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Liminal Spaces

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

We kicked off the week with ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom with Artist Eden Moore presenting a terrific session exploring “in-between-ness”. In which we created a self portrait exploring our own liminal experiences based on the work of Oscar yi Hou as seen in his exhibition East of sun, west of moon currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum.


Oscar yi Hou, East of the sun, erst of the moon

From the Brooklyn Museum press materials: “At a time of heightened violence against Asian communities across the United States, Oscar yi Hou questions what it means to be “Asian American” and who is considered “American.” Oscar yi Hou: East of sun, west of moon, named for a poem by the artist, comprises eleven of his recent figurative paintings. In some works, yi Hou casts his friends and himself as East Asian figures from Western history and visual culture, ranging from nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants to Son Goku of the popular media franchise Dragon Ball. In others, the artist depicts his sitters—many of whom, like him, identify as part of a queer, Asian creative community—in traditionally white, masculine roles, upending long-standing stereotypes.”


We were all pleased that Nayarit, whose coursework in her graduate program at SUNY Buffalo has kept her from attending regularly, participated in the session. Nayarit recounts: “One of the main takeaways that I had from Eden’s wonderful lesson is the idea of liminality which Eden described as “The feeling of being in between places and identities.” It made me think of the different facets and hats that we all carry, not only how we identify ourselves, but how others may perceive us to be. This being both liberating or limiting to take these labels as our own. This lesson made me think of how complex people can be and how we all go through changes in one way or another.


This was a powerful lesson to say the least because it made us all reflect on who we were, who we are, what we value and what makes us tick . One of the things Marilyn said was that after this lesson, we all learned someone new about each other and isn’t that what art is all about ! To reflect and express oneself , so that others can understand your viewpoint, your world.


It was a wonderful taking a seat again in the work that ART YARD does, seeing new faces and old ones of how we can all come together and show our wonderful pieces with each other.”


Abby and Kevin (still in progress) illustrated the liminal spaces of moving along in their educational process and the balancing act of our various pursuits.


Abbrielle Johnson, In-between-ness

We were pleased to welcome Kevin’s friend, Richard Lee Chong, currently enrolled in the Studio Art department at Brooklyn College to Advanced Studio.


Richard Lee Chong, In-between-ness

Assata and Pat looked at the swirl of liminal spaces we can be bombarded with every day. Assata thinks about how she can change her approach to any given situation with a chameleon-like change of outfit.


Assata Benoit, In-between-ness

Pat explained during critique that she has been feeling very fractured and that "in-between-ness" rather sums up her day-to-day. It illustrate her state of mind and liminal experiences she cut up her painted portrait and arranged the fragments in her finished work.


Pat Larash, In-between-ness

Karla shares: “In my piece I depicted the slow decades of transition for women rights as well as my own cultural transition to working on zoom with ART YARD Artists from NYC and beyond. In effect, it is a piece exploring the in-between-ness surrounding issues of location, voice and identity.”


Karla Prickett, In-between-ness

Eden and Marilyn used close-up views of their faces, and in the style of Oscar yi Hou created a frame to tell the story. Eden of going back and forth from Brooklyn to London where she is in film school. Marilyn presenting symbols of her career as a virologist and her post-retirement embracing of her creative and artistic self.


Eden Moore, In-between-ness

Marilyn August, In-between-ness

Nayarit and Vera both looked at the liminality of having a foot in two cultures, while often feeling excluded from both.


Nayarit Tineo, In-between-ness

Vera Tineo, In-between-ness


Rachel explains: “A few years ago, I attended a coding boot camp and transitioned from working in the art world to working in the tech world. Three years later, I still feel unmoored between the two places. Tech has its own language, and I sometimes still feel like an interloper, still trying to adjust to the dialect and way of life. I also do not want to give up my creativity or deep knowledge of the arts.”


Rachel Rath, In-between-ness

"Also, speaking of liminal spaces", Rachel adds,"… I went to the Jewish museum yesterday, and look at my two sketchbook pages combined!"


Rachel Rath, Sketchbook Liminal Spaces

Using cut shaped paper painted with watercolor, I depicted my hand holding a paintbrush to represent the artistic process. Sitting on the brush is a woodpecker, a bird which symbolizes money and income.


Meridith McNeal, In-between-ness

In Abriel's lovely painting, her use of a chrysalis as a symbol of potential and change had me make a comparison to the similarly symbolic wrapped babies found in Cecile Chong's encaustic paintings and sculpturally in her installations.


Abriel (Bob) Gardener, In-between-ness

(Left to right) Cecile Chong, Home To Roost (look for the little green figures in the trees)

Cecile in her installation _other Nature - Cicadian Rhythm (see the glowing shapes surrounding Cecile)


Rachel shared this photo of Jacob wearing his hand-embroidered yarmulke (featuring the the nickname friends use for Rachel and Rich as a couple) at their wedding with monks performing the ceremony in the background. What a perfect visual for Eden’s session!


Jacob at Rachel and Rich (AKA Richel)'s wedding

Eden sums up: "The lesson went better than expected. Bringing in aspects of Oscar Yi Hou and Rachel’s wedding filled people with really introspective thoughts in relation to how they fit into their own cultures that was reflected in their artwork. I appreciated that Kevin thought I was looking at an aspect of Asian American racism that isn’t touched on often and that a focus on the liminal “in-betwee-ness” of identities made him feel “warm and fuzzy.” I am also glad that everybody made such great work that I found thoughtful and accomplished, even with new additions, like Richard."

 

It was Regents Week (New York State Regents Examinations) at The East New York High School of Arts and Civics. Students' schedules were changed in accordance with testing, which put their art classes on hiatus for the week. Dennis and Fatima took advantage of the time to research images and videos to show students next week in preparation of an upcoming project, "Portraits Celebrating Black History".


(Left to right, top to bottom) Kehinde Wiley looking at his painting with President Barack Obama; President President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama with their portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald; Kehinde Wiley with section of a painting; and Kehinde Wiley shakes hands with President Barack Obama.

 

Dennis, Evelyn and Sarah were back for the next installment of ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6.


Evelyn, Sarah and Dennis in action at PS 6


Dennis summarizes: “Finishing up our cycle at PS 6, our partnership school in Jersey City, Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau guided students in the completion of their Four Seasons accordion books. While already well versed in various watercolor painting techniques from Evelyn's earlier classes, students put the finishing touches to their works. Sarah Gumgumji was on hand to offer additional support and guidance.


Student artist proudly displays their work

Interesting to me is when students often ask for a Sharpie to add detail to their works - and we encourage them to use a tiny paint brush instead. Some students start off frustrated but then found the patience to paint slowly (important!!) and achieve success - and satisfaction!


Individual pages on student Four Season Accordion Books (click arrows to scroll through work.)


Completed Student Four Season Accordion Books


Evelyn created a fantastic 'word bank' to be used during critique - as sometimes students can't find the appropriate descriptive words. Some words were subjective with various meanings, but students used many in their comments and compliments. It was a complete success and will, no doubt, be used for future lessons. I sent the list of words (seen here) to the classroom teachers the day before our lesson - to help students become familiar with these terms - so they arrived well-prepared and anxious to impress us with their newly acquired art related vocabulary words."


Evelyn's "word bank" chart

Student work on the windowsill with Jersey City Skyline. (Photo Dennis Buonagura)

 

Other Art News


Speaking of liminality…It is interesting to delve into artworks that bridge art forms, and artists who move fluidly between mediums and/or forms of expression.


A great example of that is the multi-talented Barbara Chase-Riboud’s recently published I Always Knew: A Memoir. The extraordinary life story of the celebrated artist and writer, as told through four decades of letters to her mother.



The book is a time-ordered collection of the missives the artist wrote to her mother between 1957 and 1991. As most letters to a loved one tend to go, the writing easily drifts between chatty and personal, into a bit gossipy and newsy, and then to big-picture important issues. Coming from the heart, a bit raw, often funny, and deeply moving even from the start. It is no surprise that Chase-Ribaud became as renown as an author as she became for her gorgeous abstract sculpture. The adventurous spirit and far reaching intellect jump off the page to inspire! I highly recommend I Always Knew: A Memoir.


 

Continuing our theme, this week Dennis went to see The Collaboration a play exploring the collaboration between artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol at the Manhattan Theatre Company.



Dennis reviews: “I always wonder, when sitting in the theatre, how much of what the playwright is telling me is to be believed. I'm in full agreement that one should learn from a play but also understand that it’s the playwright’s (Anthony McCarten) story. Whenever I see a ‘bio-drama’ (a word I don't use - but that’s what they're called these days), I go in with an open mind about the story that I am going to see and try to not think about what’s fact or fiction. In “The Collaboration”, the playwright tells us about how a bond is formed between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. They were both reluctant to work together (coerced by their mutual art dealer) and seemed gigantically opposite in their views about the NY art scene. By the 2nd act, they have become extremely close friends, but the playwright leaves that to the audience’s acceptance - we don't know how and why they bond, but they just do. Things may or may not be true, but it makes for a good theatrical concept.

The staging is smart, altho not my speed. Lots of b/w videos (representing Warhol’s constant filming) and the presentation of their painting together/individually (facing the audience - no canvas - just ‘air-painting’, most times) worked well. The set in the 2nd act is Basquiat’s Great Jones Street apartment/studio with tons of cash falling out of its’ fridge. The drug scenes are disturbing but I suppose important to tell the story - I mean, they should be disturbing. Since it’s set in NY in the 80’s, a bit of too loud disco-type music and an (in my opinion) annoyingly happy DJ spinning LPs.

There’s another character - Maya, a former girlfriend of Basquiat’s who’s terrific (the actor, that is) - again, I'm not sure if Maya and the art dealer are, or were based on, real people. And that’s totally fine. Maya sets the tone for Warhol and Basquiat’s intense care for each other and pulls those final pieces of the play together. The playwright seemed to have taken a lot of care in making things gel thru Maya (in my opinion).

Dennis captions: "Reminder: we do NOT take photos in the theatre. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel for the Manhattan Theatre Club "

Jeremy Pope is an actor I like (I've seen most everything he’s done) and since I don't know what Basquiat was really like (meaning speech, body language, etc.), I’d say he characterized his role as a upcoming artist in the 1980’s and probably intentionally did not offer an impersonation. Paul Bettany is Warhol - I've seen him in British dramas so his being Warhol was refreshing to me. Same goes for his role - he’s Warhol-esque but not impersonating. He does have funny lines (thanks to the playwright - not sure if Warhol was that witty?): “I am human, even if I don't look it” and “I’ve never been the same since she shot me”. There’s a lot about Basquiat and Madonna being a couple - is that true? Don't know.

I do recommend it - it’s a well pieced together play. Knowing about Warhol and Basquiat’s lives and their friendship is not important to the enjoyment of the piece. It’s a transferred play from London, now thru Manhattan Theatre Company (it’s a limited run) and I understand it’s being filmed for a near-future release.”

 

HIP-HIP-HOORAY!!


Hearty congratulations to ART YARD Artist Jacob Rath who has been accepted into the Montessori Training Program in Perugia, Italy!


“Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) empowers teachers and communities through the holistic approach of Maria Montessori, helping all children become truly capable and productive individuals by focusing on their moral, behavioral, emotional, and intellectual development.”



The mission of AMI is very much in line with ART YARD goals and we are so proud of Jacob for taking this next step in his teacher training.


 

We are thrilled to announce that ART YARD Artist Karla Prickett has been awarded a 2023 Horizons Grant through The Salina Arts & Humanities Foundation which will support her travel to NYC for an ART YARD Residency during Summer Session 2023! Karla will both present as a teaching artist and participate in the program.

Horizons Grants support initiatives demonstrating a commitment to artistic excellence and community involvement by engaging audience members as active participants. Applicants also are encouraged to develop strategic partnerships to strengthen the reach of their local activities. This as much an honor for ART YARD as it is for Karla!


This project will be funded in part by the Horizons Grants Program of the Salina Arts and Humanities Foundation. Funding is provided by Horizons, a private donor group.


 

Kudos to ART YARD Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick! Dennis just shared this screen shot of the latest news from the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable announcing the 2023 cohort of the New York State Teaching Artist Mentorship Program:



 

🖤



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