Yeah, we are on facebook, and launching a new URL soon.
In case you were not aware – online extensions of some mainstream media publications have now created women-centric blogs or sub-journals. We’re not talking style section or tips for the home, but headlining news as it relates to women’s interests.
I find it fascinating, but how do we feel about this bifurcation? Should these headlines be on the front pages of the primary source of news instead of relegated to some kind of no-boys-allowed corner of the web? Maybe it is a way to reach women who need to be told that this news is for them, to get their attention, even if it is also covered elsewhere? Or, worst case scenario, are male editors disinterested in publishing news as it relates to us?
Why do you think this is happening? Do you have another solution? Do you know of more examples that I missed (below)?
UNTITLED:dialogue is a one-year project organized by Jessie Yang and He Yu.
This duo met at New York Univeristy’s Steinhardt Graduate school for Visual Arts Management. Both originally from China, (Shanghai and Sichuan, respectively,) they had the idea to create a monthly forum for further dialogue that centered around Contemporary Asian Art being created locally, in New York. They have garnered a list of over 250 in their network, and growing. Their events have had between 70-80 people show up, which has increased from about 20 at the first event.
“We hope to create a space where artists and the public could meet and interact in an informal setting, with more possibilites for dialogue.”
He Yu (also known as Echo) says that attendees have loved the atmosphere for these events. The artists like the attention as well. Some of their artists are in temporary residencies in New York and are looking for opportunities to talk about their ideas outside of the immediate circle of the program they are participating in, and to broaden their network. The second artist in their series, Na Yingyu, is a video artist and connected with a documentary film maker at one event and has made plans to collaborate.
“UNTITLEDdialogue, a series of cultural talks with Asian related artists, curators, writers, independent film makers, designers, architects and musicians in New York.”
When they came to New York, Jessie and Echo didn’t find a lot of events specific to Asian Art outside of the larger and more traditional institutions such as the Asia Society. Even less so when it came to contemporary art, including among commercial galleries.
By providing an informal setting, they have created a free platform around contemporary Asian work where they invite all kinds of international cultural dialogue to occur. For example, John Ransom Phillips was another one of the artists Ud has worked with, he is American and creates images that contain allusions to Chinese sub-text.
With one exception, so far, Ran Tea House has been hosting the Ud program. The tea house also has programming of their own, which is how Echo originally found them. After a screening of the recently released documentary on the work of artist Ai Weiwei she approached the owner, and because their ideas were so similar, it was a natural fit. They set up a schedule for the events, and it has been a smooth collaborative relationship ever since. The only negative aspect that Echo observed is that she would like to find a way to bring in more revenue for the Tea House, and artists.
Jessie has been contributing customized desserts for each event, including a Japanese theme for the event highlighting one Musician from Kagawa.
“I really enjoy making dessert for UNTITLEDdialogue. And I try to relate the dessert to the theme of the dialogue as much as I can. It just makes everyone happy. I would never have thought that studying visual arts would take me to such a new and unexpected path.”
Jessie has applied to a Pastry Arts program at the French Culinary Institute next March. “Though it seems that I found my true calling in cooking and baking, I still love art. And who says food is not art? It is absolutely a work of art.”
Jessie hopes to continue to find ways of blending visual and culinary art experiences after Ud concludes.
In the future, Echo is interested in organizing gallery tours and in-studio visits rather than a program located in a singular venue. One of their events already has taken place at an artist studio (as opposed to the Ran space). Although the different setting can pose logistical challenges, it has the benefit of combining the artist’s network more easily with the network they have been building.
Echo cited a female Taiwanese author, Chen Mao Ping, as a rare female artist icon whom she admired. The author’s published work can be found under the nickname “Sanmao”, and became popular in Taiwan and mainland China in the late 1970’s. She also became infamous for her alleged suicide in 1991.
When asked to share any words of counsel for practicing artists Echo urged that artists must take the time to look into themselves. Everyone is very creative in the art world and trying to assert themselves. You can be influenced by others so easily that it becomes very important to take the time to be introspective and know your own creative goals, and artistic character.
“On October 21st, we’ll present our sixth event with gifted jazz singer and composer Le Zhang. The event will commence with a Jazz performance, highlighting recomposed Shanghai pop music from 1930s and 1940s. The performance will be followed by a talk about the story of “Shanghai Jazz”, the historical and current Jazz scene in Shanghai, and progressive fusion of Western Jazz culture and Chinese pop music in 1930s.” Read More….
Time: Sunday October 21st from 16:00 – 18:00
Location: Ran Space, 269 KENT AVE.
(BTW S1 STR. and S2 STR.), BROOKLYN, NY, 11211
Ud on Facebook
I met Sarah Cram at a conference for female leaders in the visual arts. Acting as the intern she kept a low profile as she scurried around setting up the event space. After shooting the breeze with another Art Admin regarding our different, but parallell visions and work, she suggested I sit Sarah down for a chat. Further explaining that Ms. Cram was making work specifically addressing feminist issues, I took the bait. As it turned out, there were plenty of layers to be unveiled in this young artist, as I have happily discovered with just about all of the recommendations I have received lately.
Ms. Cram attends Gordon College, a Christian University north of Boston, and explained to me how she has not given up on the community there, but wants to contribute to the Christian dialogue with her young and empowered perspective. Within her edu community she contributes to the Barrington Blog with updates on cultural goings-on. Her artwork is aesthetically based in graphic design (also print-making and drawing,) but her concepts are still working out their best way to be let loose, with video and installation projects in the works. She has been writing a lot and thinking about self image, as many of us have/do.
In Highschool, she studied the Renaissance and a sliver of classical Art History. Van Gogh and Picasso were the favorites of her teachers, which included her mother’s preference. Although her Grandmother had a Salvador Dali magnet, her mother disapproved, and encouraged a very specific taste. Eventually she found Edward Gorey on her own, around the same time that she got into Tim Burton. She was uncovering a bit of a darker side and the beginnings of a more contemporary art exploration.
She saw her first Warhol at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a visit to New York, (this was her Freshman year). Looking back she thought it was “absurd,” just discovering him as a freshmen, but his art simply wasn’t taught to her before then. She clearly sensed the importance of his work. When she looked at that self portrait in camouflage she thought, “That speaks more to me than any classical piece hung on a wall.” From then on she fell in love with contemporary art, and went on to learn more. She now cites Marina Abramović, and Jenny Holzer among her favorites.
Looking back further, from her early visual memories, she recalls the enamoring illustrations of Eric Carl’s collection, and the 5 year old wonderment of reading Curious George Goes to the Hospital. However, those fairly standard childhood images were surpassed one day when she discovered her father’s LP collection, pulling out Boston’s LP with the guitar spaceship cover art. It was the first time she considered composition, the illustrative plane, the type treatment, and morphing of imagery. She was hooked.
Now, she admits to feeling a tension between her own self expression and the Christian community that she finds herself in. She feels weird at her College, or in the church, when there are not people like her around. She gets the feeling that female expression is frowned upon. She mentioned other male students could show up with a mowhawk and everyone would love it, but her short hair, for example, would put her in a box where she was lumped in with a bunch of other kinds of people. “You’re under a finer microscope [as a woman].” She said.
Very naturally, she started exploring issues of feminism. At first a subtle interest, but now she wants to scream her ideas! She wants to acknowledge that there are all different types of women. She doesn’t share the ideology that there is one kind of femininity, or align herself with common codifiers of being a “lady”, though she doesn’t exclude being a wife or mother from the possibilities.
In her world, women are just as guilty of having a restrictive view of femininity. She submitted an article to an anonymous journal on campus, and was turned down for being too bold in her ideas on femininity. (The deciding pannel was comprised of women.)
A text-based tattoo on her left arm reads “teleios”, Greek for completion or maturity.
This is a symbol of her perpetual state of becoming complete.
Sarah alluded to personal experiences with women that include breast cancer and very specifically resulting in a loss of joy from the physical effects, as well as other uniquely female struggles that are tied to the body. Also empathizing with women who think or feel like men, Sarah wrestles with that knowledge, even though she identifies herself as a woman, and is a natural born woman. As a physical and emotional being, this is at the core of her exploration. She says that knowing that she was born a woman, is a daughter, sister, girlfriend, she finds her comfort in the thought that she was born a woman by design… but admits that this is an every day struggle to understand and define those terms.
When I asked her about her own body of artwork, and how all these ideas are being put down, she explained that the work that people haven’t seen yet is most important to her. The work done on her own, outside of school, and as a young teacher – being a leader, and setting an example for a different thought pattern for young (Christian) students. Getting the chance to explain that they have choices outside of the sub-cultural norms has been invigorating. She says her art is getting more bold, which is a challenge, while going through the internal process of preparing to make more visible statements.
“It isn’t a sin to be an artist. It’s not a sin to struggle with femininity. To not be lead to be a mother, lead to single-hood.” Sarah recalls being given opposite instruction. “I was reading scripture, and I didn’t see that anywhere. Because you are a woman doesn’t mean you have to sit at a desk… or cook wearing an apron and high heels. But we can still be servants by being leaders, and we can still do God’s work by being major voices in the art world.”
Warhol, yet again, on view at the MET
I would never have thought to pull up Kelly Ripa‘s show, co-hosted with Michael Strahan, on any regular tuesday evening, but a very talented friend of mine just did the make up for their special guest, HEART! Incredibly rockin’ women – whom I have admired since my KFOX listening days.
It’s nice to know they are going strong!
Go ahead and rock out to their new jam (above) or enjoy an oldie (below).
^Lupe Fiasco’s assessment of the semantic confusion when you call girls the “B” word.
^M.I.A.’s audacious “Bad Girls” video, where there is minimal skin, but plenty of attitude.
Recently I’ve been hearing some talk about the fall-out rate of female artists after giving birth. While I do not doubt that it happens, my own observation has been of a different demographic. Let us consider a more substantial statistic of women falling off the studio-practice bandwagon in the immediate exodus of those who, upon receiving their degree, do not find the wherewithal to stick to their craft.
I’ve seen a high percentage of students walk away from their studio practice before attaining a mature stage of work. I used to think that this was just part of the vetting process, but the casualties to the total women practicing in the visual arts is no small thing. The instance of those who trail off into unrelated territory out of school is partly due to a lack of encouragement to develop work at the onset of their career – untrained in the skills needed to maintain a quality studio practice, they throw in the towel. (Feel free to contradict me below in COMMENTS.)
The petering out that I have observed typically happens at the end of their studies or within a couple years following. Poor training and discipline, rather than specific personal life events, enhance the “starving” artists’ fatigue before they can sustain themselves. Setting a more rigorous standard of art-making can come from within a person, but is rarely developed without a mentor or teacher to inspire or direct it.
Still others simply find new interests to pursue, which may include a more singular focus on family life, among other things. It takes a lot to maintain a practice when we find ourselves pitted against other duties, so, it happens. But I think that the artist who is well equipped for their studio practice to begin with, who is making work with integrity – that is the artist who will continue to make work regardless of familial obligation or (what Betty Fridan would have called) sexual roles.
I’d venture to say that women who have become mothers after beginning a dedicated studio practice are more likely to find a way to make room for it in their life with children. Sometimes it takes on another form or style, but nevertheless is existant, and not only for the benefit of play in the home.
I met Amanda Hamilton eleven years ago, and although our acquaintance seemed brief, she left a lasting impression. When I met her she was working for the Art Department at my undergraduate university, and she has continued to teach and inspire. I am happy to share her story with you here as an example of a skilled exhibiting artist working with a variety of media; she is both a teacher and a mother. I can’t build up her work enough to you as she epitomizes the dedicated practitioner of the arts whose work has actively grown in its complexity over time.
bk: First of all, tell me a bit about your roots, or where you come from?
AH: I grew up with two very different realities:
My mother’s parents were second generation Swedish immigrants to Los Angeles. They had done very well in the aluminum casting business and owned a factory downtown. The Swedish community they were part of still enacted a number of traditions and were all quite conservative, affluent Baptists.
In contrast, my father grew up in Ohio and his parents were from rural Kentucky. Their generation had been the one that moved away from farming and into factory work. The tension between the dying farming communities and the industrialization and strip mining of that part of the country looms large in my family history. I have felt very tied to the KY farm all my life, and spent some time in the summers there as a child. I think this is where some of the really basic generative concerns about place, identity, nostalgia come from.
The two histories are wildly different both socially and economically, in terms of habits, norms and traditions… both very real and both very mine but exist in some form of opposition. As a young artist I was pretty obsessed with trying to reconcile these seemingly disparate experiences or realities.
All that being said, where is your current home?
Does your current environment influence your art practice?
My husband and I moved from Pasadena, CA to Boise, ID almost eight years ago. I took a position teaching drawing and painting and so we moved to Idaho within the span of a few weeks-cold.
I think my time in Idaho has certainly influenced my practice in the sense that there has been a lot of consideration of loss, continued investment in the question of the nature of experience… The early years here were quite lonely and any connection to personal history felt ripped away. It was like floating with no anchors- place, community, routine, even the well worn and boring path to the grocery store- gone.
Idaho is a very stark place with long summers and winters- Fall and Spring are compressed into these brief moments and it gives the year a sense of drama. The landscape itself is barren and desert for miles and then lush in the mountains and by the rivers. It was a foreign landscape and it took me some time to see the variations and even the beauty. And it is beautiful.
My practice has echoed this quiet empty space at times. There is a stillness. As a smaller city, it’s culturally quiet here and that was something I wanted in 2005/6 when we moved here from Southern CA.
Do you have themes that you contend with in your practice,
which have evolved out of early seeded ideas or experiences?
I think I spoke to this a bit earlier… I seem always to be thinking about the nature of things. I have always enjoyed philosophy and aesthetics. I like to think in a structured way about nuanced aspects of language or meaning.
I used to be obsessed with the questions of what is the real or what does it mean for something to be authentic. I have worked with scale models over the last ten years in large part as a stand in for this interest. I also seem to gravitate toward melancholy, loss, solitude, repetition or labor.
I’m not as interested in delineating boundaries or having an answer for things as I used to be. Now I see the work as asking better and better versions of those old questions, maybe making observations.
Does your Spirituality bleed into your artwork?
Can you describe for me any Spiritual ritual or practice that might be mimicked in a studio practice? Are these even related?
I don’t think of my “spirituality” and my “studio practice” as separate things. The person I am or am becoming is present in all moments of my life and is informed by all varieties of experience. My artwork is a form of spirituality- it’s where I ask questions and reflect.
My artwork requires the same integrity, dedication, thoughtfulness, that parenting does and that teaching does, that my marriage does. My posture to these things is not different but the specifics are…
As a discipline, what keeps you making artwork?
Is it driven from within you or is it more of an act of dedication?
I want to/ have the inclination to/ have learned to think this way… and sheer force of will moves me to completion on various projects. I have to be careful not to think or process faster than I work or I get bored and abandon projects.
What would you say brings you the most inspiration in life right now,
even if it does not reveal itself in your work aesthetically?
So many things…
My current studio space (solitude and a place that is not multi-use), everything about my daughter, I’m learning to do Pilates which is very challenging for me…but I am not giving up…maybe the “not giving up,” the fact that I’m not very successful, is inspiring.
I read a good book of poems by Ben Lerner last spring called Mean Free Path and some aspect of the meaningfulness elevating itself above the acknowledgement of limitation of language and poetry and the process was really a big deal for me… artists should read it. It’s really influenced my choices in painting this year.
When my students take risks and really go for it in their studio practice- that’s pretty inspiring.
My family is moving to Minneapolis next summer and I am thrilled and inspired by starting our life there. I’ve become pretty close friends with a half dozen or so artist in Idaho whom I really admire- the studio visits and creative community have been really life-giving.
What was your first or most memorable interaction with a work of art?
I remember seeing an El Greco painting at the San Diego Museum of Art, I must’ve been in elementary school so maybe 9 or 10? I stared at it for a long time – I just couldn’t figure it out.
…I haven’t thought of that painting for years,
but your question brought it to mind.
I also grew up with paintings.
My great great great Swedish uncle was a painter and we have this oil painting of the summer solstice tradition of lighting massive bonfires by the edge of a Swedish lake. As a child I would write stories about the painting. I remember just staring at it forever.
I really worked up a belief that it was inhabited and that things could move within and beyond it. Especially the clouds. It was porous to me. I now have that same painting in my own home and like living with it.
Do you have any big projects in mind, or in the works?
I’m wrapping up some things I’ve been working at for about 3 years now. This work has to do with my time in Idaho, Marilynne Robinson’s book Housekeeping (which seems also to have been written about Idaho in a specific and vague sense) and ideas about process and tentativeness in art making and in life. The work includes painting, video, sound and objects. I’ll update my website in the next few months as the work is finished. I’ll get to show a bit of this work at Black Hunger in Boise this Fall and at the Olson Galleries at Bethel University in St. Paul this February.
One of the nice things about getting a little older is realizing it does take me 2-4 years to settle in with an idea. I spend a lot of time researching and thinking. I collect a lot of sounds, images, create models or shoot footage and at some point things start to gel materially in the same way the ideas have started taking shape. It’s nice not to stress out about how long this process takes for me- it’s just how I work. I know better how to plan for this longer process and how to commit to shows and other opportunities.
Once the current work is done (around December) I’ll start in on another project that I’ve been thinking about and working up to for the last year and a half. It has to do with a city in France at the end of the 19th century and my fictionalizing a collected history and my newly formed memories of it.
Is there something that you hope for the “art world” community?
I wish what I do for all people or communities… honesty, inquiry, dialogue, courage, kindness.
I guess my biggest “wish” in general is that people would have the guts to own what they think is good work or boring work and not take cues from major information outlets- have debates, people! There are already communities that do this, so I hope more people will adopt this way of being in the world.
And that artists would make what they truly want to make –stop thinking so hard – especially with graduate school’s burden of theory (though I love theory) – and stop putting what is fashionable first.
Move on to making things for the reasons you first wanted to make art.
Do you have any specific advice for artists who become parents?
I think it’s different for each person. In my experience, I found that the birth of my daughter was clarifying. I lost the ability to always be planning and preparing and moved more toward action in my practice. I think I did my best work after she was born because I couldn’t do things half-way. I felt I needed to go for it in the studio so I could get back to my family life.
I am grateful that my husband values my studio practice and at times has practically pushed me out the door to go work despite my sense of guilt. I think artist mothers have a unique sense of guilt- at least most of the ones I know do. So actually, here’s my advice:
Do not do this alone. Surround yourself with a few other artists who also value parenting… and talk. Know that it is harder to get time in the studio than if you had no child, or if you were single, or swimming in grant money, or wealthy and had no need of employment, but probably you are not many of those things and so find a way to do what you love.
I think of something Ghandi said that wasn’t about art but I’ve thought of a lot “actions express priorities”. I think we find ways to keep what we need in our lives- so you’ll find a way to make your art even if it’s terribly difficult.
And also, it’s okay to take a break from art production for a while! Read and think and go see shows. Everything doesn’t have to happen all at once.
Installation view of On Floriography, Amanda Hamilton
Amanda Hamilton holds degrees in Drawing and Painting from Biola and Claremont Graduate University, and has been regularly exhibiting work since finishing her undergraduate degree in 2000. She was a resident in the Painting’s Edge and Whale and the Star Summer Workshop. She has received several honors including a QuickFund$ grant through the National Endowment for the Arts. Ms. Hamilton has two exhibits scheduled to open over the next five months (at Black Hunger in Boise, ID, and at the Olson Galleries at Bethel University in St. Paul.)
Related Links :
@ Capitol Skyline Hotel in D.C.
Thurs, Oct 4 – Sunday, Oct 7.
Announcing Joyce Lee at the (e)merge Art Fair. “Made in China” will be Ms. Lee‘s first foray into live performance with video installation! “Made in China” is an experimental work about luxury commodities, labor production, and global economies.
Also from Ms. Lee: “Perspectives: a Look through Cultural Lenses,” solo exhibition at Silber Gallery at Goucher College, Oct 30 – Dec 2. The opening reception will be Friday, Nov 9th from 6-9 pm. This show presents new video work of cross-cultural sensibilities made in response to previous work referencing western art history.
The Secret Rooms of the Dirt Palace
performance, sale and exhibition:
(Including “Women I’ve Known, Biblically.” by JR Uretsky at 7pm)
The Secret Rooms of the Dirt Palace is a multi-media performance that explores constructing and performing femininities through a series of vignettes framed by the explicit explanations of Madame Von Malt Liqueur, our narrator whose narrative is drunk on all of the love in the air and full of repetition and lies. Madame Von Malt Liqueur knows that every story is a story of survival and that in order to make sense, a story must have at least a beginning. The Secret Rooms of the Dirt Palace has at least five beginnings; each presenting a navigation of contemporary womanhood that draw on personal experience as a point of departure to present diverse femininities that are not a reaction to or imitation of male power. Combining traditional storytelling, aggressive magic realism, surrealism, awkward realism, and utilizing puppetry, video, song, ritual, objects and dance The Secret Rooms of the Dirt Palace is a mystical look at what femininity might be — fluid, constructed, individual and sometimes a little wasted.The performance will be on 27 September 2012 at 7pm.
Sale: Also on Thursday the 27th, the people of the palace will be selling zines, apparel, prints and much much more!
Exhibition: The DP will be filling Soho20 with prints, sculptures, paintings, comics, puppets, drawings and videos. Come to NYC and see what we’ve been working on! Exhibition runs 23 – 29 of September.