Monday, June 25, 2012

CCA MFA Open Studios 2012

CCA's MFA Open Studios, Documented Here for Year Three, April 2012.  (See 20102011) It's so late it's actually funny.  Or dumb.

I know I said I would not be your critic anymore on this blog and I wouldn't go around taking pictures of everything.  Just the good stuff.  Just the stuff I am way head over heels for, (and let's face it, most of it won't be local, but from the internet).  Buuuut..... I already did all the work during the last installment of the graduate student song and dance known as Open Studios at the California College of the Arts; I took all the pictures and uploaded them- I just never got around to putting them for reals on the good old internet.

So, here we go, here is what I thought was noteworthy for some reason or another; maybe 30 out of over 100 studios of grads in one of two categories, (all interspersed together):
The second-years with only about a month of school to go, confident and grossly self-assured or wide-eyed and freaking out (those are the ones who know they only have a month before they have to get a job).  

The other group is of course the first-years, wide-eyed for the other reason- they're still shell-shocked from being force-fed Roland Barthes and Guy Debord, and even worse, bell hooks and Relational Aesthetics.  They're sitting in their studios or walking around outside nervously like ducks that have been trying to recuperate after having grass shoved into their throats for months to make foie gras.  Lucky for the ducks, foie gras was recently banned in San Francisco, but grad school is entirely legal and even more awful, actually encouraged for every artist worth their salt.  I can go on: after the feeding, the ducks's liver's are the beaten, wounded organ jammed full of a rich, almost unpalatable foodstuff.  For the grads, it's their hearts that take the beating, and as their brains try to consume the endless archives of rhetoric, taking in everything that has been written by every touted academic that ever lived, their brains are the thing filled with a rich foodstuff of righteous intellectualism that eventually kills the art in the artist, just like the duck.

OH, I was on a roll!

Obviously, I have mixed feelings about grad school.  One year out of the two-year sentence, I am filled with joy at having made it through and with some truly remarkable new friends and even some new ideas.  I also, however, still have this intellectual toilet paper clinging to my shoe when I go to make a new piece.  Frozen with fear from the constant whap! on my knuckles whenever I tried to make something open-ended, or god forbid, intuitive, I still have to look over my shoulder for someone to tell me I can't do something.  It has taken me this year to figure out, YES, I FUCKING CAN.  The fact is, no one is going to tell me now that I have to have it figured out, that it's unresolved, or that it doesn't say what it means.  I really believe that the absolute best thing to happen to me from being in grad school is the end of it, and the self-confidence that comes from breaking from the disciplinarians.  So, when I see these grads unsure, gun-shy, or clearly proud and a little cocky, I know how they all feel, and how much more they have to go through before it's real.  Before they can totally recover from the force-feed machine and really start making the real deal.

Ok, so all of that being said, I'd like to look at these works through the lens of a specimen in the middle of a transformation.  I have a lot of friends in this group, so I am not knocking them, but I like the idea that their work will get even better when they get out.

Larissa Greer, making free drawings of happy things to say. 

William Emmert's paper sculptures of stretcher bars, complete with paper staples.

William's reconstructed boyhood archive of wrestling fan paraphernalia.  I have to admit, I was not very interested in the work until I knew it was painstakingly made out of something else.  What does that mean?  Haha.

Max Esplin, who's woven wall piece took a major backseat to the insane display of sweets he prepared in his Mormon tradition of sugar as a lifestyle.  He dressed the Mormon part to really seal the deal. 

This rainbow cake was really giving Will Cotton a run for his money.

Melissa Dickenson's plastic-wrapped canvases gave me the same reaction as William's sculptures- it wasn't interesting until I realized they were made out of something else.  It becomes a riff on painting that is interesting but I wonder what she'll want to make when she doesn't have to define a reason for making abstractions.
More stuff made out of something else: Kim Bennett's painted (screen printed?) found street signs.

Katelyn Eichwald's obsessive wall of small drawings based on a cowboy motif.  I like how it looks from far away.

Up close, like a Monet.

Alex Hernandez as glamorous Mexican trannie sweetly embroidering to kill the time.

Johanna Friedman's textile pieces- the piece behind her is a digital print on canvas, then quilted.  The piece to her right says, Who Cares About Freud When You're Pregnant?

Jake Ziemann's airy abstract painting and matchy-matchy video installation.  It was pretty.

Bruna Massadas's sunset portrait people.

More things made out of something else: flowers painted out of the juices of themselves, which slowly fade over time so they become a form of dying twice (that's my interpretation).

Seriously, Social Practice, you are really killing me.  Just because you stick something lovable like a petting zoo with mini ponies in the courtyard does not make the idea of 'non-art as art' any more likable.

A Swedish first year's funny sculpture of a Castle Greyskull kind of landscape.

I liked these printed still-life/collages on shaped masonite by Kate Bonner.

Heather Watson's scribbly drawings/messages.  She's such a likable person that I can't separate myself  from them enough to be objective.  I have no idea whether I really like them or not.
Rebekah Goldstein's colored pencil drawing- like the pink and red.

Rebekah Goldstein, the painted version.

Kate Nichols's lab-come-gallery.  She made mirror and cellulose fiber out of crazy science stuff and hung it on the wall.

Some of Kate's lab equipment.

I don't know.  I really like moss.  I don't know who made this.

This is how people in art school watch girls touching their boobs on video.

Wes Fanelli's bears, Jesuses, and Madonnas.  A natural combination.

Not sure who made this either, but I am liking the painting as non-painting with this string strung in swatches  on the stretcher bar.

Without the chair, this would maybe look like a small collage piece, right?

I will always like drawings.  Even drawings of stuff where I don't quite understand the references.

Janine Scarboro's abstracted figures.

I can't remember this woman's name, but she is adept at painting these surreal portraits.  As a first year, I'm excited to see what she does next.

These are super fun cut foam paintings by Theresa... I can't remember her last name.  We'll see what she comes up with next year, too.

A wall of cigarette cartons.  Ok.  I think I like it.

So, not that anyone asked me, but here's my redundant advice for the first year grads:  Hang in there.  It gets better.   And for the second year newly graduated artists in the world now:  You have to throw up the foie gras in order to live and not be consumed.  
(Wouldn't you agree, Maysha and Courtney?)

1 comment:

  1. Maysha says she did throw up the foie gras and - a year later - is very much enjoying a sleeker and healthier physique. Maysha is a friendly pup and will do well in a variety of households. She requires a lot of attention though, so households with children are preferable for Maysha. Give this pup a chance, she could be just what your family needs!