Monday, July 27, 2009

Whatever you do in life, think higher and feel deeper.

Today I stuffed myself into the very packed Amphitheater to attend a lecture by Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, humanitarian, journalist, professor, and author of Night, his memoir about surviving Auschwitz and other concentration camps during the Holocaust.
His talk explored what makes humans moral. It was a complex subject - and a complex talk - that I won't try to write much about, except to reiterate the most important of his points that I took away from the talk (one of those is the title of this post); those being, that morality stems from respecting the Otherness of the Other. Also, he spoke about how morality, and right/wrong, is above all governments, all societies, and maybe even our human perception of God and the way his/her good/evil is represented through religion to us. He spoke about how everyone, athiests, agnostics, and people of all faiths, have an ability to be moral, and that morality isn't something that is learned or exists only in a religious context.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

c-town as usual

Not too much exciting news to post. Been busy with class, so no new pieces to post. WNED, the Buffalo public radio/tv station, was hanging around Chautauqua shooting a documentary for PBS that will air next fall. I shot some pictures of the Ceramic department's raku firing that you can check out over at Kyle's blog.
We're officially half done with the season; our print instructor, Craig Taylor, is leaving today, so I'm on my own as far as maintaining the studio and helping the students for the rest of the summer.
I'm out for the weekend - Sara Gibson, my roommate from when I was up here last summer, is visiting.
I'll leave you with some shots of Diana, our work study, and Tom Raneses, our instructor for weeks 1 and 2, hard at work . . .

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Finally, new art

I'm in Syracuse for the weekend, but somewhere in between the wedding dress fitting and envelope addressing, I figured I'd post some photos of new etchings. Below, turtles and a martin nest in the clouds.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Art You've Been Waiting For

I've got new prints hot off the press, but haven't taken pictures yet. In the meantime, I wanted to write about a piece of art that was here on Monday . . . the Porta-Hedge!

Bringing the outside to the inside, and vice versa, it's a trailer disguised as topiary with artificial Christmas tree foliage. It's supplied with field and wildlife guides, blackboards, peepholes to the outside, a small video screen for viewing footage of the trailer's four hidden cameras, and a bathroom. Plus real plants. Below, a shot of the interior.

Porta-Hedge is the work of Justin Shull, a fellow Chautauqua alum ('03 and '07), and you can read about it and its upcoming US tour here.

Also, here's a picture of a new etching I'm working on, based on an afore-posted sketchbook drawing.

More pictures of new work coming soon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An unexpected visitor

Look what Don found this morning on the quad!

It's a male Polyphemus moth; just couldn't wait to post it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Zinnia anticipation

I found these giant, gorgeous foxgloves on a bike ride yesterday. Really they were large enough to be badgergloves. I wanted to take them with me, but the blossoms were too fragile.
Also yesterday, our Kilnmaster, Kyle Houser, gave a lecture on his wonderfully kitschy, blobby, tattooed ceramic work. Below are some slides from the lecture:

And finally . . . I'm waiting in extreme anticipation for the blooming of my chartreuse zinnias. Perhaps my patience will be rewarded this week?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hesse on artists

"There are a good many people of the same kind as Harry. Many artists are of his kind. These persons all have two souls, two beings within them. There is God and the devil in them; the mother's blood and the father's; the capacity for happiness and the capacity for suffering; and in just such a state of enmity and entanglement toward and within each other as were the wolf and man in Harry. And these men, for whom life has no repose, live at times in their rare moments of happiness with such strength and indescribable beauty, the spray of their moment's happiness is flung so high and dazzlingly over the wide sea of suffering, that the light of it, spreading its radiance, touches others, too, with its enchantment. Thus, like a precious, fleeting foam over the sea of suffering arise all works of art, in which a single individual lifts himself for an hour or so high above his personal destiny that his happiness shines like a star and appears to all who see it as something eternal and as a happiness of their own. All these men, whatever their deeds and works may be, have really no life; that is to say, their lives are not their own and have no form. They are not heroes, artists, or thinkers in the same way that other men are judges, doctors, shoemakers or schoolmasters. Their life consists of a perpetual tide, unhappy and torn with pain, terrible and meaningless, unless one is ready to see its meaning in just those rare experiences, acts, thoughts and works that shine out above the chaos of such a life. To such men the desperate and horrible thought has come that perhaps the whole of human life is but a bad joke, a violent and ill-fated abortion of the primal mother, a savage and dismal catastrophe of nature. To them, too, however, the other thought has come that man is perhaps not merely a half-rational animal but a child of the gods and destined to immortality."

Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf

Perhaps a bit melancholy, but I think there is some truth in this.

52nd Chautauqua Annual and some other cool art

Sunday was the opening of the 52nd Chautauqua Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, as well as an exhibition of National Geographic photography by Annie Griffiths Belt, and some incredibly neat sculptures by Anne Lemanski. I had not seen her work until now, but clearly, I am a fan.These animals are sewn together from paper. The deer is made from aerial photographs of housing developments, and the pygmy hog (native to India) is made of paper with images of brushfires. Inside the pig's nose:
My favorite bird of the group, made of an astral map:
Materials included old illustrations, collage, film negatives, and road maps.
This piece (out in the sculpture garden, and part of the Annual) is by Roberly Bell, who is also coming to teach here this summer.

Week 1 begins

There's Stanley's painty bike , and below . . .

That blurry man with the gray jacket and white shirt is Garrison Keillor! Week 1 in Chautauqua started with his visit to the amphitheater, plus the 52nd Chautauqua Annual Exhibition (which I'll get to in the next post). Keillor's performance consisted of twenty minutes of singing (with some audience participation) peppered with jokes about Lutherans and Unitarians, followed by several long monologues about Lake Wobegon, one of which had to do with the necessity of making potato salad for family get-togethers from scratch. He wrote up a short web version of this skit on Salon.

By now, all the students are here. The ballerinas (also known as bunheads) have also arrived so that they can stomp around to loud music below our apartments when we are all trying to take naps. The art students just finished a two-day marathon of figure drawing, the instructors are all here, and we've started a regular class schedule. Stanley Lewis, one of the painting instructors, arrived yesterday with his painted bike in tow.

We had our first printmaking class today with about fifteen students, which was double what I expected - good for printmaking, not as good for our office, which will not have enough tools or proof paper for all of them until we can order more. Tom launched into an etching demo immediately and paused every ten minutes or so to allow me to interject some Rules of Communal Print Shop Usage, such as, Do Not Mix Bleach and Ammonia, or, I Just Repainted This Studio So Please Clean Up After Yourselves. We got a big new ventilation system installed in the print studio to cut down on brain cell loss from acid and solvent fumes, too. We mixed the first batch of acid up today, so I will be etching soon and hopefully have photos of some new work to post!