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Examining the Traces

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

It is a busy time of year for most people, but that did not hold us back this week!

On Monday evening in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom we had a fantastic session inspired by Duke Riley’s map and contemporary scrimshaw-like drawings on recycled objects taught by Jane Huntington. Jane got the inspiration for this session while visiting Duke Riley: DEATH TO THE LIVING, Long Live Trash on view at the Brooklyn Museum through April 23, 2023.

Duke Riley, Scrimshaw

Duke Riley detail of map on view at Brooklyn Museum. Photo Meridith McNeal.

Jane recounts: “In prepping the class, I followed the clues on Duke’s desk on view in his show at the Brooklyn Museum as to his current methodology–using drawings done on rice paper which are then adhered to the found objects with book binding glue.

We discussed traditional scrimshaw as a way of storytelling about an event, such as pod of whales destroying a boat filled with the sailors hunting them. They were also used as a tribute to a place, or to a person. We also talked about Riley’s specific use of line, and how certain objects, such as clouds and water, were rendered

Image from Jane's powerpoint presentation

It took several tries for me to get the technique right–a challenge, because I was trying use what I had to make the work. I finally settled on drawing on tracing paper with a Micron pen, and painted Elmer’s glue on the area of the object the drawing was being transferred to. I then wet the tracing paper in a shallow dish until the bubbling effect disappeared, then placed it in position. Cutting the drawings up made it easier to negotiate the forms shape. Thinking that this was quite a long set up for a 2-hour class, I then painted directly on a plastic pie case for my own piece.

Jane Huntington, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (Pie Plate))

The prompt for the drawing was nature, and we all approached this differently, my pieces focused on the winter trees in Prospect Park. Meridith’s first piece was of a beehive drawn onto paper that had been glued to a glass yogurt container.

Meridith McNeal, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (Bee Jar)

Meridith’s second piece was a painted on a box that a fancy Cantina Del Vesuvio vinegar, and did a landscape of Mount Vesuvius inspired by 19th century paintings of The Bay of Naples with drawings of sea creatures from the aquatic themed mosaic found in Pompeii on the sides.

Meridith McNeal, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (Vesuvio, top and front)

Meridith McNeal, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (Vesuvio, back and side)

Karla’s piece was done in recycled compressed cardboard packing blocks, architectural sketch paper, wire rope catalogue illustrations, and pen.

Karla Prickett, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley

Pat did an ink drawing of a polar bear with matching star chart on an ice flow, destined to be adhered to a bottle of “polar” seltzer water.

Pat Larash, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (in progress)

Delphine painted a soda can, then made a series of beautifully drawn flowers which she glued onto the can. She is also the only one of us who used incised lines for her text, getting closer to the actual method of scrimshaw carving.

Delphine Levenson, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (in progress)

Kevin’s take of the theme was quite meta–having recently seen the Radio City Rockettes Christmas show, he endeavored to recreate their show highlighting the birth of Jesus in the natural manger setting (this scene in the Rockettes show includes live animals including camels!).

Kevin Anderson, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (in progress)

Karla compliments: “Wonderful lesson Jane! It was so great to see and learn of the work of Duke Riley. Scrimshaw has always been so much a traditional art form in my mind. His contemporary application of material, expression and subject is captivating! Meridith, that box is SUPER! Pat’s drawing combines great texture, line and sensitivity. I really like Jane’s trees and portrait on the bottle and the nostalgic feel of her plate design. Delphine is definitely on to something! And Kevin’s beginnings to such a thought-filled drawing should yield a great visual narrative!

Jane Huntington, Contemporary Scrimshaw after Duke Riley (homage to Duke Riley))


Tuesday found those of us not battling covid, working overtime or studying for finals at ART YARD Advanced Studio in person at BWAC for a lesson on how to make Flag Books. The BWAC crew was there when we arrived and it was fun to see the next exhibition getting installed!

Teaching Artist Golnar Adili set the table with an array of reference materials including many of her own books exploring her Iranian cultural identity, family history and language, as well as books by other artists, books by students, books about making books and enticing supplies.

Golnar describes the components of a book box about Iran, her homeland.

Golnar shares a book created by one of her students

Golnar explains that a residency at the Center for Book Arts which gave her the opportunity to take many hands on classes really opened up a whole new sculptural realm for her, thus her idea behind this series in book making techniques is to give ART YARD Artists skills to expand their art practice in new ways.

Golnar Adili, She Feels Your Absence Deeply, 2021, 3.25 x 4.25 x 1.75 inches (closed), Publisher: Women’s Studio Workshop, Edition of 50. Photo by Alec Logan Smith

Baabaa Aab Daad (Father Gave Water), 2020, Wood, felt, board and cloth, 5 x 7 x 1.5 inches (closed), Edition of 25

Two books that Golnar particularly recommends are Hedi Kyle’s Art of the Fold and Paul Jackson’s Folding Techniques for Designers.

Cover image from Paul Jackson’s Folding Techniques for Designers & page detail from Hedi Kyle’s Art of the Fold

We started off with very concrete folding techniques from which we created an accordion folded spine for our book. The process of the flag book involves gluing pages larger than the accordion spine in rows of alternating directions. While we were at this we realized that some of us are more likely to think mathematically and systematically while others are more likely to wing it (that would be me!). I brought in some extra supplies including William Morris wrapping paper and some drawings I did in Italy in 2012 about Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Ajani and I reminisced about The Year of Language when she and other students were first introduced to Invisible Cities.

We were so engrossed in the process that time seemed to speed by and none of us quite finished. I finished my book at home and am thrilled to have the new Flag Book skills.

Ajani working on intricate design for her Flag Book

William Morris wall paper makes for a lovely Flag Book!

Meridith McNeal, Examining Traces, Drawings 2012, Flag Book 2022


Other Art News

Managing Director Dennis Buonagura is in Prague this week! Dennis writes: “Prague is filled with public art - centuries old and modern day art. Baroque churches - many with mirrored chapels and glorious organs. Modern buildings with art nouveau painted glass windows. Fairytale-like castles and towers.

We visited the Jewish Museum today (and the old Jewish cemetery). In the 16th century Pinkas Synagogue, almost all walls are described with a list of names, a total of about 78,000 names. They are names of Jews from Czechoslovakia who died during the Nazi period. Most of them were murdered in concentration camps.

Installation at The Jewish Museum at Pinkas Synagogue. Photo Dennis Buonagura.

Dozens of walls are covered - quite impressive upon entrance - and the typography is beautiful. The surname is written in red like the first letter of the first name. In addition, the date of birth and the days of deportation or murder are indicated in black. The list of Jews in the Pinkas Synagogue is sorted by surname and place. In addition, the names of the victims of the Holocaust are read out over a loudspeaker. Strange feeling to be “enjoying” art representing such a horrific crime.

Installation The Jewish Museum at Pinkas Synagogue. Photo Dennis Buonagura.

The cemetery stones are very worn and most illegible (I don’t read Hebrew but a few still can be read). I found it interesting that some stones had animals sculpted into them but learned that they were symbols used to communicate the deceased’s name.

Cemetery at Pinkas Synagogue. Photo Dennis Buonagura.


ART YARD Artist Vera Tineo is working on their MFA at Queens College right now. Vera shares two very new works in progress, one cast bronze the other ceramic:

Work in progress by Vera Tineo


ART YARD Artist Karla Prickett writes the following review of Reconsider, a one person exhibition of the work of Kansas-based artist Frank Shaw, on view at Salina Art Center through December 31, 2022.

“I view each of Frank Shaw’s pieces as drawings. Prominently drawn lines on stark white walls. Storied objects become compositions - visual narratives of a journey distinct to your voice, sensitivity, experience, and emotion. One cannot escape visiting one’s own past as words blur in and out and many ring loud and clear. I’m invited to interpret as familiarity resonates and flips the switch of emotion…the entire space seems solemn. These objects could easily have been tossed into a dumpster or been reduced to ashes in a flaming stack of “debris.” Each is a story or many stories - generations contributing to what is here created from the worn, the memories, patinas, and objects abandoned to years of treasured retention.

Installation views of Frank Shaw: Reconsider. Photos by Karla Prickett.

There is such natural beauty in these aged and honored materials – wood, metal, cloth, paper - a void of plastic – no faux origins to these artifacts touched by those so distant and known to you. As I walked through the exhibit from one gallery to the next, I felt the warmth of my own past, things left behind. My memories echoed respect and admiration. These are the fossils of life before and what has since become. It is both disconnect and connection. Years of the day to day, years of events and experiences, years of challenges, successes, and human profiles.”

Installation views of Frank Shaw: Reconsider. Photos by Karla Prickett.


ART YARD is excited to have our Winter Trees included in the Holiday Market exhibition at BWAC, 481 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn. The exhibition opens tomorrow and on view Saturday’s and Sunday’s 1-6pm from December 3 – 18, 2022. ART YARD will be in attendance early in the afternoon on Sunday December 18th – come join us!!

Marie Roberts, Ajani Russell, Candy Heiland, Dakota Jones, Jacob Rath, Jane Huntington and Vera Tineo.


Please come see our Winter Trees in person on December 18th at BWAC!

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