I remember walking into the Faberge exhibit in the VMFA and feeling like a magpie, attracted to all the glitter and shine in the intricately created details. There is an amazing level of craft and skill in each unique piece, and it was interesting to listen to the history behind these works of art during this lecture. Through the presentation, we could follow the paths of the Faberge eggs as they gained value and prestige. For example, one egg was originally given to Alexandra Feodorovna by Tsar Nicholas II which costed what would now be $130,5442. However, recently the third Imperial Easter Egg (above) was recently sold for about $33 million in what I found to be an almost movie-like scenario of a man buying the egg at a flea market. These pieces truly exude excess, and the company made everything from cane toppers to cigarette cases beautiful, so that you could be luxurious from head to toe. I often got lost in the winding trails that the eggs left as they traveled from one owner to the next with mark ups in between, but i think this elaborate path shows just how sought after these eggs are. Also, the idea that there are more eggs that are still missing leave a bit of mystery and an invitation for a treasure hunt with each story.
From an aesthetic perspective, I appreciate how intricate the designs were and how carefully each one was planned out. They even all got their own individual box, which I think is adorable. There is also an interesting play of layering that is used in these pieces. While the outside of the egg is magnificent, there is additional treasure within, such as a miniature statue, portrait, or watch. I wonder: how much of the design was from the client's wishes and how much was the prerogative of the artist? Though my art is pretty different from the world of Faberge, what I take away from the lecture is the beauty of a carefully crafted piece and the interest and depth that can be created with different layers.
Even though I am not applying to any art colleges, this was an informative lecture. Despite the fact that the inner workings of art college to not specifically apply to my path, I was still curious to hear how the process worked. Fro someone who is truly passionate about art, I can see the appeal of focusing very specifically on the field. I wish to continue my study of art into college, but it will likely be much more informal or supplemental. I know this question does not apply directly to the panel, but while listening, I wondered about how open liberal arts schools are to students in other majors getting involved in the art community. I want art to be something that adds to my career driven studies and hope that I will be able to some classes in whichever college I attend so that I can access their resources both in the material and mentor sense. The access to an abundant source of opportunities was highlighted by the panel and is something I also look forward to, and I believe that working with teachers who excess in their field is an advantage which will apply to all areas of my study.
I feel that my interests most closely align with Bailey’s path. Architecture is something which has bounced around in my mind at some times as I like that it combines creativity, geometry, finance, and an overall attention to detail. In similarity with him, I also like being given guidelines to expand upon. The alumni also made good points on the college experience in general. I appreciated how they emphasized that you should seize the opportunities you can and be grateful for the experiences that you get. I hope college will be the place where I find a clearer direction for myself and I will work hard to get to that point.
The VMFA is conveniently only two miles away from my house so I headed out without much of a plan. They had recently set up a new exhibition called “Edward Hopper and the American Hotel” which sounded interesting, so I decided to dive in. The initial emotions I felt while looking at many of his pieces were a sense of pensive loneliness and isolation. As I looked at more of his work, I felt as if each showed a short but detailed vignette of American people and their surroundings. The VMFA provided a “road map” which pieced his works together in a story of American life in the 20th century which I thought was helpful. Through reading this and other signs, I could see the different perspectives of hotels that Hopper was able to portray. He displayed motels, with cars parked visibly in the window, tourists resorts, and neighborhood hotels, each with a distinctive feeling connected to it. He spent much of his time on the road, so he was well acquainted with the hotel setting, and able to capture them in his work. He would observe the behaviors of these temporary residents and make sketches of people reading in the lobby or sitting on a simply made bed. Then, after careful consideration and planning, he would create longer term artworks in oil paint and watercolors. I am curious about if he uses models in his paintings or if he creates the images from his head. I also wonder if he preferred the scenes with or without figures. I admire the softened realism of his style and his carefully balanced compositions. Over time, his compositions became more simplified, emphasizing a feeling of emptiness and effectively putting the viewer in the setting of a hotel. Overall I appreciate his work and diversity of pieces he was able to create under this concept of american hotels.
John Freyer is an educator at VCU as well as an artist and an author. He has mobilized projects such as Free Ice Water, Free Hot Coffee, and Free Hot Supper in an effort to enrich social ties in the community. These art works art not traditional paintings in museums, but rather they are concept based and extend into the real world.
His Free Hot Coffee project began within an addiction support group called Rams for Recovery. In an effort to give back to the group which supported and encouraged him on his journey, he provided coffee for one of the meetings. His contribution gradually expanded and became more popular and now he has a bike with coffee stand attached allowing him to branch out into the city. He rides around the community, connecting with individuals and reducing the stigma around addressing addiction. I think this is a great idea, and I think especially in the winter, he could consider providing free hot chocolate or tea too if they wanted to further expand the operation.
I was also interested in the Free Ice Water project. This initiative involved sitting down with someone you may not know and having a conversation with them as you drank your glass of water. While this would definitely be out of my comfort zone, it would be a good exercise in connecting with new people and focusing on listening in the moment.
Unfortunately, I could not actually attend this lecture so I did not receive any free coffee or water, but I was still able to learn a lot by watching the lecture on video, and who knows, maybe I’ll see him somewhere on the streets of Richmond!
Sources to Explore
The official Fifty-Fifty website, which it the overarching organization that links all of Freyer's projects: http://fiftyfifty.country/
Freyer brought his Free Hot Coffee overseas, and you can learn more about his trip to London with this link: https://www.richmond.com/entertainment/art/richmond-artist-brings-his-free-hot-coffee-bike-to-london/article_585947ea-6931-5445-96dc-a068805d8979.html
Try-Me is the location of private art collection which was previously a factory for Try-Me Soda. It contains a wide range of art by numerous artists from the unknown Philadelphia Wireman, to the well known Kehinde Wiley. I appreciated being invited to this gallery with its extensive collection of art pieces. When I walked in, the first piece I noticed was Plasma Stone II by Mariko Mori. It was an arrangement of two giant, acrylic coated forms. The way the piece morphed as I walked around it and how light was refracted through the piece was captivating. The purpose of this piece was to attempt to capture the essence of the universe and while that is no small task, Mariko Mori executed a commendable interpretation of this concept. I was also interested to learn about the process of the piece’s installation. The amount of machinery and people it took to move the extremely heavy work of art showed just how logistically difficult it is to run a gallery.
In addition to Mori’s piece, I was also interested in Monument to Fashion Evan Gruzis. This sculpture explores the shallow vanity prevalent in today’s society by depicting a mannequin with glasses nonchalantly reclining. His work is subtly mocking and ironic to the fashion world which I find intriguing. Also, part of the reason I was interested in this piece was due to the fact that I could draw parallels with my sculpture. While the message is different, we both employ the use of simplified and generally unadorned figures.
Overall this trip was a great experience and I also enjoyed exploring on their website to see works that were not displayed. I hope I get the opportunity to return!
Sources to Explore
Mariko Mori's Website (which has more really interesting large scale pieces):
Evan Gruzis' Website: http://www.evangruzis.com/
Sasha Waters Freyer (above left), teacher and filmmaker, delivered an excellent lunchtime lecture on film and following ones artistic instincts. The medium of film is uncharted territory for me, so all the information she gave was new and enticing. It was interesting to learn about her process and how it differs from film to film. Her experimental pieces are more personal and spontaneous. We had the opportunity to watch one of her videos and I was intrigued although slightly confused, but I am fairly certain that this was her intention. She provokes us to take a deeper look into everyday things by compiling and layering her own work with archived footage. Her long term films are documentaries and she has recently completed one on Garry Winogrand (above right). These documentaries require extensive organization, funds, and support. She is thorough and spends around five years for each project and I have a newfound appreciation for all those able to produce such films.
Though film is not my media of focus, much of the advice she gave relates to all art. She intertwines long term endeavors with short films similarly to our class’ projects and play pages. She also integrates her knowledge of photography, the field in which she received her degree, into her film teaching and creation. It assures me to know that no matter what path I choose to follow, what I learn can funnel into my work later in life and assist me to become a more well rounded person.
In my search to understand more about experimental film, I found this helpful resource explaining terminology and genres within the category of experimental film.
Here is a website which has compiled a collection of avant garde short films. Feel free to sift through the list and find something that speaks to you. The meaning of this art seems highly dependent on the viewer and what is effective is very subjective. I am personally out of my comfort zone as I dive into the sources and while I did find some interesting pieces it is up to you to decide what holds meaning for you.
Reflection: Abstract Expressionism
Salut Tom by Joan Mitchell
The broad, confident brush strokes which are a staple of many Abstract Expressionist pieces are what first draw me into this piece. Also, the way the strokes stop before the edge of the paper is unexpected and gives a rough finish to the painting. She uses a palette of blues and yellows showing ability to choose an effect combination of colors. The colors of the piece produce an overall beach like feeling which is very soothing and positive. Similarly, I may choose those colors for my own abstract painting. I am also intrigued by the discontinuity between the four different panels. The paint does not connect smoothly from one to the next and rather jumps across each canvas. It makes me wonder if she painted the panels completely separately or if she referred to each of them as she painted.
Pagan Void by Barnett Newman
This piece is a bit smaller and more condensed than the other Abstract Expressionist paintings. The squiggles and shapes still have a feeling of spontaneity, but the brushstrokes are smaller and appear to be more careful. The amorphous shapes fit right into the abstract style. Additionally, I like how he uses shadow in order to make it seem like the two dimensional shapes pop off the page and I think that could be an interesting addition to my abstract painting. After reading the title, I realized there was a deeper meaning behind this piece and wondered if that small red dot in the large black expanse could be a commentary on religion. What point was he trying to make? Newman highlighted the importance of an engaging title which allows the viewer to think more deeply.
First Station by Barnett Newman
Now you may be thinking, of all the Abstract Expressionists, why did I choose two works by the same guy? Well, I didn't plan it that way, I realized they were the same artist after I began the second one, so I just kept with it. This brings me to my next thought which is that Newman changed his style between these two works so much that I did not know they were both by him. What motivated him to paint in such a range of styles? This piece uses contrast between light and dark just like the the other paintings, except this time it is with black and white. I quite like the stark contrast between the two opposites and the use of a slightly warm white. It is also fascinating how he juxtaposes clean, controlled lines with feathered edges of quick brush strokes.
Reflection: Play Page Inspiration
La Coiffure by Henri Matisse
The way Matisse captures the fluidity of the figure's movement with visible and confident brush stokes is captivating. Furthermore, he places the figure the center to make it the focus and he adds interest to the composition by allowing you to see the woman's reflection blurred in the mirror. He elegantly uses light and dark in order to create contrast between the figure and her background. I would like to gain the confidence to create such bold value choices. This work relates more closely to what I have done in recent play pages since I have been reaching out of my comfort zone and focusing more on the figure. I have used a similar style and subject, but his is much more elegantly executed. In the future, I want to create a larger scale painting and I am really drawn to the impressionistic style, so perhaps I will chose to paint a figure in a candid pose such as this one.
Nocturne in Blue and Gold by James McNeil Whistler
After completing an artist spotlight on Whistler, I was curious to see more of his work and I was once again intrigued by the dark blue and gray palette with blurred brushstrokes and speckled with pinpoints of light. The scene is dark and mysterious and makes you take a closer look. I was also interested to find out that this piece started out as a day scene but then Whistler painted over it to create a night image. This painting isn't closely related to what I've done in my past play pages. Though I have worked a little with paints and used dark backgrounds, it is nothing that similar to this. Instead, I was hoping this painting could inspire future works. I found a canvas in my family's hoard of art supplies and maybe I could apply similar techniques.
REFLECTION Howardena Pindell:
Pindell's gallery was stunning and rich with emotion and expression. She explored a variety of mediums in order to expose the viewer to her personal experiences as well as political issues. She uses pattern along with words in order to bring to light topics of war, apartheid, poverty, and racism. She advocates for peace and tranquility which starkly contrasts the violence and hatred of the world around us. The piece to the left compares the ebb and flow of water to a peaceful earth.
Pendell utilizes various Artist Habits of Mind as well as Artistic Processes in order to further refine her vision. When I look at her art, I specifically see her Developing Craft. Every work shows a step forward as she has a deeper understanding of how to manipulate hole punches, canvass, stitches, and paint. She also Expresses a lot since all of her work contains pieces of her beliefs and story. Within the artistic process, her inspiration from media and experience is evident as she cuts up pictures to show her piecing together life after a car accident. She also experiments with different compositions and techniques. However, she does not jump from one method to the next, but rather follows through with an idea to create an entire series. For example, in her Video Drawings series, she layered arrows and dots over blurred television images which exude moment and energy. I was immediately drawn to the combination of mathematics of physics and fluidity of art.
It was interesting to follow the growth of Pindell throughout the exhibit. As opposed to viewing variations of the same art piece over and over, there was exciting changes in technique while the fundamental style remained the same. The beginning of her journey focused mostly on her story, but she expanded her field of thought to include broader issues such as racism and linked global struggles to her personal struggles. The piece to the right uses thick paint to create amorphous figures and words to portray a political message. She also parted from just use of paint and experimented with unconventional and textured materials such as hole punches and glitter. This metamorphosis displays that humans are fluid and have the capability to develop and change.
Her exhibit relates to what I am doing in my sketchbook in that she is developing her style through a variety of series. Albeit more professionally, this equates to the many Play pages we have made with a variety of themes. I aspire to reach her level of clarity in her voice and style and I hope that by filling my sketchbook with meaningful entries, I will be able to progress just as Pindell has.
REFLECTION: 21st Century Art
Abstract vs. Nonobjective
use of art elements, design principles, and specific compositional choices
Amanda Dalla Villa Adams' lecture on Japanese Aesthetics was filled with intriguing insight into the origin, purpose, and implementation of Japanese Aesthetics. Much of the factual information given was previously covered in my global history or art class but she broadened my foundation with new concepts. She explained the simplicity and irregularity of wabi with the mystery and melancholy of sabi and applied them to aspects of Japanese life such as tea ceremonies and shrines. I was particularly drawn to the presented picture of the Grand Shrine of Ise and went on the discover other breathtakingly austere gates and shrines.
To learn more about Shinto Architecture follow this link:
Adam's focused much of her time discussing the Japanese writer, Tunizaki, and his book, In Praise of Shadows which highlights his adoration for the traditional Japanese customs. Among modernization and westernization, Tunizaki mourns the fossilization of tradition. Personally, I believe we should not condemn the progression of society as Tunizaki does, but instead allow both past and present to coexist in a balance. In any case, Tunizaki has the ability to vividly explain even the most mundane topics. As he describes the darkness of the interior of a lacquerware bowl combined with its soft exterior I feel as if i could hold it in my hands. This led me to wonder more about the process of lacquerware. You can learn about it as I did through the video below.
The simplicity of Japanese aesthetics resonates with me. I am captivated by the bold lines and flat figures. I already employ this attribute in many of much of my art. However, I often find myself caught up in slight irregularities, unable to put my pen down until the piece is "perfect." In the future, perhaps I will step away from the page and observe from a wider perspective. I will allow imperfections and in turn the drawing will have more interest and not appear overworked.
I am a Maggie Walker art student in Richmond, Virginia. This blog section is a little window into my art process, research, and experiences. You can follow along with my journey as you scroll.