Tuesday, December 22, 2009

UND National Juried Photo Show

In April, Elijah Gowin, a recent Guggenheim recipient will be at UND as a visiting artist and for the opening of a show, of which he is the juror. The show will be called "Of Memory, Bone and Myth". Take a look at the prospectus by following the link above.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Volunteers Needed...For a Print Series

I've begun a new series that I hope to carry into the spring building off of, or modifying some work I did this past semester. Last Christmas break I returned to campus with my family slides and began scanning them to use for printmaking purposes. My hope then was to make 4-color separation prints of my father and me distanced by a landscape (either mine or his). I never got around to making this idea, though I held on to it. This semester I began making the Landscape of Belief series which took creedal type statement overlaying a landscape to suggest how such statements orient us, as maps do, within the world.

This new series, however, combines those ideas and builds on them. The two prototypes seen here take a photo of my father and me on a ski lift at Terry Peak which then is chine colle'd on to a landscape with the Apostle's Creed, in my fathers handwriting over both. My ideas still include the statements as orientation bits, but they become more personal and intimate by including a photo of my father and me. My hope is to extend the series to encompass men and their sons or men and their mentors and the impact their words have had on their life. Daniele Hervieu-Leger's text Religion As A Chain of Memory rests a base conceptual idea beneath this project. Her sociological approach considers the decline of religion and contention that in today's culture, religion must be a chain of memory...where individuals become part of a community that links past, present and future shared as a collective memory.

I am beginning with my own family, simply because I have access to the photos. But I am seeking volunteers to be included in this series. If you are interested in sharing a photo and a short reflection on your sons/father/mentor please let me know. There may even be a print in it for you.

Neither prototype is perfect but I am curious as to which might have the stronger visual attraction. Thoughts? The text in the print on top is darker, and most who have seen the two appreciate the darker text.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Landscape and Politics

One of the things that came out of my summer residency in Cyprus with PKAP was the awareness of the contested nature of place and landscape. Cyprus is currently divided in half by a United Nations guarded neutral zone cutting the Turkish North from the Greek South. In recent years the gates have been reopened for residents to pass back and forth more easily. I made two prints with these ideas in mind. The first is a blind embossment of the island of Cyprus with a series “X’s” embroidered along the green line in such a way that it mimics not only the guarded barbed wire strung along this artificial line, but also the utter geographical, political, ideological, and religious divides that continue to plague these landscapes. My hope is to continue this series a little further as well by exploring other contested spaces/places which may well extend beyond landscape into ideological spaces/places.

The second print takes two urban landscape images; first, of the Turkish North and one of the Greek South and placed them next to each other as in a diptych. I then used Photoshop to cut and paste the copious amounts of graffiti that covered most city blocks in both the North and South. The graffiti represents the literal plurality of contests marked upon the landscape.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Landscape as Construction and Consumable

This semester I also toyed around a bit with ideas about landscape construction and consumption. Simon Schama has said that "landscape is culture before they are nature." Thus we are shaped and have ideas about the structure of landscape images already present when we look at the land.

The first image takes that idea in a literal way by applying both scaffolding and traffic cones over and extending beyond the landscape to suggest their pre existence or external existence to the landscape itself.

The second and third prints are meant to convey the consumption of landscape. One a natural object and the other, quite possibly the epitome of artificiality. These 4 color separation prints are meant to challenge the viewer and how they interpret the landscape. Does our consumer mentality filter into how we see the world around us?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Landscape of Belief

Up to this point I have only been sharing images of my photography from this semester. I've completed a good number of lithos again this semester and over the next few days I will try to get a few of them up as I am pushing to finish up a paper on landscape art and theory (which will hopefully make its way on here as well).

The series below was an idea I stumbled upon midway through the semester. I was reading how in the development of landscape art, landscape and cartography played off each other even merging at times. I began to think about mapping and what kinds of maps we use to get around today. At the same time I was listening to Krista Tippet's Speaking of Faith interview with the late religious historian Jaroslav Pelikan. It struck me that our creedal statements can function like maps to orient our participation in the world. My hope is to continue this series though in a modified format to be increasingly more inclusive extending well beyond typical religious creeds. A step in that direction is the Pledge of Allegiance. Conceptually I like them, but after a recent critique, I need to work on the visual aspects of the relationship between the text and landscape.

Below each text I've also added a blind embossing of a "devotional object" for the text. The first, the Shema, is the word Zakhor or remember in Hebrew. The second, is a couch suggestive of the therapist couch (in what I am making a judgment upon as a therapeutic kind of religious creed), the third of course is the US flag, and the 4th a pair of folded hands in prayer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Between the Folds

I watched this last night on PBS...What an amazing film. Art, Math, Science. See it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elevator Series

The semester is drawing towards a close, as you might have inferred from the lack of recent posting here at AOA. Next week I will be turning in 30+ 17x11 images of the Elevators Series. For the most part, I've been really happy with this project and look forward to picking it up again in next spring and summer when the North Dakota temperatures allow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ELCA Splits Over Gay Clergy...some thoughts

ELCA Splits Over Gay Clergy
This article is on the front page of Sioux Falls' Argus Leader. My point in this post is not to argue who is right or wrong. Too much of that has been done already in hurtful and violent ways that are antithetical to the ideals of the Church. I recently had a conversation (via Facebook) with an old seminary friend about those who decide to stay and why we need to support them and the larger whole of the Church catholic in prayer over these issues rather than continually lead with condemnation of their actions. It is easier to critique from a safe distance than to pray and walk with brothers and sisters of Christ who remain for reform.

These situations in the Episcopal and Lutheran churches deeply sadden me as they have been my ecclesial homes over the past 4 years. I have seen the strife from within and from outside the denominations and local congregations because of ignorance and blanket types of statements. Within any large ecclesial body there is bound to be wide differences of interpretations; thus no blanket statement is just for the body. Within these bodies there are those who choose to stay within because they not only hold high the authority of scripture like Evangelicals, but also ecclesial authority found in the bishopry. Most Evangelicals fail to see that this dual crisis of authority. They only read these situations through sola scriptura mediated by an authority of interpretation rooted within themeselves. To an Anglican/Episcopalian considering leaving the denomination it is also a rejection of the bishop and their authority. It is a dangerous, and perhaps treasonous, collapse of their theology.

My hope is that those who stand outside these discussions can and will support those who remain with prayer and encouragement rather than insults and judgement. Furthermore, not only those who remain for reform, but pray also for those who oppose you and whatever side you may be on. And perhaps pray not even for conversion to your way of thinking, but for the sake of Christ's body and mission on earth. I encourage all sides to look toward each other with compassion in spite of their differences remembering that we are all sinners in desperate need of God's mercy.

God have mercy upon us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009


The other day I received a Facebook message from my niece asking for help with a college writing project on creativity. She is to interview someone about creativity and I was happy to help.

Creativity is something that I have thought about a fair amount...the 4th chapter of my thesis was positing a theory of creativity in a theological perspective. And yet, now that I have looked over these questions, my words seem to slip away. But I thought it would make for an interesting post series as I take on these questions. So I will be posting my answers to her questions and invite you to participate as well if you have thoughts along the way.

1)As an artist, how do you define creativity?

2)In your opinion, how interchangable are the words "creative" and "innovative?"

3)How has artistic creativity aided you throughout your life?

4)What areas of your life have been effected by creativity outside of your artistic career? i.e. problem-solving

5)In your opinion, how could others benefit from expanding/realizing their creativity?

6)Considering biological and environmental influences, what do you consider the source of creativity?

7)Do you agree with this quote? All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.-Pablo Picasso

8)Do you feel your level of creativity has been consistant through your life? If so, why? If not, what do you believe accounts for these changes?

9)Are there particular experiences or people that effected your creativity?

10)If you or someone you knew wanted to increase their level of creativity, what steps would you advise them to take?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Suzanne Gonsalez - Smith

Two posts in one day...

I post this with joy that one of my primary professors here at UND, Suzanne Gonsalez - Smith, has a gallery opening at the Center For Fine Art Photography in Colorado tonight.

"Artist and Public Reception
November 6th 6-9 pm
Show dates: November 6-28, 2009
Gonsalez was selected for the Solo Exhibition Award by the Portfolio ShowCase 2 juror, Rixon Reed.

Gonsalez series, Remains, focuses on the absence of what once was and what remains."

Click on the "Remains" link to see the images from this powerful show.

Eve gets a makeover by artist Roberta Paul - Sudbury, MA - The Sudbury Town Crier

Eve gets a makeover by artist Roberta Paul - Sudbury, MA - The Sudbury Town Crier
Roberta Paul, a UND MFA alum, is taking on a long theological heritage. According to the article,
"Challenging ingrained notions of shame, the Newtonville artist gives Eve a cultural makeover by contrasting Masaccio's famous 1427 painting "The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden" with her own gentler contemporary vision."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Prairie Abstractions: A Preliminary Artist Statement

This semester as part of my photography credits I am being asked to work on my artists statements. I must work through 3 drafts, the last of which is turned in with the final 30 images at the conclusion of the semester.

For someone who likes to write, artist statements do not come easily. I think I tend to default to my theological writing style that many just find arduous and technical. This recent attempt at commenting on the Elevator Series, seemed to emerge a little more poetically this time. Take a quick read. I would love any thoughts on it.

"As child growing up among the fertile soils of Iowa farmland, grain elevators were a frequent sight and destination. In a land known for flatness, these vertical edifices become a towns’ most prominent and recognizable architecture. They tower above the trees and cast far reaching shadows at the extremities of the day. In the fall, they become the swollen bellied depositories of the regions hard work and financial hopes. Here I would wait with my father in the train-like lines of tractors and wagons. In other seasons, as I passed through this busy hub on my bicycle, I would dodge its deep potholes worn into the pummeled ground by the over-loaded traffic.

While my recollections of these times and places are fragmentary, they still loom as large as the elevators themselves in my memory and imagination. This series is, in a sense, a return “home.” Not only to similar places that evoke long stored and now partial memories, it is a return to a first love of black and white photography. This pilgrimage of memory and method allows a continuation of work in regional architecture and geometric abstraction.

These images follow a long lineage of abstraction, particularly found in the modernist photographer and painter Charles Sheeler. They allow the bucolic and vernacular architecture to be continually transformed by the play of light and shadow that daily creep over and around the corrugated angles and lines.

This body of work attempts to push back on the tendency within photography to emphasize indexicality and objective realism while still conveying an accuracy of representation. Viewers are challenged to see beyond the literal reality into the fractured structural form and overall composition."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Steamroller Prints in Fargo

A few weeks ago, on a rainy Saturday morning some of us print students made a 70 mile drive from Grand Forks to the Plains Art Museum in Fargo to watch a group from Minnesota do steamroller prints...which as it sounds, uses a steamroller to make large scale prints. As part of the museums Day of the Dead series, worked with ArtOrg from Northfield, MN.

While we only saw them pull this first print of the color fields, it was fun to see this large scale operation. The next day, they were planning on printing the 2nd "plate" seen in standing in the background of the second image. Once inked, the image is wedged into the wooden runway, paper carefully rested on top, covered, and steamrolled. The drive of the steamroller needs to deftly maneuver the machine as moving more than and inch or so to one side or the other will crinkle the paper. The first print, as you can see and know if you are a printmaker, is always a test until the ink builds up enough on the plate. On a scale this large, it takes a lot of ink!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

UND Recent Acquisitions Show

UND kicked off their gallery schedule this fall with a wonderful collection of its recent acquisitions funded largely through the wonderful Myers Foundation. Below is a sampling of my favorite pieces from this show, as well as the text panel for the show. Img. 2 - Kiki Smith, Img. 3 - Ben Shahn, Img. 4 - Louise Chase, Img. 5 - Helen Frankenthaler, Img. 6 & 7 - Audrey Flack, Img. 7 & 8 - Peter Kuper, Img. 9 - Joyce Kozloff.

Both the Audrey Flack and Peter Kuper were made here at UND through our visiting artist series in the semester before I arrived. UND bought the Daphne sculpture by Audrey Flack and when she came out, also did a series of prints with her featuring the sculpture as seen here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Helge Skaanlund: Visiting Artist From Norway

A few weeks ago UND was host to Helge Skaanlund, a visiting artist from Norway. Helge is typically a painter, but has also worked in commercial printing. One of the great things about UND is their visiting artist program and the time these artists spend with students. In the printmaking area, students generally get to help the artists print as well.

While Helge was here, we pulled three different prints series. One larger traditional stone litho seen in most of the image of a Norwegian landscape. Helge worked from a painting as seen in the first image where he is checking the surface of the stone.

Helge's other images were more cartoon line drawings of traditional Viking figures. The second image, UND grad student Anna Jacobson assists with the editioning process. Generally the artist takes half of the edition and half stays with the print studio.

The 3rd image is a close up of the print which Helge later went into with a small brush and red ink to color the top of the light house barely visible on the white area that juts out into the water. The 4th image is our fine printers...Josh and Jess. And the last image is Josh and Helge sorting though the batch of prints that will make up the final edition.

This was my first time to assist and observe the nearly the whole process of working with a visiting artist. I sat and photographed most of the time, but was allowed to put both Josh's and the studio's chop on...not much but its a start as I slowly learn this world of printmaking. Its a lot of fun to see the team work together and produce work with an artist.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pastor to Host Halloween Bible-Burning Event - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com

Pastor to Host Halloween Bible-Burning Event - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - FOXNews.com

Posted using ShareThis

Ok...this is ridiculous. Which version of the 20+ of the KJV revisions are you using? Kinda shoots a hole in that inerrant thing of yours. In my days at the seminary we would occasionally run into KJV only folks like this. They would inevitably ask what translation we use to which my stock answer became, "we prefer to work from the original greek and hebrew." But even this is not enough for many hardcore KJV because they privilege and dismiss certain ancient texts. But again, anyone who has done even a little translation work realizes the word play involved especially in hebrew that goes into a translation. One of the first things I learned in seminary is that every translation is based upon interpretation, built upon varieties of foundations and theological premises and presuppositions.

All that being said, I might agree that Christians might be better off to burn some of the books surely going into the fire.

Elevator Series

I've not made posting a priority lately but I shot some fun shots in this ongoing elevator series over last weekend. We've been gone to Minneapolis and Sioux Falls over the last 2 weekends to see friends and such. My weeks have been condensed down into about 3.5 days of actual time so blogging has not been a priority.

Days like last Sunday in the fall and spring in ND are rare...no wind and bright sun. So under these perfect conditions I was able to get a few quality shots for the series. I feel these two are among the best thus far for the series.

One of the struggles being an interdisciplinary person as I am is staying active in both fields. Most of my time here at UND has been focussed on art (as it should) though I do try to maintain a small connection into the theological conferences and even postings here. Over the past year I have had quite a few opportunities to show across ND, SD, NJ and even S. Africa. I did find a potential show for these elevator prints called Positive/Negative. You never know what will come with juried shows. So much depends upon the chosen juror and their interpretation of the theme, their likes/dislikes, and probably their mood the day they look at all the submissions. Artists are jokingly referred to as "starving artists" likely because to enter 3 pieces in a show like this costs about 30 or 35$, plus framing costs, and of course round-trip shipping all for one line on your CV. My pessimism aside, it it quite fun to get the email or letter that something of yours was chosen to be shown. Here's to hoping...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rich 2 Visit to UND

This week has been a busy for the department of Art & Design who has played host to a visiting artist from Norway, as well as a beloved U.N.D. alum, Rich Patterson.  Rich earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from The Graduate School at University of North Dakota in 2008.  Rich is also known as Rich 2; a well known graffiti artist in the 1980’s from New York City.  While his life has changed drastically from those days to teaching today in North Carolina, Rich has gifted the university community with several wall-sized works of his former handiwork.  For many years Rich had left the graffiti world behind him, but recently, in certain contexts, Rich is using his artistic gifts as a platform for his story and education.

Rich returned to campus to a full schedule including lectures in the department of Integrated Studies with Tami Carmichal, and for the Outsider Art class within the art department, in addition to creating a 8’ x 10’ foot work on canvas for the Integrated Studies Program.

Earlier this fall, just prior to school starting Rich's work was at the center of a small controversy.  As the school attempted to renovate OKelly hall, one of Rich's works was threatened.  Those who follow AoA might just remember a posting and nice following discussion back in August.  As Rich is a proud UND alum, the provost Paul LeBel (bottom photo Paul and President Kelly) and his wife stepped in and commissioned another piece for the school (see below).

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quinn Justman Benefit Auction

Just a reminder to check out the benefit auction for my nephew Quinn Justman. Many of the pieces seen on this blog over the past few months are up for auction. Buy some nice art (or other great stuff)...support a young couple. Online bids are being taken now!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Manhatta by Charles Sheeler & Paul Strand

Manhatta is one of several films that Sheeler and Strand made, though only this one survives. Still images from this film show up in both artists work. This collaboration is one of Modernism's high points and predates, what in many ways has a similar feel, in Russia's avant-garde film maker Dziga Vertov's The Man With The Movie Camera (which by the way, is one of my all time favorite films. You can read a previous posting on Vertov's work here.). Sheeler and Strand's work pre-dates Vertov's film by 8 or 9 years. Enjoy this wonderful piece of Modernism with an updated Brian Eno soundscape.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Charles Sheeler's Photography

This semester is slipping by all too quickly and I have failed to keep up with my writing here.  My hope had been to do a series on the work of Sheeler as a source of inspiration for my recent elevator series.  Its now 2/3 of the way through September and I have yet to draw those connections.

Charles Sheeler (1883-1965) is known more for his painting as a key member of the precisionist school than for his photography.  That being said, for a short time, Sheeler was the leading photographer in the United States and perhaps even beyond.  In 1913 Sheeler exhibited 6 new paintings in the Armory show and about the same time, Sheeler picked up the camera to make ends meet shooting architecture around the Northeast.  In 1915 Sheeler's photography moved forward into abstraction with the photograph Side of White Barn (seen below).  Sheeler now sought to merge photography's realism or indexicality with Modernity's drive toward abstraction.  His goal was to show that the basic elements in Modern art, particularly cubism, existed within nature.  

Sheeler also employs another key to Modern art, that of flatness.  Through photography, Sheeler is able to explore real depth and the flatness of the actual image through light, shadow, line, form and the overall composition.  What emerges in his work is a bold geometry and structure of the American industrial ediface.  The first image is of the Ford Plant and the second graces the cover of the book I read this summer...certainly the finest coverage of Sheeler's photographic work.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Anarchy, Rivalry and the beginnings of the Roman Empire

A heads up for the UND regional followers...

The Cyprus Research Fund

Department of Political Science and Public Administration

The Department of History present

"Anarchy, Rivalry and the beginnings of the

Roman Empire "

Prof. Michael P. Fronda

Department of History, McGill University

Professor Fronda’s paper will examine the growth of Roman power in the ancient world by focusing on how the city of Rome came to dominate the Italian Peninsula. Through an innovative use of contemporary international relations theory, Prof. Fronda argues that Rome capitalized on the tendency for ancient state relations to be anarchic, on the one hand, but in some way limited by enduring rivalries between particular states, on the other. Rome’s ability to exploit these fundamental characteristics of ancient, and perhaps all, states led ultimately to the city’s domination of Italy and provided important lessons for the city’s conquest of the Mediterranean world.

September 17, 2009

Chester Fritz Library

East Asia Room

4 pm

Reception to follow

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Benefit and Auction for Quinn Justman

Nearly a year ago, my niece Adrienne's husband Quinn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.  And over this past year he has undergone a variety of treatments to prolong his life.  Despite the generosity of doctors volunteering their time, the couple has accumulated a significant amount of medical expenses and debt.

Our family has conspired to put on a benefit and auction on October 17th to help defray a bit of their expenses.  Both Adrienne and Quinn were art majors at Univ. Wisconsin - Stout and will hopefully be putting a few of their works up for auction as well as some of their friends and local artists.  

My sister Nancy has started a website and blog to keep those interested up to date with the benefit news, as well as, images and descriptions of auction items.  If you are interested in donating a work of art to the auction or purchasing  something from the auction please let us know.  

You can also follow Quinn's treatments and such on his Caringbridge site.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Elevator Series

This past weekend I made my way down to South Dakota to see friends and on to the homeland of Iowa to visit my family at Marble Beach for a weekend of camping.  Along the way down and back I made numerous stops to continue working on the elevator series.  The two posted here are from a fortuitous detour through Ocheyeden Iowa.

These similar shots, while of the same subject and angle work differently.  The top image is much is more tightly cropped and flattens the subject more than the second which takes in more shadow and variety of planes and tonal fields.  


Monday, August 31, 2009

North Dakota Elevator Series

As I've noted several times recently, my fall work will further explore photographic and architectural abstraction of a particular kind of building...the grain elevator.  This is in one sense is an expansion and narrowing of my previous work.

The work will narrow my focus on one form of architecture but will simultaneously expand from the flat formal shots of the Threshold series to include angles, as well as the black and white photograph itself from the previous color work.  

By relying upon black and white, I feel like I am able to push the natural abstraction of the architectures angles, shadows and light as they pass over varieties of tin and other metals.  Though our goals are different, I feel like I am working more in the tradition of Lewis Baltz and perhaps even more towards Charles Sheeler.  I hope to do a little more comparison to Sheeler in the coming weeks.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A New Semester

A new semester is upon us...and we are already one week in. This semester may be my busiest yet with increased credits and expected work. My plans include 10 credits (3 History of Landscape, 3 Mixed Media Photo, 4 Mixed Media Printmaking). By the end of this semester I will be 1/2 way though my program which is hard to believe.

My project for the semester will in many ways continue work done previously. My photo work, as noted earlier this week, will explore abstraction and the North Dakota grain elevators. In printmaking, I will continue the exploration of mapping and place, though this will be attempting new methods (photo litho and silk screen). My last class is a supervised reading/independent study in the history of landscape arts. I am really excited about this last one as so many of my ideas come through my readings of history and theory. My hope is to post frequently on these topics over the semester. I've listed the some of the texts which I will explore selections from for the course.

Andrews, Malcom. Landscape and Western Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Blauvelt, Andrew, ed. Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 2008).

Buttner, Nils. Landscape Painting: A History (New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 2006).

Casey, Edward. Representing Place: Landscape Painting & Maps (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002).

Cosgrove, Dennis. Social Formation and Symbolic Landscape (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998).

DeLue, Rachael Ziady and James Elkins. Landscape Theory (New York: Routledge Press, 2008).

Markonish, Denise, ed. Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape (North Adams, MA: Mass MoCA, 2008).

Rogoff, Irit. Terra Infirma: Geography’s Visual Culture (New York: Routledge Press, 2000).

Rosenblum, Naomi. A World History of Photography, 4th ed. (New York: Abbeville Press Publishers, 2007).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New/Finished Prints

I've finished a print from last semester with the new embossing. See the detail in the first image and the whole print in the middle image.

The second print, "Choke," is a new one suggesting the importance of recycling and the potential dangers to animals that soda and beer six pack rings might cause.