Self-Portrait

           For this project, I worked to create a self-portrait by erasing from a charcoal background. I estimate that I spent a total of about 25 hours, both inside and outside of class, working on this project. I began this project by using charkol (a dark, soft, rich chalk) to black out a large piece of paper. I rubbed the charkol against a piece of paper that served as a palette. This created a fine dust, which I applied to my large sheet of paper by gently rubbing it on in circles using tissue. Unfortunately, the background did not get quite as dark as I would have liked.

This is my work station. The light was carefully set up so as to provide interesting areas of light and shadow on my face. My mirror is placed just above my drawing board. Next to my bench, I have a chair that holds my palette, which I used for grinding additional chalk. This chalk could be reapplied to my paper with the tissue in order to cover errors and let me start again.

This is my work station. The light was carefully set up so as to provide interesting areas of light and shadow on my face. My mirror is placed just above my drawing board. Next to my bench, I have a chair that holds my palette, which I used for grinding additional chalk. This chalk could be reapplied to my paper with the tissue in order to cover errors and let me start again.

            I began by creating the lightest spot on my face, which is on the tip of my nose. Then, I built out from this spot. I tried to see and render shapes created by the light hitting my face, not lines. In order to represent the right proportions I used string to take measurements, in the method described here: https://hkpart.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/a-quick-update-about-the-chair-drawing/. I frequently used the right nostril as a unit of measurement to compare other structures against. Using this process, I moved on to create the philtrum and then the lips. I really enjoyed creating the rounded and soft forms of the lips. I began with the upper lip, which is darker because it does not protrude out into space as much as the lower lip. I then made the lighter lower lip. Then I created the skin in the general facial area around the nose and lips. However, upon further inspection and measurement, I found it necessary to narrow the bottom lip.

The emergence of the nose

The emergence of the nose

The emergence of the nose

The emergence of the nose

The emergence of the nose and lips

The emergence of the nose and lips

The emergence of the nose and lips

The emergence of the nose and lips

The emergence of the nose and lips

The emergence of the nose and lips

 

            Next, I moved on to the eyes. I was worried about drawing my glasses, so I decided to tackle the eyes first. I worked outward from the nose, first creating the white area and then the iris and pupil. I made a ruler out of a small piece of paper to ensure that my pupil and iris were perfectly round. Next, I created the eyelid. Later, I moved the eyelid down a small amount to give myself a less shocked expression. I also rounded the bottom part of my eye. Now, I felt ready to approach the glasses. By carefully looking at areas of light and dark, I was able to create reasonably realistic glasses. Using a ruler, like the one that I made for the eyes, helped me even out the shape of my glasses. I also went back to make the area of my glasses near the side of my nose more round. Throughout the project, I found it helpful to step several feet away from my work station and look at my self-portrait from a distance. This allowed me to better see how certain details fit within the entire self-portrait. This was especially helpful when working on the glasses.

An eye emerges

An eye emerges

Adding the second eye

Adding the second eye

The glasses emerge

The glasses emerge

 

            Finally, I was ready to draw directly on the paper with the charkol in order to add and emphasize small details. I did this by making a mark with the edge of the chalk and then smoothing it out with the tissue or my fingers. I used this method to create the line between my lips, to darken my nostrils, and to darken and create a more defined edge for my glasses. Another thing I did to refine my piece is to smooth out my marks in order to make a more skin-like texture. This is much more natural than blocky shapes. I did this by gently rubbing with my fingers as well as with the tissue. I also gently erased some in the horizontal direction, because many of my original marks were vertical.

Adding final details (photo credit: Rachel Brazeale)

Adding final details (photo credit: Rachel Brazeale)

On the last day of class

On the last day of class

 

            One particularly insightful moment from the critique arose when a student asked why we drew our self-portraits while looking in the mirror, rather than while looking at a photograph. Professor Ruby responded by stating that looking in the mirror leads to a more authentic representation with more personality. Photographs are often posed. Professor Ruby said, “It’s not meant to show you as a poser, it’s meant to show you as you.” This insight made me feel a deeper connection with my self-portrait. One thing I learned by doing this project is the importance of looking. By carefully studying areas of light and dark, I was able to conquer even the most challenging areas of my self-portrait, such as the glasses. Careful looking is key to successfully completing this project.

The set up for the critique

The set up for the critique

A photograph for comparison purposes. Note: my facial expression in this photograph is slightly different than the one depicted in the portrait.

A photograph for comparison purposes. Note: my facial expression in this photograph is slightly different than the one depicted in the portrait.

The final product

The final product

 

            In this course overall, I gained a better understanding of how works of art are created by making them myself. This also increases my understanding of art history because I now have a greater awareness of the processes involved in making art. This course encouraged me to focus more on process, rather than a perfect final product. This is different from my typical approach, so this increased my flexibility and adaptability. One of the essential steps in the creation of art is looking. This purposeful seeing affects the way I think because I absorb more details. I also understand what tools (elements and principles of design) are employed in order for an image to communicate a certain message. This makes me a more discerning consumer of information.

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Antonym Project Process Part 2 and Post-Critique Reflections

Second Part of My Process

To learn more about the first part of my project, please read this post: https://hkpart.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/antonym-project-process-so-far-and-input-from-peers/.

 

 After pondering my thumbnails and considering input from others, I experimented with making a couple of my designs for each word at the required 5 by 5 inch scale. Ultimately, I settled on the circles for boisterous because they seemed cheerfully chaotic. I chose a square made out of dots for restrained. I chose this design because the dots are detached and a wide border creates a sense of isolation. After creating this design, Professor Ruby pointed out that the dots appear to be held back by an invisible force. I spent around two and a half hours on this part of the project.

Boisterous (left) and Restrained (right) final 5 in x 5 in squares

Boisterous (left) and Restrained (right) final 5 in x 5 in squares

 

Next, I created photographic representations of each word, using the same basic designs that I established above. I knew that I wanted to use bouncy balls for my boisterous photographs because they are playful, yet uncontrollable. They also come in many different colors and sizes, which adds variety and boisterousness to the image.  In addition, they easily resemble the circles of my abstract composition. Fortunately, my father was visiting the weekend that I took the photographs, so he could bring my massive childhood collection of bouncy balls. He also helped by releasing the bouncy balls as I took photographs. I found it very challenging to photograph bouncy balls in motion because they moved very quickly and often bounced or rolled out of the frame. Other times, I would snap the photograph at the wrong moment, either before or after the balls had finished bouncing. However, I was able to find a solution for this by releasing the balls into my empty trashcan. This provided a contained environment so that I could take pictures of the balls as they bounced, without having them roll out of the frame. The rich teal color of my trashcan also provided an appealing background. The class was asked to consider what we would do if we had another week to work on this project. I would probably spend more time taking photographs of the bouncy balls. I would like to capture a photograph that shows more motion.

Boisterous (prior to cropping)

Boisterous (prior to cropping)

 

 For my restrained photographs, I chose to recreate the square using beans in soil. I chose beans because a plant is restrained within a bean. For these photographs, I experimented with the use of color filters that I placed over my lens or flash. I thought that these images were very interesting and aesthetically appealing. However, after receiving input from others in the class, I discovered that viewers often saw only the obvious color and did not read the beans as beans. Thus, I made the difficult decision to use realistic photograph because it allowed the viewer to more easily understand the meaning of the word. The realistic photograph provided a clearer means of communication. I spent around four hours on this part of the project.

The purple photograph

The purple photograph

 

Restrained (prior to cropping)

Restrained (prior to cropping)

 

Next, I mounted my five-inch squares and cropped photographs onto opaque white paper, which improves the contrast when mounted on black mat board. I then mounted these four images onto the mat board, using a t-square and slip sheets to ensure accuracy. I used rubber cement and the same mounting process that is explained in this post: https://hkpart.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/the-box/. I spent around two hours on this part of the project.

In the process of mounting

In the process of mounting

 

Notes from the Critique

 

 During the critique, we divided into small groups to discuss each other’s work. We did this using a visual analysis model. A visual analysis is a process that begins with a description of the formal elements that are evident in a work. The next step is a contextualization of the items in the image. This involves a viewer’s previous knowledge or ideas that can be researched. The final step is to put these formal and contextual qualities together in order to draw a conclusion which reveals something about the meaning of the work.

My final product Artist's statement: To convey boisterous, I chose an abstract composition with round, cheerful forms and lots of variation, which I translated into a photograph of chaotic, bouncy playthings. For restrained I chose a composition that employs detached dots arranged in a square, to show order, with a wide border that creates isolation. I created this as a still life using beans and soil because a plant is restrained within a bean.

My final product: Boisterous and Restrained
Artist’s statement: To convey boisterous, I chose an abstract composition with round, cheerful forms and lots of variation, which I translated into a photograph of chaotic, bouncy playthings. For restrained I chose a composition that employs detached dots arranged in a square, to show order, with a wide border that creates isolation. I created this as a still life using beans and soil because a plant is restrained within a bean.

 

Those in my group noted color and shape as distinctive formal qualities in my work. The boisterous photograph had many bright colors, while the restrained photograph had muted and earthy colors. The students in my group thought that the circles in boisterous were a free shape, while the square in restrained felt more constrained. Those in my group were drawn to my photograph of bouncy balls when discussing the relationship between material and form. They noted that as the balls bounce and move around, they seem to break down the walls of the trashcan. When discussing the relationship between formal qualities and literal form, Sadia had an interesting idea about the stages of life. She thought of childhood when viewing the boisterous images, which is not surprising given that bouncy balls are toys. The restrained images made her think of growing up and becoming restrained by the expectations and rules of society.

 

 While Chanice (http://faschaniceta.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/this-is-a-post-about-my-graphical-thinking-project/) was not in my small group, I thought her representation of tough and tender was especially effective. I think that the strongest and most effective part of this work is the photograph of the nails, screws, and pliers. These items are tough in and of themselves, but the way Chanice arranged them makes this photograph especially effective. They form a tight circle that appears to be impenetrable and tough.

Chanice's work; Tough and Tender

Chanice’s work: Tough and Tender

 

 Some students in the class completed a different project, in which they created a fantasy animal that could aid in the improvement of a social issue. I thought that the horse called Infinity that Sadia (http://sadiaaliart160.wordpress.com/) made was an especially effective example of this project. This horse “licks away violent thought from people’s minds” and provides a gold nugget as a reward. The aspect of this work that makes it so strong is the viewer’s ability to open the horse and remove and read the words inside. This is very effective because it implicates the viewer in a more direct way than works that the viewer just looks at.

Sadia's Winged Horse

Sadia’s Winged Horse

Sadia's Winged Horse

Sadia’s Winged Horse

 

 I like that the tiny animals assignment asks the student to consider a social issue and how it might be solved. This provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between art and society. A societal issue inspires the work, yet many of the works charge the viewer and, by extension, society as a whole with ideas for improvement.  This is a fascinating interdependent relationship. The tiny animals project connects to the overall theme for this unit, which involves the verbal and the visual. Both the antonym project and the tiny animals project require the student to find ways to say the same thing different ways. Students must use formal qualities, like line, texture, shape, or color, to communicate specific ideas.

 

Conclusion

 

 One thing that I learned from this project is that the image that is most effective at accomplishing a specific task is not always the image that I like the most. I also learned that the viewer’s understanding of an image might be different from that of the creator. For example, I could recognize the beans in the purple photograph because I set up the still life and took the photograph. However, this was not as obvious to the viewer, who approaches the image without knowledge of the manner in which it was created.

 

 The point of this project is to explore the relationship of form and materials and, as well as how form and materials can be used as tools to communicate a specific meaning. This project relates to visual thinking because it requires the student to explore how the elements and principles of design can be used to visually communicate ideas and messages, which, in the case of these antonyms, are verbal in origin.

 

 

 

 

 

Antonym Project: Process so Far and Input from Peers

This project involves discovering the relationship between words and abstract imagery. I was assigned a pair of antonyms: restrained and boisterous. On the day this project was assigned, I spent the entire class period brainstorming and free-writing about my antonym pair. I thought of words, phrases, ideas, and memories that related to my words. Outside of class, I spent about half and hour identifying words or phrases that were visual and I typed out a these narrowed-down lists for each word. This list includes words such as detached, small, and orderly for restrained and chaotic, cheerful, and crowded for boisterous. The list can be viewed and downloaded by clicking on the following link: Restrained vs Boisterous 160.

Next, I made 60 thumbnail images to abstractly represent restrained and boisterous. For restrained, I used simple forms with clear boundaries. I also experimented with dotted lines as a way to show detachment. For boisterous, I tried to mix a variety of media, shapes, and lines in order to convey a cheerful chaos. I emphasized variety and made bold, asymmetrical compositions.

All the thumbnails I have created so far for restrained

All the thumbnails I have created so far for restrained

All the thumbnails I have created so far for boisterous

All the thumbnails I have created so far for boisterous

Today in class, we discussed each other’s sets of thumbnails. I talked with Rachel, Elizabeth, and Cierra. Rachel liked “the different circles in the corner for boisterous” and “the tiny triangle in the corner for restrained.” She liked the circles because of their “all over the place” composition and the way that the circles that are not filled in have “a nice light feel, like laughter”. She also liked variety and interest conveyed by mixed media.

Rachel's favorite representation of restrained

Rachel’s favorite representation of restrained

Rachel's favorite representation of boisterous

Rachel’s favorite representation of boisterous

Elizabeth liked the boxes with circles in them for restrained. She liked the way that they pushed boundaries. She also liked the restrained boxes that had a “high contrast” between black and white because this makes the separation and definition seem more dramatic. This feedback really made me think, because I’d tended to avoid using the sharpie for restrained because I thought it was too bold. However, Elizabeth’s idea does make sense because it makes definitions between different areas of the box very clear.

Circles inside boxes push boundaries.

Circles inside boxes push boundaries.

Elizabeth also liked restrained images with a sharp contrast between black and white.

Elizabeth also liked restrained images with a sharp contrast between black and white. Elizabeth also suggested reversing the black and white in theses images for a more dramatic representation.

Cierra liked the way that I used dots (an idea that evolved out of my box project https://hkpart.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/the-box/) to convey restrained because they “show restriction” without having a literal line closing them off. For boisterous, Cierra liked the “open patterns because they feel free.” She also liked the combination of various media and various patterns because they convey a chaotic and disorganized atmosphere. Overall, Cierra detected a contrast between stillness (in restrained) and movement (in boisterous). This was very helpful feedback because I now know that others understand a sense of contrast when viewing my representations of these words. This affirms that I am on the way to meeting my goal of conveying opposite ideas.

Cierra's favorite representation of restrained

Cierra’s favorite representation of restrained

"open" and "free"

“open” and “free”

Cierra liked the variety of shapes and media, as well as the layers present in this thumbnail.

Cierra liked the variety of shapes and media, as well as the layers present in this thumbnail.

After today’s discussion in class, I have a better understanding of how others perceive my work. I plan to experiment with creating more thumbnails that involve the ideas that my peers thought were especially effective. Today’s class helped me narrow down my many ideas about this project and has provided a new sense of direction for my work.

 

Vik Muniz

Promotional image for Waste Land image source: http://www.amazon.com/Waste-Land-Vik-Muniz/dp/B004CJQVQC

Promotional image for Waste Land
image source: http://www.amazon.com/Waste-Land-Vik-Muniz/dp/B004CJQVQC

Vik Muniz’s series Pictures of Garbage (http://vikmuniz.net/gallery/garbage) is featured in the film Waste Land (http://www.wastelandmovie.com/). The film follows Muniz’s process in the creation of the project and provides insight into the lives of the subjects. To create this project, Muniz traveled to Jardim Gramacho, a massive landfill near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He made portraits of some of the pickers, who sort through the garbage in order to find recyclable materials. He then blew these portraits up to a very large scale and, along with the pickers who he photographed, covered them in trash to add color and show highlights and shading. Then, Muniz photographed these creations. The profits from this series are used to benefit its subjects.

            One group involved in this project is Muniz’s family, including his wife, daughter, and parents. This group is central to Muniz’s identity. His parents are especially relevant to this project because they facilitated the childhood that he had in common with some of the lower middle class people who ended up at the dump. The pickers are a group that is crucial to this project. Muniz provides them with opportunities to increase their self-confidence and emphasize their dignity to society at large. The pickers also receive financial benefits via this project.  In turn, the pickers supply Muniz with a subject for his work. Several of the pickers involved in this project are part of the Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG). This organization, founded by pickers, advocates for pickers and provides services, like a library. This project provided more attention and resources to this organization, in addition to validating its leaders, who had previously felt unheard. In Waste Land, Muniz states that he found working with the pickers to be an enriching experience. After working with the pickers, Muniz felt more satisfied and happy with his life because he was no longer focused on material assets. Another group involved in this project is the managers and others who run the landfill. They give Muniz permission to work in the landfill and Muniz brings attention to their business. Another group involved in this project is museums, galleries, auction houses. This includes Philips de Pury and Company, the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, and others. Muniz provides these groups with material to sell or display. These groups help Muniz by facilitating the display and sell of his works. Another group involved in this project is Brazilian society as a whole. In the film, Muniz states that Brazilian society is very classist. This creates the dynamic that makes this project as powerful and dramatic as it is. In turn, Muniz impacts Brazilian society by defying stereotypes when he emphasizes the worth of each picker.

            Several systems can be observed in the film. One is the system of poverty by which a classist society continues to oppress the poor and the poor become stuck in a cycle of low wage jobs. This project subverts this system by proclaiming the dignity and worth of the human beings who work in Jardim Gramacho. This project also redirects this system by introducing the pickers to other opportunities via art. Another system involves the ACAMJG. This organization has created a system of activism and improvements to the quality of life of the pickers. This project supports this system by funding it and reinforcing its mission. It also provides a confidence boost to the leaders of this organization. A third system that involves this project is the system of selling art. This project redirects this system by donating the funds generated by the sale of the art work to the pickers. A fourth system is the process by which Muniz creates this project. He takes photographs, reconstructs them in a larger form and different media, and then photographs the reconstructions. This system reminds me of the process I used in the box project. Like Muniz, I made a representation of an object and then reconstructed it in a different manner. Muniz’s process is highlighted in the following images, which document the creation of Marat (Sebastião), from “Pictures of Garbage.”

            One potential problem with this project involves its aftermath. It is possible that pickers might feel dissatisfied returning to their previous way of life after participating in the project and, in some cases, traveling abroad. A project that was intended to uplift could possibly lead to discontentment. This discontentment is not necessarily an issue, but it could lead to trouble if the pickers were unable to harness it into a productive solution. Another potential problem with this project is the use of the pickers for the purpose of creating art. However, Muniz mostly avoids this issue by obtaining the consent of his subjects and providing them with the money generated by the works.

            The long-term implications of this project involve improvements to the pickers’ quality of life. According to the film, the ACAMJG used funds from the project to expand the library and open a center for learning and training. This enriches the lives of the pickers. The learning center is especially important because the Jardim Gramancho closed in 2012. This training allowed the pickers who participated in the project to find other viable work and living situations. The projects assertion of the worth of the pickers also has lasting ramifications in the way that the participants perceive themselves and the way they build relationships.

            This project can be related to Muniz’s earlier work in terms of medium, style, and subject matter. According to the film, Muniz created an earlier series called Sugar Children. Muniz underwent a similar process for this series and Pictures of Garbage. Muniz photographed children whose parents worked on sugar plantations and then recreated these portraits using sugar. This produces a grainy look similar to that of Pictures of Garbage. Both series also make use of unconventional materials. In addition, in both cases, these media have meaningful connections to the subject matter. The children are depicted in sugar, the crop that their parents harvest. The pickers are depicted in garbage, which is the item they work with on a daily basis. The two images below make for an especially interesting comparison because of the way the children (but not the baby) look out directly to meet the viewer’s gaze.

Vik Muniz, Mother and Children (Suellen), from "Pictures of Garbage", 2008. image source: http://ladybird46.wordpress.com/tag/vik-muniz/

Vik Muniz, Mother and Children (Suellen), from “Pictures of Garbage,” 2008.
image source: http://ladybird46.wordpress.com/tag/vik-muniz/

Valentine, The Fastest. From "The Sugar Children Series." 1996. Gelatin-silver print. 20 x 16". image source: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1997/newphoto13/muniz.html

Vik Muniz, Valentine, The Fastest, From “The Sugar Children Series,” 1996.
Gelatin-silver print. 20 x 16″.
image source: http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1997/newphoto13/muniz.html

            Muniz is motivated by his past. He was able to become an internationally respected artist despite, or perhaps because of, his lower middle class background. Muniz is motivated by those who share a similar background. He is inspired by these people and the ability of art to impact their lives. Muniz makes art as a way of understanding himself, his society, and the ways that these entities grow and change.

The Box

This project involved observing and drawing a box, analyzing and breaking apart this drawing, and recreating a 2-D representation of the box with a new value system. We worked on this project in class for several weeks and I would estimate that I spent an average of an additional 4-6 hours per week working on and reflecting about this project outside of class.

The box

The box

 

Direct Observation Drawing

 

           

Direct-observation drawing

Direct observation drawing

This project began with a direct observation drawing of a box. I drew my box in pencil, so I was able to erase as needed. I found drawing the box to be much easier than drawing the chair. I think that I felt this way because I was able to find a good starting place with the box. Once I drew the frontmost vertical line everything else seemed to fall into place. I used the same string technique that I used for the chair to figure out the scale and angles of lines within the box. After lengthening several horizontal lines, I went over the box in sharpie to make it stand out more.

Creating A Template

            Next, I drew a value scale with ten steps on the same paper as my box. I spent time looking at the real box and analyzing its value, which can be defined as the lightness or darkness of a color. I labeled values on my drawing with numbers that corresponded to my value scale. Then Professor Ruby photographed my box. I printed out ten copies of this photograph on 8 ½ in x 11 in paper. My drawing had now become a diagram that I would be able to use to complete the next steps of my project.

My drawing outlined in sharpie and with values labeled

My drawing outlined in sharpie and with values labeled

Value Scale

            Next, I spent time experimenting with different ways of creating value. I explored different media, like sharpie, pen, and oil pastel. I also experimented with different patterns, such as spirals, thin lines, and dots. I discovered that I like sharpie because of its boldness and the way that the ink flows easily out of the marker.  I decided to use the pattern that involved rows of dots to create my box. I like this pattern because it is simple, yet interesting. My dots are not in perfectly straight lines, which gives them a sense of liveliness. They appear to be in motion as if, perhaps, they are buzzing back and forth at different intervals.

Experimentation with value. The value scale that I ultimately selected is the top row of this sheet.

Experimentation with value. The value scale that I ultimately selected is the top row of this sheet.

            Once I decided on this particular system of creating value, I needed to create two 8 ½ in x 11 in sheets of paper of each value. I made a half sheet of each value and then used the photocopier to splice it into a full sheet. I counted the number of dots per square inch to ensure that each value had the intended density of dots. However, once I had created these larger sheets of each value, I noticed that some values did not have enough contrast between them. To solve this problem, I used the photocopier to enlarge or shrink my image, thus decreasing or increasing the density of the dots. While having to go back and change this was frustrating, it illustrated the importance of adaptability and flexibility. I was glad that I had planned ahead so I had time to make these changes without feeling rushed or stressed. Organization was also very important during this stage. Labeling my pages saved a lot of hassle.

Working at the photocopier

Working at the photocopier

Cutting

            I was now ready to cut individual pieces of each value. I taped my template and sheet of dots to a cutting board each time I needed to cut pieces of a different value. I used a metal straight edge, which I tried to put a significant amount of pressure on to keep it from slipping. I then centered myself over the area I was cutting and carefully made the cut using a x-acto knife. I felt timid about cutting not only because of its permanence, but also because I was worried about cutting myself. However, my confidence increased with each cut.

            As I laid out my pieces after cutting them, I discovered that I needed to make another change. Two of the values that were next to each other were not reading as different, which made one of the edges to the box disappear. After consulting Professor Ruby, I made the aesthetic choice to use a different value than I had originally intended. This made the edge between two planes of the box more clear and, thus, presented a more convincing representation of the box.

All my pieces cut and arranged to form the box

All my pieces cut and arranged to form the box. This includes the changes mentioned above.

Gluing and Mounting

            Next, I glued the pieces of my box onto opaque white paper. I did this to increase the contrast between the box and the black mat board that it would eventually be mounted on. I used the dry-on-dry method of rubber cementing because it is more permanent. This involved putting rubber cement on each surface and letting it dry before placing the pieces together. Once the rubber cement was dry, I used a slip-sheet to ensure accuracy when placing the pieces on the white paper. Once a piece was placed, I used a slip-sheet to burnish it so that I could ensure that it stayed in place without dirtying it. Once my entire box was glued down, I used a rubber cement pick up to remove the excess glue from the paper. I then used my x-acto knife to trim away the excess backing paper. I trimmed a little on top of the pieces that I had mounted to ensure an even edge.

Gluing pieces onto opaque white paper

Gluing pieces onto opaque white paper. Photo credit: Rachel Brazeale

Using a slip sheet

Using a slip sheet. Photo credit: Rachel Brazeale

Burnishing

Burnishing. Photo credit: Rachel Brazeale

            I then centered my box on the black mat board. Consulting other students in the process, I made sure the box was positioned in such a way that it appeared to be balanced on the page. I then cut up one of my spare diagrams and used the negative space at the bottom to make a template so that I would know where to place the box on the board. I then used the dry-on-dry method and a slip-sheet to adhere my box to the mat board. I finished by using a rubber cement pick up to remove the excess cement. I found the physicality and repetitive motion of this to be very cathartic. Whatever frustrations I may have felt about my box were removed with the rubber cement.

Centering the box

Centering the box

Critique and Conclusions

The finished product

The finished product

            Today in the critique, the class discussed value and its influence on form. Some patterns made boxes pop of the page. Others drew the eye around the image, while some seemed more stable. Chanice (http://faschaniceta.wordpress.com/) brought up the issue of “permanency”. This is one of the more intimidating aspects of the project, as one cannot uncut or unglue. The ensuing discussion reminded me of a question about fear that Professor Ruby asked at the Studio Life panel on Sunday (https://www.facebook.com/events/1421724738051296/). The artists discussed the importance of not being intimidated or restrained by fear when making art. They also mentioned that fear can be a good thing because it can indicate that one is trying something new and, thus, growing. I think this statement is one of the most important things that I learned during this project. Besides increasing my understanding of the interrelatedness of value and form and the many ways of creating space, I learned about the rewards of risk taking. By persevering through my fear of the knife or worries about glue, I was able to explore a new set of media. I feel that this opened up endless creative possibilities by adding more variables to my work. I expanded my visual thinking by spending time considering light, pattern, and line in pursuit of value and form. I expanded myself by trying something new and discovering a new set of possibilities.

Scott Hazard

Yesterday, I saw Scott Hazard’s exhibition Cultivations (http://scotthazard.net/home.html) at The Smith Gallery (http://davidsoncollegeartgalleries.org/) at Davidson College. I want to share about this experience on my blog because it reminded me of the project we are currently working on in class. We are creating our own value system (I am using groups of dots, of varying densities, to convey value) and using it to reconstruct a box. Hazard uses text or, in one case, pluses and minuses with varying degrees of boldness and lightness to convey value in his constructed landscapes. This reminds me of my project because it involves the use of symbols to create value. This is especially evident in the following pieces:

 Heavy Rocks (detail) Sculpture (Ash wood, text, paper) 9" X 30" X 11" image source: www.flandersartgallery.com


Scott Hazard, Heavy Rocks (detail)
Sculpture (Ash wood, text, paper)
9″ X 30″ X 11″
image source: http://www.flandersartgallery.com

 +/- (detail) 2012 Sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text) 10" X 11" X 10" image source: www.triangle.com


Scott Hazard, +/- (detail)
2012
Sculpture (Ash wood, paper, text)
10″ X 11″ X 10″
image source: http://www.triangle.com

 A Little Quiet II (detail) Sculpture (Ash wood, text, paper) 8" X 19" X 10" image source: uffinearts.tumblr.com


Scott Hazard, A Little Quiet II (detail)
Sculpture (Ash wood, text, paper)
8″ X 19″ X 10″
image source: uffinearts.tumblr.com

 

Please Note: For my official post about an off-campus art event, please see https://hkpart.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/off-campus-picasso-braque-leger-20th-century-modern-masters/

 

 

A Brief Visual Analysis of Works by Jessica Burke

Jessica Burke, Stephanie as Betty Rizzo of Rydell High, Graphite.

Jessica Burke, Stephanie as Betty Rizzo of Rydell High, Graphite.

Jessica Burke, Paula as Spock of the USS Enterprise, Graphite.

Jessica Burke, Paula as Spock of the USS Enterprise, Graphite.

In these works, Jessica Burke uses clear, well-defined lines and smooth, even textures to create accurate and realistic figures. Light and shadow give the figures a sense of three-dimensionality and a life-like presence. The positioning of these figures on a blank page forces the viewer to confront them in a distraction-free environment. These works, which comment on the portrayal of women in the media, show women dressed as their role models or heroes from youth and young adulthood. Burke’s realistic and convincing depictions make a subject matter full of contradiction and ambiguity seem clear and natural.

Carrie Mae Weems

Today in class, we watched a video (ART 21: season 5, compassion) about Carrie Mae Weems, who was recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (http://www.macfound.org/fellows/905/). Weems’s primary medium is photography. She has also made some film works. Weems creates works that explore the history of African Americans and their evolving societal roles. She accomplishes this in a variety of ways, including appropriating images of slaves (figure 1) and recreating scenes from history (figure 2). Weems also creates works using images her family. Thus, she explores her own personal history as well as her place in society and history as a whole. Weems emphasizes the idea of “connecting with a story that is larger than you” (Art 21). Through this, Weems conveys that while individuals may be important catalysts, they are but fleeting moments in the greater story of history. Weems also recognizes the malleability of history by expressing the idea that history is constructed. The story changes with its source. Finally, it is important to note that Weems creates work that has value to her, regardless of if others find it important.

Figure 1: Carrie Mae Weems, An Anthropological Debate, from From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995. Image Source: http://www.oxfordartonline.com/public/page/lessons/mai_photo_5

Figure 1: Carrie Mae Weems, An Anthropological Debate, from From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, 1995.
Image Source: http://www.oxfordartonline.com/public/page/lessons/mai_photo_5

Figure 2: Carrie Mae Weems, The Assassination of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm from Constructing History, 2008. Image source: http://carriemaeweems.net/galleries/history.html

Figure 2: Carrie Mae Weems, The Assassination of Medgar, Martin, Malcolm from Constructing History, 2008.
Image source: http://carriemaeweems.net/galleries/history.html

I have been fascinated with Weems’s work ever since I first encountered it in Katherine Smith’s History of Photography course. This summer I was thrilled to be able to see Weems’s work in person at the Cleveland Museum of Art (http://www.clevelandart.org/events/exhibitions/carrie-mae-weems-three-decades-photography-and-video). When I saw lots of her work together in person, it became clear how essential the connections to history and the African American narrative are to the impact of Weems’s work. This expands my visual thinking by showing how crucial the concept behind a work is. Weems’s photographs have meaning because she endows them with it, through text or other cues. These works are intentionally staged and composed. This relates to my visual thinking because it shows the importance of composition. My chair drawing would have evoked different meanings if it was placed differently on the page. For instance, placing the chair at one edge of the paper would have created a sense of unease due to the lack of balance.

Weems’s process can be classified as visual thinking because she endows images with meaning by effectively using the elements and principles of design. Her understanding of the formal qualities of images is evident in the way she employs them to create her intended meaning. While the photographs of slaves may have been created for the purpose of documentation or scientific study, Weems places them in the category of art by using them to make a personal statement about society (figure 1). Studying works of photography often calls into question the definition of art. I think that visual art can be defined as a process in which one uses imagery, sometimes in conjunction with sound or other sensory stimuli (as in video or performance art), to convey meaning. Art is distinguished from documentation in that it is endowed with emotion, meaning, narrative, and life.

On Campus: Material Witness Gallery Talks and Opening

Yesterday, I attended the opening of the exhibition Material Witness at the Dalton Gallery of Agnes Scott College (http://daltongallery.agnesscott.edu/). This event also included gallery talks by senior art majors. These interesting presentations gave insight into artists’ subjects and techniques, as well as the relationship between the two.

One's view upon entering the gallery

One’s view upon entering the gallery

This exhibition is co-sponsored by The Women’s Caucus for Art. It is organized around the theme of women responding to current issues and events, such as LGBT rights. One such work is Carolyn Sherer’s Shirley and Marge (from the series Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South).

Carolyn Sherer, Shirley and Marge (from the series Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South), Photograph (archival ink on Hanemuhle paper.

Carolyn Sherer, Shirley and Marge (from the series Living in Limbo: Lesbian Families in the Deep South), Photograph (archival ink on Hanemuhle paper.

In the gallery talk, it was stated that the artist allowed the subjects to choose what to wear and whether they wanted to face the camera or not. In this particular image, the clerical collar evokes thoughts of religion and its relationship with LGBT rights. It was also explained how the lines created by the hands and arms of the couple’s embrace lead the eye around the image. These decisions about subject matter and composition serve to create an image that crystallizes the current issue of LGBT rights.

So far in this course, we have focused mostly on the technical aspects of drawing. This exhibition allowed me to see how mastery of these technical aspects allows one to more effectively explore and convey themes and ideas. For instance,  Jessica Burke’s accurate drawing allows her to represent her subject in meaningful and life-like manner, as in her work Stephanie as Betty Rizzo of Rydell High.

Jessica Burke, Stephanie as Betty Rizzo of Rydell High, Graphite.

Jessica Burke, Stephanie as Betty Rizzo of Rydell High, Graphite.

As was stated in the gallery talk, Burke portrays her subjects in the guise of their heroes and role models from their youth and young adulthood. In this image, she uses a curvy woman to portray a skinny character from the musical Grease. Burke’s drawing skill allows her to more effectively make her point about the way women are portrayed in the media because her figures seem so real and tangible.

This exhibition also reminded me of the discussion from our last critique about how everyone has a different drawing style. All representations are different, but none are less valid than others.  The works in this exhibition are all rendered in different styles and with different media. Yet, they all still effectively convey meanings about current events and issues.

Blind Contour Drawing

Today in class I experienced blind contour drawing. In this exercise, one draws an object without looking at one’s drawing or lifting one’s drawing implement from the page. This is a process of intense looking and slow and careful drawing. We did this exercise while listening to music. This was especially helpful in that the tempo of the music allowed me to set a pace for my drawing, which kept me from rushing or running out of time.  I used both sharpie to draw my hands and both sharpie and pencil to draw a complex still life. I preferred drawing with the sharpie because it was fluid and easy to manipulate. The following are some of the drawings I produced in class today.

My left hand (non-dominant), drawn using my right hand (dominant)

My left hand (non-dominant), drawn using my right hand (dominant)

My right hand (dominant), drawn using my left hand (non-dominant)

My right hand (dominant), drawn using my left hand (non-dominant)

The still life

The still life

Still life, first attempt, in pencil

Still life, first attempt, in pencil

Still life, second attempt, sharpie

Still life, second attempt, in sharpie

Still life, final attempt, in sharpie

Still life, final attempt, in sharpie

At the beginning of class we discussed the differences between being and doing. I found it helpful to think of this as a “being” exercise where my primary task was looking. Drawing becomes an extension and record of this. If, instead, I had approached this as a “doing” exercise, I might have become too caught up in concerns about my product and missed out on the details one can see when one is mainly focused on looking. This is an important lesson to carry forward into additional studio work. Looking is a crucial part of drawing and taking a moment to do this is worthwhile because it allows one to more easily create an accurate drawing. Even though my blind contour drawings were not photo-realistic, they each surprised me with certain areas that seemed surprising lifelike and realistic. One example of this is the thumb on the drawing of my left hand. Another example is the telephone cord, which I especially enjoyed drawing. For me, one of the hardest parts of this exercise was transitions. I was often unsure of how to move between fingers or objects in the still life. However, as I focused more on looking and allowed the drawing to become a subconscious movement, I began to notice more intersections. Looking allowed me to gain a better sense of the relationship and connections between different lines and contours. In one of the longer sessions, several songs were played. I found these changes in music extremely helpful in transitioning between objects in the still life. New music gave me a new energy and helped my brain and body make transitions.

Observation is crucial in art. One must fully understand an object and its place in space before attempting to render it on paper.