Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Here's the result of my wax and stone sculpture project. Had a great crit. Someone suggested a light projection would be interesting and show the transparency of the wax and also it would create interesting shadows. People picked up on the interesting history of the process inherent in the dried wax. Also that they are intimate objects of contemplation. One interpretation was that they seemed like stone tablets only there are awesome shapes instead of writing. Also, one person thought it was interesting that this piece that was about using stone ending being about stone in its absence. :)
I, myself, think there's a problem with the scale and how I presented the work. I'd have to make it a lot bigger and I'm not sure on the logistics on that . . . I'd probably need a dump-truck full of hot wax lol.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Results of wax and stones

I initially wanted to make a sculpture that would capture the sound of pebbles tumbling together as the waves wash them in and tow them out. I built a few prototypes and hit several dead-ends because it always lead to a situation where I would have the "reset" the sculpture, which is counter to the feeling of the piece. So I went down to the beach again and spent the evening "listening to the stones talk to each other" and decided to capture what makes the sound: the water rushing between them. I didn't just want to put some stones in a bucket of water and shake it, so I thought I could capture the negative space between the stone using wax.
I think this suits the concept quite well. Wax is such an interesting medium to use because it quickly shifts between liquid and solid when fire or heat is applied to it. It's great for capturing gravity and flow as it drips and hardens.
I created a type of mold with a cake tray and some select stones and poured melted candle wax into it. I felt more like a mad scientist than an artist as I was melting candles in glass jars on my stove-top. I left it to dry overnight and then melted out the stones using a candle and heated palette knives. As I was burning out the stones, interesting marks were left behind creating an interesting history to the piece. I made three of them but there's no significance to the number . . . that's all I really had time for (probably an excuse that won't fly). I decided to keep the wax white and off white because otherwise it looked too artificial.
Here's a few progress images. (full images tomorrow after the crit :)

Fyi these pieces look really lovely by candlelight!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Art 221: Project 01

Our first project is to create an artwork out of a natural material without the aid of power tools. The goal is to develop a sensibility of the limits of a material. Mixed media is allowed.
I wanted to create my project using materials that were on hand and easily accessible: beach pebbles. After several prototypes, the idea to capture the sound pebbles make on the beach when the waves wash them in and out led to a few dead ends. These situations always involved having to reset the sculpture which doesn't really fit. I thought I'd try to capture it visually instead through light, shadow, and negative space.
Still trying to capture the sound, but lead to below.

Idea is out there for feedback, we'll see how it goes ;)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My thoughts on Banality

Jeff Koons’ “Banality” Series
Jeff Koons is an American artist, born in 1955, who is based in York, Pennsylvania. He became very famous in the 1980s and was one of those artists who were at the centre of the great art boom of the period. His big break-out work was from the “New” series: high-end commercial vacuum cleaners that were displayed in glass boxes.

Koons’ art is influenced by Marcel Duchamp and his ready-mades. A ready-made is an object that already exists that is not made by the artist, but is transformed into an object of art through its selection. Koons put a post-modern spin on this idea and takes objects in images that already exists in art and popular culture and collages them together. He makes sculptures, installations, and paintings. His practice involves employing a large stable of assistants to execute his work. In fact, he doesn’t do any of the making himself: he oversees the entire production and makes all the decisions ie. colours, materials etc. Because Koons is so prolific, I’m going to limit my discussion to a few of the pieces of the series that he made in the late 1980s called “Banality”. I’ll start by saying that my main critique of the work is that it lacks any depth of meaning: it does not go beyond the object/image.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles. I saw this piece when I was in Chicago many years ago. Aside from a slight chuckle, I felt that this work didn’t really do anything for me. It’s a porcelain sculpture of the now deceased pop icon Michael Jackson with his pet monkey, Bubbles, on his lap. They are dressed in some kind of military uniform which makes me think of The Nutcracker Suite. A porcelain factory created the piece for him: he did not do the sculpting himself. The piece is shallow and empty and in many ways, it is the choice of material helps me not like it: because of the preciousness (fragility) of the porcelain and also that it’s glossy and shiny (gold and white).This makes the work seem frivolous and any connection to anything beyond this image seems accidental. (details: 106.7 cm × 179.1 cm × 82.6 cm (42 in × 70.5 in × 32.5 in))

Saint John the Baptist. I saw this work at the Seattle Art Museum. It is inspired by a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, one can almost get some kind of a narrative from the piece because of the familiar art iconography from Renaissance painting, but it’s a confusing one. What do the pig and bird represent? What about the pose of St. John? The work is meant to be a juxtaposition of the sacred and the profane, but this contrast seems pretty dull: perhaps because we aren’t shocked by this kind of image anymore. This is also made from porcelain and reminds me of tiny Jesus icons at my grandmother’s house. There is no struggle or strife that why would associate with this figure from Christianity. It might as well be Michael Jackson in his place. Once again the objects don’t encourage any kind of deeper investigation. (details: 142.2 cm × 73.7 cm × 43.2 cm (56 in × 29 in × 17 in))

Ushering in Banality. A pretty pig is being pushed by a few cherubs (clothed) and a small boy (which Koons identifies as himself) who could be straight out of a Norman Rockwell illustration. It is quaint and cozy. It might be slightly jarring to some because you know the boy is in for a messy time, but it doesn’t go much further than that. Whatever narrative is being conjured up here, it isn’t very interesting. These figures could be enlarged replicas from your grandmother’s Hummel figurines collection. But I would admit it’s an interesting use of the language and symbols of the bourgeois household. It’s not enough to interest me however, and once again, I’m left with a blind alley in terms of what the work means. (details: Polychrome wood 96.5 cm × 157.5 cm × 76.2 cm (38 in × 62 in × 30 in))
Is it enough to illicit indifference in a work of art? Maybe that’s the point that I’m missing in Koons’ work. I am indifferent to it, so I think it is bad art. Perhaps the art is doing its job by making me not like it? Another thing that bothers me about Koons’ work is the blatant commercialism of it all. It reflects the grandiosity of the elite class without any sort of commentary or critique. Especially now, with most of the world’s economic systems failing, this kind of work seems out of tune with the reality of our time and out of touch with most people.

Silver Bunny. I like this piece.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sculpture 221

I'm going to be taking a small hiatus from painting while I focus my attention on my sculpture class. Since I really have no game when it comes to making objects in real space, I thought that I'd put my brushes down for a bit. I will finish this current painting I'm working on . . . and I'll probably slip a few paint sessions in here and there cuz I'm sure I'll be itching for it but, I'll have to give up my 2 hours or more per day to get into this class.
As part of the class, we are each to give an informal presentation on an artist or style that we dislike or don't understand. The choice for me is obvious = Jeff Koons. My only fear is that in researching his work, I'll end up understanding it an empathise with it. God, I hope that doesn't happen lol. More on this tomorrow.
In the meantime, here's some sculpture that I like.
Louise Bourgeois, Maman

Brian Jungen, Cetology

Cal Lane

Richard Serra, Torqued Ellipse

Megan Dickie
There are more . . . but above are just a few I could think of off the top of my head ;)