We have concluded the virtual segment of ART YARD Summer Session 2021. These two weeks working with Teaching Artist Reg Lewis have been chockfull of deep introspection, cathartic ideas, rejuvenating practices, meaningful conversation, and inspired artmaking.
A few of us continued working on our Shhh pieces from last week’s session which centered on learning a mindfulness approach to the art making process, incorporating a mind quieting observation strategy to create still life pieces.
Reg reports: “Today was the 8th day and final virtual class of our summer session. The students were challenged to create artworks that reflected the healing, mind quieting strategy of the “Shhh” introduced in last Friday’s class. Words such as silence, surrender, serenity, and space provided additional guidance as the participating artist were genuinely pushed by the difficult challenge of creating images that reflect a mere sound that has an absence of form. Either way, the results were amazing as they created both concrete and abstract representations which revealed the diverse interpretations of the sound gesture of “Shhh.”
Thea Adams Bey, Shhh (ll) (1, 2 and 3)
Marilyn August, Shhh (ll) (1, 2 and 3)
Today's work followed an equally reflective assignment from the previous class (Day 7) which challenged the participating artists to create portraits of their hearts. Before beginning the art making process, the artwork of various artist such as Frida Kahlo, Keith Haring, Jim Dine and our very own Meridith McNeal served as an inspiration, for they each include striking representations of hearts in their work. Essentially, the participants again produced an extraordinary range of interpretations that were truly "heart" felt and imaginative.
Hearts by Zeke Brokaw, Thea Adams Bey, Sigrid Dolan, Nayarit Tineo, Meridith McNeal, Sarah Gumgumji, Reg Lewis, Robin Grant, Marilyn August, Kayla Morales, Karla Prickett, Jacob Rath, Elizabeth Morales, Eden Moore, Akash Wilmont, August Levenson, Eden Moore, and Delphine Levenson:
This class followed behind Tuesday and Wednesday’s classes (Day 5 and 6) which challenged the students to create artwork based on writing prompts that were essentially phrases produced by "an overactive, overwhelmed mind." These phrases were taken from the performance poetry text for the book that will be published for the upcoming ART YARD exhibition in September, “The Way We See It: Reflections Inside & Outside Our Window of Time Spent in the Institution of Mass Education.” Interpretations both direct and indirect forced the participants to reach for ideas that reflected upon their own mental health or reactions to the often demanding external world; some of the other phrases reflected stress, agitation, or emotional challenge while other phrases posed self-reflective thoughts while even others presented unpredictable ideas and/or reactions. Ultimately, the work from those two days helps to emphasize the purpose of today's class which focused upon the "Shhh" as a meditative solution for that overactive, compulsively thinking mind.
Courtroom Lines (Money is Time and Time is Money) by Meridith McNeal, Sarah Gumgumji and Jacob Rath:
Kevin explains his piece: "I did a quick Google search on the parts of an hour glass. The top is the future and the bottom is the past. I tried to show which words apply to myself that are a thing of the past at the bottom half, and which words that apply to myself that I am worried about in the future, which I placed at the top half. The hand at the bottom is supposed to signify how one can be consumed in their past if they are not careful. Another thing to note is the word happiness is stretch in between the bottom and top half."
Thea Adams Bey, Courtroom Lines (part 2) 1, 2 & 3:
Overall, when discussing the impact of the two weeks of classes, many of the participants spoke about the timeliness of the lessons and their calming effect which were indeed designed with healing and restoration in mind. The classes were also noted for creating a safe space where participants were allowed to be honest and vulnerable. So whether incorporated into one's daily practice for wellness or merely used as an occasional reminder to quiet the mind for increased focus or concentration, it is my hope that everyone finds those strategies, techniques and tools which allows them to experience peace and joy in the midst of the chaos and instability of our world. I am grateful to be a part of the healing transformation created by the ART YARD community of wonderful, resourceful artists. And so much great, healing work remains to be done.”
Monday we will continue our meaningful pursuit as we meet in person for the first time in over a year!
Other art news:
ART YARD Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports: “Visiting Morningside Heights is like a mini vacation for some New Yorkers. It was for me and I love it there. The General Grant National Monument (formerly known as Grant’s Tomb); the iconic Riverside Church; this year’s GOATham (yes, they’re baaaaack!); and the Zaq Landsberg Reclining Liberty sculpture in Morningside Park - BUT the highlight of my day trip was a visit to the Interchurch Center on Claremont Avenue seeing Coney Island State Of Mind.
The exhibit features the works of ART YARD Artists Marie Roberts and Candy Heiland, who work in different mediums and styles but offer the viewers a sense of happiness, respect, and comfort about Coney Island.
Marie is the Artist In Residence for the not-for-profit arts center, Coney Island USA, and a native Brooklynite with a remarkable Coney Island family history. If you’ve been to Coney Island, you’ve seen her banner art everywhere! Her exhibit bio says: “Her sideshow banners marry the structure of traditional painting with performer dignity and skill. She specializes in the inclusiveness of the genre and its ability to reflect all manner of humans. Roberts works from drawings made from observations to create her sideshow banners”.
Work on display by Candy Heiland and Marie Roberts:
Candy moved to New York in the 1980’s and quickly fell under the ‘carny spell’. She says that ‘in the course of one evening at Coney Island, a whole part of myself, left dormant for years, reawakened to my true purpose as an artist’. Candy uses oil pastels on black paper to capture color and light and the subculture of Coney Island at night.
Their works are encased behind glass and in rows around the perimeter of the gallery - allowing for an easy flow for viewers. Several of Marie’s journals and banner drafts are on display and Candy’s works depicting Coney’s neon lights add brilliance and illumination to the exhibit. The show is splendidly curated by Jennifer Roberts (no relation to Marie!).
I noticed how much others were enjoying the exhibit - I overheard some of their chatter and saw lots of smiles. I’ll bet they were New Yorkers - seems to me that those who grew up in New York feel gigantically nostalgic about Coney Island. I know I do.”
The opening of the Coney Island Art Show at BWAC was an exciting event. Sarah commented that it was like an ART YARD reunion with so many of us in attendance. Marie Roberts was, as she should be, the Queen of the Exhibition -- her beautiful sideshow banners hung throughout the vast space. Candy Heiland’s work looked beautiful and I loved seeing Maraya Lopez’s fantastic large-scale interactive installation!
Installation views: Marie Roberts and Candy Heiland: