imagination. As she says in her interview with Kimberly Brooks, “I enjoy taking on these historic spaces that no longer exist and reviving them for my own purposes.” One of her favorite paintings is Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa. The influence of the dramatic nature and energy of this painting does show through in the work of her spaces.

Rosson Crow’s interest in spaces reminded me of Rirkrit Tiravanija. He also is interested in public space. Although he does focus on people, Tiravanija is also interested in the relationship between a space and the energy that occupies it. Like his apartment with many people passing through and leaving their mark, so to does Crow’s work show a development of space and energy throughout a period of time. Her actual style reminds me of Kentridge Cooper’s Felix in Exile. Her loose brush stroke leaves a ghostly image and feeling of a time period elapsed. This is similar to the idea of Cooper’s eraser marks through which Cooper leaves a ghostly presence behind as he deals with time in his work as well.

I was attracted to this artist because of her unique mix of classicism and history with modern themes. Her appreciation for time and history are showcased in a new way. She paints presence and feeling within a space. Her exemption of figures strengthens this theme as the viewer can see the lingering auras of what was there. It helps the viewer to understand her ideas and the energy of the space without being distracted by what brought about the energy. Her focus is on the energy and time itself. I would definitely recommend her work to a friend. It is a fresh and passionate idea that is also beautiful and unique to see.

A link to one of her works:

Rosson Crow, "Five Minutes Late and Two Bucks Short at the Cha Cha", 2007, Oil, enamel, spray paint, and acrylic on canvas, 90 x 132 inches:

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2008-03-28-_1.jpg

Sources:

Brooks, Kimberly. “A Night At The Palomino With Rosson Crow” The Huffington Post. March 29, 2008. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kimberly-brooks/a-night-at-the-palomino-w_b_93987.html.

“Rosson Crow.” London. http://www.whitecube.com/artists/rosson_crow

T.D. Neil, Jonathan, “Twenty-five Artists To Look Out For In 2007”, Art Review, March, Issue 9, p. 83. (article can also be seen at: http://www.nxtbook.com/dal/artreview/issue09/index.php?startpage=30)

May 12, 2009

Rowan's Group: gallery visit

Continue reading "Rowan's Group: gallery visit" »

May 10, 2009

Rowan's Group: Gallery visit


Gallery Visit Report
Ashley Huegel
Group 4
Rowan's Group


The piece that I was most intrigued and drawn to was a piece called “Natural History of the Enigma” by Eduardo Kac. The art was a beautiful flowering petunia plant that stood in the middle of the room on a pedistool. What made this plant so special and unique was that the plant contained proteins from the artist Eduardo Kac and a petunia plant. It is intriguing to think about the merge of human and plant to create life! The artist felt that his genes actually gave the plants flowers red streaks throughout the petals, like veins coursing with blood.

This was a one person installation, however the artist did work with a scientist from the University of Minnesota (Neil Olszewski) to help him with his creation. What added to the installation was the stark and bleak room within which the pedistool stood. The lack of distractions within the room allowed for you really focus on the plant and take in all the beauty that it had to offer. I feel that the artist was trying to covey to the viewer the bond between human and nature.

I would absolutely tell a friend about the “Natural History of the Enigma” because it is a beautiful and an innovate piece and it is amazing to see how the artist thought and used his own genes fused with that of the plant which caused the red veining.

May 6, 2009

Rowan's Group: Gallery Visit

This exhibition is called Sin and Guilt by Nancy Robinson. It is currently being held in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This exhibit featured work solely of Nancy Robinson. It was held in one of the medium sized rooms in the gallery. The work was spread out about four works to each wall depending on the size of the piece. The works were mostly on a large scale: Two by three feet to five feet or more. I went on opening night as it was very busy however; it was a traditional gallery experience.

The main theme of her exhibit is a new take on women and feminism. Many of her works showcase her in a self-portrait among other symbolism. Through vibrant colors and imagery, we see Robinson tackle the struggle between a woman and herself. Self-image, and feminine power are often addressed in her works. One symbol that is recurring in many of her pieces is the banana peel. She takes this traditionally phallic symbol and repurposes it throughout her paintings to give power to the opposite sex. In Yellow Self Portrait, 2009, She is wearing a banana peel gown. Taking on a position of power, the figure (herself) is displaying a confidence not evident in some of the other works. This was also true of Woman Warrior where she was standing wearing animal skins and banana peel pumps. Men are not seen as characters of strength in her paintings. However, I found this to be more so because she is emphasizing female issues not because she finds men less significant. The ways that the characters are painted along with the smaller figures that seem to create their own vignettes remind me of the work we saw of Jenny Schmid. She also had female figures with a slightly disturbing quality playing on gender roles.

Yellow Self Portrait from her exhibit, Sin and Guilt, is a powerful painting. It is a 60 by 36 inch oil painting. She paints herself sitting triumphantly on a rock in a beautifully tailored banana gown. Two little cherubs are on either side of her and a bluebird is at her feet. The waves crash behind her underneath a blackening stormy sky. Fish leap up to catch little hearts as if they are trying to get food. She is definitely comfortable with her sexuality in this picture and is fine with herself the way she is. The cherubs seem disturbed, but Nancy is happy with her current situation despite what is going on around her (this is seen in the turbulent storm and seas behind her.) As with most of her works, she is interested in the feminine psyche and how one relates to the world through a feminine perspective. Although all her works are obviously different, Yellow Self Portrait is about success and confidence.

I liked the exhibit, Sin and Guilt very much. I loved how she used classic practice of realism and portraiture to portray a modern ideal. It’s modern art with a classic twist. The themes she addresses are very modern and contemporary as she paints with a neoclassical style. I would definitely recommend anyone who appreciates art to view this exhibit. It’s easy to understand as she uses realistic portraits and symbolism. One can view and experience art without the liberal views that are sometimes mandated by many modern art works. For example, the work of Margo Maggi is contemporary, but far more abstract. His pieces require a great deal of time and effort from the viewer. Although one is not better or worse, I appreciate Robinson’s skill and ease at getting her point across in a purposeful way.


I don't know how to post a pic, but here is a link to one of the paintings in this exhibit:
http://artsmia.org/index.php?section_id=2&exh_id=3277&IM=4&start=1

May 1, 2009

Rowan's Group: Gallery Visit

Changing Identity: Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam
Keit Osadchuk

Changing Identity was an exhibition at that Weisman Art Museum at the U of M campus. This exhibit consisted of 35 artworks by a group of women Vietnamese artists. Media used ranged from paper to cloth to video to watercolor to photographs to wood. The pieces were organized in four rooms, each with about eight works collected on four walls. Sculptural pieces made out of wood were usually in a room with drawings, while photographs were grouped with more modern media such as video.

The main theme was Vietnamese culture in Vietnam and abroad, as well. Some artists portrayed daily life while others focused on specific heritage and culture traits associated with being of the Vietnamese nation. The individual pieces, however different in concepts they might have been, tied together as a whole by portraying Vietnam. One artist, for example, made series of plain, daily self-portraits in different locations across the globe where there has been Vietnamese culture present. Another artist has focused on portraying the traditional Vietnam with older materials like wood, paper, and cloth; making figures draped with long cloth, her work nods to the history of Vietnam. There is a connection to the work of Kentridge, in the sense that there is historical and cultural reference in both his work and that of the Vietnamese women in this exhibit. Their work is based on both their country as it is today and its history.

One great work was "Dialogue," 1998, by Dang Thi Khue, the oldest artist in the exhibition (b. 1946). Her piece consisted of 25 paper masks colored in different, rich tones, two of which were embellished with gold and silver. The masks were hung on the wall, arranged in a rhombus. The inspiration behind Dang Thi Khue's work has been the traditional spirit of the Vietnamese women.

This exhibit is a good insight to Vietnam's artists today, as it shows both tradition and modernity within the culture. The range of media and the detailed skill is inspiring and impressive, so I would recommend any friend to visit the gallery.

April 30, 2009

Jennifer's group: Gallery visit

I went to the Swedish Isntitute where they were having an exhibition of glass art. The collection contained over 200 peices made by American and Swedish artists. The exibit was held on thesecond story of the main mansion where the art was displayed on dining tables, pedistles, and behing glass in polished oak display cases. Works were arranged based on the artist that made them, though no order was given to the artists themselves. Throughout the 5 rooms the exibit was hosted in American and Swedish artists were miked alike. The glass itself came in a wide array of different colors, sizes, shapes, and designs. Although the collection was all glass with very little other material added in decoration all the works were different. They were molded, blown, twisted, pulled, layered, fused, etched, colored and cut.
The main theme of the exibit was just to showcase different glass artists and the techniques used by them. Sweden is known for it's glass work and many of its techniques an dinfluencs are employed by artists all around the world. For examle a well known American artist, David Lonnquist, who made cut glass peice for Dayton and J. B. Hudson was displayed for his use of Ariel and Graal Technique. While most of the art was just for the beauty of the peice and hence did not have any relation to any of the artists that we have been studying, there being no deep thought or political message to the peice, several of the peices had a modern design. Take fore example a colorful fused glass peice that was a fountain of water dropping into the glass bowl. Or, a molded brick of glass that had other colorful glass peices in it along with coils of wire and found metal nick-knacks.
One of hte artists that relly facinated me was Michael D. Boyd who had 5 peices within the collection. My favorite peice of his was called "Cell Schism." This was a peice made from multiple ovel ball of glass fused together. Most were clear though 6 were colored with red, pink, and yellow. His other works included a large 2ft multi-colored glass vase and clear glass peices created from blown glass pushed into a mold to trap in air bubbles, then covered with large amounts of glass so as to create solid glass peiced that look like they have fractures, star bust appearence.
I would highly, highly recomend this exibit to my friends if it's still up. It is set in a beautiful building which is decorated wonderfully. It's traditinal swedish ceramic stove are beautiful and it's wood panneling glows. This makes a wonderful backgound for the gass peices that are some of the nicest peices I've ever seen and one of the biggest collecions of glass ware I've ever seen. As long as someone doesn't go looing for political/activist art it is an exibit that I'm sure my friends would love.

April 29, 2009

Margaret's Group: Gallery Visit

Changing Identity: Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam
by Joanne Liu


I visited the exhibit “Changing Identity: Recent Works by Women Artists from Vietnam” at the Weisman Art Museum. It was a group exhibition of about fifty different works by various women from around Vietnam. These works varied in medium depending on artist. There were sculptures, videos, and photographs, but most were paintings. But even the paintings were done in various mediums, like watercolor, oil, and Chinese ink.

At the entrance of the exhibition, an introduction is printed on the wall which explicitly states that this exhibition hoped to “celebrate the diverse expression of female identity in a changing society. Each artist in this exhibition shares a unique perspective on her own culture... [The exhibition] aims to emphasize Vietnamese women’s individual experiences and personalities in order to challenge both the notion of ‘women’ as a single category and the ‘Vietnamese artist’ as a single genre.” To this end, each artist displayed a set of pieces that exhibited a certain idea or feeling in a very cohesive style.

These pieces are very personal, and while walking through the exhibition, I felt like I was almost intruding on some else’s thoughts and feelings. I have not gotten this feeling from any of the other artists we have discussed in class but Nan Goldin’s comes the closest, because she reveals her own life through her photographs. However, Goldin’s are spontaneous and documents events as they occur. The women in the exhibition, on the other hand, all have very well planned pieces. Everything appears to be well thought through before being made, and their pieces express their point of view of what it means to them to be Vietnamese. For example, Phuong M. Do presents a set of photographs of herself in environments that continue around her while she stares back at the viewer to highlight her sense of alienation in American and Vietnam.

The piece that caught my attention the most was in the farthest room in the corner. It was made by Nguyen Bach Dan whose pieces are scenic paintings of forests and paths made with Chinese ink on brown paper that try to capture the vigor of the landscape in a photographic image. The piece I was attracted to was named “Forest Reflections” (2005). From far away, it looked like a scratchy sepia photograph of a bend in a peaceful river reflecting the forest above. However, up close it is obvious that it is made of a series of energetic, dry brush strokes crisscrossing all over the place. I really liked the contrast of energy between far and near. It truly captured the life of a quiet, personal stroll through a forest.

DSCN3312.JPG

I enjoyed the exhibition, and I wish it included more pieces. I recommend it to others, but only if they have the time to walk around and reflect on the pieces. If I had run through the exhibition quick, I would have missed the atmosphere created by the pieces which hold the entire exhibit together. Without it, the pieces are just a series of nice looking artworks.

Jennifer's Group: Gallery Visit, Lauren Glatstein

In the Company of Artists: Photographs from the DIA Collection

In the Company of Artists was an exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art from November 19th to February 15th of this year. It was a large collection of photographs from thirty photographers including André Kertész, Man Ray, Yousuf Karsh, Arnold Newman and Robert Mapplethorpe capturing the lives of famous creative individuals. It is by far my favorite photography exhibit of all time. The exhibit consisted of ninety photographs of some of the most important creative individuals of all time. The subjects include artists, authors, photographers, performing artists, songwriters, models and others from artistic and bohemian circles from the late 1890s to the present. The portraits are informal and intimate capturing a rarely seen perspective. The exhibit was displayed in a small basement gallery with several individual sections. The photographs are small and posted simply in unremarkable frames.

Though the photographs are from many different artists and subject matter spans ninety subjects the exhibit has a unified feel. The images, primarily black and white, portray their various subjects in a personal way. Images of studios, family members, and homes are often included in the photograph giving viewers a unique view. The exhibit was cleverly designed to show you the art within the artist rather than the art they create. Year after year museums display to products of these remarkable people but for once audiences get a deeper look at what’s behind the art.

The exhibit includes images of Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keefe, Richard Serra, Kiki Smith, Jean Michel Basquiat, and Jeff Koons. The list goes on with more names just like these. I only wish I could see this exhibit again. It closed the day after I saw it and I don’t think it traveled. I feel unbelievably privileged to have seen this exhibit and I would recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity to see it to go. If you ever find it please give me a call!



Garry Winogrand, Diane Arbus, “Love-In”, Central Park, New York City, 1969
(printed in 1982–83); gelatin silver print


Gallery Visit, Rowan's Group. Ashley Kreidler

Tom Arndt’s Minnesota exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts was composed of a collection of photographs taken from the mid 1960’s to present. The collection shows contemporary American life with mid-western flavor. There are a plethora of different photographs, ranging from farm auctions to snapshots taken in front of Sex World in Minneapolis. Tom’s work is highly acclaimed for his ability to show Minnesota life for it’s intriguingly simple attributes and qualities. The collection also highlights the isolation and destitute conditions of Minnesota winters and rural areas. The black and white photographs portray a strong sense of loneliness trapped inside of single moment of mid-western life.
Although there is a powerful feeling of isolation within the photographs, this is contrasted by vivacious scenes of the Winter Carnival in St. Paul, parades from small towns in southern Minnesota, and the Cinco De Mayo Festival in the Twin Cities. These photos work to draw a distinction from the harshness of the land to the energized spirit of the people who occupy this area. More specifically, the juxtaposition of the isolated, desperate scenes and the lively gatherings of the Midwesterners give a strong essence of the spirit of Midwestern culture. Another artist who uses the dichotomy of perceived persona and actual character is Suzanne Opton. Her photographs capture the fragility of soldiers, which contrasts the supposed warrior-like status many people associate with people of war. Her billboard work works to create a new personality for soldiers.
A specific piece that illustrates this concept is the photograph titled “Winter Carnival, St. Paul” from the 1980’s. This piece shows the harshness of the climate while highlighting the persistence of Minnesota people to celebrate their homeland. The photo shows a large group of Minnesotans standing huddled together, standing with their freezing fingers stuffed into their pockets. The title suggests festivity and celebration, while the people’s posture seems the opposite. There is, however, a strong contrast of the subjects’ composure and their happy, smiling faces. Therefore, the photograph’s title, the people’s poses and the look on their faces alludes to the contentment that Midwesterns’ have to the desolate winters and their stubborn insistence to celebrate what most people would move away from.
Tom Arndt’s collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts successfully illustrates Minnesota’s culture and way of life. The work not only shows contemporary Midwestern Americans, but works to create contrast between how people perceive the Midwest landscape and the people who occupy this area.

Margaret's Group-Gallery Visit Christina Lopez

I visited Tom Arndt’s Minnesota exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. This was a one-person exhibition that included over 60 photographs that were lined up at about eye-level on seven separate walls.
The main theme of the exhibition was Tom Arndt’s perspective of Minnesota over the past forty years. Many of his pieces illustrated street scenes or people at the State Fair. When comparing him to artists we have talked about, I would say that he is most like Nikki Lee in that he was trying to show his representation of how he saw different people and, although he did no performing art in the photographs, he was showing “an honest account of everyday life” and I feel like that was what Nikki Lee was shooting for as well.
The piece to which I responded was a photograph entitled Street Scene, Minneapolis, 1981. The photograph was of a wealthy woman walking down the street with her purse and shopping bag in downtown Minneapolis, but she was walking on a makeshift sidewalk through a dirty construction site. She had a distressed look on her face and I think that Tom might have wanted to make this photograph because this woman was in real life, but when you see the photograph it almost seems staged because it is hard for one to imagine a woman like that walking where she was.
I would tell a friend that this exhibition is collection of Tom Arndt’s black and white photographs throughout the years depicting images of Minnesota. I would recommend that they visit the exhibition, especially if they live or have lived in Minnesota because it is really interesting to see parts of the city from years ago.

Continue reading "Margaret's Group-Gallery Visit Christina Lopez" »

Rowan's Group: Gallery Visit

Gallery Visit—Excess at Larson Art Gallery
Ben Alpert

The Excess exhibit at the Larson Art Gallery showcased the work of two artists: Becca Shewmake and Mari Richards. They each had roughly 15 mixed-media pieces in the exhibit, which were shown on walls, floor, and pedestals. All of Shewmake's work was done on canvas, and consisted of acrylic paint combined with collage elements (e.g. fabric, thread, gesso), and sometimes crayon or chalk. They were easily-distinguishable from Richards' works, which took found objects—such as plastic bags, blenders, or phones—and combined them with a flesh-colored plastic/rubber substance. Richards' work was displayed on a pedestal if it was small, and the floor if it was large (one work spanned the length of the gallery floor).

As made obvious by the title, the theme of the Excess exhibit was the wasteful nature of our society. Both artists commented on the state of our over-consumption and questioned the way in which we live. For Shewmake, this took the form of ambiguous shapes, which represented people and situations. Most of her work focused on an interaction between a being and a place, or a consumer and the consumed. Often the title was the best way to understand what was being signified, with illustrative names like We Drifted About Until One of Us Drowned and the series Meeting, Entering, Leaving. Her work was very much about cause and effect, and the interrelationship of us and the things around us. Effective imagery she employed includes acid rain, robot plants, and ameoba-like forms consuming each other. Richards' work was more direct and physical. She used melted, formless flesh-colored plastic to form relationships with recognizable objects. Her work focused on the way we continuously consume everything in front of us, even when we have no need to, or don't benefit from it. Effective pieces included a mound of flesh-plastic growing cell phone buttons, and a fleshy blender creating a sphere of trash. Neither artist relates too directly with ones we've discussed in class, but Richards' flesh creations could be seen as somewhat voyeuristic, like the photography of Nan Goldin. You get a certain sense of uneasiness looking at them.

One piece I found particularly interesting was Mari Richards' Stay Awhile (mixed media, 2007). It featured a metal-framed, diner-style chair covered in the plastic flesh, which was leaving a 15-foot-long trail of thick, lumpy rope made from garbage bags, cloth, and plastic. It was quite effective because it looked as thought the chair were defecating or its entrails were spilling out behind it, and they were made entirely of discarded human trash. The bags and cloth were also stuffed and sewn, so they looked like intestines or bizarre sausages; very anatomical. I think the artist probably chose this format because she felt it was the best way to show how we destroy. Her motivation was human wastefulness, and Stay Awhile represents each individual. It is like a horrific mirror.

If I were to talk to a friend about the exhibition, I would probably place more emphasis on Mari Richards' work, since I think it was more effective and memorable. I would tell them that it is a good gallery to visit because it is easy to forget how wasteful we all are. Excess is a good reminder for anyone. So I would tell them to go, but I would not be offended if they did not. It wasn't life-changing, just interesting.

Jennifer's Group: Gallery Visit by Sierra Johnson

Gallery Visit

I visited the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI. The name of the exhibition I visited was called Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities. It was a collection of 500 works from Chinese minorities (15 in all) from the late 19th century to the present day. The exhibition covered the east half of the second floor, and was arranged with all of the pieces from a particular group in close proximity to one another. Clothing is an important signifier of identity among these groups. Since it is uncommon for them to have written languages, word of mouth is one of the only way to communicate histories and legends of the past. Textiles provide tangible alternatives to this oral tradition. It can be difficult to differentiate between some of the pieces because over the years, migration of these groups resulted in blending between cultures. Presently, Miao (or Hmong) is a term used to describe a large fraction of these minorities
The textiles, mostly made by Miao women, are intricately woven with patterns and images. Silver ornamental jewelry, mostly crafted by the men, commonly accompany the outfits. The clothing is mostly made with special, indigo dyed cotton. The fabric is soaked in soybean juice then dyed in plant extract. Then it is soaked in water and buffalo skin extract. The fabric is then beat for a crisp finish.
One piece that was repeated throughout the exhibit was a Miao Baby Carrier. One that particularly caught my eye was from the Late 19th to early 20th century from the Pingyong Town in Miao Dong. Like the many of the other garments, the baby carrier was made out of the same, indigo cotton fabric. The central design was a very intricately embroidered dragon, and on either side were spectacular birds, butterflies, and flowers in a cloud-like design. These embroideries were made with really rich colors, especially reds and yellows. The description of the piece said that the scalloped edges are reminiscent of the Han ruyi motif, and that cloud pattern means a “wishes granted”, and the imagery is meant to identify the child as a member of the group and to assure protection.
I really enjoyed this exhibition. I thought that it was really interesting how much care and detail goes into not just ceremonial clothing, but also clothing that is worn from day-to-day. Many Hmong refugees came to the United States after the Vietnam War, especially the Madison area. Growing up in Madison I knew that there was a high population of Hmong people but like many, didn’t really know much about their culture. It was enlightening to be able to learn a bit about where they came from and their traditional values.


The link below is an image I found of a child watching someone in the process of dying the indigo cotton.

http://www.theage.com.au/ffximage/2005/04/20/hmong_wideweb__430x286,1.jpg