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Archive for the ‘UTPA MFA’ Category

Here are 4 pieces of “art” relating to various authors …an assignment in 2D class.

Read their books and produce a visual piece relating to each author was the assignment .. .so here are Anais Nin, then Allen Ginsberg, then Ai (Florence Anthony) and finally Jack London. Having visited the house Jack London lived in, I chose to paint the California hills around his house.  Ginsberg was intense and somber so hopefully his painting reflects that … Anais was flamboyant … Ai was all “heart”.  A tribute to them all!

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Olga Escobedo "ojo de venado"

Olga Escobedo "Ojo de Venado"

The first painting is of a child with a pacifier and features a bracelet (or amulet) against the evil eye.  She called it “ojo de venado”.

Olga Escobedo "Ill Child"

Olga Escobedo "Ill Child"

The second painting is of an ill child who has been given a healing herb … a plant to heal fright.  They are doing a ritual to banish fear.

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After perusing the Fall 2011 issue of Cabinet magazine (a magazine of Art and Culture) I was tempted to visualize the categories Professor S. Ngai discussed in her article. The words used to discuss art was her topic. They include Cute, Disgusting. Zany, Merely Interesting, Interesting and Sublime … sorry, no discussion of Beautiful. I could not resist the temptation to pick out some bowls, which were to be discarded in the ceramics lab, and paint them and arrange them as a Tea Service … in a portable tray … to deposit on a table with a pot of hot tea. Prof. Hyslin had instructed us to use the Majolica glaze and produce some objects.

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service"

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service" with Cabinet Magazine

Here it is!!  Tea in aesthetic bowls!! The kewpie doll in the magazine also illustrates the “cute” category.

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service" close up

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service" close up

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Palms in the wind! Palms with icicles!

Here is the corner of my studio dedicated to the idea of palms … great colors and very sharp spines up and down the stem.

Gingerly is the way to handle the fronds. In the wind they spiral down to clonk you on the head … when they are covered with ice they fall from 30 feet up and impale flowers, dogs, and people. Wear a hat!

In the last four years that I have been in the Rio Grande Valley two years had a couple days of icy weather. We cover all the flowers and shrubs with plastic and cross our fingers. As dawn rises the palms are coated in ice and shine and sparkle. As the sun comes up the ice coating begins to slide off the palms as they are 40 feet in the air and then watch out!! A sliver of ice could be six inches long and sharp as a knife … it simulates the edges of the palm frond. How exhilarating to watch them descend as you hop around to avoid a hit!

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Mary P Williams "Explosion"

Mary P Williams "Explosion"

I have assembled 17 tiny canvasses which will be seen in a pattern of explosion. The basic question of this painting is “How far can the bonds holding a society together be stretched before they come apart and the whole fabric of society pulls apart?” No answers … a question only.

My hope is the viewer will see how the bonds between groups are being broken. The media, the politicians, the barrage of vitriolic ads by the candidates running for president of the U.S., and by the political parties themselves, divide the population more and more until it is hard to find common bonds among the citizens of towns and cities, of states and counties. Judging from the number of citizens who vote based on religion it seems that religious bonds are stronger than any other group bonds yet the scorn various religions heap on each other further divides the people. Another institution with strong bonds is the University … higher education requires years of study and dedication and loyalty to the concept of research.

When I finished the “explosion” painting  I managed to get a “consult” with two faculty members. I needed a double-check on whether the concept was still viable. One had an interesting idea … He said: “What would the painting look like on a gray background?”  I mulled this over and decided to paint the wall gray.  Here is a photo of the original on white …

Mary P Williams, "Explosion" on White

Mary P Williams, "Explosion" on White

and one of the painting on gray.

Mary P Williams "Explosion" on gray

Mary P Williams "Explosion" on gray

The other said,”Why not turn it upside down to indicate the energy of the explosion is being directed downward instead of upward?”

He also remarked that the original painting is too cheerful/happy in the choice of color … in other words the yellows do not reflect the somber reality of society descending into chaos … I turned that thought around and around and then said to myself: “Perhaps it is a good thing for the old fabric of society to tear apart providing an opportunity for the young, fresh, generations to build a different society. I would be in favor of a more humane society.” Change is not a bad thing … stagnation is.  Now I have 4 variations on this painting. One with a white background, pointing skyward. One on a white background pointing into the earth. One with gray background shooting skyward and one with gray background pointing into the earth.

Well, it does explore the possibilities! I am in favor of white, cheerful, up-lifting explosions with the hope of an improved society permitting closer relationship between people and countries.

Consider the two aspects of this painting … One is a tearing apart of social bonds and the subsequent unraveling of the society with great distress and suffering. This is represented in the canvasses being hung on a gray wall and exploding downward. The other aspect of the painting, using a white, upward-thrusting explosion is that perhaps the tearing apart of the old society will allow new generations of people to form a better, more humane society, which is a positive thing.  A vibrant 21st century renaissance!  The upheaval in the Middle East might promote a more tolerant view of the role of women in this century … and a fairer distribution of wealth.  Which brings us back to our own country which is experiencing its own upheaval regarding wealth, fairness, and separation of Church and State.

So what is a social bond? The 21st century habit is to go to Wikipedia on the Internet. Here is the answer they provide:
Social Bond —- “The rather INTANGIBLE link between individuals and the society of which they are a part. The social bond is created through the process of socialization.” O.K. That is a beginning …

Next is the idea of social cohesion. “Social cohesion is the capacity of a society to ensure the well-being of ALL its members minimizing disparities and avoiding marginalization.”  (Report of the High Level Task Force on social cohesion in the 21st century) Council of Europe – 2011

Referring back to research, here is a quote from The Predictioneer’s Game by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita : “… science is a method, not a subject.  It is a method that relies on logical arguments and experimental evidence to figure out how the world of people – and things – works.”  The above painting/project is a logical exploration of form and direction for everyone to view and respond to … Research works in my Lithography class. I am recording the time it takes to etch a stone … a new stone which is an unknown quantity … 5 minutes? 8 minutes? … we need enough trials (prints) to ascertain how this particular stone reacts to the nitric acid. Yes, this qualifies as research.

The concept is harder to apply to an oil painting.  Here the research becomes the depth of the artist’s knowledge of the subject matter.  How much do I know about an oak tree? … about the sky over the Rio Grande Valley?  about the relationships of the local people to their delicate, desert environment? All this information takes time to acquire … and the desire to learn it.

Mary P Williams "Explosion" detail

Mary P Williams "Explosion" detail

Mary P Williams "Explosion" detail

Mary P Williams "Explosion" detail

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The professor, Rey Santiago, introduces himself and announces (with a twinkle in his eye) “Two subjects for your prints are not allowed: ‘No FLOWERS AND No FAIRIES’.” About 30 students glance at each other with unasked questions in their eyes; no Flowers? He continues with explanations of lithography and woodcuts and kinds of paper then sends us off to buy supplies.  Returning to my studio I sit and idly begin to draw on the floor … the old paint covering the floor has left a lovely pattern … so I paint the forbidden flowers on the floor.

No Flowers Per Rey Santiago

No Flowers Per Rey Santiago

Not having painted flowers for years it becomes challenging. When I quit to let the oil paint dry I dedicate the whole exercise to Rey and take a photo of it.  Another semester begins !!

The goal for the Litho students is to produce a series of eight prints with 5 clean (CLEAN !!) prints of each image in the series.  The clean bit is the hard part … everything I touch has fresh ink on it … it is on my clothes, it is on my hands, elbows, the Rives paper I am trying to print on … not being a tidy person is definitely a handicap here.  Here are the results of three weeks of  ‘grit-your-teeth-labour’.  The title is My Feet – Your Feet .  It represents drawings of
the feet of my husband and my feet – intermingled – it is informed by our relationship of twenty years where we often sit near each other to watch TV and prop our bare feet together. Our feet have a tender relationship!

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Lowbrow art … we drove 60 miles up to Rio Grande City to see the current show by M.C. Farris.  A spring-like morning with billowing clouds and lots of green grass along the road verge … shrubs and mesquite trees were tinged with green also.  It was not a brown Texas … refreshing, tender green it was.

Having been told of the lowbrow concept and given a list of men and women artists by Chad himself in the 2-D class at UTPA is seemed necessary to go and see this show. Here are his paintings.

His artist statement emphasized his attempt to pry the viewer out of their ordinary mode of thinking … into consideration of a world not usually viewed as art.

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