Being a student who participated in the senior art thesis program, I have an obvious bias as to why you should go see the exhibition in Founders Gallery (second floor). For the past semester, we’ve been doing thesis spotlights, where Nicole or I grill the participants about their processes and whatnot. When the time came for me to be interviewed, Nicole asked me why I decided to apply for the thesis program. If she asked me the same question a year ago, I would have told her that my work was ready to be fully imagined and perfected over a year long period; However, what I discovered was far more fulfilling and far less vain. The greatest part of the senior art thesis was seeing this group of seniors develop their voice as they struggled and failed, laughed it off and succeeded, all under the same roof for an entire year.
Seeing my peers dedicated to earning their artistic license and passionately devoting themselves to their body of work granted me so much more inspiration than isolation could offer. That being said, I assure you that something is guaranteed hit you as you walk amongst the gallery walls. Whether it be Madison’s organically charged abstractions of natural forms,
Jess’s wall-sized splashes of paint and color,
Keita’s expressionistic vessels and forms,
Sammy’s whimsically skewed pots and tea kettles,
Sadie’s emotive portraits of groups and individuals alike,
John’s politically and environmentally charged etchings,
Hannah’s glowing critiques of beverages and their consumers,
Ailey’s portraits of individuals characterized by their relationships,
or Emily’s portraits of individuals characterized by their idiosyncrasies,
I assure you that you’ll find the same magic and bewilderment in these artists I’m proud to stand amongst.
Paintings, video pieces, sculptures and digital photos align the walls and floor space in the bottom galleries at the Weatherspoon museum. Six artists, Nickola Dudley, Matthew Hayes, Harriet Hoover, Branch Richter, Amy Stibich, and Clark Williamson, are all apart of the exhibition that presents their thesis work.
When I entered the first space, there were painting displayed by Branch Richter, which were small in size but contained a vast amount of imagery. Harriet Hoover compiled a collective grouping of work which focused on recycled objects, such as magazine clippings to form sculptural collage-like pieces. Hoover also had a digital print image which appeared to have detail on it, similar to her sculptures. Entering the next room, I was more visually captivating by the art that resided there. The sculptural pieces by Hoover and Richter needed artist statements and there were none to be found so I found myself puzzled and yearning for answers while walking around the gallery. Even though the installation and video pieces by Hayes and Williamson could have used artist statements as well, these works were much more visually affective for me personally. I have recently taken up an interest in performance art and one of Hayes’ pieces, “Baptism” inspired me with its execution through video and installation in the gallery. For four minutes, Hayes pours water onto his face while sitting in a bathtub, the performance is similar to “water boarding”, where the individual has a towel or cloth over their face as the water is being poured onto them; causing a horrifying suction noise and suffocating/claustrophobic feeling and atmosphere. There were other video installations in the room which included Clark Williamson’s interactive video piece called, “Searching Box”. This piece was by far my favorite in the entire exhibition due to its interaction and the video aspect that was found inside. Walking up to the piece, there are two rather large boxes that have tiny smaller boxes cut out. Once you lift each top of the box, there is a home video underneath for the viewer to see.
There were various other video installations in the space and callographs by Nickola Dudley which hung in vast size along the walls. I would have to say that my experience in the UNCG exhibition was half and half; I was expecting more from such a program with great facilities compared to our own. Reflecting on the exhibition and returning back to Guilford’s campus, I appreciated our artistic environment much more and now I’m even more excited to see what our artists present during our undergraduate thesis show this weekend.
Dearest Guilford community,
Nicole and I will both unfortunately be leaving the illustrious and fulfilling Hand/Eye art blog for greener pastures, thus reducing the editorial staff from 2 people to zero people. Now, I know what your thinking, “Ryan and Nicole, how will I show my grandparents and pets all the cool art stuff going on at Guilford? How will I get the word out about my solo show in the Quakeria? What I’m I going to do with my life?!?!
Well, Luckily for you, you’re probably not only the best artist of our generation, but the best writer as well, and you don’t even know it yet! Hand/Eye is in its early stages of development right now. Both the current and previous staff have a passion that, for the moment, outweighs their audience. I personally owe a lot to this up-and-coming organization for getting me out of Guilford’s comfortable walls and into Greensboro’s ambitious art community. It’s easy to glaze over events that all local aspiring artists should be attending, and invent reasons as to why visiting a gallery opening, or an artist’s talk, or a thesis open house might not be worth the effort. Writing for this online publication has taught me not only the value of getting out and going to these events, but also how to go with a critical eye, prepared to question and challenge the certainty of an artist’s words.
Right now, the class is being offered as an independent study. That means you get to choose your hours, and for how many credits you wish the class to count. I currently write three posts a week, and my partner in crime, Nicole Lane, writes two. Plus you will learn how to manage the site and organize things like publicity, article topics, etc.
If you’re not sure of a class you want to take next semester, and feel like the art world could benefit from your words, email Mark Dixon at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are you currently working on? What is the main focus of your thesis?
Basically, my pieces are figuring out a way to relate animal forms and some natural forms like leaves into functional vessels. I guess it’s sort of a statement on how the animate wildness that we’re pretty detached from, currently and especially in my generation, can be integrated with human domestic ritual, and the daily use of these bowls and pitchers and teapots. These pieces being representative of animals can remind us not only of personal memories we might have with animals, but also that similar feeling or curiosity that children so easily have, and that feeling of tactile imagination with the natural world that we sort of grow more detached from as we get older and more domesticated.
You grew up on a farm, has that experience made an impact on the content you choose to represent?
Yeah, I spent most of my time outside when I was younger, and I was also home schooled so I could do homework outside. I played in the woods a lot and I worked in the fields and in general interacted with nature a lot. I was pretty fascinated by animals and bugs and plants and everything, and gained a personal relationships with creatures in the natural world. And now I’m realizing how much that’s influenced what I want to do with my pottery, and that I also really enjoy the process of sculpting animals. I’m sure I’d enjoy sculpting other things too, but I especially like the way that creatures like birds and foxes look when they’re in ceramic form. I’m also basing some of what I do off of ancient pottery, like Peruvian or Pre-Columbian pots, where animals were represented very commonly. I think a lot of the pottery then was, yes, used for functional purposes, daily use, but also for more ritualistic, sacred purposes. Daily practice and religion were much more integrated than they are in our modern life. I feel like now when animals are show in artwork it’s more of this sort of cheesy cutesy thing. It’s not really upholding the sacredness of the animate form. So, right now, I’m firing pieces in the wood kiln, and letting things take on this natural form or look. Although they are painted and detailed, they’re not pristine. I want them to look old and more similar to ancient pottery.
So would you say you derive more inspiration from modern ceramicists, or the unknowns who made these ancient artifacts?
Well, I think it’s both. I think my forms and my style are way more modern. I prefer things that have really smooth clean lines and things that have really detailed mark-making and carving, but I guess the way that the animals are integrated with the pot is based on ancient pottery more than it is with modern pottery. [Ancient pottery] acts as more of a driving inspiration more so than actually copying forms.
How much of a role does the planning stage have? Do you idealize the outcome and know what you want before you start, or does improvisation play a bigger role?
Yeah, I mean, I think both. Some pieces I have a very clear idea and I execute that idea. Those usually end up being my most successful pieces. I have this one teapot that’s also sort of a swan and I feel like that’s one of my most successful. I had that moment of, “Oh! I’m gonna do this,” and the image was totally in my brain, so I sat down and drew it, and made it relatively quickly. Those moments are always really nice, but they don’t always happen. Then, sometimes the level of inspiration sometimes come from what animals I want to represent, what type of piece I want to make. So, sometimes I’ll have that idea and not really know what it will look like until I start making it. I haven’t really drawn as much as I thought I would. With pottery, I think it comes together best when I just start making it.
and his place in something so infinite, and what was so profound was that the message was not fed to me through dialogue. I had to work for it instead. After I saw this I realized that the most ideal outcome for me would be to have my work force someone into that “oh shit, I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but something cool is definitely happening” moment, which a lot of times gets bogged down by dialogue.
All of you Guilfordian’s complaining about how Greensboro is monotonous, stale and lifeless should probably step outside of the Guilford bubble and into the quirky and peculiar world of Elsewhere, an artist collective. You might think that once you’ve seen the museum, you’ve seen it all but the atmosphere is constantly in a state of flux, objects are always finding a new world to live in. Not only is the museum a cheap form of entertainment, artist talks, located outside on the stage of the museum, are FREE.
As an artist myself, I am always searching for inspiraton and new forms of expression through different mediums. As a free event, located only 10-15 minutes away, I think it’s an important occasion for young artists to attend. This Thursday, there were two speakers, the new operations intern and a residential artist discussing their past works, accomplishments and projects: Carmen Tiffany and Nasimeh Bahrayni.
The first speaker, Nasimeh Bahrayni, a Guilford alum, discussed her intensive work with sustainability and education; her inclusion of rapping, performance art and scripted acts are all apart of her motivation to teach young children about recycling, healthy eating and a healthy life. Bahrayni showed us a video and many photos of her experience while working with children and gave examples of the events that she was involved in. Another project that was presented was her “To Be Human” project where individuals write on a piece of paper what being a human is. Cards, slips of paper and drawings were passed around which all had a simple text, typed on a typewriter, that said, “What does it mean to be human?” Below this question were all kinds of hilarious, existential and thoughtful drawings, sentences or phrases where individuals displayed what they believed the answer was. My personal favorite was a brown piece of paper, probably from a paper grocery bag, that simply had a stick figure with a flower growing out of its head, while another had a cut out image of monks eating at a IHOP or some other breakfast establishment. The concept is a great interactive piece and Bahrayni hopes to post the images online eventually.
The next artist, Carmen Tiffany, hails from Wyoming and is currently located in Miami. Her work focused on teenagers and children and their involvement and fascination with popular culture. She described her past in Wyoming and how teenagers would collect magazine clippings of items they hoped to own but would instead paste the clippings on their wall and live through the image. Tiffany is doing things and she’s doing a lot of it. She showed us images of her ceramic sculpture pieces, her video/animations, she also spent some time building a real life playhouse and is currently creating drawings that are directed towards “garbage media”. Initially, her work stemmed from the creation of her characters who are anthropomorphic/children/teenagers/toddlers…which all have the amazing names like “Little Miss Moonshine”. The common thread in all of her work includes these characters which she works into her neon, childlike, dream world.
Check out Carmen’s sweet work here: http://www.carmentiffany.com