Thursday, February 28, 2013

Artist blends ideas of “beginning” and “end” in works of art

Still from "Inhumation" by Adam Forrester

Adam Forrester isn’t bothered by failure. In fact, he’s inspired by it.

Forrester’s works of art in the “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidate Exhibition” are about the merging of polar opposites, like failure and success. To illustrate these ideas, he engages in character-driven performance acts. His exit show work will feature short videos of his performances, accompanied by objects from these acts.

“The acts themselves closely resemble absurd cycles of meaningless or futile acts,” said Forrester. He incorporates performance with sculptural elements and uses his photography and filmmaking background to reiterate this idea of making and unmaking, creating and destroying.

The theme for these works arose when Forrester grew frustrated with making and creating art and decided to act in the moment to counter his frustration. Grabbing the nearest object, a shovel, he began digging holes, only to fill them back up again. This labor, while giving him no tangible or “meaningful” results, inspired him.

Forrester’s work has been featured in the Oxford American, Appendix Magazine and F-Stop Magazine. In 2011, he was awarded the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts Research and Performance Grant for his documentary featurette “Eat White Dirt.” His work has been screened and exhibited both nationally and internationally.

Forrester plans to continue making similar video works and exhibiting them. He recently self-published a book of images and texts, “SUPERMOON,” that will be the first of a large volume of books about celestial bodies. He hopes to release the next volume, “YELLOWKNIFE,” a book about Mars, with a publishing company.

The “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” is on view at the Georgia Museum of Art March 16 to April 22, 2013, with an opening reception in conjunction with 90 Carlton: Spring on March 22. MFA Speaks is scheduled for March 21 at 5:30 p.m. and will feature the artists discussing their work.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Artist uses architecture to describe the world

"Dystopia 1" by Clara Hoag

Clara Hoag had hit a wall.

Uninspired by her ceramic sculptures, Hoag needed a new visual language for her works of art. After sketching and drawing, she realized that, in order to move forward, she needed to remove the human form from her sculptures.

For her work in the “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” Hoag created works of art inspired by architecture, which she uses to describe the construction of people and the world. The show will feature a large installation of houses and buildings scattered around the floor, a collection of small and broken porcelain houses, a towering ceramic sculpture with a secret window and a grouping of prints and drawings made with graphite, coffee and spackling paste, among other materials.

“My process involves a lot of experimentation: over-firing clay, under-firing glazes, wedging raw materials into my clay, building with multiple clay bodies and gluing fragments of my work together post-firing,” said Hoag. She said the art in her exit show developed from the trial and error that came from “breaking the rules.”

Hoag has received two BFA degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is an MFA candidate at the University of Georgia. She has participated in both group and solo shows in Illinois, Georgia and Florida. She is represented by two galleries in Illinois, her home state.

Hoag uses her sculptures to describe her interest in human psychology. Her works of art deal with the nature of human life and how people can be “destructive, subversive, deceptive or profoundly good,” according to Hoag.

“My soaring skyscrapers, complex scaffolding, and accumulations of slum housing describe the complexity of 21st-century life—from the dynamic social structures that keep our world running to the systemic problems that oppress us every day,” said Hoag.

For Hoag, single buildings highlight both individuality and the mundane. Stability and fragility act as opposing forces seeking balance. Her works of art can be small or large, delicate or aggressive.

Hoag is currently applying to residency programs across the country. She hopes to travel in order to see new places and meet new people to help her learn about the “beauty, ugliness and mystery of the world.”

The “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” is on view at the Georgia Museum of Art March 16 to April 22, 2013, with an opening reception in conjunction with 90 Carlton: Spring on March 22. MFA Speaks is scheduled for March 21 at 5:30 p.m. and will feature the artists discussing their work.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Artist paints up scares with female monsters

"Boogiewoman" by Jaime Bull

Thirteen-foot-tall paintings are enough to intimidate any viewer. That’s just how Jaime Bull hopes museum visitors will react to her depictions of female beasts that represent strength, sexuality and aggression, among other characteristics.

The larger-than-life oil paintings in Bull’s work in the “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” are additionally adorned with hair, rhinestones and soft fabric sculpture. Her paintings serve as a commentary on political statements about women’s health and reproductive rights as well as the “feminine experience,” said Bull.

Bull created these works of art after being inspired by the monsters and beasts depicted in wall frescoes and on Renaissance globes in Cortona, Italy. The ancients used these depictions of female monsters to explain the inexplicable, like natural disasters or heaven and hell, and were meant to keep people in line, according to Bull.

“In response to these ideas, I invented a cast of female monsters who would frighten the pants off anyone who crossed them with their sheer size and blatant sexuality,” said Bull. She was inspired by the grotesque forms of these invented creatures and the scare tactics they employed.

Bull is a 2013 candidate in painting in UGA’s MFA program. Her brightly colored abstractions explore nature, culture, fantasy and sexuality with touches of humor and play. In 2012, she was awarded support to study and work in Cortona and at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She is a recipient of the 2012–2013 Willson Center for Humanities and Arts Research Grant.

Bull views the paintings in her exit show as a “celebration of materials,” as she used both painting and sculpture to create them. She enjoys making bright, bedazzled surfaces, which she hopes engage viewers’ imaginations. Her paintings, though playful, tend to have a menacing element, according to Bull.

The paintings are on un-stretched linen and can be wrapped around the body and worn as a costume. In addition to her paintings, Bull is making short films documenting her paintings in motion when worn.

Bull is currently applying for grants and residencies and hopes to travel and teach in the future.

The “Master of Fine Arts Degree Candidates Exhibition” is on view at the Georgia Museum of Art March 16 to April 22, 2013, with an opening reception in conjunction with 90 Carlton: Spring on March 22. MFA Speaks is scheduled for March 21 at 5:30 p.m. and will feature the artists discussing their work.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Inventorying an American artist

Francis Bryant Godwin

Boxes full of photographs and drawings are taking over Joan Tkacs’ desk at The Georgia Museum of Art. She’s sifting through artifacts representing the life and art of American artist Frances Bryant Godwin (1892–1975).

Tkacs, an assistant to museum director William U. Eiland, is inventorying watercolors, woodblock prints and written postcards by Godwin, along with her photographs and drawings. Items range from a folder of surreal and abstract “dream drawings” to photographs of Godwin’s dogs.

“It’s a lot of strange odds and ends,” said Tkacs. GMOA is deciding whether or not to acquire Godwin’s works of art. Tkacs is in charge of going through these archives to help the museum learn more about the artist.

Godwin was trained as a sculptor by Daniel Chester French and dedicated her life to sculpting and drawing. She was part of an important and wealthy family of artists, art historians, art collectors and writers. As a result, she had important ties to social, cultural and economic American histories.

Tkacs has been working off and on the past two months on an itemized inventory, describing subjects of the items, detailing their conditions and estimating their quality. She’s gone through almost 400 objects in Godwin’s archives and still has two more boxes waiting to be reviewed.

Tkacs conducts research and helps Eiland whenever he needs assistance with a project or presentation. She began working at GMOA as an intern and has been Eiland’s assistant for six months. Her job consists mostly of research.

“I’ll be sad to see this project end,” said Tkacs, adding, “It’s a lot of stuff, but it’s all interesting.”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Christiane Citron on Her Grandmother

When we think of grandmothers, those of the cookie-baking, sweater-knitting variety typically come to mind. 
            Not for Christiane Citron, who was sometimes embarrassed by her bohemian grandmother.
            Christiane is the granddaughter of Minna Citron, the social realist and abstract artist featured in the exhibition “Minna Citron: The Uncharted Course from Realism to Abstraction,” on view at the Georgia Museum of Art until March 3. Christiane was in town at GMOA recently to attend 90 Carlton: Winter, the open house that highlighted the exhibition, and to work with students at the University of Georgia. We were lucky enough to sit down with her and get her thoughts on the exhibition she helped organize.

Christiane Citron at the Georgia Museum of Art exhibition
Photo courtesy of 
Christiane Citron
           “She made a big point of saying that she was an artist who happened to be a grandmother,” says Citron. “I mean, she didn’t want to be ‘Grandmother Artist,’ so she really had to make a big point about that. So I would never have called her Grandma or anything. She was always Minna. I don’t think anybody didn’t call her Minna.”
            Bold, bohemian, feminist and full of creative energy, Minna Citron produced art into her 90s. She constantly explored new methods of creating and transitioned from realism to abstraction, serving as one of the first-generation pioneers of abstract expressionism. “She was an artist,” says Christiane. “She didn’t really try not to be.”
            Christiane grew up saturated in Minna’s art. She remembers exploring her grandmother’s art studio as a child, poking through cabinets and drawers filled with bits of collage supplies.
            “Our whole house was probably filled with Minna’s pictures. So they were just part of my childhood, you know, living with these pictures here. They represent my whole sort of personal memories of family and childhood.”
            One of Christiane’s favorite paintings by Minna, which she received as a gift towards the end of law school, was originally a fixture of her childhood home.
            “I particularly liked the colors. It’s an abstract design and I never knew until quite a bit after that that the title of that picture—her title of it—is Memories of Childhood. So it’s kind of ironic because it’s my memories of childhood too,” she says, smiling. The painting now hangs over the mantelpiece in her living room.
            Christiane lights up when talking about her grandmother’s artwork, and her passion—and pride—for Minna’s career is apparent.
            “I admire her integrity in pursuing what she believed in and not becoming stuck in doing the same thing over and over again,” she says. “And that I’m proud of her, well I’m very proud of her, but you know I’m proud of the fact of her personal integrity and that she really was not bending to what some commercial pressures might be.”
            As the oldest grandchild, Christiane became close to and often spent time with her grandmother. When she grew older, she became more involved in Minna’s career and worked on promoting her work.
            “I’ve always felt some responsibility to help promote her because I just thought that what she did was really neat,” she says.
            In 1996, five years after Minna passed away, at age 95, Christiane created an exhibition in Denver to celebrate the centennial of her grandmother’s birth. The show was a success, and Christiane hoped eventually to create a traveling exhibition.
             Later, she began working with Jennifer Streb, an art historian at Juniata College who wrote her dissertation on Minna Citron. The two women expanded on the 1996 compilation of Minna’s work and, over the course of about three or four years, created the traveling exhibition currently at GMOA.
            “It’s a labor of love, and it’s just so gratifying to see people enjoying it and really interacting with the pictures,” Christiane says.
            The collection of paintings chronicles Minna Citron’s 60-year art career, dating from 1929 to 1988, presenting social-commentary sketches, abstract collages and sculptures. When selecting works for the exhibition, Christiane focused on those she thought would exemplify her grandmother’s work and show the evolution of her style.
             “Even in very late years she was still very creative and productive and experimenting and so I wanted to be able to share that with people, to make it be a retrospective. And what I think I’m so happy about it being here in this wonderful museum because I think she in so many ways represents the century,” she said. “I hoped that it would show how she fits into these different developments in American art history. So I think it really has a lot of educational value to show people how in one person you can see all those aspects.”
            Considering Minna’s radical, experimental shift in style, “Minna Citron: The Uncharted Course from Realism to Abstraction” is appropriately titled.
            “She always said to summarize her whole career as the uncharted course. That it wasn’t like there’s a path that shows you where you’re going to go and where to go next or turn here and do that. It was experiment. She didn’t know what the end result would be. And so that’s very brave I think,” said Christiane.
            “There’s something in the stars or synergistic about the way it all worked out that it’s here,” she says. “Seeing it come together and seeing people interact with it, that to me is the payoff. I like that. And it’s just really gratifying thinking how much Minna would enjoy that, to see people interacting with her art.”

Black History Month Dinner

            The Harlem Renaissance will be coming to the museum this Thursday, Feb. 21, as we honor Harold Rittenberry and the late Rudolph Byrd at this year’s Black History Month Dinner. The theme of the annual event is “Harlem Renaissance: A Sampler.” Vintage d├ęcor from Agora, a vintage and antiques store in downtown Athens, will contribute to the feel.
            The evening will start off with a gallery talk led by Paul Manoguerra, the museum’s chief curator and curator of American art, on the exhibition, “William H. Johnson: An American Modern.” Following that will be a seated dinner catered by Epting Events, as well as cocktails and desserts. Entertainment, including a performance by singer Monica Kaufman-Pearson, a retired WSB-TV anchor in Atlanta and a current graduate student in the University of Georgia Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, will add to overall theme and feel of the evening.
Harold Rittenberry
            Both men, Rittenberry and Byrd, have greatly contributed to the arts and culture in their communities. Rittenberry will receive the Larry D. and Brenda A. Thompson Award and Byrd the Lillian C. Lynch Citation. Rittenberry, born and raised in Athens and a self-taught artist, has metalwork sculptures throughout the state. Byrd, a long-time professor at Emory University, founded the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory in 2007, which studies the modern civil rights movement, and served as director of the department of African American Studies for a decade. Both men’s work and contributions express the efforts of both the Thompsons and Lynch.
            This will be an evening that you will not want to miss. Tickets are $45 per person and reservations are requested. We still have tickets left, so call 706.542.0830 to reserve your spot.