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A feast of revelations

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

Our second week of Summer Session 2023 Do Something! Art As Activism was on par with a graduate-level focused intensive course or artist residency. Our primary medium was collage. However, many of us branched out into mixed media adding paint, marker, and charcoal. Each day we took a different approach with our tools and explored a new concept or content area which is someway reflective of our theme.

There are a few special links included in this recap. Be sure to check out the ART YARD play list created in Abby’s session Music Moves, and the video of our performances from Vera’s performance art class last week.


Dennis writes: “We now have the answer to the often-asked question during Advanced Studio zoom classes: How does Karla do it? On Tuesday, ART YARD Artist Karla Prickett offered our summer session students a peek into her Selina, Kansas, collage-making world. Karla discussed her career as an arts administrator and the inheritance of her grandfather's journals, tools (including pencils), and designs from his profession as an architect, which inspired her to move from painting to collage.

Karla presents her lesson

Seeing Karla's work in Advanced Studio, I have always been amazed at the intricacy of the tiny bits of paper - and now learned that she cuts every piece by hand with a scissor (I'd imagined her using a blade and a special cutting board). She discussed how she prepares and plans ideas for composition and color, and gave us great demonstrations of her use of her favorite glues. Many times, in our school programs, the problem arises where applying glue makes paper bubble up a bit - another problem solved thanks to Karla's demonstration of applying glue with a flat tipped brush and, of course, using the proper type of glue.

Class in action in our studio at BWAC

Karla asked participating artists to create collages based on one or both of these concepts: something you care enough about to try to make a change & what ART YARD means to you. Using bits found in magazines, colored and printed papers and even the Kraft paper covering the tables, students went to work ..... in silence. Thanks, Karla, for bring your Selina studio to Red Hook, Brooklyn! We all now know how you do it!”

Karla adds: “What a serendipitous event meeting Meridith over 20 years ago in New York while attending a public art conference. She led a tour of attendees (myself included) to several artists’ studios. Both being arts administrators and artists, we kept in touch and shared many emails from then to now. Over two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic quarantine, Meridith invited me to join in ART YARD Advanced Studio Zoom. What a life-changing experience! Today, I’m in Brooklyn after being awarded a residency grant from Salina Arts & Humanities in my home town.

I began Monday’s lesson sharing images of my studio work and talking about my collage processes. My lesson, Say It With Collage, challenged artists to create visual narratives using their choice of two approaches: composing with only cut paper or combining choices of other media with cut paper - such as pencil, paint, marker or found objects. Inspirational examples of both approaches were presented in works by Romare Bearden, Evita Tezeno, Mark Wagner, Derek Gores, Robert Rauschenberg, and Fred Tomaselli. I then provided a demonstration in using Matte Medium and YES paste as the collage fixative for the lesson.

Evita Tezeno, Lady in Garden, collage

Mark Wagner, This Little Piggie or No Qualms at the Trough 2019, currency on panel, 40” x 30”

Fred Tomaselli, Bird, 2020

As inspiration for the lesson I thought about the theme, Do Something!, Art as Activism, I focused on the word CARE. When we care deeply about something, we tend to get involved, to take action, engage with others, speak out and create positive change in our own lives or the lives of others. Participating in ART YARD is a choice to “do something” as an artist - to expand talents and skills, broaden thinking, to bring the benefits of discussion and conversation to the creative process. In asking artists to create works based on something they feel strongly about, the subject of each composition was clearly individual and meaningful.

Maraya’s work incorporated handmade lettering and mixed media with reference to something she would love to do…make pies! The somewhat nostalgic palette of ochres with pastels seemed circus-esque.

Maraya Lopez, Make, Collage

Meridith’s narrative developed around individuality and authenticity - incorporating circular elements symbolizing community.

Meridith McNeal, Community Building, Collage

Vera’s larger-than-life silhouette-shaped canvas is being composed with intertwined and overlapping figures symbolizing community.

Vera Tineo, Community, Collage

Elizabeth’s bold black and white graphic stressed the need to have proper rest in order to grow.

Elizabeth Morales, Rot to Grow, Collage

Abby's piece reflects a nature setting (which she saw during a recent visit to North Carolina) where animals live peacefully.

Abby Johnson, Animal Farm, Collage

Delphine focused on the icons of heartwarming and communicative visual gestures. She achieved a whole new look to her work by collaging onto reflective Mylar (which, looks way cooler in person than it does in this photo!).

Delphine Levenson, Heartwarming, Collage

My (Karla) work in progress is a composition of shopping bag shapes overlayed with strips of newsprint referencing my weekly delivery of daily newspapers to a friend’s porch. There is often a jar of grape jelly left for me to take home to feed the orioles!"

Karla Prickett, Newspaper Delivery, Collage (in progress)


Tuesday our music inspired lesson with ART YARD Artist and professional DJ Abby Johnson had us singing and dancing as we created mixed media collaged album sleeves for a song which resonates for us on a deep level.

Abby writes about the lesson: “Creating this lesson was initially challenging. The theme was based around music for protest. As a DJ for over 13 years the concept may appear to be a no-brainer. However, the word protest projected me into the murky waters of politics until I thought, “perhaps we could personalize our protest”. With that shift in perspective I gained momentum and became excited while brainstorming and doing research! When I came across album covers created by Andy Warhol I immediately honed in on my idea for this lesson.

Andy Warhol, Album Covers

The final step in creating the lesson plan was settling on a base level for our collages…the perfect solution -- album cover sleeves. I loved watching as participating artists excitedly choose from five different colors of blank album cover sleeves! As we worked we discuss music to curate a playlist which was conducted of songs from each individual.

Abby and Rai at work. Blank record sleeves in foreground.

The music played throughout the entire class. We chose songs that varied from anthems, movements, representation, and meaningful messages. The music playing served as inspiration while we created our personal expression of our selected songs. We were free to approach the project as best suited to our own process either beginning with a creative thought in mind, followed by a song to go with it or vice versa. During the art making we sang together, shared music lyrics, told stories about different songs, gave music suggestions, and bonded on a new level. Our musical “pot luck” was truly joyful and underscored our sense of community."

Abby sums up: "I enjoyed honing in on music lyrics while connecting it to art & seeing the compositions produced by the ART YARD artists. Collectively creating our ART YARD Playlist was such a great success, a sort of auditory version of Karla’s art, a collage of music coming together to tell a new story. I created an image of all of our music collages as the cover art for our playlist!"

Record Cover collages (use arrows to scroll)

Setting up on the stage for critique


Wednesday Karla's lesson on collecting art had us all working much smaller than we are used to, and with an exchange component was chock full of fun!

Dennis recaps: “Karla explained her discovery of the Art-o-mat® (there are 2 in Brooklyn!) and her communication with its 'founder', Clark Whittington. Clark uses old and banned cigarette vending machines to sell original (cigarette pack size) art at extremely affordable prices. An open discussion flowed about young people vying to collect art similar to collecting trading cards - wanting to complete whole sets, exchanging with friends, and mostly to follow a particular artist. Clark really came up with an excellent idea - Sarah and I even pondered about an unused candy machine at one of our Jersey City schools and got the wheels rolling about how to recreate Clark's vision (of course, with Clark's permission, that is).

Screenshot from the Art-o-mat® website

We wondered if any of the art increased in value so I checked eBay and, lo and behold, found an Art-o-mat® item by Dean Walch listed at $165.

Karla showed us examples of the blocks that are used (again, cigarette pack sized) to attach art to (remember: the art needs to be weighted in some way to actually vend - drop down - in the machine - and wrapped in cellophane for sliding purposes) and how the backs are either simply signed or have an artist's bio attached) and gave each student a template to use to create 6 pieces or art.

No, Karla didn't bring an Art-o-mat® machine to class but students created Art-o-mat® sized pieces in various mediums (including embroidery by Elizabeth and Sarah - and several collage works too). Meridith put names in a hat (a la our traditional winter art exchange) and everyone got someone else's piece - which then evolved into wanting more to create collections. Every artist had 6 pieces of each other's works!”

Use arrows to scroll through out artwork from this session

Sarah compliments: “I really enjoyed attending an ART YARD Summer Session with the talented artist Karla Prickett!. It had been a long time since I last joined an in-person ART YARD session, and I was thrilled to be part of it again. We created small-sized artworks and then exchanged them with other amazing artists in the ART YARD community, whom I genuinely admire.

Karla’s presentation had Dennis and I brainstorming related ideas we can build in schools next fall. For my own work I used watercolor, embroidery, markers, and collage to create six different pieces. It was a wonderful experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to explore my artistic side in such a supportive and inspiring environment.”

Vera got into discussing Delphine's work during critique!

Karla sums up: “Everyone rose to the challenge of creating artworks 3 1/4” x 2 1/8”. Artists were asked to create works that spoke to who they are as person and artist. Once completed, artworks were exchanged and now in new personal collections!!"

Karla at work

Karla adds: "My 8 days in New York were made possible by a Developing Artist Grant from the privately funded Horizons Grant Program of Salina Arts & Humanities. SAHC is the organization that I retired from as the Visual Arts Director in 2014. I am grateful to now be an artist benefiting from this program through financial support to travel to Brooklyn participating and teaching in ART YARD Summer Session 2023. It is a life-changing experience to immerse oneself in an exchange of dialogue and expression with artists of all ages, cultural influences and personal expression. What a wonderful time I have had meeting so many ART YARD artists who mutually enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work together “in person” after nearly two years as an online community! Thanks to Abby as my co-teaching artist for week two. I truly cannot say enough about the heartwarming gestures of hospitality extended from each and every ART YARD artist!”


We completed week two with a food themed collage session lead by ART YARD Artist Abby Johnson.

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Summer, 1563, oil on panel.

Abby relates: "When planning this lesson I automatically thought about our complex relationship with food whether it be pleasant, substandard, cultural, or simply comforting. The lesson was inspired by 15th century Italian painter, Giuseppe Arcimboldo and contemporary AI artist, Joanne Haste. We set out to create a portrait or a personally profound object made of foods, a task which proved both challenging and fun! While we worked we listened to a superb food themed playlist curated by ARTYARD artist Eden Moore, conversation, laughter and creativity flowed throughout the class. Some of us decided on an object first while others created work based on the food first. Either way the finished work was fantastic.

Abby shares her powerpoint with Christine and Robbie

As often happens at ART YARD, our conversation at critique helped us to get to know each other better. I’m super impressed at the individual approaches to this lesson. Once again I am enthusiastic about the work we all created. What a successful week of collage work. I can’t wait to see what next week will bring!”

Karla Prickett, Coffee, Food Collage

Robbie Willis, Scissors, Food Collage

Elizabeth Morales, Banana Cat, Food Collage

Elizabeth Morales, Mi Paletta Payso, Food Collage

Elizabeth Morales, Scooter, Food Collage

Eden Moore, Strawberry Milk, Food Collage

Delphine Levenson, Candy Person, Food Collage (in progress)

Eden Moore, Bookshelf, Food Collage

Abby Johnson, Phone, Food Collage

Meridith McNeal, Paint Box, Food Collage

Christine writes: “More than just cutting and pasting, Abby’s collage lesson fused Italian Renaissance art and contemporary AI art for a mind blowing challenge across an inspiring conglomerate of foodie mediums. Sharing our art during critique offered a feast of revelations to our sense of self through the lens of our relationships with food and sacred objects. Thank you Abby and ART YARD!”

Delphine adds: “While working with collage during this week and I found my mother’s collage from college! Her beautiful art inspired me to do faces in the form of collage!”

Kazandra Bonner (AKA Delphine's mom), Collaged portraits


Other Art News

Dennis shares: “Surrounding our studio space at BWAC is a terrific exhibition featuring art inspired by the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Of course, this show hits home to me as we very recently completed a 5 week programming stint at the President Barack Obama School in Jersey City, also encompassing the artist's style.

The show is presented by HeartShare and features works by artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities. About 15 pieces in total, one can somehow see how lessons were structured and what might have been discussed. I was particularly drawn to the work of Lamar Jones which incorporated a collage of body parts (quite the discussion during our lessons at the Obama School - both Basquiat's use of body parts and the collage element) and it's very orange-red background base. Understandably, everyone seems attracted to the two sided painted skateboard by Jayson Lewis.

The Basquiat and Warhol portraits, also by Jayson Lewis, hit home as well. The collaboration between these artists served as a bridge in our classes (and I'm sure in HeartShare’s programming) to discuss the art world in NYC at that time in the artists' lives and how artists can work together. This alliance was the basis of a wonderful play called "The Collaboration", presented here in NYC last season.”


Vera recounts: “Last Saturday several of us went to The Brooklyn Museum to see Pablo-matic: Picasso According to Hannah Gadsby which examines the artist’s complicated legacy through a critical, contemporary, and feminist lens, even as it acknowledges his work’s transformative power and lasting influence.Organized with Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, I was deeply engrossed in her vision! The wall text was fascinating, informative, often quite startling (although Meridith and Elizabeth both found that the dark colored label paper and dim lighting made reading the labels hard!). The work is really well chosen and we were all engaged. Eden loved Dara Birnbaum's Wonder Woman video and the Louise Bourgeois carved marble arms made us think of Delphine.”

Installation views of Pablo-matic

We then went up to see Duke Riley’s DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash which is on view in the decorative arts collection. After more than one Advanced Studio zoom session inspired by Duke Riley’s contemporary scrimshaw sculpture, Karla and Eden were thrilled to see the work in person for the first time!

Installation views of Duke Riley’s DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash

After the museum we walked over to see Break Pot: St Johns Place a performance by Amy Lee Sanford in conjunction with Gathering on view at FiveMyles. Experiencing this performance took patience and focus, both by the audience and by the artist as she destroyed, then repaired her hand crafted ceramic vessel. While I know I’m not patient enough to do this type of painstaking work myself, I really enjoy seeing Sanford calmly perform, her hands seemed to have an almost supernatural understanding of volume and curve as she carefully reconstructed the work. This piece resonated deeply with exhibition themes of belonging, cultural identity, loss, struggle and ultimately perseverance and healing."

Break Pot: St Johns Place a performance by Amy Lee Sanford


Check out Vera’s video of ART YARD Summer Session 2023 performance work from Vera's session last week!


Opportunity for Artists

Open call for “DADA DOMICILE” at Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Snug Harbor Cultural Center in Staten Island, NY October 14 through December 2023.

We discussed this opportunity during class and encourage everyone to participate! Making and mailing work for the exhibition is free and it is perfectly in line with our new theme Do Something!. Abby and I love the idea -- it reminds us of our Doll House project from many years ago!!

Yes, That's little Abby in red "back in the day" with Rymesha and our Doll House sculpture!



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