THE VISUAL ART QUARTERLY OF ST. LOUIS
Nancy Newman Rice, Vector Space, (image courtesy of the artist)
CONTENTS IN REVIEW (PGS. 01-07) EXECUTIVE EDITOR AND CO-FOUNDER SARAH HERMES GRIESBACH
CREATIVE EDITOR SUKANYA MANI
DIRECTOR OF LAYOUT AND DESIGN MAXINE WARD
PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD REILLY
WEB DESIGN AMY MILLER
CONTENT CONTRIBUTORS ROMAN BEUC JOHN BLAIR SHARON ELLIOTT JIM IBUR LIZZY MARTINEZ
GLYNIS MARY MCMANAMON DANIEL MCGRATH ASHA PEREZ RICH VAGEN SARAH WEINMANN
Daniel McGrath has given us a taste of what he found compelling when visiting the St. Louis Artists’ Guild on Washington University’s West Clayton campus. Richard Vagen reports on the midsummer solo exhibition from the Italian-Senegalese artist Maïmouna Guerresi at projects + gallery. Sharon Elliott gives us Amy Sherald at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis - an exhibition planned before the artist became known for her iconic portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama. John Blair reviewed the debut exhibition at the new Cherokee Street Gallery. We wish we could cover all of the great exhibitions held over the last three months. The shows we’ve seen all deserve discussion and documentation. What you’ll read about this season is a tiny smattering of the fantastic artwork on gallery walls and floors in our region. Make the effort to get out and see for yourself! Our Facebook page is a great place to find event listings for venues large and small.
ARTIST INTERVIEWS (PGS. 08-12) Patricia Olynyk plays with scientific images in ways that demonstrate the vintage aesthetic of old textbook illustrations. Her explorations of what we see when we look back at the development of our medical field provides an important retrospective glance at what we believed, what we’ve learned and how we see ourselves in these human bodies. Lucy Hg Solomon grew up in St. Louis and developed her love of producing art installations and art events that live outside of disciplinary boundaries while she was under the tutelage of some of our city’s great art mavericks. After founding the League of Imaginary Scientists, she began to collaborate with thought pioneers across the globe. What Sarah Paulson is doing with stop motion films is as educational as it is enticing. Paulson cut out the distractions which have historically hindered us from seeing our development of racial identities to collage together facts and images that prove her point. Her The Invention of Whiteness installations at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (CAM) was one part of CAM’s show-stopping 2018 Great Rivers Biennial exhibition.
COMMUNITY VOICES (PGS. 13-14) Roman Buec provides us with an art historical account of a great London bridge, a triumphant feat of engineering, rendered as a soft, blurry beautiful thing by Claude Monet’s paintbrush. The Ferguson-Florissant School District has formed its own STEAM Academy. Glynis Mary McManamon reports on the program’s first year.
COMMENTARY (PGS. 15-18)
Front Cover: Nancy Newman Rice, Ascent, (image courtesy of the artist) Back Cover: Nancy Newman Rice, Night Vision, (image courtesy of the artist)
Jim Ibur shares his exuberance around interdisciplinary explorations within and around visual art. Asha Perez tells us about a project orchestrated by Kai Design & Build that looks at the design of public use spaces as a perfect opportunity for interdisciplinary exchange between professionals who come with varied expertise.
Nancy Newman Rice, Stargazing, (image courtesy of the artist)
The theme for all of the sections that aren’t reviews in this FALL 2018 Issue of All the Art is steAm (as in science, technology, engineering, ART and math). Because we feel that Nancy Newman Rice’s paintings exemplify our natural wonder at the math of line geometries in nature and within our built environment, we have used her magnificent paintings for our cover art on this issue. Our St. Louis regional artists reveal the world in their artworks. These artists draw scientific theories into whimsical expression that make us want more. They rework the message of an hypothesis on global climate change so that it is as playful and inviting as it is urgent. They reveal to us what we have learned and where we have gone horribly wrong in our quest to understand the natural principles of our existence. Illustrated models can help us comprehend theories, principles and functions in ways our brains comprehend better than or differently from textual interpretations of the data and analyses that we call science,
technology, engineering and math. Art that pokes at knowledge with image interpretations stimulates us to think differently as we enjoy the experience of looking. The examples we’ve gathered of art that helps put the A in steAm is just a surface scrape of the interdisciplinary exploration going on around us. Our ever striving society cannot help but bring visual interpretation to that which drives us. No doubt, you will see artworks that fall into this category when you next venture out into an area gallery or museum. In the upcoming Winter 2018/19 Issue of All the Art we ask for interviews, essays and articles around Art and Social Change. We are looking for stories of art as a catalyst for social change, as a marker of change, as a forum for oblique or direct conversation, as a place for resolution or as a signifier of conflict… As always, our issue theme is as wide as you, dear reader, make it. All the Best,
Executive Editor and Co-Founder
REFLECTIONS AND CLEARLY HUMAN III ST. LOUIS ARTISTS’ GUILD
Shanlin Ye’s Reflections, a series of water colors on paper, show faces and cropped bodies as if they are puddles of gestural expressiveness surrounded by a void. This is accentuated by leaving a reserve of blank paper, often framed in an oval or round shape around a watery series of stains. The faces are close cropped
with eyes, ears and lips cut into and masked. These circular framed portraits are all very self-conscious and inhibited. Grouped into three parts, one cluster on the main wall consists of over a dozen monochromatic faces, two other smaller groupings concentrate on color and the body. The black
The markings are tattoo-like embellishments on the skin of Ye’s faces. These pictures on the surface of the human subject, much like a tattoo on live flesh, conceal, obscure and fundamentally feel like criminal ornamentation. Another small cluster of works, this time
Shanlin Yi, Monologue #11 (top), Reflection (bottom) (image courtesy of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild)
Jordan McGirk, Wasted Youth, (image courtesy of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild) 01 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
and white faces, formed from blotting and washes, provide an expressive inkiness that transforms into clearly delineated and highly accomplished illustrations of cicadas and other insects perched on the face.
IN REVIEW Natalie Baldean, Reclusion, (image courtesy of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild)
rendered in vivid color palettes of orange, red and blue concentrate on the trunk of body to the exclusion of the face and outer extremities like hands and feet. These figure studies are more open and expressive, filling up the rectangle of the paper sheet, threatening to spill over onto the wall, and Ye clearly seems to be working in a looser faster and more relaxed manner. She is enjoying the color here and the
Shanlin Yi, Reflection, (image courtesy of the St. Louis Artists’ Guild)
paint flows a little more libidinously because the inner mood of the subject is expressed in the gushing contortion of the figure itself, rather than in the more pensive details. The obsessively embellished group of faces contrast with a third smaller grouping of portraits to combine Ye’s playful use of color and evident interest in the human face. These colorful portraits feel more successful, especially after examining the rest of the exhibition, as they balance out Ye’s prodigious illustrative figurative skills and her joy in the use of the materials unleashed in her gifted hand. Ye’s exhibition overlapped and accompanied Clearly Human III, a large scale juried exhibition of figurative paintings, drawings and sculptures produced by dozens of local St. Louis student artists and Guild instructors. My favorites from the talented pool of artists on show include Jordan McGirk’s Wasted Youth. It is not immediately clear, by any means, that McGirk shows a human. This is an image of a mosh pit at a frenzied music concert. Shapes flay around, looping back from strange angles. Radical foreshortened IN REVIEW
perspective make the abstracted body parts tumble from the four corners of the canvas in a vertiginous, presumably drug fueled, ecstatic reverie. It is, in fact, a crowd of people, fully actualized as human in a social moment. Natalie Baldeon’s Reclusion also stood out, though very differently from McGirk’s painting. A naturalistic figure lays in a bed with wrinkled sheets, bunched up pillows and a crinkled duvet, to convey an isolated and hermetic state of mind. We witness that moment when you just don’t want to go to work, school, brunch or gym. You lay there slightly sick with dread about the day, procrastinating. Wallow in dirty sheets, half naked in your own stale sweat…we’ve all been there and Baldeon captures it beautifully. All too human, in the most mundane yet intimate way, the image redeems the antisocial tendency toward solitude. -Daniel McGrath
www.stlouisartistsguild.org FALL 2018 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM 02
MESSAGES FROM MERCURY
CHEROKEE STREET GALLERY
Messages from Mercury was the debut exhibition of Benjamin Lowder’s new Cherokee Street Gallery. For this first curatorial statement, Lowder installed his own floor and wall mounted wood assemblages, alongside artworks by artists Jerald Leans and Zack Smithey. The three artists’ issue tied together easily by a common use of bold, straight-forward compositions. Gallerist Lisa Simani, curatorial advisor Patti Astor, and Lowder intend to use the Cherokee Street Gallery, in part, to celebrate the cultural heritage of the Midwest. They strive to provide a vehicle for showcasing the work of local artists alongside nationally known artists and feel that the formation of the gallery helps fill a void of Midwestern artists that develop their talents and their work ethic locally, but then feel compelled to search for success outside of the Midwest. Lowder intends to showcase the diversity of the region by including both rural and urban artists.
A former advertising artist and graphic designer for fifteen years, Lowder became disillusioned with aspects of that work to promote an objectification of people, a possible devaluing of them, and a means to take advantage of them. He felt frustrated that he was misusing his art by working with some aspects of advertising that he could not support. Influenced by his study of various ancient wisdom traditions like the Kabbalah, he discerned a way forward combining both his spirituality and his art work. The artworks Lowder contributed to Messages from Mercury come from his Myth, Math and Magic series. These built artworks are comprised of deconstructed metal vintage and discarded advertisement signs and reclaimed wood taken from abandoned barns in Southern Illinois.
Lowder has an interest in sacred geometry, a spiritual set of beliefs that finds meaning in certain geometric shapes and proportions. An influence on both his former commercial work and his ongoing art practice is R. Buckminster Fuller, an inventor across disciplines including architecture and engineering. In Fuller, Lowder found a triangular geometry consistent with his appreciation for sacred geometry. Lowder taps these influences to create work that he describes as efficient, in balance with nature.
Some of the reclaimed wood Lowder uses to create his artworks comes of the same sources he used to construct his home. He describes
Why the exhibition title? Here, too, Lowder finds and makes meaning: "The mythological character of Mercury, who is also known as
Cherokee Street Gallery (photo credit: Josh Rowan, courtesy of The Cherokee Street Gallery) 03 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
the materials as having a "sentimental value,” He loves the appearance of the weathered textured barnwood along with the unique patina color of the rusted metal signs. Says Lowder, “The rust on the signs and the gray weather wood communicate time. It captured my imagination that a static object could convey time - which is a moving thing.”
Hermes, is a scribe and a messenger between worlds who is concerned with using language to communicate the creator’s will to guide us on the correct path. The works I made for this show are messages that distill the letter forms of vintage metal advertising and reclaimed wood into highly contrasted glyphs that utilize the iconographic language of signs intended to indicate the correct path. These works are magical wayfinding totems to guide our cultural trajectory.” The Cherokee Street Gallery joins neighboring galleries - Flood Plain, The Luminary, Monoco and nearby Yeyo Arts - in providing space to amplify artistic work that is bold, experimental and original. The fall exhibition, opening September 8, features artist Al Diaz alongside St. Louis area artists. Diaz was a co-collaborator with the late Jean-Michel Basquiat originating their graffiti tag “SAMO.” Patti Astor was also a close friend of Basquiat. Both Diaz and Astor will give gallery talks at the Cherokee Street Gallery this fall to discuss their experiences with the famed artist. The exhibit is scheduled to coincide with the Basquiat Before Basquiat exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. -John Blair
Benjamin Lowder, Tetra Toem, (photo credit: Rebecca Bottle)
Benjamin Lowder, Geodesic Guardian, (photo credit: Rebecca Bottle, courtesy of The Cherokee Street Gallery) IN REVIEW
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AMY SHERALD Amy Sherald’s celebrity as Michelle Obama’s portrait artist brought an overflowing crowd to hear her speak at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM), yet it was the quieter moments on a Saturday morning that revealed Sherald’s interest in engaging with the community. Young and old approached Sherald as she stood by her paintings, some wanting to talk about her technique, some eager for anecdotes about her interaction with the Obamas: “I am not impressed by much, but meeting President Obama--those ears! The teeth! And his voice really sounds like that.” As Sherald posed for a photo with an African American couple, it was difficult not to cast her as a goodwill ambassador intent on healing some of the pain experienced by black St. Louisans. Sherald paints beautiful, idiosyncratic images of African Americans. While at CAM, she recalled a time at summer camp when a
camper entered their shared cabin and said, “I am glad I don’t have to room with a n___,” as young Amy sat nearby. Sherald said that years later, she worked through the emotions of this incident while painting It Made Sense...Mostly in Her Mind. Sherald also said that she made sure to hug the camper in front of the girl’s parents, in effect confronting the racism with a kind gesture while causing the parents to squirm. Sherald hopes her paintings “provide a resting place” for black museum goers. She wants them to see themselves in the nation’s museums. This desire was borne partly from the alienation Sherald felt as a result of being labeled “black Amy” in her Georgia childhood schools, as well as her 12 year-old realization upon encountering Bo Bartlett’s Object Permanence that it was the first time she had seen a painting with a black person in it.
CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, ST. LOUIS Sherald’s grayscale technique for portraying the skin of her subjects results in a timelessness reminiscent of the marble faces of classical Greece. The skin tones also suggest black and white photography, which Sherald notes was the first visual medium in which African Americans had some control over how they were represented. During her public gallery talk at CAM, Sherald shared a black and white photograph of her grandmother that influenced her approach to depicting her subjects. The elegant, self-possessed woman looks directly at the viewer as if to say, “This is me. Who are you?” The people in Sherald’s paintings are life-sized, strongly posed, and placed against a color-field background. Blocks of color and pattern stand out from clothing that is sometimes of another era, such as the swimming suits worn by The Bathers. Touches of intricate detail are revealed upon close inspection, such as the golden horse carved into a belt buckle worn by the young man in What’s precious inside of him does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence (All American). Sherald and her sister often collaboratively name the paintings. The result is sometimes humorous, sometimes touching, and sometimes politically and racially telling. -Sharon Elliott
Amy Sherald, A CLear Unspoken Granted Magic, (image courtesy of the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis)
Amy Sherald, The Bathers, (image courtesy of the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis) 05 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
IN REVIEW Amy Sherald, Varsity Girl, (image courtesy of the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis) IN REVIEW
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AISHA IN WONDERLAND PROJECTS
They were photographs, but it felt more like looking at sculptures. Maïmouna Guerresi’s Aisha in Wonderland series of photographic prints, at projects + gallery, depicted portraits of women in settings and dress that explore proportion, beauty and spirit. Guerresi first exhibited Aisha in Wonderland in Seattle, at the Mariane Ibrahim Gallery. Guerresi was born in Italy, but later lived in Senegal, where she converted to Islam. The prints included in Aisha in Wonderland range from large scale portraits 78 inches tall to smaller pictures, such as her landscape titled Mimetic Landscape, 20 by 16 inches. Each portrait in the series shows a single woman, the title character Aisha. Aisha wears a hijab, and stands before a wall. The wall is different in each picture, painted with red geometric lines, calligraphy or a cityscape of Islamic architecture. The Girls in their Private Garden shows a woman wearing a solid dark hijab that forms a distinct shape. It begins at the top of the woman’s head and is spread out upon the floor
in a circle. The wall behind the woman is blue, decorated with calligraphy. The line between the floor and wall appears blurred, creating a gradient effect that makes the woman appear to float more than stand. Again, we see Aisha without seeing any more of her than her face. This woman, this image, is repeated across six portraits - three looking right and three looking left. All of them the same woman, same dress, same background, but each with a different gaze. When she looks down we are looking in on a woman, perhaps as voyeur. In two depictions, she looks directly at the viewer, as if demanding to be seen. Another set of portraits, Grey Trampoline, Blue Trampoline, and Red Trampoline, seen as a triptych, show a woman standing on a plank of wood against an impossibly bare wall, each portrait in a different color hijab. The bright color of the figure’s dress set against the starkly bare wall create a dynamic contrast. The effect is intriguing and almost surreal. The figure takes up less space in this composition than others, but she is just as powerful as within the large scale works. Balancing or floating on a
Maïmouna Guerres, Grey Trampoline, Blue Trampoline, Red Trampoline, (photo credit: Rich Vagen) 07 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
plank of wood she appears frozen in time, perhaps in peril. Her hijab drapes over the wood with a slight trompe l’oeil effect, evocative of sculpture. These figures live in a world of duality. Aisha is private and isolated, yet stares at the viewer. She is captured in the flatness of photography and shown occupying three-dimensional space. And there are aspects of her that we see more clearly by their shrouding. A dark shadow conceals any indication of her body underneath her dress. It is actually even more wonderful than that. Guerresi shows Aisha in such long dress that her proportions, her height, seem impossibly tall and elongated. The darkness in the shadow show that there is something otherworldly to her power. -Rich Vagen
ART REPORTS ON LIES TOLD BY SCIENCE
By Lizzy Martinez
This summer, the Contemporary Art Museum, Saint Louis (CAM) featured Sarah Paulsen as part of their Great Rivers Biennial exhibition. Paulson built a nickelodeon darkroom with desks, chalkboards and multiple projections of her intimate stop-motion films. Her installations tell the story of the false, pseudo-scientific and gerrymandered legal red-tape that were used to uphold prejudice throughout our country’s history. She provides a visual tour through America’s history of scientists locking racist conceptions into false science and politicians building laws around that racist pseudoscience. Her exhibition, The Invention of Whiteness, uses the direct graphic analysis of stop-motion film to show how historic immigration practice, false science and racist laws were used to serve white supremacy.
immigrant.” The next one I did was the White By Law film, which looks at how whiteness was invented through pseudoscience adopted by the legal system. It’s based on some ideas in the book by the same name (written by Ian Haney López). LM: It’s very painstaking. SP: Yes. After that I went opposite and jumped into Consumers’ Void with all the cutouts of the doors and the windows. I would lay them all out, look, see what could flow from one thing to the next, thinking about transitions, it's almost like a mall. It felt similar to doing college design work where you have objects you manipulate and then decide how they relate.
LM: Exceedingly formal. It's your prerogative to say, “no, that's too heavy, too quick!” We're going to put in little ambient pauses here for the audience… SP: Exactly. That piece is the one I didn't storyboard, just favoring physical arrangement. After, came Jell-o and The Racial Matrix simultaneously. For The Racial Matrix, I knew I wanted to depict discriminatory loans and something about education. I use filing systems where all these folders contain the information I collect. I have a whole file cabinet with clippings; when I make an animation I'll go through there and say, “what’s pertinent?” Then it becomes, “what kind of magazine do I need to look at?” I found stuff from women's
Lizzy Martinez: So an artist that comes to mind [when considering your stop-motion films] is Jan Svankmajer out of Prague, making art against the communist regime on the sly. Sarah Paulson: Definitely. He was a huge influence. Certainly, I think materially the way he animates with food, bones, or stones - There is accessibility to his work and a DIY sense. And that while living under a repressive state, he still made his films and was insuppressible. His films are extremely appealing. He can compress complicated ideas into a sort of simple means. I love his Dimensions of Dialogue (1982) where two figures keep eating each other and it's almost a failure to communicate [...] For these animations, I had a sense of urgency. There were certain ideas about whiteness that I wanted to depict and I felt like this was a moment where I would have a broader audience. Putting these films before the public at The Contemporary felt like a special moment, and I wanted to use that voice both wisely and thoughtfully.
Sarah Paulson, White by Law, (still film frame), (image courtesy of the artist)
LM: How did you prep? Did you storyboard? SP: Passenger was the first. I had read the anecdote about the Ford factory plant where the immigrant workers had to actually descend into a melting pot and then emerge in their uniforms. That story really stuck with me visually. So I wanted to try to tell how immigrants became white… I did a little storyboarding, visualized and made props, I think often through my painting and collage. Sometimes there is collecting of the data and imagery. At some point I realized that I didn't want this just to be about “the poor white
Sarah Paulson, White by Law, (still film frame), (image courtesy of the artist) ARTIST INTERVIEWS
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magazines where it was like “get rid of your freckles and have whiter skin” and ads or articles on losing weight faster […] It's really funny to look back and see a magazine from 1920 and just see a crazy product that looks like a torture device. Initially, I believed I was making one 15 minute animated documentary, which is more my comfort zone. I do interviews, edit those, find the core story, and then I animate to that. But I don’t see people in this space remaining still for 15 minutes. Now, people have gone to the opening, returned later and spent more time with the work. It was really freeing being able to explore different ideas through smaller vessels. Then I thought, “What else am I not usually able to do?” For this project, I could employ multiple projections and play with presentation. LM: For animation, it often falls into this no man's land. For instance at the Whitney Biennial media arts may be confined to one hallway and that's the media arts ghetto as I've heard it called many times...
SP: I kind of came into animation through the back door. I trained as a painter. I didn't have a clear understanding of the industry because I didn't go through a school program that might prepare me for that. My first a-ha moment was when I went to a William Kentridge show at the
Hirshhorn in D.C. I was just sort of blown away by his practice. After, I slowly discovered other artists and their motion processes. It was exciting. It felt like learning a new language. I stumbled in without expectation. Animations’ rule-lessness led me to a more open discovery. And the narrative possibilities of just allowing voices to tell the stories! So direct. LM: Your stop-motion animation recalls things from another era - like automatons. You know, because maybe it's sort of stiff and halting, your paper dolls are the antithesis to say 2-D animation or CG animation, like Pixar or Ren & Stimpy where it's very elastic. SP: Yes, they are the precursors to animation and that’s fascinating to me. I like the simplicity of a Méliès or a Lotte Reiniger. I'm not interested in tricking the audience into seeing this material as anything other than paper, collage, etc. That handmade quality of the painted images and drawings is essential, and I don't want to lose it for the sake of illusion. LM: It also speaks to it not being in a commercial animation setting. And it sits even further outside of that setting when one considers how rarely a woman writer/director is given the opportunity to present her work, even though it’s 2018.
Sarah Paulson, paper cut-out of European immigrants for film Passenger , (image courtesy of the artist)
SP: Pathetically. Yet, this one-woman show, it's whatever I want it to be. Can you imagine me going to like Pixar and saying, “I want to make some animations about being white?
PATRICIA OLYNYK’S UNSETTLING, BEGUILING VISUAL SCIENCE By Sarah Weinman Patricia Olynyk’s work spans the scientific continuum through her exploration of many areas of science, including 19th-century prosthetics, medical collections of human remains, and light pollution. She’s had a longstanding fascination with the intersection of art, science, and technology: “As a child, I had a microscope with slide samples. I was moved by these tiny worlds. I also drew flora and fauna with an interest in science fiction.” For more than a decade, she has focused on why certain images from science resonate the way they do. Two of her bodies of work, The Archive and The Mutable Archive, came from her residency as the Francis C. Wood Fellow at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia in 2006. “I spent half of my residency at the College and half at the adjoining Mütter Museum, a museum of medical history,” she said. “I was 09 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
thinking about the role of spectacle and the medical gaze.” The Archive is comprised of photographs Olynyk took of 19th-century prosthetic devices owned by the museum. “My photographs and lightbox sculptures demonstrate a historical and modern desire to augment, control, and manipulate our bodies,” she explained. A pair of striking photographs titled Isometric Extension I and II depict two prosthetic legs, a right leg made for a man and a left for a woman. When the photographs are hung together and the viewer stands in the right place, the legs can be seen as having a phantom body. Olynyk noted, “Art can function as a scientific experiment. The human mind desires to see the body as a whole.” The Mutable Archive stemmed from her interest in Dr. Josef Hyrtl, the 19th-century ARTIST INTERVIEWS
Austrian comparative anatomist, and his collection of skulls. Many of these people were Eastern European. Some had physical anomalies; others were criminals. “Hyrtl disapproved of the ‘science’ of physiognomy (the belief that a person’s facial features are indicative of moral character),” said Olynyk. “He concluded that biological variation between humans was simply part of the natural order. It was rare to attempt to debunk ‘scientific’ beliefs at this time.” She photographed 19 post-mortem skull tattoos, probably done by Hyrtl but unconfirmed, and the accompanying archive cards. She then invited artists, historians, and others to write speculative biographies about the deceased. The scripts became part of video performances that she created. “What can we know about these people through their skulls and skeletons?” she asked. “My work looks at the role of fictional
storytelling: where do truth and conjecture come together to form a fairly accurate portrait of what might have happened?” Each set of pieces addresses different questions. The objects at the museum led Olynyk to explore the conditions under which these skeletons came to be collected. She commented, “They’re the same conditions as today: the medical field is still obsessed with difference and/or picturing difference. We don’t look at skulls anymore but we take brain scans of criminals. We still try to find biological reasons to explain personality.” The problems surrounding light pollution got her thinking about what it means to live in light-polluted cities. She grew up in Canada and remembers seeing the Aurora Borealis and lots of stars. When she moved to the Bay Area and then Japan, she looked into the Dark Skies movement.
“We have a biological and psychological need for darkness,” she said. “What does the lack of darkness do to human biology and consciousness?” The piece Dark Skies tackles these issues. Using a CNC router, Olynyk created a textured foam surface (8’ x 8’ x 6”) which is based loosely on the taste bud of a nocturnal wild mouse. Two videos are projected onto the surface. Their colors and quality of light evoke sunset. The piece also has an audio component made up of sounds from the wilderness in and around Banff National Park, including insects, water, rodents, and larger mammals such as elk. Dark Skies is immersive and meditative. It has a primal sensibility that suggests the kind of darkness our ancestors experienced. “You can really see and hear nature when you don’t have city interference. This is about natural forces,” said Olynyk. Patricia Olynyk, Isometric Extension, (image courtesy of the artist)
She hopes that her work encourages viewers to pay attention to their bodies and to the world and universe around them. In addition to her work as an artist, Olynyk serves as Director of the Graduate School of Art and the Florence & Frank Bush Professor of Art in the Sam Fox School at Washington University.
Patricia Olynyk, Darkskies, (image courtesy of the artist) ARTIST INTERVIEWS
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THE LEAGUE OF IMAGINARY SCIENTISTS AND CESAR & LOIS TALK STEAM All the Art: How would you define STEAM? Lucy Hg Solomon: Steam is liquid in a more ephemeral form. Similarly, I think ephemeral Art distills the other component disciplines of STEAM – science, technology, engineering, and math – by making stories and extending science into social realms.
I’m an avid STEAM maker, co-founder of the League of Imaginary Scientists (LOIS) and also part of another collective with that collective – Cesar & Lois – that merges microbiology with mapping. Both of these art groups combine art and science through collaborative experiments that end up with interactive art installations and actions. AtA: Who is the League of Imaginary Scientists (LOIS) and when did it start? LHgS: We formed in 2006! While LOIS consists of Jeremy Speed Schwartz, Steve Shoffner, Matt Solomon, Leonard Trubia and myself, we have found ways to collaborate with scientists, including St. Louis chemist, David Garin, and with NASA’s Mars Rover team! AtA: What kind of “art” does the collective make?
LHgS: LOIS creates makeshift science and art, in that we use available parts and sometimes shift the science. We make art with flurries of fancy, which, as it unfolds, invites contemplation – like our miniature piano for roly-polies (pill bugs). For the past decade LOIS’ focus has been humanity’s relationship to nature, resulting in mechanisms for communicating with plants and monitoring transmissions of trees. AtA: How does LOIS make work together? LHgS: LOIS member Steve Shoffner, could you please take this one? Steve Shoffner: Our process has changed over the years. Back in the day, we would get together, come up with an idea, and a lot of times we would build together – kind of like a band. Now we can do our own thing and it all fits together. How all of our different skill sets come together is interesting – we all have drawing skills. Jeremy is more on the technical side, and we all have construction skills. We then collaborate with scientists, who get to do something entirely outside of their toolshed. We provide the imaginary element. AtA: You are obviously at ease with moving across disciplines. Where do you think this comes from?
Physarum Polychephalum bio-data-visualization of Los Angeles, (image courtesy of the League of Imaginary Scientists) 11 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
LHgS: My own irreverence for disciplinary divides began in St. Louis, under the mentorship of a triumvirate of artists – Bill Kohn, Bill Christman and Gene Hoefel. Bill Kohn’s collaborations across visual art and performance took him (and me once!) on creative and actual journeys. As a kid I was part of Bill Christman’s afterschool youth art program, where he tutored many of us neighborhood kids to break rules and make art that was decidedly not Art. Gene Hoefel, a longtime mentor, embeds complex stories in his intricately twisted tableaux, laying the foundation for LOIS to craft room-sized constructions that tell composite scientific and social stories. AtA: How do you integrate science and art, and what can you learn from this layering? LHgS: In truth, I love science. I like wet science and growing things. I prefer growing something in a petri dish over a garden plot, where the strangeness of the micro can expand into my greater awareness of the macro. This love filters into LOIS projects and also into the collaborative work of Cesar & Lois. With Cesar Baio, we are growing microbiological organisms on maps according to the real demographics of the mapped city.
Steve Shaffner demonstrates the Leavesdropper, (image courtesy of the League of Imaginary Scientists)
When faced with the distribution of resources of our cities and similar concentrations of population – typically more people concentrated with fewer resources and smaller restrictive populations with more resources – we can tell a scientific story that sheds light on the core reasons (and results) of gentrification. One large population with fewer resources struggles to thrive, while the smaller population with greater resources successfully branches out and grows. AtA: What are some of the outcomes of this layering of art and science by Cesar & Lois?
“Duet” with Roly Poly Piano (installation view), (image courtesy of the League of Imaginary Scientists)
Cesar Baio, the Cesar of Cesar & Lois, responds: I like to think about science and art as two different ways of understanding the world. Each can offer multiple insights about ourselves and society. For me, art can be a field of practices where I can make these two universes collide in order to create a short-circuit in how we experience knowledge. These ideas contaminate Cesar & Lois projects in multiple ways. The radically decentralized way that Physarum polycephalum distributes food and makes decisions has inspired us to think about our own behavior as individuals and as a society. We became fascinated about how this small and simple organism can exist as individuals and a network at the same time. It is expected that, as more complex creatures, we humans can better organize our communities. However, civil wars, barriers and the building of walls, the extreme disparity among resources, and the difficulty of curbing capitalism and containing climate change – these make us consider our own capacity to think as a network. Physarum polychephalum’s behavior offers us a conceptual model to rethink the way we make decisions and distribute resources in our societies. With this microorganism, we are making what we are calling a “bio-data-visualization” – a microbiologically based data representation of inequality in society.
The Roly Poly Piano (image courtesy of the League of Imaginary Scientists)
AtA: Is there anything else you do that generates STEAM? LHgS: I’m a professor at California State University San Marcos, and I am co-teaching a course in the Peruvian Amazon on science and art. The co-investigators and instructors are Samia Carrillo-Percastegui, a wildlife scientist and jaguar tracker, and Letty Salinas, a renowned ornithologist based in Lima.
For me, making and teaching STEAM is literally a passport to discovery. This past summer, Samia and I took our “jaguar umbrella” into an elementary school where students crafted a mechanical spinning umbrella with hanging subspecies while they learned the concepts of “umbrella species” and ecosystem. STEAM is ultimately a way to integrate research and learning, art and science, and the mechanics of play.
www.imaginaryscience.org www.cesarbaio.net ARTIST INTERVIEWS
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The organism, Physarum polycephalum, is a networking bright yellow microbe typically found in nature that grows “intelligently,” in that it finds quick ways to its food source, and “equitably,” in that the network shares resources across all of its nodes.
MONET AND THE CHARING CROSS BRIDGE By Roman Beuc
Many painters compose a series of paintings of a single subject. Claude Monet painted various subjects over and over including; the Wheat Stacks, Poplars, Rouen Cathedral, and most famously his Water Lilies. He said in 1891 that his series paintings “only acquire their full value by the comparison and succession of the entire series”. Another of his series is often referred to as the London Series, where he repeatedly painted three scenes along the Thames River, each depicting a river landmark. They were all captured from only two vantage points. The Thames serves as the subject of many other famous painters, such as Caneletto, Whistler, Homer, Daubigny and Derain. In 1899, Monet arrived in London to begin his series of paintings that would celebrate the great architectural and engineering triumphs of his time - not with realism, but with the romantic lens of Impressionism. His London
or Thames Series was completed during three separate, two months long, London visits all occurring in the late fall and winter of 1899, 1900 and 1901. The three Thames River subjects were the Charing Cross Bridge, the Waterloo Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament (officially called the New Westminster Palace). Of the resultant 100 paintings in the series, 37 canvases were of the Charing Cross Bridge. These remarks are focusing on the Charing Cross Bridge, using the Saint Louis Art Museum’s version as representative of the series. The Thames River flows from west to east across southern England, finally emptying into the North Sea. Monet’s three scenes on the river are all in central London, where the river just happens to be temporarily flowing north before turning east again. His location for
COMMUNITY VOICES Claude Monet, Charing Cross Bridge, (image courtesy of the Saint Louis Art Museum) 13 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
viewing the Charing Cross Bridge with the Parliament building in the distance along with the Waterloo Bridge, was from the Savoy Hotel located at the north-to-east bend in the river. On each of his three London visits, Monet stayed at the posh Savoy Hotel, and painted the two bridges from his room’s balcony. He was tipped to the great location by his friend James McNeill Whistler who had previously used a Savoy sixth floor balcony to draw the river. Monet positioned himself on the sixth floor during his first visit and on the fifth floor for the other two. From his vantage point, Monet could turn slightly to the left and view the upstream side of the Waterloo Bridge. Turning to the right he could see the downstream side of the Charing Cross Bridge. On a clear day, further in the
distance, (looking south and upstream) he could see the towers of Parliament and the Westminster Bridge. Directly below could be seen the Victoria Embankment and Cleopatra’s Needle. The Charing Cross railroad bridge (known officially as the Hungerford Railway Bridge) connects by rail, Waterloo Station with the Charing Cross Station on the river’s north side. The great size of this feat of engineering inspired a generation of artists to gawk at its
dimensions. When built it carried four railway tracks, though it now carries six. The magnificent nine-span wrought iron lattice girder bridge was completed in 1865. The bridge has been the subject of painters and photographers ever since. Monet claimed that a subject, such as the Charing Cross Bridge, could only be properly captured by a series of paintings done over a range of times and atmospheric conditions. This is what he set out to accomplish.
Ultimately the paintings in the series were dispersed over the globe and most viewers could only see one or a few works at a time. This is partially mitigated with the advent of the internet and digital imagery. However, viewing a small image with questionable color will never compete with viewing the real thing. But anyway, Monet gave it a shot.
STEAM IN NORTH COUNTY ST. LOUIS By Glynis Mary McManamon
Through cross-curriculum collaboration, the Academy integrates arts education with the other components of STEAM. For example, the Academy brings in engineering through architecture. In carrying out design projects and 3D modelling, students learn an artistic application for mathematics. Carrie Pace, Art Educator at the Academy, teaches not only art but artistic behavior. Every student in the program has a sketchbook. Studios are set up specifically to meet the needs for work involving different media. Each student works to produce one “Wow!” piece per quarter. But the real excitement is in the learning. Students emerge having gained many new skill sets that they already know they can use for practical purposes and for the sheer enjoyment of designing and making. Students are taught to focus on process as they make their way toward building a product.
The school year includes special projects which link the STEAM disciplines to real world application involving community outreach, “green” activities and fundraising for nonprofit organizations. In the Academy’s “Art with Heart” program, eighth grade students created their own small companies to support eight local nonprofits. This year, Academy students raised $727 making and selling their own products while learning about the nonprofits they partnered with! The Art component came into play with the design of products they sold to raise the funds, marketing their artworks, and then designing flyers to help spread awareness about the community needs they had studied while engaged in the project.
The STEAM and Gifted Academy is located at 8855 Dunn Road in Hazelwood, Missouri. The director of the Academy is Dr. Christine Ries.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District, seeing the value of STEAM integrative curriculum, opened the STEAM and Gifted Academy in 2017.
Dr. Doug Erwin serves as Ferguson-Florissant District’s K-12 Fine Arts Coordinator. Dr. Erwin firmly believes in the value of STEAM. He recommends the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink to help people grasp the significance of STEAM. Pink maintains that the future belongs to creative, holistic “right-brain” thinkers such as artists, inventors and storytellers.
STEAM Academy (photo credit: Glynis Mary McManamon) COMMUNITY VOICES
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THE INTERDISCIPLINARY EXPLOITS OF ST. LOUIS’S IBURS By Jim Ibur We Ibur brothers, Jim (James) and Ted (Edward Scott), have built our careers around interdisciplinary arts exploration. With the arts as our main area of expertise, we have found ways to explore areas of interest outside of what each of us studied and teaches. Ted is the President of the Board of St. Louis Library Associates, a Saint Louis University based organization that has offered a prestigious
literary prize for over fifty years to writers of national and international note including last year’s Margaret Atwood and this year’s Steven Sondheim. A retired middle school English teacher, Ted now manages programs for high school students to complete college level coursework through St. Louis University. And, Ted is the drummer/percussionist for our original rock band, Flying House.
The Flying House project has been going for over ten years and we’ve just dropped our second album, Rough Magic, released at Delmar Hall in early May. Although lifelong musical collaborators, my brother and I have been serious bandmates since the mid-1990’s beginning with the band, Five of These. This current project, Flying House, put me in the driver’s seat of writing both music and lyrics with a talented group of bandmates and guest musicians over the past six years since recording our first album, Blues for Wolfman. My work as a visual artist has centered on ceramics. I am a potter and clay sculptor with many national and regional exhibitions to my credit and I’m currently working on new work that synthesizes my interest in antiquities with a grant-funded trip to Crete to research Minoan Pottery and Greek ruins, the ceramic vessel and political commentary. The Ibur family’s commitment to education and the arts is multi-generational. Our mother, Betty, was a noted opera singer in her youth and my and Ted’s children, are up and coming artists and musicians in their own right. It is certainly in our blood to be both teachers and participants in the creative process. My brother and I believe that Art and Music and Writing are essential to living a life of investigation, of process, and of joyful creativity.
I don’t so much subscribe to the STEAM concept as I look at ART as the necessary umbrella that oversees these huge concepts. Art is the fascia that holds our collective psyches together. It is the alchemical pathway that allows for insight. In the end, it’s my belief that like all the mystical aspects of the great religions, the end game of Math and Technology, Science and Engineering all end up in the nether regions of possibilities that we can’t even begin to fathom. And, while there are concepts and rules that keep us in the “bowling lanes” of these seemingly discreet disciplines, it is Art or creativity or divine inspiration and plain hard work that creates insight and breakthrough. Sometimes (when Art is at it’s best and luckiest), it is when we are alone working on other things and sometimes, it’s in collaboration with people on the same boat where sparks are flying. There are no rules. There MUST be rules! There are no rules. James Ibur, Medusa, (image courtesy of the artist) 15 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
For me, it’s all of it! When I am writing for my band Flying House’s new record, Rough Magic- which translates loosely: The things that had succeeded for us in the past must be rethought, redone, even discarded in order to survive/succeed in the future-an embrace of the unknown if you will. Or, if I am sitting at the potter’s wheel thinking about how I might glaze that piece (the chemistry, the temperature) even before I put water on my hands, I know that in order for the embracing of “Rough Magic”, I have to quiet my head. I have to reach beyond what I want or know. If I am really in the land of risk, even while constructs are evident, I have to let the, math, the lists, the relationships, the Science, the god damn phone, even the engineering of the piece-it all has to be in service of….. I can give it a name, I could measure it, I could define it and make up really beautiful words to describe it-the Art thing- because that’s what we do; we communicate. And sometimes really well and poetically, and sometimes not so well with blockage and obfuscation. But, I don’t want to define the undefinable. It fucks with the Magic! I get the chance to teach/learn over and over again the medium that always disappoints and never lets me down. Ceramics, the alchemical transformation, that in today’s current lexicon dujour (STEAM) fits nicely in. But, for me, it’s so much bigger. It’s the chance to engage, do battle, collaborate with something so deep in me that finding words is, while a different and worthy medium, something I have to give over to Psyche-to Soul, to the unnameable.
Flying House: Rough Magic (album cover), (image courtesy of Jim Ibur)
Jim Ibur, Untitled, (image courtesy of the artist)
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ART- whether writing, or moving (dance) or music or pushing plastic and non-plastic mediums or any combination of, is the end zone and the field for Creativity. It is the umbrella and the net. It is my friend and my nemesis. In the end, I have to do it for me and for you…to complete the circle.
ART IN DESIGN By Asha Perez
Sight—one of the five senses that lead to how human beings experience the places we visit and spaces we use. What we encounter in a space creates psychological implications of our visual perception; as an interior designer it is important that I directly merge this human correlation to the overall aesthetic of a space. Thus, the materials, furnishings and potential artwork chosen, including the architectural design of a space, are quite significant. Interior design is an interdisciplinary exchange and discovery that revolves around visual art, material studies and archtectural concepts. Through discovery in the design processes of several projects, my findings are that clients of various market sectors do not always fiscally prepare for many of the elements that can enhance the overall user experience of their space—specifically, art in interior design. Art and its application, whether a framed piece, sculptural element, graphics or any imaginative expression from artists, is typically an afterthought once a budget is prepared and a
design is executed. This creates a challenge for interior designers, having to creatively use other elements within the design to produce some visual interest—whether it is in the selection of materials and finishes, how we create floor patterns, creating wayfinding with color or in the architectural elements of the building. When we have the opportunity to collaborate with other creative professionals, specifically artists, the end product of the design becomes an enhanced experience. It becomes part of the story, not only for the designer, artist and client, but for the user of their space. For KAI Design & Build, this is an important conversation we are initiating with our clients and owners through panel discussion and “Art in Design-” centered events. Once clients understand the importance of art as it pertains to interior design, we believe this will create more opportunities for them, the community and artists. Forward-thinking companies have their own art collections, buying artwork from
up-and-coming artists. This practice became increasingly common in the late 1950s. Many of those early aquisitions are now worth more than nine figures. When owners and clients consider budgets for artwork early on, it becomes a win-win for them and for the artists. Depending on the type of artist an owner may commission for a space or building, the commissioned artwork can become a part of the structural and/or architectural design. The complications of including art after the fact may have negative consequences. Some art may require specialty lighting, some art may need structural support, and some art may require specific substrates to become a part of the space. This may result in a client spending more money after the fact as opposed to thinking proactively when planning a building budget. When creating budgets, there may be circumstances or opportunities to exchange portions of the design for art, taking into consideration the return on investment. Some of these exchanges may be square feet, higher-end technology or finishes. Of course, this is something that should be thought through with consideration the purpose of the space and its users. Artwork helps an organization define its culture and core values while giving its users a sense of belonging. When organizations support artists from the community, they also creates a sense of relatability, which can enhance the company’s likeness factor and brand.
Panel Discussion with Asha Perez, Cbabi Bayoc, Kennedy Yanko (image courtesy of Kai Design & Build)
The healthcare industry, for example, has used evidence-based design, proving artwork contributes to the healing and overall wellness of their patients. Artwork is often at the forefront and is the most visible component in a healthcare environment.
The relationship between art, emotion and our senses is multifaceted. Art can convey a company's values, express ownership of a space and the activities that take place around it. It can make employees more productive, relieve stress and even encourage customers to buy. What we see in our spaces stays with us. Therefore, creating positive experiences through design while incorporating art should be a priority on any design project.
Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being (image courtesy of Kai Design & Build) 17 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2018
Nancy Newman Rice paints sunbeams moving through and around architectural magnificence. Her light-wrapped objects emanate the power of both expert human creation and of nature, which remains a wonder. The universe is a cathedral in her
rendering. Each painting encapsulates the mystery and magic of what science explores.
float in and out of infinite space to form combinations and permutations of events, remembered, experienced, and imagined.â€?
She says, â€œMy work is about the geometry of time. The planes are memories, which
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Nancy Newman Rice, Vector Space (top left), Stargazing (top right), Night Vision (bottom left), Ascent (bottom right), (image courtesy of the artist)
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