Friday, October 31, 2008

Climbing Poetree

Friday, October 24th, at La Pena Culture Center a two spirited boundary breaking artist duo, Climbing Poetree; poets performers, print makers, muralist, and new media artist prove the meaning of renaissance women. Climbing Poetree; Alixa and Naima a queer-feminist- soulsister, co-conspiracy street artist combing art, activism and the transformative power of art to affect their communities. they have conducted workshops in and out of prisons teaching visual arts and leadership to incarcerated youth as a tool to channel hope into vision, shatter assumptions "that blind status quo" and make future "visible, immediate, and irresistible".

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Poladroid, mimicking the look of Polaroid.
Check this out, an interesting development, now that Polaroid is no longer manufactured.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Team Lioness

I went to a screening at the Oakland Art Museum last week and was very moved by the documentary being showed. The film followed a small group of women who were referred to as "Team Lioness." Team Lioness is a group of army women put together to aid the marines with special tasks like seeking out insurgents and searching the women. However, in doing so they were participating in direct combat, as many women are in the war in Iraq. Congress explicitly states that women are not to participate on the front lines or in combat, however, with our modern war it has become nearly impossible to define the scope of combat. Because of this women are directly participating in fighting in the war and have been proving themselves alongside their male counterparts, yet they are not receiving proper acknowledgement and even more importantly proper training. They are expected to do the same job as the male soldiers yet are not allowed to be trained in the areas that are necessary. For example women are not trained to operate the military's largest guns and weapons, and so if they find themselves trapped or without their fellow soldiers, they would not know how to operate the equipment that would best protect them. I found it increasingly sad as I was confronted with so many of the challenges women face in the army, especially the lack of respect from many of their fellow soldiers. One man who was interviewed said he didn't like working with women because he didn't want to be attached to the death of a female. I felt that the documentary was excellent and feel that everyone would benefit from viewing it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Michael Muller

I think this photographer has some really neat underwater shots. Anne, they reminded me of your pool photos.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Martha Rosler

Last Saturday, I attended the Martha Rosler lecture at SFAI. I became familiar with Rosler through her early videos. Such as "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1974/75) and “Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained" (1977).

During the two hour lecture, she talked very little of her past, and more of your life in Germany. She showed a series of random “snap shots” of Frankfurt, gave a brief history of Germany, discussed modern architecture and reviewed an installation she did in Germany relating to the Cold War. She showed hundreds of images; quickly passing them saying, “I hope I’m not boring you.”

Rosler talked about her images less as an artist and more as an academic that had experienced things and thus documented them. The second hour was dedicated to her showing recent photomontages relating to the war in Iraq. She discussed similarities of the war in Iraq with Vietnam. She talked of America’s blind eye to the war, and encouraged that we know our history better.  

An incredible intellect, with a dry wit, I am not so certain that I like Martha Rosler’s work as much as a like the mind behind it. 

lecture - Gail Wight

I saw intermedia artist Gail Wight speak last week. She devoted 2.5 hours to talking to undergrad art and intermedia students, and was really engaging. Her work deals a lot with science, humanity, animals, sounds, and humor. I think I'm particularly struck by the humor in her work -- she has a really disarming way of asking honest, simple, yet funny artistic questions without being ironic or sarcastic.

Examples of her work include making a tiny set for the opera "La Traviata" and invited crickets to perform it ("traviata" means "tramp" and crickets are one of many species known as "supertramps", who are quick to adapt and multiply in new surroundings but have trouble competing with other adaptive species. Humans are another supertramp species).
One of my favorite pieces of hers is "School of Evolution," a performance piece in which she spent a full day lecturing to the fish in the fish pond at the SF Art Institute about science, marine biology and evolution -- literally holding a lecture for the fish, based on classic science texts. The day-long seminar ended in a lecture on "conscious evolution and possibilities for evolving out of the fish pond."

Wight has
done a lot of work with scientists and is particularly interested in mice and butterflies, two species whose destinies are or have been so intimately linked with humans because of their uses in science. (The butterflies pictured here are huge, with the pins holding them to the wall about 18 inches long). Some of her work is hilarious and whimsical; some is devastatingly touching; all is really intelligent. Rather than make strident political statements, however, Wight approaches her subjects in a way that is honestly asking questions, and honestly open to whatever the answers might be - even if they're not the answers she's expecting.

She used to teach at Mills and now is at Stanford; she had a piece in the show "We Interrupt Your Program" last year at the Mills museum. After she presented her work, Wight spent about an hour dispensing really practical advice for young artists about jobs, commercial galleries (she hates them), grants, statements, portfolios, press packets, and other super useful info. I adore her work and really enjoyed the talk -- she's so modest and practical-- and can't stop telling my friends about it.

Her website is also really well-crafted:

Propaganda and Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is a contemporary artist who, in the 80s started working in a style that both appropriated from and commented on mainstream media messages and advertising.
See more of her work either by simply Googling her, or click the below link:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Full image and detail.

These images by Chris Jordan are powerful depictions of numbers- inspiration for our propaganda projects. Check out his site at This particular image is from his Running The Numbers series. "Depicts 83,000 Abu Ghraib prisoner photographs, equal to the number of people who have been arrested and held at US-run detention facilities with no trial or other due process of law, during the Bush Administration's war on terror."

Friday, October 24, 2008


So back in the beginning of this month I went to listen to Adrienne Salinger talk at the Danforth Lecture Hall. I thought she was very entertaining and funny, although she did go off tangents several times during her lecture. Her work was amazing, and she is very famous for it. I thought the fact that her book photographs of teenagers and their rooms are actually used by TV show people to design rooms on their shows. That's pretty cool! I was very intrigued by her teenage work, because I remember she said something about how the teenagers are shot to seem like they are just looming and watching over their room.

What I noticed a lot about her work is that it deals a lot with individuality and being your own person and having your own things. It's a thread that I noticed in the work she presented. Especially in the works she did of objects {tooth, glove, self help). The items were similar in the group, but all looked so different, because they belonged to different people. I loved that about her photos!

Another interesting thing is the Middle Aged Men project. She talked about how these men would just come into her house to be photographed and they ranged from convicts, to professionals. It was strange, but very very interesting!

Colin Powell Endorses OBAMA Y'all

Picture of : Elsheba Khan taken by Platon for the New Yorker

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced last Sunday that he will break with his party and vote for Sen. Barack Obama. To That end , Powell invoked a picture to illustrate is point,
"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that he is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorist. This is not the way we should be doing it in America..."
"I feel particularity strong about this because of a PICTURE I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay, was of a mother at Arlington Cemetery and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone, and it gave his awards-Purple Heart, Bronze Star,- showed that he dies in Iraq, gave his birth date, date of death, he was 20 years old. And then at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross. It didn't have a Star of David. It had a crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. And he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was fourteen years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he could sever his country and gave his life."

great resource for stock photos

Hi all -
I just found a pretty cool resource for searching and downloading (free) good-quality photos-- Flickr has teamed up with Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and other big museums to put their copyright-free picture online! You can search and download at will, and not worry about stepping on any copyright toes:

When you see a photo you like, click on the little "all sizes" button directly above the photo and you can download it. I'm not sure if you have to be a flickr member to do it, though.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jillian Granger

So, way back in September, I attended an art talk that was held in the Photography classroom. The artist was Jillian Granger and she is currently an MFA student here at Mills.

I loved her work! It was surreal, and whimsical, and had such funny stories to all of them. I especially liked the piece above where it was all of her childhood stuffed animals arranged to look like a family portrait. I thought it was so clever. I was really inspired by how she could just take memories and dreams and create such beautiful pieces out of it. They really showed her personality, and I thought that was amazing. It makes me even want to try painting!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

LM Bogad and Radical Radicule

I went and saw performance artist and activist L.M. Bogad speak at the East Bay JCC last Thursday. The talk was called "Radical Ridicule: Creative Tactics in Protest Performance." He spoke about his theories and practice while showing clips of his "performance" actions. Basically, he works on creating performative ways of activist and social protest. Some examples of projects he has been involved with are the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, which stages all sorts of theatrical/clown-led activities in a protest fashion all over the world; Billionaires for Bush, a group of people who dress up as billionaires and go to conservative rallies; and the Oil Enforcement Agency (OEA, a take on the federal Drug Enforcement Agency), which "raided" the annual auto show in LA for irresponsible uses of oil and gas.

He also works a lot in (fake or satirical) propaganda, and once created an imaginary company called "G.E.E. A.T.E." to use as a vehicle for protesting and calling attention to the duplicitous environmental actions and motivations of the G8 summits. He handed out free ice cream from an ice cream truck and also passed out propaganda and flyers advertising his fake company, which puts a "positive" spin on global warming by making ice cream out of the vanishing polar ice caps -- "Where some see deserts, we see desserts!" I'm not explaining it very well - all the projects he spoke about were impeccably executed, and really combined art and politics in a very real, direct, and engaging, and humorous way. Humor is big with Larry's work, and I was really interested in how he encourages artists and performers to subvert cliche and to counter "expected" results or situations. For example, the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army (which has chapters all over the world) takes the "expected" outcome of any given protest situation -- that the police come and have conflict with protestors-- and tries to create a different outcome. What happens, for example, if protestors are in the streets doing the hokey pokey, and if they neither confront nor run away from police who try to stop them? What if they kiss the riot cops instead of rush them? What does that look like and how does that instigate surprise or thought or critical thinking in the media and in onlookers?

I could go on, but suffice to say it was interesting and inspiring. Here is a link to Larry's website, and some short videos of some of his projects, which do a way better job of describing his work than I have:


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chris Ofili

Last night I went to go hear Chris Ofili speak at the Distinguished Scholars program that SFAI was hosting. In case you don't  know who this artist is, he is the British painter whom incorporates elephant dung into his work. One of his most notorious pieces is the top image, his interpretation of The Virgin Mary. 
He spoke with candor and clarity last night about many facets of his life and work.  About becoming an artist, as a way to experience freedom, as opposed to other career fields where there seem to be right and wrong ways of doing things. About his first painting with the elephant dung.... On a trip to study art in Zimbabwe, he first saw it and used it when  he was in a period of experimenting with more abstract work. When he said that when he paints his eyes very simply or leaves them as extremely flat, that he is in fact thinking about going inward or having the painting being all about what the viewer sees/experiences was fascinating, considering that the majority of his work includes elephant dung. By painting what you know and obsess about it makes sense that eventually, as an ex-altar boy and someone who spent the majority of his formative years in Catholic schools, his work would begin to deal with the dichotomies of the Virgin Mother.
By including such an offensive substance in his work, he has virtually guaranteed that his work will be associated with a kind of vulgarity that most find outrageously hilarious, degrading or avant-garde. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Propaganda Inspiration

I was just online looking at propaganda posters and such, I came across this image that is part of an aids awareness campaign in France. 

I feel that they are very much like the example images we looked at in class today. They are simple, concise and certainly draw you in to look at it in under half a second, not to mention disturbingly powerful and erotic which will make them hard to forget. 

It was mentioned beneath the image on the actual site that it is a good example of biomimicmarketing.. the image use of old nature for use of propaganda or advertising. Has anyone ever heard of that?

Anyways, I just wanted to share it. I think its extremely clever, and a wonderful fusion of sexy and fatal. Nite Nite. 

Big Sur

I went to Big Sur this weekend.  It was very inspirational and I took so many amazing photographs.  This is one of my favorites because its embodies my friends personality so well.  I thought I should share it with everyone.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Other People's Pixels

Want your own website? Great web design doesn't come cheap, but with Other People's Pixels you can work with some really great templates designed to accomodate art portfolios, and they'll even host your site for a really reasonable monthly fee of $9 for students. Check it out. I was impressed.

Jennifer Fairfax

Check out her work at

Amongst the Combat Papers

Some aspects of this interactive presentation remain inside the rare book room. I strongly recommend you tuck in and see them the next time you are in the library. A group of veterans came to Mills, shredded their uniforms, made paper from them and printed various forms of anti war expressions on that paper. The most power moment of the lecture for me was when one veteran read his poem as two fellow veterans cut his uniform from his body. Hearing the ripping, the tones of his voice, seeing the tension in their hands and arms was so visually and emotionally powerful. They urged for national accountability with our purchases, behavior, and votes. I cried intermittently through the lecture and felt it some how productive. Before they began they acknowledged that feeling of discomfort could arise but encouraged the audience to feel those feelings deeply and let them move us toward simple actions in our lives.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mildred Howard

I was invited to SFAI last Saturday morning to go to a short term, adult class for the business side of art. The artist speaking and showing her work at this lecture was Mildred Howard. She is a very personable and vivacious woman, who has done a lot of public art, art commission work and installation work. She spoke about doing art residencies and going after grants and commission work. For those of you know San Francisco, one of the pieces that is hers is the Blue bridge installation on Fillmore at Geary. She spoke in tandem with her an art manager for about three hours in the morning, showing a wide variety of her work. The pieces that I adored were her houses that refract light and are I think about 10feet tall/wide....I was very interested in her speaking about her processes. She has a studio in Berkeley and for this one piece she got mirrors that were being disposed of by a glass/mirror factory that is literally across from her studio. She kept these mirrors for two years before she used them in this commission piece that is now in the Sacramento Museum. I had some basic questions that she answered regarding the process of physically creating such monumental sculptures, some of which are 20+feet high. She works with architects and construction crews and even though it may be something obvious, I imagined that in order to create such massive work, you the artist would be in charge of installing every last cement inch. She did a recent project with Glide Church that included the bottom two floors of an affordable housing project on Mason Street. She designed the exterior, she included an excerpt from a beautiful Langston Hughes poem. The opening of the building/Block Party will be on Sunday, October 26, 2008, from 1-4pm. It is at 125 Mason Street between Ellis and Eddy. It may be interesting to check out.
You can find out more about her and her work at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

incredible photography/internet software

I just watched this TED talk video on Seadragon and Photosynth- two programs that allow for incredible new possibilities for photos (and all images). I highly recommend watching the video to get a good idea of their capabilities. Photosynth is available free online, but, of course, it's only compatible with Microsoft Windows.

Photosynth creates hyperlinks between images and relates them to each other through algorithms that spacially organize the images. In time, this could create a "collective memory" of our "social environment."

incredible photography/internet software

I just watched this TED talk video on Seadragon and Photosynth- two programs that allow for incredible new possibilities for photos (and all images). I highly recommend watching the video to get a good idea of their capabilities. Photosynth is available free online, but, of course, it's only compatible with Microsoft Windows.

Photosynth creates hyperlinks between images and relates them to each other through algorithms that spacially organize the images. In time, this could create a "collective memory" of our "social environment."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the forgotten black and white conversion

My aquatic photo obsession: from water to buoyant space. 

Wednesday crit reminders

Hey all,

I tried three times between last night and this morning to send out this via email, but each time I got a dozen Undeliverable messages back. So while you may have received all of them (in which case I apologize) just in case you didn't, the following is what was contained in that email - without the attached critique questions. I'll investigate and see what's up with the school's email shortcuts.

We missed several of you yesterday, so here are just a couple of reminders:

I'll be in the photo area today between 9:30 and noon to help anyone who still needs to print their "in the vein of" assignment.

Also, since all of you will be showing at least one of your blogged projects in crit, please send me the files (same file format and scale that you'd upload to the blog) by Tuesday afternoon/ evening. 6pm at the latest.

For those of you who missed the critique discussion today, I'm attaching my notes, outlining the questions and critique formats that we'll be drawing from on Wednesday.

See you then!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

I also went to Ginger Wolfe-Suarez' lecture at Mills last week. Like my classmates, I was a bit frustrated that she didn't show her work, but I did find it fun to geek out on all the interesting tidbits of research she showed us -- particularly her research on The Suffragette journal. I also found it interesting to hear her speak about her art journal and her commitment to an ad-free, collective-minded, all-women-staffed publication. Suarez is also a de facto art historian - she tries to bridge divides between art historian, artist, and critic- and i actually find that combination really interesting. it always puzzles me to listen to art historians talk versus artists-- i feel like they're talking about different things, in different worlds -- and i admire Suarez' commitment to walking the line between those disciplines. However, I did find her lecture verged more on 'historian' than artist, and as such I didn't feel she was entirely successful at walking that line in this instance. She read a lot from academic articles she'd written, which were rather dry, and seemed to be geared toward giving a talk at a conference rather than at a college. I am always interested in seeing people's research, though, and I can take a lot from that as an artist in terms of really remembering to get deep into a topic I might wish to explore.

Jeff Brouws; from Approaching Nowhere

click on Approaching Nowhere to go to Jeff Brouws' site.

Milton Rogovin

Milton Rogovin is in his mid nineties, still making photographs.
The images we looked at today are from "Working People; Atlas Steel Casting"

Donna Brazile is not going to the back of the bus.

If you have a chance, please take a few minutes to watch just the 3 or so minutes of Donna Brazile's reflections on change and race in America. When I see footage of gatherings held in 2008 with folks shouting "Kill him," (about Obama), it's tempting to think that nothing has changed. Her reflections are not partisan - they're simply contextualizing where we are today.

Abelardo Morell in NY

I remember a lot of us were intrigued with Morell's work. Looks like he's showing at the Bonni Benrubi gallery in NY. The link has a really good variety of his work! enjoy.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

I also attended Ginger Wolfe-Suarez's lecture this past Wednesday night, and I was pretty disappointed. She talked A LOT about her inspirations and I got excited and was waiting, and waiting to see her own work... and she didn't! I guess she assumed that we all saw her exhibit. But I didn't get the chance to. And I was also hoping she would talk about how that telephone pole got into the museum, too!

Her lecture was very different from Adrienne Salingers (whom I've yet to blog about... but I will soon!) She just showed slides, and read excerpts from her own stories, and even others.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who Writes History

Ginger Wolfe Suarez

Suarez touched on historical amnesia, on missing alternative histories, and on the power of the individual who writes history. She spoke a great deal about those who inspired, enlightened, and worked with her. I was impressed with how she regarded herself as a piece of the whole rather than an isolated individual. Her context as well as her intellect and creativity defined her. Suarez has eradicated the boundaries between her written art and her visual art. That fluidity allows her a fuller way to address her subject matter. She encouraged the audience to do their own research ended the lecture with a tone of optimism. I left with much to think about.

Author Sarah Schulman

Perhaps, I will be regarded as pushing the boundaries here but I am going to try. I attended part of the English Graduate lecture series and the speaker was Sarah Schulman. She gave a reading from one of her books The Child and then took questions. Her advice to all artists was to never stop working. She spent around eight years trying to get a book printed that her publishers felt society could not embrace. She refused to compromise her concept. She stated that during the difficult eight year gap she just kept writing furiously and eventually got her work published. Her stance was simple: working can yield something amazing but if you don't work you eliminate the opportunity for growth and successful output. She touched on cultural receptivity to the new and controversial. Schulman's perspective was a broad one. I found her rational investigative stance a good way to explore larger emotionally, morally, or socially charged issues.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hey I was wondering if someone could post the artists listed for the next assignment... I'm missing the sheet with the names and websites. It would be much appreciated!

Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

I went to the Ginger Wolfe-Suarez lecture last night so that I could hear her talk about her artwork. I wanted to get a clear understanding about her artistic process and what her inspirations were; instead, Wolfe-Suarez seemed more interested in reading us some of her articles about woman's suffrage and talk about others involved. I felt like she was talking about a lot of other activists and not at all talking about her artistic process. I wanted to know more about her choice of material, how she got the telephone poles in the museum, things like that. She seems to be of the mentality that her writing and her art are the same. I have to say, I walked away from the lecture more disgruntled and uninformed than ever before. She was an eloquent speaker, I just wanted to hear about her artwork!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Adrienne Salinger Lecture

I went to the lecture given by Adrienne Salinger last week and thought that she was a very engaging speaker. She began with one of my favorite series, or studies, of hers entitled, Teenager. In this series Salinger went across the country creating portraits of a wide variety and teens in their bedrooms. Salinger mentioned how she was interested in how a teenager's room serves as such a unique representation of themselves because it was probably the only time in their lives when all of their belongings 'would fit in a twelve by twelve space.' She said that she also had Beverly Hills 90210 in mind, in that it was such an artificial representation of how teens really lived. She accompanied her portraits with a clip, or story from her interviews with the teens that she selected which resulted in a very telling portrayal of teenagers. It was left up to the teens to set their scene for the photograph and it is apparent as they all appear slightly stiff or posed, often with a few of their favorite belongings positioned beside them. Salinger spoke on how she gave them control of their setting and that the body language in the photographs were charcterized by her use of equipment, or rather her non- use of a strobe. Because of this the subjects had to hold their position for slightly longer than was perhaps natural or comfortable. Salinger went on to discuss her other studies such as At Home where she photgraphed 95 people who lived alone, her various studio projects, and her series Middle-Aged Men. I was particularly interested in Salinger's projects that involved people and their living spaces, as I found them to be unique and telling portraits.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Adrienne Salinger

I went to the Adrienne Salinger lecture on campus last week on wednesday, and got to meet her in person as well! Salinger gave a long but interesting talk. I am interested in her way of portraying the objects and space that define who we are. Her teeth photographs show what kind of lives we've lived based off of the amount of missing enamel or cavities, just as the teenagers' rooms show their lifestyle. Her commentary on the lives of teens and youth media consumption cracked me up because she found out a few years later that her book on teen bedrooms is used as the movie bible for teen bedroom sets! I was really struck by the Middle Aged Men portraits. I couldn't help but think about how they compare to high school portraits: the use of a black background, the photographer's command on what expression to make, having person after person file in to take the same style of photograph...
I was not as interested in her photos of baseball gloves and skateboards, because although she showed the wear and tear on the objects, which, in turn, showed the lives of the owners, I was not as engaged with the images. I felt like her portraits were much more successful because of the emotion she captured in the people's eyes. 

And the artist's name is...

Jessica Bruah. 

from New York.

New Artist!!

I just randomly came across this really exciting artist who does a lot of ambiguous narrative work that seems to be about people getting themselves into trouble. I'm loving it!!! Dena, you might also be interested...

Hank Willis Thomas

I found this artist's work to be provocative and disturbing, yet an incredibly powerful and insightful tool for examining the stereotypes and reality for African Americans. The questions that were raised, What is Black? What is White? What is in the "frame"? What is out of the "frame"? can assist all of us in addressing our preconceptions about race and racism today and for our dreams for future generations. I think that we need to think not only about our own "frames", the one that defines our experiences and interpretations, but also engage in dialogue where others' frames are able to be heard and validated.
In addition to learning about the commodification of the African male identity and how advertising has informed a large body of his work, Mr. Thomas referenced some African American photographers whose work has impacted him. I have started to look into their work, as a way to understand and appreciate the African Diaspora better.....

The Sweet Flypaper of Life, photographs by Roy Decarava and written by Langston Hughes.
This is a book of portraits of African American families,that initially influenced Debra Willis to become a photographer/historian, the mother of Hank Willis Thomas.

Lorna Simpson, an amazing contemporary photographer.

Gordon Parks, an iconoclastic photographer/filmmaker, who passed away in 2006.

Renee Cox, another amazing contemporary photographer.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship

Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship at the San Francisco Center for the Book and the African American Museum and Library

Nining Muir Open studios

From painting to digital images 2d and 3d she works fluidly between media and they are all awesome. Just thought I'd share. Check it out. 


So a few weeks ago I attended an Art of Sustainability Lecture at UC Extension in San Francisco. It took me a while to post this because I wasn't sure if it counted!

So, the lecturer was Eric Blasen of Blasen Landscape Architecture and his work was pretty awesome! He did this gorgeous weekend retreat home in Napa (pictured above). It was so beautiful and blended right into the environment. Anyway, he lectured about the "Art of Sustainability" and how he used a "light touch" on his work. He talked about the preservation and restoration of the site to make it look good, and also be good on the environment.

I really liked it because he showed that it was possible to be able to design architecture in ways that it doesn't look like a massive man made building that sticks out like a sore thumb in gorgeous locations.


"Pitch Blackness"
Last Friday I attended Hank Willis Thomas talk in the city. I had only heard of his work from being in this class and was lost for words after his presentation. (I immediately googled him as much as possible)
 What struck me most about Willis's work was his tactics on responding to commercial and capitalist marketing on the African American community. From being branded by logos like nike and rebok to images from jim crow era being reenacted in modern magazines as methods to sell a product to those communities.  How these advertisements and images that we attach with products continues to perpetuate a social phenomenon of existing racism and dehumanization of people of color, especially the African American community.  
I also appreciated his role as a photographer and his position of privilege (college educated, grad student etc.) to create dialogue with in those same privilege communities (galleries, other art schools) and stir up conversation so we can take an interdisciplinary framework of race, class, and gender, and look at art as a tool to create social change. As a visual artist, sculptor, and thought provoker, Willis has noted that racism is a central subject to examine, he also highlights and interrogates the social, political, and economic conditions, which shaped and created race in the first place. For example, he has used a personal tragedy and try to educate through his art of the existing parallels between marketing and violence (gang, police, etc.). How corporations target young black youth through sensationalizing gang life, hip-hop, and violence by constructing blackness through stereotypes. He connects this with how Africans were viewed during slavery.
Kudos and Thumbs up, I think i found a possible topic for a research paper through this lil-blog. hmmm, this shit is helpful

Joshua Martinez

Hi y'all,

I attended the Joshua Martinez talk and slide show at the photo classroom on Friday.  It was really terrific and I'm in complete awe of his work.  I especially loved the early work he showed, where he painted over images, etc.  (techniques I can't describe because I don't know enough to understand his explanation) and created works that are evocative, almost "old" looking.  Totally dreamy, like Joshua Martinez himself. 
Thanks Deirdre for arranging this and also for the yummy pizza lunch!


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hank Willis Thomas - The Cause Collective

The Cause Collective: Along the Way

Last night I went to hear Hank Willis Thomas Speak at the SF Art Institute. I've heard him before - in fact I invited him to Mills several years ago. I liked him then - thought he was a great speaker, - self-effacing, confident, and engaging- and I thought his work was important. It was very exciting to hear him speak again and feel all the more strongly about his work - and feel that despite his speedy ascension within the art world, he's sustained a powerful commitment to the integrity of his work.

Last I was particularly struck by his interest in collaboration. The above piece was created by the members of the Cause Collective-of which he is a member- and is installed at the Oakland Airport in the baggage claim area. I haven't seen it in place, but the whole piece is on the web at the above link. This isn't the only collaboratively created piece - much of the work he showed was made with one or more other artists.

I was also profoundly moved by his commitment to move from critique to transformation - to being a catalyst for change. Not that there is not still a real need for critique - but maybe even more this is a moment for new models, new ideas and conversation and connection between people.

Friday, October 3, 2008

B&W conversion

"I Feel I Am Free But I Know I Am Not"

I went to a show last night at SF CAMERAWORK. The art performance aspect of this show was very voyeuristic and engaging, like observing someones private sadistic identity and seeing them project it onto others. But at the same time, it was very similar to going to the mall and getting a photo with Santa around the holidays. 
Guillermo Gomez-Pena was the main artist featured with the performance group La Pocha Nostra. There was a lot of drinking of beer and champagne  to set the mood and parts of the gallery felt like a real photo shoot, except the photographer was wearing a metal kilt and almost nothing else and there was a large audience just staring. The idea of art being a commodity is kind of felt here, with the performance group posing the question of what will sell my art? Sex, gender, S&M and ethnic identity are experimented with and blurred to challenge the post-modern connection between viewer and art. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008


These are the few things that I was working on during class yesterday.

bw conversion

I used the black and white option and pushed the color levels around until it looked like a charcoal  drawing.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Joshua Martinez - FRIDAY-Noon in the Photo Classroom

Please join us for lunch and a presentation by artist, Joshua Martinez.
Josh has generously offered to make all participants lunch after his talk. Don't miss it!



As an artist, photographer, activist, child of Diaspora, I have been trying to understand more of my position with a camera.  What is it that I am trying to cover through one photograph without sensationalizing the subject? I'll start off with the color image. In order to volunteer with an orphanage located in this market place I was recommended to take a tour with the organization in order to get a better understanding of the environment and circumstances the children live under. As I took out my camera I felt as if a spot light was placed over my head. I was already "othered" since i was a tourist in western clothing but given the location, foreigners where everywhere. However my camera invited suspicion of my placement at this location. I was either approached or it was made clear that my camera was not invited. But for this picture, I was invited by this young man to take a photo. He was working at a food stand for hot chapati's and chai, a popular snack in India. He was friends with our tour guide and had become comfortable with foreigners with cameras since this was the first time people had come into this neighborhood taking pictures of there surroundings.  He stood tall and confident asking me to submit his photograph to "Bollywood".  Bollywood is India's answer to Hollywood. An industry that is admired all around the world. Bollywood represents to young men, wealth, women, attention, being desired and success.  
Deirdre brought up the topic of anonymity.  With the changes from color to black and white how does my subject change to its audience? By darkening my main subject and making the subject anonymous, I feel that my portrait invites suspicion to its subject. ANY SUGGESTIONS FOLKS?
"Not Identifiable then element is said to be anonymous"

black & white conversion

San Francisco Chinatown. For me, the conversion to black & white gives a timelessness to the photo.

I did global/tonal adjustments to the color file as well as some area curve adjustments and then applied both the channel mixer and gradient maps to convert to black & white.

Black and White Conversion

  I uploaded this image because my cupcakes wouldn't come out at first... I used the Black and White conversion and then took out nearly all the blue and darkened her swimsuit and body so she would stand out more.  I was hoping that by desaturating the blue water the image would take on an ethereal quality, as if she might be in a higher, more sky-like realm.

Black and White

I used the black and white layer

Black and White.