Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Matisse at MFAA

This year at the Missouri Fine Arts Academy gave me another opportunity to play with curriculum I started developing a few years ago. The talent and drive of the students actually fleshes out my ideas quickly. I throw them a seed and they bring the tree to full fruition. Then I take that fruit back to Spiva Center for the Arts, where I continue to teach and revise with new, open audiences in ArtLab, a K-12 professional development opportunity.

This particular class started with a study of Matisse on 11x14 bristol board. They could choose the image they would render, and use a maximum of three mediums. I gave them a bit of history, showing them paintings through the paper cut-outs. We talked about representation, abstraction, distortion, and surrogates. Surrogates as stand-ins, symbols of representation. Next they developed a series of self-representational symbols. Sometimes they were direct references to existing symbols, sometimes they were original and carried secret meaning. The fun and brilliance came next, in the installation and variation created with these symbols. A bold group installation went up on a wall, consisting of black paper cut-outs representing one symbol from each student. They also installed their own tiny symbols in white card stock, some in clear view, others harder to find and surprisingly beautiful when discovered. Between installations, students worked on a series of folio pieces. These were experimentations and manipulations of the symbols using varied materials. Again, I showed several examples of pieces I had created, and they ran with it.

This is Ellen and her work. She curated and displayed her own work for the exhibition at the end of the academy. It's fantastic. I am extremely proud of these students. More to come!

After the Tornado: Project Reclamation

From artist and friend Matt Dehaemers:

With the urging of fellow artists friends in Joplin...I wanted to share a two part project to benefit the art community of Joplin devastated by the recent EF-5 tornado.

Part I of Project Reclamation
This First Friday
Leedy-Voulkos Art Center
Friday July 1st 6-9 pm

I have created an installation out of materials and random objects that were collect by myself and other artist during to trips to Joplin. We visited with the director and board president of the Spiva Arts Center along with other artists whose homes where lost to the tornado.This installation is made up of material that was apart of their lives...there will also be a series of photographs and stories of these individuals that reflect what they have endured. We honor these and the countless others who have survived and those who did not.

Part II of Project Reclamation
Leedy-Voulkos Art Center
Twist and Shout! Event
Saturday August 27th 6-9 pm

It is this debris--these objects and materials that will be transformed by KC area artists into new works of art filling the entire main gallery of the Leedy-Voulkos. Making something new out of the chaos and destruction. In late August there will be a one night silent and live auction of the works that are created. 100% of the proceeds from this event will go to a special fund through the Spiva Arts Center to assist artists in rebuilding their lives, their studios and create art again. It will also aid the Spiva art center which is the cultural hub of Joplin in providing therapeutic workshops to the people of the area.

To Learn more about the "Twist and Shout" event I invite you to visit and visit often our website for this entire project...
the website is

An army of people both artists and non-artists are working to make this a memorable event for all!
Please pass this along and to others and we hope to see you support this important opportunity for those of Joplin!

Hope to see you there!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank You, MFAA 2011

Another beautiful teaching and learning experience. It's always hard coming down from the mountain. You learn how to move up there; how to breathe that air. How to live in the wild, together. May we tell our stories and show our images and remember.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

After the Tornado: Ann

This is my friend Ann and what's left of her house in Duquesne, a small hamlet bordering Joplin that was just as damaged. Ann and I serve together on the board of the art center. We laugh and roll our eyes together during these meetings, trying to strike a balance between keeping it light (it's ART, enjoy) and demanding excellence (you said you'd volunteer for this vital place, so DO it, people). She is a light in my life, someone I immediately connected with when I moved to Joplin and someone who is truly genuine with her evolution. Not so ironically, perhaps, she has her own business in the healing arts called Life Preservers grief support: She is such a guiding light for others, I often wonder who guides her.

Artist Matt Dehaemers took this photo of Ann on the day he and other KC artists collected the debris to create an installation in KC (stay tuned). She is rising above, yet she is in the midst. It reminds me of epic oil paintings, a Delacroix scene of unspeakable agitation in a turbulent Turner landscape. The next photo is one Ann took herself, a sign of hope or maybe just the stubborn longevity of a best-seller. Ann will rise and rebuild, because that's who she is. I hope to be there as she does.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

After the Tornado: Meg and Sam

It's been a couple weeks since May 22nd. I still can't grasp what happened. The tornado came and went in seconds, minutes, and now our lives our changed. I was in Joplin for a week stunned, trying to help, wandering aimlessly, crying, punching things, having nightmares, overeating, getting drunk, staring at the tv and internet when I could get it in awe that Anderson Cooper was in my town. That the whole world had descended on my town, kind of like the tornado did, but now it was people bustling over the same ground, in the same exact path, working over what was left, picking through it, mulling it over.

Then I left for Springfield to work with amazingly gifted high school arts students from all over the state of Missouri. I just left. My head knows there will still be tons of rebuilding to do when I get back in a month, that the same people-friends-tribe will be there when I get back. But for the first time since I moved to Joplin 6 years ago, I want to be with those folks. They are my every day. This wonderful Academy experience is a utopia of sorts; I love these people but they are not my every day. This is difficult to reconcile right now.

Meg and Sam are two of those people I know in Joplin. This is their house. Matt Dehaemers took this photo. He is a public artist who was there yesterday collecting the wreckage of Meg and Sam's house to take back to a KC gallery and remake nothing into something. What a wonderful collaboration; I was able to set this up and it makes me happy. The next photo is of them in my kitchen. Our mutual friend, Nellie Mitchell, took this shot. She is an artist, too. I'm letting Meg, Sam and their three kids and dog live in my house for the summer while they figure out their next steps. I got to visit them last night and they are healing. They are a tight, precious family unit and they are comfortable in my house. This makes me happy, too.