Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Other Voices, Other Rooms"

Hello from Cleveland!

Though certainly not thesis show related, this exhibit at the Wexner Center in Columbus should be pretty phenomenal.

The show, which opens on Sept. 13, features over 700 of Andy Warhol's prints, photographs, drawings, archival materials, objects etc., and will be exhibited in four of the museum's galleries.

And for those of you who think Columbus is lame, the Wex is the only U.S. museum to get the show- previously it was in Stockholm and Amsterdam, and while it's in Columbus there will be a simultaneous exhibit in London.

"I really believe that every generation has looked to Warhol and interpreted him in a different way depending upon the social, political and economic concerns of that particular moment. What’s amazing is that he has remained so influential over multiple decades. And, in some ways, he was so prescient about 21st century life..."
- Sherri Geldin, Director of the Wexner Center

Must-sees (in my opinion): Silver Clouds, the Factory Diaries and Robert Forster plays the Velvet Underground on Sept. 13. (8 pm in the Wexner Center Performance Space, tickets are $14).

For all the info go here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Update: More on Call's artwork

I received feedback regarding Diane Call's thesis work and how she came to focus on religion as a brand. I got in touch with her through email this past week and she's provided some additional insight into her artistic thought process:

"I was initially drawn to religious icons in Mexico while shopping for a friend who has an obsession for what she dubs 'tacky Jesus stuff,'" Call said.

Call bought a bracelet for herself while shopping, and the daughter of the woman in charge of the program then pointed to each saint on the bracelet and named it. "I was so impressed that I tried to learn a few - the history of the roles of these icons in Mexico (namely the Virgin of Guadalupe) was very fascinating to me."

The artist also notes the influence of Mexico's history in her process; "The conquest (of Mexico) was funded by the church, so in order to continue it was necessary for Spaniards to convert the native Mexicas. (The Virgin of) Guadalupe essentially functioned as a selling point for the church to relate to the natives, so I wanted to discuss these icons in today's term of brands," Call said.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

As the quarter winds down and many of us (including all of the artists I've interviewed) prepare to move on from this wonderful place called Athens, schedules have become hectic and many seem to be filled with that "oh my god I still have so much left to do here before I leave" feeling (myself included).

With that said, it's been tough to schedule follow-up interviews in order to answer the questions that have been so kindly posted. However, I plan on continuing this posting fun even after the quarter has ended, perhaps exploring the artworld of Cleveland this summer as I serve in my internship there.

Please check back soon for more on Call and the rest, and photos of the tear down process. As for what happens to the art when it's all said and done... I smell an art sale. I'll keep everyone posted on when and where there will be sales in Athens and the surrounding area.

Update: According to Call, some of the artists have destroyed their pieces, especially in cases where the art consisted of small-scale "rooms" and stages. However, most have simply taken the pieces down "are trying to figure out what to do with them."

It's more uncommon for undergraduates to sell their work, according to Call, but if a viewer is intersted, some will put their work up for sale.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The BFA Show: Instant Messaging

The undergraduate graphic design BFA exhibition opening reception was held on Tuesday, May 20 in the Ohio University Art Gallery. The show, titled Instant Messaging, featured 17 artists from the graphic design program. Though each work was unique in its own right, many of the pieces seem to focus on the relationship we as people have with the earth.

Call managed to complete her third piece after all; her artwork consisted of three boxes, constructed using poplar and birch. Her digital prints, on wet media acetate, were then stretched, glued to the poplar squares and inserted into the frames. Florescent lights were mounted directly to the boxes, lighting them from behind. The prints, as mentioned before, were made primarily with Adobe Photoshop.

The card next to Call’s work read: “This piece strives to visually explore the nature of religious branding. Religious imagery has been used to target specific audiences, functioning as the continuous process of branding. This work is a deconstruction of the messages used by the church to proliferate certain markets to appeal to a larger demographic.”

Photos of other pieces in Instant Messaging:

You Already Knew, Bridget Litzinger

Paper with a Conscious, Robin Bundi

Inside the Box, Laura Biel

Biel's work with Pattern as Identity (Shelley Stansbery) in the background

My First Virtue, Michael Bosyj

Update: A description of each of the 17 artists' works can be found on the Instant Messaging Web site

Monday, May 26, 2008

I’m back! Due to a little technical problem (apparently a broken fan takes over two weeks to fix), my laptop has been M.I.A. for a bit, and with that some of my notes and photos. However, the laptop made a triumphant return home yesterday, and I’m ready to get this going again. My next artist of interest is Diane Call, a senior graphic design major at OU. I met with her awhile back to talk about the artistic process, at a point that she candidly dubbed “panic mode.”

For Call, the entire undergraduate period has been a bit tense; she’s jumped around from advisor to advisor and hasn’t had the same one since sophomore year. She also noted the difficulty to truly prepare for a thesis show from the beginning, as art students don’t apply to their actual majors until the end of their second year. When I asked her if art students were even aware of the thesis show requirement, she stated that many were probably not; “you’re so focused on just getting into your program and then passing junior year… up to that point they can still kick you out.”

BFA students propose a thesis idea in the spring of junior year. However, as I have seen with several of the MFA students, this idea will continue to evolve up until the end. Call’s piece, which she presented in the fall, began as a look into identity design and branding- she sees “brand worship” as a kind of new religion. After spending her winter quarter in a religious iconography-drenched Mexico, though, the piece took on a new emphasis; now, a week before installation, her work is about religious icons working as brands.

The whole process was made more difficult because of the time she spent in Mexico; “It helped to change my thesis, yes, but then I realized that I only had 6 or 7 weeks (left). My biggest challenge so far has been trying to get this done on time. Right now I’m in panic mode, but you really just have to get past that… just get it done,” Call said.

Her work, which starts off on paper but is now being created using Photoshop and Illustrator, is done mainly at home. “I have color printing at home, which you can’t get at the @ Lab,” Call said before alluding to much of the tension I’ve witnessed thus far. “And there’s just such a negative atmosphere at Seigfred. There’s a lot of stress there.”

At this time, with a week left before the pieces need to be installed into the Ohio University Art Gallery, Call has two pieces finished. “I would like to finish three, but I won’t put it in if it isn’t as good as the others,” Call said.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Local Galleries

There are three galleries in and around Athens that are used for thesis exhibits: the Ohio University Art Gallery in Seigfred, Trisolini Gallery in OU's Baker Center and the Majestic galleries in Nelsonville. Below is a schedule of upcoming shows for each gallery.

Ohio University Art Gallery (Fifth floor of Seigfred Hall, Athens, Ohio)

  • May 20 - May 31: BFA Thesis Graphic Design Exhibition featuring Laura Biel, Erin Blanda, Michael Bosyj, Robin Bundi, Diane Call, Jodie Coyne, Emily DiFiore, Laura Drapac, Kyle Hanna, Abigail Hanson, Aaron Harden, Jonathan Lee, Jonggil Lee, Bridget Litzinger, Joshua Reith, Mallori Stone and Shelley Stansbery

  • June 3 - June 7: BFA Thesis Printmaking Exhibition featuring Joe Czalkiewicz, Alison Hohler, Josh Leather, Courtney Badgley, Samantha Gregory and Laura Drapac
    Reception: Tuesday, June 3, 6 - 9 pm

  • June 10-June 14: BFA Thesis Photography Exhibition featuring Paul Eselgroth, Sergey Kahn, Clinton Mansell, Crystal Marquardt, Lauren McMichael, Matthew Padgett, Mark Reamy, John Seyal and Lacie Turcott

Gallery hours: Monday-Saturday, 10-4 (free)

Trisolini Gallery (Fourth floor of Baker Center, Athens, Ohio)

  • May 13 - May 24: MFA Thesis Ceramics Exhibition featuring Hiroe Hanazono

  • May 27- May 31: BFA Thesis Painting Exhibition featuring Avery Blair-Wilson, Audrey Evans and Keith Skogstrom

  • June 3 - June 7: BFA Thesis Sculpture Exhibition featuring Monica Renner and Clint Mansell

  • June 10 - June 14: BFA Thesis Sculpture Exhibition featuring Troy Newell

Gallery Hours: Monday- Saturday, 10-4 (free)

Majestic Galleries (20 Public Square, Nelsonville, Ohio)

  • May 16 - May 24: MFA Thesis Printmaking, Photography and Sculpture Exhibition featuring Matthew Krueger, Minsook Park and Amber Walden

  • May 30 - June 28: MFA Thesis Painting Exhibition featuring William Sooter

Gallery Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 12-7, Sunday 1-5

The Finished Product

The opening reception

After a year of hard work, Jeremy Plunkett graduate student is now Jeremy Plunkett, master of the fine arts. He passed his thesis defense just hours after completing the gallery installation in Seigfred, and though happy to be finished, it was clear from his attitude later in the evening that the defense had been stressful if not a little frustrating. In fact, I have found that this is often the case post-defense. Many of the other artists expressed frustration with the process, which involves intense questioning about things deemed by many as either extraneous or even nit-picky.

However, the end result was impressive- it made me, as an undergrad not completing a thesis, a bit envious; dozens of people turned out to support Plunkett and Liz Zacher (who shared the gallery with him), and the opportunity to display the outcome of their hard work was clearly a proud moment for both.

Plunkett’s show, titled “Pause,” will be open in the Ohio University Art Gallery until May 17.

Opening reception for Pause, Tuesday May 6

Dad’s Living Room
Charcoal on Canvas

After speaking to Assistant Director John Sabraw, Plunkett decided to move some of his drawings from their original placement. For example, this drawing was initially a focal point in the show, but was shifted toward the back of the gallery.

"Dirty Deeds Laundromat"
Charcoal on Canvas

Plunkett's grandparents' kitchen, his most recent drawing.

Nui Chaveesuk, who earned his MFA last spring, served bottle after bottle of Charles Shaw.

Update: Plunkett has recently started the process of updating his website and is considering title changes for many of his pieces. The new titles can be found on his site, as can additioanl images of his work.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Almost there...


Saturday evening:

Plunkett arrived at the Ohio University Art Gallery in Seigfred Hall to Spackle the walls. However, several pieces from the BFA Ceramics show were still in the gallery, the first speed bump in the installation process. Plunkett removed many of the ceramic pieces himself in order to begin the installation process: Spackle, sand and paint.


Around 8:45 am Plunkett retrieved his drawings from his Ridges studio and headed back over to Seigfred. When I arrived there at 7 pm, I was astonished to see how much still had to be done; Plunkett and his help- fellow graduate art students Matt Krueger, Nui Chaveesuk and Jeremy Cody- were still waiting for the walls of the gallery to dry. Plunkett had planned on having the spackle finished and dry on Saturday, but it was left until Sunday. In fact, because of the nature of his show, Plunkett's half of the gallery was almost entirely bare. (He shared the space, divided by a wall, with MFA candidate Liz Zacher, a ceramicist).

Before the drawings could be hung they still needed to be trimmed, a process that would take over three hours.

Unrolling the first drawing for edge-trimming. "I'll cut off probably around 3/4 in.," Plunkett said. "I created a 'safe zone' when I was drawing; I taped off around the edges of each drawing to make sure that there would be room to clean them up."

Cody, Plunkett and Chaveesuk created a mat to cut on.

Trimming: Plunkett was noticeably anxious; he worried that the drawings would not end up as true squares even though they were carefully measured. Eventually, however, the need to finish the project outweighed some of these concerns: "It looks square to me," Plunkett said, scanning the gallery and all that had to be done.

After the edges of the first drawing were trimmed, Plunkett moved on to charcoaling the white edges that had been taped over. “I hope it will be OK when it’s on the wall, but as you can see it’s kind of a different animal,” Plunkett said as he attempted to blend the edges into the rest of the drawing. “I’m trying to get it as seamless as possible… this really is the hardest part.”

As Plunkett blended the edges of the first drawing, the others finished trimming the edges and touching up the walls. A 9 pm the group left for a dinner break, with only two of the six drawings ready to hang.

Second year graduate student Jeremy Cody trimmed the edges of this drawing.

Matt Krueger, whose will present his thesis show later in the month, touches up the wall.

A model of (hopefully) the end result.

Plunkett and his fellow grads working tirelessly to finish the install.

After each drawing was trimmed the hanging process began, a process that lasted until after 6 am. Plunkett went to sleep around 6:30 on Monday morning only to wake up at 8:30 to light the gallery and prepare for his thesis defense later in the evening.

Monday, May 5, 2008

In the Studio

Meet Jeremy Plunkett. Also a painting graduate student at Ohio University, Plunkett has worked since last spring on his thesis show. In the spring of their second year, graduate students working toward an MFA propose a thesis to a selected group of art faculty - their committee. (Committees are made up of two faculty members from the students’ department and one faculty member from another area). When Plunkett proposed his initial thesis idea it was rejected, and eventually had to be reevaluated two times. However, as Plunkett noted, his show has definitely changed since the original proposal. Although he is earning his MFA in painting, he has decided to create large, wall-sized drawings for his show. The idea behind his thesis is to create drawings that "question fleeting moments to transcend time, history and place," a theme apparent in much of his work and reflected in his artist statement.

I met with him in his studio up at the Ridges as he began work on the last piece for his show, almost an entire year later. The graduate art studios are housed in the old mental health hospital, but despite the general creepiness, no one seems to mind. In fact, Plunkett’s studio looks more lived-in than my bedroom, probably because he and his fellow artists spend almost every waking moment up there- when not teaching, TA-ing, lab monitoring or working on projects at Seigfred that is.

Plunkett’s show opens on Tuesday, May 6 in the Ohio University Art Gallery in Seigfred, and work on his drawings (all approximately 7 x 9 ft.) began in the fall. “With about 5-6 hours of work a day, I can probably finish one in two and a half weeks,” said Plunkett of his drawings, of which he will display six. “But maybe that’s an understatement…”

However, it isn’t as simple as grabbing a stick of charcoal and getting down to work; “It takes so much longer to prep than to draw,” said Plunkett. Included in preparation of his canvases is an intense sanding and priming (called gessoing) process that takes about 30 hours.

Plunkett's studio- there's no place like home.

Reppin' the School of Art- show cards for fellow MFA candidates, including Andrea Canalito. Also on the wall are the original room shots that Plunkett bases his drawings on, but he was against having those photographed; "Showing the photograph is an instant comparison," he said. "The viewer's mind just sticks on that. The photo is really just about the map."

Plunkett's musical taste is decidedly rock- The Matrix soundtrack, Korn, Disturbed and Rob Zombie.


The finished drawings waiting for installation day.

The final drawing, began 4/16 (approximately 7 x 9 ft).

Blending the charcoal with his hands...
... and the aftermath.

For installation day, Plunkett hopes to have each drawing finished, trimmed and with Velcro attached. “I may make changes with drawing placement,” said Plunkett. “I’ll probably draw more on them in the gallery… it’s too large to see them all together, so I can’t know for sure what I’ll do just yet.”

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Welcome to my first blog!

My blog experience began like this: for my Online Journalism class at Ohio University, I have been assigned to cover an on-going news story. As I brainstormed ideas one afternoon, I found in my inbox yet another e-invite to a friend’s thesis art show (a true sign that, alas, graduation is getting closer). I RSVP-ed, went back to brainstorming and then it hit me; does anyone outside of the School of Art really know what goes into the production of one of these shows?

I have several friends working toward BFA's and MFA's, and in turn have gained an ounce of insight into the world of art at Ohio University; I have spent a significant amount of time hearing about these shows and watching the preparations for them. However, even I have been surprised to see how much work goes into a thesis show. As most undergraduate students at OU don't have to complete a thesis to gradute (and spend their final quarter in bowling or jogging class and laying out on College Green), I was compelled to observe those who would spend their final days working harder than ever.

So here I begin my adventure into the land of thesis shows. I will cover the process (from artwork creation to show tear-down) of BFA and MFA candidates in the School of Art, and attempt to provide a glimpse into their world: one of hard work, long hours, stressful installations and, in the end, the completion of years of work. I will begin at the end, as it's the event that most are already fairly familar with: the thesis show reception.

Andrea Canalito, a graduate student earning her MFA in painting, held her thesis exhibition at the Majestic Galleries in Nelsonville, Ohio. The show, titled "Twinkle Twinkle Baby," was open from April 14th - April 26th; a closing reception was held on the 25th.

Canalito had the entire gallery for her work, while most upcoming shows include at least two students sharing a space.

The view from inside the main room: the hallway, leading guests into the exhibit. Canalito displayed work in this hall as well as two other large rooms.

Plaster cast chicken wings adorned either side of the hallway.

The following photos show the main room of Canalito's show. And yes, cupcakes were served as refreshments....

The artist, Andrea Canalito

A year's worth of work went into Canalito's show, but the end product is often all we see; in my following posts I will focus on artists Jeremy Plunkett, an MFA candidate, and Diane Call, a senior Graphic Design major earning her BFA, as well as any other artist whose work grabs my attention.