Place or Space

August 19, 2016 § Leave a comment

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We are slowly working on filling up our art library’s reference room with themed shelves for our students and faculty to browse. So far we have shelves dedicated to National Hispanic Heritage Month, art and math, books featured on our blog this year, a shelf for coloring books, and more.

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Place or Space, a book edited by Markku Hakuri, “tells the story of places, spaces and situations that the writers encountered when reflecting on the potential of art as a provider of social commentary, and as a shaper or a challenger of the visual appearance of our environment.” I picked this one off the shelf in the stacks while gathering books for another themed shelf that will have books related, even if tangentially, to environmental/eco-art.

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In the book, Polly Barto, who wrote an essay for it titled “Participatory Art and Its Space,” makes an interesting observance that contemporary installations are more often “taking place outside the restricted environments of art museums” (129). She goes on to discuss museums, galleries, and their levels of accessibility. An interesting discussion that can lead to questions of the exclusivity of art, the nature of audience in nature, museums, and gallery spaces, the accessibility of those spaces for different audiences, and further questions about nature and our participatory interactions with it (what does this mean for audience reactions to and participation with art that is outside?).

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Artist Interview with Aria From The Little Grey Rabbit

June 23, 2015 § 2 Comments

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It’s my pleasure to introduce Aria from The Little Grey Rabbit shop on Etsy! The whimsical work in her and Aaron’s shop inspired this interview. Make sure to check out their shop!

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Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your shop? What made you choose the name “The Little Grey Rabbit”?

I live in the Pacific Northwest on a small country homestead, but my true home is Epernon, France, hence the reason why there is such a strong French influence in my artwork, particularly my roomboxes. My shop is named after our rescue pet, a Mini Rex rabbit named ‘Boo’, the sweetest creature in the world, and thanks to my husband who is a photographer, Boo happens to have her own modeling gig….she’s a complete ham for the camera!

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Where do you gain inspiration from for your paintings, miniature buildings, and dioramas?

My love of architecture and my passion for France inspires many of my miniature buildings, dioramas and landscapes. But there is also the quirky side of me that loves pirates and swamps (yes I know, a weird combination) so it’s not unusual to find paintings of tall ships and the bayou in my shop.

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What’s the process like to create your buildings and dioramas?

Believe it or not (and please don’t laugh), I start out by putting on music that goes with the theme of the piece that I am going to be working on: so if it’s a building in France, I play French music; if it’s a castle, I’ll play medieval or renaissance music, etc..

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I usually start the actual build with a sketch or a reference image. I build the frame work in wood, cutting and fitting each piece together like a puzzle. Then once dry I apply the clay, carving, shaping, sculpting as I go. After which I paint and apply the finishing touches. It can take me anywhere from 2 to 10 weeks from start to finish, depending on the size.

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Are you working on any new projects or works of art?

A project that I have been laboring on for a few months now is a mix of miniature building and canvas painting, with the goal of the painting looking like it comes to life with the miniature building. I loved the idea, but it’s turning out to be more difficult than expected. I never know how labor intensive some projects will be until I get the clay and paint on it.

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6.13.2015

June 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Porcelain Sculptures by POAST

Minimal Wood Sculptures by Artist Paul Foeckler

January 16, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Artist Paul Foeckler has been kind enough to interview with me! The work in his shop, Split Grain, is refreshingly minimal and unique. Please give his shop and website a visit!

 I love your light sculptures, there’s something so beautiful, unique, and modern about seeing light coming through a piece of sculpted wood. What are your main inspirations and philosophies behind creating these sculptures, and what would you as an artist like communities around the world to know about you and your work?  

Thank you for your kind words. Split Grain is allowing me to explore the hidden beauty in nature in a way that has contemporary design appeal – which I hope helps people notice nature’s subtle beauty more and incorporate it into their modern lives and interior spaces. The project began one day when I was putting an ordinary piece of firewood into the fireplace and thought it too beautiful to burn. The shape the piece took on after splitting it intrigued me but when I started sawing and experimenting with it I found the cross sections revealed incredible shapes that would otherwise go unnoticed. The repetition of slicing the pieces helped to accentuate these hidden details. I started by suspending the pieces from steel armatures and soon discovered how light could accentuate the forms even more and add a whole new dimension. The works are minimal, formal and a bit architectural which mimics a tree’s natural form as well. I hope my pieces help bring nature into people’s contemporary lifestyles and surroundings as well as remind them of the amazing presence of trees.

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You mention on your Etsy shop page that you have been featured in different blogs and magazines, a couple magazines being California Home & Design and Arts Illustrated. What different responses to your work and philosophies have you received from this exposure? 

Most of the exposure I have been fortunate to receive has been with art & design-focused media. I have appreciated the exposure on many blogs but the one that created the most impact for me was This Is Colossal. Chris featured my work very shortly after I launched it and his feature created a real jumping off point. The CAH&D magazine project was interesting as they commissioned artists to do California-centric versions of their work. They approached me and wanted one of my sculptures in the shape of the state of California. At first, I thought it was the worst idea and completely gimmicky but after talking with the editor and seeing previous examples it turned out to be an interesting challenge. Like any creative project, sometimes limitations are good. I’ve been very fortunate as most of the responses I have received comment upon how they have never seen anything like my work before which motivates me to do and explore more.

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This Slice sculpture reveals fascinating contours and amazing growth patterns of a piece of reclaimed California Coastal Monterey Cypress. Details of the outer form and inner grain are thoughtfully exposed. Intriguing from any angle, these diminutive specimens elegantly reveal the wood’s splendid interior rings and odd exterior landscape which occurs from my random splitting technique.

Can you talk a little bit about the reclaimed wood that you use in your pieces?  

All of the wood that I use is reclaimed and I have to say foraging for it is fun but definitely a lot of work.
My favorite wood to work with is California Coastal Monterey Cypress. I used to spend a lot of time on the coast of northern CA at a place called The Sea Ranch. There are hedgerows of Cypress trees there to break the wind from the ocean. Their lives are often ended abruptly in storms. The firewood I thought too beautiful to burn was from one of those Cypress trees. It is a beautiful semi-hard wood that is not considered good for lumber so I am able to reclaim it for sculptures when trees are taken down.
Most recently I found some amazing Incense Cedar from the Angeles National Forrest in Los Angeles where I live now. Forest fires in 2009 destroyed a large portion of that forest but at 5,000 feet elevation there were large cedar trees that were scorched and died standing up. Their bark charred but completely protected and dried the core wood inside. The Cedar has a light aroma to it and has a beautiful grain which gets emphasized when lit in my light sculptures.

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Are you currently working on or planning any new projects?  

What’s consuming my time and energy right now is scaling sculptures up to larger sizes. I have been working on commissions for larger pieces that have been a lot of fun but a lot more challenging. On the horizon I hope to have another project that attempts to reveal nature’s hidden beauty in a different way. I have a feeling it will have to do with motion.

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My Splay sculptures capture the dramatic variations in form that can occur between the top and bottom of a piece of California Coastal Monterey Cypress. I look for pieces that have dramatically different shapes as they begin and end and I reserve them for these sculptures. Each tier is a deconstruction of an entire piece of wood however when viewed from the ends the piece seems to magically reassemble itself. The progression of exterior shape and interior growth rings can be viewed individually and as a singular whole.

Thank you so much for stopping by, please like and share and make sure to visit Paul in his online Etsy shop!

1.7.2015

January 7, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Handmade Clay Animals and Textile Art by Caizhen Li on Etsy

Shop: Tiny Mint

Past Your Porch Light: The Soft Sculptures of Etsy Artist Jessie C.

January 6, 2015 § 1 Comment

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It is my pleasure to introduce to you Etsy artist Jessie C. from Ontario, Canada! Jessie’s shop, Past Your Porch Light, is an absoultely charming place where “grizzlies wander and owls take wing.” We both hope you enjoy this interview and can give Jessie’s shop a look-see!

Each creature you sculpt seems to come from a dreamland! Where do you get the ideas for your soft sculpted creatures?

That kind of dreamy quality is something I really value, in art and in life, and I’m so pleased that it comes across. For the most part my inspiration comes from where you’d expect, nature and wildlife. I grew up in Canada with access to the woods behind our house and as a child I’d climb trees for hours exploring that world. I had notions of being a professional animal watcher or leaving home to make friends with orcas off the coast of British Columbia, and while I grew out of those somewhat unrealistic ideas (mostly) I’ve never lost my fascination with the animal kingdom. There’s a magical quality to those sort of unconquered areas of life that I can daydream about for hours, personalities or stories I can imagine creatures having, and more and more that’s where my creations find their beginning.

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That dreamland and the details in our own natural world play the biggest parts – I can obsess over conveying the weight in a grizzly bears footstep, or capturing the posture of a badger pausing to listen to its surroundings before moving on. Other times even a song or scene in a film can spark an idea.

Why did you decide to use this soft sculpting medium for these creatures and not another medium? Also, how long does it take you to make one of these?

It’s been a slow process of discovery but the love and obsession was immediate once found. I’ve tried many kinds of art since I was young, I knew I wanted to create but not always what or how.  When I first dabbled with fabric I worked with faux fur- it’s great stuff but messy and can be difficult to maneuver, which is ultimately why I discovered felt as a medium.

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Wool felt sort of happened to me when I was dealing with some health issues that restricted me from using more labor intensive materials, it was something I could easily pile next to me on the couch on a bad day and sew by hand. During that time I watched a lot of nature documentaries, and one day was struck by the image of a polar bear. Their silhouette and posture is so distinctive, almost otherworldly, and I knew I wanted to somehow capture that, and the feeling it gave me, and make it into something tangible. That iconic shape became the focal point of that first soft sculpture project, and those are things I pay close attention to on every new undertaking. While I still integrate previous mediums into new works, wool felt has really taken root with me.. It may change, it will definitely evolve, but for now I’m really enjoying finding those shapes and feelings in felt.

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How did business on Etsy start and how has your experience been so far?

I found Etsy more out of necessity than because I had a plan. I posted something I’d made on another website and to my shock it became popular very quickly, people would message asking how to purchase and I needed to scramble to figure that out. The business aspect is the area I’ve struggled with the most – I didn’t go into this established as an artist, or even as the person I was going to be, it’s been something I’ve grown alongside of (sometimes clumsily, I changed my brand name a few times.)

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I think a lot of artists get into this “JUST CREATE” mindset and maybe don’t put the effort they may have to into getting the art seen. For a long, long time that was a huge issue for me, but Etsy has taught me a lot. There’s a really resourceful community there rich with advice and opportunity, but I also think promoting off the website is very important too. Instagram has been my biggest help in that arena.

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Do you have any future plans for your business and do you plan on adding any new creature designs to the shop?

At any given time I have about 6 new creature designs in a prototype stage, with dozens more on paper and loping around my mind. As for future plans, they range from developing a better understanding of color combinations and design to something as ambitious as having a studio space. I’m still very much in my beginning stages so I’m mostly happy to continue to learn- but I also have some very cool collaborations coming up as well that I’m pretty excited about.

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An Interview With Ines Rocio: Etsy Artist

January 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

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This interview is between myself and Ines Rocio from the inesrocio Etsy shop. She is a visual artist living in Portugal and her work is beautiful! Make sure to show her shop some love!  

Your wearable art has vivid colors and each piece is stunningly beautiful in a very natural kind of way. What inspired you to create these pieces and what process do you go through to make them?  

First of all thank you for the invitation and for your kind words about my art work.

Nature is my great source of inspiration, I am fascinated by the vividness of colors, organic, natural architecture, overlapping tones, rhythms and energy.

The creative process begins by being in contact with the natural elements, like strolling through the park or the beach, as a botanist, collect small natural treasures, with which at the Atelier, I give life and energy to natural wearable art pieces. In the jewelry making, I use these elements as a template for the sculptural process, because I like the pace, energy and organic-ness that they give.

The watercolor is undoubtedly the artistic medium with which I identify most, because as my painting is very spontaneous, allows for endless diversity of hues, besides it is a clean paint technique  and more environmentally friendly. Really like to use metallic pigments, especially the gold because in my opinion it adds richness and luminosity to the paintings.

My painting is mostly intuitive, and I like to explore the various dimensions of pigments freeform, almost always with the purpose of transposing the metaphysical vibration and positive energy that nature gives me, through art. The creative act transcends me as an individual.

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Do you ever wear them to show them off? They look like they would make great conversation starters.   

Yes I really like to wear my pieces, they symbolize a little piece of nature and convey to me a very positive energy. It is this joy that I want to share with my clients.

My pieces are very colorful and get people’s attention. These conversations are usually initiated by my son who is four years old and is a big fan of  his mom’s work, and when he sees me wearing my pieces he makes a point of telling people that were made by me :).

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?  

I am a mother, a women in love and an artist with a background in graphic design.

I’m a dreamer, creative, have liked to paint since I was a child, used to paint flying ponies, rainbows, gardens and houses. I always liked to represent nature in a colorful way.

I really like music, animals (I have two lovely female dogs), love to cook and create different recipes. I like a lot of children’s illustration and romantic stories with happy endings.

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How did you get to where you are today, what inspires you to create and to be an Etsy shop owner?

I have always felt the need to create, but was afraid to assume myself as an artist completely, but thanks to the support of my dear husband, I gained the courage to devote myself entirely to art. I find the Etsy concept fascinating , and I love belonging to this effervescent community where creative people support and motivate each other. I think this concept of sharing extremely inspiring! So for me having a store there makes sense.

How is life in Portugal?

We have plenty of sunshine, many beautiful places to behold and shoot and lots of time during the year to enjoy these same locations. We have vast knowledge and very interesting traditions . We have many extremely creative young artists, for which the current financial crisis has been very hard.

For me, human creativity is a global phenomenon, and the internet an open window to the world and that is the way I chose to guide my work.

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Do you have any future plans for your artwork and your shop?

My goal is to continue to create and feel happy and privileged for it. I like the idea of creating my pieces and seeing them take their course for their future owners, not only because economic necessity is intrinsic to any store (after all the artists have to eat too) but mainly for the joy I have in creating pieces that also make other people happy. 
In the short term I am planning to create my own blog, a space where I will share my love for creativity.  

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