Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Session 1: September 19, 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24
Session 2: November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Perhaps due to my tomboyish attitude, I rejected dolls and cherished a collection of animals. I had many stuffed toys that I named and cared for as if they were real, hoping for a Velveteen Rabbit moment. My aunt made me a knick-knack shelf to display my small glass animals, plastic horses, onyx donkey and polar bear, flocked squirrel and cat with mirror eyes my grandmother gave me, and countless other treasures. Arranging the shelf was a ritual for me, calling each piece by name, dusting it off, and replacing it on the shelf. I treated the animals in my collection with the reverence of an idol, and in this process the real animals they represented were becoming sacred in my mind as well. And yet they were not so sacred that I could not indulge in playing with them, or creating a life for them. I believed they wanted to be warm on snowy nights, or that I must rotate their position on the shelf so they could visit with their friends. These wants of the objects made them akin to fetish objects, but overall they were my friends and comforts, and because “the animal itself is also the totem” (Mitchell, p. 178), they became totemic objects, wanting to be my friend and companion (Mitchell, p. 194).
Having such an affinity for animals, they became my favorite subjects to draw. I copied them from photos, illustrations from my favorite books or popular “How to Draw…” manuals. I began combining animal types and decorating them with Technicolor pattern, such as a giraffe head and neck with the body of a lion, covered in spots and stripes of all colors. I was making work that resembled the “marginal hybrids” of medieval manuscripts, “referred to as ‘hybrids’ because they appear to have the features of two, three, or even more different animals” (Morrison, p. 71). These animals and the decorative look of manuscripts would prove a source of great inspiration in upcoming artworks.
As I became interested in art in high school and college, my subject matter was swayed by academia and I drew still lives, portraits and other typical subject matter, trying to work in an animal whenever I could. During this early art school phase I made awful art, drawing what I thought the professor would want, or whatever the assignment was: fortune cookies, popcorn, still lives straight from a box of junk in the art closet. My printmaking class was the first to allow open subject matter, because the technique alone was so demanding. My professor, E.C. Cunningham, suggested I look at literary themes such as fairy tales and myth. This opened up a door for me to use animals as characters and symbols in my work. Animals allowed me to be confident in my subject matter so that I could focus on technique. As I built my skill base, my work was becoming more cohesive; concepts were building on animals as metaphors for personal situations and feelings.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
On View at Reyes+Davis Independent Exhibitions
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Join me for Opening Night: Thursday, June 18 7-9pm
This biennial juried exhibition presents the work of artists exploring the medium of painting who reside in the Mid-Atlantic region. Juried by well-known independent curator Vivienne Lassman, the exhibit includes works by twenty four artists who were chosen from almost two hundred entrants.
M c L E A N P R O J E C T F O R T H E A R T S
1234 INGLESIDE AVENUE, McLEAN,VIRGINIA 22101
IN RESIDENCE AT THE McLEAN COMMUNITY CENTER
PHONE: 703.790.1953 WWW.MPAART.ORG
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
1. Why Animals?
“We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, congruent with ourselves in the net of life and time…”
— Henry Beston (Writer and Naturalist)
Animals become metaphors in my work, often used as self-portraiture or portraits of others or as symbols for a situation or human emotion. Many scholars have argued that animals were the first metaphors in human language, and as John Berger remarks, “the first subject matter for painting was animal. Probably the first paint was animal blood. Prior to that, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the first metaphor was animal” (Mitchell, p. 185). However, animals as subject matter are questioned in contemporary art and frequently overlooked.
Although animals are often found in artworks of the European masters, they likely play a secondary role or are in service to humans, such as the dog at the feet of the couple in Van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and His Wife, Giovanna Cenami, or the horses ridden by Albrecht Dürer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Non-western primitive cultures used the animal in conjunction with the human as in Egyptian, Indian and Native American art. These civilizations were eventually colonized by the West, leading to degradation of their artwork and the idolatrous branding of their animal gods. The Western influence subconsciously lurks in the heads of most Western critics, and my own professors often asked in critique sessions why I use animals as my subject matter. I found the question “Why animals?” ridiculous at first, why paint portraits, or print landscapes, or draw still lives? I was asked in a critique why I hadn’t used the human figure, and I replied, “They are not interesting to me right now.” This has been the same reason throughout history, from Aesop to the Ogallala, to Orwell, that “all these types of stories used animal characters as symbols of human behaviors and actions—–either those to imitate or to avoid. The substitution of animals for humans often made the messages in the stories more palatable or, at the very least, more entertaining” (Morrison, p. 57).
In this tradition, my artwork revolves around a narrative that incorporates metaphor and symbol. The stereotypes that accompany animal characters in Aesop, Grimm, the Bible, and bestiary writings have influenced my own metaphors for the animals. However, when the animal enters my print, it takes on the meaning of the narrative I have given it. My work is quite different in its intentions than a traditional bestiary or “book of beasts,” which “was a collection of stories about creatures both real and fanciful in which the characteristics seen as typical of a particular animal were ascribed moral or Christian meaning” (Morrison, p. 64), and thus most read as parables, describing the animal and how it related to the way life should be lived, although some read as pseudo-scientific record of animal life. I have taken meaning from Aesop, Grimm, Anderson, and folk stories of other origins, adding layers of meaning to make the animal something new in my narratives.