Word Cloud is a Genius....

I watched a TED talk about creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert, in which she discusses the phenomenon of where inspiration comes from, and how creative work is done. I wholeheartedly agree with her that invisible creative spirits influence us, like guardian spirits, or like Dobby the house elf. If I lived in Ancient Greece, mine would be a Juno Spirit, or a eudeimon. Romans called the source of creativity genius - like a genie - which was a mystical friend of the artist. Wordcloud is not quite my mystical guardian spirit, but it is a great artist aid, and it does come from another plane.... 

This word cloud was created from my artist statement:


Research for gallery talk: artist videos

Katarina Grosse: 

Last summer, I had the privilege to visit the studio of Katarina Grosse in Berlin. It was a set of two connected massive white rooms full of light, paint and color. She uses a spray gun and acrylic paints to create large scale painting installations that are informed by the site. 

Here is a video of her studio that does it justice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JsPtVXu8gc

Here is a video of her talking with a work in the South London Gallery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3VeFQXL8Qo

...and a 50 minute artist talk that I am still watching, and learned more about Edvard Munch from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3VeFQXL8Qo

Things that I noticed about her gallery talk: 

* She introduces the show with the title, and explains how the title relates to the work

* She describes her process very directly in few words. It is easy to understand that she uses a a spray gun to defy architectural constraints, that she masks off large areas, and uses a lot of color

* She says why she chooses to use the tools that she does. She uses a spray gun and acrylics because they allow her to work fast, the gun enlarges her reach and makes her body bigger to fit into the large space. 

* she places her work in theoretical, historical, and contemporary contexts in just a few simple lines. Explains the questions that she is addressing. Talks about the edges, relationship between walls and floor, talks about the viewer changing the work, completing it. The work is all about vantage point, and what is a painting in our society. How can it be a visceral part of our everyday life. 


BFA Project page

If you want to see some images of my most recent work, check out the "BFA Project" page on my website. I just uploaded the newest of the new! 

Working on the BFA Show catalog: Artist Statement

Writing an artist statement for this project has probably been the most difficult college assignment I've had the pleasure of completing. So.difficult. However, I just submitted it to the design team, and I'm feeling pretty good about it right now, so here it is: 

My work is driven by a need to connect with nature as a domesticated human in the post industrial landscape. Colonization, land use policy, outdoor recreation, ecology, and wilderness survival are my focus. I am inspired by traditional knowledge and scientific theory that considers humans to be a part of the Earth, and I am motivated by this inspiration to align my art with nature conservation. The work for my BFA show is a result of time spent in the forest and is made possible through collaboration with Michael Krochta and Rachel Freifelder of local conservation group Bark: Defenders of Mt. Hood, artist Gary Wiseman, and artist Tia Factor. My collaborative efforts are an attempt to mimic the symbiotic activity that keeps a forest ecosystem thriving.

As an artist, I think about the inherent qualities of material, processes that materials go through, and finding new mediums. To connect to nature through art, I have pursued the craft of making mediums from nature. As part of this pursuit, I have spent time in and around Mt. Hood National Forest learning about and collecting charcoal and sediment. Doing this has taught me that being in farmed forest means being in contact with an abundance of cultural remnants, ie garbage, and can lead to a nature disconnect. Not wanting to dismiss this, I have included remnants in my collection and used them as subject matter alongside studies of the landscape. I have found that visiting a site, wildcrafting materials to make mediums from, and making work about the site with the mediums has become a meaningful way for me to spend time in nature. Through this process, I can address my concern for the current condition of the forest and how it is impacted by public land management policy.

Feel free to comment! I would love some feedback. 

Studio Visit Video Research

This post is from an assignment to research the studio practice of other artists by watching videos of studio visits. I found Jamian Juliano-Villanis and Deedee Cheriel to be exciting! Jamian has a studio in Bed-Stuy, NYC. I am intrigued with her process. She obsessively collects images on her computer and creates overlapping projections, mostly of images from pop culture. She chooses an image from a gut feeling, to express how she feels, traces it with paint, and then does the same thing with other images over the first one on the same canvas until she feels that she has expressed her feelings. She says that she works in this way because she is not good at articulating her feelings through words, and that she uses cartoons, etc. to communicate in a populous way so that her personal states can become publicly understood. I feel the same way, that paintings are a way for me to explore the way that I feel about the world around me. I haven't used projections because they seem limiting, but learning about the way she uses it has turned me on to a very fluid use of projection and I may incorporate this method or a similar one into my practice at some point. One thing I have in common with her is that we both listen to music while working and use it as a direct influence on painting. I find that listening to music helps me connect my body and feelings to the paint and canvas, and it seems that she has a similar experience. The video that I watched of her can be viewed here: https://art21.org/watch/new-york-close-up/jamian-juliano-villanis-painting-compulsion/

Deedee Cheriel works out of Los Angeles. The video that I watched her in was created in 2014, and was an interview from before her show at Merry Karnowski Gallery in Los Angeles. 

She is also a painter, and she pulls narratives from parables that are about people being nice to each other and filling cravings for materials things or addictions with friendship. She strongly believes that happiness is always accessible, and she puts that intention into her work. I totally get this! I want to do a very similar thing but with an appreciation for the natural world, the human connection to nature, and the beauty of elemental powers. Deedee quoted Mother Theresa in this video: 

make me a channel of peace. 

that where there is hatred, I may bring love,

that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness.

that where there is discord, I may bring harmony.

that where there is error I may bring truth.

I am not religious, but I appreciate the work of Mother Theresa and her intention, and I want this same intention in my work. To bring peace. 

 Deedee's video may be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLfQwEDAfRA


I started my BFA project with a need to be outside in the forest during my time in the program, and a need to work with people. Along with those criteria came an idea to work with found materials from the forest, including products both from the forest and left behind by recreation. The nature/human connection that I crave is part inquiry into how remnants of human activity in the forest mingle with symbiosis, and part an interest in the historical and contemporary social constructs that define what those activities are. I am currently using mediums crafted with materials from Mt Hood National Forest in a series of still life paintings of found objects from the same area.  

Studio Visit

A local artist who teaches pigment harvesting and paint making is visiting my studio this Thursday. We had a phone meeting last week to set the visit up, and I'm excited to show and tell about my work and get some feedback and advice. 

scott sutton.jpg

Meeting with Tia, Jan 30th

Checked out Emilie Clarks organization of objects, integration of art and life, stuff at Morgan Lehman Gallery website. Talked about using forest service instructional design, miming the rhetoric. Tia suggested taking on the role of anthropologist to contemporary forest service by visiting with them and shadowing if possible. Barks website seems to echo USFS website, talk to Michael about the design and about who to contact at USFS. 



Tia recommended I look at the work of Amy Franceschini. Whoa! I feel aligned with her and Futurefarmers. She is coming to give an artist talk this week, which is amazing. Very exciting. Their artist statements are good for me to find while I'm trying to craft my own artistic intentions through language. 



 A compilation of essays about the studio by various artists. Contemplations of the studio reality; is it necessary, real, imagined, a fantasy? No matter how socially activated, conceptually driven, or site- based my work gets, I'll never be post-studio. I need a place to work, to host meetings and workshops, and to store my work and tools. Fuel for the fire needed to manifest a post-graduation studio practice. 

A compilation of essays about the studio by various artists. Contemplations of the studio reality; is it necessary, real, imagined, a fantasy? No matter how socially activated, conceptually driven, or site- based my work gets, I'll never be post-studio. I need a place to work, to host meetings and workshops, and to store my work and tools. Fuel for the fire needed to manifest a post-graduation studio practice. 

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World. This has some useful language, and brings an awareness of how images and styles come forward in time because they are always present once they exist. Fun to think about visual culture as being "promiscuous", like when an idea spreads like a wildfire or pops up at the same time in various global locations. Love between paintings. 

the forever now
 Getting ready for mid-term critique today....this reading is influencing my mindset. Looking forward to class. 

Getting ready for mid-term critique today....this reading is influencing my mindset. Looking forward to class. 


Thoughts about the course of my BFA project are mapped in this drawing. Thinking about hierarchy of scale in terms of natural growth, from mycorrhizae up to Sequoia sempervirens all shapes and sizes compliment each other. 

line drawing.jpg

BFA Project 1, Winter 2018

I drove East to the confluence of the Sandy and Bull Run Rivers this morning, and dug around on some cliffs for ochre. Came home with yellow and red rocks up to 6" in diameter, and some small pieces of hematite! I also picked up a few pieces of jasper that were tumbled smooth from the water. I love the way they feel. After that, I finally went through an orientation at the woodshop on campus, which means that I can make my first painting panels! 

Photos of Studio & Charcoal Work

 Me in the studio after final critique during the Fall term. Sugar Cube installation piece,  Old Growth Trees at the Jazz Fire Site  pictured in background. 

Me in the studio after final critique during the Fall term. Sugar Cube installation piece, Old Growth Trees at the Jazz Fire Site pictured in background. 

 First editions of charcoal, clay, and acorn mixtures, as well as samples of charcoal and clay on paper. 

First editions of charcoal, clay, and acorn mixtures, as well as samples of charcoal and clay on paper. 

 Practice moving charcoal around with water and a brush. Darkest sections have a second coat of charcoal ink that has Doug Fir sap mixed into it. 

Practice moving charcoal around with water and a brush. Darkest sections have a second coat of charcoal ink that has Doug Fir sap mixed into it. 

End of Term Reflection

After the Jazz Fire hike, I met with Gary Wiseman at my studio for a mini-workshop in making charcoal inks. I was introduced to proper cleaning and mulling techniques, and gained practice using both hot and cold methods to prepare pigment.

Gary encouraged me to experiment with ratios of pigment to binder and water, and to record all of my practice in a dedicated notebook. I have taken his advice and have a record book to document all of my practice with what he taught to me and also of my own recipes (some that yielded successful results, and others that turned out not so well).

I made a second trip to the Jazz Fire Site and collected an additional gallon of raw charcoal. I have processed some of it for myself and saved some for later. 

Megan Hanley expressed enthusiasm over my project, so I invited her to my studio. She visited me on December 5th, and we processed charcoal into ink together. She brought an empty container with her, and left with a good amount of ink concentrate to play around with. It was fun to teach this in a relaxed way, to share with her, and to learn more about the work that she is engaged in. 

I am in the process of negotiating to teach a workshop within Tia Factors' Painting in Place class (Winter term 2018). It will be an honor to pass down the knowledge that I have learned about transforming native materials into art mediums to connect to a place. 

I am interested in working with more artists for my BFA project, and have just contacted the local printmaker and artist, Scott Sutton. I am interested in learning about his work with mineral pigments. http://www.scottsuttonart.com/minerals.html

I am happy with the direction that my proposal has taken, and am looking forward to seeing how the work develops. 



Week of November 13th

Last week I set up an appointment with Michael Krochta at Bark (see last weeks post). We met on Friday at the Bark office, and talked for an hour. He had spoken to Gary over the weekend, and was already excited that there seems to be some art activity emerging from the flames. I brought to him my interest in visiting the Eagle Creek burn site to collect charcoal, and we talked about logistics. He offered to put an outing to the site on the Bark calendar for December 6th, and I accepted. We talked about the upcoming fire related events, and I made plans to attend a hike to the Jazz Fire. This fire was named so because it was the name of the timber sale that the burn took part of. I had worked at the Jazz timber sale during my capstone, before the fire. 

On Sunday the 12th, I attended the hike to the Jazz Fire.

I left with names of other past fires to research, and some thoughts about comparing the causes of each one. Very exciting!  

In class I had a one-on-one meeting with Pat Boas in my studio area. She recommended that I check out the work of Wolfgang Lab, Charles Avery, and Mark Dion. She observed that my focus includes documentation, and recommended a couple of books and suggested that I think about how to present this part of my work. 

I watched an Art 21 segment that focused on Wolfgang Laib later that day. His work is slow and deliberate, a dance with nature. The work in the video was done with pollen and beeswax. I imagined the beautiful, soothing smell of beeswax. Laib holds a medical degree, and conducts public health studies in relation to the environment. His feeling is that he accomplishes what he would as a doctor through being an artist. Healing and connecting the the environment is part of my hope for my art, so this was an inspiring reference for continuing this thread in my work. 

Thursday we planned for our Exhibition Checklists and had some work time. I worked on processing some charcoal from the Jazz site and reducing some acorn ink. 

Blog for week of November 6th

On November 1st, I met Gary Wiseman at my studio. He and I spoke about his work with wildcrafted charcoal, and my interest in it. He believes that it is important to share cultural knowledge, and suggested that I teach what I learn from him. He offered me the chance to do so through a workshop that I can help organize. I consider this an incredible gift, and mentioned that I value the learning experience that comes from teaching. He mentioned that in NZ, where he recently visited, a person must immediately teach what they have learned to continue the cycle, and give away the first thing that they make. I'm thankful. He gave me a list of supplies for processing charcoal into a workable medium for art, and shared some of his experiences collecting charcoal in the field.

Gary was a resident artist with Signal Fire in 2015, where he worked as an embedded artist at forest watchdog organization Bark. Their work revolves around protecting the wilderness area around Mt. Hood from logging and the forest service. Gary and I share a connection with Bark, as my Senior Capstone was with them. My plans were to go to Bark and speak to them about visiting forest fire sites. 

After our meeting I checked my email, and Bark had sent out an announcement about 3 new upcoming fire related community events! Magic! 

In class last week we broke into small groups to edit first drafts of proposals. This activity gave everyone a chance to help each other, and proved to be transformational. Reading my proposal aloud and receiving feedback brought several things to my attention: 1) waaaay too long, 2) too broad of a focus, 3) too conceptual, not enough visual ideation 

Feeling good! Another thing from class: we each took a few minutes to craft an "elevator speech" about our art. Super fun and difficult! Great thing to practice...this exercise will stick with me for a long time. 

Post-Critique Reflection

Questions and responses: 

How am I planning on sourcing materials to make art supplies from? What is the best way?

I hope to follow experts into the field and achieve some sort of land restoration as I harvest materials under proper guidance. In this way, it is my belief that I will learn histories of the land and people, and follow in the footsteps of others while making sure to understand the context of them and how my footsteps fit into an emerging continuation of stories that stem from the practice. 

I have thought about creating figures. Why? How do they relate to my research and the body of work I will develop?

Figures, bodies, body of work, figurative work, literal work, literal bodies, littered body of the land. Why am I thinking about figures? As walking is a large part of the research involved, my own body is a major site of accumulation of ideas, energy, and materials. I will be physically affected by this journey, as well as collaboration with other somebodies. I was inspired by Lee Relvas bent wood figures at The Lumberoom, and the paradox between their emptiness and implied action. How can my actions be full, make sense on a plotted course, and move beyond their space and time to influence my future? As a figure in the landscape, I hope to represent healing, restoration, artistic influence on unsustainable thinking about land, and I would like to charge figurative work with these characteristics visually as both a record and a map for the future. Looking at the connections between the black soap works of Rashid Johnson (recommended to me by Pat Boas) and his experiences and understanding of the world will keep me aware of how I am treated by people whose advice I seek, and reflect on how my physical presentation affects others reception of me. I will express my feeling about this through process and product. 

Is my art products? Are the art supplies that I make, the art itself? The art of making...art supplies and the failures that I reap along the way?

I am not sure. Only time will tell. Ideally, I will make materials, and subject matter for drawings, paintings, and sculpture will reveal itself along my journey and join my writings and research as visual components of the project. 

I am interested in the burn area from the Eagle Creek fire. What about visiting it? 

Right now, some of the areas are still closed. The forest service expresses that it is urgent for people to stay away from the site in order to let it heal, and for personal safety. I will consult artist Gary Wiseman on visiting the site, as he has worked extensively with making art supplies and works from burn sites on public lands. Currently, logging companies are lobbying to clearcut the area, even though most of it is actually fine. I found information in a recent article by Katie Herzog:

"Right now, Oregon Representive Greg Walden is attempting to pass a bill that would expedite salvage logging (aka clear-cutting) on 10,000 acres of the burn area with no community input or environmental impact assessment. If Walden's bill passes, it could do more damage than the fire itself, according to Michael Lang, conservation director of Friends of the Columbia River Gorge, a group that works to protect and preserve the area....

Portland filmmaker Trip Jennings took a helicopter over the Gorge with John Bailey of Oregon State University's Department of Forestry, and Bailey's assessment from above was surprisingly optimistic. While the Eagle Creek fire was certainly large, only about 7,300 acres of the burn area were "highly burned," and nearly 27,000 acres (or 55 percent of the total fire area) were barely burned at all....It's just not that big of an impact," Bailey said. "We need to get beyond our fear of fire and the sense that fire, when it's out in the forest, is unnatural and it destroys the forest. Yeah, it destroys trees and behaves in ways we don't like but ... most of this was actually good fire. 

   Katie Herzog • Oct 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm, Tulu Dinagde, Teasha Karrell and Michael Tamayo, & Savage, D. (2017, October 9). Good News! Oregon's Eagle Creek Fire Wasn't That Bad After All. Retrieved October 29, 2017, from http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/09/25459828/good-news-oregons-eagle-creek-fire-wasnt-that-bad-afterall

Pat Boas suggested that I look to Mark Dion and think about how his work is organized for presentation for installation inspiration. 

Mark Dions' work is presented in a scientific manner. He is quoted on his website as saying, “The job of the artist is to go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention.” Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences.

I feel this is very true for me. There is an article called, The Marfa Stratum in the book, Art in the Anthropocene, that unpacks the relationship between art and rational thinking, which left me with a better sense of how to articulate my practice. A passage that suggests that we toss the definition of "rational" imposed upon us by modernity first asserts that any rational thinking is just a carrying out of dominant ideology and ends with a call to rationalize that thinking is indistinguishable from a certain kind of doing. In this way, art is thinking, and making art while ingesting the world will reveal the thinking that went into it. Art absorbs thinking. The hands synthesize context and content, and solidify feelings. This is very much needed in a time where our "rational" thinking has become a platform for industry to continue to steal the futures of many through control of resources and subversive, mind controlling marketing. 

Add in from 10/31: 

Pat, “How do you know what it is that you are thinking if you are not making work?”

Science always tells an orderly story - mapping out journeys in select steps that are meant keep the attention of the intended audience and prompt them to discuss it or argue about it, and wind up looking either nice or meaningless, or maybe harmless, or threatening to those who don't understand it. All content that is presented is carefully thought out for the audience and context of where it is seen. In thinking about my work in relation to science, and Dion, I will attempt to take accurate ongoing notes and documentation along my process in order to have plenty of information to select from to tell the final visual story in the way that will best suit my audience and exhibition space. Since my intention is for this work to be site responsive, I would like for it to be partly experienced by the audience through site specific interaction. I love gallery spaces, and the clean, lab like format they offer, as well. I hope to be able to further research the work of Ryan Pierce to help me understand how audiences can react to this type of situation, and seek solutions to a multiple site exhibition that takes viewers site seeing and fully engages their senses and sense of belonging to the work. 

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