More on my latest collaboration

The pièce de résistance of “Force for Good” ready to be attached.

For the last several months I’ve been working with ten teen artists (and their friends) to create an installation that speaks out against racism in conjunction with the Culture for Change program of Boston. The group and I are finally ready to present our nearly 24′ piece to the public tomorrow evening. What follows is our artists statement. For more on the process, please check out the YES for Change Tumblr page.

A Force For Good (Against Racism)

papier-mâché (head), clear tape & saran wrap (spine), wooden frames (body), sequined fabric (skin), mirrors, and other medium.

Being given the opportunity to create some sort of artwork that educates the cause and effect of racism is both exciting and a little daunting. The subject of racism is very broad, as were our choices of art to use to translate our message. Following the process of an artist, starting with an idea, continuing with research, practicing with trial and error team building projects, and finally execution, we arrived at what stands before you.

During the course of the year we researched a variety of issues and events related to racism and in particular our community of Chinatown. We also sought out to learn more about the broad medium of installation art, knowing we did not want to necessarily produce standard 2D artwork. We learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in the US. Our investigation of racism and installation art brought us all over Boston and beyond. Our group visited the Chinatown Library where we viewed an Atlas timeline of Chinatown. It was a way for us to learn and find our roots and to see how it was like for our grandparents and great grandparents to deal with the obstacles presented to them in a new country. We visited the ICA to view installation art and hopefully inspire us. We learned about Ai Wei Wei and how he used installation art to oppose the Chinese communist government. Another famous installation artist, Yayoi Kasuma, taught us that much of installation art is conceptual, meaning that the artist’s ideas or concept are more important that the actual beauty of the piece.

Our team combined ideas collected from months worth of projects and field trips and drafted a final form for our installation. What we present to the community is a Chinese inspired dragon, its spine built of interlocking lit hands, surrounding a plastic figure and several mirrors. The mirrors reflect our audiences’ faces and positive phrases allowing viewers to become a part of the piece. The encircled separated plastic figure amid the sea of reflections is used to show the effects of racism, something, at one point, everyone has encountered, making us feel isolated or less than a whole. The dragon represents our main message, coming together we become an unstoppable force against racism. We are equally proud of our final piece and of all the work our team has done. This installation is our reward to show everyone what we’ve learned about art, racism, our culture, and each other.

Because you demanded it!

252cfac0b12611e2b12b22000aaa04d7_7FLASHBACK: Nearly five years ago, a busy graduate student started as a lowly intern for the outreach program of the Education Department of the Worcester Art Museum. He quickly moved his way up to become a member of faculty working beside well established artists and published authors.

Fast forward to now, I’ve maintained my position, but took a break from teaching WAM classes as the commute from my home in Boston to Worcester grew increasingly daunting. Though I always promised I would return for a class or workshop because of (surprising) demand. I have a special spot in my heart for all of the young artists and parents I’ve come to know through each course I taught. I love my WAM family dearly and have remained in contact with all my friends at the museum. Their love, guidance, and support helped open such wonderful doors towards my career path as an educator.

Anyway —

Good friend, Brett M. Holtz, author and illustrator extraordinaire will be busy signing copies of his various books during Free Comic Book Day and was kind enough to ask if I would cover his morning Saturday class. Not known for doing anything small, I’m using the opportunity as a Character Creation workshop for young cartoonists, Grades 3-5. The class and I will spend between 15-20 minutes exploring some of the museum’s exhibits and use our discoveries to help influence our work as we create a life size 2D fictional character. We’ll also be talking about specific character fashion, motivation, design, history, and more. I know it will be a ton of fun for all involved! This is a one-time only class, May 4th and goes from 10am-noon. To register, call Elaine at, 508-799-4406. I hope to see you and your child there!

Women’s History Month

Annie Leibovitz

Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself. –  Annie Leibovitz, famed portrait photographer

Throughout the month of March students and I have been discussing the work of well-known female artists. It’s a theme I use often, but particularly focus on during Women’s History Month. This week into next we’ll be wrapping up the event with Annie Leibovitz, an artist who’s taken photographs of some of the most iconic faces of popular culture.

A Resolution I Plan To Keep

Versace Autumn/Winter 2012

Last year I fully explored my love of comic books with students to show to them how the medium is absolutely Art related and opens many doors of the world. I’ll admit, there was some hestitance from the female population of classes, but nearly as much as I anticipated. Thankfully, my fandom of Wonder Woman helped build a bridge and throughout the year, both boys and girls were producing incredible graphic novels with thought out stories and incredibly detailed work (focusing on foreground, middle and background, pen & ink, etc).

It’s a new year and to build on a popular theme in many of my lessons, fashion, I intend to do much of the same, though reversed, as I had with comics. Let me explain. Girls, ages seven to eighteen, immediately seem drawn to clothes — the majority anyway. Well, I want boys, seven to eighteen, to understand that they too can express themselves through their form of dress. Alright, so maybe it won’t be as important to them as it is to girls, duly noted, but I do want them to experiment and have fun with the idea. In the coming months I will be broadening design and color lessons to utilize a more fashion athstetic. The inspiration comes from an article I read online in British Vogue. If I teach my students anything beyond the Art fundementals, I want to broaden their perception of their day to day life in a fun way. Keep an eye on this space for results of students’ work as it’s produced.