Monday, June 27, 2016

The Art of Panel Making (2016) (Post #2)

So far, I have been working with Neal Hughes for about a bit over a month. Mainly I’ve worked a lot with making gator board panels for him to paint on and constructing frames so they have the proper equipment to hang on walls and hold the panels. This sounds like a quick and simple task, however there is quite some time and effort that goes into this process. In order to make a 12x16 panel, I must first get the large gator board (basically a thicker foam board), take the according measurements and mark it on the board to cut it down. The usual size of such a board before I cut it down is 32x40. But since I never just make one panel at a time, I have to consider the entire board and plan it out so I don’t end up wasting any material. For example, in an ideal world, I could cut a 8x12, 12x16, 12x20, 16x24, and 20x24 all out of just one 32x40 gator board without having any leftover unusable material. Exhilarating, I know. However, I usually end up having some unusable material.

I took a class in middle school called “Logic and Reasoning,” where we mostly dealt with intricate puzzles and tried to use “logic” to come to a “reason” and result for the puzzle. Though I found this class a nice change, I never thought I would be able to utilize it in any kind of artistic setting. I would like to congratulate my 8th grade teacher; only 6 years later I am finally seeing how useful that class was. (Though I bet he would’ve never guessed it would have to do with cutting panels in art school.)

After each correctly measured panel is cut, I have to do the same process of measuring and cutting again of the adhesive and the actual canvas. So now that I have all my materials prepped, I can begin to attach the adhesive to the panel, and then the canvas on top. This is by my favorite part, I mean who doesn’t love hot irons and heating glue. The panel goes into the heating press twice, first with just the adhesive to make the surface sticky, and second with the canvas that will then stick to the panel. Now at this step, the excess canvas can be trimmed down by hand. And WOLLLAH, you got yourself a working surface to paint beautiful things on.

I’d like to title this dramatic short story as, The Art of Panel Making (2016).

Written by Jessica Dowicz.

On a serious note, I have learned a lot about what it requires to be a successful artist. And that is not only artistic talent and creative ideas, but one must posses non-art related traits. An artist has to be organized, they have to not only see what’s on the canvas, but they have to see the bigger picture too.  By working alongside Neal, I have seen how much work it takes to be a functioning artist, and a lot of the work is not just painting. But rather it’s making panels, emailing organizations, calling clients, shipping one’s artwork, managing funds, it’s the nitty gritty stuff that nobody tells you your freshman year of college. I will be able to bring this experience back with my to Uarts and begin to organize and structure my life as a student in a more productive way that will serve me when I begin my professional career.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Dancer Interview (Post #4)

For this post, I informally interviewed one of the dancers in the company. AJ Guevara is a New York based artist originally from California. He holds a BFA in dance and choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and joined Eryc Taylor Dance earlier this year.

What did you do right after you graduated college?
I guess I was trying to save money before coming to the city, so I lived in Richmond and would take the bus to audition. I was working for a local dance company for a year and then after that I moved up to New York for a job.

What else are you involved in now?
I'm in a DC based company called Company E and we work with the state department for cultural diplomacy. We used to tour a lot internationally and now, in conjunction with that, we are trying to gain a domestic audience so we tour the U.S. too and have our own studio. We're staying in Israel in July and performing in Palestine.

How do you feel about your work life?
The thing that people don't tell you is that your first year out of college is great. It's exciting, you're auditioning and taking class and ideally you have some money saved up. But in your second year, a lot of the glitz and glamour of it has worn off and that's when it's really trying of yourself. You have to consistently muster up the motivation. At one point I had three jobs and none of them were dance related. You have to keep checking in that you're in New York for the right reason. I realized it was more important to be more involved in dance than to have a greater amount of spending money.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Informal Interview (Post #3)

For this post, I informally interviewed Eryc Taylor, the artistic director of Eryc Taylor Dance and UArts alum I am working for. These were the results:

What were your first experiences with art?
When I was in the third grade living in Washington, DC my stepfather, who was in education but an artist at heart, would make sure that he took my brother and I to all of the contemporary art museums including the National Gallery and the Hirschhorn. He tried to explain what abstract art was to me at such a young age. Part of me enjoyed visiting the museums but I felt overcome by the artwork because I couldn't conceptualize it, and being a kid, I wanted to go to the air and space museum. But he literally would make me stand in front of a Jackson Pollock painting for thirty minutes and explain to me who he was, what his style was, what makes a Jackson Pollock a Jackson Pollock, what made a Warhol a Warhol, and who Louise Nevelson was. He used to make sculptures like hers collecting random objects, finding scraps of wood, and painting them all one color. It wasn't really until I took Art History at UArts that I recalled all of that and realized it had such a major impact on my life. It was like a Pandora's box was opened up inside of me and a deep love and appreciation came out. That exposure as a young kid made me fall in love with contemporary art.

How/Why did you attend UArts?

I'm from Los Angeles and my favorite state as a child was New York. I visited New York City and I knew that's where I wanted to live when I grew up. When I graduated Los Angelas County High School for the Arts, my heart was set on Juilliard or NYU. But my dad lived in Haverford on the main line and he wanted me to be close to him, so when the University of the Arts came to my high school I auditioned and was accepted as a theater major. I didn't fall in love with dance until I was in high school, so I really didn't start my training until I was around 15 or 16 years old. When I went to University of the Arts I transferred from the theater department to the dance department and that was my first real professional training in dance. I was genetically gifted with natural turnout and good feet, but I still had to work much harder than everyone else to catch up. I quickly realized that creating dance was where my talent lied. Manfred Fischbeck asked me to audition for his company Group Motion Dance when he saw me improvising in his class and so I joined the company while I was still an undergraduate. Each dancer in the company had to create a piece to perform as part of our repertory, and when we toured Berlin I got to showcase my choreography for the first time. I was really grateful for that experience.

I feel as though I initially had a resentment to UArts because I didn't originally want to be in Philadelphia, but I loved the time I spent there. I loved that all my teachers were actively pursuing careers in dance and not full time instructors. My humanities professors were published authors and we used textbooks that the teachers wrote themselves in some of my classes. It was a fabulous school.

What would you do differently in your career?

I started off taking class with Cunningham after I graduated college when I had never been introduced to his technique. I began by mopping the floors at their dance center and eventually got a scholarship and got into the understudy repertory group. What I would have done differently was postponed getting my master's degree from NYU to stay there. I wish I hadn't made that transition so quickly. I knew I always wanted to have my own company, but I could have postponed that.

Do you have mentors?

I feel as though Manfred Fischbeck was one of my first mentors because he gave me the opportunity to create dance and to choreograph. He gave me a platform to do what I had not previously had the resources to do, and that was incredibly valuable to me.

I feel that a dance photographer I've worked with a lot, Lois Greenfield, is a mentor to me now because I've had the opportunity to collaborate with her multiple times. When I was in high school I had her calendar and was fascinated with her photography. It is funny how life comes full circle and my company ended up being in her calendar in 2016, and in her new book, Moving Still, there are two photos featuring my company.

What advice do you have for young dancers, or choreographers that aspire to create their own dance company?

I would say that you have to be willing sacrifice a comfortable living in whatever city you're in (New York especially) and you have to know one hundred percent in your heart that you want to be a dancer. Otherwise I think it's one of the most difficult fields to make a living in. When I graduated NYU I fell into the trap of waiting tables, working at night, and being too exhausted to take class, and for awhile I drifted away from dance. It really wasn't until the shock of 9/11 that I decided I couldn't wait tables anymore and needed to start a company. My advice is to do as much research about grants, scholarships, involvement in nonprofit organizations, free dance classes, work study at dance centers,  as possible and to take as many workshops and attend as many auditions as you can.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My Name is Lydia Spence, and I am now approaching my senior year in the Interdisciplinary Fine Arts program with an emphasis in Printmaking.  As a transfer student I originally started my art school education at California College of the Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA.  I have always been drawn to craft based mediums like alternative process photography, printmaking, and ceramics.  I am interested in achieving a highly trained knowledge of my artist craft, and in the capacity of process based art to both chemically and conceptually transform materials. The IFA program at Quarts has been a place where this exploration has been encouraged.  Since starting at UArts I have become fascinated with non-silver photography, a process that is well taught here and has phenomenal facilities.  By working with traditional printmaking processes such as lithography and etching in connection with non-silver photography, and printing on fabric and other unusual substrates, I am able to make work which not only demonstrates my love of craft but allows for freedom and spontaneity.
            The Summer Fellows Internship has been an extremely rewarding and learning opportunity, I been interning with Kay Healy a Printmaker and Fiber Artist.  Before starting the internship, I was very inspired by her work and interested in learning more about her process. Kay Healy has an MFA from UArts in Printmaking and Book Arts, her work is rooted in process and research, her large scale screen printed and stuffed fabric installations explore themes of community, home, displacement, and other narratives.   Understanding her studio practice and approach to creating her work has been eye opening for me. Her daily routine is structured and productive and in.  When helping her with current projects and organizing and archiving past work, I have fully realized the importance of research, planning, and archiving in order to be a successful working artist. Her studio is inspiring.  It is a quant room filled with her art, light hard wood floors and high ceilings, with climbing hanging plants. I work alongside her her husband Greg an illustrator and their friendly puppy Eleanor. So far I have learned a lot about making, and am learning how to use a sewing machine, and create soft sculptures.  I have sewn and stuffed busts and arms, using found clothes, and utilizing the trapunto stich.  Along with diligent work and attention to detail comes the joy of natural conversation.  From the very first day I met Kay we connected over our families, astrology, and art history.  When in good company and consumed in interesting conversation, time consuming process based work such as sewing goes by faster.  I value each day of this internship.  The skill set required to intern for Kay is pushing me out of my comfort zone, and I am learning to improve my sewing skills as I create sculptural textile sculptures. It’s hard to find a job as a working artist but she is in constant creation, she possesses an unparalleled work ethic.  Her dedication to her work and busy schedule is something that I aspire to one day be able to maintain myself.   The works that I am helping create will be used in a two-person exhibition.  Below are photo’s of busts I have created, and some of Kay Healy’s most recent work.  In the coming weeks I look forward to improving my sewing and textile skills, and creating more soft sculptures.

Kay Healy’s Recent Work

Bust’s I made, while learning how to use the sewing machine

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dance Rehearsals (Post #2)

As of tomorrow, I've been working at Eryc Taylor Dance in New York City for a month. I'm definitely now a lot more comfortable with what I'm doing. I've now been present at many company rehearsals, and learned some of the choreography, which is great. It's always difficult to have vacation periods from school where I'm no longer dancing on a regular basis, so it's nice to be involved in dance when I'm not training for the amount of time that I do during the school year.

It's been really great to be so involved in the process of professional dancers. What I've noticed is the most different in comparison with school rehearsals is that they're insanely self-sufficient. This certainly occurs with college rehearsals, but I think the fact that the dancers being paid (so a piece can't be choreographed in a large amount of time) and the expense and difficulties of securing studio space result in dancers that know it is entirely their job, just as much as the choreographers, to make the piece work. They talk through what isn't working as soon as they are able to, and usually figure it out amongst each other really quickly. It made me realize that in my future school rehearsals, I should take greater initiative in fixing whatever problems may occur on my own and with my fellow dancers. I often look to the choreographer for direction, but it seems to be far more efficient to have each dancer working through all that is problematic than waiting for the choreographer to dictate how it should be solved.

The dancers are self-sufficient in their warmup as well. There really isn't the space or the time to conduct a full warmup, and they may or may not do a few exercises together before dancing, so overall they're very smart about doing whatever they can while people are talking or working out other things at the beginning of rehearsal. They don't have the luxury of having class before rehearsal, but they do as much as they can for their individual bodies so that they are decently warm to run the full piece, which can be necessary to do right at the beginning of rehearsal.