Updated: Jul 16
Our first week of ART YARD Summer Session 2023: Do Something! Art as Activism was a success any way you look at it. We embraced our new theme with gusto and passion. Our community, which shifts from day-to-day as personal schedules change, never ceases to inspire and uplift. Sessions took place in our studio at BWAC and at FiveMyles. In both settings we were surrounded by art, primed to think deeply, talk things through in a meaningful way and make art in a variety of mediums.
Monday found us in our studio at BWAC where ART YARD Artist Jules Lorenzo presented Tattoo 101. Jules, an aspiring tattoo artist who sports many well planned tattoos herself, introduced us to three distinct styles: American Traditional (think Sailor Jerry), Fine Line Tattooing (thin delicate line work often veering to realism and incorporating a sort of pointillist dot design) and Ignorant Style (Influenced by sketchbook designs, graffiti art, and cartoon-like popularized by graffiti artist Fuzi Uv Tpk.).
Samples of American Traditional, Fine Line Tattooing and Ignorant Style from Jules' presentation.
Pat, who worked in a breakout session with Jules during our planning meeting, arranged her schedule so to catch as much of this exciting session as possible!
Pat writes: “I was coming in from out of town so I arrived only at the very end of Jules’ lesson—right before critique. And what a sight! It had clearly been an amazing lesson—the flash sheets (arrays of temporary tattoo designs) produced by ART YARD participants showed such a range of styles and subjects, and yet still somehow had compatible vibes with one another. There were a lot of eyeballs, and definitely a sense of humor! I appreciated hearing the way everyone talked about their own and others’ tattoo designs, confidently using technical vocabulary that Jules had introduced during her lesson. I was very excited to see the tail end of Jules’ teaching day, since I had been paired with her for our professional development session and I was curious to see what her lesson plan would inspire participants to produce! Jules had thought through both the aesthetic and practical needs of her students—she brought some sample temporary tattoos for participants to try out on their own skin to see what it felt like, how they looked, how long they lasted, etc., and to take this into consideration when they designed their own tattoos.
Eden displayed a range of styles among her movie-themed designs. Not only did she make an economical, geometric rendering of the landscape of Tatooine from the Star Wars movies, but also a detailed, stippled rendering of the iconic Man in the Moon with a bullet-shaped spaceship in his eye from Voyage dans la lune (Voyage to the Moon), an early and influential sci-fi silent movie (from 1902). Eden said that she’s been drawing this motif for years.
Jules’ own designs showed her creativity and skill as a tattoo designer! I particularly liked her pair of elegant cartoon mice that each had half of a heart. Jules explained that two friends could wear these like a pair of those friendship charms—when the two friends put their tattoos together, they would form the entire heart. Meridith observed that Jules’ idea of actually framing each of these images was unusual (one doesn’t usually think of tattoos as being framed), and a clever way to solve the problem of defining space around a tattoo (especially if you’d want to preserve the boundary of the half-heart).
Ailey received a lot of compliments on her handling of watercolors—she designed a bold black peace sign with a beautiful rainbow gradient in the background.
Bryce used shading to make a strawberry, some cherries, and a goldfish in a fishbowl pop from the page. She also designed a cartoon alien which looked friendly to me, and a scruffy grey cat smoking a cigarette that made several of us laugh with its world-weary attitude.
Like Eden, Marley also experimented with a range of styles. She made several variations on the theme of an eye, using all-watercolor for one, pointillism for another, and a combination of ink and watercolor to depict another eye tearing up. For another design, Marley used a repeated C-shape motif to create a heart-flower and its leaves.
Although Meridith usually goes for detailed, nuanced line work and color in her art, for this lesson she went for a bold and simple, yet expressive, style, creating four images of cats (two black, two white) in various poses.
Naomi covered a range of subjects and styles, mixing image and text, from a dagger with a weeping-eye motif to a pointillist cartoon girl, in a posture both gentle and assertive, wearing a dress that says “NO WAR,” to a delicate line drawing, complimented by many, of a flower bud on a stem that will make a subtle and beautiful tattoo on someone’s skin.
Julissa made beautiful drawings of a cluster of orange blossoms and, believe it or not, a huge, detailed tick! She also drew one of the New York Water Taxis that wait on the water outside BWAC, creating a new mascot for ART YARD’s summer session!
We all agreed that Delphine’s flash, focusing on her signature surrealistic version of observed hands, mouths and eyes, along with related designs drawn in strong black line could and should be professional flash as is!
We plan to have examples of our tattoo flash made into temporary tattoos by Tattly (another Brooklyn local) in the fall. We experimented with Tattly designs to test out the product and whip up excitement for the next phase of the project.
Showing off our temporary Tattoos (Use arrows to click right)
We heartily compliment Jules on what was her first ever session as ART YARD Teaching Artist!!
Tuesday we gathered at FiveMyles Gallery in Crown Heights to meet up with ART YARD Board Member Cecile Chong to view and discuss the current exhibition. We started by doing a walkthrough of the exhibition Gathering. Cecile, a founding member of the art collective Asianish, explained the concept of the exhibition and how she was inspired to put together this exhibition to elevate the work of Asian American artists during the pandemic and during the intense period of anti-Asian hate and anti-Asian violence.
Cecile explains: “The group holds space for hybridized “Asian-ish” identities that are unique and specific to each member. The community continues to grow and recognize each other as a resource for growth, strength, and wisdom. They started with four members in 2018 and are now 178 members."
Dennis explains further: "Teaching Artist Cecile Chong offered a very personal tour of the exhibit Gathering at Five Myles Gallery which gave us an insight into the world of Asian identifying artists in NYC (she is one of the co-founders of the organization called Asianish, brought together during the pandemic and in solidarity with Black Lives Matter). Students were asked to express their personal thoughts, possible struggles, and journeys taken in their own process of self-identification.
Viewing the work installed in Gathering at FiveMyles (use arrows to scroll)
Using folded fans, markers, and colored pencils as their materials, they created images representing ideas from the performing arts (Ailey painted a stage, proscenium, and curtain which all seemed to open and close as the fan unfolded), the path taken during college applications (TJ painted a snake representing a sort of road map, selected because the connotation of girls who attend certain schools are catty or "snakes" with references including clock faces to indicate the often stressful time constraints), and an Asianish decorative fan with beautifully colored birds (the markers used by Delphine resulted in a two sided piece - prophetically showing the birds being caged - thru the ribs of the fan on one side - and free on the other). Eden expressed her feelings eloquently in writing: "I'm fond of including text in work and expressing my love for music. This piece is a reference to .... the Korean word for love and person."
Fans by Eden Moore, Blaze Sirius-El, Pat Larash, TJ Edgar, Elizabeth Morales, Vera Tineo, Meridith McNeal, Marley Haynes, Delphine Levenson, Ailey Haynes and Vera Tineo:
Cecile would like to add one her memorable moments from the session was the group efforts was to help Meridith practice how to open a hand fan with one snap of the wrist!
Public programs for GATHERING are sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC).
Funding provided by the Asian Women Giving Circle, a donor advised fund of the Ms. Foundation for Women.
On Wednesday at BWAC, ART YARD Artist Eden Moore presented a fascinating session called Pride Couture. After sharing a well-planned presentation Eden opened a discussion with students about the meaning of 'camp', how art and fashion fuse in forms of self-expression, and using materials other than silks, cottons, synthetic fibers, etc. to develop one's personal style. Using markers and watercolor paints, students created cut-out dolls wearing their designs.
Marley's set the scene by having her 'model' standing knee-high in water, giving her piece a cool and summery flair; Elizabeth, always focused and quite often prolific, made 5 dolls in various sizes and formats including a Liberty-esque motif, a contemporary deity quite like Our Lady of Guadalupe, and others with very personal meanings; Emily's were costume like and based on fashions from "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and "Succession"; and Delphine's and Ailey's were sophisticated and elegant and rich in color (to no one's surprise). Eden's research, presentation, and personal stories made for a tremendously successful lesson and session.
Eden sums up: “This lesson was intimate and exciting! It went into a lot of discussion of different influences! I took enjoyment in answering the interesting questions of what defines camp and things like anime, manga, and cosplay. It was really fun to introduce everybody to these new concepts, and it led to a lot of great work. It also taught me a lot about my friends, like how Elizabeth used to design quinceañera dresses, and what shows and histories influence their tastes in clothing.
Meridith really thought out of the box when it came to her interpretation of clothing, and Delphine – as always – excelled with the use of alcohol markers, which are a cool new medium to work with! It was a great lesson, definitely the most extensive that I have ever done in terms of research and development, and it led to some great work!”
Thursday we started our session with an impromptu figure drawing session which I dreamed up to help Delphine on her quest to develop her portfolio for high school applications. Eden posed in one of the fancy BWAC studio chairs while we all drew from observation in graphite. While the rest of us drew her, Eden drew Elizabeth. While it was a first for Delphine drawing a full figure, her dedication to drawing hands from life absolutely worked in her favor. Critique doubled as a moment to help Delphine bolster her confidence and think about ways she might take the work for more impact (such as working at a larger scale.)
Then we moved on to our regularly scheduled class, an introduction to performance art, taught by ART YARD Artist Vera Tineo.
Vera summarizes: “Being prepared allowed me to start the day off on a great note as we kicked off our class with figure-drawing exercises, which helped Delphine prepare for their upcoming high school portfolio review. As we focused on creating drawings of Eden, we produced fantastic artwork that served as a perfect warm-up for the day ahead.
To kick off the performance based segment of the day, I showcased a performance piece where I utilized my body as a medium, incorporating simple materials like paper. This demonstration illustrated how basic materials can be used to construct compelling performances. Following that, I gave a presentation introducing various performing artists, enabling the students to explore and create their own unique scores.
We commenced with Meridith's Love piece, a score that encouraged us to become performers while she guided us through the space. It was a delightful experience activating the BWAC space and appreciating art through Meridith's direction.
Next, Eden left me astounded with their performance centered on language and its interpretation in the world.
Delphine's beautiful drawings came to life through the use of destruction and speech, conveying a powerful message about our treatment of the Earth.
Elizabeth's piece was complex, surprising and profound.
Karla impressed me with their choices, presenting a scene of conversations, decisions, and a quest for justice.
Feeling inspired by my peers, I (Vera) crafted another performance driven by my community and their ideas. Each person's piece carried deep significance, emphasizing the importance of our world and surroundings. We all recognize the need for change, and the ART YARD’s community stands united in being part of that transformation.”
Our critique was such a deep and complex conversation, we found it hard to wrap up the dialogue! Vera is creating a next level video documentation of our projects which will be included in next week’s recap.
BWAC Board Member Robyn Mierzwa joined us for this session. It was great to share our work with her, in particular we were thrilled she took the time to explain her work on view in the portraiture exhibition now on view. Robyn writes: “I recognize the magic you are doing with these students (and teachers!). It is such important work and has real impact--you know this, but I wanted to say that bearing witness to it was meaningful to me in so many ways.” Vera reflects: “How amazing that we got to meet Robyn who is such amazing artist, person, and storyteller. I really hope they come back and teach an ART YARD Session in the future!”
We are very lucky to have ART YARD Artist Delphine Levenson in the role of ART YARD Summer Session Intern. Delphine arrives an hour early to set up. After carefully reviewing lesson plans she organizes supplies and sets up the room. She keeps attendance, keeps an eye on our snack buffet and organizes clean up. Delphine shares: “It is an amazing new learning experience to be so deeply involved in ART YARD Summer Session! In addition to my work, which keeps me busy, I am so glad to be part of this fantastic program!! I meet new people every day and it’s a wonderful community to be part of and every time someone new comes to the space they are welcomed to an artist ensemble of people.”
Other Art News
Many ART YARD artists are up to exciting things this summer. In some cases this means they are participating as they can around very busy schedules. We love hearing about what folks are up to when they are not with us in Summer Session!
ART YARD Artist Sigrid Dolan writes: “The RISD precollege program is really awesome. The food in the dining hall is often restaurant quality, and the classes are rigorous and engaging. Although the dorms are located on College Hill, an extremely steep hill that is difficult to walk both up and down, if you walk up the hill past the dorms you reach the Brown campus which you can visit. Everyone has design and drawing foundations, and their major class for 5 hours one class a day. I’m a painting major. The mandatory class critical studies in art, an English based course, is only 3 hours. Since RISD is in Providence, and not New York, the schools museum and library are only open 10-5 Tuesday-Thursday, which is annoying considering classes start at 9 end at 5. Despite this, I am enjoying the program and my independence this summer in Providence!”