A Q U A R T E R LY P U B L I C AT I O N
F O R
E M E R G I N G A R T I S T S
VOLUME 3 ISSUE 4
FEATURED ARTISTS 04
Donald S. Kolberg
Philip Thompson Harrell
Kahlil Robert Irving
Front Cover Artist
Back Cover Artist
ARIEL BOBSON B RO O K LY N , N E W YO R K
I began documenting my younger sister as a way to understand her. The world of a little girl is increasingly becoming a mystery to me, even though I was one recently. The work steals singular moments from Gloriaâ€™s everyday life: screaming as our mother brushed her hair, talking to her father over the phone on Christmas morning, a gloomy day on vacation. The final body of work, consisting of images and a video piece, represents the peculiar developmental stage Gloria currently exists in, a place where she embarks on an adult experience through the eyes of a little girl. Even though it has only been a little over a decade since I was her age, the structure of her world is shaped very differently than mine was. Although my generation had family computers and video games, there was a clear line between entertainment and reality for us. That line seems to have completely dissolved. My documentation of one little girl represents thousands upon thousands who are the same age, molded around the same modern-day conventions that have always been a part of their lives. www.abobsonimages.com
TAC: Tell us about how you developed this body of work. AB: This body of work began to take shape about two years ago, when I began compiling the images of my sister that I had taken after I went to college. When I realized that they were slowly coming together as a body of work, I simply became more intentional and strategic when I was shooting in order to fill in the gaps. TAC: How did your project evolve to include video, and how do you feel doing so changed the viewerâ€™s experience? AB: I chose to add a video element to my work because I felt that the images needed more context, a background to be placed into. I wouldnâ€™t say that the video piece changed my work, but I would say that it enhances or complements the photographs.
TAC: What artists did you look to for inspiration? AB: While making this work, I drew a lot of inspiration from Rineke Dijkstra, Elinor Carucci, Michal Chelbin, Mary Ellen Mark, and Barbara Kruger. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? AB: I couldnâ€™t say. Iâ€™m a new teacher, so my creative endeavors are on hold for now. A few days after graduating from art school I put my camera down. By that, I mean that I dropped it down a mountain in Israel.
DOLLS IN TUB
HEATHER GAMBRELL RAYMORE, MISSOURI
Art is a way for me to explore method vs. magic. My method is to place a structure or boundaries around what I am doing. Within that box I enable opportunities for magic to happen by being open-minded and curious, and by showing up. What can I try and what can be known? The process is more than enough. The motivation is more to experiment than to definitely answer the questions my art explores. Why are we here? Is this all there is? Are we part of the more? One must keep an open mind to failure and dead ends and very bad days because there are times
of insight and beauty and awe, as well, and only open minds will be able to see it. I can try something beyond my own perceptions by expanding and letting things get out of hand. Whether it matters or not in the end, it does matter now, whatever the end will be. www.heathergambrell.com
ABSTRACT LACE (FIRST STATE), 2014 Stone Lithograph 11” x 15” OPPOSITE:
HEART MAP, 2014 Lithograph with Chine Colle 11” x 15”
PAGE 12 & 13:
HEART FIGURE, 2014 Stone Lithograph With Chine Colle 15” x 11” LEFT:
ABSTRACT LACE, 2014 Lithograph With Chine Colle 11” x 15” OPPOSITE:
EYE, 2014 Monotype 11” x 15”
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TAC: Tell us about the anatomical heart image juxtaposed with either a single figure or set of figures that appears in your work. HG: These pieces are from my Paris Series, part of a larger project called Impossible to Calculate the Distance. I bought some anatomical printing plates from an outdoor bookseller and found a Dolce & Gabbana catalogue on a city bus. I often utilize found objects as my main subject. Some of the recurring images found in these works include metro maps, lace patterns, a heart, male models, and spray paint. I use images of male models in different ways throughout many of the works in this series. In most the male figure is in silhouette, representing a faceless everyman. It’s a classical representation of modern beauty whether I have spray-painted it or etched it in stone. Lately I have begun introducing a recognizable image of the model as I morph the question from beyond a generic idea of an individual’s place in the universe and more toward the question of a specific individual’s existence. The heart stands in for that great unknown, a possible spark or soul or debris that transcends this life’s end and continues on. It’s an image that represents life when human life is measured from the first heartbeat to the last within the framework of our current knowledge. TAC: How did you come to work in printmaking? What is it about this medium that appeals to you? HG: I started taking printmaking classes about ten years ago and immediately fell in love. The technical challenge and creative variety it offers me is very satisfying. Although I don’t make multiples in the usual way, I do utilize printmaking to create multiple versions of the same image or idea. I like the process of printmaking, the element of surprise it offers, and the ability to try different methods while working under a self-imposed series of constraints. Although my efforts at printmaking can seem a sometimes-exhausting quest for the perfect image, what I am actually hoping to create are new ways of seeing the same thing. I know there is no right answer, there are only different perceptions. I want to see the world in new ways. Printmaking allows me to do this while controlling the chaos. I approach it in both a methodical and magical way because it takes both to really see. Additionally, lithography itself has presented a huge creative challenge. My first lithograph took twenty-five hours to complete. I hated the first state, but being able to work directly on a living stone and transform an idea by altering its surface in state after state was an amazing experience. I have a deep devotion to printmaking. TAC: Your body of work is titled Impossible to Calculate the Distance. Tell us about this title. HG: I asked Google for an answer to the following question, “How many miles from here to there?” Google told me it was impossible to calculate the distance. I took it as a dare to try something different and completely immerse myself in the project. The title reflects the impossibility of measuring certain
things such as dreams and hurts, life and death, endurance and endeavors. You often don’t know the number of miles or trials involved when taking on a new project. Sometimes what feels like a certainty at one point in the journey moves before you reach it. That doesn’t stop anyone from trying to create order and patterns and certainty anyway. I decided to go forth and do it with a valiant effort and passion and see where it took me and my art. If I had to measure, it would be in flow from one idea to the next. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? HG: My next project will use another of the anatomical plates I bought in Paris, an eye. While continuing with themes of perception and possibilities, I will take a more scientific approach as I research vision and color. I hope to literally and figuratively question what we see by putting forth the idea that orange is the primary color and the only one. I intend to continue experimenting with printmaking by trying new methods such as printing on clay, 3-D printing and further exploring new possibilities with the methods I am already using in my work such as lithography and silk screening.
MICHELLE GEMMA MYSTIC, CONNECTICUT I consider my work in black-and-white photography to be very emotional. I use models to help represent an emotional state that ties into place and time. I go for a very nostalgic point of view, almost to the point of histrionics. The camera is perfectly designed for dramatic effect. I am drawn to the uniqueness of black and white photography because, as Graham Nash once observed, “We see in color, so black and white is immediately different.” This distinguishing characteristic creates an elevation of the moment that is an absolute for me. History is very important to me, and one’s place in history is even more important. I cherish the place where I am from, and want to make a contribution to its history through my photographs. www.michellegemmaphotography.com
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GIRLS ON FILM10 OPPOSITE:
BLONDE SERIES 03 ABOVE:
THE ETERNAL 16
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TAC: What draws you to the “nostalgic point of view?” MG: The awareness of my place in history enforces my responsibility to the wider ranks of photography. I live in the historic seacoast town of Mystic, an iconic place, and I have always felt a sense of pride in living here. I am surrounded by the titans of the past - the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, the Mystic Seaport Museum, the historic houses with their widows’ walks, and the elm trees and heirloom gardens. In lieu of photography classes, I volunteered in the photo department at the Mystic Seaport, and was trained to use a large-format camera to copy the vintage maritime paintings in its collection, as well as loading film, and cataloging within the archives. Later I worked with the Stonington Historical Society for over twelve years, sorting through reams of old photographs and glass plates, and printing modern copies from these historic records. I carefully studied the photographs of our past, and was intrigued by the clothing, and especially the architecture. I realized that photography pays homage to the present, yet preserves the past. I am personally drawn to a historic rendering within my modern scenario. TAC: What artists have been your biggest influences and why? MG: I stumbled across Julia Margaret Cameron when in 1994 a friend looking at my first photographs told me that they reminded him of JMC, and I became intrigued. And then I completely fell in love with this seminal British photographer’s work. Not only did JMC perfectly isolate the beauty of her sitters, she used myth and poetry to represent her ideals through photography. She illustrated Lord Alfred Tennyson’s masterpiece Idylls of the King, which appealed to me in a modern sense. In my first beginnings as a photographer in the local art scene in Mystic I worked with local poets and writers to illustrate their published works. I worked for Rollie McKenna from 1995 to 1998, the famous black-and-white portrait photographer of poets and writers Dylan Thomas most famously, also Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, James Merrill, and many others. It was toward the end of her life when she hired me to do biographical research for her work in progress, a timeline of the notable subjects she had photographed over time. I was a fledging photographer at the time, and rose to the challenge of working on the book in her studio, printing photographs for her, organize her vast collection of archives, preparing a photography exhibit, and even helping write her speech for a slide show. What completely influenced me was her careful attention to her archives. Everything was labeled and numbered, and most importantly could be found when requests came in from publishers to run a photograph. She had a charm and ease of manner with all of her subjects, even the most reclusive writers such as Ezra Pound, that disarmed them so that she could capture the perfect photograph. After she passed away in 2003 at the age of eighty-four and there was
some uncertainty as to where her archives would go, I realized that the book was unfinished. I became more focused about my own archives, and later realized when I became obsessed about completing a project of my own that it was thanks to Rollie that I would try to finish it. As far as modern photographers go, I am inspired and influenced by Sally Mann. Her style has evolved over time from beautifully capturing her children in their childhood to her majestic photographs of the southern landscape around her. She is rugged and tough and lugs around a heavy large-format camera by herself from field to field, working with wet collodion 8” x 10” glass plate negatives in the back of a darkroom-rigged truck. I have seen her speak about five times, and have always been impressed by her intellect and passion. I met her at one of her artist’s talks at Brown University and managed to strike up a correspondence with her afterward. TAC: Tell us about how you compose your images. Are they more spontaneous or carefully directed? MG: My photo shoots are carefully directed. I work with models, and I plan the entire tableaux before the shoot. I am usually working with a series in mind, so everything is considered. I pick out all of the clothes and accessories from my personal vintage collection to articulate the style of the shoot. The location is preselected as well. Once on set, of course, the ideas are played out yet moments of inspiration can occur that are unplanned. But I do think that a level of preparation is essential. I strive for a style that is unique and personal, within the overall reaches of my aesthetic. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? MG: I alluded to the idea of it earlier while referencing Rollie McKenna. I started a photo series in 1998 with one particular model of mine, Morgan Vail, who I met when she was twelve years old. In an homage to Sally Mann and her series of photographs of twelve-year-old girls At Twelve, I started photographing Morgan, and then continued to do so for the next seven years. I called my series A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl. I had thirty framed photos, and thought about exhibiting them in a chronology. Then Morgan moved away, and we lost touch until personal tragedy in 2012 brought us back in touch. I realized that we had this great series together, and I thought I should try to finish it and put it out as a book, and thereby complete what I had started in honor of Rollie McKenna. Currently I am working on publishing my book of photographs of Morgan, and have new work of her to complete the series. The interregnum will be filled with her artwork - she had since started art school. I have the introduction written, and am trying to finish scanning the photographs for both an online and print publication. Stay tuned, and for a sneak peek, check out the link on my website: www.michellegemmaphotography.com
PHILIP THOMPSON HARRELL B RO O K LY N , N E W YO R K
My work tends to explore the more sinister sides of the human condition. I like to play with how things are perceived compared to what they actually are by excavating the demons that lie beneath. Iâ€™m inspired by the impalpable. The roles and surface values of the nuclear family play a recurring theme in my work. Iâ€™m drawn to the intrinsic curiosity of adolescence and its relationship to a paranoid contortion of adulthood-one that still cries over spilt milk. www.philiptharrell.com
KRIS KRING ON MOUNTAINTOP 2014 LEFT:
THE CREW OPPOSITE:
ALL YE FAITHFUL SCRIPT EXCERPT 2014
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All Ye Faithful 4th Draft By Philip Thompson Harrell
WGA Registered Number: 1267805 Date: 7/30/2014
Draft Date: 7/25/2014 Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SCREEN IS WHITE Specks of snow fade into frame. A RED BALLOON floats by. TILT DOWN TO: EXT. APARTMENT COMPLEX - DUSK SUNSET. A multi-story apartment building. Snow covers the surroundings. DANNY (12)--wears a shabby coat and mittens--sits in the snow. He watches the red balloon curiously. It lands in the snow before him. He walks to it. A rolled up paper is tied to the end. He snaps the paper off and shoves it in his pocket. He enters the apartment building. INT. APARTMENT - NIGHT Framed posters on a white wall fill the screen. They’re of Santa propaganda. He smiles merrily while giving gifts to children in one. Inspects and points amongst admiring Elves in another. Underneath are slogans: FROM NOW ON, OUR TROUBLES WILL BE MILES AWAY. FOLLOW ME IN MERRY MEASURE. The apartment is small, dumpy and sparsely furnished. A shabby Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree rests in the corner. The posters are the only art on the walls. The lights flicker. Danny enters. Takes off snow gear. Distant CRIES are heard. INT. APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT SAMUEL (8), MOM (40s) and DAD (50s) huddle close on a couch. They watch a 13” tube TV. All CRY. Danny peeks around the corner. They don’t notice him. On screen is a MASS FUNERAL. Thousands of spectators line the street, wailing and crying. A sleigh pulled by reindeer
PHILIP THOMPSON HARRELL
TAC: Tell us about your theme and how this became your focus. PTH: All Ye Faithful is a mashup of the North Pole and North Korea. It’s about a young elf who seeks to expose the truth behind the oppressive Christmas regime led by the Jolly Leader Kris Kringle that controls his family. Basically, I became extremely interested in North Korea for a time. I read a lot of books and watched a lot of documentaries on the subject and came to find that the media tends to focus mostly on their nuclear program, acting like the citizens are all mindlessly thirsty for American blood. The true and tragic stories of North Korean defectors are regularly glossed over. The lack of information and inherently bizarre culture within North Korea gives it an absurdist mystery. It seems too impossible to actually exist. You never stop to think about the people who actually live there. So I wanted to touch on this skewed, limited perspective in a satirical, absurdist form. TAC: How do you plan on gaining traction and a following for this film? PH: We launched our Indiegogo campaign on October 7 and have been reaching out to friends, family, and contacts within the industry, and spreading ourselves across most social media outlets. You can follow the Jolly Leader Kris Kringle himself on Twitter and stay current with the goings on in North Korea by following any of our pages. Our social media guru, Mike Hamer, has been doing a really kickass job on getting us out there and we’ve been fortunate enough to gain support from
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professionals within the field, largely thanks to my producers Alexandra Barnes and John Kontoyannis. When we finish, we’re going to be tackling big and small film festivals. TAC: What is it about film that makes it the right medium for your work? PTH: Collaboration! I adore working with other artists. Film is the one medium that can bring every form of art together to produce a singular work. I love the challenge of looking at an idea I’ve written and figuring out how to make it a reality. We all have our limitations so working with others with expertise in their respective fields can be such an exhilarating experience. It gives you an extra limb. I’ve been really lucky with the dedicated talent behind All Ye Faithful. I’ve also been dead set on making movies since the first grade so film is what I know and do best. I’m basically doing the same thing I’ve been doing since I was a kid. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? PTH: There are a number of projects I’ll be tackling after this short. I’m writing a horror feature, I have a low-budget short I’m aiming to do within the first half of 2015 and I’ve been getting more serious about music (I’m in a band). The horror genre is where my passion really dwells, so my upcoming work will be more focused on that. I grew up on Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, Universal Monsters, and Wayne’s World so that may give you an idea on where I’m headed, ha ha.
OUR DEAR LEADER, 2014 OPPOSITE:
MR AND MRS KRINGLE, 2014 ABOVE:
OUR JOLLY LEADER, 2014
PHILIP THOMPSON HARRELL
KELLY HUGHES WASHINGTON DC Kelly Hughes is a Washington DCbased collage and mixed-media artist. She attended George Mason University where she studied cognitive psychology with a focus on memory processes. Her work explores the emotionality of color and absurd narrative, and is inspired by remote (or loose) associations formed during sensory overload. She combines acrylic color blocking with paper cutouts to illustrate how those associations take visual form. www.mindglowstudios.com
CAVITIES!, 2014 Acr ylic Collage 36â€? x 48â€?
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TAC: Tell us about working in collage/mixed media and why this appeals to you. KH: Collage is appealing because there is an element of chance. I like that I’m restricted to these physical cutouts. It requires a certain amount of resourcefulness and intuition to assemble something that feels both interesting and resolved. It’s also complete theft, which is in a way completely thrilling but also shameful. TAC: How does your background in cognitive psychology play a role in your artistic practice? KH: I fell in love with memory research, particularly how
FEED US A FETUS, 2014 Acr ylic Latexpaint Collage 24” x 36” ABOVE:
WHEN YOUR HANDS ARE NOT ENOUGH, 2014 Collage 24” x 36”
fragments of sensory information bond to form memories, and how those memories essentially become our identities. I was also fascinated by false memory research and the various glitches that we can experience during sensory overload. The lines between what we experience and what actually occurred can become very blurred. Memory analysis is heavily reflected in the absurd narratives I try to create. It’s some wild shit, man. TAC: Your titles are very evocative, conjuring images or a snippet of a narrative in the viewer’s mind. Tell us how you title your images and what you feel they add to your visual language. KH: Honestly, it’s just off the cuff. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? KH: I’d love to introduce light into the mix … some strategically placed LEDs, maybe. It sounds disastrous, but light art is so appealing to me. I really want to figure out how to dovetail it with collage to create a richer viewing experience.
NIGHT TRAIN, 2014 Acr ylic Collage 18” x 24” OPPOSITE:
HAM HEADS, 2014 Acr ylic Collage 18” x 24”
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KAHLIL ROBERT IRVING K A N S A S C I T Y, M I S S O U R I Working and traveling is an experience. My work is an expression of that experience. These sculptural objects are parts of an everyday experience. The forms presented are about time, emotion, response to living in a postindustrial environment, and caging information within the transformation through materials. Life and death, black and white,
man and woman, race, and cultural symbols are all intertwined within the static objects presented. kahlilir ving.wordpress.com
WALL,2013 Porcelain 3” x 14” x 1.5”
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METAMORPHOSIS2(DETAIL) OPPOSITE BOTTOM:
METAMORPHOSIS2, 2013 Porcelain, Stoneware, Concrete, Gravel, Steel, Cadmium Paint 9.5” x 6.5” x 8” RIGHT:
STEELREMNANT, 2013 Porcelain,Steel 3.75” x 2.5” x 3” BELOW:
LAYEREDDEPTHS(BACKVIEW), 2013 Porcelain 5.5” x15” x 2”
123638, 2012 Archival Pigment Print 26.7” x 40”
TAC: Explain the steps you go through in creating your sculptures. KRI: As a maker I am interested in making objects that introduce ideas from the world. Within this series of pieces I used nonceramic materials within porcelain to make colors, form lines, and shapes. After making an object I use a masonry saw to expose the structure and lines that are created within the masses. I used fabric, foam, paper, plastic, steel, and wood within the porcelain. After firing the pieces I cut them to show the layered depths within the form. I am interested in the earth and contemporary life. I reincarnate the materials to give them new possibilities for existence. TAC: How did you discover this method of working, and what does it lend you as an object maker? KRI: This series of works was a response to what I was making in reference to maps and drawing. I wanted to add a sculpturalobject nature to my work and still involve information from my urban environment. I wanted a new series of work to explore information that I had never seen before in sculpture. So little by little I started to add materials to porcelain and firing the clay to burn the nonceramic materials away. I soon realized the objects were similar to strata. The layers were interesting, and I am furthering this process and making more advances with the process. I am even adding slip cast ceramic objects that reference the actual materials I have been using in the sculptures. TAC: Tell us about your greatest artistic influences.
KRI: My greatest artistic influences are dreaming, the environment that I live in, and traveling. These are my greatest influences because I believe I have a story to tell, and the largest aspect of the work I make is from a combination of all three parts of me. Ever since I was a young boy I created environments for my action figures to live within, building and designing with diverse groups of Legos, and enjoying cooking and watching television with my grandmother. I grew up and lived in many places, but mostly I have lived in Saint Louis, Missouri. This city has immense amounts of beauty and decay. This has an effect on me now that I am an emerging artist from this city. Lastly, I have traveled to seven different countries in the past two years. Spending long amounts of time abroad has helped me learn and realize more about the rest of the world. It also helped me learn more about myself and the person that I want to be. Traveling can add experiences to life that have an unlimited amount of worth and depth. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? KRI: As an artist I am interested in increasing my works in scale. I have only made works that are easily accessible to view. I want to confront the viewer and myself with large structures because there are so many abandoned lots and buildings in Kansas City and Saint Louis, Missouri. My walls and structures are not abandoned but they have decoration and a worn appearance as if they were from an actual site of decay in a city. A short-term goal is to attend graduate school and participate as a resident artist at the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York City, New York. Long-term goals are to continue to exhibit my work all over the world, and continue learning as much as I can.
LAYEREDHEIGHTS (BACKVEIW), 2013 Porcelain 7” x 2.5” x 1”
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DONALD S. KOLBERG PALM COAS T, FLORIDA
PATTERNWOMAN2, 2014 Acr ylic and Ink on Water Color paper and Sewing Pattern Paper 20”x30”
“Pattern Women” is a series of my mixed media acrylic paintings of women in which I use sewing pattern templates as the underlying support adhered to watercolor paper. In these works I bring a living quality to flat, inanimate patterns by turning the original shapes into organic forms without the use of actual human figures. I create a literal transformation in which a sewing pattern for a sleeve becomes a leg, a leg becomes a torso, and other template forms are transfigured into a variety of exploited images. My placement of the original templates along with the use of textural painting augments the works’ spatial qualities. I paint the surface with multiple layers of transparent and opaque acrylic washes. This allows the original sewing instructions to still be visible throughout the artwork, providing a contradiction, a tension, between the directive of the printed words and the reality of the painted image. www.donaldkolberg.com
TAC: How do the patterns function in your work as an aesthetic and a conceptual tool?
TAC: The colors you use are very bold and striking. Tell us about this visual element.
DSK: I think it’s interesting that a woman’s search for beauty in her clothing fashions and the development of commercial pattern paper in the late 1800s coincided with the popular exploration and publication of the aesthetics in art. We regularly look at the beauty of the female form and sometimes even admit that we have a favorite part. What I have done is adapted sewing pattern tissue cutouts into poses and incorporated the transparency of my figure painting to create an aesthetic image out of the varying forms and colors.
DSK: I think that the color you see in my work is a natural extension of the influence of the fashion and cosmetic world around us on TV, in magazines, and throughout shopping centers. I’m not looking to become a designer but I don’t think you can ignore the shouting of the texture and color that has become ingrained in our society because of these industries. There is also the desire to stretch the boundaries of what is typically accepted for imagery. This is just an extension of my thinking that follows using different cutouts for body parts.
The sewing-pattern tissue paper with its printed lines and words and soft texture is used as a foundation for creating the artwork, providing a conceptual contradiction to the names of the pattern pieces I’ve pasted down. The cutout that is identified as a leg is used to form an arm, an arm becomes a torso, and a pocket cutout becomes a breast. Dotted lines and arrows that originally marked cutting directions now become visual cues. On the surface of the pattern paper the printed numbers that originally provided garment size or cutting instructions ultimately become the piece’s name.
TAC: What is next for you as an artist? DSK: Working on this series has actually led to the beginnings of a new series. As I was exploring the color and texture I was using for the female forms, I started seeing those elements in landscapes. I want to see how far I can rearrange surfaces and shapes and reconstruct the basic form to create an idea for new images. I’m sure once I start that something else will also pop up.
TAC: Tell us about the biggest challenge in your artistic practice. DSK: My biggest challenge is staying focused. This particular series grew out of my collage work in the Larceny series completed prior to Pattern Woman. The images of women I used were mostly from sweatshops in the garment industry and the background texture was made from scraps from old sewing patterns that I had collected. I thought that some of the tissue pattern cutouts looked like body parts not really related to what they actually represented, so I started laying them out and experimenting. Basically I was working on the new series before the first one was completed. This is a regular situation in my studio.
PATTERNWOMAN18,2014 Acr ylic and Ink on Water Color paper and Sewing Pattern Paper 18”x24” PAGE 43:
PATTERNWOMAN11, 2014 Acr ylic and Ink on Water Color paper and Sewing Pattern Paper 18”x24” OPPOSITE:
PATTERNWOMAN1, 2014 Acr ylic and Ink on canvas and Sewing Pattern Paper 16”x20” RIGHT:
PATTERNWOMAN3,2014 Acr ylic and Ink on Water Color paper and Sewing Pattern Paper 22”x30”
DONALD S. KOLBERG
ZHANGBOLONG LIU NEW YORK,NEW YORK
I have been thinking about the equilibrium point between them all the time. A fundamental problem bothering scientists for hundreds of years is the way to observe and document. To me, the foundation stone of my practice is the approach I choose to seeing. Rather than being a participant, I like to be a spectator, keeping a certain distance from my subject. By saying I want to be a spectator, I tend to compare my creation process to the scientific experiment process. The scientific experiment process requires a series of precise operations within rigidly structured environments: depositing particles on a silicon slice, gathering signal reflection from a sampleâ€™s surface, and analyzing data through a computer program. As a scientist, one needs to gather each set of information in order to draw a proper conclusion. As an artist, I choose to document every detail so as to reveal the panorama. When I am using a camera to observe laboratories, it is like the way a scientist uses a microscope observe his samples. To quote Nabokov, â€œBy minifying the huge and magnifying the tiny, we get to the equilibrium point between knowledge and imagination. And that is where art lives.
LABORATORIES 10, 2013 InkjetPrint
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LABORATORIES 02, 2013 InkjetPrint
TAC: Explain how your knowledge of science has influenced your artistic practice. ZL: During my undergraduate years I trained as a scientist and engineer at one of the most technical universities (Tsinghua University) in China. After stepping into the art world, I think about the equilibrium point between science and art all the time. In the past, the convergence of science and art emerged hand in hand with the conception of objectivity in the eighteenth century. Scientists viewed artists as their hands without a mind, whose purpose is to draw idealized pictures as illustrations for scientific atlases. With the coming of the industrial age, scientists tried to lessen their dependence on artists and achieve mechanical objectivity through an emerging technology – photography. During the twentieth century, scientific tools and theories have become a new arena in which artists could embed their conceptions. However, as C. P.
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Snow said in his 1959 lecture “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution,” this was not the right way for science to benefit art. Science has to be assimilated along with, and as part and parcel of, the whole of our mental experience. It should be used as naturally as the rest, not just as borrowed exotica. That is the main point of my practice. Artists’ practice that involves scientific topics is accumulating, and the kernel is how to use artworks that can raise concern about scientific progress. That is what I’m trying to do: instead of using scientific symbols like relativity, black hole, entropy, etc., I want to base the work on scientific discourse. TAC: What drew you to photography, and why is it the right medium for your work? ZL: My original passion for making pictures came from taking photos for my family and friends. When I lost my first digital
camera and my laptop, I realized how fragile digital files were. From that point I preferred to use a film camera instead because the physical material makes me think it will be more ”permanent.” That’s the beginning of my picture-making story. For me, photography has two functions: one is to document people who are important to me, as mementos; the other is using photography as a way to express some way of thinking, something that can better or only be presented in visual form. In most cases, science is based on collecting images or data from experiments and uses them to conclude or demonstrate theory, which means a process from the concrete to the abstract. In the realm of art, photography is viewed as the most realistic way to capture concrete views. But consider the way it cuts out a fragment from real life and eliminates all other information from the environment; that is a way of abstracting. Both devote themselves to revealing the real entities of an unintelligible world behind the phenomena. However, the structure of interpretation it depends on is not working through images, facts, or theories, but a symbolic language. Photography gives me this ability to dissect what appears in front of my eyes and reconstruct the connections under my own understanding. It is not a looking at or a looking through, but a looking with. It also becomes my approach to scrutinizing my position. I am using this art form under the guidance of the scientific spirit and the procedures of scientific experiments in order to study what science means to me. TAC: Tell us about how you compose your images, and what you want the viewer to take away.
ZL: When I first began this project I was particularly looking for huge and complex scientific equipment and tried to use the deadpan approach to document the view. But as the project went on, the relationship between people and laboratories became more interesting to me. But I don’t want scientists showing up in their laboratories; all I need is their working space. There are always some details in laboratories that catch my attention, such as a cubist painting by a physicist, a plant with a test tube for watering, etc. Through these objects viewers will find a trace of what is happening in these laboratories, not just scientific experiments but also human activities, artistic creativities. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? ZL: This is the last year of my MFA program, so I’m going to work on my thesis. This new project will also relate to science discourse, but in a more interesting way. The basic idea is to build a fictional museum, and the collections of this museum are based on some famous thought experiments in the history of science, like Schrodinger’s cat, twin paradox, Maxwell’s demon, etc. As we know, it is not normally possible for a thought experiment to be performed, so it doesn’t have any experiment facilities or equipment. But I will actually make the facilities and equipment of these thought experiments to make them look like real experiments. There will also be some archives like books or videos as evidence of their existence. The boundaries between science and popular culture, reality and fiction, are blurred.
LABORATORIES 05, 2013 InkjetPrint RIGHT:
LABORATORIES 04, 2013 InkjetPrint
ALEX MCKENZIE CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
Alex McKenzie is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice includes painting, performance, video, and sound. His works utilize commonplace activities such as driving a car, watching TV, talking with friends, and exercising to comment on broader philosophies about human nature and the various ways we construct purpose and meaning within our lives. A level of absurdity is often employed in his work, which explores a range of themes including endurance, failure, finality, and repetition. www.alex-mckenzie.com
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BUILDING A WALL ON THE ONLY FLAT PIECE OF LAND I COULD FIND, 2012 Video Installation LEFT:
BUILDING A WALL ON THE ONLY FLAT PIECE OF LAND I COULD FIND, 2012 Per formace BOTTOM LEFT:
HANNAH’S DIARY (GIRLS SERIES), 2014 Acylic on Panel 2.5”x4” BOTTOM RIGHT:
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TRAIN WITH ME, 2013 Gym Installation LEFT:
95.1 (CHARLOTTE-WASSAIC), 2012 Audio Installlation
TAC: You talk about setting up a preliminary structure or “making rules” before starting a piece or body of work. How do these self-imposed limits act as a creative tool for you in your practice?
done playfully, maybe its just branding, or maybe it represents a doubt in the right way to do things. It’s the latter possibility that interests me most … always moving because you are afraid to stand still.
AM: My interest in rules really came about at the same time that I began to question my own life experience. I saw it as limited and untested, and I felt the need to abide by systems and logic that were not my own. Rule making became a solution for this. Rules are a way of facilitating experience, developing limitations, and ultimately arriving at new decisions and outcomes.
Doubt and the questions of finality and correctness have been issues preoccupying my mind for the last three years. I have painted never-ending paintings, I have constructed walls that never succeed in enclosing a space, and I’ve continuously driven my car back and forth on a driveway for 29.5 hours until the gas ran out. The idea that I could impose this idea of doubt, whether it exists or not, on a specific aspect of a show I loved made me think I should make some works based on it. It was an easy formula. Each painting is composed solely of the color relationship(s) expressed in the title sequence of each episode. The resulting forms don’t intentionally reflect any narrative aspect of the corresponding episodes, but instead reflect my own visual tendencies and interests. Ultimately, it was an opportunity to make a fun and straightforward series, not too serious, not too complex, just enjoyable.
John Cage said, “Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes.” Creating these preliminary structures helps to achieve this. If you make all the decisions beforehand, the act of making/doing/being is simplified to a degree and ostensibly more pure … at least not compounded and complicated by constant examination of the task at hand. You just are, you just do; it’s simple. That said, I can’t say that I am a proper adherent to this philosophy. I always leave a bit of myself in the work. My rules are rarely an automated system, they are more a structure to lean against when things get complicated. If rules were like walls I would rather build a large room than a narrow hallway. TAC: Tell us about the series you created based on the HBO show Girls and why that was inspiring to you. AM: I think there are a lot of reasons that I decided to make a series of works based on that show, most of which are poorly evidenced in the paintings themselves. I began watching Girls roughly a year ago, and at the time it was an activity I only participated in within a particular space and with the company of a specific person. The show immediately became associated with that relationship and my fondness of it was directly correlated to my fondness for that person. I also think I strongly relate to the show on a personal level. The characters are my age and the narrative is loosely similar to my own - an aspiring creative person struggling to stand out in a world saturated with people who are all attempting the same. Even more challenging in my case is the fact that I live so far away from the communities where people typically pursue and achieve these dreams (I think that is both a good and bad thing, though). Watching the show is comforting, often quite tragic but still comforting—a mirror of my own elongated transition into adulthood. Personal attachments and plot aside, the series of paintings was originally sparked by a minimal yet iconic aspect of the show: its ever-changing title sequence. I don’t know why Lena Dunham cares to change the color relationship (and sometimes the overall structure) of the Girls title sequence. Perhaps it’s
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TAC: Who are your biggest artistic influences and why? AM: There are a lot of people that influence me, but most recently I have been invested in the work of Martin Creed and Francis Alys. I relate to the former when it comes to structure and repetition—really trying to understand something through exhaustion. My current logic is less similar to the latter, but I really admire Alys for the simplicity of his performative gestures that can then be interpreted and appreciated on so many levels beyond the initial action. I’d like to make work more like that. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? AM: The next big thing I’ve got coming up is a residency here in Charlotte at the McColl Center for Art and Innovation. I am really looking forward to that: great facilities, an emphasis on community involvement, and a good number of reputable and established artists to learn from. It should be a good experience. After that, I don’t know. I am beginning to think it’s time to leave Charlotte and explore opportunities within another community.
WELCOME TO BUSHWICK A.K.A. THE CRACKCIDENT (GIRLS SERIES), 2014 Acylic on Panel 2.5”x4” ALEX MCKENZIE
EMMA TRAGERT B RO O K LY N, N E W YO R K My work involves the things I love: animals, children, and nature. I would like to create a world through my drawing that you can step into. I’m greatly influenced by children and how the experiences we have as children can shape us as adults I think it’s important for art to show you something. Through my work I try to inspire imagination for the things we don’t see, for the things that may lurk in the corner or under the bed, while still showing the simple affection between characters. I want to show an environment where you can let yourself be scared by the darkness while always knowing that someone is there with you, to protect you or just as a partner. www.emmatragert.com
TAC: Tell us about your inspirations - “children, animals, and nature” - and your aim to make a world the viewer can step into.
me: they read books on the couch, they go pumpkin picking, or just take a walk in the fall leaves.
ET: I am currently a nanny on the Upper West Side, so I spend most of my days surrounded by kids. I think that really inspires me to want to connect with children and also try to see the world through their eyes. I love that feeling that we have as children where the world feels kind of magical and you can imagine fantastic things. I also have a deep love of nature and animals; I think there is an immense amount of beauty in the world around us and I just find it really fun to sit and draw trees or bears or cute little foxes.
TAC: What is the greatest challenge you face in your artistic practice?
TAC: Who are the characters in this series, Pip and Bub, and how did you come to create them? What do they represent? ET: I really wanted to create some characters that I could play around with and that would be fun to draw over and over in various scenarios. I have always loved foxes so that automatically came to mind for me, but I didn’t want to have a singular character so that’s how Bub the bear got involved. In terms of what they represent, I think I wanted to show a happy, loving/lovely relationship, something that is positive for children and relatable, so that is how I tried to make the characters. I think their behavior is similar to my boyfriend and
ET: Aw, man. The biggest challenge is definitely finances; I have a hard time balancing my work schedule with my artwork schedule. In order or stay in this city and to make a comfortable living you really need to work a lot, which often doesn’t lend itself to creating time. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? ET: I want to get my work out there. I would love to pick up more commissioned work, portraits, paintings, or other illustrations. My dream would be to illustrate a children’s book so maybe I’ll publish my own or something.
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TYLER WHITHAM WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS
My wife and I moved to Germany three years ago, which came as a pretty big surprise to both of us. At first everything was new and exciting, and we went about in a state of part awe and part bewilderment. We traveled extensively, and it seemed to me that I photographed everything. And so did everyone else. I started to feel kind of silly lugging around my camera bag when most everyone around me could whip out a cell phone camera from their pocket, snap a picture, and walk away before I even finished focusing my camera. After a while my camera
stayed at home more often than not when we visited a new place, but it wasn’t only when we traveled that I noticed the ubiquitous presence of cell phone photography. Camera phones are everywhere, and it seems like everything is being recorded at all times. I noticed
people taking “selfies” in the most mundane of situations, like eating at a fast food restaurant, shopping for groceries, and even while driving. I started to think that I was missing something. Why would so many people want to record these moments in their lives? I’m not so
and there isn’t anything particularly interesting to see on the way that is readily apparent from the window of a moving car. In order to find anything interesting to photograph, I had to get out of the car and spend hours exploring and searching. I started visiting the places that I drove past and walking through them with my camera after work and on weekends. These empty fields of grass, drainage ditches, rest stops, and parks soon became my favorite subjects to photograph. There is something special about exploring the same places over and over again because I never expect to find anything new, and I’m always proven wrong. It’s a very different experience than having a grandscale adventure, or traveling to a city that thousands of others come to see as well, but I have never had a problem finding some wonder in it. Also, I have never once found myself photographing a tree just to have a kid run up and snap a picture with a cell phone before I could finish … which is nice.
email@example.com cynical as to think that all of these people were simply narcissistic. I figured there had to be something in these commonplaces that was special, and that I was missing it entirely. I started to look more closely at the things around me, and paying close attention to the
places that I take for granted. My daily commute was an obvious choice, because not only had I been ignoring the scenery around me while driving, but I usually wished it would go by faster because I was impatient to get to my destination. The trip takes about fifteen minutes,
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TAC: What draws you to the scenes you photograph, the so-called “overlooked spaces”? TW: I’m drawn to these places in the same way that I was drawn out to my backyard every day when I was a kid. I see something new every time I visit, even though I have been to each place many times and drive by them twice a day on my way to and from work. People pass by these same spots all day long and undoubtedly see the same things I see, but they are not seeing them in the same way I do. These photographs are like the rocks that the little-kid version of me would find in the backyard and bring inside to hide in my collection as if they were treasure. I would pass the same rocks every day for years and think nothing of them, but suddenly one day I would see them in a way that would make them wonderful. That is when I would collect them, because they were no longer rocks, they had become dragon eggs, or alien weapons, or gold nuggets, or fallen stars. I like photographing in these places because I essentially get to run home saying, “Look what I found in the backyard!” TAC: Tell us about your practice of actively combating the cell phone photography movement, and how it has shaped your photography into what we see here. TW: Cell phone photography isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s great that most people now have a decent camera in their pocket at all times. I certainly don’t think that a photograph needs to be made with an expensive camera or by some exotic process in order to be considered a valid form of expression. I have seen some beautiful photographs taken with cell phones. The problem I have is that photography with a cell phone is so easy that the process becomes entirely thoughtless, and it makes us lazy. The social media aspect of cell phone photography is also troubling to me because the pictures themselves become less important than the reaction that they receive from others. When choosing a subject the ordinary (but often more interesting once examined
closely) will often be passed over in favor of something spectacular that will attract attention, which is, again, pretty lazy. I’m not sure if I’m actually combating anything; I just go about things very differently. When I photograph I use a large digital camera, manual everything lenses, and a heavy tripod. It’s very cumbersome, but it causes me to explore and think more about a subject before I decide to set up my tripod. I also photograph in places that are very familiar to me, where there is nothing spectacular that demands attention, and I often visit the same areas over and over again to see what a scene looks like at different times of the year, in different light, and different weather. TAC: The way you approach your subject is like that of William Eggleston, and the subject itself is reminiscent of Joel Sternfeld’s High Line series. What artists do you look to for inspiration and why? TW: There are a lot of them, but the photographs I look at and think about most often are those of Geoff Winningham, Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Stephen Shore, and indeed William Eggleston. I think the reason is that I have a thing for photography books, and these artists have made some truly great ones. I can stand in an exhibition space all day looking at photographs and be happy about it, but when those same images are put into a book that is itself a beautiful object, for me it becomes something greater than the sum of its parts. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? TW: I’m moving back to Texas very soon and I’m hoping to continue work on a project on Big Bend National Park that I started almost ten years ago. I would also like to go back to school at some point and pursue an MFA. Mainly, though, I will be spending the next few years figuring out how to raise a kid. My wife and I are expecting our first child in January. Real life is terrifying.
CARLA WICK ATCHISON, KANSAS
Carla Wick has never fit into a lidded box, a square triangle, or a circle that leaks. She finds art in the textures and movement of nature and tries to combine both as much as possible while harming no one and nothing in the process. Using her photography, clay, leather, and mixed media, her works often leave others wondering if nature could be as unusual as she portrays. The answer is yes. She hopes her world inspires others to explore theirs. www.redbubble.com/people/sauriamami
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TAC: Tell us about how you became interested in the macro level of life, and how it became part of your art practice. CW: Although always a natural-based artist, when I moved back to Kansas I started noticing the details more and more that I’d overlooked so many times. I finally got a camera with a macro ability that was deep enough to catch the details and cleverly built to get into small places that most cameras couldn’t. I was immediately hooked on the tiny world, seeing the tips of hairs on an insect, or the feet of a caterpillar ... seeing the patterns of the undersides of mushrooms, or the texture of scales on a reptile. I’ve since incorporated those details into other works I create with my jewelry, my leathers, and my pottery. TAC: What does photography offer you as a medium? CW: Originally, photography was a means to get away from the other artists who believed that only clay, paint, prints, or drawing were true arts. Then I set out to prove that photography really WAS art. There are so many ways to portray feelings, my feelings, in what I’ve photographed that sometimes I even forget that there’s a world outside of my own photography. It is my first love and challenges me every time I pick up my camera
to make sure I find and capture something that doesn’t want to be caught, and shared when no one thought I could give. When I’m ready to give up paints, throw out the clays, burn the leathers, I get my camera out and feel that freedom of the world again. TAC: Something very interesting happens when the images become abstracted due to repeated shapes, lines, and motifs. Tell us about this. CW: The world is FLUID. It MOVES. There is never a static corner or a flat nondimensional spot in my viewer. When I photograph the tiny natural objects, I try to find focus points, sometimes this works and sometimes not. I often try to find a pattern that forces a person to relax and follow it, wondering if it would bite, if it’s soft, if it’s alive. Static and boring the world is not. TAC: What is next for you as an artist? CW: As it is, I get about three hours of sleep per day as I’m constantly creating artwork to keep busy and, yes, sane. I might investigate more with natural found objects and incorporating more into my mixed media. No mater what I do, I will still have nature and photography as my main focus.
CIMBEX AMERICANA, 2009 LEFT:
A TIGHT CURL, 2009
SCOTT JEHLE Boundaries Setting the trimmer on the edge of the porch to start it as the manual recommends on a level surface, with the head below the engine, I see something curious in the yard. A little pile of dirt and sand fans out behind a hole in the ground. Its smooth bore makes me think, “Surely a machine has made this meticulous hole. Maybe someone plans to plant a flag here at a rakish angle. Someone has claimed my yard—perhaps for Spain.” My careless reverie ends as a brown and yellow hornet slowly backs out of the hole, her spindly legs shoveling earth behind her. Now I feel the horns of a dilemma: I don’t want to kill this creature, but insects are often drawn to the trimmer by its sound or exhaust, and I don’t want to be stung, either. For a moment we consider each other then she walks back underground. I walk back into the garage and emerge with the old, long-handled weed puller.
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I hover over the hole like someone spear fishing. She comes out head first this time, finally satisfied with her efforts. For a moment we both hesitate then I strike. I hear the sound of the puller slicing her body in two. With my grass-stained tennis shoe I push her ruined body into the grave she dug herself and bury her with the loose dirt. I start the trimmer, moving from the flower garden to the maple to the curb to the mailbox to the driveway with a sluggish regret. Coming up the driveway toward the porch I see two legs break the surface of the grave. I set the trimmer down and wait. Slowly the head and thorax of the hornet emerge. Her wings are gone, and she crabwalks on three legs but she walks away from the death I imposed on her out into the yard.
Driving to work I saw in the ditch a peacock strutting toward the road. Behind him there was a trailer park where I went to a party when I was 19. A girl there made eyes at me. She wore midnight blue mascara and iridescent eye shadow. From the fringe of her glossy hair to the curve of her red lips ran a deep scar. Her skin looked nearly as smooth outside the scar as it did within. When I didn’t respond to her display she found a boy who would and I guess nature took its course.
The rain has been falling for days. The yard is a riot of grass and peonies and forsythia. From inside the house the boy from Kansas looks out over the yard and a voice inside him cries out, “This must be paradise. This is a luxury. This is very nearly pornographic. You should live in a place like this.” But being from Kansas it simply doesn’t occur to him that places so often anointed by rain are commonly under a cloud.
CONOR KELLEY The Last Version Left “Waiting is good. It means you’re not going to die.” –“15 Secrets the Emergency Staff Won’t Tell You,” Reader’s Digest, March 2010 Their mouths fell open when they looked at me. A woman covered a young boy’s eyes. A man with a bloodied bandage on his head sat up in his seat. The phones on the reception desk stopped ringing. The vending machines and drinking fountains seemed to stop humming. It was as if an audio cord had come unplugged somewhere. Silence didn’t belong there. Something was very wrong. Then, somewhere off in the distance, a machine’s rhythmic beeping broke through. Tapping sounds became audible and grew louder, almost deafening, as nurses ran across the linoleum toward me. I wouldn’t have to wait. I limped forward toward to their embrace, soaking wet, holding my left side, blood mixed with rain water trickling out pink from underneath my soaked shirt, my brand new shirt, staining my jeans, those brand new jeans. And from somewhere deep in my chest, using my last big breath, the one that I had saved up the whole cab ride over, I
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whispered to them, “I’vebeenstabbed.” It was a Seattle winter night, wet and dark, and we were trashed. Shit housed. The youngest guy in our group, an Irish rosy-cheeked aspiring rapper we called June, was house-sitting for a family friend that night. We decided to throw a party at the house, so we invited our friends throughout the week. Travis, the only black guy in our group and the quietest one of us, met up with an older friend of ours on Thursday night to pick up the alcohol. We took our overnight bags to school with us on Friday. For the occasion, I spent most of what little allowance money I had at TJ Maxx on a brand new pair of jeans, dark rinsed and baggy, and a new blue-and-white long-sleeved shirt. After we all changed and showered at the house after school, we had time to kill, so Brian, an impossibly skinny clown of a kid who was always laughing and hugging, suggested we pass the time by taking a drink every time a vampire appeared onscreen during Blade: Trinity, the movie we were watching on cable. In the Blade movies, the main character is a vampire hunter. The time flew.
One of our guests that night was an ex-girlfriend of mine whom I had not nearly recovered from. She was my first girlfriend, my first “I love you,” my first sexual everything; I wasn’t much then, but I felt like I had been more when I was with her. When she walked into the party with her friends, I was seated shirtless at the poker table, no chips or cards in sight, telling a story to a small group gathered around, my lips and teeth stained red by wine, my midsection inexplicably covered in lotion. While I was still wearing my new baggy jeans, I had temporarily lost my new shirt. She left. “Put on a shirt, let’s go eat!” they called down to me in the basement after the rest of our guests had left, too. Somehow, I found my shirt, and we wandered down the street through the pouring rain to the bright hope of food at 3 AM. “That restaurant down on Beacon Hill Ave has karaoke and food all night,” my group agreed somebody at the party had said, though nobody could remember who. As we trudged through the puddles, I moaned her name to the empty cars and dark houses. After we tired ourselves out from banging on the front door of the closed restaurant, we sat on the covered bus stop benches in front to get out of the rain and figure out where we could find food. Then, a white Cadillac Escalade SUV pulled up, and a young Asian woman in high heels and a club dress got out of the passenger seat and ran through the rain toward the front door of the restaurant. Seconds after the SUV pulled away, my friends flagged down a taxi cab, and helped me inside as the red stain on my shirt grew. “Where should we go?!” June yelled from the front seat. “No cops,” I wheezed like an action hero, holding my bloody side. “No hospitals.” I figured if we went to the hospital, the nurses would find out I was drunk, they would tell my parents, and my parents would be disappointed in me, which is the worst punishment of all for a16-year-old, even one who thought or cared about most things as little as I did. I begged to go to the drugstore so we could pick up supplies and patch me up back at the house. June and Brian went inside to buy gauze and Band-Aids, and Travis stayed with me in the idling taxi to keep an eye on me. “You okay?” he asked, again and again. “I’m fine,” I said each time. I took stunted breaths. The cab driver didn’t take his eyes off me through the rearview mirror. I smiled back at him. I thought it was kind of funny—hilarious, really—that I had been stabbed like that. And that being stabbed
wasn’t so bad. Definitely not as bad as it was supposed to be, I thought to myself. I started laughing. Then my midsection seized up. “Holy. Shit,” I wheezed. “What is it?” “Go get them.” Travis froze. “Go get them, I’m gonna fucking die.” Travis took off running across the asphalt parking lot toward the drugstore, faster than I’d ever seen him move, yelling for June and Brian, the pounding of his footsteps disappearing through the automatic doors. When the tapping of the nurses’ shoes reached me in the emergency room, they took me by my elbows, lowered me onto my back on a gurney, and wheeled me down a hallway toward a room of my own. I watched as the hospital rooms seemed to turn as we rolled past, and the people did, too. We crashed through swinging doors, my feet curling each time, not trusting the length of the gurney. A nurse asked me my full name, my address, my date of birth, my allergies, and my parents’ phone number. Another nurse asked me again. This continued until we reached an empty room. I was carefully lowered onto a bed and I watched, fading now, as they cut my new, blood-soaked shirt and jeans off of me. They strapped me to an IV, put pressure on my side, mopped up my blood, and prepared a blood transfusion. I passed out over and over again, but when they told me to stay with them, I did. When I was back for good, my parents were allowed to visit, but when they did, with bed hair and hollow eyes, they didn’t ask me if I had been drinking. “We’re just happy you’re okay,” they told me. Later, my friends were allowed to come see me, and when they did, they came in like a party, maybe still drunk. They laughed, they gripped my hands and twisted my fingers in elaborate handshakes, and they hugged me. They told me I was a hero, a survivor. “Dude, you’re just like 50 Cent!” Brian yelled. “I thought you were gonna die, bro,” Travis said, quietly. The police came in last for photographs and statements. “Tell us what happened,” they said.
“Well, we were sitting in front of this restaurant on Beacon Hill Avenue, sitting at the covered bus stop in front, trying to get something to eat, and this white Cadillac Escalade pulled up,” I said. “This woman jumped out and ran up to the front door of the restaurant, but we already knew it was closed, so we started yelling to her that it wasn’t open. We didn’t say anything mean, you know, just telling her it was closed. Then she went back to the car and a couple seconds later, her boyfriend got out.” As I told my story, I wondered what his might have been. “And then he started walking toward us, so I stepped in front of my friends.” He might have seen a group of male teenagers yelling at his girlfriend late at night, and one drunken teenager, bigger than the rest and much bigger than him, stepped toward him when he approached. “He started yelling at me in a language I didn’t understand, then he hit me in my side. I thought it was just a punch.” He might have guessed that my friends, if they would have fought him, wouldn’t have fought fair. “Then he ran back to his car and peeled out around the corner.” The detectives didn’t have his side of the story, though, and were doubtful they would find him at all. “Needle in a haystack, son,” one of the cops told me, among other standard comments, as they stood up and walked out of my hospital room. “We’ll find him,” June whispered to me with a nod. I nodded back at him, because I had seen Scarface and the Godfather movies just as many times as he had. I was released a few hours later with a bottle of painkillers, a cop’s business card, and a bandaged side. My group bragged about that night at parties for the rest of the school year, each time cleaning up the things we yelled at that girl and making the other guy bigger and meaner. A couple times they told it, I even landed a few punches. I don’t know if they noticed how quiet I got every time it came up, or maybe they just got tired of the story too, but eventually they stopped telling it. We stopped seeing each other so much senior year, and after graduation, I left town. They probably don’t tell their versions anymore, so the truth is the last version left. -
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I carried around a little tobacco store pocket knife for a long time after that night, at first when I was on the lookout, hunting for white Escalades, stalking them like animals in the wild, then for a long time after out of habit. It followed me through the rest of high school and across the country to three different colleges. Then, on a summer camping trip with some friends a couple years back, I stuck it in a log after we shotgunned a round of beers. When I pulled it out, the flimsy blade was bent. It took me a while to remember why I had it at all, and when I did, I stood up and threw the knife as far as I could into the forest, and I waited to hear it crash into the woods, heavy and important. It didn’t make a sound. I left it there.
HARRY EDGAR PALACIO Jigsaw Puzzles
Off Blue Elephant
The buzz saw is a quiet rabbit Housekeeping the lawn Cornflake box novels Sweater weather mythology Sometimes when I walk by strangers I know you less or more you remind me of a memory I had washing your dishes even though the washer worked The bath ran away Geese fly south some come back A song came on it was the radiator A closet of just my clothes I think jigsaw puzzles are sad because they break up in the end ***
Christmas morning purple lights don’t really belong They curl different mild to taste like antique book pages when it’s time to sit and eat I stand Where is the elephant in the room when you need it a distraction anything Keep feeding those Trucker hats with spinning plates I don’t really want to stay and chat over Christmas Those purple lights don’t really belong They curl different off the tongue that really long carol exhausting That elephant ran off with my excuse to leave The Connors came to report morse coded stories about how you know who Painted his patio furniture that off blue color it’s behind a fence I understand only how much I want to leave Pardon me I have to find an off blue elephant I’m aware dessert is here but there are more pressing matters It’s a post it not a post card ***
82 THE ARTIST CATALOGUE
VOLUME 3 ISSUE 4
Broken Love A band of untanned skin wraps around a space for lost lingering ghosts Hangers-on where only gold memories remain A succession of forgetting grooves the etchings A deluge streaming down her cheeks past her chin to a point without return Broke horses lay like mattresses She lost that keepsake long ago Within minutes love fell but no one came to recover her crying A leaving replaced by a foreign loverâ€™s comfort To recite a broken love from a past life A band of untanned skin wrapped around her finger ***
HARRY EDGAR PALACIO
PAMELA L. LASKIN The Muse
The chuppah of your words covers my heart when I decide to wed to poetry, the language vows I take, some may call art it’s you-my prayer, my muse that marries me.
Glenn Ligon not tragically colored, “lost his voice, found his voice” when he walked into a canvas, so I will race into his.
I read you in my memory, my mind where every lovely vowel resonates so I say, “yes” eternal for your kind this flight of fancy, nothing short of fate. So strangle me in form, and straddle, too, and break the glass with screams and shouts of glee, the celebration’s festive when with you, ketubah seals your poetry in me. With you, my love, forever I will wed. You dazzle dreams and saturate my head.
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VOLUME 3 ISSUE 4
Don’t run away from me, Glenn, come into my eyes so I can feel your voice in my body like paint. Your colors now belong to me.
Just Pretend I forgot about hammering out tunes to make bears dance when we long to move the stars; what I recall in the emptiest of metaphors is Flaubert wrote these words in MADAME BOVARY, big, bold words that I would love to borrow, if only for a moment, so I could feel the mountains move, majestic mountains whose peaks probe the stars, not my words but I can pretend.
Poetry Judging: A Journey Overlooking the Hudson a vast forest of river and wreckage we whispered words that could take us into a timeless spiral, and here one of the seven disciples asked to call me Mommy since I was the magician of diction and she mistakenly believed I could feed her till sheâ€™d burst with poems, a dictionary with which she could find her way home. But it doesnâ€™t work that way. In every tale as the sun, a talisman slips into darkness while we watch it disappear through vast, open windows, there is a mother saying: this is all the language I can give you, see if you can find something to call your own.
IRVIN SAM SCHONFELD Harry and Barry Harry Weiner and I became friends when I joined my high school track team in Brooklyn. A year older than me, he was already on the team when I joined. I got to know Barry Briscoe through Harry but when Harry dropped Barry in the early 1970s, I lost the connection to the latter although Harry and I have remained friends. Weiner is a funny name to American ears, particularly to schoolyard ears. When Harry was a kid, the boys in the schoolyard called him “Weiner schnitzel.“ Or they asked him, “How’s your weiner Weiner?” Luckily, Harry was solidly built, and on rare occasions the name-calling got him so steamed up that he would strike back. If he punched a name-caller in the arm, the boy’s only consolation was the relief that the punch wasn’t aimed at the target’s jaw. Oral surgery would have been required. But as Harry got older he concentrated on the mile run almost as much as he concentrated on his studies. He went on to excel in high school. Both Harry and Barry earned good enough grades to get into City College. And both majored in one of the social sciences. Some boys have surnames that become their everyday names.
I was always Irv, never Schonfeld. Schonfeld didn’t hold its own as an everyday name. But Weiner did. Many of Harry’s friends simply called him Weiner. Not Harry. Barry called him Weiner. The coach called him Weiner. I knew him as Weiner for the first four months I was on the track team. It was only after the crosscountry season ended and the indoor season was in full swing that I learned that his first name was Harry. From childhood to their early twenties, Barry, who was shorter and slighter than Harry, was Harry Weiner’s closest friend. When they were boys, they played together on a stickball court, hastily constructed by chalking a rectangular strike zone onto a school building wall facing a cement yard. The two of them played softball together in Prospect Park. They played touch football in the schoolyard in the fall and winter. Barry was as good a student as Harry. They had much in common. As they got older it became clear that Harry was the bolder of the two. In his later teenage years, Barry dressed carelessly. He would often be seen walking around the neighborhood in a moth-eaten tee shirt, grey pants with brown coffee stains, white socks, and black shoes, periodically stopping to read and
reread the racing charts in that day’s Morning Telegraph. As Harry became increasingly interested in girls, Barry became interested in thoroughbreds. The two of them nonetheless remained friends. And I became friendly with Barry as a result of my having gotten to know Harry.
We could walk and hop on a double-decker bus, and see where it takes us.”
Weiner was something of a reformer. He wanted to change Barry for the better. Harry was changing. He saw no reason why Barry couldn’t change. About a year after they graduated from college and had held down steady jobs, they decided to go Europe together. Their itinerary included London. It was their first trip outside the U.S. They planned to attend rock concerts and theatrical events. Maybe they would meet some attractive young women in the lobby bar of a West End theater. In getting ready for the trip, Harry cajoled Barry into joining forces for a more local excursion, a trip to Barney’s to get some nice clothes. “Barry. We may meet some beautiful girls. You’ve got to be presentable.”
“Are you sure? It’s a beautiful day.”
Harry was already a tasteful dresser. Under Harry’s tutelage, Barry, reluctantly, shed the crappy-looking pants and tee shirts for some good-looking threads. Dark socks and sharp shoes followed. A salesman picked out a couple of jazzy, off-the-rack sport coats. Barry bought aviator sunglasses, which were stylish in that era. He even got good haircut. When I saw him a couple of days after the trip to Barney’s, I didn’t recognize him except that his nasal twang was a give-away.
“It’s in the orchestra.”
Weiner got back to the hotel late. He wanted to take a shower or bath. He was too tired to figure out which. Wet towels lay haphazardly on the bathroom floor. There was one clean towel remaining on the rack. The bathroom had an old claw-foot tub. Harry looked at the tub. Something about it looked peculiar. He looked closer. Ah. That’s it. There was a ring of dirt around the tub, Barry’s footprint. Barry thought a bath would help him combat the oncoming cold. He had been so accustomed to his mother picking up after him—for he lived with his parents—that he neglected to clean up the bathroom for his friend. Weiner took a shower.
In front of this well-dressed, urbane crowd, Barry exploded, “Fuck you Weiner.”
“No. I still feel like I’m getting a cold. I’m gonna stay in the hotel.”
“I have a cough.” “I’ll meet you at the Palace Theater at 7. It’s on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road. Take the Tube to Leicester Square. It’s a short walk from there. The show starts at 7:30. I’ll see you then. Here’s your ticket.” “Thanks.” “Hey. Take a look at the ticket.”
Harry went off to Trafalgar Square. He spent a couple of hours in the National Gallery. Then he headed up to Russell Square and the University of London. He looked for books at Blackwell’s. Finally he visited the LSE, right in the theater district. At that time in his life, Harry foresaw that he had a future in academia, and this one particular London walk confirmed that an academic’s life was right for him. He was After a brief stopover, they arrived at their London hotel on a tired but happy. After a quick bite to eat at a tea shop, he summer evening. “Let’s go out, Barry. It’s early. We’ll pick up arrived at the Palace at about 7:10. Barry was already in his theater tickets. I’m aiming for Jesus Christ Superstar. Then seat. Theater patrons were filing in almost continuously. The crowd was upscale. Some women were in gowns and men, in we’ll hit a pub. Come with me.” tuxedos, all gussied up for after-theater parties. “No Weiner. I’m tired. I’m going to stay in. I think I’m getting a cold or a cough.” He spoke the word “cough” with a Ratso Rizzo Eying Barry, Harry observed that his friend was wearing a worn-out New York Mets tee shirt with a few biscuit crumbs inflection. clinging to it. Barry’s brown pants barely hid the coffee stains. Harry went out. He scored two orchestra seats for the next night, the result of a cancellation. Although it was his first trip abroad, Weiner whispered in his friend’s ear, “What’s the matter? This is how you dress for the theater?” Harry strode around the town as if he were a Londoner.
Harry, embarrassed, made a shushing gesture with his index finger, a gesture that only incensed Barry that much more. “You piece of shit. Don’t tell me what to wear. I don’t give a fuck what the people in the audience think.” Many audience members pretended not to observe the ruckus; observing it, however, was unavoidable. There was one or maybe two tut-tuts emanating from audience members sitting nearby.
The next morning Harry said, “Hey, this is our first full day in London. We’ve got theater tickets for tonight. Let’s see the city. “Weiner, you know what you are?”
PAMELA L. LASKIN
“What am I?” Barry, who was always reading the preeminent social scientists of the day, lashed out, “Weiner, you’re other-directed.” Finally, Harry saw an opportunity to parry the thrust and perhaps land a hit of his own. He stood up in front of his seat, and placed both his hands over his heart. As in a slo-mo death scene in a Peckinpah western, Harry gradually sank back down into his seat, as his eyelids closed, his hands remaining fastened to the left part of his chest. Olivier could not have given a better performance. Harry earned some applause from the neighboring seats. Advantage Weiner. They sat next to each other through the show but did not speak during the intermission. After the show, they traveled back to the hotel separately. Harry checked out early the next morning and headed for digs in another part of town. Dining alone the next evening at Le Bistingo, he met another lone diner, Charlene, a BOAC stewardess on her day off, and on the rebound from an under-appreciative boyfriend. Harry’s meeting her was just the right medicine for a friendship that had dissolved hours earlier. Harry and Barry saw each other exactly one more time, on the flight back to New York. They never spoke again.
IRVIN SAM SCHONFELD
David Brown Editor-In-Chief Juliet Helmke Associate Editor Cyndy Brown Senior Copy Editor Kie Kato Art Director
T H E A RT I S T C ATA L O G U E . C O M
Published on Nov 1, 2014
The Artist Catalogue is a quarterly fine art publication that enables emerging visual artists and writers to showcase their current body of...