Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Snakes and Ladders" + Interior Angles + Process Essay

"Snakes and Ladders"
Ink on paper
15" X 22"

I am weightless in a web of invisible threads. I pluck one and watch tender reverberations create thin reflections that spider deep into the darkness. From this vantage point, I can only see a part of the structure's infinite complexity. There is neither here nor there, only a spatial median that divides deeper into self-similar parts. Like the trapeze artist, I hold my breath and attempt to climb atop one of these threads. I stand straight, trying to become objective within this innumerable prismatic organism. One step forward, and the thread flexes beneath newfound gravity! My spine curves against the forces of instability and I see anamorphic shifts of light play off multiple contradicting planes. A colossal geode surrounds me: it is the image of relativism - a place where coordinates are lost in the game of snakes and ladders.

* * *

Also, I have some new ideas for how I am going to create my wood panel paintings.  Hint: they are not going to be quadrilaterals.  I am letting the interior angles speak to each other to create the individual shapes of the panels. 


I am also working on a process essay regarding the surface-paint-space relations in my work:

"...My work explores the potential of surface by using paint to create the illusion of contradictory dimensions between sculptural and architectural spaces.  Having borrowed the concepts of surface roughness and fractal dimension from Benoit Mandelbrot, I have come to challenge Clement Greenberg's notions of flatness and medium-specificity in painting.  Essentially, my process embraces the reality that nothing in this world is flat, and as a result, my paintings are concerned with the wide range of space that can be exploited between surface and paint.

According to Benoit Mandelbrot, surface is inherently rough, but may appear smooth from distances where detail and dimension become invisible.  The ability to see dimension depends on the relationship of scale between the viewer's bodily subjectivity and a surface's roughness.  Both the material and illusionistic application of paint can alter surface roughness, increasing or decreasing dimensional visibility.  For example, thick impasto can materially rough up a smooth surface, while optical tensions between layers and color contrasts can illusionistically smooth out a rough surface.  Consequently, I define painting as the material or illusionistic adjustment of dimensional visibility on surface..."

More soon!  Up next: full essay and paper models ~

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Painting in the Round" + Color + Future Topics

Cyberspace III
Acrylic, resin and Masonite on wood panel
1' X 1'
Concerning the notion that a painting becomes an object once its sides are painted:

I paint the edges of my panels white in order to frame painting as a dialectical inquiry within space and surface.  I acknowledge and accept the fact that my paintings are hybrids.  They intentionally include performative, sculptural and architectural elements that enhance the overall illusion of form, movement and space presented within the painting's surface.  

By presenting the painting's surface face-up, I show how media can have canonical shifts depending upon their relation to the body.  For example, a sculptural element can become a painting from a perspective in which its plane becomes flattened and illusionistic.  Because of the relativistic nature of these spaces, the canonical shifts are both reversible and topological, existing in constant flux.  In essence, the elements within the surface are never clearly defined, but are ultimately necessary to simultaneously contradict conventional dogma and push the limits of what we consider to be painting.  

This approach to painting is what I call "painting in the round" or "emergent painting", and can be observed in other contemporary artists' work that juxtaposes elements of installation, sculpture and architecture within the context of painting.  I believe painting in the round provides the unique opportunity to exploit useful obstacles that can challenge assumptions and expand painting into new territory.  It's both an emergent and dialectical process of discovering the possibilities of what something can be by creating relational contrasts.  The strategic placement of seemingly non-painting elements allows for painting to emerge from in between canonical shifts.

The role of color:

My general argument for the use of color in paintings is that we experience life in color, and in the spirit of authentically communicating our experience, we are permitted to use color as liberally as necessary.  In my own work, I've found color to be helpful in describing space and coding individual compositional elements with archetypal associations.  Temperature shifts and color contrasts can create more complex figure-ground relationships than simple value shifts.  Furthermore, the sensations that occur from perceived temperatures and chromatic optical tensions have the power to dictate the tenor of the whole experience of the work.

Future topics:
> Using conceptual Jiu-jitsu on modernist painting to create a space for feminist discourse in postmodern painting.
> What it means to "wrap" illusion around sculptural forms.  Illusion as connection, sculpture as disconnection.
> Cyberculture in relation to the point of view depicted in my work.
> The politics of creating aerial landscapes that cannot be viewed in their entirety. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dreams of an Exhibition + New WIP + Career

New series/exhibition pieces idea sketch:

New WIP:

Second layer of inking


Completed composition, working on the inking ~

View from the top

View from the bottom

And, lastly, I'm enjoying being a Drawing I TA at MCAD and working as an installation crew member at the Walker Art Center:

Still life drawing demonstration for the students ~

Getting dirty painting 20 ft walls for new exhibitions!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Circuit Topology Series


"Circuit Topology"
Ink on paper
15" X 22"

"In Planar Camo", "Tri-circuit", "Attractor"
Ink on paper
6" X 7.5" (each)

* * *

"Circuit Topology Poem"

Slabs of square tiles line the jungle floor

I am in planar camo
as I weave between muscular tree roots
bursting from the uneven concrete layers,
up to a kaleidoscope canopy

Knots of interwoven branches obscure the sun,
casting gothic rays down onto my
animal face

Instinct drives me
to an ancient geometric grotto,
located somewhere beyond the deep murmurs
of these uncharted tropics...

^ Four Tet, my love. 

* * *

I think the crop helped to emphasize the functional elements of the composition. I'm going to continue working on this suite of drawings and will likely be showing these somewhere in the coming months, alongside my Cyberspace paintings. I will also be getting ready to make a new series of paintings from these drawings. I have lots of ideas, but need to narrow it down to make a cohesive presentation of paintings.

My newest idea deals with the communication between different bodies of networks. So, the next drawing is going to be like "continents" of perspectives that are connected by extended circuits. I want to begin to make the composition less of a closed loop and integrate the challenges of mapping negative space between multiple bodies.*  (It may have emergent concave/convex topography, like "Attractor").  I'd like to eventually have a bunch of panel paintings that function this way as an installation.

*That's the whole challenge - it takes awhile to figure out how to connect everything, but it's all about maintaining loyalty to a system, while at the same time, pushing it to its limits to maximize the surprise.

(^Similar to "Postmodern Tectonics", but with more negative space and irregular polygons.
It's time to break the square!)

P.S. Frank Stella, the love of my life: http://20thcenturyartmovements.weebly.com/.../537017720.jpg
^I hope I get to meet him someday.

(I love his Protractor Series, Exotic Birds and Eccentric Polygon Series.) http://en.museuberardo.pt/.../files/collection/works/554.jpg

The Black Paintings are also really great - but I like his less minimal work.  I like it when 
Stella lets loose and gets sculptural with painted surface.

I'm also thinking about starting with the drawn composition and responding to it sculpturally (vs. responding with illusion on top of the sculpture). That way, I might be able to foresee and dictate the contradiction of the space with more intention. I was thinking I could take a drawing like this, divide it into tiers of spaces, and then build the levels on the wood panels according to those tiers.

Of course, I would completely reverse the logical progression of back-mid-fore-ground spaces that we understand in the illusion. The space would be compressed and contradicted by reversing the order of spaces in the compositions.

Also, I have some new mini wood panels. I'd love to cut up these drawings and collage them onto wood panels, while working with the same sculptural ideas. I want to varnish them, too - cover them in clear gesso and put an isolation coat with high gloss varnish on top. These need to be really shiny. Also-also, interference paint and tracing paper would have amazing spatial-distortion effects. I could easily collage the tracing paper over sculpted surface by folding it and gluing it down. *Ok, I will stop verbalizing my artist train of thought, now*

Layered book board + PVA glue + paper collage + wood panels + clear gesso +varnish = new collage paintings. They will be much easier to construct, and they won't warp on the wood panel! **I've made myself happy**

I'm also thinking about breaking the square format of the painting and doing something more irregular shaped. Like, maybe, a bunch of skewed squares that fit together and slither across the floor like a rattle snake. Or, maybe I'll have all that occurring within a rectangle format… was also thinking it'd be crazy to bring the Fibonacci sequence back into the grid.

^ Clark, my love.

^ Autechre, my love.

Tron '82. My favorite movie, both on an aesthetic and conceptual level. Lovelovelove  


* * *

Visions of an exhibition:

Feeling this kind of exhilaration:
^ Autechre, my love.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Employment Opportunities!

Good news!  I am honored to be taking part in these new career opportunities:

Project Services Crew Member, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN,
As part of the Project Services team, I will be assisting with the installation of new exhibitions at the Walker Art Center.  Responsibilities include: professional art handling, building, painting and positioning pedestals and props for world-class artworks, September 2014 – present

Drawing I Teaching Assistant, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, MN,
I will be assisting the Fine Art Chair with teaching Drawing I during the 2014 Fall Semester. Responsibilities include: Assisting the Instructor in teaching students technical skills, discussing content, opportunities, and options; becoming a sounding board for the students’ ideas; and offering feedback, September – December 2014

~Wish me luck!~

Puzzle Mural!

Just thought I'd share this year's puzzle mural that I designed for the Fallout Art Initiative Co-op this summer!  Check it out: 



I'm really proud of the community :--)

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Middle of Everywhere

The Burren Annual “The Middle of Everywhere”

Burren College of Art 20th anniversary alumni exhibition
BCA Gallery, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare
July 14 - August 8 2014

Opening on Friday, July 18th 7pm.

Burren College of Art celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary with an extensive alumni exhibition representing 40 artists from Ireland, England, the United States of America and South America, from Chicago to Mexico, New York to San Francisco, London, Dublin, Clare, Tennessee, Illinois and Utah. The work in the exhibition responds to the theme “In The Middle Of Everywhere” through painting, drawing, photography, video, performance and installation. The exhibition is located in the BCA Gallery and at specific sites throughout the campus and is curated by Dr. Áine Phillips who has taught sculpture at the college since 1999.

She comments “All the artists in this show have lived in the Burren and studied at BCA during their training either as Undergraduate, Masters level or Doctorate students and some as artists in residence and as visiting faculty. Their diverse work reflects a profound engagement with this place, its culture and identity, often through the lens of the outsider or the global citizen, networked and connected to everywhere but richly experiencing the effect of being somewhere in particular, the Burren, with all its specific qualities and singularity.”

The alumni represented in the show include many professional artists with significant international profiles such as Simon Bayliss (Cornwall), Colin Matthes (Wisconsin) and Mollie Douhit (North Dakota) who received the Hennessy Craig at the RHA in 2013. Brooklyn based Erinn Clancy’s work has been previously shown at the Guggenheim in New York, Lucy Stein (London) has been featured at Frieze Art Fair and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Rockstar Iggy Pop collects the work of Ben Roosevelt (Georgia) and Loren Erdrich (Brooklyn) has featured in Vogue Italia and exhibited with renowned masters Louise Bourgeois and Kiki Smith. Ken Fandell is collected by MOMA New York and MOCA Chicago. Irish alumni Emma Houlihan (Clare) has been commissioned by EVA and The Swedish Royal Institute of Art and Roisin McGuigan (Kerry) has exhibited at the Crawford Gallery Cork and MOCA Dublin.

Each artist included in this show has distinguished achievements in art, art education and cultural production. In “The Middle of Everywhere” their varied art works and projects explore notions of place and identity, connections across borders that are political, geographic, mnemonic and emotional. Many of the artists address their experience of BCA and the Burren... located on the edge of Europe but defined by connections to other spaces, centers and margins around the world.

List of Artists:
Jeffrey & Matthew Austin, Beki Basch, Simon Bayliss, Aoife Cassidy, Erinn Clancy, Marie Connole, Mollie Douhit, Collette Egan, Loren Erdich, Ken Fandell, Abigail Flanagan, Jan Pieter Fokkens, Stefanie Ford, John Freeman, Sean Patrick Gallagher, Arianna Garcia, Monique Given, Haynes Goodsell, Emma Houlihan, Eileen Hutton, Tracey Lee, Gail Madeuno, Hali Maltsberger, Colin Matthes, Roisin McGuigan, Jill Miller, Sean Naftel & Chris Attenborough, Joe O’Brien, Pam O’Connell, Beka Peralta, Jonathan Pivovar, Ben Roosevelt, Andrew Salomone, Lucy Stein & Shana Moulton, Zoe Shulman, Gala Tomaso, Ariel Williams.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MMAA 2014 MN Biennial Opening!

Here are some pictures from my recent opening at the Minnesota Museum of American Art 2014 Minnesota Biennial!  Check it out!  

The show runs until August 3rd, so go stop by and see it!  
For more information, please visit: mmaa.org

*   *   *


Hi Zoe,
First, I just want to say congratulations for all your creative works, perseverance, and recent show.
I was taken in viewing Postmodern Tectonics on the floor at the event --- curious if it was a statement re: women’s role/recognition/positioning in the world. Very thought provoking. Bravo, whether or not.
Best always, Great Aunt Pam


Dear Great Aunt Pam,

Yes, you're absolutely right. "Postmodern Tectonics" is a civil rights painting that represents a changing sociopolitical landscape. This piece uses both mapping and fractal geometry as visual metaphors for the uprising of marginalized peoples (women, in particular) within a changing society. Aesthetically, the work combines rigid Cartesian grids (maps) and complex geometric fractals to convey the essence of growth and change.  The carved fractal form spans out across the Cartesian grid like a growing shockwave, connecting all of the individual blocks in an relativistic fabric of changing design.  Like a society, the blocks work together as a dynamic whole.

The multiple carved levels represent a top-to-bottom hierarchy within the painting's surface.  In a society, this type of hierarchical structure is oppressive and only serves the few who have power at the top of the pyramid.  In order to express societal uprising, I used the illusion of color contrasts in the paint to contradict the literal sculpted surface.  Thus, the fractal "shockwave" is like a ripple of plate tectonics, moving from the ground-up, reversing the existing top-down hierarchy.   Ultimately, the piece captures the impetus of an uprising, showing all of the visual components of change occurring within an unequal society.

The color choices were very deliberate.  The fluorescent orange represents the fiery movement underneath the surface - like magma, it is a flow that pushes and pulls at the surface, evoking the passionate unrest and turbulence within the piece.  The white is like a powerful light-force, harmonizing the physically separated blocks into an expanse of love and togetherness.  The very subtle green and peach tints create figure-ground contrasts that optically contradict the uneven surface and level the landscape into the appearance of flatness.  For me, the sense of flatness represents a state of equality between different bodies.  Through love and togetherness, the lower blocks ascend to a higher hierarchical plane.  The overall "pinkness" of the piece can be read as femininity and the perseverance of womankind.

In my senior thesis (linked bellow), I discuss the historical context that lead to my painting's development: and essentially, the work fights the patriarchal mode of modern painting that dominated the Western world from the end of the Victorian era, all the way through to the 1960s.

My work follows in the footsteps of the postmodern neo-avant-garde movement, challenging the dogmatic expectation that all paintings must be hung on walls to achieve a state of objective truth.  By presenting "Postmodern Tectonics" on the floor, I wanted to allow the viewer to engage differently with the painting's surface... As both a female and feminist painter, I am also very sensitive to the way paintings are presented and how they create a power dynamic between the viewer and the artist.  I didn't want to force myself onto the viewer with self-righteous notions of perception and experience, like many machismo-modernists did with their large canvases and gestural bravado.

Instead, I wanted to provide the viewer an opportunity to use their bodily subjectivity to investigate the work in an intersubjective act of sharing.   As the viewer surveys the aerial landscape, they discover the shifting surfaces moving in and out of illusionistic, sculptural and architectural spaces.  The viewer's body literally becomes a part of the work, empathetically including them in the experience of growth and change.

My only regret is that I did not cite enough women artists in my senior thesis.  I primarily blame myself for not being more thorough.  But secondly, I blame my educational institution for not exposing me to more female painters in my art history courses.  Currently, I am making an extended effort to dig up women who resonate with my artistic practice.  Thankfully, I have already found a few, but even with an art history background, I will say - it is difficult to unearth those gems who have been deliberately buried by patriarchy.




Here is some press for the show from The Star Tribune and MPR's The Current!