March 2013 Archives

Dianna Molzan & Alex Olson at the Walker

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I was excited about attended the talk with Dianna Molzan & Alex Olson at the Walker Art Center. I had the opportunity to see the exhibition , "Painter, Painters." before I attended the talk which helped a lot because I had a background of the work of each artist. Even with the background of seeing the work it was hard to make connects. I wanted to hear more about their processes and the expresses. It would have also been nice to hear more about how these artists gained contact with the Walker to have their work in the show.
I thought it was inappropriate for one of the audience members to ask Dianna and Alex their reviews of the show.It was not a critic of the other work!!! I just wished I had gained more about the processes of the painters and how to become involved in a show like "Painter, Painters."
-Nina A.

Dianna Molzan & Alex Olson at the Walker

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The talk with Dianna Molzan and Alex Olson was disappointing. This event demonstrated to me the importance of artists to be able to comfortably and articulately talk about their work. Eric Crosby, one of the curators of the show at the Walker, asked long, sometimes rambling questions for which the two artists seemed ill-prepared. With some exceptions, the artists seemed uncomfortable and unforthcoming. It is too bad that the three participants apparently did not discuss ahead of time what types of subjects they might talk about. The artists were at their best when talking very specifically and tangibly about their work, yet it seemed as if Crosby was not able to latch onto that and guide the conversation to more depth. There were awkward silences and cringe-worthy moments when the artists were nearly squirming in their seats, or even laughing nervously, and Crosby did nothing to make them feel more at ease, despite their obvious off-stage congeniality. This was topped off by Crosby's onstage computer fumbling. I expected more out of a Walker sponsored event.

As one audience member pointed out, it was odd that no images of the artists' work were shown until by request at the end. If that was not the plan, it would have been fine, but seemed to me it is a common expectation even when not the focus of the event, and should have been acknowledged up-front.

During the Q&A, another audience member who said she had been to all the talks related to the Painter Painter exhibit asked for the artists to share their opinions about some of the other work shown, what they liked and what challenged them. All three on stage made this woman feel like a jerk for asking her question. Their lack of grace and complete avoidance of the question left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The woman's question was perhaps poorly worded, but in such a forum it was Crosby's job to frame it in such a way as to honor the asker and allow room for the artists to answer. Major fail! The woman was not at all asking them to "trash another artist's work." I am wondering why they did not talk about what really grabbed them in the show,. Surely another artist would not be offended by having their work publicly admired. Or, better, to just talk about the commonalities among all the work that were important to them. Or maybe some aspect from one or more of the other pieces that has brought them new insight as far as their own work. There are so many ways they could have answered the question that would have been interesting to the audience. But instead they shamed the audience member.

There were a few good morsels that came out of the talk. One was when Molzan said how she wants her work to be "pleasurable" and how that differs from "tranquilizing" or "dumb." To her it means that the senses are heightened and the viewer is engaged. I wish they had explored this topic more in the context of not just her work, but of today's trends in contemporary art in general.

Although the artists didn't latch onto it, I liked Crosby's question about style. He called it a "taboo subject" for many people, and wondered aloud whether we, as a society, have the vocabulary to discuss art as we once could and did, whether we don't "stretch our style muscle" anymore. I thought this could have led into some really interesting conversation, but it didn't go far. Crosby thought of style in very general terms, defining it as "the way of treating the content." Olson said she does not think in terms of style, and is not at all concerned with it, yet did say if something becomes too "stylized" she knows it is time to move to something else. Molzan said she uses style purposefully but not ironically," and that "you can't be too stylish." "Style," as Crosby defined it, and being "stylized" or stylish, are all different things. I would have especially liked to hear more about Molzan's comment of purposeful use of style and using it (or not) ironically.

Allison Ruby
March 16, 2013

Laylah Ali

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I was really pleased at how straightforward and honest Laylah Ali was. Hearing her speak was very refreshing, especially when she admitted to believing that there are too many painters and art students in the world, which i completely agree with. I think a lot of artists are afraid to admit to believing in that idea for fear of sounding selfish or mean, but i think several artist feel the same way. Ali also had a ridiculous sense of humor, which helped keep me engaged throughout her talk. She seemed to take her self seriously and yet speak of her artwork in a very dry and comical sense.

As I'm sure many students were eager and excited to hear, it was interesting to hear a successful artists and art professor speak about her negative experiences with receiving her arts education. She said that an education with equal good and bad parts was still worthwhile, but that an education that started to way more in the negative spectrum was not worth anyone's time. I liked this, because being misunderstood or pushed in the wrong or undesired direction as an art student, though difficult, can be extremely educational.

I also liked how Ali described how much information she wants to provide her viewers with through her paintings. She puts forth 70% into her paintings and she leaves the remaining 30% for her viewer to fill in. That way she guides the cognitive journey, but lets the viewer finish the story in a way that speaks to them personally.
The only part of Ali's lecture that was not extremely thought provoking for me was the video dance performance. It was interesting to see her paintings interpreted that way, but I thought the feeling transmitted by the performance was very different and does not fit in well with the rest of Ali's work. It felt rather random to me.

Also, I appreciated Ali's commitment to her talk even though she was under the weather. She was very patient and talked with me and other U or M undergraduates and answered all of our questions after her talk even though she probably wanted to go home and sleep.

Overall it was my favorite talk this semester.

Laylah Ali Lecture

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Of all the lectures we have had so far, I felt that Layla's was the most interesting and relevant. At first, when she started, I wasn't so sure, as I thought that the green head paintings were somewhat cartoony, which I am a big fan of, but I don't necessarily always like when people present that type of thing in a fine art context. I have althoughs thought it should be more accessible.
But as soon as Layla got started explaining her worldview, I knew that we thought along similar lines. I can very much relate to her, as I am also of the line of thinking that, to quote directly from her "the world doesn't necessarily need more drawers and painters right now". I could definitely appreciate her honesty, as I too have thought heavily about how those mediums might not be the most relevant, and when someone else in the audience asked her if she thought there was really anything left to say with painting, I was very curious to hear her thoughts about that.
When she also started speaking about how filmmaking might be a more relevant medium, I immediately related, and I would even expand that to just video making in general. I'm a really big fan of the power of the internet and how you can make something one day, and have it be seen by millions of people within a few hours. It seems so much more powerful to me than having your work hanging in a museum where so few will get to engage with it.
It was also very interesting to me to hear how Layla almost sort of fell into her fame, and how she never intended to be an artist for a living. It made me think of that whole thing with all these internet celebrities, who also never intended to reach fame, and ended up doing it almost by accident.
Contemplating her art in this context, I think the green heads are more than just fun cartoons that she painted, but rather question the way we treat certain pieces of art in different contexts.

Laylah Ali

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I loved Laylah Ali's casual and nonchalant approach to her lecture. Though I think some people were offended by it, I personally found it to be much more genuine and compelling then previous talks that were more structured. I thought it was interesting that she mentioned that giving a talk in this fashion makes her more present. I found this to be very true, and it made me a more present listener in return.
I enjoyed hearing her speak about her discomfort or even pain with the particular painting process that was more clean and ridged. I can personally relate to this so it hit home. It can be a struggle sometimes when you do not enjoy the process of creating something but know that through that struggle you will produce a better result. I think it comes down to discipline and concentration and being able to over come obstacles or complications along the way to really enjoy the result in the end.
Her approach to the meaning of her work was also great. I like that she leaves much of the meaning up to the viewer. I think it is really important for artist to be able to separate themselves from their work and focus on the fact that art is and interaction between the artist, the work and the viewer. The idea that different people will derive completely individual meanings from diffident pieces of work is essential to the entire concept of art. I think this also relates to the idea that some people will respond positively to some work and others will have an indifferent or negative response. This is all a part of that interaction and does not necessarily reflect on the artist.

Laylah Ali - Evelyn Kim

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I guess by so far Laylah Ali's talk was one of the most interesting talking I have ever been. I felt that she was very approachable with the audience and I love how she was trying to have the direct conversation with the audience by asking question and answering them directly. I loved her sense of humor too while she was giving the speech. One of the things that I loved about her work is how much detail and precise she put into her work. It was interesting how her work seem to be cartoon (for example the Greenhead series) like yet very humorous to me. Throughout look at her work and her talk, I could see how she has put a lot of research in painting and drawing such as using her left hand and matching the colors and using only black and white colors to fit perfectly. The video on the other hand was a little bit confusing for me. It was so hard to understand to correlate with her art and the performance video. I guess because I am lack of understanding things but if I have a chance again, I wanted to watch another video again to fully understand the connection of the work.
Overall, I felt that Laylah Ali was very amiable person and approachable person to talk to. She explained well about her journey to become an artist and her standpoints about her work. I will love to see her work more again to see more of her exhibitions that were shown in the Weisman Museum or maybe in the other museum that other place is shown. I really loved her speech.

Laylah Ali

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I find Layla Ali to be very interesting and listening to her speak got me thinking more about race and how people appear different based on skin color. Laylah Ali creates paintings that take her many months to complete and she carefully plans out in advance every aspect of her work, from subject matter to choice of color, achieving a high level of emotional tension in her paintings as a result of juxtaposing brightly colored scenes with dark, often violent subject matter. I find it interesting that she says her inspiration came from "watching a lot of t.v." when she was young. Laylah incorporates cartoon aesthetics as subject matter with social violence and ethnicity in her work. What I found compelling is that she is more interested in the before and after of social violence than the act itself. Also her ideas towards the existence of racism are thoughts that make total sense for me. I enjoy that while she reads newspaper/ magazines/ media she is constantly cutting out images to absorb and use for her work. She explains that hand gestures are very important to her and her work because the way people gesture is so different from one another, so she clips out people's hand movements and keeps them for future works. Her attention to detail and meticulous planning is very controlled and almost foreign to me, because in my own work I am not so organized, so it is also very inspiring. Ali even said that she is very scared of messing up.But she leaves more room for incident in her drawings rather than the paintings. "Power of the body" seems to be her main focus, what the body can do and what kind of gestures it can make, also another theme in her work is color and she is interested in how it effects a person.

-Kortney Formanek


Laylah Ali

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I guess I can't be sure what point Ali was trying to make about her art, or art in general. But it came off as a bit discouraging. But I did like how real she was. She was honest about how she made her work, what it meant to her and how she even got to the point where she was creating art. Her attitude about the modern art world was quite humorous. And that was the discouraging bit. But I am not an artist myself, so the multitude of artists out there does not effect the chances of me getting a job. It's nice for me to know that there will be lots of art for me to enjoy in the future.
Personally, I found it refreshing that she did not take her life too seriously. She makes her art simply to make art. She does not make it to get famous, or to make a statement to society. It seemed that, to her, art is great simply because it is art. And that she makes it because she can. I am pleased that she has had the chance to be an accomplished artist and add so much to the field of art for the benefit of artists and art enthusiasts. I think that what she adds is a sense of honesty and simplicity to art work. Her individuality and unique style stood out to me almost more than the images. She did not have much to say or describe about each piece, and I think that is because she has put all she needs to into them. If they needed a description, that means she did not communicate all she wanted to in the image itself. And I think she did that in her work.

Erin Persons

Laylah Ali

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I enjoyed that she presented herself as a real person; explaining that she was sick and that she had given so many talks that she wanted to escape the traditional structure. She was successful at going outside of the standard lecture talk, by explaining her processes and her journey as an artist. It was interesting to get her incite of the struggles of being an artist and the barriers that University setting can create. It was wonderful to hear that she faced her professors not like her work, but she continued to produce the images of the human struggle in an illustrated way.

She did talk about her processes and the obstacles with having carpal tunnel and learning to work with her non-dominant hand. It was interesting to find out that her small, figurative, paintings on paper take her many months to complete. Her attention to detail was not something I had thought of in the past, but my only experience with her work before was with the images that were around Minneapolis in 2005. (Those images were greatly enlarged from what I remember.) After hearing about her processes and her attention to detail and having the opportunely to view her work at the Weismann; I have a better understanding of her work. The images although completed in small scale are extremely moving and graphic.

I thought it was important that she explained that it's difficult to be an artist and that may times you have other skills and roles in life when producing work. An example would be how she taught and continued to create work for herself, not thinking that anyone would ever see the work. It was great to hear someone that has achieved success explain that it's not easy and then explained that even the most talented people from her past are not working as artists. I think that unknowingly she achieved success because she continued to work on her art without the intent to show it.
-Nina Allen

Laylah Ali

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Like others who have posted here, I too really enjoyed Laylah Ali's talk. Her desire was to have it be less like a lecture and more like a dialog and thought she was very successful in that. I could really relate to her feelings that many artists who give talks have their one way of doing it, and it becomes so second nature that after a while they are on autopilot and not fully present. Such a contrast to the Harmony Hammond talk, where I didn't really feel that I learned much more about her than I could have from reading a few articles online. As I have mentioned her before, when I go to artist talks I want to get a real sense of the artists as individuals, what they are trying to accomplish or work through via their art, what their inner processes are and what struggles they have overcome. I hope to learn something about them that I could only have learned through their presence. All this I got from Ali's talk. It was deeply honest and intimate.

In my reflections since last Thursday, there were several seeming unrelated bits that played around in my thoughts that all came back to issues of control. How she spoke about spending a lot of time as an undergrad being angry, and how she still carries a grudge against her graduate school and the experience she had there. She spoke about the physical and mental demands of her work, especially when working on the Greenhead Series, and about times in her life when she has struggled with depression. Also her comments on self-portraiture, and how "it is always a question of the truth of the subject matter,... the pathology of the artist to find," and how she needed more distance. Also how she questions the role of painters in the context of today's hyper-image filled world. All this inner questioning is present in her Greenhead Series. She explores how people relate to one another, judge one another, act out their aggressions, define and confine one another through labels. Much of all this relates to the idea of control in its many forms: how we exert it, how we lose it, how we rebel against it. The paintings themselves are finely detailed and precise. In the creation of them she embraces control. This connection is very interesting to me.

Although I found Ali to be very compelling, I cannot say I am very drawn to her work, but that is more a matter of personal taste. I did appreciate the technical expertise involved in what she does, the fine detail and attention to every facet of their creation, and the subject matter she is exploring. I also instantly understood and appreciated the intimacy and connection with the viewer that she was going for, however it seemed to me that the way they were displayed at the Weisman was not particularly supportive of that. A more intimate space, or one that wends a bit more would be preferable in my view. The tall ceilings and openness of the gallery felt too exposed, and the lighting did not seem quite adequate to me. I am not sure what the Weisman could have done differently with the space they have, but for me it did detract.

Allison Ruby
March 13, 2013

Laylah Ali

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I really enjoyed Laylah Ali's talk. It seemed to be a lot more personable and laid-back than the other artist talks that have been given. She also had a sense of humor that extended into her artwork. The Greenheads have a humorous look to them. I enjoy their goofy facial expressions and the unrealistic skin colors that they have. I find the green skin color to be an important aspect to these paintings because she isn't giving them a race, but instead allowing every ethnic group to relate to these green figures. Even though these cartoon figures look silly, the activities that they are doing are no laughing matter. The scenes that they are in are very series. I feel that the way she creates these figures helps lighten the serious subject matter.
Laylah's ink drawings are also very interesting. The amount of time spent on creating the detail in the dress of the figures is evident. These patterns are so precise and excessive. That is the king of detailed work that would drive me nuts, but in her talk she talked about how she actually enjoyed it and was a nice get away from the Greenheads work. Something that she said that I found very odd was that she pretty much hated doing the painting work of the Greenheads. My thought is why do it if you don't enjoy creating it?

-Moriah Kelly

Laylah Ali

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Laylah Ali was a wonderful speaker to have brought to campus. She was so original with the way she presented her work to the audience and I found her to be one of the most inspirational artists that I have listened to before. One thing that I liked the most about her work with the Green Heads series is that she left a lot of the work up to our own interpretation and how she purposely made her paintings smaller so that you have to get up close and personal with it. I also found her to be very disciplined in her work and motivated. The way she struggled to get through some of her projects just to see what the final goal would be is something that I don't think I could do myself. I'm one of those people that has a really hard time motivating myself to do something that I don't have any interest in doing and in this aspect I found her to be incredibly inspirational. Laylah's honesty towards the end of her talk was also nice to hear, she wasn't afraid to tell people what she really thought and it was refreshing to listen to her give her honest advice to the undergraduates in the audience. I feel like throughout the lecture we really got to know Laylah's true personality and I absolutely loved that since most artists who give presentations just summarize their work without mentioning what was going on in their lives or why they were choosing to pursue the work that they were doing.

Laylah Ali

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Laylah Ali's lecture was quite interesting and innovative. I appreciated her Greenheads series, and the many ways in which it defies classification. The artwork cannot be easily classified, just as the Greenheads cannot be classified as a certain race. In this way they have become a kind of undefined symbol that can stand for anything.
Laylah's ink drawings were also quite impressive, especially the attention given to repeating tedious pattern over and over in a character's clothes. I was especially intrigued by Ali's statement that she did not enjoy many parts of painting. This brought to mind to old adage which says, "Creating art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." We seem to be able to idealize art quite easily, and furthermore, allow that idealization to reach people who are not artists. We perpetrate a statement that art is easy and fluid, like taking dictation from God. In reality, our art is artwork - with an emphasis on work. It takes dedication and perseverance to create art; it takes sweat and tears. If anything, this is the face we should show more often to the public. If anything, this will be far more respected than some kind of ghostly inspiration that drifts out of the æther. If we can all follow Laylah Ali's example, art can be a discipline that is far more highly thought of than it is now. It takes every bit as much work as mathematics or chemistry, except instead of working with already exists, we are drawing equations and elements from ourselves, from our innermost imaginations.

--Evan Johnson

Visiting Artists Lecture #4 - Laylah Ali

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Visiting Artists Lecture #4 - Laylah Ali

Bailey Haack
7 March 2013

I thought that Laylah Ali gave one of the most sincere and honest artist talks that I have heard. She began the talk by saying that she had recently realized that she didn't enjoy giving artist lectures anymore, and said that she thought of it as both a problem and an opportunity. This honesty in her talk delivery was very refreshing, and kept me much more interested than some artists who simply go over their work chronologically but don't show much of their own personality.

The way Laylah jumped around in her talk - from her undergraduate work, to her Greenheads collection, to her technique, etc. - kept it interesting without being too confusing, and it was nice that she incorporated more of a dialogue and allowed people to ask questions throughout her talk, instead of saving them until the end. She gave some insight into her pieces, saying that the inspiration for the Greenheads came from an interest in the body, and an interest in her own body, but that she also wanted to distance herself from the work. It was interesting how Laylah didn't seem to attached to how people perceived her work, as long as they were provoked to ask questions. One statement that stuck out to me was when she said, "There's something about me that goes into them that isn't conscious." It was almost as if the little Greenheads characters manifested themselves into her subconscious and she wasn't fully aware of them until she was in the process of actively drawing them.

Laylah's description of the meticulous work she does throughout her artistic process was also fascinating. She described her process with the Greenheads, saying that she measures and checks lines, and measures again, and mixes colors until they're absolutely perfect. Even as she was describing her process, she told us how it was driving her crazy and she didn't always even like doing it, but she kept doing it because she "wanted to see what would happen." Her little characters seem to transcend race and gender, and they are simply there on the canvas to make people question those things about our own society. I thought Laylah Ali's talk was extremely interesting and I think I got a lot out of it that I would like to apply to my future practice.

W.A.R.M.

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The women who spoke in representation of W.A.R.M. at the panel discussion were really entertaining. At some paints they were hard to follow, especially Carole Fisher who seemed to hop from one topic to the next with a very dry sense of humor that was hard to interpret at first. However, Fisher was my favorite speaker that evening, she seemed just as passionate and ready to take on the world as she explained the original women involved with W.A.R.M. were back in the 70's. Her fearlessness and determination for women's rights and for women artist equality was very encouraging and inspirational. Though I have considered the challenges that women artists face, as a female artist myself, I did not realize the severity of the lack of women artist representation in modern museums today. The fact that in 2011 only 4% of modern and contemporary artwork in the MET in New York City was created by female artists was horribly shocking to me. Fortunately this ridiculous percentage of female artist representation in museums is not discouraging as a female artist, especially after hearing the W.A.R.M. panel discussion, it is a challenge that I am eager to face. Even more encouraging was to hear how passionate the individuals in the audience were who spoke up at the discussion. I didn't quite follow what the one woman was trying to impress upon the crowd when she brought up girls playing masculine sports... but other than that everyone seemed to be on a very similar page for continuing to fight for women's rights and to take back the word "feminist." I really liked how the meaning of the word feminism was brought up because I have heard many negative things that have been attached to that word which is very unfortunate. I think that whether or not people identify with the label of "feminist" is far less important than what they stand for.

Visiting Artists Lecture #3 - Ayad Alkadhi

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Visiting Artists Lecture #3 - Ayad Alkadhi

Bailey Haack
28 February 2013

Ayad Alkadhi's artist talk was what I wish I could hear from more artists. He spoke about his inspirations, techniques, and goals of his work in a way that was easily understandable and gave me a deeper understanding of him and his work.

He described the aim of his art as telling a personal story, rather than how the news media focuses on the "collective impact." It was interesting to see the way sin which he was able to focus his art in to deliver a personal, individual story. Many artists focus on larger ideas and issues, but sometimes they fail to bring it down to the personal level, so it remains less relatable to thos uninvolved in the issue.

I thought it was interesting how Ayad discussed his take on addressing women's issues - many people would way that , as a man, he cannot fully understand what women are going through, so he could not properly make art about it. However, he discussed how he sees himself as a sort of omnipresent storyteller, putting himself into other people's shows. He emphasized that his work, though controversial in topic, seeks "not to defend or attack," but rather, he urges the viewer to examine all the aspects surrounding a situation before passing judgement. I think artists sometimes become short-sighted and focus in too hard on the issue they want to explore, but forget to look at all sides of it first. Ayad's art addressed some deep cultural issues and his art told a story, but at the same time it did not seem to attack or punish - it simply told the story from the individual's level.

Many times with art, I am confused about exactly what the artist is trying to say with the piece. However, with Ayad's work, I felt that even without his explanation, I would have gotten the same messages out of it by just seeing it and knowing the titles. That is not to say that his work is simple - it is very deep and thoughtful in exploring some very multi-faceted issues - but I think his work is very effective in telling the story that he is trying to tell, rather than just looking beautiful.

W.A.R.M panel discussion

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I loved hearing the ladies of W.A.R.M speak. Everything they had to say was so genuine and honest. Each of their quirky personalities made the talk so enjoyable. The crowd as well, brought such and interesting dynamic to the conversation. It was inspiring to hear the passion in some of what these men and woman had to say. And it certainly gave me a new perspective on feminism and the current state of women's rights. As a young woman growing up in, and experiencing modern culture I have never really considered my rights or woman's rights in general to be much of an issue in our culture. It has always seemed like something of the far past. But hearing these women talk about the history of W.A.R.M and the struggles that they went through just to have their ideas heard and respected really opened my eyes. I found it really interesting to hear the discussion that came up about the word feminism, what it means and what it is often perceived or misinterpreted as meaning. There is definitely a negative stigma that has been attached to the word, and people are afraid to associate or identify with it. In my opinion there doesn't necessarily need to be a word applied to someone's stance or opinions. If you are strong in what you believe and fight for that belief you shouldn't need the word to support you. W.A.R.M's whole ideology of working collaboratively for the group as a whole was great. Art can be such an individualistic thing, which is wonderful as well in its own way. But it was inspiring to see people coming together to support each other with their talents and passions. I think this was reflected in the crowd that showed up for the discussion, so many people from the community there to support and participate.

Ayadi Alkadhi

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I found Ayad Alkadi's talk to be very inspirational. He uses his artistic talents for a good way to tell stories of his cultural background and of people that have been affected by the war. I found the works of women holding pictures of their deceased sons to be very emotional. Even though their faces were not recognizable, the pieces were moving and sad.
The pieces I found to be most interesting were those that he incorporated Arabic calligraphy into. Even though you cannot read what it says even if you were a native speaker of Arabic, it is a nice addition to the faces he paints. Sometimes in his works he places this unreadable calligraphy over the mouths of his subjects as if he is trying to show that these people have no say in society.
Most of his subject matter is very heavy and dark, but in paintings such as those in the Quarter Gallery, he incorporates humor into them. Each is related to the Islamic person in a different country and the eye cut out of the burka is in the shape of an icon that is known to that country. For example, in the France painting the cut out was a croissant and for the United States painting the cut out is in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head. I enjoyed how different these works are than his other works that seem to be very similar. Personally, I think it would be interesting to see him do something that isn't of a human figure and maybe do something else that is iconic in the Islamic culture.

W.A.R.M Panel Discussion

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The W.A.R.M. Panel was interesting in a number of ways. I appreciated that Carole Fisher firstly gave a brief history of what W.A.R.M actually did during the 70s and how it is still active today. I thought her dry sense of humor and description of how the group got started was definitely interesting and it made the rest of the discussion seem more relevant by knowing what kind of groundbreaking work they accomplished during that era.
I was highly interested in some of the early performance art work they did in the 70s, as I think that type of medium is highly relevant for a feminist framework. The burning brooms performance seemed groundbreaking as well as visually refreshing.
Also, the fact that Judy Chicago visited the art department at St. Catherine's was a real eye-opener into how important that program must have been. It's too bad that the program isn't around anymore.
I liked how the speaker also went through the projects that people had done over the years for the women's art institute. Some of them seemed really interesting and I only wish she had gone into more detail.
The most interesting part of the discussion for me was definitely the whole conversation about people not knowing what "feminism" means, thinking it means something completely different from what it actually does, or being afraid to use the word or self-identify as a feminist. This is something that really hits close to home because I feel that it is a part of my everyday life as a self-identifying feminist. I find that so many people are misled by the word and/or are uneducated about what feminism means. I know it's a deeper issue, but I wish that kids were taught about feminism in school they same way they are taught about civil rights and equal rights for other groups. It's important that they know the history behind the feminist movement so they understand why it's even acceptable that women are allowed to do things like play sports and make art.
That brings me back to another point in the talk when they brought up using women in athletics to gain more support for women in the arts. It's important that people know feminism does not just apply to lesbians and people making obscure art, but that it is the only reason that women's athletics programs as well as art programs exist.
The last part of the talk I want to bring up is when some of the women got into a somewhat heated discussion about having their own gallery space. There seemed to be a huge divide between the women in the room who definitely wanted a space, and those who thought it was not a sustainable option. Personally, I am on the side of them having their own space. Having "a room of one's own" allows an organization to have more of a mark on their community and more of a presence. I think they are overthinking the fact that the space doesn't need to be fancy, it doesn't need to be more than a small room that can house a few works of art. With all the member they have, I think if they want to continue the organization for years to come, a permanent space is a must-have, especially if they want to recruit more people from the younger generation, which seems to be a bit of an issue.

WARM Panel

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Throughout most of this talk there was one thought was constantly at the front of my mind. That thought was, "it is almost impossible to make out what they are saying." But I guess that issue can be attributed to the poor set up of the room. From what I could make out of the talk, they shared mostly stories about the struggle to gain a place for women in the art world. They did not talk much about the actual art that was made. It added a lot to what we already heard from Hammond. From Hammond, we got to hear about the art and an individual going through the process of making a place for herself in the world, and from the panel we got to hear about the bigger picture. Of how the organization of WARM got to the point where it could help women be what they want to be.
Though I appreciate what the panel talked about, I did want to hear more specifics about the individual's pieces. What really struck me about the bit that was discussed, was the nude content. My thoughts are that feminist art is stereotypically nude, and therefore far too expected to be seen. It is no longer shocking. People do not see it and try to find deeper meaning in it. I feel like there is not much either way. To me, the message given through nude art is not subtle, and not versatile. Women should not be limited to expressing femininity through their bodies. There is far more to being female than just the body. There are so many unique and beautiful things about women that are not physical. I feel that showing nude images of women does not reach out to women. All women do not even look the same. But there are fundamental things about psychology and experience that women can and should connect on.

Erin Persons

W.A.R.M. Panel Discussion

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I found the W.A.R.M. panel interesting from a variety of important perspectives. As I have mentioned before, I always think it's a great thing when artists can come together and work on a piece of work without letting their own egos get in the way. I found that the women working together on the W.A.R.M. panel had a very good approach to the process of artists working in collaboration. Although they each designed and accomplished their own personal pieces of art, their work was all directed towards a single goal--that of moving the cause of feminism and pushing it forwards into the public's attention.
I also thought that the methods used on colleges were especially apt and well thought out by the feminists. Many studies have shown that college is a time of relearning the self for many young people, and while the efforts of the feminists were somewhat blackballed by established faculty members, their ideas were certain to bear fruit in the pliable minds of the young. I was inspired, to a certain degree, by the existence of the rallies and vigils held by the feminists in various settings and places. To me, this was an indication that any movement can get its feet under it, provided it has the strength of the young, tempered with the wisdom of the old. The art done by the various feminist workshops really spoke to me as an abject outpouring of feelings, thrown in the face of a society that had rejected them. Their feeling, truly felt and spoken and lived from the soul, has certainly changed our culture in many deep and profound ways.

Ayad Alkadi

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In his talk Ayad Alkadi spoke about feeling an obligation to give voice to the stories of those behind the headlines. As Americans we hear so much about what is going on in the Middle East, but rarely do we hear the personal stories of the individuals who are suffering from war, dictatorship, occupation, and the like. Alkadi feels a responsibility to help us learn these stories, to give a face and a voice to that helps us to better understand their struggles and experiences.

Alkadi's paintings are extremely moving and technically exquisite. All of them (at least from what I have seen) include human figures, and faces which from a distance look photographed, though never static. Over them is Arabic script, sometimes individual phrases or sentences, but more often writing that covers the whole canvas, either behind or superimposed over the figure or figures. The writing is used as a visual element more than for its literal meaning. It conveys that the person in the painting has a story, a history, thoughts, something to say. It seemed that many in the audience had a hard time understanding that they were not missing anything from the experience of the work by being able to read and understand what the words say. It made me think about when I listen to world music, to "feel" the music I don't have a need a translation of the lyrics. The sounds of the words are enough to convey something to me. I think it is similar in these paintings, the visual of the calligraphy alone conveys what the artist wants to convey through its inclusion. I do think that in both cases (paintings and songs) it is natural to be curious about what the words mean, but to me that is something else, knowing would satisfy the curiosity, but not make me better understand or get more out of the painting or song.

It seems Alkadi almost always does his paintings in series. Each work he presented in his slide show was introduced as one out of a series, with the series emphasized first. This struck me, as many artists will talk about the movement or evolution of their work, but do not always present them or seem to think of them as a formal series.

The subject matter of Alkadi's painting was often wrenching, even those that incorporate humor, such as the ones on exhibit in the Quarter Gallery with "cut outs" (so to speak) of cultural icons meant to represent different countries, the Queen of England, George Washington and even a croissant. These on the one hand have a certain lightheartedness, though the painting overall does not hold onto it. Their pop culture aspect is in juxtaposition to a veiled woman and brings into glaring view a certain alienation.

I also loved Alkadi's comments that made it clear that as an artist he is willing to try anything that suits his purpose. For example, when asked about his ability to do the beautiful calligraphy in his paintings, his response was that he did not approach it as a calligrapher but as an artist with the script as his form. (He explained it much more clearly.) Or when woman asked him about how he did the stitching exactly, and basically he just said that artistically the work needed thread so he put it in. If his work calls for something he figures out a way to do it by giving it a try. I liked that, that he didn't feel he needed any special skill, he just needed to do what needed to be done.

- Allison Ruby

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