Updated: Jan 8
This week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on Zoom Teaching Artist Sarah Gumgumji, who is currently working towards her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy at SVA, presented a session called Lost & Found in which we explored the ideas of maze and labyrinth.
Sarah shared the work of artists Nadia Kaabi, Kenton Avery, Janaina Mello Landini, and Rogan Brown as inspiration. (shown in that order below) She then asked us to use the materials of our choice as we created our own visual maze.
Sarah summarizes the session: “As we are at the beginning of a new year, it is a good time to explore our understanding of the path or collection of paths that we faced in the last year. That tackled we can then set a goal is a way to guide our focus and momentum in life for the new year. To help Advanced Studio Artists in this aim, I presented the concept of maze and labyrinth as it is increasingly found in therapeutic settings as an aid to meditation and mindfulness.
Everyone created a fantastic maze pattern. Others made a scene to show the path for each of us in life or a collection of paths from struggles, happiness, and power through layered painting in maze imagery, typically from an entrance to a goal as we listened to relaxing music.
We are all different from each other in life, and each one of us draws different paths. We go through various stages that make our lives station like a maze, but in the end, we are all heading towards a goal that we want to reach in our life.
For example, Naya created a brain with a maze, our brain works like a maze on how we think, deal, and live life.
Jane expressed her recent loss and bereavement by having a rabbit's transitional object and creating a maze of the rabbit way to move. Meridith added that the rabbit imagery was one that Jane has employed in her work in the past, one that is deeply connected to childhood. Thus all the more poignant.
Jane Huntington, Rabbit Mazes
Meridith created her maze drawing a mandala inspired by a lace doily hand-made by her great grandmother with gold paint.
Meridith McNeal, Lace Maze and detail
While Ed's maze is a path to find a treasured object as per the great Alchemical Quest to turn lead into gold.
Abby, Wayne, Delphine, Zeke, Vera and I created our own maze pattern representing specific emotions in our lives.
Madison and Nayarit made a path to a particular direction they wanted to reach. For example, Madison started her way to a subway station by finding the subway light, and Nayarit created her goal as an Islamic building she wants to build as a lover of an architect.
Robin's concept was very emotional, and she drew herself walking through a maze and feeling all of the struggles that she had in the past year, as she added text explaining her situation with each path she was taking.”
Kevin continued working on his piece during the week and describes his concept: “My perception of a maze, in relation to personal development, is that it may have a start point, but the end goal does not really exist because we are still developing and growing as human beings. Therefore, the start point is the heart in the middle, which is pumping blood to the developing person at the top of the page. As we age, we continue to assimilate new experiences until the day we leave this earth. Therefore, there is really no foreseen end goal as long as our hearts are still beating.
Marilyn kept working as well. She writes: "I added some more stones on the road of My journey through life.
Karla sends an updated image of her piece which is collage on paper: precipitation maps, sewing pattern pieces, mazes from newspaper, three pieces. From bridge construction graphic and pen/ink stippling. She explains: “My expression of the challenges we navigate on a daily basis…the creative problem solving we employ to reach our target as Sarah depicted in her drawing of the stars. Enjoyed the lesson and can’t wait to see what I missed when while my computer connection didn’t reach MY goal!”
We were all taken with this meditative and healing process and give great compliments to Sarah for introducing us to the artists in her presentation!
On Tuesday ART YARD Advanced Studio in person headed up to Harlem to the Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling to see ART YARD Teaching Artist and Board Member Cecile Chong’s installation _other Nature – Cicadian Rhythm.
Cecile shares: “At the beautiful Sugar Children’s Museum we were greeted by our gracious and generous host, Charlene Melville. Besides my installation, the group was also able to enjoy HOME, the exhibition at the main space with work by artists Max Colby, Suchitra Mattai, Dionis Ortiz, and Albert Peguero. (shown in that order below)
My piece is a two-sided installation. On one side of the fence, one encounters a lush, colorful vertical landscape referencing a healthy, robust, natural environment while the other side suggests a stunted world driven by commercial interests and ravaged by human intervention. I started by sharing her concept, process, and challenges of creating my installation. I also wanted participating artists to think what they can do personally and what we’re doing to slow down the climate crisis that we’re facing. The group set out to work. Everyone was given a cut out of a butterfly and was asked to think about the notion “If you were a butterfly, what environment would you like to live in?”
Materials included black construction paper, glow in the dark cut out shapes and stars, Sharpies, scissors, and double-sided tape. Abby and Naya worked by the installation while the rest of the group stayed and worked on the large steps.
After much hesitation to stop working, we moved on to critique using a UV flashlight, we were able to see the wonderful results of each collage. These results were three-dimensional, surreal, outer worldly as we all heard during critique. Other themes such as sustainability, site specificity, and sound were also discussed.”
We noticed that Kevin and Ed's collages worked very well in proximity:
Side by side images show collages in natural light and black light:
Ed Rath, Moonlit Leaves
Ashleigh Alexandria at work and Butterfly Collage
Vera Tineo, Butterfly Collage
Sarah Gumgumji, Butterflies in Outer-space
Naya Jackson, Butterfly Collage
Our enthusiastic dialogue continued on the C train back to Brooklyn. We all agreed that we very much look forward to continuing our ART YARD Nomadic jaunts to see art in the world.
Robin wrote the next morning to share: “I have not stopped thinking about the space at Sugar Hill Museum! I could not put it all into words last night. When we first walked into space and saw the platform, I thought of the word academia. I instantly knew it was a place for stimulating learning behaviors by means of social/emotional interaction and observation. There is also a similar platform at the High Line with an observation window. That setting would be a good place to take your sketchbook! 😍”
We will most certainly be taking up Charlene’s invitation to return to Sugar Hill for the next contemporary art exhibition in the museum!
Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports at ART YARD Art Matters at BNS: ”It’s a new year - a time to heal - a time to plan. Teaching Artist Fatima Traore and I discussed our goals for 2022 with students at Brooklyn New School and showed examples of various types of vision boards.
Fatima expressed her own goals - she wants to get her driver’s license and buy a car; challenge herself as an artist; and grow a long braid (well, actually, that was one of MY goals too). Students gave Fatima some ideas about what images she could draw to represent these goals.”
The tables were turned and Fatima and Dennis made lists of the students’ goals and offered them some image suggestions. Amongst their ideas: becoming a great soccer player, helping those with food insecurities, becoming a better painter, and being more punctual.
Using colored pencils on drawing paper, students thought carefully about composition and orientation before beginning their vision boards. Their goals were smart and caring and their drawings lovely.
If you are local, I hope you enjoyed the sparkling blanket of snow this morning!