Monday, April 26, 2010

Antony Gormley

(Pictured above is Antony Gormley's most famous sculpture that dominates the landscape in the north of England. It is called the Angel of the North and is 65 feet tall.)

Yesterday, I got up early on Sunday morning to film the art installation in downtown Anchorage that will accent the new wing of the museum. Lots of other folks were there too, at 6:30am to witness the cubed geometric figure of Antony Gormley. We all hung around for a good couple of hours, drinking coffee and nabbing quick bites of doughnuts; meeting with the artist and seeing his giant Habitat sculpture being lifted by a massive crane, slowly being toppled to it's upright position and then carried to the designated spot where it will be cemented and forever hold part of the grounds was the anticipated climax. I describe it as many boxes of a small city complex. Also, the gray, somber skies of Anchorage seemed to welcome in Gormley's sculpture and it couldn't have been a better day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

running fences

Every Monday night I travel to Eagle River to teach a course called Art Appreciation A160. It is a low level required class that students must take to graduate college and often this class is looked upon as an inconvenience to their studies. The question I continually pose to my students is, what is art and is art important in our lives? This course also helps me examine my own persona as an artist and with each semester I begin with a new premise and a new introduction to teaching. This spring, I introduced art as being integral to our society; how it investigates our cultural understandings on what society is composed of - the myriad of peoples, our ethnic backgrounds, and most importantly how art explains our histories and the universe. It is a general exploration of art history and I try to show a variety and a wide array of visual expressions aside from regular Western stigmas and household artist names.

But, the piece de resistance comes from the students themselves. The last five weeks consist of each student presenting a ten minute PowerPoint lecture on an artist of his/her choice. I stress the importance on using successful visuals to explain what each art piece means, what it expresses and it's historical importance. Many students pick difficult concepts to investigate - like installation art of Christo and Jeanne Claude (an example is pictured above called Running Fences completed in CA) or Donald Judd's minimal geometric sculptures or Robert Smithson's earthworks. Others chose more traditional artists like Rembrandt or Delacroix only to find the magnitude and complexity impossible to examine faithfully giving the artist full credit of their mastery.

Often I think we cruise through life in a sleepwalker's mode but this semester students made curious investigations and explored new things outside the box. Bravo!

Friday, April 9, 2010

something about nothing

The other day a fellow instructor asked me about my plans for the summer. I rattled my list to her in a short minute that included my time up to the month of September and shortly afterwards, she gave me a list of her itinerary. One of my students expressed that she had nothing going on with her summer. I commented that it was healthy and it could inevitably lead to some wonderful surprises. This afternoon, I almost became alarmed because I felt that my summer space was being eaten up with all these things I was planning to do. Are we so afraid to have empty time before us? Are we that insecure that we need to have our months listed with the must dos of projects and places to go to? There is something about nothing. Space does lead to some interesting unplanned, insightful journeys and it has kept me focussed too when I created a short list of intentions. I would like to think that there is a natural progression to the mania of our lives. Perhaps the aspirations are part of the program to an enriched time but I also feel that quiet and contemplative observances are a part of eloquence that can be special and uncanny. They are moments of the breath and the digestion to our spiritual well being.