Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Collaborative Grids: Art for Elementary

It's tried and true, this classic collaborative grid. It essentially works every time. I took a copy of Audrey Flack's "Queen" (Flack and piece pictured), cut it into small squares, and gave one of the squares to each student. Their job was to recreate the small square's contents onto a larger white square. Once all squares were completed, it the class as group had to piece it together. It's always fascinating to see who becomes the leaders in this part of the process. As it comes together, there is an aha moment when the student discovers their seemingly "lame" square is vital to the whole, and that the imperfections actually enhance the whole and make it much more interesting to view. The second grid is simply a second section of the same class. It's fun to compare and contrast the two.

Faith Ringgold Workshop and Lecture!

I have been following the accomplished artist, Faith Ringgold, my entire artistic career. She was an art teacher in Harlem, created story quilts that are in museum collections around the world and commissioned by people such as Oprah and the Cosbys, won the Caldecott award for her book Tar Beach based on the same story quilt. She's taught, traveled, lectured, written an autobiography, and is currently making work to fund Obama's re-election campaign.

I was honored to participate in an art educator workshop with Faith at the Foundry Art Centre in St. Charles, Missouri. For three hours, we created our section of a quilt. The pattern consisted of triangles that read "Teach Today Touch Tomorrow". As we worked feverishly, we took turns getting our photos taken and books signed by Faith. I also had a few minutes to speak with her privately, asking her questions about balance and longevity in the life of an artist. She was fiery and passionate in her encouragement and advice to me. I had been thirsting for this, from anyone and anywhere. Unbelievable that it came from my art heroine!

At the end of the workshop, we got to watch Faith lay out our pieces. Magical watching her; you could see her wheels turning and the creative juices bubbling out of every pore. Then most of us left while six or seven who had sewing skills stayed and constructed the quilt. So by the time I returned for the evening lecture, the quilt was on the wall. Brilliant. The lecture itself was informative, inspirational, humorous, touching, and full of stories, just like Faith's life and art.

The Butterfly Effect: Dreams Take Flight

Seeing is believing or so the saying goes, but it may be the other way around. In order to see you must believe, because your horizon fits around your view of who you are. So don’t be afraid to believe you can do great things— or at least more than you think you can— and mountains will push back, lakes deepen with reflections of trees aflame with gold, and snow drifting against brilliant blue skies till you can’t tell which is simple reflection, because everything you see sharpens into brilliant hues of light and shadow. Don’t let fears frame your world too small; the widest horizon can be revealed, in even the smallest detail, if you only have the courage to see with your own eyes. anonymous

The Joplin Community Mural, headed by lead artist David Loewenstein. This was a deep and wide community-based art project, uncannily timed with the healing and rebuilding of our community. My roles included grant-writing, coordinating participation of kids through Spiva, YMCA, and Boys and Girls Club, member of the design team, and suggesting the apprentice for the project.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Annie Vought: Paper Cut Letters

A fellow artist brought my attention to Annie Vought. Her work is meticulous and beautiful. She says this about her body of work:

"Email, text messages, instant messaging and Twitter are all examples of fun and immediate means of 'written' communication. Through the computer I am in touch with people I may never have seen before and I can respond in real time to a loved one. But with the ubiquity of this access and convenience, we are losing the tangible handwritten letter. Handwritten records are fragments of individual histories. In the penmanship, word choice, and spelling the author is often revealed in spite of him/herself. A letter is physical confirmation of who we were at the moment it was written, or all we have left of a person or a time...I have been working with cut out correspondence for the past four years. I meticulously recreate notes and letters that I have found, written, or received by enlarging the documents onto a new piece of paper and intricately dissecting the negative spaces with an Exact-o knife. The handwriting and the lines support the structure of the cut paper, keeping it strong and sculptural, despite its apparent fragility. In these paper cutouts, I focus on the text, structure, and emotion of the letter in an elaborate investigation into the properties of writing and expression. Penmanship, word choice, and spelling all contribute to possible narratives about who that person is and what they are like. My recreating the letters is an extended concentration on peoples’ inner lives and the ways they express their thoughts through writing."

I too am grieving the decline of the handwritten note or letter. I still attempt it occasionally and keep a drawer of stationery. I love letterpress cards and try to send those to friends and family.

But I'm not interested in making work about other people's letters, as Annie does. It is good for me to look at her work, as I am getting into paper text installations. I'm just more selfish, perhaps. I am interested in my OWN handwriting, perceiving it as the truest self-expression of my own unique mark-making. The hand is mine, the 'font' is mine. I am fascinated by the idea of text as art, text as image. And the huge range of temperature it connotes, from a personal warmth to an impersonal chill. I want my installations to resonate as personal.

I admire Annie's scale. It appears she's created some small paper cut letters and others that are very large. I am interested in scale, as well. I want my text to live large, to explode up and down a wall, or to slowly and quietly seep across the entire surface. But either way, to have an engulfing presence. I just bought a neat, old house with vast wall space. I may try my hand at some painted, large-scale text. And leave the temporary installations at other venues to paper. The options are exciting to consider.

Visit Annie's website at:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

On the Other Side: Kris Korb

Kris Korb

Originally I am from the fine state of Michigan, but I have lived in Nevada, Missouri, since 1988. Since that time, I have been the coordinator of campus activities, tickets, and calendar at Cottey College, a private women's college offering associate degrees and select baccalaureate programs. In addition to planning, promoting, and producing a wide variety of performing artists, I am also the curator of the P.E.O. Foundation Art Gallery at the college. I have taken a few art classes just for fun at the Spiva Center, at the Nevada Regional Technical Center, and at Cottey College. My bachelor's degree is in conservation and my master's degree is in campus recreation (so when combined, I am certified to play outside!) This is the first piece I have entered in a professional gallery.

While I was not directly affected by the tornado, I know several people who lost their homes, businesses, and family members. I am the American Red Cross Vernon County disaster chair and volunteered with the local Red Cross in setting up shelters in three locations in and around Joplin soon after the tornado hit. The physical devastation was (and is) profoundly amazing.

I was so glad that Spiva was offering an opportunity to provide self-expression of thoughts and feelings related to the tornado. I knew that many pieces would reflect the destructive physical impact of the tornado on the people of Joplin, and I wanted to convey the feelings of loving, kindness, and hopefulness of the survivors and volunteers that emerged afterwards.

I attended the opening of the exhibition and felt extremely uncomfortable wearing the name tag indicating I was an "Artist," as I do not think of myself in that way. I work with professional performing and visual artists on a daily basis and cannot compare myself to people at that level.

My piece is entitled "Remembering...Protecting...Caring..." and represents some of the emotional stages that survivors and volunteers went through. The figure is based upon a Native-American grandmother who is looking both backwards and forwards. She is acknowledging the loss and is trying to accept the present while preparing for the future. She is holding two heads, each nestled in a bird's nest, in a protective manner. Have these two physically flown from this devastated area, or is she trying to care and comfort them? It's up to the viewer to decide.

The head of the piece is made of paper clay covered in hand-dyed silk and the body is built on a wire armature. The hair on all three heads is made of silk and the outerwear is remnants of an old dress. The skirt is made of small sticks and the feet are made of nut shells and fur. While none of these materials are from the Joplin area, one could easily have found them on the ground and in the trees. The figure stands on a base that has a large heart shape naturally formed in the center of the wood.

I am for an art revolution.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On the Other Side: Natalie Wiseman

I received my bachelors of art with emphasis in painting in 1991 from Missouri Southern. By 1995, the paintings were piling up and I began painting murals in area homes and businesses. I have only just recently started painting for myself again, and have tried to be more involved in what's going on with art locally. I have to thank Tricia Courtney at Rose Gallery for showing an interest in my recent work.

I was motivated to participate in Spiva's "On the Other Side" show because I had already begun work on the piece when I found out about the specifics. It was a natural response to the event, but I feel that area artists will be creatively impacted by the storm for years.

My piece, an acrylic titled, " Life in 3D" began as a pretty literal interpretation of the event. The items that I included were those that reveal a sense of vulnerability. No matter how personal the items, they were all scattered and blended then placed on display for the rest of the world. Some of the items included in the still life were directly related to things my family and I had seen in town. As I thought about the show's name, though, it made me think more of how clearly I remember the events of that day, leading up to the storm. Almost like a windowpane, the rough frame irepresents the " present" conditions through which we have to
look back through. My intention is to focus on that moment, day, hour directly before the storm that we cannot undo, we just have to examine.

I am for an art...masters program at Missouri Southern.

Monday, September 26, 2011

On the Other Side: Clayton Woolery

"A Scream of Questions"

I'm Clayton Woolery. I'm a high school junior currently studying in Washington, DC and I am fascinated by emotions and mental states. I incorporate this into my art. Joplin is my hometown and to not participate in this show at Spiva would be a huge disservice to my roots there. I was motivated to capture the moment as a visualization of the collective mind of the citizens the day it happened. My piece focuses on a rendering of "the minds eye." it is a found windowframe with two panes missing. All the materials are found and the concept of found poetry is practiced in the paper elements. My goal was to capture the emotional state that comes with disaster, a disbelief, an emptiness. I am for an art community that engages with the real world in a valid and relevant way. I believe that art is the point of existence and it is more powerful than tragedy. It is human.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spiva's On the Other Side

Josie Mai
City of Joplin News Archive May 23-June 13th, 2011
cut paper and sticky-tak

This installation is composed of headlines from the following website:
I hand-wrote the headlines onto an overhead transparency and projected them onto white roll paper and traced my own handwriting with pencil. I then cut out each line of text with scissors and affixed them to the wall. The bottom line represents the first news headline after the storm. The headlines are continuous and meant to be slightly illegible. They represent the media storm that followed the actual storm, a cacophony of meaningless words as we struggled to find relevant, essential information through the shockwaves. To me they are fragile, temporary, and an homage to information that we still can't comprehend.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Twist and Shout: The Joplin Crew

Several of us from Joplin arrived early to Twist and Shout to view the show privately, touch base with one another, and get trained on how to collect the cash from the auction sales of over 100 pieces of art work. Pictured left to right, front to back:
Cleo Copeland, Josie Mai, Meg Skaggs, Linda Kyger, Kerstin Landwer, Monica O'Flaherty and family,
Tom Brown, Karl Lipscomb, Ann Leach, Jeremy Mitchell, Nellie Mitchell, Sam Skaggs, Lauren Stauffer, Roger Buchanan, Gary Kyger, Jo Mueller, Don Ayers, David Martin. Several other Joplin residents attended the event and bid on the art. It was a truly transcendent night for all of us.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Twist and Shout!

Words can't express the love in the room last night at Leedy-Voulkos in KC. Art can express it, though. Over 100 brilliant pieces of original art, created from the tornado debris of five Joplin families, expressed the transformation of treasure to trash and back to treasure again. In celebration on a hot August night, 100 artists, 50 Joplin residents, and countless Kansas Citians came together to raise $23,000 for Joplin artists to rebuild their creative lives. These people are my literal family, my figurative family, my tribe, my colleagues, my mentors, my mentees, my crushes, my past present and future. My whole life and heart and energy in one room. It was explosive...the repercussions will be felt for years to come. You can continue to donate for one more month. Please do.

Project Reclamation: Phil Hughlett

How did you come upon the Project Reclamation installation?
Holly told me about it. I was eager to help my home town.

What were your reactions/feelings as you viewed it? Any other stories from that event?
Honestly, after spending a few days in Joplin, cleaning up my parents house and helping the neighbors, the stuff in the gallery looked very clean and safe. One thing you notice in the disaster zone and surrounding areas is the random danger lurking everywhere. Broken glass, nails, sheet metal, etc. Once it is put in the gallery is appears more organized and calm.

Describe why you chose the debris you chose, and what you are doing/will do with it.
Lastly, could you finish this sentence: "I am for an art....."
I chose a few pieces of wood that I could paint on. One particular piece was wavy and it reminded me of wind and water, so I painted a seaside sunrise on it. The rising sun always makes me appreciate a new beginning, and the sea is very calming. I thought it would be a good transformation.
On another, I painted a cubist inspired cello playing over a broken piano keyboard. One of the images my cousins shared with me was of my Aunt & Uncle's home, just shredded to pieces. But right in the middle was their poor piano, hardly moved, but completely ruined. I call it "Requiem For a Piano".
And on the smallest, square piece I painted the Hindu God, Shiva the Destroyer. They believe that Shiva holds the powers of the universe in his destructive dance and when he is done, the universe will be replaced by a new one. The path of the tornado made the landscape I had known for decades look like another planet. I think that Joplin is going to look like a new city when the rebuilding is complete.

I am for an art that transcends time and place. I like to think the act of creation is more important than the final product. I hope that Spiva can help many people take the time to just create something new and forget about the stress of the past.

Project Reclamation: Maria Vasquez Boyd

The Leedy Voulkos Gallery in Kansas City emailed me information about Project Reclamation, an art auction/exhibition to benefit the art community in Joplin. I read through the details and quickly made a decision to participate. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by a need to do something, you know make a difference. It’s better to be part of the solution, right? I couldn’t just stand around saying, “Wow, that’s tough.”

Alone in the gallery I heard the quiet whispers of salvaged items now estranged from their owners. I gazed at the collection of twisted metal mailboxes, fan blades, pipes, gears, paper, gloves, even a torso of a plastic Jesus with outstretched hands, and many other things. They delivered a powerful history of their former lives. But I can only offer transformation out of the chaos to these things. I carefully sorted through items that define who you are in life and collected picture frames, dolls, hummingbird feeder, a shoe, stuffed monkey, and other things unrecognizable to me. My plan is to create a frame with salvaged items completely covered in white paint with text that declares, “I AM HERE.” I decided it would be more provocative in Spanish, so it became “ ESTOY AQUI” adding “SIEMPRE” translated as “always.” With the addition of that last word painted with glow in the dark paint, it shimmers in the dark like a ghost, SIEMPRE.

Project Reclamation: Mark Cowardin

1. how i got involved in project reclamation: matt dehaemers is the reason i'm involved. matt contacted me early on because he knew that i grew up around and in joplin. i went to school through high school in carl junction, and spent a few years at missouri southern before transferring to the university of kansas in 1995. i'm a big fan of matt, the artist and the person, and i would probably have a hard time ever saying no to him.

2. the most striking and unexpected thing i noticed about viewing the installation was my tendency to look for and find objects that i could see in my own home. creating a personal connection with an object makes it easier to grasp the gravity of the event. being from the joplin area, i know several people directly effected by the storm.

3. the debris that i chose, i picked because it was material that might show up in my work anyway. chunks of 2x4s, a furniture leg, and tree limbs. i also took a yellow ball that hangs in your garage to let you know when to stop your car ( i wouldn't have chosen this piece, but my 3 year-old was with me and he insisted). much of my work deals critically with issues of humans interaction with the natural world, and i often use found objects ( i honestly struggled a little with this sculpture because i didn't want to make a piece about humans destroying/damaging nature. this is an event about nature overpowering humans. to me, the resulting wall mounted assemblage, is about remembering the impact of this event on real peoples lives. i live less than three hours from joplin, and my parents live less than 10 minutes from the epicenter of the tornado. my day to day life hasn't changed a bit, but i'm acutely aware that thousands of peoples lives in joplin won't return to normal for a long time. the wall mounted sculpture i completed for project reclamation is entitled "right here". i don't think describing the work would do it justice.

4. i am for an art that makes the viewer stick with an idea long after being entertained by the initial viewing.

Project Reclamation: Larry Thomas

How did you come upon the Project Reclamation installation?

Matt contacted me and asked if I would be interested in participating. I went and saw the installation the first night it was on view.

What were your reactions/feelings as you viewed it? Any other stories from that event?

Its a sobering sight to see so many other people’s possessions piled up, knowing they were once the personal effects used in their day life, and that this was just a small sampling of the massive amount of debris cause by the tornado. The people who suffered such loss probably took their lives and possessions for granted, just as we all do. Then all of a sudden in a matter of minutes, devastation that will change many peoples lives forever. Its hard to imagine the anguish of so many people who lost loved ones, and then on top of that, the loss of one’s house and all the personal objects that make a home.

It was very sad, yet the prospect of making a work of art to help someone else, was very rewarding. I was thankful that Matt asked me to participate. I had made some small contributions to Joplin relief funds before this event, but being able to do something related to my field has been very gratifying.

Describe why you chose the debris you chose, and what you are doing/will do with it.

I chose a garden hose, a twisted piece of wire, a small branch, and a poster (which I didn’t incorporate into the piece.) I photographed the hose, wire, and branch and then used them in my piece. The work is a hand-colored Ultra Chrome print.

Lastly, could you finish this sentence:

"I am for an art that makes people see and think about things they haven’t seen or thought about before.”

All my best,

Project Reclamation: Ada Koch

Dear Josie Mai,
Thrilled I can help in some small way.

Ada Koch-Bio
Raised near Wilmington, DE, Koch won early scholarships to the Delaware Art Museum before studying in Washington, DC and Chicago, IL. Later studies with David De Rousseau of the KCAI and personal studies in the museums of Paris, France preceded Koch's exhibitions in various galleries and museums of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Florence, Italy. She currently teaches art at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and Artichokes in Leawood, KS. She is on the board of directors at the Kansas City Artists Coalition and was the founder of Open Studios in KC. Her art is in collections both corporate and private throughout the United States and as far away as Germany and Switzerland.

I heard about the Project Reclamation from my friend Matt who I met years ago at the Arts Incubator. I am thrilled to be a part of something to help the Spiva Arts Center as they strive to help their community. Choosing pieces of debris from the pile at the Leedy-Voulkos was not easy. The mangled pieces of metal spoke of the physical violence that people had to face and the assortment of destroyed books, furniture, and personal items sent chills down my back - especially the children's toys. I finally chose two books, one a large art history book, and a small toy clown. Originally, I had planned to make some sort of circus out of the book, but it wasn't coming together. The next week, I took a short vacation with my husband and daughter where they had a live butterfly room, filled with the beautiful fragile creatures. On the way home, I was inspired to create a piece with butterflies cut from the book and swarming out of the book in a tornado-like swirl around the clown who has been transformed into an angel with butterfly wings. Eerily, one day after working on the sculpture, I had a drink with my neighbor, Jonya Redwine, whose son lives just north of Joplin. Jonya loved the butterfly theme because of the "butterfly stories" which have come after the tornado. I had NEVER heard of them before and was even more convinced this is the right project. I came home and got onto the computer right away and found the most touching stories. You can read some on 6-The butterfly people.

My piece is called "Rebirth" and is filled with symbolism, but is meant to be positive and inspiring, as I'm sure all the art built out of debris will be. I will try and send you some photos of what I originally chose and the art piece now. I just finished it yesterday, so it will be at the LV on the first friday of August. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Best regards,
Ada Koch

Project Reclamation: David Bandy

I came familiar with project reclamation, the installation, and twist and shout through word of mouth from fellow artist Jenny McCall...and my relationship with Holly Swangstu at the LV. My feelings toward the installation and Joplin in general are pretty personal. All the family on my father's side either lived or currently resides in Joplin still. I spent a lot of times growing up going on visits to my grandparents on the outskirts of Joplin. I have a lot of memories from childhood such as playing with my cousins, fishing, exploring, and even learning to drive. Much like my family, I find the people of Joplin to be a kind and simple one. Honest and hardworking for the most part. Many live their whole lives in Joplin without a desire for the complications and abundance of larger cities. I find this contentment to be honest and charming.

I grabbed a handful of debris, including vinyl and broken plastic to adhere to my canvas to make a simple tribute to a state, city, and love I have for Joplin and this project/event.

I am for an art allows self-exploration. Always. The journey into the self-conscious for myself or artist is not always an easy or self-willing one. However, the curiosity and necessity for me to explore my mental landscapes and well-being allow me a therapy and excavation of emotion not found elsewhere in life.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Project Reclamation: Chris Frye

Walking up to the installation of debris in the middle of the gallery at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, I was struck with emotion when I realized that it was made up of people's belongings that had been blown around in the tornado. Reading the pieces and looking at the photos of those affected with their whole world in shambles around them saddened me, yet there was a sense of hope and relief expressed in them. When I went to pick pieces to use in an artwork, the pile had been spread out around the gallery and it was easier to identify individual objects. I chose a birdhouse, a drawer, an electronic circuit board and a burner from a stove. My idea for the piece is to paint sparrows with banners on the outside of the drawer and to suspend the birdhouse above the circuits with the spiral of the burner crashing into the house.

I am for an art that surpasses the mundane yet accumulates dust just the same as any object in a collection of prized possessions. I am for an art that is created in the moment but evokes a lifetime of intrigue.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Children's Mural Workshop Drawings

I can't believe the mural team has been here for a month now. We're getting closer to the halfway point. Be sure to follow artist-in-residence, Dave Loewenstein, on his blog at Dave, Kyle, Nick, Amber and I spent a couple weeks with about 200 children from Boys and Girls Club, the Joplin YMCA, and Spiva Center for the Arts. After team and kid introductions, Dave would share about the idea of a mural, that one would happen here in Joplin, and that several have happened in other towns. He had postcards of past murals, and would show the kids up close what those looked like instead of a cold, large projection on a screen. Then we would would prompt the kids to draw collaboratively, 2-4 kids per one large sheet of white paper. What is your idea of home? What do you dream about? Flying? Do animals dream? Do plants dream? Do machines dream? Draw a machine that is part machine and part plant that would help rebuild Joplin. Design and draw a website or video game that shows a new Joplin. The kids jumped in wholeheartedly, no hesitation, clearly needing and wanting to work some things out, not editing themselves. Then we had them share their drawings and ideas with the group. I truly believe this combination of SHOWing their art and TELLing their story was a healing, beautiful encounter for all in the room.

During the Third Thursday Artwalk on August 18th, many of these drawings will be on display on the ground floor of the Gryphon Building at 10th and Main from 5:30-8:30. Families of these 200 kids will be invited to come to the show. Encore!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Mural at 20th and Main St

The following is from a student. She didn't put her name on the paper, so I don't remember who she was. Students, put your name on your work! Jeez!

The piece of artwork that I have chosen to critique is the Joplin mural painted on the side of a fairly large building at 20th and Main. There are many artists that participated in this mural, which is what makes it so great. Obviously, this spray painted mural was done because of the May 22nd 2011 tornado. This kind of art can be called street art, or graffiti, but in this case it is done legally and is publicized for a purpose. Because there were so many artists involved in this mural, every part of it is very different and unique. The mural displays many very colorful, large pictures and words that are positive and uplifting. The size of the mural plays a large role because it is made for everyone that drives by to see right away and hopefully make a statement. The mural uses many bright colors such as, red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple and even neutral colors like brown, black and white that all together keep the mural “lite” up. Some of the words like “restore,” “dream,” and “love,” are made to look 3-dimensional, as if they are popping out at you. The outlining and lines of the shapes and words are purposely not done to look perfect or straight and this is what makes the mural so interesting to look at. The texture does not play as big of a role, because it is made to be seen from far away at a larger scale. The drawings of figures, animals and plants are randomly placed throughout the mural and do not take any definite shape. There are no defined lines or form to it and that is what makes it such a fun piece of art. It looks as if there are unlimited boundaries and as if one could keep adding and adding to it.

Most of the shapes and words are separately done, but are related in a sense of what they represent which is how all of the
parts work and form together. The colors are all similar in brightness and in depth, but because so many different ones are used on top of each other it creates a contrast that is very appealing and eye-catching. For example, the word “DREAM” is yellow with black outline that make it really stand out. The colors are also all very positive and happy colors; which pulls the art together and sends the uplifting message that it is made to do. As a whole, the mural is kind of off-balanced; everything is very randomly placed, but it all goes together because each word or symbol is representing the same concept. The importance of this street art is for it to be seen; so size, color, space and location are all very important in making it so grand.

I absolutely love this mural. It is hard not to love when it sends such a great message to the people of Joplin, Missouri. The message is so powerful because of the creativeness and especially the size and location. I love that it is randomly placed on the side of a building next to a gas station. The words are so positive and the pictures are so well done and fun to look at. Not to mention, everything is symbolic; the eagle represents our Joplin High School that was devastated in the tornado. The cross represents—hope, love and faith and the tree with the tire swing represents that we will rebuild and recover together. What our community needs right now is a sense of hope and strength and little reminders like this, do just that. The message is beautiful, along with the art itself. I find graffiti very interesting to look at and when done at such a large scale it makes a big impression. Joplin is and will continue to rebuild with the strength and hope from our community and we can see that in this beautiful mural.

This is a picture I took of the mural on 20th and Main. I thought it was cute and ironic because a worker that has been helping clean up Joplin asked if I wanted to be in the picture and he could take it for me; I told him he could get in if he’d like and he was so excited! Just thought it represented Joplin well!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Local Artist: Justin Kidston

I had the privilege of meeting Justin a couple of weeks ago at the Boys and Girls Club, and discovered he is an artist. He recently showed at Columbia Traders in downtown Joplin during the Third Thursday Artwalk. Here is his story:

My name is Justin and I am currently working at the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri.

My art is about trying to set my own trail through my art, veering away from traditional styles and making things people don't see in everyday life. I'm tired of seeing your typical art pieces. I'm taking those and putting my own creative spin on them. The events of May 22 completely changed my life. The tornado destroyed my apartment and it changed alot of things for me, but if I could go back I still wouldn't change anything about that day. It humbled me; it made me realize that all my possesions are just things and I'm glad to have my life. It gave me the ability to start fresh with my life and it also helped me overcome my creative block and made it possible for me to create more artwork.

I want my artwork to make people ask questions. If they ask questions, then they are interacting with it which means it's affecting them in some way. I don't want people to just walk by my artwork, look at it, then go on the the next. I will have put something strange enough in it for them to look twice.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rebekah's Art Writing

(photo by Nellie Mitchell)

The following was written by MSSU summer art appreciation student Rebekah Wilkins:

Art Criticism Paper No. 1

Today I experienced something that I have never experienced before. I finally walked the two and a half blocks up to the high school and was flabbergasted by the wooden carved eagles that sit on the property of the Joplin High School. I had a hard time with this task but I knew it would not only help me with my homework but it would also help me with the healing that my family has tried to endure these past couple of months. I do not know the name of the artist who created these eagles, just as I was about to read the yellow plaque posted on the wood, a police officer lead me off the property and left me with a warning. But before he arrived, I was walking up to the carvings and I was able to appreciate the carefully crafted art work. I was able to see the imperfections of the wood, the holes that animals had dug out when it was only a tree and the bugs making it a home again. Though some of the eagles were smoothed out still in many places you could see where shards were sticking out and had a rough surface. The artist hit many details of the eagle, from its beak to its talons, even the carefully shaped feathers. In this peace, the viewer didn’t have to have an imagination. And knowing that the eagle represents America, the artist sent the message that we are strong and we will recover. They sent the message that we have hope; that we have a community that will rise above and in time will recover. It didn’t appear that the artist used anything extra special to create these beautiful, bold eagles but kept it simple, using only the raw materials of the wood and the carving utensils. Though I am not much of an art appreciator, in different circumstances I don’t know if I would feel the same but I really like these pieces. I like the message it sent. It’s just as clear as a cross representing Christ, these eagles represent hope. A symbol that is almost breath-taking as it is simple.

Ami's Art Writing

The following was written on July 14th, 2011 by Ami Richardson, a summer art appreciation student at MSSU:

The work of art pictured above, has caught the attention of many people. It portrays unity among a town that has suffered loss and tragedy. Although the artist is unknown to me, it doesn’t take away the meaningful message it portrays. As we talk about the piece of art, one can see it was painted on the side of a building, centered in the middle. The jagged lines of the letters give the piece a unique three-dimensional affect, and the dark red heart accents the cool pastel colors of the letters perfectly. Look at the brick wall behind the painting, the brick gives the painting just enough texture to avoid it having a flat matte appearance. And look at the heart in the center of the painting, shading in light contrast is be seen, it gives the piece visual depth. Furthermore, the line curvature of the flag gives it the appearance as if it is waving. The artist also personalized the piece by leaving an inspirational message, wrote to the bottom left of the painting. It tells the significance of the painting. All the pieces accent the painting and make it extraordinary.

I like the painting immensely. Is it because it is sentimental? Probably so, but that’s not the only reason. It is an inspirational selfless gift. Furthermore, the designs complement each other and send meaningful messages. Joplin went through an F-5 tornado, many lives, homes, and businesses were lost. The painting above sends a message, even though hearts are broken, they will mend. The flag is significant to Joplin because the people stand united and strong, not only just in Joplin, people all over the US came together to help one small city most of them have not ever heard of till it was almost wiped of the map. Again, the flag portrays unity among all of us. The compassion of others has been shown, not only through the love of one another, through art as well.

Nellie's Lomography Show

(photos by Nellie Mitchell)

According to Lomography is defined as "a type of art photography in which color is emphasized. Traditionally, cameras such as the Holga, Lomo, Colorsplash, and Supersampler are used to create strange and unusual photographs. Lomographic photos are primarily characterized by vignettes (blurry and faded edges), random subjects, and nonadherance to traditional photography rules. Lomography is a pleasant break from most photojournalism."

My good friend, fellow artist and teacher Nellie Mitchell, just had an opening last Third Thursday at the Joplin Artwalk. She showed several groupings of fun and stunning photos at Tyrannosaurus Press. Nellie always draws a crowd, and this was no exception despite the 100 degree temps. Pictured here at the show is me with her, her husband Jeremy, and Karalee and Lacey, two new art teachers in the area who had the exquisite opportunity to student-teach with Nellie in her classroom. I am so proud of Nellie and her consistent, creative, and inspiring artist's life!

Bountiful Harvest

Wish I could claim these as my own, but thanks to the Webb City Farmers Market, I cooked up a storm this past weekend. Food just tastes so much better and my body feels so much better because of it! I made salsa, tomato sauce, roasted potatoes, bean concoction for burritos, cucumbers for hummus dipping and noodle toppings. Garlic, onion, and peppers in everything. YUM. And bonus that I got to buy fresh flowers from Sylvia, a way cool 6th grader that is part of a community garden. Thanks, Sylvia!