Friday, October 31, 2008

Welcome to my Night Gallery

I don't really celebrate Halloween, but I do like a good suspense thriller or horror movie. The Orphanage is one of my favorite horror movies to come out recently. Then I found this cool widget on Flektor that let me made a horror movie of my own. So, submitted for your consideration are images from my night gallery. Enjoy.

Featured in this show are:
"True Love Waits"
and, of course, The Doll Project

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It ain't heavy, it's my dollhouse: adventures with my Kaleidoscope House

The Kaleidoscope House by Laurie Simmons and Peter Wheelright

Have you ever had an idea that was so compelling that you knew you absolutely had to follow through with it, even though it would require great feats of Herculean strength? Well that is what this trimester of school has been about for me. First all the overly detailed and repetitive folding and gluing for "Horror Vacui," then my presentation video, which I compiled with the horribly bug-ridden Windows Movie Maker (since I can't afford a Mac right now), and finally the whole adventure of transporting a 28" x 24" x 22" plastic behemoth of a dollhouse to school and back. But I knew I had to do it.

Last year, I was taking another art history class where we had the option of doing a presentation or writing a paper. And I chose to do a paper on Cindy Sherman because I think her work is a lot of fun. While I was at libraries gathering my sources, I kept finding books about Laurie Simmons right next to the ones about Cindy Sherman. And I thought, "Laurie Simmons? Didn't she design my Kaleidoscope House?" I flipped through to the color photos. And there it was, my most prized possession (other than my engagement ring) : the designer dollhouse I scored back in 2001 on eBay for the low, low price of $50. (Plus another $50 for shipping, I think.) Wouldn't it be great if I could do a presentation and bring it in to show the class?

I suppose I was inspired by one of my art history professors who would always show us examples of the actual artifacts we were studying in class. African Dogon masks? He'd show it to us. Arrowheads found on the school grounds by unsuspecting maintenance men? He had a collection of them. He made our classroom a hands-on museum. It enhanced the lecture. I wanted to give my audience the same kind of experience.

Well it was too late. I had already committed to the Cindy Sherman paper, and had to finish what I'd started by that point. But I vowed to myself that if I ever got the chance I would do a presentation on Laurie Simmons and bring the Kaleidoscope House to class so everyone could see it. I had no idea what that would entail.

Isn't it funny how you never realize how big, cumbersome and heavy your possessions are until you try to move them? I thought that packing my house in the big box that my chair from Urban Outfitters came in would make my life easier. I was wrong. It did not. I tried cutting holes in the sides to make it easy to carry. This only led to torn cardboard and frustration. It was an arduous task. I ended up having to borrow my parents' minivan once I considered the size of the box I had. There was no way it would easily fit into a car door or on the backseat. It was probably too big for the trunk. I did not want to find out the hard way. And then when I got to school--not as early as I'd planned--I got there right when everyone else was also on their way to a 7:30 class.

But it all worked out in the end. I am grateful to everyone in my building and at my school who helped me get my house safely there and back. It was difficult, but it was also an adventure. And I will remember this for a long time. So this is the reason why I haven't posted anything on here this week, or gone on Entrecard or made my rounds of the blogs I read every day. I have been too busy nit-picking every frame of my video, yelling at Windows Movie Maker for freezing in the middle of editing sessions, converting files on Zamzar, and straining my biceps by lugging a big box around. I was simply too tired to blog.

Below you can view the fruit of my labor: a video about Laurie Simmons, the amazing artist who designed my treasured little piece of un-real estate with architect Peter Wheelwright.

Oh, and for fans of The Doll Project, this video has a sequence that features it. The whole presentation is about 15 minutes long, though the credits make it a little bit longer.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

From the Archives: "Panthea collage," circa 2001

Panthea Collage

"Panthea" graphite and charcoal on paper 2001

I was working as a guard at the Smart Museum when a very special painting came to us on loan from the Art Institute, Laurent de la Hyre’s “Panthea, Cyrus, and Araspus.” We were instructed to keep an eye on the painting at all times and took turns watching it. At least we were allowed to sit down for that post. Alone in an empty gallery with nothing better to do and forbidden from reading on the job, I made use of the small sketchbook I’d brought with me, and the drawings in my “Panthea Collage” and my “Panthea Gesture Drawings” are the result of those quiet afternoons at work.

"Adaptive Reuse" - Everything but the kitchen sink

When I first began this painting, I had thought of calling it "Hot Mess #9" because I thought it was a hot mess:


I mean, what was I thinking?

But as Julia Cameron said in The Artist's Way, (paraphrasing here) sometimes your style has to break down so that you can make the transition to a new style. And sometimes you have to do some really ugly work before you can create something beautiful. And sometimes you just need to take your ugly painting, stick it in a corner for a year or so, and come back to it. So that's what I did.

Soon I realized that the problem wasn't that the painting had too much going on. It actually didn't have enough going on. So I started adding some of the odds and ends I'd been saving.





adaptive reuse

And eventually, I realized that right title for this piece is not "Hot Mess #9," but "Adaptive Reuse," a term used in architecture to describe the process of repurposing old structures. In this case, both the trash used to create this piece and the piece itself were repurposed.

Finally Complete: Raspberry Divine's sultry sister

Last week I ended up taking Wednesday off from my classes because of a death in the family.


Though he was often cranky and never fully tamed, Gizmo was still a part of my family and I will miss him very much.
This week I got back to work and finished my cardboard roll confection, which I am calling "Horror Vacui." More Latin, of course! "Horror Vacui" is an expression used in art that means fear of empty spaces. The title kind of contradicts itself, for though the painting is covered with forms, the forms themselves have empty spaces.

This is what it looked like last week:


And then glazed it with my secret sauce:

horror vacui

Here are some detail shots:



What I love about quinacridone violet is that it is a mysterious color. If you add even a drop of white, an amazing change happens. Its intensity is revealed. And like "Midnight Intrigue," the color is complex and nuanced:

horror vacui detail. 2jpg

Saturday, October 18, 2008

From the archives: "Surreal Love," circa 1993

This week's drawing is from the margin of a notebook I used while taking a summer creative writing class.

surreal love

A drawing within a drawing within a drawing... yes, I was (and still am) an M.C. Escher fan. And speaking of M.C.'s, you can tell I really liked early 90's hip-hop fashion. These kids clearly shopped at Merry Go Round and Chess King. Check out their Doc Martens and Cross Colours!

Oh, and 2 bonus drawings:
doodle 1993 oh no

a hole in my head

Sometimes the holes in the notebook paper can be a design element.

Things I like to draw: "marginalized" doodles

Just like the sitcom babies who always seem to be born when their mothers are in confined spaces with no hope of getting the aid of a trained midwife or obstetrician, my ideas also seem to come at inopportune times. Like when I am in the middle of a class.

This has been true since kindergarten. Unfortunately, it meant that a great many of my early masterpieces were confiscated by the authorities and mailed home to my mother with a note: "Tiffany drew this in class when she was supposed to be reading." Eventually, I learned to conceal this habit by drawing in the margins.

I like to think of what I do as a form of creative multitasking.
I was taking notes in microbiology class when the drawing above came to mind.

And this one is from a fiction writing class. You can even see some of the story there, a parody of Kafka's "The Nose" featuring a crooked televangelist who experiences an unusual form of divine retribution. I need to finish that story someday. It could be really funny.
And if you think I only draw while in classes when I lose interest, take a look at these samples from design school:

nothing to do with architecture

nothing to do with Rothko

completely unrelated to Carl André
(but she got her hairstyle from Frida Kahlo)

and this has nothing to do with Jasper Johns.

doodle 2004 Ancient Romans
But the Ancient Roman people above actually were drawn on the day we covered Ancient Rome in my art history class.

doodle 2004 art history class

But she's got little in common with Art Nouveau.

Still, what a great outfit! I doubt I'd have drawn something quite as well if I had put it off until the lecture was over. Really that's what drives these drawings, a sense of urgency, and a compulsion to draw. I am still listening, but I can't just sit still and listen. I have to draw while I listen. And I am always surprised at what comes out of the stray lines in the margins of a notebook.

doodle 2006 reminds me of Island of the Blue Dolphins

glamour girls and smoky eye

And really, that's the reason I save my notebooks. Not for the notes, but for the doodles.

I must confess, I even have done them while taking notes in meetings. I really liked that little tableau in the design center and wanted to capture it.

Still, I've never been entirely certain of what they all mean. As I wrote on the drawing above,

Women with femme fatale faces glaring up at me from the pages of my notebook— do they want to be characters or subjects of paintings?

Maybe they can be both.

What is Beauty? Considering the portait

I came across this thought-provoking quote at Jezebel:

Mobility, life, is ironically the enemy of posterity — or maybe not ironically at all. Models are not valued for sparkling vivacity, but for the ability to conjure a slow-motion approximation of real emotion. What we perceive as 'beauty,' as perfection, is a face essentially devoid of expression.

--Sadie Stein

Something to ponder if you consider yourself to be less than photogenic. Read the rest of it here:

And if you do take rather unfortunate photos, hopefully you're not in the public eye:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Chicago Art Open

I feel ambivalent about the Merchandise Mart after all the disappointments the design field has dealt me. The times when it becomes the backdrop for art shows are when I like it best. So today I went there to see the artwork at the 2008 Chicago Art Open. Two of my professors have pieces on display there:

Javier Chavira - Preciosa Y El Aire

Javier Chavira - "Preciosa Y El Aire"

Jeff Stevenson - Predecessors
Jeff Stevenson - "Predecessors"

And here are a few other pieces that I really liked:

Erin Waser - 1626 Squared
Erin Waser - "1626 Squared"

Michelle Scott - Brothers
Michelle Scott - "Brothers"

Selene Plum - Black Water
Selene Plum - "Black Water"

Eric Sorensen - Evanston
Eric Sorensen - "Evanston"

Tatiana Flis - Untitled
Tatiana Flis - "Untitled"

Sarah Stec - Unfurled
Sarah Stec - "Unfurled"

Sophia DeBoer - Insanity as Reality
Sophia DeBoer - "Insanity as Reality"

Kamelia Hristera - Jordan
Kamelia Hristera - "Jordan"

Vanessa Vargas - Untitled #1
Vanessa Vargas - "Untitled #1"

Vlasta Smala - Red Dress Too
Vlasta Smala - "Red Dress Too"

Carey Primeau - Black Stairs Elegance
Carey Primeau - "Black Stairs Elegance"

So if you are in the Chicago area and want to see some great art, you should check this show out. The show runs until the 19th and is on the 8th Floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

finally done with the background

I have finally finished building up the background of my new painting, which seems to be morphing into a bas relief:

The building process had started to get pretty monotonous. Fortunately I had a lot of good music to get me through. And now the fun starts: I get to start painting it on Monday! I have a feeling this one is going to be pink. "Raspberry Divine" is going to have another sister.

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