It is funny to my how thoughts often run in seasons. I will meditate on particular ideas for days, weeks, months...some even years. Some come to some form of resolution...others do no not. Sometimes, that previous resolution comes undone again later in the course of encountering new ideas that unravel old ones. But lately I have been thinking, once again, about the artist and the creative idea.
These questions were what originally brought me to seminary. I can remember exactly where I was when the question first came to mind. I was sitting at a friends house one night engaged in good discussion. He had been a dual major in art and religion and subsequently went on to earn an MDiv. But he describe his frustrations at time as an artist. He talked about how at times he had a great idea, but could not render it. At other times, the work seemed to emerge without much "work". I too had experienced similar events and frustrations. Neither of us could adequately explain the disparity of these experiences but he began ponder if the Holy Spirit might somehow be involved in the act of artistic creation. I was intrigued. Actually I was overcome by the thought.
I liked the idea so much because it seemed to make sense of my experiences. I headed off to seminary, cultivated my course work as much as possible to explore art related ideas, and set into my thesis work to make more sense of his questions that night. It really was a remarkable time of growth for me. I had not taken well to the biblical and theological curriculum in college, but now I had a purpose and a tangible question. As a result, theology came alive.
While my thesis deals more with an overlap of language of "inspiration" and "revelation" my work gradually shifted from wanting to argue for pneumatological presence within artistic creativity, I found myself actually arguing against it. Funny how things work out sometimes. But as I said at the outset, its funny how thoughts come in periods. The question has come up recently again as I began to notice a growth of books on Amazon that seem to be tying both Vocation and the Spirit to the creative process. I've also run into it on a number of blogs recently too. So, perhaps the Spirit is trying to tell me something...or I am just created a curious person who seldom is satisfied with other my own or others answers, but it seems like it is time to pick up these ideas again. I've ordered a number of the books and will begin to slowly pick my way through them.
ART EXHIBIT: 'Calaca Press' [McAllen, through Oct. 28]October 19, 2011 3:38 PMNancy Moyer
It’s the time of year for South Texas artists to bring out the Calaveras, and Art House Studios has done it with style and freshness. “Calaca Press International Print Exchange” completely fills the three gallery spaces and features one hundred-forty small, original prints.
Nicaraguan printmaker, Carlos Barbarena, who has established his Calaca Press in Chicago, organized the exhibit. Having conceived of the idea of bringing international printmakers together, he put out a call for submissions on Facebook. The word spread from there, attracting prints from three hundred printmakers and representing nineteen countries.
“Barbarena wanted to do a show on Calacas, which is the folklore of Aztec and Mexico mixed, ” explained Reynaldo Santiago, Art House Studios’ Curator. “It’s not quite a day of the dead... the other countries and the U.S. Midwest, they don’t have a Day of the Dead, but they interpret what Calacas means in their own terms and their own culture. So that’s what we have here.”
The prints overwhelmingly depict Calaveras; some pick up on Día de los Muertos symbolism, while others are comfortably European in their stylistic referencing. Others are refreshingly non-referential.
Another print with strong, but unnerving content is “Death Rattle” by Lisette Chavez. The child's toy is shown with a skull as the rattle. There is no humor here.
“La Katrina de Azucar,” a screenprint by Marwin Begaye, uses the traditional festive Katrina image to deftly combine both humor and biting social commentary. Jauntily clustered atop the Katrina’s flowered and feathered hat nestles much of the fast food that will ultimately kill us.
A centrally placed coca-cola bottle displays the words, Enjoy Obesity, as its logo.
Liv Rainy-Smith’s woodcut, “Death and the Printmaker,” feels more European in its conceptual origin. Although the style is contemporary, the interplay of the printmaker dancing with a Calavera (death) is more reminiscent of Northern Renaissance printmaking.
Some artists pay homage to the Masters. “Jose Guadalupe Posada” by Linda Lucia Santana and Coco Rico, and “’Los Muertos’ según Francisco Marco de Goya Hernández” by Marco Hernandez, both present excellent realistic portraiture alongside imagery referencing the Masters’ styles.
The strength of this show lies not only in the quality of its prints, but also in the diversity of printmaking techniques. Fine woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, mezzotints, screenprints, and even a solar plate print are notable. This particular selection of prints weighs heavily in favor of a spread of U.S. artists. According to Santiago, the rest of the “Calaca Press International Print Exchange” collection will be shown in 2012. Perusing these prints is definitely time well spent.
Nancy Moyer, Professor Emerita of Art from UTPA, is an art critic for The Monitor. She may be reached at email@example.com
Calls For Papers
Its that time of year again...calls for papers for spring conferences. I generally apply to two different conferences...the regional AAR in Minneapolis/St.Paul and the national joint convention of the College Theology Society (CTS) and National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion (NABPR). Both have recently issued a call for papers for their respective conferences. See them here and here.
Both shows are up and we are busy printing for the visiting artists who will be joining us for a conference. Peter Kuper, Sabrina Jones and Seth Tobocman are all producing work through Sundog Press. Peter Kuper's work is an illustration of Jonathan Swift's satyrical essay, "A Modest Proposal." If you dont know about this famous little work, check it out here. Sabrina's work, from what I can tell uses a Tower of Babel type building morphing into a creature paired with barbed wire and a school bus likely suggesting some sort of education reform. Seth's work, like Kuper's, has a digitally printed background with a silk screen over top. Thus far, only the background is finished.
Hermeneutics...A New Book Art Project
The first edition of four of the two volume set that I am tentatively calling Hermeneutics is finished. Like the two books from the MFA show the book uses vernacular photographs as a ploy to examine those things that shape our process of interpretation. These books take that idea into the field of religion and theology by employing a variety of cultural symbols, images, and text to suggest an assortment of differing positions that may guide interpretation. While some are done with a sense of irony and humor, they are intended to be an irenic sort of enterprise as a critique from within the bounds of the church. You can see more here.
Volume 1 begins with a rather provocative quote from Stanley Hauerwas stating, "...No task is more important than for the Chruch to take the Bible our of the hands of individual Christians in North America...[because] they are possessed by habits far too corrupt for them to be encouraged to read the Bible on their own." (Unleashing The Scripture: Freeing the Bible from Captivity to America, p. 15) Hauerwas argues that North American Christians are too swayed by their status as democratic citizens to read the Bible correctly. Hauerwas is after those things that shape, and in this case, distort our readings to texts
Weekend Book Project
Last weekend I printed. Printed. And printed some more for these two books. They will be another set of photo albums like those of from the MFA. Instead of using the translucent pages of the MFA albums, this one uses the traditional black pages with printing in a silvery/black ink. The other books had a mish-mash of images, these two books incorporate 32 different prints wrestling with some aspect of theology or religion in general. The subject matter suggested a fabric change as well. Instead of the black I had used in the past, I went with the magenta. I will probably start shortly inserting the photos into the album and wait to cover the other 3 in the variable edition.
The other day I mentioned the LaCalaca Press exchange that I participated in. Often I would hear of friends participating in these during grad school but wasn't sure how to find out about them as they are not often listed on the artshow finders and such. I bumped into a nice little blog that seems to collect such information. So if you are interested in doing a print exchange, take a look here to see the calls for current projects. Or, start one for yourself...I suspect it would b
Graphic Radicals...WWIII Show
Last week we hung the first part of the Graphic Radicals show at the Third Street Gallery here in Grand Forks. Over the weekend, the 2nd half of the show was hung on UND's campus. Below is a small slideshow of some of the work. More photos coming...
A few weeks ago I put up a post about print exchanges and mentioned that I was participating in the LaCalaca Press International exchange. They have done a wonderful job of publication of the work by uploading images of the prints as they came in. I just received an email with a digital postcard of sorts notifying me of the first exhibition to be held in Texas.
Here is the relevant info...
Opening: Friday, October 7th, 6:00PM to 10:00PM.
Art House Studios 1009 Laurel Ave. McAllen, Texas, USA.
Exhibit runs from Oct. 7th through Oct. 28th, 2011.