Installation Studio Class: Project 1
What the heck is installation art? I get asked that a lot, especially when I'm whining to my non-artist friends about my workload this quarter.  Installation is a specific genre of three-dimensional, site-specific work designed to transform a viewer's perception of the space. Installations can be permanent or temporary, indoors or outdoors. This type of work is totally outside of my comfort zone, so I may have been crazy to sign up for this class.

Imagine my delight, when at 8 a.m. on the first day of class I learned that I would be doing a group project for Installation Studio. For those of you who are sarcasm-challenged, this was NOT good news. (Group projects are scarier for art assignments than for any other kind of work!)
Groups were chosen at random, and I was thrown together with three strangers: Megan, Daniel, and Jessie. We were the only group that had complete freedom as far as location of our piece. We quickly chose a site: the giant atrium in Tangeman University Center. This huge building is sort of the center of campus- like the food court at the mall.

Our first thought was something like "Crap! How are we gonna build something large enough to fill this space?"
Which was quickly followed by the idea of putting something very SMALL in the large space, to emphasize the extremes of dimensions. There's a huge, 30' red carpet in the atrium; we thought of putting something small in the middle, then surrounding it with fancy stanchions so people couldn't get close to the small object. The idea would be to get people to think it must be really valuable and to engage their curiosity.  BUT the object is actually ordinary, simple, and plain- an apple!
We chose a site and a concept so quickly and so easily that I felt sure that problems would start once we got down to work.

We started by discussing our respective strengths. Megan and Jessie are into ceramics, Daniel is into sculpture, and I'm into 2-D. Not only was it nice to know we had a wide range of abilities, we also had access to a wide range of free materials, because we had all paid various lab fees in our other studio classes. Aren't we smart? So Jessie and Megan made the apples, I made the hand-printed signs, and Daniel built the pedestal for the apple. We all worked on building the stanchions. Daniel and I cut and forged steel rods, while Megan and Jessie set them in plaster. We painted each of the stanchions black. We all worked on making the velvet rope, and we all assembled the piece on site. WE ALL WORKED. Weird, huh?
Curio from above
This shot shows one of my signs with the installation in the background

This is Saturday, right after we installed it; nothing's protecting the apple yet

For the critique on Monday, we made a velvet pillow and encased the apple in glass.
Close-up of the velvet rope. We made these out of lengths of pipe insulation, less than a dollar apiece!
These are the extra apples, which we handed out to classmates during the critique.

I made 30 hand-printed apples, and hung them throughout DAAP in the weeks before our installation. We wanted people to be curious, and it worked! Everyone wanted to know what was with all of the apples! Lots were stolen, which was fine with us- it meant that our apple had gained value. I made color copies of these apples and continued to hang them.
I made these signs with wood-block printing also- we hung them throughout DAAP and TUC. They are deliberately vague and simple- we wanted people to be uncertain about what exactly Curio meant.
The grungy bulletin board outside the sculpture studio got the first sign and apples- I wanted Matt, the professor, to see that we were following through with our plan to promote the project. (He seemed skeptical that we would actually do so much work so far before the due date.)

This apple hangs high above the DAAP cafe. I tried to put them in unusual places, where they would be noticed.
 Interesting development:  we joked that it would be sort of funny if our porcelain apple got stolen. We kind of hoped it would happen, because it would mean that our goal worked- we had assigned the apple so much value by displaying it the way we did that someone wanted to steal it.
Well, it worked- someone stole it and left a ransom note, of sorts. I scanned it.

If any of you want to tweet a message, to help solve the mystery, feel free. So far, we've made no progress.
 Another fun development: around DAAP, where there are still apple prints hanging on the walls, someone hung paper caterpillars behind them, as if the caterpillars were about to eat the apples. I haven't gotten a good picture yet, but if I do, I'll post one here. I'm hoping someone else will make paper birds to eat the caterpillars.
Curio went so well that three of us have decided to work together for the next project, even though we had the option to work alone.


Studio Work: Printmaking

Just as I suspected, printmaking is SO MUCH FUN!!!
Professor John Stewart, the same talented guy who taught Advanced Figure Drawing last quarter, is teaching Intro to Relief Printmaking this quarter. I am officially a big fan of J-Stew. It's mutual- the other day he confided that he liked me because I'm "a grown-up." Ha- that's what he thinks!
Project 1a: Pink Kiss, 5" x  8"
Project 1b: Ugly Me, 8" x 5"

PROJECT ONE: Self-portrait (again???) 
Having more than enough self-portraits, I decided to do a kiss-portrait instead. I donned lipstick, kissed paper, scanned it and enlarged it, and traced it onto a linoleum block.
I was totally happy with the results, but I finished early (what a STRANGE feeling!) so I decided to be an over-achiever and do another one. For Ugly Me, I was inspired by a conversation I had with John. We talked about how because we are used to seeing mirror images of ourselves, our own faces can look really strange in photos. I decided to do a self-portrait in which I exaggerated all of my asymmetry. The result was a pretty accurate depiction of me before my morning coffee.

PROJECT TWO: Shape and Shadow
The challenge here was to show volume and form with black and white only. This can be tricky, as I learned last quarter in Comics class. But with printmaking, it's more difficult because positive and negative space are reversed- you don't draw in the black, you carve out the white! I drew a larger-than-life ice cream cone, and threw in a dark shadow for some drama. We also had to complete an edition of three identical prints.
Project 2: Big Scoop, 14" x 10"
This image shows the inked block next to some prints.

The one on the upper left is known as the "Artist's Proof." It is not included in the edition because the registration is slightly off and I carved a few minor adjustments before the next print.

John expects the very best prints on perfectly clean, handmade Japanese paper. The registration should be perfectly straight, with symmetrical borders (a little extra on the bottom margin for a signature). The ink should be applied just right- just enough for solid coverage, but not too much! It takes forever for the oil ink to dry on the cotton paper.

For our next assignment, we will be doing double color prints, using the press, and pulling a larger edition. Fun!
 If anyone has any ideas for subject matter, let me know!


A Special Bond

I know I promised this weeks ago, but I finally have decent images of the 4-page comic, which was my final project for Carol Tyler's Comics class.
This project took hours and hours and hours... I lost count after 25.
Ms. Tyler is a bit of a sadist, I think!

Thanks to Joey for helping me compress the file without the images being blurry!

It there's anything I learned from this class, it's that writing an entire graphic novel would be a terrifying and difficult task. I definitely appreciate it and respect it as an art form, and take my word for it, you should too.
If you are interested in reading some amazing graphic novels, I've listed some of my favorites below.
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary by Justin Green

Justin Green is generally acknowledged to be the father of the Graphic Memoir genre. I may have never read this book, but Mr. Green is Carol Tyler's husband, and I was curious. It was really, REALLY good. Almost as good as Ms. Tyler's masterpiece, You'll Never Know. I know that including it in this list may seem like brown-nosing, but I SWEAR it's worth reading.

This is Book Two; she's currently working on Book Three. I can't wait to read it!

Maus by Art Spiegelman; this is volume one of two

Maus by Art Spiegelman is one of the most haunting books you'll ever read, graphic or not. It tells the story of Mr. Spiegelman's father, who was a holocaust survivor. If you decide to read only one book that I recommend, make it this one!!

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Kim Deitch
More books on my short list: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and Epileptic by David B. Everything I've mentioned so far has been a memoir; it's my favorite type of graphic novel. But I also read pure fiction. Recently, I read Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Kim Deitch. Deitch has a twisted imagination and a sick sense of humor, and he puts them to good use in this very strange book.

My next post will be about printmaking. MUCH less stressful than cartooning!