Saturday, April 7, 2018

Misc. Artsy-Fartsy

Damon Davis was a kick in the creative pants: Rare treat to see/hear a visiting artist shake up perspectives on how we can affect powerful change... He got a lot of exposure with his work in Ferguson ( CNN: "Artist brings beauty to a scarred Ferguson,"and UAF's Office of Diversity in conjunction with the Art department brought him up for a couple gigs.
"Artists play a vital role, telling these stories and keeping history alive. [The posters] are important for people who may be on the fence to see. Maybe they'll change their minds [and start supporting us]. And for those who aren't on our side ... now they know we're still here. And we're not going to back down."- Mic: Ferguson Now Has the Most Powerful Street Art in America
At one point in the talk I caught myself sitting with my arms tightly crossed in a defensive posture, which translates into non-verbal communication that sends all kind of signals. When I looked around the room more than half the attendees had the same pose. I wondered from his perspective if that's something he's gotten used to seeing, as it's also a sign whatever you are saying is having an impact.
"I don’t know where the fight is going to take us, but this artwork is what sustains me through it. That’s what I’ve done with most of these projects. My specific goal has been to keep hopes up, because it’s just been trauma all the time." - Art Journal: Damon Davis’s Negrophilia: Encounters with Black Death

I sketched a ballpoint portrait of him during his talk, amidst an added snowstorm of flakes + thought balloon ("This is the whitest place I've ever seen")... speaking of which...

Hella marketer & self-promoter, whether or not you care for the actual paintings, which is another issue – let’s just say I’m just glad that we weren’t all instead brought up exposed to a Kinkade show. I was thinking about the Bob Ross approach while doing a demo the other day, noting how it presumably was orchestrated like a cooking show in order to facilitate filming within a 24-minute timeslot. Similarly (besides wishing I had assistants) I’ll break down the stages of creating a panel by having several different cartoons at varying stages of production. Makes it look easy, which quite often it ain’t. But that isn’t the point of teaching, it’s to be positive + encouraging + supportive, if only because 99% of the rest of life is not, and maybe this is the one place you do your own thing in your own way without some sanctimonious, judgemental asshole giving you shit about it.
"Traditionally, art has been for the select few. We have been brainwashed to believe that Michelangelo had to pat you on the head at birth. Well, we show people that anybody can paint a picture that they're proud of." - Bob Ross

“Love, exciting and new... Come aboard, we’re expecting you…”

Recently I've fallen down the rabbit hole with having a window on the desktop open and watching really old and really bad '80's sitcoms while toiling away at the 'toons. That's how I stumbled across a 1985 "The Love Boat" with Milton Berle, Andy Griffith, Tom Bosley and… Andy Warhol? It encapsulates the inherent superficiality of celebrity culture - and connects the dots between mass media whether it's on a screen or a gallery wall.
“You need to let the little things that would ordinarily bore you suddenly thrill you.” - Andy Warhol

Filed under “I Can’t Even”: From someone who remembers living through the early 80's PC conspiracy hysteria of subliminal messages hidden in art: as usual, current events continue to completely, utterly short out the irony meter...
“Controversy surrounding Kehinde Wiley’s wildly non-traditional portrait of the Commander-in-Chief broke out within minutes of its unveiling,” the article, written by “Hannity staff,” asserted, “with industry insiders claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique -concealing images of sperm within his paintings.” - TPM 
Now for those viewers keeping score at home, there's any number of resources available on-line to assist you in aesthetic appreciation while judiciously critiquing these postmodern portraits. In the end it's far more revealing of the viewer when "you see only what you bring to the work" - otherwise known in psychological terms as projection.

A friend recently posted a link to this TED talk, which I found much if not most of everything she talked about had merit, but at a couple crucial points in the presentation, undermined everything with a fallacy that I personally fight against - especially as someone who is actually in the proverbial trenches teaching Beginning Drawing.
What is the purpose and value of Art education in the 21st Century? Foley makes the case the Art’s critical value is to develop learners that think like Artists which means learners who are creative, curious, that seek questions, develop ideas, and play. For that to happen society will need to stop the pervasive, problematic and cliché messaging that implies that creativity is somehow defined as artistic skill. This shift in perception will give educators the courage to teach for creativity, by focusing on three critical habits that artist employ, 1. Comfort with Ambiguity, 2. Idea Generation, and 3. Transdisciplinary Research. This change can make way for Center’s for Creativity in our schools and museums where ideas are king and curiosity reigns.
When you leave undefined the classic weasel words like “art education” and “creativity” and also fail to acknowledge the much more pedestrian, functional and concrete skills of actual making (as in CREATING) is problematic especially when much of her message rests on communication. Case in point being what I assumed was a pile of poop at the beginning could have really used someone with better basic drawing skills.

A practical art education presumably would help in a critique that addresses use of contour line, also the lack of any gradation of values to help turn the blobular shape into a form that occupies space etc. Maybe even some splotches, muddy bootprints, hints of texture, a setting/environment… etc. etc.

Even more importantly is her perpetuation of the capricious and artificial distinction between normal citizens and artists (ex: from the description: "think like Artists"). regular readers will immediately recognize this as one of my pet peeves that not only underscores my career teaching art but this whole damn blog. Paraphrasing some quote I heard somewhere about the difference between the old world approach to making things vs the modern compartmentalization as a separate, distinct career/label, back in the day “An artist wasn’t a special kind of person, every person was a special kind of artist."


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