Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nearly Done

Whether I will be able to hang all twelve panels in the spiral formation as envisioned or not, the piece is nearly ready for primetime.  There is a bittersweet feeling to this project--to have realized it in its current form is cathartic for me, but a feeling remains that I have left much unrealized.  Does it fully embody all that I wish to express about place?  Does it bring poetic sensibilities to the subjects of heterotopic spaces and spatial implacement? Have I honored the indigenous culture to whom I am so indebted?  Have I gained a clearer understanding of my own place in the world? More questions but not answers occupy my thoughts these days as I head to Boston to defend my thesis.  As someone who has not identified with any formal cultural tradition, finding place is finding self.  Identity and place seem intimately connected, but changes over time.  I see place as the intermediary between self and nature, and it is at this point experience takes place. What is a range of convergence between these entities?  Ken-dai-a is only the beginning of the journey.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winding Down/Winding Up

Graduation is within sight! As this last semester is winding down, I am so grateful to have spent two long years deepening and expanding my visual practice.  The LUCAD faculty, my colleagues, my friends, and my family have helped so much.  I feel enriched.

My investigations have led me in many directions, but are linked to the notion of finding place-- finding my place in the world.  The land is the foundation of my experience, and my feet touch the earth with every step.  The indigenous culture of the Haudenosaunee has informed every part of this project, and connects historic events of the past, present, and indeed the future.  The complexities about the place of Ken-dai-a have opened up new possibilities for me to explore.  Engagement with the world begins in place.  The wampum, as pictured here, represents the 6 Nations of the Haudenosaunee, and the Two Row Wampum is the treaty that was signed between the 6 Nations and the US government 400 years ago.  I hope to learn more from these First Peoples, and find ways to share the bounties of the wampum, a form of exchange that goes beyond monetary values.

The Seneca White Deer Foundation is an organization that is seeking support for protecting the deer population of Seneca Army Depot after 2015 when the government will have completed the clean-up of the site.  I intend to stay involved in making sure this land is returned to its natural state, and perhaps returned to its native inhabitants.  I hope to create another Ken-dai-a book to highlight its rich history, and to generally address the notions of place and the archive in broad terms. The spatialization of being within place addresses many important issues of our day--affordable housing, social media, economic equality, energy industries' extraction, sustainability, and building community. 

The Ink Shop Printmaking Center will also continue to be an important place for me to continue the work of building connections between educational institutions and the regional community, between printmakers and other artists of other media, and between personal and public forums for meaningful interaction. Teaching at Ithaca College provides wonderful opportunity for me to connect with students' creativity and hopes. As an educator, I derive deep satisfaction from being part of their development as artists.

I met with my mentor Kanishka Raja last weekend for the last time.  We talked at length about the Longhouse Spiral, particularly its installation in Boston. I hope that the installation shows the full scope of this piece, as an experiential embodiment of place deeply complex with contradiction, odd juxtapositions, and historic inconveniences. All the investigations of the past two years -- in charcoal drawing, investigating heterotopic spaces, exploring the idea of implacement and phenomenological experience, understanding the dialectic of site and non-site, developing a way to combine text and image to reflect a dialectic of representation,  and finally developing a hybrid multi-media visual practice combining wax, printmaking, drawing, and sculptural form--have led to my final project.  The Longhouse Spiral incorporates all of this in some way. 

Also in NYC I made a quick trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the video installation Refusal of Time by William Kentridge.  His multi-media presentation wove together video, sculpture, and sound.  Three screens wrap the space in a three-part panorama of movement, image and text as it circles the viewers.  His creative processes infuse the projections, in ink drawings, figure silhouettes, torn paper, or staged repetition of filmed actions.  Its unpolished aesthetic adds immediacy and experiential quality to our experience of it.  The world he presents is a theatric staging of historic events, a way to frame the historic monstrosity of apartheid.  The heavy burden of this legacy still affects every part of this installation.  Amazing. 

So as I wind down this two year adventure, I am winding up for the next stage of my career.  Grants are in the works, new portfolio exchanges, new students to teach drawing and printmaking to, new public art projects at major bus stations in Ithaca, and travel. We might be buying a church too, the space where I have set up as a second studio during the last two years.  Lots to think about, lots to do. More images of the completed Longhouse Spiral will be forthcoming soon.  I will post them here as soon as possible!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Changes

I worked again yesterday on the large Longhouse scroll.  Here are some more images. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Thesis Exhibition Prep

Here is an update on my thesis exhibition pieces.  The Kendaia Installation is still morphing and I have not yet settled on an arrangement that pulls all the elements together in coherent fashion.  The variations are offering some alternatives, though, as I manipulate spacing, intervals, layering, and the overall configuration of topographies, prints, envelopes and panels. 

The Longhouse Scroll is coming along.  More layers will be added tomorrow and Friday.  There will be total of 12 panels.  The piece will be hung from the ceiling in a spiral formation. All the images are printed as gum transfers or stenciled monoprints.  Each panel is 20" wide and 72" long.  Once all the printing is finished the paper will be treated with encaustic.

Lastly, I am still working on the Shaped Topographies, reforming them and repositioning them in various relationships.  Once I settle on their final configurations, I will be treating the forms with PVA and liquid starch.

It is clear to me that the overriding theory behind my work is Foucault's heterotopic spaces, with the idea of place as being a confluence of relational factors.  In Smithson's terminology, these are non-sites which reference an actual lived site -- the site of Kendaia.  Each piece is an "implacement", a reformulation of experience, and way to reembody the sense of place. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sol Lewitt at Paula Cooper Gallery

I forgot to mention another show I saw this weekend.  Sol Lewitt's reincarnation of his 1988 Venice Biennale piece at the Paula Cooper Gallery, is an intensely vibrant work with color that glows like stained glass windows.  The geometric abstraction and black borders accentuate this effect. Crystalline forms float in colored rectangles, sometimes veering off the edges, sometimes hovering in between and across borders.  Having just seen Dorothea Rockburne's geometric constructions, Lewitt's muti-dimensional shapes also reference fundamental principles, revealing the constructive essence of all form.  This was a beautiful show--a feast for the eyes!

October's Marching Orders

September has come and gone -- slipped through the fingers somehow.  I applied for the CAA MFA Visual Arts Grant, which was due October 1.  It took more time than I thought, but in writing the grant proposal, I was able to more clearly think about my next project for the thesis show and how I want to develop my work post-thesis. 

Briefly, the grant project will entail a public installation honoring the Haudenosaunee. In coordination with the City of Ithaca and the Bus Transportation authority,  I am planning on creating large woodcuts which will then be digitally scanned and digitized as vector images, to then be cut in vinyl.  These vinyl images will then be adhered to 18 large glass panels at the largest bus stop in Ithaca.  The overall dimension of the installation will be about 10' high and 40' long.  The Public Art Commission has already given approval!  The Kendaia panels were the inspiration for the idea, after Aaron Lish suggested during one of our critiques that they could easily translate into a public art work.  I really hope it happens!  Here is the elevation for the site:
The twelve scrolls I am working on for the thesis show are coming along slowly.  I am planning on working on them more this week.  In talking with John Kramer about the image preparation for this installation, that I needed to rework the resolution and way in which my found images are manipulated for transfer.  Much of last week was devoted to this task, so my hope is that I can actually print them this week, and begin the slow process of building layers and complexity to the scrolls. Seeing Dorothea Rockburne's work this weekend was a real inspiration, and has gotten me excited about my new piece.  I will post images of these once they are far enough along. 

Lastly, here are a few more images of the installation, other variations.  More possibilities keep presenting themselves as I look at issues of interval, shape, surface and form, camouflage, reflection, repetition and variation, wall/floor relationship, bound/scattered, and reveal/conceal.  All these ideas are still perculating for now.  I intend another trip to Kendaia this week to collect some stones and other found specimens.  There is always more to see there.  I also hope to catch a sighting of deer this time too.  I was not lucky in my last two visits to see their graceful forms behind the wire fence. 

Trip to NYC

I really love the city and every time I visit there are amazing things to see.  I created a list of what shows looked interesting, including Dorothea Rockburne at MOMA, Damien Ortega at the Gladstone Gallery, and Allison Miller at Susan Inglett Gallery.

Having met Dorothea in person about a year ago at her studio, I was really delighted to see her work so beautifully presented at MOMA.  I have always loved her work on paper and linen, but to see them up close and in a large enough space to view them, was phenomenal. She has expanded the notion of drawing into a practice of conceptual thinking, and utilizes different surfaces on which to explore ground/figure relationships.  The pieces at MOMA reveal her highly refined ability to make aesthetic judgements as she goes, following mathematical principles,. She uses line both as evidence of process and an object in itself. When line is incorporated, it has an uncanny quality of coming away from the surface, three-dimensionally. This illusory characteristic adds to the mystery and beauty of these pieces.   The paper/linen/carbon also become surfaces that she transforms into sculptures, by folding, painting, or revealing the backside in intriguing ways.  Translucency and opacity also figure into the visual nuance of her work.  Finger prints on the wall also become integral to the carbon paper pieces, and the crude oil piece reminds me of ancient walls that bear heavy materiality.

Damien Ortega's installations are always fascinating, but the calligraphic installation of his sculptures in his show at Gladstone Gallery was breathtakingly rich.   The dance of light on the snake-like forms, which were hung from the ceiling, created alphabetic script shadows on the floor. Every letter was represented in two ways--as form and its cast shadow.

A rave review in the NYTimes of Allison Miller's show at Susan Inglett's Gallery convinced me to see this show.  Her abstractions are full of color and texture, and optically scintillating.  Surface and texture play across the image in a playful mix, moving forward and then backward in space, and a variety of forms with seemingly loose markmaking, are finished with great compositional precision.  These pieces sing, with a kind of visual poetry that shows great mastery and sensitivity.  Loved them all!