Michael Barr’s Roid Rage

Is brilliant. 

I am so immensely inspired by Michael Barr’s editorial series! He takes elements from Polaroid culture, selfie culture, and makeup advertisement tropes. 

His use of Polaroids marks those youthful and playful characteristics of Polaroids. Polaroids (now fujifilms–but that doesn’t sound nearly as cool) have such an in the moment charge because of their in the moment chemical processing. The use of them in Barr’s editorial really brings that into the contemporary world which of course lends itself to its modern day rebirth as the selfie. 

Understandably, selfies are not physical as Polaroids are, but they are small and intimate and shareable. Selfies are 2-3 inch squares on your Instagram feed, 2-3 inch boxes on your Facebook timeline, and 2-3 inch rectangles on your Tumblr. Selfies are small. Selfies are shared. Selfies are the contemporary Polaroid. While they are more posed and less in the moment, they are still spurred by this moment to share yourself. In Barr’s photographs, these models want to share they’re make up stories and the emotions they represent. Emotions are momentary. Temporary. 

Not only is Polaroid culture marking of selfies, but the way Barr uses them reminds me of makeup advertisements. Do you ever notice in those Maybelline ads for mascara how the eyes look so soft but the mascara looks so sharp and bold? They’re edited to highlight the product and how well the product will perform when you buy it, take it home, and put it on. Barr uses Polaroids to highlight the makeup products of interest. 

His series is brilliant, truly. Thank you Michael Barr for bringing something so refreshing to the table. 


Art and Power: A Blurb of Thought

I read (largely skimmed) an article in ArtPapers written by Vincent W. J. Van Gerven Oei. It’s basically about an artist who became a prime minister in Albania. Oei covers quite a lot of themes in the article, and it really got me thinking about the context of art and power. 

Of course, art is powerful, but how often is it put into the real world audience to have real world power? Featuring this artists’ rise to power and use of art within that power is important because art largely finds itself as a critic of politics rather than a contender of politics. 

Where does art seem to have power? We can put art anywhere. Have you noticed any stickers in train stations? Pen drawings on walls? But who looks at it? Plenty of people look at these bits and pieces of art, heck plenty of people go to galleries and museums, but what portion of those people digest the art they see? 

It seems to boil down. 

Then consider the art itself. Is a critique like a burnt flag more powerful than a contemporary depiction of a historic moment of a country’s past? 

Art AIDS America; An exhibition at the Zuckerman Museum of Art

Today, my class went on a field trip! We went to the Zuckerman Museum of Art on Kennesaw University’s campus. They’re currently holding a powerful exhibition about AIDS and HIV in America and how artists have been working around that topic over the span of about 30 years. There’s even a neat and tidy timeline with facts and figures at the front of the exhibit.

I am going to relay the event in the order of my notes; the lay of the land is a wide open sunlit space. Just in front of the staircase is artwork representing the museum’s donor’s wife’s artwork. To the left are two pieces of artwork (one a bit obscure). The obscure piece of artwork leads into a large gallery space filled with beautiful artwork facing all aspects of AIDS in America from time, sickness, and death to overarching ideas of loss and love.

The obscure piece of artwork that I previously mentioned is Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Water which is a site dependent wall of beads. Who knew a string of beads could be so powerful? When I walked through it–even after being fully aware of its existence as an artwork–I felt cleansed.

Moving through Water, I was then struck by Glen Ligon’s Untitled (I feel most colored when I am thrown against a white background). Of course, we all have art history and we all pick and choose what we remember, and this happens to be one of the chosen. It’s so relieving to see artwork in person and experience it.

Now, I am a child at heart; so going into galleries is stressful sometimes because I want to get close to things and touch things; so I almost had an anxiety attack when I noticed a large white space filled with red sculptures next to my feet. I leaned over an entire foot just to read the label for it to be sure I didn’t disturb the essence of it. The delicate piece is Kiki Smith’s Red Spill, a group of glass sculptures shaped like red blood cells. The cells ranged from being opaque and dark to slightly transparent and light. They spoke volumes to me with their glass delicacy and vibrant red hue. They seem so effortless.

I have so much admiration for artists that take traditional elements from their cultures and wittily transform them. Masami Teraoka transformated traditioanl Japanese woodcuts to display a geisha ripping open condoms in her piece Tale of 1000 Condoms/Geisha & Skeleton. Tino Rodriguez mimics this wit in his Eternal Lovers with Dia de los Muertos traditional imagery of sugar skulls and flowered skeletons to display two figures kissing.

The last piece in that section from my notes struck me with a smile was Niki de Saint Phalle’s book AIDS You Can’t Catch it Holding Hands. I wish we could flip through the pages; only two pages were set in display in a box (the picture in the link shows the page we saw). What was so beautiful was how simplistic and friendly the book was, easy enough for children.

Then we walk through the donor’s wife’s artwork to a cold corridor which leads to many other hallways and avenues. The director led us into an even colder room that was filled with very charged and intense artwork, still as part of the Art AIDS America exhibition. The first piece I encountered in this room was Jenny Holzer’s condoms. What was more interesting to me though was Holzer’s label description. It talked about her openness to interpretation and how artwork is up to her audience. I admire this openness because so many artists and teachers of art seem to want to hone in on directed artwork; I personally think it’s impossible to have a fully 100% directed piece of artwork. That’s a conversation for another day.

Ray Navaro’s Equipped allowed for some comedic relief with this witty pairing of words with his (unfortunate) disabilities from AIDs.

After only an hour spent at the Zuckerman, I was on the edge of being emotionally and mentally spent, but I am so greatly to have had the opportunity to experience these pieces of artwork in person. This is a traveling exhibition, so if it happens to come near you, it’s a must go-see.



Picture Day

I have finally had the opportunity to sum up this semester in three photographs. I have been struggling through this idea of trash. I began with a very romantic eye, to a more alternative eye, to a clinical eye, to a critical eye.

_DSC3475 layered bkgrnd flat with mags FLAT SMALL

It began with surreal compositions made from abstract photographs of trash paired with images of simulated nature found in magazines.

Then it became a very abstract dance of plastics and silver gelatin prints:

plasticgram 1

I was too romantic, there was no disgust. No ugly. All pretty. So I went to the other side of the rainbow and brought a grey cloud clinical eye to the process and catalogued this trash.

catalogue1 FLAT

This was too clinical, but then I had a strike of genius just before the critique for this work. I paired haiku with highly romanticized images of trash:

_DSC4991 copy

And with this, I will carry into my final show of work which will come to you by the beginning of May! I do apologize that I do not have the haiku that was paired with this image. It will all be reworked for the final show.

For your interest, here is the artist’s statement behind the last bit of work.

Romantic Trash juxtaposes an out-of-date romanticized frame of mind with the dissenting subject matter of trash.

The implementation of a softened lens upon a jarring act of indifference is to utilize an alternate of the theory of ‘comedy of waste’; where one can only really self-reflect on under-the-rug morals through comedy. Romantic Trash replaces the comedy with beauty. The excessive use of signifiers of beauty in both image and text challenges the viewer to assess their moral stance on trash and its place in nature.


Until next time!