An exhibition review and an interview with Carole Kunstadt

Nikkal, with her art at the 2018 ArtsWestchester Triennial

See me above. I have 6 collages installed on the 2nd (balcony) level at the ArtsWestchester Triennial exhibition in White Plains, NY (May 8-July 28, 2018).  I am one of 15 artists in the show. These works are part of my new Curvy Geometric series. Each work is mostly black and white and made with art magazine and painted papers. Some works include tiny wood strips, curved wire, and canvas.  Some include thin Washi papers layered over the painted papers to create transparency and texture. The sign on the wall to the left of the installation reads: My studio is filled with papers, glue, scissors and tools. I am a contemporary collage artist…exploring color relationships, layers, edges and connections within a gridded geometric format.

The Triennial exhibition includes a wide range of media from painting to photo collage, video, delicate sculpture made with human hair, sculpture in clay and terra cotta, ink on paper, installation and much more. The ArtsWestchester gallery is located at 31 Mamaroneck Avenue, White Plains, NY. Visit the exhibition (May 8-July 28, 2018) during gallery hours: Tue-Fri, 12-5 pm and Sat, 12-6 pm.

I interviewed Carole Kunstadt for this post. Like me, she is one of 15 artists in the Triennial exhibition. The image below was taken from the balcony at the opening reception and shows her installation titled PRESSING ON. What you see are antique irons covered in lace and text. Notice a visitor is reading wall text for the installation.

Balcony view of PRESSING ON installation at the Triennial

The wall text was written by Mara Mills, Deputy Director of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, NY (HVCCA) and says: “Carole Kunstadt’s work is always unique and layered, literally and metaphorically. Her juxtaposition of materials, for her PRESSING ON SERIES combines artifact, word and fabric. The hardness of iron, the graciousness of lace, and the wisdom of words combine as a testament to women’s tenacious movement forward. PRESSING ON honors abolitionist/feminist Hannah More, and integrates history, memory, domesticity, and celebrates women’s political and public voice.”

 

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON table installation

The image above shows 12 “sad” irons with lace and text similar to the 14 displayed on a pedestal at the Triennial. The image below shows 17 “sad” irons with lace, linen thread and other media on a shelf at the Triennial. Each iron in the installation is unique – small but powerful –  and I urge you see them all at the Triennial before it closes July 28th.

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON shelf installation

Carole Kunstadt is a collagist, painter, book and fiber artist and her media are antique books, music manuscripts, ephemera and photo postcards. In her artist statement she says: “Through the exploration and manipulation of the antique materials, history, memory and time merge in a hybrid form. My devotion to books is inspired by the ability of the written word to take the reader to other places through stories, poems and prayers. My process reveals how language can become visual through re-interpretation.”

I asked Carole to tell me how she found the book that was the genesis for the PRESSING ON series. She said she was in a bookstore in Connecticut about 8 years ago, looking for an inexpensive antique book to utilize in her work. Carole cuts and pastes papers from books. She said she found a small book titled “An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World by One of the Laity” (London, 1791). The book was published anonymously but, through researching the title, date and publisher, Carole discovered the book was attributed to Hannah More. Carole told me she found a more recent biography “Fierce Convictions – the Extraordinary Life of Hannah More, Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist,” by Karen Swallow Prior. She added: “… the more I read about Hannah More, the more inspired I became.”

Read about Hannah More (1745 – 1833) at Carole’s website. Hannah More was an abolitionist, poet, social reformer, philanthropist, feminist, writer and a member of the intellectual group “Bluestockings.” Hannah More is referred to as the “First Victorian”, bridging the 18th and 19th centuries…Hannah More’s life-long cause was galvanizing women to act not as domestic ornaments, but as thinking, engaged and responsible beings. She devoted herself to educating and helping the poor, and established over sixteen charitable schools.

I asked Carole to tell me about the irons. She said there’s a common element – scorched lace and text from book pages. She said most of the lace came to her through family. Her maternal grandfather worked in the garment district in NYC and used lace to embellish clothing. Some lace came from a dress her mother wore years later. There’s a delicate tatting lace that was made by her paternal grandmother and a piece of lace that was sewn to the border of a tablecloth from her husband’s paternal grandmother from Vienna. The use of personal fibers creates the connection.

Carole Kurstadt, PRESSING ON: Homage to Hannah More, No.5

The image nearby is titled PRESSING ON – Homage to Hannah More No. 5, 4x3x8 inches. This is an antique “sad” iron with scorched linen thread and paper, and pages from the book An Estimate of the Religion of the Fashionable World: By One of the Laity, London, 1791, Hannah More.

I asked Carole how she started the PRESSING ON series. She said the idea of combining the irons and the text and fibers came when she inherited an iron that had been in her mother’s house. She said it was not as old as the sad irons collected for the series, and added the first few sad irons did not incorporate scorching.

I asked Carole how long she has been involved with the PRESSING ON series. She said she started the series in September of 2017 and is continuing to develop it. She has over 70 works in the series and will have a solo show in December at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum. All of the sad irons include some text from the book by Hannah More.

Fabulous PHOTO COLLAGE on the 1st floor at the Triennial

Gary Burnley, photo collage

I recommend viewing the 6 photo collages by Gary Burnley on the 1stfloor at the Triennial before the exhibition closes. The top left image is titled QUEENS OF YESTERYEAR #10. The other 5 works are titled FACING HISTORY #7, #10, #15, #18 and #19. The image you see shows my collage students Anne and Paulette in front of Burnley’s works. Burnley’s artist statement says he is conflating and contrasting the ideals, manners and purposes of recognized portraits from art history with images seemingly produced for contradictory purposes with historic photos and pictures from African American school yearbooks and/or photographs from family albums. Burnley says his works create unions that are strange bedfellows –transient confederates. He says what the viewer sees is influenced by the social, class and racial background of them as onlooker. Try to see his images before the Triennial closes July 28th. If you cannot visit the exhibition, see Burnley’s works online here.

Art on the Balcony at the Triennial

Michael Barraco, THE WORD, neon, 2015

You can see a neon installation titled THE WORD by Michael Barraco as you look up to the balcony from the 1st floor. I think this neon work may be more than 20 feet long. It’s all lower case letters that start bababadalghara….

Michael Barraco, BIRD SONGS: An Archive of Love and Loss, 2016

The image above, also by Michael Barraco, is titled BIRD SONGS: AN ARCHIVE OF LOVE AND LOSS. It’s a customized jukebox with 100 photographs, 100 CDs and preserved bird specimens.

Steven Lam, Director and Associate Professor, SUNY Purchase School of Art and Design wrote: “Michael Barraco’s works bridge humor with a biting critique on the ruins and pitfalls of modernity. His work titled BIRD SONGS: AN ARCHIVE OF LOVE AND LOSS includes bird songs and a photo album of birds that fell victim to building collisions. The work mixes melancholy, memory and poetry – a timely work for a chaotic moment.”

Michael Brown, IN THE MEANTIME, stainless steel

The image above shows Sarah and Jane, two students in my collage class at the Pelham Art Center who are standing in front of two of 4 large works made of hand-made stainless steel by Michael Brown. The installation is titled IN THE MEANTIME…III, VI, VII and IX. I took the photo and you see Sarah and Jane reflected in the pattern created by the stainless steel. Also reflected, you see an installation with abstract mixed media paintings by Karlos Carcamo on the opposite wall.

Barry Mason, oil on shaped canvas

The image above shows an installation (one of two) by Barry Mason, with oil on shaped canvas titled SAY IT LOUD, BETWEEN THE WORLD. It’s on a wall near my 6 collages on the balcony at the Triennial. There’s a sign near his installation which reads: “My art and rearrangements can be poetic or brutal; seductive or stark, but all of it is influenced by the callings of my heritage rooted in the African American experience where the djembe drum is alive and there is the sound of gospel – where I receive echoes from my past which “inform” my soul. Read about Barry’s photography and paintings and see his work here.

The Triennial: A snapshot of what’s now and what’s new in contemporary art

The Triennial will become a regular part of the ArtsWestchester exhibition programming. This 1st exhibition coincides with the 20thanniversary celebration of ArtsWestchester at it’s White Plains location. They say the Triennial showcases the vanguard of the region’s arts community and offers a snapshot of what’s now and what’s new in contemporary visual art. Read more here.

There are always people to thank for such an impressive show, including the two curators: Marc Straus, Marc Straus Gallery, NYC  and Paola Morsiani, Brodsky Center, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

Special thanks to Janet Langham, CEO, ArtsWestchester and the gallery staff, Kathleen Reckling, Gallery Director, Logan Hanley, Gallery Manager and Kimberly McKoy, Programs Associate.

Your comments are welcome. Try to visit before the exhibition closes July 28th, and let me know what you think. Thank you for reading and thank you for your comments.

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nikkal, NINES, 60×36 (2015) original version

 

I challenged myself to change a painting I completed in 2015, because I didn’t like the rough patches of paint on the surface and also wanted to simplify the geometric design. See the original version nearby.

NINES was exhibited recently in a 3-person show titled In the Space of Spirit (Nov 16, 2017 to Jan 11, 2018) at the Lakefront Gallery at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, NJ. It was a big show. I had 23 works in the show, including large paintings and framed collages. Karen Fitzgerald, who organized the show, and Kristin Reed were there other two artists. Sheila Geisler selected and hung the show on the huge mezzanine level at the Lakefront Gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

NINES at the Lakefront Gallery

 

 

The image nearby shows NINES on the Lakefront Gallery wall, flanked on the left by Kristin Reed’s 2 works and on the right by Karen Fitzgerald’s two works. Notice there is a large number nine painted in dark grey in the upper left side of my painting. The exhibition was reviewed in a Times of Trenton article: Lakefront Gallery Fine Arts: ‘In the Space of Spirit’ | NJ.com (Nov 29, 2017). Janet Purcell wrote about NINES: “Pay careful attention to her (Nikkal’s) large acrylic on canvas where the number nine sometimes appears prominently and other times only obscurely. “ Purcell added a statement by Sheila Geisler: “Her (Nikkal’s) adept manipulations of contrasting color create a sense of movement – the surfaces seem to breathe. She is dedicated to exploring the layering of materials as well as the layering of form and pattern.” I was pleased with the review and the recognition that my abstract geometric works are always about surfaces and layering.

 

 

 

I brought NINES back to my studio on January 11th, looked closely at the way it was painted and decided I definitely would change it. On January 25th a pithy post arrived via email from Seth Godin to accept the challenge to begin. The post is titled Beginning is Underrated. Read the post.

 

BEGINNING IS UNDERRATED

Merely beginning.

With inadequate preparation, because you will never be fully prepared.

With imperfect odds of success, because the odds are never perfect.

Begin. With the humility of someone who’s not sure, and the excitement of someone who knows that it’s possible.

 

 

NINES in progress, close up view

 

The image nearby is a close up of the painting after I started to make changes. I wrote myself a work memo: Sand Nines when you arrive at the studio to make the surface smoother. Plan to use a sand block. Scrub gently in a circular motion. It’s hard to tell from this close-up, but I turned the painting upside down so the top is now the bottom. Look at the center of the painting here and notice the painted paper collage. The papers shows up because I reduced the layers of paint with sanding. Notice the cut paper letter D on the right sided. I started to add new collage. The paper, a reverse letter D is not glued down yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

nikkal, NINES, acrylic and collage on canvas (2017)

 

The image nearby is the new version of the painting. I painted out the large number 9 and large grey oval shape in the original painting. I painted large areas with thin layers of white acrylic to soften the grey yellow tones and unify the design. I changed a yellow square to grey. As I worked, I wiped the acrylic paint gently to reveal undertones. With the turnaround, the nines became sixes so I knew I would have to add more collage numbers to keep the title NINES. FYI: when I am working on a painting, I always paint papers at the same time. That way I have collage papers with colors that match.I eliminated the yellow gold bar at the bottom, the yellow stripe on the right and little gold square on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will show NINES soon in a group exhibition titled Black White & Grey at the Upstream Gallery in Hastings on Hudson, NY March 1-18, 2018. I am a member of the gallery and NINES now has the right colors for the group show. It’s all black and white and grey.

 

 

I found another Seth Godin post, dated January 21, 2018, that says exactly what I think and feel about this process. It’s titled The Gap. Read it here.

THE GAP

There’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Many gaps, in fact, but imagine just one of them.

That gap–is it fuel? Are you using it like a vacuum, to pull you along, to inspire you to find new methods, to dance with the fear?

Or is it more like a moat, a forbidding space between you and the future?

 

What did I learn?

Go for it. There are always gaps. Dance with the fear. You can make it work.

 

Your comments are welcome.

 

If you are in Westchester County, NY, please stop by the Upstream Gallery, 8 Main Street, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and see the exhibition (March 1-18). Gallery hours are Thursday to Sunday, 12:30-5:30. Come to the reception Sunday, March 4th, 2-4 pm. The show includes various media, all interpreting black, white and grey.

 

The Woven Image at MoMA

I hope you’ve visited the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, and seen Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction (April 15 – August 13, 2017). This show is important. I include links (below) to reviews with excellent images and comments about why this show is important.

Yayoi Kunama, No.F oil on canvas

I’ve seen this exhibition 3 times. My art practice is contemporary geometric abstraction and it was important to me to see how the curators selected the art and artists. I recognized the stars – Yayoi Kusama (Japanese, born 1929), Agnes Martin (American, born Canada, 1912-2004), Louise Nevelson (American, born Ukraine, 1899-1988), Louise Bourgeois (American born France, 1911-2010) (and others). The image here is by Yayoi Kusama. It’s titled No.F and is dated 1959. Media is oil on canvas, size is 41.5″x52″. This Kusama painting is in the permanent collection at MoMA.  Kusama is an international art star. I kept looking at it, trying to get as close as I could, to see the incredible texture of the white on white oil paint. It looked like eyelet fabric to me but was a painting.

I went to see Making Space a second time to really appreciate the extraordinary abstract paintings and sculpture by the Latin American superstars Carmen Herrera (Cuban, born 1915), Lygia Clark (Brazilian, 1920-1988) and Lygia Pape (Brazilian, 1927-2004). These three have also had recent solo retrospectives at NYC museums. I especially love the hard-edge geometric abstraction in paintings and sculpture by Carmen Herrera who is still at work at age 102. She is finally getting the recognition she deserves. See her black and white abstract painting below.

Carmen Herrera, Untitled, painting on canvas, 1952

 

My third visit to Making Space was different. I wanted to see all the works that are woven because I have a new fascination with weaving and textiles, and the exhibition showcases this media in the context of great art.

 

Making Space at MoMA includes ninety-four works by fifty-three international artists. Every work but one has been in storage at the Museum. The exhibition was co-curated by Starr Figura and Sarah Meister with help from Hillary Reder. The Curator’s Say: Making Space shines a spotlight on the stunning achievements of women artists between the end of World War II (1945) and the start of the Feminist movement (around 1968). In the postwar era, societal shifts made it possible for larger numbers of women to work professionally as artists, yet their work was often dismissed in the male dominated art world, and few support networks existed for them. Abstraction dominated.

 

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Yellow Abakan

 

This work, titled Yellow Abakan, by Magdalena Abakamowicz (Polish, 1930-2017) fuses weaving with sculptural installation. It’s coarsely woven sisal, 124”x120”x60”

I read that Abakanowicz deliberately tried to blur the distinctions between art and craft. She chose to explore the structural (sculptural) qualities of fiber.

 

 

 

 

Sheila Hicks, Prayer Rug

 

The work seen here is by Sheila Hicks (American, born 1934) and is titled Prayer Rug. It’s made with hand-spun wool (87”x43”). Hicks wrote she was inspired by Morocco and prayer rugs and architecture with arches. To create this work, she went off loom, working like a ceramicist works, with the material in her hands.

 

The next work (below) is by Anni Albers (American, born Germany, 1899-1994) and is titled Free-Hanging Room Divider, 1949. Anni Albers was a protean force in textile innovation and design. The work here is made with cotton, cellophane, and braided horsehair, 87”x32.5.” Albers was focused on creating translucent space, thinking about how the weaving functioned in an architectural setting as a space divider.

 

See Peter Schjeldal’s review: THE XX FACTOR Women and Abstract Art (the New Yorker magazine, April 24, 2017).

Anni Albers, Wall Hanging

 

Schjeldal writes: The show’s inclusion of fabric and decorative art marks an insurgent appreciation, taking hold in the sixties, of formerly patronized modes of “women’s work.” He references Magdalena Abakanowicz “Yellow Abakan” (1967-68). He says it “… invites a fighting comparison with some far more well-known minimalist works in felt, from the same time, by Robert Morris.

This wall hanging by Anni Albers as tall as a tall adult and was installed so you walked by and saw it up close. It is transparent. You can see the floor behind the weaving in this image. I love the vertical stripes and the cellophane in the weaving.

 

 

 

Here is an image of me standing in front of a framed black and white weaving by Anni Albers. The work is exquisite in design and detail. I was visiting the exhibition at MoMA for the 2nd time and invited. Peggi Pugh to join me so we could compare notes on what works we liked best. She took the photo. In this gallery, every work  was a weaving or an image (a drawing or print) that looked like a weaving. We walked around the gallery slowly to be able to absorb all the different works.

 

woodcut by Lygia Pape
drawing by Yayoi Kusama

 

Here are two images that look like weaving but are not. The top image by Lygia Pape is untitled, from her series Weavings (Tecelares). It’s a woodcut print (dated 1959). The bottom image by Yayoi Kusama is titled Infinity Nets. It’s ink on paper (dated 1951). I thought it was interesting that the curators placed these two works in tandem, one on top of the other. I thought they were textiles from a distance, because the Anni Albers framed textile (above) was in the same gallery space. I was wrong – but they look exactly like textiles.

 

 

 

 

Lenore Tawney, Little River

 

 

Here is a view of a wall hanging by Lenore Tawney (American 1907-2007), titled Little River (1968). Photo credit: Nicole Craine. In his New York Times review, At MoMA, Women at Play in the Fields of Abstraction (April 13, 2017) Holland Cotter tells us: In the 1950s, Ms. Tawney lived in Lower Manhattan, where she counted Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana and Agnes Martin (who is also in the MoMA show) as neighbors. Living in an old shipping loft, she made the most radical work of any of them: towering open-warp fiber pieces that stretched from floor to ceiling and across the loft’s wide space. Yet, in 1990, when she finally had a retrospective, it took place not at MoMA, but at the American Craft Museum, which was then across the street.

 

 

 

Ruth Asawa, hanging mesh sculpture

 

I photographed this gallery installation. I was fascinated with the shadows cast on the floor beneath the mesh wire sculpture by Ruth Asawa (American, 1926-2013). The work was installed from the ceiling in the center of the gallery. Hanging from the ceiling was totally a unique concept. As was woven sculpture in mesh wire. On a wall across the room, you see Lenore Tawney’s Little River weaving (notice the cast shadows there on the wall behind the work). On another wall to the left, you see a small view of Magdalena Abakanowicz’s very large sisal Yellow Abakan. The installation was inviting and intriguing. People lingered and looked.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Anne Ryan, collage 353

 

The image here is a collage by Anne Ryan (American 1889-1954) titled #353 dated 1949. I’m a collage artist and know Ryan was highly respected for her practice. Ryan worked with exquisite papers and also fabric and thread. Her works are small and delicate and deliberate. The Museum has four collages by this artist in the permanent collection, and the curators installed four Anne Ryan collages in the exhibition. At least two or three reviews, including ones by Peter Schjedahl and Holland Cotter and the Huffington Post start with this image. When I looked at this collage, I saw the threads and the thin papers. It’s a woven image also.

 

 

See the Artsy review by Abigail Cain (April 17, 2017), titled New MoMA Show Unearths Female Abstractionists That Have Languished in Storage.

Cain writes about gender inequality at the Museum. She also mentions the philanthropist Sarah Peter who can help remedy the imbalance. Sarah Peter launched the Modern Women’s Fund at MoMA in 2005 to target works by women artists for acquisition and to support major solo exhibitions by women. That’s a good start to bring about change.

Holland Cotter also writes about the gender inequality issue in his review of Making Space at MoMA and says: “This exhibition is a start, but ultimately to make changes and show women artists the respect they deserve, the MoMA should also reorganize the permanent-collection galleries that draw the largest crowds…Put Anne Ryan next to Kurt Schwitters and Jackson Pollock to see how that shakes out, historically and atmospherically… Put Ruth Asawa’s wire sculptures up against Richard Serra’s fortresslike walls. “

I hope the MoMA and other museums make these changes. Please send me your comments.

 

The Collage Experience at the Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, NY

I belong to an artist’s collective called the Power of 13. We are 13 mid-career artists who meet informally once a month or every 6 weeks to chat and catch up on what we’re doing in the arts. We are painters (contemporary and traditional), printmakers, a fine art photographer, mixed media artists, and sculptors. We network, share tips, critique works in progress, and look for exciting places to see contemporary art and show our works as a group. We have a lot to share – and that is what is so exciting about being part of the group.

I’m a contemporary collage artist and tend to see everything in terms of collage and installation.

 

Nikkal, Curvy Geo Stretch

The image nearby is a new collage I created titled Curvy Geo Stretch. It’s done with black and white painted papers and is framed and 14×14 inches. I call it Stretch because of the light black shapes that shift to the left – or to the right, depending on the way you want to see it.  My collage is hanging above a 5-foot wide marble fireplace in the 1st gallery at the Barrett Art Center. Sitting nearby on the mantle is a classical 26 inch high bronze sculpture of a violin. On 2 adjacent walls are various paintings and  collages. The installation is a fascinating juxtaposition of old and new – art and architecture – and the mix of works by 6 members in the group. There are 64 works by 13 artists in the exhibition, including paintings, collage, mixed media, sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing. We are so pleased to have the opportunity to show works by the Power of 13 Collective at the Barrett Art Center.

Penny Dell curated and organized this show. I helped Penny install everything. It took us more than 2 days. All the individual works show well together, and the collective spirit is strong.

 

The opening reception was April 22. If you are in Dutchess County on Saturday, May 20th, please come to the closing reception at 55 Noxon Street, Poughkeepsie, from 2-4 pm. Read about the Barrett Art Center: http://www.barrettartcenter.org

 

Edna Dagan sculpture

 

The 2nd image at left is a close up view of Edna Dagan’s sculpture with my grid collages in the background. Both are installed in the front gallery at the Barrett Art Center. In Edna’s sculpture, you see a cherub and part of a violin. This work is about 26 inches tall. Edna has 4 sculptures in the exhibition, and all are about music with a violin done in cast metal. My 2 collages are painted papers on paper. Framed sizes are 32×28 inches. I especially like the close up photo of the sculpture juxtaposed with the slightly out of focus view of my grid collages.

 

 

 

 

 

The Barrett Art Center

The image nearby shows the Barrett Art Center. Image is courtesy of their website. The building is narrow and long with 2 galleries, meeting room, office and kitchen on the 1st floor, and more galleries and classroom spaces on upper floors. The building is named for Thomas W. Barrett, Jr. who was born in Poughkeepsie, NY on 9/12/1902 and was an artist interested in the social and the societal value of art. He formed the Dutchess County Art Association, mounting exhibitions for local artists, giving them a means of showing and selling their work during the Depression era. He studied art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and worked as an artist in NYC. He returned to Poughkeepsie in 1929, and moved back into the current Barrett House where he was born.

 

2nd gallery view

In the image at left, I’m standing in the doorway in the 2nd gallery space with a view of the hallway behind me. Penny took the photo the day we installed the art. Notice that the space is relatively small and there’s a lot of art to see. It doesn’t seem crowded because the ceilings are high – and that makes you feel you’re in a larger space. In this photo, you see 5 small mixed media works by Alice Harrison hung vertically on the left. On the short wall to the left of the doorway is a mixed media painting in pink and green acrylic by Ruth Bauer Neustadter. Above the painting are several wall-mounted wire and hand-made paper sculptures by Penny Dell that skip across the wall left to right above and across the ornate doorframe behind me. Penny’s wire sculptures are light and etherial, yet fill the space and create a special kind of energy. They’re white on a white wall, but cast shadows and draw your eye upward. Notice the top wood blocks on the doorframe with carved acanthus leaves. Notice, on the right – a funky green mixed media sculpture by Susan Lisbin perched on a white wood pedestal and, on the back wall are 3 more works by Susan, including a color-field skinny abstract in green painted on found sheet metal. Once again, you see the juxtaposition of contemporary art, greens and reds, blacks and whites with vintage architecture.

 

Penny Dell wrote:

…Seeing the show allows viewers an opportunity to puzzle out connections between works and artists who through the years have continued to meet regularly. Read more of Penny’s comments about the collective and the exhibition here:

 

Hallway installation

 

 

The image at left shows me in the front hallway at the Barrett Art Center (photo by Penny Dell). I’m standing below and she’s standing at the top of the stairs – looking down at me. The image shows the art installed on both sides of the narrow hallway. Notice the antique floors – wide plank old wood – and, in the top left portion of the photo you can see the decorative carved wood trim on the 2nd floor landing. I’m a big fan of the details you find in older homes. This one was build in 1842. We were told to hang art on the staircase wall because there would be a constant flow of traffic up the stairs to a second floor gallery and classroom studios. It was a challenge to get the last pieces hung so high up the staircase, but all the works hang well together in the hallway and add another dimension to the exhibition.

 

 

Crowded hallway at the reception for Power of 13

 

 

Here’s another image of the hallway installation, taken during the April 22nd opening reception. Notice the beautiful Victorian light fixture (in addition to the track lighting), and notice the high ceiling in relation to the people. The woman standing on the left is over 5’10” tall.

 

 

 

 

Photography by Pauline Chernichaw

 

Here is a view showing contemporary photography by Pauline Chernichaw in the 1st room gallery with a view to the front hallway exhibition beyond. I think the black and white photos show really well on either side of the doorway. Do you agree? I love the contrast of the horizontal format of the photos – sleek and contemporary – with the vertical door opening and with the color of the woodwork and ornate trim on it. In this photo, the paint trim color looks oyster grey and picks up on the grey tones in Pauline’s photos. However, in hanging these works, I was more concerned with contrasting horizontals and verticals.

 

 

Susan Sinek and her painting

 

 

The image nearby shows Susan Sinek and her figure painting in the 2nd room gallery. If you could see the works on the wall Susan is facing, you would see her prints and figure drawings.

 

I hope you can visit the exhibition and see all the works.

 

 

 

 

About the Power of an Art Collective

The Power of 13 collective has been meeting for years in each other’s homes and studios. Many artist groups (collectives) are larger than we are. Some are smaller. We started the group with 9 (and called ourselves the Power of 9) and then added more members, so changed our name in steps to the Power of 13. We think 13 members is about as big as we want to be.

We are like almost all artist groups in that we are organized to share tips, critique art works and network information. Some groups limit members to a professional category, typically architects, graphic designers, painters or printmakers. We prefer to be informal and friendly. We like the idea of sharing information across media boundaries. We are serious artists. We always share great food and conversation.

We thank Penny Dell for contacting the Barrett Art Center and organizing our group exhibition. Read more about Thomas W. Barrett here:

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Do you want to meet other artists? Do you want to be part of an artist’s group? If you do, I recommend you check out local art centers, colleges and universities. Go to art receptions. Attend public meetings with artists who speak about their work. If possible, take a class to meet other artists. Ask people how to join a group. Many Chambers of Commerce and arts councils list arts associations. Check out artists’ groups online.

I hope you think the history of the Barrett Art Center is interesting. The Power of 13 collective thanks the Center for this opportunity to exhibit in a unique and beautiful space.

Please write and tell me how you are engaged with the arts. Email me if you want suggestions for how to form an artist’s collective. Thank you for your comments.

Nancy

 

Appropriation is a very useful concept in contemporary art and essential to appreciating contemporary collage art.

 

I like to make funky figure collages with papers and text cut and pasted from magazines like W, Elle. Vogue, and ArtForum. I thumb through the magazines and tear out pages when the right image strikes. Everything becomes a magazine mash-up.

 

nancy nikkal, sex celebrity, collage 2016

 

The image nearby is my collage titled Sex Celebrity. This work is part of a new series with female images done in collage with various cut and pasted papers. Some of the papers are straight out of the magazine. Some are painted with acrylic. Some papers are purchased in an arts and crafts store. I like to mix and match and create works that combine image, color, pattern and texture. Most of all, I am fascinated by celebrity culture and Pop Art. My goal is to create images that are edgy, sexy and provocative.

 

The image you see is a collage on a 12×16 inch panel showing two x two females. Everything is an image: some more, some less real. The colors in this collage are creamy white, grey-black, green and tiny touches of pale blue and red.

 

The large female image is a close-up of a face, eyes closed as if in a swoon. She seems ensconced in a reverie in a garden setting, surrounded by green. She’s a beauty. Her eyes are decorated and glittery. There’s a large, expensive diamond jewel floating near her nose. The jewel looks like a delicate flower or a garden bug. I’ve seen expensive jewels in fashion magazines. They’re highly crafted with multiple stones. A beautiful woman deserves a beautiful diamond. I embellished the image, but it’s straight out of the magazine.

The smaller female image in my collage is a figure in a couturier outfit and her breasts are exposed. You see a lot of that in the fashion magazines currently. She’s standing in front of the large face image. There’s a third image in black and white located on the lower left side. It may be a print by Pablo Picasso torn from an art magazine. I took it because it was the right size and in black and white. There’s a fourth image on the right side that’s a face and facing left. If you look carefully, you can see eyes, eyebrows and hair. The face is made with striped green paper. I like stripes. I like to combine abstraction, reality and fantasy.

 

I cut and pasted all the papers. There is no actual glitter and no jewel – just papers to simulate jewels and glitter.

 

Appropriation in Art

I recommend the book titled Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. It’s a little book with a lot of big ideas. The author says: remix and reimagine to discover your true path. It sounds like collage.

Appropriation in art is defined as the act of using pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The artist’s job is to decide how much image transformation is necessary. Some artists feel guilty for stealing an image. I’m not sure that’s true for everyone. There is so much to steal now. Images are everywhere. I think it’s how you use them that makes a difference.

 

nancy nikkal, flat chested, collage 2017

The image nearby is a magazine collage I created on a 14×11 inch paper substrate. I gave it the title FlatChested. I think she is. She’s high fashion and very thin. The image is inspired by the concept Exquisite Corpse where the parts don’t have to match. Each of the 3 parts comes from a different magazine page. I liked the pink background in the middle section and the model’s long, graceful hand. Her eyes were made up with glitter and that was also appealing. I liked the wild, dark hair in the top section that has a mustard yellow background. I liked the pattern where the hair is separated by a part in the middle. The width worked well with the cut-off hat in the pink section. I liked the dot patterns in the black and white bottom section. Everything worked well. I didn’t have to add glitter because the model already had glittery eye makeup. I changed her mouth and shortened her torso. Colors are gold, pink, black and white. Her skin color is caramel brown. The papers come from W magazine. There are only 4 pieces in this collage –  three horizontal rows of cut and pasted magazine papers and a mouth from a model image in black and white (from the same magazine).

 

 

My students often ask me about copyright infringement and appropriation. One student this winter had to overcome – and actually did overcome – her resistance to appropriating magazine images. I persuaded her. We talked about it all through the winter term at the Pelham Art Center where I teach contemporary collage to adults. Her career is print publishing so I understand her resistance to appropriating images. I really like her 3 portrait images. Each one is very different. See them below.

 

student portrait collage with papers & glitter

 

The image nearby is the 1st portrait collage Ilene created in class. Her papers included stamped drawing paper (dots) for the face, chevron-striped paper for the dress, decorated papers from magazines and painted paper for hair, eyes, nose and mouth. The collage is on 14″x11″ Bristol paper (substrate). Ilene spent a lot of time cutting papers for the hair, eyes and mouth. Notice one eye is light brown and the other eye is a black and white pattern. Ilene added green glitter eye makeup last. Her background is grey magazine paper with a printed gallery name as vertical text. I remember Ilene asked me if she should cut, cover or leave the vertical text. I said yes – leave it in – it’s not too prominent. Ilene’s 1st collage has a lot of directional movement with pattern and cut papers. The grey dots in the face are tilting down right. The vertical text is parallel to the right edge.

 

 

 

student collage, assorted papers & glitter, 2017

 

The image nearby is the 2nd portrait collage Ilene created in class. It’s much more abstract and the eyes, mouth, chin and hair are made with cut triangle papers. The papers come from magazine pages but do not show a model’s image. There’s a lot of dynamic energy in the way Ilene placed the cut papers. Notice some of the magazine papers are solid black, beige, yellow, blue and magenta red. Notice a few of the cut papers have stripes and crosshatched line drawing that adds texture. I love the spaces around the triangles. Ilene used a minimum number of papers but still gave us a sense of modeling the shape of a face. Notice the shading in the red papers for the lips. The way Ilene cut the papers gives a sense of volume. Notice the nose and tiny hands (each within a contrasting triangle) are actual magazine images – the only ones in this collage. Hooray for appropriation! I believe Ilene made the hands and nose small to make them less obvious as swiped magazine images. Notice the magenta-red lips are larger than either hand.

 

 

student collage, exquisite corpse portrait, 2017

 

The image nearby is the 3rd portrait collage Ilene created in class based on the concept Exquisite Corpse. I believe I made my collage FlatChested (above) during the class to demonstrate how to cut magazine papers in angled, horizontal strips, using different models for each piece. Ilene’s portrait includes a woman’s eyes, ears and hairline on top and a man’s mouth, chin and neck below. She included a black round hat for the top strip in the collage, and found decorated papers in swirly patterns and bright colors for the bottom strip. I know she loves this portrait collage. I really like the contrast of one face in color and another face in black & white, and really like that one half of the face is male and the other half is female. Ilene selected images with care so that the expressions in the eyes and mouth co-mingle.

 

 

 

EXQUISITE CORPSE at PINTEREST

See 72 pins (images) for the Exquisite Corpse at my Pinterest site. Some of the images are historic examples. My students love Exquisite corpse as a class project and I set up Pinterest boards so they can check out images online. Read more about the Exquisite corpse here.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Today, appropriating and remixing images and media is common practice for visual, audio, and performing artists. Appropriation is a strategy. Visual artists would not be able to create the mash-up of  images we create without all the images online and in magazines. They’re available, plentiful and we find them. Please share your thoughts. Do you swipe images and use them in collage? Do you re-mix other media? Tell me if you love the Exquisite Corpse.

Thanks for sharing – Nancy

 

CREATE with COLLAGE

January 20, 2017

Albert Einstein said: Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Do you know that art enhances problem-solving skills? Art encourages creative thinking. It will make you feel good. Making art boosts self-esteem.

Making art is good for your health. It focuses your mind and pushes your worries aside. My collage students at the Pelham Art Center say the 2½ hours spent in class seem to fly by because they are totally absorbed in their art-making projects. They’re in “the zone.”

Pablo Picasso said: Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

I teach CREATE with COLLAGE at the Pelham Art Center in Pelham, NY.  Winter classes meet Monday nights, Jan 23-March 20 – 7:00-9:30 pm. 7 classes (no class Feb 20). This post shows sample collages for the 1st class.

 

nikkal, sample triangle collage #1

nikkal, sample triangle collage #1

The sample collage nearby may look simple, but it’s also a creative challenge to combine colors, text, and pattern into a pleasing design. It’s guaranteed that each student’s collage will look different from the others. The triangles are cut from magazine papers. They face in different directions and papers overlap. Some papers are dark and some are light. Some have white text on a dark background. Some have dark text on a light background,

Collage is about Serendipity

In class I discuss how papers move as you handle them, so the design can change as you lift papers and glue them down. Some students worry that their plan for a collage will change as papers move. It does. The best part of making collage is serendipity. I say: if you like, trace the outline of the design or take a photo with your phone. Or – go with the flow. Be happy as you move papers and glue.

 

 

nikkal, sample triangle collage #2

nikkal, sample triangles #2

The image nearby shows tall triangles that are arranged so papers touch the edges of the rectangle substrate. The substrate is the bottom layer for the collage. In this case, the substrate is a heavy art postcard I collected at a NYC Chelsea gallery. I always ask for postcards at art galleries. The paper is a perfect substrate for a small collage – and it’s free!

Notice two triangles (on the bottom) each include a slice of a face – one is a man and another is a woman. Once you notice the faces, you cannot stop looking at these triangles. Notice the lower section of the collage has a dark skinny triangle facing downward that points to the two dark triangles with faces. Every other triangle is light, yellow or white with text. The red triangles mimic the red tones in the faces and lips.

 

 

I will offer the class a 2nd project with triangles in a grid. I like the idea of theme and variation.

nikkal, sample triangles for 2nd class project

nikkal, sample triangles for 2nd class project

 

The image nearby is a sample collage with a horizontal grid. There are 20 rectangles. Each rectangle has contrasting dark and light right angle triangles that faces up and down.

The dark triangles are cut from black painted papers. The light triangles are cut from magazine papers with dots, text and patterns.

 

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Be inspired. It’s not copying. It’s Theme & Variation

class project: triangles in a grid

class project: triangles in a grid

The image nearby was made by a student in class last fall. I brought the sample triangle grid to class and asked everyone to create a collage with dark and light contrasting triangles in rectangles. I said their collage didn’t need to look at all like the sample collage, but I encouraged them to create a grid pattern.

Many students tell me they dislike the idea of copying. I say: don’t worry. You can’t even copy yourself.

Notice this student’s collage doesn’t look at all like the sample I made. She added light teal-blue paper to her substrate before she added the rectangle grid with cut triangles on top.

I think her design and colors are gorgeous. It’s an amazing collage.

 

Final Thoughts

I am happy that my collage classes became a creative community. The class experience builds confidence, trust and success. That’s the goal. Each member in class develops a visual style that’s personal, and everyone cares for each other.

Many people believe you have to be a painter or sculptor to be a real artist, or that if you are not a born artist it makes no sense to make art. Not true. Creativity is for everyone. The art of collage is ultimate creativity.

Make Art and Build Your Brain Power

Read more about how creating with art stimulates brain power – and how anyone can do it. See: Be Brain Fit by Deane Alban.

I welcome your comments. Email me for a free PDF for tips and a materials list for the triangle collage project.

Ask me about the class projects I design that include collage with figures, and faces, collage with landscape, and collage abstraction. I can custom-design a workshop for you and your group.

See my newest triangle paintings and collages with painted papers online here.

 

Painting Papers for Collage 2

September 22, 2016

Two of the collage artists I admire most– Romare Bearden and Henri Matisse – created collage with painted papers.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

The image above shows the French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) sitting in a wheelchair in his studio in Nice, France (1952). He had recovered from cancer surgery. Notice there are a lot of cut papers on the floor. Following his surgery, Matisse discovered his genius for collage. He called it his second life, and he is world-famous for collage. Studio assistants painted white papers for Matisse with Linel gouache, a water-based paint. The colors are gorgeous. See more images here.

Painted Papers

Painted Papers

We painted papers as a warm-up for the collage class I teach at the Pelham Art Center. The image above is a beautiful mix of blue and hot pink acrylic paint – painted on a page torn out of ARTForum magazine. Can you notice there is text below the paint? It was applied so you can see some of the magazine paper below.

I tell the class I do the same warm up exercise when I arrive at my studio. It gets me into a creative groove. It’s also a lot of fun to do. See my video online at my website – Painting Papers with Nancy Egol Nikkal. Email me and ask for a free PDF step-by-step outline to make a portrait collage with painted papers.

Etched Painted Paper

Etched Painted Paper

The image above is a beautiful mix of blue, pink and orange paints, done by a student in class. It shows an etched, swirling pattern, created with a palette knife while the paint was wet.

When we paint papers in class, I set out coated paper plates with acrylic paints and a little acrylic medium to thin the paints for each student. I demonstrate how to use a plastic palette knife to mix the paints, move colors around, and spread the wet paint onto the magazine paper. I encourage everyone to allow some of the magazine paper to show through the paint.

All my collages include painted papers, torn from contemporary art magazine pages like ARTForum and ART News. FYI: I do read the magazine articles. I do tear out pages that are perfect for collage and then I tear out more pagers to paint. There are always enough pages.

10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD PAINT PAPERS:

It’s eco-friendly – it’s recycling magazines

It’s economical because magazines have so many pages

The process is quick and easy and you can create a lot of papers in a short time

Painted papers are very arty when you allow some image to show through

The different ways you apply paint shows personality, style and creativity

You can create layers, pattern and texture

You can create papers in all the colors you want

Painted papers are strong and easier to work with in collage

Painted papers are washable and durable

Painted papers can be repainted and you can create a new palette of colors

Two more reasons: Painted papers are beautiful and become a personal statement in every collage you make.

 

Henri Matisse, Blue Nude II

Henri Matisse, Blue Nude II

The image above is a painted gouache cutout titled Blue Nude II (1952). Notice it’s all blue painted papers. It was included in the exhibition “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (Oct 22, 2014-Feb 10, 2015). I visited the MoMA exhibit 3 times. There were more than 100 cut-outs, as well as a video that showed Matisse cutting painted papers with a long scissor while an assistant held the paper as he cut. Read about the exhibition here:

Thank you for your comments below. Tell me if you saw the MoMA exhibit Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. Were you amazed at his collage technique and the colors in his painted papers? I was/am.

Link here to my post Painting Papers for Collage (October 2012) with images and more about Henri Matisse. He said he painted with scissors. He called his works gouache decoupes.

For fun: Ask me why I paint papers from contemporary art magazines. If you like, email me to get a free PDF with a step by step outline to make a portrait collage with painted papers (inspired by a famous contemporary artist).