Saturday, May 31, 2008

summer slices of life: saturday

i still have yet to get this summer thing down. i am either doing absolutely nothing. or back to getting no sleep. it has been one of those weeks. i feel like i haven't even been home. waking up at 6:30 to drop off momsie so i have a car to go to work. putting in over 14 hours at the store for a party thursday night. going to see sex and the city at midnight. waking up at 6:30 again. getting dragged to the dia with geoff. etc. etc.

so i'm going to slow down for a bit to post some slices of life. i've always been a fan of that stuff. the everyday. the overlooked. here's some short snippets. some collecting and some creating.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

more woodward project

another day of driving up and down.

Friday, May 23, 2008


jackie and i have set up an exchange system of sorts. i'll make sure she has some art in her life (not that she struggles to fit in the artsy side or anything...) and she'll make sure i have some good old liberal arts in my life (because lord knows that is sort of missing from mica.) together, we have the best of both worlds.

in the first round of our summer exchange, i gave her boys of baraka, a copy of a james baldwin story i read in critical inquiry, the latest issue of the urbanite (tackling crime and violence in cities), and a slew of cds that i meant to send her months ago. the truth is, i need her mind on this stuff too. i reached a point this year where overload stopped being a good thing, and started to make me shut down. instead of feeling energized about all the possibilities, i felt stuck. i need jackie's over-analyzing action on this one.

and in exchange she gave me some fun things to read. the writings of robert motherwell and a reading called "value and meaning." (what more is there, really?)

so tonight i sat down and started in on it. epiphanies x 100. thank you, jackie.

i've been noticing things lately. like, i've been to i don't even know how many tigers games in my life, and suddenly i am bothered by the comerica park microcosm created in the city of detroit. i notice the predominately white crowd (which i happen to be a part of...) and i wonder why the african americans i see are either (1) outside the gates begging for change, (2) working the concession stands for minimum wage, or (3) playing center field. there is very little mixing. maybe that's what bothers me most. this separatism seems to only be defacto segregation. (like my brother's baseball game yesterday at southfield lathrup. how did we get to today, to where we can have such insanely segregated schools and cities?) i guess that's just society. i should shrug it off. so it goes.

but that kind of sucks. usually when my mind goes in too far in that over-analyzing direction i stop myself. there have been times at mica when i've brought up diversity on campus and have been challenged. and i don't know whose ignorance to blame (me or them...) but i am too much of a people pleaser to continue to push that button. even when class discussions turn into diversity debates, i sort of envy the people who are blind to it all. the people who have no worries and wonder why everything has to be about race. and that's where i've been stuck wondering if there is any merit to thinking things should change. there's a fine line between the way things are and the way things could be. and when you operate in that middle ground, it would be stupid not to question your motives for action. sometimes the trust i have in my own truth is not enough. and i need to look for outside reassurance/motivation/inspiration. something that always seems to come in due time.

"the greater the diversity that gets unified, the greater the organic unity; and also the tighter the unity to which the diversity is brought; the greater the organic unity. a monochromatically painted canvas would show a high degree of unity, but since no diversity of color, form, or theme would thereby have been unified, it would not possess a high degree of organic unity. thus a resultant organic unity depends of two things, the degree of diversity and the degree of unity to which that diversity is brought. the task of achieving organic unity is difficult because these two factors tend to vary inversely and so pull in opposite directions. the greater the diversity, the harder it is to bring to it a given degree of unity. something has intrinsic value, i suggest, to the degree that it is organically unified. its organic unity is its value." - robert nozick, "value and meaning"

the "value and meaning" chapter, excerpted from "the examined life," also had some quality connect in context quotes.

"value involves something's being integrated within its own boundaries, while meaning involes its having some connection beyond these boundaries. the problem of meaning itself is raised by the presence of limits. thus, typically, people worry about the meaning of their lives when they see their existences as limited... to seek to give life meaning is to transcend the limits of one's individual life."

"meaning can be gained by linking with something of value. however, the nature of the linkage is important. i cannot give meaning to my life by saying i am linked to advancing justice in the world, where this means that i read the newspapers every day or week and thereby notice how justice and injustice fare. that is too trivial and too insubstantial a link. (still, knowing external things and understanding how they are valuable may constitute a nontrivial link.) the greater the link, the closer, the more forceful, the more intense and extensive it is, the greater the meaning gotten. the tighter the connection with value, the greater the meaning. this tightness of connection means that you are interrelated with the value in a unified way; there is more of an organic unity between you and the value. your connecton with the value, then, is itself valuable; and meaning is gotten through such a valuable connection with value."

so much to process. just starting to squeeze out that sponge...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

the woodward project: update

here's a sampling from today. going southbound. camera number three. the last batch. we ran out of space for pictures just as we got to the end and hit the detroit river. pretty good timing if you ask me. so we will be back at it again this sunday to get the other side of the street.

the pictures are turning out so cool. it's exciting.

the woodward project

today. the woodward project begins. this is something i have been wanting to do for awhile now. the project is pretty huge. and we (jackie and i) are unbelievably naive about it all. but i wouldn't have it any other way.

the main idea is this: drive down woodward and take pictures in a pseudo-panoramic manner. there aren't any rules. or really any expectations. except that it will be super long, it will involve acetate somehow (per my request), and that we want to mount an exhibition around it at the museum of contemporary art in detroit. which i am crazy enough to think could actually happen.

i just leave it to jackie to ask the practical questions. like how many cameras should we have going? and how many memory cards will we need? and won't it be insanely expensive to print all the pictures out? (the absence of this factor is one thing i blame art school for. on one hand, you get really good at finding/taking/stealing things to use in your art. on the other hand, there are a lot of times when you just have to suck it up and spend money. if you want to make good art, you have to invest in it. there's really no way around that one. if the project calls for a certain something, you shouldn't let money stop you. there's my idealist two cents for today.)

because so much is up in the air, i'm really excited about it. i like that i am going into it with just a gut instinct. no solid conceptual facets have been discussed or formulated. it's more like, "let's just do it, and see what it will teach us." we know there is something there. i don't know how there couldn't be... we just have to jump in and start driving.

i'll try to add some pictures later today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

being back home

there are a few things that being back home is good for...

seeing the house with a new eye
and suddenly finding cool compositions in mundane places.
watching south park with young kip.
staying up late.
sleeping in.
drinking as many cups of coffee as i want in the morning.
actually being able to watch the daily show on tv.
going to ben's baseball games.
reading a lot.
driving again.
working. if i feel like it...
having absolutely no pressure to make art.
but still getting the urge to do it anyway.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

painting final

this should have been posted last friday... but finals ended and i got caught in the rapture of packing up my entire life from the past year. (we make way too much art at this school...)

the final project for painting was an "in the manner of" painting. i picked agnes martin from the list just because we had read "in the pursuit of perfection" in my elements class. i had never seen her work, but i loved her writing, so i figured i couldn't go wrong. imagine my surprise when i googled her and found countless canvases gridded out with squares and rectangles.

so why squares? these simple systems contain so much. they are martin's personal pursuit of perfection. perfection and order. together. that's some good stuff. and in my research and reading i found so many good quotes.

"her task was not to consider the viewer's response, but to follow her inspiration. only by truthfully representing her happiness would her work succeed in stimulating similar experiences in others. response to the work, she averred, depended on the observer's condition of mind... 'people get what they need from a painting, you find things... and it helps you make the next step. so, in responding to art work, people sort of make their steps... they've got to come ready, just like the artist was ready for his inspiration.' martin's absolute trust in the potential of people to take these steps and to discover truth about life."

"this tolerance of the human condition rested on martin's deep-seated faith in the goodness of life. she preached that life - and everything that happens in it - is positive; only our inability to perceive the total process blinds us to this."

i like that. i have this feeling that agnes martin and i are a lot alike. so glad i discovered her.

Friday, May 9, 2008

mica + mt. royal portrait exchange

"there's something thats very intense about the experience of sitting down and having to look at something in the way that you do in order to make a drawing or painting of it. by the time you've done that you feel that you've really understood what you were looking at... and somehow it becomes a method of possessing the experience in a unique way." - robert bechtle

my elements teacher approached me with this idea towards the end of the first semester. she knew i was involved in cap, and just wanted my input and advice on how to move forward with it all. the concept was hinged on a few things. on one side, mica freshman walk right through the mount royal school grounds every day to get from the commons to classes. on the other side, their school is literally right in the middle of our college campus, and the students have no idea. the only time they set foot in a mica building is when they graduate in falvey hall. basically, there is an obvious relationship between the two that is not being realized. and that separation provides an awkward tension, on top of all of the forces of privilege, power, and difference at play. (mica is predominately white. mt. royal is predominately black. mica students pay $40,000 a year to come here. mt. royal students come from households that can't even imagine financially being able to send their kids to college.) this project was an attempt to begin to connect these two worlds. portraiture is personal, so why not?

everyone in our elements class got a mt. royal buddy. (tyree was my buddy. we're posing next to our portraits above.) we spent one day with them at the baltimore museum of art. we rode the bus there together (some of them had never been before...) and some mica mat students took us around in groups and showed us art relating to identity. then the next week we spent another day drawing each other. the students we worked with were eighth graders. we picked that because we knew that they would be a challenge. they have so much apprehension about making art. and they are getting ready to go on to high school. prime time to plant the thought of college in their heads.

i think this idea has tremendous potential. imagine if every incoming freshman has the opportunity to participate in something like this? it would be huge. and i know that this is something katherine will continue to pursue. so who knows what could happen. it will be exciting to see how it all plays out in the next few years.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

sculptural forms final

more pvc pipes. more dowels. more quality time spent in the wood shop. it was pretty crazy.

ken shared this quote with me during the critique today. (it's from a book titled "the hand: how it shapes the brain, language, and human culture" by frank r. wilson.) he said it reminded him of my work:

"when personal desire prompts anyone to learn to do something well with the hands, an extremely complicated process is initiated that endows the work with a powerful emotional charge. people are changed, significantly and irreversibly it seems, when movement, thought, and feeling fuse during the active, long-term pursuit of personal goals."

i like that. and it's kind of crazy how clear the idea of connecting came into play during the process. i was constantly lining things up, drilling the holes, then taking them apart, putting them back together, plugging in the dowel, and then doing it all over again and adding another piece. especially with the large turquoise piece, plans changed.

it really started though with just genuinely getting turned on by the color. when i saw them at lowes, it was as close to love at first sight as one can get. unfortunately that was back in auburn hills and i figured that it wouldn't quite work to bring a 12 foot long pipe on the plane back to baltimore. so i kept them in the back of my head. when the opportunity came up to revisit an idea from a previous sculpture done in class for the final project, i knew immediately i would go back to pvc. i only had to convince my neighbor to take me to the lowes in timonium. i purchased three of the turquoise pipes and told myself that i would figure out later what to do with them. so their development was a much more organic process than the other sculpture (which ended up being very similar to the first pvc piece, only free standing and bigger in scale.) once i started playing around with them and connecting them, it was totally like connecting in real life. sometimes a connection is obvious and super easy to make, other times it's a stretch or the thing holding them together comes out. (i'm realizing as i write this that it might not make sense to anyone else but myself... oh well.) it's a perpetual give and take. and in the end you just have to get in there and make it work. just one of the many lessons learned in good ol' sculptural forms.

three down, two to go.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

graphic designers are geeks (and we like it that way...)

i live under a rock. but last night i found myself at a show in a pretty cool gallery (with a map of baltimore painted on the walls that i couldn't take my eyes off of...) called the current gallery. the baltimore music scene is something i don't really know a lot about (rock, remember.) but it's thriving. thriving enough for rolling stone to name baltimore the "best scene of 2008." and there are so so many places i haven't even been and bands i don't even know about. on the plus side, i have three more years here to find things out...

how did i end up out from under said rock? i was told that a band comprised of two gd faculty would be playing. which sounded enticing. and, no, unfortunately, it wasn't ellen lupton. but it was just as good: two totally geeky graphic designers, bruce willen and nolen strals, from the design group post typography. post typography is already amazing. but when i realized that they also had a band... i was impressed. i was joking when i asked if they played music about graphic design. they do. really loud music about graphic design. with screaming lyrics about graphic design. (the band is called double dagger. come on...) they were so entertaining to watch.

all i can says is... i can't wait to have these guys for experimental typography! so ridiculous.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

elements final

at one point this past semester, i was at a pretty strange state with my elements stuff. i was working to push it from a more personal place, yet still keep it something that anyone could access and find meaning in. i finished the floor plan project before spring break, and knew that when i came back i would have to decide: do i keep pursuing the yellow? on one hand, i didn't want to milk it too far past its point. (and people in class were starting to get pissed.) on the other hand, when you get to a stopping point like that with art that you've been working on for a long time, it can also mean that you should keep pushing. because what if a major breakthrough was just a few steps away?

like i usually do on breaks, i brought a big stack of books back to tackle. and there was one i had been wanting to delve back into for awhile, heart of darkness. this book was one of the contributing factors in coming to mica. i was reading it in ap english when i came for the open house here last spring. and after driving around baltimore at night, i somehow convinced myself that the decision to come here was like choosing between a life of apathy and action. (and i guess it kind of was...) so i picked the book back up, and grabbed a different color pen than the one i had used a year ago, wondering what i would pull from it this time around. (heart of darkness is one of those wonderful books that never gets old. despite only being like 100 pages, you could spend a lifetime over analyzing every line. which is my favorite thing to do.)

it wasn't so much about imperialism anymore. that was too obvious. too typical an interpretation. not too far into it, i found this:
"there was a vast amount of red - good to see at any time, becase one knows that some real work is done in there, a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange, and, on the east coast, a purple patch, to show where the jolly pioneers of progress drink the jolly lager-beer. however, i wasn't going into any of these. i was going into the yellow. dead in the center."
i almost didn't catch it at first. the yellow.

i've learned to listen a lot more to random signs like that. (i tried explaining it to my roommate, tara, today. it's not skepticism at all. it's more of a belief in a greater meaning manifesting itself in everyday things. things you could totally overlook. unless you tune into it.) so, stubbornly, i stuck with the yellow. but it had a totally new meaning. which was important. because somewhere along the line i had stopped making art about what really mattered to me. and I found myself lost in a line of yellow projects. when i really get down to it, i need to make art about what i'm thinking. and my thoughts have been consumed for so long with baltimore. and that is where i end with elements this second semester. i say “end,” but it is really just the beginning of these baltimore/yellow explorations that, because they are so engrained in my thoughts, i know won’t be able to stop scratching at when the class is done.

two down, three to go.