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Do Something Generous

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

This week in AYB Advanced Studio on zoom led by teaching artist Reg Lewis, participants were askec to DO SOMETHING GENEROUS: A Statement of Balance (or Imbalance). Essentially, artists were tasked to incorporate the presence of money (real or reproduced) into their artwork; the aim was to reveal how each participant would use money to serve or support a positive cause or else to protest against the use of money for negative purposes. The lesson took its cue from the use of money presented in the visual work of Mark Wagner and Sonya Clark.


Reg presenting the work of Mark Wagner on zoom

Sonya Clark, Afro Abe, 2010

Reg describes the work created in the session. “Meridith created a finely crafted sigil designed to influence the world with compassion and more specifically LOVE, the letters (and decorative flourishes) of which were reconstructed from an actual dollar bill. The artwork corresponded to Kissing Doesn’t Kill: Greed and Indifference Do a political art action poster by the art collective Gran Fury that manipulated advertising and media strategies in order to reach a broad audience with information about AIDS and its complex issues. Overall, Meridith’s artwork inspires us to consider love over greed and indifference.

Gran Fury, Kissing Doesn’t Kill: Greed and Indifference Do, 1989

Meridith McNeal, Do Something Generous: LOVE

Karla’s reproduction of the $10 bill featured an American flag colored Alexander Hamilton whose red face conveyed a sense of shame while “We the People” stand out in contrast to the brilliant yellow background located behind him. The artwork seems to demonstrate how our perception can be altered when objects we take for granted are modified by thoughtful artists skilled at presenting subtle political statements.


Karla Prickett, Do Something Generous: We The People

Vera’s artwork is a direct protest against the weaponization of technology by presenting a drone made of money to represent government funded war driven acts of domination and destruction which brings so much suffering into the world.

V Tineo, Do Something Generous: In Protest

Marilyn’s artwork carries a warm spirit of compassion and generosity as it explicitly states “Giving Comes from the Heart.” The sentiment is complemented by a composition which includes an actual heart with heartstrings suggesting that every penny counts while superimposed over a wall of dollar bills. The artwork presents a dramatic appeal with a clear, vital message.

Marilyn August, Do Something Generous: Giving from the Heart

I (Reg) created a vehicle to suggest the pyramid structure of the wealth distribution in the United States with the 1 percent identified at the top and the “tender 1’s” at the fringes on the bottom. The vehicle is being driven by one of our founding fathers. “Opportunity” can be a loaded word depending on the perspective.

Reg Lewis, Do Something Generous: Legal Tender

All of the artworks created during the session seemed to represent balance or imbalance between the currency of money or the currency of love and compassion. Either way, It was a generous outpouring of creativity.”


On Tuesday in ART YARD Advanced Studio in person in our studio at BWAC Teaching Artist Dakota Jones presented his third and final session in our still life cycle.


Dakota summarizes: "Largely to build upon what we accomplished in week 2 albeit with the proper materials and a bit of a new focus, students had the option to continue working on their week 2 pieces or to move on — everyone chose to move on which I think made for great comparisons during critique. The focus of this class was to explore character which can mean many things.

Class in session and set up for critique

My usage of the notion of character is like the essence of your subject, but to be more specific, the essence of a subject in the eyes of the beholder — how are YOU seeing something, rather than what that thing is. Everyone came up with great work and each piece was extremely distinctive and representative of individual style, some multiple styles including an impressionist take on the still life by Akash that was impressive."

Denaé Howard, Still Life Painted from Observation

Jamie Wafield, Still Life Painted from Observation

Ed Rath, Still Life Painted from Observation

Meridith McNeal, Still Life Painted from Observation

Dakota Jones, Still Life Painted from Observation

Akash Wilmot, Still Life Painted from Observation I

Akash Wilmot, Still Life Painted from Observation II

Ajani Russell, Still Life Painted from Observation

We all loved this session and offer Dakota the highest compliments on his first session as an ART YARD Teaching Artist!


Other Art News


Art filled Hanukkah wishes! ART YARD Artist Rachel Rath shares her Menorah made by ART YARD Artist Jacob Rath, in the background painting by Rachel!

Hanukkah Wishes, Menorah by Jacob Rath, Painting by Rachel Rath

ART YARD Visiting Poet Diana Rickard shares her Menorah, which she has placed in front of Chanuka, by Irena Karpelesova, 12 years old, at Terezin Ghetto In Czechoslovakia, 1943-44.


Diana's display, and Chanuka, by Irena Karpelesova, 12 years old, at Terezin Ghetto In Czechoslovakia, 1943-44.


I have two remarkable biographies to recommend -- Fire in the Belly: The Life and Times of David Wojnarowicz by Cynthia Carr (Bloomsberry USA, 2013) and Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy by Damien Lewis (Public Affairs, 2022). 

Both books evocatively present the lives, art and actions of deeply talented, provocative, and courageous activists. At times both are hard to read, but well worth it. In my opinion, in the face of gut wrenching circumstances and against great odds, Josephine Baker and David Wojnarowicz truly did something.  

I was deeply moved by these words from Wojnarowicz to his friend and fellow artist Zoe Leonard about her artwork: “these are so beautiful, and that's what we're fighting for. We're being angry and complaining because we have to, but where we want to go is back to beauty. If you let go of that, we don't have anywhere to go.


Back to beauty,


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