Thursday, October 30, 2008

I went to Favianna's lecture too

I think Kathleen's review is right on, and I want to add a few thoughts on this lecture that interested me. Favianna Rodriguez's work is not limited to politics, she talks about social issues in a more personal way by telling the stories of her mother and grandmother's struggles as women of color and as immigrants.  In some of her work she expresses the joys and struggles in her daily life.  She is incredibly multi-dimensional in her work.  
I also really appreciated her approach to the femicides in Juarez. She said that the posters that depict women as victims weren't getting to the heart of the problem. Her poster highlights the role NAFTs plays in what's happening, rather than the mutilation and violence, and impoweers women to incite change. 

P.S. there was  a copy of the poster that says "we are not the enemy" in the Solidarity Lounge, but someone trashed it.

Brought to Light

Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900.
I saw this exhibit at SFMOMA and loved it. I don't know if it is for everyone but I found it absolutely fascinating. I love science and the natural world and this exhibition combines the two. It shows how scientific minds did numerous studies of the subjects that they were studying and through the then new use of photography could map out their theories and philosophies within their fields. There was the study that one man did of thousands of different shapes and delicacies of snowflakes. Another studied human and animal movement from different perspectives. Yet another was the group of dedicated astronomers who were able to "see" with a camera the millions if not billions of stars that the naked eye could and can hardly make out. These individuals literally mapped for us the constellations and galaxies that we now study and are familiar with that would have been impossible if not for the camera lens. One of the most shocking to see, not now but in the 1890s, was the x-ray image that showed the bones in the hand of the photographer/inventor's wife, along with her jewelry. It must have been bizarre for the viewer but also exciting once they recovered from the shock of seeing something that although commonplace for us would be mystifying to the uninitiated. It is up until January 4th, 2009. 

Bay Area Currents 2008

Oakland Art Gallery  is having their annual open call juried exhibition, Bay Area Currents 2008,  until November 21st. The juror for this show is the Curator of Exhibitions at the Rena Branstein Gallery, where we just saw Vik Muniz's work. There will be a talk there on Thursday November 20, from 6-8pm with most if not all of the artists in the show. One of the more interesting artists involved is the painter, Alanna Risse,, who does these very colorful paintings of bees, beekeepers and flowers....Robb Putnam, is another artist who is being shown there. He does these sculptures that look like cute mongrel dogs that are made of scraps of fake fur, garbage bags and other substances that make these strangely happy accidents that he calls art. He also does what looks like installations that consist of an animal (fake dog sculpture?) under a spotlight. Very fun and intriguing. To find out more about this show and the talk on the 20th, check out their website.

Favianna Rodriguez

Favianna Rodrigiuez is a local artist whose concentration is on printmaking and her posters address social issues she feels haven't received enough recognition. She has addressed issues concerning immigration, the importance of artists expressing their views and the apparent lack of female colored artists being recognized, and, of course, the effect of the war on people in the Middle East wherein her posters had a picture of a women with the text above her head reading genocide does not equal justice and the text below reading "We are not the enemy." Her posters always have very powerful images meant to support her opinion or cause and her posters have been used often in attempt to promote change especially in trying to change how people of color are treated within her own hometown. She created a poster that was put on the billboard outside of the West Oakland Bart in an attempt to stop gentrification in the area, and she was able to place it in a place where it would be seen by many people every day. I appreciated her belief that art doesn't have to be hung in a gallery in order to be considered art. She puts her artwork in public places so that every one can see what message she is trying to get known and I feel like her approach to getting her art seen is more accessible to younger people and people who don't really frequent museums and galleries. She said that her work is often criticized for being propaganda, but even if people look at it as propaganda, she is still able to get people thinking about pressing issues while getting to think creatively about issues that are important to her. One thing that made her talk and work so interesting is that she is from here and she is making art concerning issues that are prevalent to where we live, go to school, and work. She did the leave the lecture on a rather low note by reminding us that we do live in Oakland, the fourth most dangerous city in the world that has an ever-rising homicide rate, but at the same time it's art population is also rising, with which she was probably trying to get the artist's in the audience to remember the issues surrounding them when making their art.


Poladroid, mimicking the look of Polaroid.
Check this out, an interesting development, now that Polaroid is no longer manufactured.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Isidro Blasco

Currently on view at Black & White Gallery in Chelsea, NYC is a new series of constructed photographs titled Shanghai At Last, by the artist Isidro Blasco. The exhibition is conceptually built around the physical space and architecture of Shanghai and and is presented in impressive sculpture / relief-like constructions where the collaged photographs sit directly on top of a wood armature. About the exhibition, the artist has stated, "Every city has a different impact on my work. I try to respond to the way the city is affecting me through the way I respond to the space that I inhabit. By doing so, I connect my experience as an outsider who walks the streets and interacts with the city with my more intimate feelings about closed and private spaces".
Isidro Blasco was born in 1962 and currently lives and works in New York City. The artist recently exhibited The Truth at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, in Sheboygan, WI, La Construccion del Paisaje Contemporaneo at the Centro de Arte y Naturaleza in Huesca, Spain, and Substance and Light: Ten Sculptors Use Cameras at the Museum of Art, Munson-Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Utica, NY.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Headlands Center for the Arts

Last weekend (no wait, it was the weekend before), I went to the Headlands with some classmates from senior seminar.  There was an open house going on. We weren't able to see all of the studios, but there were a few that were really interesting. Ellen Fullman created a huge stringed sculpture that she can play kind of like a harp and a little like a piano. It looks really interesting, and is only made better when she plays it. It seems that a project like this could be really fun and interactive, but she takes it very seriously and it is very hands off. That's alright though. Most of the other artist weren't really into the whole event. It seemed like they would rather not have a bunch of people gawking at their works in progress, go figure.
There were several exceptions though.
Liz Hickok, who is a Mills alumna, uses jello to recreate things. Her studio was a lot of fun, everyone was just in a really great mood. It's hard not to look at her work and smile though. She's currently working on a jello installation of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit project. The jell-o that is a part of this installation  gets melted and moldy as time goes on. It's really cool. She also had some of her past photography projects on the wall. Those photographs are beautiful, jell-o looks amazing all lit up. 
I feel like we talked about her work in class, but I don't remember. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I wanted to post a couple of artists who work with self-portraiture and whose work might be able to offer some inspiration for the unrecognizable portrait assignment.

Artists Cindy Sherman and Nikki S Lee both use self-portraiture to address different ideas of identity. Shown here is a photograph from Cindy Sherman's "film stills" as well as four images from Nikki S. Lee's portrait projects where she plays the roll of various cultural stereotypes.

Also shown here is Francesca Woodman, who uses self-portraiture as a way to create psychologically and emotionally charged environments.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Studio Portraits

With our lighting demo in mind for this Tuesday, I wanted to mention artist, Nora Herting. She has done a couple of portrait projects which utilize the tropes of the contemporary studio portrait. The image here is from her "Free Sitting" series. In her own words:
The subjects of my photographs are not the individuals depicted but the construction of the portrait itself. The studio portrait has a very structured set of parameters that form a stylistic equation. We are so familiar with it that we are blind to its constructs. I violate these codes in effort to bring them to the viewer's attention. By breaking the rules of the studio portrait, my portraits no longer fulfill their role as social symbols.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Other People's Pixels

Want your own website? Great web design doesn't come cheap, but with Other People's Pixels you can work with some really great templates designed to accomodate art portfolios, and they'll even host your site for a really reasonable monthly fee of $9 for students. Check it out. I was impressed.

Jennifer Fairfax

Check out her work at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let's see if this works better

Losing My Blogging Virginity

I have been following this blog this semester, but less great at posting on it. And I still am unsure how. I have been sitting here for nearly 20 minutes trying to figure out how to throw up a link and photo to the Arab Film Festival on here, but I've been unsuccessful- so I'll just tell you that the Arab Film Festival's in town until next Friday, October 24th, and you should check it out...

That's the best I can do... I'll get better.

ARTSPAN in SF this weekend

There is going to be a city wide open studios event this weekend, October 18-19 in San Francisco. This is a really fantastic chance to meet new and more established photographers, painters, sculptors and mix-media artists. The last weekend to check out this event will be the first weekend in November.
Find out more at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Donna Brazile is not going to the back of the bus.

If you have a chance, please take a few minutes to watch just the 3 or so minutes of Donna Brazile's reflections on change and race in America. When I see footage of gatherings held in 2008 with folks shouting "Kill him," (about Obama), it's tempting to think that nothing has changed. Her reflections are not partisan - they're simply contextualizing where we are today.

Narrative tableau

Narrative tableaus really are not my thing, and I was taking pictures randomly over the weekend hoping I would luck out. Personally, I think almost anything could really be called a narrative tableau since a photo is a piece of time and we don't have the full story. The one with the bus is a random picture that I took over the weekend and tweaked with on photoshop that I think could be a narrative. The bridge was my sorry attempt to try to find those broken down piers in Petaluma. I think the perfect narrative tableau could have been me standing on that bridge with the camera in my hands and not knowing where to go. I could see where I needed to go, but I couldn't see how to get there and I was supposed to be "resting" so I didn't want to spend too much time looking for it. Stupid Petaluma Marina.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ginger Wolfe-Suarez lecture

Having seen her exhibition at the Mills art museum, I expected Ginger Wolfe-Suarez to talk more about her own work than to spend the majority of her lecture discussing other artists whose work inspired her own. Her focus for this project is on the women's rights movement of the early twentieth century and she visited private collectors who have acquired some of the only remaining banners and sashes that were used in the actual marches and protests to fight for equal rights. She borrowed artifacts from these collectors for her exhibition, including the actual poles that were used to carry the banners in the marches since the poles are some of the only surviving artifacts from this movement since most of the banners were destroyed. I did find it interesting to hear about some of the stories behind the artifacts and what they have been up to since they were originally used; especially found it interesting how one woman lets her cats use one of the original flags as a bed when it is not being used in demonstrations today. She did spend the last few minutes of her lecture showing images of her actual exhibition, but she spent little time discussing it or what she meant to convey with her choices, such as the choice to connect each section of her exhibtion with telephone poles. An interesting tidbit, I think, is that she created the chairs that were a part of her exhibtion, which shows how much control she wanted in how her artwork was perceived, and yet she didn't seem to spend much time talking about it.

Adrienne Salinger lecture

I found Adrienne Salinger's lecture very interesting because she not only discussed her art and her process in detail but she was also very funny and relatable, especially when she shared her strange obsession with teeth and dental instruments. I admire how she was able to incorporate the things she likes to collect into her art work. She presented images from the many collections she has made throughout her artistic career, each one as fascinating as the next. I think what made her so interesting was her excitement for each project she discussed. Just listening to her talk about her art and her subjects, you know that she really enjoys talking to and getting to know her subjects or collecting other people's things, such as baseball gloves, skateboards, and self-help books, and getting to know those people in an indirect way through their belongings. When an artist shows that kind of excitement and passion for their work, I think the audience or observers can't help but be swept up by it also, at least for me anyway. I was disturbed, however, by the fact that she invited strange men into her home to be photographed for her middle-aged man project. She said that photography forces her to step outside her comfortable, protective bubble, which is something that I can relate to, but in creating that project, she went way beyond challenging her comfort zone and started leaning toward reckless behavior. Overall, I found Adrienne Salinger very interesting and I will most likely look to her photographs as a point of inspiration in the future. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

It's not that i didn't like it, it just made me want to barf

I meant to go to the Wolfe-Suarez lecture, but I ended up at the Campaign Party event in the Student Union.  They had a lot of free food for such a low turn out, it didn't seem right to just grab a sandwich and leave. 
I did go to the Salinger lecture last week, and one thing I didn't mention in class was my reaction to most her recent work, the baseball gloves.  I thought it was really interesting that instead of a camera she used a scanner. After she had worked with the 4x5 for so long, the scanner seems like a strange leap. I guess it allowed her to manipulate the images in the way that she did.  The level of detail was disgusting.  I mean, I was really grossed out by the aged and cracked leather, and how deteriorated some of them were. And some of them resembled a hand more than others. Those were the worst because they were like bloated, rotting, amputated body parts. I thought it was really funny that while she was showing the gloves to us she made a point about how in order for photographers to be taken seriously they either have to do a series of fifty images or make them really really big.  I'm she didn't only make one, because they just got creepier and creepier. No matter  how much I wanted to look away, I couldn't.  

Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

I heard Ginger Wolfe-Suarez speak last night at Danforth about her past work, research process and her current show As Long As You Live I Will Live. Some of the most striking points she made were regarding the need for artists to be a part of history. She shared the idea that the artist has a responsibility to make their voice public.  In her current exhibition at the Mills Museum, Wolfe-Suarez is acting as a voice for the Suffragettes, who fought for what they believed in. Reading from the journals and painstaking records from the period, shows how organized and passionate these women were in the face of brutality and ridicule. The courage of these women to fight for their convictions is truly admiral. Despite being tortured, beaten, raped, institionalized in both prisons and insane asylums these women would not be broken and would continue their fight for justice. I am grateful to these individuals, whom many historians deny ever existed and to Wolfe-Suarez for pursuing her research so that these women can receive some recognition for the work that they did.  


I photoshopped my image from the other day.

Adrienne Salinger

She was an intriguing person to listen to. Her work seemed very orderly, or obsessive, which I like. It seemed as though she gave herself specific assignments and then she would start rounding things/people up for that particular assignment. For example, she collected teeth, baseball gloves, and books. She showed me a new way to look at portraiture, she would indirectly show the person through their individual teeth, or the embarrassing books they had accumulated throughout the years. The portraiture of the middle-aged men kind of remind me of Chuck Close, the composition and the expressions on their faces.

Victoria Wagner

Victoria Wagner is a former Mills graduate. She teaches at the California College of the Arts. She lectured at Mills in the painting department. Victoria's work is non-representational, working with all mediums, she tries to catch the essence of nature. She explained that if she were to give the class an assignment she would have us choose an animal, and then we were not allowed to directly resemble the animal, we had to catch the essence of the animal either by its surroundings or something relating to the animal. This idea of capturing the essence of the object rather than the object would be interesting not only in painting, but photography as well.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

somewhere in advance of nowhere:youth, imagination and transformation @ intersection for the arts

The senior seminar class visited a few of the alternative art galleries in the city last week. At Intersection they had a whole "multi-tiered visual arts project" going on.  Evan Bissell, the artist, rounded up young writers and photographed them while he interviewed them about why they write.  He had them choose a photo and then he painted it.  The writers chose where their portrait was displayed in San Francisco.  A few days after visiting the gallery i was in San Francisco and saw several of the portraits at the 16th street  BART station. it was amazing to experience the exhibition beyond the gallery.   
The exhibition has many components and workshops to connect with youth and the community.  It's really complicated, so check out the website for more details.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship

Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship at the San Francisco Center for the Book and the African American Museum and Library

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hank Willis Thomas - The Cause Collective

The Cause Collective: Along the Way

Last night I went to hear Hank Willis Thomas Speak at the SF Art Institute. I've heard him before - in fact I invited him to Mills several years ago. I liked him then - thought he was a great speaker, - self-effacing, confident, and engaging- and I thought his work was important. It was very exciting to hear him speak again and feel all the more strongly about his work - and feel that despite his speedy ascension within the art world, he's sustained a powerful commitment to the integrity of his work.

Last I was particularly struck by his interest in collaboration. The above piece was created by the members of the Cause Collective-of which he is a member- and is installed at the Oakland Airport in the baggage claim area. I haven't seen it in place, but the whole piece is on the web at the above link. This isn't the only collaboratively created piece - much of the work he showed was made with one or more other artists.

I was also profoundly moved by his commitment to move from critique to transformation - to being a catalyst for change. Not that there is not still a real need for critique - but maybe even more this is a moment for new models, new ideas and conversation and connection between people.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Maps of the Imagination

'Sometimes it's very tempting to be satisfied with what's easy, particularly if people tell you it's good....It is very, very important to avoid all preconception, to try to see only what exists... to translate one's sensation".
For me, it is important to be able to find my own voice. Studying the basic technique, as well as the "masters" of any art is very important in developing one's art, whatever the medium, but I know that I have to work on my conceptual process as well. I have to do this so that what I am creating has some kind of weight, validity and meaning to me. I do admire the work of others and one's work can become even more expansive when collaborating, but it up to the individual to voice and express it own unique mission.

120/1hr, 1/1hr

I like the waxy green shine of these leaves and the fact that they were ruffled in with the dry, dead ones. Their texture is kind of reptilian and I like how the colors are vivid and deep simultaneously

I found this odd shaped stump behind the trees near the museum's gazebo. Up close it appears to have serious insect damage and has a slightly charred look. I was really into the cavern-like look of this side of the stump...and was trying to get a look of light emanating from this would be cave. I did shoot this last one, maybe 2-3 times to get it the way that I wanted.  

Tim Roda: Family Album

I went to a few gallery openings last night in San Francisco. This show was at Baer Ridgway on Minna Street. I thought that this work was a good example of what we are trying to accomplish in class. His photographs seem very raw and personal but at the same time they are elaborate and delicate, in both subject matter and execution. The photos are staged and manipulated much like we did for our fabricated to be photographed projects. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Digital Assignment

I took 120 pictures in my car.  
Most of the pictu
res were 
of all the
 candy wrappers that were hiding under the seat. I thought the arm rest filled with pennies was more fun to photograph because of how some were real reflective and I liked the range of colors.  

For the other half
of the assignment I chose the bags filled with leaves that have been hanging out by the bridge.  Why would they gather them up and then just leave them there?   


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Joshua Martinez - FRIDAY-Noon in the Photo Classroom

Please join us for lunch and a presentation by artist, Joshua Martinez.
Josh has generously offered to make all participants lunch after his talk. Don't miss it!