In times of war (check), political and economic upheaval(check), and social tension (check), artists are in a unique position to stoke democracy and to put pressure on the state, or, as the case may be, the banks, the corporations, "the man", etc. "In my experience, when things are upside down," actress and writer Anna Deavere Smith said in a PBS interview in 2006, "there's an opening for a person like me. I think when things fall apart, [as an artist] you can see more and you can even be part of indicating new ways that things can be put together."
Last night I had the chance to attend a screening of Handmade Nation at the Museum of Contemporary Craft
here in Portland. Most of you are probably pretty familiar with the
culture of DIY, but author and director, Faythe Levine has done a great
job of bringing many of the diverse activities within the community
(whether it be people who make things for fun or profit, galleries or
shops, etc.) in to an inspiring film for anyone who makes things, wants
to make things or who supports those who make things. (more after the jump)
Peregrine Honig's work, like her name, strikes you immediately and is hard to forget. My friend Pia would take me gallery hopping in our hometown of Kansas City, which is where I first discovered her work...
Artist Jessie Rose Vala,
based in Portland, Oregon, has a way of mixing utterly beautiful
graphite detail with dark, often mythological narratives. I first saw
her work at Motel Gallery for the exhibition: The Tortuous Veil.
In it, Vala explores the archetypes of the vampire, werewolf, zombie
and shape-shifter, using them as metaphors for our own over
consumption, complacency, mob mentality and environmental degradation.
Other works of Vala include explorations of inner struggle despite the
security and comfort we create for ourselves in something as mundane as
our living room (Future Remnants of Dreamvilles), as well as scenes that mix modern female figures with ancient myths and tropes. (more after the jump)
In what is probably the grossest understatement posted on this blog so far, these be tough times right now. With the hailstorm that is our economy, international policy, unemployment rate, climate change and much more, sometimes it's very difficult to be positive. While it's great to think globally, it's often beneficial to start and act locally. Futurefarmers is an art/design collective who demonstrate the power of doing just that.
I first learned about the French conceptual artist Sophie Calle from a
friend who was dealing with a break-up. My friend and I both have
obsessive personalities, and she was finding it impossible to wrap her
mind around the end of her relationship. She was talking about trying
to channel her experience into art when she brought up Sophie's work.
I was fascinated by Sophie's ability to turn her personal obsessive
tendencies into powerful art exhibits that are soul baring without
I just wanted to share that one of our super talented contributors, Jennifer Cruté (who appeared in the Dark Confession comics feature of the Noir Issue), features heavily in this lovely short documentary, KAPOW! The New Comic Book Heroines. Unfortunately, Current.com won't allow embedding of video, so just click on the still to view!
Aw, snap - it's the second installment of smart! This has been quite an exciting, yet challenging task for me in compiling and summarizing the 65+ year career of an artist I have very much admired since my nascent, not-quite-sure-if-this-thing-I-drew-is-a-dog-or-a-rock-with-a-tail-creative days.
Read on, MacDuff, for there is much to say about Yayoi Kusama, The Polka Dot Princess.