Monday, November 12, 2012

Back in Time: Bolivian Shoeshiners

In October I collaborated with Edgar Endress again, creating a set of pen and ink drawings and an acrylic painting on wood panel.

Drawings in progress. Note the book of toile de jouy open for inspiration.

In 2007, Edgar was working as one of the members of the ASCHOY Collective, conducting artistic research and social engagements in La Paz, Bolivia. The collective created a series of pieces exploring the social-political significance of the ski mask worn by the young boys working as shoeshiners on the streets of La Paz. One of the collective's actions was to create a ski mask embroidered with Bolivian religious imagery. The embroidered mask was used in public performances during which local shoeshiners were invited to wear the mask while walking the streets of La Paz followed by a musical band. The project was called "The Mask of the Shoe Shiner" and the photos of the performances are at once funny and poignant (be sure to scroll down the pdf for a look).

Recently, the ASCHOY Collective was invited to participate in a group show entitled "Ripple Effect: Currents of Socially Engaged Art", co-presented by the Art Museum of the Americas and the Washington Project for the Arts.  Edgar invited me to create new artwork to accompany an installation of the photographic documentation and the embroidered ski mask from "The Mask of the Shoe Shiner".

The completed set of drawings ready to be scanned and printed as wallpaper.  

I made pen drawings using the aesthetic language of toile de jouy, substituting shoeshiners wearing ski masks, cholitas, and llamas instead of mythical figures and aristocrats at their leisure.  The drawings were scanned and then arranged into a pattern that was printed as wall paper.

Acrylic painting on found wood to be used as a kind of altar piece.

I also painted a kind of altar piece on found wood.  The figures are inspired by the angelic figures of Michelangelo's "Last Judgement" on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, except, in my painting, the angels are wearing ski masks and carrying the tools of the shoeshiner.  More photos of the work in progress can be seen on my Tumblr page. While researching the kinds of tools and clothing used by the Bolivian shoeshiners, I came across a short documentary entitled "Shoe Shiners in Bolivia" that quickly gave me a sense of the daily life of a shoeshiner.

The completed acrylic painting ready for installation.

"The Mask of the Shoe Shiner" is on view at the Art Museum of the Americas October 25, 2012 to January 13, 2013.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back in Time: A Dream at the Maier Museum

"The Shrine of the American Dream", 2012, installed at the Maier Museum.

Panorama of "The Shrine of the American Dream" with Brooke, Edgar, and me.

I spent the summer painting images of US patent designs onto panels made from found wood.  I describe the project in more detail in a previous blog post. The project is entitled "The Shrine of the American Dream" and is the brainchild of Edgar Endress who invited Brooke Marcy, Marco Moreno Navarro, and I to contribute to the installation.

"The Shrine of the American Dream" is on view until December 7, 2012 at the Maier Museum of Art, Lynchburg, VA as part of the museum's annual exhibition of contemporary art. The show includes work by artists Sook Jin JoAssaf EvronMuriel HasbunJiha Moon, and Kukuli Velarde.

Me looking as though I did the whole project myself.

 One of my contributions to the installation: US Patent No. 232,233, helmet from a fireman's suit, 1880.

Detail showing one of Marcus Moreno Navarro's exquisite sculptures.  

Back in Time: New Digs

New studio.  Plastic covers the existing carpet.
Since moving out of the studio I used as a graduate student at GMU in August, 2012, I have been using a spare bedroom as a studio. The floor is covered with heavy plastic followed by a layer of cheap carpet on top, hopefully preventing any paint from leaking onto the permanent carpet underneath. Although the footprint of my new studio is smaller than the space I used for the past three years, I am able to fit in all of the essentials: the taboret, the drafting table, a work table, and an easel for large paintings. Of course, as soon as all my supplies were moved in, and the room filled with the smell of linseed oil, I felt right at home in the new space.

New studio.  The taboret appreciates the window view.

Back in Time: The Last Painting

Patching holes, sanding bumps, and painting walls at my old studio, GMU, August 2012.

My last act of painting as a graduate student at GMU was to paint the walls of the studio I occupied. Three years of stray marks from drawings and paintings, splattered gesso and graphite dust covered every surface. The walls were also riddled with holes made by push pins, nails, and screws. All of the marks and punctures captured by the walls revealed a brief history of personal artistic struggle (or maybe just general goofing off).

Watching the marks on the walls disappear as I applied the final coat of paint was like watching a heavy snowfall slowly covering the Fall's debris of brown, skeletal leaves and grass, making the landscape new and fresh, and filling the air with a welcome stillness.   

Lights out.  Final view of the window in the studio I used as a graduate student at GMU.