Friday, August 31, 2012

Writing ONE Group C Reaction

Kipp Gallery, September 07, 2012

Writing ONE Group C Reaction

Ramon Riley

After reading the entries from my group,  I was left with the impression that we are, for the most part agreeable with the reading, and we all acknowledge the impact of Visual Culture on our work.  However, I found myself asking “Should we care”?  “How much should we care”?  “What should we care about”?

In Michelle Colbaugh’s paper, she talked about “creating illusions through photo representation and abstraction in paint”.  James Batistelli echoed the usefulness and accessibility of being able to manipulate photography.  Coincidentally, I had not incorporated photography in my work for over 10 years, until recently.  While I have set rules for myself (which may be silly and a waste of time), where I only use MY photographs, I know my “rules” are a direct reaction to the ease of use and blurring of appropriation versus stealing.  

Crystal Miller’s paper did a wonderful job of laying this out, and her blog page was sharp and convincing on just how easy it is to get US to look.  There are color theory classes.  There is market research...etc.  In the twenty-first century we have more tools at our disposal to manipulate the viewer to look. I found myself thinking about seeing work and asking myself, if I would consciously be trying to break down the “illusion” because I too am an artist and am obligated to serve as a visual docent, artistic awareness gatekeeper, or if I would simply allow myself to be the kid in the candy store...

I loved this statement in Eric Brennan’s paper:  “I believe all visual art is part of visual culture but visual culture is not always a part of the visual arts.”  I thought Eric’s writing about the inevitability of the impact of visual culture on us spoke to my feelings and opinions.  Yet, by stating that there is a connectedness and separation between visual art and visual culture gives one hope that what an artist does can expand and shape the culture in whatever way, big or small, instead of inevitably succumbing to the culture.  

I am unfulfilled when I catch myself tearing things down unless I find something to lift up.  The connectedness of culture, media and visual art is complex, but I struggle with walking the line of being a critical artist without being a critic who doesn’t make art, because it is easiest to overanalyze and criticize one’s self.  When I set up rigid rules, I am bound to break them and feel like a hypocrite.  That sucks.

When I am engaged, I am not thinking about culture or trends or marketability or illusion or validity or impact.  I am in love.  I am all of that and none of that.  I care about what I care about until I care about something else, so if my love is strong enough, then it will be worthy of attention.  I can be a magnet instead of spending my life trying to become a magnet.  I can be the result of the best of what I have experienced and taken in, instead of constantly scrutinizing what I am taking in with a false sense of security that such a process will make me better. Perhaps.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing ONE

Writing One

Ramon Riley

For some reason the words visual culture puts a bad taste in my mouth.  It is labeling the unnecessary.  Perhaps that is my artist angst that simply hates labels.  Or perhaps it is an ignorance that will evolve through understanding.  As an American, I think we struggle with the word culture.  We are a mix of many cultures.  We are bombarded with imagery.  Sometimes it is too much to take, and even more to think about.

...but in my world, I can filter out what I do not want.  I have the freedom to choose what I want to spend time seeing.  I can go to the museum and choose one artist, or one painting, and I can sit for hours.  This is the other part of being American.  We have much to choose from and much to arouse us.

I think visual art can be defined as our filter.  If we do not see it, then we do not see it.  If I visit the museum in my teens, but I do not get Matisse until I’m in my thirties, then it is only then, in my thirties that Matisse is an artist.  As a teacher, I see that all the time.  I can only introduce and hope that my students are prepared for when they are ready to receive a particular artist.  

I am learning that my art history has been shaped by memories, and I am just now able to uncover them and explore them.  For example,  I have been surrounded by gothic architecture and “greek-like” sculpture my entire life, yet I owned it before I knew it.  So my palette has been shaped by this, and I seek these things out with more conviction now. Thus, I consider my own experience with art and art culture to be an excavation.  I am hoping someday to catch up.  Then maybe I can stand assured in the present.

Until we are confident, we imitate in words and actions.  I like it because you like it.  I like it because I think I should.  It’s art because it is famous.  I have looked back on my own work and thought, “I was on to something,” but only in hindsight.  It was not until this summer that I started feeling like an artist in the moment.  I felt a rush through my body that engaged all of my senses and told me that what I was doing mattered even if only to myself.  I wasn’t working for a grade, a show, a critique, compensation... I felt the power of things learned and forgotten culminate through me.  I was the vessel.  Is that culture?  I mean in a larger sense???

Do we need artists to be the bookmarks of our lives?  Do we need artists to say IT?  Do we need artists to be our collective voice?  Because an artist can do that.  An artist strike universal cord or a nerve that we did not know was there to be played or explored.  That is why art changes and evolves, I think.  Because our world changes and evolves, even if we never do or did not want to.