7.11.2014

I curated a show: Sense of Self at Xchange Gallery at The Arts Exchange

Aaah! I did a thing I've never done before and curated a show with 6 artists, only half of whom actually live in Atlanta.  Pretty pumped for the opening in two weeks.  More updated, particularly during my first time installing a show with other people's works, as time progresses.  Info about the artists and show below.

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Sense of Self features the work of six artists: Elaine Alibrandi, Elyse Defoor, Elnaz Javani, Kelly Kristin Jones, Grace Needleman, and Iman Person. Through diverse mediums the artists explore the impacts of society, culture, and community on identity and varying ideas of womanhood. Each artist approaches these themes differently, whether exploring their own relationship to the world outside themselves, a specific community's concept of womanhood, or observing general perceptions on the idea of women.

The Arts Exchange Gallery Hours:
Xchange Gallery Thursday through Saturday, 1­5 pm
750 Kalb Street, SE
Atlanta, Georgia 30312

Contact to view by appointment:
404­624­4211 Jessica Caldas
jessica.r.caldas@gmail.com

The Artists:

Elaine Alibrandi graduated from Massachusetts College of Art in in 1981, studied at the New England School of Art and Design, and is currently based in Boston. She finds inspiration for much of her work from nature and female imagery, both of which to her express strength and vulnerability, power, mystery, and creative potential. Alibrandi is also influenced by her lifelong activism for women's rights. While creating art gives her the freedom to express herself personally, politically, and socially, the various media she employs seem to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers.

Elyse Defoor is a multi­disciplinary artist who is inspired by a person’s connection to their inner spirit and unconscious world. From this passionate inspiration, she produces artwork that can be both bold and mysterious yet often playful. Her drawings, paintings, photography and large scale installations have gained international recognition and national exposure. More recently, a collection of over fifty worn wedding dresses has become the basis of an ongoing series of installations, exhibitions and photographs entitled "Relics of Marriage". As Defoor continues to explore the many forms, both hidden and exposed, of the feminine body and spirit, "Shed 6" is a work from the series "After Ever After" which incorporates sculpture and photography.

Elnaz Javani is an Iranian visual artist whose work examines violence, identity and gender issues that underpin her daily life and experiences. She creates sculpture, drawings, photography and installation with
different materials such as fabric, thread, photo and sound .She is studying Master of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting from Tehran Art University.

Kelly Kristin Jones is an Atlanta­based artist who earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Jones╩╝ relationship to photography is flexible as she explores community and culture through photographic documentation influenced by performance and a post­internet approach. Jones is the recipient
of a number of awards including the MINT Gallery Leap Year Artist Award (2013), the James Weinstein Memorial Fellowship (2012), The Union League & Civic Arts Foundation Prize (2012) and the Municipal Art League Fellowship (2012).

Grace Needleman is a Chicago­ based artist and educator. Her work questions the meaning and experience of belonging. Through collage, she animates the characters, myths, symbols, and rituals of her family and communities As a teaching artist, she works with the Teen Creative Agency of the Museum of
Contemporary Art Chicago and other youth across the city to explore questions of art in society, participation and invitation, and the museum. She received her MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths and her BA in fine art from Yale University.

Needleman’s work is a collaboration with Elisa Gonzalez, who writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She is a current M.F.A. student in poetry at New York University and a 2011 graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in English.

Iman Person is a visual artist based in the Atlanta area. Her use of found materials and environmental consciousness breaths heavy in her work and creates a hybrid reality between physical, ethereal and metaphysical realms. In 2010 she received her B.F.A from Georgia State University and has shown in numerous exhibitions since. She has become a fixture in the Atlanta arts community both in the exhibition
sphere and in public art arenas. She is a member of the Atlanta based collective, Dashboard Coop, is a Hambidge fellow and one of twelve Walthall fellows for 2013­2014.


6.23.2014

Goodbye to Harrisonburg


It's my last morning in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  I've rented a car and will drive home to Atlanta from here.
I'll miss this place but I'll always be an OFARian now, and it seems I may be back in October, which is pretty exciting.

I was excited Saturday, about the second half of my installation down town because I spoke to a lot more people, more in depth about the project.  The local newspaper, the Daily News-Record covered the work which was also exciting.  Someone from JMU's department saw the work as well and sent a nice note to Jon Henry about it and a few folks I had met previously throughout the weeks sent me some notes after they saw the article.


It rained much earlier Saturday (started around 4), so the work got washed away much faster.  I don't mind however, and one person, after understanding what the project was about, said something poetic along the lines of "don't we wish it were that easy in real life."  True.


Last night Jon, his neighbor, and a few folks we knew came over and we potlucked and card gamed.  It was a good time.

OFAR Potluck with gay bread and Woodbine Apples
Here are a few thing's I'll miss about Harrisonburg:
-Conversations with Jon Henry, particularly regarding white people, hot tubs, and cases "when there is art in that."
-The guy at the corner Hillcrest who waved every time I cut through his parking lot as I was walking to and from downtown
-The gigantic rabbits that live behind OFAR
-Working with The Collins Center and everyone there
-Meeting folks from the CJP
-The kind offers of rides whenever I was walking anywhere by total strangers
-The weather
-The Dodger
-The skies


6.20.2014

Public art day one: We are all statistics-Children of Harrisonburg


 Whew.
Just finished 8 hours of chalking hopscotch courts on the main square of downtown Harrisonburg.  I had no idea how exhausting that would be but it seems like my time estimation was spot on-I got half done today and will finish the second half tomorrow.

I'm chalking hopscotch courts for a specific reason.  Each court represents one child that the Collins Center has assisted in the past year, with the demographic information regarding the children contained inside the squares of the court.  There will be 152 total courts, pretty much exactly the amount needed to get around the entire square (by the way-the square is home to the Court house as well).

As I said, I got about half done today.  Pretty good considering I was stopping to speak to people throughout the process, explain what I was doing and why.  For me and for this kind of work, that interaction with bystanders and passersbys is as vital as the drawings themselves (which are pretty primitive/simple).  It was fun watching people engage with me and the work to varying degrees.  Some folks were really into it, for others I could see their eyes glaze over the minute I explained what the Collins Center is.  For the most part I had really positive experiences and a few of the women I interviewed over the past couple of weeks stopped by as well.  One of my favorite interactions was with a gentleman who observed that together all of the courts resemble a graveyard-depressing yes, but a poetic thought considering what they are actually representing.  Another favorite moment was watching children play on the courts when I was on the other side of the street.

The rain might wash away or diminish the courts I drew today.  I don't mind, it's part of the point, and I'll go tomorrow and finish the other half regardless.

Here's the original statement I wrote up for this portion of the project:
A huge part of my practice as an artist has revolved around sharing, retelling, and recreating people’s stories and relating those stories to the larger social issues that impact them, ranging from domestic violence to homelessness to sexual assault and more. I have found that viewing larger social and political issues through a personal lens allows audiences to be drawn in, to accept that the issues impact everyone, and to abandon the notion of the other.

Recently I have begun to toy with the kind of information and data that these issues generate. In a reversal from examining the larger social impact on an individual and their personal story, I am now interested in how demographic information expresses not only the individual but the group. We are constantly privy to data, numbers, and other demographic information surrounding those who are affected by any number of issues and I am interested in the way we process this information, or the way we fail to process it.

6.19.2014

Create your story workshop with The Collins Center

So aside from the interviews I've been doing for the past two weeks, I've been prepping for the public art piece (I begin tomorrow) and also prepping for the workshop I gave tonight.

I'm not great at teaching, in fact, I'd say I'm kind of terrible at it.  I also get really nervous around speaking to groups of people, even if it's a small intimate group.  So the workshop started a bit rough, but I picked up and the workshop turned out to be a lot of fun.  Only women were present, and we spent the first hour and half learning about carving linoleum blocks, drawing and carving.  Everyone got to choose the aspect of their own experience they wanted to focus on, whether negative or positive, literal object or abstract idea, and chose/draw an image that they felt represented that.  I was really impressed by a lot of the work and the lack of fear approaching the carving.  The best part, by far, was the way everyone dived into mixing up all the mediums after their initial print.  One woman in particular made use of every other material she could get her hands on, without any direction, including strings, tissue paper, markers, and other sheets of color paper.

Everyone seemed to have a great time and went home with multiple pieces.  It was a lovely and moving experience (and everyone even helped me clean up).

I'll get better at workshops eventually, I hope, and also at teaching.

I am so grateful to The Collins Center, Larkin Arts, and (of course) the Old Furnace Arts Residency for making this possible for me.



















6.14.2014

Onward at OFAR

The past week has been busy, though it is interesting that I am spending about as much time in the studio as I am with the community and in various meetings with individuals.

Wednesday saw Jon Henry and I at Peace by Design, one of EMU's Summer Institute courses taught by Deanna and Barb who had invited me to spend some time with the class.  Not only did I learn a lot about various things happening around the country which deal with issues of social justice and the arts but they also gave me some time to speak about my work.  The class was really responsive, especially to the wall piece I did for Chastain.
Giving a brief talk on my work at EMU
I've been getting positive responses to the first two parts of my project, the interviews and the workshop.  Larkin Arts is officially a sponsor of my project here, as they provided us with additional carving tools and supplies for the workshop.  They've been super helpful in providing some direction and assistance in the various logistics of that.  Since Wednesday, I have been doing two interviews a day, with even more scheduled next week.  It has been a pretty emotional and amazing experience for me, and the survivors and advocates I am interviewing are so open.  It's refreshing and exhilarating and I am very excited about the prints I'll be making based on these interviews.
The Collins Center's brochure about the projects
I got the go ahead for the public art portion of the project and will be "installing" next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the downtown court square.  By installing, what I mean is that I will literally be hand drawing 158 hopscotch courts on the downtown sidewalks in Harrisonburg.  Woo, so excited.

Here's a blurb about it, that I wrote up for Jon's mini press release:
"A huge part of my practice as an artist has revolved around sharing, retelling, and recreating people’s stories and relating those stories to the larger social issues that impact them, ranging from domestic violence to homelessness to sexual assault and more.  I have found that viewing larger social and political issues through a personal lens allows audiences to be drawn in, to accept that the issues impact everyone, and to abandon the notion of the other.

Recently I have begun to toy with the kind of information and data that these issues generate.  In a reversal from examining the larger social impact on an individual and their personal story, I am now interested in how demographic information expresses not only the individual but the group.  We are constantly privy to data, numbers, and other demographic information surrounding those who are affected by any number of issues and i am interested in the way we process this information, or the way we fail to process it.

This project will visually represent the data collected by the Collins Center’s Child Advocacy Center over the course of one year.  Each client they served will be represented anonymously, only by the information collected that is then used for various reports, and with which we often generate nameless statistics.  Each representation will appear on the sidewalks downtown as hopscotch courts, hand drawn with chalk."
Flyers I'll hand out while I'm chalking
I'm super excited this whole thing has worked out so well.  I can not wait for next weekend, for the workshop next week, and to meet and talk with even more of these amazing folks.