Monday, November 15, 2010

Photos From St Patrick's Cathedral

Friday night I returned from a 10 day trip to NYC and NJ filled with art and fun. If you follow AOA you likely know my love of St. Patrick's Cathedral. I made several visits (4 I think). Here are a few shots from my visits.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mpls Photo Center Alternatives Invite

For those not in the art world, gallery calls for showing come in waves: typically two per year. The second is going on right now through November. Galleries are putting together their spring lineup.

This show at the Mpls Photo Center had a quick turnaround with invite and show going up at the beginning of November. One of my pieces from this past summer was chosen and will hang alongside many remarkable pieces. There is a slideshow of selected images on MPC site here.

If you are in the Mpls area please go check out the show. I will be in NYC and will be unable to make it to the opening. If you go, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the show.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Religion, Art and Censorship

Last week as I mentioned I was out at the North Dakota University Systems Arts and Humanities Summit. It was a great cozy little conference at Dickinson State in the loveliest part of North Dakota right outside the badlands. The University of North Dakota made an impressive showing of conference participation unlike a certain school 70 miles to the south of UND.

Both Patrick Luber and I presented on the curious relationship between art and religion. My presentation simple looking at the theological roots and interests that emerge in my artwork. While Patrick's presentation was more philosophical in nature considering the tenuous history of Christianity's participation in the arts. Despite the divergent approaches to our recent papers, we end up at similar positions that rely upon God's sovereignty to be revealed and use whatever means necessary for God's purposes. I think we would both suggest that a sacramental system allows an intelligent, nuanced, restrained and yet affirming engagement with the material world, and in particular the arts, that sidesteps knee jerk reactions and moralistic judgements.

Unbeknownst to me, a storm of religion and art was brewing 8 hours south of us as a Montana woman drove to Loveland Colorado with intents to destroy a work of art that had been challenged as inappropriate, smut, blasphemous and all the other basic descriptions that many religious folk use to denounce provocative pieces that deal with religion. The Denver Post has been covering the story with some basic articles which you can read here, here, here, and if you look to the right of each article there are links to more articles.

Violent actions toward art is nothing new as the one article recalls, which includes a very long history of religious destruction of work by both Christians and other religious traditions (the articles point out recent examples by the Taliban). Perhaps it is my personality, perhaps my education, perhaps it is my love of the arts, perhaps it is my love of learning and trying to understand others has perhaps given me a higher tolerance for engaging cultural forms. Perhaps. Whatever it is, I am drawn toward understanding these experiences, and trying to better articulate a Christian response.

One of the more curious aspects to this story is the difference between the methodologies of action between the woman who reacted violently by destroying the work with that of the Catholic deacon who arranged a peaceful protest and was heartbroken in the aftermath of the violence. Which, if any is the appropriate Christian action?

Why the knee jerk reactions? I am always puzzled at how quickly we respond with moral rejections of work without knowing context or meaning. What is the artist trying to say? What experiences are behind this work of art? Is their comment valid? Does the church need to hear their voice? These are some of the first questions we should be asking. Once we have come to understand the work of art in question, then, and only then, can we offer a Christian response and further engagement.

This has gotten to be a long post...more thoughts to come

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Keepin' at it...

Life is busy right now...which is unfortunately why this blog often sits dormant for a week or two at a time. Today I am headed out to Dickinson State University for the NDUS Arts and Humanities Summit. I will be presenting a paper on the theological roots of my artwork that I've titled "Embodying Theology: Artistic Practice and Theological Reflection." In the paper I briefly recount my theological journey towards Canterbury with particular interest paid to the sacramental imagination. Using that methodology I introduce the two central research trajectories of memory and place and what I mean by these. In the third movement of the paper I look at specific examples of my work (most of which has been posted here) that embody these themes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Valley City State University Show

Later this morning, I am headed to Valley City ND for an artist reception with several of my UND classmates. Besides the two hour drive out and back, it should be a great day. I am really looking forward to seeing our work in a gallery. Our work is so distinct from one another so I am really curious how it comes together into show.

Below is the press release from VCSU.

UND Graduate Students, Meghan Duda, Ryan Stander, Patrick Awotwe, and Jessica Christy will be on campus Friday, September 24 working with the VCSU Art Students. A panel discussion is scheduled in McCarthy 356 at 2:00 pm and a reception for the artists will be held in the VCSU Art Gallery 4:00 - 5:30 pm. The VCSU community and the public are welcome to attend.

Five Graduate Students from the University of North Dakota’s Master of Fine Arts program were invited to submit work for the exhibition that sets the stage for the artists' visit. The exhibition includes weavings from Patrick Awotwe; altered photographs from Meghan Duda; monoprints / monotypes from Anna Jacobson; lithographs, Ziatypes, and Cyanotypes from Ryan Stander; mixed media lithographs from Jessica Christy.

The Exhibition runs through October 1.

In his weaving and jewelry making Patrick Awotwe creates designs using traditional symbols that reference compositions from his African culture. Mr. Awotwe enrolled in graduate school in metalsmithing and jewelry and found a second creative voice in fibers. His homeland, Ghana, is noted for unique traditional weaving called kinte but his first fiber-works were created at UND. He describes the weaving of his daughter: "The Sunrise is a damask wall hanging that was inspired by Nhyira, my daughter. The bottom part shows a silhouette of her picture with fewer details and the top shows her full portrait. Traditional Ghanaian symbols “Gye Nyame” and “Afe “were used to give it an African identity. Nhyira literally means Blessing and the Sunrise is to describe her.”

Meghan Duda is fascinated with two things, architecture and photography. She has a professional degree in architecture from Virginia Tech and teaches an architectural photography seminar in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University. Ms. Duda states, “My selected photographs are a study of cutting.” She frames her photographs around elements that can be removed thus creating negative space. Meghan has exhibited through out the Midwest and Virginia. She also has been published and received a finalist recognition twice in competitions presented by Photography's Forum Magazine.

The family farm lifestyle and the fundamentals of organic farming have been ingrained in Anna Jacobson inner self and thought process and thus is the basis of her work. Nature’s cycles and the North Dakota landscape found their voices in the color, texture, and process of her work. Coming from the flat plains of rural North Dakota, Anna learned the value of simple beauty. Her work is not filled with complex details or bright commercial colors, but rich, full earthtone colors and textured details of the great American Midwest. Anna received her BA in studio arts with an empasis printmaking from Concordia College in Morehead, MN.

Ryan Stander's interests in theology and art are rooted in ideas of place/space, memory and identity formation. Mr. Stander has a MA in Theology from Sioux Falls Seminary and a BA in Art from Northwestern College. His work included in the exhibition comes from two bodies of work. The Religion as a Chain of Memory Series draws upon his theological research into place and memory. His Ziatype and Cyanotype Icon / Altars “draw upon the interplay of memory, identity and the photographic object itself, while playing with the traditional forms of Christian iconography and devotional altars."

Jessica Christy’s mixed media lithographs are a response to mass media, contemporary art history, and family heritage. Technically her work examines not only traditional printmaking but also the territory beyond the practiced techniques. Her work has been exhibited through out the Midwest, on the west coast and in London winning numerous awards. She works with the master press at UND, as both an assistant to the master printer and as a master printer, printing lithograph and intaglio editions for various well-known artists. Ms. Christy teaches drawing, printmaking, and design at UND. Jessica is a Valley City State University alumni who graduated with a BS in Art.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Even More Prints...

As promised...A few more finished prints, including my Oktoberfest invite. The first two are obviously related to the ongoing series. The invite...well...thats just for fun.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Prints

Today I finished 3 more prints...2 in this ongoing series which will appear here in a few days and an invite to an Oktoberfest party which will show up here too.

Again these prints fall under the Foreign Policy series of prints that utilize texting abbreviations as a shorthand for some kind of American attitude. The maps too function as a shorthand that represents real space.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Beginnings

Somehow it is already the 4th week of classes? Where did this past month go? I have made great progress on my print for the semester. So rather than waiting until the end of the semester I thought I would put up a few now.

This semester's focus is on mapping. Toward the end of the summer I started playing with a few cultural maps. See them here. I am taking a similar approach to my current series as I did for the fly-over states print by hand tracing the map and using a separate plate for text formatted in Photoshop.

The first map, is from a larger series that will show up here over the next few weeks. It might be called something like Foreign Policy, with a companion series Domestic Policy. It plays with the idea of cartography as a shorthand in a sense for real places. Here it is paired with a text abbreviation, another shorthand, that describes some sort of foreign relationship the United States has with another country.

The 2nd print is suggestive of a stereotypical arrogant American attitude about the rest of the world and America itself.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Recent Listenings II

A couple more of my recent favs...

and one old skool vid

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recent Listenings...

Occasionally I will post links to for some of my favorite new music or videos and such. This is one of those posts. Over the summer, UND's Wellness Center has been playing a XM radio alt rock station and I have discovered a few new artists. Below are a few of my favorites...

Here is a link to the Kooks song Naive (sorry cant embed the video).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fall Semester 2010

So it begins...the last year of the MFA program. A hectic summer of 10 credits leaves me with 12 to go before graduation. As it stands it will break 6 and 6 over the two semesters. That is of course if I survive the extracurriculars of this semester.

During my time here at UND I have worked hard to stay active in the academic theological world as well as start to build a quality artist CV as well. This fall will continue that trend with shows, lectures, travel, and conferences. At times it feels overwhelming with the amount I have to do to get to where I want to go, but at the same time with the encouragement of friends, my beautiful wife, and faith that God has created me with these two passions of art and theology I keep going.

Upcoming Events...
This week I have had stuff taken to Valley City University for a show arranged by Linda Whitney (a UND alum) whose daughter Jess I now share office and studio space with. The show will be of current UND graduate student work and will include an artist talk and panel discussion the day of the opening. The show will run from 9.1-9.30 with the reception on 9.24 from 4-5:30. If you are in the area please stop out to see the show.

Next week I will also be hanging work for the month of September at Amazing Grains here in Grand Forks. I think Amazing Grains is one of the stops on the GF area Art and Wine Walk as well to be held on September 18th from 1-5 pm. I will be showing a number from my Elevator Series. Its great to see them framed and sitting together. Until now, I had only framed a few pieces for other shows.

I will also be at Dickinson State University in Dickinson ND for the NDUS Arts and Humanities Summit. Faculty and students from across the state come together to showcase their research. UND's Department of Art and Design will make a good showing with a good number of students and faculty presenting. I will be presenting a paper called Embodying Theology: Theological Reflection and Artistic Practice. Essentially it is a reflection upon the theological backgrounds to my artwork and how those trajectories emerge within the work. I will also be co-presenting with Prof. Kim Fink on the collaborative printing for visiting artists through Sun Dog Multiples.

In November, the printmaking folks here will be heading to New York and New Jersey to give an artist talk at the Printmaking Council of New Jersey as well as printing for the recent Guggenheim recipient Daniel Heyman. While in NYC we will hit various museums, galleries, and of course the IFPDA Print Fair.

And somewhere in there, visit PhD programs, apply to PhD programs, and of course fulfill my 6 credits of studio work just in time for my all important 2nd candidacy review which basically lays out the direction for the final exhibition needed for graduation.

Im tired just typing all of this.

Better get to work.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Work VI

Another batch of lithos. This group is a random collection unifying theme or direction. These first 2 prints are variations of each other and the one table top photo icon from my earlier postings.

The next two images modify Ben Franklin's famous statement that (insert whatever) is proof that God loves us. This takes that statement and pushes it into geography and patriotism and comes out as another intentionally arrogant pro America statement. While those of you who know me or my comments on the blog know that I would hardly be considered patriotic, the statement seems to hover between reality as something you might see on a t-shirt and just being over the top. Its one of my favorites...not so of my lovely Canadian wife.

The 3rd print is one Ive been talking doing for a long time of the fly-over states. The fly-over states, if you dont know are the states that most people only see from the air as they pass from one side of the country to the other. They make up a rather irrelevant and unrecognizable lot to many Americans. This print intends to highlight that attitude.

Summer Work V

This series continues the line of thought from the Religion as a Chain of Memory series in an alternative direction. There are 3 pieces in this series, but it looks like I forgot to photograph one. The prints contain an embossing of the state/province, 4 color separation portraits, local maps, and a regional landscape. The images are then chine-colle'd onto BFK. They are intended to be folded like an accordian (but i have not gotten to that yet).

Summer Work IV

One of my continuing experiments has been with light and translucence of materials. My original hope had been to have these back lit with a light box of sort but the work and cost of producing that many light boxes quickly shut that door. I continued on with printing on various Japanese papers measuring about 24x39 which I then covered in wax to increase its translucence. This first is a Van Dyke on Mullberry which ripped horribly but was salvaged with cheesecloth melted into the wax. It produces a unique scarred look. The next few images are cyanotype images which normally have an electric blue color. These were toned to produce a more subdued eggplant hue. There is also one detail shot of a preliminary means of display. The intent is to have the image floating 4-6 inches from the wall.

Summer Work III

This series offers a twist to the previous postings. Maintaining the form and materials I made the iconographic dimension more explicit. I also began to experiment with the Ziatype process. The transitional piece uses a vintage photo of my father writing home during his 2 years stationed in Germany in the 50's. The small cyanotype is of an old home. The next image is of my father-in-law and the third, my brother-in-law. I shot these images this summer on our trip home to SK. These last two, and likely the third in a less literal way, are about place and the dialectic between humanity and the land.

Summer Work II

Another set within this series on panels deals with lost vernacular photos as objects and the severed memories associated with the photos themselves. This series has a tentative artist statement associated written below.

Somewhere hanging delicately between subjectivity and objectivity, memory functions. More than simple recall or a mental rolodex, memory is constituent of our very being. It informs. It orients. It is the deep well of our imagination. It can be shared and it is in perpetual reform. Within this delicate and mysterious dance, photography’s process and product enter as curious partners of memory’s fact and fiction, accuracy and distortion.

The photographic object spins out a silvery thread linking a past moment to the ongoing present. Our awareness of such is what Barthes’ called startling prick of the punctum, that historical moment of the shutter snapping open and closed allowing light to pour in and write its lingering image. That moment may persist for viewers today if they are able to wade through the flood of images that daily dull our senses, they may arrive at the alchemy of the photographic object itself.

While the punctum of time’s persistence may continue, the photographic object emanates from a particular context and set of narratives. And yet, while the remnant object retains its silvery thread to its referent, the narratives and contexts are often severed or unraveled within our vernacular photographs. Indexicality remains, but its context has been severed. In these lost images, mute strangers stare back at us. Objects become evidence of their existence but they are divorced from their story.

This body of work draws upon the interplay of memory, identity and the photographic object itself, while playing with traditional forms of Christian iconography and devotional altars. By re-presenting lost vernacular photographs through such wooden panels, it intends to impart a loose religious reading to both the lost photographic object and its referent. Heightening this religious sense are the photographic processes themselves. By utilizing hybrid or alternative photographic processes, it creates a curious sense of age and sentimentality. Coupling these paneled images with smaller cutout images continues my interest in the composite which encourages the viewer elucidate the connection among the cluster of images.

Summer Work

It has been a quite a while since Ive been updating this on a regular basis. This summer was... well... overwhelming. What was I thinking taking on 10 credits? I guess its the Dutchman within since the credits were free. So in that, I will not complain. And I did manage to make a lot of work both in alternative photo and printmaking.

I challenged myself this summer with moving the image away from the traditional mat and frame. The trouble then becomes how is it displayed. One direction I began was to work into a table-top icon or altar piece. These images combine a base with the images printed in either Van Dyke or Cyanotype on plywood.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Gather Us In...A New Favorite Hymn

Several weeks ago at St. Paul's, we sang "Gather Us In." Now, as with many things, it takes several hearings before it stands out so I have probably heard this hymn before. It grabbed my attention right off the bat with the place reference. It describes so much of what I have been trying to articulate about Philip Sheldrake's work Spaces for the Sacred that welcomes the periphery into the whole...the marginalized and broken, the ambiguous and forgotten people and memories are brought out into the Eucharist. Here...not just in the church, but at the altar we bring our fears and our dreams...offering the human pathos. So much more should be said about this wonderful hymn. If you've not heard it you can hear it above and read it below.

Here in this place, new light is streaming
now is the darkness vanished away,
see, in this space, our fears and our dreamings,
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in the lost and forsaken
gather us in the blind and the lame;
call to us now, and we shall awaken
we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young - our lives are a mystery
we are the old - who yearns for you face.
we have been sung throughout all of history
called to be light to the whole human race.
Gather us in the rich and the haughty
gather us in the proud and the strong
give us a heart so meek and so lowly
give us the courage to enter the song.

Here we will take the wine and the water
here we will take the bread of new birth
here you shall call your sons and your daughters
call us anew to be salt of the earth.
Give us to drink the wine of compassion
give us to eat the bread that is you
nourish us well and teach us to fashion
lives that are holy and hearts that are true.

Not in the dark of buildings confining
not in some heaven, light years away
but here in this place, the new light is shining
now is the kingdom, now is the day.
Gather usin the and hold us forever
gather usin and make us your own
gather us in all peoples together
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work

In Laundry Liturgy and Women's work, Kathleen Norris reflects on the nature of the mundane tasks and the potential for sacramental inbreaking. Tonight as I did the dishes alone in our hot kitchen, something sparked my memories of working at Inspiration Hills. For three summers (1995, 1996, 2000) I worked as grounds crew, lifeguard, and sometimes reluctant counselor. I would spend glorious hours in the sun, evenings worshipping with new friends, late night games, and lots of laughing. In my recent years of growing interest in sacred spaces, I often ask people if they have places they consider sacred. Its fairly frequently that church camps become what so many people recognize as sacred space. Inspiration Hills is that for me as well. Both as a camper and staff, my story is not complete without this place. So tonight, as I did dishes in our hot kitchen, I remembered the hard and thankless work done by my friends at just one camp to make a summer, week, even meal a sacred possibility for thousands of campers. This work doesn't pay well. We would told that we would be exhausted but yet somehow feel refreshed at the end of the summer. And we were. My thought tonight is that in the midst of the summer heat...tensions can run high, frustrations mount, irritability sets in, songs are sung over and over and over. And inspite of our weaknesses, God moves, both staff and campers respond. Tonight I am reminded to pray for both campers and staff alike...for receptivity and endurance.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sacred Spaces

I apologize for this blog's dormancy for the past few months. I can assure you that it has not been abandoned yet.

Today I simply want to post a link to a friends blog post on Sacred Space. In the link the article describes a group that works to create sacred spaces amidst violent and drug ridden urban centers. Their hope is create alternative spaces for reflection and the sacred. They seem to take a wide or pluralistic view of the sacred. What is striking to me about these spaces is that they are created for others without a sense of exchange or a grace offered freely. My cynical side wonders if the church can create and maintain spaces for human flourishing (which i would argue necessarily involves the pursuit of religious practices) if they are followers of another religion or denomination? Can a evangelicals create sacred spaces for Catholics? Can Christians create spaces for Muslims, Buddhists, Pagan's? And vice-a-versa? What is at stake for religious groups to do so? Can we get past issues of religious truth to recognize the dignity of all humanity in order to create open spaces where community and identity may flourish?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Its PKAP season again...

Its PKAP season again...but unfortunately I will be back in ND most of the summer following their blogs as I work in the Graduate School and spend countless hours in the art studios. For those of you who have followed the project in the past, Bill Caraher has started the PKAP blog aggregator which condenses all the associated PKAP blogs into one handy-dandy little site.

While I feel completely spoiled for having gotten to go to Cyprus last year, and know that this is a very important summer for my MFA program here, I cannot help but to be a little sad at not going this year. While this season is not the same as last year (museum work vs. field work...from what I understand), I will miss the the quaintness of Larnaca, the historic streets, the bustling beaches, the Petrou Brothers apartments, Kalifatzia's haloumi sandwiches, Shark jokes, the community of the team, and of course the long hours of work in the sun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring Semester Van Dyke Prints II

This is the second half of the initial suite (i am planning on doing a few more today for my summer work). I've also learned there is a way to make these more permanent by using a gold toning. The unfortunate part of this process is that it doesnt hang around long...2-15 years...perhaps more if you keep them in a light safe box in a drawer in a dark basement.