This week in ART YARD BKLYN Advanced Studio in a session titled Shadow Play and Moving Through the Seasons of Our Lives Teaching Artist Maraya Lopez introduced students to Indonesian Puppetry, specifically the art of shadow puppetry. We also looked at the work of Christian Boltanski and Kara Walker, both artists have used some form of puppetry in their art practice.
Puppet master (dalang) and master carver M. Ahim with his wayang puppets in Ciampa, Indonesia, Voices of the Puppet Masters: The Wayang Golek Theater of Indonesia by Mimi Herbert (2002).
Photograph by Tara Sosrowardoyo. Reproduced by permission.
Maraya recaps: “Participating artists worked with their choice of materials to produce puppets that would eventually be used to create a low-tech shadow puppet show, using a simple light source such as a flashlight or lamp. Most of the class used paper and drawing materials to first produce images.
Meridith used black paper to intricately cut out shapes and designs, similar to the way in which Kara Walker uses black paper for her large scale cut outs. Meridith’s piece was ambitious in scale. She also went as far as experimenting with a light source. She cleverly adhered her paper cutout to the wall, then projected light directly onto the piece, alluding to a projected image.
Meridith McNeal, Shadow Play: Seasons, Swift, The Moon
Meridith McNeal, Shadow Play: Seasons, Swift, The Moon
Karla’s snapshot of her cutout figure along with the shadow it created was an interesting insight into her creative process and made for an interesting image. Karla explains her narrative: ‘My dog puppet is Tony, my second grade stuffed animal buddy. I didn’t want to go to school that year, so my animal friend was my connection to home. Asked my mom to promise to feed Tony while I was at school each day. Placed a little empty bowl in front of him on the book shelf!
While attending a concert in an old chapel space last week, I noticed shadows being cast from the statuary. My imagination turned the shadows into figurative profiles that seemed Mardi Gras esque!! Similar to the oversized puppets of such parades. I found photographing both the paper cutout and the shadow was an interesting contrast!’
Karla Prickett, Shadow Play, Concert Statuary
Vera who was zooming in from Manhattan Graphics where the bright lights prevented a shadow puppet solution, created a short animation none-the-less.
Vera Tineo, Shadow Play
Kevin found the project challenging in respect to building a storyboard for his puppet show but started by making two charming bunny rabbits, cut out of white paper then taped them onto sticks.
Ed’s tree shaped puppet was reminiscent of the talking trees in the Wizard of Oz. Vera’s playful crumpled up paper puppet was the basis for her stop motion storyboard.
Delphine’s image of two hands making a heart was nostalgic of shadow puppets I made on the walls as a child at bedtime.”
In critique Ed beautifully summed up Maraya’s piece in relation to her larger body of work. Noting that the viewer parses the moon as the light source when in fact it appears as a darkness.
Maraya Lopez, Liebestraum
Related Indonesian vocabulary from the session:
Wayang – term for puppetry (comes from the Indonesian word for shadow, bayang)
Wayang Kulit – shadow puppetry using figures made from buffalo hide (considered to be the oldest freestanding puppet form; the earliest references to it date from 800s
Dalang – the puppeteer in an Indonesian wayang performance
It was a warm Tuesday in Red Hook this week! Candy and I stopped in to check out the seasonal plants at Chelsea Garden Center on Van Brunt a few blocks from our studio. In ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at BWAC teaching artist Fatima Traore encouraged us to visualize the unseen through an abstract lens. First we discussed things that we cannot see but can feel like sound, smell, memories, spirits/souls.
Fatima recounts: “I then went on to show references of abstract artists including Norman Lewis, Alma Thomas, Catie Radney and Cj Hendry. Each artist displayed a different process and personalized painting/drawing technique that translated wonderfully in the realm of abstraction.
Catie Radney at work on colored pencil drawing and painting by CJ Hendry.
Thus inspired, the pieces that followed had all sorts of themes and stories behind them which evoked different emotions and styles from each artist.
Ajani's mixed media piece was inspired by her recent travels and festival adventure.
Meridith and Fatima tapped into the idea of human energy and how they interact and connect with each other.
Ed based his three pieces on a hypnogogic dream sensation recurrent from childhood which he still remembers vividly. Similar to the references shown, each artist used a different technique and approach through mark making and materials.
Ed Rath, Depicting the Invisible (I, II, & III)
Candy made a piece which represents Spirit coming into form.
Fatima also invited the group to all work on a collaborative piece. Each artist worked on the same canvas for a period of time and together made a surprisingly cohesive abstract piece with its own individuality and rendering.
In the week leading up to our final session of ART YARD Portfolio at LaGuardia students were welcome to share by text or email updated versions of their portfolio, work on honing content, and making sure each photo best represented their work. Students worked hard and took advice well!
On Wednesday evening the class presented their final portfolios. We asked each artist to talk us through their presentation so that we could offer advice and suggestions on verbal presentation as well as the portfolio layout, content and style.
All presenting students improved upon their portfolio, and will be ready for the swiftly approaching early decision college admissions deadline.
On the recommendation of Deputy Superintendent Rushell White, Dennis visited The East New York Arts and Civics High School this week and met with the principal, an assistant principal, the art teacher, and the school's psychologist.
The school plans to enhance their already vibrant art program and are considering us for a partnership.
We're still in the proposal stages and will keep you posted on progress.
Other Art News
FiveMyles Gallery, 558 St. John’s Street in Crown Heights, has two interesting shows up right now. In the PlusSpace: Woomin Kim’s installation Dongnae (neighborhood or town in Korean) includes several fabric works that describe landscapes of different neighborhoods of Seoul and Queens, the two places she calls home. In the main gallery: Karen Heagle, Elizabeth Insogna and Kay Turner present Hekate’s Grove, an exhibition of sculpture, painting and performance which artists unfold the archetype of ‘Hekate’, the Greek goddess of the occult, who traverses both the ancient and the futuristic.
In the seasonal décor category, this stairway installation I walked by on my way to Advanced Studio at BWAC features a tree that reminded me of Ed Rath’s work!
Oh wait, this one is pretty great too -- it looks like a hand-made bat sculpture to me! Photographed on my walk through Carroll Gardens en route to Red Hook