Exhibition Statement “Our teaching will be most infectious if it is based on our own thought, our own discoveries, our own experiences. Therefore, education demands first the selfeducation of the teacher.” - Josef Albers In electronics, the definition of regeneration is a feedback process in which energy from the output of an amplifier is fed back to the grid circuit to reinforce the input. What if the “output amplifier” was a painter, and the “grid circuit” was a student, and the “input” that was created became art? The act of being an artist is a collaborative process. Embedded in our daily lives is the filtering of information and the shuffling of ideas. To teach involves prioritizing those ideas to share our thoughts with others. To paint involves the realization of ideas into tangible form. Through collaboration we are adding to our creative intelligence. In an ideal situation, art educators strive to impart their knowledge to their students, and in return gain a deeper understanding of their discipline reinforcing the relevance of their own work. This exhibition highlights the regeneration of thought in painting, by linking the translation of visual ideas created by sixteen painter-teachers through several generations to the teaching of Josef Albers. Students and teachers worked together over the past four years to create this exhibition: an exhibition that explores the very idea of influence.
The artists in Re-Generation are Heather Brammeier, Reni Gower, Heather Harvey, Ric Haynes, Victor Kord, Richard Lytle, Ron Markman, Deirdre Murphy, Richard Emery Nickolson, Alice Oh, Carrie Patterson, Richard Raiselis, Edward Shalala, Robert Slutzky, Reba Stewart, and Lois Swirnoff. In the Project Room I have curated a show titled: Siri Berg: It’s All About Color III. The ReGeneration show is dedicated to Siri in honor of her work as a teacher and artist. I want to thank former student and research assistant Brittany Sigley for her steadfast loyalty in making this exhibition possible; former students Erica Maust and Kelton Bumgarner for their multiple contributions, my students that continue to inspire, Richard Nickolson, Joan Ockman, The Artists, Fred Horowitz, my former teachers, The Geneveive-McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, The Emily Mason and Wolf Kahn Foundation, The Albers Foundation, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Maryland Institute College of Art, The Painting Center, Jim Gallagher, and most importantly my family. Curator: Carrie Patterson Chair, Associate Professor of Art Department of Art and Art History St. Mary’s College of Maryland
Re-generating Josef Albers by Jennifer Cognard-Black
Das Ziel des Lebens: Lebende Wesen Das Ziel der Kunst: Lebend Werke
The aim of life is living creatures The aim of art is living creations —Josef Albers Poems and Drawings, 1958
Regeneration: recreation, rebirth, reincarnation—but also repair, replacement, and regrowth. To regenerate is to have a second chance, a physical or psychic do-over. If a salamander loses its tail, it grows a new one. If a disciple doubts his faith, he can be redeemed. If an artist blunders, she starts anew. “Designing begins with fumbling,” said Josef Albers. “[W] e can learn a great deal from that. . . . [I]t is really the work that matters, not the results. . . . I am grateful to those who made mistakes.” To Albers, mistakes were slices of liverwurst—not pretty on the plate, but nourishing. Even when a piece of art was finished, Albers found endless possibilities for re-seeing it. His teaching was a pedagogy of the eye, not art. He taught pupils—students as well as the dark, circular opening at the center of their eyes—to re-see, re-vision. Still, even more important than eyesight, Albers said, “is what happens beyond the retina, in our mind.” Observation plus perception: the gaze that engages both mind and heart, bone and soul. Albers sought the imagined landscape, the dream portrait, the fantasized color as much as the material fact that cadmium makes red or cobalt blue. As his color classes at Black Mountain and Yale made clear, in different lights, on different walls, or against different objects, a painting’s hue, light-value, and intensity would shift and change—as iridescent as leaves on a tree moving in sunlight, wind, rain, or snow. Warm colors became cool. Hard surfaces soft. Sand turned to gold. Yet another meaning of regeneration: transformation—a change that alters the sum and substance of the changed. The verb “regenerate” comes from the Latin—from re meaning “again” and generare meaning “create.” To create again. To conjure. To make magic. Christ regenerated Lazarus,
restoring him, four days dead, from the tomb. A miracle. Dr. Frankenstein regenerated his monster, watching the “dull yellow eye of the creature open” as it “breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” A disaster. Both resurrections are moments of the deepest magic. Both transform cold, clodded death into sensible, warm motion. And yet one is joyful, the other grotesque. Residing within the definition of the word “regenerate” are these contradictions of the renewed and the renegade—for, though now obscure, a “regenerate” was once the name of a corrupt person, a reprobate, a bum. Regeneration is, then, both danger and possibility, horror and wonder all at once. Within the gift of life is always already the specter of death. The sixteen painters of Re-Generation make this same magic. To crib an Albers metaphor, they take one plus one and make three. Their paintings are shining and alive—the difference between reading the word “fire” and being burned. They synthesize line, shape, and color into art that is both thrilling and dangerous, lovely and wild. And their paintings are ever-changing, never stable. Their lines deceive, their shapes elude, their colors twist. These sixteen painters are inheritors of the Albersian notion of a Schwindel—that giddy, shifting, sliding, marvelous and pernicious vertigo induced by color. First and foremost, color is of the senses—not merely sight but also taste and touch, smell and sound. For Albers, color was synesthesia: the smell of a Cuban cigar or the taste of a roast-beef dinner with a nice glass of Burgundy. Similarly, for Victor Kord, color is sound. A found pattern becomes a melody, contrasting colors either dissonance or euphony. His paintings jazz the eyes— riffing blue, repeating yellow, swapping the melody line among the greens. Kord’s paintings sing low then trumpet high, scatting inbetween like Ella Fitzgerald. But color can also be touch: the tips of fingers, the down of cheeks. Ric Haynes’ thick strokes revive a tactile past. A long-dead soldier resuscitates through shapes both orange-new and gray-withered, textures of fire and ash, skin and memory. Akin to the doubleness of a daguerreotype,
Haynes’ paintings etch and flash their soldier subjects, two dimensions momentarily becoming three. For color is, too, a three-dimensional human body—round, solid, and palpable. Heather Harvey’s sculptural paintings mimic these curves and hollows of the human, with our tastes of iron and salt, our smells of sweat and weather. Following the curvature of Harvey’s work, a viewer feels active in both flesh and fissure—what Albers called necessary negativa, the space between two fingers. To paint atoms as well as the humming space between them is to feel and to see with the whole soul: Albers’ physical and actual facts. Synesthesia. Synthesis. Yet if color is a body, it is also desire. Ntozake Shange’s dramatic character the lady in red—a harlot, a heart—is delighted to be and to feel such variegated desire: . . .allow[ing] those especially schemin / tactful suitors to experience her body & spirit tearin / so easily blendin with theirs / & they were so happy & lay on her lime sheets full & wet from her tongue she kissed them reverently even ankles edges of beards…. As with the body, in nature the color red defines creation and violence, life and death: dirt, birth, sex, blood and fire. In Ron Markman’s Mukfa paintings, characters’ eyes sometimes literally see red, their irises scarlet as sin—or as love. The Wonderland they inhabit is a crazy quilt of color: a fiery mash-up of yellow- and green-faced creatures riding in the Toot Toot and Honk Honk of cadmium-colored Mukbuses. Akin to Reni Gower’s own Wonderlands of kaleidoscopic circles or Deirdre Murphy’s rainbowed bird-worlds beyond the clouds or Richard Lytle’s surreal terrains of hot-house flowers against ash-brown branches, such paintings burn a viewer’s body with passion and madness: the emotional red of lust, love, fever, and anger. These alternate worlds make us feel as well as see—our heart’s in our eyes. What we see, we feel; what we feel, we are.
Heather Brammeier, too, takes our eyes down yet another rabbit hole, although her invented landscape is more Charlie’s than Alice’s. Now we ride black twists of licorice whips or are caught in technicolor stripes of chewing gum—cantaloupes of oompa loompas ever lumbering at our backs. Many of the paintings in Re-Generation offer up such vivid tastes—new or unusual or pleasing flavors. “I try to cook every day another. . .pancake,” said Albers. “[A]nother smell, another taste.” In Alice Oh’s work, we taste the mood indigo of blueberries, the tranquil mint of pale-green leaves. Within Richard Nickolson’s quiet kitchen sits a tiny yellow cup of morning espresso, a corn-colored mixing bowl, the yolk of an egg. Through Edward Shalala’s canvas window, we smell the nut-brown taste of dough—like pollen, flour fills the air, dust caught down our shirts and in our hair, yeast bubbling to the surface of a warm loaf. As Mark Winegardner says in his collection of food essays, We Are What We Ate, “Taste it. Swallow. Close your eyes. Roll your tongue around in your mouth. You’re there.” Here—tasting an Alice Oh garden. Here—tasting Richard Nickolson’s silent house. Here—tasting Edward Shalala’s raw window. In circling the wheel of the body’s colors, however, we may forget the necessary negativa of gray, white, and black. In his book Chromophobia, David Batchelor argues that viewers “get drawn into seeing colour and white as opposites” and that actually we prefer the clean, cold blankness of white or gray, for “[c]olour is dangerous.” For Batchelor, a whitescape is, in part, a “model for how a body ought to be: enclosed, contained, sealed.” Color refuses the jar, the box or the lid. Color runs. Yet Albers would not have agreed, for he thought all colors equal—white, gray, and black were colors as much as red, yellow, and blue. Albers said that colors danced minuets together, held doors open for each other, argued, fought, or made love. “Related colors became nieces, nephews, second cousins; some were children who reflected the qualities of the parents.” This metaphor is yet another meaning, then, of re-generation, for colors are perpetual heirs to each other, beneficiaries of hereditary closeness. In his silhouette paintings of telephone poles at dawn or dusk, Richard Raiselis creates tension and
symbiosis between such familial shades: like the physical closeness of mother and daughter or father and son, these inky black poles and whip-thin wires are reliant upon the citrine sky. So, too, with Robert Slutzky, whose perpendicular grids of yellow or red or aquamarine acquire an astonishing ability to float, supported by nothing but raingray air—or, perhaps, that same stony air is pinned to these flying squares of tic-tac-toe. Reba Stewart: sunrise or sunset, surf or shore, air or earth, she offers a landscape without perspective—a blurring, shifting, interdependent horizon of pink mountain, lavender sky, and a mauve-serene sea. And Lois Swirnoff’s paintings depict yet another interdependence: an on-going discourse between like-minded tones and intensities—the kind of ceaseless, luscious discussions one finds between lovers over coffee and cigarettes. But to return to seeing the colors of Re-Generation not just as parents and children, siblings and lovers, but also as rebirth: as re-vision, re-memory. In Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer-prize-winning novel Beloved, a character named Baby Suggs, a grandmother whose “past had been like her present—intolerable,” spends the last few weeks of her life confined to bed, “pondering color.” As Morrison’s narrator notes: Winter in Ohio was especially rough if you had an appetite for color. Sky provided the only drama, and counting on a Cincinnati horizon for life’s principle joy was reckless indeed. So [Baby Sugg’s daughter] Sethe and [her granddaughter] Denver did what they could. . . . . Sethe would oblige her with anything from fabric to her own tongue. The idea that color is “life’s principle joy” is precisely in keeping with Albers’ own excitement, even ecstasy, in teaching his color classes. “Just putting colors together is the excitement of it,” he said. And yet color isn’t mere exhilaration—it is also, according to Albers, “a psychic effect.” A psychic effect is simultaneously emotional, spiritual and intellectual. Psychic powers are supernatural, otherworldly, extrasensory, while a psychic person is said to be intuitive, clairvoyant, in possession of a sixth sense. Color, then, is also metaphysical—and its potential transformative. At a crucial point in Morrison’s Beloved, Sethe defines the experience of what she calls “re-memory”:
Some things you forget. Other things you never do . . . . [But p]lace, places are still there. If a house burns down, it’s gone, but the place—the picture of it—stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world. What I remember is a picture floating around out there outside my head. I mean, even if I don’t think it, even if I die, the picture of what I did, or knew, or saw is still out there. Right in the place where it happened. Color is joy, and color is also rememory—the pictures of what we humans do, know, and see. In Carrie Patterson’s wood-block paintings, she rememories the pleasure of interior spaces by translating them into the language of color. A large red square is the sun setting through a chapel window, the long lines on either side a prismatic effect of light through stained glass. A thin rectangle of deep blue is the on-coming twilight, while gray and grayish-blue squares are the rough, cool stones placed one on top of the another to form this strong chapel wall. A hundred years from now—a thousand—Patterson’s rememory of these architectural colors will be as solid and sure as the chapel itself, now in ruin. Her wildfire red, her sapphire blue, her slate-silver gray will regenerate this space: its materiality and its poetry. In one of Albers’ own poems, he wrote “The aim of life / is living creatures / The aim of art / is living creations[.]” Art rememories life, allowing life to be regenerated endlessly. Individual human lives end— we die. And yet art—the memory of the collective life—is immortal. Each time a viewer beholds its colors, recognizes its shapes, and follows its lines, painting is re-born in the viewer’s eyes. Rejuvenation. Restoration. Renewal. At 83 years old, being interviewed for the New York Times, Albers said, “What interests me is the way [colors] marry, interpenetrate, and produce the baby, the color that is their product together. . . . When you see how each color helps, hates, penetrates, touches, doesn’t, that’s parallel to life.” And this is the crucial challenge to viewers of the Re-Generation exhibit: to see how these paintings produced by Albers’ students, as well as the students of those students, exemplify both independence and interdependence. How these paintings produce “babies”—the next generation, the new generation, the Re-Generation of the art of seeing.
Heather Brammeier Associate Professor, Bradley University Teacher: Robert Slutzky, University of Pennsylvania http://heatherbrammeier.com/
Upstairs Downstairs, Oil on canvas, 45" x 30", 2010
Artist Statement After several years of painting hard-edged biomorphic forms that were fairly non-objective, I have transitioned into spatial arrangements that could be described as abstract landscape spaces. Biomorphic forms creep in and out of these painted spaces, often embedded in the natural architecture of the space. These forms might be related to echinoderms, gastropods, and arthropods. Empathizing with unassuming forms of life reflects my skepticism of the achievements of humanity. Yet even this self-effacement underscores the unavoidability of egocentrism. The escapist tendencies in my other-worldly vignettes expose fundamental needs for introspection and indulgence, and the parallels to human existence serve always to underscore life’s inexorabilities. Within the invented landscapes, forms that, in my hard-edged work, would be swollen to bursting, are now springing leaks. Colors flow into one another, often as if they were liquid metal. My underlying interest in imagery of water and waves has surfaced in these paintings, adding to a fluidity of forms and space that allows for fluid transformation as I develop the painting. There is no single narrative; each painting serves more as a descriptive passage in a work of fiction.
Teaching Statement I entered graduate school directly after earning my BFA, an overconfident, idealistic, naïve young painter with an irrepressible Midwestern accent, off to the east coast to step up in the world. My undergraduate professors told me the voices of my graduate school mentors would stay with me long after I had matriculated, and I have indeed found that things my professors said mean more to me years later than when they first entered my brain. Two years at Penn impacted my creative and teaching life more than I could have imagined. “There’s no such thing as a neutral,” Bob Slutzky was known for saying. Sure, color is relative, adjacent colors make each other appear different, we know. Yet knowing is so different from understanding. I can still be surprised by events that unfold on the glass palette in my studio, and each time, I think back to the collage class or studio visits I had with Bob. I think what he would say, and I put it in my own words, to make it something I can say to my own students. One of the pleasures of teaching is finding words for what I do in my work. Even more rewarding is when my students can put something into words before I can. For example, when I pressed my students in Fundamentals of Color to verbalize the applications of color progression, they identified my own use of a color progression separated by bands of color to create the illusion of a gradient. Though I had selected the artwork to show them as an example of progression, I had not yet verbalized for myself what I had done intuitively. It’s too much to hope that Bob ever learned something from me, but perhaps the group of students of which I was a part gave something back to him. I think we did; I think that’s why he kept teaching when he didn’t really need the paycheck or the career advancement. I miss him. My work pays tribute to him, even when I do something and think, “Bob sure wouldn’t like this.” He liked it when we challenged him, when we brought new issues to the discourse of abstract painting. And now, though he’s gone, thinking of him, and the discussions we would have, I often laugh. Even alone in my studio, my teachers are still with me.
Reni Gower Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University Teacher: Victor Kord, University of Wisconsin www.renigower.com
Pivot. 9, Acrylic on paper, 38 1/2" x 27", 2010
Artist Statement Pivot.9 is part of an ongoing series of works on paper. In these works, I blend a fluid improvisational painting approach with a repetitively structured and analytical one to create complex images that counter visual skimming. I incorporate the circle as a repetitive decorative motif, as a metaphor for binary code, and as a cultural symbol. Through intricate patterning, I combine these references to contrast passive technological consumption with the redemptive nuance of work made by hand. While also addressing issues of beauty, my art becomes an intimate vehicle for reflection or reprieve.
Teaching Statement Re-Generation underscores the important impact of mentorship by featuring artists who have spent a lifetime investigating the mysteries of creativity through interactions with their students. During my schooling, I was fortunate to have many excellent teachers; one of the best, Victor Kord, is also included in this exhibition. As a na誰ve undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin, his positive guidance instilled confidence and laid the cornerstones of my artistic voice. Instrumental in my search for graduate schools, he also nurtured my interest in teaching. Years later, he became a trusted mentor when I was hired as a young instructor and he was the newly appointed chair of the Painting and Printmaking Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. Over the years, I have tried to be the teacher to others that Victor was to me. Equally rewarding and inspiring, even after 30 years, teaching remains a primary component of my creative work. With gratitude, I can still hear the voices of my teachers in my head.
Heather Harvey Assistant Professor, Washington College Teacher: Reni Gower at Virginia Commonwealth University www.heather-harvey.net
That which we carry about and call our body, Plaster and paint, 2011
Artist Statement I create site-specific installations and sculptural paintings that straddle traditional boundaries between painting, drawing, and sculpture. I am interested in suggesting mental and emotional landscapes and internal, private, unfolding thought processes. I also explore the idea of invisible infrastructures or hidden ordering mechanisms. By this I mean concrete measurable forces that we know exist, but can not see; things like gravity, radio waves, quantum physics, and wind patterns. I use this to get at other invisible but less quantifiable phenomena like emotions, memories, and other interior experiences that are difficult to name or quantify but are never-the-less formative and central to our lived experience. As I work I pay attention to and exploit materialsâ€™ inherent qualities to see what they are physically capable of doing and what metaphors they can carry. This attention to materiality can yield philosophic and mechanical insights about the how the physical world operates and what it feels like to inhabit a body. I hope to make these familiar, mundane things seem unfamiliar and strange again. It is a way of re-enchanting the world and drawing attention to the profound mystery of things we take for granted, like institutional walls, utilitarian materials, and the human body.
Teaching Statement Far from just a job, teaching is an integral part of my art practice. I learn from students and find that my work is frequently complicated and expanded in the process of helping them develop their visions. No two students are called to make the same work. As I engage with each student on their own terms, I find myself returning again and again to my own experience with art instructors. I am profoundly grateful to those, like Reni Gower, who held me to high standards while knowing that ultimately I had to find my own way. These instructors exposed me to the nuts and bolts of creating without losing sight of the larger picture: that art-making is a strange and particular thing to do, and that it can be an extraordinary way to live. Instructors such as Reni pushed me towards my natural inclination to connect art with the larger human condition. They understood the seriousness of the pursuit, and the centrality of art to a well-lived life. Their generosity, enthusiasm, and high-mindedness are what I hope to model and pass on to my own students.
Ric Haynes Professor, Endicott College Teacher: Reba Stewart, Maryland Institute of Art www.richaynes.com
Young Man with Ammo, Oil on canvas, 16" x 12", 2008
Artist Statement My works being shown in this exhibition illustrate my interest in war, survival, and especially how the survivors of those wars affect subsequent generations. Often those who survive become great storytellers and teachers. The two paintings that are included in the exhibit are about such survivors. NEW ARRIVAL is a depiction from a scene during the great anniversaries of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. The veterans from both sides were met and helped by Boy Scouts. During their time together these veterans told their stories of the battle to the scouts. Years later those same Boy Scouts became guides at the battlefield and were able to tell the stories they had heard firsthand from the veterans to the subsequent visitors. YOUNG MAN WITH AMMO is a portrait of a youth during the air war of World War II. Young men from different walks of life and different parts of America joined to become teams of fighters in the great bombers that flew in the skies over Europe and the Pacific. The painting of a young B-17 crew member, weighed down with machine gun ammo, while he stands in front of his plane captures a loss of innocence.
Teaching Statement My teacher was Reba Stewart, who I studied color with in 1965. Her course was loosely based on the color course that had been taught to her by her own former teacher at Yale, Joseph Albers. It seemed I could not understand the process and complained to Stewart that I felt that I was failing miserably; I just could not get it. Instead of berating me in front of others, instead she offered to privately teach me the principles of color theory after school hours in her own studio. While in her studio, she painted while I made color studies. As I worked I had a chance to watch her, a mature painter, as she painted and could see how she manipulated the color principles that she was teaching me. It was a very kind gift and it was received well by me. I continued privately studying with Stewart every Thursday afternoon for about three months. At the end of that time I was able to mix and paint with color. I learned how to think in color both technically and emotionally. I have learned through many years of working in paint to reflect back on the values that I learned about color starting in those early years with Stewart. The teaching process continues to be a valuable one to me. Today I am myself a college teacher who teaches color theory within my painting courses, and hope my own teaching affects others as the teachers, like Stewart, inspired me from my past. I ask my students to make color studies to enhance their ability in making many colors rather than just to rely on the colors, which come directly from tubes of commercial color.
Victor Kord Professor Emeritus, Cornell University Teacher: Josef Albers, Yale School of Art www.junekellygallery.com
Avon 21, Acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48"
Artist Statement In my paintings I continue to explore and compose “found” shapes. I make no conscious effort to find them, for doing so would compromise the strategy of leap-frogging the boundaries of imagination and habit; chance happens. My ideas about the process of making paintings are non–linear. I operate in a relaxed mode and experience moments of recognition as they come, as unexpected blips in the course of routine activities in an ordinary day. Put another way, I court the opportunity to stumble upon useful material placed in my path for future paintings. It’s really all out there hiding in plain sight. On a recent trip to England, shapes and patterns caused by pollution floating atop the Avon River caught my attention. Subsequently they came to form the content of most of my recent paintings. An accompanying set of shapes was derived from plastic rings that hold soft drink cans together which serves as a border and a counterpoint to the Avon shapes. I am an abstract painter with no interest whatsoever in narrative, and although this particular group of paintings takes its cue from “nature” my intention is transformation via recontextualization, not representation. Color plays a supporting role to shape providing wiggle room for improvisation and intuitive decision-making. My use of color and the structure of my palette are analogous to ensemble music and modern jazz where the instruments speak to one another. Engagement with color is more rhyme than reason, that is, I sense or feel color rather than ”think” it, but my study with Joseph Albers in the 50’s had a significant impact in how I approach its use. I do consciously attempt to restrict the number of colors in a given palette so that they do not cancel one another out, but rather create climate and personality. The uniqueness of painting lies in its power to make sensation hold still. Painting has its own voice and needn’t borrow language or content from other disciplines. When painting operates at its most extreme level of “otherness,” it is music for the eyes. For me making painting is a lot like making music, and in the grand scheme of things, I’m just trying to write a good tune.
Teaching Statement “To follow me, be yourself.” With this admonition Josef Albers challenged us to seek our own path. He invited his philosophical opposites, painters from the New York School, as visiting critics; artists who where equally persuasive presenting us with impossible choices, inevitably forcing us to think for ourselves. The color class provided a lab for the examination of color as a vehicle for illusion, visual energy and personal exploration in the works referred to as “free study”. Albers emphasized “choosiness” in our approach to orchestrating a palette and once made an analogy to preparing a stew and “tasting”. One of his extraordinary compliments was “That’s some good cooking boy!” While intention was the main focus of his teaching, he none-the-less encouraged us to recognize and exploit serendipity. “If you set out to make a refrigerator, but make a lawnmower instead, there is still use for the lawnmower.”
Richard Lytle Professor Emeritus, Yale School of Art Teacher: Josef Albers, Yale School of Art www.lytleart.com
Drift, Watercolor on paper, 58" x 34", 1981
Artist Statement Richard Lytle traffics in enigma. He gets beyond the traditional limits of two painting genres by amalgamating them. In oil paintings and watercolor, Mr. Lytle, who is a professor of art at Yale University, combines conventional landscape with flower painting, and he does it so grandly that the results might almost be called operatic. The landscapes he creates as a base are chilly ones, cold and windswept. Mr. Lytle seems to have borrowed from the bleak side of the Hudson River School, the one that favored blasted trees. But it is usually difficult to see the desolate forest for the abundance of flowers he sets in front of them. For this component he seems to have shifted over to those Hudson River School painters who made trips to South America. The flowers are especially animated. They engage in histrionics, bending, leaves curling into corkscrews. The flowers are a sign that deep emotion informs the bleakness. No matter how much viewers try to interpret the floral part of one of these paintings as a tempering, or gladdening element, they are thwarted because the entire composition must be considered, and the overall mood is indelibly surreal. from William Zimmer’s “ Personal Styles Centered on Enigma”, 1996
Teaching Statement After having been a student of Albers in both color and basic drawing classes and then being a TA in both, I got to observe and absorb a solid dose of his pedagogical philosophy and methods. Albers’ personal advice to me was that the most important consideration was the advancement of each student’s ability to see and to visually articulate, so I was to take the time to care about what they are doing and be patient while helping them to “open their eyes”. Art may or may not come later. The basic fundamentals seem to aid a wide range of artistic sensibilities, even in advanced stages of development. That is why a class that has students of varying degrees of experience usually produces more satisfying outcomes because often the older students are more ossified in their approach despite their advanced skills, and they see the younger students who often take unexpected and surprisingly effective routes to discover solutions to old problems because they are groping. Also, Albers encouraged competition amongst students and urged them to try to emulate the discoveries of their peers. That is why patience is critical because it takes time to accumulate the experience required for the making of art. One can’t speed up the experience of making, of doing, of working at it. Through the many years of teaching the color course, I augmented the core syllabus with problems that engaged larger scale, environmental installations, and how color can transform the perception of form, but I always kept the basic problems that Albers invented because they are open enough to allow for unending inventions and articulation. Someone in every class would come up with a new way to answer a challenge which kept me on my toes as well. As Albers said everyone should always be a student. Richard Lytle, 2011
Ron Markman Indiana University, School of Fine Arts Teacher: Josef Albers, Yale School of Fine Art http://www.ronmarkman.com/ronmarkman/NEW_home.html
Traffic Jam, Acrylic on aluminum, 27" x 29", 1985
Artist Statement Since childhood, my art has always been inspired by popular culture. I began drawing at my family’s kitchen table in the Bronx while listening to Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and Charlie McCarthy on the radio. On Saturdays at the Pelham Parkway movie palaces, I fell in love with the madcap mayhem of the Marx Brothers and the 30’s screwball comedies. My literary icons were comic book heroes like Smokey Stover, L’il Abner and Krazy Kat. After I was drafted and painted signs for two years at an Army base in Virginia – what else could the Army do with a painter? – I went to Yale School of Fine Arts on the G.I. bill where I earned a BFA/MFA studying with Josef Albers. In 1962, I went to Italy on a Fullbright. After falling under the spell of centuries-old maps in Roman museums, I conceived of Mukfa, a fantasy realm of unbridled absurdity that would be the wellspring for much of my art over the next few decades. Creating a country of my very own, complete with its own heroes, villains, mermaids, newspapers, airline, and university (Yes U!) offered me the freedom I had always sought from art – the freedom to be seriously silly. In Mukfa, I was free to explore the limits of the nonsensical, the absurd and the subversive. Lewis Carroll had found his creativity in Wonderland; in 1962, I found my way home to Mukfa!
Teaching Statement Albers was very hard on everybody. Some people didn’t like him but stayed with him because they knew he was good. With Albers it was not about color, it was about seeing. He never spoke about content. Albers was not interested in content. He had a great eye, was very honest, and had no worries about what he was going to say to you. He saw things clearly and really made me think he got a good look at my piece. It was all about the things working. Like writing, one word makes such a different about what you’re going to come away with. After Yale I got a job at the Art Institute of Chicago teaching color class because of Albers. He told me about the job, and I said I don’t know how to teach color. Albers asked, “Did you take the class?” I said yes. “Did you pass?” he asked. I said yes. “Then you can teach it,” Albers said. When I taught I always approached things formally. I always looked for the part of the painting that was working and then the part that wasn’t working to point out to students. In the beginning I used brown boxes, and early students would copy what they were looking at. I didn’t want them to copy. You’re not duplicating a box; you are making a painted translation of what you are looking at.
Adjunct Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania Teacher/Mentors: Robert Slutzky, University of Pennsylvania & Robert Gamblin, Gamblin Artists Colors www.deirdremurphyart.com
How Birds See 2, Oil on canvas, 16" x 16", 2008
Artist Statement Birds are ephemeral and temporal by nature possessing the unique ability to occupy both air and earth; they have the freedom to go anywhere. The peregrinatious birds of Philadelphia are inspiring because they see the colorful landscapes and boundless skies that I long to see but can only imagine. It is this exuberant, elusory quality of life embodied by birds that I explore in my paintings. In each painting a specific bird and its environment are juxtaposed with invented spaces and abstract forms to challenge the notion of real and abstract, temporal and ethereal, evanescent and eternal. A hummingbird darts quickly, flitting from flower to flower through the dense flora that bursts through a pulsating thicket of abstract shapes into a tonally muted landscape. The rhythm in the palette is fast and slow, the application of paint is bold and intricate, and the pictorial space is both flat and deep. These paintings are filled with harmony and discord symbolic of delicious moments that are tangible, yet elude clear perception; elements found in nature and mirrored in life. My paintings have evolved from artificial dioramas, zoo’s habitat exhibits and other contrived spaces. The chicanery lies in the contrast of nature housed in artificial settings. I find this contrast of real and artificial to be amusing, awkward and beautiful. On a deeper level, this contrast reveals an illusory longing, both to assimilate with nature, but yet to recognize our separateness.
Teaching Statement I have always been keenly aware of color, but Robert Slutzky and Robert Gamblin have had a profound effect upon me and presented color problems and solutions that I had never imagined. I worked for Robert Gamblin at his color factory and would have weekly meetings about a specific color. For example he would explain the historic references for Indian Yellow, that its name originated in India where they would feed the sacred cows mangos and then collect the urine to grind into a luminous deep yellow pigment. Robert Gamblin would talk about its physical properties and its practical application for the artist’s palette revolving around the Munsell color system. My understanding of color broadened and deepened. I would never see color the same again. Then came Robert Slutzky whom I studied with at the University of Pennsylvania and was also his teaching assistant for his collage/montage class. He challenged me in an intellectual and intuitive way. He reintroduced me to Albers and this became the backbone to my painting practice for years after graduate school. The balance of Alber’s rigor, Slutzky’s intellect and humor, and Robert Gamblin’s color mixing is still part of every painting that I make and is how I teach my students.
Richard Emery Nickolson Professor, Herron School of Art and Design Teachers: Ron Markman and Reba Stewart
The Silence of Houses, Oil on linen, 30" x 36", 2011
Artist Statement My recent work has been drawn from, and heavily influenced by, a variety of international travels during the last fifteen years, including the Breton landscape and “l’architecture industrielle.” I have also had a long-standing interest in the Imagist poets and their relationship to 20th Century American artists. This interest is at the heart of my work both as an artist and as a teacher. Most recently, during the spring semester of 2009 I was invited to serve as the Artist-inResidence at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. St. Mary’s College, which is located at the historic site of St. Mary’s City, founded in 1634 by Lords Calvert and Baltimore under charters granted by James I of England, is the Designated Honors College of the State of Maryland. During this time a new series of subtly abstracted drawings and watercolors were produced directly from historic examples of architectural forms. These recent drawings and paintings seek to explore and synthesize a variety of responses to both historical references and contemporary issues. As a contemporary painter, I often have the feeling that I am a reincarnated transcendentalist, living in and witnessing the death throes of the post-modern era.
Teaching Statement What to make of Matisse’s “View of Notre Dame” of 1914, or of the Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art? What to make of the Gallery of Modern Art in Washington, DC, or the Museum of Modern Art in New York? These were the questions confronting us as freshman painting students in Reba Stewart’s class at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1964. We were thrown into a whole new world of ideas and images. Many years later, in a Graduate Painting Seminar at Indiana University taught by Ronald Markman, we were reminded of literature and cinema and that the Keystone Cops and the Bauhaus both came out of the 1920’s. Markman reminded us of the serious sides of Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin and pointed out the many visual ‘puns’ in the works of Hoffman and Kandinsky, or Albers and Mondrian, for example! He would observe that a ‘circular’ form confronted by an ‘angular’ form in an abstract painting were not just formal devices, but contained great ‘tragicomic’ potential. s it turns out, I later learned that both Ron Markman and Reba Stewart had been classmates at Yale. From beginning to end, from the first to the last painting classes I ever took, there was always the influence of Josef Albers.
Associate Professor, Moore College of Art and Design Teacher: Richard Lytle, Yale School of Art www.aliceohstudio.com
Biota (life) PC. no.03.09, Water-based mixed media paint on linen canvas, 21" x 16", 2009
Artist Statement My paintings start with one shape at a time. I develop a painting vocabulary by meticulously painting many layers of shapes. I search for the delicate boundaries of the medium by introducing subtle degree of shifts in transparency, opacity and brilliance of color and light. The sense of space in my paintings is derived from the multilayered accumulation and composition of the shape. I observe what has been painted and respond to the forms and movements I see evolving in the work—I let the painting speak. With my painting, I wish to express my curiosity and celebrate the amazing diversity and complexity of nature. In my everyday life, I am drawn to the cool ultramarine blue skies and thin wispy white clouds; the striking bright red maple leaves on a tree; the perfectly folded and layered petals of the roses in my garden. It is the child-like and effortless pleasure and yet the significant and compelling emotions that I wish to convey in my work. Through painting, I continue to investigate and explore the complex relationships of nature as well as its emotional and psychological impact. A painting should render a state of mind-emotion is in a constant state of flux; therefore the process of painting is fluid. It is important to find the space between the painting and myself; the metaphysical space where the daily critical discourse takes place. I search for equilibrium between tensions: action and abstaining; expand and contract; advance and retreat. A painting is a reflection of life.
Teaching Statement After graduate study at Yale University, I was offered a teaching position at Moore College of Art and Design. Color Theory was one of the courses that I was offered to teach. Previously, I studied Design and Color as an undergraduate student however, it was not a course with a theoretical emphasis in Color. The course at Moore College combined the views of three Color Theorists: Josef Albers, Johannes Itten and Albert Munsell. The course was designed to introduce Color as a one of the key elements in visual literacy. That summer, I immersed in studying elements and theory in Color for the second time around. As for the results, I discovered and learned many contemporary aspects of Color that were visually, historically and culturally significant and scientifically engaging and challenging. Over the years, teaching Color Theory gave me the rare opportunity and the forum for the class to discuss the dynamics and inter-disciplinary elements in the Arts and Sciences. The relevance of Color Theory and its relationship to Science has been an exciting, eventful, and relatable area of study. Once I asked a student in the class “ What made you choose to paint that particular Prussian blue background?” Then the student replied, “I was inspired by the color of the sky that I saw this morning on the way to school.” Art reflects life. As an artist and as a teacher, I continue to instill and encourage my students to perceive the relevance of coexisting qualities in art and life: become an astute observer and always remember that art is a gift of life.
Carrie Patterson Associate Professor, St. Maryâ€™s College of Maryland Teacher: Robert Slutzky, University of Pennsylvania www.carriepatterson.com
Sign Series 1, number 6, Oil, acrylic, and enamel on wood and canvas, 16" x 25", 2010
Artist Statement I paint to give expression to the experience of inhabiting space. I am involved in a practice of recording visual events in order to understand the impact of the physical on the emotional world around me. My hope is to create a geometric object that embodies a poetic, physical translation of place. The geometry found in architectural forms holds my attention. I am particularly interested in the vernacular architecture of places that I know well. I live in southern Maryland and am interested in historic chapels, barns, and temporary billboards. I visit particular sites over a period of time. My visits are a way of mining an experience of the building and the land as a living body. Embedded in my process is the choice to slow down the speed of information and find meaning in subtle variation. I layer paint on the canvas, block on block, and paper on paper until a sensation of spatial elasticity is realized. In each object that I make, I distill shape, line and color into the simplest components creating a body of work where time and sequence become important. I work on many surfaces at once, altering the arrangement of built canvas, line, shape and color in subtle degrees, much like a choreographer would alter a repetitive action across the stage.
Teaching Statement When I was an art student, I had many supportive teachers: Barbara Grossman, Rosemarie Beck, and Robert Slutzky to name three. During my first meeting with Bob, I shared with him that my family lived in Switzerland. I talked about some of the buildings I had seen and loved. We had an intense conversation about what I knew and didn’t know – ranging from Goethe to Paul Klee. The next semester I was his TA for his collage/color course. At the same time, there was a retrospective show of Bob’s work in the Arthur Ross Gallery. I now realize what a rare gift this experience was. By observing his teaching methodology and experiencing his work at the same time, I saw and heard how his teaching overlapped with his own painting practice. When he talked about the possibility of “tipping space,” I contextualized this idea within a framework of shared visual knowledge. When he talked about embracing the flatness of a plane, I understood the implications of schematic space in relation to his discussions with architecture students. He encouraged me to stop looking at the surface of a building and start exploring the structure. He also gave very practical advice on how to paint a painting. About brushes, material, the smaller details that others kept secret. “Get a good set of acrylics and get going.” Bob encouraged students to take classes in other disciplines to understand contemporary art. “You’ve got ten paintings in one – take a break and try to figure out why you are painting.” His advice shaped the type of teacher and painter I would become. As I develop my own courses at a liberal arts institution, I include information and ideas from many disciplines. My color theory course includes teachings of Albers, but it also includes color from the perspective of a physicist, musician, historian, and psychologist. My drawing class includes walking through architecture and learning not only about the structure and surface but the history embedded in the building, and the fictions that lie beneath. Bob Slutzky expected you to not only challenge yourself but to challenge him. To invite questions for which you have no answer is the mark of a great teacher and painter.
Richard Raiselis Associate Professor, Boston University School of Visual Arts Teacher: Richard Lytle and Erwin Hauer, Yale School of Art
Bluescat, Oil on linen, 18" x 18", 2010
Artist Statement A few years ago we rescued a little dog from the pound, and I assumed responsibility for his evening walks around the neighborhood. As Koko looked down at the grass, I looked up at the sky. Clouds always have been my obsession, but the telephone wires silhouetted against the sky soon engaged me as much. Especially at dawn or dusk, or on rainy days, the combinations of dark wires, telephone poles, and transformers would give form to an entire cast of characters that would subtly shift shape as we walked by. If I were to stand in just the right place, I could find faces and figures, musical notations, and visual quotations from Picasso, Mondrian, Jawlensky, and a boatload of American modernists. I was sensitized to these 3-D linear relationships in Erwin Hauer’s “sticks and strings” sculpture class when I was an undergraduate. Forty years later, I am revisiting those sculptural issues as a painter. Art historian Richard Shiff wrote about differences between “makers and finders” in the visual arts. I like the hunting and gathering part of landscape painting, and finding the arrangement that tells a story or two as it transforms the ordinary scene into unexpected seeing.
Teaching Statement As an undergraduate, I had a work-study job in the Yale Art and Architecture Library. My job consisted mostly of shelving art books and catalogues. However, whenever Professor Emeritus Josef Albers would come to the library to read, it was my job to attend to his needs. This assignment was a heady responsibility -- here was the Bauhaus artist-educator, retired from teaching, but still passionate and (I must admit) as demanding as his reputation forewarned. I am grateful for this serendipitous acquaintance, because Albers is, I now realize, the key to understanding my art education. My own teachers might have agreed or disagreed with Albers’s particular approaches to teaching; in either case they had to address the power of his influence, much as we each must assess our parents’ influence on our life choices. Indeed, my undergraduate art teachers were like a second set of parents to me. Today, I teach the color assignments that Richard Lytle taught me. I notice that I mix my paint and move my brush across my canvas a bit like William Bailey does. I talk to my students about the edge relationships in sculpture that Erwin Hauer introduced to me. And my landscape subject matter sometimes rhymes with Bernard Chaet’s. All of these instructors were either Albers’s students, and/or were hired by him to teach in his art department. Joining in the oral tradition that we call art education, my teenage students are just once removed from Albers and my teachers, and just twice removed from Kandinsky and Klee. Our teachers pass the baton. It’s up to us to run the next lap.
Edward Shalala Assistant Director, The Painting Center Teacher: Victor Kord, University of Wisconsin www.edwardshalala.com
Untitled, Pulled raw canvas thread, 12" x 12", 2008
Artist Statement I am an abstract artist. In graduate school I began to explore the basics of painting. This experimentation resulted in the Thread works shown here. Through my studies, I began to focus on the raw canvas ground of the painting. I became involved with the warp and weft of the canvas material, its nature, color, variety, and its relation to society. Presently, I have been working outdoors with raw canvas thread, canvas dust, cotton and flax plants, and cotton and flax seeds. I record my outdoor work with the use of black and white documentary photography. With my minimal approach I have created a dialogue in which I can continue exploring art.
Teaching Statement At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, I studied with Victor Kord, who by example, and through his teaching, encouraged my interests in working with minimal materials in painting. I studied the development of abstract painting from its beginnings, and with Victor Kord, discussed the courses taken by reductive abstract painters during the last half of the 20th Century. I was trained in color theory while I attended The Ohio State University and The University of Wisconsin and that has helped me with my special interest in the color theory developed by painters from Europe and America during the 1950â€™s and 1960â€™s. I attended Kent State University in 1968, The Ohio State University (BFA 72) and The University of Wisconsin, Madison (MFA 76). I taught as a visiting artist at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and at The University of Wisconsin, Adult Education Program. I am presently the Assistant Director of The Painting Center. Over the past seven years I have contributed to the mission and philosophy of The Painting Center by promoting dialogue about painting to the many visitors that attend the exhibitions. I hold discussions about painting with individuals, school groups, and adult groups. This gives me the opportunity to teach through community outreach in a gallery environment. Also, I am on the exhibition committee, organizing exhibitions for the American Abstract Artists group. The work I do with them is critical to the promotion of abstraction and reductive art in the contemporary world of art.
Former Professor: Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania Teachers: Josef Albers, Burgoyne Diller, and Ad Reinhardt. Yale School of Art
Artist Statement A painting by Slutzky is not for the chromaphobe. It is an experience of pure color and light that also contains traces of collective painted memory. What we see is a flat object made with grids, verticals, horizontals, and rectangles. What we can sense are visual boundaries placed within the field of the diamond or square, structured by transparent brushstrokes next to hard-edged lines. Through subtle differences in color each painting created by Slutzky evokes one artist’s contribution to the narrative that becomes painted history. In an interview for his 2002 show at Cooper Union, Slutzky stated that he was “working with polychromatic geometry: Geometry that is made to function in a supportive way to the color concept.” Slutzky spent fifty years finding countless combinations of form that challenge our ideas of pictorial space. As an artist, he often talked about the relationship between his painterly concerns and musical structures. “I regard painting as being as hermetic as music. Just as music is governed by its own compositional rules and not beholden to representation, so painting should be able to enjoy an absolute dissociation from the representational world.”
Teaching Statement Throughout his career Robert Slutzky taught architecture, color, collage, design, drawing, and painting to undergraduates and graduates. His first teaching job was from 1954 to 1956 in the architecture school at the University of Texas in Austin. He next taught at Cornell University in 1959-1960. From 1960 to 1968 he taught at Pratt Institute and the School of Architecture at Cooper Union. He continued teaching at the School of Art at Cooper Union until 1990, when he moved to Philadelphia and became a professor at the Graduate School of Fine Arts of the University of Pennsylvania. The common thread in Slutzky’s teaching career was the combination of architecture and painting. In an interview conducted by Fred Horowitz, he explained: “Compression and tension and shear are the three coordinates of any structure, as you know. Interestingly enough, that kind of thinking paves the way ... to architecture, which for me, was natural, and that is how I got involved with architectural education. I taught architecture for many years without ever having been trained in it formally. So, through my painting, by way of Albers’ pedagogy, of course, it was reasonably simple to get into architecture.” Slutzky encouraged his students to know more than painting; in fact if you wanted to have an extended conversation with him, you needed to know something other than painting. He had the ability to sound spontaneous and conversational while giving extremely valuable suggestions for improvement. With each casual mention of a figure he thought he saw in your painting, or in a book he considered a must-read, he led his students to undertake research that became essential for them in the studio. Slutzky recalled of Albers, “His use of language was extremely poetic; metaphoric, analogous thinking, kind of wonderful flights of associative prose. He, for me, brought that part of the art experience into sharp focus, and it affected my teaching, as it affected my thinking and ability to paint the way I did. I didn’t want to paint like Albers, but I learned a lot from him as a teacher.”
Reba Stewart Former Professor: Maryland Institute College of Art Teacher: Josef Albers, Yale School of Art http://mit.edu/womens-studies/www/reba/reba.htm
Blue River, Acrylic on linen, 22"x48", 1962
Art statement As an artist Reba Stewart’s extensive travels to Japan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico among other locations served as source material and inspiration for her work. A year spent in Japan produced a large body of wood block prints. While in Japan she studied traditional wood block printing with master artists and then created her own style combining textures and colors. Stewart’s paintings emphasize color harmonies while still experimenting with additional elements of abstraction. During trips to Puerto Rico Stewart collected driftwood from a beach in San Juan and shipped them back to her studio in Baltimore. These became the pieces for her many wooden mobile constructions, some as large as twelve feet high and eight feet in width. Reba Stewart’s work reflects the influence of her life experiences on her art. Her studio in Baltimore was painted completely white. Friends recall how obsessed she was with the white, repainting the floor every few days. Former student Ric Haynes remembers her painting, “She painted like a swirl of energy.”
Teaching statement Throughout Reba Stewart’s career she taught graphic arts, color, painting, drawing, art appreciation, and design at several colleges. Her longest teaching position was at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore from 1963-1971. MICA’s President Eugene Leake had met Reba at Yale in 1960 and invited her to teach in Baltimore. At MICA, Stewart was an instructor of painting, design, and an Albers based color course. Her former student Ric Haynes recalls Stewart’s practice in the classroom. Reba constructed her elaborate still-life displays for class combining food with patterned textiles, exotic textures and colors. “By looking at the set up the eye became trained in color and measuring,” remembers Haynes. Students and friends also recall her serious and strict demeanor that pushed students to be disciplined and passionate artists. “Reba made us work, she was harsh in her spoken word, she pushed us to our own limit,” Haynes explains, “She did not like us, she loved us, and our love for the same thing that gave her passion to live and breathe.”
Lois Swirnoff Feltman Chair, Cooper Union Teacher: Josef Albers, Yale School of Art
Disappearing Edge, Acrylic on aluminum, 22" x 28" x 3/4", 1985
Artist Statement My work is based upon the premise that color is a primary dimension, which interacts with light and its absence shadow to create visible form - Color Structure. Aluminum modules are bent to produce a sequence of diagonals that alternate as concave/ convex surfaces, which form a continuous three dimensional ground for the painting. Reflected light and vantage point of the observer determine how the surface is perceived. While the diagonals repeat rhythmically, colors painted on the relief surface vary and change creating patterns that transform the work. Thus, my color structures represent a play between “illusion and reality”: the interactions of color and form create a new dialogue in the relationship between constancy and change.
Teaching Statement Simply stated, Josef Albers possessed a genius for teaching. His was the rare ability to understand what is basic; “first sight, then insight” was his dictum. For his students, learning to see pre- and super-ceded concept, technique, or expressions of ego; it was a primary requirement of his, which oddly, for some, was misconstrued as authoritarianism. In the “post-modern” present, fundamentals: issues of value, universality, insight itself are questioned. Perception as an essential factor in genuine communication is discarded in favor of “self,” ethnic or gender group think, or “conceptualism;” now a dominant mode, which discards the labor of making art entirely. Albers showed me, and my generation of artists, how subtle are the interactions of the components of a two-dimensional visual field: line, shape- above all color. Rather than relying on color systems or rigid formulas, his teaching embraced the nuances of color change and the difference among individuals of their perception of color. He would say, “challenge me,” to engage and include us in his discoveries. For me, this was liberation, not authoritarianism. My response was to open color perception past the two-dimensional surface to spatial and temporal fields, an interaction which for me has remained fresh with discovery for forty years; in my workpainting, writing and teaching- and in turn becomes a challenge to my own students.
IN THE PROJECT ROOM Siri Berg: Itâ€™s All About Color III
Photo courtesy, Mats Petersson
Siri Berg was born in 1921 in Stockholm, Sweden and immigrated to New York City when she was nineteen after completing some art studies in Brussels. Although she had always determined to be a painter, once in America, she became a student of fashion and interior design. After marrying and having two “beautiful” sons, she eventually found time and created a private space in her home where she could think and execute her art. Her first abstract work was a series of seven paintings based on the serialized play “Der Reigen” by Arthur Schnitzler. Siri Berg started teaching color theory at Parsons School of Design in 1977 where she still teaches. Many generations of students have benefited from her knowledge of color theory, design, and her understanding of the materiality of the created object. Siri Berg has three main bodies of work: paintings, assemblages (from found industrial objects), and collages (using the method of Japanese wood block prints). Her work is about the exploration of material and the conceptualization of process. “It’s All About Color III” is a work chosen to illustrate the spontaneity and control of Berg’s working process. In this work there are nine individual 10x20 monochrome color panels that take the viewer through the actual scales of gradation in the color spectrum. Each canvas is painstakingly created and glows via multiple layers of paint all mixed by Berg to a specific color formula. She has created three sets: one set of nine canvases are shown in sequence; the second series is far more playful and invites the viewer to mix and match the canvases in different order where the viewer chooses the orientation and gradation of the series. On another wall there is a grid of nine small works on paper that are further evidence of her process. Here Berg uses her paper palettes and the paint to see new forms and, as she states “Embrace the Expressionistic!” At the heart of her exploration is the desire to use color and scale within architectural space and reveal the potentiality for greater freedom. I first met Siri Berg a few years ago during my opening at The Painting Center. She kindly invited me to her studio where I spent the day looking at her work and telling her about my ideas for the Re-Generation exhibition. Siri soon became a friend and inspiration. Her work as a teacher and artist exemplifies the meaning behind the Re-Generation exhibition.
Shared Experience by Richard Emery Nickolson
“Painter, let be the ‘nervous scratches’ the trick spontaneity; learn to see again, construct, break through to ‘the thrill of continuance with the appearance of all its changes….’” Denise Levertov
It is hard to even know where to begin in order to define the influence of Josef Albers on my education as an artist and teacher during this time. From Baltimore, Maryland to Bloomington, Indiana with Norfolk, Connecticut in between, his influence was everywhere. When Eugene W. ‘Bud’ Leake (a student and protégé of Albers) became the President of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 1961, it began an era literally of ‘awakening.’ The school had been known since 1826 for its academic background and approach. However, it was the beginning of the 1960’s and things were changing. Literally, Mr. Leake brought many of his colleagues and classmates from Yale with him to Baltimore. Even more importantly, he somehow always recognized the spirit and independence that artists/teachers needed, whether they were from Yale or not! Entirely new ways of seeing, teaching and working were sought after and encouraged. Observation, experimentation and articulation became the highest priorities. It was very exciting. In Baltimore and Bloomington both, I had inadvertently come under the influence of Albers. Or one might say, I was a direct descendant of his teachings! The names of all the faculty at the Maryland Institute are too numerous to list here but Reba Stewart, Bud Leake, Peter Milton, Norman Carlberg, Albert Sangiamo, Stephanie Scuris and many more were among them, and in Bloomington, William Bailey and Ronald Markman were extremely important.
It seemed as if everything was opening up and this is what I bring with me as an artist from the example of Albers. He stressed the importance of search and re-search and that the process of painting was indeed one of seeing and searching. It has always been my experience that painting was opening up: that painting was continuing to develop and to define itself. During the planning stages for this exhibition, I have talked directly with the curator, Carrie Patterson, and with my colleagues Ronald Markman and Ric Haynes. Many of the other artists’ statements have been shared with me. In the past I have often felt that my own development was an isolated one. I have come to realize that certain elements of this past are actually shared experiences. Those who have studied directly with Albers have successfully passed on both his intellect and his enthusiasm. Those of us who have benefited from this process, true aesthetic and intellectual threads, have ourselves passed on this example. I have often encouraged my students and colleagues to look at the contemporary situation: how often do we see a ‘new technology’ or tool, a piece of equipment or an aesthetic gimmick that seems revolutionary only to become obsolete or clichéd within the next six months? And yet painting, a pre-historic invention continues to grow and evolve. Where else can we look for inspiration across so much time and experience? This is finally what we learn from poets and painters. From Albers. And it constantly reminds me of something that Gary Snyder once observed, that we should start with something that works and ‘…when you get it right, you pass it on!’ Richard Emery Nickolson Professor Emeritus Herron School of Art & Design BIBLIOGRAPHY Albers, Josef; The Interaction of Color; Yale University Press; New Haven and London; 1977. Hankin, Craig; Maryland Landscapes of Eugene Leake; The Johns Hopkins University Press; Baltimore, Maryland; 1986. Levertov, Denise; Collected Earlier Poems: 1940-1960; New Directions Publishing Corporation; New York, New York; 1979. Snyder, Gary; Axe Handles; North Point Press; San Francisco; 1983.
Biographies Siri Berg Siri Berg was born in 1921 in Stockholm, Sweden. She received her B.A. from the Institute of Art and Architecture at the University of Brussels. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally for the past thirty years in many places including Australia, China, Italy, Israel, Russia, Sweden, Spain, Germany, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia, Washington DC, and California. She has artworks in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Southwest State University Art Museum in Minnesota, the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, Sweden and the Cornell University Herbert F. Johnson Museum in Ithaca, New York. Most recently, the artist and her work were written about in the book, 100 New York Painters written by Cynthia Maris Dantzic. She is a member of American Abstract Artists and has taught Color Theory for thirty years at The New School - Parsons School of Design in New York City. Heather Brammeier Heather Brammeier is an Associate Professor of Art in the area of painting. Heather earned her MFA at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she studied with world-renowned painters, sculptors, and critics. Heather’s professional growth is catalyzed by artists’ residencies. Her residencies include the Prairie Center of the Arts (Peoria, IL, 2007), Byrdcliffe Artists’ Colony (Woodstock, NY, 2007), The Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada, 2010), Pontlevoy Creative Residencies (Pontlevoy, France, 2010), and Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, NY, 2011). An active participant in regional and national juried exhibitions, Heather has been included in shows at the Sioux City Art Center (Iowa), the Lexington Art League (Kentucky), and Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park and Arts Center (Maryland). Invitational group exhibitions in New York City include It’s Gouache and Gouache Only, at Jeff Bailey Gallery and Living Room: The Politics of Taste and the Art of Decoration at Storefront 1838. She has had solo exhibitions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and South Carolina. Heather is represented by Moberg Gallery in Des Moines, IA. As a tenured professor at Bradley University (Peoria, IL), she teaches all levels of painting, including graduate study, as well as drawing and fundamentals of color. Reni Gower Reni Gower is a Professor in the Painting and Printmaking Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2008, she was recognized by VCUArts with an Award of Excellence in Research, Teaching, and Service and by the Southeastern College Art Conference in 2007 with an Award of Excellence in Teaching. In addition to her teaching and painting practice, she curates award-winning traveling exhibitions, such as Papercuts and The Divas and Iron Chefs of Encaustic. Her artwork has been showcased at international and national venues for over 30 years. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a NEA / SECCA Southeastern Artist Fellowship and Virginia Commission for the Arts Project Grants. Her work is represented in various collections including the Library of Congress Print Collection; Pleasant Company / Mattel, Inc; the American Embassies in Lima, Peru and Osaka, Japan; Media General, Inc; and the Federal Reserve Bank. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Syracuse University, a Master of Arts degree from University of Minnesota-Duluth, and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Heather Harvey Heather Harvey was born in Syracuse, New York. Her work is included in public and private collections, and she regularly exhibits around the country including venues such as the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, Delaware, the Anderson Gallery in Richmond, VA, Denise Bibro in New York City, the McLean Project for the Arts in McClean, VA, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, VA, Hunt Gallery in Staunton, VA, McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas, TX, the William King Museum in Abingdon, VA, PLAYsPACE in San Francisco, CA, and the Claremont Graduate University Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. She has an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and an MA in Anthropology from The College of William and Mary. Harvey has received several awards including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Artist Fellowship 2009-2010 and was a fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts in 2003. In addition, Harvey is an art critic for publications including Art Papers, Sculpture Magazine, and NYArts, and was gallery director at the Charles Harris Library Gallery from 2008-2010. She is currently an assistant professor of art at Washington College. More information on her work is available at heather-harvey.net Ric Haynes Ric Haynes was born in York, Pennsylvania in 1945. As a child he constantly made art that told stories and spent hours producing large works that depicted epic battles, circus life, and Indian wars and villages. He went to a boys’ school that was located next to a reformatory and often was confused with those who were serving time. Haynes attended The Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1964-68 on a Ford Foundation Grant, and later the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1967, where he studied with Walter Murch, Ben Shahn and Philip Pearlstein. He briefly attended The University of Pennsylvania where he refused to paint like his teachers, and in 2002 he received a MFA in Visual Arts from Vermont College of Norwich University. He teaches painting and creative book making at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. His work is in the
collection of the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, Library of Congress and the Getty Foundation as well as other private and public collections. He is currently planning a show at HallSpace in Boston that will include chocolate sculpture inspired by characters from his paintings. He lives in Quincy with his wife, Lorraine, and a ton of memories and memorabilia, which fuel his work. Victor Kord Victor Kord was born in Satu Mare, Romania. He lives and works in New York City. He retired as a professor of painting from Cornell University after a teaching career that spanned 40 years. He received his MFA from Yale University in 1960 and has an extensive international and national exhibition record. Mr. Kord is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, was a visiting artist/scholar at the American Academy in Rome, and a member of the American Abstract Artists. He has had many solo shows in New York, Wisconsin, Virginia, Germany, and Florida as well as group shows at Vassar College, Harvard University, Basel Kunstmart in Basel Switzerland, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Aldrich Museum in Connecticut as well as many other venues. He has artworks in the permanent collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Richard Lytle Richard Lytle studied at the Cooper Union School of Art and at the Yale University School of Art, where he received a BFA in 1957 and an MFA in 1960. He was an assistant in instruction to Josef Albers in 1956 for color and in 1957 for basic drawing. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Florence, Italy, in 1958 and was included in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition Sixteen Americans in 1959. In 1985 Mr. Lytle received the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award from the Cooper Union School of Art. His work has been exhibited nationally and in Europe, and his paintings are in many public and corporate collections including those of the Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Art, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Mr. Lytle began teaching at Yale in 1960, was dean of the Silvermine College of Art from 1963 to 1965, and returned to the Yale faculty in 1966. Mr. Lytle was acting dean of the School of Art in 1980â€“81 and in the spring terms of 1990 and 1994. He was appointed professor of art in 1981 and named the William Leffingwell Professor of Painting in 1999. He is currently professor emeritus at Yale School of Art. Ron Markman Ron Markman was born in the Bronx in New York in 1931. He studied at the Art Studentsâ€™ League under George Grosz. Markman received both his BFA and MFA in the late 1950s from Yale through the GI Bill where he studied under Josef Albers. In 1962, he went to Italy under a Fulbright where he conceived of Mufka, a fantasy realm of unbridled absurdity that would feed much his art for the next few decades. Markman had his first one-man show at the Terry-Dintenfass Gallery in 1965. Since then he has had many group and solo exhibitions and has work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Brooklyn Museum, Cincinnati Art Museum, Herbert Johnson Museum, Joseph H. Hirshhorn Collection, Library of Congree, University of Alberta, University of Manitoba and the Worcester Museum of Fine Arts. Ron Markman continues to live and work in Annapolis, Maryland. Deirdre Murphy Deirdre Murphy is an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where she teaches drawing and painting. Her solo exhibitions include the Bridgette Mayer Gallery in Philadelphia and Vita Gallery in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been included in selected group exhibitions in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Delaware, New York City, Oregon, Washington and Florida. Internationally she has shown in Italy, Japan and Korea and Canada. She received a Leeway Grant in 2003 and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowship in 2004. She has participated in residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Pouch Cove Foundation in New Foundland and was a Rotary Ambassador in Kurume, Japan. She received an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. To learn more about her work please visit www.deirdremurphyart.com. Alice Oh Alice Oh earned her MFA from Yale University and BFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her work is included in the collections of Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Leeway Foundation, Temple University, and Yale University. Her solo exhibitions include Dana Gallery, Phillips Museum of Art, Franklin and Marshall College, Ganser Gallery, Millersville University, Elizabeth Roberts Gallery, Washington DC, MD, Philadelphia Arts Alliance, Pentimenti Gallery, and Gallery 817, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. Her work has been included in the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE, Towson University, Center for the Arts Gallery, Towson, MD., Levy Gallery of Moore College of Art and Design, University of Hawaii at Hilo, HI, Vermont Studio Center, and Yoshibishu Art Center, Japan. She has been awarded an Artist Fellowship and a GAP Grant from Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships in Painting, the Seedling Grant and the WOA Award from The Leeway Foundation, and was an artist in residence at Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, NE and Vermont Studio Center. Alice Oh is an Associate Professor at Moore College of Art and Design and lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. and Seoul, Korea.
Carrie Patterson Carrie Patterson is an Associate Professor of Art and Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she teaches drawing, painting, color theory, and Introduction to Visual Thinking. Her work has been exhibited across the country in galleries located in New York, Virginia, California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Florida. Internationally her work was shown at Museo de Arte Moderno in Bogota, Colombia in a show titled: Nine New York Painters. She is the recipient of a Seedling Painting Award from The Leeway Foundation, a Virginia Governor’s Fellowship to The Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and many faculty research grants. Patterson has organized several traveling exhibitions including Placing Color and Conversations in Paint. She holds a MFA from The University of Pennsylvania and a BFA from James Madison University. She was also a student resident at The New York Studio School. To find out more about her work visit Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in NYC www.markelfinearts.com, Minus Space in NYC www.minusspace.com, C2 Fine Art in St. Petersburg Florida www.c2fineart.com, or www.carriepatterson.com. Richard Raiselis Richard Raiselis firstname.lastname@example.org is a graduate of Yale University and the Tyler School of Art of Temple University. He has exhibited his landscapes nationally and internationally. He is the recipient of prizes from the National Academy, and the National Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. Currently Associate Professor at Boston University College of Fine Arts, he teaches painting and color to undergraduates and graduates in the professional degree programs at the School of Visual Arts. He also has taught at the University of Michigan, Temple University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. As artist and educator, he is particularly interested in the connections between painting practice, music, and the science of visual perception. He is represented in New England by Gallery NAGA Fine Art, Inc. in Boston. Lois Swirnoff Lois Swirnoff was a student of Josef Albers at Yale, earning her BFA in 1953 and MFA in 1956, summa cum laude. She began her 40 year teaching career at Wellesley College in 1954, as Instructor in Art, then taught in the Department of Art and Design at UCLA from 1964-68, returning in 1981-89. In the interim, from 1969-1975 she was a member of the faculty of Visual and Environmental Studies at the Carpenter Center of Harvard University. She chaired the Art department at Skidmore College from 1977-1981.Then, in 1989, after retiring from UCLA as Prof. Emerita, she returned to NY to teach at the Cooper Union School of Art. She was appointed the Feltman Chair at Cooper in 2000-2002, teaching a multidisciplinary seminar in Light to students of Art, Architecture and Engineering. Recognized internationally as a “Design Scientist” for her seminal work on color, published in her book, Dimensional Color, now in its second edition, she has been invited by the AIC (International Colour Association), as a speaker in Rochester, NY; Granada, Spain; and in 2009 in Sydney, Australia, where she did a master class in color at the University of New South Wales. Her work is cited continually in research papers and books on color world-wide. A painter with a long exhibition record, her solo shows include the Institute for International Education, NY; The National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC; a retrospective at Bradford College in Massachusetts; Gallery BAI in New York; and a major installation at Parson’s School of Design. Since the publication of her second book, The Color of Cities: An International Perspective, she has exhibited her photography at the New York School of Interior Design. The book received an award for best book published in 2000 on Architecture and Urban Studies by the Association of American Publishers. It has been translated into Mandarin and was published in Beijing in 2008. Swirnoff’s awards include: a Fulbright to Italy in 1951, the Erskine Hewitt award from Cooper Union in the same year, a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study 1961-63, residencies at Yaddo in 1985 and 1987, Graham Foundation grants in 1988 and 1998, and a grant from the International Interior Design Association in 2005 to support the Parson’s installation. Presently she resides and works in her home and studio in Brookline, Ma. Edward Shalala Edward Shalala attended Kent State University, during 1968. He transferred to The Ohio State University, and in 1972 received his BFA. From there he went on to the Graduate School at The University of Wisconsin and in 1976 received his MFA Degree in Painting. His work has been exhibited in many venues. Recent exhibits include: The 75th Anniversary of American Abstract Artists at OK Harris Gallery, NY NY 2011, American Abstract Artists at Galerie Oqbo, Berlin Germany 2011, Splendor of Dynamic Structure, The Herbert Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 2011, Knoedler & Company Gallery, NY NY 2010, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, NY NY 2009, The Painting Center NY NY 2009, PS1, MOMA, Queens, NY 2008, and The National Academy Museum of Art, 2008. Mr. Shalala’s work has been written about in: Art in America Magazine, The Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Press, artUS Magazine, Angle Magazine, InLiquid, and Huma3. He is a recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, A Cleveland Foundation Grant, a National Academy Museum Award, and a Wynn Newhouse Award. Edward Shalala’s work is in the collection of The Brooklyn museum of Art, The Library of Congress, The Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Davidson College Art Gallery, St Lawrence University and Texas Tech University. Mr. Shalala lives and works in NYC, since 1978. Robert Slutzky Robert Slutzky studied at UCLA, Cooper Union, and Yale School of Art. He received his BFA in 1952 and his MFA in 1954 from Yale where he studied with Josef Albers, Stuart Davis, Jose de Rivera, Burgoyne Diller, Abraham Rattner, and Ad Reinhardt. While attending Yale, he was also
influenced by Buckminster Fuller, Lois Kahn and Frederick Kiesler. Since his first teaching job at the University of Texas in Austin, Robert Slutzky provided a significant voice in pedagogical conversation about drawing, color, and architecture. Along with John Hejduk, H. Lee Hirsche, Bernhard Hoesli, and Colin Rowe, he formed the group known as the “Texas Rangers” beginning a life-long dialogue with architects and architectural theory. In 1963 he published Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal with Colin Rowe. After Texas, Slutzky taught at Cornell University, Pratt Institute, The School of Architecture at Cooper Union, and in 1990 became a Professor at The Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1962 Slutzky’s paintings were shown in the group exhibition titled “Geometric Abstraction in America” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He had many solo shows throughout his career in New York, San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, and New Jersey. His work is in prominent collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Reba Stewart Reba Stewart studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from 1949-1955. She received her BFA in 1959 and MFA in 1961 from Yale University School of Art and Architecture where she studied with Josef Albers, James Brooks, and Conrad Marca-Relli. Throughout her artistic career, she was an enthusiastic traveler, journeying to Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Africa. In 1957, Stewart received a traveling fellowship which she used to travel to Japan for one year. There she studied wood block printing, a technique and tradition that influenced a great deal of her work. Stewart taught Graphic Arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and was also an instructor of basic design, drawing, and art appreciation at Monticello College in Alton, IL. She then accepted a teaching position at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore in 1963. Stewart taught painting, color, and design there until her untimely death in 1971. Reba Stewart exhibited at many galleries including The Swetzoff Gallery in Massachusetts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Paul Schuster Gallery. She also had exhibitions in Japan at Yoseido Gallery, Gallery Lemon, and Yamadon Contemporary Gallery. The Boston Athenaeum Gallery, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Maryland Institute College of Art have all hosted retrospective exhibitions of Stewart’s work. The Genevieve McMillan-Reba Stewart Foundation continues to support scholarships, fellowships, and chairs at several universities.
painting pink pajamas an exhibition of contemporary painters curated by Heather Brammeier
heather brammeier curatorial statement Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s was one of the first books I could recite by memory before I could read. I loved the odd assortment of items that were grouped together (for the letter ‘o’: “Oscar’s only ostrich oiled an orange owl today”!). As such, the book is one of few children’s books that sit alongside more adult tomes. Though not often revisited, the slim volume represents for me one thread of mental imaging that reaches from childhood into my current mental cache of references. These references are just points of departure, places to start out from in a journey that I hope will end in a new and exciting painting. Artists notoriously find it difficult to discuss their influences in a focused manner. When making art is central to the artist’s existence, he or she can make connections between the work and almost every other aspect of life. The difficulty is in determining which few of the myriad of connections will actually help a viewer understand the work better. For Jackie Tileston, the connection to Seuss-like imagery is strong enough that she did include Seuss in an artist’s talk I was fortunate to hear at the University of Pennsylvania. I was struck by her willingness to draw such a ubiquitous pop culture reference into the discussion of her own intellectual work, including the fractal imagery in Fink. It was very much a result of her attributing Seuss as an influence that I considered the title Painting Pink Pajamas for a group exhibition several years later. The artists first on my list were painters that used playful imagery and color, not at all child-like, but possessing the same visual seduction for adults that Dr. Seuss has for children. Nicholas Nyland’s work embodies adult engagement in play. Who would not want to luxuriate in the luscious marks and drips of his Hammock? The wit is the ease with which he poses the impossible figure. Yet imagining the experience in this case is better than the real thing. So, too, Deirdre Murphy’s smart spaces of layered and interlocked planes enrich our perception of the real. It was this type of painter I thought belonged in Painting Pink Pajamas, the painter who could include just a hint of irony without sacrificing her genuine love of color and surface.
After I invited several initial artists to participate, I saw an exhibition of Amy Casey’s work, including the painting Climb, in which an army of multicolored tentacles is gorgeous to behold, in spite of the suggestion that it is these luscious forms that wreak havoc on homes and roadways. I began to see possibilities for exposing a dark side, even within the work I had previously considered exuberant and playful. As I developed the exhibition concept and discussed it more with writers Matt Freedman and Paul Krainak, I found that even the painting I was making for the exhibition (Dark Sun) took on an eerie tone. It appears that the rays of light in the painting do not illuminate, rather they expose darkness for what it is: emptiness. Illustrated in the Seuss ABC’s is a bear wearing pajamas who is literally painting his nightclothes with a brush loaded and dripping. The image of anyone painting their pajamas pink suggests play taken to the extreme, beyond the limits of a watchful parent or guardian. In some of the artwork presented in this exhibition, artists push the limits of luxurious color and form, even to the point of discomfort or chaos. The influence of Dr. Seuss manifests itself in a variety of ways; often there is a dark side that counters or warns against the overindulgence of color and pattern, as we might see in Yasemin Kackar-Demirel’s claustrophobic spaces. Confronted with her paintings, we feel the need to heighten our own senses to keep up with the intensity and amount of information that conveys such a fleeting moment we almost expect the image to shift and change before our very eyes. In the end, the artists collected for the exhibition come together like a page of Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s; the resulting juxtapositions are whimsical, yet bring a fresh sense of order to the way we look at the artists. Just when we think the paintings are full of fun and games, we find dark warnings like that of The Lorax; yet while we are filled with deep contemplation, suddenly we are reminded not to take ourselves too seriously. As we need both outlooks in life, we need them in painting to the extreme.
Heather Brammeier is an Assistant Professor of Art at Bradley University. She has had solo exhibitions in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina, and New York. Her group exhibitions include It’s Gouache and Gouache Only, curated by Geoffrey Young, at Jeff Bailey Gallery in New York City.
matt freedman In art, one idea is as good as another. If one takes the idea of trembling, for instance, all of a sudden most art starts to tremble. Michelangelo starts to tremble. El Greco starts to tremble. All the Impressionists start to tremble. -Willem de Kooning Look at the work in Painting Pink Pajamas; think of Dr Seuss. The paintings dance and quiver with wit and joy and not a little menace. Not that they didnâ€™t exude a certain bounce before you had the idea of Dr. Seuss placed inside your head, but now you have a word rife with associations and memories to give form to that instinctive response. When you look at the Pajamas show without Seuss on your mind, you see paintings rife with intelligent play, paintings that teem with riots of color and line and detail and curlicues and dashing passages of narrative and big ideas embedded in big spaces. But now the Doctor is in, and you have a little narrative playing at the back of your mind, an insistent, contrapuntal verbal rhythm playing off the images that is both hilarious and not a little menacing. That is the work done on your brain by the association with the good doctor. Take, for example, the in-seussiant work of Jackie Tileston. The work is deeply intellectual, referencing everything from Tantric sex to the fall of the Roman Empire, and yet it is deeply simple and profoundly accessible. The movement of forms from one to the other and the piling on of wonderful gestures are perfectly understandable, inevitable even, driven by their own wacky logic. Considered on their own, the floating mandalas that populate her dense and hyperactive images are precise intrusions into a foaming texture. Introduce the idea of Seuss, and bright-eyed homunculi cavort in a spiraling comic universe: there are imps suddenly to consider. Perhaps something more subversive is afoot. De Kooningâ€™s comment does not so much demean the role of the intellect in art as suggest that our minds are exquisitely receptive to the power of languagebased metaphor when we assess visual information. For a painter like de Kooning the image comes first, and only afterwards does the mind catch up. Any narrative or analytical information that helps the mind accommodate the pure visual experience of looking is profound in a different way; it creates a context within which the experience of looking can be understood and remembered. Most of us need that context. Most of us cannot look without thinking in words.
De Kooning provides a useful guide for looking at art, but he does not provide much guidance for the artist herself. The idea of trembling would not help El Greco, probably, or Michelangelo. In this case, however, it doesn’t matter. The artists in Painting Pink Pajamas might not have been aware that Dr. Seuss was in their heads as they worked in their studios, but he could have been there anyway. Dr. Seuss is in almost everyone’s head. Paul Komada’s polyhedron, set in the glowing sunset of Crazy Tamago, is an entrancing spaceship of transporting beauty and no little intrigue, yet it is also an exercise in formalist rendering. Its angled geometry and suggestion of dimension and effulgent light suggest to us some kind of narrative component. Add Seuss and the jauntily obscure title, which push that narrative towards cheerful satire—a bright and shiny Pythagorean dystopia? A funky, world-destroying meteor? De Kooning, again. Willem, born in 1904 in Rotterdam, a couple of months after Theodor Seuss Geisel popped into the world in Springfield, Massachusetts, would seem to be a more conventional choice to arrange a show of contemporary painters around than a children’s book author and illustrator. Perhaps, however, in the long run the Good Doctor has a stronger claim on the images we see in galleries today than does an avatar of Abstract Expressionism. Not only do ideas count these days, but now we are comfortable with images stuffed to overflowing with ideas that readily translate into words. Perhaps most crucially, we are comfortable with images redolent of multiple meanings, images often embedded with contradictory, even subversive information. For that in part, we can thank Dr. Seuss as much as we can Mr. de Kooning. Many of the artists confound the viewer with work that moves comfortably back and forth between plausible and utterly implausible space. Heather Brammeier’s riots of color and intricately involved forms suggest a pastoral landscape of an unbelievably complex origin. Yet, broken down, we see flat colors and compassdriven forms that resolve into almost formulaic simplicity. A miracle. The familiar claim for Seuss’ importance is that he was the first children’s writer to acknowledge a secret, skeptical, possibly hostile intellectual life of the child beyond the reach of her parents. The radical dissent of the sixties, therefore, is a can of worms laid on Dr. Seuss’ doorstep. More salient here, however, is the vividness and completeness of the visual world conjured up by Seuss’ language and his drawings. The propulsive rhymes and seemingly random and endless supply of never-before-uttered words and names; the images are baroque and eccentric yet always in perfect balance. The cumulative effect is less a transgressive dissection of the banal status quo
than a liberating surge into a heartbreakingly perfect world of imagination. A world, not coincidentally, that children quickly intuit is a far and unreachable country. Shigeo Kuroki moves closest to Seuss in narrative spirit; his surreal tableau reads like the tragicomic detritus of a world unstably structured on a sentimental, but non-linear thinking: western consumerism foundering in non-western logic. All these paintings suggest that superabundance of visual pleasure functions as world apart, an esthetic utopia, and who’s to argue? Excess beguiles us. The notion of too-muchness is liberating. We are pretty humdrum creatures and it is exciting to contemplate a vastness beyond our grasp. Without God to do the heavy lifting, we have to rely on our poor imaginations to boggle ourselves, and that requires a lot of work. The Painting Pink Pajamas artists do the work for us. Amy Casey’s rickety supported houses and land roadways are directly reminiscent of Seuss’s chaotic landscapes. Casey has a bit more respect for the power of gravity, though, which pulls out more of the pathos of the situation, suppressing the anarchic glee. Deirdre Murphy exudes a similar sense of play; some of her images now begin to meld medieval landscape with the magical realism of fairy tales. Marjorie Van Cura’s combinative graphic approach of redrawing collaged digital images prefigures the bizarre “human-animal-mechanical” hybrids she produces, creatures that are themselves reproduced in mirrored multiples on the canvas. The effect is horrifying and hilarious, the blackest of jokes. The truly great pleasure Seuss has taught his extended family of readers to aspire to claim for themselves is the voluptuous esthetic of indulgence itself, indulgence in the polymorphously perverse pleasure of unfettered play. This may lead to the impression that the artists we see in a Seussian light reflect a similarly maximal visual vocabulary, but in fact their craft is anchored in self-imposed limitations—as indeed was Seuss’. On a bet, Seuss composed Green Eggs and Ham using only forty words. For the artists in Painting Pink Pajamas the anarchic, joyful, and dangerous spirit of excess is given substance and dimension by its origins in the hard logic of physical craft. The artists caution their indulged viewers to beware, for hilarity can tip all too easily over into hysteria. So much is going on in the world, but there is so little we can do about it. Dr. Seuss let the cat out of the hat, and now there is nowhere to hide. Matt Freedman is an artist, writer, and curator living in New York City. He recently staged one-person shows at Pierogi 2000 and vertexList galleries, in Brooklyn.
paul krainak post-virtual pink Ever since the artworld became comfortable with the “Crisis” in Painting, which relaxed the grip on painters to represent the leading edge of critical art discourse some twenty year ago, varying manifestations of avant-gardism have gained currency. Being at the forefront of change is part of the DNA of Painting, and even when the instruments of change in art have shifted to new conceptual strategies, new technologies and new audiences, the behavior of painters remains reflexive and determined, as if leading or forecasting was their birthright. Recursive strategies have generally been Painting’s stock-in-trade, modifying early Modernist practice and formal expression to reveal continuity with the heroic periods of “new world” culture even as Post-Modernism had critiqued it for being dislocated and dystopian. Painters, particularly American painters, returned to Modernist practice, and, having digested the cultural critiques of Post-Structuralism and Feminism, restrained their gut instincts with large doses of irony. But contemporary painters have been turning to popular culture as a more persuasive and hospitable source for their irony, since the reductivist underpinning of the Modern turned their intellect and humor rather pokerfaced. And, as before, painters have looked to consensual gestures and pictorial concurrence that argue their position for the most relevant and advanced interpretation of the present. The Painting Pink Pajamas title implies that the group subscribes to a pretty camp version of abstraction. They do share a healthy disregard for the formal history of that genre, which was the 500-pound gorilla in the room in academia for nearly four decades. Artists such as Susanne Nestory, Jackie Tileston, Nicholas Nyland, and Yasemin Kackar-Demeril are represented by expressionist manipulations of color and malleable spaces. Erica Bradbury, Amy Casey, Shigeo Kuroki, Dierdre Murphy, MarjorieVan Cura, and Susan Ziegler essentially pull the rug out from our understanding of recognizable images. A third group that includes Lauren Macko, Paul Komada, Aurora Robson, and Heather Brammeier produces emblematic abstractions that hover right between representational and non-objective painting. All share an imaginative, improvisational, sometimes absurd construction of their respective universes.
In the “virtualist” camp, consider Kuroki’s Wish upon a Star, which situates a tearful cartoon clothes dryer pining apparently for a constellation of a refrigerator hovering just overhead under a starlit sky. Kuroki pictures melancholia in a sentimental metaphor about the construction of a celestial guardian and a secular appliance. The work reflects the anthropomorphic impulse inherent in the childhood imagination and cleverly demonstrates the fetishization of such by adults. Kuroki’s paintings are somewhat an exception in their narrativity and graphic precision, but Dierdre Murphy likes a fantasy as well. She and Amy Casey each hint at stories with surrealistic dream sequences and tilting spaces that are full of captivating, animated color and ornamentation. Erica Bradbury’s mixed media compositions are a cross between a florist’s hallucination and a deep-sea diver’s daydream. She shares that sensibility with Susan Ziegler, who pushes the idea of possible but improbable worlds in which only the mind can dwell. For the “emblematists”, Heather Brammeier produces elaborate curvilinear abstractions. Sometimes they are small and deadpan. Other times they are stunning outgrowths of simple ornamental gestures, fluid and playfully colorful. While they can look like drunken cartoon mazes or spiraling strands of marzipan pasta, her arrangement of color and shape is strategic and sophisticated. Brilliant opaque and transparent forms swim across the canvases, suspending our gaze in a state of bemusement and anticipation. Much the same can be said for Aurora Robson. The difference is that hers are more gelatinous and sparkling; occasionally forms coalesce into spectacular candy-colored flowers that would even make Willy Wonka salivate. Conversely, Lauren Macko’s painting challenges our perceptions of the murky environment of microbiological organisms. She looks for molecular matter that can be ironically hybridized into full-scale abstract oil paintings. While also playful, her games are more shadowy and mystified as she conflates the visual provinces of art and medicine. Paul Komada produces beautiful forms that defy either macro or micro dimensions. His sense of nature is one that insists on luminosity, flights of the imagination and elaborate geometric abstraction. Lastly, Yasemin Kackar-Demeril recalls Impressionism and the naturalistic strain of Abstract Expressionism with blinking details of organic mayhem. Her space is convulsive and florid. Her painted matter is gritty and dense, overlapping shredded details of neighboring space and color. Graphic nuances flux and fade and finally merge into tasty chowders of matter and anti-matter. Susanne Nestory recalls a more traditional path of abstraction that has its roots in pre-New York School artists like Arshile Gorky and
Carl Holty. She renders more subtle, parallel trajectories of paint drips that parody the heroic splattering techniques of the “modern masters”. Nicholas Nyland also lampoons Abstract Expressionism, stringing feral splatters and brush marks into twisted color bridges that cling firmly to the sides the canvas. Jackie Tileston may be the most formally transgressive of the group, jarring the eye with bilious color and dizzying psychedelic compositions. Her work is equally exotic and conceptual, sharing a few visual moments with the virtualist group. She declares that, “I am interested in visual democracies, nomadic thinking, rearranging hierarchies, and trying to fuse personal expression with shared social and cultural spaces, in full pictorial glory”. This she accomplishes in spades. That these artists represent certain playful commonalities, from the banal to the heroic, is not unexpected, as one significant strain of Modernism has always welcomed the close examination of the ordinary and the underrepresented. This generational attraction to a marginal and mischievous aesthetic is germane because we see representations of it in this show from across the country—Cincinnati, Seattle, New York City, Boston, Peoria as well as Toronto and Tokyo. Their loose association seems to have one foot in escapist culture and the other in the simple act of painting. While not all hone in on the same issues, there is a desire to express a different course for a painting via an intelligent and amusing flirtation with populism and innocence in a visual universe influenced by video games and virtual reality.
Paul Krainak is Chair of the Department of Art at Bradley University in Peoria, IL. A long-time writer for New Art Examiner, Paul now writes for Art Papers.
Erica Bradbury, Still Growing, Mixed Media, 23” x 30”, 2005
Heather Brammeier, Dark Sun, Oil on Canvas, 54”x36”, 2008
Amy Casey, Climb, Acrylic on Canvas, 44”x44”, 2007
Yasemin Kackar-Demirel, Fall Awakening, Watercolor and Ink, 22.5â€?x18.5â€?, 2008
Paul Komada, Crazy Tamago, Gouache on Rives BFK, 16”x20”, 2008
Shigeo Kuroki, Wish Upon a Star, Oil on Canvas, 45”x30”, 2008
Lauren Macko, The New Plague, Oil on Canvas, 40”x30”, 2007
Deirdre Murphy, Full Moon Thrill, Oil on Canvas, 20”x20”, 2007
Susanne Nestory, Indra’s Net, Ink, 40”x30”, 2008
Nicholas Nyland, Hammock, Oil on Linen, 24”x18”, 2008
Aurora Robson, Are You the Past and Future?, Ink and Oil on Paper, 11”x18”, 2004
Jackie Tileston, Fink, Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas, 66”x60”, 1998
Marjorie Van Cura, Untitled 0507, Ink and Graphite on Rag Paper, 14â€?x23â€?, 2007
Susan Ziegler, Twilight Bloom, Acrylic on Canvas, 14”x18”, 2007
Painting Pink Pajamas runs from November 8, 2008 to January 2, 2009, at the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria (http://www.peoriacac.org/).
Contemporary Art Center of Peoria
Inland Visual Studies Center, Bradley University, Peoria, IL Bradley Universityâ€™s Department of Art Bradley Universityâ€™s Office for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development
From the Inside Out
What Is It and What Is It For? Heather Brammeier on the Making of From the Inside Out
I was working on a collaborative project, a painting one of my graduate students and I were trading back and forth. I like my undergraduate students to be able to watch this process unfold and ask questions that arise about painting, collaboration, and the artistic process in general.
“What is it?” an undergraduate asked a number of times, squinting her eyes at the painting; it was the undue stress on the word ‘is’ that caused me to laugh out loud. “We’re discovering what it is as we go,” I said, or some such explanation. “I don’t know yet.” It is that qualifier ‘yet’ that is so significant in abstraction as well as any type of improvisational process. It is not knowing yet that is a huge obstacle for many of my students in beginning courses; they want to be told what to make, how to make it, and what it will look like when they’re finished. “I don’t know yet,” is unsettling to them. Of course, it’s one of the most important lessons to learn if one is to be an artist. Artwork is revealed over time, not just to the viewer, but to the artists themselves. This element of time adds a built-in uncertainty. Time itself is difficult to comprehend. Lacking concrete manifestation, we mark time indirectly. It is an abstraction. No wonder, then, that artwork that requires time just to physically traverse, much less comprehend, is difficult to define. Nicholas and I faced this challenge each time we had to introduce a student or group of students to the From the Inside Out collaboration in process. Fortunately, it became much easier as time went on, the installation grew, and there more to see. “Take some time to look around first,” we could say. “Then consider what your contribution could be. You don’t have to be able to sew. There are any number of ways you can add to the piece.”No wonder, too, that as time went on, more students were willing to join in. I’ve already categorized the piece as an installation, which usually incorporates sculptural elements. Yet this piece, particularly the “wall” in the form of a golden spiral, incorporates a lot of two-dimensional type of work; drawing, quilting, sewing, and printmaking. Unlike most two-dimensional artwork, which con-
fronts the viewer with a whole visual impression that can then be examined piece by piece, we created a piece that, perceived part by part, gradually builds a perception of the whole. This type of visual comprehension is more typical of sculpture, which requires viewing from all sides to fully perceive the whole; however, the scale and placement of the structural elements of From the Inside Out actually require a mental re-construction that is similar to our comprehension of architecture. This is appropriate, because one of our primary goals was to highlight the architecture of the gallery space, exploiting the second floor overlook, the niches around the outside wall of the gallery, and the windows to the outside space. This consideration and customization to the space in which the exhibition is mounted has become a defining characteristic of site-specific installation, a category in which From the Inside Out could certainly be placed. An interesting dynamic arose between the sophistication required to perceive the piece in totality and the accessibility of the individual parts. The vignettes created along the fabric wall are accessible both physically and visually, enticing the viewer’s sense of touch and stimulating the imagination with color. The visual aesthetic relates to folk art more than fine art, in both the imagery and the use of materials. The students who contributed imagery touched upon basic themes of common experience: portraiture and sense of identity, animals and interaction with nature, geometry and optical patterns, and doorways or windows that activate curiosity and engagement through play. Though these themes are basic, and thus accessible to a wide audience, they create more complexity in the whole. These elements were the unknowns when the piece began, and they were also the least controlled. Nicholas and I certainly maintained a supervisory role, but on the whole we advocated revisions rather than deletions, and we embraced the variety of contributions to the wall. Nicholas admitted (during the gallery talk, prior to the opening reception) that the process was humbling, because even though we could have imposed more artistic direction and control, the spirit of the collaborative process underscored for us that our decisions were not automatically more valid than those of a young newly embarking on a program of study in art. One beginning art student, after working in the gallery with peers for about an hour, asked, ”What is this for, anyway?” A naïve question, perhaps, but still, a question artists should continually be asking themselves. The medium of fabric was most accommodating to combining the efforts of a number of individuals; it allowed for some people to work an hour or two only, while others put in twenty or more hours over the course of two weeks. The fabric walls are like paintings in color and texture, but the process was very much collage and assemblage. We departed from the grid dictated by formal quilting or design and embraced the improvisation of collage or crazy quilting. Chance was a factor in assembling so many pieces, but consideration was given to each juxtaposition and transition.
The pre-ordained structure of the golden spiral with double wall created large planes whose curves, while gradual, made the fabric walls anything but flat. Both frustrating and freeing, the large impact of slight curves points to a larger theme Nicholas and I chose to undertake. In painting and sculpture, we both investigate that which is neither two-dimensional nor three-dimensional, but somewhere in between. In the dictates of physics, no surface, however flat, in the three-dimensional world can ever actually be only two dimensions. However, we use the categorizations of twodimensional and three-dimensional in art to highlight and summarize the differences between the approaches. Two-dimensional work is often meant to create an illusion of depth, while three-dimensional work usually exploits the physical depth of sculpture “in the round”. As a painter who often paints hard-edged shapes most easily described as flat, the instinct to rebel against this reductive categorization has grown more insistent over the past few years. “Flat” shapes or hard-edged shapes can create depth, not only through the type of optical illusion employed by Op Art painters, but also by employing color, gradients, and, yes, brushstroke and surface quality (an element I have often had to explain is intentional in my paintings). This was my response in an internal dialogue that led to the self-imposed challenge of pushing further towards the three-dimensional without sacrificing flat shapes. This challenge resulted in the making of Flatness and the Third Dimension, seen here accompanying the golden spiral. The intertwining, curving shapes are cut from cardboard, then covered with fabric on both sides. The hand sewing required is laborious but essential. Though mounted on a wall, they do not lie flat; they are intertwined physically rather than optically. They are a painting come to life, given dimension, and though there is a “back” not fully visible, that side is congruous, just as the back of the head not usually seen in a portrait still must be there to complete the head. Nicholas also included “accompanying” pieces separate from, but companions to, the golden spiral wall. His vinyl sculptures approach the in-between-dimensions problem from the other side; rather than intentionally emphasizing flatness in a three-dimensional object, he hides it. In particular, his sparkly black vinyl sculpture is voluminous; its diminutive form still suggests monumentality with the same confident arrogance of Puppy, a forty-three-foot-tall topiary by Jeff Koons. It seems bundled with potential energy, an entity that might spring to life in monumental form like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man in Ghostbusters. Surprisingly, removed from the gallery setting, the plywood backing and floppy vinyl folds expose the masterful illusion in this piece.
The wall itself is a purposeful balance between flatness and dimensionality. Meant to allude in some ways to Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, it is not cold steel, but touchable fabric. Its form is not solid and heavy, but comparatively thin, and covering empty spaces inside. Thus it became a rejoinder, as Peoria Journal Star writer Gary Panetta aptly called it, to Tilted Arc. We created a monumental form by hand rather than using industrial production methods. We exploited the space in between the inner and out wall, creating pockets, shelves, and permeations within the wall. We invited the viewer to follow a path along the wall, as Serra did with his Arc, but rewarded the viewer with intricate visual and physical discoveries along the way. In fact, we saw viewers as being lured rather than forced along a path; from the intrigue of the outdoor element that we planned would draw in our viewers to the doorway in the wall hidden behind the largest arc of the spiral wall, we sought to entice the viewer to explore the gallery space deeper and more fully than a traditionally mounted exhibition would. The exploration culminates in a trip to the second floor of the building to view the spiral at the only vantage point from which it can be seen in its entirety, the windowed overlook outside of the gallery space. So From the Inside Out is a layering of perspectives; it becomes more than a succession of flat imagery, more than a sculpture in the round, it is a place, an accretion of spatial experiences. It could be summarized in words or in two dimensions, as a building can be with a blueprint, but a full understanding can only be reached by experiencing it on a number of physical and mental levels of exploration. The perception gained, like the physical artwork, is diminished by attempts to summarize—but isn’t that true of all artwork? The unified whole can be parsed and discussed in a variety of sophisticated ways that belie the simplicity and accessibility of the individual parts. Our original intention in using the golden spiral was its connection to natural forms. As we constructed and experienced it in the gallery space, we realized the natural reference was actually secondary to more abstract manipulations of our experience of time and space. Forced to summarize, to put words to experiences, as visual artists are loathe to do, I will choose to call From the Inside Out not painting, not sculpture, not collage, assemblage, fiber art, or even architecture. I will attempt to simplify more by broadening to the term that complicates because of its embrace of imagination, wit and whimsy, mental modeling, and strained metaphors; I will call it abstraction. -Heather Brammeier
Nearly a century ago, Vladimir Tatlin designed a tower to embody the revolutionary new society ushered in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. A feat of advanced engineering to be built of glass and steel higher than the Eiffel Tower, The Monument Sign of the Times to the Third International stands as one of the Nicholas Nyland on the Making of From the Inside Out great unbuilt tributes to collectivism (aka communism) and Constructivism, a grand symbol of Modernism. A little more than half a century later, artist Richard Serra was chosen to create a work of public art to “grace” the new plaza of the planned addition to the Jacob Javits Federal Building in New York. Serra’s work, titled Tilted Arc, was a 120 foot long by 12 foot high sheet of unfinished steel that bisected the plaza whose effect was, according to Serra: “The viewer becomes aware of himself and of his movement through the plaza. As he moves, the sculpture changes. Contraction and expansion of the sculpture result from the viewer’s movement. Step by step the perception not only of the sculpture but of the entire environment changes.”(1) When Heather and I decided to embark on the project that would become From the Inside Out, we spoke of our intentions in many of the same terms used by Serra for Tilted Arc. We strove to activate the gallery space in such a way as to encourage the viewer to slow down and become more conscious of their perceptions not only of the work, but of their place within it. Calling upon these precedents also freights the work with the less pleasant realities that followed the idealistic beginnings: the impossibility of the promised utopia of communism which finally collapsed with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 - this ironically coincides
with the year that federal workers cut Tilted Arc into three pieces for scrap after Serra lost a protracted legal battle following a heated controversy and calls for the artwork’s removal. In many senses, From the Inside Out, is the “anti-Serra”; we strove to no less idealistic goals but set about acting upon them with a different strategy. Firstly, we wanted to include as many individual voices as were interested in participating. This necessitated a structure that was both capacious enough and unifying to be a coherent work of art. The golden spiral served double duty as an excellent form that brought together references to Tilted Arc and Tatlin’s tower while absorbing a great many pieces contributed by our student collaborators. Our material choices were also chosen in stark contrast to the virtuoso feats of engineering and industrial might that has been traditionally championed through Modernism and the project cited above. The wood armature of the spiral was covered with fabrics pieced together with needle and thread. A kinder, gentler monument to collectivism emerged after two long weeks and yards of fabrics donated by inveterate quilters (Heather’s late mother’s own collection of fabrics were incorporated into the work). Unlike Modernism’s trademark refutation of history, this piece embraces and hopes to join what we are discovering is less the linear trajectory of “progress” but a spiraling out of human experience. -Nicholas Nyland Notes 1. PBS Culture Shock, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/flashpoints/visualarts/tiltedarc_a.html, accessed June 20, 2010
Heuser Gallery as seen from the second floor overlook.
The plywood framework for the inside installation.
The ample floor space in the gallery became our workspace for assembling fabrics.
As larger portions of fabrics were assembled, we hung them over the framework to try various combinations of fabrics and imagery.
Students came to work throughout each day and evening. Here, Leah Roszkowski cuts straight edges on her fabric drawing.
After only a week, what had been an empty gallery was now a frenetic workspace with works in progress spread across the floor.
Pieces were pinned, sewed, tied, and glued to each other to make the fabric wall.
Vinyl strips were woven together and stapled to the outside portion of the structure. Here, Jacob Guzan assists Nicholas Nyland.
Quite a bit of hand-sewing was required to connect the larger portions of fabric. Left to right: Robyn Rognstad, Rachel Goldberg, Nicholas Nyland, Heather Brammeier.
The â€œendâ€? of the golden spiral curled into a walled niche just outside a gallery window.
The spiral could only be seen in its entirety from the second floor gallery overlook.
The wall appears to be continuous, even as it moves outside the gallery and â€œthroughâ€? walls and shrubbery.
Several existing quilts were incorporated into the piece, such as the one on the right in this photo. On the left of this photo, Robyn Rognstad created quilt-like patterns that reference Modernist geometric painting.
In placing the structure, Nicholas and Heather maximized both interior and exterior architectural elements. The spiral runs tangent to an exterior wall and is cradled in a window niche.
For the exterior “covering”, strips of vinyl reference Constructivist concerns and palettes which contrast the landscaping outside Heuser Art Center.
Nicholas Nyland often refers to Japanese garden design and Chinese scholars’ rocks. The placement of the golden spiral works with the placement of a boulder in the (American) landscaping outside the Heuser Art Center.
Flatness and the Third Dimension (on the wall) was visually connected to the wall not only with fabric and color, but also with the use of a â€œshadowâ€? in dark-colored vinyl.
Several students made monotypes or used large type numerals on fabric.
The vinyl shadow becomes almost a river that runs under the wall and through to the inside of the spiral.
Viewers were enticed to find the interior of the spiral, where they were rewarded with different perspectives and new vignettes.
The doorway to the interior space was hidden from the entry to the gallery space; viewers had to explore to find it.
The gallery became a space of visual play and actual play. Interaction was encouraged by visual and tactile cues at various levels.
The doorway became a frame as well as point of entry.
Some openings appear to have pieces coming out of or going into the wall.
Other types of frames and windows made use of the shallow depth created by the plywood structure of the wall. This â€œportholeâ€? frames an optical piece that is playfully designed.
The consideration of interior and exterior spaces obliquely addressed issues of private and public space, particularly in gallery settings.
Robyn Rognstad built a hidden shelf for her vignette Mount Sadness.
Here, the peephole frames the door on the other side of the spiral wall.
A triangular opening at floor level became a peephole for little ones, or for anyone willing to lie on the floor of the gallery.
Before reaching the door in the wall, the curious viewer could find â€œsneak peeksâ€? at the other side.
Not a door or a window, this corner nook was another delightful surprise for children; it became a pass-through for stuffed animals or the corduroy pillow tucked into it.
The triangle became a secondary geometric motif in piecing the fabrics, and in creating views throughout. the wall.
The construction of the entire piece was a study in concealing and revealing.
A biomorphic creature is housed in a pocket-like opening in the wall.
Selective vinyl cutouts on the floor emphasize the flatness of gallery surfaces in contrast to the varied surfaces of the spiral wall.
Heather Brammeier prepared a strip-pieced quilt prior to the installation; several whole quilts were incorporated into the wall so as to create large areas from which transitions could be devised and motifs could be pulled out and repeated.
Graduate student Sarah Zaleski used fabric scraps to create an abstract peacock fan.
Undergraduate Christine Montgomery constructed a geometerâ€™s apron.
Printmaker Helen Schenk took a theme from her prints and brought it to life in fabric.
Many times, the fabrics themselves suggested designs. Robyn Rognstad made a tortoise and hare on a print that appears to tell a love story of sorts.
Themes of nature and identity merged, particularly with this bear by Pam Gargiulo, whose work celebrates her descent from Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Marita Early used thin strips of fabric to create a tree of life.
Robyn Rognstad uses animals to shed light on human foibles. The rabbit is a recurring theme in her work.
Along with fabrics, students pulled from wallpaper sample books donated.
Jenna Gagen uses the circus to explore themes of innocence and experience.
Jennaâ€™s Conjoined Twins are a sideshow in the circus she has created.
Here, the ringmaster of the circus is pictured.
Various students created representations relating to identity. The girl with the pink umbrella is a recurring character in student Rachel Goldbergâ€™s drawings; for this project, she created a new interpretation in fabric.
Education: 2002 M.F.A. University of Pennsylvania 2000 B.F.A. Bradley University Selected Solo Exhibitions: 2010 The Fabric of Space, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL 2008 Fluidity, Murray State University, Murray, KY In Between, Around, and Beyond, LaGuardia Community College, Long Island City, NY 2007 Unbroken, Women’s Institute and Gallery, New Harmony, IN Untelling, Contemporary Art Center, Peoria, IL 2006 Changing Breath, or How Things Fall Together, Anderson College, Anderson, SC 2005 Paintings and Collages, Verde Gallery, Champaign, IL 2004 Regrowth, Glen Vista Art Gallery, Kalamazoo Nature Center, MI
Awards: 2011 Yaddo Artist Residency, Saratoga Springs, NY 2010 Pontlevoy Creative Residency, Pontlevoy, France 2007 Prairie Center of the Arts Residency, Peoria, IL 2007 Byrdcliffe Artist Colony Residency, Woodstock, NY Selected Group Exhibitions: 2010 From the Inside Out, collaboration with Nicholas Nyland, Heuser Art Center, Peoria, IL 2009 Large Works Show 2009, ICON Contemporary Art, Fairfield, IA Echo, Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park and Arts Center, Solomons, MD VAST 41st Annual Visual Arts Exhibition, Visual Arts Society of Texas, Denton, TX Paintpresent, Lexington Art League, Lexington, KY Rock Island Fine Art Exhibition,”Augustana College Art Museum, Rock Island, IL 2008 61st Juried Exhibition, Sioux City Art Center Annual Members’ Show, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL Re.Action, Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park and Arts Center, Solomon, MD It’s Gouache and Gouache Only, Jeff Bailey Gallery, NY 2007 Abstract and Geometric, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL New Arts Program 18th Annual Exhibition of Small Works, Kutztown, PA 2003 Living Room: Issues of Taste and the Politics of Decoration, Storefront 1838, NY The artist is represented by Moberg Gallery, Des Moines, IA.
Education: 2002 M.F.A. Painting, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 1999 B.F.A. Painting, University of Washington, Seattle Selected Solo Exhibitions: 2010 The Problem of Universals, SOIL Gallery, Seattle, WA 2009 Nowhere, Anywhere, Everywhere, OHGE Ltd., Seattle, WA 2008 Ceramics, SOIL Gallery, Seattle, WA 2007 Nicholas Nyland, Mineral, Tacoma Selected Group Exhibitions: 2010 BAM Biennial 2010: Clay Throwdown, Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA From the Inside Out, collaboration with Heather Brammeier, Heuser Art Center Peoria, IL In the Garden, Telephone Room Gallery, Tacoma, WA Champagne Truffles, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA Search for Landscapes, SOIL Gallery, Seattle, WA Clay? III, Kirkland Art Center, Kirkland, WA 2009 Introductions, Pulliam Gallery, Portland, OR 2008 Painting Pink Pajamas, Contemporary Art Center, Peoria, IL The Prom; A Semi-Formal Survey of Semi-Formal Painting, Lawrimore Project, Seattle This is a Time Machine, with Ellen Ito, The Helm Gallery, Tacoma 2007 8th Northwest Biennial, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma 2005 Surge, Tacoma Contemporary Urban Art Installations in the Woolworth Windows, Tacoma 2003 Living Room: Issues of Taste and the Politics of Decoration, Storefront 1838, New York, NY Awards: Artist Trust Fellowship, 2008 Finalist, Betty Bowen Award, Seattle, 2008 Kamiyama Artist-in-Residence Program, Japan, 2005 The artist is a member of SOIL Artist-Run Gallery, Seattle, and represented by the Pulliam Gallery, Portland, OR.
Credits and Acknowledgements This publication is produced in conjunction with the From the Inside Out exhibition at Bradley University Galleries, April 16 - May 16 ,2010 Bradley University Galleries 1501 West Bradley Avenue Peoria, IL 61625 art.bradley.edu/bug Elizabeth Kauffman, Gallery Director ÂŠ 2010 Bradley University Galleries We would like to thank all of the supporters that have made this exhibition possible. Friends of Art Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts Illinois Arts Council Office for Teaching Excellence & Faculty Development
Catalog Design by Kris Meyers Photographs by Anastasia Samoylova, Heather Brammeier, and Nicholas Nyland
Re-Generation, From the Inside Out, and Painting Pink Pajamas