Nell showed us her process and showed us how to make maquettes for our collection project.
Today, we submitted the rough drafts of our more informed visual analyses, complete with historical and social context. We also had to perform run-throughs of our presentations, which are supposed to be between four and five minutes long. We went in order of proximity from Dana: Adia, (Erica, if she was here; geographically she is next, being that Kruger hangs in the student center), Yehimi, me, Katie, and Ashley. Here was our feedback from Katherine and Nell:
We all have good presentation style but need to engage with our images more. We are learning visual literacy, how to use language to communicate what it is going on visually. As Nell aptly put it, “people who are looking at images and listening to us explain have yet to experience our Aha! Moments, so we must be as precise as possible in translating. Again, we can make no assumptions that our audience knows what it is that we are talking about—we must be really obvious about the most obvious details. Since the goal is to translate our papers most concisely in our time limit to our audience—Nell suggested we think of it as a news story—we must connect the things we say to what they look at and most want to know from our piece. We are to use more signposts to signal when we are going to talk about which aspect of the piece we are discussing; use a lot more transitions so we do not lose our audience.
Specifically to my presentation of Thomas Hart Benton’s The Fence Mender (1940), Nell and Katherine suggested that I explain what a lithograph is and how it differs significantly from a pencil drawing, especially that it can do more than a drawing because of the technique used to produce such a print. Speaking naturally and casually on the subject made the information more acceptable to the audience and personally empowering; Nell said that my style is quite extemporaneous.
My word choices were off-putting—I said that Benton’s personal background was more interesting than the work itself! I should not give my audience a chance to be turned off from the image or to doubt my credibility, but instead should challenge the way we see the work. Also, I could afford to go a bit more in depth: define modernism, because that is key to my whole argument, since Benton spent most of his career pushing against modernist styles. Also, describe the mark making in the picture, since many audience viewers may not be able to come up close and see it. Mention Benton’s murals, since they may be a great contact point for my audience. I must translate field knowledge into common knowledge; instead of naming each style Benton experimented with, I could generalize “various styles of the late 19–20th centuries.”
I can keep most of these comments in mind for future presentations; the main thing is to keep my audience with me, and tailor my bluntness with appropriate engaging language.
Louis Corriger, Kingsford Capital Management
Honestly, I did not know what to make of this office once we arrived at our destination (MARTA; lots of walking); we were not entering a building designed with public displays of art in mind—not a museum or gallery outright, and yet there were high gloss photos, canvases, and works of all kinds of media and sizes covering the walls from one floor to another. Corriger offered us all beverages—Coke products, mostly—and then we began. He is an investor who manages money for endowment funds, pension funds, corporate funding, and publicly treated U.S. Stocks, who also supports Atlanta non-profit organizations for the arts, largely by purchasing work from auctions and such. NPOs such as Project FLUX, also known as Flux Night, currently get money from grants and donations from the Arts Council and Fulton County but hope to expand into more corporate sponsorship, like the High Museum. One of the coolest aspects of his job is knowing economic behind-the-scenes information, such as Wall Street history, as well as the backgrounds of buyers and sellers.
[This was the second time Flux Night and its elaborate, one-night-only presentation of public art, performances, sound art and dance was mentioned to us. This year, the event is being held the same night as Black Cat formal, which we had the pleasure of explaining to Mr. Corriger. :D]
Then we toured through 2 or 3 floors of artwork from many artists, and so many different styles and subject matter, that I felt prompted to ask him how he chose to put a particular piece in his person collection. Louis simply likes strange things—his words, not mine.
I was inspired and surprised by a lot of the contemporary art we saw. Tierraney Green took photographs of children using multiple exposures in one camera to create a dreamlike atmosphere. Shana Reilly poured liquid graphite to form abstract black and white images—I had never even considered that graphite—pencil “lead”–could be a liquid! Dawn Black made these really odd and eerie Halloween costumes from found images on the Internet and then photographed young people in them. Some of the artists’ work was quite political or had a historical undercurrent, such as Karen Touches, who created ghost images of condemned and/or torn down, Jason Koffsky, who responded to natural disasters, or Kayla Alford, who worked with other photojournalists in Iraq during the Iraqi war to publish a book, Unembedded, that depicted the gruesome reality of what was really going on. Other artists were eerily or fantastically innovative: Sarah Emerson’s work was quite paint by numbers style, yet somewhat “off” at a closer glance. Dorothy O’Conner builds full-scale, fantastic, non-photoshopped environments in her GARAGE in a year; her works seem very tableau vivant. We also caught a print from Jiha Moon’s husband, Andy Moon, whom we learned designs carpet!
Interspersed with the displays of art, Louis gave us cool tidbits of information. There was a lot of name dropping of different artists and institutions or organizations they are associated with—That confirmed for me that networking and connections matter as much as talent in the art world. Amongst those named were some familiar and other completely foreign names in publication and charity: Burnaway.org, Creative Loafing, Plum 88, Living Walls, the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, and ArtsATL.
Louis told us more about himself when we returned from the tour to the living-room-meets-waiting-room area. He got started collecting art once he was able to afford it; before then, he just visited galleries, because art is EXPENSIVE. Artwork overflowed from his home to his office walls, where it continues to find itself shuffled to make room and be showcased effectively.
“I do not think of what I am doing in collections…I actually try to buy stuff I can afford that I really like. I care more about showing support for an artist, rather than art appreciating in value.” Apparently, art has an enormous market that gets distorted by those seeking to acquire status, where oeuvres are regarded as trophies. For a lot of collectors, it is a point of pride that they “qualify” to buy this piece. For example, Edward Munch’s Scream recently sold for $121 million to Leon Black—and “is probably just hanging on some accent wall in his [palatial] living room,” shrugs Louis.
One’s person collection becomes a sort of autobiography, a nod to what one was into at the time he bought a work (or even the bidding war that ensued before the gratifying moment of winning!)
CWS Presentations for Art History and Public Speaking
Alex Holliday and Louisa M. gave us tips for managing our public presentations for our art talks on October 10th.
First, they demonstrated moving from a research paper to a presentation:
An interpretation of an artwork synthesizes a visual analysis and scholarly sources, which include commentary from art critics and art theorists.
Any work, article, or book you’ve consulted must go in your bibliography.
Footnotes are useful for references, defining vocabulary and citations.
Think of how you want to divide your content. The presentation is a shortened visual form of your paper; not every point you want to make will be discussed in four to five minutes.
You could split your discussion about the work by terms: elements and principles, or foreground, middle ground, and background.
Take advantage of your visual aid!! You can use a mnemonic device to remember your points, but always refer back to the piece itself, especially when you transition.
Then they gave us do’s and don’ts of public speaking:
Don’t memorize your paper or your presentation. It seems much less natural and interesting when rehearsed to a point of being forced.
Don’t ignore your piece; interact with it on a constant basis, because it is in front of your audience. Yet don’t talk to your piece or have your back turned to your audience. Eye contact is crucial.
Keep your purpose in mind. Why are you presenting on your topic? What are you trying to prove? What do you want your audience to gain?
Who IS your audience? What will they expect? What precise language should you use to fit this group? One cannot assume that the audience will have prior knowledge of art, art history, the piece hanging or any context about the artist!
Research and preparation are more than half the battle, though—60-80%, to be exact!
Strong supportive evidence includes scholarly articles, newspapers, books, direct observations, magazines, statistics, online sources, testimonies, and interviews.
Have a concise thesis, main points supported with facts, figures and sources; and cite within your presentation. Ex: In Greenburg’s article, Modernist Painting, he states Modernism critiques from the inside through the procedures which create it.
In introducing your topic, present your thesis, and use a good attention getter. In closing, qualify your main points and present opposing views; also ask for any questions from your audience.
Then Katherine gave us effective ways to write our visual analyses, which she passed back to us with specific comments and this general feedback:
Remove or modify any “I” statements to make your writing more reader-centered. Recall that you are discussing what makes the work compelling to view.
Refine statements written in passive voice—you sound more authoritative.
Viewing is not a universal experience, but an individualized one; speak more objectively. There is a difference between being an authority on a topic and being presumptuous—suggest rather than prescribe.
Ideally, the context of historians and critics gets integrated with your observations.
NO contractions are allowed in formal writing for this class! [Of course, I then knew that by extension, we could not relax this rule for our blogs. (*sigh!*)] Most formal concerns in any of our class’s papers dealt with reorganization.
In choosing sources for our paper, we need to include at least one monograph, a written work (i.e. book) on a single artist from the beginning of his or her career to the end. A monograph demonstrates what the artist has done and where your particular piece fits in.
We should also search for catalogues from exhibitions (solo and group shows).
Method 1: Modernism with Prof. K.A. Smith
Katherine opened class with this critical question:
“What do we go through in our career to demonstrate or produce our scholarship?”
She then proceeded to demonstrate her personal process: researching Oldenburg, public art, modernism, and contemporary art.
Learning from Las Vegas—Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
In the 1920s, architecture had to start conforming to the landscape, and the pedestrian experience was beginning to disappear, as one could experience their surroundings at a faster pace in a car versus on foot.
Signs of Life (1970) Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown
This served as a commentary on suburbia, the originator of any rhetoric around suburbia, that slips between realism and abstraction. Other artists who experimented with blending realism and abstraction include Roy Liechtenstein, George Seagle, and Claeus Oldenburg.
Originally, the Vegas exhibit was going to be outside—Brown and Venturi flirted with the idea of public art, putting art on the street. Oldenburg’s work was very relevant to theirs, especially once he began shifting his work to much grander scale and different context and focus: the jumble of “stuff” in The Store closely paralleled the jumble of signs in Vegas!
My personal favorite of Oldenburg’s sculptures was the ironic Placid Civic Monument—a hole about the size and depth of a human grave, dug at a site in Central Park, Manhattan, New York.
Apparently, New York City Parks and Recreation would not allow Oldenburg to dig the “monument” himself, so that he had to hire gravediggers. They own the photograph of Oldenburg standing smugly and onlookers with quizzical expressions posing around the Placid Civic Monument.
Methods: Susan Bridges, Whitespace Gallery
Exhibition: Domiciled—Meg Audrey
Audrey’s paintings and installations demonstrate the ubiquitous and isolating nature of suburbia, from her domicile (place of residence) in Alpharetta, north Atlanta, Georgia. She compares the city to the suburbs: in the city, one experiences a cacophony of sounds and human interactions, whereas in the suburbs, movements occur in segments, in isolation. Meg explores that isolation in depth and in connection with her personal life: She feels as though she traded intimacy for good schools and manicured lawns.
This is evident in “The Wall of Women,” a series of 26 8” x 6” oil paintings on canvas, each depicting a different character of suburbia. The environment itself is very cookie cutter, with perfectly lined areas of flat green paint representing the lawns and tennis courts, and solid white backgrounds. No one is on the streets, except maintenance people. The figures themselves feature slender, well-groomed women, titled Soccer Mom #4-21, Walking Mom#1, Tennis Mom #1-6, and two lawn care men.
By removing background noise (detailed buildings, extraneous visual imagery), Meg successfully conveys an utter loneliness.
Other paintings in the gallery comment on external beauty and the amenities of the American Dream with a rather sardonic sense of humor. Queen of the Cul-de-Sac features one of Meg’s neighbors fetching the mail while hoisting an early morning cocktail. Space Available points out a sad result of the recent economic recession: a random empty shopping center that has had spaace available to rent for over a year now! I note that looking at these paintings, it seems like playing the Sims game—a virtual reality where one creates and then manipulates the world they’ve created, complete with a rigid, geometric environment, seemingly quite gridded out and formulaic. Aubrey deliberately puts detail only on the subjects of her paintings to call attention to them, their style of dress and other evidence of their lifestyle. Tall, Vente, Grand is an installation of a row of Starbucks cups, each one of 3 sizes and displaying a different woman’s face. Katherine echoes Meg’s sentiment about suburban society and its boundaries: one “can express yourself, but only within certain rigid parameters,” such as lawn and landscaping restrictions to ensure no one lawn looks too different.
Going into the business aspect of the art world, Mrs. Bridges proceeds to give us all a tour of the ginormous, Victorian style house she lives and operates in. The Winship family built it in 1859 in Inman Park, the first ever suburb in Atlanta, Georgia, and actually served as part of a Civil War battleground! In the 1970s, the house was converted into several apartments and then bought by Mrs. Bridges.
Whitespace Gallery exists in a remodeled carriage house that lay a courtyard away. An up-and-coming architecture firm redesigned and expanded the space and received an award for their efforts.
“As runs the Glass, our Life doth pass.”
We were escorted down to the Whitespec space, which featured a huge soundboard project, a collaboration between Charles Bauer and Matt Gilbert. This was actually my first time being exposed to sound art exclusively distinct from videos or performance art or music! The soundboard project featured a series of statements from old-fashioned readers, linked by touch detecting plaques and headphones. These plaque setups read as your fingers traveled all over the image, reading one syllable at a time until you were able to decipher what direction to move to complete the statement. In the center of the room was a table covered with 3 or 4 linked computer keyboards, attached to a Mac computer, which played a series of scene sounds from schools. After we started decoding which key sequences played what (numbers made up the pledge; fucntion keys were scribbling or whispering), we mashed all the buttons simultaneously. It felt like we were in a classroom hallway with surround sound! The Whitespec space had been converted into a deconstruction of the classroom! There was even an old block printed 19th century reader that taught the alphabet by associating each letter with a proverb or saying, usually a Biblical reference or pragmatic warning: “In Adam’s Fall, We sinned all.”
“Vashti for pride Was set aside”
We met Jerry Cullen, a prominent art critic here in Atlanta, Georgia, and Kelly Pierce, a gallery manager and assistant to Susan Bridges. Her tasks include constructing the layout of the show, the artist book with all of the statements and the catalogue for each show. She collects all the images and statements for press release 2-3 months in advance to guarantee coverage of the show, as well as reaching out to get returns on artists and/or clients that the gallery represents.
Kelly led us through the large house that whitespace sells work out of directly. They often feature artists whose work carries a strong narrative, but host a variety of contemporary work. She often has to regard art in terms of themes, period, artist or space, thinking ahead for a show, rather than thinking of art as an investment—as an investment, the pieces are less about personal aesthetic choice and more about possessing this highly famous product. Art in the business world, unfortunately, gets commercialized.
Representing an artist as a gallery differs from being a broker: In representing an artist, the gallery sponsors that person’s work exclusively and is responsible for shows, exposure, and advertising. A broker holds the pieces and gets a commission but does not actively promote the artist.
How do you get represented by a gallery?
An artist submits a digital portfolio on a CD that contains images of their work, art accomplishments, education, exhibition participation, and press. The process is one of gaining critical exposure; therefore; one should participate in as many shows as possible, at school galleries as well as city exhibitions. It is about getting your name out there…Once you have gotten your name out there, you should pick out galleries who match your aesthetic. You would not necessarily want to try and put folk art in a contemporary space.
Michael Z. Wise “This is Your Brain on Art.” ArtNews 111:7 Summer 2012 . 58
This article features Eric Kandel, a Nobel prize laureate and neurobiologist, who recently published The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present. Kandel uses portraits by Viennese artists Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, and Egon Schiele to analyze how our brains perceive and respond emotionally to works of art.
The main reason two people can have a completely different interpretation and reaction to a work of art Kandel attributes to mental perspective: “The brain makes up the reality of the outside world, decomposes it and reconstructs it.” So although twp people are looking at the same work, there will be slight differences in the way we do that.
Although this article was more about a process of comprehending art rather than about an artist, I found myself intrigued by the idea of neuroesthetics. How could Kandel qualify his arguments assessing an emotional response to a work of art—CAT scans? Does he attach sensors to his test subjects while they view a reproduction of artwork? It seems he choose specifically Viennese artists because they were from his personal background; heritage has a way of coloring own vision, so to speak, of a work. What are these subtle differences Kandel speaks of, and what will affect those shifts/ Will it be memories or traumas, language or socialization? I have so many questions…
Place: Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center
Date: Thursday Sept 6 2012, roughly 2-5 pm
This was the first of several field trips our ART 260 class shall be taking–Yes! I know! Actual field trips in college!!
“Performance art is in your face; there are often no boundaries between you as an audience member and the work itself.”–Stuart Hodoner
As a curator, you have to make the proper choices to include compelling work, no matter what your personal favorite medium may be, no matter if you actually enjoy the piece subjectively yourself. In order to organize an exhibition, you check your interests against what’s out there in the art world, a similar process to how studio artists look at things that inspire us. One starts with an idea: a concept, a theme, some sort of guidelines of what shall be explored, then considers who the artists are that should gain exposure. Who expresses this idea in an innovative and provocative way? Selecting who to include in an exhibition often involves also practicing prudence with budgets and relative distance (local versus national and even internationally renown artists whose work center around your idea) Next, a curator or director of a gallery weighs titles and display styles—important signifiers of what works the audience shall be viewing and how they are to be perceived. What shall you use to hang the work? Details down to the size and shape of nail heads do matter.
A title colors the viewer’s perception of the entire exhibit and evokes some critical thinking. For example, the title DELIVERANCE as a term carries many connotations: a religious context of getting saved and performances conveyed from entertainment. It is also the title of a movie which coincidentally has reached its 40th anniversary.
He finds that Atlanta lacks a history of performance art, a dearth of richness which motivated him to produce such a exhibition:
“DELIVERANCE presents four provocative artists who use performance to create meditations on power, identity, sexuality, and race:” Laura Ginn, Anya Liftig, Jayson Scott Musson, and Clifford Owens.
Clifford Owens: Photographs With an Audience; Anthology [performance]
“Be African-American. Be very African-American.”–William Pope L
Random groups of people are assembled after Owens asks one of various questions, such as, “Who here is afraid of the dark?” A lot can be said for those who step forward and include themselves in his grouping, as well as for those who choose not to respond. People are advertising themselves in a sense, placing themselves in such categories as Miami natives, infidels, lovers, procrastinators, etc.
teaching herself survival skills because our world is so digital, Lauren secluded herself from the city and spent 2 yrs with Native Americans practicing their lifestyle. She researched tanning techniques.
“The brain of the animal is the perfect pH, size and amount [of organic material] to mix with water and tan its hide.” One scrapes and cures the hide to preserve it.
Her work is similar to Edward S. Curtis, who documented dying Native American rituals and traditions.
At the exhibition opening in New York, Ginn skinned and tanned the hides of 300 laboratory rats and fashioned the skins into a dress! She also hosted a rat barbeque at the ACAC where people skinned rats and then rotiserried the meat to make tacos! To our disgusted or fascinated shudders and shocked faces, Hodoner replied, “Get over your discomfort…Art becomes license to do things…How weird or transgressive it is depends on you.”
Then we got to the videos. There is this lady dirty dancing to David Bowie with a salmon. It goes to light-heartened to serious, masculine to feminine, all in a quite intense 10 minutes. The artist chooses to drape red, green and yellow sheets in the background and on the table. [finish details l8r]
Around the corner is another plasma screen TV installed in the wall with headphones attached; Hodoner removes the headphone jack so that we can listen collectively. In “How to be A Successful Black Artist,” an African-American male going by the name of Hennessey Youngman—whom Hodoner warns is a “potentially unreliable narrator”–begins a verbal discourse on foibles of the art world, exploring beauty, success, philosophy, and making historical reference.” The experience is at once startling, comforting and cathartic: I laugh in admiration and shock at several moments, at others just take the time to observe my classmates’ facial expressions (What a range that was—from disbelief to disgust to amusement!!) I decide with teenage abandon and absolution that I am in love with Jayson Scott Mussen. In order to make his points, Mussen uses a combination of art world language, slang, obscenities, and jargon, balancing humor and intensity, people, ethnicity, youth, age and sexuality. He is very aware of his audience and the context he’s playing to.