Monday, November 28, 2005

I can't believe it is November already. Its been a crazy month already. A few weeks ago we had a mid term "walk-through". Walk-Through's here at Notre Dame is when you have your studio open at a certain time (there is a schedule) and anyone who wants can enter and critique your work. It was a good experience for me to see how people responded to my latest work. It also allowed me to interact with the rest of the department's faculty (outside the Painting and Printmaking Professors).

The experience wasn't too fun for me though. I am used to people actually looking at the work and responding to it before expecting me to launch into some explanation. With the majority of the people who visited me, I felt like the conversation was very one sided. With me doing most of the talking. After some introspection I realized I really needed to have an artist statement ready to push people into the work and force them to respond. Launching into explanations of my work, which I thought had many layers upon layers, was exhausting! I took the next day off and then launched into a serious review of what I had been working on. I eventually, after a series of sketches and some writing, decided to take a break from the wood paintings I had been working on. I had two complete paintings on wood, both about 4 ft. square, so i felt like i had accomplished enough with them that I could come back to the wood paintings once I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do with them.

I've included an image of one of the wood paintings, currently Untitled.

After doing some research that began with Christopher Columbus (there is a hallway full of large Columbus paintings in the Main building here) which led to some Manifest Destiny Paintings which led to some early American and Romantic paintings which led to Edwin Frederic Church's iceberg paintings and that in turn led to German Romanticism and Caspar David Frederich's paintings. I am also reading an Edgar Allen Poe book titled 'The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket' and looking at some of Sebastiao Salgado's Antarctica photos ( /arts/salgado/0,15021,1294976,00.html). What does all mean? It means that Wikipedia ( is a great research tool, especially the kind of meandering research that I like to do- you can link to some many different topics that sooner or later you're sidetracked into a completely different idea all together.

Well, what it really boils down to is my emotional state and interest in what I am calling "the anti-discovery". Being in a new place, South Bend, being alone alot, missing my old friends and my wife (still waiting on her green card in Canada) and having lots of time to think has been good but rather lonely.

I have been making these drawings that are basically seascape horizons with solitary Icebergs. Sometimes I include little surprises like a shark fin or flag planted elegantly atop the ice berg. I've been thinking about my boyish tendency to day dream and be attracted to whimsical adventure (such as stories of the sea or even the adventure of discovery such as Columbus or America's west).

I've been thinking about our country and how it was formed and how much power lay in the decisions that were made so long ago. The tendency of our country to consume and take- but with the slant of moral good and discovery. The way I see it we're out of resources and things to take over. The global community is much more aware of things that happen (even if we still manage to twist things in our favor eventually things catch up to you). So I see these stark expansive landscapes as a Sad-Little-Discovery of all that. A discovery that all is left is a crumbling ice berg (but in some instances the explorers have felt compelled to even claim that, ex. a planted flag). Inherent to this discovery is a change of perspective, pace, and roles. I also have been portraying the iceberg as a metaphor for my own condition, adrift and lonely.

Sorry that's pretty jumbled but I'm just getting into this series and that's how it is. I am working on a painting as well.

In other news, Hilary Harkness came to visit and lecture. It was an interesting encounter with one of New York's art stars. ( was cool because she came to the MFA studios the next day and gave individual crits the next day. Hilary painted a pretty bleak picture of the NYC gallery scene but it was cool that Notre Dame brought in a pretty big name to lecture. From what she says and what I've heard, it just seems like you have to put yourself in the position to get into one of those big galleries (skill wise, pounding the pavement and location) but in the end it doesn't always work out that the most talented people get picked up and shown.

Well, we have a month left in the semester, including Thanksgiving break. The 1st year MFAs have to put on a group show at ND's gallery in South Bend. The show, New Faces, opens December 1st and we are expected to defend our work for the end of semester reviews (all the faculty, grads and anyone else in one room with the work and the spot light on the artist...). So I should get back to the painting. Hope all is well with everyone. Here are the images...