"Simplicity" and "Focused Practice" were my two goals for this round of critiques. I went after addressing them by pretty much just doing a bunch of focused practice while keeping it simple, looking to figure out how I can make surface more interesting than simply painting areas of the canvas until smooth. I set all the variables except for my gel medium(s) to constant, only using hansa yellow light straight out of the bottle. What I found was that the palette knife is actually a great way to get some interesting surfaces in, especially when done over a basic base of a simple wash (like I did before). Creating peaks in the surface in addition to layering provides complex, dynamic surfaces that can really add a lot to a piece, including depth and texture.
Going forward, I want to use the skills (including soft skills of greater patience and open-mindedness) in my next pieces, but also going back to my previously explored ideas of layering, subtraction and my signature arc-based charcoal mark. I feel as though if I don't think too much about it, and just dive in with my newly enhanced skillset, I can produce some cool art. I just need to actually do it. And that's something I can't wait to dive into as soon as possible.
Awol Erizku became almost instantly a household name earlier this year when he was revealed as the photographer behind Beyonce's Instagram pregnancy announcement, in which she is featured in front of a massive wreath so large it looks to be a throne. However, he also earned his MFA in art from Yale four years ago, and is currently embarking on his most ambitious and most political project yet, a London show titled "Make America Great Again." Unabashedly anti-Trump, the exhibit features numerous basketball hoops (representing the young black male body), images of "12" (slang for the police, and usually referred to in the phrase "Fuck 12," a millennial version of FTP), frequent use of the Black Panther logo, and a red "Make America Great Again" baseball cap with a black panther above the lettering.
In January, I gave my contemporary trend presentation on art being made in reaction to the rise of far-right politicians and powers in Western nations in North America and Europe. My presentation was still a full two weeks from the Trump's inauguration however, and the resistance was only beginning. After the largest assembly of people in the history of humanity (the collective participants in the womens' marches the day after election day), the movement continued, and Erizku's new show is an awesome piece of it so far. Taking control of the very rhetoric that put Trump in power and turning it into a symbol of black power is an awesome example of not giving in to this bullshit that has overtaken the world. Keep at it man. By the way, this dude DJs at his own openings and plays sets of Future, Kodak Black and Gucci Mane. Possibly my new favorite artist.
Rachel Cooke’s piece in The Guardian “Public Art is Powerful, Glorious and Uplifting” contains one of the most important values of public art: “its great virtue – its chief virtue – is that it is just there: you do not have to choose to see it; you must wander no hushed gallery to find it.” Cooke also expounds upon how public art adds life and character to cities and, more immediately, smaller public spaces, creating lasting associations of specific emotions to otherwise unimportant locations.
However, Brooke Rapaport’s editorial piece titled simply “Art in Public Spaces” published in NYT makes what I think is a far more crucial point about public art: “Undistinguished work warrants critical drubbing; strong work is a catalyst for dialogue. Isn’t it the presenting organization’s role to stimulate that conversation? Doesn’t diverse opinion fulfill the ambitions of a democracy?”
The idea that public art doesn’t have to be agreed upon by everyone--neighbors, tenants, landlords, politicians, etc.--but rather in fact, such disagreement (within the limits of rational discourse) actually serves the work’s purpose. Without discourse, and by nature disagreement, the art fades into the background without providing stimulation for people’s opinions, which Rapaport claims “fulfills the ambitions of a democracy.”
The “readers react” section after Rapaport’s piece only serves to amplify her point. The man who claimed that “your ‘beauty’ may very well be my ‘disgusting,’ your ‘deep expression’ my ‘what?’” is participating in exactly the kind of discourse Rapaport claims public art should incite.