Rebecca Solnit expresses her passion and inspiration she has gain from maps. She began by mapping her own city of San Fransisco. She maps her own route that she takes daily as well as the paths she has taken throughout her childhood by growing up there. Just as fine artists must maneuver through choosing the right mediums to work with, she had to choose the most visually appealing to way to format her maps in the book she wrote. She also made a collaboration effort to publish her images in her book, which also changed her perspective of the city of San Fransisco itself for Rebecca. I think that when asking for someone else’s expertise in mapping an area, they would be mapping the aspects of the city that they are familiar with and encounter everyday, influencing what your previous perception was.
Nato Thompson connects contemporary geography with contemporary art by bringing to light an enumerable number of possibilities within each sphere, as both continually undergo change. Famous pop artist, Andy Warhol commented that, “we are the land we live on”. Both elements of our surroundings influence our lives. Construction, debris left from wars, disasters such as 9/11 are examples of this unity. Our environment is an illustration of a sequence of events that records a time in human history. Situationist have been birthed from this and study the effect of economy on both our geography and urbanization. In summary, it seems obvious that one cannot go unaffected by the other.
From my perspective, contemporary art is mapping a global conversation of different experiences, overlapping them to shape our individual lives, and through this it is visible the influence our paths have on our community. Others define it as a process that precedes an end result of a physical map itself, or an arbitrary selection of information. It was an interesting take on mapping when Helfand stated that his goal wasn’t to make a creative map of reality, but to instead draw a map with metaphorical meaning to represent what contemporary Asia is like in the United States. Once exploring the meaning of mapping, it’s context can be applied to every aspect of our lives, whether it’s physically visible or an internal realization. Mapping often presents its message in a plain, obvious manner yet in an organic structure when in the hands of an artist.
The Studio Museum in Harlem hosts The Bearden Project, which celebrates the life of Romare Bearden, who is regarded as an American master in collage. Bearden was one of the most well-known black artists of the twentieth century, creating works central to the style of Cubism, southern folk traditions, and African art. Bearden invested himself in the arts throughout his life but in his earlier years, Bearden was a Social Worker, served in WW II in the Army and studied philosophy. Among his accomplishments, Bearden joined the Spiral group which is a group of African-American artists who converged to discover what their role is in American art. Today their meeting place is now known as The Studio Museum in Harlem. Known by an American flag that is red, green and black, the Studio Museum in Harlem hosts hundreds of pieces of contemporary art that have been inspired by Bearden’s life and works. These artworks were designed to promote not only Bearden but the African American’s influence on American modern art today. Some artists rendered their art to mimic Bearden’s in collage, while others chose multimedia, painting, sculpture and video to express his influence.
One of Romare Bearden’s collage pieces on display for The Bearden Project is, “The Conjure Woman” done in 1964. It is a portrait of a black woman in the woods who is wearing a long black dress with sleeves and a cloth head wrap. Her uncovered eyes evoke a sense of discovery. To me this piece was an up-close-and-personal perspective of the significance of having the Studio Museum in Harlem means to African Americans shown by the African American woman who is emerging from the shadows of the past where their art wasn’t considered. Today, it is and a new sense of discovery is awarded.
This artwork relates to the piece, “Rooftop Dance” I created for ARTS 1305 in that it is layers of black and white created to enhance the subject’s environment and to further tell the story. The absence of color dramatizes the meaning behind each artwork.
The beauty of what is left in transparency after being erased is explained as a style of art in “The Revelation of Erasure”. Whether in photographs, sculpture, books, written music, or Master’s paintings when something is blotted out the audience is left with a sense of mystery, seeing only the remnants of the destruction that was done. To some it may appear as an obvious mistake, but doing this can drastically change the meaning of the image. For example the erased individual in the photograph signified his death that came shortly after the photograph was taken of him. Others in media exaggerate the act of erasure and try to invent a hidden image and message that has yet to be discovered. The article describes that faces easily reveal evidence of something that was erased, leaving behind another person and their story. The art of erasure has been in existence even in our childhoods by the faint lines left in an Etch-a-sketch, to the disappearing striped body of Chester Cat in Disney’s Alice and Wonderland, who’s only existence is his white smile left behind. In lieu of this, I hope that I view my mistakes made in art as an unexpected path to get to an end result I wouldn’t have achieved otherwise, rather than viewing imperfection with a critical eye. By incorporating erasure more often in my work, I hope the message behind each piece will become stronger.
One may think it would be preposterous to simply erase a master’s work that is as respected as De Kooning’s masterpieces. They may think it’s meant to protest against his beliefs, or an act of defiance to undermine the quality of his skill. Yet, it was a different story for Robert Raushenberg. Raushenberg, an artist himself, was a fan of De Kooning. He claims he was trying to bring drawing into the all-whites by erasing his own work initially. His approach to this erasing technique is to erase what is already art; something of admiration, and by doing so what is left is the “ghost” of the recognized masterpiece, which Raushenberg refers to as poetry. This interview gave the inside perspective that De Kooning gave Rauschenberg a challenging piece to erase, which resulted in a new view of beauty. Just as Rauschenberg focuses on the unseen; what isn’t there, I hope that in my art I can place importance on not only the subject but also the effect that negative space and the background create in each composition.
Paul Pfeiffer is an artist who primarily focuses his work on images of what he calls, “amazing spectacles”. He explains that these are images of individuals who are under the spotlight such as basketball players, beauty pageant contestants or event simply those on T.V. Pfeiffer explains that he is most captivated by the movement of repetition, as can be seen by the flickering of a flame in a fireplace. His concept of the reality of his surroundings changes as he admits he feels like he were watching something out of T.V. screen, rather than in real life. Not only does Pfeiffer study human movement, but the effect of that, once it isn’t visible. Pfeiffer’s perspective of movement and it’s resulting impact caused me to realize as an observer it’s in the quiet, still moments I notice these effects, whether done by an individual, a sunrise or larger movements like the basketball players claiming victory in the eyes of thousands. By hearing Pfeiffer’s explanation of his works and passion for capturing these scenes on film, I feel as though I can better understand the importance of contrast of perspective used in my art, recognizing the “amazing spectacles” no more than the minute that are easily disregarded.
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