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Turning Love Inward

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

On Monday, February 14, Teaching Artist Iviva Olenick led the first part of a 2-part ART YARD Advanced Studio Zoom session around the theme of love timed with Valentine's Day.

Iviva shared many heart and love themed images including traditional quill work, vintage pin cushions and her own embroidered pieces.

She read us Shakespeare's sonnet 130

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks; And in some perfumes is there more delight Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a far more pleasing sound; I grant I never saw a goddess go; My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.

Which directly influenced Pat's fabulous piece!

Pat Larash, Love: Looking In

Iviva reports: “Rather than focus on the traditional view of the holiday, students were invited to turn the idea of love inward, thinking about ways they care for themselves.

The open-ended prompt led to a range of material explorations and depicted subjects including Vera's exploration of hair through collage as a symbol of her Dominican culture;

Vera Tineo, Love: Looking In, Dominican Hair

Ed's painting of himself meditating in front of a blank canvas;

Ed Rath, Love: Looking In, Blank Canvas

Marilyn's painting of strawberries (which to Marilyn’s delight, Ed compared to the work of Wayne Thiebaud);

Marilyn August, Love: Looking In

Wayne Thiebaud, Four Cakes from the portfolio Recent Etchings I, 1979

Wayne's depiction of flowers next to his goddaughter;

Wayne Gross, Love: Looking In

Naya's heart-shaped yellow rice as part of her home-cooked meal, heart collage in progress and a mural she came across later that evening!.”

Naya Jackson, Love: Looking In (Dinner, Collage in Progress, and Mural on Brooklyn Street)

Assata continued work on a drawing of the view from her window. The piece itself representing a personal breakthrough in follow up and persistence to complete artworks over a period of time.

Assata Benoit, Love: Looking Inside

Karla and I both put in a few more hours work on the pieces we began in class. My piece depicts a wonderful handmade potholder that Karla sent me as a gift and my Moka pot. Morning coffee is definitely a time of day I love. At my kitchen table as I write letters I get the day off to a great start.

Meridith McNeal, Love: Looking In, Moka and Pot Holder

Karla writes: “A few more hours, as you say!! This Collage on cardboard, a valentine to myself. I made Drawings of a chair I upholstered for my mother and a metal stool from my grandfather’s studio - both transferred to paper via carbon paper, cut out and colored with pencil. Both items I use nearly every day. I’ve incorporated some of my grandfather’s architectural drawings and a copy of my childhood home surrounded by my father’s ledger entries. Sentimental inherited and meaningful items of shared use and enjoyment."

Karla Prickett, Love: Looking In

Robin took a meditative approach inspired by color field painting.

Robin Grant, Love: Looking In

We loved Delphine's use of color and symbolic images.

Delphine Levenson, Love: Looking In

Zeke's drawing in progress goes to from a rural setting, to seaside urban, then to outer space.

Zeke Brokow, Love: Looking In

Nayarit took a great approach drawing what came to mind as Iviva spoke and the class was engaged in discussing the session.

Nayarit Tineo, Love: Looking In

Iviva summarizes: “All of the artists embraced the open-ended prompt, using their chosen media to show definitions of love and care. I can't wait to see how artists approach the theme of love towards others next week!”


On Tuesday ART YARD Advanced Studio met in person to see Teaching Artist Golnar Adili’s wonderful exhibition Found in Translation: A Story of Language, Play, and a Personal Archive at CUE Art Foundation in Chelsea.

Ed Rath shares: “Mysterious, enigmatic, and composed of simple, modular visual elements, Golnar Adili's artwork draws one in via its nuanced color and stillness. Born in America but raised in Iran during the maelstrom of the Iranian Revolution, Golnar experienced profound loss at an early age when her father was forced to flee Iran for his political activism. Thus began a long correspondence between a loving father and resourceful daughter, complete with Golnar's early artistic efforts to reconcile the tragic circumstances of her family through drawing and writing.

Upon reaching adulthood, Golnar moved back to America to attend college and was reunited with her family. Inspired by her father's meticulous archive of his years in exile, Golnar's work explores ways to commemorate her tumultuous childhood. Using small wooden cubes as building blocks, Golnar combines architectural motifs with play elements to create poetic mantras based on Persian verbs. The rhythmic quietude resulting from her careful placement of elements is hypnotic.

Infused with deep personal pain and indefatigable fidelity, Golnar's work beckons us to find our artistic way in these turbulent times.”

Golnar talks about her work

Gonar shares her hand made artist book.

Golnar summarizes the visit: “During the visit ART YARD Artists were bringing up concepts about the exhibition which were refreshing and new to me. They were a wonderful group to share with. For example, the idea of gaming, and mathematics. inspired by personal history, our sources and icons (which repeat throughout the exhibition in different scales and material) each artists started to look at their own visual alphabet.

For their own artmaking I suggested either doing a hand drawn grid, and then filling out the squares with the shapes of their icons, or just draw the icons.

Sarah Gumgumji did tears in a grid, having to do with her saying goodbye to her family every time she leaves Saudi Arabia with repeated and reflected words of longing.

Robin Grant did a beautiful game like crossword puzzle grid with her "doodles”.

Vera Tineo made a digital "weaving" of her icons.

Ed Rath's diagrams explored the picture plain and how 2D is expressed through simple concepts of depth, surface, etc...

Meridith did her icons in an illustratively beautiful way, the window, the hand, and "what I see". What do you see?”

Sarah explains further: “My art was influenced and inspired by the art work of Golnar. Listening to Golnar's talking about her family and how they influenced her work lightened up my mind. My work is inspired by two of her work that speaks about family, and language.

Vera adds: “Golnar successfully treats space as a medium and actives the gallery with both languages and shapes. As you come in to the CUE exhibit you are confronted with an strong object, a lamp from her childhood (image above). We are able to see the reference image and tiny little pixelated blocks, a reprocessing of an image. The lamp installation in the front of Golnar’s show pulls us into her vintage photo collaged onto her sculpture with tattoo paper. This piece called to mind Simone Leigh’s piece currently on view at The Brooklyn Museum. Both pieces put the viewer into a sort of reverie, into a thoughtful frame of mind. They also share an elegance of form that speaks to me on an emotional level.

Simone Leigh, Loophole of Retreat, 2019 on view at The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time


Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau enthusiastically reports: "At ART YARD Art Matters at Brooklyn New School we continued our self-portrait lesson. After recapping what we're up to (making observational self-portraits in order to recenter in the present moment), students drew their masks, necks, and shoulders, adding details of the structural elements and designs on their masks and shirts.

Self portrait by BNS student

Self portrait by BNS student

We talked about how the neck and shoulders tend to be wider than we think they'll be, and how shirt collars and necklaces help emphasize the roundness and volume of the neck. We had a robust critique today, asking students to try to avoid starting their compliments with "I like..." which was difficult! But they persevered and came up with some specific, meaningful comments for each other.

BNS student self portraits

We also had a preview of what we'll do next session: watercolors! One student who was already familiar with watercolors commented, "They're whiny and squirmy!" which I agree with. There are a few tricks we'll work on to get the watercolors to do what we want them to do. Looking forward to picking up again after BNS's winter break.


Dennis enthuses: "We are now back IN PERSON with ART YARD Art Matters at PS 6 at our partnership school in Jersey City, after a two year absence (altho we did host classes remotely during that period) and were welcomed back with great big smiles.

View from the window at PS 6 in Jersey City

Due to certain pandemic protocol policies, students do not travel from classroom to classroom so Dennis and Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau did the travelling form them.

Thank goodness for the invention of the wheel. Dennis schlepped supplies from his home in Manhattan to Jersey City in a big red canvas cart - which were then transferred to a 3 tier travelling trolley. ART YARD BKLYN is always keeping up with the times and doing what it takes to keeping things rolling (ok - ok - pun intended).

Evelyn's fantastic lesson on self-portraiture took on a new spin (yup - pun intended!). Evelyn asked students to think about how their own portraits might show feelings, expressions, and/or emotions using their faces and some body parts since masks now hide a very important facial part! These 4th and 5th graders also viewed the works of Paul Klee, Edvard Munch, Egon Schiele, Rembrandt, and Kathe Kollewitz. Students discussed what they felt the artist's feelings were based on what they saw.

Most students liked Evelyn's "masked" self portrait the best - and offered very many ideas of her expression, such as "happy", "worried", "sad", and "pensive". Evelyn agreed that at the time the portrait was made, there were many uncertainties about health, economy, and society which may have been reflected in her expression. Very observant students at PS 6! And lots of good mimics - students struck the poses that appeared in each example.

Following a step by step process, and peering into hand mirrors, students started with head shapes, eyebrows, and eyes. As this was the first class of a 3 part lesson, pencil and paper were the major materials used. Students looked into their mirrors and made lots of raised eyebrows, flared nostrils, grimacing eyebrows, hands on forehead, and wide-eyed wonder faces to practice. We all agreed that the only part of the face that really doesn't express an emotion would be the ears - but some contested that idea by wiggling their ears (without the use of their hands)!

Critique at PS 6

Critique was conducted in a different format - being that students worked at individual desks as opposed to large tables. They each showed their work to the classmates to their rights, lefts, and fronts and backs - identified comparisons and contrasts - and gave smart compliments. Evelyn's self portrait made quite the impression - it received multiple compliments, which were very well deserved.


Other Art News:

ART YARD Board Member Cecile Chong’s ambitious installation _other Nature continues to inspire viewers! This week I brought my Making & Seeing Art in NY class from Wagner College to Sugar Hill Museum where we viewed Cecile’s work as well as the exhibition Home including work by Max Colby, Suchitra Mattai, Dionis Ortiz, and Albert Peguero.

Installation views of work by Cecile Chong and Dionis Ortiz

The class looked carefully and discussed the art on view, then selected one or more of the pieces as a springboard for creating their own collage and drawn pieces.

Maurane Dubois, Sugar Hill Drawing

Kerriann Connelly, Sugar Hill Drawing

Julianna Bevilacqua, Sugar Hill Drawing

Agathe Yabit Tita, Sugar Hill Drawing

Dillon Burke, Sugar Hill Drawing

Sugar Hill Drawings (above, left to right) by Lance DeSorbo, Dylan Hach, Alison Guinet, Christopher Field and Isabella Anton.

Critique was really fun as we made connections between the artwork on view and the pieces made during class.

When I forwarded images from the class to Cecile, she responded: "Wow!! Such compelling work!! 🙌🙌"

This is the last weekend to see these terrific exhibitions which are on view through February 19th. Head on up to Harlem!


Sarah, Vera and I went to the Brooklyn Museum to The Slipstream: Reflection, Resilience, and Resistance in the Art of Our Time including work by Yuji Agematsu, Kelly Akashi, Emma Amos, El Anatsui, Sanford Biggers, Nayland Blake, Diedrick Brackens, Mark Bradford, Kathy Butterly, Jonathan Lydon Chase, Mel Chin, Ed Clark, Karon Davis, John Edmonds, mounir fatmi, Derek Fordjour, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Jeffrey Gibson, Aaron Gilbert, Arthur Jafa, Virginia Jaramillo, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Michael Joo, Titus Kaphar, Nina Katchadourian, William Kentridge, Byron Kim, Simone Leigh, Ellen Lesperance, Hew Locke, Whitfield Lovell, Rick Lowe, Dindga McCannon, Hugo McCloud, Zanele Muholi, John Little Sun Murie, Ebony G. Patterson, Elle Pérez, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Deborah Roberts, Tschabalala Self, David Shrobe, Amy Sillman, Taryn Simon, Shinique Smith, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Alma W. Thomas, Tourmaline, Jack Whitten, Fred Wilson, and Sugiura Yasuyoshi.

We loved this exhibition!! We were familiar with most of the artists, many of whom we have been inspired by during ART YARD classes. Sarah and I had a great conversation about mounir fatmi’s prayer rug topped skateboard installation, the Simone Leigh work mentioned by Vera above is one of my favorites, and the video by William Kentridge is simply breathtaking. The three of us gasped out loud and exclaimed again and again at the magic, skill, insight, dreamy narrative and social commentary in Kentridge's drawn animations. This must see exhibition is on view through April 10, 2022.

mounir fatmi, Maximum Sensation, 2010, Fifty skateboards, plastic, metal, textile.


Street art on Carlton Avenue, Brooklyn (photo by Meridith McNeal)

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