Terry Kihara

Normally, artists speak in their own words on this blog. Today’s post is unusual in that I will be writing about the work of another artist, my dear friend, Terry Kihara.

I first met Terry in 1996, shortly after I started teaching art history, and since that time have been fortunate to see a fair amount of her work, a difficult thing given her modesty.

In a day when so much art screams “look at me,” striving for grand and often obvious effect, Terry’s stands out for its subtlety, elegance, and reserve.
Only last month, she sent me two drawings–watercolors with graphite–and a soft, small stone, which are reproduced above. At first I didn’t see the connection, but with her explanation that the images reinterpret the rock, everything began to click. The key is to put the rock in your hand and turn it around, feeling its surfaces and watching the light flit across it in ever-varying patterns. Seen in this way, the drawings transport an otherwise ordinary stone to another dimension, letting us read its inherent beauty and, at the same time, showing how thoroughly art can transform an object of nature. My guess is that the process of creating the art is slow and meditative. Her work says “look at me,” not with a scream but a whisper. That may also be why we take it in our hands, linger over it, and let it work its magic.

It’s difficult to imagine this sensation online, but maybe that’s the point; her art has a tactile quality and an intimacy that defy the mechanical nature of the internet. Her work wants to be picked up, looked at closely, and pondered. The details that follow, of no more than a square inch, show her working out subtle textures and light effects.
If, as I suspect, a Zen attitude helped create these works, we need a similar, deliberate slowness to read them.

You don’t just dash off a poem. To give it a lightness of touch and depth takes time and experience. I think that is what we find in Terry’s work. A special alchemy has transformed a stone, one of the dullest and heaviest of substances, into its opposite, a body at once weightless and evanescent.
Terry passed away on April 30th, two weeks after I received this beautiful gift from her, and since she didn’t, as far as I know, write about her own art, I have taken it upon myself to do so, hoping that I have not distorted her intent.
I wish she could have written this herself. Her friends will miss her greatly, but I feel her art will live on, expressing in its own graceful and contemplative way the gentle soul who created it.

-Bill Travis

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Bill Travis: Golden Tree

I’m away traveling, so until next week’s guest post I’m putting up this image I made on my last trip. It’s an alternative-process photograph of a tree in Los Angeles. The location doesn’t really matter: what I wanted to do is transform the scene into another place and time.

www.billtravisart.com

Larry Davis: A Better Past

The idea of returning to emotionally significant places from my past felt overwhelming, but challenging.

There was a desire to know if being back in these places as an adult felt the same way it did as a child. Would my memories become clearer? Would other memories surface? Would old feelings return? Would new feelings emerge? Would the past now be a better place than I remembered?

It was a difficult journey made lighter only by the joy I felt in finding some places no longer existing or existing in a decrepit state of disrepair. There was the initial satisfaction of rediscovery, which was then replaced by familiar memories and sadness.

Yes, memories became clearer. Yes, other memories surfaced. Yes, old feelings returned. Yes, new feelings emerged. No, the past did not become a better place.

Larry Davis envisions and prints his images very small (3″x3″), providing an intimacy between the viewer and the image that could not otherwise be created with larger prints. His award-winning photographs have been exhibited in galleries and are in collections worldwide. 

www.larry-davis-photography.com

Madelon Jones: Internal Landscapes

When I was seven years old my mother, learning that a neighbor of ours was giving her daughter art lessons, decided that I should have them too. So it was that Miriam Duel came into my life. Every Saturday morning at 9AM she would visit my house for an art lesson. My first lesson was particularly memorable. It was a cloudy day, we were seated at a worktable, and she asked me to describe the color of bark on the Lilac bush outside the basement window. “It’s mauve,” I replied. Her pleasure at my “sophisticated” color sense was enough to have me up and dressed by 7AM every Saturday waiting for her arrival. I loved Ms. Duel and spent six wonderful years under her tutelage. We explored just about every medium: oil, watercolor, inks, pastels, charcoal and pencil; and when I became an art major at UCLA my diverse background held me in good stead.

Because I was lucky enough to live in New York, my passion for art often led me to the Museum of Modern Art. I quickly learned about the side stairs that enabled one to avoid the crowds. One day, I was viewing an exhibit by an artist named Nathan Olivera, a figurative painter whose characters emerged out of ghostly, foggy backgrounds. I fell in love with his style.

In later years I moved to California and majored in painting at UCLA. Shortly after I enrolled, the Art Department instituted a guest professorship program, and who was the first to be announced but my idol, Nathan Olivera! Needless to say I signed up immediately. He was into movement, figurative gestures and ten second poses. What I learned from him has carried me through my entire career as an artist. Gesture, movement, color and the essence of a moment captured through action all play a vital role in what I attempt to accomplish.

During my tenure at UCLA I developed an affinity for the one discipline Ms. Duel had never taught. Etching. There was something about working on copper and zinc, and the tactile pleasure of inking and rubbing the plates, that, combined with the mechanical finality of an enormous etching press, that fascinated me. And the most exciting part — the moment you pulled your paper up off the plate to discover the image.

After graduating from UCLA I returned to NYC with my husband and I decided to take a class at the School of Visual Arts in viscosity color etching. Up to this point I had only worked in black and white. But color! I have always loved color, and the idea that one could learn to use it in a three dimensional way due to the depth of the bite in the etching plate was right up my alley. The class was being taught by the famed printmaker, Robert Blackburn. It enabled me to use up to four colors in one shot without having to overprint. A fantastic technique. Again I fell in love, this time with texture, and colors, and the ability to abstract an endless variety of colorful images from a single etched plate through different inkings. I was able to reproduce the textures of granite and other stone, and the work I began producing reminded me of abstract landscapes which I have always referred to as “Internal Landscapes.”

Madelon Jones has been making art her whole adult life and a large part of her youth. She has two shows coming up in September this year, one at Ceres Gallery in NYC and the other at the Carrie Haddad Gallery in Hudson, NY. Another show is slated for 2013.


www.madelonjones.com

Gayle Stevens: Metaphorical Meanderings

On walking

I walk everyday.

As a child I used to walk with my father. We would take long walks and often end up at the Plush Horse, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, or the White Shingle, a local tavern. At the White Shingle, I would get dimes to play the bowling game and a kiddie cocktail while my dad had something stronger. At the Plush Horse, I got a single scoop of butter cream and daddy always had strawberry. My father was a fisherman and we spent vacations camping and fishing. This is how I developed my love of walks and nature.

I walk now and look and find.

When I started working on my series, pass, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, I walked the area that had been devastated by Katrina. I would see little shrines of objects on stairs that led to nowhere. I walked the beach everyday collecting shells, watching the stingrays frolic in the waves and the pelicans diving for fish.

The sounds of the waves, the smell of the gulf, the calls of the birds were all meditative for me. I found the remains of a bird; parts of the wings were all that remained. As an object it was strangely beautiful and repugnant at the same time. I put them in my bag. I had no idea what they would become but knew they needed another life, another form that would once again reveal their lost beauty.

On Process

I like handwork.

I garden, I make bread, and I pour plates. I like the way the dirt feels as I plant a seed, the connection to the earth. I like the texture of the dough as I knead it, as it changes from sticky to a soft, satiny mass. I like the way the plate goes cold when I pour on the collodion and the dark pool beckons me into her depths. Through all this handwork comes satisfaction as I watch my labor become a plant spreading its leaves towards the sun, the aroma of bread freshly baked and an image revealed.
I collect things.

Before I start a new project, there is a period of time when I become strangely attracted to a certain object or objects. I start collecting, archiving, hoarding. I walk and collect and look and stare and think, till the pieces fall in place. It is in this same way that I create my collaged images in allegory. I look, I collect, and I create plates of individual images. I make a rough drawing of an idea. I piece it together, like lines of poetry, notes of music, a quilt. The images create the framework of an idea and from that framework I paint a supportive background for my chimeric vision.

It starts with a walk.

S. Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion for its fluidity and individuality. A member of the When Pigs Fly photo collective, she divides her time shooting in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Downers Grove, Illinois, where she resides. Stevens is represented by Tilt Gallery.

www.sgaylestevens.com

Julien Félix: “Les Restes…” (“Remains…”)

Noun:

  • What survives after being cut off from something else.
  • Generally, whatever is not under discussion.
  • What has not been consumed.
  • Rubble, ruins.
  • Bones, ash, what survives of a body.

Remains” is a project begun in early 2012. It’s photography in connection with death, in the sense that it captures instants—remains—that will never happen again.

Photography has an (ambivalent) connection with death, or “disappearance,” capturing instants that will no longer occur. Each photographic image is in effect what remains.

What remains? What will remain? This series naturally cannot answer these questions; it deals instead with a simple observation of fragments from a previous life, then fixes them, perpetuating their trace. It creates its own remains before they’re imposed on us.

There’s also another sense for the term “remains,” that of resistance, which justifies in part the use of collodion in making this series. The use of wet collodion is, for me, an act of resistance, imposing its own “time” or “slowness” against the speed and multitude of images that confront us.

The use of this process is not as simple as it seems. It involves a level of mastery to better understand how it works and to play with its artifacts rather than the other way around. The technique allows one to emphasize the subject—when the subject lends itself to this—as in the current series, where the losses and weaknesses of the process help create a fragile and intimate universe.

A graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Epinal, Julien Félix has been photographing for fifteen years, especially in alternative methods, such as pinhole and toy cameras. His work with wet collodion over the past two years is a natural extension of such interests.

http://julienfelix.fr

Denis Roussel: A collection of somewhat random specimens

A collection of somewhat random specimens” is a series of photographs focusing on mundane elements of Nature. I found the subjects of my images on hikes in the prairies and foothills of Colorado or simply in my backyard. For most of us Nature has become a concept rather than a physical experience. We live in cities and dream of the grandiose landscapes of the American west, of the noble animals of the Alaska’s wilderness. We’ve come to consider these elements as worthy of our respect and protection. With these photographs I wanted to bring to light specimens of Nature that are mostly ignored or overlooked, and present them as beautiful and precious components of our environment.

All my subjects are past their prime; most have withered; some have died. All have stayed ignored by passersby. There is nothing exotic about the subjects of my photographs and yet to me they possessed an intrinsic quality. They looked intricate. They seemed fragile. They evoked feeling of loneliness, melancholy or foreboding. They reminded me of the value of transient life. They illustrated the ambiguous beauty of decay. These objects became little treasures that I collected and cherished. They acquired a very real (even if temporary) value to me and needed protection until their appearance was preserved in the form of a photograph. These overlooked and ordinary specimens become the center of attention and take on an extraordinary significance.

The photographs were created using the wet-plate collodion process. In my past work, I have physically and chemically stressed my negatives to crack the emulsion, distort the subject, and change the colors of the image. Continuing down this path, I was drawn to wet-plate collodion because this method creates marks and artifacts that become an integral part of the photograph. The aesthetic of the collodion process transforms the series from an objective and straightforward documentation of Nature into a lyrical depiction of its beauty.

www.denis-roussel.com