I spent yesterday in Michigan with some friends. As the day was ending, we climbed atop one of the dunes and watched the sun set into the lake. It was clear and windy and the water was warm and turbulent. We left the beach while the horizon was still orange and I felt the pang of the august blues, of summer always slipping through my fingers...
This is not a landscape photo. It is a work of art by the Japanese artist, Noriko Ambe, who has created a series focused on mapping the interior emotional landscape. She formed this piece by making cuts in a sketchbook. In her artists statement, Noriko states, "It looks like annual rings of a tree or topographical map or waive, but it isn't. It is absolutely the traces of actions of a person, which is me... So to speak, I have been mapping the mysterious land between physical and emotional geography." I was really inspired looking through her website, especially because I had created a series of drawings with a similar goal for the art show last April.
Maps: charcoal, conte, ink
While you won't typically find me watching Monday Night Football or the NBA finals, you will find me glued to the TV when it comes to the Olympics. Seriously, I love them. As I type, Michael Phelps is getting ready to start the 200 m freestyle - oh wait, here comes the personal interest story, gotta love those. And now we're back, and they're in the water... going for the world record... this guy is ridiculous...
I bring all this up because I always make a point to watch the opening ceremonies. Some are good, some are bad, but either way, I'm a big sucker for the opening introduction - you know, before the ceremony starts and you hear the olympics anthem playing, see sweeping shots of mountain tops and the narrator gives his dramatic monologue...
So, I was bummed that I was in an airplane when they were going on this year. AND, even MORE bummed when I found out that one of my favorite artists, Cai Guo-Ciang, directed all the pirotechnics. I've looked for footage online, but have only managed to come up with short snippets, and not the whole ceremony. In any case, it's an opportunity to recommend you take a look at his website.
I first learned about Cai Guo-Ciang through an Art 21 episode. The first thing I saw him do was create a drawing out of gunpowder, and then light it. I was captivated by how dynamic his work became when he paired his gentle, confident line with the explosive, rebellious nature of the gunpowder. I like how this created an element of the artwork that was beyond the his control. Cai Guo-Ciang steps out of bounds, chooses materials and subjects that are rich with metaphor, and creates work that is really beautiful.
Last May, Guo-Ciang had a mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim which is now traveling to the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, and will be participating in Prospect. 1 New Orleans November 1 - January 18. Road trip anyone?
Below: igniting gunpowder and the resulting drawing, Descending Wolves.
New on the Studio List: Chido Johnson. Chido and I went to school together and just recently reconnected for the first time in nearly 10 years (thank you facebook). I have a lot of appreciation for his sculpture. He is an amazing craftsman and does really thought-provoking work. Born in Zimbabwe and now residing in Detroit, much of his work explores the theme of displacement. He does this in both a powerful and relatable way. Click on the link to check out his work.
Work seems to be keeping me far away from this blog lately. I've been doing a lot of traveling - mainly to California. Which, when you are traveling to California, it feels like you are supposed to be on vacation... but I'm not. It's a cruel trick.
On one of my trips, I was offered free tickets to the Frida Kahlo exhibit - at its last stop in San Francisco. Unfortunately, my schedule didn't allow for it. Yet another cruel trick. I did go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art website. They have an interesting online interactive feature on Kahlo. It includes paintings, photos, and video clips, as well as bio details and some interpretations of her work. Check it out.