Blogs Field Guide

Are Men Afraid of Love?

Maybe they just don’t like talking about it… in semi-public places… sitting around in a circle… facing each other… and openly sharing… dare I say… feelings! According to tabulations on my calculator, the female-to-male ratio at the gathering of The Artist’s Bookshelf last night sat squarely at 25:1. I’m not complaining, just facing the reality […]

Maybe they just don’t like talking about it… in semi-public places… sitting around in a circle… facing each other… and openly sharing… dare I say… feelings!

According to tabulations on my calculator, the female-to-male ratio at the gathering of The Artist’s Bookshelf last night sat squarely at 25:1. I’m not complaining, just facing the reality of the powerful presence of female energy in the room. Given the vast gender imbalance of our group, I suppose it only natural that a good deal of our conversation tilted towards issues of gender, as reflected in the drastically differing voices utilized by author Nicole Krauss in her compelling novel, The History of Love.

We all expressed awe at her ability to articulate so poignantly visions of the world as seen through the eyes of a 14 year-old girl and an 80 year-old man, with equal degrees of conviction, worldliness, and compassion.

Some of us struggled with the intricacies of plot and the complexities of multiple narrative voices. Some of us read it twice out of necessity, some of us read it twice for the sheer pleasure of losing ourselves in the lyrical prose, some of us skimmed it lightly, and as always, a few of us, despite the very best intentions, hadn’t yet made it beyond the dust jacket. But hey, that’s okay. We came to share.

We approached the book in conjunction with the current Heart of Darkness exhibition, and as always, managed to mine at least a few interesting links. Perhaps installation artist Kai Althoff’s statement summed it up best:

“ I think my work is much more about love,’ if I dare say that: things that I don’t get from love, things that I love or want to love, or that I want to love me.”

Wait a minute… he’s a man… isn’t he?

Cabin Fever Reliever

Looking for a creative way to engage the kids at home on these cold wintery days? As you await the first snow, try this simple collage activity using a tape transfer technique. Kids ages 3 and up can do this, and because they look so cool you might even be able to talk your teenager […]

Looking for a creative way to engage the kids at home on these cold wintery days? As you await the first snow, try this simple collage activity using a tape transfer technique. Kids ages 3 and up can do this, and because they look so cool you might even be able to talk your teenager into trying it too.

PACKING TAPE TRANSFER-COLLAGE

What you need:

Clear packing tape (the wider the better)

Magazine or photocopied images

Stick the packing tape over the front of your image. If applying in strips to cover a larger image, put another strip over the join to reinforce the project. Apply pressure to the tape with your hand or the back of a spoon to get rid of any trapped air. Soak the image in warm water for approx 5 minutes. Remove from water. Remove the backing paper of the image by gently rubbing with your finger. The backing will come off in layers. Be gentle and patient.

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You should have a semi-transparent replica of the original image transferred onto the packing tape. Now you can layer multiple images, and create a collage. Try combining images of different scale and opposite meanings (in one example below I placed a beach scene overtop a snowy mountaintop).

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Most of us have made a collage at some point in time that has involved cutting and splicing together magazine clippings. This process of borrowing, reusing, editing, and exploiting existing images to create new meanings, images, or objects is called appropriation. Artist, Andy Warhol is one of the best-known appropriators of pop culture. His work often contains familiar images like Campbells’ soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis, which are taken directly from newspapers, advertisements, and mainstream media.

If you are brave enough to leave the house on one of these frigid week-ends, stop by the Walker and visit Gallery 3 to see Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Juice Box.

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As you look at this artwork, think about how this sculpture is both a replica and an original.

  • Has the artist changed the original? How? (Hint: look at how it was made and what materials the artist used)
  • Where have you seen this item before?
  • Does the meaning of this object change when seeing it in a gallery?

Photography for All: International Center of Photography publishes new curriculum guide

Julie Mehretu at Edison High School, September 26, 2002. Photo: Cameron Wittig I know from experience how cool photography can be in community artsprograms. I experienced the power of this medium in two community arts projects: Minneapolis and St. Paul are East African Cities, the outreach program in conjunction with Julie Mehretu’s 2001-2002 residency; and […]

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Julie Mehretu at Edison High School, September 26, 2002. Photo: Cameron Wittig

I know from experience how cool photography can be in community artsprograms. I experienced the power of this medium in two community arts projects: Minneapolis and St. Paul are East African Cities, the outreach program in conjunction with Julie Mehretu’s 2001-2002 residency; and Portraits of Peace, a documentary photography project created by the Walker Art Center’s community programs departmentand the Peace Foundation. So, I was quite pleased to learn that the International Center for Photography is making available for download its new publication Focus on Photography: A Curriculum Guide. “Designed to inform educators about the many possibilities and interdisciplinary applications of photographic education in school and after-school settings,” Focuswas written by former ICP Coordinator of Community Programs, Cynthia Way. Congratulations and thanks to Cynthia.

This extraordinarily in-depth guide covers visual literacy, the links between photography and other disciplines such as literature, history, social studies, and writing. This landmark tome willquickly becomethe key reference for educators and arts-based community development folks looking to deploy the camera in their projects. So, hop over there and download your very own copy.

Talk Amongst Yourselves: The History of Love

On one hand, discussing a book like The History of Love is easy because it’s so multi-layered that it offers readers multiple points of entry. Conversely, a book this rich sometimes makes it difficult to know just how and where to dig in. (It’s kind of like facing the Sunday brunch at 2021. Do I […]

On one hand, discussing a book like The History of Love is easy because it’s so multi-layered that it offers readers multiple points of entry. Conversely, a book this rich sometimes makes it difficult to know just how and where to dig in. (It’s kind of like facing the Sunday brunch at 2021. Do I start with an omelet or go directly to the sticky buns?)

With this smorgasbord paradox in mind, The Artist’s Bookshelf offers the following guide which we hope to utilize at our upcoming exploration of The History of Love:

POINTS TO PONDER

1) What’s in a name? It’s often been said that a book’s title serves as a lens through which viewers decipher any given literary work. Why did author Nicole Krauss choose to give the book this particular title? Why did she give it the same title as the title of the fictional book within the novel?

2) Deep Thoughts! The book is peppered with powerful philosophical postulates that the author manages to make surprisingly palatable without ever dumbing down. Example:

“ Having begun to feel, people’s desire to feel grew. They wanted to feel more, feel deeper, despite how much it sometimes hurt. People became addicted to feeling. They struggled to uncover new emotions. It’s possible that this is how art was born.” –The History of Love, p. 107

3) Connect the dots. How might the above quote be applied to the Kai Althoff installation, currently on view at the Walker, as part of the Heart of Darkness exhibition?

4) Emotion vs. Sentiment. The ending of the novel proves to be tremendously powerful, and quite unexpectedly emotional. How does the tone differ from the standard sentimentality so prevalent in today’s pop lit?

5) Multiple P.OV. The author utilizes a number of narrative voices in spinning this yarn. Why did she choose this strategy? What is the ultimate cumulative effect?

Guerrilla Cinema

Driving around, parking, and giving directions to 12 high school students can be a little cumbersome sometimes, but for Guerrilla Cinema class it’s all a part of the recipe. Over the last month, these students have been working with artist Xavier Tavera to experiment with site specificity and video projection in the public eye. Tavera […]

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Driving around, parking, and giving directions to 12 high school students can be a little cumbersome sometimes, but for Guerrilla Cinema class it’s all a part of the recipe. Over the last month, these students have been working with artist Xavier Tavera to experiment with site specificity and video projection in the public eye. Tavera is mostly known for his photography, but recently has been creating projects that display his photography and video on Lake Street. So this week, we grabbed a projector and a laptop and headed out to Lake Street. Check out a brief write up on the street art/graffiti chronicle Wooster Collective or get the day to day recap on the Guerrilla Cinema blog.

American Gods meet The Heart of Darkness

We dove headfirst into American Gods last night and barely made it up for air. For those of you unfamiliar with this popular, multi-award garnered novel by Neil Gaiman, it’s a darkly humorous, high-octane blend of pulp fiction, sci-fi, and spiritual warfare, set for the most part in a parallel universe that bears a strong […]

We dove headfirst into American Gods last night and barely made it up for air. For those of you unfamiliar with this popular, multi-award garnered novel by Neil Gaiman, it’s a darkly humorous, high-octane blend of pulp fiction, sci-fi, and spiritual warfare, set for the most part in a parallel universe that bears a strong resemblance to northern Wisconsin.

We were able to draw a number of thematic links to the Heart of Darkness exhibition, which we toured immediately preceding our discussion. The Thomas Hirschhorn cave could have easily been a setting for several scenes of the novel, and the blood-stained sofa in Kai Althoff’s installation evoked an eerie similarity to a room where the novel’s protagonist engages in a life and death games of checkers.

Though, within our group, gut reaction to the novel covered the gamut of emotional response from love to hate, we came to a shared understanding and appreciation of the massive range and scope of the author’s efforts. “Epic” only begins to describe Mr. Gaiman’s tome. And in the season of the ten-second sound bite, that in it self can serve as a refreshing respite for frazzled neural receptors.

Breaking Through Space

Saturday, November 4 promises to be a great day for families at the Walker. November’s Free First Saturday, Light’s Out! will feature an artmaking project designed around creating glow-in-the-dark wearable art, a kids’ disco party, cool films, and a performance by Circus Minimus. Families should also make sure to take a trip into the galleries […]

Saturday, November 4 promises to be a great day for families at the Walker. November’s Free First Saturday, Light’s Out! will feature an artmaking project designed around creating glow-in-the-dark wearable art, a kids’ disco party, cool films, and a performance by Circus Minimus. Families should also make sure to take a trip into the galleries where tour guides will be stationed by artworks that incorporate “mysterious shapes and spaces.”

Lucio Fontana Spatial Concept-Expectation

One such work is Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale-Attesa (Spatial Concept- Expectation) from 1964-65. The work is a painted canvas with a dramatic slash down the center. As the artist said, “Space is behind and around the painting.” He changed the flat smooth surface of the canvas, helping us to look through the painting and wonder about the space behind and around it.

As you look at this artwork, think about how this work is like both a painting and a sculpture. How do you think making this artwork was like making a performance? Do you think Fontana made his slash slowly or quickly?

Have your child make an artwork and then have him or her cut or tear a slash into an area of the artwork. How does this change the space of the artwork? How did they decide where to make the slash, how long and what shape it should be? What would they want to put behind their opening?

Don’t foget to come to the Walker on Saturday, November 4 to learn more about how artists use shape and space in unusual ways, or to see more works by Lucio Fontana.

Butoh: “A fragile transformative spark”

Sankai Juki, aParis based Butoh company will performas part of the Walker’s dance season, Friday, November 3, 8 pm at Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus. Image: Joel Saget/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Writing for the New York Times, Claudia La Rocco, asks if “Is Butoh’s Big Season Good for Butoh?” As I […]

Sankai Juki, aParis based Butoh company will performas part of the Walker’s dance season, Friday, November 3, 8 pm at Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus. Image: Joel Saget/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images.

Writing for the New York Times, Claudia La Rocco, asks if Is Butoh’s Big Season Good for Butoh?” As I eagerly await the Minneapolis appearance of the Paris based company Sankai Juku at the Northrop on November 3rd,the article serves as a timely reminder of the breadth and diversity of this ineffable and visually stunning dance form.

Excerpt:

“People tend to think of Butoh in terms of aesthetic markers: white body paint, shaved heads, slow movement gained through intense muscular control, and a way of manipulating the body that is at once beautiful and grotesque, tragic and absurd. Influenced by German Expressionism, it tends to be imagistic rather than narrative. But while these elements often appear, defining Butoh in stylistic terms is dangerous. There is the beautiful, highly stylized theatricality of Sankai Juku, or the mad kineticism of Mr. Kasai, or the creaturely abstractions of Yumiko Yoshioka. Like contemporary American dance, Butoh is no one thing, but it always has, at its center, a fragile transformative spark. You can’t always describe it, but you know it when you see it, and you know when it’s missing.”

May We Recommend… Graphic Novels To Watch Out For

During our most recent meeting of The Artist’s Bookshelf, in which we discussed the wonderfully droll Fun Home, several participants requested recommendations on other graphic novels of literary merit. My personal favorites include Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor and Joe Sacco’s Palestine. Alison Bechdel (author of Fun Home and Dykes To Watch Out For) recommends graphic […]

During our most recent meeting of The Artist’s Bookshelf, in which we discussed the wonderfully droll Fun Home, several participants requested recommendations on other graphic novels of literary merit. My personal favorites include Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor and Joe Sacco’s Palestine.

Alison Bechdel (author of Fun Home and Dykes To Watch Out For) recommends graphic novels by Chris Ware, Jessica Abel, Seth, and Chester Brown.

Local cartoonist Robert Kirby [author of Curbside Boys(Cleis Press) and The Book of Boy Trouble (Green Candy Press)]recommends Persepolis by Marjane Setrapi (Pantheon), Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse (DC Comics), and Ghost World by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics).