I’ve been a fan of Bethany Collins‘ chalkboard and erasure drawings ever since I saw her installation at Boom City, a pop-up art event and installation by Atlanta’s own Dashboard Co-Op. Her vast arrangement of tiny marks is quite similar to my own practice, both in gesture and meaning. She writes:
I am interested in the unnerving possibility of multiple meanings, dual perceptions, and limitlessness in the seemingly binary. Drawing objects repeatedly allows me to fully understand the object in space, while defining and redefining my own racial landscape.
The visual universe of Kim Keever is one of mysterious and sometimes foreboding majesty – a new iteration of surrealism. We see his landscapes as a place that is as familiar as it is foreign, seductive enough to draw us in despite any suspicions of potential danger.
These ethereal environments are puzzling. Are they real? Are they manufactured? What is the secret to this hauntingly beautiful visual set up?
I stumbled upon Chandler O’Leary’s Drawn The Road Again travel blog thanks to one of my favorite daily reads, HonestlyWTF. As Chandler journeys from coast to coast, her memories transform into pen, ink, and watercolor onto the pages of her many moleskin notebooks. In drawing these experiences, she honors their temporal beauty more than she ever could with just a mere photograph. The simplicity of this act is a pure revelation; paying homage through expressive representation is a tradition that goes back to the origin of art itself. With new media flying around every day, we often forget how meaningful these artistic forms can be. They serve as a relic of the cultural and physical landscape we so take for granted. They remind us that in order to cultivate and preserve memories, we must pause, absorb, and reflect. This obviously comes second nature to Chandler, but her choice to share this passionate diary is as courageous as it is generous. She invites us into her personal history and her marks guide us through a romantic look at places and things we may have never noticed on our own. I’m so thankful that she took time out of her busy travels to connect with me and I hope you feel as enlightened as I do by her sincerity and dedication to her craft.
Describe what your work is about in one sentence.
I document my life and travels via sketchbook drawings, in order to create a record of where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced.
What’s your favorite object to draw?
Lettering. I’m a fiend for type (I’m a lettering artist in my “normal” professional work), so I’m always on the lookout for found typography, hand-lettered signs, vintage neon and street lettering. There’s a treasure trove of beautiful lettering out in the world, and some of the best stuff was done by people who were never trained as an artist or designer.
Oof. Without Photoshop, it’s really hard for me to edit pictures of drawings without messing up colors and line work. So please just assume these look more delicate in person than they seem here.
Oh well, you get the gist at least! These are two patterns I’ve been messing with; shapes and lines just pour out without thought. To get these bits and pieces out is like a momentary cleanse.
Seemingly random, perhaps they represent thoughts or memories needing to be sorted out and categorized for me to make sense of them. I can’t really say definitively, but I do feel like they’re somehow weird little manifestations of internal currents – I guess really, all art is that.
Little did I know that St. Louis would have some great art in store for me. It truly shows that all it takes is a few donors who truly appreciate art to transform the visual landscape of a city. Atlanta, please take note. Here are pictures from our visits to The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The St. Louis Museum of Art, and Citygarden (a downtown sculpture park). We also visited the Contemporary, but I failed to take pictures there. However, what I did manage to capture was pretty magnificent…
One of the most agonizing parts of making art is trying to explain your work to other people. A majority of artists would probably agree with me when I say art work is supposed to speak for itself; that’s why we make art work in the first place. If we could have expressed the idea/concept/feeling in words, then we would be writers and poets. Our gesture is our word and our end product is the essay.
But of course, the world just doesn’t work that way. Audiences want to understand what they see using context and background of the creator themselves. Thus the ever-annoying request for the “artist statement” (as if the work itself didn’t state anything already). If you look closely enough, I think all art is merely a reflection or manifestation of the personality of the artist. Sometimes they can cite theories, events, and other matters that informed their original purpose – but in the end, I kind of just don’t even care. I know that sounds pretty terrible to say as a person in the art world, but regardless of how much I learn about the artist or what the work is about, all I really need to know is how the work makes me feel.
Artwork is a form of communication that relies heavily on the success of impressing internal change within a viewer. It’s a personal experience informed by subjective opinions and histories. Work that makes you gasp, work that that makes you cringe, and work that makes you love and hate – it all did something noticeable to you and perhaps even only you.
I am pretty uncomfortable and sometimes terrified when people as me what my work is “about”. I wish there were a simple elevator speech I could regurgitate on command. And I wish all my work had a single meaning or perspective, easily understood with a concise goal in mind. But here’s the thing. It just isn’t.
I do my best work when I don’t have a plan. When I am free to act on impulse without worrying about meaning or judgment, the marks flow through my hands readily and I enter a state of pseudo-meditation. I guess you could say I’m “in the zone”. Letting go of the “statement” of my work gives it the room to breathe and find its own visual voice. After a few of these sessions, I can sometimes say that the drawing is complete, but rarely am I ever proud of what I’ve made. The equal amounts of loving and loathing seem to negate each other and they just are what they are.
My work is me. It’s from me, it’s about me. Everything that I am as a person has some sort of influence on what comes out of my hands. My history, my aspirations, my self-imposed handicaps… it’s all there on the paper.
In the spirit of doing cool and cheap things off the beaten path, Ben and I decided to go to an open house at the Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance. We had both never heard of it before and the term “fiber arts” was all we needed to be interested. He and I share a love of textile, patterns, and tradition.. so why not? Tucked away in an unassuming office building complex, we found a bustling room full of small local non-profit organizations who had some incredibly interesting objects to share.
From silk painting to lace making, I was amazed by my lack of knowledge on the processes that transform fiber into the beautiful garments we wear every day without a second thought. Take a look at that small strip of white lace in the photo below. That took TWELVE HOURS to craft using those wooden tools. Seeing the blue lace come together was like watching swan lake; the effortless precision used to create this incredible thing of beauty was simply extraordinary. It had never occurred to me that lace was made string by string like this.
Ben and I learned how to work the loom! Again, what a painstakingly long process to make a seemingly simple piece of fabric. The woman who showed us the steps said she saw it as more of a meditation than an art considering how simple it truly was. I beg to differ though, seeing as how I consider my own art a meditative process as well. Repetition and simplicity does not diminish a craft, but merely emphasizes the importance of the passage of time and dedication utilized to achieve the goal product.
I want a yarn-bombed tree in my new place or yard pretty badly.