Reflections, an exhibition of work by many ART YARD Teaching Artists, is installed at St. Joseph's College Alumni Room Gallery. The exhibition looks fantastic and I hope everyone will have a chance to visit, however...
* Please be advised that St. Joseph's has cancelled academic activities until March 27th due to Covid-19 concerns. As soon as we have information about amended gallery open hours and public programming I will post an update.
In the meantime, I thought you might be interested in knowing more about the exhibition!
St. Joseph’s College Alumni Room Gallery
March 11 – April 22, 2020
As I walk along our Brooklyn streets, or meander down twisting alleys in London, or inch along tiny cobbled sidewalks in Rome, there is something which inevitably makes me stop in my tracks. A window. Lately that windowphilia which compels me as an artist has taken on an additional layer. It is the siren call of reflections which clearly beckon, with an invitation to peer in that window but that also ask me to stop, wait, and look more closely at layers of external and internal space. It is this graceful confusion which I paint in my Inside Outside Windowphilia.
Our thematic approach to ART YARD education programs gives us the opportunity to build layered, deep, and at times esoteric learning. As teaching artists, we pull from our own artwork as we develop lessons. Reg Lewis draws his portraits included in Reflections on a canvas of several Scantron test sheets, shading the entire canvas with charcoal, and then erasing away the dark surface until the features magically emerge to create light-emphasized portraits -- portraits designed to provide a more accurate profile of the student than does the standardized testing model of measurement/assessment. Our students created stunning self-portraits in Reg’s lesson Pro-Test: Distortion of the Self(ie) Taking...Appropriate Academic Assessment inspired by his own work.
Children and adults alike find it hard to resist the allure of one’s reflection in the funhouse mirror. In her installation "Pleased to Meet Me," Cecile Chong employs this compulsion and then invites the viewer to think about how our perception of ourselves and others is influenced by our own cultural experiences and filters.
Mirrors aren’t the only thing that can replicate an image. Quentin Williamston draws our attention to the built environment in his architecturally inspired drawings. Using bright oil pastel on black paper, Candy Heiland depicts the flames reflected upon the face of a professional side show fire eater. There are times that multiple views or ideas become possible. Ed Rath’s painting is a view of his block on Plymouth Street, showing both sides of the street in both directions. While in a rehab facility healing from a badly broken leg, Marie Roberts was compelled to draw in the less-busy evening hours. Marie explains: “When I was able to use a wheelchair, I started rolling around the facility to draw the fish and the empty at night activity room windows. I found myself noticing my reflection in both places and thought -- draw and see what happens. The practice seemed to be a focus on mark-making with materials and a record of the fight to expand my boundaries.”
A reflection can also be a thought, idea, or opinion formed or a remark made as a result of meditation. Rachael Wren’s deeply layered painting presents as she puts it “the watery kind as well as the meditative kind (of reflection).” Fatima Traore posits: “While everyone’s lineage is specific and unique to each individual, reflecting helps us recognize that’s what all humans have in common. Our experiences and the ones of our ancestors have been sewn into our memories by always looking back in time.” Indeed. This opens a dialogue exploring musings of personal and cultural history, three artists present varied approaches: Claudia Alvarez surrounds a surrogate self in a beautiful gown of indigenous Mexican flowers; Felix Plaza layers letters and personal mementos to stir memory; and Jane Huntington has gone out on a quest to photograph actual significant locations from her childhood.
We are all products of our time. The world and events around us spark a consideration of current events, subjects, ideas, or purpose. As artists this compels us to make work. Richard Estrin reflects upon climate change in his new series “Taxonomy of late 21st Century Flora,” an imaginary mashup of disparate plants, based on musings of what will happen as our climate changes. “Countdown – The Amazon” by Brazilian born artist Flávia Berindoague maps forest regions of her homeland unapologetically raised and decimated by the government. In her embroidered piece “Do You Love Me?,” Iviva Olenick alludes to anti-immigrant policies while pleading with the U.S. to fulfill its promise of the American Dream. Susan Hamburger’s handmade paper work reflects upon our cultural fetish with guns, which, as Susan adds, is “unfortunately an issue we have to reflect upon every week.”
The artists included in this exhibition invite you to reflect upon our work and hope to share some of the ideas that compel us in the studio. We are a community of creative thinkers, expansive dreamers, and well-educated art makers. We believe that the practice of learning, creating, thinking, and discussing art nourishes people of all ages in body, mind, heart, and spirit. In addition, the creative act of looking outside oneself can help to foster a sense of civic responsibility and awareness of social justice.
Together we are ART YARD BKLYN offering art education programs for kids as young as four through young adults, providing direct access to contemporary visual art. This exhibition gives us the opportunity to share with you to the work we are doing in our own studios, which in turn inspires us in the classroom.
Meridith McNeal, Curator
Oil on Canvas
56 x 48”
Untitled, 2020 oil on canvas, is conjured from fragments taken from memory. I am interested in how we remember certain things and how it shapes our identity. Re-imagining what is experienced, what is observed, and how cultural practices evolve and change is curious in the development of my practice. I remember how abstract it was to attend the Mexican rodeo as a child.
Countdown – Amazon, 2019
(pictured in progress)
Ink on watercolor paper
36 x 42”
Countdown – Amazon, is part of a series of drawings mapping regions in Brazil were catastrophes are provoked by human activities and Brazilian government lawless – forced catastrophes. It reflects on time, the countdown, but also the capitalism future that orients only the present. A future nourished by the capital, always produced from the standpoint of future capital accumulation, and the modern, progressive promise of future wealth.
Pleased to Meet Me, 2020
(earlier manifestation of the piece pictured)
Vinyl and reflective mylar on plexiglass
40 x 20”
Pleased to Meet Me is a three-color reflective composition emphasizing that the way we see others and the way others see us are based on and limited to our own cultural filters and experiences. This updated version of "Pleased to Meet Me" invites viewers to see their fragmented reflection in a geometric composition.
Taxonomy of the 21st Century: Helianthus Caryophyliaes, 2019
Watercolor on paper
12 x 9"
As I walk through my neighborhood, I think about how it has changed;
People pushing prams, engaging with their hand and headphones,
Pushing past piles of cardboard at curbside,
Past the dumpsters that and their companion construction,
I wonder if the crab grass growing in concrete cracks is noticed, or the volunteers, the resistance, advancing toward flower. Are the trees budding too early?
In the paintings of the Taxonomy for the 21st Century, I reflect on our way of living by imagining the impact that environmental change would have on the flowers that we grow. The flowers are a metaphor, the paintings a fantastical consideration of adaptations common plants could make in order to survive in a world of uncommon change.
Time for Some Guns and Roses, I, 2019 Handmade paper
13 x 11”
My work is made in response to current political, economic and cultural events while referencing the decorative arts of eighteenth and nineteenth century Western Europe and North America. As artists, we reflect upon ideas, filtering and refracting them through the lenses of materials, media, cultural bias and personal obsessions. These pieces are part of an ongoing series in handmade paper, contemplating our national fetish with guns.
Oil pastel on paper
20 x 24”
Inspired by color, light and movement, I create images that invoke a sense of childlike wonder.
The dictionary describes reflection as:
1) the amount of light, heat, or sound reflected by a body or surface.
2) Serious thought or consideration
Here, the flames reflect and illuminate her face as she focuses intently on the progression of the fire.
The archive project: Master’s School 10-21-10, #5-21, 2010
Archival Ink Jet Print, Hahnenuele Photo Rag
Signed, A/P (artist proof)
24 x 24"
"Reflection: Thought, consideration, contemplation, study, deliberation, mediation, musing, rumination, cogitation, brooding, agonizing, cerebration, pondering."
I think too much. In fact, I think all the time. Recurring thoughts churn inside my brain. Whatever relief I can get, I take it. I look at the same things every day. On my commute, in my studio, in my home. Certain landmarks held some sort of ritualistic meaning for me that’s hard to describe. It has always been this way.
A few years back, I made a series of road trips to places to loomed large in my memory. Sometimes they were hard to find, but when I did, I could not help but ruminate on the direction my life has taken. They are an echo, a mirror, a likeness of who I am. They are part of me.
Pro-Test: Distortion of the Self(ie), 2019
Charcoal on Scranton test sheets
10.5 x 11”
As a teacher in the NYC Department of Education, I encounter countless students in all sorts of minor to major meltdown over the pressure that comes with the belief that their value and identity, in part, as human beings has been reduced to the results of high stakes examinations. This work is an exercise of appropriating the Scantron assessment tool by turning it into a canvas for direct, more accurate personal reflection through (self) portrait.
Inside Outside Violins (Shorditch, London), 2019
Watercolor on paper
41 x 55"
Three things want a frame to give them structure: a painting, a story, and a window. All take different kinds of framing, of course, but the concept is similar: physical or abstract, a frame implies a viewpoint. It is where you start from.
Where you end up, on the other hand, is another matter entirely, because frames—for paintings, for stories, or for windows—are not so simple. They are points of entry that at the same time throw up barriers and define boundaries: the viewer is on one side or the other. A frame simultaneously organizes, invites, points the way, and separates.
Windows, in particular, invite a multiplicity of meanings. Add a reflective surface, so light can work its magic, and you bring a sort of graceful confusion: what is on one side can coexist with what is on the other, the space behind and before the viewer overlaid. Where you have been shows itself side by side with where you are, or where you may yet be going.
America, Do You Love Me?, 2018
Embroidery on fabric
22 x 26.5"
When Donald Trump received the Republican party nomination in 2016, I felt sure he would win the election. Faced with feelings of fear, mourning and despair as the election drew closer and occurred, I began a series of flags, Ascent/Dissent: Flags for Peace. Rather than rail against the forces, beliefs and individuals supporting Trump's win or any one person, the flags are rallies to reflect on how we as a country and as a people arrived in this political moment, and how we can gain some sense of control over our rights and welfare.
The specific flag exhibited here, America, Do You Love Me? reflects my concerns for immigrants. In the text, I refer to DREAMers, young, undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by parents at a young age. Through Obama's temporary Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (2012), DREAMers received work permits, but never citizenship or legal status. DACA did enable young, undocumented immigrants to get jobs legally and participate in the economy and workforce. While Obama's Congress failed to pass more comprehensive legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship for DREAMers, Trump began phasing out the less comprehensive DACA in September 2017, making the lives of young, undocumented immigrants even more tenuous. This artwork asks us to reflect on what we owe DREAMers and how we can support them.
Dressmakers Form, 2018
30 x 22.5''
This is a form I use , whose shape immediately refers to women. In a series pertaining to Goddesses, Priestesses and Amazons, I took this form and imbedded it with images correlating to said woman. This "DRESSMAKER'S FORM" is the start of the series and led me to take form and put objects, people and other ephemera within it. I am constantly seeking to reconstruct my life-through found family photos, objects that connect with memories, written words-such as letters from my mother and poems that cause me to reflect on the composition of life-mine.
Plymouth Street, 2018
Acrylic on canvas
36 x 48”
My work derives primarily from personal narrative. The subject matter comes from dreams, nightmares, memories, and my emotional reaction to the world around me. Plymouth Street is a view of my street in DUMBO with a reflection in the puddled water along the cobblestones.
Cresskill Rec Room, 2019
10 x 7”
Ink on paper
I was in a rehab facility in Cresskill, NJ from December 26, 2018 to February 15, 2019.
When I was able to use a wheelchair I started rolling around the facility to draw the fish and the empty at night activity room windows.
I found myself noticing my reflection in both places and thought - draw and see what happens. The practice seemed to be a focus on mark making with materials. And a record of the fight to expand my boundaries.
Stories Intertwined, 2020
Acrylic on wood panel
11 x 8.5” (each panel)
The human experience today has been predetermined by the humans who have already come and gone. As we exist in the world, we have always placed emphasis on who and what took place before us. Our lives have been shaped and formed by previous events, experiences, and emotions that happened before our lives began. When we consider who we are, we reflect on the generations before us. It helps us determine where our characteristics, skills, talents, and traditions come from. As we reflect on who we are, a variety of information reveals itself to also let us know why we are in turn, we reflect our ancestors and their stories in our existence.
This body of work shows how a story can be passed down through generations. The continuous quilt symbolizes the connection between generations of people through history, roots, faith, and willpower. While everyone’s lineage is specific and unique to each individual, reflecting helps us recognize that’s what all humans have in common. Our experiences and the ones of our ancestors have been sewn into our memories by always looking back in time.
Reflection Drawing (the stable moment),2020
Ink and watercolor on paper
22 x 21.5”
Reflections are frequently observed in our environment through a variety of different forms. We watch as our shadows reflect on isolated walls, in puddles as we tip toe across the street during torrential downpour, as we brush our teeth in the bathroom mirror and etc. Patterns and building ornament are often reflected in many overlooked areas. The perspective show aims to target these moments that are often forgotten and pinpoints the significance of unsung, yet isolated winsomeness. In every moment there is always something of interest that may not be seen right away and we must be aware of these occasions.
Oil on linen
36 x 36”
My paintings use geometry to give form and structure to ephemeral natural phenomena. I am drawn to moments in nature when form and space seem to mingle, when edges disappear and atmosphere becomes all-encompassing — fog playing between tree branches, light shining through clouds, the water’s horizon as it meets the sky. In my work, hints of landscape emerge and then dissolve into layers of subtly shifting color and mark. The small, discrete brushstrokes accumulate into dense, shimmering spaces, echoing the fundamental particles that compose all matter. They hover and vibrate between the crisp lines of an anchoring grid, an interplay that suggests the universal duality between structure and randomness, order and chaos, the known and the unknown.
Through my gradual process of layering brush marks and visually weaving colors together, I create quiet, meditative spaces which invite viewers to slow down in front of them. The paintings ask for careful consideration, revealing the layers of their making and meaning over time, and offering a place for reflection as an antidote to the frenetic pace and clamor of the modern world.