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Honor us with your presence 

Updated: Feb 24

We began the week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom with AYB Artist Maraya Lopez presenting Barriers to Entry in which we re-imagined the way art is normally seen and displayed within art galleries and museums.

 

Maraya summarizes the session: “When putting together a lesson for this week’s class I decided to look at the work of Brooklyn based artist, Sharon Louden.


Sharon Louden, “Barriers to Entry” at Signs and Symbols Gallery

Louden’s current exhibition, “Barriers to Entry” is now on view at Signs and Symbols Gallery in NYC. It was dusk when I visited the show and the reflections from within the gallery space bounced through the window and onto the pavement. The gallery is accessible after about 6 or 7 concrete steps. I pressed the buzzer and was immediately buzzed in. I entered and stood in a small, tight entry way, typical of many New York City dwellings. The gallery door was to my immediate right. Instead of opening it right away, I enjoyed peeping through the crack, taking in a glimpse of Sharon’s work, before becoming completely immersed in the work. Immersed I was. From floor to ceiling. Sharon’s playful use of colored vinyl and reflective aluminum and materials, immerses the viewer while at the same time, creating various entry points into the piece. My favorite part of the experience was having to contort my body to see some of the paintings. Paintings were not hung at eye level, typical of traditional hanging methods used in galleries and museums. Instead, Louden deliberately challenges the viewer to stoop down, look up and behind things. “Barriers to Entry” makes room for as many perspectives as possible in an inclusive artistic act.  “Such variation begs the question of whose eye-level and framing preferences gallery standards serve in the first place." —Avery Glassman, Director of Programs + Special Projects at Breck Create

 

Louden’s piece considers questions of physical and symbolic access within art and cultural spaces. “Barriers to Entry” emphasizes barriers faced specifically by women.


Maraya presenting on zoom

I (Maraya) challenged the class to imagine what an all-inclusive museum or gallery space would like. Using geometric shapes, like Louden’s work, I asked the class to create their ideal space, thinking about inclusivity.

 

Karla’s piece reminded me of Philip Glass’s 1979 collaboration with Sesame Street, “Geometry of Circles”. Her incorporation of actual blueprints into the collage, conceptually spoke to the assignment.


Karla Prickett, No Barriers to Entry

Karla adds: “What an interesting lesson, Maraya! Your presentation brought much thinking and imagining to our compositions. Most of us included circles or half circles within our concepts. Circles have always seemed to me an inclusive symbol.  All the works were great narratives rooted in personal experience and the experiences of others. I elected to create a colorful floor plan of movement and wonder. All the feelings I have, when walking through a museum!”

  

Marilyn’s playful incorporation of a hand for an entrance way recalled the hand of Fatima (a palm-shaped amulet popular throughout North Africa and the Middle East, to provide defense against the evil eye).


Marilyn August, No Barriers to Entry

Maraya’s piece was an open plan, which thoughtfully included rest areas for pets and smokers alike. She also spoke to the lack of humor within cultural spaces and decided to headline her museum with “See Van Gogh’s Ear”!

 


Maraya Lopez, No Barriers to Entry

Meridith’s work reminded Karla how she takes away memories from museum experiences, with pictures coming alive in her head and images layered over and over each other.


Meridith McNeal, No Barriers to Entry

Ed’s piece was impressive with his concept of scale, and one could only imagine what it would be like to sit next to such large paintings in a single space.

 


Ed Rath, No Barriers to Entry

Ed explains: “After drawing my museum space, I decided to include a bench, to offer the intrepid museum visitor a place to sit and rest their weary legs, the better to take in the art, with comfort.  While drawing the said bench, I remembered the following preamble to the story of Sinbad the Sailor, from Scheherazade's, One Thousand and One Arabian Nights:

 

The story begins with a character called, "Sinbad the Porter."  Sinbad the Porter transports goods through-out the city of Baghdad, carrying the large bundles on his head.  On this particular day, he is transporting a heavier-than-usual load.  It is hot, and he is tired.  He spies a bench under a tree in front of a house, so he sets his burden down, and sits on the bench.  He begins to pray aloud, thanking Allah for giving him his job as a porter, for giving him the bench and the shade of the tree, and for of all the other good things he has in his life.

 

The owner of the house, standing by an open window, overhears Sinbad the Porter's prayer.  He is so moved, he comes out and introduces himself: "I am Sinbad the Sailor - who are you?"  "I am Sinbad the Porter”, comes the reply. "Would you please join us for some refreshments," replied Sinbad the Sailor, "and honor us with your presence at the mid-day meal?" 

 

Sinbad the Sailor then leads him into the house, introduces him to his guests, and asks him to recite the prayer he gave a few minutes earlier on the bench.  The guests are equally moved by Sinbad the Porter's piety and grace, and welcome him to the meal as a brother and friend.

 

After the sumptuous meal is over, Sinbad the Sailor begins the telling of the tale of his first voyage…….


Edmund Dulac, Illustration from Sinbad the Sailor and other stories from the Arabian Nights, 1914
 

This week, Marilyn, Karla, Meridith and I resumed with our “Watching the Wallpaper” meetings - informal Zoom meetings where our goal is to strengthen our tight knit ART YARD community and grow our skills. 

 

Maraya recaps: “Inspired by Sharon Louden’s “Needs and Wants” discussions, I decided to pose the question, “What are your needs and wants” during our after-class wallpaper meeting.

 

Collaboratively, we brainstormed ways of helping Marilyn start writing about art she sees in San Francisco. Coming from a Scientific background, writing about art is a bit intimidating for Marilyn. Together, we threw out names like John Berger, John Yau, Hilton Als, Peter Schjeldahl and Roberta Smith as jumping off points.



The group also came up with helpful ways Karla could go about documenting her artwork and gaining more exposure as an artist, since living in Kansas and away from a major art hub can sometimes be challenging when it comes to artistic resources.

 

Meridith was thrilled to have an empathetic crew to vent the frustrations of organizing big exhibitions, and taxes!

 

I shared my recent experience of becoming a member of an art mentorship program, where I feel like it is helpful but with a lot of work to do before seeing results.”


 

In her ART YARD Advanced Studio (in person in our studio at BWAC) teaching debut, Sigrid Dolan presented her comrades in art with a lesson on, The Use of Grids in Picture Making


Sigrid front left in blue with class at work

Ed describes the session. “Sigrid started the lesson showing examples of artwork by various artists, and asked us to describe how the featured artists utilized grids in their work.  Sigrid pointed out that some artists and designers use the grid in a rigid, unyielding way (like tile design lay-outs in the NYC Subway,) while others may distort the grid, or the view of the grid, to get special effects in their pictures.



The discussion then segued into how each participant understood the grid, and to what degree we use grids in our own work.  It was noted that grids can be found in Excel Spreadsheets, Architectural Tile Lay-Outs, Scientific Data Charts, as well as Pixilated Computer Generated Imagery. 


D-L Alvarez, \ , 2003

Mildred Beltré, Seen and Heard

Sigrid describes the nitty gritty of her session:


“A Grid is defined as

1. A framework of spaced bars that are parallel to or cross each other

2. a network of lines that cross each other to form a series of squares or rectangles

 

We asked: where are the places we encounter grids? What are they used for and what are the different ways we experience them? (knitting instructions, subway tiles, floors, mosaics, walls, maps) 

 

Structures exist to organize society, information, humans. The grid is a structure that can help us organize visual information. We created work influenced by our associations the grid structure. We began our work by drawing a grid, from there it was a choice whether to adhere to that regular grid structure or deviate from it. A grid can be drawn with a ruler for precision and straight lines or it can be hand drawn for a more distorted frame. 

 

 A grid can be used to scale and organize graphic elements on a page, in relation to other graphic elements on the page, or relation to other parts of the same graphic element or shape. We worked with the idea of the grid to create work that conforms to the structure or breaks out of and complicates it. 

 

How can grids be used to help us structure an image but not let it dictate all of the image? How does a grid help us to faithfully reproduce an image or to distort an image?”

 

We then set to work making artworks incorporating grids into our designs.


Ed Rath’s piece in progress on left (my image of Ed’s finished piece is unusable, I will retake the photo and update next week.), Ajani and Evelyn at work.

Vee Tineo, An interpretation of the Grid
Meridith McNeal, An interpretation of the Grid

Sigrid Dolan, An interpretation of the Grid

Kevin Anderson, An interpretation of the Grid & preliminary sketches

At critique it was noted that everyone took an individual approach to applying the concept of a grid to their artwork, resulting in an array of work that incorporated observation, imagination, and systematic measuring.  Some images even contained the illusion of three dimensional forms, as well as deep space.  It was a delightful mix of individual concepts, executed with a wide range of techniques.


Chloe Kaas, An interpretation of the Grid

Christine Willis, An interpretation of the Grid

Ajani Russell, An interpretation of the Grid

Evelyn Beliveau, preliminary scetches for grid piece

Evelyn Beliveau, An interpretation of the Grid

Complements to Sigrid followed, for a concise and engaging lesson taught with verve and clarity.  It was a joy to witness Sigrid step up to teach us a tough lesson with such confidence and composure.  We very much look forward to her next lesson.


 

Speaking of grids, today at ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6 Dennis, Evelyn, and Evelyn Gabriella continued their work. 


PS 6 third graders work together to attach thier work into a grided mural

Evelyn sums up the day: "This week, we concluded the lesson cycle on Aleatoric Drawing at PS 6, during which students learned about using chance operations to make art within the structure of a grid. Dennis, Evelyn Gabriela, and I (Evelyn) were impressed by students’ diligent work and finished pieces.


Students were starting in a few different places this week—some had finished their squares last time, while others had a few more boxes to go. After a quick refresher on the step-by-step process (using dice rolls and coin flips to choose different shapes and types of hatching), those who were working on their squares dove right back in. Those who had finished gathered around to learn about the final stage of the process: attaching all the individual squares together into a large collaborative piece."


PS 6 third graders at work




PS 6 students at work. Photo by Edward Grant Keegan 311

Students learned about the word “collaborative” and offered thoughts and explanations on the meaning of this concept, including Isabella’s example of two businesses working together. Then, I demonstrated how to carefully align each square flush against the next and tape them along the back so that the tape doesn’t show from the front. It was tricky to keep the squares perfectly aligned, but students worked together and succeeded, eagerly adding new rows of squares as their classmates finished shading in their individual pieces. Finally, we were able to flip over the whole piece and see all the grids together. We discussed how the randomness of the process meant that the squares could be attached in any orientation or configuration. Students eagerly pointed out connections between squares by different artists, lines and shapes that happened to continue from one student’s square into the next, and connections to real-world phenomena like ice cream cones, the sun, and basketballs. Students reacted to the piece as a whole, noting the dizzying, unpredictable feeling of looking at the collection of random squares, but also the likeness between each square in the grid due to the shared process that each student followed in their own way. Each class’s mural-sized piece is ingrained with the hard work of each student on their individual squares and their collaborative work to attach the pieces. These three classes should be very proud of themselves!


PS 6 fifth graders at work, & art in progress


PS 6 students at work.

Photos by Ethan Flores and Liam Lopez room 311


I couldn’t help but draw a connection between this Friday’s lesson and the Advanced Studio lesson I attended on Tuesday, taught by ART YARD Artist Sigrid Dolan, on the disruption of the grid. Ideas that came up at Advanced Studio, like the grid as an organizing tool, feel relevant here, too. Sigrid encouraged us to brainstorm ways that grids show up in day-to-day life; I’d add to the list some associations that come up as I look at the finished pieces by PS 6 students: a quilt, a board game map, a maze, and a word puzzle (in an alphabet the world has never seen!)."


 

Other Art News


Save the date (4/2/24) for AYB Artist Vee Tineo’s upcoming thesis exhibition for their MFA at Queens College: 



 

AYB Teaching Artists Golnar Adili and Midred Beltré have work included in Disrupting the Grid: Selections from the Kentler Flatfiles, curated by Hannah Israel at Kentler International Drawing Space, 353 Van Brunt Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn through March 24, 2024.




 

You are encouraged to join us in Harlem at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling from 6-8pm on Wednesday March 6th!!  


ART YARD Artist Golnar Adili has work included in the group exhibition Structural Play and my (Meridith) solo exhibition Things That Happened opens in the Museum’s Salon Gallery.


Golnar Adili, “Found in Translation: A Story of Language, Play and a Personal Archive"

 

💙♥️💚🩵🧡


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