Professor Dennis Congdon 75 PT showed Ignis fatuus (2013, flashe and enamel on canvas) and other paintings in various stages of development.
At last week’s sabbatical presentation in the Tap Room, Professor of Painting Dennis Congdon 75 PT offered an informal peek into his process. The painter spent most of the 2012–13 academic year preparing for his June solo exhibition at CUE in NYC and said that the months leading up to the show were even more productive than his Guggenheim Fellowship year in 2003.
Although Congdon traveled to Rome with his wife to recharge his creative batteries and revisit his “favorite painting on earth” at Casa di Livia, he spent most of his time working in his large Rehoboth, MA studio. There, with Lou Reed music playing and a couple of happy goats grazing nearby, he painstakingly hand-cut the intricate stencils he used to create four large-format paintings for the show and painted several smaller pieces that were thematically connected. When working in the studio, he says that he likes to imagine himself in two roles: as “the inspired guy and this other guy who works for the inspired guy.”
Despite his productive spring in Rehoboth, Congdon hopes to build a new studio at his family farm in South Kingstown, RI. At his presentation last week, the Painting alum showed slides of the farm and fondly recalled helping his dad in the fields and bringing RISD classmates home for weekend campouts back in the day.
Sweets & Bitters, a lovely quarterly publication and website cooked up by Hannah Kirshner 06 PT and Mira Evnine BArch 06, is among the nominations in the 2013 Audience Choice Awards category of Martha Stewart’s second annual American Made competition. You can cast up to six ballots per day for their beautiful “themed mini-cookbooks” between now and September 23. The six nominees with the most votes in each category (food, craft, design, style, gardening or technology) will receive an American Made gift basket and be featured on Martha Stewart Living’s website and on Sirius radio. One Grand Prize Winner will also win $10,000!
Other RISD nominees we’re aware of include Jennifer Lisa 94 JM of Quench Metalworks, sculptor/metalworker Susan Freda 96 SC, Annika Schmidt 08 FD of Lilliput Studios and Constance Sepulveda 07 FD of Scout by Two (please email email@example.com if you spot more). In the meantime, show your support and cast your ballots here!
Last week Mackenzie Younger 12 PT and other New York artists in the 7:30 Alliance presented Hip Hop Postmortem at Brooklyn Fire Proof. The multimedia show he curated examined urban pop culture and hip hop’s recent entry into “legitimate” art galleries and included animation by new RISD grad Africanus Okokon 13 FAV, music by Baba Doherty and additional artwork by Rafael Amadeo Foster and Kafumba Bility.
Everyone attending the show got a copy of Mind Sex Mag, in which participating artists express their thoughts on hip hop culture via essays, stories, poems and drawings. In it, Younger describes the musical genre as “a grand form of curation developed by generations of artists to express a complex point in human history that is still relevant today.”
In a panel discussion held on Thursday night, RISD students examined the lightning speed evolution of video game art and the unique challenges curators face as the medium transitions into the museum environment.
Jian Shen 14 FD, Lauren Martin 14 PT, Koji Yamamoto 14 FAV, David Tompkins 14 PT and Brown student Zachary Salmon were speakers on the engaging panel. Chris Romero – a writer from New York City who researches the history of video games – served as the panel’s moderator.
“The average player accepts video games as art,” explains Romero. “But not everyone involved in the art world has the same feeling.”
Pictured above: The developer of Killing Buddha challenges players to ponder the meaning of existence.
However, Romano argues that there are plenty of examples of great video games that should be placed in the pantheons of art and design. Some programs, he says, could be considered conceptual art as existentialism, personal identity and gender studies – topics often discussed in philosophy classes – are inspiring some of today’s most inventive developers.
For instance, the action game Killing Buddha encourages its players to virtually destroy large statues of the religious leader with automatic weapons. The player reaches “nirvana” (the final level) once all the Buddhas are blown up. According to the panelists, the game challenges players to ponder the meaning of their own existence.
“The definition of a ‘game’ is blurred as people continue to experiment with the medium,” notes Romero.
Martin also decided to push the boundaries of virtual art by creating her own character in The Sims, a life simulation video game that allows users to create their own avatars. “I wanted to mirror my own life as much as possible so my avatar paints as much as possible,” Martin explains. “I wanted to see what I could discover about my own artistic process through this virtual reality.”
The panel discussion was sponsored by the Painting department.
Red at Night, Farmers’ Delight, Concremiers (oil on wooden panel, 8x12”)
After living in New York City for 28 years, James Teschner 80 PT now spends most days painting outdoors near his home in the remote farmlands of central France. It shows – especially in his new solo exhibition, which opened last weekend at OK Harris in NYC and will continue on view through May 25.
Sun White Setting, Concremiers, France (oil on wooden panel, 8x12”)
James says that the direct experience of being in the landscape – often standing in the same field for months on end – is crucial to his creative process. In recent years he has focused intently on the setting sun and how the light changes towards nightfall. In his work, landscapes get obliterated – “almost devoured by the sun’s all-consuming luminosity or dissolved by the receding, diminishing light.”
Plum Glow, Concremiers (oil on wooden panel, 8x12”)
Enthusiastic Painting and Ceramics students and their friends flooded into Woods-Gerry last Thursday for the opening of their senior show, which is up through Tuesday, the 23rd.
And at the Excavation They Will Clean the Remaining Clay from Us, a piece by Eda Soylu 13 PT, features spring flowers preserved in concrete and rebar. The artist ruminated on the juxtaposition of life and death – how immersing the flowers in concrete killed them but also preserved them in all their beauty. Soylu plans to head back to her native Turkey after graduation, rent a quiet studio and continue to focus on her work.
Martial Ramos 13 PT is among the painting students who opted to show videos at the exhibition. He’s presenting a piece called The Tyranny, which seems to lament the hold that pornography has on modern-day men.
Other eye-catching pieces include this crowd-pleasing collection of cannibalistic circus freaks by Mika Thewes 13 CR anda large acrylic on masonite painting, Oolong, by Lucy Lie 13 PT.
At the opening, Ali Jane Hitchcoff 13 CR encouraged visitors to handle her organic ceramics pieces, including the gorgeous porcelain and walnut piece in the foreground above, called I Wish I Was.
Artist/teacher/painter/printmaker Mari Gyorgyey 86 PT has been making books for as long as she’s been making art. “It’s the centripetal force behind all my other creations,” says the Stamford, CT-based alumna.
“At RISD I was (not surprisingly) beyond encouraged to continue this habit. My books are in part a reflection of my thought process thoughout my lifetime.”
Filling sketchbooks and creating artists’ books provides a “playground” for experimentation, Mari says.
Mari’s Design Life (silk, drawings, design)
It’s “where I can paste in my etchings and alter them, try paintings, work with mixed media, practice drawing – and most of all, document reality between creating art. My books allow me the privacy to work out new ideas from the combinations, edit them and see how life influences my art – and vice versa.”
“Note to young bookmakers,” she adds: “Watch the food you glue in - after a decade it disintegrates.”
Frederico Garcia Lorca poem (collage, sewing on shower curtain)
On Friday, April 12, a group of RISD faculty and staff spent an enjoyable half hour absorbed in The Salon d’Or, Homburg, a painting by William Powell Firth on view in the RISD Museum’s main gallery.
The talk by Museum educator Horace Ballard was the first in the Staff Council’s new lunchtime series Discover the Hidden Treasures at RISD.
Ballard, whose down-to-earth style frequently captivates pint-sized museum visitors, encouraged the group to sit down and survey the 1871 painting for three full minutes before he began asking probing questions about its evocative characters. He also provided background information on the painting and the artist designed to facilitate deeper analysis and discussion.
Stay tuned for future lunchtime talks.
Painter Sonya Sklaroff 92 PT loves living in New York – and it shows in the gorgeous cityscapes she creates, whether she’s capturing the light warming industrial watertowers at sunset….
or glistening off wet sidewalks in the snow and rain…
or wrapping the Highline in a soft lunar glow.
On Sunday a solo show of Sonya’s oil on panel paintings opened at Galerie Anagama in Versailles, France, where it’ll be on view through April 18.
Sonya now has a couple of gallery reps in Paris, meaning the French are also channeling her love of New York through these lush, shimmering scenes of Manhattan.
Sheila Pepe - a prominent artist that first rose to fame in the 1970s for her powerful feminist and queer art - spoke to a crowded classroom filled with RISD students on Wednesday night.
The Brooklyn-based artist’s unexpected cross-disciplinary installations include unorthodox materials that could be found on a fishing dock. Nautical line, hooks, yarn and common hardware are kept in her studio.
“My interest lies in the risks we have to take to create to compelling work,” explained Pepe to the group of students. “I’ve pretty much shunned the rules we’re taught to abide by.”
Pictured above: This installation made out of nautical towline, shoelaces and paint was included in Mind the Gap, an exhibition held at the University of Massachusetts in 2005.
One the biggest pieces of advice Pepe gave to students: explore the environment. “I implore you to go out and squint at your surroundings,” Pepe said. “Go out and experience the world. Anything is grounds for inspiration.”
For Pepe, that inspiration can be found any object (or body part). Mr. Slit, a huge crocheted sculpture - that takes the form of a female organ - is one of her most recognized works. It was a smash success when it was first shown at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) in 2007. “Much of my work is rooted in my own lesbianism.”
And Pepe hasn’t been afraid to get political. In 1984, she weaved an elaborate web that was photographed on a podium where presidential candidate Sonia Johnson gave one of her most memorable speeches. “It symbolized the sphere of influence that a collective of women can embody,” Pepe explained.
Much to Pepe’s surprise and chagrin, commercial apparel companies have recently begun to take notice of her niche craft. Throughout national apparel chains, shoppers hunt for denim deals under web-like crocheted decorations. “I never imagined that I’d see my work in the windows of Anthropologie,” notes Pepe. “Does that change the meaning of my work? I’m not sure.”
The lecture was brought to RISD by the Painting department’s visiting artist lecture series.
On Tuesday, February 12 Leila Heller Gallery in Manhattan will host a panel discussion on the extreme economic disparities in global society. The 6:30–8 pm discussion is free and open to the public, and is being held in conjunction with a two-person exhibition at the gallery featuring the work of Gayle Mandle MFA 97 PT/PR and her daughter Julia Mandle.
Panelists include Chrystia Freeland, author of the well-received new book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else; Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, who recently published The Price of Inequality; Roger Mandle, an art historian and former president of RISD, among many other art-focused positions throughout his career; and Gayle. The topical show itself runs through February 16.
In an interview in the January issue of Modern Painters (and published on ARTINFO), Painting faculty member Christopher K. Ho clearly shows his “mordant wit.” He also talks about the inspiration behind his new show Privileged White People, which opened last week at Forever & Today in NYC.
In looking at the genesis of his well-named exhibition, Ho told aritst/interviewer Roger White – a privileged white person himself – that in teaching at RISD for over a decade, he has “encountered many preternaturally well-adjusted students. Their social ease impresses me,” he admits, adding that “looking back on my own early 20s, I didn’t have that at all.”
So Ho began wondering: “How does well-adjustedness manifest in art? What is the visual and formal vocabulary of well-adjustedness, or of a generation of particularly well-adjusted people?”
Read more about it in the interview or better yet: see the show. Privileged White People continues through February 17.
GAME II, a collaborative exhibition featuring work by mutually inspiring mother-daughter artists Gayle Wells Mandle MFA 97 PT/PR and Julia Mandle, opens at Leila Heller Gallery in Chelsea on Thursday (all RISD friends are invited to the opening reception from 6:30–8:30 pm).
This collaborative piece – called Burning Throne – epitomizes the show.
Inspired by the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement and the 2012 presidential election – recent events that brought issues of social justice and economic disparity to the forefront – the Mandles are presenting paintings, sculpture and mixed-media pieces they hope will inspire people of all backgrounds to think more openly and inclusively about what’s going on in the world around them.
Gayle’s mixed media piece Red Carpet (47 x 47”)
“By using their own techniques and technologies as tools to express concerns about social, political and environmental issues, my wife and daughter are attempting to extend viewers’ sights past the work seen in the gallery and outward towards the larger world,” notes Roger Mandle, RISD’s president from 1993–2008. Roger wrote the essay for the catalogue accompanying GAME II, which continues through February 16.
Julia’s embroidery on fabric piece Unraveling (28 x 15”)