Feb 24, 2010

Introductions: Liene Bosque

This week's MFA Fiber and Material Studies lecture will be presented by Liene Bosque. Bosque holds a degree in Fine Arts from São Paulo State University and Architecture and Urbanism from Mackenzie University, both in São Paulo, Brazil. Although she no longer practices architecture directly, she has become a sort of mystic architect with her structural and decorative interventions. Louis Sullivan wrote, "But the building's identity resided in the ornament." Bosque, an admirer of Sullivan, looks closely at simple actions of architectural adornment and often amplifies them. Her current studio is SAIC's Sullivan Graduate Studio Center whose exterior and on some floors interior still bears the mark of the famous architect.

Before moving to Chicago she received a grant to complete several projects in Lisbon, Portugal where she cast the exterior iron work of buildings then mirrored them with latex forms. Her work however does not always require such monumental forms, she also draws from the simple ornament that we interact with on on a day-to-day basis including stone work, staircases and banisters.

This fall Bosque noticed that construction on downtown Chicago landmark was destroying its historic exterior. She decided that the structure could not just be preserved in photographs but needed a more tangible record. Dressed as a construction worker, Bosque and colleague did guerrilla castings of the building's ornamental exterior in broad daylight.

Liene Bosque's lecture is Friday, February 26th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss her lecture be sure to check out her website for more images, installation shots, and a complete resume.

Next week's lecturer will be David Harper (Tuesday 3/2).

Feb 23, 2010

In the Studio: Marquess of Queensberry

A new piece in the male trope series. This piece is called the Marquess of Queensberry. The Marquess of Queensberry Rules are the twelve rules written by John Graham Chambers in 1865 which govern the play of boxing and logistics of the fight. Sponsored by British patron of boxing John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry in 1867 the new rules added legitimacy to the sport and became the foundation of modern boxing regulations.

Feb 17, 2010

CAA Conference Wrap-Up: The Highlights

I went to so many panels at CAA (College Art Association) Conference that an extensive description of each one would be a little overwhelming. The Critical Craft Forum needed a closer look but other panels while valuable can be summed up a little quicker. I almost filled an entire notebook with information garnered from the ten plus sessions I attended. So I'm going to list my greatest hits.


Critical Craft Forum
(See my full rundown)

In the Making: New Texts and Resources in American Craft
Maria Elena Buszek presented her forthcoming publication.
-An audience member dissed William O'Brian's work because he uses store bought glazes. Panelists defended him and M.E. Buszek said, "His work is not about making a perfect glaze." It was the "B**ch get down!" moment of the day.

New Media: The Culture of Dispersion
Michael Mandiberg presented "Giving Things Away is Hard"
-He made some great points about open source culture and discussed the difficulty of scale the new economy.


Art and the Televisual
Melissa Ragona of Carnegie Mellon University presented "Andy Warhol’s Proto-TV Production"
-Ragona is researching Warhol's television experiments including game shows he produced. Warhol was an early adapter of pairing a celebrity with an everyday person and watching the magic unfold. Ragona proved once again that Warhol was much more than a celebrity icon maker. Every time I think I know his work, BAM! He did something else completely amazing.

African Diaspora Art History: State of the Field
There was standing room only at this dynamic session that included new research from Judith Bettelheim, Tobias Wofford, William Ian Bourland, and Cheryl Finley.

Desire is Queer!
E. G. Crichton presented her project "LINEAGE: Queer Desire and Matchmaking in the Archive"
-Crichton is the first artist-in-residence at San Francisco's GLBT Historical Society. Her current project matches the personal archives of deceased GLBT people to living artists, musicians, writers, and performers who develop creative responses. Her presentation of this earnest set of collaborations brought me to tears. One participant explored their Japanese American heritage by imagining the life of a queer man forced into a Japanese concentration camp in WWII. While the project was largely sentimental it raised larger issues surrounding the trouble queer heritage.


Contemporary Art History in 2020
This was a superstar panel with lectures from Hannah Feldman (Northwestern University), Amelia Jones (McGill University), Carrie Lambert-Beatty (Harvard University), and Robert Storr (Yale University).
-Carrie Lambert-Beatty's presentation pointed to academia as the future home of contemporary art. She took issue with the idea that the academy is place where art goes to die, arguing instead that it can act as a drag to market forces. She said that art historians need to tolerate uncertainty and allow work to remain undefined.
-Robert Storr (I love him) said that he thinks about Art History less and less because contemporary critics often take positions on works are far to obscure and have little relevance outside of academia. He said "I look at the field of Art History and realize how little history there actually is it."

Feminist Painting
Chaired by Julia Bryan-Wilson (University of California-Irvine) and Johanna Burton (Whitney Independent Study Program) and featured Harmony Hammond, Carrie Moyer, Amy Sillman
-I'm a fiber geek and seeing the godmother of contemporary fiber, Harmony Hammond in person was like attending a David Bowie concert (probably better). Hammond talked about her return to painting and how it still relates to her more sculptural work.
-During the question answer session Julia Bryan-Wilson (I love her) asked "How would this panel be different if it was called Lesbian Painting instead of Feminist Painting?". Some panelists became uneasy with the question and it continued frame the rest of the discussion. Hammond, author of Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History,responded to the question by saying "I don't go into my studio thinking about Lesbianism or Feminism. I'm thinking about painting and the work is feminist because of it's context."

Push and/or Pull:
Trans and Gender-Variant Artists Discuss the Role of Feminism in Their Work

Chaired by one of my favorite contemporary artists Lacey Jane Roberts. Roberts introduced the panelists by discussing the need for a dialogue on gender-variant/trans-issues at CAA after some transphobic events at last year's CAA Conference.
-Tobaron Waxman discussed recent research in the middle east and showed new media work that highlighted international cultural tendencies to deny the complexity of the body and explores how gender constructs identity. Waxman is an artist-in-residence at New York's Jewish Museum.

Feb 16, 2010

CAA Conference Wrap-Up: Critical Craft Forum

The CAA (College Art Association) conference was one of the most intense few days of my academic career. It was one eye-opening/enraging panel after another. In addition to hearing about some important publications and projects I had an opportunity to meet some of my academic heroes.

On day one of the conference I dragged myself out of bed for the Critical Craft Forum moderated by Namita Gupta Wiggers, Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland, where she leads the exhibition, collection and education programs. The forum started at 7:30am so I expected a sparsely populated room but soon the room was two-thirds full. The forum allowed artists, critics, and art historians working in the field of craft to introduce themselves and raise issues affecting their field. There was clear divide in the room between people who came from institutions or practices that supported a broader definition of craft and those that are still fighting the tired out battle of "art vs craft."

Attendees discussed upcoming publications and projects. Susan Faxson, of the Addison Gallery of American Art, discussed her difficulties in compiling a retrospective on Shelia Hicks. Other researchers echoed her hardships and the question of researching the history objects that function in a domestic setting was raised. Joan Livingston of SAIC, said that for her publication she had to create new avenues of research. Namita then raised the question,"Is there a cannon of craft?"

The discussion of "art vs craft" was breached several times at the forum but each time it caused some attendees to roll their eyes. This division becomes a way to "other" the field of craft and while this conversation will probably never end. This debate is really a question of institutional hierarchy. I'm not interested in this conflict anymore. In Thinking Through Craft, Glenn Adamson describes craft as an attitude towards making and I think that accurately describes the my practice and the approach of my colleagues at SAIC.

Sharing an Adamson-esc approach was Maria Elena Buszek from the Kansas City Art Institute. She mentioned her forthcoming book Extra/Ordinary: Craft and Contemporary Art. Her publication will soon be the critical manual for the contemporary craft community. Evey time she spoke at the forum I wanted to high-five her.

As the forum concluded Namita discussed creating an online community for discussing new approaches to craft and a continuation of the issues raised in the forum. After a general consensus Namita decided to start the Critical Craft Forum on Facebook. She recorded the entire session and will soon full post a full report there.

Feb 14, 2010

Introductions: Ellen Nielsen

This week's MFA Fiber and Material Studies lecture will be presented by Ellen Nielsen. Nielsen came to Chicago after working with the Annex Theatre in Baltimore, MD. As part of a creative collective Nielsen's imaginative costumes, puppets, and sets helped make the Annex Theater's musical adaptation of Harry Nilsson's album The Point! a hit in Baltimore. Nielsen has developed a distinct aesthetic that moves through both her collective and individual work. She celebrates the ornament, the innate, and relishes in labor. Nielsen also strives to create not just art objects but events that are in themselves art like her work with Annex Theater and her 2008 contribution to Baltimore's Artscape.

Ellen Nielsen's lecture is Monday, February 15th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 37 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL. If you miss her lecture be sure to check out her website for more images, videos, and a complete resume.

Next week's lecturer will be Liene Bosque Muller (Friday 2/26).

Feb 9, 2010

Introductions: Allison Wade

This semester first-year students in the MFA Fiber & Material Studies program will be presenting a series of lectures on their studio practice and research. The noontime lecture series presents issues on conceptual development, context, materiality, and process as they relate to the artist's studio practice.

Presenting first this semester is one of my favorite collegaues, Allison Wade. Wade grew up in Texas and attended Stanford University for her Undergrad. After spending several years in the design industry and developing a burgeoning studio practice Wade realized she wanted to return to school for her MFA.

Wade's current work deals with connections, disconnections, and missed connections on a theoretical and material level. She utilizes materials often left in the recycling bin like cardboard and torn clothing. While many contemporary artists reach for these materials they seldom handle them with the consideration and care that wade does. I've seen her arrange and re-arrange her sculptures for weeks. This care gives her non-figurative assemblages an gestural and somewhat anthropomorphic quality. They lack the post-modern irony present in many anti-monuments. Her architectural cardboard forms wrapped in monochrome t-shirts and sweaters manage to occupy space with a presence that allows viewers to see the delicate and often fleeting nature of our human connections.

Allison Wade's lecture is Wednesday, February 10th at 12:10 in Sharp 903 at 36 S. Wabash St., Chicago, IL.

If you miss Allison's Lecture be sure to check out others in the series:

Ellen Burgess Nielsen (Monday 2/15)
Liene Bosque Muller (Friday 2/26)
David Harper (Tuesday 3/2)
Bobbi Meier (Thursday 3/11)
Barbara Wakefield (Wednesday 3/17)
Soo Shin (Friday 3/26)
Erin Chlaghmo (Monday 3/29)
Steven Frost (Tuesday 4/6)
Janet Lin (Thursday 4/15)
Mike Evans (Friday 4/23
Kate Hampel (Tuesday 4/27)
Matthew Schlagbaum (Wednesday 5/12)

In the Studio: Daniel Boone

This new piece is based on an image of the American folk legend, Daniel Boone. On Saturday afternoons, when I was little my dad and I watched old Disney shows about Daniel Boone and Davy Crochet. My dad is an accomplished hunter and in my imagination became Daniel Boone-like legend. I often imagine him as a young man dragging deer through the snow in a stylish coon skin cap. This piece may never leave my studio because on it's completion it became oddly sentimental. Maybe I'll give it to my Dad.

Feb 3, 2010

Openings: Christine Tarkowski: Last Things Will Be First and First Things Will Be Last

It's only been up since Friday but I've already been to the Chicago Cultural Center twice for Christine Tarkowski's new show. The exhibit explores systems of belief and life's perpetual rituals. The show includes a massive ship-like installation in the main gallery which is framed by two enormous curtains screened printed with juxtaposed images of Roman excess and third world strife. Tarkowski has two collaborators in the show one being 80's alt-punk icon Jon Langford of the Mekons and the other an Amish woman looking to save her soul. Tarkowski a devout atheist gave the woman an year to convert her but her efforts were fruitless. Recovering from this strange relationship Tarkowski produced her own gospel album with Langford (which soulfully provides a soundtrack for the second gallery). The show runs through May 2nd at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Feb 2, 2010

In the Studio: Potent Male Tropes

I started working on some collages that are turning into animations. I'm using vintage French Tin Tin Adventure magazines from the 70's and gay erotic pulp covers as source materials. Over the last few weeks I've expanded these collages and hope to get the animations based on them in production soon.