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What is your message?

We began the week in ART YARD Advanced Studio on zoom with Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow presenting a wonderful session titled Performing the Object inspired by Joan Jonas, Cindy Sherman, Lorraine O’Grady and her own work in which we will be creating performance based pieces.


Jodie summarizes: "Since it is Women’s History Month I lead the class with a presentation on three contemporary women artists working in performance art. I thought about the art canon and it being dominated by men. Performance art is nothing new but I embrace it for the liberation it brings and the no rules, anything goes way of working to create an image and to say something be it of relevance or not. For me performance is freedom! As a performance artist myself I wanted to take a look at some of the women artists who  paved the way for me.

Joan Jonas, Cindy Sherman, and Lorraine O’Grady and Jodie presenting on zoom

I began the introduction with … In a world where the artworld and the history of painting has been dominated by men we are taking a broader look at women artists who have made groundbreaking art with the medium of performance.


As a performance artist myself I engage in the process of collecting objects and materials to investigate and confront our political landscape. I am inspired by these artists and others like them who collect objects to create costumes and personas which they perform to create conversations around identity and social change.


My own works include the collecting of domestic objects to create costuming and to take up space to address the issues of race, class, gender, etc.


I asked…What do these women artists have in common with their most seminal works?

Can you think of more? (Costuming, objects/props, a message/social commentary)


I elaborated on: Joan Jonas on collecting objects to the creative process.

Then… Cindy Sherman and her use of wigs, masks, cosmetics, and the lights, camera, action!

Then…Lorraine O’Grady who wore thrifted white gloves to critique the timid Black artist and the institution with a piece of her mind.

I showed a couple of my own works and sketches too! Which I made using a cardboard box, old clothes, paper, and junk! (see above screenshot from zoom presentation)


In preparation for art making I asked …What is your prop? What is your message? Do you have an alter ego? What would it be and why? What do they look like? How would you perform as them? Where would you perform? Is the site even important?

I asked participating artists to use paper and pencils and paint if they wished…

draw or write out their solo performance score. Create a performance. Perform it if you wish!

Delphine drew hands and eye balls and demonstrated that when completed they’d attach to their face including over the eyes. Someone commented on a contemporary Mona Lisa smile of sorts.


Delphine Levenson, Performing the Object 

Marilyn went to her costume box and came up with this nature lover selfie in her garden. We all agree she wins the Cindy Sherman award for sure!


Marilyn August, Performing the Object 

Inspired by Joan Jonas, Karla traced some of their favorite objects and transformed the paper into these abstract masks.

Karla Prickett, Performing the Object 

These stills from Maraya’s performance video show a paper origami airplane/ rocket and spinning the globe while wearing a mask made of a newspaper they’d cut a happy face out of. The slow motion of it was a nice cadence. The glimmer from the window reflections added a whole other layer to the site as a background. I can see Joan Jonas liking this!


Maraya Lopez, Performing the Object 

On a glove note…Meridith went for her pink kitchen rubber gloves and flipped them inside out to paint these doves in watercolor and then put them on to gesture birds in flight. We were all just so shocked she did this so fast!

Meridith McNeal, Performing the Object 

I’m loving all of these connections here that these artists put into action!"


ART YARD Advanced Studio In-Person on Tuesday was a celebration of artistic collaboration and response across disciplines with ART YARD Artist Evelyn Beliveau as our guide!


Evelyn recounts: “My lesson Painting Live Music—inspired by my practice of drawing and painting at rehearsals, jam sessions, and performances since 2018—could not have been better paired with the performers who joined us in our studio at BWAC, José Carlos Cruzata Revé and Naomi Funaki. Longtime collaborators who perform with Music From the Sole, they shared an improvised musical conversation between saxophone and flute (José), tapdancing and whistling (Naomi), and singing (both!), showcasing a highly attuned artistic give-and-take that produced emotive and delicate soundscapes.

Naomi Funaki and José Carlos Cruzata Revé performing for ART YARD BKLYN

To start the lesson, I presented a sampling of images of my live music paintings over the years. We had a perceptive conversation about the commonalities between the act of making music and the act of making art, from the physical motion to the headspace one accesses during the process. We also discussed what is lost in a static visual representation of a time-based performance and what can be conveyed through color and gesture, such as the way the experience made you feel.


Evelyn demonstrates tecnique

Participants worked on paper using a range of supplies, including markers, watercolors, and acrylic paints. After a brief demo, I gave recommendations about looking for characteristic postures and expressions that the musicians take on over the course of playing, and priming the paper with a color (both to provide a base for other color choices to respond to, and to knit together fragmentary and gestural figures into the whole of the painting).


Once the group got to work, we accessed a deep level of focus. José and Naomi’s mesmerizing performance flowed into the hands of the artists, and our absorption in our work influenced the performance, too, as we heard from the performers during a break. They mentioned that the small, intimate setting (as opposed to the stages where they’re accustomed to performing) and the fact that their audience was also engaged in creative work (rather than simply watching) made this a singular experience. We noted that the deeply collaborative nature of José and Naomi’s work dovetails well with the communal and mutually supportive atmosphere at AYB.


In session

The artwork that participants created was prolific and varied. I felt overwhelmed, looking at all the pieces laid out salon-style on the stage; each piece is worth spending individual time on to appreciate the deep attention—both looking and listening—that the artist invested in its making. Some artists visualized the sound and connection between the two performers with curling, sinuous, or radiating brushstrokes and a warm glow of color. Some artists created highly resolved figures, others showed the motion of limbs through repetition or blurring, and others focused on the motion itself through gestural marks rather than on the contours of the figures. The gleam of José’s saxophone, the quick flight of Naomi’s legs, and several finely observed portraits of both performers’ faces appear again and again in the group of artworks.


Ajani Russell, Painting Live Music

Liv Collins, Painting Live Music

Ed Rath, Painting Live Music

Evelyn Beliveau, Painting Live Music

Alexa Bren, Painting Live Music

Michelle Kim, Painting Live Music

Naomi Bracho, Painting Live Music

Ariel Abdullah, Painting Live Music

Jules Lorenzo, Painting Live Music

Sigrid Dolan, Painting Live Music

Use arrows to scroll through additional artwork from the session!

I’m thrilled to have helped create the space for this work to be done, and I’m grateful to Meridith for facilitating, as always, and for inviting these wonderful performers to work with us. A huge thank you to José and Naomi for their virtuosic artistry and generous enthusiasm.”


AYB Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports: "In a very fitting and timely lesson, Teaching Artist Ash McKenzie took students on a journey to the sun ... and moon .... at the same time - and without the use of those funny little colored glasses or a rocket ship.

Ash leads class discussion

3rd and 4th graders at our ART YARD Art Matters partnership school in Jersey City, PS 6, joined in discussions about when, where, and how the solar eclipse 2024 will occur.  Ash offered images for inspiration and demonstrated drawing techniques on this first day of a new cycle - in which students will create a series of solar eclipses in watercolor, marker, or colored pencil (by grade level) as well as possible sculptures.

The first drafts are incredible.  We had eclipses over the pyramids, the Taj Mahal, NYC, the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, cornfields, pine tree forests, and even OZ.

Ash taught students about composition and negative space and led well participated rounds of critique.

PS6 students come to class very well prepared

Some students even offered to tips on how to draw a circle (we didn’t allow tracing) and loved playing assistant teacher - one suggested creating a “connect the dots” system while several others displayed lots of creative wrist actions. 

Eclipse over Brazil by Evelyn O

Students at work

Vocabulary words included TOTALITY, PHENOMENA, UMBRA, PENUMBRA and CORONA." 




Dennis reports: “I met with Dr. Brower, Nicole Manzo, and David Bernero at PS 17 (Jersey City) via Zoom this week to discuss upcoming ART YARD Art Matters at PS 17 projects and start dates.  


They have some requests for projects which I'm confident that we can execute, although sadly, there is no musical (remember last year's fantastic production The Lion King?) this year. Making the masks and backdrop for the musical last year was challenging but something we loved doing.


However, a question popped up "could Art Yard do a musical next year?".  I said YES before fully thinking about it - so it'll be all hands on deck! Teaching artists with theatre backgrounds (or interest) reach out to me! But - that's NEXT YEAR!


We have a tentative start date of April 10th for many amazing projects for THIS YEAR.  More info as time goes on.


Fatima and Evelyn working on PS 17 2023 Lion King sets and props & production


Other Art News


ART YARD Artist Ed Rath’s latest video: In The Eye of the Beholder is now available for viewing on YouTube!


Join me tonight March 22nd, 5-7pm at the Brooklyn Seltzer Museum 474 Hemlock Street, Brooklyn, for the artist’s reception for Fizz, my site-specific exhibition of new paintings!

Meridith McNeal, Rainbow Seltzer, 2024, watercolor on paper, 12x12”

Meridith McNeal, Hand Holding Seltzer Bottle, 2023, watercolor on cut shaped paper, 10x6x2”



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