Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dream Catcher Practice Run

I went out and did a practice run of the dream catcher. It is hard to see in this picture though. You guys should go check it out and let me know what you think. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Art Therapy

I already have all of my art events, but today I had a meeting with an art therapist (it is something I am interested in pursuing) and thought I would talk/write about it here. To begin with, I will explain what art therapy is- or at least the core of it. Art in therapy is used (1) as a means to express emotions, work through problems, etc and (2) to prompt discussion- kind of like a prop to refer to when discussing feelings and problems.

In this meeting we looked at art from several patients of a free clinic. These patients were diagnosed with things like depression, schizophrenia, and organic illnesses (e.g., alcoholism). We talked about what these pieces can reveal or how they can be helpful in a therapy setting. One of the best examples of this was a comparison of 2 pieces by a woman with schizophrenia. One while she was on medication and another when she was not taking her medication. The differences were astounding. The pictures were of similar things- a star shaped figure smiling. However the piece when she was on her medication was neatly composed and orderly. The second piece was everywhere on the page and used several colors and many boxes within the shape. It was chaotic and busy. This shows visually the mental state of the woman in these separate instances.

2 pieces by a depressed woman were also very interesting. Both were self-portraits done in the same day. The first was very faintly drawn with pencil. The woman was normal in appearance and rather non-descript with flat affect. The second was produced immediately afterwards. This drawing was done with markers and was very colorful. The figure here appeared very angry, with the mouth open as if screaming and the arms flung wide. The interesting thing here (and a good example of how art can be used as a prompt) is that people with depression often experience a great sense of anger that they keep pushed down and the effort it takes to keep it down can result in depressive symptoms.

This meeting was very interesting because we got to see multiple pieces of work by the same individuals with mental disorders.

Art and Activism-David LaMotte

I was not sure how art and activism went together and I think that David LaMotte did a good job of answering this. To start the lecture he asked the audience what each part (artist and activism) of this topic was. Iain said that an artist is someone who uses their ideas to evoke a reaction from the viewer, positive or negative. David simplified artist to be someone who makes art. Then he defined activism as: “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action” (which he got and abbreviated from Merriam-Webster online). Both art and activism involve action.

Next he talked about how art, especially music for him, should impact the audience in a way that evokes an emotion from them. He then talked about the activism- specifically his work with the P.E.G. Partners. P.E.G. is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving education in Guatemala. This was very interesting and admirable work; we were shown a video about how it got started and what they are doing. The money for P.E.G. comes from donations and David plays his music to raise money.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Site Hunting

I went hunting for a site yesterday and decided on this cluster of tress at the crosswalk across from DPC. I took a picture of the site (and took measurements). Here is the picture:

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Site Installation Proposal

As I mentioned with my previous post, I am interested in using the dream catcher in my project to explore the psyche. To do this I have decided to make a large dream catcher that will be strung in the trees (using the living tree as the frame). The hole will be low and large
enough so people can step through it. Before they go through the dream catcher they will have paper that they can write or draw their negative thoughts and/or worries. They can then tie the paper to the webbing so it is "stuck" in the webbing and out of their minds. Then they step through and they are in a comfortable area. This area will have pillows and maybe a sleeping bag to prompt napping or just relaxing. There will also be music that is calming- I was thinking about possibly using Native American music. Also, I was thinking about putting a book inside to get feedback, or just for them to write what they thought or maybe even dreamed about while in the dream catcher.

Sketches coming momentarily....

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Site-Specific Art

I suppose first I would say that the main thing I got from this article is that site-specific art means certain things based on how different individuals define site. Although the particulars are different, they all deal with the basic concept that site specific art is based on "exchanges between the work of art and the places in which its meanings are defined." There were a few ideas that particularly struck me.

First, the idea that is represented by the anecdote of Richard Serra- that site-specific art is made dependent on the site. If the work is to be moved from the specific site it is no longer the same (the exchanges between the art and place would be fundamentally different). I think that this is an important distinction to be made in regard to site-specific art. When the artist is making the piece they are making it with a place, space, and/or position in mind. To change this would be to change the entire piece.

The second idea was that the object was not so much dependent on the space it occupied but how the viewer's attention was displaced by the room and the object. This reminded me of the idea (from "But is it Installation Art?") that installation art involved the viewer and was supposed to provoke an intense reaction from the viewer often using "antagonism toward its environment." In this idea, coming from minimalist sculpture the role of the viewer is particularly stressed. It also makes the connection with performance and viewer compared to audience.

Third, was the discussion of space as being mediated by personal images, states of mind, and movement. I think that this is an important point to make as well. Space seems to me to be something that is more dimensional than a place or site. To me a place or a site could be one dot, but a space is a series of dots that have some relationship with one another. This is also expressed by the statement: "Space, as frequentation of places rather than a place stems in effect from...movement." By using this definition or approach of space in regard to site-specific art, I think it prompts ideas about what is included in site-specific art- object, viewer, movement.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I finally borrowed someones digital camera, so I decided to document some of the skillshares that we have done. First is the paper I made from the paper making skillshare (lead by Kelly and myself).

Second is the two scraps of metal that I welded together for Joe and Jamie's skillshare.

Third is the piece we (Joe and I) made for the LED and soldering skillshare, lead by Matt, Iain, and Nick.

Here is something from Anita, Heather, and YaHaddy's skillshare about web portfolios (we learned about photoshop, dreamweaver, and what web porfolios look like).

Dream Catcher

While thinking about the next project, I decided to play around with making a dream catcher on a branch. This is what I made- the branch was lying on the ground...I didn't hurt any trees.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dream Catchers and Art

Being a psychology major, I am interested in the portrayal of the psyche in art. From the viewpoint of psychologists such as Carl Jung, the psyche is both conscious and unconscious psychological processes. I want to explore the unconscious psychological processes with this next project- through dream.

While brainstorming about dreams and representation of dreams I came to the Native American legends of dream catchers. The legend states that bad dreams and thoughts have jagged edges and will get caught on the webbing. Good dreams and thoughts on the other hand are smooth and slip through. The dreams caught in the dream catcher will be cleansed away with the first light of day. Dream catchers originated from the Ojibwan (or Chippewa) Nation, although many other Native American tribes adopted the use of dream catchers and have come up with their own legends.

These are Ojibwan dream catchers.

In recent years the dream catcher has been popularized and used by New Age individuals. Here are some examples of this and other individuals using the dream catcher in art:

from: Beach Glass Dream Catchers

from: Voyle Graham
from:William Boney

One vein that my project may go in is to construct a large dream catcher than a person could crawl through. On the dream catcher would be visual manifestations of bad dreams and/or thoughts. Once through the dream catcher one would be confronted with the good dreams and/or thoughts. I really like the idea of having activation of other senses, so I am thinking about possibly having music/sounds as well.

Another path that I might take, which branches (no pun intended) away from the psyche in a way, would be to use a tree and make a dream catcher among the branches of the tree. Again I would like to express both the good and bad dreams and/or thoughts of a tree. This idea is not developed as well as the psyche idea. However, I do like the idea of using nature because nature is a large part of Native American culture.

Thinking more on the tree as the site for my dream catchers...
I was thinking that I would use the branches to construct the dream catcher (kind of like the dream catcher I made in the picture above). Then I would have the negative thoughts or dreams that a tree might have stuck in the webbing and then have the good thoughts hanging down from the center as if they fell through. These would be made of something that would lightly clink together like a wind chime. I thought that this would be a nice effect because wind chimes for the most part are happy sounds and is a auditory representation of something the trees might enjoy- wind.

Friday, March 23, 2007

In response to "But is it Installation Art?"

After our class discussion I felt slightly more confused on what installation art is, so reading this article helped to clarify that for me. Installation art can mean several things, and has been used to talk about many different types of works. One of the statements by Kabakov that seemed to address how I see installation art was the intention of installation art being for the viewer; that installation art is supposed to provide an intense reaction in the viewer. I think that this goes along with what we were discussing in class- that installation art involves the viewer using more than one sense. By using multiple senses the experience is more intense.

Another part of the article that particularly struck me was idea of interior design being installation art. I see how this could be seen as installation art- the surroundings come together to produce a response from the viewer. I know that I have entered a home and been struck by the design and really thought about the use of color or such things, but I had not thought of this as being a form of installation art. Perhaps it is because of the setting- it isn't in a gallery somewhere or a specific site for art. Anyway, although I understand how interior design can be portrayed as installation art, I don't think it can truly be considered installation art. Like the article says "When the experience of going into a museum increasingly rivals that of walking into restaurants, shops, or clubs, works of art may no longer need to take the form of immersive, interactive experiences. Rather, the best installation art is marked by a sense of antagonism towards its environment, a friction with its context that resists organisational pressure and instead exerts its own terms of engagement."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Artist talk- Chris Coleman

I went to this lecture not knowing much of anything about digital art/ animation and came away with an interest in learning more about the field. Chris Coleman is an animation professor at the University of Oregon. His focus is on animation and installation- where he uses his mechanical engineering background to make his pieces. One such piece was his Spatiodynamic piece- using computer fans to blow a tarp around the corner in relation to the people in the entrance hallway. I really enjoyed his animation pieces the most. For example, his piece Modern Times was really interesting to me. This piece was about the state of our society in regard to terrorism and the role the government plays in this. The idea that the government is supposed to be protecting us from this, yet they are instigating it by suggesting that terrorism is everywhere.

Chris' present work addresses similar issues using images from classic 1950 and 1960 sources (boy scout manuals, for example). He also is working on something about the socio-economic status of an area- shown by the number of trees and houses in that area. The idea for this is that a person can enter where they live into his piece and see quantitative data about their area.

Another point that I found interesting was something Chris said in response to a question from the audience. He was talking about how there has been a tension between the physical body and the virtual body (that is represented by our credit and other information about us in cyber space) and how that tension has become greater over the past years and continues to increase. He talked about how in airports, if you want to get through faster, you can give them your finger print and a scan of your iris. This shows how the virtual body is taking more from the physical body.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Installation Art- Really BIG Slide

Carsten Höller, Test Site, 2006
I just wanted to say that not only does this look like super fun, but I really like the idea that not only would the person on the slide be able to view their surroundings and others reactions, but others would be able to see the participant. I think that this is an interesting way to transform the space. Being a huge slide, it is bound to be noticed by viewers and modify the space. It modifies the space by making it interactive, instead of the art exhibit being stand-offish (stand back and don't touch) and almost passive. Also, while the experience one gets from merely viewing art in a museum can be great, I feel like the experience one would get from this would be vastly different in that there is a certain tactile/physical attribute that goes with this piece and does not apply to others.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Installation Art

I kind of know what installation art is, but I definitely needed a refresher, so I went to Wikipedia for a quick definition before searching the web for examples. According to Wikipedia, installation art uses sculptural materials to influence the way the viewer experiences the space, whether it is public or private space or a temporary or permanent modification.

Searching the web I came across the work of Dan Flavin. The bright colors and interesting shapes caught my eyes. Here is one of his pieces (

I also came across the work of Ann Hamilton. There was a show called "At hand" where a large room became filled with white paper (printer-size). There were 6 machines that dropped the paper from the ceiling while a quiet voice spoke phrases (e.g., "a hand offers"). According to an article in the New York Times by Ken Johnson " the clicks, whirrs and sucking sounds of the machines, the pages fluttering to the floor and the voice interspersed with a low whistling sound all conspire to create an experience that is almost but not quite transporting" (

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Hope Chest Project- "Love Notes"

This piece, “Love Notes,” was created in response to the topic of gay marriage and other related issues of gay rights. I drew on my knowledge of the subject influenced by news and other forms of mass media as well as on a discussion of the artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. These artists lived together for several years and it is thought that their relationship went beyond the realm of art and into that of romance. My piece represents the division of culture into mass media available to everyone, blogs that are more personal but also readily available, and personal love notes. The idea is that the box contains hidden an element of the personal, with some of that leaking out in the form of blogs, while there is also the public aspect on displayed on the outside. There are all these issues being discussed in the news, but this does not address the personal accounts. To get the personal accounts one has to lift the lid and search within the box.

Another idea that came to me while making the box was the realization that when the information became more personal, it was less about sexual orientation or the gender of the people in the relationships. They could all just be people who share love. I thought that this was a positive note (and something that I agree with) and felt that it was something to be emphasized- hence the title.

A problem with my piece was that I’m not sure people will pick up on the meanings of the piece and will just see it as a box with cut up stuff on it. Although I made decisions to help them with the distinction of differences (red target and different media), I don’t know if they are strong enough to let the viewer make the connections I discussed above. Another issue was that of the display space; ideally I would have liked my piece to be at eye level, but due to the limited space I understand the reasons it could not be this way.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Teatro Luna: S-E-X-Oh!

I had not heard of Teatro Luna before going to the performance this weekend and therefore did not know what to expect. It was quite the change from the art events/lectures. I greatly enjoyed the performance and attended the talk back following the show.

Upon entering the theater I saw life-size posters of 5 naked women (each on an individual poster). I was intrigued by what these meant, but was given clues by the writing on the posters (e.g., “5'1" and not growing” or “no hips”). I think they did a good job of setting the stage, which was that of comedy and serious issues tossed artistically together to inform the audience about a group of women that in the past were not given a voice- that is the Latina population. My favorite pieces were those where each actor would stand alone on stage and a voice over an intercom would talk about the woman (saying several of the things from the poster).

One of the thoughts I had while watching the show was about the actor’s ability to use their space efficiently. They performed a series of skits, but we were able to distinguish the different acting spaces. Also, the involvement of the audience in a few of the skits was done in an interesting way- not direct speech, but as if we were privy to her thoughts. I think that for the most part the show discussed things that many women can relate to, but they added a little of their Latina culture to it. It was a very funny show, with serious moments sprinkled throughout.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hope Chest

One of the artistic techniques that I was particularly struck by was the use of newspaper. I thought that I could use this technique to express the differences in the interior and exterior by the type of newspaper / articles. Because homosexuality was something that was hidden I plan to line the interior of the box with articles about gay issues or articles from the Blade newspaper. The outside of the box would be covered in news articles about everyday things- weather, sports, etc- to mask what was not necessarily readily available to the public. Something that I got from the readings was the idea of the separation of the two cultures (heterosexual and homosexual) into communities based on commonality. I would like to represent this with the repetition of the box shape within the original box or by placing a figure, like the target (repetitive circular shape), inside. I would also include a lid, to keep the inside hidden at least initially- until someone gets curious and looks inside. This is something that I think was an issue for Johns and Rauschenberg due to his statement about their embarrassment at being too well known and becoming gossip. During this time it was something to be kept a secret and tucked away- so a lid would represent this.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Artist Talk: Lance Winn

Lance Winn’s talk was a delightful experience. Not only because he expressed humor and was very good at explaining concepts, but also due to his interesting artwork. I really liked most of his pieces and found myself eager to explore- as he does- with new techniques. One thing he said while discussing his work was that in his art he learns something by making it; he is not merely the producer. As a student I think this is something I can relate to greatly. But I also think that art, just like any other field, is something that one can and should constantly learn from. Another idea that came up multiple times was the tension between art and language. Some of my favorite pieces were the pieces where he used words and outlined them to make other forms in the middle based on the pressure of the paintbrush. This process transforms language into a form making the 2 dimensional three dimensional in some cases (e.g., Depression and Life on Mars).

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Consumed" art by Melissa Dean

I went to Melissa Dean’s art show “Consumed.” Her work expressed our visual culture through the use of consumer objects being portrayed in a unique fashion. I appreciated the connections between her work and the subject of her work (the consumer world). For example, many pieces were of linear forms overlapping one another to make the space saturated and almost undecipherable- much like saturation of advertising that our culture experiences. When she showed the pieces of what different people wanted and you couldn’t really make sense of what the individual objects were, it really struck me at how true that is of the consumer world. It doesn’t really matter what it is you want to buy, just as long as you are indeed buying. On the same note I thought that her brail piece was particularly interesting because these were items that the company wanted to be sold. They don’t care if the individual wants a new chair, but when they click on home items they will show you a chair. I think that it is interesting how her work touches on many issues people often have about consumerism, but in a visual way that incorporates the way consumerism works.

I also found the statement about how her work was a critical portrayal of consumerism but also a backwards celebration important. I think this is a fine line in many pieces that have a subject matter that is being criticized or at least scrutinized. Obviously the artist has taken notice of the situation and has deemed it important for commentary- visual in this case- so I think that it is something that once the artist puts it out into society it is up to that society to make their own judgment. Is it critical or is it a celebration?

Another nugget I collected from Melissa’s talk was the emergence of the artistic process. At one point she was talking about how the overlapping of the linear figures (something she did not initially do) was done by accident in a printing malfunction. I think that it is important to grow from one’s mistakes, so one can discover new paths. For Melissa, this was a serendipitous event that lead to amazing new ideas.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Extended and Prosthetic Bodies

The first thing I thought after reading over this collection of works was amazement at the breadth and variety of thoughts that can be expressed using the body and extensions of the body. From my limited experience, which includes drawing and painting, the body does not play a large role in the communication of ideas. There is some expression when bodies are portrayed in the paintings or drawings, but the options are much more limited than when using the body as an instrument- as they do in these works.

Another thought I had was that the general experience is very different here. When there is a body involved I think the reaction from the viewers- or in some cases participants- is very different. In another class we were discussing the difference of “just looking” and “possessive looking;” meaning that when just looking at something there is not the same level of involvement between the looker and the object that is being looked at as with possessive looking. When there is a painting being looked at I think that the act is less involved-in the sense that although one can be very interested and engaged in the painting the painting is not able to reciprocate. However, when there is a person involved- even if the person does not hold your gaze- the act of looking becomes intimate and engaging. I also think that this is why reactions to bodily works can be more intense.