IVT Course Assessment

7 05 2010

What are the three or four most important things you have learned or re-learned from your work in this course?

This Introduction to Visual Thinking class covered a lot of material about the concepts of art, but it was much more interesting because it focused around the element of time. Out of all the topics we have discussed, I really enjoyed learning about how time can affect an artist’s work. Time is something most people tend to overlook and not think about. I also liked learning more about a wide variety of famous artists. This half of the semester helped me broaden my conceptual thinking even more, especially since we applied what we had learned in discussions into decoding and interpreting artwork. I really enjoyed the exercise of looking at the art pieces in Monty because I never really took the time to look at them outside of class. It is crazy how the art pieces in the hallway are usually ignored because people are so focused on getting to class, but if you take the time to stop and look it is very rewarding. It is exciting to figure out what meaning that piece was trying to portray. This class has really taught me to think more outside the box and to pay attention to things that normally are ignored.

If you could have your instructor do two things differently, what would they be?

I thought this class was run quite well for the most part. The only thing I would suggest is a more detailed description for assignments such as the artist research paper and Powerpoint presentation in particular. We did not know exactly what the instructor was looking for in the paper and presentation. We were unaware of the format that it was supposed to in until after it was graded. Other than that, the course went pretty smoothly.

Are there things you feel you never got from this course that you really wished you had?

This course already surpassed my expectations. I thought it was just going to be discussion-based throughout the semester, but I am glad we got a lot of studio time in. I liked how the class was divided half and half with conceptual discussions about meaning and how different elements of art affect a work in addition to studio work as a response to the discussion or artist we were talking about. This semester was definitely filled with surprises. I never expected to draw from a nude model so soon! That was definitely an interesting experience. I will admit I was uncomfortable at first, but then I got used to it and learned how to focus on the negative and positive space more so than the model herself. It definitely taught my eye to be aware of the lines and contour around an object and the shapes that are created because of the negative and positive space.

If you were asked to give advice to students taking this class in the future, what would you say?

I would definitely recommend this class to everyone, even if they are not going to be art majors or minors. This class is definitely beneficial to anyone because it teaches students to become more open-minded when looking at just about anything. It really changes how you think in a positive way and forces you to look at something in multiple perspectives to find the underlying meaning. As for advice, I would suggest for students to walk in with a very open mind and to take the time to really look at the art pieces, digital images, or films that will be shown throughout the semester. I would also like to add that students should definitely listen on the discussions in class. It is so intriguing to hear what other classmates are thinking and have to say. You will be surprised how their views can shape your thinking too and make you see things differently. There is not just one way at looking things.


Art Event (2 of 2) FOON SHAM

1 05 2010

On April 26th, the day before my birthday, I sat in sculptor Foon Sham‘s lecture. Foon Sham specializes in wood, but has used other mediums such as metal, wax, rice paper, and a few others. Not only does he make art three dimensionally, but two dimensionally with his charcoal and pastel drawings combined with some water color. Not a lot of people realize it, but his own photography of his work is a piece of art by itself. The images of his pieces effectively show the negative space that he emphasizes in his sculptures.

This photograph of Sham's 20-20-3 Joint shows a perfect example of negative space.

Foon Sham’s 20-20-3 Joint is a perfect example of showing negative space. As you can see from the image, the two vase-like structures of wood act as the positive space as the the negative space takes the shape of another vase-like structure.  Most of his work is also very interactive with the viewer. Sham’s larger scaled sculptures usually allow people to walk inside or through it, which is very fun and interesting. He always gives his viewers the chance to give back to his work, and in return he responds back by shaping or rearranging the materials in his piece. It is a process which he calls “action and reaction”. It is much more enjoyable when others can participate in his exhibitions where everyone can share the experience with the artist and feel the emotion that was put into the sculpture during the process. Overall, Sham’s art is abstract and very architectural, but yet has the concept of being realistic.

For a brief biography of Foon Sham, he was born in Macau, China and arrived in the United States in 1975. He earned his Bachelor’s in the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1978 and his Master’s at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 1981 where he met his wife, Fung Sham. Both of them were Art majors. Foon Sham has shown his art in many places all over the world such as Australia, Hong Kong, Norway, Chile, Canada, many states in the U.S., and a few others. Locally, he has had multiple exhibitions in Washington, D.C.

Sham has made several pieces, but my favorites would be the Sea of Hope and his Flow exhibition. The Sea of Hope was a big tribute to his mother who had passed away to the loss of cancer a few years ago. The piece consisted of a boat-like vessel, which had what he called, a “skeletal” body that was the focal point. Then he had folded paper boats with tea leaf cones to put on top. On the paper boats, viewers could write messages to loved ones who had lost the fight to cancer. It was indeed a very emotional piece where everyone who had lost a loved one to cancer could relate to how the artist was feeling and in a way mourn with him. As the exhibition went on, more and more boats were added on to create a “sea of hope”. So in a sense, the artist was no longer alone making the process of moving on easier with the support of viewers, family, and friends.

Foon Sham's Sea of Hope

Sham’s Flow Exhibition was also another one of my favorites because of the way people could interact with the cone elements. Each cone represented one of the five elements in the Chinese culture, fire, water, wood, earth, and metal. Viewers could add on cups of grass to the earth cone, blue water to the water cone, nails to the metal cone, wood blocks to the wood cone, and candles to the fire cone. The work as a whole represented migration and how we shape the world, which I thought was very clever and intriguing. The individuality of the viewer’s additions to the piece symbolizes how each individual can shape society.

Flow by Foon Sham

Foon Sham explained these in his lecture, which I felt not only captivated me but the whole audience. He was a really good speaker and had a great sense of humor! His lecture was by far, the best lecture I have ever been to. Well, it is hard to not be biased because… he is my dad:)

If you really like his work, visit his site below and check out one of his famous pieces Glory of the Chinese Descendants in the Chinatown Metro Station in D.C.!



Andy Goldsworthy & Artist Presentations

6 04 2010

Last week we watched a documentary on Andy Goldsworthy and his work. It was a really long video, but it was well worth watching. Andy Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire in 1956 and was raised in Yorkshire. He studied at Bradford College and Preston Polytechnic. Most of his work has been made in places such as Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District, Grize Fiord in Canada, the North Pole, Japan, the Australian outback, St. Louis, Missouri, and Dumfriesshire. The mediums he uses are what he finds in the remote locations he visits. These materials include twigs, leaves, stones, snow, ice, reeds, and thorns. The works are then recorded by photography. Goldsworthy has a whole set of slides that he keeps in his home.

Since we all watched the video in class, I would like to focus on his piece Roof, which is installed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. After watching the documentary, I realized that he had an installation that I had seen before, which was the one in D.C. so I thought it would be interesting to look into it a little more.

The concept for the sculpture Roof, emanated from the artist’s interest in the origin of Washington building stones, and evokes the natural sources of this urban center. The sculpture is made up of nine, stacked-slate, hollow domes, each measuring approximately five and a half feet high and twenty-seven feet in diameter. Along with his other permanent pieces of art, Roof is the fullest articulation of a structure that he has made in less durable materials such as leaves, ice, and branches. To emphasize time, Goldsworthy’s long engagement with the dome sparks his interest in the markers of human passage through time. The structure itself follows a trajectory that includes Neolithic burial chambers and dwelling cairns, ancient Roman and Byzantine structures, which were Enlightenment architecture and modern public buildings.

The dome-like form developed in the artist’s piece from his desire to give depth to the hole, or void, a device that occupied Goldsworthy’s attention since early in his career. This reminds me of Mark Iwinski’s work, which I had just talked about in the previous post from the art event. They both have a thing for voids and the depth it brings. Back to Roof, Andy Goldsworthy constructed his domes so that a black hole has no light that can penetrate it.In addition to that, the dome acts as a geometric counterpoint to the angular site and building. The Buckingham Virginia slate, a highly reflective material, reinforces the effect of the light in the space, and alludes to the use of slate roofs in Washington. Goldsworthy’s title refers to the architectural function of the material and of the dome. By locating Roof on the ground, alternative meanings apply—a roof is also a home or a summit and the word “dome” derives from domus, Latin for house.

Other than the remarkable Andy Goldsworthy movie, the class had to present their own artists. I chose William Kentridge to present to the class. Most of the class seemed to like my presentation. The main thing I was worried about was trying to explain that there was no real conceptual meaning or method to Kentridge’s animations. He just makes things up as he goes, so it made it difficult to figure out what the deeper meaning of his charcoal animations were. Other than that, I really enjoyed researching him and his work. For more information on him, just scroll down to my other post on Kentridge.




Art Event (1 of 2) Mark Iwinski

5 04 2010

Today, April 5th, I went to sit in at Mark Iwinski’s lecture. He is a multi-disciplinary artist who has done sculptures, print-making, drawing, frescoes, and some photography. For sculptures, his main medium is wood from old fallen trees or logs that he has found. Mark Iwinski believes that sculpture is a way of activating and enhancing the space with meaning. Print-making on the other hand, was a new medium for him. He explained that more of his prints were organic and reflect the structure breaking down or sprouting out. Iwinski has taught at many well-known colleges such as Dartmouth, Cornell, and William & Mary. He has had exhibitions all around the world, but just to name a few he showed in the Springfield Art Museum, Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, Peninsula Fine Arts Center in Newport News, and an exhibition in 2006, “Ghost Trees and Crosscuts: Intersections Between Forest and History,” at the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University. Iwinksi has also done group exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

In the lecture, Mark Iwinski explained that it is important to connect to the always changing landscape around us. His journey is to go in search for the forgotten language of the forests. This consists of a lot of hiking through national parks and various forests, photographing, and researching. He is all about being the observer and seeing how things grew and changed in the landscape. Even though he grew up in Milwaukee, he really enjoyed moving to Vermont in 1999 because “it was a place where a lot of things changed”. During his presentation, he was really fascinated with the tree that grew over a stone as if the roots of the tree were like a fist grasping onto the stone. Iwinski was interested in the constant growth and at times, destruction of the forest.

Mark Iwinski is also very interested in urban architectural history, time, and models of time. When he said that to the audience, I thought his lecture definitely related well with my visual thinking class. Iwinski enjoys the abstractions and geometric forms of old models of time one of them being the sun-dial. He was so intrigued that he decided to make his own. I thought it was interesting how he made his own versions of the old tools of keeping time because it makes something so ordinary into something more abstract and also adds more meaning. I also liked how he pointed out the relationships between the models. For example, the sun-dial with the sun. Alchemy, the transmuting of one element to another, also strongly influences Mark Iwinski’s work. Some of his sculptures were created as a “sense of presence” where there is an optical illusion from looking at the “void” of his piece. He explains the void as being “metaspace” where the hole or void seems like another three-dimensional shape that pops out of the piece. In addition to the metaspaces, he has made some sculptures where branches sprout out of 3D shapes such as spheres, cubes, and cones. Iwinski wanted to emphasize the transmuting of, for example, a sphere into a tree that is growing out of it.

We learned about the sizes of some of the trees he has encountered, which were mostly chestnut trees. He said that some Chestnut trees could go up to 150 feet or higher and can be 9 feet or more in diameter. The bark alone can be about 5 or more inches thick. I thought that was quite impressive. Iwinski then discussed that the trees in the forests used to be even bigger, almost twice as big as they are now. I find it kind of depressing because of all the urban renewal, which leads to deforestation. Mark Iwinski has a done a great job researching how much human beings have affected the environment mainly focusing on the states of canopies. Since the artist was also very interested in urban architectural history, he pointed out that colonial warships took about 20,000 or more acres of lumber to make. I thought that it was ridiculous and never realized how much wood was being used to benefit people back in those days, and now it makes me more aware of how often we use wood and paper on a regular basis.

Mark Iwinski is a really “go green” kind of guy, which makes him a much a cooler artist because he really does care about the environment and how we use it. Instead of cutting tree stumps from the forest to install in his exhibitions, he casts them. Then once the plaster of the stump is dried, he uses that as his art form. These are known as his famous “Ghost Trees”, which I find fascinating. In order to get prints of his stumps, he has to travel to find one in the forest while bringing along his supplies such as ink and paper. The chainsaw marks in his prints express the visual language of the forest that Iwinski is looking for. The more violent the strokes, the more powerful his prints are. He also explained that the chainsaw marks act as a warning to the people that we should not be encouraging deforestation. Mark Iwinski made a very good point about our environment when said, “We live in a place where it’ll never be pure again”. I agree with him because we cannot go backwards in time, but we can find the “traces” of the past.

Project 2 Proposal

26 03 2010

One cannot help but respect the immense capability of an artist who works in such a variety of mediums. Whether it is his films, performance art, drawings, sculptures, photogravures, or embroidery that resonates most strongly with viewers. William Kentridge’s work definitely provides a unique historical experience. He’s known for his animated film, he dabbles in sculpture and he is internationally recognized for his performance art. Some people even say that he is the master of mediums because he makes such a variety of art pieces. Kentridge also studied theatre, but realized he was not a good actor and settled with being an artist instead. His animated films, or ‘drawings for projection’, explore personal and social conflicts in the context of both apartheid and post-apartheid landscapes, using mainly pastel and charcoal drawings on paper, which he changes and sets in motion by rubbing out and drawing over things.

Kentridge’s main medium is charcoal. He draws an image, photographs it, erases, and redraws it many times to create evocative video animations that at once tell stories and convey the narrative of the act of drawing. He has also done projects where he shifts pieces of construction paper that are already in a shape of a horse. He then animates it by slightly moving each little piece of paper frame by frame to make the horse trot over time. We saw a small documentary on William Kentridge in class, which really inspired me to try some of his techniques.

To respond to the research I have done for William Kentridge, I have to create an artwork that is in some way inspired by him. The work does not necessarily have to be the exact copy of the artist’s work or made by the same mediums that the artist has used. It is still challenging for me to decide exactly what I want to create since Kentridge has done a variety of things, but I really do like his charcoal animations and construction paper cut-out animations. I was thinking of maybe combining the two together for my piece. That way, it will be a little more interesting with a mash-up of his techniques. For my studio art response, I could have the background drawn from charcoal and for the foreground, I would have a cut-out of a wolf instead of Kentridge’s horse. I am planning to have a shifting background as the wolf is running through it. It is probably going to be a little difficult and time consuming since this will be done frame by frame, but I think it is a good way to capture the element of time that is executed in William Kentridge’s work. Unlike the other projects I have done, this one will not have brainstorm sketches for how it is going to be animated. This way I will be able to experience the artist’s methods of just “winging” it. None of his animations were planned or scripted out, which I find so impressive. His work still has conceptual meaning even though he makes things on the fly. I think this will be a challenging project for me, but it will be fun to try and it is something I have never done before. If it does not work out, I will probably draw some sort of significant event that occurred in our history with charcoal and blue pastel, which are the main mediums for William Kentridge’s animation and the event in history would represent his way of showing South African history.

Overview for 1st half of Semester [IVT]

9 03 2010

What assignments were the most interesting to you? Why?

Out of all the assignments we have done so far, I would have to say the flip book and model drawing would be the most interesting. The reason being is that I have never experienced any of those activities before and I have taken a few art classes in high school before taking this class. The flip book was the most fun. I always wondered what it would be like to make a flip book and was so fascinated with how animations were made. After doing this project, I definitely have a lot more respect for the people who have to individually draw all these scenes for movies or TV shows frame by frame all by hand without the technology of a computer. I knew that it took a huge amount of time, but I never realized how tedious it is to make a flip book. It is so easy to stray from the project because you get bored of the same frame over and over, so it forced me to be really persistent to get it done. For such little movement as you flip, it takes several frames to make it flow smoothly. It was tiring and mentally draining at times, but I am glad we got the chance to make our own flip books. Next, is the model drawings, which definitely pulled me out of my comfort zone. That was the very first time I had to draw from a nude model, so I definitely had to get used to it at first before I could warm up and start sketching. Out of all the possibilities, the model’s first pose was facing me… just my luck. At least the model was a woman so it was not as bad. My mom was telling me that during her first day of drawing class, she had to draw from a male nude model so I guess I lucked out in some areas. Aside from me being uncomfortable, it was a good way to learn how to draw and focus on the negative space around the model. We also got to use charcoal, which was pretty fun to work with. I love being able to blend with the medium because it adds a softer shade and value to the sketch. It was definitely a very different, but interesting experience than I was used to but at least I learned from it and will be better prepared next time.

Has anything caused you to change the way you look at art or the world in general?

Well after just the first day, I was already looking at things on campus and just everything differently. We discussed all sorts of definitions and interpretations of what we believe is art and time. I never really thought about that stuff before. I am usually a very literal person and see only one meaning to things, but this class has definitely broadened the way I look and perceive my surroundings. Having class discussions about it really helps because there are so many opinions out there that you can consider and think about. I go to many galleries with my dad and now I try to figure out all sorts of meanings from just looking at one piece and it makes me ponder why and how it is considered art. This class has affected my way of thinking significantly and I have noticed that I am more conceptual with my own assignments and work.

Has anything we read, looked at, or talked about been relevant to things in your life? How?

Actually, many things that we have learned in class are connected to my introduction to psychology class. I remember talking about lucid dreaming in both classes. It is awesome to be taking these two classes in the same semester because they really do relate to one another and have a lot of parallels that I can understand from putting the things I have learned together from each class. In IVT, we watched the movie, Memento, which was also brought up in the last psych class that I had. From one movie, two things were drawn out from it… memory and the usage of time in the film. I just think that it is so interesting because I feel like I have more background information about the topics we discuss in both in my classes.

Do you have suggestions for the second half of the semester?

I do not really have any suggestions because I like the way it has been run so far, but I really do enjoy having more studio time in this class. The topics we have learned have been really interesting too.

What do you hope to leave the class with?

I want to be able to see things beyond the service and not to have predetermined judgement about my surroundings. I have already learned to think more conceptually with the help of this class, but I want to continue being able to see more than one meaning about an object and see the world differently by being more open.

3 Potential Artists for Presentation

23 02 2010

William Kentridge

William Kentridge is a South African artist and was born in Johannesburg in 1955. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and African Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and then a diploma in Fine Arts from the Johannesburg Art Foundation. At the beginning of the 1980s, he studied mime and theatre at the L’ƒcole Internationale de ThŽ‰tre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He had hoped to become an actor, but he learned that he was not that talented in acting and settled with being an artist instead. Between 1975 and 1991, he was acting and directing in Johannesburg’s Junction Avenue Theatre Company. In the 1980s, he worked on television films and series as an art director. Kentridge is best known for his animated films. These are constructed by filming a drawing, making erases and changes, and then filming it again. He continues this process meticulously, giving each change to the drawing a quarter of a second to two seconds’ screen time. A single drawing will be altered and filmed this way until the end of a scene. These drawings are later displayed along with the films as finished pieces of art.

After learning his process, his work is very labor intensive. One of his most famous pieces, Stereoscope (1999), took about nine months to make alone. It takes a while because there is no script or storyboard and Kentridge’s ideas are worked out on the fly. Having momentum for his projects is difficult because the work is so slow, which sometimes results in never getting finished. William Kentridge believes that making film is all about finding focus and finding what the film is about. If the film was storyboarded, it would make focusing a lot harder. When it is being thought out while it is being done, it becomes part of the film’s subject.

I am interested in researching Kentridge because his conceptual ideas portrayed in his work relate to most of what we have discussed in class. Time is a very important element to his films. For example, Kentridge’s use of music also adds to the effect of time by getting more and more precise as it gets closer to the completion of the film. His work also includes current events at the time he was working on that project, which I find interesting because his art records history at the same time.

Billy Bang

The renowned violinist, composer and improvisor Billy Bang was born in Mobile, Alabama, grew up in the South Bronx, and studied with the brilliant composer-performer Leroy Jenkins. In the 1970’s he formed The Survival Ensemble, and later co-founded The String Trio Of New York. Bang has performed and collaborated with such remarkable musicians as Sam Rivers, Frank Lowe, Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Marilyn Crispell and James Blood Ulmer. His enthralling performance on Roulette TV video opens with the wistfully plaintive blues melody, “Daydreams”. Bang extends the opening emotional atmosphere through an astonishing variety of techniques that elicit dramatic and forward-propelling images before returning to the beginning mood. A wonderfully lyric ballad with allusions to play and work songs follows. Dedicated to Bang’s friend Dennis Charles who went by the nickname Jazz, this composition is appropriately entitled “One for Jazz”. Included in the piece is a poem that was his friend’s favorite, authored by Bang. The third and last selection is a firey, non-stop cadenza at presto-tempo, “Untitled”. Bang talks about searching and exploring the components of “Daydreams” and of being “magnetically pulled” into new aspects of the piece. He recalls the combination of Jazz and the European spirit in the AACM, and illuminates the “loft jazz” years in New York, emphasizing the creative persons involved and the development of more open ways of playing.

I would be interested in researching Billy Bang because it is different from the art of film, it is about music and the conceptual meaning that you get from listening to it. I used to play the violin in high school, so I can relate to the feeling of expression while playing or practicing. I thought it was cool how Bang used the form of music to symbolize his “daydreams” because in class we expressed our dreams on paper, so it was interesting to compare and contrast between different forms of art over the same conceptual idea.

Terry Fox

Terry Fox was born in 1943. He studied at the Cornish School of Allied Arts in Seattle and the Accademia di Belli Arti in Rome. His performances and works have been seen throughout the United States and Europe, at festivals and institutions including the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse; Documentas 5 and 6, Kassel, Germany; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; De Appel, Amsterdam; Modern Art Gallery, Vienna; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum Folkwang, Essen, West Germany; Musee d’Art Moderne, Paris; Het Apollohuis, Eindhoven, Holland; and Gallerie L’A, Liege, Belgium. Fox lives in Liege.

Terry Fox was a central participant in the West Coast performance art, video and Conceptual Art movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Working in the San Francisco Bay Area, his political, site-specific performance actions explored ritual and symbolic content in the objects, places, and natural phenomena of everyday life. Fox’s work in video is an extension of these concerns. His 1974 Children’s Tapes is a classic early investigation of the medium. With wit and ingenuity, Fox used the intimate scale and time-based properties of video to translate the aesthetic and formal tenets of minimalism, real time, perception and performance into the realm of the everyday. He is living and working in Europe for the past several years, Fox has continued to produce multi-media installations, performances and sculptures.

I find Terry Fox interesting because he is well-rounded as an artist and some of the films he has made are quite comical. For example in his Children’s Tapes showed him capturing a fly by using an intricate trap, which was kind of entertaining. He puts a lot of emphasis on the movements of everyday life such as simply pouring water into a bowl, threading a needle, etc.