Printmaker turning Lawrencians (and features reporter) into bugs
Printmaker Patrick Vincent, one of the Lawrence Arts Center’s two artists in residence, is on a quest to turn as many Lawrencians into bugs as he can.
For free, residents can send Vincent their photo and the name of the bug they’d like to be, and he’ll create a print of their face on that bug’s body. Vincent gives an artist proof of the print to the subject, and keeps the linoleum carving he printed it with for himself. The plan is to use those carvings in a later installation.
Last time I checked with him, Vincent said he’d completed a number of bugs but was still hoping for more. Apparently, he says, a lot of people are kind of creeped out by the idea of seeing their face on a bug’s body ... which is part of the reason Vincent, who regularly uses animal themes in his artwork, picked bugs for this project. He says, "The theme of bugs is an invitation for people to connect with a part of the natural world that is often ignored or reviled."
I thought the project sounded fun, not creepy, and sent Vincent my own picture and request to be a praying mantis. (Praying mantises clearly are not smiley bugs, and this was the only demure picture I seem to have taken in the digital age. Vincent left the veil on, which is actually kind of funny given that female mantises have been known to eat their mates.) Here I am:
Here’s Vincent and his own bug rendition of himself, as a honeybee:
Fellow artist in residence Monika Laskowska, incidentally, went with the potato beetle for her bug portrait. To submit your photo for the Bugs project, Vincent provides more information and instructions on his website.
Lawrence printmaker’s take on Phoenix Awards is colorful, 3-D
We profiled each of this year’s five Phoenix Award winners in Sunday’s paper and here on Lawrence.com. But there’s another key artist involved with these awards — the one who makes the hardware that the winning artists take home.
The Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission picks a different artist each year to create the actual Phoenix Awards, and this year it was printmaker and Old West Lawrence resident Sally Piller. Piller was commissioned to make six pieces — one for each award winner and one to display at the Lawrence Arts Center with previous Phoenix Awards.
Piller described her process for creating the unique prints-slash-sculptures:
She created six color woodblock prints — using oil-based ink on Japanese washi paper — and mounted each on the back of one of the solid maple color separation blocks used to create the prints (the photo below shows a step in the process). The borders are hand-carved, rolled with oil-based ink and accented with gold-colored leaf.
She mounted the prints using gesso and rice paste, then protected them with floating glass attached with rosette screws. Here are the finished awards lined up at Sunday's reception for the winners.
Sculpture or paraphernalia? ‘Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes’
Fact: Some glass pipes are fancier than others.
And a good number of folks who create the fancy variety would prefer their work be called art instead of just, you know, paraphernalia.
At 7 p.m. Nov. 16, the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., is screening a documentary titled “Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes.” The film explores the culture of glass pipe-making from the origins of Bob Snodgrass’ famous “color-changing” pipe to what filmmakers describe as the “radical emerging art movement it has become today.”
The trailer includes video clips of pipe-makers with torches and their completed Chihuly-esque glass creations — multicolored, sculptural, elaborate and in some cases a yard or more tall. It also includes shots of pipe-makers being arrested in a paraphernalia sting several years back, which of course the film decries.
“This subversive art challenges our right to free speech and expression, as well as reflecting the nature of the people who make and collect the pieces,” says the film’s synopsis. “One of the last true underground American scenes, glass pipe art remains invisible to mainstream culture.”
Here’s the arts center’s event listing: www.lawrenceartscenter.org/film
And, for the trailer and more on the film, the “Degenerate Art” website: www.degenerateartfilm.com
Shooting ‘Sophie’ — time-lapse video shows construction of 7-foot sculpture
Making official photos of art objects takes more TLC than you may realize — especially a 7-foot-tall art object sporting a massive tulle dress.
Kansas University's Spencer Museum of Art shared this time-lapse video of staffers setting up and shooting Sophie-Ntombikayise, a larger-than-life sculpture by 29-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa, artist Mary Sibande. The piece posed unique challenges because of it's size and shape.
See the custom set-building, lighting, shooting, tear-down and resulting shots — in this fast-forward style video, it takes less than 4 minutes.
Sophie is the first sculpture of Sibande's to enter the permanent collection of any museum in the United States, according to the Spencer. Read more about the object — now on display in the museum's central court — in my last blog post.
Hat-tip to photographers Matthew Gonzales and Ryan Waggoner for sharing their work!
Spencer Museum of Art debuts ornate sculpture ‘Sophie’
Now that the Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University has finally reopened after its water-main induced closure, visitors will be greeted by someone new.
She goes by “Sophie.”
Sophie-Ntombikayise is a larger-than-life sculpture by 29-year-old Johannesburg, South Africa, artist Mary Sibande. Sophie was scheduled to go on display last weekend in the museum’s center court, but the Aug. 1 water main break kept the museum closed until Tuesday of this week. (Note: Although the museum’s art objects and galleries escaped unharmed, unfortunately 15,000 to 20,000 books from the Murphy Art and Architecture Library in the basement were damaged.)
I got a peek at Sophie earlier this summer, when she was waiting in the wings for her debut. Even in a dimly lit temporary gallery, where she was stored with other art objects on their way into or out of display, she was impressive.
Sophie culiminates Sibande’s series of sculptural installations featuring four generations of women in her family, all of whom worked as domestic servants, according to the Spencer. It’s the first work in a U.S. museum collection.
The figure’s skin (formed in cast resin) is onyx-black, with down-turned face and slightly contorted, outstretched arms. Her size and skirt, however, stuck with me most. Sophie is pushing 7 feet tall, and her vivid purple and blue dress has piles and piles of billowing tulle that roll onto the floor in a circumference wider than her height.
The “wonderfully overblown” gown is meant to be an artificial hybrid costume of a maid’s uniform and regal Victorian dress, the Spencer’s exhibit announcement explains. Through Sophie, the announcement says, the artist addresses the traditional role of black women in South Africa and other countries where there’s a history of black servitude.
Did I mention Sophie is larger-than-life? Here’s a link to photos, but this piece is among those that are, without question, better — to scale — in person.
Fading art form: Darkroom photography not just for old people anymore
If you’ve ever attempted to develop your own film, you know there’s a million and one disasters lurking in the pitch-blackness that is the darkroom.
You can’t get the film canister open. You cut your hand with the can opener while trying. You scissor through the middle your best shot because it’s too close to the end of the roll. Your film falls on the floor and you can’t find it. You can’t get the film to catch on the reel. When you finally do, you mess up and it sticks to itself. Some lout opens the door to the darkroom and everything is ruined. Ruined!
Even if all of those steps do go perfectly, there’s no guarantee you even exposed any of your photos correctly to start with (no “preview” button in film photography).
It’s not hard to see why most have abandoned all the fumbling, uncertainty and messy chemicals of darkroom photography for digital. That makes it a novelty to see honest-to-goodness, handmade black and white prints.
While reporting Sunday’s Pulse cover story, I was surprised to learn that at least at the Lawrence Arts Center, the biggest fans of the darkroom seem to be teens. I got to hang out with them for a while under the redlight and loved seeing what they came up with on their photo shoots around downtown Lawrence.
There was only space in the paper for one student shot, but instructor Ann Dean kindly emailed me extra photos so I could share them here. Instagram has nothing on these kids.
Sounding off becomes real-time art in new Spencer exhibit
Three new exhibits opened at the Spencer Museum of Art this week. In one of them, you — your thoughts, your voice, your tweets and maybe even your ringtone — become the art in real-time.
Audio artist Jason Charney’s “Sounding Circle” is in a small, darkened studio on the first floor. After pushing aside the black curtain, you’ll see a projector screen with a question and a microphone — and that’s pretty much it. You’re supposed to answer the question, recording yourself by pressing on a foot pedal. As soon as your answer leaves your lips, you’ll begin to hear it resonating, repeating and fading in and out around you — interjected with white noise, other sounds and blips from previous visitors.
If you go, you may hear a distorted-sounding me saying “The North Pole” (Where is one place you will never go?) and something like, “Finally getting out of the house and on my way” (What’s the best part of your morning routine and why?). As the exhibit played back my answers Friday, a strange guy’s voice popped in to add comments like, “Ancient things” and “I’m an Aquarius.” It’s pretty cool, and I’m guessing after the exhibit’s been up more than a day, there will be even more voices.
You can even submit questions via Twitter — just add the hashtag #soundingcircle when you tweet. (Pssst: If, “Is this really art?” from @KCSSara shows up on the screen, then we’ll know it works — and that the Spencer staffers moderating questions approved mine.)
“Sounding Circle” is meant to foster dialogue and reflection,” the Spencer explains. “By hearing their own words repeated and changed, participants consider their responses closely as their voices become less a vehicle for content and more a generator of music. As they stand and listen in the Circle, they connect with others who have also wandered into its space.”
Charney, an acoustic and electronic media composer, graduated from KU this year with a bachelor’s of music degree in music composition and theory. This fall he’s headed to the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University to pursue a master’s in composition and computer music.
“Sounding Circle” will be up until Sept. 30.
Also new this week:
“Politics as Symbol/Symbol as Politics,” curated by KU political science professor Burdett Loomis, in the 20/21 Gallery (one of the open-air spaces inside the modern art gallery on the second floor). Works include one of Jasper Johns’ flag series, video of political advertising and a vote-for-Bob Dole poodle skirt from his 1962 campaign. Timed to coincide with this year’s presidential campaign, it’s up until Jan. 27.
“The Ray of Hope: Aaron Douglas-inspired Quilts and Murals,” in the first-floor Lobby Gallery. Lawrence quilt artist Marla Jackson led a project in which children created colorful quilt blocks inspired by Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance. The exhibit is scheduled to be displayed until Sept. 16.