Sunday, February 24, 2013

What's On My Wall - February 24, 2013

What's on my wall? A new cardboard piece, this one held together with staples. The resultant surface is not rigid and the collage has some movement to it. Also, on the table, an old watercolor from the summer of 2011 when I was making constellation pieces. It is a study of the effects of rubbing alcohol applied over the wet watercolor pigment. A few years removed and it looks great. At the time I was frustrated at my lack of control and the overall messiness of the watercolor. Put a piece in a box, remove your ego from it for a year or two, and you might be surprised. I'm planning on exploring the idea again and you can see my recently purchased watercolor block on the lower right hand corner, thank you Blick Art Supply 40% off coupon. And that creepy image on the television came from a preview of tonights Oscar Ceremony.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

One Last Flag

My conception of these flag pieces evolves through the course of the series. As I stated in an earlier post, the 'flag' iconography is a template on which to work out ideas around perception, materials, process... Any implied meaning that might come with such a loaded symbol is a bonus.
This is an image of the latest flag still attached to my work surface, to illustrate how these collages are constructed. Pictured in the photo is much work related paraphernalia. Up along the top portion of the photo on my window ledge you can see; the India Ink I use to color the cardboard, a bowl with pre-cut stars, the strips of pre-cut cardboard. On my work surface there are the glass weights and a heavy book I use to hold down the cardboard as it dries, the glue (PVA), and the various tools to trim and adhere the individual pieces.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

McGuire Photograph Circa 1980

This is an vintage Michael McGuire photograph I made while an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin. I uncovered it recently and I've had it on display in my living room for the last few months because I like it, and I think it is a intriguing photo that deserves further contemplation. It has prompted much thinking about the correlations between my old work and the art I make now, and I've picked up on a few connections. College was my first foray into semi-serious art making. At the time photography was my main focus and I was fascinated with flash photography specifically. For a time there I would employ it in all my photo work and particularly indoors as a fill in flash. The effect seemed very 'photographic', and the flattening effect seemed to make things otherworldly. At the same time the photo has a very strict 'one point perspective', of the type I would learn later in my academic career. The formality of the composition and the way the lane lines all converge on the swimmers belly button reinforce that perspective. At the time this photograph challenged for me the widely accepted belief that a photo was a direct and true record of the world. The fill-in flash would flattened the back ground to the point that it would often look like a false, flat backdrop, and anything in the foreground looked more 3D in comparison. My work for the last few years has been an ongoing exploration of the depiction of three dimensions in a two dimensional format. I move back and forth between art that depicts, through various means (perspective drawing, illusionistic drawing...) the illusion of depth, and art that is declares its flatness conspicuously. My current series of 'Flags' are all about the surface of the collage, using the flag iconography as a template for and exploration of surface, tone and texture. From my perspective this photograph of a swimmer at the University of Wisconsin natatorium is a beginning of the exploration between the two contradictory states of 'dimensionality'.

More Recycled Cardboard Flag Collages

It has been cold, snowy and generally wintery here in Chicago this last week. This time of year has always been a good time for me to work diligently and plow through a large project, and I was moderately hard working this week. I finished three American Flag constructions in the last six days. I can finish one in a full day of work if all the cardboard pieces are precut and dyed. I often run out of energy come the star field portion of the flag. But on the other hand, cutting out fifty cardboard five pointed stars is made less dull while watching (mostly listening to) nighttime TV. I finally collected enough red, white and blue pieces to assemble a collage in the traditional American Flag colors. I ended up relying on graham crackers and Corn Flakes disproportionately to finish the thing, and thank you to all who are still collection cereal boxes for me.
I'm mostly working on varied combinations of plain and India Ink washed cardboard. I've refined the palette somewhat and I'm still trying to narrow the tonal range.
And the last flag I made just yesterday in a marathon of Public Radio (I do like the shows on Saturday morning and early afternoon in Chicago) involves reversing the tones. What was originally dark is now light... In the photo the piece is still taped to my work surface and you can see the cut strips of cardboard and the glass weights I use to hold thing in place as the glue dries.
And here I will close with a quote from Jasper Johns who in a iconic series of paintings employed the American Flag. I suspect these pieces will often be compared to his work and I have to agree with his thoughts on subject matter. "I make what it pleases me to make.. ..I have no ideas about what the paintings imply about the world. I don’t think that’s a painter’s business. He just paints paintings without a conscious reason. I intuitively paint flags." Trend to the Anti-Art: Targets and Flags, Newsweek 51 no. 13, March 1958, p. 96