This is the Art of a Crazy Person

This quarter I am in the ridiculous situation of being an about-to-graduate senior taking not one, but two freshman-level classes. These are required for me to graduate; as a transfer student, I didn't realize I had to take them until last spring.
I don't hate these classes. I have been taking the lecture seminars all year and they have been relatively easy, fun, and even sometimes enlightening.
This quarter, I am also taking a foundations studio class, called Time Studio. (It's the final in the series, after Surface and Space Studios; I didn't have to take those.)

Our first assignment involved finding an iconic historical image (album cover, photograph, news image, painting, etc.) and recreate it by photographing ourselves in place of the original figures. We had to build any necessary costumes, props, and stage sets, and then combine our images within Photoshop to recreate the original image as closely as possible. The catch is that we have to be every character in the image, and we have to appear more than once.
We had about a week to do this. (Yikes. I am severely lacking in Photoshop skills.)

I chose, after much deliberation, Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, originally painted in 1882.
(If you want to listen to a fascinating theoretical analysis about this painting, check out this video from ArtRev.com.)
Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1882. I've never seen it in person; it's permanent home is in London. But I recently saw some lovely Manets in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Awesome.
 I was torn for a while between doing a faithful, accurate recreation OR doing a personal/autobiographical modern interpretation. I ended up with a hybrid.

I painted this background with ink on vellum. I am determined to relate this foundational work to my thesis work, no matter how tenuous the connection. In this case, I decided to use the techniques I have been developing in my advanced studios to create this background. It is by far the largest painting I have made with ink on vellum; it is about eight feet long and three feet high.
Here it is. What should I call it? It may be too ridiculous to title. I do kind of love it- it's hanging on my fridge.
The only part that I stole from the original is the top hat on the anonymous "gentleman."
The only thing I stole from Google Images was Burt Reynold's mustache. Everything else was something I found around the house or created myself. I created the marble finish of the bar by smearing graphite powder onto a large sheet of vellum- it looked pretty dumb in person, but it looks good in the final image.
I had to use Twinkies in place of the Mandarin oranges (lovelovelove) and I used beer instead of champagne. The whiskey bottle has iced tea in it- whiskey doesn't usually last long in my house. Crown Royal is a sentimental favorite; there was another bottle, but it was cropped out.

Stuff that I learned from this project:
I am not used to these short term projects with specific parameters. I was sort of dreading it, but now I realize how much I've been missing these types of assignments; I forgot that they could be fun.
If I had more time, I would have found a way to use a picture of my great-grandmother's locket in place of the barmaid's cameo. I also would have liked to use fresh flowers from my own yard, instead of the fake ones I used; unfortunately, everything in my yard is about to bloom or did weeks ago. Lastly, I never addressed the feet of the trapeze artist, which are visible in the upper left hand corner of Manet's painting. I could have photographed my own feet in green socks. I also considered replacing the feet with an image of a tiny bird on a perch which I sculpted a couple of years ago. I liked the idea of comparing Manet's barmaid to a bird in a cage. Sigh- if my Photoshop skills were better, I would have had time to fix these little details.

Next we have to re-interpret a piece of found trash into a mixed-media sculpture, using digital media. I think it's supposed to be about absurdity. FUN!

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