Sun Kissed: 2015 MFA Graduation Exhibition

Sun Kissed features the work of nine graduating MFA students from the USF School of Art and Art History. Each MFA student is represented below by their artist statement, selected images of their thesis work and its installation at CAM, an essay written by a Master of Arts student in Art History, and a checklist of all works in the exhibition.


Michael J. Bauman, Davie, Florida
B.F.A. Sculpture (2012), University of Florida

My work is an attempt to satisfy my desire for the absurd, exploring notions of masculinity and failure by creating a self-conscious mythos of cruel and illogical confrontations. An interdisciplinary practice of halogen-bright moments grounded within the everyday: a combination of sculpture, documented interventions, and still photography. The work does not stand apart from culture, but rather its underlying principles piggy-back onto shreds of reality, threads of evidence, and notions of the possible. Currently I am fabricating the world’s smallest airboat, an icon of the paradise-paradoxes I was steeped in as a child. It is a structure of minute dimensions, of zero compensation, in which I will lead a quixotic quest through the charted “wilds” of the Florida Everglades, crossing through the thickest portion of the marshland, to reach radiant Miami. The expedition will attempt to displace the sublime unknown by embracing an exaltant sardonic celebration of arrogance, emasculation, and fear.

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation, 2015 (at left) Blow Baby Blow, 2015 (at right)

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation, 2015 (left)
Blow Baby Blow, 2015 (right)
Photo by Will Lytch

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation, 2015

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation, 2015
Photo by Will Lytch

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation (detail), 2015

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation (detail), 2015
Photo by Will Lytch

Trophy Show, 2014 Photo by Mark Fredricks

Trophy Show, 2014
Photo by Mark Fredricks

Trophy Show, 2014 Photo by Mark Fredricks

Trophy Show, 2014
Photo by Mark Fredricks

Illogical Explorations: Considering the Work of Michael J. Bauman
By David Q. Loisel

Sun Kissed, the title of this year’s MFA exhibition, warmly encompasses the themes that drive Michael Bauman’s work. A third-generation Floridian and self-proclaimed “Jewish Redneck,” Bauman draws much of his inspiration from his Floridian heritage, as well as the state’s unique swampy topography and cultural prominence as America’s premier travel destination, for the past century. In witnessing the transformation of what he derisively refers to as the “tourist’s paradise,” Bauman continues to create work that both challenges and questions the “bionic hybrid of natural and constructed elements” he considers Florida to have become today.1 Themes of gender, commodity, urbanization, and the “absurdity of culture,” specifically the hyper-masculinized expectation of the Southern American male, are all addressed in his three latest projects.

The cleverly compelling North Beach Trophy Shop is a collaborative work between Bauman and Kate Helms—an artist/environmental scientist. Immediately, viewers notice a barrage of brightly colored alligator skins and body parts scattered throughout a custom-fabricated trailer. The installation simultaneously acts as an interactive performance piece and a satirical commentary, imitating a roadside skin-trader offering purchasable souvenirs. These extremely detailed Dayglo molds cast from locally harvested alligators poke fun at “backwoods” hunters selling gator jerky and the inescapable tacky alligator heads, sold at every gas station and souvenir shop in the state. The process of creating impractical non-functional works to be sold as critiques of American consumer culture undoubtedly bares the imprint of Claes Oldenburg’s Store sculptures, produced in New York City in 1961. In this campy mobile market, one can see a similarly suggestive critique of the Sunshine State’s souvenir-driven economy, while allusions to the transient nature of Florida’s tourist populations are suggested in the portable nature of the performative installation.

The alligator molds are created from silicon rubber—a material used in the production of sex toys—eliciting a direct tactile referent to both alligator skin and sexual pleasure. Through this choice of materials, Bauman builds a juxtaposition between the violent and the pleasurable. The artist claims his work is “an attempt to satisfy [his] desire for the absurd… to create a mythos of the cruel and illogical.”2 This violence and cruelty are indeed manifested on multiple levels in the North Beach Trophy Shop. The viewer is inescapably forced to consider that in order to create the idealized “tourist paradise,” the former landscape has to first be destroyed. Swamplands were gutted, filled, and paved to make way for theme parks, hotels and parking structures. The eradication of Florida’s natural ecosystems is fundamentally linked to Bauman works, defining what can be understood as a second colonial expansion perpetuated through suburban sprawl and commercial gain.

Bauman’s alligator molds, and the history to which they belong, truly embody his critique of Florida’s rampant consumerism. Astonishingly, in 1973, the American Alligator was hunted to the brink of extinction and was listed under the Endangered Species Act. The ecological destruction caused by hunting and harvesting of nuisance wildlife, to the point of extinction, blatantly illuminates Bauman’s ideas of absurd cruelty. This same violence becomes even more deliberate through the artist’s work when one realizes that each alligator cast was originally created from a harvested alligator corpse the artist obtained through local nuisance wildlife catchers. The laughable silicone alligators quickly avouch their morbid indexical qualities, becoming eerily reminiscent of Victorian death masks used to capture the deceased’s final expressions. One wonders if Bauman’s neon alligators will one day flippantly typify a prehistoric species that no longer exists in the rapidly eroding Everglades. The slow consumption of these protected wetlands equally inform his newest and most intrepid work The World’s Smallest Airboat.

The World’s Smallest Airboat is a work that is part conquest, and part emulation, of the late Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader’s In Search of the Miraculous (1975), in which Ader attempted to sail across the Atlantic in a tiny twelve and a half foot sailboat. Bauman, mimicking a similar performative attempt, will pilot his personally constructed airboat (three feet, eight inches by five feet) across the Florida Everglades from the Western headwaters to Miami with only fuel and a shotgun in tow. The mere visual of a backwoods conquistador humming across South Florida’s marshy wetlands seated atop a gator skin is enough to invoke the absurd machismo Bauman seeks to challenge while sardonically echoing Florida’s colonial past. In channeling his performative “Don Quixote-esque” persona, the artist views his farcical exploration of the Everglades through a self-critical lens, embracing both the introspection and inspiration such ludicrous notions of unrestrained masculinity entail.3

It is through these notions that Bauman, much like his art, is revealed to be a complex hybrid of cultural heritage, self-exploration, and illogical innovation.
__________________
1 Michael J. Bauman, Artist Statement, February 5, 2015.
2 “Artist Short Bio,” accessed February 9, 2015, http://www.michaeljbauman.com.
3 Michael J. Bauman, interview with David Q. Loisel, January 21, 2015.

Michael J. Bauman exhibition checklist

Blow Baby Blow, 2015
steel, airboat prop, engine
6 x 5 x 7 ft.

The Journey, 2015
video
infinite loop

Minute Dimensions, Zero Compensation, 2015
airboat, steel, oranges
16 x 16 x 6 ft.

Necessary Steps, 2015
mixed media
dimensions variable

On the River of Grass, 2015
digital print of performance
33 14 x 41 in.

Transport, 2015
digital print
44 x 66 in.

Michael J. Bauman and Kate Helms
Trophy Show, 2014
cast silicone alligator skins, custom built installation trailer, T8 fluorescent lights, neon, astro turf, performers
20 x 15 x 8 ½ ft.
Presented only during opening reception.


Katina Bitsicas, East Lansing, Michigan
B.A. Studio Art (2011), Kalamazoo College
Post-Baccalaureate in Digital Multimedia (2012), SACI Florence, Italy

When processing trauma, our minds can distort memories, which creates a conflicted, erratic collection of these moments over time. I explore the curious relationship between memory and personal trauma on screen using cinematic images and sound. The content of my work is based on my own experiences, thereby challenging viewers to confront their own memories. By approaching the instability of memory through metaphor, I attempt to create video and photographic works that initiate a dialogue about our own impermanence and the beauty in mortality.

Vitreous archival inkjet prints

Vitreous archival inkjet prints
Photo by Will Lytch

Vitreous HD video installation and archival inkjet prints

Vitreous HD video installation and archival inkjet prints
Photo by Will Lytch

Flashes of Mortality: The Video and Photographic Works of Katina Bitsicas
by Erin Wilson

Katina Bitsicas addresses complex emotional and psychological concerns with an elegance that often belies the difficult nature of her subject matter. Her video works seek to capture the beauty in the unusual and provide challenges to traditional interpretations of the world around us. They are simultaneously accessible and multivalent, addressing issues that many of us have encountered in one form or another but have rarely considered at length. Often employing metaphor as a vehicle for interpretation, she highlights themes such as murder, assault, and emotional or mental instabilities in ways that cause us to reflect, not turn away.

Both in content and depiction, these video works pull from an array of sources. Inspired by the studies of Nobel Prize winner Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a neuroscientist whose artistic background gave him the ability to create intricately detailed drawings of cells and neural connections, Bitsicas utilizes art as a means to probe the reactive underpinnings of our brain.1 She strives to visually express the nature of memory in relation to how we think and feel. Yet, unlike Cajal’s technical sketches, her work is not conveyed through a strictly scientific manner. She also looks to an art historical past and integrates the aesthetic preferences of seventeenth century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi. These elements can be detected through her employment of heavy shadow and bright light.2

Playing off the notion of memory, Bitsicas has, over the course of her career, shifted from the specific to the universal. Instead of asking viewers to consider a particular incident in all its varying facets she now requires us to grapple with broad, overarching concerns. In order to achieve these aims she shifts focus away from personal experiences to probe those fears that affect us all. In her piece, Vitreous, Bitsicas asks us to contemplate the larger issues of mortality in a descriptive but oddly indeterminate way.

Although no longer the subject appearing on screen, Bitsicas is still very much intertwined with her work. Acting as videographer, producer and composer she poses a scenario that is not immediately accessible. Through the use of both photography and video, we are given multiple avenues for contemplation. Working in tandem, these elements serve to enhance our overall experience and interpretation of the work. As the video begins so, too, do our questions. Small droplets of blood hit a white porcelain background and we wonder about its origins. The photographs, seemingly a foil to the mystery of the video, instead increase our queries as we linger on images that stubbornly refuse to reveal their secrets. Through music, cinematography, and photography Bitsicas develops a complex psychological scenario with multiple avenues of inquiry, but only one real answer. It is only with prolonged viewing that we can puzzle out the intent and come face to face with the fragile and fleeting nature of our own life.
__________________
1 Katina Bitsicas, Interview with Erin Wilson, January 21, 2015.
2 Ibid.

Katina Bitsicas exhibition checklist
Vitreous, 2015
HD video and archival inkjet prints
video: 9:56 min.
prints: 30 x 36 in., each print


Christine Comple, Weston, Florida
B.F.A. (2011), University of Central Florida

Having always been obsessed with the observation and representation of figures, I aim to rework modernist icons within the framework of my own identity, merging influences of the Classical past with the observed and imagined present to create a private world that fuses a tangible, daily existence with the fantastic and absurd. My work tracks classic Greco-Roman canons of muscularity and masculinity and its development and dispersal across our present popular culture to reach the apex of sport and sensuality. Through the investigation of the role of the male form and its range of effects on the viewer, connections can be made to fanaticism, temptation, a return to animal nature, celebrity worship, and other vices that pervade Western society. By composing spaces that combine embellished and disquieting historical content with private references, I seek to activate the viewer’s awareness of the shifting filter between conscious and unconscious impulses.

No Shoes/No Shirt, 2015Photo by Will Lytch

No Shoes/No Shirt, 2015
Photo by Will Lytch

Christine Comple installation viewPhoto by Will Lytch

Christine Comple installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

Untitled, 2015ink on paper

Untitled, 2015

Medal, 2015monoprint

Medal, 2015
monoprint

Rethinking Bodies: Christine Comple’s Contemporary Male Icon
by Laura R. Colkitt

Since antiquity the male form has captured the attention of artists. As the centuries progressed the male nude became integral in Greco-Roman depictions, Renaissance era revivals, Nineteenth Century history painting, and postmodern pop. Through time the meaning of the male nude icon shifted drastically from ideas surrounding myth and heroism to outright ridicule. The artist, Christine Comple, astutely aware of the past art historical references, takes the male nude in a contemporary direction. Through drawing, Comple reworks archetypal male figuration into a synchronously complex narrative, simultaneously layered in conflict and harmony, while rooted in highly detailed visual acumen.

Comple works both in small-scale compositions and overwhelmingly large arrangements. In her art, there is a highly refined use of space and compelling interweaving of forms. Her subject matter may be constant, but each artwork generates a novel space of dialogue and intrigue for the observer. The male body duplicates and transforms, transmuting traditional understanding, while shifting from body to object to landscape in the viewer’s mind.1

The compulsion to depict the male body is echoed in Comple’s artistic process. Utilizing pen on paper, she painstakingly renders each individual line over and over again. Large-scale drawing becomes both an act of fixation as well as devotion. The fundamental medium harkens back to the primal and consummate theme portrayed. The lines twist and turn on a two-dimensional plane while giving form to highly rendered anatomy which seem to interact with the spectator in three-dimensional space. The obsessive nature with which Comple renders her forms, reiterated both in process and in subject, demands that the viewer fully engage with every part of the composition.

The interaction between artist, artwork, and viewer becomes integral. The audience’s gaze stands as a referent to both classical appreciation and the uncovering of a voyeuristic impulse. The work functions as a means of female agency through the female artist’s subversion of Western culture’s long ingrained gender roles of a muse. The male body is under consideration, its formal attributes scrutinized.

Comple also pushes the boundaries of traditional figure studies. She incorporates surreal and symbolic elements related to the phallus, hinting both satirically and candidly at Freudian and Lacanian theories of sexuality. Expertly cropping and truncating her subjects, Comple creates an emotional impact within the overall formation. Planes of space morph as the body becomes compartmentalized and eroticized. The physicality of anatomy gives way to an unconscious appreciation of sensuality and carnality. An inclusion of mixed classical elements rethought through a contemporary lens complicates the traditional understanding of the nude. The male anatomy deconstructs, simultaneously becoming a fractured mass of body parts while maintaining a cultivated structure rooted in repetition.

Thus Comple stands within the great artistic tradition of representing the male nude. She reworks the quintessential paradigm into a mix of traditional, surreal, and contemporary evolution. Comple’s art serves as the fulcrum of the palpable corporeal world and the mind’s abstracted imperceptible internal motivations.
__________________
1 Christine Comple, Interview with Laura Colkitt, February 9, 2015.

Christine Comple exhibition checklist
Altar, 2015
etching with chine-collé, pen
30 x 25 in.

Floaters, 2015
pen and watercolor on paper
30 x 25 in.

Medal, 2015
etching
30 x 25 in.

Muscle Beach Party, 2015
monoprint with ink additions
30 x 25 in.

No Shoes/No Shirt, 2015
pen and ink on paper
84 x 144 in.

Untitled, 2015
monoprint
30 x 25 in.

Untitled, 2015
monoprint
30 x 25 in.

Untitled, 2015
pen and coffee wash on paper
30 x 25 in.

Untitled, 2015
pen and watercolor on paper
30 x 25 in.

Untitled, 2015
pen and watercolor on paper
30 x 25 in.

Untitled, 2015
pen, watercolor, photocopy transfers, screenprint with puff additive
30 x 25 in.


Marcus DeSieno, Albany, New York
B.A. Photography (2010), Marlboro College

I often assume the role of the amateur scientist in order to investigate photography’s historic relationship with science in regards to the notion of the invisible. Antiquated and obsolescent photographic processes are combined with contemporary imaging technologies to engage in a critical dialog on the evolution of photographic technology in relation to seeing. These obsolescent materials are subverted from their original function in order to re-examine photographic representation, the role of object-hood within photography, and ultimately interrogate the ontological nature of the medium itself.

Marcus Desieno installation viewPhoto by Will Lytch

Marcus DeSieno installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

Marcus Desieno installation viewPhoto by Will Lytch

Marcus DeSieno installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

A Photograph of the Crab Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Table at a Red Lobster Restaurant, 2014

A Photograph of the Crab Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Table at a Red Lobster Restaurant, 2014

Photograph of the Planet Saturn Eaten By Bacteria From an Adulterer’s Engagement Ring, 2015

A Photograph of the Planet Saturn Eaten By Bacteria From an Adulterer’s Engagement Ring, 2015

Intimate Views: Marcus DeSieno’s Cosmos
by Amanda Preuss

Viewing the photographs of Cosmos is akin to an experiential encounter of dynamic forces: luminescent, saturated colors press forcefully against the picture plane, forming metamorphosing systems that hold the ambiguous view of distant galaxies in acute tension. These oscillating macrocosmic and microscopic views, such as A Photograph of a Star Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Lightswitch, come from the insatiable curiosity of photographer Marcus DeSieno. The fecund photographs that populate this series are captivating and sordid, holding in equal measures a seductive tactility and the palpable unease of a world unseen.

Cosmos teems with an invigorated use of photographic materials. Invisible microscopic bacteria are applied to photographic film of outer space, such as popularized images from NASA’s Hubble telescope. As DeSieno cultivates the bacteria atop the film there is both growth and decay, altering the images into abstract patterns of color and texture.

The specific configurations of bacteria and film are revealed in classifying titles, such as A Photograph of the Little Dumbbell Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on My Gym’s 20-Pound Dumbbells. Immediately, the title invites viewers to envision the performative action of collecting and growing the bacteria. DeSieno’s literalistic titles also ascribe dry humor and wit that move the images from the realm of clinical sterility into something distinctly human. Yet the effect of this revelation can be disconcerting upon further visual inspection. Seemingly benign samples, such as ones from DeSieno’s own iPhone, decay the film with an alarming amount of bacterial growth. Other more “exotic” samples—bacteria grown from an anus or a vagina—form astonishingly beautiful collisions with the cosmic imagery.

Although the photographs of Cosmos are carefully orchestrated arrangements of micro-and-macro, DeSieno cannot fully predict their results. The role of chance embedded in the experimental patterns of bacterial growth undermines complete control, creating a subtle tension between order and chaos. This perhaps invokes hyperbolic metaphors concerning man’s persistent desire to control the unruly forces of nature—an ultimately futile endeavor, DeSieno adds.1 Interestingly, in scanning these miniature systems to make archival prints, the photographer destroys the bacteria he so carefully cultivated. There is something sublime in this push and pull between creation and destruction, in the desire for order on forces ultimately beyond control.

On the surface then, comparisons of DeSieno to a scientist appear apt. A separate photographic series by DeSieno titled Parasites, which includes magnified portraits of parasitic organisms, invites similar associations between artist and scientist. His work clearly demonstrates reflections upon certain canonical photographers, especially Henry Fox Talbot and John Adams Whipple, to investigate the historical tension in photography between traditional representation and unseen phenomena.2 Yet his engagement with science is grounded in and bolstered by historical and aesthetic inquiry.

However, for DeSieno, the central questions in contemporary photography revolve around the importance—or irrelevance—of anachronistic photographic processes and the tactile nature of photography. His work is infused with articulations of experimental photographic techniques meant to inquire into the nature of the medium itself. DeSieno explains that he wants to explore how historic tools “can be molded into a twenty-first century ideology in order to expand the vocabulary of the photograph.”3 Accordingly, his photographs are reminiscent of contemporary photographers Marco Breuer, Adam Fuss, or Jeremy Bolen, and his aesthetic inquiry recalls art historical discourses such as Rosalind Krauss’s perceptive interrogation of the “imaginative capacity” of analog technologies.4

In the end, Cosmos provides its viewers with spectacular collisions between unseen worlds. But the surface tensions are nuanced by DeSieno’s critical investigation of the medium. By exploring phenomena beyond the range of normal human perception via unconventional photographic processes, the photograph is unencumbered by what it should be for what it can be. DeSieno writes: “The nature of photography itself is called into question as the bacteria eats away the image into material abstraction… the conventional use of the photographic film is subverted and manipulated by the unforeseeable forces of nature as the work ultimately interrogates the material possibilities of photography.”5 The results of these interactions between static images and unpredictable patterns of growth are thus rendered as alluring—and perhaps alarming—photographic objects.
__________________
1 Marcus DeSieno, Interview with Amanda Preuss, January 19, 2015.
2 Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877), inventor of the calotype process, is credited with some of the first microscopic photographs by affixing a camera a microscope; John Adams Whipple (1822–1891) famously captured photographs of the moon using the Harvard College Observatory telescope between 1847 and 1852.
3 Marcus DeSieno, interview with Amanda Preuss, January 19, 2015.
4 Rosalind Krauss, “Reinventing the Medium,” Critical Inquiry 25 (Winter 1999), 304.
5 Artist’s statement, quoted from: “Cosmos” portfolio, Marcus DeSieno Photography, accessed January 12, 2015, http://marcusdesieno.com/cosmos/.

Marcus DeSieno exhibition checklist
A Photograph of a Star Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found in My Saliva, 2014
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
16 x 20 in.

A Photograph of a Star Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Light Switch, 2014
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
32 x 40 in.

A Photograph of a Star Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found on My iPhone’s Screen, 2014
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
40 x 60 in.

A Photograph of Pandora’s Galaxy Cluster Eaten by Bacteria Found in My Cat’s Litter Box, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
40 x 32 in.

A Photograph of Saturn Eaten by Bacteria Found on an Adulterer’s Engagement Ring, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
32 x 40 in.

A Photograph of Saturn’s Moon Titan Eaten by Bacteria Found on the Sticky Red Stain in My Freezer, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
8 x 10 in.

A Photograph of the Baby Boom Galaxy Eaten by Bacteria Found in My Father’s Saliva, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
16 x 20 in.

A Photograph of the Crab Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Table at a Red Lobster Restaurant, 2014
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
16 x 20 in.

A Photograph of the Footprint Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found in My Toe Jam, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
14 x 8 in.

A Photograph of the Little Dumbbell Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on My Gym’s 20-Pound Dumbbells, 2014
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
11 x 15 in.

A Photograph of the Medusa Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found on a Mirror Inside a Sephora Store, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
11 x 13 in.

A Photograph of the Planet Venus Eaten by Bacteria Found Inside My Ex-Girlfriend’s Vagina, 2014
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
36 x 45 in.

A Photograph of the Snake Nebula Eaten by Bacteria Found Inside the Confessional of My Childhood Church, 2015
archival pigment print of bacteria grown on photographic film
25 x 18 in.


Roberto Márquez, Bayamón, Puerto Rico
B.F.A. Painting (2005), School of Plastic Arts of Puerto Rico

With my work I aim to explore and expose learned behaviors: as a colonized individual cultural humor is used throughout in order to find and develop identities. This practice demonstrates the often careless and languorous qualities of the occupied identity, myself included. I try to be quick and precise when I approach the work, my movements are jokes, free flowing and easily discernible through a pathetic mode of mark making. At times the failure to articulate myself effectively results in multiple readings of the motifs and images in my work, allowing viewers to connect with their own thoughts, ideology and personal narrative.

Robert Márquez installation viewPhoto by Will Lytch

Robert Márquez installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

Márquez piecePhoto by Will Lytch

Chit Chat, 2014
Photo by Will Lytch

Márquez piecePhoto by Will Lytch

500 Years of Discussion, 2014
Photo by Will Lytch

Intimidacíon artificial, 2014mixed media on ceramics

Intimidacíon artificial, 2014
mixed media on ceramics

 Check this trick out , 2014mixed media on ceramics

Check this trick out, 2014
mixed media on ceramics

Something cute inside the mask, 2014mixed media on ceramics

Something cute inside the mask, 2014
mixed media on ceramics

Laughter is the Best Medicine: Colonial Friction in the Art of Roberto Márquez
by Shanna Goodwin

Since the turn of the twenty-first century, artists working in diaspora have entered into conversation on colonialism within an increasingly globalized environment. Questions have arisen regarding the effects of past colonial powers on the cultures and countries they colonized. For some cultures, the effect of the colonizer is a very present reality.1 As an American territory for more than five hundred years, the culture of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico is separate, yet simultaneously ingrained within American social, political and religious culture. The divide between resistance and acceptance of the colonizer’s remaining presence in Puerto Rico is a major theme for the artist Roberto Márquez, a native-born Puerto Rican and naturalized citizen of the United States. As the relationship between American and Puerto Rican cultures is still a hypersensitive issue, questions about methods on approaching the colonial subject have been discussed within the art historical milieu. Márquez’s oeuvre uses humor to bridge the borders of being the colonized ‘other’, creating a common plane that both colonized and colonizer can relate to.

Márquez’s trans-cultural identity is reverberated in the ambiguous nature of his chosen medium: a ceramic mold of a painter’s canvas. Traditionally trained in painting, Márquez has recently branched out into other media, such as ceramics. This act of exploring unknown territory is akin to Márquez’s experience as a Puerto Rican artist in America. The constant battle of reworking and reforming the shape of an object alludes to his personal struggle to reconcile his own role as a colonized individual within the world of the colonizer. The frustration of perfecting the ceramic medium reflects the pluralism of the self, forming from two conflicting identities—colonial subject and colonizing power. Thus, the ceramic medium becomes an extension of Márquez’s own malleable identity.

Painted on these ceramic canvases are small drawings that typically incorporate themes of the male body and masks. The mask, in Márquez’s own words, “acts as a metaphor for the struggle with identity.”2 This identity battle is easily relatable, regardless of the viewer’s native cultural association. Every individual, not just the colonial subject, is in a constant state of identity flux, assuming various masks depending on the situations or groups they encounter. By clustering a sizable amount of ceramic canvases together, Márquez expands the narrative possibilities, projecting his interpretation of the many masks people wear on a daily basis. Despite the eclecticism of multiple narratives, the central figure of a masked male dominates the picture plane in most scenes. The cartoonesque figure dons a disproportionate mask, possibly signifying the awkwardness of assuming another’s identity. By utilizing ambiguous scenes with very subtle hints of the ‘other’, Márquez allows his work to be colonized by the viewer’s humor, thereby creating a humorous melting pot of narratives where the discussion of the effects on the colonized can activate.

Following the initial laughter, the viewer is enticed to meditate further on the meaning of the masked figure. At times, the figure’s melancholic expression and black tears reveal that this scene may not be as playful as initially thought. The viewer senses a need by the male figure to wear the mask in order to fit in with the identity of another, coupled with an aversion to the act of adorning the mask. The subtle, but powerful emotions of the male figure prompts the viewer to question why this seemingly whimsical figure is depicted with the languishing expression of the mask. The humor in these scenes initially dissolves the abrasive boundaries that are typically projected within the post-colonial discourse. Through the utilization of masks and questioning of identity, Márquez is actively “prompting the spectator to internally examine these stereotypes.”3 By making the situation laughable, Márquez creates an arena for uninhibited conversation and reflection.
__________________
1 Felicia Fahey, “Beyond the Island: Puerto Rican Diaspora in America,” Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Publishing, 2001.
2 Taken from an interview with Roberto Marquez by the author. January 27, 2015.
3 Ibid.

Roberto Marquez exhibition checklist
2D Thoughts, 2015
Check this trick out, 2014
Cold drop, 2015
El Sireno, 2014
The first mix, 2014
Freedom It’s a terrible thing, 2015
Friendly ghost, 2014
In the corner, 2015
Intimidacíon artificial, 2014
Me and my self, All by my self, 2014
Merry Christmas, 2015
Protest, 2014
Reminder, 2014
Reminder season 1, 2015
Something cute inside the mask, 2014
Untitled (bright red), 2015
mixed media on ceramic
7-1/2 x 9-1/2 in. each

500 years of discussion, 2014
Chit chat, 2014
Trophies of failure, 2014
mixed media on ceramic
dimensions variable

Butthole on Ceramic, 2014
glaze on ceramic
7-1/2 x 9-1/2 in.

Close to disappear, close to do nothing, 2015
Coffee break, 2014
Cold ground, 2014
The complex, 2014
I don’t know why, 2015
Inactive revolutionary, 2015
It’s so mean!, 2014
mixed media on canvas
27 x 33 in. each

Proud, 2014
mixed media on canvas
52 x 62 in.

Untitled, 2014
mixed media on canvas
26 x 32 in.


Beth Plakidas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
B.F.A. (2012), Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Collecting is in my blood. I am the keeper of your unwanted secrets and I built this hive to honor them. Go Home shows my greatest accomplishments and my darkest secrets. Welcome.

25 Plakidas

Go Home
Photo by Will Lytch

Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Mark Fredricks

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Mark Fredricks

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Will Lytch

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Beth Plakidas, Go Home Photo by Mark Fredricks

Go Home (detail)
Photo by Mark Fredricks

Hair of the Dog
by Alison Terndrup

Beth Plakidas rescues the discarded, the broken, and the forgotten. She scours Craigslist, dumpsters, and animal shelters for new acquisitions, combining them in the collages and assemblages that make up her cabinets of curiosities. Her aesthetic is, in a way, biographical, informed by her blue-collar upbringing in Pittsburgh and the DIY communities of the Tampa Bay area.1 Yet her practice is not rooted in geographic constructs, but in an imagined history that exists only in her shamanistic reading of the objects’ indexical marks and semiotic value.2 In arranging found articles, Plakidas creates compositions that speak to her background in painting while embracing her tendency towards the sculpturally immersive.

Plakidas’ Go Home, built in collaboration with her partner, Alison Terndrup, is an enterable shanty blanketed with
and comprised of collected items. The exterior uncannily recalls a hunting cabin or hermit’s lodge in its apparent
cycles of neglect, marked by earnest, but amateur repair
jobs. Simultaneously relic and reliquary, the structure
houses dilapidated stuffed animals, ruined taxidermy, and meticulously collaged cutout images of beloved pets. In this claustrophobic environment, viewers are tempted to decode the overlapping organizational schemes by which seemingly unrelated objects are juxtaposed.3 This rationalizing exercise forces viewers to confront their own systems of understanding and ordering the world around them. By recognizing the small but significant connections between items, viewers bring themselves into oblique contact with the disparate auras of combined objects.

Plakidas’ idiosyncratic mashup of treasured keepsakes and detritus forms a web of interconnected allusions to the psychological experiences of obsession, addiction, illness, decay, and recovery. This underlying web manifests itself within the very guts of the shanty, as its insulation:
dog hair. The use of dog hair—a dirty, abject, disgusting material—reinforces the uneasy feeling that the viewer has just entered into the home, or even the mind, of one unhinged. At the same time, the material is sincere, loved, and honest—harvested from a living being as part of a natural phase of regrowth. Go Home leaves us to question our own psychological and emotional relationships with such cycles of decline and recovery—have we entered into this experience as a whole being, or one yearning for our own placement in a madman’s collection?
__________________
1 Beth Plakidas, Interview with Alison Terndrup, January 20, 2015.
2 Plakidas looks to Joseph Beuys’ work for methods of divining spiritual and talismanic associations from unconventional materials, in particular, animals or animal products. For more on Beuys’ shamanistic character, see Caroline Tisdall, Joseph Beuys. (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2010), 37; Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, “Beuys: The Twilight of the Idol,” Artforum 18, no. 5 (January 1980): 35 – 43.
3 Robert Rauschenberg’s “Combines” were the initial driving force behind Plakidas’ push to augment her painting practice into the sculptural realm. She fell in love with his work while reading about it in Calvin Tomkins, Off the Wall, (New York: Picador, 2005).

Beth Plakidas exhibition checklist
Go Home, 2014-2015
found and collected objects
13 x 20 x 11 ft.


Janett Pulido Zizumbo, Chicago, Illinois
B.F.A. Painting (2011), Illinois State University

I am always in a constant limbo and struggling with “the in-between.” Because of this struggle, I am thoroughly intrigued by this moment of in-betweeness, by its ambiguity and its insecurity. As a Mexican-American, I want to bring forth to the viewer the constant limbo of being in two different edges, not being able to associate oneself to one culture or the other but become an intermediary of two different and often clashing environments. My work plays with the formal qualities of material to create realities that split in order to symbolize the way we struggle when being in limbo both mentally and physically. I juxtapose construction components such as wood and metal with paint including, resin, plaster, and canvas to create environments that imitate these multiple realities that are driven unto the surface. By manipulating materials to play a different role from what was initially intended, I push them outside of their common physical attributes and create playful environments that bring up questions as to the duality of things and how combined elements create a whole new set of facts.

Pulido piece Photo by Will Lytch

Fortaleza del Pueblo (Fortitude of the People)
Photo by Will Lytch

Publico Por Horas Photo by Will Lytch

Publico Por Horas, 2015
Photo by Will Lytch

Pulido piece Photo by Will Lytch

La Pila 1-5, 2015
Photo by Will Lytch

Pulido piece Photo by Will Lytch

Con Jaime Sí (With Jaime Yes)
Photo by Will Lytch

Pulido piece Photo by Will Lytch

Con Jaime Sí (With Jaime Yes) (detail)
Photo by Will Lytch

Crossing the Edge
by Christopher Patrick Long

Rusted steel bars lean against a wall in Janett Pulido’s studio. Large globs of paint mixed with some type of resin are affixed to the top of what was once a fence or gate. It is not quite a painting in the conventional sense, but it is not completely a found object either. The plan for this project shows a painted wall, similar to those political advertisements painted on the sides of public and private buildings throughout Mexico. The political candidates utilize any space for these seemingly random advertisements, using the cover of night or broad daylight to publicize their image in the upcoming election. Its place on private buildings frustrates Pulido, a first generation child of Mexican parents raised in the city of Chicago. “People in Mexico let this happen. It’s just something that happens. This shouldn’t be something that just happens.”1

This “just happens” mentality is not restricted to painted walls. Rampant misogyny, public investigations of missing persons, corrupt government and police officials, and subjugation to drug cartels is part of the everyday life in a country with an ancient and beautiful culture. Beautiful vistas and colorful celebrations are in constant juxtaposition with, or completely overshadowed by, the consistent issues of daily problems south of the United States. Pulido’s work draws the viewer into this collision of cultures and her own “constant state of limbo, of being in two different edges.”2

This state of limbo is apparent when viewing Pulido’s paintings/not-paintings in her series Fortaleza del Pueblo (in English, Fortitude of the People). Found objects from man-made materials like steel to natural materials such as rocks and charcoal are combined with the artist’s manipulations of paint. Mixing paint with combinations of plaster, resin, wire, and other unconventional media, Pulido reconstructs the use of paint towards a sculptural end while maintaining the overall status of the work as painting. The definitions for all of the individual parts are in a state of constant flux—the inclusion of the artist’s statement and textual guides further confuse the state of the work as painting.

Pulido’s newer work focuses on the relationship between text and the object displayed. Her recent project, #YaMeCanse, which debuted at the University of South Florida’s Oliver Gallery focused on the disappearance of a college group in Mexico of September 2014. The subsequent investigation, or lack thereof, by both police and government officials revealed the deep-seated and problematic nature of the “it just happens” mentality that Pulido finds issue with. Each sculptural painting and the accompanying wall label represents\ed an individual student and told the story of the investigation up until the point of the show. In combining both the natural rock and the manipulated paint, Pulido created a memorial object that reflected the natural beauty of both her home country and the people who inhabit it.

These totems represent the new direction of Pulido’s artistic focus for her art and seemingly her identity as a Mexican-American artist coming to terms with the problems her family faces on a day-to-day basis. In utilizing both found objects and paint, her sculptural forms bring forth the state of limbo of her own experience inside and outside of the United States. These are paintings that question the concept of painting and highlight the conflict of a dual-identity.
__________________
1 Janett Pulido, Interview with Christopher Patrick Long, January 22, 2015.
2 “Artist statement”, Janett Pulido Zizumbo, accessed January 20, 2015, www.janettpulido.com/about/.

Janett Pulido Zizumbo exhibition checklist
Con Jaime Sí (With Jaime Yes), 2015
mixed media
48 x 52 x 24 in.

Fortaleza del Pueblo (Fortitude of the People), 2015
mixed media
120 x 36 in.

La Pila 1-5, 2015
enamel, plaster, styrofoam, porcelain and plastic
dimensions variable

Por Atras (Right Behind), 2015
mixed media
68 x 40 x 17 in.

Publico Por Horas (Public for Hours), 2015
enamel, styrofoam, cement and acrylic
18 x 24 x 12 in.


Curt Steckel, Davenport, Iowa
B.A. Photography (2010), University of Northern Iowa

Photography and performance art are intertwined and many times rely on each other to provide validation. Most performances are viewed as documentation and not as live events, and I explore this tension. By not allowing anyone to view the performance live, the other veins of experiencing that performance are heightened. The work oscillates from the visual space to the non-visual as the viewers’ reactions to it allow their personal narratives to alter what is in front of them. The viewers are activated by implanting themselves in the scenario and investigating the untold story between the object or the photograph.

Steckel piece Photo by Will Lytch

Performance Object #1
Photo by Will Lytch

Steckel piece Photo by Will Lytch

Performance Object #3
Photo by Will Lytch

Steckel piece Photo by Will Lytch

Curt Steckel installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

Steckel piece Photo by Will Lytch

Curt Steckel installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

Performance Location #15 (Climbing), 2015

Performance Location #15 (Climbing), 2015

Residual Side Effects: Reconstructing Unseen Performances
by Marlena Antonucci

School bus. Chain link fence. Porta-potty. Telephone pole. Shipping container. Hill. Fire escape. Backhoe. Drain pipe. Park sign.

What connects these seemingly arbitrary objects?

They have all been climbed by artist Curt Steckel.

Unseen Performances is Steckel’s ongoing project. Beginning as private performances, they are then deconstructed and re-presented in the form of visual information. A photograph of the back end of a yellow school bus is an example of one iteration of the series titled Performance Location. The bus is tightly cropped and central to the composition, compressing its form. Decals warning of intermittent stops and actions in case of danger are legibly fixed to rectangular blocks of yellow and black. The image alone is commonplace, an empty, ambiguous space.

The title to this photograph, Performance Location #4 (Climbing), offers a key to decode the temporal and spatial suspension of the unobserved performance. With the narrative removed, the viewer is left questioning how this static moment can capture the energy and action of a live performance. Employing the power of suggestion, the audience is then granted the freedom of creating the action in their own mind, vacillating between the artist’s intention and their own reception.

Steckel employs performance to interrogate his own identity. Personal expressions of competition and athleticism are the guiding force. This highly personal catalyst would make the experience meaningless to the viewer; the action is executed for him alone. Experiencing the performance would be equivalent to viewing Roland Barthes’ Winter Garden Photograph. Barthes writes, “I cannot reproduce the Winter Garden Photograph. It exists only for me. For you, it would be nothing but an indifferent picture.”1 By removing himself from the performance altogether, Steckel is eliminating any defining parameters. The viewer reconstructs Steckel’s act with her or his own cultural tools.

Photography is a trace of something past; in this case, the act of climbing the posterior side of a school bus. The actionless quality of the image offers time for mediation and interpretation. In my mind, I see Steckel oscillating his weight to and fro as he grasps the back door latch, then the brake lights, converting them into hand-holds. I imagine that it is effortless for him to swing his body to the top of the school bus. It is a sensational moment made all the more thrilling when constructing the possible risks from the safe vantage of a gallery. I then compare this imagined performance to my own ability to climb—my clumsy efforts limited by my stunted limbs and even more so from my fear of being caught. The artwork functions between these dualities of past and present, or, as the artist coined, between the “live and the non-live.”2 The work begins as a performance, yet reveals its meaning in a photograph.

Steckel expands the potential of Unseen Performances in a series titled Performance Object. He employs photography to present an object, such as a tree stump, which is then manipulated. The visual information is augmented by the physical presence of the object that bears the residue of the performance. The material presence intrudes into the viewer’s space, increasing awareness of her or his corporeality. Reconstructing the pieces of Unseen Performances is a game. The sensory information is compartmentalized, awaiting a participant to combine the material with his or her own memory, culminating in a subjective understanding. Steckel maintains control by choosing the moment and format in which his unseen performances will be seen and experienced. He creates a working relationship between the performance and the visual information, wherein they enter a discourse. The environment would secede into the background had the performance been experienced in real-time or even photographed during the act. Existing between the live and the non-live, it becomes a stage for the participant to create a simulacrum.
__________________
1 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: reflections on photography (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981), 73.
2 Curt Steckel, Interview with Marlena Antonucci, January 22, 2015.

Curt Steckel exhibition checklist
Performance Locations #1-20 (Climbing), 2014-2015
archival inkjet prints
15 x 10 in., each print

Performance Object #1, 2014
archival inkjet print, mixed media
dimensions variable

Performance Object #2, 2015
archival inkjet print, mixed media
dimensions variable

Performance Object #3, 2015
archival inkjet print, mixed media
dimensions variable

Performance Object #4, 2014
archival inkjet print, mixed media
dimensions variable


Jaroslaw Studencki (1988 – 2015), Chicago, Illinois
B.F.A. (2011), The School of the Art Institute of Chicago

In my recent work, issues of desire and the seduction of escape have been major underlying themes, both in my own experience of looking for security, and the larger population of Florida, which is a pinnacle for this sort of search of paradise. My photographs are an attempt to place myself within the equation of life’s intricacies, while striving to create my own breed of poetry, fabricated by sequences of images of intimate moments and pedestrian glimpses, which rely on themselves to convey the comprehensive yet ambiguous story presented. Aware of the fact that I cannot speak for anyone but myself, I attempt to tread the thin line of fine art and documentary photography, the nature of both shifting so dramatically in the world of social media, to create a personal index based on formal aesthetic and the imperfect human authority.

Photo by Will Lytch

Jaroslaw Studencki installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

Photo by Will Lytch

Jaroslaw Studencki installation view
Photo by Will Lytch

A Shark and Big Red, 2015

Two Weeks after Death, 2015

Bride in Winter Haven, 2014

Bride in Winter Haven, 2014
Archival inkjet print

Lady before Work, 2014

Lady before Work, 2014
Archival inkjet print

Dad’s Car, 2015

Dad’s Car, 2015

Jaroslaw Studencki’s Good Samaritans: Remnants of “Home”
by Tracey Cole

Presented as poetic sequences of intimate moments, Jaroslaw Studencki beautifully captures the remnants of life and the rawness and vulnerability of the human experience. Working with a large-format analog camera, Studencki demonstrates that photography goes beyond the production of an exemplary image by slowing down the process in order to focus on the photographic experience and the intimacy it creates with the subject. This return to an antiquated method of capturing images allows Studencki to investigate how photography functions as a meditative medium in an age of instant photographic production. In turn, decelerating the process allows for a silent dialogue to emerge between photographer and subject, as the subjects are consciously aware that they are being looked at and are able to consider how they want to present themselves to a potentially critical lens.1 However, within his process Studencki is constantly questioning his ideas of identity, the motives behind his selection of subject matter, and his responsibility to the subject; thus enabling a respectful and consensual representation of people within the comforts of their own environments.

Inspired by photographers such as Barbara DeGenevieve and Alec Soth, Studencki similarly disengages with formal portraiture and provides public access to private moments, unseen fragments of life or the disenfranchised.2 Ultimately, his combination of formal elements and human connection results in ennobling images of the vast demographic of lower and middle class America. Each image is a product of a successful collaboration that is powerfully composed and lit in available light. This lack of manipulation only further enhances the authenticity of each captured moment. The viewer can then experience each striking image as a large print in a gallery setting and in book format. Through these different presentations, it becomes evident that the images are able to stand alone and communicate their own stories, but Studencki also strives to weave each individual account into a larger interconnected narrative. In this way, he stresses the importance of sequence within his photographic enterprise.

Studencki’s current work, Good Samaritans, is inspired by his parents’ delayed attempt to move away from life in the Midwest in exchange for their newly acquired home in Florida. Studencki works through deconstructing the illusion that happiness and fulfillment stem from material possession, new geographic location, and a reassigning of “home.” Moreover, in his work, environment is just as significant and carefully composed as every portrait. Here the environment functions as portrait and has its own story to tell, further enhancing the interconnectivity of his sequence.3 Within this series Studencki explores the themes of escape, search for happiness, fear of death, comfort, spectacle, and ultimately confronts how we present ourselves to the world. His images prompt an interaction with the viewers who should not only listen to the stories that they are telling, but also engage in a dialogue that inspires self-reflection. More importantly, perhaps this intimate dialogue causes us to ask: “What is the cure to unhappiness in today’s society?”
__________________
1 Artist’s statement, from: “Awaiting your Response” portfolio, Jaroslaw Studencki Photography, accessed January 24, 2015, http://jaroslawstudencki.com/Awaiting-Your-Response.
2 Barbara DeGenevieve (1947-2014), was a Chicago based interdisciplinary artist and passionate teacher, whose work on the subjects of gender, sexuality, censorship, ethics, class, and pornography challenged the heteronormative standards of society. Alec Soth (1969-), based in Minneapolis, is notable for his ‘on the road photography’. He uses a large format camera to capture people and landscapes of suburban and rural communities throughout the Midwest and the South.
3 Jaroslaw Studencki, Interview with Tracey Cole, February 13, 2015.

Jaroslaw Studencki exhibition checklist
Dad’s Car, 2015
digital print
33 1/2 x 42 1/2 in.

Danielle, 2015
digital print
15 x 12 in.

Facing Seven Years, 2015
digital print
14 x 18 in.

Good Samaritans, 2015
digital print
12 x 15 in.

Hey! (next pause), 2015
digital print
15 x 11 in.

The House, 2015
digital print
14 x 18 in.

Justin after Seven Years in Prison, 2015
digital print
30 x 24 in.

Lady Before Work, 2015
digital print
42 1/2 x 33 1/2 in.

A Shark and Big Red, 2015
digital print
24 x 30 in.

Two Weeks after Death, 2015
digital print
24 x 30 in.

We Might Die from Medication, 2015
digital print
12 x 15 in.

Winter Haven Bride, 2015
digital print
33 1/2 x 42 1/2 in.


After a long struggle with acute depression, Jaroslaw Studencki took his own life on March 26, 2015. The tragic loss of our beloved student, colleague, friend and teacher is a burden that feels almost impossible to bear. We remember Jaro not only for his wonderfully sensitive photographs but for his kindness, gentle nature, intelligence and warmth.
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Oscar Muñoz: Sedimentaciones Reviewed

Sedimentaciones, the Oscar Muñoz video installation currently on view at USFCAM has received some favorable reviews.

Danny Olda reviewed the installation for Daily Serving, an international online publication for contemporary art.

Locally, Tampa Style Magazine has also featured Sedimentaciones. Read that article below, or click here to view the issue online.

Emily Topper's review of Oscar Muñoz: Sedimentaciones.

Emily Topper’s review of Oscar Muñoz: Sedimentaciones.

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SYCOM and Selfies – Thursday, February 5 at 6 pm

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Enhanced! Symposium, January 16, 2015

A full house was in session at the School of Music’s Barness Hall to be educated, or rather, Enhanced by the photographic works of visiting artists and educators: James Casebere and Yamini Nayar, visiting artists, as well as collector Dr. Robert Drapkin. Noel Smith, the Institute for Research in Art’s Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Art, directed the discussion that ranged from the artists’ backgrounds in photographic arts to issues and thoughts concerning the digital revolution; how it has transformed how these media function in contemporary art. The panel discussion was highly involved in the Enhanced! theme that dealt with the modification of photographic works through the appropriation of digital and mixed media. Along with photographic works from the visiting artists and Dr. Robert Drapkin contributing vintage selections from his Drapkin Collections, Smith included a selection of contemporary works from a variety of sources.

The artists were asked about what it means to use Photoshop software to manipulate photographs compared to the costly labor behind the darkroom process. The artists agreed that it’s simply the way things are done today. Like all media as well as editing programs, “the medium of Photoshop is always evolving.” Nayar drove that point home by saying, “don’t allow technology to guide the idea, let the idea guide the technology.” Commenting on his piece Big Sur, Casebere spoke about the psychological and perceptual components on how the effect of the photography alters our experience in the artistic medium. Nayar spoke about her influences in literature, and how the arts of language and linguistics can be a sort of ‘magical realism’.  She expanded on how memory and space affects environments, inheritance, and social force; how they can be articulated in photography. “The sculpture having an awareness of the photograph, like staging the image.” These mad art-scientists bring their Frankenstein photographs to life all the time. But some wonder what happens to the ‘Frankensteins’ when their projects are complete.

James Casebere, Yamini Nayar, Dr. Robert Drapkin and Noel Smith (Left to right) at the Enhanced! Symposium.

James Casebere, Yamini Nayar, Dr. Robert Drapkin and Noel Smith (Left to right) at the Enhanced! Symposium.
Photo by Joseph SanFilippo.

This brought out a general curiosity if artists like Casebere and Nayar consider the sculpture-like subjects to be art or just a means to the final product that they photograph and display. Casebere said he is used to throwing away his model pieces once finished. Some people like Dr. Drapkin would find the sculptural subjects to be of equal artistic value to that of their final portrait. (So much so, he jokingly asked Casebere if he could have some of his would-be thrown out sculptures.) Dr. Drapkin added to the conversation with what it was like being around the environment of working artists, which he claimed was truly an accident by allowing an artist at the time to stay at his then studio apartment in New York City. He concluded the panel with a jarring comment, stating that he doesn’t care much for contemporary art because of the nature of artist statements and summaries. “I don’t want to read about the art for it to move me, I just want to be moved by it.” You could feel the tension in the audience, many of them being prospective contemporary artists. Dr. Drapkin wasn’t attempting to insult any artist or the modern art industry, but rather state a crucial matter on how art should be shown and felt rather than it being told and reiterated on the artist’s behalf, so to speak. Sounds like Dr. Drapkin wants the modern art experience to be Enhanced!

Joseph SanFilippo
English Undergraduate

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Chinese Summerhall by Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg’s 100-foot photograph Chinese Summerhall is on display at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in Fort Myers through January 24, 2015. On loan from the USFCAM permanent collection, this is the first installation of Chinese Summerhall in thirteen years. Copublished in 1982 by USF’s Graphicstudio and Gemini G.E.L., the story of Chinese Summerhall is a fascinating look into Rauschenberg’s creative process. To commemorate and contextualize this installation, here is an investigation into how this monumental work was created, written by Ruth E. Fine, curator for the National Gallery of Art.


I mostly sleep on the beach side in my place in Captiva, and it’s just the roll, constantly the roll, of the waves. But my hide-away is on the Bay side, where each fish jumps separately, and each bird calls from a different place. China is more like the Bay side.
– Robert Rauschenberg, Graphicstudio videotape, 1983

Robert Rauschenberg, 198?

Robert Rauschenberg
Photo: Graphicstudio

Chinese Summerhall, the hundred-foot-long photograph produced from photographs taken by Rauschenberg during a trip to China in 1982, was the artist’s first use of color photography in an edition.1 Its compelling hundred-foot length demands that the viewer move along its full span to absorb its imagery–one cannot remain stationary in front of the composition.

01

The installation of Chinese Summerhall at the Bob Rauschenberg Gallery in Ft. Myers, October 2014
Photo: Peter Foe/USFCAM

Rauschenberg’s work in photography dates back to his studies at Black Mountain College, and his first work acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York was, in fact, a photograph brought to the collection by Edward Steichen in 1952.2 At Black Mountain, Rauschenberg found himself torn between photography and painting, settling on painting when he recognized that the project he would most like to fulfill as a photographer–a colossal “survey” of the United States composed of photographs of every square inch of ground–was unrealizable.3 In 1979 he began to use his own photographs in his work, allowing them to suggest their own possibilities: “I think of the camera as my permission to walk into every shadow or watch while any light changes. Mine is the need to be where it will always never be the same again; a kind of archeology in time only, forcing one to see whatever the light or the darkness touches, and care. My concern is to move at a speed within which to act.”4

George Holzer preparing the negatives for Chinese Summerhall, 1982

George Holzer preparing the negatives for Chinese Summerhall, 1982
Photo: George Holzer, Graphicstudio

In June 1982 Rauschenberg traveled to China on a trip arranged by Stanley Grinstein of Gemini G.E.L. for the purpose of collaborating with Xuan papermakers at the Jingxian paper mill in Anhui Province.5 During this time he took over five hundred photographs, fifty-two of which were incorporated in the monumental Chinese Summerhall.6 After returning to the United States, Rauschenberg began the process of selecting images for possible inclusion in Chinese Summerhall. George Holzer recalls that there were approximately fifty rolls of film, twelve exposures each. Holzer printed 11-by-14-inch color photographs of each negative and sent them to Rauschenberg for review. Rauschenberg made his choices, marking each photograph with the size to which it was to be enlarged-ranging from about 20-by-24 to 30-by-40 inches. From these enlargements, images were then cut and pasted to make the full-scale, hundred-foot mock-up.

Production studio for Chinese Summerhall, 1982

Production studio for Chinese Summerhall, 1982
Photo: George Holzer, Graphicstudio

With the mock-up complete, actual production of the photograph still could not begin until individual prints were made of certain images that Rauschenberg had selected for editioning as studies. The finality of the imminent destruction of the negatives, which needed to be cut or trimmed in order to duplicate the images as Rauschenberg had collaged them in the mock-up, prompted the artist to rethink his original intention to edition only six studies as individual photographs. In the end, twenty-eight photographs were editioned individually. Five additional sections, approximately eight feet in length, were later taken, with slight variations, from the full image and were editioned as studies at Graphicstudio and copublished by Graphicstudio and Gemini G.E.L.

The first installation of Chinese Summerhall, at Castelli Gallery, December 31, 1982

The first installation of Chinese Summerhall, at Castelli Gallery, December 31, 1982

Once production of the hundred-foot photograph began, a small-scale mock-up was made from the contact prints of the negatives so that the cumbersome, and somewhat fragile, full-scale mock-up would not have to be repeatedly rolled out. The fifty-two individual negatives were trimmed, masked, and carefully sealed into glass carriers. Each of the carriers could then be proofed separately, and adjustments made for color balance and exposure. Proofing of the photograph itself was carried out one fifteen-foot section at a time in Saff’s studio, using up to five enlargers. Exposing the full one hundred feet took an average of eight to nine hours, and like the proofing, this was accomplished in sections. A dispenser was designed to hold the unexposed roll of photographic paper; after the exposure of a section, the paper would be rolled onto a core as the next section of paper moved into position. The first of the five prints in the edition was finished one day before it was needed at the Castelli Gallery for the Rauschenberg exhibition scheduled to open there on New Year’s Eve, 1982.7

Detail image of Chinese Summerhall

Detail image of Chinese Summerhall
Photo: Will Lytch/Graphicstudio

A composite of vignettes from daily life in China, Rauschenberg’s hundred-foot photograph reflects the vicissitudes of life–the protean, unsettled, kaleidoscopic mélange of thoughts, opinions, tasks, goals and events that characterize human experience in modern society. As Rauschenberg explained, the country “was very rich texturally. In China, images seemed to isolate themselves.”8 As a visual montage, Chinese Summerhall reflects in part the perception of the reality of modern life as seen through the lens of the mass media (in the age of thirty-second commercials and ten-second sound bites). Images–cropped, trimmed, soft-focused, sharp-focused, close-up, panoramic, sideways, dissolved into other images–fill one’s vision as one traverses the hundred-foot expanse. New connections resonate among the images as they interact in new ways with one another. There are incongruities: a blindfolded bull juxtaposed with a row of glass bottles;9 the Great Wall dwarfed by a set of wheels–an immovable barrier versus the freedom of movement. There are also analogies: chickens scratch for their dinner, while nearby passengers commute on mass transit.

Bottles from the Studies for Chinese Summerhall series. 40" x 30" Kodak Ektacolor paper.

Bottles from the Studies for Chinese Summerhall series. 40″ x 30″ Kodak Ektacolor paper.
Photo: Will Lytch/Graphicstudio

Rauschenberg views the scroll as a “compositional tale”: “Colors and materials are the characters, and the piece unfolds according to its own appetite–what is already there dictates what goes next. I had no particular program about executing my feelings about China. I let the camera be my witness, as opposed to editorializing.”10 Rauschenberg’s art has always charted unexplored territory, reached beyond the known limits. Monumental scale has frequently been integral to this process.11 About his Quarter Mile Piece,12 a work that was in progress at approximately the same time as Chinese Summerhall, Rauschenberg offers this insight: “You can never measure the effect scale has, but it does seem to be something permanent. If I had been born in Connecticut, I wouldn’t have had the idea of doing a painting that is a quarter of a mile long.”13

– Ruth E. Fine
Taken from Graphicstudio, Contemporary Art from the Collaborative Workshop at the University of South Florida, the catalogue from the exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 15 September 1991–5 January 1992.


Notes:

  1. Confirmed in a telephone conversation with David White, Rauschenberg’s curator, 29 January 1991.
  2. See Smith 1983, 183, for a review of Rauschenberg: Photographs, New York 1981; Photos In and Out City Limits: Boston (West Islip, NY, 1981); and Photos In and Out City Limits: New York C. (West Islip, NY, 1982)
  3. See Alain Sayag, “Interview with Robert Rauschenberg,” in New York 1981.
  4. Rauschenberg, in New York 1981. See Clifford Ackley, introduction to West Islip 1981, for discussion of Rauschenberg’s involvement with photography.
  5. For an account of the trip, see Donald Saff’s essay in Los Angeles 1983. See also Fine 1984, 123-125.
  6. George Holzer, conversation with Corlett, 23 August 1990.
  7. Information concerning the progression of this project is taken from conversations between Holzer and Corlett, 23 August 1990 and 1 November 1990.
  8. Rauschenberg, Graphicstudio videotape, January 1983.
  9. Saff explained, in a conversation with Fine, 21 March 1991, that the blindfolded bull may be seen as a metaphor for Rauschenberg in China.
  10. Herrera 1983, 57.
  11. Early in his career Rauschenberg produced such large-scale works as Autobiography (1968), seventeen feet long; Automobile Tire Print (1951), around twenty-two feet long; and Barge (1963), thirty-two feet long. See also Booster (1967), “largest lithograph ever made on a hand-operated press” (Young 1974, 26); Sky Garden (1969), “largest, hand-rolled print in existence–a color lithograph and silkscreen on paper” (Greun 1977, 45); and Currents (1970), a fifty-four-foot screenprint.
  12. A segment of Quarter Mile Piece was shown at Edison Community College in Fort Myers in 1982.
  13. Rauschenberg 1986, 60.
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It Comes To an End; New Beginnings

It’s Keesha again, my internship ended Friday, June 29, 2014 and I am a bit disappointed about it, but I leave you with this last blog post for A Different Frame of Mind. I had a wonderful experience throughout the whole process and learning from professional artists within a gallery space stationed at USFCAM.

Now that the show is completed in the West Gallery space, the exhibition mirrors the artists’ hard work and dedication for A Different Frame of Mind collectively. Reflecting from the beginning, I was unsure how the exhibition was going to turn out, but as the artists worked restlessly on their projects, I saw it come together beautifully.

When you enter the space, every piece is different by the use of materials, but reflect on the traditional aspect of a frame. The exhibition allowed Ariel Baron-Robbins, Mike Covello, Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki, David Gabbard, Janett Pulido, and Sam Robinson to break free from the traditional meaning of art by experimenting with the application of paint, color, and space. Their compositions are visually alluring within the space, making the viewers ask the same questions: “How did this happen? How did they do it?” Earlier in the weeks, many came to investigate the artists at work and responded well to the interaction. I urge you to take a second look at A Different Frame of Mind and question everything. Not everything is what is it seems.

I hope that this exhibition gives the exposure that these artist need for future commissions and has helped to expand their techniques for their future endeavors because this may be the end of their experience at A Different Frame of Mind, but it is a new beginning for all of us to think in a different the frame of mind.

Thank you your support to USFCAM with this unique experience for me and for all at the museum. I hope there are more like these exhibitions in the future.

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Artists at Work in “A Different Frame of Mind”

Janett Pulido at work in the USFCAM gallery studio

Janett Pulido at work in the USFCAM gallery studio

Hello this is Keesha Jimenez reporting back on the progress of A Different Frame of Mind. From June 16 to June 24, 2014, I have the privilege of working with Mike Covello, Ariel Baron-Robbins, Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki, David Gabbard, Janett Pulido, and Sam Robinson documenting their progress and asking questions about their process. It is not every day that one is able to enter an artist’s studio and interact with the artist as they create art. I enjoy capturing their progress through the camera lens because it mirrors the dedication that the artists contribute to their final products. Each day they work in USFCAM, I observe them as they contemplate the steps needed to complete the creative process. I ask questions when I feel it is appropriate and won’t unintentionally interrupt the creative flow. I am learning so much from them during this experience.

This exhibition is so unique that it almost surreal, the makeshift studio space is open to the public; anyone can come and watch with me as the artist’s create new works. As viewers enter the studio space, they stand in the middle of the gallery overwhelmed by the amount of work the artists are producing before their eyes. Some are almost afraid to enter until the artists welcome them into their space and talk them about their progress. Mike, Ariel, and Janett mentioned that they were normally used to the solitude of their own studios this show breaks that limitation for the public and the artists. A Different Frame of Mind does not only refer to the break of tradition from the frame, but includes the break between the viewer and an artist’s studio, thought, and process.

Mike Covello in the USFCAM gallery studio

Mike Covello in the USFCAM gallery studio

Weeks before the artists began working on their artwork, USFCAM set up a camera high onto the wall in the West Gallery to capture a time-lapse video of the entire process from the frame selection to the completion of their works. In addiction to the time lapse I captured stills of the artists at work. I followed them around as they began their day and ended shooting approximately five in the afternoon. The way the artists create their work is evidently different when you look at it, but they focus primarily on major decisions that would make or break their work.

Janett mixes colors to large proportions and spreads the color of choice gently to thin the paint carefully and mix the color further. Once the consistency begins to harden, she lets it sit for three to four days (depending on the size) to cure. After it cures, she pulls the paint from the edges, lifting it from the surface that it laid on. The paint looks and feels like rubber, so it is rather flexible to shape into any form Janett desired. She experiments with the placement of the paint onto the frames before making her final decision and gluing it into position with a liquid adhesive. On the wall sits a frame that comes forward with green and yellow enamel paint. The way I would perceive this piece is the window to our personal heavens. The frame sticks out at the top right edge, which suggests the position of the heavenly realm while the colors bring us to the earthly realm. It is the spontaneous impulse that helps Janett complete a work in which begins with the color process. All the artists have to come prepared with a “plan” for the given space as a starting point but there are always changes that can enhance their work.

A great example of this change is Mike’s installation. From the beginning of the process, I watched his artwork transform beautifully. I asked him in the beginning if he knew what he wanted to do for this project and he responded, “Let’s see how this comes out.” Honestly, his spontaneity is a strong aspect to his work, Mike lets his hands do the talking, which is similar to the way I like to work. Working through the creative process he steps back to contemplate if the space had met the requirements well enough to have some consistency based on his choice of composition and color. The application of painter’s tape gives clean-cut lines and a base of his composition with overlapping and placement of his paintings, which he composes on the walls, ground, and pedestal.

Ariel Baron-Robbins in the USFCAM gallery studio

Ariel Baron-Robbins in the USFCAM gallery studio

Ariel has a different connection to her artwork than the other artists I have touched on so far. Using the frames USFCAM supplied to her for the exhibition, she encased her body within the frames at three different locations in the Tampa Bay area. Although I was not able to be present at the locations, when Ariel returned I was able to view a few of the thousands of images she captured. In her studio space, she preferred solitude as she framed herself with her back towards us, but she was quite approachable when people entered her space as they questioned Ariel about her body of work. From the thousands that she shot, she narrowed her best shots to ten. She would print test prints and write little notes next to any issues with the image, and then make the necessary adjustments. From a distance I observed Ariel trying to further narrow her selection a seemingly difficult task at times. All the images she taped to the wall conveyed a different mood. From the four that she finally selected, she saw the change of emotion seeping from the print: excitement and happiness to exhausted and bruised. These emotions made the prints even stronger, which helped Ariel to select the two best prints for the exhibition. Ariel is excited about the show and the response that viewers will have when they see her forty-eight by sixty-four by inch prints. To compliment the two prints Ariel captured a video at the beach, which conveys the calmness of the waves and still reflection of the sun hitting the horizon.

Finally, the complexity of Derek and Jennifer’s work is beyond words. They built an app to record information of an artist’s financialization and the investments patrons have to the art’s value. They are stationed in Buffalo, New York; therefore, neither Vincent Kral nor I had the luxury to view their progress except through photos. However, the shots they provided us did not disappoint our expectations. The app includes a candlestick chart of the information they provided for their work. They also built a structure with the frames to house the tablet and the app.

This week was a productive week for the artists in their temporary studio spaces at USFCAM. It was a huge success in getting people into the studio space to relate with artists as they carried on with their work. I am proud to be part of this operation, documenting the whole process from June 16, 2014 to June 23, 2014 and giving the artists my perspective of their work. It was such a wonderful experience to be appreciated by artists who have been working so hard to make art a profession. I hope that USFCAM does another interactive exhibition so patrons of the arts can observe contemporary art on site, and then return the following week to view the completed works.

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Artists’ Interpretations of “A Different Frame of Mind”

My name is Keesha Jimenez. I am an undergraduate student seeking a B.A. in Studio Art at the University of South Florida. For my summer internship at the USF Contemporary Art Museum (USFCAM), I am working with Vincent Kral, the Curator of the June 2014 exhibition called A Different Frame of Mind. For this exhibition, seven artists were selected to use recycled frames to create new artworks that will explore ideas and issues of the frame in the context of contemporary art. I will document the process of this unique exhibition by interviewing the artists, taking pictures, and sharing my insights and observations.

A Different Frame of Mind

As an artist myself, I am interested in the concept behind the title for the exhibition because at USF the art studio professors challenge tradition and force their students to think beyond the box. I also appreciate working alongside Mike Covello, Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki, David Gabbard, Ariel Baron-Robbins, Janett Pulido, and Sam Robinson to learn from their perspectives and work methods. They are all interesting artists with individual styles challenging tradition through installations, digital print and other mediums. I interviewed these artists individually and I am proud of being part of this exhibition.

For each artist, the phrase: “A Different Frame of Mind” has a personal connection to how each works today. Mike Covello comments that the phrase is “referencing divergence and not fitting in.” But he says it also references “pluralism, which asserts that those aforementioned notions are not necessarily negatives.” Covello has been working on installations since he was an undergraduate at Cornell University. His interest with installations peaked in 2007 when he thought about how his context would surround the environment; however, he evolved in 2012 to work within the exhibition space. I cannot wait to see how he is going to continue this process within the West Gallery of USFCAM alongside the other artists. With limited space, the exhibition presents a challenge for all of them in terms of the size of their final work.

When I asked Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki about their perception of the phrase, they explained, “‘a different frame of mind’ evokes the idealist posit that your mind frames the world you see.” They believe, “if you can change the way a person frames the world in their mind, you can change the reality they experience.” Curry and Gradecki’s focus on the finances of the art world in their previous works began with the stock market crash in 2008. As they investigated further with their projects, artists and curators have heavily criticized them because they broke tradition by revealing the finances from the patrons to the artists. This brings an interesting point of view of art: ‘financialization.’ It may be a new term as described by Curry and Gradecki; however, it is the fundamental process of investment for commissions and furthering our practice as artists. We see financialization in art history through the eyes of Vincent van Gogh, who sold but one painting to his brother. After his death, his artwork becomes accessible and very valuable. Henri Matisse or Edgar Degas, for example, show the success as artists after the French Revolution of 1787-1789. While Matisse focused on the bourgeoisie painting genre scenes familiar to them, Degas found beauty in ballet dancers. Their patrons were prominently the rich; however, they gained income to continue. Therefore, the finances of artists are important to focus on, and I applaud Curry and Gradecki to shedding light to this concept although some may disagree.

As I asked the others, David Gabbard agreed with Curry and Gradecki. He believed with “a different frame of mind,” “you are stepping out of the norm and into something different.” Without being an individual, we cannot continue the path to greatness. When Gabbard attended USF as an undergraduate, he wanted to challenge the meaning of a frame. He pointed out as he questioned the frame, “Take a drawing that you made when you were a child. Your parents are so proud of that drawing that they choose to frame it. In the child’s point of view, they feel appreciated and praised for the drawing. The parent reinforces the praise by framing and hanging the drawing. If the child produces more drawings then it becomes a weird dynamic, where does the parent frame every drawing? How does one drawing become more important than the other? This is just one example of how the frame can symbolize importance.” This raises an important question about the frame itself. Why is the frame important in a sense that we have to enclose ourselves to one perception? With this exhibition, the artists are able to represent a greater sense of self and understanding outside of tradition. This opens the doors to interpretation, too. As many artists before him, Gabbard recollects childhood memories through his artwork and places them in front of the viewer. To the artist, it is a moment of relief to reveal something private and cause viewers to relate to situations with minimal words. It is almost therapeutic, releasing tension from the past and sticking that emotion elsewhere, so we can move forward. Without that release, as artists, we would be driven insane.

I asked Ariel Baron-Robbins the same question about “a different frame of mind,” and she responded that the phrase “brings me back to the body/mind problem, the difference between how you think and feel inside of your body and how you are perceived outside of your body by others.” She focused on this idea through performances as a USF graduate student in 2009. Robert Morris and Ana Mendieta heavily inspired Baron-Robbins because of their relationship of the figure and environment. She says, “Mendieta inspires me in the way that she free-form plays with her environments, creating temporary sculpture or pieces, very impromptu looking, especially in the Silueta series, and then documents these actions with her camera. Morris inspires me with his entire body of work and its differences. He also scales things to be human-sized, which is something I try to do as well.” Baron-Robbins interacts with nature as her source of inspiration, which in her previous work included architecture, whereas in her current work involves bodies of water.

When posed the same question, Sam Robinson thought to have “a different frame of mind,” we have to understand that the “frame plays a role in the construct of formal art-viewing that seems to have historically become less and less important. To frame something is to draw a hard line around what is to be looked at, but does little to cage contemporary artists’ tendencies toward materiality, dimension and sensory play.” I have made this point earlier, and I agree with her. In her artwork, Robinson controls the viewer’s response with scent. “The fascination started with a TEDTalk titled The Science of Scent,” she explained, “in which biophysicist Luca Turin presented his theory that humans detect extraordinarily minute differences in molecular vibration, rather than molecular structure, when differentiating scents. In the talk, Turin revealed some perfumist/chemist manuscripts and some hints as to his contracts in the commercial world. In the same way that color is used thoughtfully to encourage appetite in the grocery store or morale in a sea of cubicles, scent is used to incite memories in relation with a product, and to reward the sniffer at the time of purchase. The fragrance industry fits into the corporate model of consumer conditioning on a molecular level,” she says. The concept drove her to experiment with particular scents: for example, rotten flesh and sweet-scented perfumes. Therefore, these scents allow the audience to respond accordingly and that pleases her as a result. To her, these experiments within her artwork involve the audience to practice a mind-over-matter exercise in self-reflection. This concept is a step forward into contemporary art, removing the frame from its traditional meaning and pushing it to an interactive art form.

In Janett Pulido’s perspective, “a different frame of mind” meant, “having a different perspective of a particular idea or concept prior to one’s initial thought to that particular idea or concept.” Artists from history have focused their artwork on representing a window that extends their eye. Given the circumstances of historical events, for example, Francisco de Goya’s Third of May 1808, represents the window of war and surrender in the Streets of Spain. As he witnessed this scene of horror, he depicts emotion through that window frame so the viewers can interpret fear through their eyes. As we move forward as contemporary artists, we move further away from that window and control the response to our works. As artists, we have to surpass our masters and assess all the possibilities to approach beyond the limits of those boundaries many artists established before us. Pulido uses her personal experiences to distinguish herself as a Mexican American raised in a Roman Catholic household. She says, “My Mesoamerican culture brought about types of rituals that seemed to contradict the Roman Catholic dogmas I have been taught in the past. It is for this reason that I always feel I am in constant limbo.” Although it was difficult for her, she learned to accept these contradictions and incorporate them into her works. She also establishes the Schrodinger’s Cat theory because it correlates with the impact of possibilities that can happen in limbo. Pulido explained in the Schrodinger’s Cat theory, “the scientist does not know if the cat is alive or dead until the box is open. This puts the cat in between both realms hence, being in limbo.” Therefore, she responds to the Schrodinger’s Cat theory through her sculptural paintings and allows the viewers to be in the position of the scientist.

You have heard from all the artists on their interpretation of what “A Different Frame Of Mind” meant to them and how they bring forth that perception into their work. I look forward to sharing further insights into their creative processes and the development of their works. The final exhibition will be installed and open to the public on June 27, 2014.

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83Degrees Explores the USFCAM Art in Health Program

The USF Art in Health program, a collaborative project that unites the USFCAM museum with USF Health, was featured in a recent article in 83Degrees. The program, modeled after similar initiatives at Harvard University and University of Miami, was founded in 2012 and since hosted 86 students from disciplines including medicine, public health, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work and speech-language pathology.

Collage, drawing and visual observation exercises

Art in Health seeks to encourage health students, ranging from doctors to nurses and therapists, to improve their observational skills. USF College of Public Health faculty member Aurora Sanchez Anguiano, Ph.D., says that “observation is the key in all of the health sciences” and that the program encourages students to stop and think before coming to conclusions, a vital skill for future health practitioners.

Megan Voeller, Associate Curator of Education at USF CAM and program director of Art in Health, uses the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) discussion method with the students to “improve critical thinking, listening, communication and visual observation.”

“It’s also about mindfulness and the ability to reflect and focus,” says Voeller. In addition to a museum-based workshop using VTS, the program includes workshops in studio art and movement.

Feedback suggests that the program strikes a chord with students. Julia Zhang, a current medical student and Art in Health workshop attendee, said that her participation in the program allowed her to “look at things from a different perspective.”

You can read the full story here: USF Leverages Arts, Sciences To Provide Better Healthcare

More About USF Art in Health

Body awareness, movement observation and practice

In partnership with USF Health, the USF Contemporary Art Museum offers a series of workshops designed to improve the observation skills of USF graduate and professional students in health disciplines. Join other USF students for intensive, inter-professional arts-based training in observation, critical thinking and communication. Research shows that training health practitioners in art skills improves visual awareness. Each workshop includes a series of arts activities and a concluding discussion led by a USF Health faculty member. Visiting faculty members for Spring 2014 include Dr. Frazier Stevenson, Morsani College of Medicine (Studio Art workshop) and Dr. Aurora Sanchez-Anguiano, College of Public Health (Museum workshop).

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Pedro Reyes Legislative Theatre Performance Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground Sought Common Ground

Attendees of the Pedro Reyes Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground made revisions to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution

Attendees of the Pedro Reyes Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground made revisions to the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution

Thank You!!
Thanks to everyone who was involved in USFCAM’s project with Pedro Reyes on January 23, 2014!

The performance was truly a collaborative effort that included USF College of the Arts faculty and students. The USF percussion ensemble and jazz combos played Reyes’ unique instruments, crafted from firearms confiscated and disabled by the Mexican Army, which are on view at USFCAM in the exhibition CAM@25: Social Engagement through March 8. Everyone who attended the sold-out event was invited to participate in the performance, which was created by Reyes in partnership with USF Theatre professor Dora Arreola, and USF and Community Stepping Stones students, to encourage dialogue and address issues related to the Second Amendment.

As the audience entered the black box theatre, USF and Community Stepping Stones students directed the 100-plus audience members to sit in seats arranged in circles of eight on what is usually considered the stage, inverting the traditional audience/performer paradigm. Inspired by Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, this structure transformed the audience from spectators into “spect-actors” and collaborators in the performance. USF and Community Stepping Stones students performed a sketch, developed in a series of workshops with Reyes and Arreola, inviting the audience to engage in a democratic exercise to amend and update the Second Amendment in an effort to reduce gun violence.

For reference:

The Second Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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The participants included a broad spectrum of community members, USF faculty and students. The discussions were lively and energetic, with participants sharing their beliefs and experiences with guns in respectful and productive ways, and while opinions were varied, there was still much common ground to work from in each of the participating groups.

After 30 minutes of discussion, the students facilitators invited one representative from each group to present their proposed revisions of the Second Amendment. Most groups felt the concept of the well-regulated militia was out-dated and needed to be revised or removed entirely. Many groups presented specific proposals including education, minimum age requirements and background checks, as well as raising issues about the power of the NRA and mental health issues in their revisions. One group decided the amendment should not be changed, but the majority included some form of regulation of firearms in their revised amendments.

Example Revised Amendment:

“A well regulated military being necessary for the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be prohibited but shall be regulated to protect the security of the people from the will of the individual.”

The event took place just one week after a fatal shooting in a Tampa Bay area movie theatre resulted from an argument between two patrons over texting (story, story) and within months of a failed effort to revise and repeal Stand Your Ground laws in the Florida Legislature (story). Providing a safe space to engage in challenging dialogue about critical social issues, Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground succeeded in starting a conversation we hope continues.

Video to Come
Stay tuned for video of the revised amendments which will be posted here and on our IRAUSF youtube channel in the future.


To learn more about Pedro’s work , check out the media coverage:
Media: Amendment to the Amendment: (Under)stand Your Ground
NPR Story: “Artist Transforms Guns To Make Music — Literally
WUSF Radio University Beat: Gun Music
FOX News pre-performance report
Tampa Bay Times: Artist Turns Guns Into Music with a Message


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