Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nomad Nest

I knew I forgot something! Here is a video and images to help give you an idea of the final treehouse in St. Louis' Missouri Botanical Garden.

check out our blog to see more in depth writing and pictures:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Designs for the Homegrown Sign

Here is a backwards progression of the development of my design for the KCAI Homegrown Garden sign and information board. The top three images below represent the final (pretty much) design, arrived at through discussion with the students involved in the garden. The top image is obviously a scale drawing, and is a back view of the sign (meaning the info board side is shown). Below is another view of the info side (not to exact scale), and the one below that is my first drawing of the front, where the main graphic for the sign will go. The drawings below these represent some of my preliminary ideas that I showed to get a sense of what people liked the best. The text/graphic on the front of the sign will be designed and executed by someone else involved in the project. The roof will be covered with ceramic tiles early next semester. The three panels on the back of the sign will have a locked case, a blank board, and a chalkboard for pertinent information about the garden to be posted and shared. This is a continuing project and will be completed toward the middle of the fall 2011 semester.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Annie Woodfill

Some trees and plants around the area.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Annie Woodfill

Sites around KCAI - Warwick, Main, Oak, and Rockhill.

Annie Woodfill

- Signs from the area around KCAI

Monday, May 2, 2011

Annie Woodfill

Images from areas north, south, east and west of KCAI.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Annie Woodfill

Here's a series of images from around the neighborhood - east of KCAI from Oak to Rockhill. More to come!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Marc Fisher+Epperson=artist lecture

"The distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors is irrelevant to us."
-Temporary Services
(from their publication: Self Reliance Library)

I had a step-brother that was in prison for about six years. My dad began dating his mom about 6 months before he got out of prison. Before I met him in person, my stepmom would correspond with him and when he would ask about his family-to-be--my label was "the artist". Before he (Stu) got to know who I was he already thought that I would judge him based off his past and be wary of ever accepting him as part of my family. I was scared of what he was capable of. I was scared of what people would think of me living with a convicted felon. I did not know what to think of him.

When he moved into my house it took time for us to gain an understanding of one another. I slowly began to realize that he was not a monster and he began to realize that I was not a highbrow artist. He would show me projects like to ones Angelo shared with Temporary Services. He showed me the flowers guys would make for their girlfriends out of toilet paper. I began to make paper flowers for my friends and school events...I still make flowers like this. He showed me how to make a pizza with a crust of ramen noodles and canned refried bean sauce. It was good! It was by him sharing the creative problem-solving from prison that we found a way to understand each other and how we found our commonalities. I began to see that despite the place we may live in, we all find ways to negotiate our environments; I found that negotiating his past environment as he had to negotiate my current environment helped me understand how to deal with someone who seemed so different than me.

I feel the project that Temporary Services did with Angelo gives others that same opportunity that I had to negotiate the "survival tactics" and limitations of prison. In the Francis Alys video we watched tonight the young man said that art is a reflection of what is happening in the world as it is today. I feel that it is easy to create a niche in the world we are comfortable in contemplating, comfortable in negotiating. By bringing Angelo's work to the gallery, Temporary Services recreates the prisoner's perspective and environment for us to negotiate. By taking direction from Angelo I feel he is able to communicate like my step-brother through his experience and way of addressing the environment he is used to. As artists we are constantly trying to get people to understand our point of view and the way we see the world based off of our unique experiences. I rather enjoy seeing the prisoner's perspective in the contemplative space of an Art is a refreshing break from 60 minutes. The artist has freedom that a journalist, sociologist, or probation officer does not have to ask society to contemplate the way we relate to prisoners. Before I met Stu, my understanding of prisons came from the Shawshank Redemtion and the interrupted view of sprawling rural landscape by high fences and cold architecture on long road trips. I did not really know who or what was inside the real place. I still really don't. The project done by Temporary Services asks me to at least negotiate my relationship with these places. I cannot simply ignore them because they don't affect my daily life. As I am in class and eating in the cafeteria there are prisoners making up recipes with ramen and the nasty bologna they are given. There are also atrocities and injustices impossible to imagine that occur. It is this kind of perspective that the simple reproductions of projects offers the audience--at least me.

I agree that "the distinction between art practice and other creative human endeavors is irrelevant." It is difficult to ask people to contemplate the relevance of what an art object may be or the nature of an interaction. I believe that if we are asking ourselves the hard questions that product of these thought experiments are hard to determine. I think that Temporary Services has allowed the questioning to precede the products of their efforts. I believe it is a generous act to ask ones audience to enter into a dialogue about the questions you are asking yourself as a maker. We all do this, they're doing it directly and specifically.

I know that authorship is a very difficult thing to negotiate when collaborating and especially when working with "non-artist". As artists we exploit ourselves constantly. When working in collaboration we exploit even still. I feel that without Angelo's perspective and authorship on the work I would not have been able to contemplate his perspective and therefore my relationship to the world of prisons as well if it were solely an interpretation of his condition. His interpretation of what art is an can be is valuable. When surveying for a product--say toilet paper--we don't solely survey those who are experts at making toilet paper about the quality and usefulness of it. I feel we do not need to do this with creative acts. I think that we need to be asking ourselves these hard questions and we need to be thinking about what it is like to be confronted with an environment different than our own. We gain this perspective by engaging in a broader dialogue. Perhaps it is through the process with which we creatively respond to our environments, we find our commonality.

Who is Monsanto?


New things I've learned about Monsanto:
-they began their company IN St. Louis
-Mexico has banned genetically engineered corn from the U.S. and Canada to protect their local Mexican varieties of corn that have been passed down from generation to generation
-Monsanto produces over 90% of our sugars
-"round-up ready" labelled plants=plants that have been genetically engineered to resist dying from the use of round-up weed killer. Mass spraying of these chemicals are used on crops to kill weeds; because the plants have been engineered, they don't die but they have the chemicals still on them.
-Monsanto's breakthrough product was "Round-Up".
-They had to remove the label 'biodegradable" from their round-up product. They were sued for their label "leaves the soil clean" and "respects the environment".
-Round up promotes cell division malfunction...Robert Belle (a french scientist) is doing research that links round-up to cancerous cell reproduction

There is an interesting video series on Youtube called "The World According to Monsanto"

I feel a bit overwhelmed right now with all there is to know. I will update this post soon.

Kansas City Artists Coalition’s Undergraduate College Student Exhibition 2011

Here is an opportunity for any of you to put some work in a show at the Kansas City Artists Coalition. The deadline is March 15, so be sure to apply soon!

Open to currently enrolled undergraduate college students in Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas.

Building a Turf Bench: Michael Bond Final Project

Turf benches were a popular addition to medieval gardens. They provide a comfortable place for one to rest with the comfort of grass as a cushion. Typically they were either rectangular, curved, or in circular shapes, sometimes wrapping around trees. I would like to make a turf bench that reclines in a soft “v shape” that fits the contour of a reclining person. A combination of recycled bricks and wood should make a nice structure. I am choosing a perennial ryegrass because of its resistance to bugs and temperature fluctuations. 

Detail of the Garden from the Annunciation This painting by Hans Helming illustrates in this detail how a turf bench can be incorporated into a garden.

My first step is to sprout the seeds indoors until it is warm enough to move the grass outside. For this I will need a container with a screen at the bottom to drain from. For this I will use scrap plywood. Once the grass has sprouted and grown a few inches I will have to transplant it into the bench structure. I am still a bit unsure about the soil type and where I will get the soil from.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Final Project

I’ve always been interested in how people are forced to negotiate with structures when they move them, like moving furniture up stairs. So, after seeing images like these from the Trisha Brown Dance Company

And Merce Cunningham

I've always wanted to make outfits where someone is forced to be moving awkwardly connected to a 2x4 or a strange constructed architecture. To me this is a good project to do for green sculpture as a way to bring up our immediate physical relationship to our surroundings, as thinking about it more could be beneficial.

Now that I am refreshed on crocheting thanks to Zach’s wife’s presentation in class, I’m thinking of this as a way to process materials. I made a small piece after that workshop and I like the way the knots look as a drawing.

I was thinking I could make a tapestry from plastic sort of in the fashion of Anni Albers...

I use building materials a lot in my studio. In seeing Sara’s trash Island project and how they used trash as a building material, I’m thinking I could also use this elective to build building materials out of debris that I could use in the future in my studio.

These are some of the ideas I have. I’ll talk to you guys Monday.

Also, here's an interesting thing that is going on: LEED. This program deals with the effective use of materials in architecture and design.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Marc Fischer: Temporary Services

Marc Fischer's discussion of his work with the group Temporary Services on Thursday night was of interest to me because, as a basically object-oriented ceramic sculptor, I often hear a perspective on art practice which is very different from, or entirely contradictory to, the view that Marc proposed. I am always extremely interested in hearing about disparate ways of progressing one's career as an artist, and I am happy to learn about a group of people who are dedicated to a non-traditional approach, even if I disagree with some of their beliefs, because I believe the more traditional art world can only benefit from the presence of this element in the dialogue.

One of the things I am most interested in about what Marc covered is the possibility of working without money and outside of the confines of a single, particular medium. I like the kind of empowerment he gives in demonstrating that if you have an idea and a few resourceful people you can find a way to do what you want, even if no one wants to buy, publish, fund, endorse, or even permit, the work you want to do. I see problems with, but am not fundamentally opposed to, the art world of galleries, grants, and residencies, and I do not think I will ever stop being a physical maker of art objects. Nevertheless, I frequently get just as excited about a seemingly (but not actually) random non-ceramic side project that I have an idea for and want to do simply for the gratification of doing it. It is easy to think of these ideas as impractical distractions from "real studio work", but when you are thinking of the personal, collaborative, and social value of projects free from a consideration of a patron's monetary valuation, there is a great feeling of liberation. Marc's discussion of his projects like Half Letter Press and the micro-grants associated with Art Work were inspiring because they are self-funded, self-motivated and allow complete creative flexibility (other than ideas that are intrinsically expensive).

Although I haven't discussed my views on each of the different Temporary Services projects Marc talked about, my primary response is to the elements of his presentation that I have focused on above. I am glad that we were assigned to attend this talk because I would not have gone otherwise, and also because I think being able to reference the work of Temporary Services will be valuable in our class discussions and those within our respective departments.


Temp. Services

Tonight the Kansas City Art Institute held a lecture from a member of an art collective called Temporary Services. I thought their marketing of themselves was a little transparent and unknowingly trendy (it seemed like the group wanted to capitalize on the idea of a zine shop and guerrilla art). I thought their work was amusing and sometimes pretty (like the public phenomena project), but I had problems with the implications of what they were doing.

The collective promotes a democratic framework for art and have managed to benefit from being anti-institutional and ignoring conventions of art. In continuing this tradition of the Fluxus movement and demonstration art in the 60s and 70s, they do charming projects like slipping art into shelves of the public library, puting drawings of inventions made by a prisoner into a gallery, and placing punkish passive-aggressive signs with handles around a city to be moved wherever by the people.

In their project "Public Art Opinion Poll 2000" and a more advanced "Public Art Opinion Poll 2009", the group presents a critique of public art through the voices of anyone who wrote them down on a clip-board the group pinned to a telephone pole next to the pieces. The people's ideas were "it sucks", or "it rocks" and got more elaborate in the second running. I think the project was an entertaining gesture because bad art does suck, but the idea was to allow these examples to be part of a broader critique.

The rep tended to sound self-righteous in talking down people who spend money on art and commercial galleries who represent artists. He put himself in a typical position of implying fine-art is bullshit. The man called funding for art frivolous spending in talking about Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago. It’s true that not everyone wants to see any purpose in abstract art or fine art but that doesn’t make it irrelevant. I believe the art world has moved past that basic disapproval and found ways to deal with promoting the right conversations that involve a distinction between artists and ceo's, and placing a value on art. I found myself disagreeing with Marc Fischer, because I believe in the effort of fine art and the value of formal critique.

I also felt like maybe the work inadvertently surrounded making a spectacle of whomever they’re trying to advocate. I imagine that for people in prison and people who have to make basketball hoops out of milk crates, that these creations (although formally beautiful) are oppressed desperation. To exploit this as clever and funny and re-contextualize it without regarding the tragedy in these things, seems maybe shallow and demeaning.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Marc Fischer Lecture Response

I found the dedication and intentions of Marc Fischer and his collaborators stimulating.They work within a small budget and make the most out of each situation. The Half Letter Press is a good demonstration of that. The booklets are made of a folded sheet(s) of paper depending on the funds as he explained. He commented on their intentional means of working with restraints, he would fold and staple the booklets in order to save money. Which lends itself to the DIY movement. I found their support of other artists or "creative works in general" great. Under no discretion, an artists community is continually growing.
Marc Fischer is 1/3's part of a group called Temporary Services. The group explored a project titled Public Sculpture Opinion Poll. He comments public sculpture can cost so much money to make and also upkeep. In this exploration the group strapped clipboards to poles near a site of sculpture and asked the public their opinion. One of these events asked for feedback on a sculpture titled Episodic. It is a continuous form made up of light poles. Apparently Episodic did not have any information accompaning it for some time and the community's response in general was negative. I do not believe the ability of public sculpture should be dismissed. In some cases it may need the intent spelled out to reach a broader audience. However, I realize not everyone is accessible and sometimes artists are making art for other artists. The success in the Public Sculpture Pole I believe is raising questions, for the viewer and the artist. In a sense Temporary Services act as "middle men" in this project. I found it interesting when the group received more thought out opinions when responses were able to be made via email.
I appreciate the sort of community based work and social experimentation Marc Fischer is dealing with. His photographs of particular areas I found fun and appealing. The images are makeshift instances of everyday people. They convey the creative acts that occur on the streets. I think Marc Fischer and his collaborators are in most cases, making a critique of Art that resides in galleries and permanent collections.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trash Island

First of I should fill you all in on what trash island is... It is a collaborative project between a former KCAI student and myself with the help of other Art Institute students and The Lakeside Nature Center. We held a workshop to construct an inner tube made from construction netting and plastic bottles as the floatation device. Secondhand netting was then used to fill the tube structure. The nettings purpose was to support the roots of the plants we would be filling it with. Plants were donated from the Nature Center and one local Nursery. Then we proposed our floating garden to a committee to seek approval to launch it at Lake of the Woods in Swope Park... It was approved!
We choose Lake of the Woods at Swope Park because it is a heavily polluted public location. We wanted to use the island as a vehicle to speak about pollution not only only a global scale,(specifically the trash island that has formed in the Pacific Ocean) but also on a local spectrum.

It looks great and the plants go through a natural process to aid in water remediation. The trouble is there is no signage to communicate what our intentions were for it to speak and bring awareness to. That is why I am going to utilize the Green Sculpture elective I am in to tie up the loose ends this project so desperately needs...A sign!!!
I came up with this piece of plastic after considering several materials. I think the transparency will lend itself nicely to see the island in the background therefore tying the two together. My first instinct was to clean it up before adhering vinyl lettering but after speaking with my classmates, I think it will only heighten the grotesque nature of what it will be communicating. I still am working through some technical issues, like what type of vinyl lettering to use and coming up with the proper support leg or legs to steak it into the ground. I am really excited about the sign! I think when it is put together it will possess basic sculptural elements, balance and gesture that I explore in my studio practice. Above all I hope our project will communicate the huge pollution issue at hand and encourage individuals to make conscience decisions that effect our environment.