Tuesday, December 28, 2010

henry darger

My mom and I just watched In the Realms of the Unreal, a fascinating documentary on the life and work of self-taught writer and artist, Henry Darger. Its been on my netflix queue for years, but I've been waiting to watch it with my mom since we share a love for his work. The film was fantastic and I definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in the eccentricities and oddities of the artist and the creative process.

My first encounter with Henry Darger was back in 2006 when I visited the American Folk Art Museum in NYC. I was amused by his colorful paintings of innocent-looking, war-waging, penis-sporting young girls. And I was intrigued to find that these paintings are accompanying illustrations to a 15,000+ page novel that he himself wrote, entitled In the Realms of the Unreal.
The epic novel and paintings were discovered just before Darger's death in 1973, at the age of 81. He lived a quiet unassuming life as a poor hospital janitor, keeping to himself at all times, almost as if he were in another world. And in another world he was, as lord and creator of another realm.

Monday, December 27, 2010

another grant

My professor Jarod and I recently found out that we will be getting some more funding for our collaborative project that we began last May under a Summer Undergraduate Research with Faculty (SURF) grant from our school. We applied for another institutional grant this past semester, and though we only were granted half of the funds requested ($5000) we will do what we can with the money provided! So... the bubble project continues...

CLICK HERE to read more about the collaboration on my other blog

In short... the bubble project began with a desire to do "something cool" last summer. Jarod and I decided to apply for a SURF grant and it all went from there. Our proposal was based on the premise of a collaborative sculpture project. We decided that the common thread in our work, the basis upon which to collaborate, was our shared interest in and use of the grid. We underwent an investigation of Minimalism, reading publications on the subject, and even visiting Marfa, TX, the "hub of American minimalism."

Jarod and some Judd at the Chinati Foundation, in Marfa

From there we conceptualized the bubble project, a plan for a large-scale, repetitive, lightweight, modular installation that can be adjusted on a variety of sites. We worked together on Google SketchUp to design the bubble module, we worked together in the studio to build the MDF bubble "tool" and then we worked with plastic fabricators to produce the prototype, using a vacuum thermo-forming technique. And that's where our SURF funding ended.

Now, with the MAYS grant funds, we can work to make an aluminum "tool" which will be much stronger and will allow us to have an infinite amount of bubble tiles formed for us as needed. We will use the funds granted to have as many tiles made as possible. At $40 a tile, the $2500 won't go as far as we would like, but it sure is better than nothing! Eventually we hope to do installations using hundreds of the bubble tiles.

another grant

My professor Jarod and I recently found out that we will be getting some more funding for our collaborative project that we began last May. We applied for another grant from our school (College of Charleston), and though we only were granted half of the funds requested ($5000) we will do what we can with the money provided! So... the bubble project continues......
CLICK HERE to learn more about our collaboration

Sunday, December 26, 2010

visionary environments

Santa brought my mom the Outsider Art Source Book. I'm typically not as into folk art as she is, but I found the book to be quite interesting, particularly the section on "visionary environments." Here are some of my favorites...

Adolphe Julien Foure
Les Rochers Sculptes, Rotheneuf
Saint-Malo, Brittany, France

Richard Greaves
Quebec, Canada

Karl Junker
Lemgo, Germany

John Milkovisch
The Beercan House
Houston, Texas

Leonard Knight
Salvation Mountain
Niland, California, USA

I only just now remembered that my professor/adviser Mark Sloan (director and curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art) has co-written a book on this very subject, entitled Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Folk Art Environments. Perhaps I should try to get my hands on a copy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Just before break I did a major clean-up of my studio space. I know it still looks like a mess, but it's organized and that's what matters to me! The dust is infinite and will never go away. This space is on the mezzanine level of the CofC sculpture studio. It's technically for the advanced students to share, but I'm really the only one who ever spends any time up there. I like to think of it as my lair.

A sculpture I made in 2008 out of chair parts... the precursor to Vessel, the sculpture I made this summer at Franconia Sculpture Park

I utilize every square inch! On the right is a painting I'm hoping to finish over the holiday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

concrete cloth

A few months ago I came across the website for the UK-based company, Concrete Canvas, and naturally I was floored by what I found. The possibilities for this material are immense, and I am particularly drawn to it for the potential it holds for sculptural purposes.

The material has a range of civil engineering applications including ditch lining, erosion control, flooring and flood defenses. It's most well-known application is the company's "concrete canvas shelters," which are are rapidly deployable hardened shelters that require only water and air for construction. The website describes this fascinating material as easy to use, rapid, flexible, strong, durable, waterproof, and fireproof. If you ask me, it sounds too good to be true! I'm guessing it must be outrageously expensive...

But I really really REALLY want some!!! I have ideas of outdoor sculptures for which concrete cloth would be absolutely perfect! There's got to be a way I can make some of this material myself... somehow. I need big sheets of it... really big sheets. hmmmmm. See below how other folks are using concrete cloth for innovative purposes....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

cookie carnival

This adorable vintage Disney cartoon came on yesterday while I was babysitting and I was completely mesmerized. The entire aesthetic appealed to me, with the luscious pastels, and the mouthwatering sweets. And I love the attention to detail... the integration of sound, movement, color, etc. Can't wait to watch more of these old-timey cartoons!

Friday, December 17, 2010

tory fair

I am really taken by this artist, Tory Fair, who was featured in the October issue of Sculpture Magazine. I gasp every time I flip fast this page-sized image (shown above) in the magazine. This figure is so yummy... I'm still not entirely sure what it is about it that grabs me so. Tory says in her statement about this body of work, that her sculptures "begin with an assertion to see what is beyond the white wall."

This is an idea that I'm interested in exploring as it relates to the traditional presentation of art in a pristine gallery space, or "the white cube," as it is often referred to. The ways of dealing with this concept are endless, but for now I leave you to contemplate Tory Fair's figures that, as Tory hopes, "integrate the body, the sensual imagination, and nature into a discussion of the relative place of our selves in culture and in the environment at large."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

another painting

I'm really excited about this painting I just finished. Justin told me I should be psyched, and well, I guess I kind of am. What's so neat to me, is that I'm starting to realize that painting actually has a place in my body of work. When I fist started this class (painting 1) I saw it more as an exercise, if not an obligation, as a studio art major. But I've learned, especially with this painting, that my body of work can be enriched by some corresponding 2-D work of this nature.

oil on canvas 1' x 4'
(click on image to look more closely)

A few posts back I showed some images of this piece in-progress. I first made a 3-D panel covered in my favorite yellow urethane foam in a can, "great stuff," then torched the edges to create a richness in color. Then I simply painted what I saw.

Here are some detail shots...

Be on the lookout... this painting will be a part of the January exhibition in the Hill Student Gallery at CofC!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

a quick installation

I recently did a quick installation with some material I salvaged from an old sculpture. It was up for just under 24 hours, but luckily survived long enough to be included in the exhibition my feminist art class put together entitled Sexpectation: An Exhibition of Third-Wave Feminist Art. As you can see my other recent piece (the pink guy, "Objectified") was part of the show as well.

Unfortunately I wasn't really able to get any good shots of the installation... but here are some that I snapped.

polyethylene landscaping fabric hardened with polyurethane, tape
appx. 6' x 16' x 6'

a painting

For our last painting session, we had to paint an alla prima portrait. It could be of a classmate, ourselves, or we could bring in our own model... soooo I talked my man Steve into sitting for me. It was a great exercise. The quickest I've ever worked.

oil on canvas 14" x 24"

Monday, December 13, 2010

lily kuonen's playntings

Roughly two weeks ago I went to see an exhibition of Lily Kuonen's newest work at her spacious home on Bogard St. Lily has been my painting professor this past semester and I'll be taking her again in the Spring for Painting 2. Before I had ever met Lily, I had already thoroughly stalked her website and just knew that she was going to be my kind of prof. Her work intrigued me in a rare way, for it was quite sculptural. So sculptural, in fact, many might argue that it's not even painting at all. But that's what makes Lily's "playntings" so incredibly interesting. Playing with the various properties of painting, she turns the materials of canvas and paint into objects themselves.

Lily says about her work in her artist's statement,

"...I want to activate the potential of all of the elements that make up a painting and combine them with the interaction of the viewer. Wood, canvas, and paint possess the raw invitation to explore beyond the notion of a prescribed painting format. In this process the materials can equalize, so that it is not how one material is on top of the other, but rather how each is related to the other."

Lily's work in this old storefront turned living room turned gallery was really quite dreamy. She transformed the space with her enticing and interactive 3-dimensional work. I especially appreciate her attention to every last little detail. The brunch-timed event was complete with mimosas, pastel-colored pancakes and fixin's, and a handmade guestbook with a neon orange colored pencil to match the ratchet straps featured in several of her playful pieces.

As Lily is new to the Charleston area (though not to the south... she got her MFA at SCAD), I cannot wait to watch how her work develops while she's here. I also look forward to being in her class again next semester! She's great as a professor... unlike most of the studio art faculty at CofC, she really wants to challenge her students to be thinking about their work in a greater context, by assigning readings and giving presentations. And she's full of recommendations when it comes to books to read and/or artists to look at. CofC, or perhaps this city as a whole, needs more artists like Lily.

check out more of her work HERE

Saturday, December 11, 2010

sculpture magazine

A subscription to Sculpture Magazine is on my wishlist. What a treat it would be to have it delivered to my doorstep each month! I just learned that they have all of their archives online... back to 1996! With all that catching up to do, I will never be bored, ever again.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

fluffy pink stuff

Lately I've been terribly taken by the luscious materiality of pink fiberglass insulation. I've incorporated its use in a number of sculptures to date and continue to explore its widespread potential. It's surprisingly easy to work with... it's amazing what a little spray adhesive can do. Although, I try only to work with it in small doses for fear of contracting some form of deadly lung disease. This stuff is pretty toxic... so I'm asking for a respirator this Christmas.

a detail shot of my most recent piece

my very first insulation installation

Though I've yet to find many other artists that are working with this material (I know you're out there somewhere!) I've been really drawn to these two shown below. The first, by Jennifer Rubell, is an interactive installation. A cotton candy padded cell that is designed to be devoured. And the second is a painting by Will Cotton, who is known for his delectable mouth-watering paintings of all things sweet.

Will Cotton

These two are using completely different materials than I, with, in a sense, a completely different aim, yet their works evoke a similar visceral response. If Cotton's painting represents an ideal, then Rubell's room must be the reality. Rather than look and drool at the painting, viewers are invited in, to touch, to taste, to get sticky and make a mess. If this is so, I'd say my work lies somewhere in between. It's enticing and corporeal. It often envelopes the viewer, as Rubell's, yet the toxicity of the material prohibits any tactile interaction, creating a distance not unlike that created by Will Cotton's painting.

this book should be mine

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

finding a curator

Every year the College of Charleston's Visual Art Club brings in an outside guest curator for Young Contemporaries, the college's annual student show at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. This year I have taken it upon myself to compile a group of interested candidates. I started with my friend Heather Hart, whom I met this summer at Franconia Sculpture Park. She is an accomplished artist working and living in NY and naturally has many ties to lots of NY artists, curators, writers, etc.
She was kind enough to compile a list of people she thought would be good candidates for the position. Once I gave her the go-ahead she sent them each a personal e-mail with the club's invitation for consideration attached. I immediately began hearing back from them, with lots of enthusiasm. I began to receive CVs and resumes as though I were an employer of a highly coveted position. It's kind of funny... these big shots in NYC sending me, a measly art student in Charleston, their impressive resumes. It's fun... I could get used to this.

So the Visual Arts Club (or the "review panel" as I've been calling us) meets tonight to pick the curator for the 2011 Young Contemporaries exhibition. Our choice will be made from among these interested candidates...

Petrushka Bazin
independent curator & artist
Trong Nguyen

senior east coast editor of ArtSlant & artist
Heather Hart
Katrina Newman-Scott
curator, art consultant, & producer
Marco Antonini
independent curator, gallery educator at the Guggenheim & lecturer at the MoMA
Camilo Alvarez
owner/director/curator/preparator of Samson Projects
Amy Mackie
curatorial associate at the New Museum
Larry Ossei-Mensa
self proclaimed "culturist"