Since yesterday was a busy day for me I did not get to post my weekly challenge photo. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing or making art, but those two always pull me back quickly to do so.
The challenge for this week is humanity, something which we should all be familiar with, was a hard one for me. Since I usually look through my archives of photographs for these challenges, unless I have time to go shoot new frames, I am realizing that I have not delved into portraiture enough. For this challenge I found it necessary to choose a picture of family/friends because those are the only people I actually photograph.
So a little bulb in my head lit up. I MUST go out there and start photographing strangers!
Yes, I must say that scares me a little. But we are all just humans and so we all have similar feelings, thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. If, only, we could get past our differences, we could make magical progress.
Now, I could go on and on about my own hopes and dreams for humanity, but I am ready to post my photo representing an instance of humanity.
I hope you like it. Comments welcome.
The other day somebody asked me “why are you so passionate about everything?” I didn’t know how to respond. Partially because I didn’t know I came across so intense and passionate as he so told me.
Thinking back, I suppose I can sometimes be a bit over-spirited and emotional about some topics, not everything. Of course I am passionate about art. Other things I’m passionate about? Music, politics, healthy clean (green) living, and of course my friends and family. This is what comprises my world and I have yet to integrate all of that in to my work. It’s also the toughest part which only comes with lots of practice and experience. Sometimes, as I have experienced it, your passions come to be your inspiration.
It is an inevitability that an artist’s reality and perspective come to play a major role in his artwork. Having an artist show his personality and the conflicts of his mind within his artwork, and showing how that individual relates to the world is what makes a composition meaningful. This is, I believe, why art is so important and part of the human condition, it’s an expression of our own individual reality which becomes part of the whole human experience.
I suppose I am at an age at which I am becoming aware of so much and I am still deciding what is really important in life, and that has been a hard road to travel.
Of course I cherish my friends and family, each and everyone of them has made my life much more fun and interesting, and I could not have made it to where I am today without their support, their time and advice, or their love. But when it comes to living a fulfilling life, each person has a different goal, and my romantic side shows when I say ‘I want to change the world.’ Yes, that may sound a bit idealistic, but by thinking big I can hope to achieve some sort of change for the better. It’s like that quote that gets thrown around a lot by the motivational speaker Les Brown, “aim for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.” I believe that change is good, for example, one must change to achieve progress and keep moving forward.
As an artist I am still in a period of discovery, with my ceramic art I am exploring the sculptural and non-objective forms in which my ideas and perspective may find a home. When it comes to my photography, I shoot much more instinctively, and my subject varies from nature to instances, and even inspirational textures/materials/colors. I am an artist still in the beginnings of exploration as I have concentrated mostly on technique and aesthetics.
What is your passion? What drives you to keep going? Do you have crazy/hopeful goals like mine? I would be interested to hear from other creative people out there on what inspires them most in life?
By the way, I have been keeping up with sketching more often, something that comes hard to do because I am 2 dimensionally challenged. But I keep at it. I know that practice will pay off. Since I joined the group CT Sketchers I have made it a point to sketch often, though I need to look at some other sketchers’ techniques. I am a very visual learner, I know that I can pick up a few tricks if I find some tutorial type videos. Check out my latest sketches (from the past 2 weeks) below.
Today I wanted to write about the artist that will be acting as one of the jurors for this year’s annual exhibition for CAFA. After all, discovering (new-to-me) artists is the best part of my jobs.
When choosing jurors, we needed two subjects well versed in art and potentially be artists themselves, that was obvious. However, we wanted to equal the playing field between the representational art versus the abstract and non-representational art entries. We want to give all styles of art a fair competition. William Butcher was chosen, not only for his knowledge in art, but also for the mastery of his own abstracted compositions.
The first time I saw his paintings I could NOT stop staring. There is this outpour of emotion in all his paintings that grab your attention and it doesn’t let go. Once you are captured by this irrational emotional force do you start noticing the rest of the composition and its surreal components. His surrealism is reminiscent of Salvador Dalí, and in an almost playful way he will enter your consciousness to reveal a hidden treasure.
You can visit his website here: http://williambutcherpainting.com. His artist statement is short and it explains his compulsion to create. He explains “…the language of painting must painstakingly reinvented and its art continually rediscovered. It is a language whose vocabulary is based on vision of ideal forms, an ideal that is illusive and impossible to reach.” It is that which I admire most about art, as in life. Each one of us is reaching for an ideal and, though we may never get there, on the way we will discover such pleasures.
William Butcher has been painting for over 30 years is also the head of the art department at Suffield Academy in Connecticut. As you can see, there were many reasons we chose Butcher as one of the jurors. Not only does he show his skillful technique, emotion, and conceptual processes within his paintings; but he also has such great philosophical wisdom that we are lucky he will judge the show.
Here at CAFA we are getting more excited about the 103rd Annual Exhibition because we are seeing the incoming entries each day. There’s a little over a month left for the online submission deadline (April 4th), so if you are an artist, hurry and sign up! I hope you enjoyed reading about our first juror. In the next few days I will write a post about our other juror, or you can go here and check it out yourself: http://www.ctacademy.org/annualEx1910.html
One of the things I find most fascinating about art is that it can actually be used as a vehicle to change the world. I know, changing the world, what an ideal to have. Both my parents, and many other university students, were very politically active in the 1970’s in Lima, Peru; a time when right-wing dictatorships of many surrounding countries were actively eliminating any influential communist ideas from the population because it contradicted the existing government. In 1983 my father was tortured in jail for possessing written documents from leftist idealists. This while my mom was giving premature birth to yours truly.
Growing up, I always admired my parents’ struggle for bettering others’ lives. We never had a lot, but my parents were always willing to help however they could. As I write about it now I cannot help but analyze this as being the biggest influence on the way I perceive the world today.
Since I started working at CCSU, I have had the chance to interact with some of the professors in the art department I had not met. One of those professors was Mike Alewitz. One of the first things he said to me was “I can’t believe you graduated without having to take one of my classes.” Since I was a transfer student in the CCSU art department, there were basic courses I was able to circumvent, therefore I did not know all the professors.
We started talking about politics the same day we met. I told him that his class was the one I was always looking for but never knew existed. Since, he has invited me to sit in his mural painting class. Now I need to come up with a worthy concept to paint a mural about. Ideas I have plenty, but more important than an idea, or a cause, is how well illustrated and composed it is so that it is able to get the point across. As I develop these ideas I will write a post about them.
Most people either love Alewitz, or hate him. I have known some students that were horrified by his teaching methods and others that take his classes again and again, whether they failed or passes the first, or second time. Some may tell you that he is crazy, but are we not all some measure of crazy? He and I are of kindred philosophies which is why I enjoy sitting in his class.
Alewitz also grew up in a household with radical thinking parents who were highly influenced by the communist party, as were many others of that generation, my parents (at that time in South America) included. It is interesting to me how such involvement in the political front can dissipate so quickly from one generation to the next, and even cease to exist with the following generation. Alewitz is a good contradiction of this development in society, but others in his generation were, too, because they lived through the Vietnam war era. A time when you fought a war against the authorities to not have to go to war.
Already Alewitz had a radical influence from his own family growing up. By the time he was 17, he was already a self-professed Marxist. By the time he got to college, at Kent State University in Ohio, he was organizing anti-war movements among others. He was marching with other students the day of the Kent State Massacre on May 4th, 1970, where the National Guard opened fire against unarmed college students killing four students and injuring 9 others (source).
If you reside in the United States then you might have a chance to see one of Alewitz’ many murals. He has painted murals in Austin, Minnesota, South Los Angeles, Chicago, Tennessee, Washington state, Washington DC, Denver, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other locations I might be missing. Sadly, some of his murals have been destroyed. Throughout his life he was victimized, harassed, and even added to the terrorist list. He is never scared away from a mural project. He has been to Nicaragua, Ukraine, Iraq, Mexico City, Northern Ireland, the West Bank and Jerusalem to paint the voice of the people.
Let’s talk about how this nonconformist artist, Mike Alewitz, helped to change the world.
In the early 1980’s, there was much energy brewing in South Africa. There was a lot of friction on the capitalist corporations. The strength of the organized community along with militant political unions was promising in ending the apartheid regime. This was the goal the ANC (African National Congress) and the South African Communist party were trying to reach (source). It was also around this time that Ronald Reagan listed the ANC and, by default, Nelson Mandela (source).
The racially unequal treatment of employees at the 3M plant in South Africa’s was revealed at the same time that 3M tried closing their Freehold, NJ plant (which would leave 1000 unemployed) (source). Factories were closing everywhere. Many were losing jobs. And in Austin Minnesota 1,500 Hormel meat packer workers were on strike for 10 long months trying to protect a fair wage (source).
Solidarity was shared by labor unions, workers, and activists everywhere.
Enter activist and mural painter Mike Alewitz who was in Austin, MN in 1986 organizing the development for the concept and the painting of a mural. The mural spoke for the people. It stood for the striking meat packers, for South Africa, for working people, for farmers, for families, and for Nelson Mandela, who at the time was imprisoned by the U.S.
You can no longer see this mural if you go to Austin, MN. As you can see from the picture below, the mural was sandblasted. The U.F.C.W leaders (United Food and Commercial Workers International Unions) ordered the mural be destroyed and forgotten. It was a demonstration of power on the part of the union bureaucrats; a power hold that was so weak no union member would sandblast the wall. The U.F.C.W leaders had to do the dirty work of destroying the mural themselves (source).
This instance was only one example of art activism. Many of the Hormel workers were changed by the experiences of the strike and the Mural. Some of those people even went on to fight for the labor movement (source). My only hope as an artist is to be able to influence people in such a way that they become empowered with knowledge and the desire to change the world. What kind of mark would you like to leave behind in this world?