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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chris Ware Talk and Workshop this Fri & Sat

I'm very excited to be participating in a talk and workshop with Chris Ware, a cartoonist who's coming to SNC as part of the "Writers in the Woods" series hosted by the Humanities department. Ware has been a real inspiration for me as an artist – I think he's one of a handful of graphic novelists who have not only produced interesting work, but actually moved the medium of comics forward – pushing the boundaries of what seems possible. I'll be talking with him in an interview format on Friday evening, and running the workshop with him on Saturday morning. The talk is free and open to the public; the workshop is free for faculty and students, $50 for everyone else.

Here's the "Writers in the Woods" blurb:

Please join us for the last Writers in the Woods events of the semester. Graphic novelist Chris Ware will give a talk Friday, November 4 at 7PM in TCES 139. Hot and cold appetizers and wine will be served. The event is free and open to the community.

Saturday, November 5, Ware will lead a workshop from 9AM-Noon in TCES 139. The workshop is free to students and faculty. $50 for community members. Students may take the workshop for credit. These events will be of special interest to students studying art, literature, creative writing, media studies, journalism, and popular culture.

CHRIS WARE is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth and the annual progenitor of the amateur periodical the ACME Novelty Library. An irregular contributor to The New Yorker and The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ware was the first cartoonist chosen to regularly serialize an ongoing story in The New York Times Magazine, in 2005-2006. He edited the thirteenth issue of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern in 2004 as well as Houghton Mifflin's Best American Comics for 2007, and his work was the focus of an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 2006.

Workshop: Storytelling through Diagrams

A workshop with graphic novelist Chris Ware and and Sierra Nevada College Professor of Digital Art Chris Lanier

Chris Ware has often used diagrams as a storytelling device in his graphic novels – showing events taking place in a cutaway view of an apartment building, for instance, or using a medical diagram of a character as a jumping-off point to narrate her personal history. In this workshop, we'll look into Ware's techniques of "diagrammatic storytelling," and collaborate on a large scale narrative diagram, creating something that's partway story and partway map.

Since it's Halloween today, I thought it'd be appropriate to link a story Ware did for the New Yorker a couple years ago, which takes place on Halloween – click for larger versions of the pages:

Ware has also worked in other media – collaborating with animator John Kuramoto on some shorts for the "This American Life" TV show:

He's also created an interactive comics story for the McSweeney's app, called "Touch Sensitive" – more info on that here:

And if you still haven't gotten enough, here are links to a couple articles I've written about his work, for the Comics Journal and, many many moons ago, the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Candy Dancers

The annual Candy Dance festival in Genoa came and went last month, and as usual the SNC Gallery Club was in attendance, cooking burgers to raise money for the art department. Unfortunately I had no camera (in the rush to get out the door I left it behind), but Kath McGaughey came to the rescue and documented the experience nicely; all photos are courtesy of her.

Here is Thomas demonstrating the mysterious candy dance:

Here we are getting things set up at the main grilling and prep station:

The weather was gorgeous on Saturday morning, as seen here through the open roof of the grilling area...

Which of course meant that there was a torrential downpour Saturday afternoon. With an open roof, everyone in the grilling area was pretty much soaked.

But did we despair? Of course not. Look at us. Look at this resilience to adversity.

In fact I think Thomas just danced his way through the entire festival, rain or shine:

All in all a fantastic experience, and we sold every last patty in our possession. We are just that amazing. (Or, you know, burgers are delicious.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Visiting Artists: Bill Gilbert Response

Two weeks ago, the Visiting Artists class went down to the lake to do individual site-specific nature installations as a response to Bill Gilbert's lecture. They were then asked to write up a paragraph to explain their process in making these installations. Though I'm not technically a member of the class, I went along as the interpreter and was kindly allowed to participate. Below are all the responses I have received so far; I will update this post periodically as more are sent in.

Karl Schwiesow:

Karl: "SO...I wasn't sure how inspired I would be first arriving on the site. After screwing around for about half an hour positioning buckets on and old snag I decide to lock in and commit to something cool. Literally, in the shade and cool.
I used contrasting elements, stone and wood, but both of the earth. I formed a vertical row of twigs wedged perpendicular to the horizontal cranny that occurred between the boulder and the ground. Though the process of repetition and measurement a walled in space was created...a home, a vessel. The twigs and stone were a unique contrast when removed from their natural state of rest. I had conceived the idea thinking that it might represent a model of a contemporary living space in Tahoe. Really living in nature. Though the piece turned into a unique technical juxtaposition I still felt there were undercurrents of home, place, and, of course, the natural environment being augmented. Construction, The hand of man, and Nature combine."

Lexy Eich

Lexy: "I don't work much with nature in my art, but my music box fit well inside a tiny rock cave. I used to music box to be the voice of the message [the moss] in the bottle. I had never realized how the most simple organic objects could interact so well with the current concept I'm working on."

Hailey Kries

Hailey: "My piece was about a temporarty balanced structure, where at any moment it could change. Pieces of it could fall, all of it could crumble or it could last longer than I ever thought possible. It related to me in a way of life, that I dont know how long something is going to last or what is going to knock me down, I dont know how long its going to take to rebuild something if it falls but its all about the process and journey."

Evan Cook

Evan: "The driftwood found hiding deep within the rocks has been liberated. Amongst the naturally shaped wood lies a naturally shaped piece of Styrofoam. The Styrofoam just like the wood resembles the rough journey of society. Through what remains, we deduce stress, age, hardship and heritage; though the same cannot be said about the Styrofoam. It may appear to be weathered but we cannot tell what its previous shape was. Although there is some scaring and marking on the surface, they don’t tell much about the life it has lived. We do know that this manmade object was shaped naturally; this is commonly the opposite of art. Most art is created by taking natural material and shaping it by manmade force. Here we see art as an emotional concept created by nature."

Heath Pierson:

Heath: "I picked my sight based on a passed experience and memory of another place that I have been. I was thinking of the small cliff dwellings in Utah and how they were hidden from site high up on the sides of cliffs. I built a small hut out of pine needles where would be able to imagine myself living."

Jessica Hayworth

Jessica: "I've been trying to address a problem with over-thinking my work, and so I tried to let this piece happen more by instinct than by thought. Of course, that didn't happen until the last minute. At first I was spending time looking at the materials - I was using a dead branch (not pictured), leaves in various states of decay, the cigar box, and a found piece of glass, trying to compare/contrast them. At the last moment I put the glass shard in the box, shut it, and piled the rocks on top to act as a sort of lock. The viewer would have to essentially destroy the piece to fully interact with it, which I thought was interesting."

Though I'm still waiting on some more responses from the class, here are a few pictures I snagged myself.

Crystal Phan:

Bianca del Cioppo:

Matt Mattson:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Nevada Museum of Art: A+E Conference 2011

As you know, the SNC Gallery Club sponsored five student tickets to the Art and Environment conference at the Nevada Museum of Art from September 29th to October 1st. Out of the submissions, those selected were Anza Jarschke, Heath Pierson, Glen Cheriton, Karl Schwiesow, and myself, with Logan Lape also in attendance. We are planning to do a collaborative piece as a response to the conference, which I’ll post as a follow-up once it’s done, along with more of our thoughts as students attending the conference; in the meantime, here’s a brief rundown of some of the panelists and work that was discussed. As there were quite a few presentations, I won’t be covering them all, but here are a few that really piqued my interest.

Thursday night featured a lecture and performance from Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and four members of the Reno Philharmonic. Miller has created a project that he calls ‘Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica’, or just Ice Music; music composed as an acoustic portrait of Antarctica. He traveled there and set up a portable studio in order to capture and digitally reconstruct the resonant frequencies of the ice. It was a remarkable performance, in which he sampled, looped, composed, mixed, and spoke about the connection between music and information. Below is an example of the project; you can read more about it, and Miller’s book, ‘The Book of Ice’, here and here.

Friday was the first full day of panelists. The first panelist was Alexander Rose, director of the Long Now Foundation. Long Now is concerned with long-term thinking and an expanded sense of present time. Rose discussed the current Long Now project, a large-scale, fully mechanical 10,000 year clock that is currently being constructed in west Texas; the clock will be sealed inside a mountain, and will chime once a year, with a different chime each year, for the next 10,000 years. You can read more about the 10,000 year clock here.

10,000 year clock prototype 1, photo by Rolfe Horn

Next came a series of panels on the Altered Landscapes photography collection at the museum. Edward Burtynsky spoke about his work, photographing the effects of industry on the natural world. He uses images of quarries, tailings, refineries, mines, oil fields, etc., to remind us that we all participate in the degradation of nature:

Oil Fields 19a

Nickel Tailings No. 34

Oxford Tire Pile #8

Chris Jordan, who recently exhibited his ongoing project titled ‘Running the Numbers’ (digital manipulations which demonstrate the massive scale of human consumption), spoke about his work on Midway Island, photographing the decomposing corpses of birds whose stomachs are full of plastic. I won’t post those images here, for the sake of those who would rather not see them, but I would highly recommend taking a look here; it’s some incredibly powerful imagery. While showing these images, Jordan spoke about the need to reconnect emotionally with the ongoing environmental crisis.

There were many more presentations that day; Subhankar Banarjee, Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, Fritz Haeg, Thomas Kellein, Leo Villareal, David Benjamin, Geoff Manaugh, Mark Smout, and Liam Young all presented and spoke about their work and ongoing projects. As this is running a little long already, I’m going to skip ahead to Saturday and talk about a presentation that I really enjoyed, Amy Franceschini’s “This is Not a Trojan Horse”. Franceschini came onstage dressed as a pantomime horse, while Gaetano Carboni, commissioner of the project and director of the Polinaria Arts Center, introduced the project: a large-scale mobile sculpture of a horse, designed to travel through the Abruzzo region of Italy, where traditional farming techniques have suffered due to globalization. Franceschini spoke about how the traveling sculpture was designed to engage locals and farmers into conversation, and to prompt creative-problem solving. As they moved through the countryside, Franceschini and her group, FutureFarmers, collected/documented samples of traditional farming practices (interviews with locals, recipes, tools, etc).

Photos by Daniela d'Arielli

Other presenters on Saturday included Patricia Johanson, who creates functional and sculptural infrastructure projects; Richard Black, John Carty, Mandy Martin, Gerald Nanson, and John Reid, who all spoke about various aspects of water environments in Australia; Jorge Pardo, who gave a pretty fascinating presentation of his work in blurring the line between viewer and participant in design and architecture; and Bruce Sterling, a science fiction author and futurist, who gave one hell of a closing speech about the realities that we’re facing with the world at large.

Overall, I thought the conference was an extremely valuable experience to have as a student. We all appreciate the Gallery Club’s sponsorship of our tickets, and I’ll be sure to follow up with our collaborative response piece.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Driftwood Lamp

Continuing in the tradition of installing artwork in the stairwells and hallways of the art building, Karl Schwiesow has decked out the lower landing of the back stairwell with a real beauty of an installation. He's calling it, if I'm remembering correctly, "Hunting and Gathering." Here are a few snaps, but by all means check it out in person (don't forget to click on the light):