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.

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.

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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:


Brooks, Kimberly. “A Night At The Palomino With Rosson Crow” The Huffington Post. March 29, 2008.

“Rosson Crow.” London.

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:

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:

April 29, 2009

Jennifers group- Elizabeth Peyton

Frankly, when ever I go to the Walker art Center I go begrudgingly. I try not to go as much as I can manage being an art student in Minneapolis for the place seemingly puts me in a sad coma. Yet with the curiosity of a cat, I went to see this "revolutionary" Elizabeth Peyton. Okay so the exhibition took up a rather large piece of the museum and lined room after room with small paintings, "intimate" some may call them. When I walked through and about switching from wall to was I was seemingly only impressed by the sheer number-possibly close to two hundred- of pieces that were being displayed. I saw that she was interested in small adolescent scenes with little baby titted women and girlish looking boys that along with it comes a strange youthful sexuality, but I also saw tube color and sloppiness. I know that others would disagree with me for saying that I didn't really admire the practices of her hand, but the exhibit only confirmed my unsavory taste for the Walker.

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April 22, 2009

Margaret's group: Sarah Morris

Laura Callaghan
Arts 1001
Artist Research Project

Sarah Morris’ works of art have been impacting the global community since the middle of the 1990’s. Her galleries have been presented all over the world, including Tokyo and locations in Germany. She is from British Columbia but also has lived in the United States. She identifies with both cultures. Her works of art reflect this. She is interested in the characteristics of individual cities, external and as well as interior. Her interest in the architecture of the buildings and the attitudes of the city’s inhabitants is shown in her film, Los Angeles. In a description of the film written by the Friedrich Petzel Gallery, who was debuting her film, said she used seduction and deflection to portray this urban city. She also portrays urban life through abstract paintings that are very geometric and bright. These show the beauty and attraction of urban life. They are very abstract and even though their titles describe tangible objects, there content of the picture is confusing and no objects can be deciphered in the pictures.
Through the mediums of paintings and films she is recording the culture and feeling of urban life. She acts as a modern day historian for future generations. They will get an idea of what urban life feels in the 90’s and early 2000’s. She also gives her audience an idea of the world from her perspective.
Her artwork reminds me of the work of Thomas Rose. They share many interests and portray them in their artwork. They both like their work to be abstract. Thomas Rose said in class that clarity is o no interest to him because it is boring. He makes his instillations abstract and uses symbolism. Also another interest they both share is that they are interested in communion. Sarah Morris is interested in the how modern communication works. Thomas Rose made a piece of artwork in collaboration with his grandfather. He used his grandfather’s autobiography to help him in creating a book. His grandfather was interested in architecture just like both Thomas Rose and Sarah Morris. Many of her paintings look like scaffolding and Thomas had the architecture roots from his grandfather and has built many of his art instillations. One key example of this was the room that had two levels filled with objects, such as scrap pieces of material. A ladder connected the two floors. His design was a vital part of his artwork.
I would not suggest Sarah Morris’ artwork to someone who likes classical artwork from periods of art history such as baroque or Rococo because these people enjoy to viewing specific content. It is not hard to see the intent of the artist. For my friends who enjoy mystery in their art or like to see multiple interpretations of the works of art, then I would definitely suggest them to acquaint themselves with Sarah Morris’ works of art.
Works cited
Riemschneider, Burkhard. Ed. Uta Grosenick. Art Now, 25th edition (2005): 196-99.
"Bibliography of Sarah Morris." 2007. Artnet. 22 Apr. 2009 d=12125&ViewArtistBy=online&rta=>.

Sarah Morris’ "Los Angeles" 2007. Artnet. 22 Apr. 2009

Tonya's Group - Ethan Weber- Artist Research Project

Damien Hirst
by Ethan Weber

Damien Hirst was born in Bristol, England in 1965. He attended Goldsmith’s College where he studied art. Hirst had his first solo exhibit at the Woodstock Street Gallery in 1991 entitled In and Out of Love. In this exhibit he filled the gallery with live tropical butterflies, and also displayed monochrome canvases with butterflies hatching off them.

The following year, Hirst participated in the groundbreaking Young British Artists exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery. In this exhibit he displayed is now famous piece entitled Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, which consisted of a dead tiger shark preserved in a glass tank of formaldehyde.
Hirst enjoys working through all different types of mediums and forms in his artwork. His pieces combine art and science with today’s contemporary culture. Some of his most controversial pieces he has created consist of bejeweling a skull, sculptures replicating medicine cabinets, and murals using butterfly wings. His work is very unique in the way that when displayed during exhibitions, there is a physical attraction to reach out and touch the art even though it is forbidden.

After learning about Felix Torres in class, it is very easy to compare his work with Hirst’s. They both use very unusual and sometimes morbid techniques to invoke a certain feeling or self-reflection on the viewer. I remember vividly, the pictures of Torres reaching his hands inside his torso which I directly relate to seeing a preserved severed cow from Hirst. Hirst also has a tendency to relate a lot of his sculptures to historical themes using irony. His piece The Golden Calf, consisting of a preserved a bull with horns and hooves plated in 18 carat gold, draws connections back to a well known story from the Bible.

I definitely would recommend going to see an exhibit featuring Damien Hirst because his work will go way beyond the walls of the gallery and into your psyche. There is no other artist close to replicating similar artwork with same intensity as Damien Hirst.


"Picturing the Beast - Animals, Identity, and Representation"
Steve Baker
The University of Illinois Press, copyright 2001.

Tonya's Group

Tonya's Group: Artist Research

Robert Xiong
Artist Research

"My best works are erotic displays of mental confusions (with intrusions of irrelevant information)." - Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas was born on August 3, 1953, in Cape Town, South Africa. She began her studies at the University of Cape Town from 1972 until 1975 when she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1975. A few years later she relocated to Holland and studied psychology for approximately two years, and has been pursuing her career as an artist ever since. Her main type of media consists mainly of painting and drawing. She is renowned for the exoticness displayed with her paintings which leaves viewers with expressions of "complicity and confusion", as quoted from Patricia Ellis.

Much of her inspiration is said to be found from everyday images she finds in newspapers, and also personal events. Many of her pieces seem to be in correlated with idea of racism, sexuality, religion, motherhood and childhood. I’m not sure if a deliberate message trying to be put out, but many of her pieces do have a feministic perspective on them. In comparison with an artist we’ve discussed in class, I think Nancy Spero and Marlene would have would have great conversations. They both incorporate a lot of exoticness and erotica on their pieces, and both are tie in a feministic effect. In relation with the audience, I think Dumas tries to connect with them on an intimate scale. There are rarely any paintings or drawings she has created that do not lead you into a daze.

If I were to recommend a friend on this particular person, I would probably say that they would enjoy viewing her artwork. I found majority of her pieces to be visual aesthetic, and well done. There are a few painting, such as Die Baba, Feather Stola, and Jule-die Vrou, that just captures your attention.

Boogerd, Dominic van den, Marlene Dumas.

Jennifer's Group: Artist Research. Emily Novotny

Chuch Close. By Emily Novotny

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Jennifer's Group: Artist Research- Lauren Glatstein

Lauren Glatstein

Tom Friedman’s work is aesthetically appealing, culturally relevant, and conceptually founded. He truly understands how to turn his idea into an image. Tom Friedman experiments by taking objects out of the natural world and placing them into the gallery. One of his most well known pieces was created in 1994, Untitled, he carved his self portrait directly into an aspirin. Using such a small surface as his medium displays a higher level of workmanship, and his use of the ready made is reminiscent of sixties artists like Marcel Duchamp. Another piece, Untitled, 1990, shows a bar of soap with a perfect concentric black spiral which upon closer examination appears to be formed out of Friedman’s own pubic hair. This displaced object created a reaction of disgust in the viewer who is forced to get close in order to see the true medium. To the trained eye this work is intriguing for it scrupulous craft and detail, something truly beautiful made out of something commonly seen as grotesque. Such a small object holds such a large concept.

So why use miniatures rather than the more impressive large scale? Tom Friedman is inspired by the minute; small works force the viewer back into an honest viewing experience. It eliminates the “drive by” art experience. Large pieces can be read at a distance, seen through the window of the gallery in mere seconds. Small ones demand slow, close-up examination, immersing the viewer in the very act of seeing and absorbing. The viewers are forced to interact with the artwork in a way they haven’t had to in the past. He uses this act of creating an extreme distortion of scale to gain more information about the artwork. His work takes a closer and closer investigation of an object with every piece, forcing the viewers to take that closer look as well.

When looking at Tom Friedman’s work it makes me think of Jeff Koons. In class, his work became out most talked about and debated over of any artist. We’ve gone back and forth asking the question, “What is art? How do we define it?” Tom Friedman’s work sits in the same basket alongside Jeff Koons. Both are inspired by the ready made, using found objects to create conceptual statements. They take those inspirational items and distort them slightly in some way. The objects remain in tact but a new meaning is added. Jeff Koons blows them up to larger than life proportion while Tom Friedman shrinks them down. While each piece is unique the parallels are clear to any viewer.

I would definitely recommend Tom Friedman to a friend but it depends on which friend. Tom Friedman’s work, while valuable to the art community, is not for everyone. His work, in it size, can seem unimpressive to some viewers. One would have to have interest in contemporary art to appreciate and understand Friedman’s work. I would, however, advise everyone to check out his exhibits. Whether it’s your thing or not all artwork is important to view and to be exposed.

Margaret's Group: Gottfried Helnwein

Gottfried Helnwein, born October 8 in 1948, is an Austrian-Irish artist who works in hyper-realistic painting, photography, sculpture, performance, and installation art. While he works in a wide variety of mediums, Helnwein consistently revisits two major themes: the child and the cartoon world. However, Helnwein’s artwork exhibits none of the naïveté to be expected from his subject matter, instead focusing on matters of cruelty, violence, and sexualization. His output is generally considered provocative, and controversies have arisen from those depicting scenes of wounded children and Nazism. Despite the disputes over such content, Helnwein’s works reflect an ardent anti-war, anti-fascist message that he has consistently expressed through his work over the course of his life. Helnwein often combines photography with his painting, altering blown-up photographs with oil paints to create a menacing, turbulent atmosphere—in his recent “Disasters of War” series of mixed-media paintings, children lie bleeding, bandaged, or uniformed as though soldiers, frequently juxtaposed with kitschy toys and erotic figurines. His work, he says, has more to do with identification with those he sees so oppressed: "When I see how kids grow up, how they are neglected and mistreated, how they get polluted with drugs, junk food, insane television and bad schools, it's terrible—and dangerous, because they are our future. Children are sacred—we need to protect, support and encourage them."

the disasters of war 13 2007.JPG
The Disasters of War 13 (2007), oil and acrylic on canvas

Helnwein draws his inspiration from the brutality and oppression he observes in the world around him, particularly when directed towards children. Growing up in post-war Vienna, Helnwein was profoundly affected by the depressing atmosphere in the aftermath of WWII. When asked about his early life, Helnwein has said that, “I remember my childhood being surrounded by depressed people. I never heard anybody sing. I never saw anybody laughing. It was really black and dark. There was no art or culture.” He found an escape from this dreariness upon discovering Disney comic books, and became fascinated with Donald Duck. On the subject of this particular fowl, Helnwein has expressed the sentiment that “from Donald Duck I have learned more about life than from all the schools I ever attended.” Helnwein came into art as a means of defying the society he was born into. One of his early “public artistic happenings” involved walking down the street dressed as Hitler with blood coming out of his mouth. Later work would have definite political effects—in 1979, when Dr. Heinrich Gross, Austria’s Head of State Psychiatry, admitted to having poisoned handicapped children during the war, Helnwein was disturbed by the lack of public outcry. He proceeded to create a picture entitled “Life not Worth Living” that depicted a child slumped over into a plate of food, sparking a debate that resulted in Gross’s resignation. Much like political artists such as Gregory Green and especially Daniel Martinez, Helnwein uses his art as an instrument of provocation in the hopes of bringing about change.

Life not Worth Living (1979), watercolor

Other artists have made use of kitschy cartoon imagery, not the least of which being Jeff Koons. Both Helnwein and Koons work in a wide variety of media—frequently on a large scale—and incorporate elements of pop culture and sexuality. But whereas Koons rejects hidden meaning and embraces the superficial “kitsch” element, Helnwein reappropriates these symbols as a means of enhancing his message. Symbols of innocence take on a decidedly sinister air—in Helnwein’s “Los Caprichos” painting installation, a maniacally grinning plastic Mickey Mouse looms over a series of canvases depicting maimed and vulnerable children. Yet Helnwein’s work comes across as more a statement about general victimization of the young and loss of innocence rather than purely a jab at pop culture. Both Koons and Helnwein have produced multiple self-portraits, but they are also drastically different in tone. Koons’ self-portraits glorify the artist in an excessively heroic manner that verges on the ironic, flawlessly groomed and surrounded by attractive women and/or the trappings of success. Helnwein’s self-portraits, on the other hand, depict the artist as a bandaged, disfigured, sub-human figure, often splattered with pigment and displaying all manner of expressions of pain and worry. Both artists indulge in a certain narcissism, but the effect is utterly different. This contrast highlights the basic difference between the two artists: Koons is content to revel in the decadent and superficial, while Helnwein is obsessed with physical and psychological anxieties.

Los Caprichos 2006.JPG
Los Caprichos (2006), oil and acrylic on canvas

Helnwein is highly recommended even to those who do not have a predilection for morbid or grotesque art, for his intention is not merely to shock or titillate. Whereas many modern artists get lost in the artifice of excessive conceptualism, Gottfried Helnwein continues to produce challenging, thought-provoking work based on the weight of the subject matter, not the way in which it is presented. Having produced a wide range of imagery in a variety of mediums, Helnwein’s development is fascinating to trace from conceptual beginnings to his current synthesis of pop and fine art. Granted, many people find his work too objectionable due to the implied violence against children, and those individuals have every reason to disregard this recommendation. I would urge my friends to see an exhibit by this artist based on what I know about their tolerances for disturbing themes in art.

song of deputies 1986.JPG
Song of the Deputies (1986), photograph


"English Texts." The Official Website of Gottfried Helnwein. 2009. 20 Apr 2009 <<><>>.

Giger, H.R.. www HR Giger com. Zurich: TASCHEN, 2008.

Tonya's Group: Artist Research

Enrique Chagoya knows exactly what he is doing. He can adequately describe himself and his artistic niches – painting and printmaking – without one iota of hesitation. His direction is clear: fuse the cultures. He was born in Mexico in 1953, and in his work he experiments with various elements of the culture he was born in and the culture he now lives in – San Francisco sunny skies and American popular culture at its finest.

Chagoya often juxtaposes pop culture images into an otherwise demurely colored piece. This is not to say his work is in any way boring or bland; it is simply to define the visual difference being represented in his works. For example, a background may be very subtle in regards to detail and/or color. Often, Chagoya will add a surprising element (or two, or three) to the piece to create a story and cause one to question it.


Liberty Club #1, 2006, Acrylic and water-based oil on canvas


Untitled (Liberty), 2004, Charcoal and pastel on paper mounted on canvas

“Most of the time I have no idea what I am doing when I start out, especially with my books and prints. I put a ton of images from my archives on a big table, and then I work like a musician, whistling notes that may sound good or interesting next to each other but don’t necessarily make immediate sense. Sometimes I have bad, and even horrible thoughts that strike me as irreverently funny, and those I include in the piece. Then I translate it to a print or book. I figure out what it all means after I am done. It is similar to waking up and trying to make sense of a dream.” (2)

One of the most interesting things about Chagoya is his complete lack of intention when initially starting to create a piece. He simply lets his imagination control the flow of his hands as he creates something from what he already has. He is not merely juxtaposing images to create a complete and final artwork: he is, in fact, juxtaposing his thoughts. What you see in a work by Enrique Chagoya is an inexplicable, yet ridiculously intriguing work of art.

Enrique Chagoya is brilliant not only artistically but also interpretively. He may not realize what his creation will mean when he is finished with it. But when the meaning is filtered through the eyes of imagination, the eyes of cultural openness and study, the eyes of many years of observation: then, and only then, can the meaning come full circle. Then, and only then, are we granted the privilege of interpreting it for ourselves.

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Rowan's Group: Artist Research

Ben Alpert
Artist Research—Kara Walker

American artist Kara Walker uses her work to address issues such as gender, sex, and most importantly, race. She is best known for her work with black paper silhouettes on stark white backgrounds, which often deal with these subjects. Walker is an African American from Stockton, California and now resides in New York, where she teaches at Columbia University. She attended Atlanta College of Art for her BFA in Painting and Printmaking, and went on to Rhode Island School of Design, where she earned her MFA.
Obviously, much of her work is drawn from experiences she has had growing up, or things her ancestors experienced in the past. Her racial identity is important and comes through in almost everything she does. She also draws from the contrasting histories that black and white Americans receive and accept to be true. Her work is not usually for entertainment; it is done to inform people that this disconnect exists, and she hopes people become more aware of it.
In contrast to Neshat, Walker addresses cultural differences directly, instead of leaving the viewer to ask questions and answer them for themselves. Neshat uses ambiguity to get her points across, while Walker uses blunt truths to hammer the message into her viewer. Obviously their media are very different, but both artists use race and identity as their primary focus.
I would definitely tell friends—especially white friends—to go to a Kara Walker exhibit. It is very bold and relevant to the way we think about America and race relations. Almost everyone could benefit from hearing what she has to say.

1. D'Arcy, David. "The Eyes of the Storm: Kara Walker on Hurricanes, Heroes and Villians." Artinfo. 19 April, 2009. .
2. DuBois Shaw, Gwendolyn. Seeing the Unspeakable: The Art of Kara Walker. Duke University Press, 2004.
3. "Kara Walker." Wikipedia. 20 April, 2009. .
4. Kruger, Barbara. "Kara Walker." TIME. 20 April, 2009. .

Margaret's Group: Artist Research Project

Cai Guo-Qiang by Joanne Liu

“In my work, there are two distinct levels of culture: my Chinese culture and the product of my experience.” - Cai Guo-Qiang

Born in 1957 in Quanzhou, Fujian, China to a historian and painter, Cai Guo-Qiang first trained in stage design at the Shanghai Drama Institute before moving to Tokyo, Japan, and then to New York, where he continues to reside today. He achieved fame while in Japan, and to date has received numerous awards from around the world. More recently, he is known as the director of visual and special effects for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

Image of the Closing ceremony from the Olympics:

Cai once admitted that the “my works don’t look alike, in that I use all sorts of different materials and it is difficult to associate one work with another.” For example, he claims that although he took part in the Venice Biennial three times, people cannot associate his pieces, Bringing to Venice What Marco Polo Forgot, The Dragon has Arrived, and Venice’s Rent Collection Courtyard, because one is a junk from China, another is a rocket, and the last is a series of clay statues. This lack of “unity” between his works stems, in part, from his father whose motto was “I do not want to go out of my way”. As a result, Cai attempts to create the “spirit of he who dares to accomplish nothing and who says: ‘That’s life!’.” However, despite this non-committal attitude towards style, his works are “often scholarly and often politically charged” while drawing on mysticism, Taoism, oriental cosmology, and fengshui for inspiration. Cai believes that as a literati, he must have a “spirit of reaction.” That is why, while in Japan, he worked on connections between man and nature, and while in the United States, he works on issues involving culture shock and international politics.

Although Cai tends to use a variety of mediums and styles, he is most known for his gunpowder drawings which he first began doing as a reaction against the restricted artistic and social environment in China. These pieces are huge canvases first covered with strategically placed gunpowder before the entire thing is ignited, leaving behind residues and singes on a white background. Arguably his most famous work is his series Projects for Extraterrestrials. Those who are able to witness these pieces are able to feel a connection to the larger universe while transcending the sense of being “human”.

Image of a piece from Projects for Extraterrestrials:

In this sense, Cai’s work can be compared to Thomas Chooper’s. Both are interested in exploring the spiritual relationship between humans and the world and are heavily influenced by cosmology to create powerful works that question. To this end, Cooper attempts to capture the energy of a historical landscape in a well-planned photograph to force viewers to think about the earth’s influence on humans and vice versa, like in his piece An Indication Piece. Cabot Strait – Looking N., N.E. – Towards the New World. Cape North, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada 1999-2001 (One of the two Northernmost Points of Nova Scotia – and along the site of John Cabot’s Canadian discoveries and explorations of the New World for the English). This lengthy title brings to life an otherwise dull looking photo. The audience feels an intimate connection to the piece of land shown at the bottom of the photo because of the history of the location. Cai, on the other hand, tries to release energy in an ephemeral explosion to create a sense of “emptiness” during which the viewer may be able to objectively think of his or her relation to nature.

From the previews and reviews of his many, various works and exhibitions, it is clear that anything by Cai will be impressive, and I would recommend him to my friends. The sheer scale and grandiose of all his pieces are awe-inspiring, and because of his constantly shifting style, each exhibition will be different and surprising enough to keep people entertained for several years.

Cai Guo-Qiang. Retrieved 21 Apr 2009.
Fei Dawei. "To Dare To Accomplish Nothing". Cai Guo-Qiang. London: Thames & Hudson and Fondation Cartier pour l'art Contemporain, 2000. 116-136.
McConnell/Hauser Inc. Cai Guo-Qiang Explosion Work. Retrieved 21 Apr 2009.
PBS. Art:21 Cai Guo-Qiang. Retrieved 21 Apr 2009.
Schwabsky, Barry. "Tao and Physics: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang". Artforum (New York) Summer 1997: 118-21, 155.

Jennifer's Group: Frank Gehry--the Wiseman Behind the Weisman

Frank Gehry is a relatively famous artist, known mostly for his work as an architect. Gehry was born in Canada, but studied architecture at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA. Through his years as an architect, Gehry has taken on a definitive style. Buildings designed by Frank Gehry look like they were designed by Frank Gehry. His buildings are typically extraordinary shapes, with jutting points and rounded planes, and are covered in highly polished and reflective metal. Some of his most famous works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA and the Weisman Art Museum on the East Bank of campus.


Gehry’s works are not necessarily representative of specific themes or messages. His works are obviously built for a purpose; they are buildings, designed to house things, musical performances, artworks, or people, whatever the case may be. Despite this utilitarian aspect of Gehry’s buildings, they always include a dramatic aesthetic quality. His buildings are visually stunning and eccentric, but with no discernable purpose for this eccentricity.


Gehry’s building remind me of some works by Jeff Koons, in particular his giant balloon animals and his giant puppy. Koons work is similar to Gehry’s in that it doesn’t necessarily have an outright message, or at least a message that is inherent and obvious to an observer. Instead, these works draw on their shape, color, size, and texture to draw out raw emotional responses from viewers. Another similarity between Konos and Gehry is that they both design their works, but ultimately the creation of those works is often passed onto others. It is interesting to note that Koon’s Puppy, the giant living floral statue of a puppy, is actually housed at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao that Gehry Designed.


For those of you who have not taken the opportunity to observe Gehry’s works, I would suggest taking a moment to do so. I would start with the Weisman; Gehry’s talent as an architect has given his the ability to not only create structurally sound buildings for art, but to create another piece of art to accompany them. For us to have such an example on campus is an amazing opportunity. Another great example of this is his work on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. Gehry has created a visually amazing stage for performances, and has managed to do so in an outdoor venue. The Stage is housed in a steel band shell, reminiscent of an exploded Weisman, with a small seated amphitheater, backed by a huge lawn. The amphitheater and lawn are covered by a metal trellis riddled with speakers, to reproduce the sound of an indoor concert hall. Millennium park’s website takes a quote from Gehry on the design of the pavilion,

"How do you make everyone - not just the people in the seats, but the people sitting 400 feet away on the lawn - feel good about coming to this place to listen to music? And the answer is, you bring them into it. You make the proscenium larger; you build a trellis with a distributed sound system. You make people feel part of the experience."
-Frank Gehry

It seems that Gehry has a knack for placing people within the art that they are experiencing. His works are not ordinary buildings, they are not museums, or concert halls, or pavilions, they are experiences for audiences to be encompassed in.


Margaret's Group: Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy is not only an artist, but a naturalist. He uses natural landscaping in rural and urban areas to create sculptures that are very captivating. He got his start in England and Scotland where his is from but has since created pieces in the North Pole, Japan, Australia, and U.S. Only a true artist could take what is provided by mother nature like twigs, rocks, leaves, ice, snow, weeds, or thorns, and turn it into something amazing. Andy's theme is quite unique because his artwork is like something you have never seen before. He takes ordinary natural objects and transforms them into a masterpiece.
Andy Goldsworthy is inspired by nature and his surroundings. When he is outside working in various elements, he uses something that there is a surplus of, like rocks, and puts them together to form something larger. He wants us as viewers to see our natural surroundings in a different way as well and be kind to what mother nature has given us. It is hard as a viewer not to be entranced by his work because it is truely unique and unbelieve to look at. One can only wonder how he does such things.
It is kind of a stretch but Andy and Nan Goldwin might have a little in common. Because Andy takes pictures of all of his sculptures when his is finished, both have experience with photography. But they both also take things as they come naturally. Nan likes to work with people that are raw, real, and natural and Andy likes to work with natural objects in nature as well. The only difference is that Nan works with human beings and Andy works with landscapes and items he finds outdoors. Both artists however to share the same feelings of seeing things as they are, natural.
If I were to tell a friend about Andy Goldsworth I would say he is very dedicated to his work. He travels the world doing something he loves. His artwork is complicated and time consuming which takes a lot of patience and dedication. He represents artists that see things different than what an average person would see. I would recommend they do see his work because it isn't the stereotypical art that they might be used to. It is truely amazing what he can do with some rocks and sticks. It's hard to believe that some of the things he has done came from nature.
Andy says that working in nature gives him sort of a freedom because he has so much to work with. He doesn't like to be picky and just uses what nature has provided.

Continue reading "Margaret's Group: Andy Goldsworthy" »

Jennifer’s Group: Artist Research – Elizabeth Peyton

Maia Pavitova

Jennifer’s Group: Artist Research – Elizabeth Peyton

Elizabeth Peyton is an American artist, born in 1965 and based out in New York. She attended School of Visual Arts in New York in the 1980’s. Her work is focused on portraits of her close friends and celebrities, such as Liam Gallagher of the band of Oasis or Marc Jacobs, the fashion designer. She has done some still life as well, but her main focus is the portraits done in the fusion of contemporary, romantic style using bright colors. A lot of her work is done on cardboard instead of canvas, with paint
Peyton’s inspiration comes from such as artists as David Hockney, Alex Katz, and the most important inspiration is Andy Warhol. She has also drawn her painting technique from such classics as Eduard Manet and Sargent ( Peyton has started out painting portraits from photographs of contemporary artists such as Kurt Cobain and later on she progressed to making live portraits. Her portraits could be categorized into two groups. The first groups of portraits are the people that she knows personally and whom she loves such as her ex husband or some of her friends. The seconds group of portraits are the one that feed her internal and creative world such as Marie Antoinette and Georgia O’Keeffe. Peyton is capturing the atmosphere of the individual that she is painting. She is communicating almost something personal about the individual that you, as an audience member feel like you know these famous figures personally.“Each image is a point on entwined strands of artistic or emotional growth, memorializing a relationship acknowledging an inspiration or exposing an aspect of ambition” (New York Times, 2008)
When I visited Peyton’s exhibit at the Walker Art Center, Forever Elizabeth Peyton, I felt a very silent emotion of sorrow and tenderness. To me she strokes the same note as Felix Gonzalez’s work. Even though they worked in different mediums, Peyton works with paint and cardboard where as Gonzalez has more of the conceptual pieces. There presentations of work are different, how what they do have in common is more important. Both of them reach out into the emotions of the audience. The both touch something tender that each one of us keeps for our friends and loved ones. Their audiences mainly are their lovers and friends. There is something very enchanting and vulnerable in their work.
Elizabeth Peyton’s work should definitely be seen. Bright colors and very strong and distinctive brush strokes create the atmosphere of translucency about them. It is the atmosphere of the spring, where emotions are reawakened and when you walk past some of the icons that Peyton created and you revisit the characters of those individuals.

Sources Cited

Smith, Roberta The Personal and the Painterly The New York Times October 10,2008

Rowans Group: Artist Research by Josh Clemons

William Kentridge is a South African native born in Johannesburg. His most known work is his animated films. They are made by him filming a drawing, then changing that drawing slightly. He does it over and over using each fram for only a split seconds time. He uses a single drawing until the end of a scene. Much like making a cartoon, except it's a single drawing on a single sheet of paper that is changed over time.
Much of Kentridge's inspiration is politically motivated. His main work portrayed the apartheid that existed in South Africa. He wanted to express actual feelings and what it was like to live through it. He wanted people to remember, he is quoted as saying "In the same way that there is a human act of dismembering the past there is a natural process in the terrain through erosion, growth, dilapidation that also seeks to blot out events. In South Africa this process has other dimensions. The very term 'new South Africa' has within it the idea of a painting over the old, the natural process of dismembering, the naturalization of things new." The idea of the past being eroded, or the interpretation of it changing over time has been another main theme carried through his work.
I would have to say Suzanne Opton, especially the Soldier Billboard project, can be compared to Kentridge. They don't share any particular form of styles, except that photography is more similar to film making then other forms of art, but what really matters are their ideas. Both are trying to touch people socially, in a very simple way. Opton takes a simple picture of a simple soldier, while Kentridge uses simple charcoal and paper to create very touching film. I find it fascinating how sometimes the smallest, most simplistic ideas, can create the most profound affects. Not only does that help the average person view more connected to the artwork, but also to the artist. In my opinion, artwork doesn't really become something until it has a meaning and the greater the meaning the greater the piece. Both artists do a profound job of embodying meaning into their works.
If I was talking with a friend I would recommend anyone to see work by William Kentridge. You may or not be able to connect directly to his work, but seeing the amount of depth each piece has is pretty cool. It can be a little gloomy looking since it's primarily charcoal on paper with maybe a little blue or red pastel. That aside though, his work is very interesting and unique to himself.


Margaret's Group: Lebbeus Woods

Lebbeus Woods is an American artist and architect best known for his disregard for the normal conventions of architecture. After studying architecture at the University of Illinois and engineering at Purdue University, he worked with Eero Saarinen before shifting his interest to theory and experimental projects. Woods' work consists of various themes and ideas, such as the political nature of architecture, the relationship between an architect and society, and the confrontation of the new on an already existing order. Since the content of his work often features contorted, armored buildings, imposing steel structures, and a dark atmosphere, many of his designs suggest a reality responding to the uncertainty and continual shifts of contemporary society. More specifically, they suggest a distant future in which a constant struggle with war and survival is prevalent. His primary media is his drafts, which he makes using electrostatic printing, colored pencil, pastel, and ink on paper.


Although uncertain of the root of his inspiration, Woods mentions reading, especially texts by Jean-Paul Sarte, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer, as giving him ideas that motivated him. He was never really inspired by visual things, although he admired painters such as Brueghel, Goya, and Picasso. After moving away from traditional architecture and focusing more on theory and experimental projects, Woods was rejuvenated during an architectural conference in Brazil. Seeing the squatter settlements built as housing by the city's poor, he came to the realization that, "all my work up to that time was insufficient in confronting urgent human problems, not only in São Paolo, but anywhere." His work after this point is more political in nature, as seen in projects like the "Berlin Free-Zone", and a series of renderings he created in response to the Bosnian war. What Woods is trying to do through his art is get us to look at the world differently. He wants to provoke questions, since he feels that there is never a definitive, conclusive answer to anything. Specifically, he wants to us to, "questioning the stability and permanence of architecture, and, in turn, the stability of society." Compared to the work of artists we've studied in class, the concept and theory behind Woods' work is a bit more abstract and specific to one type of art, architecture.


Although very different from one another, I think Woods' work has some philosophical aspects similar to Betsy Damon's "Keepers of the Waters" work. Damon wants people to work together in order to preserve, restore, and remediate water sources, where as Woods wants people to realize the volatility of contemporary life and the importance architecture has on society. Both artists have a strong message behind their work that involves the current state of human society, and correspondingly calls for proactive thought. The only difference lies in what their area of research is, and the way they choose to present their call for action and awareness. The way in which these artists relate to their audiences is also similar; both have designed interactive structures meant to speak to people, with the idea in mind that they will gain something from the experience.


I would for sure tell a friend about Lebbeus Woods, especially if they happen to enjoy design. I would also recommend an exhibition, because it would be good to see the work of an artist with such strong ideas and opinions regarding architecture. Any artist that can say, "Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms," obviously has some strong, meaningful work to display.

Lebbeus Woods, Anarchitecture: Architecture is a Political Act

Jennifer's Group: Artist Research Project - Mika Kato

Mika Kato is a Japanese female artist. She was born in Mie prefecture, Japan in 1975.
She is a painter but their is couple of process before Kato starts painting. She sculpt a doll with clay and dress it up. Then She photographs it and she will finally starts paint it on a canvas. Even her subject looks like animation character her work is in hyper detailed. Her dolls have common characteristics of: round face, small nose, and huge dark eyes.
There is no articles of interviewing Kato and she doesn't have her website either but White Cube said that "Kato’s stylised and very particular vision not only references the preoccupation with idealised forms and youthful beauty in Manga, but also Surrealism, especially the dolls of Hans Bellmer and the erotic fantasies of Salvador Dali (White Cube)."
I would recommend to my friends about how detailed her works are. She hasn't exhibit much internationally but she has several times in Japan. Her work is very detailed and I think it is very cool.

Darwent, C. Deadpan Dolls. Modern Painters (April 2005) p. 46-7
Falconer, M. Mika Kato: White Cube [Exhibit]. Modern Painters (March 2005) p. 102-3

Margaret's Group: Tim Hawkinson Research

Justin Rutherford
Artist Research

Tim Hawkinson

Tim Hawkinson was born in 1960 in San Francisco. He graduated from San Jose State University, and went on to earn his MFA at UCLA. For his artwork he mainly does sculpture work using self-portrait as the theme. Which equates into a wide range of pieces, going from a large representation of an index finger to a reproduction of a coke can. With the sculpture work he puts moving parts and music to make it more aesthetically pleasing for the audience. Recently he has been working more with photo collage. All in all the artwork Hawkinson creates tends to be more in the realm of the abstract.
Hawkinson uses his own body for a lot of his inspiration, hence the work with self-portraiture. From here he just stretches it as far as he can. Another area that he gets inspiration from is just from everyday life, he can hear or see something that is interesting to him, and from there he recreates it or uses that sound and makes some form of artwork out of it. For instance there is a piece he made called “Drip”, and the idea for it came from walking around the studio one day that it was raining, and there were buckets everywhere catching water drips. So from there he thought it would be interesting to create something with that same type of “rhythmic sound pattern.”
In an interview he did with New Art Tv, the interviewer stated that his work is meant to be funny, and there’s a sense of humor about. Hawkinson responded by saying; “I think it’s a definite kind of a way of engaging the work in route to other ideas beyond basic humor, but it’s certainly a component of the work.” Meaning that even though the audience can see the humor element from the beginning, it is more meant as a means of drawing the viewer in, to see the deeper meaning in the different pieces. Because if the work he does has nothing to draw people in, it has much less chance of being seen. So instead of just thinking about what wants to do, he is combining what the public wants to see with what he wants to create and say, to arrive at the middle ground, which is the art that he is creating.
One artist that we have discussed in class that I would say Hawkinson could be compared to is Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Since they both have done abstract self-portraiture. They are both in vastly different realms though. Gonzalez-Torres works on a much smaller scale than Hawkinson, and didn’t really include himself directly in any work. Whereas Hawkinson includes life-sized models of himself in his works, and tends to create things that are on a much grander scale. For example he created a stadium sized fully automated bagpipe titled Überorgan. So even though their results and tactics are vastly different, it is also interesting how much alike they are with their abstract takes on self-portraiture.
If I were to be discussing this artist with a friend, I would recommend checking him out. After listening to an interview with him it seems like he is a down to earth person. His art is aesthetically pleasing to look at, even if you don’t understand the message that he is trying to say, you can still enjoy just looking at it. Which I feel is a very important aspect to art. It isn’t always about shock value, most of the time if one wants to be an artist and to make money, and have it as their career, there is a certain give and take that one must make as an artist. And I feel that this is what Tim Hawkinson exemplifies through his use of humor, and abstract tendencies.

Continue reading "Margaret's Group: Tim Hawkinson Research" »

Tonya's Group: Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956. He was bought up in Yorkshire; now he lives in the village of Penpont in Dumfries shire with his wife and children. He was well-known as a young British artist, and later he became the most famous British sculptor of the 21st century working with nature. Many of his exhibitions are around Britain, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. By traveling to many places, he has gained experience and knowledge about nature, landscape, and culture.
The material for his works come from the nature such as flowers, wood, mud, rocks, leaves, snow, and sand. They are literary and symbolic. From these free and natural materials, he can create fantastic art-works such as an egg sculpture from many pieces of rock, a block of dry and cracked mud, or spider webs from sticks hanging on the tree branch. Even though these works of art sometimes only last for days or few seconds, they represent the full understanding of Goldsworthy in the landscape, the nature, and his relationship to them; he calls it is the spiritual relationship between him and the nature. Goldsworthy also mentioned the ideas of energy, transformation, and flow in his work. Because it is from nature, it contains the great energy of the Earth, sun, wind, water. "Energy that is running through, flowing through the landscape.” His art-works allow the changes of time, season, and temperature to add into the works. In the other words, his works are like a growing body of feeling towards understanding the Earth. His art- work is the expression about who he is; it is less concerned with whether it was Art and how it fits into the context of Art. He is a pioneer in art field, who relates art and nature together. Andy Goldsworthy is also well-known as an artist who is sympathetic towards the Green Movement, and other ecological concerns. Because most of his art-works are temporary, photographs also engages into his work. They record the changing of time, the color, and the light of his works.
The work of Thomas Joshua Copper is similar to Andy Goldsworthy’s work. It is similar in the appearance but not the form, or progress. Both of them have a love of nature and are curious in learning and experiencing its beauty. They also apply the force and change of time and nature into their works. For instance, Copper took a picture of North Atlantic Wave; he observed and waited until the right time to take it. He did not use human power to control it instead he let the nature appear and control itself. Both of their works encourage us to value nature and its necessary connection to our lives.
I recommend everyone to visit and see his art-works. Everyone will be surprised how nature’s material such as leaves, rock, sand, snow can be created and formed into fantastic art works. At that moment, we will recognize the beauty of the nature which is transformed through the hands of a talented artist, Andy Goldsworthy.

"Passage". Author/Creator:Goldsworthy, Andy. 1956
"Stone". Author/Creator:Goldsworthy, Andy. 1993
"Hand to Earth". Author/Creator:Goldsworthy, Andy. 1976-1990






Rowans Group: Robin Rhode by Erin Westover

Robin Rhode currently lives in Berlin Germany but was born in Cape Town, South Africa. At age 8 he moved to Johannesburg where he still draws his inspiration for his art from the energy of streets of the town. His art deals social issues such as race, individuality, culture and public expression. He has had many different exhibits in many different countries in a relatively short amount of time. Born in 76, he is now 32 and has only been doing exhibits since 2000. Things such as the hip-hop and youth culture affect his work, as well as sports and current events. This is even evidenced in the way he dresses and talks. “The spaces in which Rhodes works and reworks present physical manifestations of state policies and their resulting marginalization of apartheid South Africa’s majority and also allude to current sociopolitical and economic issues in both his native country and abroad” (Hitting the Pavement). He is always trying to find new ways to express his ideas through engaging the audience and creating something that stays in the public sphere for a temporary time.

I really liked the way that Robin Rhode uses several different mediums in creating his art. His main medium is stuff like charcoal and chalk with which he creates drawings on public walls. He also uses photography to record these drawing and display them later. His museum exhibits have a storyboard feeling as you look at images he has made of his chalk drawings on public buildings. They aren’t just snapshots of his work, it’s him actually posing with the different stages of the drawings. This gives his otherwise ordinary drawings significance. It also is reflective of the type of performance art that is his main goal. His art is meant to be something with which he can engage, and he has taken a very entertaining standpoint with trying to interact with his 2D drawings. He did an exhibit here in Minneapolis in 2003 where he drew a car on the wall and then tried to break in. When that didn’t work he threw a rock at it. His drawings also reflect on society by the fact that they are temporary and exposed to change. They only last as long as conditions allow in the street, reflecting back on how the streets and public in general are constantly changing.

The other thing that is really striking to me is that he makes the ordinary special. In all of his works he uses very simple drawings of every day objects such as a boom box or a yoyo. They are things that everyone can relate to and yet presented in such a way that it makes you rethink the significance of why he’s drawing attention to them. Along with the everyday objects are also the everyday locations he chooses to work in. Most of them are areas we pass everyday and normally wouldn’t give a second glance. For him, a run down building wall becomes a blank canvas to express himself. By using such urban areas as empty lots, or crumbling walls he is drawing attention to the historical social implications of the space, which also reflects on the issues of freedom and marginalization that interest him as a post apartheid South African.

If I were to compare him to any of the artists we’ve talked about in class it would be William Kentridge. Both of their works are dealing with post apartheid South Africa and both of them are from that area. What’s interesting was in one of them books I read that near the end of this social transformation that was happening, South Africa went through a kind of art transformation as well. For the first time, being an artist as a profession became possible and they “became unrestricted in their movement and communication.” With Kentridge as the first, they started getting attention on an international level. Similarities between the Rhodes and Kentridge would be that they both work with charcoal and work in a way that allows them to change things for each scene. It isn’t just static art they are making it is changing. Kentridge’s work is more personal where I think Rhodes work is more social. If I had the chance to see some of Rhodes drawing performances live, I wouldn’t miss it. The way that his drawings are made and reworked are so unique and even the still images are just a glimpse of stuff he’s done.

Book: Hitting the Pavement, from Street Level: Mark Bradford, William Cordova and Robin Rhode, produced by the Nasher Museum of Art

Book: Robin Rhode: Who Saw Who, produced by the Hayward Museum in London

Tonya’s Group: Artist Research by Briana Brookshaw

Briana Brookshaw
Artist Research
Laura Owens
Laura Owens was born in 1970. In 1992 she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. from the Rhode Island School of Design and she graduated in 1994 with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts. She now lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She usually makes large paintings of subjects. They are sometimes for certain places like the Inverleith House in Scotland. She likes for her audience to be engaged in her work. She also likes to separate her paintings into parts. She usually leaves an area of unpainted canvas in between the two parts. Hey paintings are simple, yet complex. She creates her paintings in “a matter-of-fact way in order to take some of the preciousness or exclusiveness out of the history of the practice” (Laura Owens). She mostly uses paint and canvas for her media.
The artist is inspired by many different things including animals, landscape, ships, romance, Japanese prints, and Hindu beliefs. She says that her “work gets created in this space of freedom, and that’s why a lot of it has to do with experimentation, invention, and sort of a juxtaposition of things you wouldn’t normally juxtapose“ (Laura Owens). She says her art does not usually come from emotion. I think the artist is trying to entertain us and inform us.
I would compare Laura Owens to one of the guest speakers we had in our class. The speaker I would compare her to is Jenny Schmid. I think they are somewhat alike because they both like to portray something large in their art. Jenny had a lot of large heads in her art. Laura likes to make most of her subjects large in her paintings. Making these subjects large put more of an emphasis on them.
I would tell a friend that Laura Owens is an interesting artist. She has great artwork that I think is pretty. I would recommend to a friend that they check out an exhibit of her work because it is enjoyable to look at and her art is not like some other artists’ work that is hard to even understand why it is art. You can just tell from looking at one of her paintings that it is art.

Owens, Laura, Paul Schimmel, and Thomas Lawson. Laura Owens. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2003. Print.

"Laura Owens." 2008. Crown Point Prestt. 22 Apr 2009 .

Kushner, Rachel. "Laura Owens." May 2003 Web.22 Apr 2009.

Arts 1001 Eric Tanaka: Artist Research Paper

Eric Tanaka
Arts 1001
April 21, 2009

Man Ray

Man Ray is a surrealist photographer known for his outlandish and though-provoking works of art. He is a “legendary photographer, painter, and maker of objects and films, Man Ray was one of the most versatile and inventive artists of this century” (manraytrust 1). He grew up in America, but is best known for his works since he moved to Paris and on his return to America. He is known as a modernist painter, as he delved into movements such as Dadaism and Surrealism. With that said, he was highly interested with anti-aesthetics, rejecting beauty as the main purpose of art. He was constantly looking for new ways to break the parameters of art, trying to explore what could be considered art or not. He used new techniques with photography as well, trying to get new effects and produce new images never seen before. His works are very outlandish and interesting. Many of his most famous photographs are nudes of women in black and white with something unique added to each photo to make it more interesting. He uses unnatural, irregular positions with his models to form striking, sometimes uncomfortable images for the viewer. This was one of the biggest attributes about Dadaism, which can be seen throughout other Dada works of art. His works of art are very different than Nan Goldin’s works in a sense that her pictures are very spontaneous and documentary, while Man Ray’s photographs are planned, set up, and he messes with film photography rather than digital photography. They are similar in a sense that both of them sometimes use grotesque figures as their subjects. I would tell my friends that Man Ray is one of the most influential Dada/Surrealist photographers of his time.,9171,743589,00.html

Jennifer's Group - Research Paper

Jessica Eisenmann

Hernan Bas:
Slim-Fast Enthusiast, Dandyism Supporter, Miami Queer Artist Extraordinaire

Hernan Bas began his work ten years ago, in 1999. Since his initial showings he has delved into paintings (using both standard paints and Slim-Fast), charcoal drawings, installations and continues to show growth as an artist. Bas resides in Miami, citing the intense competition within the New York art scene as a distraction, and prefers the less fame-focused Florida scene. Earlier in his career, Bas focused more heavily on gay themes in his works, and has consistently presented the image of well-dressed, Victorian men (dandies) and explored narratives through a male dominant lense. In an Interview with Flavorwire, he expressed his work as “pop understanding of obscure references.” In his works he has represented an entirely male interpretation of the movie Carrie, as well as interpetations of vintage Boy Scout manuals and the classic novel Moby Dick. His work crosses borders; it is lush and decadent, but always filled with reference and allusion to old world literature and lifestyles.

Hernan Bas is inspired by pop literature, the gay community, dandyism, and history, specifically the Victorian time period. Bas makes art because art, to him, is the way to connect with something bigger than day-to-day experiences. One of his shows was once touted as creating a Never-Never Land for the visitors to lose themselves in; the decadence and story-telling of his work helps do this. His inspirations and motivations are almost entirely from within himself- his own interests, his experience as a young gay man, his favorite books and stories. This kind of personal interest and influence makes me think of one of our visiting artists, Wayne Portraz. Both of these articles experienced and involved themselves with certain themes and subjects early on in life, and continued to represent them for years. For Portraz it was turtles and wilderness. For Bas, it's old stories and stylistic gay men.

Hernan Bas and Felix Gonzalez-Torres both created art as interpretations of personal stories, drawing on histories and influences; their motivations were personal. Gonzalez-Torres has expressed that his sole audience was Ross, his partner, while the intended audience for Bas's work is more wide. The backgrounds of these two artists are very different: Bas is from and currently lives in Florida, Gonzalez-Torres grew up in Puerto Rico and worked while based in New York City. THe two artist's use their mediums in entirely different ways- while Bas is at once lush and colorful and dramatic, Gonzalez-Torres is intensely minimal, and entirely symbolic. Bas often cites being part of the gay community as inspiration for his work, simply, that men and the perspective of a young gay man infiltrate his work. I think it is interesting to look at the work of another gay male artist, and see not the dandyism and extravagant colors of Bas but the symbolism and quietness of having your partner die of AIDS. These two very different perspectives I think are very interesting, as they both come from telling personal stories in very different ways.

If I were to describe the work of Hernan Bas in a conversation with a friend, I would comment on how his incredibly colorful, intricate and creative paintings tell melodramatic tales; I would say that his work at points becomes silly because it is so dramatic. I also really enjoy that his has compared his hyper-dramatic work to the soap opera Passions (his personal favorite), and that he absolutely enjoys the melodrama that can take place in his work. I'd absolutely recommend visiting an exhibition. I would recommend this because I feel his work, melodrama and all, could indeed create some sort of elaborate Never-Never Land, where old stories become new and fantastic things, both good and bad, can replace the banality of everyday things. Hernan Bas's ultimate collection of inspirations and motivations combine to create something sort of surreal, beautiful and intoxicating - and that's something I'd like to see.

Sources: (Periodical Article) (Interview) (Selected Paintings) (Selected Works)

Margaret's Group: Louise Bourgeois

Danielle Frye
Margaret Granlund-Pezulla
ARTS 1001
Louise Bourgeois

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Jennifer's Group: Artist Research

"I am not interested in making people uncomfortable, but at the same time I don't have an interest in paintings that are truly passive. The best paintings are ones that require an active, discerning viewer."—Laura Owens

Laura Owens is an abstract painter living in Los Angeles, CA. Her work is frequently playful and whimsical, but not easily set aside. Born in Euclid, Ohio, Owens has quickly made a name for herself in the art world, at 33 Laura Owens is the youngest person to have been given a survey show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Since graduating from Cal Arts nine years ago she has proved herself a near-genius at mixing representational elements and abstraction (1). Though her work often references some element of art history like eighteenth-century embroidery, Chinese and Japanese landscape painting, and especially Henri Rousseau, her work frequently is free of historical baggage.
As a student of art, she was taught to struggle through the artistic process. She however takes a different approach, instead of adjusting an image after it’s been put on a canvas, she tests elements separately and then figures out how they can work together. Instead of just diving in, like most painters do, she takes the time to refine her vision before putting her brush to the canvas. Much of her work incorporates textiles and an assortment of other materials. Owens works out of her studio in Los Angeles, a place that she goes to when she is in a state of personal freedom. When she sits in front of her paintings, she gets “a feeling about the process of creativity, the synapse of connections happening” (4).
Owens doesn’t paint as an artist looking for social commentary; her paintings are usually feel-good and light-hearted, not negative, desperate or hopeless. She says, “Ultimately you really want to make a painting that you want to be with. Not one that is constantly telling you everything it knows” (2). Her paintings explore the relationships of the elements in her paintings and keep the viewer moving without resting. Unlike artists like Gregory Green, who makes art as a platform for his dislike of our current bureaucratic system, Owens paints first and foremost for herself. Green’s work has a blatant message and doesn’t leave the viewer with much ambiguity. At first glance, Owens’ work is full of whimsy and light-hearted, although she frequently connects with a piece on a more profound level.
I really enjoy Laura Owens’ work, to me, it seems like so many modern artists are trying to make themselves activists through their work and I find it refreshing to see an artist who is making something beautiful just for the sake of it. In one interview, Owens said that someone had accused her of only having the benevolent in her work, so later on she put a bat in her piece as a more macabre element but really, she based this bat off Chinese embroidery, where bats are considered to be good luck. I would definitely tell a friend to check out her work, especially if they are looking for something imaginative.

Laura Owens

1. Weissman, Benjamin. "Laura Owens." Frieze Summer 2003. Frieze. 18 Apr. 2009 .

2. "Laura Owens." Sadie Coles. 18 Apr. 2009 .

3. "Laura Owens Online." Art cyclopedia: The Fine Art Search Engine. 22 Apr. 2009 .

4. "Interview with Laura Owens." The Believer. 22 Apr. 2009 .

Links to some of her work:

Rowan's Group: Artist Research Paper by Alanna Olson

Alanna Olson
ARTS 1001
Artist Research Paper
Andy Goldsworthy
Andy Goldworthy was born in Chesire, England and later raised in York, England. After attending two accredited universities in England, he proceeded to begin his artistic career. His works have a partnership with the natural. Nature is his medium and he thinks of the most unique arrangements using pre-existing natural materials. His main theme throughout is sharing a type of human connection and compassion with everything natural. His works aren’t meant to last forever in some gallery in New York, they are expected to decompose with weathering. This deconstruction of his pieces of art is indeed part of his message. He sees himself as merely an influence on nature, and a moment in time. The photographs he snaps of his short-term works are another expression of that moment in time.
Goldsworthy is not saddened or remotely affected whatsoever by the collapse of his artwork. He thinks of his works as this quote describes:
“The intention is not to “make his mark” on the landscape.”
He finds his materials already in a place, outdoors somewhere and simply builds what he feels at that moment. His series are a continuation of a certain architectural structure, all across different climates, landscapes and countries. I think what he is trying to express to we, the viewers, is that nature is superior to everything. It can bring life into the world, take life away; it will outlast any human life. I believe he is looking for everyone to appreciate nature more than they do as of today. This assignment is due on Earth Day, and therefore I think choosing this artist was most appropriate. He really is calling out to everyone to notice nature, notice how it is disappearing, and realizes that we as humans can’t live without nature, and that nature needs our help to survive.
Compared with Goldsworthy, Cooper’s work is focused more on image. Cooper’s work is a photographed replication, of the location of historical events. The image and the camera he uses are more important to his artistic goal (to represent important history) than Goldsworthy’s of providing a purely natural structure. For Goldsworthy, the building process, based on what he feels at the moment, with what materials may be available, is the important aspect, the image is merely a way of documenting the structure, after it will weather away. So in a way, I suppose these artists are similar in that they both document what once was. Their techniques as different as they are, nature is an important element in both of their works.

If you could track down or simply come across one of Goldsworthy’s natural “Arches” or “Walls,” or even one of his “Snowballs” placed in unorthodox climates and places, I would say definitely check them out. This artist is all about his connection to the natural elements of the world, and appreciating and paying homage to this natural environment that influences his every project, and the nature that breathes life into everyone.
So yes, if you ever can find his projects, new or decaying, stop and appreciate the natural process that Goldsworthy deems his art.

Book: ARCH, Goldsworthy &Craig, 1999
Internet Site:

Rowan's Group: Artist Research by Ashley Huegel

Sol LeWitt

Sol LeWitt was born on September 9, 1928 in Connecticut and died on April 8, 2007 in new York at the age of 78. Best known for Sculpture he also uses drawing and printmaking as his other media's. LeWitt uses minimalism within his conceptual art.

He was inspired by the cube and two and three dimensional geometric shapes,he liked for his work to be uncomplicated and viewed with an opened mind. Sculpting is his main media that ranges from gallery sized installations to monumental outdoor pieces.

I believe that he is trying to inform and motivate us to do what ever it is we want in art and not care about criticism. In a small way I feel that LeWitt is similar to Wearing in the sense that they both want people to become involved in their art .

I would have to compare LeWitt with Tiravanija even though both of their art is different a lot of their philosophy is the same. They both want their audiences to be involved in their art. LeWitt has sketches so that his works can be replicated with the exception that what is being reproduced is encouraged (in a sense) to have it's flaws. Tiravanija's art on the other hand is based solely on group participation with his many interactive installations. Both artists use simple supplies in their art; LeWitt uses bold basic colors with geometric shapes and Tiravanija uses simple recipes and basic foods with a few basic cooking items. For both it is about inspiring their audience and getting them involved to some degree to participate in the end product.

I would definitely tell a friend about LeWitt's work because I find it to be the type of art that just draws you in. For me his use of minimalism and unique style just makes you want to view more.


I used articles from the New York Times ( and I used an artist website which profiles artists and their upcoming shows.

Margaret's Group: Artist Reserch Paper

By Lyssa Hansen

"Basically, I think art is just a way to think. It’s like standing in the wind and letting it pull you in whatever direction it wants to go.” Kiki Smith

Born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1954, Kiki Smith uses animals, human anatomy, and the female form to create very evocative sculptures, drawings and prints. Her interest in sculpting originated from her father, Tony Smith, a famous American sculptor. She helped him build molds growing up in New Jersey. In the 1980’s, Smith began a series of drawings of human organs and the nervous system. She later incorporated animals and folklores and popular mythology. Her theme focuses on life, death and resurrection, influenced by her Catholic upbringing.

Being a poor reader in school inspired Smith’s learning philosophy. She believes that she needs to find physical proof of something through visual interpretation. Smith educates her audience through many different visual representations. Her lonely childhood living with an unconventional artist as a father was very difficult for her. In an interview with the Art 21 website, she recalls being nicknamed a witch by her peers. She claimed to have lived in a morbid Adam’s family-like household. Her religious background influenced a majority of the work she produced, churches and religious deities such as the Virgin Mary are a few examples of her inspirations. Her desire to explore death and human anatomy was inspired by being constantly surrounded by death as a child. Smith also uses religion as a tool to describe the undermining social issues of women.

Her artwork makes a direct connection to artist Chris Ofili, particularly the controversial work “The Holy Virgin Mary.” Both artists depict the Virgin Mary in terms of its religious impact on the world. Ofili depicts the Virgin Mary as African American, playing with sexual representations and offensive materials (cow dung) to explain the heritage of Africa’s people. Smith takes a feminist approach to the Virgin Mary in “Virgin with Dove.” The etching deals with nature and mortality and birth. The idea of manipulating a powerful religious deity to convey cultural issues of sexism and racism are very different approaches both artists successfully created.

Those interested in Smith’s multifaceted styles and the idea of women in history, life, death and reincarnation are welcomed to study Smith’s works. Her etchings, drawings, sculptures and prints speak to those intrigued by religion and morbid studies. To better understand Smith’s message, checking out an exhibit, possibly the Museum of Modern Art which holds the largest collection of Smith’s prints, would be a fantastic way to perceive her as an artist, activist and feminist. The most interesting part of her life is what inspired her to draw and sculpt the works she does.


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Rowan's Group: Artist Research: Sofia Bilkadi

Marlene Dumas

Marlene Dumas is not a shy artist when it comes to her body of work. When going to one of her exhibits, it would not be unusual to view paintings of pornographic content mixed in with paintings of children. Born in Capetown, South Africa in 1953, Dumas immigrated to Amsterdam after she graduated from the University of Capetown. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dumas studied psychology, which is a theme that shows up in some of her work. At first, Dumas was more of a Conceptualist with her work, often using collages, text and photography; however, she switched over to painting in the 1980s. She often uses oil-on-canvas or ink-on-watercolor for her paintings, which could be described as Neo-expressionist.

Marlene Dumas often draws her inspiration for her paintings from polaroids of her friends and lovers, pornographic pictures, and magazines. The subjects of her paintings are not only adult males and females but also children. Her paintings deal with sexual and racial politics, birth and death, contemporary events, feminist ideas, and themes that deal with philosophy and psychology. Her work often causes a rise amongst the viewers and makes them think about the statement they are making. The shock value of Marlene Dumas’s work can be compared to the work of Nan Goldin.

Although Nan Goldin works with photography, she also uses her friends and lovers as inspiration and subjects of her work. When looking at both of their work, there is something very personal about them. Goldin’s photographs bring the viewer into her world, not as an intruder, but just as an observer. Dumas’s paintings on the other hand, make the viewer seem like they are intruding or are watching the person behind a glass window. Most of her subjects are looking out at the viewers, making the paintings very intimate. Both of their work are very exposed, hiding little; however, Goldin’s work tells more of a life story, making you think about why those people are there, where were they before and what happened, while Dumas’s work keeps you in the moment and makes you wonder if they are alone or is there somebody with them. Despite their differences, it is hard to deny that both of these artists’ work deal with their experiences and their own personal histories.

Looking at Marlene Dumas’s body of work, I would not recommend her art to people who are easily offended. Since a large portion of her work deals with pornographic images instead of just simply nude people, her paintings can be overwhelming to audiences. I think that when her work is on display, her more subtle paintings become overshadowed by her numerous pornographic paintings. Dumas does receive criticism that her work is dull (she often has monochromatic colors in her paintings) and sometimes tasteless, and that her work becomes boring; however, looking at many of her other paintings, it is hard to deny that her work is not graceful. If she presented her work more balanced, less porno more subtle so that neither one is overwhelming, then many more people would see some of the beauty in her paintings, because she does have a lot to offer to the art world.

Painting links: Jule-die Vrou:
Turkish Girl:


Hendrikse, Mary-Rose. "Beyond possession: Marlene Dumas and the mobilization of subject, paint and meaning." UNISA (2007). UNISA Online. University of South Africa. 18 Apr. 2009 .

"Marlene Dumas: At Helsinki Festival." 19 Apr. 2009 .

Naves, M. "Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave." The New Criterion 27 (2009): 49-50. Art Full Text. Wilson, Minneapolis. 19 Apr. 2009. Keyword: Marlene Dumas.

Tonya's Group: Cai Guo-Qiang

Cai Guo-Qiang was born December 8th, 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. He was the son of a historian and a traditional painter. He was taught stage designs in the Shanghai Drama Institute for four years from 1981 to 1985. He had worked in a variety of mediums doing paintings, sculptures, and various other art works before moving to Japan. In Japan he began experimenting with gunpowder, and using it as an integral part of his art. Moving on from there, Cai Guo-Qiang has amazed the world with his contemporary art works such as the new Guggenheim exhibition in New York.

One of Cai Guo-Qiangs major public work of art is the coordination of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing fireworks ceremony. He does explosion tours around the world where he uses gunpowder to create art in a spontaneous moment of explosions.Coming from an artistically oppressed background, gunpowder was his main choice in creating art mediums. He looked for a spontaneous feel to confront his suppressed background. His works of explosions just awe the mind of the viewer. They only last a moments but the explosions create a flash of emotions, much like an explosion.

His gunpowder explosions were cool to say the least and lasted mere seconds. The loud noises, bright lights, and smoke attract people regardless of who they are. His series of explosions named the Project for Extraterrestrials, was considered to be very poetic in form and to reach out to the viewers and the universe around them. The viewers could be the flame on the gunpowder and the universe is the space around the flame. The flame burns quick and brightly while the universe remains at peace. It could be the existence of life in that flame is a mere moment of time to the larger universe.

I would definitely recommend others to watch his art works either in the various museums around the world and youtube his explosions or find it somewhere in the internet. His explosions are a must see, quick, meaningful, poetic, and beautiful. His sculptures are also a sight to behold, especially his exhibit in the Guggenheim exhibit in New York.

YouTube links (web addresses) to Cai Guo-Qiang explosions: (note that the Beijing fireworks is a slide show of the opening ceremony)

CNN on Cai Guo-Qiang

Black Rainbow in Valencia

Immensities of Heaven and Earth - Project for Extraterrestrials

Black Rainbow in Edinburgh

Foot Prints in the sky - part of the Beijing 2008 Olympics opening ceremony

Beijing 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony Fireworks


Cai Guo-Qiang. 22 Apr. 2009

"YouTube - Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony 2008 -- AMAZING Fireworks!!" YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 22 Apr. 2009

"YouTube - beijing 2008 olympic china footprint fireworks." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 22 Apr. 2009

"YouTube - Cai Guo-Qiang. Black Rainbow. Explosion Project Valencia." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 22 Apr. 2009

"YouTube - Immensities of Heaven and Earth: Project for Extraterrestria." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 22 Apr. 2009

"YouTube - The Art of Olympic Fireworks." YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 22 Apr. 2009

Rowan's Group: Artist Resarch by Aziz

Candice Breitz is a female artist born in 1972 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work centers around the fame status achieved by celebrities in showbiz and how it is impacting popular culture. She approaches her subjects using edited video and photo installations to emphasize certain aspects about these superstars and the great influence they induce on the mass public in a global scale (1).

Breitz’s childhood years in Johannesburg have inspired to communicate her artwork in a global context where language is not an obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to be understood since she grew up in a multi-language atmosphere where she had to deal with Africana, Zulu, and English the main three languages to get by in South Africa. Therefore, focusing on superstars and celebrities provided her with an opportunity for the mass public to get attracted to her artwork since there is a factor of familiarity. Breitz has previously acknowledged in an interview with BBC, “What I’m doing is giving people just what they want – the essence of pure superstar.” She is not trying to influence the world with her work but more so explain to the world what are the influencing factors(2).

Breitz’s work reminds me of Nan Goldin’s work, in the sense that both try to express their feeling about the world in a matter that’s easy for the mass to relate. For example, Goldin’s work is mainly about taking raw photos about her friends and family, in a way to express their vulnerability so the audience is able to realize that there flaws is everyone else’s flaws. As to Breitz’s work, she definitely creates a connection with her audience through video installations projecting worldwide recognizable faces to be the center of her work.

I hope there will come a day when Candice Breitz decides to showcase her exhibition in a gallery around the twin cities because very few times that I go to an art museum and be able to understand the work presented in front of me. Breitz work is doing a great favor for people with a novice interest in the world of art since it’s the popular culture she’s zeroing on. I would highly recommend my friends to check out Breitz’s work because it is contemporary art that relates to the world’s culture as a whole not just a certain ethnicity.

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Tonya's Group: Elizabeth Peyton

Elizabeth Peyton (1965- ) was born in Danbury, Connecticut and later attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, which is where she now resides ( Peyton’s most notable artworks, perhaps, are her vibrant and intimate paintings of celebrities which have been said to be reminiscent to the work of Andy Warhol. Not because she tries to duplicate Bristol boxes- or any other kind of box- but because her paintings feed off of the culture that they depict and then give back to that culture. Indeed, her work has become part of a small sect of artists who created the grand mixture of “realism and conceptualism” that is now so desirable (

The source of Peyton’s inspiration to paint the people she chooses to is from those people themselves, people who cause her to want to make art. Often those people are celebrities or musicians because Peyton makes art for the popular culture and she herself loves today’s infatuation with stardom. In “An Interview with a Painter’s Model” Linda Pilgrim stated that Peyton paints those to whom she is drawn and that she fantasizes them into what she paints. They must have some significance to her, whether it be that she found something about them ideal or she was just unexplainably drawn to them. Also, like Nan Goldin, Peyton often paints her subjects numerous times because she is interested in how they look in the moment and how that person might process their experiences at different stages in life (Elizabeth Peyton 109).

Not often is it that Peyton speaks of her art in great depth. Similar to the philosophy of Suzanne Opton, she believes there to be a chasm between “intention and interpretation.” (8). However, her work seems more similar to the work of Andy Warhol because she has taken Stardom, a thing of today’s popular culture and has recreated those “stars,” showing their “real life” attributes, so both Warhol and Peyton, through making art based on popular culture, are both making documents of the more popular culture that can be viewed later as history. Yet the intentions behind their works are quite different from one another. Warhol created to duplicate, cause a stir, and experiment with his materials. Peyton uses her materials to interpret personal histories and situations, appeal to the Star-loving culture, and appease her artistic draw toward her subjects. Peyton often uses photos as reference material for her artwork, the images often have a wonderful dramatic quality that is beautifully saturated in color.Peyton is also interested in specific moments and how they are experienced by her subjects (109). So, Peyton’s art relates to her audience in an emotional-psychological way due to the unique way she reinterprets her popular subjects, while Warhol related to people through playing with boundaries and recreating commonplace objects.

Elizabeth Peyton’s art work is refreshing in color and high in energy even when the subject of her painting conveys a downtrodden emotion. This may be because Peyton often uses photos as reference material for her artwork, so the images often have a wonderful dramatic quality that is beautifully saturated in color. It has been said that her vibrant work adds to today’s culture by taking a part from it and giving that part back in a new way. For example, celebrities conceived to have immortal attributes are depicted with real life emotion. Therefore her paintings allow the public to think about popular people in the way that one might think about a friend or a co-worker. Her work should be viewed by all who are interested in today’s culture, to broaden the horizons of how celebrities are viewed and to entertain.

Works Cited
Elizabeth Peyton. 2009. Artnet Worldwide Cooperation. April 18, 2009.

Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton. 2009. New Museum. April 18, 2009.

Peyton, Elizabeth. Elizabeth Peyton. New York: Rizzoli, 2005.

To view a painting by Elizabeth Peyton:
Flower Ben, 2002.

Rowan's Group: Artist Resarch by Sarah Moen

John Baldessari was born on June 17, 1931 in National City, California. He uses a wide variety of media including video, performance, and painting, but he focuses on photography, often in combination with text and paint. When he does use paint on his photographs it is only in solid chunks of color, often to cover a portion of a human in the photo. In an interview done with a UCSD art director he said, “I think pure color is just as interesting as any thing or image.” A major theme in his art is the placement of human forms in juxtaposition with other objects to emphasize certain areas or evoke thought about the subject.
Baldessari once said, "If I saw the art around me that I liked, then I wouldn’t do art.” He is inspired by many things, primarily popular view and criticism of conceptual art. In his video “Baldessari sings Le Witt” ( he sings the words of acclaimed critic Sol Le Witt in regards to conceptual art. Baldessari also finds inspiration in changing the ordinary such as in his “wrong” series; “I was exploring just vague, not vague, but just general sort of rule of thumbs for beginning photographers for improving ones pictures and I think you still see these things around in books for people who have never handled a camera. You know, don’t pose in front of a tree because it will look like the tree is growing out of your head and I just love that idea so much.” I think that Baldessari is trying to entertain us, as seen in his desire to “not make boring art” as seen in one of his pieces, I also think that he is trying to bring light to things we wouldn’t always consider, and push the boundaries of what can be considered art. He said in an interview with Nicole Davis of Artnet that, “My mission for my own art I think was to break the certain "no-no's" and "taboos" for galleries. One: that you never saw photographs in art galleries, they were always in photo galleries. So, I wanted to do that. . . photography as a tool that an artist can use. Then, I was very much interested as using language as a tool for art and just information, rather than something visual. Both of those battles have been won.”
Baldessari’s work, though containing many differences, is in some aspects similar to that of Andy Warhol’s in its concepts and often aesthetic values. Both Baldessari and Warhol have worked with bright blocks of color in addition to photographs. They also have both juxtaposed text onto photographs. Also, they both try to bring attention to the ordinary and question the boundaries of art. Like Warhol’s “Brillo Box” Baldessari did a piece about sharpening a pencil he found on his dashboard. ( In the text beneath the photo he claims, “I’m not sure, but I think this has something to do with art.” However, they are different in that Warhol does three dimensional displays, which Baldessari does not, and Baldessar does video, which Warhol did not.
I would tell friends about Baldessari, because much of his work is thought provoking and aesthetically pleasing. I haven’t even mentioned my favorite piece which is a film entitled, “Respectful cameras” ( in which he films people walking on the street, but blots out some faces with solid circles of color. It was in response to the amount of surveillance and lack of privacy in modern day cities. I think that he has a lot of original ideas that deserve to be seen.

Art in America: John Baldessari and Alejandro Cesarco at Murray Guy by David Coggins Brant Publications, Inc.

Rowan's Group: Artist Research by Keit Osadchuk

Kiki Smith is an American artist well-known for her sculpture, prints, installations, and a variety of other media work. Most of her art work deals with the topics of women, birth, regeneration, and political events of the time, with surfacing Catholic motifs. A sense of detailed intimacy and use of the body figure is key in Smith's work, gaining her much critical acclaim since the 1980s. Her work also extends to a great collection of self-portraits, screen printed clothing, and unconventional representations of fairy-tales.

Smith is largely inspired by various social issues such as race, violence against women, and AIDS. Most of her work is a deeper insight into social issues as personal issues, giving detail to the individual as a part of a whole. In a way, Smith motivates the viewer to pay more attention and be moved by issues of each subject that she either draws, sculpts or somehow presents; her evocative style propels her art work even further.

To contrast Smith's portrayal of women to that of Neshat, Smith translates more frailty and vulnerability in her work, even though the two artists' themes are eventually related. Neshat's women, on the other hand, strive for bravery and resistance. In a way, Smith's portrayal is more factual, descriptive, and heavy, whereas Neshat glorifies her own perception, even though it may not be as current or factual to the reality. The physical difference between the two artists is also their choice of media; Smith's published work is mostly hand-made prints, sculpture, or painting, whereas Neshat uses photography, film, and installation as her main media.

Kiki Smith would be a great artist to explore because of her innovation, unconventional perspectives and products, and level of skill and detail. Her work is as real and tangible as the issues with which it deals, and for that I have tremendous respect and admiration.

Kiki Smith: The Venice Story by Vivien Bittencourt & Vincent Katz

Jennifer's Discussion Group: Vija Celmins

Vija Celmins’s art uses exquisite detail to depict natural scenes such as oceans, deserts, night skies, and infinite space. She utilizes a dark palette in her work consisting mostly of whites, blacks, and grays. Her images often lack a focal point or horizon line and instead investigate on the vastness of the subject matter. Celmins is originally from Riga, Latvia, but her family immigrated to the United States when she was ten years old and they lived in Indiana. Celmins’s works mostly in oil paint on canvas, but she has also worked in sculpture, charcoal drawing, and printmaking. The primary theme of her work is about exploring genuinely timeless natural forms. Her work depicts tangible spaces that evoke a sense of awe in the viewer.

Celmins’s work is inspired by natural phenomena that are quite common, such as the stars in the sky and delicate spider webs. She gets her ideas directly from nature and she is able to render it flawlessly. She experiments with depicting three-dimensional spaces on two-dimensional surfaces. Celmins makes art because she is inspired by her own life. She aims to capture small moments of awakening through art because she cannot put them into words. It is through her artwork that she can share experiences like walking on the beach and staring into the night sky with the world. Celmins’s work focuses on realism much more than any of the other artists we have talked about in class. Many of the contemporary artists we have discussed aim to create something entirely new rather than replicate the natural world as Celmins does.

I think it is interesting to compare Celmins’s work with that of Suzanne Opton’s. Both women artists aim to capture reality in some way. Celmins takes a literal approach by actually mimicking nature, while Opton chooses depict reality in a much more subtle way. Opton photographs soldiers to expose the reality of war and its effect on people. Celmins relates to her audience by sharing the same experience with them. In her famous Night Sky 2, both the artist and the viewer can become equally lost in the painting. They share the experience of awe in face of nature. Opton relates to her audience by leaving her work rather open-ended. The viewer is left to draw their own conclusions as to what the photographs are saying.

I would definitely refer this artist to a friend. I would encourage this friend to go to an exhibit of Celmins’s work because it is so awe-inspiring. The subject matter alone is incredible, but paired with Celmins’s passionate and flawless skill, the works are truly extraordinary. The viewer can easily get lost in the immense detail of her paintings. I think it would be very enjoyable and inspiring to see these works up close in real life.

1. “Vija Celmins Biography.” Art in the Twenty-First Century. 2007. PBS.

2. Whiting, Cecile. “‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’: The Cyborg Eye of Vija Celmins.” American Art. Spring 2009: Vol. 23 no. 1. 36-55.

Liz Pelton

Tonya's Group: Elizabeth Murray

Elizabeth Murray is an innovative artist with an exuberant style of expression. Her work is bold and chaotic, with a fascinating inventiveness about it. She is a painter who uses primarily oils on canvas, but occasionally watercolor is found in the mix. She creates a universe that blends, distorts, or twists objects into new shapes and images. Her mutation and deconstruction of objects such as coffee cups or tables, as well as her use of various unexpected colors, are her trademark. Art21 made the statement that Murray’s paintings “breathe life into domestic subject matter.” According to Corinne Robins, “Murray’s paintings tend to move sideways, horizontally across the wall. Their odd outer physical forms become bridges to the painting, to the interior shapes created on them…Murray’s current paintings demand a craning of the neck to see how it is her shapes exist.” The unique work of Elizabeth Murray is captivating and inspirational.
Elizabeth Murray’s work is often anchored by domestic objects such as tables or furniture or, again coffee cups. Her subject matter is often material from her own life, which according to Corinne Robins also makes the work “subversively feminine.” She begins with an object and from there she is very inventive. Murray is quoted in Corinne Robin’s article, describing her art as something that “starts physically, but ends intellectually.” Figures collide, shapes are shattered, skewed forms emerge, and colors are manipulated, creating wonderfully abstract master pieces. Sometimes her focus is to turn an object inside out and see if from a new perspective. The inner world and “what is behind those wall pieces” help to inspire Murray. As a result, Murray helps us see things differently as well.
Elizabeth Murray’s work is a style of its own, but the free spiritedness of it reminds me somewhat of Nan Goldin. Nan Goldin took free spirited pictures and had a distinct style in what she did as well. Although Elizabeth Murray and Nan Goldin use different mediums, both artists have an element of spontaneity in their work. Both artists relate to their audiences, but in different ways. To me Murray’s work seems to instigate the more imagination, while Goldin’s work seems to instigate more emotion. Elizabeth Murray’s work is more open to interpretation and sparks more energy in viewers; while Nan Goldin’s work sparks a deeper range of emotion. Goldin’s work is more personal because the subject matter is her close friends, and scenes from their lives. We can relate to both.
I would definitely recommend an exhibition featuring Elizabeth Murray’s work to friends. I think there is a genuine sense of fun that is sparked from viewing Murray’s work. The art itself looks like it was fun to create, and looking at it is stimulating. I think that exploring Murray’s work would be worth everyone’s time!


Art in America v. 95 no. 2 (February 2007) p. 148-9 "Elizabeth Murray at PaceWildenstein" by Eleanor Heartney

Woman's Art Journal v. 27 no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2006) p. II, 33-6, 67"Elizabeth Murray: Deconstructing Our Interiors" by Corinne Robins

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April 21, 2009

Margaret's Group: Artist Research Project

Jenny Olson
Artist Research Project: Andrea Bowers

Andrea Bowers was born in 1965 in Wilmington, Ohio and currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Her art has been shown in exhibits both in America and Europe. The places where her art has been shown include states like New York, Texas, Wisconsin and California, as well as countries in Europe such as Germany, Austria, France, Spain, and England. Having been described as a political activist and feminist in the art world, her art focuses on issues such as race and gender discrimination. She also connects historical events, such as the struggle for reproductive rights, to the present political state. She is interested in nonviolent protest and civil disobedience in the lives of women and explores individual expression within society at large. Her work is done in a variety of media including visual installations, photo-realistic drawings, sculpture and performances.

Bower’s art stems from her views of politics and inequality that she sees evident in the world today. She explains her feelings by saying, “In the art world and beyond, race and gender discrimination is thriving, and this makes me sad. If this weren’t the case, more young women would not be so afraid to call themselves feminists“ (“Feminist Art Base”). She also describes that in the art world, artists are afraid of being associated with an adjective, such as black, Latino, feminist, political, gay etc., and that this is an understandable concern because those attitudes are alive, but that art that is viewed as nonpolitical or neutral is actually succumbing to a majority. She believes that “you can choose to make ‘Art’ or be one of those ‘other artists’. As far as I can tell, ‘art’ is about the interests and identities of a modernist tradition of Euroethnic men and is easily consumed by a capitalist system because its politics coincide with the agendas of those in power” (Feminist Art Base”). She therefore gets her ideas from historical struggles and activism as well as issues in the political or social spectrum today that she feels needs to be addressed. She makes her art as a form of activism, not just to aesthetically portray a subject, but to describe and vocalize an issue. Her art forces people to take notice of the issue that inspired it, the problem or subject it is trying to express. Because she is trying to portray an political or controversial idea, opinion, or issue with her art, she could be compared to Felix Gonzales-Torres, Daniel Martinez, Betsy Damon, or even Gregory Green. However, the artist whose art is most similar to hers is Nancy Spero.

Like Andrea Bowers, Nancy Spero’s art focuses on contemporary political, social, and cultural issues and she is thought of as being in part, a feminist artist. She also draws on current and historical events or issues for her art. Within the artists’ exhibitions is where the differences unfold. They use different media for their art and have different focuses or messages for their audiences. Nancy Spero largely used paper and tapestry in her art, such as her collaged paper scrolls of women and war drawings on paper. Bower uses paper in a different way, she uses it for her photorealistic drawings that include portraits of people at sporting events and political topics, like “Still Life Memorial of AIDS Quilt in Storage” and her nonviolent civil disobedience drawings. Where Spero seems to use her paper technique for much of her art, Bowers often displays her art in installation and film as well. Examples of Bower’s other use of media include “Defense of Necessity” which is a sculpture weaving that blocks one half of the installation room. The inspiration came from the first Women’s Pentagon Action, where some women wove the doors of the pentagon shut with brightly colored yarn. The weaving is part of a project that originated with a nonviolent movement that took place in the 1970s and 80s that combined feminism, spiritualism, and environmentalism. Another more famous installation of hers is called “Nothing is Neutral.” The three parts of this piece use paper, sculpture, and video to depict women’s letters that were written to three suburban women (called army of three), who from 1964 to 1973 crusaded for abortion rights. The letters from women around the nation were written to support the activism or urgently voice the need of legalized abortion and they were showcased in Bower's installation on were on walls and read aloud on video.

I think the main difference between Nancy Spero and Andrea Bower’s relationship with their audience is the degree of controversy they choose to portray. Although Bower deals with controversial topics like Spero, the artwork itself is not as controversial as Spero’s; there are no depictions of penises in Bower’s work like there are in Spero’s work ,“The Male Bomb”. Both artists want their audience to notice the importance of the issues that they depict in their work, but they do so in different ways.

Another difference between the two artists is that Bowers often brings attention to issues that took place in history, sometimes recreating the approaches used by activists, or she focuses on the topic of activism itself. Spero seems to draw especially from her personal relationship with the issues she artistically expresses. Spero’s “War Series” stemmed from her feelings about the war, and her paper scrolls of women deal with in part, her personal experience with male oppression. Bower’s work is obviously personal in the fact that her topics she works with are important to her and have impacted her, but her approach is more to broadcast the work of activists before her, to comment on activism and bring its role in history together with its place in today’s society and her own views.

With her use of history, Bowers draws from historical activism and issues for a large about of her work, taking inspiration from historical ideas and recreating events in history in her own way. Spero, on the other hand, focuses on her own personal relationship to controversy or injustice, and uses history to help her convey her ideas, such as when she used historical depictions of women in art to create her piece, “Torture of Women.” Bower’s art therefore draws more extensively from history and past events, whereas Spero art focuses on a specific idea, and then draws from history. Bower’s remembrance of activism gone by is activism in itself because she is forcing people to not forget important issues in the past and use the past to learn from for dealing with issues today, many of which are the same, such as the pro-choice controversy.

I would tell a friend that this artist is a woman artist who uses political movements and events in history, as well as her own feelings and responsibility towards issues concerning women, equality, and discrimination, to draw inspiration for her art. She is an artist who works in many different media and techniques. Some adjectives I would use to describe her work would be powerful, feminine, real, and opinionated. I also think that much of her art works are like little windows in that the art may be a small picture or display of something, but it represents an issue that is much bigger and broader. The art pieces are the jumping off point for the viewer to further research and study the controversy or event that is being artistically remade. I would recommend that my friend go to an exhibit of the artist because I think that she is not just another political artist; she portrays the issues she cares about with a different use of media in a unique way. Her art is explicit in a way that the viewer understands that it is a form of activism, but it is ambiguous enough to provoke questions and possibly inspire the viewer to look deeper.

Works Cited:

Butler, Connie, Leclere, Mary, and Joo,Eungie. Nothing is Neutral: Andrea Bowers. Valencia, California: California Institute of Arts and REDCAT. 2006

“Feminist Art Base: Andrea Bowers.” Brooklyn Museum. (19 Apr. 2009)

Additional Sources:

Interview with Nancy Spero:

REDCAT website:

United States Artists Website:

* I could not get pictures to come up on here

Pictures of Andrea Bower's art can be found at:

Margaret's Group: Artist Research

Gretchen Ruehle
Artist Research:
Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips was born in Massachusetts in 1962, but now lives in New York where he has a large studio where his art works are made. Phillips’ art consists of large oil paintings, up to eight feet tall and 6 feet wide, in either very vibrant colors or black and white. His paintings can be described as photorealistic because they are so meticulously painted. His subject matter is mostly images taken from porn and fashion. He uses fashion photography techniques, like having super close up views of his subjects. A lot of his work can be slightly to overtly pornographic in order to address the issues society has with sex. Most of his backgrounds are landscapes or solid colors to allow for a disassociated environment for his subjects.
Variety of different works
United States Marine inspired by a recruitement add

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tonyas group - artist research

Karrah Kobus
ARTS 1001
Artist Research Project
April 22nd, 2009

Artist: Joshua Petker

Joshua Petker is an artist based in southern California. He was originally born in Van Nuys and currently resides in Silverlake at the age of 30. Petker is a painter who works almost exclusively in acrylics but has experimented with nail polish, glitter, ink, and paint pens. His subject matter consistently focuses on beautiful woman, but can have an eerie feel as well due to his interest in “life, meaning, understanding, black magic, and skeletons on horseback.” The idea of the female as a subject is one that has been used throughout time, and Petker uses this to incorporate history into his work while still trying to portray the individual emotions in each piece. To begin his paintings, he references photos but admits that they are simply a framework as they are often morphed through the process of painting and expression (Bello).

Petker’s main influence is Gustav Klimt, an Austrian symbolist painter who often focused on the idea of a dominant female figure and was inspired by many different types of art ranging from Egyptian to late medieval styles (Wikipedia). The use of color in Petker’s work is influenced by his interest in juxtaposition: “putting blue on top of red is fun for me.” Life is a huge influence for him, in the sense that he finds life beautiful overall even though it can be rough at times. Petker also discusses the idea of “too much happiness” being like a sickness in regards to the contrast of happy/dark emotions in his work and challenges viewers to see the world in a new way. He also attributes his interest and success in fine art to his teenage days of graffiti even though he does not call that work art: “For me graffiti was more about my friends and doing what we did rather than it being about art. But, it was graffiti that led me into fine art” (Bello)…

Petker’s work can be compared to Jenny Schmid’s. Like Petker, Schmid uses the female figure, often in the form of a “cute little girl” (Lecture). Both artists challenge the audience to see the world differently, yet each has an individual way. Petker wants viewers to see the overall good in life despite the bad, and does so by using bright colors but through an often eerie sign such as smudged lipstick (Bello) while Schmid creates the idea of a utopia and displays her ideal views of the world through this fictional, magical place where gender roles do not matter (Lecture). Also, both artists work in traditional mediums: Petker with painting and Schmid with printmaking. Each artist uses his or her medium in a new and unique style and ends up creating very distinct images.

I highly recommend checking out the work of Joshua Petker. His images are so beautiful; one has no choice but to be captivated by them. His style is unique and interesting and every painting offers something new. Petker’s influences behind his work are also appealing and fun to learn about. Seeing his work in person is surely better than photos online or in books as the bright color palette is sure to pop. Not only is Petker an amazing visual artist, but he has enjoyable interests and a great view of the world.

Works Cited

Bello, Manuel. "Joshua Petker Interview." Fecal Face Dot Com. 26 Sep 2008. 20 Apr
2009. view&id=1272&Itemid=99999999>.
"Gustav Klimt." Wikipedia. 19 Apr 2009. 20 Apr 2009
Lecture. 1 Apr 2009.

Margaret's Group: Artist Research (Vicki Albu on Kara Walker)

Kara Walker was born in Stockton, California in 1969 and now resides in New York City and teaches at Columbia University. She received her B.F.A. from Atlanta College of Art in 1991 in painting and printmaking, and her M.F.A. from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994 in painting and printmaking. Walker's most well-known works are disturbing, life-sized black and white paper silhouettes of people and relate to themes of history, slavery, violence, racism, and opression. Appearing at first sight to be intrictately lacy, whimsical cut-paper silhouettes, the subjects on closer inspection are portrayed as engaging in horribly violent and shocking acts.

Walker says that most of her work deals with "exchanges of power, attempts to steal power away from others." The inspiration for her silhouettes are history and culture, stereotype, and her own imagination. Themes of the antebellum South play heavilty into her art. John P. Bowles says, "The debate surrounding her art demonstrates the difficulty we have with work that implicates viewers in the perpetuation of whiteness' claim to privilege." Some examples of titles of her exhibitions are, "Song of the South," "Excavated from the Black Heart of a Negress," "An Abbreviated Emancipation," and "African't." Walker's works have been exhibited in the United States (including the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis), Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and South America.

Critic Simon Wallis describes Walker's silhouettes as "black paper cut-outs (that) are burlesque, folksy figures of white slave owners and black piccaninnines taken from Southern plantation iconography." Her works express anger at the violation, oppression and disempowerment that Blacks have experienced throughout American history. Critiquing Walker's piece, "Mastah's done gone" (1998, exhibited at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London), Wallis describes the effectiveness of Walker's "multi-faceted historical and sexual fantasies" in a violent depiction of slaves who rebel against their white oppressors. Several of Kara Walker's artworks may be viewed on the web sites of the Walker Art Center and the Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery (references below).

In some ways, the art of Kara Walker can be compared to that of British artist Yinka Shonibare. Like Walker, Shonibare draws on historical themes to deal with issues like slavery and power structures,often employing ironic methods; they mock historical, stereotypical representations of Africans. Both artists have African ancestry but live in countries that profited from the exploitation of slave labor. Walker deals primarily in 2-D paper and in film projections, while Shonibare is a painter and also works with "ethnic" print textiles to create 3-D installations. Shonibare seems to experiment with a wider variety of media. Both artists challenge viewers to contemplate the present-day impacts of historical events involving slavery and oppression of African peoples. Walker addresses themes of the post-Civil War South in the U.S., while Shonibare has addressed colonialist themes of Victorian England.

I would highly recommend further exploration of Kara Walker's work, because it is highly detailed and uniquely presented. Walker's art definitely provokes thought and emotional reactions.

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Jennifer's Group: Artist Research- Amanda Rezutek

Louise Bourgeois

It all goes back to childhood. When cracking open the container of play-dough, the smell reminds you of kneading it into “pancakes” on the table while dinner was being prepared with edible substances. At least, that is what pleasant childhood memories consist of. For Louise Bourgeois, things were not so simple, but themes of her childhood tend to dominate most of Bourgeois’ work (Art21, n.d., ¶1). She was born on December 25th, 1911 in Paris to a family who was wishing solely for a boy. This was mostly her father’s wish, for he wanted someone who would carry on his tapestry business. Because there was tension between her father’s wishes and her mother’s love, Louise grew to be a very strong person. She often had to deal with her father’s teasing and his many mistresses. Louise was also required to take care of her mother while her mother was struck with the flu. To do so, Louise was obligated to “cup” her mother to expel toxins, and to remember such events, she used these glasses in a piece of art to relieve her of these tough memories (Greenberg & Jordan, 2003, p. 24). Within most of her artwork, Louise confronts issues dealing with fear and love that relate back to her childhood. Usually frustration also makes its way into her work, stemming from diary entries she had written early in her life (Spector, 2008, ¶1). Most of her pieces begin with “murderous” scenes. For example with She-Fox, she made the creature without a head because she believed that her mother could never love her. Upon exorcising this sculpture by polishing or “nurturing” it, she realized that her mother did in fact love her, even through her illnesses. Most of Louise’s pieces are made of marble, stainless steel, bronze, rubber, and other types of stone. She also explained that no piece of art is ever finished because the subjects are never exhausted.

Since childhood is such a huge theme in Louis Bourgeois’ work, it is evident that the past is her largest inspiration. She even stated that her “childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama” (Greenberg & Jordan, 2003, p. 7) and also that her “ inspiration comes from the beauty of the past” (Greenberg & Jordan, 2003, p. 17). Even though most of her past was difficult, she is still fond of her memories that consist of her father’s teasing, disproval of pursuing art, and participation in war. She believed that memories are things that belong to you, and because no one else can have those exact ones, they are always beautiful. Louise creates art because she felt betrayed as a child, which helps her explore ideas of love and anger, and loyalty and betrayal. Her mother accepted too much from her unreliable father, and her father was disloyal and betrayed her family. Another prominent subject in her work is the spider. She used the spider symbol to describe her mother and said that “she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable and dainty, subtle, indispensible, neat and useful as a spider” (Greenberg & Jordan, 2003, p. 22). The spider is a guardian figure and Louise recalls her mother spending days repairing and restoring things that needed such work. The spider is also a symbol of Louise being an artist by spinning a web and pulling art out of her own mind. She believes that art is about making connections and communication, not entertaining (Greenberg & Jordan, 2003, p. 62). This view of art making can be related to Nan Goldin’s artwork.

Though Nan Golding and Louise Bourgeois use very different media in their artwork, their backing ideas are relatively similar. Both Louise and Nan have very emotional pieces. They make the viewer feel something by letting the viewer into the artists’ lives. Both of these artists also had emotional struggles as children. Nan had to deal with her sister’s death, which led her to photography, while Louise was forced to deal with a disloyal father who resented her. This resentment led Louise to using sculpture as an outlet. There are clearly many differences between the artists as well. Nan’s photography was an extremely literal view of what her life entailed while Louise’s sculptures were extremely abstract. Once a viewer gets to the core of what a piece is trying to express, the two artists are not so different.

I would strongly recommend the work of Louise Bourgeois to a friend. The scale alone of her most recent spider sculptures is enough to awe them. I would definitely give background information on the artist, while it is crucial in understanding exactly what her pieces represent. Louise’s artwork is about her childhood, and without thinking about nurturing, fear, loathing, and love, her pieces may not mean much to the viewer. Seeing an exhibition of Louise Bourgeois would be incredible. Her craftsmanship is beautiful and her pieces hold an immense amount of emotion.

She-Fox (1985)



Greenberg, J. & Jordan, S (2003). Runaway Girl: The Artist Louise Bourgeois. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated.

Art21: Louise Bourgeois. Retrieved from

Spector, Nancy (2008). A Life In Pictures: Louise Bourgeois. Guggenheim Museum. Retrieved from

April 20, 2009

Margaret's Group- Artist Research Christina Lopez

Robert Polidori, born in Canada but raised in New York, started out as an avant-garde filmmaker in the 1970s and later turned his career to still photographs, specifically those that required a tripod. Robert Polidori is known for his work in The New Yorker and his most recent work, After the Flood, which included photographs from post Hurricane Katrina. He makes photographs of architecture that is important to him in his quest for the answers to his questions. He said in Metropolis, "where you point the camera is the question and the picture you get is the answer."
Polidori is inspired at portraying images that relate to sociology, anthropology, architecture, and philosophy. He gets these ideas from his personal life and hw he sees the world and likes to make photographs with these themes in mind. His work, especially After the Flood, is meant to use Pathos to get us to think about Global Warming and what kinds of atrocious and disasterous things can, will, and are happeneing because we are not working hard enough to change our lifestyles (
It is hard to compare Polidori with an artist that we talked about in class, but I would say that the work of Thomas Cooper has some similarities in the sense that they both make photographs that show very grand constructions. The differences are that Thomas Cooper shoots in black and white, doesn't pay as much attention to small details as Robert Polidori, and he shoots grand images that are places already found in nature such as rock formations, whereas Polidori shoots color, pays very close attention to composition, and specializes in photographs of architectural man-made works.
Thomas Cooper relates to his audience in communicating very sharp black and white images that one would see hanging in a modern art museum, abstract images of objects found in nature that is pleasing to look at.
Polidori relates to his audience by expressing the idea of the house being like the "external materialization of the internal life." In his images of the 160,000 homes in New Orleans that were destroyed in the Natural Disaster, as Martin Pedersen said in Metropolis, “Polidori’s eye for composition brings hurricane katrina’s disaster from biblical proportions down to human scale by documenting the simple , mundane objects that make a house a home.”
To tell a friend about the work of Robert Polidori:
Out of his book from 2004, Metropolis, the work to which I responded the most was his photograph entitled, On Stealing Souls. Not only is the photograph of the cemetery in Central Cairo positively amazing for me, in the fullness of the frame, the small and cloudy but significant background, and the way the sun hits the earthen-made homes leaving your mouth feeling dry, but the side note about death, Satan, stealing souls, and the story of his tour guide matches the photograph in a humorous but thoughtful way. This, I feel is a great example of the kind of work that is Robert Polidori's best. I would recommend that they check out his work because from the sounds of what his installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was like, it would be worth the trip and the money to get in for a first-hand encounter.

Side note: I could not find an image of Stealing Souls online but it can be found on page 72-73 in Metropolis.

Rosenheim, Jeff. "New Orleans after the Flood: Photographs by Robert Polidori." September 19, 2006.{23E721E6-F42D-4773-8FF7-B1EE1CDD00A9} (accessed 04/20/2009).

Polidori, Robert, and Martin C. Pedersen. Metropolis. New York: Metropolis Books, 2004.

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Margaret's Group: Artist Research- Michael Garlinghouse

Chuck Close, born in 1940 in Monroe, Washington, grew up to become a very influential contemporary artist through his remarkable skill, original ideas, and innovative techniques. His incredible attention to detail and pioneering methods for creating large-scale, photo-realist portraits separate him as an artist that will always be an inspiration to generations to come. Close graduated from University of Washington, Seattle in 1962, immediately following, he attended Yale University for graduate school, working under the printer Gabor Peterdi. In 1973, he had his first exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art called Project 11: Chuck Close/Liliana Porter. Soon after in 1975, Close had an exhibit here in Minnesota at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In 1978 Chuck Close began experimenting with using his finger to make ink impressions on the surface of paper, eventually leading to many detailed portrait exhibitions that toured the United States. In the mid-eighties he also begins working with Japanese-style woodblock printing. Close is most well known for his incredibly innovative, enormous portraits. He created a grid on photographs, of his friends and family, and then made a proportional grid on a large canvas, using an airbrush, he applied acrylic paint to create extremely detailed pieces.
In 1988, Chuck Close experienced intense chest pain followed by a violent seizure from a spinal blood clot, leaving him almost completely paralyzed. He continued to work, although his technique changed due to being limited to using a brush-holding device. His portraits of immense detail changed into pieces that close up appeared to be abstract tiles with swirling colors and shapes and far away colorful representations of human faces.
Early in his childhood, Chuck Close was inspired by an exhibition he saw of Jackson Pollock. These abstract paintings encouraged Close to become a painter. By limiting his techniques, Chuck Close hoped to discover alternative ways of seeing and creating. His large-scale works broke boundaries of details and size, continuing to inspire modern artists.
Close’s work can be compared to Andy Warhol’s in the sense that Warhol’s work was also very innovative. Although both artists use materials differently, both individuals’ techniques and ideas were revolutionary, and changed expectations of what artists are capable of.
I would strongly suggest a friend, or anyone to check out Chuck Close’s work. I do not think that I would give them any background information, because releasing the information that his pieces are paintings would ruin the surprise and lessen the response of the viewer. His photo-realistic portraits are something everyone should see. The public can easily appreciate them because from far they look like photographs and upon close inspection it is realized that each mark is made with an airbrush. To a person unaware of Close’s will be amazed by the detail.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicImage and video hosting by TinyPic
Chuck Close UP CLOSE by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan

April 16, 2009

Jennifer's Group: Artist Research-Juliana Delgado

Vito Acconci

Vito Hannibal Acconci was born to Italian parents in Bronx, New York on January 24, 1940. He grew up there and by the time he was about 14 years old he was exploring his artistic talents with writing poetry and short fiction. He received his B.A. from Holy Cross College and eventually a M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Iowa. After school, Acconci got bored with what he was doing and was introduced to performance art by other friends and peers. This began his journey through a number of different mediums, from poetry to visual arts like performance, video, sound, sculpture-furniture and architecture.

Vito Hannibal Acconci is very provocative, limitless, and a multifaceted artist. He did a number of works making the private public and crossing the personal limits of society. He wanted to induce real feelings with his audience whether it was physical, emotional, or intellectual feeling. He loves reality and making “individuals collide.” He did work regarding “real space”- the physical space, the social space, the cultural space, private and domestic space and time. Some of his work doing this consisted of The Red Tapes (1977), a 3-part videotape bringing together elements of video space and movie space, using language and images fading in and out of each other. A lot of his work focuses on him and his actions with himself. Other pieces Acconci would follow random people throughout their day, until they went to a private place, like their work place (office) or home. Acconci’s main focus is to make his audience “think and take action.”

Acconci did a number of pieces with this in mind, during the 1970’s with sociopolitical themes, due to the Vietnam war, feminism, the economy, the Watergate fiasco which inspired works like “Where are We Now (Who Are We Anyway)”, 1976. Then during the 1980s, he changed his pace and created modern pieces of furniture within the environment, forcing people to interact with and experience his works. He wants society to question and examine their role socially, privately, and publically. Acconci achieves this with, at times, very disturbing performances like Seedbed (1972) and thought-provoking installations. His reality is very exposing like the work of Nan Goldin.

Goldin uses photography to catch every moment her family, friends, and herself have. Whether they’re having sex or at a funeral, she is catching every candid moment. She brings the taboo up-close and personal with the audience viewing her work. She values relationships and their rawness of life’s intimacies. Acconci also gets very personal with his work but it is of himself and his actions. He is in the videos, pictures, and apart of some of his installations. He more forcefully brings people to have relationships and get involved in his work, whereas Goldin is like an unnoticed fly on the wall. I would recommend Acconci’s work because it is very it does make one think greatly about his intent and your part in regards to the work.


Acconci, Vito. Acts of Architecture. © 2001 Milwaukee Art Museum. Catalogue supported by Camille O. Hoffmann; printed by Fox Company Inc.

Electronic Arts Intermix Website:

Vito Hannibal Acconci Studio. © 2004 Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona …Actar …. “This book is published on occasion of the show “Vito Hannibal Acconci studio”, co-organized by Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes and Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, and presented in Nantes from July 15 to October 17, 2004, and in Barcelona from November 17, 2004 to February 20, 2005.”

March 11, 2009

An easier way to find an artist to research...

Here is a site that feature the work of contemporary artists (and that includes images of the artists' work!)

White Cube, London
This London-based gallery features the work of a number of interesting artists - click on the name to see images of their work.

Once you find an artist you're interested in researching -- let your discussion group leader know! First come first served -- if you pick an artist someone else has already selected, you'll need to pick someone else!

Artist Research Project

For your artist research project, you must choose a contemporary artist to research. Click through for a (very long) list of recommended artists!

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