Posted tagged ‘emily carr’

How to View The Show at Emily Carr

May 17, 2013

With over 300 Design, Media, and Visual Arts graduates this year, Emily Carr University of Art and Design’s grad exhibition offers something for everyone. I walked through the rooms for 2 hours on Monday but was disappointed with the first few rooms thinking that after 4 years of study shouldn’t there be some art that displays a little more skill and thought? But then I started finding a few artworks that made me laugh, or appreciate their technique, or think about their message.

Parcel #1357 by Shannon McKirgan

Parcel #1357 by Shannon McKirgan

There will be as many opinions about an art show as there are people who walk through it. Art is personal. What you like another person may hate. Some people like posters of puppies in their living room. Others would faint at that idea and thus spend hours at auctions trying to find the right Miro print to match their decor. I forget which artist said it, perhaps it was Christian Boltanski when he had a show at the Vancouver Art Gallery, but I remember this idea and use it whenever I view art: the artist said “I don’t care whether they love my art or hate my art, just as long as they have some kind of reaction. If they feel nothing then my art has failed.”

The next step would be to ask yourself why you love it, or hate it, or are indifferent to it. Art is a form of communication. So what is it saying to you? Sometimes the answer doesn’t come right away. I like Shannon McKirgan’s “Parcel #1357”, but I still am not sure why. It’s not a style that I normally pick out. The subject is a little depressing – a lone box of a building. For now I think it’s just the quality of her brushstrokes and the positive versus negative space, as well as the framing presentation.

Cachalot and Gray by Fiona Hawkes

Cachalot and Gray by Fiona Hawkes

With the whale close ups in charcoal by Fiona Hawkes I immediately knew I liked them because I appreciate the skill in her realistic drawings. I draw realistically, and thus whenever I see other artworks in this style I am drawn (ha!) to them.

Throwing by Nolan Drew

Throwing by Nolan Drew

Then there was the mini installation “Throwing” by Nolan Drew. It immediately put a smile to my face because as much as I love working on a wheel, it’s not easy to make a bowl or vase or anything round, and Nolan’s piece reminded me of that frustration. There have been times when it collapses, or flies off. I still remember the expression of surprise on one of my student’s faces when she had her clay go whizzing off the wheel and splat onto the classroom wall.

You have this weekend to catch “The Show”, which ends May 19th. There is also an online catalogue at ECUAD’s website.  Hope you find something you love or hate.

To Be More Creative Try Not Reading

May 14, 2010

I’m 3/4 through a week of reading deprivation. According to Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way reading can often clog or block your own creative output. Stop reading and what else is there to do but listen to your own thoughts and create new art, inventions, philosophies….

Have you ever tried to function in our society without reading? It’s not easy, and I haven’t been 100% successful this week. I have slipped by checking email a few times (I need to for jobs that come up), reading a couple paragraphs of my bike’s manual, reading descriptions at the Emily Carr University grad show, and oddly enough when I see the newspaper my parents read sitting on the table I catch myself reading a couple headlines. It’s like a person trying to quite smoking but taking a couple drags off their friend’s cigarette.

Self imposed no reading has made me realize how frustrating it must be for people who can’t read at all, like my father who suffered a stroke and lost his ability to read and write. It has been easy to take a break from reading novels or the newspaper or online articles, but there are other things in life that require reading such as recipies, instructions, explanations, that if we weren’t able to read it would be difficult to function.

I look forward to getting back to reading next week. However I think I will cut back on some of the newspaper and online articles that really don’t contribute to my well being or creative output. What do you think? Have you ever tried not reading for awhile? I would love to hear your ideas. Please take a minute and send me a comment. Oh, and have I been more creative this week? Yes! More drawing, more music, more gardening, and more cooking.

Painting Feathers on the Eagle

January 31, 2009

One month down, two to go. Will I make it? Apparently it is an ambitious task to paint over 400 student drawings onto a 7 foot eagle sculpture. I am starting to believe the people who have said that. I am also estimating that only half will make it onto the eagle. Sorry kids, I am not a superhero artist.

This is not the first time I have undertaken an art project that entails minute attention to detail. My art, and music, are often more about process than final product. Such as the performance piece I did at Emily Carr College of Art and Design where I sawed apart my Christmas tree and then counted its needles as I put them in jars. Each jar was labeled with the number of needles in it. I believe I counted about 10 000! (which was nowhere near the whole tree) With my music I love to improvise and prefer to play this way over memorizing a song and performing it the same each time. The journey, and the surprises along the way, are what excite me.

The journey of painting the eagle has taken me into a regular routine of going to James Whiteside Elementary 5 days a week. At home I choose a dozen or so student drawings and then when I’m in front of the sculpture I figure out where they might best be placed. Detailed designs go on the bigger feathers. Simple designs on smaller feathers. Each day I spend 4 to 5 hours working on 5 to 10 different paintings. At the end of this project all these little feather paintings will work together to create one big eagle painting.

Working at the elementary school is a nice change from a quiet studio, and I love having the students wave to me as they come into the gym for their PE classes, or stop by the stage on their lunch break to check on my progress. I’ve also had a few classes come to take a look and ask me questions. They love trying to find feathers they recognize as their friends, and hope to see their own. Their comments are encouraging, and fuel me to keep on painting.

Where Does Appropriation Start?

October 10, 2008

Chris Tyrell writes some useful and thought provoking articles in the Visual Arts Newsletter published by Opus Framing & Art Supplies.  This month he tackled the question of appropriation and it struck a chord with me, especially since I have been thinking a lot about original creative ideas.

As I said before, there are so many ideas out in the world already that it is terribly hard to have a pure, original thought these days. So where does one draw the line between copying someone else’s work as a whole and using some parts of it to merge with other parts to create something new? Could we not say that Andy Warhol was appropriating the Campbell’s Soup image when he made screenprints of the cans in 1968? ( As an aside, it is interesting to note that I know the name Andy Warhol, but I do not know the name of the person who first designed the label for Campbell’s Soup.) 

Chris Tyrell in his article uses the example of non-native carvers who carve using the language of the Kwakiutl style. They were taught by a First Nations artist. Their work was not directly copied, but it was very similar. I agree with Mr. Tyrell who said these carvings should not be sold or exhibited. This is just like how I was encouraged in art school to copy the ‘Masters’ as a tool for learning, but I would never sell or exhibit my copy of a Picasso. Yet there are artists who show their copies of historical art, such as Lucy Hogg’s show at the Vancouver Art Gallery many years ago. I quite liked her paintings. But how close to appropriation are her interpretations of famous paintings? How far does one have to change the original, before their new work can be seen as original?

Then there is the whole debate over cultural appropriation? I have been witness to many heated discussions about non-natives using First Nations imagery. Is it okay that the French Impressionists looked to Japanese prints for inspiration? Or Picasso looked to African masks? Modern art would look a lot different if we never had those mergings of cultures. Emily Carr’s copies of First Nation designs are displayed in the Vancouver Art Gallery on a regular basis. Her paintings I believe are quite original in style, but what about her ceramic pieces that directly copy First Nation designs? Is this appropriation? They are in a gallery because the artist is now famous. But what if I were to produce something similar?

So many questions pop into my head about appropriation. I have barely touched on it in these few paragraphs. This will be an ongoing issue for me to address in my own art as I try to create something new, but also reference the work of others, because I can’t help but be inspired by them.