Friday, November 18, 2011

"Less White"

Mark says "less white" should be Art in Public Space's new motto. It seems to be the reoccurring goal when it comes to mural progress. As you can see, students have been achieving it. Mark was also able to remix the mysterious shade of purple that Simi has been trying to remake - that must be a relief.  The painting of the purple lady can now continue.

We also had a guest come in today, Toni Auletti, with some words of wisdom. She told students that the faster they worked, the better their work would be. She also suggested covering all white spots with at least some kind of wash before leaving the room today (even if it's in underpants colors, as she says!), also reinforcing the "less white" motto. Maybe that can be a new technique used for panel 3. They'll be starting it soon enough! It looks like panel 2 is nearing completion. 

I'm going to try to take or find pictures of the space where the entire mural will be installed and post those later to get a better idea of the size and everything. It will be a fun surprise for everyone seeing how the panels will look when set next to each other. Soon enough.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just to set the Scale...

As you have probably realized, this mural is massive. Here's a picture just to emphasize that some more. Mark plans on having this segment of the mural finished before or around Thanksgiving. We will see...

In earlier posts, Zach and Simi mentioned how Mark and the rest of the students were discussing the importance of a joint effort, or stylistic unity, or however it was put. I'm not totally sure because I wasn't actually there, but I think student's have done a really great job at creating a cohesive work. The styles seem to flow in and out of each other with ease. It's apparent that a number of different hands were at work, but where those separating boundaries end and begin is pretty ambiguous - which I think is a positive thing. It means the students are really in sync with each other and instead of being a bunch of individual paintings forced together, the mural becomes a collection of interwoven paintings complimenting each other to create one united piece.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Mural updates

Another week of progress. Here are some photos of Friday's work. I would have had them up sooner...but due to a crazy weekend of massive paper writing, I never found the time. I figure better late than never!

I know Mark's student's had a great time in Detroit last weekend. They went to the Detroit Institute of Arts and visited a sculpture-garden-esque ensemble of work from a particular artist. Seeing all of the art forms probably stirred some inspiration in them.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Color matching can be more frustrating than you'd think...

the purple lady

On Friday we spent the first hour and a half of class having a discussion about our work and art in general (if you're interested, Zach posted some of our discussion questions below.) While the discussion was good for our group to have, I was very restless to start painting. However, earlier in the week I had used up the main color of the purple lady I've been working on for this piece of the mural. So, in order to start painting I had to recreate the color from scratch...yeah, that didn't go well.

Painting is very much a release for me. I love the freedom a brush can give an artist. Sometimes unexpected things can result from the strokes of the brush and they make a piece even better, it's amazing. But for the first time since we started actually painting, I hit a point where I had to completely walk away from my work and go accomplish something else to get me back to a good place mentally. The perfectionist in me was so frustrated at myself for not being able to do what I thought was something so simple, just mixing up a new batch of paint to match a color I'd already made before. I was actually surprised by how worked up I got.

This class is teaching me patience, though. And just as importantly, to also try to balance my ego and inner critic, which is something I'm not afraid to say I struggle with sometimes. Having a bad day in the studio perhaps isn't the worst thing, and having a setback every once in awhile can maybe motivate me to have a super productive day next time I head in to do some work. I'm happy with where we're at as a class on our piece, and I look forward to coming closer each day to our goal of creating a work of art that's worth sharing with others.

- Simi

Friday, November 11, 2011

First Class Discussion

Very interesting start to class today. We all sat down in a circle and began to reflect on the mural so far. Mark brought up the fact that we shouldn't allow OUR work to become more of an individualized project. We don't just want to feel like we painted this face, the apple, and the box over there. On top of that, it seems like some of the more unexperienced painters are shying away from painting the most prominent and detailed parts of the mural. As a group, we should all feel like we played an important role in the mural.

After discussing what we should change in the process of making the mural, we drew questions out of a bucket that Mark prepared. I think it got everyone thinking a lot and we had a great discussion. There was much talk on whether or not the mural has meaning, which has been brought up many times before. I've listed some of the questions below, but I wont share many details. If your curious on how we answered the questions come to the grand opening event.


What does it means to be an artist?

What does it "feel" like to paint?

Who should see this mural and why?

Does the mural "mean" anything?

What does it mean to collaborate creatively?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Round 2: Another panel is coming along

Surrounded by the undulating sounds of reggae, french, and an eclectic assortment of musical sounds, students are working on panel 2. They started with a blank slate on Monday and as you can see, it's coming along already. There's still a lot of white space, but as the color builds, images inch closer and closer together and the white spaces become fewer and fewer. 

There's a strong sense of team work and support among the students, which I'm sure helps smooth thing along. There's probably moments of conflicting visions, but overall I'd say it's been fairly agreeable. I'm hearing mostly, "that looks great!" and "I like that a lot" from student to student, which is a positive thing. The Festifools puppets, who fill every corner of the room, would probably be very complimentary as well if they could talk. They've been watching the mural's progression all along.


one of the panel references

waiting for paint to dry can be very energetically costly

Mimee's sun 

another panel reference

Zach's work

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Little Background

About the project:

Earlier this summer Meghan O’Neil, Melanie Pizzulo, and David Disney from Palmer Commons approached me to see if my class would be interested in creating a large-scale artwork for installation inside Palmer Commons. After our initial meeting we decided that a particularly interesting expanse of wall on the fourth floor would make a suitable “canvas” for my students to work with. This space, which overlooks an outdoor plaza, (and welcomes guests to the Palmer Commons meeting rooms and auditorium) is quite large—77 feet long and 18 feet high--A beautiful, spacious location, able to be viewed from the outside as well as in; this would be the perfect space for my students to create a mural.

About my class:

This is a pretty unique class of students embarking on a unique project.

The goal of this class (called "Art in Public Spaces" and offered through the Lloyd Hall Scholars Program) is to collaboratively create this large-scale mural for Palmer Commons that is conceptually and aesthetically challenging and appealing. This mural must contain ideas—cogent ideas that are communicated via visual means. This is no small feat.  Asking eleven bright students to figure out a way to create one holistic design meant coming up with a process that both protects and supports their own creative egos along the way.  The students first need to develop a common language for creating the design at the same time that they are actually making the design (verbal communication in this part of the process is very limiting). This "language" must try to transcend communication constraints while acknowledging various skill levels and unique personal aesthetic and conceptual preferences in order to help understand, appreciate and incorporate everyone’s ideas into a realized whole.

Some of the questions students had in the very beginning had to do with just how to begin. Should we have a theme—or not? I mentioned that the LS&A theme for next semester was “Language: The Quintessence”.  Some students thought that could be a powerful way to start. Others (including myself) were dubious. Personally, I’m not sure that themes (particularly non-visual themes) help to jumpstart the creative process—sometimes they can hold too much weight, particularly as an idea begins to gel in a different direction. Eventually some students get married to the theme, while others want to hop on another theme train altogether.  The risk of ending up in a thematic impasse is always imminent.  Themes also have a way of bending ideas towards the trite. (“Love” means Hearts, “Happiness”: Rainbows.)

So my nebulous attempt to introduce and yet not require a theme left some of the students designing based on the “theme” and others not—at least that’s what I think. But somehow the resulting design holds together quite well. The strength of the design decisions made in a collaborative setting (under an artificial time constraint) produced a multi-faceted and exciting design, which I’m sure means something different to each of the individual students involved.

I’m looking forward to being a part of this creative process and, of course, to see what the finished outcome will look like. I hope others will come along on this journey with us and help celebrate once the completed mural is installed later this year.

Special thanks to Dora Zobou Sobze who has volunteered to put together this lovely blog for us!


One down, two to go

Here's the completed first panel, running 25 feet! Students have been working so quickly, but that's obviously not detracting from the quality of their work. It looks very vibrant and crazily similar to the original magazine-cut-out collages. Remember those?