LINE Art Review 2013-2014
Cover Art by Becca Baruc ’15 © 2014 line Art Review Skidmore College 815 N. Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
LINE Art Review
Mission Statement LINE Art Review Magazine is a student-run publication at Skidmore College that creatively and analytically reviews and responds to art on campus in order to highlight the diverse creativity of the Skidmore community.
Who We Are Skidmore students play an integral role in every aspect of line from the design and concept to the writing and editing. We review individual works of art and exhibits by both student and professional artists. These works may be presented in Tang Teaching Museum, the Schick Gallery, Case Gallery, Howe-Rounds Gallery, or in individual unaffiliated spaces around campus. line explores and presents all forms of art and features a variety of artistic media. line aims to spark discussion about different styles of art and the creative process. In the spirit of line’s inclusive nature, we accept writing and art submissions from students with a range of majors and backgrounds. We hope to encourage people to both create their own art and think critically about art works they encounter.
LINE Art Review President Lisa Fierstein ’16 Editor-in-Chief Leila Farrer ’16 Treasurer Kai Inaba ’16 Managing Editors Zach Collins ’16 Lucy Heisler ’14 Design Directors Marion Cox ’16 Adam Fisher-Cox ’15 Winifred Vaughn ’14 Layout Staff Natalie Behnke ’17 Ali Eagle ’14 Leila Farrer ’16 Lisa Fierstein ’16 Jennifer Hoffer ’16 Kai Inaba ’16 Dan Kapp ’17 Sam Reisman ’17 Photography Editor Allison Gretchko ’17 Special Thanks The Tang Museum The Schick Gallery Skidmore Office Services Skidmore Food Services Project Open Campus Shea Barnett ’15 Jeanne Eddy Ginger Ernst Megan Hyde Michael Janairo Susi Kerr Meghan Murray ’16 Jay Rogoff
Letter from the Leadership Team Dear Line Readers, We’re not surprised when people ask us “What is line?” or “Skidmore has an art review magazine?” line had its elusive way of sneaking itself onto campus every semester. Copies of the magazine were traditionally hung on a line of string outside Case Center, and within less than a day, line would seemingly evaporate. This year, we revamped line by transforming it into an annual and more in-depth publication. More than anything, we want students, faculty, and the greater community to know about line because it is where the diverse range of talents that exist on Skidmore’s campus come together in a tangible form. line is a multifaceted student-run publication, encapsulating the outstanding art, writing, and design skills of Skidmore students. Our first step to expand line was to increase the size of our talented staff of writers, editors, photographers, graphic designers, and artists. We hoped to create an atmosphere of inclusion and collaboration in our staff meetings, and we feel as though the 2013 - 2014 edition of line is a reflection of the cohesiveness of our team. The multitude of exhibitions, shows, and students participating in creative activities indicates the college’s propensity for creative thought. This publication celebrates the artistic process and participants of all forms of art at Skidmore. line intends to communicate the necessity of art in the academic, social, and personal dimensions of life. We hope you enjoy the magazine and think about art, design, and line in the future.
Lisa Fierstein President
Leila Farrer Editor-in-Chief
Kai Inaba Treasurer
Winnie Vaughan, Untitled, oil on cavnas, 2014 3
LINE Art Review 2
Letter from the Line Leadership Team
A Tri-Lingual Conversation
The Ambiance of Experimental Elevator Music
Moving Pictures at the Tang Jennifer Hoffer ’16
Daniel Kapp ’17
Class of 2017 Artist Profile
Interview with Allison Smith ’17 Allison Gretchko ’17
On the Wall, A Contemplation
Winter Dance Concert
A World Unbalanced
Dragana Crnjak’s site-specific pieces Kai Inaba ’16
Mirella Nappi ’16
Madeline Burkhart ’15 Case Gallery exhibit Leila Farrer ’16
A Look into Hildur Jónsson’s Artistic Process Lisa Fierstien ’16
2013- 2014 Photo courtesy of the Tang
Underneath the Surface of Idealized America
Inspecting the Mundane and the Historic
Warhol Polaroids at the Tang Lelah Childs ’16 with contributions from Daniel Kapp ’17
Classless Socety Exhibit at the Tang Museum Emily Benoff ’16
Rosie Dienhart and Layla Durrani’s Case Gallery exhibit Ayelen Pagnanelli ’14
The Overstimulation of Face Time
Variations on a Rhythm
Geometrizing Intangible Interactions
Line Art Gallery
Lucy Heisler’s Independent Study Lucy Heisler ’14
Schick Gallery’s Charcoal! Exhibition Marion Cox ’16
Live Portrait Drawings by Becca Baruc ’15 Rosie Berardino ’14
Student Submitted Artwork 5
CONVERSATION by Jennifer Hoffer
Improvised dance and music inspired by a visual I had the privilege to partake in this conversation as woven painting: I call it communication through art. a dancer. As I danced, Ben Wetherbee ’16 played the Art criticism serves as a way to understand art; it’s a fiddle and whistled a tune simultaneously. On the translation from one often incomprehensible medium reflective black floor of the gallery, I felt myself move to another, more accessible medium. These critiques to the displacing sight of stark, yet blurred, yellow are subjective interpretations. Since we all come from and green forms on the weaving that stretched across different places and have different the wall behind me. I articulated experiences, our interpretations the forms through jolting move“...it is a conversation—a give are undoubtedly variable. ment to the left and right, while and take, one that can be both Wetherbee’s improvised tunes on participated in and listened to. ” Thursday Nights at the Tang the fiddle translated into a quick, presented Moving Pictures, an dabbing motion up and down experimental event, which highacross the floor. The visual and lighted the Opener 25: Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson the aural collaboration allowed me to give a three-diexhibit. Jónsson, an Icelandic artist who studied and mensional translation of both. Wetherbee’s music is currently working in America, takes aerial photorelated to Jónsson’s art as did my dancing. graphs of Icelandic landscapes, which inspire her art. These vibrant woven works provided an impetus for Never before had I had the chance to be a part of an dancers and musicians to blend movement and sound integration of media like this, nor had I ever coninto their own artistic languages. The collaboration of sidered helping others understand different forms media began a spontaneous non-verbal conversation. of art through the very use of different forms of art. Both performers and audience members, however, whether they considered themselves artists or not, likely got an understanding of at least one of the artistries taking place. We all got to experience a dialogue between languages other than those traditionally written or spoken. As a participant in this artistic conversation, I experienced the difficulty we all have when trying to understand someone who speaks a different language. Dancers traditionally learn to translate music or general sound into movement, but other media can inspire movement as well. In my dance improvisation class this semester, we went to this very exhibit and interpreted 7
Jónsson’s pieces, with no sound incorporated. This was an interesting experience for me because I had never been told to dance with just a visual as inspiration. Wetherbee also experienced some challenges accompanying on the fiddle. “I had to focus on one thing at a time,” he explained. “I don’t know if I was ever focusing on literally the art and the dance at the same time. Sometimes I’d have to remind myself to look at the painting or to look at the dancer. I’d never force myself to do three things at once...when you try to do that and come up with one piece of music that
emulates both the dance and art and music, it’s difficult. But when you just focus on one thing at a time, it becomes easier and more fun because you’re not working so much, you’re free to do whatever you want and can go over here and then over there... it’s more enjoyable when you’re not trying.” It is a conversation—a give and take, one that we can participate in and listen to. Each person who partook in the event likely had a different experience. That is the beauty of interpretation: it is never definite and it is unique to every individual. n
Photos by Sarah Weitzman
The Ambiance of
EXPERIMENTAL ELEVATOR MUSIC by Daniel Kapp
When we step into an elevator, we are—for the most part—accustomed to awkward, personal-space-invading experiences; the never-ending paranoia of more elevator-goers joining us in the close quarters; and most notably, the wretched and insipid elevator music that our society has come to despise. The elevator in the Tang Teaching Museum toys with our perceptions of what elevator music should be with its constantly running sound installation. In October 2013, the Tang’s elevator’s music—to use the term “music” very loosely—was reminiscent of some form of extra-terrestrial communication. In simpler terms, it sounded almost like mic-check before a concert: highly electronic with no words or noticeable patterns. The general size (enormous) and the futuristic, metallic atmosphere of the elevator itself gave a complimentary vibe to the music—one of emptiness and mystery. My experience in the quick elevator ride up one floor was very self-reflective. This reaction, I believe, can be attributed to my unfamiliarity with such sound conglomerations and my comparative smallness to the size of the elevator. It was a 20-second assent unlike any I have taken before, one that evoked a bizarre sense of isolation in me. I can’t help but re-reflect as I type, remembering the utterly unique experience I had in the Tang’s elevator and in every elevator I’ve taken since. This exhibit was shockingly thought provoking; every student should visit it at least once. This piece (one of a series of elevator music installation pieces at the Tang) celebrates the 100th anniversary of Luigi Russolo’s ground breaking musical experimentation. In his 1913 manifesto, entitled L’Art dei Rumori or The Art of Noise, Russolo reimagines traditional concepts of music and challenges them with his unique mix of everyday noises
from the modern world. Russolo was also a leader in the Futurism movement, which strived to reject traditional ideas in the field of art and create something he expected to see in the future. For Russolo, this meant replicating sounds like roars, whistles, screeches in harmony with one another. Although Russolo’s ideas were deemed futuristic 100 years ago, it’s clear that we’re still waiting for them to become familiar. By playing Russolo’s music over the few months that this piece occupied the Tang’s elevator, the curators were able to mimic its futuristic vibe and make it work cohesively with the elevator’s design. The interior was entirely chrome and strangely resembled what the inside of a UFO might look like. The mirrored décor helped the exhibit focus even more on the self-reflective properties it may inflict on its participant. No matter which way one turns, even towards the ceiling, it’s impossible to escape one’s reflection in the clean metal. This, despite its horror-movie-esque quality, was sort of mystifying in a wonderful way. The peculiarity started with the seemingly normal and bland idea of an elevator. When it slid open, I had no idea what I was in for, so my self-reflection started with my immediate attempt to understand what exactly was happening. Although it took me only a few milliseconds to mosey over to the information booklet hooked next to the door, I had to take a few more rides in order to fully grasp and recognize what effect it had on me. Taking a step back now, I feel as if the strangeness of the music forced me to notice the normalcy of sounds I hear daily. If anything, my elevator ride has made me think more presently and observe more keenly what takes place every day. I’ve truly had to rethink what I consider normal. n 9
2017 ALLISON SMITH STUDENT ARTIST PROFILE by Allison Gretchko
Photos courtesy of the artist
First year student Allison Smith from Boston, Massachusetts is a collage artist exploring her artistic prospects at Skidmore. A hopeful Studio Art or Art History major with a potential minor in Arts Administration, Allison plans to pursue a career in the arts world. Allison is a believer in the non-materialistic side of visual expression, and she seeks to defy 10
traditional standards of what classifies art. Her collage work incorporates a large variety of media, allowing for artistic diversity and an interesting viewpoint of the worldâ€™s interaction with the individual and with society. With her recent arrival at Skidmore, Allison plans to continue to expand her artistic horizons and broaden the issues discussed in her work.
What is your favorite medium to work with? My favorite medium is mixed media. I hate being limited by a single material. If I had to pick a favorite material to work with then I would chose water. What drew you to focus on collage art? I took my first collage class during my freshman year of high school. Collage expresses important relationships through layers of addition and subtraction. I connect very deeply with the practices, adhesives, and tools used in collage because they can be manipulated to convey any expression. What artistic opportunities has Skidmore provided you thus far? How have these experiences helped you grow as an artist? I have only taken the Drawing 1 class and now I am in Painting 1. The drawing class really helped me work on my hand coordination and my sense of composition. Composition is very important no matter what medium you are in or what materials you are using. Iâ€™m so far happy in painting to be learning how to use oils because I have never sat down and honestly painted before. Skidmore has provided me with some other art opportunities such as being able to submit work to the student show or working in the Tang (I am a guide now and hope to be employed there in the future). Where do you hope art will take you one day? Or how do you plan to continue your life as an artist? I hope to continue being a part of the art community
by curating. While I hope to continue making my own art, I enjoy interacting with other artists. In high school, for my senior project, I curated a small exhibit using local Boston area artists. What qualities besides talent are important to making it in the art world? I am honestly not even sure if talent is important. I think the want to communicate and desire to create is what drives the best artists. I have been told that I do not have the best hand, meaning that drawing and painting are not my strong areas. While the artistâ€™s 11
drawing of an apple next to mine may better depict an apple, I think that passion behind each one is what makes it significant art. When you make a piece of art, what type of reaction or emotions do you hope to get out of the viewer? The audience always influences my artwork. Visual art is about revealing and withholding information (portrayal or lack thereof ). It is up to me as the artist to know the full contents of a piece and decide when to share information with the viewer. I always want the audience to be interested, admitting to their lack of knowledge. Their eventual observations create an interpretation and overall life for my artwork. Do you have a muse? There are many artists who inspire me. One of the first who grabbed my attention was Robert Mapplethorpe. His photography reveals parts of who he is through his subjects and composition. His work demands beauty and attention through contrast. I have more recently taken to admiring past female artists during the second wave of feminism. Similarly to Mapplethorpeâ€™s work, these women seek to expose vulnerabilities and realities even if the art does not turn out looking attractive. These women eventually brought me to Claude Cahun, the most inspirational artist at the moment to me. Creating art in the 1920s, Cahun was before her time in exploring identity unapologetically through photography, collage and written word. Have you ever exhibited before? Not professionally but I used to show my artwork a lot in high school. Every five weeks we would have an all school art show for all the students who were in an art class. I appreciated them because it allowed me to watch my peers grow as artists and observe individuals journeys. We all got to draw inspiration from each other and add critique so that as a community we would all develop an understanding of art.
What was your proudest moment as an artist? My senior year of high school I took a self-portrait drawing class. In this class I began to appreciate graphite/charcoal traditional drawing and developed my own style. My teacher, Karl Fisher, was an artist and life enthusiast. He died suddenly a few months after I took this class with him. I credit him to truly teaching me how to draw. My proudest moment was watching my mother cry when she saw the drawings I created in the class. She has been to over 50 art shows for me. She has seen every single thing I have made for the past (then) 17 years but a simple charcoal portrait pushed out of me by Karl caused her to cry. I think that in that portrait she truly got to see my face as I see myself and that was a very special moment for us. Why do you think art or more importantly collage art is important? I think that new art is more important than old art. While old art needs to be credited for bringing new art to where it is today, art is made to be a memory and experience. For me as an artist, art is all about the process and the product is merely an after effect. Whether art lasts or not, it does not matter. New art is always going to come and communicate new things and push humanity further forward. This past winter break I burned all artwork I made in high school. The pictures I send you are of pieces that do not physically exist anymore. While some people argue that this causes the artwork to lose its effect, that the physicality is the most important part of art, I am arguing that the process and memory is the most important part of art. I do not think that all artwork in museums and such should be burned and left out to rot. I want art to be shared and viewed, but I do not think that any single piece should be expected to last a long period of time. n
On The Wall, A Contemplation by Kai Inaba
Out of a line of charcoal flow: tactility, sound, existence, time, and plot. The instant of creation, the first mark on the page, in itself contains the message and therefore the potential of the finished product. Dragana Crnjak’s site-specific pieces distill and amplify the interaction between medium and the artist in order to ignite a conversation. Although it is arguable that artists must communicate to those who intend to view and consume, it is to the artists’ desire, discretion, and even dictation as to what the message is. The message of the artwork, however present or absent, may in fact be a mask, abstraction, or bastardization of the artists’ true intent for the piece itself. Art exists as a luxury to contemporary peoples. Herein 14
we have access to entertainment, information, and a connection to society, or at least another person. Crnjak installed her piece over a short period of time prior to the opening of the Charcoal! in the Schick Gallery. The artist’s three main materials include charcoal, acrylic paint, and sticker paper. The first layer, the wall, holds great value in that it is the “blank canvas” that people romanticize. Yet when one thinks of walls, key identifiers come into focus. The conceptual wall alludes to protection, division, structure, permanence, and enclosure. Therefore, wall art and art that is directly imposed on walls, retain the associations that we cumulatively have about walls and become
underlying themes of this category of art. Due to the context of the piece, inspection of Crnjak’s work and message must therefore be examined and tethered to these ideals mentioned above. The use of blue acrylic that composes the second layer grounds the piece. Although there is no directly recognizable planar form to the shapes of the acrylic, Crnjak in her artist statement reveals that her inspiration for this body of work is the vast Icelandic landscape. This connection therefore allows us to see the blue paint as an undistinguished body of water, perhaps an ocean, pond, iceberg, or glacier. As a stylistic choice, the tint of the paint matches closely to the tone of the wall. This choice visually references one of waters most recognized traits, transparency. The artist’s water form also resembles the refraction of light against water. This concept introduces a far more microscopic and molecular perspective to the natural world, the idea of the energetic particle. I now daresay that this energetic particle is the subject of the painting, as depicted in the final layer. The process of the Dragana’s work is intensive; she creates decals of charcoal with the sticker paper and then adheres the variety of shapes to the wall. These decals are flat black as if darkness were painted onto the wall. The various shapes and sizes visually imply depth and fragmentation. The pull of the charcoal from each of the fragments down the wall activates each particle with an upward force. This implies upward movement, propulsion. Yet the particles in themselves (through density and darkness) alongside the concept of permanence as provided by the wall, imply a static picture. Although most of the shapes are irregular, there are various circles that yank the eye across the piece. These elements intentionally confuse the mind by over activating the eye. The circular forms also imply celestial bodies, planetary systems, and orbital movements. These images reframe the piece to encompass the often-sobering context of woman and man and their vulnerability to the forces of nature around them. The chaos within the piece pulls the viewer into
a transitional territory of understanding, where the drawing describes levitation while symbolically references gravity.
The conceptual driver of Crnjak’s piece coexists with the formal images of levitation, fragmentation, particle, space, and dimension.
The construction of visual imagery in order to transform the conceptual into the physical is one of the primary goals of the artist. The beauty of Crnjak’s work is a result of this construction process; she defines the meeting point of the materials, artistry, and concept. The conceptual driver of Crnjak’s piece coexists with the formal images of levitation, fragmentation, particle, space, and dimension. It is through the formal elements of Crnjak’s piece that we can lure out a meaning or a message. Dragana Crnjak’s creation concerning gravity, physical space, and motion contemplates the physicality of existence and consciousness. While activating the conceptual and intangible, the work retains a level of visual integrity that even highlights the beauty of a dust particle floating listlessly through space. The construction of visual imagery in order to transform the conceptual into the physical is one of the primary goals of the artist. The beauty of Crnjak’s work is a result of this construction process; she defines the meeting point of the materials, artistry, and concept. The conceptual driver of Crnjak’s piece coexists with the formal images of levitation, fragmentation, particle, space, and dimension. It is through the formal elements of Crnjak’s piece that we can lure out a meaning or a message. Dragana Crnjak’s creation concerning gravity, physical space, and motion contemplates the physicality of existence and consciousness. While activating the conceptual and intangible, the work retains a level of visual integrity that even highlights the beauty of a dust particle floating listlessly through space. n 15
Winter Dance Concert by Mirella Nappi
Fans of ballet, jazz, and modern dance were treated to a wonderful mélange of dance forms at Skidmore’s Winter Dance Concert, “Atmospheric Conditions.” Among these “conditions” were a springtime “Suite” with ballerinas on pointe, a beautiful “Corona” of light, a jazzy trip down “Memory Lane,” the search for “Shelter” set to a haunting melody with textile artist Hildur Jonsson-inspired drapery, and a thrilling, urban exploration through “Transparent Walls.” The showcase at the Skidmore College Dance Theater exhibited five pieces all preformed by students. With choreography from the prominent Brooklyn-based 16
Dusan Tynek, the second piece, “Transparent Walls,” was a true standout. Tasked with a dance that had received great critical acclaim for its New York City premiere, Skidmore dancers did not disappoint. Set to the orchestral work of ten wind instruments, percussion, celesta and cello, “Transparent Walls” was a visual spectacle of organized chaos. The piece started off strong with rigid and mechanical backwards movements from an ensemble of dancers—if “Transparent Walls” were a Greek tragedy, they would be the chorus. While this was not a performance with any spoken words, there was an element of despair
Photos by Steve J. Nealey
and peril in their movement. Their stop and go motions reflected a sense of entrapment, and essentially highlighted the way we have allowed society to become consumed by machinery; there is no cohesion, only solitude. Dancers Corry Ethridge and Meghan Wojtkiewicz, however, stood out from the rest. Though the chaos among them spread, they found a way to remain connected and provide support for each other. Just when we thought they may have abandoned us, they reappeared on the stage, more alive and united than before. Throughout the piece, these soloists
fought internally and externally, eventually coming together to find that moment of connectedness and humanity. Later the other dancers became more fluid with their movements; their leaps and swinging limbs gradually built up to bigger moments. A striking moment involved the ensemble leaning back against one another in pairs: a dancer slid her partner forward on her heels as if she were some sort of mechanical truck. By the finale, the supporting dancers fell to the ground in bursts of relief, leaving the pair as survivors amongst the rubble. n 17
A World Unbalanced by Leila Farrer
Photos courtesy of Madeleine Burkhart
When I walked into the gallery I immediately closed my eyes – a rather untraditional approach to viewing art. I couldn’t help it; the softly flashing lights and eerie noises emulating from the back corner of the room immediately hypnotized me. Junior Madeline Burkhart’s exhibit in Case Gallery, Solar Lunacy, totally captivated me. It was dim inside the small space, the evenly spaced art decorating the white washed walls. The more I looked at the pieces, the more I recognized their horrific beauty. The work ranged in style from paint on 18
canvas to a pile of dirt on the floor. What struck me most was the unsettling contrast that Madeline created. On one wall she exhibited a set of mason jars hanging on strings, each filled with decaying pieces of fish. The jars were all embellished with a piece of white lacy fabric tied around the lids—a touch your grandmother might have added. On the opposite wall was a similar piece. Paper napkins in the shape of little baskets hung on the wall. Inside each napkin were bits of dead insects and attached were snippets of doilies. This art convinced me that one can find delicacy even in unsightly creatures. The fish and bugs alone made me wrinkle my nose but the pieces as a whole were
surprisingly aesthetically appealing. Should we shy away from the rotten or can it be seen as beautiful in its own right? Perhaps beauty depends on the context of the piece. The heap of earth on the floor out of context could have been just that—a heap of earth on the floor. When juxtaposed with the flashing crescent of glitter a foot away, however, it was easier for me to appreciate the complexity of the soil. It was multicolored, textural, and arranged just so. And something about the naturalness of it softened the science fiction motifs of the exhibit. Solar Lunacy was an exhibition of distinctions: sun and moon, light and dark, warm and cold. Light quite literally cleaved the room in half; the space to my left was almost completely unlit while the space to my right was cast in a pale glow. It was a small universe of unbalance. Interestingly, what tied Solar Lunacy together was a state of instability emulating from the back corner. Madeline’s “Dream Machine,” a knee-high cylinder with tiny cutouts of rabbits, rotated slowly on an old record player. Inside, a light bulb shined through, illuminating each rabbit and throwing flecks of light around the walls. The corner also contained a stereo playing a recording of a young woman making odd sound effects. The audio had a distinct homemade quality to it that humanized the mysterious atmosphere and gave me goose bumps. These mechanical components of the show were accompanied in the corner by two more traditional pieces, a painting and a sculpture. Both were somewhat hidden behind a draped black curtain, creating a sense of mystery. The effect was irresistible—I found myself spending more time examining these pieces than any others, even though they cast their features around the entire room. By the time I left Solar Lunacy, I understood that such an ethereal exhibition was just as much about the
experience as about the art itself. Every piece evoked a disquieting emotion. Though more accessible paintings adorned the walls, the pieces that stood out were those that were less apparently beautiful. Madeline’s art managed to entrance me in subjects that I would normally reject. The contrasts she created facilitated my reevaluation of true art and beauty. n 19
Studio view, Hildur ﾃ《geirsdﾃｳttir Jﾃｳnsson making Island, 2011 Photo courtesy of the Tang.
WEAVING FORMATIONS A Look into Hildur Jonsson’s Artistic Process by Lisa Fierstein
When one enters the Opener 25: Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson exhibit at the Tang Teaching Museum, colors instantly radiate from her hand-dyed woven silk paintings and pulsate towards the viewer, drawing them into the intricate and hypnotic works of art. Jónsson’s woven silk paintings appear holographic; her method of weaving silk paired with an overlay of vibrant colors creates a multilayered illusion. Her large-scale tapestry-like pieces, inspired by the geographical formations of Icelandic landscapes, sprawl across the Tang gallery walls acting as portals into a meditative experience. Her process is both structured and free-form; Jónsson meticulously and methodically weaves and applies the dyes to the silk, however the final piece is ultimately a product of chance and her own intuition. The Tang curators present an unconventional approach to displaying Jónsson’s paintings, some of which were commissioned by the Tang. While most art exhibitions include wall texts, the curators decided to forgo informational text in this exhibit due to the abstract and highly interpretative nature of Jónsson’s paintings. This enables viewers to form their own opinions and interpretations of the paintings without outside influence. Although Jónsson does not personally attribute a deeper meaning or analysis to her art, she welcomes the critiques and interpretations of her audience.
Through her paintings, she not only exhibits her knowledge of weaving and fiber arts, but she also demonstrates her incredible use color. In her piece, “Core” (2013, silk, industrial dyes, 122 x 170 inches) the viewer can see that she is influenced by landscapes and nature. The main abstraction in the foreground of the piece resembles the outline of a country or state on a map. Red and black jagged lines appear inside the white country-like formation that could signify a raised, mountainous area if this were a topographical map. These lines look manic and sprawling, as their zigzag shape causes them to leap out from the painting. The country shape is outlined with a deep evergreen hue, and this outline dizzyingly blurs and merges with the background of the painting, which is dyed a solid lime green. Her use of earth tones and organic shapes allude to natural rock formations, or her piece can be thought of as a visually appealing abstract painting—or both. Jónsson’s spontaneous yet structured artistic process reflects her interests in both the arts and sciences, which play a large influence in her art. Though the sciences are typically thought of as logical and methodical, the arts are more focused on creativity and abstract thinking; her paintings balance these two disciplines, but also join them together. I had the
Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson, Core, 2013, silk, industrial dyes, 122 x 170 in. Photo courtesy of the Tang
Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson, Island, 2011, silk, industrial dyes, 120½ x 174½ in. Photo courtesy of the Tang
opportunity to hear Jónsson speak at the Dunkerly Dialogue in the Tang, and gained further insight into her artistic process. Every summer she leaves her studio in Cleveland, Ohio and returns to her home in Iceland for two months to study the geological formations of Icelandic landscapes that serve as inspiration for her
paintings. Her interest in exploring desolate places is reflected in her artistic process in that she prefers to work in seclusion. The landscape is constantly changing; each year when she returns to Iceland to observe the formations, they are different than they were before. Jónsson’s woven paintings evolve like the landscape itself. n
Unseen Reflections by Lelah Childs
with contributions from
To celebrate a gift from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Tang Museum recently exhibited a number of Warhol Polaroids and prints. As a fan of both Pop Art as a genre and of Warhol himself, I was certainly excited to visit the Andy Warhol: I’ll Be Your Mirror exhibit. Although the show was not quite what I had originally expected, it presented an interesting and dynamic side of Warhol that is rarely shown. The Winter Gallery, which housed the show, was small, but fit the scale of the prints and the overall size of the exhibition. The pieces were unlike Warhol’s typical big, bold, and colorful prints and instead captured a more natural, quiet, and simple human quality. His Polaroids were stunningly effortless and flashed into random, quotidian glimpses of human interaction. The photos were evidence of the process Warhol engaged in and the steps he took to create his art. Viewers are introduced to the rawness of his artistic experience as well as the overall simplicity, in his
using a self-developing camera with minimal editing. Exaggerated contrast and over-exposure were the show’s defining aesthetic elements, in a style similar to today’s Instagram filters. This exhibit plays with the spotlight of attention in which each subject basks, while its relevance to modern day technology makes it unusually relatable. With only a few, small celebrity portraits, this show strayed away from Warhol’s usual style of highlighting Hollywood (like his most famous print of Marilyn Monroe) and moved toward an emphasis on the daily, relatable human experience. Similar to the project, Humans of New York, Warhol exposes mini-insight into a piece of culture and society that the art world doesn’t see often. This vantage point is a stunning breath of fresh air. Sometimes it is nice to see the little crumbs left behind by the giants of art—just a few images—that left something much more to be desired. After leaving the show, I most appreciated the way the exhibit differed from my original expectations. By getting a glimpse of a side of Warhol that I’d never seen before, I have only gained a greater appreciation for the Modern Art genius that we all know and love. n
From left to right: Maria Shriver, 1986, Polacolor ER, 4 ¼ x 3 3/8 inches; Ladies and Gentleman (Broadway), 1974, Polacolor Type 108, 4 ¼ x 3 3/8 inches; Cora Bischofberger, November 1984, Polacolor ER, 4 ¼ x 3 3/8 inches; Mrs. Carlo and Daughter Bilotti, December 1980, Polacolor 2, 4 ¼ x 3 3/8 inches. Photos courtesy of the Tang, gift of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, 2008.6.85 23
Underneath the Surface
of Idealized America
by Emily Benoff The Tang Museum’s starkly juxtaposed white walls and black floors serve as metaphysical extensions of Doug Rickard’s underlying convictions concerning American nationalism as depicted in his series “A New American Picture.” In his attempts to expose the concealed reality of an abandoned, lower class America, Rickard spent four years exploring images on Google Street View in order to glean pictures of forgotten and deteriorating towns. Editing, cropping, and showcasing such images, he effectively transforms an impersonalized technological tool into a poignant statement about the American condition. Upon entering the vicinity of Rickard’s exhibit, I sensed the colors of the Tang fuse with the similarly patriotic hues expressed in the art. Rickard’s recurrent use of reds, whites, and blues allow for the museum 24
itself to metamorphose into a more grandiose and all-encompassing critique of the American way. One photograph particularly epitomized the seamless integration of the scenes within the photographs with that of my corporeal surroundings while viewing the works. Immediately identifiable by its conspicuously centered text, “Super Fair,” the picture demonstrates not only the Tang’s physical manifestation of its depicted themes but also the broader implications of the exhibit’s title as a social and political critique. Rickard carefully centered this particular photograph on the modestly embellished side of a building, but his particular means of cropping this scene more overtly portrays a methodical pattern of colors than it does any sort of realistic image. Rather than
contextualizing the building by clearly showing its direct surroundings—possibly through the utilization of a more oblique and zoomed out camera angle— Rickard chose to capture this scene straight on and close up. The horizontal strip of muted blue sky constituting the top panel of the photo loses its expanse and altitude in relation to the similarly flat, horizontal panels of white and red below it. Infinite sky and oblate walls become one; a slightly distorted American flag superimposed over the all too ubiquitous scene of poverty. The stratification of colors that structure this picture can be viewed as representations of the corrupted class-based hierarchy that guides American thought. The precise sequence of blue, white, and red—overlapped with hopeful text—seems all too similar to the now omnipresent Obama campaign propaganda. This sequence is situated directly above—and separated from—the deflated populations that such false promises ignore the most. Because the text is centered in the upper half of the picture, it seems to satirize the publicized values of the upper class. Looking at the piece straight on, I am engrossed in its penetrating hold. The “Super Fair” boldly focalized on the wall is presented as the outdated slogan of the American. However, our country’s now cliché claims
of equal opportunity, democracy, justice, and wealth are entirely undermined by the most illuminating aspect of this work: the forth horizontal panel of gray sidewalk that composes its bottom fourth. This concrete is depicted in precise detail; sporadic cracks and litter allude to its decrepit nature. The drop where the sidewalk dips into the street shows a depth not seen in the rest of the work. It seems as if Rickard is attempting to suggest the presence of a hidden America that
Pg. 24 - Doug Rickard, #82.948842, Detroit, MI (2009), from A New American Picture, 2010, archival pigment print, courtesy of the artist and Stephen Wirtz Gallery. Pg 25 top - Irving Norman, Meeting of the Elders 3 (detail), 1977, oil on canvas, 90 x 100 inches, Tang Teaching Museum. extended loan from the Collection of Marlene and Alan Gilbert. Bottom Installation view, Classless Society, Tang Teaching Museum, 2013. Photos courtesy of the Tang
exists quietly beneath the surface of the top-down propaganda that is widely disseminated. A lone African-American male figure just barely surfaces in the piece, ghostlike and blurred, floating across the sidewalk. He wears a horizontally striped red and white t-shirt tucked into navy pants, yet another reflection of the American flag. Populations of marginalized minorities and poor communities—forced into a self-perpetuating culture of poverty—attempt to emulate the lifestyle of the influential upper class and fight for their privilege (those which are supposed to be granted to all Americans) but to no avail. Instead, their personalized needs are blatantly ignored; they are left to float like lone ghosts under the pretense of the all-powerful American persona. The overall symmetric simplicity of this photograph represents one of Rickard’s most heartbreaking statements: poverty is a detrimental facet of American life that is lurking right under our noses, but the ruthless attempts of the biased and elitist American Way prevents the nation from creating a much needed “new American picture.” n 26
Pg 3 top - Installation view, Classless Society, Tang Teaching Museum, 2013. Pg 3 botton - Doug Rickard, #41.779976, Chicago, IL (2007), from A New American Picture, 2010, archival pigment print, courtesy of the artist and Stephen Wirtz Gallery
G N I ic r T o t s i C H SPE and the
ne a IthN d n u M e by Ayelen Pagnanelli
When entering Inspection, I felt as if I was watching a thought process occur before my eyes. On view at the Case Gallery from November 6–13, 2013, Inspection brought together the latest works by artists Layla Durrani ’14, a studio art and art history major, and Rosie Dienhart ’14, a studio art major. It presented a voyeuristic journey into some of Durrani’s drawings and Dienhart’s installations. Working in different media, both artists investigated the effects of time and history over objects and people. Inspection raised issues of the boundaries between private life, intimacy, loss, memory, the passage of time, the public space, and exposure.
Dienhart seemed to wonder what happened when objects were all we had. The theme of loss and preservation reoccurred in her works, in the gathering and conservation of early twentieth century newspapers, her own childhood photographs, and local wildlife. The back left corner of the gallery housed a group of artworks and objects that Dienhart managed to salvage from her apartment in the Woodlawn Brownstones after last summer’s fire. They force us to consider the effects of time and chance on objects, as well as on ourselves and our fragility. n
Durrani’s explicit yet intimate small-scale work explored human experiences and interpersonal relations. She created intriguing narratives through collage, painting and drawing over wood, paper, and old library cards. The mundane objects she collected in a scrapbook-like aesthetic felt like a glimpse into someone’s private life. Through the appropriation of images from mid-twentieth century magazine advertisements, Durrani investigated their implications in contemporary life and the way those images still echo in the present. Merging photography and sculpture, Dienhart’s installations interrogated the history of lost artistic practices that facilitate present day art making. Dienhart delved in analogic photographic processes to reconsider a time when materiality, rather than digital information, ruled the medium.
Photos courtesy of the artist
OVERSTIMULATION FACE TIME
by Lucy Heisler
“This semester-long project will be an examination and experimentation focused on looking; I will look critically at two photographs from the Tang Collection each week. I will sit opposite a work, either known or unknown, for two hours and journal any observations. After each session, I will contextualize these experiences with outside research then articulate and solidify the weekly analyses with substantial writings. The project will culminate in a substantial final project.”
Photographs create instantaneous yet durable reminders of a specific moment. They document and preserve, but why? For whom? Are they art or evidence? What is the difference? As a relatively honest medium, photography has historically served to document moments and people, to truthfully visualize history in a way painting, drawing, and sculpting could not. Were those moments, people, places captured for personal reasons or to serve the public? I think the difference hinges on intention, but if those personal reasons are lost, if the original intentions die with the taker or sitter, if the audience does not know, then is it art or evidence? A photograph taken by your sister or my father or the school photographer 28
~Quoted from my plea to the Registrar in September 2013.
was done to preserve you. But what if, once you are no longer here, that photograph serves to represent a generation, a medium, and a moment. Then that photograph loses its original purpose as a personal artifact and transforms, winding up in a catalogue of portraits exhibited in a museum or sold at an antique shop. Is that why many of the photographs now sit in the Tang’s collection? Because at some point they lost their original purpose and arbitrarily gained new value as artifacts? My experiment in long looking grew from a need to pause, observe, and create; I am part of a generation that concerns itself with speed and ease, which
at times can create meaningless connections. The International Center of Photography, a museum in New York City, investigated the current state of photography in their triennial, A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial; one work in particular by Thomas Hirschhorn—”Touching Reality,” 2012— addressed issues stemming from modern desire for speed and ease. Touching Reality touches upon societal numbness towards violence encouraged by mass production and circulation of imagery, specifically war imagery. We watch as an unknown finger scrolls
through gruesome war photographs of corpses with muscle and brain matter strewn across the pavement around them, blood spatter, and displaced limbs; the finger zooms in and out, then flicks to the right. Being able to actually pause, sit and engage with the physical object rather than blindly following and moving with my impatient culture is what I needed and craved. Over the semester I encountered a variety of photographs—selected by my advisor and a handful of interested employees at the Tang—that ranged from reflective antique daguerreotypes to nudes by Andy Warhol. All the photographs remained unknown until I requested further information for various essays I later wrote. I strived to form relationships with these unknown, still landscapes and subjects to further understand the medium and our relationship —or my relationship—with it.
John Christie, Exchange, 1976, Color photo 1982.124, Photo courtesy of the Tang
When faced with photographs, as many of us are on an hourly basis, we can become immune to their value, function, and significance as forms of artistic and scientific documentation. How frequently do you pass by, flick through, or take photographs? How do you read a photograph and how do you differentiate photography from other mediums? This short essay is meant to encourage lengthly looking, inspire creative experimentation, and offer insight into independent studies; it is not critiquing a work, but rather critiquing a mode of observation. n
Variations on a Rhythm by Marion Cox How far can an artist take a chalky and messy medium? The answers lay in the Schick Gallery’s “Charcoal!” exhibition, which is a beautiful source of inspiration for Skidmore’s students and teachers. Gallery director Paul Sattler underscores the malleable nature of charcoal with works from a variety of contemporary artists. While some of the pieces boast impeccable control over the medium, other works aim to display charcoal’s natural energy and unpredictability. John Walker’s “Untitled” speaks to the smudges, blurs, and thick dark strokes that charcoal readily releases. Walker seems to enjoy the natural tension created by his thick, dark marks. Overlapping and smudging to create a vigorous, yet controlled work, Walker’s compositions are perhaps reminiscent of dilapidated structures. The dramatic contrast of the black medium on the stark white paper invokes an appreciation for lights and darks, especially as whites 30
peek through small windows left between the overlapping black strokes. On the opposing wall, Susan Hauptman takes a different approach to her work. Hauptman controls the charcoal in a softer way, blending and smudging to create a smooth surface. She convinces spectators of the variety of faces that charcoal can adapt, displaying powerfully realistic images of porcelain vases and flowers. The smooth texture of the works echoes the fragile, glistening properties of the pottery, while touches of color provide a refreshing, feminine gesture. Hauptman succeeds in adding dimension to the show. Her pronounced refinement reaffirms the power and expression of her technique, especially when compared to other artists in the show. Positioned appropriately between Hauptman’s soft, floral-themed works and Walker’s strikingly expressive pieces, Maggie Evans’ atmospheric images bring forth feelings of solitude and of energy. Evans’s misty spaces, occupied only by chairs and tables, transport viewers
to that moment after everyone has left the party. The music remains in the background, but all else is silent, ghost-like. Evans’s technique speaks to the vibration of voices and music in a busy bar or venue, while her smoky, empty atmosphere depicts the strange beauty left behind.
“The smooth texture of the works echoes the fragile, glistening properties of the pottery.” Charcoal! explains the exciting possibilities that can come from a medium often characterized by its unforgivable messiness. Walker, Hauptman, and Evans exemplify the energetic, soft, and nostalgic rhythms of charcoal, showing true mastery of the medium. Charcoal’s qualities readily communicate a plethora of feelings, taking the minds of observers into the hearts of the artists and their experiences. n 31
INTANGIBLE INTERACTIONS live portrait drawing by Rosie Berardino
I couldn’t stop admiring the array of pastels in the boxes next to me. Like the keys of a piano, I respected these colorful pastels as beautiful, mysterious tools to be used only by those with a particular gift, forever to remain esoteric to non-artists, like myself. “Are you sure you can sit like that for two hours?” I adjusted my position, nodding my preparedness. “Okay. We’ll do twenty minutes, followed by a five minute break, and repeat until we’re done. I’m very strict about the time.” I listened and watched my friend transform into a professional, an artist certain of her intentions and confident in her creations, as she began to draw my portrait.
already.” Somehow, Becca managed to remain focused in this public arena. “I kind of go into a zone when I do portraits. I am really looking at these people as abstractions. I look at where lines intersect, where colors meet, how larger shapes form— but these are just the visual tools I employ to make an illusion of a human on paper.” Geometrizing, Becca breathes life into these abstractions—the deconstructed lines and contours of the human figure—into expressive characters.
As people flowed in and out of the gallery, admiring the portraits, many made comments on the characBecca Baruc ’15, an American Studies major and ters they saw, constructing their own narratives from Studio Art minor at Skidmore College, welcomed these images. “Sharing these portraits at Case was her return to Skidmore after a bizarre,” Becca says. “The portraits semester abroad in Glasgow by are such intimate reminders of my “I kind of go into a zone presenting the first Case Gallery friends from Glasgow, and when when I do portraits. I am show of the semester. Exhibiting I would show them to my friends really looking at these much of her work from Glasgow, at Skidmore, it was almost like people as abstractions.” the show highlighted Becca’s they were meeting each other.” skillful portrait work. To promote She mentions one particular the exhibit, Becca did two live portrait of her friend Oliver, “a portrait drawing demonstrations in Case Center. I sat dapper dandy Nordic man who dresses with impeccafor one such demonstration, and in my periphery I ble taste,” noting how many people entered the Case watched as she worked with quick, assertive strokes. gallery and immediately pointed at his visage, certain that they’d like his friendship. Jerking her head quickly from my form to the paper, Becca would occasionally step back, using a handheld The experience of art is a series of interactions and mirror to assess her progress. The process took just interpretations—a dialogue between artist and viewer, over two hours. Some people sat and watched, othviewer and art. In her portraits, Becca creates “a spirit, ers asked questions as they passed by, many entered an essence of a human.” And she does not mind when the exhibit after watching the artist at work, and one the spirit intuited by those who view her art differs student even encouraged Becca to “get to the eyes from the essence she hoped to capture in a work. 32
“I don’t mind people having radically different interpretations of the people in the portraits than who I know the person to be…. The portrait is now a piece of artwork, meaning it is in the public domain and its interpretation is up for grabs!” It’s hard to imagine, noting the maturity of Becca’s words, her confident, unapologetic presentation of her recent exhibit, and the humble respect with which she speaks of her medium, that before her time in Glasgow few of her friends even knew of her passion for the visual arts. She says that prior to studying abroad, art was her “best kept secret.” Perhaps harboring such a secret allowed Becca to form her identity as an artist independent from the expectations of others. Reflecting on her time in Glasgow, she says, “if people were attracted to what I did, I knew they were really attracted to who I am, not my hackneyed construct of who I think they want me to be.” Skidmore is lucky to have this artist, far from a “hackneyed construct,” in our midst. n
LINE Art Gallery
Left: Elise Auger, Stem, 2014, Etching and Aquatint. Top right: Zach Collins, Circuit Board 1, 2013, 4-Color Screen Print on Bristol Board, 24in x 18in. Middle Right: Olivia Barreto, Untitled, 2013, mixed media collage. Bottom right: Elise Auger, Untitled, 2014, Etching and Aquatint.
Top left: Rachelle Gage, Untitled, charcoal drawing. Top right: Natalie Behnke, From My Imagination, watercolor and charcoal on paper. Bottom left: Jennifer Hoffer, Dripping, 2013, charcoal and water on Lenox Bottom right: Sam Brown, Untitled, 2014, ink on paper, 6in x 4in. 35
Top left: Meghan Murray, â€œUntitled Fabric Study,â€? 2014, batik, 6in. x 8in. Top right: Morgan Gruer, Fat Man, 2014, conte on toned paper, 18in x 24in. Bottom left: Meghan Murray, Chuck, 2014, oil on linen, 18in. x 24in. Bottom right: Morgan Gruer, Boo, oil paint, 10in. x 13in.
Top: Simon Klein, Self-Portrait, 2011, Silver Gelatin Print. Bottom: Simon Klein, Kiosk, 2012, Digital Image.
Top left: Ali Eagle, Mom, 2014, oil on canvas, 4ft x 3ft. Top right: Ali Eagle, Grandpa, 2014, oil on canvas, 4ft x 3 ft. Bottom: Zach Collins, The Radioâ€™s Broken (The Speakers Still Work), 2012-2013, Acrylic paint and Lenox paper collage, 50in x 38in. 38
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