Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Paying it forward, with art

Since yesterday was "official" Pay it Forward Day I thought it would be a perfect time to talk about the art of Two-days-ago one of my past students Marqui Watling gifted me an amazing self-portrait done in the style of contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman.

This piece was created for her digital photography class; the assignment was to take pictures of yourself in a fictional setting. I asked Marqui what her process was for taking the photograph and in typical artist fashion she replied, "I woke up, had lots of coffee, and just started taking picture of myself and friends, until I came to the conclusion to try to reenact old 1950s pulp magazine covers/poses. Thus, I gathered a bunch of outfits from the closet: suits, hats, wigs, etc. because you never know." This experimental approach is very indicative of many artists and tends to be when the best work comes to fruition.

While her photograph clearly reflects the style of Cindy Sherman, Marqui says she finds most her inspiration from the garage punk band The Cramps and the illustrations by renowned pulp magazine artist Rudolph Belarski.

Despite the fact that Marqui says she's still trying to "find her style in the photography world," what she is doing currently captured the attention of many of her past and present Instructors. The first time I caught a glimpse of this photograph was during the AiOH-C student show winter quarter and automatically I was drawn to its saturated hues and implied narrative—not to mention the amazing wig Marqui was wearing. All of this attention landed her a first place prize during the exhibition, which in turn she won the Adobe Creative Suite 5 and personal bragging rights for a lifetime; both of which were well deserved.

Overall, her "combine work with play" approach is clearly reflected in her art and I feel will take her far in her field. This piece not only served as a great addition to the student show but will make for a wonderful addition to my small, yet growing art collection. Thank you Marqui for "paying it forward" to me!

The Art of Gardening

So I've been m.i.a. for the past week plus. But with good reason! I must fully admit I'm NOT a multitasker—horrible I know. My plants have been seeking much of my care: bringing them ALL in at night to avoid the last spring frost, transplanting to bigger pots, watering...the list goes on. So here is an update of what's happening in Gnome Garden—yes, this is the recent name I've given to my little plot of vegetation. And if you're wondering why I'm writing about gardening on an art blog, well if you think gardening isn't an art...try it!

All gnomes have been placed—despite my fiancees protests and pleas. I had every intention of limiting the gnomes that I purchased. However, this last weekend my mother-in-law and sister-in-law added to the list and and these new comers had to find a place in the garden as well.

The heirloom tomato seeds I was gifted from Critter Farm have been planted and I'm counting down the days for them to be transplanted, make their way into the garden, flower, and then produce fruit! It will be a celebration.

My other tomato plants were begging to be transplanted, fencing was placed around the garden to keep out my grass loving dog, flowers potted and THEN drug inside after a bizarre end-of-season frost advisory. Weeds that have grown like wildfire—despite my best attempts to keep them away, had to be pulled!

It's been a rough week lemme tell ya! So if you'd like to give this therapeutic, yet sometimes time consuming form of art a try, yet you think it's too late in the season to start, stop by the Cincinnati Civic Garden Center this weekend. The center will be having their 50th annual Plant, Herb & Hosta Sale and you can buy plenty of mature plants raised with love. The preview party is on Friday April, 29—but it'll cost ya! Or you can wait like me until the weekend and go for free. Good luck and happy gardening.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Documentary: Handmade Nation

I haven't seen this yet, but I'm hoping to order online—but I have to get paid first....hmm.  
Once I get it anyone want to have a popcorn movie party?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

High Art vs. Low Art: Are we winning or losing?

So why is everyone creating things with their hands now-a-days? It appears to be all the rage. In a mere five years this June sites such as Etsy have taken off like wild fire! Handcrafted typography and hand-drawn illustration are becoming common place. And many are choosing to knit their own sweaters rather than purchase machine made. But why? This topic was a recent discussion between my mother-in-law and I. Neither of us seemed to come to any strong conclusions, however, I do have a couple theories.

From a personal standpoint I loathe technology, seriously
! It took me months before I gave into even creating a blog. I'm not good at texting, I know next-to-nothing about twitter and I'm horrible at facebook. But give me a paint brush or a sewing machine and I'll Martha Stewart the heck out of it— or at least try. But how do you take something such as "craft," which by some would be considered low art and recontextualize it to make it acceptable to the aristocrats of the art world?

Well I might just have your answer.....
By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art. Feeling bad that I had spent seven years in college to become a "fine artist" and currently I'm spending more time using felt and fabric rather than oil paint and canvas, a fellow M.F.A. graduate introduced me this book. While trying to avoid being too melodramatic this book has seriously been my recent art savor. I felt like what had been creating would have been mocked by my professors in college, but after reading this book I feel as though I can make a valid hybrid of all the things I love—although I'm still working on the hybrid/conceptual part.

I remember the first time I read it, saying to myself "Yes! That's exactly what I was thinking." The book emphasizes on personal experience, which for myself was the reason I was doing what I was doing. The act of doing it was far more satisfying than the final outcome. I gathered joy from each stitch; the materials I use remind me of my mother, the process is rather slow and methodical and the final outcome doesn't have to be anything more than what it truly is. The book looks at thirty-two contemporary artists and designers who are doing the same thing in an attempt to "get closer to their own lives and to the lives of others" by means of using their hands.

The "why" for each of these artists slightly varies, but every action has a reaction. 1990s was a time of "more is more" with computers, video cameras, and Adobe programs being more readily accessible. The time it took to "make" something was cut in half; not to mention the tools they were using made the craft of the final outcome almost flawless with little-to-no effort. Yet, in the end this all leads to mass production. What fun is it to be an artist if you can't get your hands dirty or you're being stripped of your
"individuality"? So artists began to rebel.

Kiki Smith might of put it best when she said, "We are all the same yet everyone is different." So the question may not be "why" is creating something with your hands become so popular...but when will we all be doing it and run into the same problem of no longer being a unique snowflakes?

Monday, April 19, 2010


While some may find themselves combing over every word in the
NY Times or Wall Street Journal to stay up on current events, I find myself skipping over such daily reminders on how the world isn't the utopia I wish it could be. When I scour over the Internet I'm usually looking for things that pertain to gardening, art or raising small farm animals such as goats or chickens—but the last part is for another day. It's also rare that I visit a site more than once a week with the exception of one...Design*Sponge.

I ran across the Design*Sponge website about a month ago when looking for ideas for yo-yo pillows—a huge undertaking that I'm now regretting taking on in the first place. The article I found was great, so I thought I'd stick around for awhile and see what the rest of the site had to offer. After two-hours I was hooked! It was everything I had ever looked for in a design website.

After finding out the website was created in 2004 by writer Gracie Bonney, who was once a contributing editor at Domino Magazine, no wonder why I was addicted. I still get teary eyed knowing that magazine is no longer in existence. Along with Ms. Bonney there is a long list of who's who in the design world that contribute to the site addressing topics ranging from diy projects, product reviews, to holistic living.

I find myself checking the site periodically throughout the day to see if one of its 6-10 posts has been published yet. I also become tragically bummed-out when the weekend rolls around knowing no posts will be added until Monday. One night of the evening news and I'm good on current events for the week, ten posts on Design*Sponge in a day and I just can't seem to get enough! Pathetic? Perhaps. Yet it's my way I like to stay "up-to-date."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crafty Supermarket!

This past weekend was the Crafty Supermarket at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center.  When I first found out about it—a mere hour before they opened the doors—I jumped for joy and called every girlfriend I thought would be interested.  It was going to be like esty in real life!  After a very small nudge to my soon-to-be mother-in-law and a reminder from my soon-to-be husband not to spend too much money we were on our way. 

I didn't know what to truly expect.  I had been to "craft" shows long ago with my mother who loved to do tole painting, but this was going to be different.  This was going to be my kind of crafts.  The first vendor we stopped by made handmade books from recycled materials.  It was love after the first page turned...until I flipped the book over and saw the price tag "Gasp, 30 bucks!"  far more than my ten-dollar budget would allow.  Don't get me wrong I fully understand why the 8.5x11" book was priced as such, anything made with such love and care doesn't come cheap.  But I thought to myself I could surely make something like this on my own.  

Here comes the problem, having an art background I found myself looking at each object I touched saying, "I could do that and possibly for much cheaper."  Then I began to notice a pattern, a lot of booths had pretty much the exact same thing as the booth two doors down.  The options were: handmade soap, handmade books, or stuffed owls—when stuffed owls became so popular I don't know.  But take what I say with a grain of salt, I am filled with 110% bias.  I'm like an insider who knows the secrets of the trade and with that I can say that I understand why the price tags for things were as such.  If it were I making some of those things I'd be charging the exact same if not more.  

On an exciting note one booth did stop me in my tracks and cause me to go back and take a second peek.  Lori Brown of The Morninglori Vine handcrafted the most amazing "curiosities" I've ever seen!  These little creators were clever, well crafted and filled with personality.  I wanted all of them!  But alas, as they say "that and a buck will get you a cup of coffee"  ten bucks just doesn't go as far these days!
While I didn't leave the Craft Supermarket with any bags-in-tow, I did see some clever ideas and felt rather inspired to actually begin my own etsy account.  We'll see how it goes until then I might just save my pennies to actually buy my very own "curiosity."