Summer Plans

If you’ll be in Lafayette for the summer, whether it’s classes or you’ve put down roots, there are plenty of fun art-related events going on.

The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette offers wonderful exhibitions and there’s free admission 11am-4pm everyday. They also offer different art classes, including a live model open studio class for a fee. It’s a great opportunity to work on your skills and learn from your peers.

If you’re looking to get away, but not leave Indiana necessarily, Valparaiso is offering different exhibits free to the public as well. It may take some research, but there’s plenty of art exhibitions and events going on around you too; enjoy the summer!

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Sun’s Gallery Talk

Sun Young Ahn, a previous teacher of mine, is graduating this semester with her Masters of Fine Arts in Visual Communications Design and she’s been doing a lot of interesting research in fashion retail and marketing. I was happy to attend her gallery talk earlier this month, where she talked about this work and more.

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~shenery/SunYoungAhn/publish_to_web/index.html


Last semester I took a class called Computers in Art. We were completely immersed in Photoshop and Illustrator and I thought it was going to be the hardest class ever. A little background: I took a 101 Computer Graphics Technology class (for three weeks) and, not to be dramatic, almost died; I couldn’t even make an inner-tube shape using the program. Also, there were really dry lectures and a lot more math than I was comfortable with for some reason.

This class, AD220, though, turned out to be one of my favorites from my entire college career. It’s not that it was easy; in our first exercise we created and decorated a tea pot and I will use all my power to not let that image surface again in my lifetime. It was rough.

I specifically remember, though, the teacher walking around after about 40 minutes of letting us work and when she got to my computer she laughed. She laughed at my Microsoft Paint-esque tea pot. This was my first impression of Sun Young Ahn, and it was the best, not only because it broke the ice about me knowing absolutely nothing about Photoshop (believe me, I was laughing too), but because she went on to help afterwards. She started from the basics to show us where a bunch of the tools and brushes were and throughout that class, I believe I came up with some of my most creative work thanks to her input and help.

Sun is graduating this semester with her Masters of Fine Arts in Visual Communications Design and she’s been doing a lot of interesting research in fashion retail and marketing. I was happy to attend her gallery talk earlier this month, where she talked about this work and more. I was specifically impressed by the application she created that allows users to make their own customized designs for scarves. It’s amazing how much work she’s put into it and all her research!

http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~shenery/SunYoungAhn/publish_to_web/index.html

First Impressions

Our parents want the best for us. Sometimes, though, they can try to lead us away from our dreams, thinking that we’ll be better off in the end. It’s happened to many people not just now but in the past, and specifically to one infamous Claude Monet.

Monet’s father wanted him to be a grocer, not a painter. Imagine the father of Impressionism managing a grocery store for his whole life instead of painting. Regardless of how interesting those aisle displays most likely would’ve been, the world, and Monet, would’ve missed out on something huge.

By the time he was 16, Monet had attended a traditional kind of schooling and learned from other artists that served as mentors. Displeased with the way art was being taught, Monet befriended other like-minded artists when he moved to Paris and together they began a new style and era of painting.

Conversely to the more widely accepted style of painting, Monet and his friends painted in a way that depicted the visual “impression” of a scene, and not necessarily the specific structures and detail (below).

The painting featured above, Impression: Sunset, was partly the inspiration for the name Impressionism. An art critic repeated the term in a derogatory manner after seeing Monet’s exhibit, but the group of artists began using the name to refer to themselves from then onward.

The story is similar to the naming of the Purdue Boilermakers, a representation that originally began as a negative remark on the kind of utilitarian education that Purdue initially offered. The Boilermakers have paralleled the success of Impressionism by turning those terms into some of the widest known and influential in the world.

Needle in a Gallery

Most art works are easily identifiable and capture our attention almost immediately, be it with color, scale or content. Willard Wigan’s art, on the other hand, is nearly impossible to see with the naked eye but has captured much attention, nonetheless.

Wigan creates micro-sculptures of popular figures, from Disney characters to real life athletes, like Shaquille O’Neal (below). How small is micro, you ask? His usual projects fit in the eye of a sewing needle and he’s even sculpted from facial hair he’s shaved off to challenge himself.

Wiggan works on the pieces in between heart beats in order to avoid any significant twitches or movements that could essentially destroy his work. The vibrations from passing traffic and other business can disrupt his work, so he often works into the night, when there’s less activity around him.

As you can see from the above pictures, Wiggan uses a microscope to see as he sculpts these tiny masterpieces. The detail he puts into each of his works is amazing and it hasn’t gone unrecognized. Even the Queen of England has remarked on his talent and even recruited him for special projects.

I’m not quite sure how he can have the patience to complete these microscopic pieces; I myself would rather be spreading paint in wide strokes on a canvas. The discipline and intensity that he applies to his work is inspiring and hopefully challenges you to discover what’s possible.

Third Time’s the Charm

It’s amazing to think that Michelangelo’s sculpture of David was just a giant slab of marble at one point. Interestingly enough, though, when Michelangelo began sculpting David’s infamous figure, two other artists had already attempted to sculpt the marble and left it unfinished.

40 years prior to Michelangelo beginning David, Agostino di Duccio had begun sculpting a figure in the same marble. It’s believed that Agostino’s inexperience with large scale figure sculpture was the main reason for his abandoning the marble piece.

The marble sat unused for almost 10 years before Antonio Rossellino decided to take a crack at it in 1475. He is believed to have left the marble unfinished because of its unstable and delicate nature. He believed the marble seemed unable to support any sculpture carved into it, so it was left unfinished yet again.

Michelangelo came around some time later in 1501, at only 26 years old, and worked with the marble for three years. His hard work clearly paid off, resulting in the widely acclaimed representation of David of Goliath. To add to his success, he also completed the statue without adding more marble or significantly cutting it down.

This piece helped Michelangelo secure his place in the art community, showing his true mastery for sculpture. He would go on to complete the Sistine Chapel and become one of the most celebrated artists of not only his time, but of history as well.

Online or IRL

It’s no secret that many people today are married to their technology (for better or worse) so it’s logical that much of the art community has transitioned online as well. Some museums and art organizations even advertise online art exhibitions. The experience is much different than attending an exhibition at a gallery in real life (IRL), but it has its own comparable benefits.

Museum, organizational and individual art exhibitions have been the only way to show off private and public collections of art for centuries. These exhibits take place in galleries or homes of the artist or collector. For a long time the only way to experience the art was to physically be in attendance when the exhibition was available. While this is still practiced, other avenues of art appreciation have developed as well.

I’ve previously mentioned how Millennials have helped move art to an online platform as technology has evolved. These new developments have allowed for the basis of online art exhibitions, where quality images of art pieces are presented online, available to anyone with internet access.

Personally, I think online exhibitions lack the overall effect an audience feels from physically going to a gallery or museum. Especially for fine art pieces that were painted, drawn or pasted together, the message and impact of certain pieces can be lost or misconstrued if only seen on a monitor, in my opinion.

I believe online galleries and exhibitions can decrease the value and experience of viewing art. On the internet our attention is divided between many tabs, websites and tasks. In an art gallery we are focused on the pieces that surround us and the specific feelings and messages we get from them. I think this allows for a more powerful impact and perception of art when we’re actually face-to-face with the original piece, rather than the scanned image.

I can still remember one of my first trips to the Art Institute of Chicago and being blown away by the magnitude of skill, design and methodology of the many compositions and pieces on display. Never have I been so affected by a composition I viewed online. If anything, to me, online galleries seem to serve as incentive to go see the work in person.

Understandably, online galleries can benefit audiences that can’t travel to view the works in an actual gallery and serve as a better base for work made to be viewed specifically online. They can also be more affordable, but I still think, overall, seeing the art in person is a better alternative. While online exhibitions certainly have their strengths, going to a real life gallery is still, in my opinion, the best way to view artwork.

Breaking Dali

You might think the only commonality between Salvador Dalí and the hit TV show Breaking Bad would be the use of drugs – I mean, how else did Dalí come up with those psychedelic, surrealist works, right?

According to Dalí’s statement, “I don’t use drugs, I am drugs,” he wasn’t taking any kind of hallucinogens during his creative processes. The similarity then actually lies in the shared interest in Werner Heisenberg.

The use of Heisenberg’s name in Breaking Bad begins Walter White’s transition into the infamous drug tycoon that he becomes throughout the series. White’s chemistry background brings about this connection and interestingly enough, it’s Dalí’s own enthusiasm for science that attracted him to the Nobel prize-winning Heisenberg.

“I, who previously only admired Dalí, will now start to admire that Heisenberg who resembles me (Dalí).” As seemingly narcissistic and fame-oriented Dalí seemed, he had a large interest in psychology and natural sciences. It’s these interests and the understanding of the connection between the mind and physics (among other aspects of science) that allowed him to visualize and create such stunning surrealist works throughout his lifetime.

Though the life of Dalí was one of eccentricity and mystery, he has left an immeasurable impact on the art community and continues to inspire today. The concept that visual arts and scholastic theories or pursuits can come together as one is the kind of creative influence that’s helped guide and develop generations of artists.

 

We Didn’t Start the Fire

Portable kilns don’t exist (at least none that are very practical or well developed). While this might not affect you immediately, this can throw a wrench in the plans for anyone creating large scale ceramic or clay sculptures. Nina Hole was one of these artists, but she found an ingenious solution to this problem.

She fired the sculptures on location.

Her large sculptures are wrapped in a protective (and not flammable) cloth and fired for dozens of hours. The sculptures are then unwrapped during an unveiling and admired in all of their fire-molded glory.

Pao Hall at Purdue has been in the process of building Hole’s last fire sculpture for the past month. Nina Hole passed away in February, so this will be the final installation of her world renowned fire sculptures as well as a celebration of her life. Her creation will be fired for around 60 hours the days before and when it’s unwrapped Saturday, it’s sure to light up the night.

Students, faculty and community members are invited to attend the unveiling (details below). The sculpture will resemble a house in the end, a metaphor Hole equated to the body in many of her pieces. Her team has worked on the assembly throughout this process and encourages everyone to come watch, as this will be the last time we can see anything quite like it. Watching the unveiling makes these sculptures more than just a solid piece of art, but rather a performance in itself.

I briefly interviewed a fellow Purdue student, Brenna Allard, about her opinion of the new sculpture and her interest in attending the unveiling (audio below). After watching some of Hole’s process and a previous unveiling online, Allard was much more intrigued about the event this weekend.

I hope this encourages people to come and celebrate the life and work of Nina Hole as well as spread a deeper knowledge about the stories behind the art on campus.

WHAT:

Unveiling of Nina Hole’s final Fire Sculpture at Purdue

WHEN:

Saturday, April 16 at 8:30pm

WHERE:

Yu-Kong Pao Hall

552 W Wood St., West Lafayette IN

 

 

Beginning Painting

“Painting is self-discovery. Every artist paints what he is.”

Jackson Pollock

Pollock was right; life influences art in significant ways. The literal sense of this quote is also true, though, in art classes where you’re assigned to create a self portrait.

Beginning Painting (AD200) is one of those classes, which I happen to be taking this semester. Our instructor, Victoria Stetler, has taught us much about the different aspects of painting, including color theory, form and individual style. A good example of these concepts in action is the master study assignment in which we replicate portions of work by three artists, one that paints in a similar style and two that don’t.

Personally, I found it rather difficult to create a likeness (to my standards) for the two painters that have different styles than myself. The two were Renaissance artists, Titian and Leonardo Da Vinci, and the smoothness and precision was tiring (Check out my previous blog post that features my Leonardo replication). Thomas Eakins, on the other hand, I was excited to replicate and I found the composition a lot easier, with a wide variety of value and color change (below).

This class has increased my understanding not only of my own style and preferences, but also other styles, which I believe has in turn allowed me to grow as a painter. Therefore, I was excited to see how Stetler has become not only the artist she is today, but also successful instructor.

Stetler was a non-traditional student for most of her education, and did not originally intend on teaching, she says that came later. The passion she has for art is apparent in her excitement for her students to learn and master different areas of fine arts, some of which she shared in a brief interview with me (below).*

Besides self portraits and the master studies, our class is also completing a layered painting of a theme of our choice. Stetler showed us her layered painting in an earlier class to better explain the assignment. Her piece was focused on the role of women in combination with clothing, sewing and housework. The final piece depicts overlapping layers of stenciled female figures, outlines of and old fashioned ironing board, scissors and linear samples of directions from sewing books. The center of the piece is a detailed depiction of a piece of cloth hanging on a clothes line, which she painted from a still life. This artistic combination of different elements creates a unique theme and prominent message to its viewers.

(Video to be embedded as soon as approved)

The atmosphere of our class is rather relaxed, and since we’re allowed to listen to music many of us have headphones in while we paint – hence the silence in much of the next video.

(Video to be embedded as soon as approved)

* The videos are private until I get Stetler’s approval

 

Tattoo Mapping

Tattoos (like diamonds) are forever. But what if they weren’t?

Projection mapping artists Oskar and Gaspar collaborated with tattoo artists from Queen of Hearts Tattoos to make this a reality – at least for a night.

For the event, they projected the moving tattoo designs on human canvases, building on existing tattoos and creating new ones. The video below shows the tattoos in action, and no editing software was used after filming, so yes, it really looks that real. The process requires the subject to stand very still while the projected tattoo does its thing, but the quality and detail in the projections are incredible. The visuals projected on individuals remain true and aren’t distorted despite the curved surfaces of the human body.

While this experience doesn’t change things permanently, bloggers and techies are excited about what these developments have in store for future creative installations and designs. Below are some stills from the video, showcasing the projections at different parts of the mapping process.

Who knows, maybe you could be in the next collaboration with this new and advancing technology – keep creating!