twenty art statements

This was an assignment for a sculpture class - "write 20 art statements." It was a lot harder than i anticipated and essentially became a list of all the important things I've learned about art at this school, some of which I'm still (and might always be) in the process of learning. 
  1. art assigns objecthood to moment and material weight to sensation
  2. it's important to do art beautifully, not for the sake of beauty itself but as a tool that makes ideas both workable and interesting
  3. constructive discontent is critical to developing an consciousness of creative methodology
  4. all deliberate change first comes from denying the logic that most gives you comfort
  5. art is a completely socially determinable product
  6. art objects take on more meaning than the sum of their parts 
  7. the experience of the maker doesn't dictate or determine the experience of the viewer
  8. the experience of the viewer doesn't dictate or determine the experience of the maker
  9. it's okay for art to be a record of a process instead of a means to an end
  10. intentionality is critical, even if it takes the form of intentional unintentionally
  11. be responsive to the moments in which one thing becomes about something else
  12. art is essentially, in purpose, to recreate moments in time that cannot in any other manner be communicated
  14. treat the unsystematic systematically, and the systematic unsystematically
  15. art is a prior mental or physical event for which the work now serves as a testimony that it occurred
  16. it is sometimes accomplishing emotional affect solely by means of the isolated portrayal of a super-personal emotional state, idea or concept
  17. transgression of structure always results in the construction of new structures
  18. always be critical and aware of what's implicit
  19. art isn't democratic. it isn't for the people
  20. sometimes art is only for the people

*this one in particular applies to graphic design as well, in absolute severity. 

magalie guérin/unenchantment

I realize it's been well over a year since I made a blog post. I don't want to talk about it.

The purpose of this post is to more or less catalog the fact that I no longer approach art-making with a deep terror - mild terror, perhaps, but not deep. It's become a productive fear instead of a paralyzing one, which is a maturation I've been anticipating for a long time.

For reference, see the following excerpt of a never-published post written in October:

It's a strange feeling to look back on an entire year and feel like you've regressed as an artist. I can't help but be disappointed, albeit calmly so, with myself. I still draw ambiguous female faces and shitty typography in my class notes. I still use a black leather Moleskine to pretend I'm functionally planning things weekly, when really I use it to draw cartoon crabs, or alternatively, make myself feel productive and professional. I still lose inordinate amounts of sleep mulling over the "problem" of being either a full-time artist and/or a full-time athlete, whether or not any of it is worth anything, how to explain my art to those non-art-inclined, the to-and-fro between pushing yourself and letting yourself rest, giving yourself time, letting yourself sleep in and stretch out. But it's also possible the identity has simply been redefined. A lot happened in a year - I started calling myself a painter. I bought two pet rats and a queen-sized mattress. In an attempt to create my own space again, I wrote mediocre poems in exchange basil plants that died before they ever seasoned anything (RIP). Got in a car accident, bought a blue bike, did a lot of irritating underpaid freelance work for bad clients.

I can confirm that since October, I've learned to 1) be measures less self-deprecating and 2) never speak about bad clients on a public forum. Currently in my third year of college and this tide-turning occurred this quarter, I believe. We had an artist speaker visit my junior seminar, a Chicago-based Canadian* painter named Magalie Guérin. Her "talk" was personal as all hell, to be honest, and mostly consisted of her reading straight from her studio journal, which was essentially a catalog of her processes, her fears, her triumphs. It was admirable. I took to her immediately, planned on talking to her after the class was over or at least emailing her and letting her know that the three solid pages of notes I frantically put down during her visit were revolutionary for me. I chickened out, classic. But I anticipate there'll be a point at which i contact her or go to one of her shows. We'll see.

The most impressive part of her practice was her dedication to what she called the Hat Shape - a curvaceous vaguely-hat-shaped shape that she committed herself to for years, painting nothing but variations of it. It was quite beautiful, both formally and in theory, a process that she called "working from rather than towards."

She was candid and frank and managed to very sincerely capture the grappling so many artists have with their art - art in general, really. Becoming bored to tears, "I still haven't figured out how write art stuff," being in a long-term relationship with your work, finding a way to stay curious, dealing with "the feeling that none of this matters." <-- which was honestly the biggest question I had for her and is the one thing that hasn't changed since October. How do you deal with that feeling that nothing matters?**

It may be, I suppose, just like anything else - weathering discontent and the bullshit cobwebby politics until your professor says something to you like, "When I looked at your sculpture, it made me feel something. It didn't make me think anything - it made me feel something." Or until your advisor tells you that actually you can have it all because you're young as a bud and there's still time to be an school counselor, a kick-ass designer, a mom and a grad student and an artist that puts out shows and has long-term relationships with her work; being in love with it like you fall in love with a person, learning it's okay to be bored, to be vulnerable, to be unenchanted, focusing on loving instead of needing to be loved. All those things are fine, all those things are good.

"You’re allowed to touch everywhere, to inquire about everything. You have this thing in front of you that gives you permission to go in all these mini rooms, all these cracks and nooks, in the dark corners. That’s what a relationship is – giving a person permission to explore you. The work is that way for me." -Magalie Guérin, Conversation

*I initially tried to coin the word Montrealite, but what the fuck? 
**The answer is by double-majoring -- justifying your commitment to art by being committed in equal or greater quantities to other pursuits, "worthwhile" pursuits, pursuits that "give back." 


Fall quarter is definitely over (hallelujah), so I figured I'd post the final pieces I made for my ceramics class. This was by far my favorite class. It's called Performing Tableware, and it frames the actions and objects of the table as sites of research and art-making. 

The first piece we were assigned was to create a serving tool or utensil inspired by the food that was being served. (My original choice was peaches, but since peaches are 110% out of season in November, I had to make a last minute switch to red pears, which turned out to be a very appropriate choice after all.) Viewers were asked to approach the arrangement and eat the fruit. I wanted to mimic the measure of destruction/breakage that occurs when we pick a fruit off a branch, and because of the precarious arrangement of the fruits and the "utensils," the action of "picking" the fruit called evoked a breakage and dismantling.

Glazed white clay

My final project for this class was a 25-ft, 15-piece installation titled Providence and based on the Bible story of Peter's vision of the clean/unclean foods. I wanted to create an installation that would invoke a measure of religious awe and manifest the action of providing and delivering and bestowing, particularly from heaven to earth. Each piece was hung with clear fishing line and filled with ice that then melted through the holes and dripped onto the staircase below. 

Providence (Glazed slip, fishing line, ice)
The next day, Peter went to the rooftop to pray. He became hungry, and while lunch was being prepared, he fell asleep and had a vision. He saw the skies opening up and a large blanket being lowered from heaven by its four corners. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was in it. A voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat." Peter said, "Surely not, Lord! I've never eaten anything unclean." The voice came again, "What I have cleansed, no longer call unholy." This happened three more times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the skies.

(If you have any questions at all about either of these pieces, don't hesitate to ask!)

the art of opening up

I have a hard time doing things half-assedly, so I feel a little ashamed crawling back to this blog with months between posts. But while reading Amy Merricks' very lovely blog this morning I was reminded that "it doesn't have to be all or nothing. All you can do is the best you can do." Which isn't just a blog related note-to-self or an art note-to-self, but also a general life note-to-self. So I think I can be okay with going MIA without feeling guilty, even and especially if that means coming back around with very little other than sketches. I had a long, up-and-down summer. I worked for a month, flew a lot - Chicago > LA > Hong Kong > Jakarta and back again. Visited my family, put together a real portfolio, got my wisdom teeth out. Slept in, woke up to my mother's breakfast, snuggled with my siblings, had a bit of a love affair with the Indian Ocean

Visiting home is always an exercise in absorbing moments instead of grasping for them. It's rare that I get to be with my family for very much time at all, and when it happens, I tend to have a bit of an internal panic. You can feel the moments whizzing past you like wasps, and you start counting down the days you have left, curled against the sand like it's a warm body that reaches for miles.

School started in October. I've been kicking up a lot of leaves, eating a lot of microwave popcorn, waking up for a lot of early mornings, and listening to Death Cab like I'm fourteen again (they released a bunch of Translanticism demos I've been eating up like an emotionally starved middle schooler). 

I've also been terribly busy with art things - maybe moreso than I ever have been before, which is ironic considering I have very little to show for it other than in-class margin sketches. But I'm in a ceramics class that's been the light of my life recently, to the point that my hands perhaps spend more time caked in clay than they do otherwise. I've been practically living in the art building. The ladies in the cafe know what muffins I like and nod sympathetically when I ask for an extra shot at 2pm and leave the studio after midnight.

The curiousest thing is that the art I've been making, for the first time ever, has been almost exclusively 3D work, and the things I've been thinking about have been almost exclusively large, sculptural things, hanging things, shining things, moving things, things with curves, things you want to touch. Which isn't at all what I anticipated myself being interested in, and now I can't imagine seriously pursuing art that isn't sculpture-related. The other art class I'm in is about as conceptual as anything could possibly be, but when I'm not fiercely confused I'm fiercely fascinated. So when I'm not making art, I'm thinking about it. And that's new and very nice. 

I should have some actual images to show for it soon, if everything goes according to plan. Other than that, I've just been trying to power through this quarter and preserve some sort of mental stamina for the nightmare that is winter quarter in this city. 

"To be lazy is to give way to other processes that exist in that moment. When you're sleeping, eating, moving, standing still, you are still an artist at work, projected outward."

I'll be in California over Christmas break, which should be a very welcome break from the Chicago wind and ice and sideways snow. I mostly plan on sleeping on couches with too many blankets and/or driving to the coast for my annual seawater fix. You can only pretend for so long that Lake Michigan fills your soul like the ocean does.


School finally closed out about a month ago, and between now and then I've been working at a start-up in the Loop (RIP Cakestyle), traipsing around downtown, and eating unhealthy quantities of Wisconsin cherries and salted-caramel ice cream. I haven't had much time to sit down and produce any quality art, but I've also been planning on making this particular post for a while.

I have the very crisp memory of being sharply scolded in 7th grade by a teacher who could absolutely not tolerate any shape or form of doodling on notes or homework. This was one of the many falling-outs I had with this particular teacher, and doodling has been both a huge help and huge part of my note-taking process, to the point that I've saved countless notebooks that are one part notes and one part sketches. 

So this post isn't particularly awe-inspiring or deliberate, but more of an end-of-the-school-year tradition of documenting my "note-taking process."

Beginning sketches for a logo I made for the lovely and talented Keely Yount!

This particular quote was a bit of a fixation during my last quarter in school. I'll probably flesh it out into a an actual illustration sometime soon. It's based off a Mark Twain quote - “Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If you do the worst thing on your plate first thing in the morning, the rest of the day is easy/breezy/beautiful. I've tried to wrestle my life into some form of regular frog-eating instead of laying in bed eating pretzels and hoping all my work going up in flames so I don't have to do it.

In other news - I'm leaving for Indonesia next week, to see my family for the first time in a year, and I'm not sure how much time I'll have for updating. It's a hypothetical toss-up between being busy and on-the-road the whole summer, and having too much time on my hands and thus making heaps of Things. I have a few big design projects I'll be working on over the summer, one of which is trying to figure out how the hell to use Squarespace and hopefully putting together a portfolio of sorts. As always, we shall see. (For those of you with trust issues, I promise I'll definitely be posting regularly on my Instagram if not here.)

x, j

poema 14

Mis palabras llovieron sobre ti acariciándote. Amé desde hace tiempo tu cuerpo de nácar soleado. Hasta te creo dueña del universo. Te traeré de las montañas flores alegres, copihues, avellanas oscuras, y cestas silvestres de besos.

Quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos.
My words rained over you, tenderly. I've loved your sunkissed mother-of-pearl body for so long. I'm sure you own even the universe. I'll bring you bright mountain flowers, bluebells, hazelnuts and wild baskets of kisses.

I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.
Prints available on society6.