Week 15 | Artist Conversation: Amy Duran

Amy Duran is in her final semester at California State University, Long Beach. A transfer from Cypress college, she is working toward her BFA in Ceramics, though she does not plan on going to grad school after graduation. She has had a love and interest for cake decorating since she was a kid, which was her inspiration for this particular exhibit. Every single piece in her exhibit was made using a pottery wheel.

Her exhibit consisted of different ceramic pieces with floral designs that she was able to put on the ceramic pieces with a special clay that she mixes with water to create an icing-like consistency. She used her actual cake decorating skills to decorate these pieces, as she was able to use actual piping bags to put the clay on the pots, and they took her hours at a time to make each. She was inspired by French art and the beauty of Paris for these pieces.

As for her other ceramic piece, which depicts the big, bad wolf, she was inspired by her love of fairytales as a child. She loved fantasy movies like Harry Potter, and The Girl Who Cried Wolf in particular was the inspiration for this piece specifically. She also had a particular liking for clay stop motion films, giving the sculpture the cartoony look that it has to it.

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Week 15 | Art Activity: Finger Painting

When I had read that we were doing finger painting this week, I assumed there was a catch. I assumed that we had to finger paint something super specific or had to depict something that was going to turn out disastrously for me. But to my pleasant surprise, this activity was actually rather soothing and not nearly as stressful as I had initially thought. I really actually enjoyed feeling the paint and being able to drag my fingers across the paper and create the shapes that I was able to with the paint on the piece of paper. It was actually  a little bit harder than I had thought when I started though, at least just as far as blending the colors that I had chosen together in the way that I wanted them to blend together. Though this part was pretty hard, I think I made it work pretty well and I’m happy with my end result. I think painting without a subject was so relieving, just because it was so natural and I didn’t really have to think about it. I wouldn’t at all really relate this experience to the graffiti activity just because I feel like that activity required so much technique in order to make it look really nice and presentable–there’s a certain style that graffiti comes with that I just couldn’t really get the hang of. However, with this activity there wasn’t really a technique that I had to learn or follow. It was nice just being able to feel it and see what my hands could come up with.

Week 14 | Art Activity: Instagram

This week’s art activity required us to use the app “Instagram” to post pictures that we had taken of things that we did throughout the course of our days. Being an avid Instagram user, I just used the personal account that I normally use rather than creating a whole new one for this project. I enjoyed doing this project mostly because it didn’t really feel like I was doing a project–it was something that I do pretty much everyday anyway. The pictures that I had posted for this project consisted of the breakfast that I had with my roommates that morning, a picture of a book that I had read before heading off to class, a picture of my notebook and laptop as I began studying for finals, and a picture of the sky during sunset that I had taken in a car ride heading back home from the library. It was cool to see all of the different pictures that each of my classmates had taken, and the different styles of pictures as well as the different things that we all do throughout our days.

Week 14 | Classmate Conversation: Stephanie Arciva

This week in class I met Stephanie Arciva, a third year chemistry major at Long Beach State. Originally from Lake Forest, Stephanie is a bit of a local here in Long Beach. She likes eating, and her favorite foods are tacos, turkey burgers, and pasta. She enjoys a lot of adventure, and in Stephanie’s spare time she likes doing very outdoorsy things like hiking and swimming, and she loves to work out. After graduation, Stephanie would like to participate in a PhD program for environmental chemistry research.

As for the question of the week, Stephanie thinks that in the future, everyone in college is going to be super techy–not that we aren’t already, but even more so. She predicts that teachers are all going to be teaching from computers rather than in person and that there is going to be a loss of interaction between students because of the increased use of technology. She predicts that discussion boards like the ones that are used in online classes today are going to be the main form of communication between classmates, which isn’t too great at all because it isn’t really that authentic of a conversation.unnamed

Week 12 | Artist Conversation: Sage Garner

Sage Garner is a fourth year transfer student at Long Beach State. She is graduating very soon with her Sculpture BFA. She has had a love for art since she was a child, but when she started college and decided to take a few art classes, she was able to discover that this is something that she really wanted to pursue. She had initially started with art taking classes that were centered around drawing, but toward the end of her community college years, she found sculpting and decided that this is what she wanted her area of expertise to be. She’s a 24 year old student who loves hiking, swimming, and traveling.

Garner’s exhibit is a series of polyurethane foam sculptures that seem to have grown from the walls of the exhibit room. Initially, the sculptures resembled somewhat of a monochromatic underwater scene. A lot of the shapes were reminiscent of shapes that I had seen in The Little Mermaid as a kid–they looked kelpy, and had a bit of a fluidity to them that made it seem as if they were underwater, or wet at the very least. In the middle of the room, we see a sort of transparent purple sculpture hanging from the room’s ceiling, adorned by golden chains and the small, important detail of a tiny golden fork hanging from the transparent purple sculpture.

After reading her artist statement and speaking to the artist, I was able to find that the exhibit was in fact not inspired by mermaids or kelp, but it was inspired by her own life, specifically, her own body. Garner had explained both in her artist statement and to me that she had grown up with illnesses (undisclosed illnesses, I didn’t want to ask out of respect for the artist’s privacy) that took control of her body. She had explained that the sculptures around the room resemble the walls purposefully, as they represent the illnesses that she has had to face throughout her life. The way that I was understanding it, the room is Garner, or rather a cell in Garner’s body. She had explained her purpose, her message as being that of an ambiguous autobiography–a self-told life story that no one really knows when initially looking at it. The monochromatic sculptures were meant to match the already white color of the walls to represent the fact that they are a part of the same room, the same body, the same system. The transparent purple sculpture in the middle of the room represents the control center of a cell, known as the nucleus. The golden fork hanging at the bottom of this sculpture representing the foods that Garner’s illnesses prevented her from eating throughout her life. This as well as the exhibit as a whole is an illustration of the control that she did not have over her body, over her life. It is an illustration of her struggles, a statement that she is taking it back.

Like I said earlier, this exhibit did remind me a lot of The Little Mermaid when I had initially walked into the room, and I felt pretty stupid interpreting the exhibit like that when I had found out what it was really inspired by. But looking back at it now, it seems to be making more and more sense to me. The inside of a cell may not be entirely made up of sea water or be inhabited by talking animals and mermaids, but it is fluid in the same way that I had imagined. Not only that, but the storyline of The Little Mermaid is about a young mermaid trying to take control of her own life. And I think that story is pretty evident here, despite the fact that instead of trying to gain control back from her father, she’s trying to gain control from her own body.

I personally loved everything about this artist’s statement and exhibit. So to Miss Sage Garner, thank you.

Week 11 | Classmate Conversation: Yonathan Sahle

This week, I met my classmate Yonathan. He’s a senior here at Long Beach State, and is working toward a degree in mechanical engineering. He’s a southern California native, as he grew up in Anaheim.

As for the question of the week, Yonathan thinks that it is okay for artists to draw peple with their free expression. He thinks that it should be an open ended thing, as if no answer is the wrong one. However, he does believe that there should be limits to it so that no one is offended by the artist interpretation.

 

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Week 11 | Artist Conversation: Caryn Aasness

Caryn Aasness is in her final year at Long Beach State as an undergrad, working toward her BFA in Fibers. She has an exhibit at the Merlino Gallery at LBSU, with a visual title that you see in the first attached picture below. After graduation, Caryn hopes to work with designing textiles and wallpapers.

Caryn’s entire exhibit is complied of a series of quilt-like pieces that convey a hidden message that can be decoded in a grid found next to each quilt, made of different colored thread. Each color of thread represents a different letter, creating a different column that can be seen in the quilts, and each message can be read/decoded by reading the grid vertically, rather than horizontally. The grids that viewers use are reflected in the grids that can be seen in the artist’s weaving. The colors that the artist used are very bright, but at the same time have a very warm and inviting feel about them. The main piece of the exhibit is the only piece that contains an explicit message that can be read without decoding, which reads “TO CALL IT CUTE IS TO MISUNDERSTAND”.

When speaking to the artist after reading her artist statement, I had asked her if the basis for this exhibit had stemmed from feminist thought, specifically with the idea of breaking the dichotomies that are so prevalent in society. The main heading of Caryn’s artist statement reads “ARE YOU COMFORTABLE?”, recognizing the fact that the societal structures in America are created to make certain groups of people comfortable, and it is only if you fit into these groups that you are allowed to be comfortable enough to move through society with no worry, no struggle. The artist’s statement is that by questioning these structures, by looking at them differently and re-creating them, by understanding that her pieces are more than just “cute” and really decoding and realizing what the literal underlying message in each piece is, we are then looking at what really matters. Many of the messages that I did manage to decode contained messages that reminded me a lot of feminist discourse, such as the statement “nothing of me is original i am the combined effort of everyone i have ever known”. The idea of illustrating these statements by weaving them into the fabric is to showcase how the artist is able to use text in relation to text and weaving in order to convey a message, rather than just explicitly saying it. The work that one has to engage in to figure out what the message says gives it more meaning than just reading words stitched onto a fabric would. It takes something as unnoticeable, as regular as a piece of fabric on a wall, and recreates it to be something of immense importance, it turns it into a message.

Personally, I love exhibitions that have anything to do with feminist thought. Feminist art has to be one of my favorite things in the world period, so this exhibit in particular resonated with me very heavily. Normally, I wouldn’t approach a textile exhibition with too much excitement, just because textiles and weaving aren’t really the most aesthetically pleasing to my eyes, but in this particular situation, I guess that was the point of it all. With that being said, I feel as if the artist really did accomplish what she set out to accomplish with this exhibit, as far as her message goes. For me personally, this message spoke volumes. I won’t lie and say that it wasn’t the main piece, the only piece with an explicit message that drew me into the exhibit, but it was definitely the artist statement as well as the main concept and message of the entire body of work together that made me fall in love with it.

And I thank Caryn Aasness for that.

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Week 9 | Art Activity: Art Care Package

When I first read that this was our art activity for the week, I thought that it was a cool concept. I really liked thinking about putting it together, and at first I wasn’t entirely sure about who I wanted to send mine to. I figured that it would be cool to send one to my sister, so I threw in a bunch of stuff that I thought that she would like.

Because I am from Northern California, I miss out on a lot of things with my sister. So I sent her polaroid pictures of me and the friends that I’ve made here in college to give her a little glimpse of my life in Southern California. I also sent her a sticker that I got in the mail saying “girls bite back”, just because I love feminist art and I wanted to share it with her. I included a journal that I write in frequently as well, because literary art has to be my favorite kind of art. In the journal I already have a few entries that are poems, recollections of my day, and other little things like that. I also included pens in the care package so that my sister could also write her own literary masterpieces within the journal. The last two pieces were random pieces of art that I feel like my sister would appreciate, which are a wall fixture that reads “kind people are my kinda people” as well as a Dia de los Muertos skull that is a plant holder. I loved these pieces of art and I thought my sister would, too.

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Week 9 | Artist Conversation: Carmina Carrea

This week, I viewed an exhibit titled “A Beach in Symmetry, A Breach in Symmetry” at the Max L. Gatov Gallery at Long Beach State. An exhibit that features the work of three different artists bringing their work together to illustrate one cohesive message, I was able to meet one of the three artists, a senior BFA sculpture student by the name of Carmina Correa. She produced two of the pieces within the exhibit, both untitled. Her works for this particular exhibit focus on explaining different voids that people may experience feeling, and trying to emulate these voids through her pieces.

The first piece that I had come across that Carrea created was a sculpture made completely of sugar. On top of a sort of pile of what appears to be granulated sugar are thin sheets of colored sugar stacked upon each other. Carrea explained how she was able to use a silicon mold in order to cast the sugar until it sets to her desired shape. It took Carrea an hour to make each piece that is stacked, but has to allocate an entire 24 hours straight to dedicate to making sure the sugar sets how she wants it to, meaning a lot of sleepless nights for this artist. She didn’t seem to mind the fact that she had to sacrifice her sleep for this piece of art, because to her, it’s not so much about what the product in the end is, as she has accepted that her end product is going to be what it is no matter what. The most important thing to the artist when concerning this piece is purely the process of creating it. Due to the fact that she is boiling the sugar 24/7, the artist also explained that she dissociates herself from the smell of sugar because she is around it so often.

Carrea’s second piece had been a wooden confessional booth. Very reminiscent of a Catholic confessional, Carrea had created a sort of box that one is able to walk into and find a place to kneel as well as a diamond-shaped cut out in one of the walls. When you look through this cut-out, you find different remnants of Carrea’s childhood, such as stuffed animals.

Going back to the main idea of emulating a void that artists find in their lives, the inspiration behind the first piece (Carrea refers to this as her sugar piece) comes from the fact that Carrea is a Type 2 Diabetic. At first, I found this idea very ironic, obviously. I understood the idea of what the exhibit name meant and how Carrea was trying to explain the emulation of a void so much more when she had revealed to me that she is a Type 2 Diabetic. The idea of a Type 2 Diabetic creating something completely out of sugar allows the artist to gain control of sugar, as they usually can’t. I love the idea of taking this void, illustrating and recognizing the fact that a void exists, and looking for ways to fill it.

This idea is also illustrated through the creation of the confessional booth. Carrea explained to me that as a Filipino-American, she was raised with a strong Catholic background. Because of this, Carrea spent some time within the Catholic church in actual confessional booths, which explains why the booth was constructed in the style that it was. Carrea had said that she built this confessional booth for herself, as a representation of comfort in that a “confession” does not need to be the daunting process that she remembers as a child. By filling her confessional booth with things that had comforted her throughout her life, she illustrates her idea that a “confession” can be anything from confiding in a friend to writing down how you’re feeling. In this sense, it fills the void that Carrea had experienced as a child in that she was searching for a comfort that confession was supposed to provide for her, and realized that she had always been able to find that comfort elsewhere.

I personally loved the idea of the entire exhibit. While I did appreciate the works of the other artists, I am very glad that I was able to talk with Carmina Carrea. The idea that there are certain voids that everyone has whether we realize them or not resonated with me a lot. I was also ale to heavily relate to Carrea’s experiences growing up in a Filipino-American home that was very much dominated by Christian-Catholic values. It had been hard sometimes growing up with such high expectations of committing to Catholic practices no matter how you felt about them personally. It was hard for me to understand why practices such as a receiving your communion and going to confession were so sacred, so important when they scared me as much as they did as a kid. Of course, I understand the importance of these practices and their meanings now that I’m older, but I was glad to see that someone had felt the same way that I did about it, and that someone had found at the very least an alternative. Because even though I understand these practices and their significance, it doesn’t necessarily take away from the fact that it is a daunting process. So I personally was very grateful for Carrea’s perspective.

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Week 8 | Art Activity: Japanese Garden

I’ve never been to the Japanese Garden before, so I was pretty excited to finally have a reason to go. It’s kind of weird that I’ve never been there just because I lived in the dorms that were placed pretty much the closest to the gardens, but I digress.

I’m not the most amazing artist in the world, and I definitely don’t have too much experience dragging any type of writing utensil across paper to create something that looks remotely aesthetically pleasing. Though I’m not too skilled with sketching or drawing, I tried. I actually thought that it was pretty relaxing, considering the fact that the garden itself was relaxing. I don’t really know if it was the atmosphere of sitting there or if I genuinely enjoyed getting lost in *attempting* to sketch something out. I think I actually might just try it out more often, who knows, maybe I’ll actually get better.

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Week 8 | Classmate Conversation: Araceli Lozano

This week, I met Araceli Lozano. She’s a business major with a concentration in human resources, so good luck to her with the rest of her college career and beyond! Being an upperclassman, Araceli had a lot of good advice about what classes she enjoyed taking, and because of her I might look into areas of study that will help get me to graduation that I had never even thought of (thank you!).

As for the question of the week, Araceli didn’t have too much of a very straight answer, which I completely agree with. While we both want to encourage our [future] children to follow their hearts and their dreams, we also want them to succeed no matter what. She has said that she would support her kids, but if she realistically did not think that they would be able to succeed in the world as an artist, she would try to convince them to try out another path, which I think is super reasonable!

When comparing apps, I found that we have a lot of similarly downloaded apps, but they’re organized a bit differently. While Araceli’s most-used apps like Netflix, Hulu and Starbucks are all on her first page, I have all of my apps organized into folders that all appear on the first page.

I enjoyed talking to Araceli this week, and if you’re curious about her go ahead and check out her her wordpress!

 

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Week 7 | Artist Conversation: Brianna Meli

Brianna Meli is an undergraduate student and Long Beach State. She transferred to Long Beach from Fullerton College in 2012 and is studying Fibers in the School of Art. She is planning on getting her BFA after this school year and hopes to pursue her Master’s degree in library science. Meli’s inspiration for her exhibition featured in the Marilyn Werby Gallery at Long Beach State titled OVER_REALMED is drawn from her internal struggle with an attachment to technology. Meli had realized how attached she had become to technology, and realized that she needed to detach herself from it. Her struggle with the compromise of using technology as a tool and not allowing it to occupy her entire life are illustrated through this exhibition.

The big question that Meli poses with this exhibit is if her work as an artist will suffer if she detaches herself from internet platforms, and if her physical presence as a person will suffer if she does not. One of the pieces in this exhibit is what seems to be a sort of knitted scarf of chords and wires sitting on top of a chair that has been covered by a quilt, accompanied by a video that shows the artist creating the weaved object. The artist was also able to weave more chords and wires into pieces of actual fabric, in such a way that spells out the phrase “LOL… IDK”, showing acronyms that are heavily used with digital platforms. Another video displays a series of videos that show Meli with her head down, very focused on her phone.

These pieces of art illustrate the concept that people’s lives are very much consumed by technology. The fact that we are so busy building an online presence and connecting with other people online inevitably causes our physical presence in the world to suffer. Meli’s main concern with trying to detach herself from her phone and her laptop and other similar devices had to do with the fact that even though you are connecting with so many other people when you use digital platforms, at the end of the day, in reality you are alone in a room with a screen. Though it is important to the artist to have a real presence in the physical world and to have real connections with real people, she also makes it a point to recognize that when you separate yourself from technology, you essentially render yourself invisible from the world itself, only really knowing and keeping up with the people you see and talk to on an everyday basis.

I personally struggle with detaching myself from my phone very much. I always joke with my parents or anyone else who is old enough to truly remember a world in which technology didn’t rule majority of everyday life, saying that I can’t really imagine how I would be able to function on a daily basis without it. Though I may be joking when I say this, a part of me is being very serious. Majority of my friends and family live significantly far away from where I do, and I rely on technology to keep up and in touch with them. Not only do I use technology to connect with other people, but someone as directionally challenged as I am needs her GPS. Though I do see the need and helpfulness of technology, I do see where Meli’s concept is important at the end of the day. I think it is important for people to detach themselves from technology and really live their lives with who and what is actually in front of them. Meli’s idea of a sort of compromise between not using technology so much but recognizing its essential purposes in today’s society is something that I could definitely agree with and apply to my own daily life.