Thursday, May 26, 2016

Schedule Your Group's Art Adventure Today!

In the summer, hundreds of young children bring their ideas and creativity to the Georgia Museum of Art for the program Art Adventures. Originally an outreach program called Art Excursions, the program grew into what it is today: a free in-house art experience for community organizations, day care centers and summer camps. Carissa DiCindio, curator of education, has worked with the program since its onset and said, “Art Adventures has always been one of my favorite programs because we are able to reach a wide group of children in the community, from preschool students to teens, and engage them in the museum with gallery and studio activities that are a lot of fun.”

This June and July, Art Adventures will examine contemporary art created at the Mixografia Workshop, a collaborative studio established in 1968 in Mexico City and now based in Los Angeles. In the Mixografia studio, invited artists create three-dimensional prints and use experimental techniques to create handmade paper in relief. Our 90-minute Art Adventure program includes a tour of the exhibition “Paper in Profile: Mixografia and Taller de Gráfica Mexicana” with trained museum guides. Children will investigate the galleries through games that promote close looking and inquiry with museum educators and UGA students who volunteer as education interns. Each participant will also have the opportunity to create a work of art inspired by the exhibition to take home.

Reservations for Art Adventures 2016 are now being accepted. Morning (10–11:30 a.m.) and afternoon (1–2:30 p.m.) time slots are available every Wednesday and Thursday from June 8 to July 28. Each 90-minute session can accommodate up to 30 children, with one chaperone for every 10 children. To schedule your group’s Art Adventure, contact Brittany Ranew at or 706.542.0448.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

On View: "Refining Realities" by VolvoxLabs

VolvoxLabs is a new media design studio run by Kamil Nawratil, Pa Her and Javier Cruz. “Refining Realities” was created in conjunction with VVOX collaborators, Ryan Kilpatrick, Zyia Zhang and Mariusz Navratil, Kamil’s father. Today’s post is written from the perspective of Benjamin, our Department of Publications intern, about the installation currently on display through June 19 on the Patsy Dudley Pate Balcony.

VolvoxLabs, Refining Realities, 2016
As an art student at the University of Georgia, I particularly enjoy delving into the complexities of obscure and intellectually challenging works of art such as “Refining Realities.” In this case, I find it fitting to address the installation through the lens of an individual’s evolving experience. Through this personal journey to find meaning in the work, I hope to explicate paths of understanding to emotionally connect with an installation with a life as complex as our own.

The jarring complexity of “Refining Realities” overwhelmed me, and I was so absorbed by theory that I lost sight of the underlying themes. With Kinect sensors placed above each screen, it was easy enough to understand that my interaction with the installation was significant, but the odd patterns only seemed to quiver in response to my sporadic, and sometimes embarrassing, movements. I felt powerless to really manipulate the images even though I knew they were dependent on my actions, but I slowly realized my movements were being dwarfed by a greater influence. Real-time data drawn from undisclosed locations (randomized every 15 minutes) supplies changes in temperature, wind values and cloud coverage; in reaction to these observations, the installation undergoes multiple shifts that add up to a grand, emotional metamorphosis. For instance, when wind speed increases, the LEDs become more energetic. When the temperature rises, the LEDs turn pink. Similarly, when the warm sun begins to shine through the clouds, the ambient music sounds more optimistic and all the panels seem to resonate with a renewed sense of vitality and energy. Upon this enlightenment, I realized it wasn’t just me that was subtly influencing the installation, it was also the fleeting characteristics of the environment that were subtly influencing me through the installation. Additionally, not knowing where the real-time weather data came from universalized that sensation, as though I was being affected by the entire world as a grand idea.

As hinted at by the title, the installation is designed to reduce and repurpose what its sensors describe to it, and this is where “Refined Realities” became increasingly perplexing to me. The way the screens react is simple enough, but the complex, formal mathematical algorithms used to fabricate the initial pattern, followed by the synthesis of the pattern with live data, are something on the forefront of technology. In fact, the computational demands were so extraordinary that the Kinect sensor above the central panel is no longer in place due to limited processing capacity. Several of the monitors were assigned a Voronoi system. Most simply, Voronoi systems are shapes created by the space closest to a particular point on a plane. For clarity, each line in the image below marks locations that are equidistance between a black dot and its closest neighbors, and the space within those lines represent the locations which are closest to the black dots.

Voronoi systems are important because the approximation is useful in understanding complex distributions in real life, such as your very skin’s cells. And that is part of the point of “Refining Realities”: to manifest the forms and patterns underlying life. When I move along the installation, I am reduced to become part of the image, and because of the way it “refines reality,” I am assimilated into the environment. With this came a humble feeling of oneness with nature and art, a wondrous insight into my connection with the surroundings.

After gaining more understanding of the content within the screens, I sought an understanding of how the digital realities presented by the screens related to the intricate frame surrounding them. Most noticeably, the hexagonal patterning created by the Voronoi diagrams and the wave pattern in the central screen is echoed in the frames. I originally perceived it as design for the sake of cohesion, but I later considered it a comment on the difference between the digital and the physical. I began to think about our digital age and how our realities have become increasingly distanced from the physical world. Even as I write this, I consider the intangibility of my words and their loose representation of something real. Here, the environment being monitored is only a digital suggestion of reality, while the frame establishes a connection to the physical environment of the museum. There is also a contrast between the depth created by the frame and the illusion of depth established by the line drawings of Mariusz Navratil. I later learned that the line drawings were spontaneous responses to the forms of the frame, including the shadows the frame casts on the wall. Whether geometric versus organic, digital versus physical or real versus illusion, “Refining Realities” addresses many characteristics of what constitutes our surroundings.

Still, the prevailing influence remains the transitory emotions created by the dynamic environment, and as I tried to dissect my role as viewer in the work, I abandoned my thoughts and surrendered to the influence of how it made me feel. I can get caught up in the idea that art is meant to cater to the viewer, but “Refining Realities” was independent; it became a meditative experience to consciously allow myself to be influenced. Much as the undisclosed source locations were reduced to data points for this installation, I felt reduced by the Kinect sensors until the landscape and I merged into an engulfing singularity on the screens. Some abstract and baffling forms, at once stupefying and unwelcoming, began to take shape as the most poetic reduction of life itself. Sometimes, I irrationally convince myself that I’m some sort of entity outside the system, but my inevitable influence on the environment and the environment’s influence on me inundated my self-centeredness until I felt a sort of engrossing oneness that simultaneously diminished my concerns and assimilated my being into a greater entity of existence.

Benjamin Thrash
Publications Intern

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Morning Mindfulness: Monastics Event

For the final spring session of Morning Mindfulness, the meditation practice program held at the Georgia Museum of Art, the museum hosted the Magnolia Grove Monastics from the Order of Thich Nhat Hanh. More than 70 attendees came for the event, which opened with songs, a brief seated meditation and a lecture on mindfulness. Guests were then lead through a guided walking meditation by the Monastics, activating the outdoor spaces of the museum and the Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden.

Thank you to Brother Radiant, Brother Sang To, Brother Capacity, Brother Clarity, Sister Communication, Sister Joy, Sister Xu Nghiem and Sister Beauty for coming to the museum and promoting mindful meditation.

Photo: Mic McCoy
Photo: Mic McCoy
Photo: Mic McCoy

"Morning Mindfulness: Monastics Event" was made possible by Dr. Jerry Gale, professor in the department of human development and family science at the University of Georgia and sponsored by the Faculty Learning Community of Mindfulness, Center for Teaching and Learning and the Marriage and Family Therapy Certificate Program.

Morning Mindfulness is free and open to the public. We invite everyone to participate in guided mindfulness meditation in spaces throughout the museum. The sessions include instructor-led meditation and a period of reflection and discussion. Check our calendar for specific dates when Morning Mindfulness returns this August.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Spotlight on Studio Workshops: Q&A with Instructor Hope Hilton

This spring, Athens-based artist and educator Hope Hilton will be leading "Studio Workshop: Realism and Representational Art,” a four-part studio-based course that introduces participants to effective techniques for achieving realistic and representational outcomes in works of art. In advance of the course, Hope answered a few of our questions related to the workshop, art and artistic inspiration.

Photo: Sarah Baugh, EarlyGirl Photography

1. What are some of your favorite works at the Georgia Museum of Art?

I absolutely love the Radcliffe Bailey piece! I graduated from Atlanta College of Art and so did he, so beyond the medium and the narrative I'm also really proud. My favorite pieces, though, are in the handcrafted area — the wooden chair made by hand and the quilts, among others. I like to see how people make things with no formal or academic training. It often is more interesting for me to view a work that's intention was to not be shown in a museum. It has something to do with the necessity of a chair or a quilt and then the maker really making it their own that strikes me. That natural impulse to create and adding individuality is something I admire deeply.

2. How does a visit to the museum inspire you as an artist?

It reminds me that there is always the human impulse to create, and it inspires me to try new ways of working and new mediums.

3. What are some of the pieces from the museum's collection that you have selected to use in "Studio Workshop: Realism and Representational Art", and why did you choose these?

I selected a Chuck Close piece because the guy could really, really draw. I mean, holy cow! I especially like how representational he makes his portraits knowing that he does not have natural recognition of people's faces. Peggy Bacon is another artist I chose because her mark is confident and strong. Art museums can also be very heavy in their collected work created by men so I made selections to promote the diversity within the collection. I couldn't resist including an Art Rosenbaum because he's local and has done so much work documenting Southern culture. I also love that he creates environments within his drawings and tells a story with loose marks.

4. Is there something you are currently working on or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?

I've been completely invested the past several years in learning about the plants that enslaved Africans and their descendants used in this area. Because I'm not a horticulturalist I've had a lot of fun learning about medicinal plants and their uses, especially the plants that I always learned were weeds. The history of this area is so rich and complicated. Drawing and painting these plants has been a way for me to recognize this past and tell a story, while also enriching my own learning.

5. What do you read, listen to, or look at to fuel your work?

Oh, wow. Anything and everything. I read a lot of slave narratives as well as interviews from the past. I'm currently listening to Rihanna's new album on repeat in my studio. It's really powerful and motivating, but also vulnerable. I appreciate that mix, because it's human. I also read a ton of poetry for this reason. When I need to tune out I watch British detective shows. I also teach kids of all ages and their work inspires me so much. They're really brave when encountering new ideas. I just watch them go and their fearlessness reminds me to persevere.

6. What advice or words of wisdom have influenced you as an artist?

My high school counselor told me pursuing art was a waste of time. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me, though it was painful. I really wanted to prove her wrong. Over twenty years later I certainly have, haha. Also, the poet Rilke said this and it has been with me since college: 

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” 

And gosh do I ever love that. 

I've heard this, love it and shared it over the years — don't stop. It's that simple. 

"Studio Workshop: Realism and Representational Art" runs Thursdays, May 5 through 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Artists from all backgrounds are encouraged to attend, as these museum sessions are designed to be equally engaging for enthusiastic beginners and seasoned practitioners alike. The sessions draws inspiration from the museum’s collection, including works from the archives not currently on display. The cost of the course is a $15 materials fee, which covers all necessary supplies for the four sessions. Call 706.542.8863 or email to register.