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A training ground for possibility

Updated: Jan 20

We're so often told that art can't really change anything. But I think it can. It shapes our ethical landscapes; it opens us to the interior lives of others. It is a training ground for possibility. It makes plain inequalities, and it offers other ways of living.

 

~ Olivia Laing, Funny Weather: Art in the Time of Emergency

 

 

This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom ART YARD Artist Vee Tineo presented a session inspired by María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold a stunning exhibition of photography, immersive installation, painting, and performance. 

 

Vee summarizes: “This Monday, I introduced María Magdalena Campos-Pons to the Art Yard community. As an interdisciplinary artist, she blends various disciplines, incorporating performance to explore narratives within her community, calling for compassion and recognition of untold stories.

 

We delved into María Magdalena Campos-Pons's perception of and thought about the sea, utilizing her installation style to construct large compositions separated by frames and space, forming a grid within the composition.


María Magdalena Campos-Pons installation snapshot by Meridith McNeal

Embracing her ideas, everyone produced remarkable work. Maraya linked the grid to Instagram, a familiar concept for social media users.


Maraya Lopez, Beholding


Maraya: My piece was inspired by Martin Espada’s poem, “Floaters”. It also serves as an homage to the Salvadorian father and daughter who drowned crossing the border in 2021 and whom the poem is about. Floaters,  is a name by the Border Patrol to those who drown making their journey to the United States. Furthermore, I used Instagram and Facebook as a means to create the final work. The grid layout of both platforms corresponded with the concept of the lesson.


Marilyn composed a piece featuring different elements of herself, emphasizing the space in which these elements coexist.


Marilyn August, Beholding

Marilyn writes: “Vee’s lesson introduced me to the powerful, moving art and performance of Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. For the assignment, I chose to illustrate some things of importance to me—my friends, my house and my garden. These representations are connected in one composition and then divided into frames in the style of Campos-Pons.”

 

Ed illustrated the gripping story of the 1975 sinking disaster of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Michigan’s Lake Superior through sequential art.


Ed Rath, Beholding

Karla surprised us with collaged compositions that conveyed to those of us who saw the exhibition a personal experience of María Magdalena Campos-Pons's work as if she had been there too, creating triptychs that formed a cohesive picture. Pat's piece which shared the grid construction with Karla, also seemed dialed into the exhibition work on view!


Karla Prickett, Beholding

Karla adds: "Thank you Vera for the lesson and a great video of the performance piece, “A Mother’s River of Tears”.  Watching the beautiful movement and graceful gestures spoke to the fracture of spirit and lasting pain of oppression.  Her gridded works seemed to speak to traditions in heritage while presenting a continuum broken but not banished. Seeing the exhibit in person would be quite powerful!  


My response was to cut out a drawing of a woman done in flowing graphite lines. I then fractured the figure within a dark blue grid - elements symbolizing both beauty and loss. 


Compliments to all for such amazing and diverse interpretations."

 

Pat Larash, Beholding

Meridith’s and Jane's triptychs documented color and drawing progress, capturing movement and change.


Meridith McNeal, Beholding

I (Meridith) shared that my triptych a depiction of my own White Flower & Milk Bath Spell was intimately connected to the work of María Magdalena Campos-Pons.


Jane Huntington, Beholding

Jane explains her images: Top image, figures: “river of tears”

Middle image, kitchen: “my kitchen w/hanging light bulb”

Bottom image, ocean at night: “Very far out in the ocean, at night, without a boat"


 

On Tuesday inclement weather had us shifting our usual ART YARD Advanced Studio in person onto Zoom. While this did present some challenges, Vee (in a double V week!) presented an interesting session inspired by the work of William Kentridge. They asked us to consider a phrase to depict with our work.


William Kentridge video still

Vee writes: “On Tuesday, despite snowy weather, we reconvened on Zoom with BWAC. The focus was on creating drawings, each becoming a frame in an animation.  During critique we each shared a single image, then Gael had the inspired idea to share two images one towards the beginning, one towards the end of our series of drawings for our final animations which were created by Vee from our series of drawings.


Vee shares video footage on Zoom


In Here Today, Gone Tomorrow Ed crafted a beautiful stormy scene depicting a lumberjack attempting to cut a tree, showcasing mastery in using ink for cutting and drawing.


Ed Rath, Animation Stills


Ed Rath, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow


Jane portrayed in Seeing The Forest Through The Trees a captivating moment of being consumed by the forest surroundings.


Jane Huntington, Animation Stills

 

Jane Huntington, The Forest Through The Trees


Meridith with her piece Can I Get A Refill? presented an overflow of coffee, skillfully using watercolor to transition the narrative.


Meridith McNeal, Animation Stills


Meridith McNeal, Can I Get A Refill?


Jodie bringing a sweet, important optimism to our session with One Love, crafted a typography piece, segmenting letters to create movement and direction for a beautiful message.


Jodie Lyn-kee Chow, Animation Stills


Jodie Lyn-kee Chow, One Love


Jodie compliments: I really enjoyed our zoom class today.

 

Gael, in Beating A Dead Horse inspired by Kentridge’s work, contributed a funky moment and brought levity and vibrant energy —an image of a supine horse surrounded by music, creating a dreamlike scene we share with animals."


Gael Gentry, Animation Stills

 


Special thanks to ART YARD Teaching Artist Aisha Tandiwe Bell for introducing us to Artist Jodie Lyn-kee Chow and to ART YARD Board Member Cecile Chong for introducing us to Artist Gael Gentry! We loved meeting then both and look forward to continuing to work together.


 

Maraya reports: “This week, we resumed with our “Watching the Wallpaper” meetings. Karla, Maraya, Meridith and Marilyn met over Zoom to discuss, habits and whether or not we thoughts habits can be broken. We of course had various notions on what a habit is. Such as, are habits learned or innate and can they be broken? Are there good habits and bad habits? Are there habits that you never break and you perpetually go back to, whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally or even psychologically?”


Meridith McNeal, Skaters, 2008, cut vintage wall paper and silk velvet.

 

Other Art News

 

ART YARD Artists Eden, Nayarit, Vera, Kevin and I went to the Brooklyn Museum to view María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Behold on Sunday. We all loved this exhibition, in fact I felt as if I was under a spell.

 

Vee shares: “On Sunday, we explored the captivating Brooklyn Museum to witness an extraordinary exhibition featuring María Magdalena Campos-Pons. As we strolled in a circular motion, we immersed ourselves in Campos-Pons's artistry, mirroring the fluidity of her performances. Every element in the room became a subject of investigation as we sought as a deeply tuned in AYB posse to comprehend and truly appreciate her work.”


Exhibition photos by Meridith McNeal


Eden and Kevin stayed a bit later to see Spike Lee: Creative Sources. Kevin writes: “In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, Eden and I visited the Spike Lee exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. What caught me by surprise were Lee’s many inspirations and how they were translated in his work. I was lucky enough to see clips from some of his well acclaimed movies: Malcolm X and Mo Better Blues. What stood out to me the most were the characters and the shots conveyed in each. In Malcolm X the actor portraying the political activist spoke with such passion about advocating for black citizens. I was moved by not just his words, but also the set piece of a burned American flag that was used at the beginning of the film, displayed in a case in the exhibit. What captured my attention from the latter movie was the lighting and character dynamics. The lighting of the East River, showing the warm orange sunset on the horizon really pulled me into the scene. And this was just the beginning of the exhibit: Lee’s trademark Jordans, movie posters, documentaries, family portraits, newspapers describing his work. It was all really amazing. There were even other black figures showcased in the gallery. A painting of Toni Morison, a Times Magazine of Serena Williams. I learned so much from all of them, and it was all more exciting with Eden since she knew so much about Spike Lee and his work. We ended up rushing through the last section of the exhibit, taking pictures of whatever we could. It was definitely a fun way to end our visit!


Exhibition & museum photos by Kevin Anderson and Eden-Nicole Moore


 

Congratulations to ART YARD Artist Evelyn Beliveau whose work is included in Postcards from The Edge at Barry Campbell Gallery.



Evelyn shares images from the opening

 

Book recommendations

 

After reading Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz the excellent biography which I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was compelled to re-read all of Wojnarowicz’s published work which is utterly moving, well written, deeply intelligent, brutally truthful and hard, The diaries, political essays and portraits of outsiders are still vital important works more than 30 years since they were penned.


Screen shot from Olivia Laing, Funny Weather Art In An Emergency

I often read in a tangential way letting an author, an idea, a topic or subject lead me to the next read. What I landed on next was a re-reading of Olivia Laing, Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, mostly a collection of essays published first elsewhere. (See quote at the top of this recap. ♥️♥️♥️) A superb review of David Wojnarowicz’s Close To The Knives is included.  I love Laing’s insight and turn of phrase, as well as their enthusiastic support of other artists! A section of Funny Weather is devoted to book reviews – score! – I added all of the books to my Brooklyn Public Library waiting list.


Book Cover featuring a self portrait by David Wojnarowicz

I have just listened to the audio, immediately downloaded to read the words, and promptly bought (& read 1/2 again while cooking) a hard copy of Ali Smith’s How To Be Both: A Novel. Two stories, which intertwined, are ruminations about art, the compulsion to make art, the nature of relationships and a lot more.  I loved these (as the book jacket reads) “Two tales of love and injustice (which) twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real.”


Book cover: Ali Smith, How To Be Both

 

Offering other ways of living!

♥️♥️♥️


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