Mixing Media and Experimenting some More

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Mixing Media and Experimenting some More

I love creating collages out of magazine images. I went through a phase in college when I made a bunch of collages on poster boards. A while later I received a disposable camera with “fortunes” on the roll. After the roll was developed the fortunes appeared at the bottom of the images.

This is what the camera looked like. I bought the camera at Urban Outfitters, I believe. It seems this version is no longer available, but they have other disposable cameras that add flavor to your photography.

Many of collages were created with some sort of intention in mind. I loved the idea of taking pictures of these collages with my fancy fortune camera, and seeing which fortunes paired up with which images. I wanted random chance to bring more meaning to what I had already created.

Most of the images didn’t come out very well. Disposable cameras are pretty hit or miss because you can’t always see what you are taking a picture of well and the flash is terrible and so on. However this one image really captured the essence of the experiment.

At the end I piled all the collages into one pile. I love how the light from the window falls solely on the smaller collage in the middle. The caption is also fantastic “Its time for you to explore new interests.” Time to stop seeking new meaning in old stories and branch into something fresh.

A Week in Review: California Sun (Part 1)

Two weeks ago I took a break from my blog to do a weeklong performance project with Turning the Wheel  in Los Angeles, CA. I had never been to California before the trip and I was eager to see what all the hubbub was about.

When I arrived in LA I found myself to be staying in a beautiful home filled with books on art. Wonderful! I spent my first morning perusing Milk & Honey: Contemporary Art in California by Justin Van Hoy.

The book covered a variety of different artists working and living in California at the time the book was written. The main themes I found California artists to be working with are the quality of light, the variety of landscapes found near Los Angeles, and traffic. I liked the cover a lot, with all the butterflies, but apart from that most of the art within failed the capture my attention.

Monday night we visited a fantastically fun restaurant – Cafe Gratitude. The food at the restaurant is deliciously prepared and you can feel good about eating it because its all vegan. My favorite part about the food was ordering it. All the meals are given uplifting names and when you order them you become them. I was humble, elevated, and irresistible. Along with the uplifting atmosphere was some great art. My favorite work was a stunning mural found in the ladies bathroom. I wish I had ventured into the men’s to see if it was as wonderfully decorated.

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I liked the level of detail as well as many of the motif’s. When went to learn more about the artist Jon Marro I found some interesting things. His bio states that his work

“Currently is inspired by the teachings within Pneuma System, a path of synthesis, which brings together the inner wisdom of the major traditions of the world.  This knowledge illuminates a path of Solar Art – giving form to light and providing a sanctuary for the eyes…which I am now remembering.”
 

He calls his style shown above, Solar Art. Each line he draws gives form to his vision, like the sun – hence the name for his art style. Marro’s spiritual art is a great fit for the bathroom of a restaurant called Cafe Gratitude. Part of why the mural caught my attention so much was because it pulled together a lot of themes that I like to play with in my own art; whales, frog princes, butterflies, mandalas, intricate lines. It also made me wonder why I like those motifs. Is it because I see them all the time in popular culture, or is it because they resonate with the world today… or possibly a bit of both. It also made me consider branching out from common themes and discovering something fresher.

Barely into my week I had already seen a lot of great art, and as the week continued I got to play with bringing my own art to California. Check back soon for Part 2.

 

Yupo Print – Blue Dragon

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Yupo Print - Blue Dragon

At Women’s group last we played with Alcohol inks and Yupo paper. The affect you get when dropping the inks on the paper is really cool. The inks spread really easily across the paper, which creates a lot of movement and vibrant color.

Before we made this piece we we meditated on water, the fluids of our bodies, and how to flow through life. The intention of the art project was to let the colors and inks flow without trying to “create” something. There was also this citrus solution which softened and manipulated the color of the ink.

After we had created our pieces we were asked to look and see what appeared in the image, like a colorful and elaborate ink blot. I immediately saw a stormy chinese dragon. After talking with my mentor she explained that Chinese Dragons often represent feminine power. I think it is a fitting image for where I am in my life, recovering from the flood and my own tumultuous inner landscape.

What do you see? Feel free to comment below.

When an Experiment Goes Awry

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When an Experiment Goes Awry

Some times when you play with a new art medium you love what you create simply because its so fun and new. Other times you create something that you absolutely hate. I rarely create a piece of art that I can’t find any redeeming quality in but this small piece managed to do it.

This was created using Wonder Under Fusible Web, which is a cool mesh that melts and sticks to things when you iron it. I was working with a group of friends and we had a lot of options. I made two right before this one that I liked, that are now in a frame, and thinking I had the hang of it I created this one.

I got a little stuck on the butterfly. I really liked it but had a hard time finding things I liked to go with it. I kinda just threw a few things together and hoped for the best. It was awful, so I tried adding more things (which has saved me in other mediums such as painting and decoupage). That however made it worse.

I am excited to say that now this piece has been archived on my blog I can throw it away guilt free. What do you do with pieces you create that you hate? Feel free to share in the comments.

Framing Devices Used in the CU and Denver Art Museums

It is nearly impossible to see a piece of art without it being framed in a certain context. Even when viewed outside of a museum or gallery an art object is framed by the culture, history, and personal motives of the artist. In a museum, however, even more frames are placed around objects. There is the set up of the gallery, the choice of lighting or use of sound, and there is the choice of what text accompanies the objects. Contemplating frames such as these I chose to compare the Denver Art Museums Asian collection, specifically the arts of China, to CU’s collection of Greek ceramics. I chose to compare these two collections because the art objects were somewhat similar, both being composed of many small vessels used both as art objects and in every day life.

The Denver Art Museums Asian collection covers a whole floor of the museum. It covers art from many geographic areas of Asia, from China and Japan to Southwest Asia, Tibet and Nepal. It also has a few rooms dedicated to specific themes such as Bamboo and Buddhist art. As well as having art from many backgrounds, the gallery covered a vast timeline with art in the Chinese collection ranging from as early as 700’s to more contemporary work as late as the 1960’s.

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The Chinese gallery was a long room. Around the edges furniture and clothing were displayed on raised platforms and smaller objects were in glass cases around the room. The lighting was the same as most of the rest of the museum, basic spotlights over cases and display areas, but evenly lit overall. The decor of the gallery was rather plain, with neutral colored walls, floor, and pedestals, which drew attention away from the space to the art objects. Most pieces had a small placard with their name, date, and place of origin with a small description of the scene or figure depicted. Some pieces of art had pull out scrolls which included extra cultural or historical context for the object. There was also a game of eye-spy in the gallery that allowed children to take a closer look at the art.

The descriptions of specific pieces often included many extravagant adjectives. I felt that descriptions often framed pieces to be grander then they may have been. One example was for a small circular box from the Ming Dynasty.

This small box shows the painstaking skill required of a master lacquer craftsman. Over a paper-thin wood core, more than a hundred layers of red, black, green, and brownish-yellow lacquer have been applied and then carefully carved to produce a striking sculptural effect. (DAM)
 
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 Brush Holder with Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove China, Qing dynasty, 1700s bamboo, 5½ inches (14 cm) high, 6 inches (15.2 cm) diameter Lutz Bamboo Collection, gift of Adelle Lutz and David Byrne 2004.829

 

The use of painstaking, careful, and striking in the description accent the piece but there is very little historical evidence given to defend the claims. This may be due to lack of time a museum has to capture its audience when describing a piece.

Most of the pieces in the Denver Art Museum’s Asian collection where contextualized as art rather than artifact. This was especially apparent in the descriptions of the furniture pieces. The focus on the descriptions was about composition and choice of material, as well as how the pieces would be viewed as art by the people who owned and used them. One such table, from Ming dynasty, 1500s-1600s described that it “suited the taste of Chinese scholars, who surrounded themselves with objects made of fine natural materials (DAM).”

The CU Art Museum had a much smaller collection on the whole, and the Greek ceramics collection only took up space in one-third of a case. It covered three shelves and was presented alongside the Roman coins and glass collections. The pieces were well lit in the gallery which was darker than the Denver Art Museum, but still brighter than many galleries and museums I’ve visited in the past. The pieces were only displayed with a one page description of the Greek Ceramics as a whole. For individual informati

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on a packet was below the case, but a viewer would have to notice it and have the patience to read through it to learn about the individual pieces. The page along side the ceramics discussed the role of Greek Ceramics as a tool for learning about early Greek Culture. The collection consisted of pieces from the bronze age to the hellenistic age of Greek history.

In contrast to the Denver Art Museum the CU Art Museum displayed their pieces in a context of artifact rather than art. They specifically discussed the practical application of the objects in activities such as eating and drinking, and religious ceremonies. They did not discuss the processes used to create the pieces or the use of the pieces as an art object. For example, the collection consisted of red-figure and black-figure ceramics, and I did not find any mention of the techniques used to distinguish these two styles. However, I did not read through the whole packet provided below the case. On the other hand, the use of different styles of ceramics was discussed, as well as the role of the certain votive figures in rituals and ceremonies. This choice in presenting the object definitely guides the viewer understanding of the pieces as artifact rather than art objects.

I felt that the Denver Art Museum had a more successful exhibit of their collection than the CU Art Museum. I believe that the goal of a Museum is to get the viewer excited about art, and the Denver Art Museum framed their art in a way that made it very accessible and interesting to guests. First, every art object had a quick description of the piece that covered the basics. It had brief cultural context and described the pieces artistic composition. Including both of these pieces of information brought the objects to life, giving viewers a deeper understanding of how the piece was created, but also the context of how the piece would have been viewed and used at the time of its creation. For example, the description of a ceramic camel was as follows, “Symbolic of the great desert caravans along the Silk Road, glazed earthenware camels were often placed in the tombs of wealthy Chinese merchants. (DAM)” Although its extremely concise it talks about the art process used and the cultural symbolism. This piece was also included in the children’s eye-spy game which I thought was an extremely intelligent touch for including children in the excitement of art. It forced children to take time to really examine all of the art objects in the gallery.

200615t copy

2006.15.T, Apulian-Style Pelike
Date: ca. 350-320 BCE
Height:18.1 cm
Width:11.6 cm 
Transferred from the University of Colorado Musuem of Natural History to the CU Art Museum, University of Colorado (2006).
 

In contrast to the Denver Art Museum the Greek ceramics collection was rather dry. Considering the context of the pieces being part of a university, I suppose the more academic approach was appropriate to the pieces. Many of the pieces have probably been the topic of papers in the classics, archeology, anthropology, and many other departments that have agendas outside of art history. In the context of the university, as objects of research, the display was more successful. If the museum did want to portray the objects in a way that showcased the culture and artistic composition in a way that made the viewer excited to learn more, then I would say they were not successful. I felt this was especially apparent in the way the objects were described for the viewer, with a brief one-page overview, and a half-hidden packet under the case.

All in all both museums used very specific framing devices to guide the viewers understanding of their pieces. The Denver Art Museum used engaging descriptions and plain decor to showcase the pieces as art objects. The CU art museum used a small case with lack of description to frame the pieces as artifacts. Depending on the different goals the museums had for the pieces both of these techniques could be successful, but for my own personal beliefs of the goal of a museum, the Denver Art Museum was more successful.

Bibliography
1. Ancient & Classical.” CU Art Museum. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://cuartmuseum.colorado.edu/collection/ancient-classical/>.
 2. Whitten, Tom. “Asian Art Department | Denver Art Museum.” Denver Art Museum. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. <http://exhibits.denverartmuseum.org/asianart/index.html>.
 
Photo Credits
Image 1: http://www.denverartmuseum.org/collections/asian-art
Image 2: http://www.denverartmuseum.org/collections/asian-art (from slideshow)
Image 3: http://cuartmuseum.colorado.edu/collection/collection-study-center/
 Image 4: http://www.colorado.edu/classics/exhibits/GreekVases/pots/slides.htm

Stages of a Drawing: Altered Book

Today I wanted to walk through the steps of creating a poem from the pages of an old book. The book I have been altering for quite some time now is “Prepatory German Reader”. I bought the book at the Trident book store on Pearl, in their $1 book cart. I loved the feel of the cover, the color of the pages, and the super cool german font. Although the majority of the book is in german the footnotes are often in English and can make great poems. I learned this technique in my Intro to Poetry class in college and really liked it. We had to make a poem like this for an assignment after researching the Poet Tom Phillips work, The HumamentThere are many ways to go about finding poems in old books, and a quick Google search will enlighten you the possibilities. However here is my process:

Step 1: Circle the words you want to turn into a poem. This is easier on some pages than others. For example the introduction and afterword were in all English so I found quite compelling poems. The page I am using for this post was less engaging but I made it work all the same

Ancient Power Progression

Step 2: Ink the lines you have created. I decided I didn’t like how heavy the bottom of the page was so I circled some stuff around the page. Another charming feature of this book is the handwriting of the previous owner. I circled some of his/her writing and some numbers.

Ancient Power Progression-1

Step 3: Fill in the rest of the page. I have been really enjoying squiggle arts. They are so calming to create. I drew lines around the shapes created by my words until the page was filled. I ended up with something looking somewhat like a topographical map

Ancient Power Progression-2

Step 4: Color it in! I used Crayons. (The ones from the other day)
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Step 5: Make final edits. I decided I really hated the little shape in the middle of the page and filled it in the pen I used earlier. I also decided to embellish the page with some of my own words to add meaning (or not). Finally I signed it.

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The Poem Reads-

singing tribe
56 25 30
mythology of the air, the storms
powerful rivers
twelve tribes. race twelve goddesses.
ancient power
 

Keep a look out for more pages of my altered book “Prepatory German Reader.”  I would like to have it filled by January 2014. *Fingers Crossed*

Tree Frame

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Tree Frame

You may recognize this as my banner image. Thats cause it is! Hooray!

This was a mixed media piece I did in a hurry that turned into something I really liked. The background behind the tree is a bunch of scrappy pieces from another project that I couldn’t bring myself to throw away. I no longer remember where the image of the plant came from. The Frame however is my favorite part. I used old paint that I believe was acrylic on the frame, but for whatever reason it didn’t want to stick to the green coat underneath. The effect created was really neat, with a resist quality. I was really happy to see of the green coming through. This piece is about 4in by 3in, so pretty small and was created in 2010 (I think).