Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Halloween, Kiddies!

Just stumbled upon these incredible pumpkins by Ray Villafane. Enjoy the greatness.

Find more of this guy here:

Cover Letters

I didn't really feel like bothering with finding specific examples of good and bad cover letters, but found websites like these to be far more useful in that they present the how to's and don't do's of writings and submitting cover letters to attach to one's resume.
Cover Letters from Hell
How to Write a Good Cover Letter
(The site listed above also has several helpful links for more specific advice.)
Cover Letter Tips for Gallery and Art Submissions

Cellular Forms

Lately, I've been noticing how many aspects of the work I do now, the vivid color palettes and organic form repetition, share strong similarities with microscopic imagery. I am interested in the appearance of such details and how they are hidden from the human eye until investigated very closely. These photos are taken from standard google searches of microscopic images, but now I am considering purchasing a microscope of my own (though not a nice one, just one that I can hold slides underneath and check out what blood cells or hair or plants look like up close) so I can do some investigating and experimentation with the closeness of certain biological forms and apply it to my work visually. I am still working out the conceptual aspect of displaying this imagery through paint, however...


     Of all the goals I wish to attain following my graduation from MCA, my primary one is to become a practicing art therapist either with a certain office or on my own. In order to make this happen, I plan on taking a year off before going to grad school in order to build up my portfolio, gain a bigger network, do grad school research, and take the amount of psychology courses which are the pre-requisites for the program I am interested in attending school for. In order to become an accredited art therapist, I will need a Master's degree specifically in art therapy and at one of the schools listed on the American  Art Therapy Association's website.                  
     Originally, I had intended to go into one of these programs right away, but was unaware of the required three psychology courses one must have in order to even be accepted to the right schools. Thankfully, I have taken an Intro to Psychology class at MCA and will be able to fit one more psych course into my schedule next semester before I graduate. I am also going to be doing an internship next semester at the Exchange Club Family Center, which is a place that offers programs to help end domestic violence and abuse. Though it isn't an art therapy position per se, I will be working with children who come from an unfavorable environment. I would be responsible for coming up with fun arts and crafts activities for them to do at the Exchange Club that could be used to better understand what the child is experiencing and the feelings they are having and offer solutions for change.

    My plan is to attend one more psychology class this summer at CBU or U of M while I teach classes in MCA's Summer Art Camp, intern somewhere (perhaps at the Exchange Club), work on my personal body of work, and get a steady job somewhere (I am not concerned about whether this will be an art-related job or not, just need a way to pay the bills). I will reside in Memphis and do all these things while figuring out which school for art therapy is the right one for me and then it will be a matter of searching for apartments in that area, finding a job, and working hard to get my Master's degree in Art Therapy which will hopefully lead to me starting up my career as an art therapist. This goal is rather short-term, but for now the future is too uncertain to think long-term. My long term goals would depend on what area I end up settling into, how I plan to utilize my MA, and other unforeseen factors.
However, within the next ten years, I would like to be married with mayyyybe one or two kids and my cat Buttercup in a house like this (but it must have a studio, of course!)

Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lester Merriweather

Lester Merriweather's visit was very refreshing. Although I've enjoyed all of our artist talks, this one stood apart as something more than a basic lecture and was a lot less formal though relaxed. Because we've had so many artist talks and they all covered more or less similar ground, I was glad Lester didn't talk too much about his professional practices experience, but only covered the essentials like school, his residency at Skowhegan, and what led him to his position at U of M today. It was nice to talk with an MCA alumni becasue at one time, he really was in the same position we are in now. I thought he offered up some great advice that I had not considered before he mentioned it. He stressed the importance of networking and the real benefits it can have (like in the story of his acceptance into Skowhegan because he'd met someone who was employed there). I think networking is not something many artists think about while stuck in their solitary, art-making, private universes, but it is definitely essential to know people. Another aspect of art college life he placed some emphasis on was the usage of the school's facilities while we have them and are paying to use them because after we graduate, they will no longer be available to us and that definitely woke me up a little bit. Now I just want to be in the computer labs and studios all the time. I don't have any negative criticisms of this talk. It was down-to-earth, simple, and touched on many important things without giving us the same information as the previous talks. It was also great that the question/answer portion took up the majority of the talk. Maybe the next lecture could just be one huge Q&A session and we could bring in questions to ask beforehand. Might be fun.  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mini-Interview with Hamlett Dobbins

A special thanks to Mr. Dobbins for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to visit his awesome  website here:

C.Y. How often do you research current exhibitions?

H.D. I am always looking at art, in magazines, and particularly online, I have probably forty or fifty art blogs that appear in my google reader and i look through those every day. when i find an artist i like i put them on my wish list of people to look into more later. i also travel as much as i can and always see art when i'm traveling. i also listen to my colleagues and my students and like to hear what they are looking at. I am always looking.

C.Y. What is your stance on artist statements? Are they important? Why or why not?
H.D. 90% of the time I don't look at them, I always look at the work first, if the work speaks to me and i want to know more, I read the statement but if the work doesn't do it, i don't read anything. I was jurying a student show last year and a person was there helping me and she asked "how do you judge this work without knowing anything about it?" and the simple answer is that you see a lot by looking. (that's yogi beara's line, not mine.) if something looks cruddy, and doesn't beg to be seen, i usually don't want to spend time with it. I think they are important, I think language is a way for some people to enter the work, it serves as bridge to help them get to the art. I think it's important to be able to articulate what you want your art to do, that way those people who are there to help you can assist you in reaching your goals.

C.Y. How often should we update our websites?
H.D.  You should update your website as often as possible, or whenever you feel like sharing your new work with people. Sometimes it is good to go into hiding, that way the work is really yours and you have a connection with it before putting it out there.

C.Y. How do you choose the artists that lecture at Rhodes College?
H.D. I always have the people who do shows give a lecture on their work, for the same reasons I mentioned above about the verbal serving as a bridge to the viewer. I also think lectures are really helpful to give insight into an artist's practice, you can cover fifty years in an hour, which you really can't do in a show. you can talk about the influences in new ways. it's a way to provide another way of thinking about your work or the work of others. that and there's a performative aspect to lectures that i usually like. I usually pick artists to show at Rhodes that wouldn't have an opportunity to show in Memphis otherwise. there are some exceptions but that's kind of my rule. the other rule is that the work has to benefit from the slow read. Our gallery isn't large, it's quite intimate. It's a pain in the neck to the gallery so I want to make it worth your while once you get there. I want you to be there for a while. That's what I usually shoot for in my shows at Rhodes. Other lecturers I pick because I think their voice will add something to the conversation of the community.

C.Y. How would you describe the perfect artist lecture?
H.D. the perfect artist's lecture would be funny and sad and insightful and sincere and honest and tell the viewer something that he/she didn't know about the artist's work before. I've seen hundreds of artists's lectures and the best ones are always the ones where you leave saying, "I can't believe how generous that guy/woman was in that talk." the best ones are giving.

C.Y. Has collaborating with other artists affected your style of art-making? If so, how?
H.D. My thoughts on collaboration are too long winded to get into in this email.  When I wrote the essay for a show of collaborative paintings done by TEAM SHaG at Rhodes.  You can read the essay here. Collaborating is such an important part of my studio practice, I can't imagine doing what I do without it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tracy Lauritzen-Wright

Tracy Lauritzen-Wright, who works for the National Civil Rights Museum, offered our class a different sort of career path to consider, but which still applies to the arts in some way: curating and museum work. I found this talk to be informative in the sense that the way she obtained her jobs and experience differed from the other visiting artists we have spoken to in recent weeks. It was nice to hear her confess that she had thought very little about a career before graduating and was unsure about her future, which I guess appealed to me so much because it makes me feel that discovering a path of my own will not be nearly as daunting as I've been thinking. Her presentation was neat and concise, though the slides could have been a little more attractive. I especially liked the addition of her resume and job experience in the presentation. It clearly mapped out every step she took to get where she is now and that was nicer than just getting a general summary of a few things she may have done here and there and in no particular order. I came away from this talk with a better understanding of museum work and I'm very glad I was able to participate in a National Civil Rights Museum event before Tracy arrived because it gave me something to discuss with her after the talk. A few other students and myself had taken part in the museum's birthday celebration as volunteer face painters and there was a strong turnout for families and their children at the event, so when I asked her about any sort of youth program the museum might have, she told me they didn't have one specifically, but they do sometimes host activites geared toward informing kids about the museum and its exhibits as well as the history of Civil Rights. I would encourage every museum, no matter what kind, to have some sort of a youth oriented program like this and I'd be very interested to see exactly how this might happen and how I could possibly be involved.

Review: On Failure and Anonymity

At some point, all art students have to ask themselves what exactly they plan on doing with their degrees. Though the options are relatively limited, I feel that it is more a matter of what area the student is interested in, be it painting, illustration, sculpture, or graphic design and then figuring out a way of shaping some sort of career out of that mold. I agreed with the essay in some areas. For instance, I do believe that many young artists have these aspirations of greatness for themselves; that their art will sell like crazy and will be known worldwide for its unique and utter awesomeness. It's great to be confident, but realistically, hardly anyone will be able to fully support themselves on income obtained from their art alone. Sure it's the dream, but you need to have more than that, so unless you're filthy rich already and don't need to work, I say go for it. Sell some art and relax. However, there are so many jobs out there for artists and I don't just mean in teaching. There are advertising firms for the graphic designer, stage dressing for the interior designer, art therapy for painters or sculptors, commission work, costuming, oh so many possibilities. I think it is a broad generalization to imply that no art school sufficiently readies their students for these opportunities or helps them in ridding the assumption that they can survive on their art alone. In my experience, I have not met a single person who holds with that theory and they all have some idea of a job or two they could do after graduation. I also think my school (Memphis College of Art) does a fine job of helping students figure out a path for them career and future-wise.
       I also did not agree with the passage about professional artists living in constant fear of being targetted and that their success will lead to corruption and they will lose all their convictions and all that. Overall, the essay was alright and raised many good questions, but the arguments were so reaching, almost desperate, with so many over-generalizations that I could not really take many of the points too seriously.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Charley Harper

I am in love with these pieces right now. I enjoy Harper's work so much and felt like sharing. I am extremely interested in the simplification of his subjects (animals, mostly) to present only the essentials. His compositions are breathtaking. Enjoy.

Incidentally, one of what I believe is the original prints of the piece above entitled, "Frog Eat Frog," has been hanging in my grandmother's house since I was a kid. Hopefully, it'll be mine someday. 

David Lusk Gallery: Anne Siems and Wayne Edge

Anne Siems

Wayne Edge

    Upon entering the David Lusk Gallery beneath an enormous wooden arch built by Wayne Edge, the viewer is greeted with similar work: three-dimensional combinations of wood, broken pieces of pottery, pebbles, and other natural, presumably found objects held together by string and perhaps some other adhesive, all displayed as wall pieces (not unlike some of Greely Myatt's sculptures previously exhibited in the same space). I was impressed by these pieces in the way that the lengths of wood were composed and bent, expressive and gestural and well-crafted. However, a few pieces I was not as taken with were the more obviously representational ones that mimicked landscapes, particularly the one with green and blue paint applied to the wood to look like grass and sky. I found the natural, found object quality of them, as well as the more abstract way in which several were composed to be far more interesting than the more altered look of the added paint. 
    Moving to the back of the space were paintings by Anne Siems. I enjoyed her paintings on canvas very much and can't really think of too many negatives as far as the paintings themselves. However, in some instances, the surface quality of a few of the works on canvas bothered me. Some tiny areas on the flesh of the otherwise smooth and well-rendered portraits were a little more textured than others, but not in places that seemed intentional enough. Perhaps more texture could be added to the figures or they should remain completely smooth and flat all over. For me, the texture did work in the background and other areas, but not on the figures. Another big issue for me was the way her works on paper were displayed. In a gallery setting, I don't believe it looks as professional to use thumbtacks to hang your work, clear or not. I wish that these had been framed or in the very least, that they were tacked down on the bottom edges as well as the top so that the pieces wouldn't curl up. Overall, very good show and nice incorporation of two very different artists.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Whitney Ranson Visit

     I enjoyed this lecture in that it was so different from the previous artist talks we've had in our Professional Practices course. It was nice to see an artist around our age group doing something that makes such an impact in the community of Memphis. However, much like the previous talks, Ranson attributed her good fortune in obtaining the position she has with the Urban Arts Commission as just that: good fortune. I am a strong believer in working hard to get where you want to be and that opportunities will arise the more you put yourself out there and work for them, and I think Ranson's explanation illustrates that idea pretty well. I just wish she'd elaborated more on the steps it took to get there. I would also like to know how other cities can be involved in programs like this. My hometown (Paducah, KY) is struggling right now with their years-old artist relocation program. The program flourished at first, but lately, the number of galleries and businesses in the Lowertown Arts District has begun to dwindle. I have often considered going back to stay in order to help educate the community about making art or even learning to appreciate pieces that aren't just about matching one's furniture and I believe having a program like the Urban Arts Commission would help make that change possible. That being said, I am interested to know how it happened for Memphis. Who decided to dedicate 1% of the city's funds to public art? What other cities have a similar practice? It was good to have this opportunity to hear Whitney Ranson talk about this amazing program, but I wanted to see more projects than just that mural, like possibly those cool tree sculptures in the library or a few of the "I Love Memphis" murals. At the end of the day, I came home and registered and am now a proud member of the Urban Arts Commission. On a side note, though, I don't really have much of an advantage on the website's Artist Directory alphabetically. I'm jealous of all the last names that begin with an A because they are the first ones that pop up and I don't really know how many people would want to take the time to scroll through the entire directory of artists. Perhaps that can be reworked somehow, like if there was a way to randomize the artist names that show up every time the page loads. I don't know, just a thought :) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Don Estes Studio Visit

This week, our Professional Practices class met with local Memphis artist, Don Estes. This talk was especially exciting because we were allowed access to the artist's home and studio, situated in a large three-story building in downtown Memphis. This space was incredible to look at and completely ideal for any working artist, as the building doubles as both the artist's living and studio space. What I felt was lacking in the Greely Myatt and Hamlett Dobbins talks was definitely present here. We were able to see Myatt's work, but were less exposed to the knowledge of his professional life or working space, while Dobbins presented a great look at the professional side of being an artist, but we didn't see much of his work and certainly not in person. I found Estes to be personable and matter-of-fact, not afraid to share his experiences with us. I enjoyed the way he divulged about not only his path into the professional art world, but of other artists as well. He encouraged us all to find our own niches in the market by explaining the various experiences of these artists as well as his own and I found that to be very refreshing. I agreed with him that all artists should know trade skills or something besides basic art-making in order to be successful or at the very least, not starving. While our classes' questions to the artist were not numerous, I thought that they were all useful and on target and that Estes answered them well. I am having a hard time deciding on anything that was negative in this discussion except maybe how envious I am of his awesome and ideal home and studio. I'm sure I'm not alone in that respect.

These, Not So Much...

Although I like most of these artists and their work, there are just a few things about the way their websites look that could be better, whether it be color choices, the way it is composed, odd font choices, etc.

These Websites Look Pretty Cool