I consider myself a painter who photographs. I had given up on painting about ten years ago since I didn’t feel I could authentically express what was mine to express. Then, about eight years ago, I fell into photographing what I came to call my “magical landscapes.” These images came almost effortlessly and opened up worlds I never imagined. I credit this experience with giving me the courage to explore the real world. During the last five years, I have traveled around the world twice for extended periods of time. I tend to perceive now that most every landscape has the potential to be a magical landscape, given the right lighting and composition.
I found hidden within the language of security in Executive Order 13780 the underpinnings of a xenophobic worldview that simultaneously aspires toward empire. In the text of the poems I sought to lay bare the underlying mechanics of power inherent such colonial impulses, and in the visuals I sought to subvert the legitimacy of claims to security from an administration compromised by foreign power. In attempting to hide the Soviet origins of the film Nebo Zovyot the American director of the retitled Battle Beyond the Sun replaced Soviet spacecraft with U.S. ones, obscured all text that appeared in Russian, and replaced the names of Soviet actors with those of English voiceover actors in the film’s credits; the screen-captured compression artifacts, the bleed through of data between the video’s keyframes and the P and B frames (usually hidden and containing only partial information from the surrounding frames), for me served as visual metaphor.
THE BROWNIES AT WORK by Nance Van Winckel Welcome to Cleaver’s brand new genre, INTERMEDIA, where word and image intersect to create newly mediated spaces between the literal and the figurative—part word, part image, and deviantly part-way! And what better way to start off than with “Brownies,” those there-but-not-there creations that inhabit the virtual terrains and ordinary realms of our creative lives. —Ed. Nance Van Winckel is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Our Foreigner, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series Prize (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017), Book of No Ledge (Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series, 2016), and Pacific Walkers (U. of Washington Press, 2014). She’s also published five books of fiction, including Ever Yrs, a novel in the form of a scrapbook (Twisted Road Publications, 2014), and Boneland: Linked Stories (U. of Oklahoma Press, 2013). She teaches in the MFA programs at Eastern Washington University and … chop! chop! read more!
Frances had skipped two periods before she realized what was going on. “I’m lucky,” she bragged to Sarah over milkshakes at the corner store, “I haven’t had my period in eight weeks, no tampons for me, I beat the system.” Sarah’s mouth dropped and that’s when Frances became aware of the extent of her self-deceit. Now, just days later, she sits cross-legged on the floor in Jack’s bedroom shuffling a deck of cards while Jack moves laundry from the washer to the dryer in the basement, his parents in the city at a hospital benefit.
LIVING AS ART Ceramic Works by Matthew Courtney [click on images to enlarge] To be in the presence of Matt Courtney’s ceramic art is to be embraced by a feeling at once familiar and unanticipated — a sensation that comes not only by directly looking, but also sensed, unsolicited, out of the corner of the eye. It’s a kind of well-being and heightened awareness that can happen while sitting outdoors, perhaps beside a percolating stream or a mile-wide river: small wonders, big sky. It’s all good. Almost instinctively, Courtney’s ceramic pieces bring that palpable sensation indoors, where they acquire something domestic, grounded in a place that feels like home. That hits home. Our connection with ceramic objects has always been like this. For millennia we humans have lived with objects made of clay. Fashioned with purpose and imagination, they have accumulated in our living spaces around needs of food and … chop! chop! read more!
BERLIN STORY: Time, Memory, Place by Emily Steinberg with an introduction by Tahneer Oksman Like fresh snow covering over a messy urban landscape, there’s a kind of concealing but also unifying quality to the fourteen central images of Emily Steinberg’s “Berlin Story.” Following a four-panel introduction, in which our narrator introduces herself as having grown up an anxious, fearful depressive, lost in the grip of, among other things, the “images of death, murder and gratuitous Nazi sadism” shown to her in Hebrew school, we are presented with still portrayals of an uninhabited, idyllic setting. Each drawing, contained in an unframed rectangle, presents its viewers with a narrowed angle, or point of view, proximate to or regarding the famous Wannsee Villa, a mansion located in the suburbs of Berlin. The drawings are in black and white, cramped with details composed from demarcated lines, some of them even slightly wobbly marks. From … chop! chop! read more!
WHAT WE SEE FEELS LIKE THE THING ITSELF Photographs by Micah Danges [ click any image to enlarge ] My drive to take photographs is rooted in the unpredictability of such a seemingly predictable process. I use the precision of the camera in conjunction with the limitations of its mechanics to generate a series of inspiring problems that I can solve. I know that the assumptions that I make while shooting the photograph, about how life will translate onto film, will be proven wrong after it is developed and printed. This shift compels me to slow down, study the printed image and isolate key moments of transformation. From there, I consider the surface of the print and build a material relationship with the image that celebrates its singularity. I want to continue to explore the photograph as a flexible medium that has the ability to be both image and … chop! chop! read more!
DEFT PERCEPTION Works of Porcelain and Paper, Plausibility and Pause by Hannah Thompsett [click on images to enlarge] We all accumulate knowledge of our world through experience. Unconsciously, we learn to trust our perceptions as truth. But when this truth is challenged, our trust falters. We’re suddenly aware of the malleability and subjectivity of each of our constructed realities, our beliefs and expectations. To explore and test the boundaries of that trust, I created Deft Perception: Allusions of Reality, a body of work in porcelain, paper, and photographs. When is something easily perceivable or believable? When do we need to take a second look to reassure or reevaluate our expectation of truth? To address these questions, I decided to slow down the process of visual perception by using constructed objects in spatially arranged situations. As an artist, I want us to consider the delicacy and individuality of our assumed truths … chop! chop! read more!
There is no easy way to explain who Americans are. We are a complex accumulation of beings with unique and varied cultures, traditions, and genetic histories. Perhaps this is why I feel most comfortable expressing my thoughts concerning American identity visually. My models are friends, family, and neighbors—all people with whom I have a personal connection. I have tried to capture something of their stories in my imagery.
Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and home of the famous LOVE statue by Robert Indiana, is taking love to new places. If you happen to be in Philly, chances are you’ll catch sight of the 47 Bus. You can’t miss its bright blocks of color or its bold, emphatic message: WE ARE ALL MIGRATING TOGETHER. This “mural on wheels” is the brainchild of Shira Walinsky, mural artist, and filmmaker Laura Deutch. It runs daily from South Philadelphia’s Whitman Plaza, on through Center City, and all the way up to 5th and Godfrey in North Philadelphia, connecting several multilingual, multiethnic neighborhoods and commercial corridors. Riding the bus through this cross-sectional slice of the city you’ll inevitably hear a cross-cultural variety of languages spoken, while being wrapped in a welcoming collage that represents the patchwork of diverse people whose lives intersect every day. The back of the bus reads “We Are All Migrating Together”—words from the mouth of one of its drivers—and along the way you’ll see murals by and about refugee groups who have recently settled in Philadelphia—the Karen and Chin of Burma, the Bhutanese, the Nepalese.
SPRING STREET Works on Paper by Thom Sawyer Unhappy small towns are all alike—claustrophobic, gossipy, dying. —Timothy Egan I have lived and worked in such a small town as this. Quiet, nondescript streets link manicured lawns and well-kept homes; neighbors guard their privacy as they intrude on the lives around them, paying close attention to the comings and goings of others, particularly those of relative newcomers. It is a strange mixture of the private and public, with odd boundaries that seem fluid—simultaneously hiding and displaying glimpses of interior narratives, opinions, rumors and expected codes of behavior. [click any image to enlarge] My town is a place that echoes David Lynch’s fictional Lumberton and “things that are hidden within a small town… and things that are hidden within people.” Some of those hidden things were revealed during the renovation of the house my wife and I live in—one of the neighborhood’s … chop! chop! read more!
I wanted to at least shift my purpose and practice. Since I was living in Japan and studying Asian art, I started by painting images of kimonos, of figures wearing kimonos; I took photos of models in kimonos, wearing geisha or kabuki makeup. These exercises soon seemed appropriated and hollow and I realized I needed to be making objects themselves, that I was no longer interested in the pictorial representations of things. At the same time, I wanted to create things that were abstractions, that is, non-objective. Does that make sense? I wanted to be creating things where the process and materials were more important and evident than their subjective objectness or narratives. I wanted, ultimately, to create something not representing something, but actually being something, as physically as possible.
In spite of living far away, I feel always connected to Chile, a place I refer to as “my ancient land.” Several years ago, the nostalgia for my homeland made me recall the work of two Czech composers, Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana, whose music conveys their own love for their country. Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Smetana’s My Fatherland became the inspiration for a new series of paintings I began, “My Ancient Land.” The sense of belonging to a place is personal and universal, and this is the reason I could and can very much identify with these musical pieces.
I am fairly certain that many people experience my pieces kind of like this: Judith Schaechter is an artist who makes images in stained glass of anguished women set against highly decorative backgrounds. People often see my works all at once as a group—presented in a show or reproduced in an article—but to me, each piece is vastly different and each one arose over long periods of time. But yeah, I get it: anguished women and lush, decorative backgrounds.
A PRESENCE IN WOOD
by Miriam Carpenter
Throughout my life I have sought the companionship of trees and have developed an ever deepening reverence for them. Trees are intelligent, resilient, majestic and adaptable. When a tree has reached the end of its life, the shadow of what once was presents another gift in the form of a satiny, warm, sensual material. Each piece of wood has its own story—reflections of moments specific to place and time within the inherent architecture of a species. Each tree has its own experience and characteristics uniquely formed by its geographical location, the effects of the seasons, wind, rain and what grew beside it. The history of each year is physically recorded in each ring slowly reacting to external and internal stresses after it has died and been cut into lumber. Reading the story in the grain is just as exciting to me as transforming it into an artifact. The more time I spend with each piece of wood, the deeper my understanding grows of its unique characteristics. With respect for its capacity and understanding of its potential, I can be more thoughtful in how I bring the piece to completion.
Everything that I create is an experiment. Whether the approach is multi-axis split turning, bending or carving by hand, it is always an exploration of unique material potential.
My current passion is fueled by an evolving series of delicately carved wooden feathers. Species with the most porous earlywood, tight growth rings and strong medullary rays provide the type of structure I have found to be most resilient. The dense medullary rays project radially through the rings, offering an ability to shape incredibly think undulating forms that expose the delicate pores. The tight rings expose a dramatic visual texture and a challenge to create sweeping lines through varying densities. There are specific qualities in certain species that will allow me to create something that is fragile yet resilient. My process is of making, of staying present in the moment, of focus and flexibility and is a lesson in non-attachment.
As I work, I allow myself to pour out love with such intensity that what I create might become embodied with a life that is viscerally connected to me. I do not believe that hand-made artifacts are simply objects or things; I believe they are imbued with heart and soul. Our energy passes through us and into what we are making. Bliss, anxieties, these things are reflected in what we produce. We exchange matter. When we create a baby, far along in its gestation, its DNA floods the mother’s body. When a baby is born, some of its DNA remains in the mother’s body forever. There is a constant exchange in whatever we create, and being mindful and deliberate about how we do what we do is of utmost importance to how we share our gifts and our lives with everyone and everything around us.
Before I went to art school, before I decided to become a painter, before my work and classes carried me far away into the world of fine art, all I really wanted to do was draw. I drew the way a lot of teenagers do–carefully, self-consciously, and often. I drew unaware of the complicated realm of critical analysis, ego, sophisticated processes, and expensive materials that would soon emerge in the form of my higher education.
When I was a student at the Tyler School of Art, drawing nice pictures was the farthest thing from my mind. In that four-year whirlwind of studio classes, I roved quite far from simple drawing. I took glassblowing, ceramics, on-loom weaving, and clay-figure modeling. As a painting major, I took drawing classes, but they were secondary to my painting classes. After graduation, I went home to my parents’ house in east Tennessee. where I listened to the drone of the cicadas in the evenings and slept until noon. For the first time in four years, my life slowed to a walking pace. I made a couple of paintings; I carried a small watercolor kit with me as a way of keeping in habit. I was doing something I hadn’t done in a long time: I was looking. Namely, looking at things that I didn’t get to look at during the years I was living in North Philadelphia: Trees. Grass. Flowers. Mountains. Rivers. The ground at my feet, even.
Had I ever really looked at the ground? Had I tried to separate pebble from milkweed with only my eyes? Or greeted the challenge of a matrix of blades and buds, clustered and sprouting, snaking in ribbons, spurting from muscular stalks? What about the trees? Had I ever tried to see every leaf? Had I tried to follow the entire narrative curl of a single branch into its stems?
My work is about felt moments, both the visible ones as well as the ones that we aren’t able to see. I spent many years creating work about feelings of disconnect and loss. When I’d leave the studio, those feelings and the difficult emotions surrounding them became amplified. As a result, today both my life and my work is focused on love and connection, what I see as the root of intimacy.
Such moments exist as I go through my day. I find I am constantly searching for evidence of connections between people. Living and working in New York serves as a constant source of inspiration as I can absorb intimate interactions on the streets. I’m attracted to the physical and metaphysical energy that exists between individuals who share intimacy, the touch between a couple, the closeness between a mother and child. By scrutinizing and studying these innermost human feelings, my paintings attempt to evoke these same intimate connections of the mind, body, and soul only now through the physical substance of paint.
THE DOGS OF SAN JUAN AND THE FISH OF PHILADELPHIA
Works on Paper and Beyond
by Paula Rivera
I started drawing when I was a baby. My first subject was an elephant, done in orange Crayola marker. My parents have the drawing to this day. I’ve always had a strong feeling for drawing animals. Like many children, I believed I understood animals. I’m still fascinated with animals (although I’m no longer quite as obsessed with horses as I used to be, like many young girls.)
I went to Philadelphia’s High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), a magnet school for art students. I was convinced that an arts school environment would be best for me, even through I felt strongly that you cannot teach a person how to create art. The artistic environment was good for me in many ways, but the Western philosophy of teaching art messed with my head and feelings.
When I graduated from CAPA I was accepted to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts to study drawing and painting. But after three years, I was completely sick of it. So I left, planning to work for a year and save enough Zmoney to move to California to study animation. But even after that year of working, my California dream was too expensive—I didn’t want to go into debt for student loans. Before I knew it I was auditioning for acceptance at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas to study animation. I was going from my adopted home city, Philadelphia, to my birthplace, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
My original goal in character animation was to create figures that make anatomical sense; the difference between drawing “life” and “cartoons” (that is, I want to draw bodies “made of bones” as opposed to bodies “made of rubber”). You can see what I mean by this if you look at work by the Studio Ghibli, or compare Disney approach to animation versus Looney Tunes or Cartoon Network.
ART AND HEALING
by Donna Levinstone
Art enhances the healing process. My work is meditative and has been used in hospital settings and other situations where healing is called for. My mother and a few of my friends, in the last stage of their lives, have used my work as a source of calm and focus during their bed-ridden illnesses. As a cancer survivor, I, too have found that artwork provides calm in my life. My pastel landscapes have often been referred to as “landscapes of the soul”.
The use of wide skies in my work promotes a sense of well-being. I have memories, as a young child, of riding in our convertible and gazing up at the sky for hours. According to Jack Borden, founder of For Spacious Skies, people who have sky awareness in their lives often have an added sense of optimism. They look at their lives, like the skies, with an endless sense of possibilities.
The Middle East. North Africa. The Mediterranean. Asia Minor and the Levant. These refer to inexact geographies. It is hard to tell where each begins and ends. As names, they may take on different meanings when they refer to people, languages, belief systems, and politics, all of which constantly negotiate their identities with respect to one another. As places, they may bring together a series of disjointed lands unified as an imaginary cultural construct, yet whose presence lives everywhere, whose lands have produced many diasporas around the globe. Today, someone from Little Syria, New York, uses the same recipe for hummus that a grandmother uses in Syria. And it tastes different; taste belongs neither here nor there, and changes every moment.
It is often an oriental gaze that renders these uneasy, tenuous connections. This is a gaze that comes both from the desire to belong to a place and the fear of its possibility. Thus the Middle East, North Africa, or the Mediterranean always exist as mediated elsewheres where only others can belong. Or where we belong as others.
Making sense of all of this today is an art. Is opinion really in the eyes of the beholder? What is there to look at when our interpretation will always be skewed by what is selectively mediated for us? Where or whom do we belong if opinions are already others’?
“A Now for MENAM” is an artwork that responds to these questions. It reflects on our habits of looking and making meaning out of what is thrown at us by media. It proposes a different kind of interface—perhaps a less complacent window or mirror—that tries to present the other in its fluidity; with enough room for fact and fiction.
A MID SUMMER SOIRÉE A Visual Narrative by Emily Steinberg Introduction by Tahneer Oksman First sort through Emily Steinberg’s A Mid Summer Soirée in quick succession. Then go back and read it slowly. This appealingly energetic set of captioned images is a storyboard of sorts. Each slide displays a beguiling creature or character, and sometimes a pair, pictured just above a crisply worded sentence encased in a neat, if bourgeois, font. We are presented with a simple trajectory: the individuals, spotlighted in medias res, are about to attend, or are attending, a party. These experiences do not clearly build on each other: “He’d been out of circulation a while.” “They argued just before arriving.” “She rooted through her closet and was dismayed.” Trying to fill in the narrative gaps is part of the pleasure of the journey, as is, on the contrary, moving past those gaps in favor of … chop! chop! read more!
Excerpts from BOOK OF NO LEDGE
by Nance Van Winckel
As usual it starts with love. I had my heart set on the door-to-door encyclopedia sales boy. Maybe 18 or 19, he said he was working his way through college. He winked a turquoise eye at me and asked if I was the “lady of the house.”
Well, I wasn’t. I was 13-going-on-17 and vaguely trying to flirt. My mother came out on the porch to see who I was talking to, and NO, she said, we don’t need any books. She smiled, though, and wished him luck in school.
I followed him down the walk and told him to come back tomorrow after I’d had a chance to “work on” my mother. Sure, he shrugged, why not.
I could really use those encyclopedias for my school projects, I told my mother later. And so could Sally (my sister). My dad was suddenly behind it. His family had been a bit more “bookish” than my mother’s.
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT Instagram Photography by Tara Stella Introduction by Raymond Rorke A century ago, in 1916, American photographer Paul Strand would attach a false lens on the side of his camera so that he could photograph candid portraits of unsuspecting subjects. Later, in the 1930s, French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson painted his small Leica with dull black paint so that he could unobtrusively capture “the decisive moment.” Before the decade was out, Walker Evans was hiding his camera under his coat, the lens peeking through a buttonhole, to photograph riders on the New York City Subway just as they were. Today, in this time-honored tradition of street photography, New York photographer Tara Stella takes Instagrams. Her subjects, too, are candid moments, but her camera is a cellphone, hidden in plain sight. And while Evans didn’t publish his collection of subway photos until 1966, Tara’s photos are shared instantly online … chop! chop! read more!
Several years ago I came across a story about a nor’easter that hit a small coastal town.
The morning after the storm, residents of the town reported having seen something they had never experienced before or since—fleeting visions, every one. Strange sightings out at sea, like clouds of smoke rising from the horizon, orbs of light and unrecognizable objects floating on the water. Yet, as soon as they appeared, they were gone.
OF PINHOLES & PEEPSHOWS
by R.C. Barajas
Living Room Piano
From the Top of the Stairs
Mom’s Side of the Bed
Dad’s Side of the Bed
You can’t return to the days of Polaroids. Not really.
There are modern approximations – crafty mimicry that recalls the once ubiquitous family camera. I like the app Hipstamatic, a high-end photographic fast food that can reproduce the bygone look of analogue photography with the convenience of a cell phone. Then there are the dogged geniuses of The Impossible Project who recently reinvented the defunct self-developing film. But if you grew up during the days of the first Polaroid cameras, those instant snaps became forever entwined with your childhood. Here’s one of me with our cat, and our mother’s handwriting.
I was born in a small town sixty miles northwest of Philadelphia, Pa. called Reading. It was an industrial city on the Schuylkill River, full of brown-brick factories and heavy gambling with lots of strip joints. It usually appeared dark with silvery smoke in the air.
Fine art and culture were not nearly as popular as building automobiles, shooting squirrels, and drinking Olde Reading Beer. However, the town was surrounded by mountains and farmlands, and this landscape was filled with corn fields, milk cows, and small herds of sheep. It all appeared to me so much lighter and more colorful.
THIRTEEN MUSINGS AROUND MY CREATIVE PROCESS by Anthony Cuneo I I’m a big fan of uncertainty. I wish to God that the Nazis had been less certain that Jews were vermin. Not knowing you’re doing it right is a good thing. It makes you stop and think. II Finding, not executing; searching, not knowing. III I don’t know many artists who talk about their “art;” the preferred term is “work.” I’m guilty of this myself. “Work” demands respect, and suggests what you’re doing is serious. But the truth is, when I paint, I’m playing just as much as I’m working. I’m experimenting. I’m trying this, or that. I’m asking questions. And, a lot of the time, I’m not sure I’ve got the right answers. IV So I have mixed feelings about describing what I do as “work.” It (sort of) fits, but it also has a slightly bitter, puritanical aftertaste. … chop! chop! read more!
BROKEN EGGS A Visual Narrative by Emily Steinberg Introduction by Tahneer Oksman To read Emily Steinberg’s autobiographical visual narrative, Broken Eggs, a set of sixty-seven images accompanied by sprawling text and recounting her struggles with infertility, is to witness a series of concurrent, sometimes even conflicting, emotional transformations. From the first, our narrator appears engaging, intimate, and raw. She sits on the ground, her hands wrapped around her knees and her brow furrowed, delivering a back-story for the whirlwind series of events that follows. [Image #1] She spent her twenties as an artist [Image #3] and her thirties unsuccessfully looking for love, while other life events—depression, anxiety, her mother’s dementia— got in the way as well. [Image #4] This is how she finds herself “on the cusp of forty,” [Image #5] just married, trying to have a baby, and suddenly encountering the possibility that what seemed like such an inevitable life course might no … chop! chop! read more!
CATS by Alli Katz “If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.” —Mark Twain Mark Twain never met my cat. Five seconds with Albany, watching him throw his body against our kitchen cabinets early in the morning (and again in the afternoon, and at bedtime) for six ounces of “classic beef” or a scoop of prescription urinary health dry food, or watching him raise his leg to lick his crotch and then forget what he’s doing, or him leaping on a tiny table that would never support his girth to try to press his face into a cactus, is easily enough to dispel the idea that a cat has any kind of dignity at all. And it’s not just Albany. You can watch my friend’s cat Walker slide across a wood … chop! chop! read more!
NOTICING WATER by Nancy Agati Public Art As you travel along the river—any river, stream, creek or body of water—what do you notice? Do you see the changing currents, the light that bounces and travels from wave to wave? Do you feel the rush of water at a rock’s edge? Can you hear water lapping at the shore? Do you sense the flow that ceases to part as it travels? I believe that there are times when one becomes acutely aware of the act of perceiving. There are moments when a heightened sense of awareness highlights things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Trying to accurately describe this sensation, this shift in perception, is difficult. There is a certain silence in the experience, it overcomes you and narrows your focus. Like a camera the eye zooms in, crops, and brings into view specific visual aspects of life. Objects in nature can … chop! chop! read more!
THE TIMES, THEY WERE A-CHANGIN’ West Philly Days: A Photo Essay by Stephen Perloff When I arrived at the University of Pennsylvania as a freshman in 1966, men were required to wear jackets and neckties to dinner—and most of us wore jackets and ties to football games. The men’s dorms in The Quad were several blocks from the women’s dorms at Hill House, and you couldn’t have a woman in your room past 10 p.m., and maybe a little later on the weekend. But there were confounding juxtapositions and experiences. Who was that strange guy with the huge head of curly hair and the button that said “Frodo Lives”? What did that mean? (Most people now don’t know that The Lord of the Rings trilogy started to become a popular phenomenon in the U. S. in the mid-1960s.) And then there was the war in Vietnam. Back home it was … chop! chop! read more!
ON SNAPSHOTS by Jay Pastelak “All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” —Susan Sontag On Easter Sundays, when we were kids, after mass and before we changed from our Easter clothes, our mother would parade my sisters and me out to the yard and pose us before the forsythia for a photo. Sorry—for a picture. We knew those things that came from a camera were photographs but we called them pictures because, well, that’s what they were: pictures of us. Later, I’d come to call them snapshots, these little segments of our life, but at the time they were just pictures. They were important to us, but they weren’t photographs. Photographs depicted bigger, important events: the school photographer made photographs because … chop! chop! read more!
PORTRAITS OF FRIENDSHIP Oil on Canvas by Ilana Ellis These past few years, my work has been fueled by two passions that tugged me between them. The first is that I want to be a painter of great skill. And the greatest skill takes years of continuous training and practice, which I still need. The second is that I want to paint life. I want my works to be so real they almost breathe, and so fluid they seem caught in motion. So when I focus on the ongoing problem of increasing my skill, I often have technical realizations that allow me to see the world as if I have never seen it before. After a few days of being stunned by the overwhelming beauty of everything, I am desperate to capture what I see in paint. Which leads me right back where I started, because inevitably there is something wonderful about the … chop! chop! read more!
FUJIKO NAKAYA, FOG ARTIST by Myra Lotto On the last Saturday morning of April, my husband and I put our two young children in the car for the hour-long drive to New Canaan, Connecticut. We were on our way to attend the opening event for my aunt Fujiko’s newest art installation, Veil, on display at architect Philip Johnson’s former residence and National Trust Historic Site, the Glass House. Fujiko Nakaya, or “Fuji” as her family calls her, is an artist working with fog as a medium. As many times as I’ve described her work, I am always surprised by what should be, by now, a predictable reaction of bewilderment. That morning, my five-year-old son was no different: “But Mommy, how does Fuji make fog?” “She uses nozzles to turn water and air into fog. “Can Fuji make ice like Elsa from Frozen?!” “No, just fog.” Across a forty-year partnership with … chop! chop! read more!
THE OLD MAN AND THE POOL by Anastasiya Shekhtman Regardless of which creative field you look at, there is always talk about process. This postmodern world has rendered form and content inextricable in many ways, so when I look at work, it is always the same question that comes to mind: how does the form inform the content? Are there traces of the process in the work the artist presents? Much of the writing that I love does not humor such inquisition. Even lines related through a colloquial voice are likely to have been subjected to meticulous editing, were crafted in the grand scheme of the piece. Without access to the revision process of admired work, I often find my own attempts to write plagued—paralyzed, even—by self doubt. This project began very much like every other attempt, which is to say, by an overwhelming of imagery and inspiration from the … chop! chop! read more!
“VULNERARY” AND AN ART WITCH by Laura Mecklenburger When I try to describe my artwork to others, I often say that I make ritual objects and installation art. But I didn’t set out to make installation art from the beginning, and I certainly didn’t expect, when I decided to make art my career, that it was going to explicitly include magic and ritual. I still blush when I tell people I am an initiated witch. I am faintly surprised at myself that I have made such an intimate part of my life so public. But the path I took to reach this work has felt inevitable and rewarding. As my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, told the graduating class at the University of the Arts here in Philadelphia, “The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and … chop! chop! read more!
PORTRAITS OF AGE by Donna Festa Interviewed by Anastasiya Shekhtman Where does your fascination with faces come from? When I was a young girl, I went with my mother on a regular basis to visit her sisters. She was the youngest of nine children. The three youngest sisters—my mother Betty, Cassie, and Tucker—were the core of the group, but others would join in on different occasions. You never knew who was going to be at the kitchen table when you arrived. These visits were either at my Aunt Tucker’s house (Sylvia was her birth name, but, due to her resemblance to the actress Sophie Tucker, she is still called Tucker at 90 years old), or my Aunt Helen’s house, the oldest sibling, in South Jersey. Aunt Tucker always had a homemade cake, and most always a pot of pasta sauce slowly simmered on the stove all day, filling the house with an … chop! chop! read more!
EXILED FROM TRUTH: NINE ALLEGORIES by Dmitry Borshch Interviewed by Anastasiya Shekhtman What made you decide on ink as a medium? Precision of the ink line. I love precise lines and was able to show that even in my first independent works. They were abstract, probably influenced by Russian Constructivism, De Stijl, and Soviet Nonconformists, many of whom were abstractionists. I saw their work at various apartment exhibitions in Dnepropetrovsk and Moscow that I participated in. The compelling mood of the images, a certain wintry bleakness, is evocative of Soviet Russia. What role, if any, does your national background play in your work? Dnepropetrovsk was certainly bleak, Soviet Moscow even bleaker and wintrier. My background plays every role in these pictures. Although I call myself an American or Russian-American artist, they are neither Russian nor American. If one calls them Soviet Nonconformist pictures, I would accept the label. USSR is … chop! chop! read more!
FIVE PAINTINGS by Tish Ingersoll Interviewed by Anastasiya Shekhtman How do you begin a painting? I often start a painting using a level and making several horizontal lines, varying distances apart. Then, using black acrylic, I use gestural lines to overlap them. Finally, I add color. I often use memories of places I have walked or otherwise experienced. The painting and content emerges over a long period of not painting. The transformation of paint, a loose substance, into rigid lines and geometric shapes in your paintings is particularly intriguing. How does the form of your work play into the content? For twenty years, I worked as a lead artist for the Mural Arts Program. When creating a muraI, I use a grid to work up my concept for the wall, using a 1″ to 1′ ratio. About nine years ago, I decided to use a grid for my studio work. Rather than make … chop! chop! read more!
INDIVIDUATION, IDENTITY, AND THE PARENTHETICAL by Toisha Tucker My conceptual works provide a foundation for introspection of the self and the other. They are distillations of ideas transformed into controlled environments or objects. Through text, sound, photographs, paintings, and immersive installation, I ruminate on literary modernism, magical realism, and the notion of benign indifference. Or I offer thought propositions to the viewer—some declarative, some open-ended—that are platforms for questioning or thinking more broadly about the social constructions we have come to accept as truths. Ultimately, my works are traces of thoughts and the interplay between the accepted realities and constructions of the spaces we inhabit and my own abstracted perceptions of them. Each work manifests my exploration of memory, time, and place while seeking to universalize the personal. Through my conceptual work, I continue to explore the landscape of my memory and my preoccupations with the malleability of language, history, literature, … chop! chop! read more!
Click to view the update in higher resolution. Jim O’Loughlin teaches in the Department of Languages & Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the coordinator of the Final Thursday Reading Series and publisher of Final Thursday Press. Read more here. … chop! chop! read more!
THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET by Morgan Gilbreath My artwork is a product of the ground beneath my feet. I do not own a car, so my experience of a place is created entirely through biking, walking, and the occasional use of public transportation. Because of this, I have a very intimate relationship with sidewalks, as well as the buildings and streets with which they are connected. I am endlessly curious about the things that people discard onto the streets, a no-man’s-land of both public and private space in which no one is held accountable, allowing for a strange sort of freedom. This concrete space between roads and homes has proven to be one of the greatest influences in my work. In the morning I go to buy milk from the bodega across the street, where the shopkeeper’s knowledge of English is limited to “hello” and “thank you.” I like … chop! chop! read more!
AMERICAN ARCADIA by Filip Noterdaeme Spicing up realist landscapes with fantastic nudes and infiltrating austere family tableaux with whimsical eroticism, American Arcadia is a mixed distillation of artful irreverence and subtle mischief. Here is the story of its making. In 2005, my partner Daniel Isengart and I took a trip to Madrid, where we spent many hours at the Prado and the Reina Sofia. On the day of our return to the States, we found ourselves aimlessly browsing through the souvenir shop at the Madrid-Barajas airport, where a pocket-format deck of cards depicting famous nudes by (mostly) European masters—some of which we had seen at the Prado—caught my attention. On a whim, I bought it. Back in Brooklyn, I happened to walk past a stoop sale one late morning and, among the usual junk and knick-knacks, made out an extra-large deck of playing cards with prints depicting “American Life, Manners and History” … chop! chop! read more!
BIPRODUCT: Drag, Societal Identity, and Gender Equality by Leah Koontz BiProduct is a project I embarked on which considers drag queens, art, female expectations, and the media. This series features four of my works which address gender roles, equality, and social construction. BiProduct features sculpture and performance, created from nylon, spandex, foam, digital media, and plastic. Drag Queens possess many progressive qualities. However, I feel that certain aspects of Drag should require more careful consideration. Over the past two decades, drag has transformed tremendously. What exactly is drag in 2013? A drag queen is a man, usually homosexual, creating a female illusion through clothing and performance. This illusion ends when the costume comes off. There are many genres and subgenres of drag. Not every drag queen agrees or identifies with all of the categories and genres that have been named. Some queens do not approve of various terms that are … chop! chop! read more!
THE MODERNIST CABIN by Emily Steinberg I began creating graphic novels or illustrated stories in 2005. I realized that I not only wanted to make visual imagery, as I do in my paintings, but I wanted to tell stories as well. I found that the combination of words and images created a visceral way of storytelling. Most of my material is autobiographical. Stories that have happened to me along the way that have shaped my being. The Modernist Cabin is a story about my family set against the pristine lines of a modernist cabin on Cape Cod. The architecture and the story serve as companions to each other. They are independent of each other but dependent nonetheless. –Emily Steinberg, June 2013 Photography by Paul Rider Emily Steinberg is a painter and graphic novelist who earned her MFA and BFA from the University of Pennsylvania. She has shown at … chop! chop! read more!
RITHIKA MERCHANT Works on Paper: Comparative Mythology I began working on a series of paintings dealing with Comparative Mythology about two years ago. My work explores the common thread that runs through different cultures and religions. Similar versions of many myths, stories and ideas are shared by cultures all around the world. I use creatures and symbolism that are part of my personal visual vocabulary to explore these narratives. I am currently continuing in the same vein but focusing now on a branch of Comparative Mythology that deals with Joseph Campbell’s theory of the Hero/Monomyth. The Monomyth refers to the journey of the Hero. There is a pattern that involves seventeen steps that the hero passes through during his journey. The seventeen step journey is spilt up into three phases– the departure, the initiation and the return. This pattern is found in many narratives from different cultures and religions and … chop! chop! read more!
IRA JOEL HABER Works on Paper I have always made art including drawings and works on paper. This selection is from 1972 to 2013 and is a good sample of the themes, images and mediums that have always interested me for over forty-three years as an artist. My training was in commercial art. I began working in the advertising field in 1966 upon completing a two year course at New York City Community College, as it was then known. This training was outdated. In any event, I had little trouble in finding jobs. However, these jobs depended on skills that I really didn’t have, and my heart was not really in the ad game. I want my art to go through slow constant changes, but at the same time I want vast abrupt changes. Nature does the same. Since 1969, I have been making small scale sculptures and miniature environments that … chop! chop! read more!
CHICKEN DANCE by William Sulit & Beth Kephart Digital 3-D Design A conversation between a writer wife and her artist husband, in a quest to understand Important Subject: A chicken BK: You spend hours in your garage studio (among the ghosts of a skinny car, in the shadow of night visitors, within walls yellowed by old fuels) fiddling with electronic pencils and twinned screens, and you come up with … a chicken? Why a chicken? How did your chicken begin? WS: It began with a sphere about the size of a golf ball. I’m sure electrons are involved but what is really being manipulated are vertices. This chicken was really a way to test 3D printing technology (color and all). No lofty idea—just that as someone who works with 3D “art,” I wasn’t going to leave that stone unturned. BK: And I thought I had married into lofty. Didn’t you … chop! chop! read more!
ELEANOR LEONNE BENNETT Photographs This series of images were all taken at the Michael Allcroft Antiques shop in Disley, Cheshire. I was born on the Cheshire-Derbyshire border and have lived there all my life. I love to take photographs in museums and in cities, but as I am not often able to travel alone long distances, I have to look for subjects a lot closer to home. The red lion sign is a favourite of mine and makes me think of all the old pubs and of the social life they used to generate in local towns and villages near to me. Only across from the road from Michael Allcroft’s, lies an abandoned pub which will now probably face its future as living accommodation as apposed to a busy hive in the community. Here is a photo of the sign in the Michael Allcroft catalogue. And here is a photo of the rocking horse in the … chop! chop! read more!
The Rise of the Selfie in the 21st Century by Blake Martin (bio) Click on any photo to see it at full size. Why do we take self-portraits? As someone who has always felt the urge to take pictures of myself, I don’t have a ready answer. For the longest time I felt shame for this urge to see myself through my lens. Blame it on the Christian ethos of original sin that shaped my early life, but this habit of posing for my own camera felt like an exercise in vanity. Up until the Instagram era, I rarely, if ever, shared my self-portraits with others. There is one self-portrait from 2001 that I printed and gave to a friend, but the image is out of focus, blurred and impressionistic like a Monet, and you’d never know I was sitting in the windowsill of the Rodin Museum in Paris basking … chop! chop! read more!