Monday, May 25, 2009

From Joplin to Brooklyn

Such an honor to show these fantastic women around NYC. They plunged in at every turn. The Met, the MoMA, the food, the sites, the subways, the throngs of people, the blistered feet. This was just outside the Brooklyn Museum, where we got to experience Judy Chicago's Dinner Party as a group of important women ourselves.

I dedicate these words of Audrey Flack to them: "Art is a calling. Artists are not discovered in school. Artists do not just paint for themselves, and they don't simply paint for an audience. They paint because they have to. There is something within the artist that has to be expressed. Every creation reveals something more about the universe and about the artist. Some artists surface earlier than others, but all are born to the calling. We share a common language and a common love our masters, and although we often take issue with one another, we are all family."

To Kat, a Young Artist

Kat was recently one of my students. I just spent a week with her in NYC. The above is from her magnificent journal. She is an artist. The following is a letter from Elizabeth Murray, a great painter recently passed:

Dear Young Artist:

I became a painter because I went to a school that was in a great museum. Walking to class, I started to see the paintings, quietly waiting to be seen. They penetrated and I realized I wanted to make paintings as intense and moving as those on the wall. I had wanted to be a commercial artist. Instead, I started trying to paint. Here are some suggestions as you begin your career:

Stay in touch with your original motivation to become an artist--and be aware that it is always a process of becoming. You have to stay light on your feet. It is about change and transformation. You are the boss of that but you don't have total control. Good to give into that. Making art requires a lot of isolation, but I realized over time that I also wanted a whole life, that I could still do my work and have a partner and a family. So have a life. Art making fits in well.

Showing your work--eventually selling your work--is not evil, and it is a natural process. You are not selling your soul, you are earning a living, and you don't have to do anything your feel is wrong. If you make some money and get attention for what you have done, your friends may be envious. Forgive them--you'll have those feelings, too. Only human.

The art world seems to conjure up a lot of nonsense right now and seems to be only about friends, money, and fame. Try to stay focused and centered in what you want in your work, keeping in mind that your art is about describing your spirit and your life force makes the work better.

Good luck. You are already succeeding just by attempting.

Elizabeth Murray
New York

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guns, Roses

This is an elementary education major's collage. It's part of her visual diary, an assignment I give mostly non-artists to document what is visually stimulating to them over the semester. How precious: butterflies, puppies, sunflowers, ducklings, bears, bunnies......GUNS??!! The cow is not jumping over the moon, it's jumping over the GUN STORE??!! Where I'm from this would call for an intervention or at least a photocopy to the staff psychologist. But this is typical of where I live. The second amendment is sacrosanct. Disturbingly, I saw more guns in the visual diaries this semester than even crosses.

Red and Yellow Black and White

I just adore this. One of my sweet and brilliant art education majors, Jennifer C, made this in 2D design class. She likes kids. Wants to teach them art. I have so many associations with this. sunday school, felt noahs and animals two-by-two on the equally-itchy felt board. Vanilla wafers and apple juice. It reminds me of the vacation bible school song that is so out of style semantically: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.