Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Mythology of Worcester, Mass.

I have never been to Worcester, Massachusetts, but elevate this place, my grandfathers home town, to mythic proportions. One of my teachers recently described Worcester to me as being like another Gary, Indiana. I found that comparison very believable considering my grandfather would tell strangers on the street his life story beginning with, "I grew up a poor boy in Worcester, Massachusetts."
This Spring I will be working on my BFAW Thesis, tentatively a collection of poetry taking the form of a graphic novel. Part of my thesis will focus on "The Mythology of Worcester, Massachusetts".
Tonight I made an exciting discovery, a comic/cartoon drawn 70 years ago about my grandfather, a star athlete of Worcester.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Overheard on the Redline

Yesterday I was on the redline an had the lucky experience of listening in on the following conversation:

A girl, likely in her first year of college, is telling the young man she is with about her latest art projects. The conversation begins with the girls shock that the young man is 22-years-old because she thinks that he "totally looks a lot younger." She then get to talking about her art-making.
"We like have a critique every Wednesday. So I have to do something creative EVERY week. Like last week I made a portrait of Ann Coulter out of toothpicks and this week I have to do an audio recording. So like, I'm going to record myself in a confessional."
"So you are actually going to go to a confessional and record yourself."
"No...I just have to say that is what I did and record myself confessing something, like helping to kill someone."

There you have it my friends, art now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guerilla Girls!

Here's my reflection comic about going to see the Guerilla Girls talk at the MCA last week.
Check it owwwt.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mo Money. Mo Problems.

There was recently a lawsuit concerning Damien Hirst and a 17 year- old radical artist. The teenager was forced to stop selling and displaying his art that featured images of Hirst's diamond encrusted skull. Taking revenge, the student marched into Tate Britian and stole a pack of pencils that were part of Hirst's pharmacy installation. Early in the day, he created a fake police poster advertising the pencils had been stolen from the museum. With a warrent for his arrest, the student received the news that his stolen pencils valued at 500,000 pounds, being the entire sculpture valued at 10,000,000 pounds. He quoted " For the safe return of Damien Hirst's pencils I would like my artworks back that DACS and Hirst first took off me in November. It is not a large demand...He has the end of the month to resolve this or the pencils will be sharpened. He Has been warned." First of all, that sounds like a bit of a threat, and I'm surprised there was not a repercussion for that comment. Secondly, there is a lot of irony going on in this dispute, considering another artist, John LeKay claimed he had been making diamond encrusted skulls three months prior to the time Hirst's came out. It sounds like a whole bunch of artist drama, but I have this strange conspiratorial theory.
Perhaps Hirst has set this all up. I mean, the man is a multi-millionaire and instead of playing a game with a 17 year-old kid he is threatening for a lawsuit, for more money! Maybe by the end the teenager will sell 500,000 pounds worth of re-appropriated artwork, become famous, and the two of them will go happily gallivanting into the sunset.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Travel: The Artist’s Rite of Passage

This past summer I reached that pivotal point of my life as an artist: I went to France. For some reason, young creative-types crave adventuring abroad and I am no exception. College brought me three-hundred miles away from home but I needed three-thousand miles. I packed way too much and with the remnants of my four years of high school French, I was out of the country for the first time.

I spent two weeks on a school study trip in St.-Cirq Lapopie, a small village up on a cliff along the Lot River. It has been difficult to write about my time there, because I found that I was reacting to the place visually. I took hundreds of pictures and filled page-after-page in my sketchbook. Writer, poet and surrealist theorist, Andre Breton wrote the following about St.-Cirq:

Beyond any other site of Europe or the Americas, Saint-Cirq put the spell on me - the one which binds you forever. I have stopped wanting to be elsewhere. I believe the secret of its poetry is similar to some of Rimbaud's Illuminations and that it is produced by the extremely rare equilibrium of the most perfect difference of its levels.

It was my experience that after spending just two weeks in Southwest France, I could never look at anything the same. I had spent a total of eighteen days in France with my only obligation being to create art. All artists need to experience that, even if for a brief time. We look to these art-pilgrimages for changed perspectives, inspiration and simply a good time. As someone who hits the snooze button for an hour before waking up, in France I woke up at the same time every morning without an alarm clock and it was the best sleep I've ever had. I was in a place that had history that just can't exist in the United States because nothing here is that old. I saw 30,000-year-old cave paintings at Pech Merle! Often my day-to-day life in Chicago is systematic and time goes by quickly. Life was different in France, much more slow in a way that has allowed me to remember each bit vividly.

Writings about my time in St-Cirq and the surrounding area

A small selection of photos from France, including my short trip to Paris

Thursday, November 12, 2009

SOFA Coverage

Check out m' SOFA review:

Here are some of the artists whose work I liked:

Chris Antemann
Sergei Isupov
Myungjin Kim*
Max Lehman
Gerardo Monterrubio
Richard Notkin
Seth Rainville
Mara Superior
Jason Walker
Kurt Weiser
Red Weldon Sandlin

*=My Faves

Monday, November 9, 2009

"Blame It on Art"

Here's an episode of  This American Life about art.


This spring marks the 20 year anniversary of the foundry at SAIC. The metal community within school has spread throughout the years from the basement of the Columbus building to Oxbow in Michigan to Crabtree Farm west of Chicago. Other schools from the area, such as Grand Valley State University, joined SAIC students in casting.
But why do I feel like this is one of the few communities within the institution, apart from some of the faculty community? Could it be that this particular medium is so dependent on a team effort that it builds a foundry family? Or it could be the way we practice artistic traditions. Either way, apart from networking and collaborations, I am only able to find community in one niche of the school.

F News "The Year of Iron"

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Thursday evening Anna and I attended a talk given by Lynda Barry and Matt Groening, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival. Lynda and Matt, both comics artists with backgrounds in writing, met as students at Evergreen College in the 1970s and have carried on a friendship for over thirty years.

As Anna mentioned in her previous post, Arts Organizations, she and I met as Apprentice Artists with the ArtWorks Summer Program in Cincinnati. During the summer of 2005 we worked together on a mural project for Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. (Miraculously Anna ended up at SAIC, sealing our fate as BFFs.) I spent six summers with ArtWorks, also participating in various projects during the school year. Along with Anna I was part of the first-ever Teen Advisory Board at the Cincinnati Art Museum. As a young artist, meeting a bunch of other art kids was an incredibly cool experience. Some of the people I met during my time at ArtWorks remain my closest friends. The concept of the Art Community became very important to me.

Surrounding myself with artist friends has surely influenced my work. My artist and writer friends are the first people I turn to when I need advice on something I’m working on. When I create something that I am proud of, they are the first people I want to show. Carrying on conversations about the arts is a natural part of my daily life because art is the common denominator among the creative-types I tend to associate with.

I have devoted a significant amount of my time as an art student to community building of sorts. I am the student leader of The Creative Writing Guild, (CWG), a student group with the mission to support, promote and involve writers at SAIC. My friend Caitlin Schriner and I founded the group during our sophomore year. Involvement has grown rapidly. Recently we released our fifth publication of student writing, Dialogue, and hosted a reading. Recently in discussing what I consider to be the importance of the CWG I stated is purpose as being “to establish imaginary coordinates in which to contain a network of people as an audience, to be audience to, to collaborate with and create dialogue with. One cannot be static.”

As of now, my greatest audience is found in my friends and the students and teachers who inhabit this community I am part of. My connections to these people are highly valuable and will continue to influence my work and introduce me to new directions. I hope that thirty years from now Anna and can sit on a stage and talk about our beginnings at ArtWorks, tell crazy stories at about our times at SAIC and though our work is very different, we both have an interest in narrative and the coincidence of growing up twenty-minutes away from each other.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Arts Organizations

   For three years, I was an ArtWorks Apprentice.  It was a coveted role among young artists in Cincinnati and I was so happy to have it.  According to their website, "... ArtWorks is a non-profit arts organization that connects artists of all ages with opportunities in the arts through inspiring apprenticeships, community partnerships, and public art."  

   Through Artworks, I helped create projects for The Cincinnati Art Museum, The Taft Museum of Art and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.  I was also chosen to be on the first-ever Teen Advisory Board at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  

  Being a part of ArtWorks was a great way for me to become acquainted with the art world before college.  As part of an artist collective, I learned new techniques, how to present a projects to a board and how to be a professional.  I also made valuable connections and lasting friendships.  As a matter of fact, Jeni Crone, a friend and fellow O&M contributor and I met through ArtWorks. Jeni is now working at 826 Chicago, "a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write."   As an 826 Intern, Jeni helps kids with their homework, reads stories and assembles "chap books," small books of stories the kids write and the drawings they've done to accompany them.  

   Whether beautifying a city or helping others to be creative, being an active artist in your community is really important and can mean a lot to a lot of different people.  Get out there!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Teachers at SAIC

Janice Misurell-Mitchell

Audrey Colby

Anna: How can I put a positive spin on this?
Jeni: Something like, it may take a bit of experimentation before you hit the right frequency.

Oh man.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Does this movie trailer feel oddly familiar to your life?