I’m Back!

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I’ve decided to change this into a blog where I post my work, since my Visual Literacy class has been over for a long time now and I didn’t really want this blog to go to waste. I’m going to keep my old posts from that class up here incase anyone wants to view them though.

So! Let’s start with my much older works from about 3-4 years ago during my stay at a 2-year college.

Figure study drawing done in mechanical pencil.

Figure study drawing done in mechanical pencil.

This image was just one amongst many other figure study drawings I’ve done (which I will post later on; I like to separate different mediums into different posts). It was a challenge to draw this. The volunteer was sitting slightly slouched in a chair and each part of her was angled in a slightly different direction. It definately was a learning experience trying to get everything to look natural, and I do think I could’ve done better in some spots. The image isn’t 100% complete because I took my time with the shading, but I’m still happy with it.

portrait figure

Portrait done in mechanical pencil.

A different volunteer for this image. That day everyone in the class had to focus on drawing a portrait of the person. I decided to go a different route and chose to focus on the hand. I wanted to try and express the emotions of the volunteer through his gestures, and I feel I accomplished that here. I’m fairly happy with this piece and I wish I could’ve done more, but sadly I had little time to.

Still life study done in mechanical pencil.

Still life study done in mechanical pencil.

Finally, this is a basic still life study. I want to say that in the process of making this piece I became much looser and confident with my drawing skills. Before this image, I was very picky with my lines and measurements, I honestly couldn’t sketch loosely if my life depended on it! But, thankfully, I left that stage and learned to relax. I found that sometimes a mistake in the drawing can even be a benefit to the piece if used right.

During the making of this piece I was still learning about the anatomy of the body and how skin folds around muscles and creases. My main goal here was to focus on proportion and the core shadows to give the still figure as much of a 3-dimensional appearance as possible. I feel I accomplished that here, but there are some spots that could have done better.

I will be making many more posts in the future like this, and it will include pieces from various different medias as well! Feel free to critique or give your opinions on this so far, I always appreciate them!

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Fame

In this post, I want to briefly discuss fame and how the public influences it (and how I view it).

Image taken from Tumblr

Fame, in my definition, would be the high amount of praise put upon a person for whatever unique thing they do. Anyone can be famous, they just have to get their names known to the public and they’re off to a good start. Most people start off using their own skills at hand to help lift them into the cloud of praise placed next to other stars in the world. These could be artists, writers, crafters, movie-makers, designers, anything.

Andy Warhol, for example, was known for his repeating colored images of soup can or celebrities, such as the image above. When he recreated faces over and over and showed them to the public, they quickly gained knowledge of who that person was that was depicted in the image, which in turn made the person depicted become more famous, as well as the artist.

But it also takes another turn. When images are recreated over and over, even long after that celebrity or item is gone, they are still technically “living.” This is because of the people still alive who maybe remember seeing said person or item in real life, or just because they’re passing on the works made by said celebrity to the next generation. The memory is what keeps the celebrity still alive, as well as replicating or reproducing their works.

Looking at this even further, I suppose you could call the celebrity “immortal,” in which they are never going to finally be forgotten until maybe many, many generations later. The celebrity, during the time they are alive and famous, is still normal just like any other person in the world–the catch is that everyone in existence knows about them. And the more the celebrity shows themselves, the more they’re exposing every little fact about their life to the world, and allowing anyone to know those little facts.

Fame can, at times, become way too overdone. In my opinion if someone comes up with something never seen before on this planet, then yes it’s fine to praise them. But if you follow that person and every little thing they do starts becoming urgent news that must be heard (simple things, such as giving an opinion on a certain subject, or choosing to sponsor a certain company), then it’s going overboard. The public praises people as if they’re Gods after awhile, and so much that they forget that this person is just like them. A good example I have of this is what you would find in celebrity magazines, with a colored circle on the corner of a page saying “they’re just like you!” followed by various images of celebrities shopping or taking care of their children.

I suppose this could be seen as a drawback of fame. When they eventually become so popular that they are seen as Gods, then they have an eternal weight put upon their shoulders to always impress the public. Harsh critics appear from around the world to view this person and raise their pens, ready to scribble down any flaws they find and submit them to the news. But it is not the celebrity’s fault if they have flaws, because the public only brought this upon themselves by treating this person as a God.

Of Religion and Points of View

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For the latest project in Visual Literacy class, I had to find three images focusing on religion. The three images must focus on a positive view of religion, a neutral view, and finally a critical view. Here I will post my images and go over a few reasons as to why I chose to photograph them.

First, the positive view:

Image taken by me.

This image is probably very obvious at first glance, but I wanted to focus on the simple aspect that religion, for most, can bring happiness and peace. Religious people have the reassurance of texts and experiences whenever they have hardships occurring in their life. The feeling that things will get better in the long run thanks to a protective force watching over them is what keeps them going in life. In this aspect, religion is not a bad thing at all. It brings people together.

Second, the neutral view:

Image taken by me.

This one was a bit more challenging for me to find. When “neutral” was mentioned, the first thought was to make a more spiritual type of image. I ended up focusing a bit more literally on the word “neutral”. This image shows various pendants you would find at stores placed next to each other on a shelf. Nowadays, religion isn’t something that necessarily obtrudes into one’s daily life, or becomes a nuisance. It can be placed against any other religion out there, like these shelf pendants, and everyone knows they exist but they don’t necessarily acknowledge it unless they want to seek it out for their own reasons.

Finally, the critical view:

Image taken by me.

This one was the most challenging for me to come up with. I spent a few days being stumped over how I could possibly represent an image of religion from a completely alternate point of view. I stumbled upon this in a store one day, and found it utterly ridiculous. This is an image of a piece of metal representing a decorative (male-oriented) cross that one could place on their vehicle. It is in no way seriously representing religion other than having the shape of a cross, the rest is all for show. I thought this would make a good image for the “critical” point of view because it shows that within our time in history, people can be allowed to not take religion seriously. They can decorate images of religious figures or crosses and mix in their own ties, such as phrases or slang they use in daily life, alongside it. Religion can just be put out for looks, and is no longer praised as hard as it used to be.

A few questions were added to this project’s worksheet that I wanted to address. The first one is if people should say certain religious works are controversial, or if people should first observe it before immediately relenting against it. From an artist’s point of view, I would immediately say that everyone should be more open about any type of artwork before hating it just because they do not like something about it upon first glance. Art is meant to be presented and to influence the public in some sort of way. Like the images I took above, I mentioned different ways of how religion can be seen and despite whether or not someone may like my reasons, they should at least give consideration to my thought process before fully disregarding anything they didn’t like. I’ve always had this idea that art that actually does flare up hatred from the public is doing its exact job, which is showing people how one-track their minds can be. It shows that some people are not willing to accept anything different from what they’re used to, or that they do not like anything that varies in looks from what is presented to them in their religious texts.

The second question asks what it means to create a neutral image, and if it is more difficult to come up with than a critical image. Like my image above, I took the word “neutral” literally in the aspect that I showed multiple types of religious material in one image alongside each other. There are other ways I can think of, but it can only be seen as religiously neutral depending on the viewer’s background. Take for example an image of a person in a field, embracing the winds that hit them with a smile on their face. To a non-religious person, this would be seen as a refreshing image and one that is easy to look at. To a religious person, they may see it more as the person depicted is embracing the nature around them and have found eternal happiness thanks to their God.
I do not think a religiously neutral image is necessarily harder to make then a critical image. I had some trouble finding inspiration for my critical one.

Of Race and History

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Changing topics in class, we have now focused more on race and racial problems within history. There are two specific people who have greatly influenced the public on this subject with their art; Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley.

Kara Walker’s art is made out of black paper plastered on white walls. The subject focuses on people, but they’re all silhouettes. They range in size and shape and all seem to give off a storybook type of feel. Because they are silhouettes, it leaves the viewer up to their imagination to fill in the gaps where there is no detail. This makes Kara’s art able to be interpreted in a large amount of different ways.  Here are a couple of examples of her work:

“Camptown Ladies.” Image courtesy of PBS.org. Brent Sikkema, NYC.

“Hunting Scene.” Image courtesy of art21.org. Collection of Centro Nazionale per le Arti Contemporanea, Rome, Italy

Kehinde Wiley, on the other hand, has more of the traditional painting style. Usually it’s a painting on canvas, but the subjects have a twist to them. If any viewer knows their history, they will immediately recognize what’s going on in Wiley’s paintings, because he copies similar poses of famous historical art. The only difference is that his subjects are more focused on African Americans. He will portray an ordinary person from the street positioned as a well-known figure from history. Here are a couple examples of his work:

“Passing/Posing (Female Prophet Deborah),” Image courtesy artsobserver.com.

“Napoleon Leading the Army over the Alps,” 2005. Image courtesy http://ricky-mak.blogspot.com.

How have these works inspired the public? With Kara’s works, they blatantly show the struggles of slaves being overpowered by whites. They show deals being made between people, lies being told, and both children and adults dying. It’s a very graphic scene once the viewer looks behind the graceful lines of each cutout. But it’s not all for show and creativity. These images make the viewer think about what actions have taken place back when slavery was at its highest. For example, in her work “Camptown Ladies,” it depicts a scout boy riding on the back of a girl, presumably a slave, and leading her with a carrot. The obvious message here is the dominance of the white boy over the girl. While in the next image, “Hunting Scene,” it depicts both white people and African Americans burning the heads of people of the opposite race. This can show how each race has a hatred for one another.

With Kehinde Wiley’s art, it strikes the viewer immediately with the image of an average African American wearing street clothes, but being portrayed as a figure with a higher rank. This confuses the viewer at first, because it was engraved into their minds to only know that Jesus, or some well known and praised king, should be worthy enough to being viewed in such a manner. But instead, these selected African Americans from any regular street corner are being shown holding up one hand, such as a prophet would, or riding along the back of a white horse, similar to the fashion of Napoleon leading his army. This is a way of stating that power can come to anyone, even the average everyday person. It is an image that shows the viewers not to judge people by their skin color, but by their mindset. It is a statement that tells people to change their views on racial differences and realize that people are people, no matter what color of skin they have.

Because of this kind of art being made to this day, I would say that despite us being in a “post-racial” society, we are not fully away from the past issues. There are still people out there who degrade others because of how they look, or what they wear. Though, there has been much progress since the times when slavery was at its highest. We have allowed many African Americans to rise above low standards in life and gain positions of power in some way. But as long as these artworks are still being created, I believe that the world is still judging others.

Why Not?

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So, I figured, since this is indeed a blog about art, I thought “why not post up some of my own?” So, as a little treat, here are a few paintings I have done in school. They aren’t the best photos in the world, but they’ll have to do for now. I’ll try to get in some better ones later.

This was the first painting I did in my class. It’s really stiff and very bright, but at the time I had no painting experience. It’s two fake fruits, a white paper diamond, a red jar, and a green cloth in the back. It was a study between contrasting colors and a practice on getting the paint (oil) to blend well.

This is the second painting I did. I had to choose an artist to study the style of, so I decided on Vermeer. By this time I was getting the hang using the brush and mixing the oils just right.

This was a box setup which contained a small brown glass, a small fake apple, a small fake wine glass, and two plastic frogs. I chose the objects to use, and the black and white image in the back was a photo taken by me.

This was a painting done near the end of the semester. I had the time limit of one day to do this one. I focused on painting reflections and how light played on objects.

I’m Ready for My Readymade

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In continuation with my Visual Literacy class, I will have to make a readymade in the style of Duchamp’s work. This blog post will go over the concept of Duchamp’s readymades and eventually, (once finished), discuss my own readymade project.

In an article I read titled “The Creative Act,” by Marcel himself, I have understood that art does not come to life by the hand that makes it, but also by the viewer who interprets it and brings their own conclusions. Art is the process of creating and changing until the piece is fully finished and the artist is satisfied. But at the same time, the viewer also can bring out new meanings to the art by observing and bringing in their own thoughts about it. Art is essentially mysterious. The artist himself had his or her own intentions when making it, but their viewer, having come from a completely different lifestyle and way of thinking, may understand it differently. But that overall is the beauty of art–it is meant to change minds and provoke thoughts. Duchamp’s readymades are intended for this sort of thing. They are meant to confuse the viewer and make the viewer see things in a completely different light. They are objects found from everyday life and put together in unique ways, as I went over in my last post. He describes his readymades in his article called “Apropos of Readymades,” which is an article that starts off sounding rather crazy (and humorous) by the way he states that he one day randomly put a bicycle wheel on a stool and observed it turning. But, it describes that technically, readymades are not really “original” in a sense. They came from created and mass produced objects and were just edited slightly to end up being called “art.” They are not usually changed, except maybe very slightly in some cases. That is the point of a readymade, for it to be presented as-is and to make people question why such an everyday object is being put on such a high pedestal and being given so much attention.

This post will be edited more on this subject as I go through the class project, and I eventually will post up an image of my own readymade. My readymade will have guidelines, it will not be made completely out of the blue. I have to use found objects, be able to make the object easy enough to be reproduced, make it seem rather vague and confusing at first glance, and of course add in my own imagination.

Edit #1: Photos

I have finished “making” my readymade and titled it “In Correlation with the Mind.” Here are a few images of the project. All it is is a blue, scented candle with drops of black, scented wax from another candle put into it. Below them, I will describe the meaning behind the idea.

The title “In Correlation with the Mind,” should help the viewer get a further understanding of what this project represents. The candle itself is the mind. The candle also has blue refreshing scented wax. When the mind “burns” thoughts, they are refreshing and new, so I chose that specific scented wax. I added in the black wax, which has a very different scent of a strong cinnamon, so it would conflict with the blue. The black wax represents corrupted thoughts. The brain is always susceptible to invading negative thoughts. If I decided to burn this candle, it would start off with a nice refreshing smell. Eventually, it will hit the black wax, changing the scent. The black wax can either burn up and disappear like some thoughts can do, or it can mix in with the blue wax as it burns a deeper hole into the candle. This will change the candle entirely, and make it unable to be restored to its former pure blue. The brain acts the same way; once a person learns of something that can really change their perception of the world, the person cannot return to their former selves before they knew of it.

That is my Marcel Duchamp inspired project. Hope you enjoyed 🙂 Feel free to tell me what you think!

– Erin

I’ll Take A Tylenol Alongside That Rainbow Cake

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As I’m learning about Marcel Duchamp’s works, I find myself both fascinated and confused.

To find that one has gotten the idea that they should nail a coat rack to the floor, label it, date it, and call it art is one such idea that would never cross my mind. Anyone’s first reaction would be to wonder, “Why?” Why would someone take something that should be on the wall behind a door, and nail it to the floor? It’s absurd, it’s unnatural, it’s not normal.

That’s how I first reacted to Duchamp’s ideas. My mind went numb and left my eyes to stare at the object in confusion. But, being an artist myself, I know this guy had his own intentions. I know he had some sort of vague idea of what he was doing, and why he was doing it. The only thing I didn’t expect was there to be such a deep meaning behind it all.
See, the art was titled “Trap,” which, if you observe a coat rack and imagine it laying down on the floor, would indeed look like a “trap” with spikes poking out of a wood plank. But that is the obvious observation. There is more to it, such as maybe “Trap,” means that art, before this idea had come along, was a “trap” in which it was stuck only in painting form. People only knew of art as something coming from the skill of an artist’s hand and being  done on a square canvas, then promptly hung on the wall to be observed.
Duchamp takes this idea, throws it in the shredder and sets the shredder aflame. He seems like a disorganized, crazy man to many because of his new idea. I’m sure if you stepped into his studio, you probably couldn’t even call it a “studio” by the way he’s blown art to new proportions.

At this point in studying him, I’m not sure whether to call him insane, or brilliant. He makes my mind hurt, trying to figure out the deep meanings behind his work, because my mind is set to seeing coat racks, or urinals, or stools in their normal commonplace– the wall, the bathroom and the kitchen. But he also makes me stare in awe at the fact that he could come up with such a meaning behind these works. I then figure out that he even replaces his viewers with himself! By taking a work that has a hidden object within it, even he does not know what that object is. Thus, he becomes the viewer, trying to figure out this mystery.

I don’t think I’d ever be able to come up with ideas such as Marcel Duchamp’s, but I’m going to sit back and enjoy what has been done by him. I might need  a Tylenol alongside that rainbow cake of imagination, though.

– Erin

Art. Pure imagination.

the ART of encouragement

in the middle of the wet paint, something happened.

A moment was captured…

and though there was turmoil and some uncertainty,

a pattern and rhythm began to be heard.

Suddenly, there was movement…

and the sound and colour began to fly…

Don’t stop your creative process just because you’re unsure of where it’s taking you. Be prepared to be surprised!

~

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An interesting perspective about travelling.

International Sheanniegans

When most, myself included, envision a study abroad experience, the picture formed is one of an epic journey, a whirlwind of exotic adventures, and a movie-style score involving lots of string instruments and orchestral percussion to accompany it all.

Sometimes, it’s like that.

Sometimes, it’s not.

My departure from Morocco and journey back to the States was both everything it was supposed to be and everything it wasn’t. More than anything, it was a roller coaster of emotions. Much like an amusement park ride, it caused some of us to cry, some of us to be giddy, and some of us to puke. Regardless of how the journey was, however, we all ended up back where we started – at home.

I was happy to be home; I had missed being able to be involved in the lives of my family and friends. I had missed the independence of being…

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General Jibberish of a Newbie Blogger

Hello! My name is Erin Young, a student currently at Holy Cross. I’m aiming for a Graphic Design degree, and this blog will be mostly used for my Visual Literacy class. Though I probably will post a few things I find interesting every now and then when I stumble upon them.

As a brief background, I’m a 22 year old living in Indiana. I’m a retail employee, but I don’t mind it that much, working with people is a thing I like to do. As I stated above, I’m also a student at Holy Cross. I transferred there from Ivy Tech Community College, and am working on finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. I’ve been interested in art ever since elementary school, when I made my first lumpy, messily painted jar out of red clay. I prefer drawing by hand because it lets my active imagination create whatever crazy things it wants to, when it wants to, but I have dabbled in painting with oils and smudging with charcoal (charcoal driving me crazy at first, because I have a tendency to be very precise and my mind wanted to get medieval on the paper when the charcoal stick wasn’t a fine enough line). I also work well with the Adobe programs, Photoshop and Illustrator being my strongest ones.

Anyway, the Visual Literacy class is a class that will help me focus more on the symbolic messages contained within art, whether it is current or historical. I’ve always wondered how artists manage to sneak in so many deep meanings within a simple styled painting. But then again, art itself is meant to be interpreted, deep hidden meanings or not. But it may not only be paintings that would have such symbolism. There are many more forms of art out there, such as movies, dances, theater shows…etc. Art is everywhere, really.

This class sounds like it’ll be a fun one. I’m already liking the idea of having a blog. I’ll slowly get used to navigating around this place, since I’ve never had one before. Time for the experimenting to begin!

-Erin