Paris-born, Lisbon-based artist Joana Vasconcelos takes everyday objects and transforms them into life-size replicas of high-heel sandals in her aptly titled series Shoes. My question is, if an art critic negatively reviews this piece made of stainless steel pots, pans, and lids, will it a pan? Via; via.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of the original Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb girl and a chainsaw, I do not think of cute country bears…
Or toucans painted on tables, for that matter.
But she did put a mosaic tile mermaid in her pool, along with a turtle, and I think that’s really cool.
Go see the incredible sneaker art of Sean Paul. You might never toss your old shoes in the trash again.
Super Girls is a collection of store mannequins hand painted and sprayed to look like comic book superheroes and villains. Because each life size art piece is made from a mannequin it is equal to an action figure in that it can be posed! Each art work is numbered.
I so fell in love with the stunning art made from cassette tapes by Erika Iris Simmons that I just had to speak with her and learn more about her incredibly iconic works.
Erika, I don’t like to ask a lady her age — especially right at the start! — but in this case I feel compelled to do so… Your works, especially the Ghosts In Machines, have a youthful pop culture quality, but the detail work is incredible, which lends me to believing you are older (at least in art years!) than I think. So, how old are you, when did you begin the Ghost In The Machine Series, and how long have you been working as an independent artist?
Thanks! No worries, I’m not shy, I’m 27 now but I started making this series in 2008, when I was 24 I think.
I was a waitress at Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando at the time, looking for interesting art projects. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on art supplies so I went through all the junk drawers at home, tearing up anything I could find, dabbling in composite art. I was fascinated with optical illusions and wanted to make something really different. I think going to work everyday surrounded by music memorabilia definitely had an impact! haha
One day I thought to use the cassette tapes in my art – when I started messing with the ribbon it curled up and reminded me of Jimi Hendrix’s afro, so that was the first portrait I made.
At the time I was reading some science books about the philosophy of the mind; that’s where the “ghost in the machine” theme came from. It was great to sit there while working on these, wondering about the meaning in the data on the tapes and how by simply rearranging the tape on the board I could make it look like a face. My goal was to not cut the tape or take any away, just arrange it.
I’ve been working as a full-time independent artist for two years now.
Have you had any formal training or study, an art degree?
No formal art training; I got a ton of art books out from the library, but mostly its just been trial and error.
The Ghost In The Machine pieces are how I first found you — the amaze me because they incorporate the spirit of the medium, the tape and film, and display the iconic images we see when we experience their performances. What inspired the works?
I never wanted to be an artist until I saw the work of Ken Knowlton. He makes incredible composite portraits. My favorite is his portrait of Einstein using nothing but black dice. It blew my mind and I thought I want to make something like that, something that would resonate with people. I just kept experimenting after that.
They are incredibly fluid and effortless looking, as if they just spilled out that way, but I suspect there’s a lot more to them than that. Can you tell us more about the work involved, how long it takes to make a piece — how many tapes, etc. are used?
I almost always just need a single cassette, unless the work is really big. You’d be surprised how long the tape is inside.
Every piece is different, but I usually start by drawing the basic outline, focusing on the facial details first. I go about filling in the design, either gluing the tape flat and cutting away when necessary, or folding and twisting the tape into the desired shapes. This can take weeks if its very detailed. Toward the end I try to let the tape fall into really natural shapes and “capture” that movement with dots of glue. Finally, I use epoxy to permanently mount the case.
Of the works I’ve seen, you seem to use or recycle other items to create your works of art. Do you consider these altered art works? How do you feel about that term?
I call these cassette tape or film sculptures, but the term altered art works too. It falls into a lot of categories, I think. I often hear people call them “installations.” I don’t know why.
Your Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany’s piece is probably my favorite, so far! I love the use of 8mm film, right down to the reel!
I read at your blog that the Breakfast At Tiffany’s work was the result of a woman who approached you about doing a series of collection of Audrey Hepburn pieces… Does that mean you do custom or commissioned works?
Thanks! I’ve actually made my living for the last few years making custom pieces for people; I still do sometimes, but not as my bread-and-butter like I used to.
Does doing works that way, at the direction of others, frustrate you in any way as an artist?
Yes, every single time! haha. There is no way of avoiding the pressure of “performance.” I am not a performer and I’ve found that my work is much better when it comes from the heart and not from a need to pay rent. I find myself questioning every action. Instead, I just take the commissions that I feel a spark for. I used to have a “custom work” page on my website, but I don’t solicit those offers anymore. A lot more time for experimenting.
How much do you charge for such works? And, as you currently have no originals for sale, only prints at Etsy, how much do original works cost?
Honestly every piece is different. I sell some for hundreds, some for many thousands, so its a hard question to answer… An average Ghost in the Machine piece is about $2500. The only prints I sell are letter size and A2. But the size of the originals range from 12 by 16, up to 40 by 60 inches, so there is a wide range.
Your other works, that I’ve seen at Flickr mainly, are also composite or altered works. Do you feel that will likely remain a part of your style, or do you feel that you’ll need to move on in a completely different direction at some point in time?
I don’t really define what I do by the medium. I feel like the running theme in my head is finding a story within a single object. Recursion and nested concepts are what fascinate me, so whether I’m painting or writing or doing any other creative activity I think this theme will remain.
When you are best known for a series, or when someone spots an older series, like Ghosts In Machines, how do you as an artist feel when you move onto another series, project or style of work?
It doesn’t bother me that I will probably never “out-do” the success of this series because I know the biggest thrill is the idea and execution rather than what other people think. The images will one day be played like that song on the radio that you’ve heard fifty times too many, but I will always remember what it felt like to hold something like that in my hands before the glue was even dry, having never sold a piece of artwork, knowing that I made something special.
Its nice that people are still interested though, I do appreciate it.
At The Ungulate, we hear a lot about how “success” is at least partly defined as making a living in art; yet we also hear from artists who feel great frustration in the commercial aspects of that sort of success. Aside from not soliciting custom works as much as you once did, how do you plan to address or balance these issues for yourself as an artist?
I’ve never been interested in money – I threaten to quit art and go back to waiting tables any day! ha. But seriously, making art for a living is by far harder than I expected, and I feel I’m one of the lucky ones to have so much support and exposure. But some months I still barely scrape by. Don’t get me wrong; when it rains it pours. But its hard counting on the weatherman. In lieu of commissions I’m working with a stationary company for a little rolling income. The ‘m’ word: Merchandising. We’re still putting the website together – I don’t know a date it will be live…
But you’ll let us know, right?
Until then, we can still marvel at the other works by Ericka Iris Simmons, and enjoy spotting them all sorts of places, like the Bob Dylan piece for the AARP.
I’ve known Collin David for like 5-6 years now; we met when we both started writing for Collectors’ Quest. I quickly discovered his passion for comics, action figures, robots, cephalopods, etc. was entwined with something more… His art.
In the past year, Collin’s art work has been getting him more attention, respect, and, yes, money. So it seemed now was the time to sit down with him — you know, before he’s too busy for a “remember me” request for an interview. *wink*
Call me old, uncool — old and uncool, even — but I can’t seem to follow all your art news, projects, events, etc. on Facebook. (I am, after all, a Twitter girl *neener neener*) So help me out and give me a general run down about you, ResonantFish, what the heck you do as a freelancer art and design dude. You drop names like “Ninja Turtles show in Philly” and “Gallery1988″; so don’t forget those.
Well, my business cards say “Collin David makes stuff”, because that’s the most accurate phrase I could come up with.
This includes comics, sculpture, digital design (like icons, iPhone games, business cards), ink portraiture, painting, and even animation occasionally—every project calls for some new approach. I’ve never seen the merit of those artists who approach very different problems with the same approach, over and over. It’s completely marketable, but it’s transparent. There’s a way to find a balance, and it’s not by being creatively lazy.
As a freelancer, I tend to do a lot of digital art, because that’s what the freelance market wants right now. As far as my portion of the freelance market goes, a majority of it is technology-based, and people trying to make their technology pretty. While my brain is fueled by robots and meat and monsters, my bank account relies on icons for travel websites and improving old logos for businesses. Every so often, a project comes along where I serve as an art director and have total creative freedom, or I get to use real paper and ink, but those are far less common.
It all comes back to “making stuff”, for whatever purpose it may serve in the end. Every project is an education towards greater things. In my free time, I’m sometimes invited to do group art shows all around the world about things that I love: toys, Ninja Turtles, pretty girls, Star Wars. I don’t know how that happened, honestly, because that was just a natural progression.
Ah, you sort of glossed over those art show invitations… Where have you your works, been seen recently? What’s it like to get the invite?
Right now, I have three ink pieces in Gallery1988 in California, in a show centered around Beetlejuice, Back to the Future and Bill & Ted.
I also currently have an acrylic Ninja Turtles piece in Philly. Both of these shows are through The Autumn Society, a collection of great illustrators who just happen to do lots of shows together that seem to focus on 1980s pop culture. Recently, I was honored enough to show alongside Wallace & Grommit’s Nick Park in the UK for a group show (via a Twitter invite), an arcade in Texas, and a few other places I don’t remember. I’m horrible at keeping track, but should probably comb my e-mails in order to get my stuff back. I don’t want to say something stupid like “art is so pure that I keep it separate from business”, but 100% of my focus is on creation, and whatever happens outside of that to get it out there is fate and luck and whatever momentum gravity has granted me, or if Facebook is behaving properly.
Invites always come with a sense of dread. Can I make something worthwhile? Will this show be worth my time? Will my art get destroyed by the gallery or post office again? Do I have enough time to make something? How do I approach this uniquely? I’ve had so many bad gallery experiences that it’s a process I’ve learned to hate, so I do far fewer showings than is ideal, and I don’t seek them out. I love a challenge, but I’d rather that challenge be creative over diplomatically begging for my art back for a year from an unscrupulous gallery director like Rocket Pop’s David Rodriguez or APW’s Hans Yim.
How is the invitation to group art shows “just a natural progression”?
It’s momentum. If you really do things that you love and believe in, it’s infectious. Eventually.
It’s a long, long crawl towards respect, and if you ever stop digging your nails in, you’ll slip backwards into anonymity. Some people (who I’m not going to name here) market themselves raw and have absolutely no skill to back it up, but they get a ton of work and notoriety. I’m just not the kind of person to write press releases in the third person or describe myself as “up-and-coming”. It’s one way to progress, and it’s tried and true and not invalid, but it’s not natural. There’s no foundation in that, and you don’t get a realistic perspective of yourself or your work. Some promotion, sure – but not a full-time marketing machine.
I make stuff constantly, and people see it, and sometimes they like it, and share it, and eventually, it falls onto the right eyes. And I wish it were more profitable, but I’ll take truth over an elaborate self-deception any time.
I’ve known you for awhile now, and there’s been a big change in the amount of work you’re now doing. I wouldn’t say this, but you recently commented to me that you somehow see this as “awful,” as if this wasn’t just one of the risks of going pro; explain to me how you see the increase in work, recognition, and, I presume, pay.
About six months ago, I was spread out everywhere, doing work-for-hire for a ton of different venues—most of it writing, and I burnt out. I decided to drop (mostly) everything and focus on seeing how far my art could get me, because that’s what really matters to me, at my core. I wouldn’t say it defines me, and I wouldn’t call myself an “artist” (because I hate that word), but it definitely made me feel the most complete.
As it turns out, the rise to credibility was faster than I expected, and it was great. I’d been doing spot illustrations for magazines and things like that since high school, just to experiment with the wide world of art publishing, but the Internet enabled me to pursue these things in earnest, at least 40 hours a week and in parallel with a full-time job. The “Artist’s Market” books never did me any good except for a rejection letter from Cricket Magazine.
The process of making art is never “awful”, but it becomes awful when other people start sticking their hot little fingers in it. As a freelancer, you’re doing work for someone else, and you’re being paid to serve. I don’t have a problem with that, at all, ever. Ideally, one would be hired on the merits of their talents, and not their ability to parrot their employer. It’s the difference between having a hard-working employee and a yes-man, and it shows in the final product.
In terms of “awful”, I was recently hired to design a series of monsters for an iPhone game. The project started out with the client telling me that I had total creative freedom, because he liked my work. When the first drafts came around, he had changes to make : facial expressions, colors, and the like. In the freelancing world, these kinds of changes are acceptable. The employer has a vision which they weren’t able to articulate before (thought they should have probably tried harder), but now that they see the product, they can understand what they want better. A second round of changes was made, and I was sent back screencaps from Pixar films, which bore no resemblance to any prior work, and a few notes that essentially said, “Make it look like this.”
I obliged, while still giving these monsters their own uniqueness. When these monsters met his descriptions dead-on, he sent me back a picture of Spongebob Squarepants and asked me to trace it for his game, instead of all of the work I’d previously done. When I asked him to sign a contract to free me from all legal and moral responsibility when Nickelodeon came down to smite him and completely crush his business on the grounds of copyright infringement, we ended the project. I walked away with character design and consultation fees and a clean slate. He walked away with the sudden understanding that it wasn’t actually okay to plagiarize well-known cartoon characters for profit.
These are the “awful” things, and they’re pretty common, but not universal. Sometimes, you spend more time justifying yourself or explaining how “art” works than actually putting together work.
[Interviewer Aside: Check out Collin's The Nine Circles Of Freelancing Hell for more on this; I giggled an groaned through the whole true thing.]
And you can’t work on one project at once. Four seems to be the magic number, given the amount of time that clients can take to get back to you with revisions. You start on one project, work on a couple of others, and close out another one. This way, you generally always have something to do and a way to generate profit. It helps if your clients are in different time zones as well. Qatar is great if you work early in the morning or very late at night. It also helps to take breaks to play GoldenEye.
It’s all about momentum. Once you actually land a project or two by mastering the art of crafting a proposal, and can show these products off to other relevant jobs, the work will come.
Why do you hate the word “artist”?
The word “artist” is used like it’s an excuse for erratic behavior or a refusal to be a productive member of society. “Artists” don’t have to maintain jobs – not because they’re highly skilled, but because they’ve appointed themselves to the title of “artist”. It’s not a universal perception of the word, but it’s definitely not uncommon, and I really want no part of it.
I once had someone come up to the desk at the library where I worked who refused to pay late fees because she was an “artist”, and “artists” break all of the rules. I refrained from “artistically” punching her in the face, even though by her own definition it would have been perfectly acceptable.
I make stuff, and some of it is “art” because it’s totally impractical and self-indulgent. I don’t have any misperceptions that I’m making the world better by making pictures, but I hope I’m making tiny little parts of peoples’ lives better. Either way, it’s something I can’t stop doing, and I enjoy doing it.
“Sometimes, you spend more time justifying yourself or explaining how “art” works than actually putting together work.” Like this interview?
Though, I imagine this sort of thing is preferable to schooling a client in the ways of intellectual property… At least it’s more fun!
But seriously, in terms of being a guy who makes stuff, how important are interviews? First, in terms of making the stuff — do you find reading interviews inspiring or motivational or helpful at all? And second, what makes participating in an interview worth the time away from making stuff? Is it just the promotional aspects? (Links: How the internet was won!)
Interviews are fun! They force you to take a look at why you do what you do, and they open up your eyes to how others might perceive you, and every shade of this will color your work, whether you like it or not. Observing it changes the experimental results.
My favorite interviews are in Hi Fructose Magazine, because I find myself reading things I’ve been thinking for years coming from artists who I admire. It’s inspiring to know that I’m on the right path, and it’s always useful to be reminded to stay true to yourself.
I don’t think I’ve ever landed any work through an interview (yet), but the introspection makes them worthwhile to participate in. A lot of what I feel like I have to say about art may sound negative or like I don’t respect other artists, but it’s just passion for good, true creators and an impatience with the imitators – so I have to bite my tongue a lot.
For many, making some money off a creative gig seems like the ultimate goal, the real mark of professional success; but as you’ve discussed there’s a clear divide between creative expression, making stuff for the sake of making it, and commerce, selling stuff &/or making stuff to sell. How do you best balance what can be at times such contradictory positions and determine success for yourself?
Well, I’m not yet in a place where I can turn down well-paying jobs, so they’ve taken over. About six months ago, I decided to focus on making commercially viable stuff and hunting down clients, and perfecting the skills necessary to work on the highly technical professional stuff. I’ve always done paintings on commission, and small works for small magazines, but I really needed to conduct a concentrated test about the viability of doing this kind of thing for a living. So, I dropped everything (including personal projects and writing gigs) and started researching what people want right now in the creative world, and how to do those things. Art school didn’t provide a single iota of information that was useful in finding an art-related job, so it’s a very do-it-yourself kind of education.
For me, it was a solid moment of decision, so the “real” art happens between gigs. There’s never a shortage of work if you know how to ferret it out, and I’m never at a lack of ideas for personal art. I have five sketchbooks full of projects that want to be done. I don’t think I’ve found the kind of success I want just yet, but I don’t think I ever will. That’s the kind of thing that keeps you moving and evolving, so the dissatisfaction isn’t all bad.
I’d love for art to be a full-time job, but I don’t think I could do the corporate letterhead design thing for more than a few weeks at a time before losing my mind. There are too many ghosts in my head for that, and they all want to be painted.
If you had to pick one piece or project that you feel marked professional success or otherwise signified success to you, what would it be and how does it reflect success to you?
Star Wars cards. During middle school, and high school, and college, there were a few things that I held in such high creative regard that I never envisioned myself touching them, and Star Wars was way up there. Last year, I was asked to draw a whole bunch of original sketch cards which were randomly packaged with packs of Star Wars cards. They’re quirky and fun drawings of aliens, and they had to be done quickly so they’re not top quality, but I don’t think I could ever do anything cooler than official Star Wars art. Being accepted into such an established and impenetrable universe marks success for me.
Here at The Ungulate we try to focus on adding creativity and art (making and buying/owning) to your life, on inspiring people to just make stuff and to delight in stuff that’s made. One of the things we hear most often is how hard it is to just start. How do you respond to that, what advice do you have?
This is probably an answer that’s been given a hundred times, but just do it. I’ve created thousands of embarrassing drawings, and had even more terrible ideas, but you have to realize that creativity is flawed, and that’s just par for the course, like anything else. It’s not a perfect, pristine, inaccessible spirit that needs to be handled delicately. It’s a dirty, frustrating thing that you can’t be afraid to smack around. You need to throw away any delusions of preciousness.
I remember the moment in high school when I realized that I’d been holding back because I didn’t want to embarrass myself by drawing something dumb. And then I realized that no one ever had to see it but me. As long as art fits in the garbage, you’re safe, so just go for it. Also realize that no time spent creating is wasted time, because every second is an enormous education: how materials work, which lines are beautiful, which ideas are disasters, how to use color and space. These things are much more visceral when you’re doing them, and you really can’t learn them from a book without doing them.
And there you have it, good advice from
an artist a busy guy who “makes stuff.”
I’d like to thank Collin for sharing all this — and encourage the rest of you to visit all the links to “all things Collin David” in this interview. (He’s got so much going on, if you only have time for two, it’s these two: ResonantFish and ResonantFish on Facebook.)
Staring down the pristine, stark-white surface of a blank page can be soooo intimidating… This phenomenon occurs with writers too. So what can you do when you’ve got your supplies all set, but that blank white page just stares back at you, taunting you, teasing you, bullying you…
Well, if you’re like Steve Thompson, maybe you carve your Crayolas into Star Wars characters.
If pencils are your tools, Dalton Ghetti‘s carved graphite works may be more inspiring to you.
If words are (supposed to be) your weapons of choice in the creative fight against the blank page, how about carving those pencil tips into letters? (Also by Dalton Ghetti.)
Take that, blank paper! We’re still getting our art on!
“Human ivory” is what Case calls human fingernails, toenails, and pet nail clippings. I can appreciate her desire to want to prettify such mundane things, but when I hear “ivory” I think of carving and what Case does is extremely intricate assembly work, layering and sculpting our discarded keratin pieces into fantastic little creatures…
On the episode of Oddities where Case appeared, store staff member Ryan was creep-ed out by the works. (I find it strange, since he plays with skeletons; but maybe it’s just a girl thing, not to freak over nail clippings, what with our love of mani-pedis and all?) Apparently Ryan’s not the only one loathe to touch the artist’s work though because Case began encasing her tiny keratin sculptures in resin; much like those retro Lucite bug rings and such.
On the show, Case said each resin piece takes about a week to make. Given how long resin can take to set, it makes me wonder how long it takes her to assemble each keratin critter?
Once I visited the artist’s website, I was particularly smitten with her placing the Human Ivory works inside altered art books.
My Mother taught me how to pop off the head of a dandelion and use the stem to make a chain link. One summer we made endless dandelion chain necklaces, bracelets too, all while weeding the lawn. I think she found a win-win situation to keep the kids busy and get her dandelions dug out of the grass. But, we did stick at it for a long time and (of course) my ultra competitive sister turned it into a contest to see who could have the longest chain that would not snap or slip apart when we stood up to parade around with them. It was fun as those little outdoor things are, especially when you are a kid.
At some point I learned how to make the daisy and dandelion chains which kept the flowerhead on. I did attempt to make them when I got home but by that time I had forgotten some of the steps so I never did get very successful in making flower jewelry.
Is this a lost art now? Do people still sit in a park or out on the front lawn and teach their kids how to make flower chains, crowns and necklaces? I thought it would be interesting to find the directions again. I think it would be part of wildcrafting sites and blogs online.
Our Big Earth: Nature Crafts – Flower Chains
Examiner.com: How to make a dandelion chain for Weed Appreciation Day
Active Kids Club: Dandelion Secrets
The Crafty Crow: Dandelion Daisy Chain Tutorial
WikiHow: How to Tie a Clover Flower Chain
Flickr: Dandelion Divine
Flickr: The Dandelions
Marisa Haedike of Creative Thursday makes whimsical works, often selling not only the originals, but prints, dishes and even night lights. If you see a character you adore, you can also commission the artist to make a clay sculpture piece, like darling Frannie here.
Taken literally, an art doll could be a pile of rocks with some kind of face created on it. Art dolls can be far more unique and extraordinary than the traditional dolls we (most of us) grew up with. Some of them are just as cute, sweet and adorable as our wonderful cuddly Raggedy Ann dolls. (My Mother made my Raggedy Ann and others, but I still have Ann). Some of them take pride in being ugly and yet in some odd way they are still lovable, if you give them a chance. Then, there are some gruesome dolls, the kind of doll that may give a child nightmares. Just imagine waking up with one of those on the pillow next to you.
Art dolls can be made out of anything: fabric, paper, clay, etc. There are standards for being human in basic structure. They may be missing an eye or have a misshapen face, but there is still a face of some kind.
I admit to having a soft spot for the cloth dolls, like my old Raggedy Ann with the grey hair my Mother gave her. Now and then when I’m shopping at a thrift store I pick out a new outfit for old Ann. I find something in great shape still and yet not something anyone is likely to buy for a child to wear. After all, Ann is still just a doll. But, lucky for her, her clothes always fit and last forever since she never gets them stained and they only seem to need a little brushing off now and then.
If you were making an art doll what kind would you create?
Art Doll Groups:
- The Professional Doll Makers Art Guild
- International Association of Doll Artists
- United Federation of Doll Clubs
- National Institute of American Doll Artists
- Original Doll Artist Council of America
- Canadian Doll Artists Association
- Cloth Doll Connection
- The Original Paper Doll Artists Guild
Does anyone know of more international or regional groups outside of North America? I tried to find them but no luck.
Photos, galleries and ideas for making some art dolls of your own:
- Flickr: Art Dolls
- Flickr: Art Dollz
- Flickr: Art Dolls Only
- Flickr: Handmade Original Dolls
- Flickr: Fabric Dolls
- Flickr: Scary Dolls
- Flickr: Creepy Dolls
- Flickr: Ugly Art Dolls
- Flickr: Strange Dolls
- Etsy: Snippet Fairy
- Etsy: Deviant Dollies
- Etsy: Doll Project
- Etsy: Stuff Made by Sweet Pea
- Etsy: Gingermelon
- Etsy: Twig’s Faerie Land
- Etsy: Finger Stuck Felts
- Etsy: I Heart Dolly
- Etsy: Megan’s Flower Dolls
- Etsy: Danner’s Place
- Judi’s Art Dolls
- Diane Keeler’s Fine Art Dolls
- Kobe Dolls
- Cafe Press: Karla Ruiz
- Anna Zueva
- Elizabeth Cooper
- Facebook: Art Dolls Only
- Beaded Art Dolls
Etsy artist WHIMSYlove turns vintage and used books into wall art by folding the pages, origami style, for three-dimensional artworks dubbed Writing on the Wall Book Art — and it’s being featured for sale at the Bellevue Art Museum.
Each Writing on the Wall piece arrives with hanging hardware and a keepsake card printed on white cardstock with “stats,” including Book Title, Author, Copyright Date, # of Pages in book, & how many folds were made to create your piece of artwork!
I received a promotional mailing from Edward Tufte about the first major museum exhibition of his sculpture. I can’t say much about the actual exhibition (Seeing Around, on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum) as I haven’t been there. (Yet?) But I do have a few thoughts on the promo pieces.
First of all, any art exhibition, museum, gallery, etc., which uses Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is awesome; but super bonus points for using the strip in which Charlie Brown is too intimidated to discuss what he sees in cloud formations with Lucy. What more of a non-threatening introduction do you need to proceed?
So, like anyone who receives multiple-paged stuff, I began to flip through the pages… Until I found Tufte pièce de résistance: four pages on animals and landscape sculpture.
If seeing the photo of sheep nestled into a contemporary art sculpture doesn’t get you, how about Zerlina the Golden Retriever peeping from Geometric Cutouts? And if that slice of adorableness still doesn’t entice you to read Tufte’s thoughts on the artistic relationships between land, animals, and landscape sculptural artworks, how about a photo of Zerlina’s “repertoire of concealment methodologies” — complete with cartoon bubble thoughts for both the dog and the cast iron lion?
I may not have been a real fan of such contemporary and large-scale sculptures before, but through such inviting images and narrative Tufte now has me intrigued…
So I stopped flipping through the brochure, and began reading. And viewing far more of the art (and viewing it far more thoughtfully too).
Inside, Tufte presents some food for thought. Like the images shown, his artist’s statements are welcoming. Tufte just ‘talks’ about his works, his intentions, and invites you to see not only his works, but other works, perhaps in new ways.
He doesn’t talk down to the reader — but he sure as heck doesn’t ramble on in such a lofty way that makes me think (as I far too often do) that either the Emperor has no clothes or I don’t know a damn thing about art.
(The latter might in fact be true, but such intimidation doesn’t welcome anyone to view the exhibition — other than those, like Hugh Grant, who will pretend they get it to appear hip — which really just reinforces the silence around naked Emperors too.)
From here I fell in love with several of his abstract sculpture series: The eight feet wrenches (above, left), and the Open Ended series (at bottom of the post).
What’s more, I want to stand before them outside. Even if Zerlina and/or the sheep aren’t there. I want to see how the light, the trees Tufte planted in the museum’s sculpture garden, the other people all play with the giant abstract sculptures.
Which is precisely what this catalog or promotional book is supposed to do.
So hat’s off to Tufte for exposing himself as a very fine Emperor of contemporary art sculpture indeed.