Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ART Event

During art week I attended the faculty throw down. I was not sure what type of questions to expect because I am a freshman and did not attend it last year. Also, as a biology major, I was not sure how much I would enjoy the event because I knew that the questions would be art related which is not an area that I am strong in. I was pleasantly surprised about the event, I thought the event would be fun, but I did not think that I would find the type of questions interesting.

This event was interesting because there was a discussion and debate of current topics in art with art professors at the school. Having the debater’s working in the field of art, they brought a unique perspective to the debate. There was a wide range of questions, but the final question was the most memorable. The last question was “to pick a work of art that you think had the most substantial influence on society in the last 10 years.” The first professor selected a traditional piece of art, which is what I expected and explained why they thought this work of art was important. When Mr. Caldwell gave his answer, I was taken by surprise. Mr. Caldwell selected Stephan Colbert as the most influential piece of art work in the last 10 years. I was expecting a major photograph but instead he selected a prominent figure in the media. Mr. Caldwell described art in a new way that never occurred to me. He described how Colbert gathered such a huge following through the media. Through this following, Colbert has the power to change viewers’ opinions on popular topics. I had never thought that art could be the way a person uses the media to influence people. To me this showed me how art can be seen in almost everything, depending on the viewer. I would recommend that people come to this event next year because it was fun and interesting.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Karley Klopfenstein art exhibit

I attended the Karley Klopfenstein art exhibition in the Boyden Gallery on its grand opening on October 25. I had heard that she had created sculptures out of fabric and had seen the various knitted creations hung around Montgomery hall adorning the doors, lights, and sculptures throughout the building. I went into this thinking that it would be a very whimsical and feminine exhibit, and in part it was, but I certainly didn’t expect to see a lot of the art creations in the exhibition. True to my expectations, all of the works of art were created out of fabric of some sort, whether that be a textile, carpeting, or yarn, and yes without a doubt she is extremely talented with this medium (I could hardly tell several of the sculptures were even made of fabric until I closely analyzed them).

However, what shocked me the most was how graphic and grotesque the sculptures were in one half of the exhibit (sewn together human figures either half dismembered or horribly disfigured). This sat juxtaposed with the other half of the exhibit, lighthearted and bright colored tanks and bombs as well as various other weapons. Ms. Klopfenstein really made me think about what statement she was intending to make. At first I thought this could have easily been an exhibit that protests the war, mocking the weapons we use by creating them in such a lighthearted and happy way, while on the other hand making an obvious statement on the devastating toll these weapons have on human life. I expected something of this nature taking into consideration that this is such a peace loving liberal school. On the other hand however, I think her intention of this exhibit and what she wanted her viewers to get from her art could easily swing the other way, protesting more how the general public and the media thinks of war rather than the war itself. At first glance in the exhibit the first thing you are drawn to are the iconic images of the tank and bomb, created in eye catching colors and patterns; it isn’t for a few seconds that you notice the corpses made in muted colors that almost blend into the neutral wall color at the other side of the room. The American public sees photos and news clippings of war all the time, especially when it comes to tanks driving through cities and bombs going off. What we don’t see is the human devastation that it has (just as her bodies are not nearly as noticeable at first glance). The American public is highly sheltered from seeing the sights that people (whether in the military or innocent civilians that happened to live in these war stricken areas), and this is because, just as when I caught glimpse of the bodies in the exhibit, it is extremely disturbing. War is a very serious matter, whether you are against the war or not. People are risking their lives every day and seeing terrible things we cannot even imagine, and yet the general public sees these images on the news of the war and think nothing of it really and move on with their life. I still am struggling with what Karley Klopfenstein actually wanted us to get out of her art, but no matter what her thoughts on the matter of war are, or the thoughts of the viewers of her art, it made a huge statement and made everyone really think about the situation at hand in a new light. Which isn’t that the goal of art in the first place - to get people to really stop and think?

Art Event: Karley Klopfenstein

Karley Klopfenstein had an exhibition at our school (St. Mary's College of Maryland) on October 25 in the Boyden Art Gallery in Montgomery Hall. She currently lives in South Florida and is interested in the way that violence, horror, and war make their way subtly into the comfort of our everyday lives. She got her undergraduate degree in Sociology, Anthropology, and Fine Art at our very own school in 1997. Even though she specializes in sculpture, Klopfenstein also studied photography, printmaking, and philosophy. Klopfenstein's body of work focuses on specific American military weaponry turning domestic with traditional craft techniques. Her work is influenced by the mass media representation and exploitation of fear and military culture. She went to graduate school for sculpture at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. It is funny how she and my father both went to the same graduate school for art and majored in the same thing with a sculpture focus. She is the former Director of Exhibitions for Sculpture Key West, an internationally recognized outdoor sculpture exhibition. Karley Klopfenstein has many skills such as knitting, crocheting, marcramé, weaving, and so much more. For some background on craft techniques, it used to appear in contemporary art as being political. The feminist movement in the 1960s took traditional “women’s” art and empowered it in defiance of the dominant simple materials and forms of that era. Karley Klopfenstein uses this through her pieces by putting stereotypically male and female imagery together creating a dark humor. I really enjoy her work because she makes such serious machinery so comical through her art and in a way; she changes the negative connotations of these dangerous objects. I was very impressed with her half-scale M1 Abrams Military Tank covered in hand-made carpet. An almost life-sized war tank turned from scary and lethal to something soft and harmless.

Mirta Kapferminc Response

Mirta Kupferinc presented her work titled The Skin: Space for Repression and Expression. Mirta was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a daughter of an Auschwitz survivor. She showed some of her works and talked about how the effect of the holocaust influenced her work.

Being the daughter of a holocaust survivor, most of Mirta works are Jewish related. She grew up without grandparents or close relatives, without photographs or belongings of other people before her parents. This deeply shaped her art and her concerns with her identity and cultural heritage. Her works are usually edited digitally. She prefers to work with objects rather than sculptors. Objects are permanent and it is very important to her

She talked about the tattoo, numbered 80264, that her mother received during the holocaust. She said some people want to erase the tattoo because they don’t want to remember the experience of the holocaust. However, her mother decided to keep her tattoo because that is her identity; the tattoo is a part of her and she accepts it as a memory. There was a picture of her sitting with a doll in white background. What she was sitting on was not shown. She said the doll represent the holocaust survivors and she wanted to portrait that she is sitting in no where and that she doesn’t know much about her identity or cultural heritage. One of her noticeable included a chair with wings.

In one of her videos, she showed, from the inside, a needle piercing through a fabric. The image created painful feelings and it looked as if the needle was piercing through a person’s skin. She said that the sewing and knitting symbolized feminine in Argentina and the needle represented the pain. She said that the skin represented her parents’ skin and that she is inside watching on as her parents suffer. She couldn’t believe this could really happen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Response to Jennifer Cognard-Black’s Reading

At her packed reading, JCB read two poems, a letter written from Harriet Beecher Stowe to George Eliote, and three of her short stories. Her two poems were written about her daughter, whose 11th birthday was the day of the reading. One of her stories was metafictional, a story about a story. I really loved it. I think that most amateur writers fall into the trap of writing a story about a writer who is having trouble writing a story. Those stories rarely are any good. This one was miles better than any other metafictional stories I’ve read (which aren’t too many, to be honest). I loved how there was still a story (an abused farm wife leaving her family), along with the commentary on writing.

Her second story that she read was a collaboration between her story and a painting by Carrie Patterson. The story was entitled “Gifts”, I believe. I don’t remember how the collaboration started or who had the original idea, but the overall origin of the story seemed to come from a cathedral. Carrie Patterson started with sketches and paintings of the cathedral, which evolved into a much more symbolic painting than an actual depiction of the cathedral. Although we were not privy to the revisions that JCB did in her story, the story became to be about more than just a cathedral as well, just as the painting was more than just a picture of a church. The story took place in a cathedral at a man’s funeral. The in-home nurse attending the funeral spent the time remembering the good and bad of the man she served.

Her last short story was from a collaboration her Advanced Fiction class and Professor Caldwell’s Photo Book class. The project was entitled Eye and I. Since every fiction student was paired with a photo student, JCB and Colby paired up to create “Blink”. The story was about a young girl growing up and her love of photography, along with the story of a female photographer from the 1800s, during the birth of photography. Sometimes, the photos appeared to be ones that the characters (whether the girl or the 1800s woman) would’ve or could’ve taken. When the young girl became obsessed with taking photos of round objects, the photo next to that block words was full of round objects. Sometimes, they appeared more tenuously linked.

In all of her stories, there was no dialogue. I found this very interesting. I didn’t feel that her stories suffered any from the lack of dialogue, but it is usually such a key element in other stories that it was surprising. I wonder if this is a common trait in all of her stories or if that’s just how to worked out this time. All of her main characters were female as well. I don’t know if people are more likely to write from main characters that are their gender. It would be interesting to examine.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sally Mann Response

Sally Mann's work expresses the truths about life, even when they are often unseen or not wanted to be seen. She used to photograph her children in their every day lives. She often photographed her young children naked, which created a huge discrepincy. Many people questioned if this was right or not, and about the morals surrounding her photographs. Now that her children have grown up she needed to find new subject matter. Then there was a bitter sweet occurance, a prisoner was headed toward her house and they shot his hip then he shot himself in the head. This started her fascination with death and the organic elements of it. The Flesh and the Spirit revolved around her collections about life, but mostly death and her experimentation with new mediums.
As you entered the exhibit the first thing you saw was a large grid of self portraits which she had used a process called wet plateing on black glass. Although very distorted the pictures were mysterious and made me want to look at them closer to figure out just what her facial expressions were or even what I was seeing. I remember one on the grid reminded me of a famous picture of Harriet Tubman. The next room focused on her husband and distinct parts of his body. I did not learn until later during the documentary that he had a disease. his disease is eating away at his muscled and on one side of his body it is noticible. She is trying to show through her work how life really is and what death approaching looks like. She then focused on battle fields and how they look different then a normal landscape. As if the earth is different in those areas because of all the blood and lives lost.
Her fascination with death continued into what I thought was the most disturbing part of the exhibit. She traveled to a forensic site where they studied decaying bodies. She photographed the decaying bodies from different angles and expressing particular parts of their body. One man she photographed she enphasized the wrinkles of his foot via her perspective and vantage point. She then took pictures of a rotting face, a skeleton a pulled out view of the site and many more disturbing photos. To me this series of photos from the forensic site were the most stomach turning and shocking photos.
Overall Sally Mann's exhibit was very successful and interesting. I loved the Documentary at the end of the show it helped tie up all the lose ends I was questioning in my head. Unlike what she said in the movie, she has not disappeared and became an old news photographer, I think with this show she has proven herself to not being old news. She is still a dynamic artist.