Sunday, April 28, 2013

Phase 7 - look for patterns (then do something), update


Is this new paper on the floor?
It’s been a while since I posted a home project – so I thought I'd start with this mini-project. I’ve been giving more thought to the idea that art is a good motivator for me and trying to use that as a spring board to try to learn some new digital skills. This lamp was in the house when I moved in (I extracted the "Before" photo from a digital movie – thumbs up for a new skill there J). I used masking, primer, and neon spray paint to give it a little update. I like the way it’s now bright and cheery, and the solid color helps the 3D surface decoration stand out. The contrast of the shiny, curvalinear base vs. the matte, structural shade is also nice. (The vase and curtains were in the house too. The flowers are 2 for $1(!) at the grocery store, and the table is my best ever off-the curb find (+ a lot of tlc). The chair is a past spray paint project). I may still paint the foot silver (haven’t decided yet). It's not a Grecian urn, true, but I like that it has a history with the house that pre-dates me. In terms of phase 7 and seeing patterns – I think I may be a little bit like my feline assistant, who rubs her face on everything new that comes into “her” house, in that I want to invest time and energy in things that are close to me as a way to “ensoul/artify” them. This may sound weird – but wait – I have some historic support ;).

I titled “Big Collage” this week (a close up is going to be on a post card at Sketch in Hudson J). I decided to name it “Lacrimae Rerum.” It’s Latin (which I know could be a little off-putting, but…) there's a special reason connected with the meaning for keeping the original text. The phrase comes from one of my favorite poems (after the Metamorphosis), the Aenied. Aeneas is contemplating art(!) He looks at a wall painting of the Trojan War and  remarks that here in the scene are the “tears of things/tears for things.” In Latin, the phrase is ambiguous and can mean both the human tears for the way things are, but also tears of the things themselves - as if the artwork expresses sympathy for mankind. 

I think it's a good fit for the iconography and ideas in the big collage. The idea of an expectation of empathy from art is especially meaningful to me right now because in some of my reading, I came across a question (from Theodore Adorno) of whether art and engagement with beauty are offensive in light of tragedy. I keep coming back to this because I can't decide what I think - on the one hand, I can appreciate a view that making art (or beautifying a lamp) could be seen as especially useless or maybe even disrespectful in light of terrible things, like recent events of these past few weeks on a global and national level and closer to home. On the other hand, I don't see how not trying to bring out beauty in one’s surroundings could make tragic situations better. Hmmmm. I don’t know (going to have to keep thinking on that one), but I do think the expectation that art be responsive to tragedy is interesting. It seems like having this expectation of art is indirect evidence of the existence of a soul. It also supports the view that art is special and different from other things (or to look at it another way - one doesn't expect a washing machine to stop working when bad things happen in the world; so if this expectation exists for art, it must not fall under the heading of "thing" in quite the same way that a washing machine does. hmmmmm)

Pieces for a new life-sized collage

late 14th century column from
Spain in Gallery 456 in
The Metropolitan Museum
Now back to the fun stuff ;)

I had a lot of art-adventures this week. I'm working toward a new life sized collage (yay!), and did some research for it at one of my happy places – the Met, where I saw these gems. I also attended my first gathering as a member of the National Association of Women Artists (thumbs up!), and saw a wonderful exhibition of new works by Nene Humphrey at Lesley Heller Workspace (up until May 24th - recommend!).

Great Indian Fruit Bat, ca. 1777–82
Circle of Bhawani Das
India (Calcutta)
Pencil, ink, and watercolors on paper
I saw so many amazing artworks, old and new this week; but it's nearing the end of the semester, and I've been trying to cram in a lot of reading. One text in particular seems to say that a blending of art and the world leads to an erasure of art. I got to thinking about the art I encountered this week and also about seeing the raptor last week on a walk after drawing them in the studio, and realized that I couldn’t disagree more. Here's an excerpt from my adventures this week, to show why, to me, it seems like a blending of art and the world doesn’t make art disappear, it makes the world re-appear :)

From a walk the next day

Nene Humphrey, Braiding Round , 2012
Victorian Mourning Braids made with wire
3 feet in diameter
at Lesley Heller Workspace until May 24th