Going in, I really did not know what to expect. We had a supply list to bring with us, but I didn't know anyone else who would be part of the program so I was excited to make friends with some new art teachers. I did not realize that they would be from so many far away places...I thought many would be from Missouri, but there were only three or four other Missouri teachers in the entire program. I was taking the residency as a class and paid a little extra to get 2 graduate level studio art credits.
We stayed in the residence hall and ate mostly in the student cafeteria for meals. The first thing we did when we got to campus and were settled in, was to take a tour. Many famous artists have attended the Art Institute including Nick Cave and Walt Disney. We got to see many of the art studios and facilities on campus.
The next day we started our first class on campus. The 11 of us painters went to the painting building, while the product design people were in the lab designing stuff to be 3D printed and the photographers were planning their photo series for the week. The photography and product design groups were a little smaller. I heard that painting was the largest group because so many people want to do the painting class, but it is hard to get into. In fact, there were a couple people in the other studios that really wanted to be in painting but did not get in. I felt proud that I had been selected.
That morning, Jonah did a demo on how to get started painting from a live model. He went over how to set up our palette with warm/cool colors and how to look at the lighting in the mostly white room. He learned our names quickly and I was very impressed by how funny and engaging he was as an instructor.
When you take a class like this, it is always funny because you think that you know a lot about art, until you hear someone else explain it better...and then you realize that you don't know anything and you start to doubt yourself and try to hold in all of the information as much as you can. The new input wants to burst out as quickly as it goes in, I wanted to write down every nugget of information so that it would stick in my brain.
We had lunch and then Jonah gave a great lecture on art history. He talked about Abstraction, Modernity and Modernism.
My main take away from this lecture was thinking about how atmosphere, zeitgeist, process and existentialism influenced the artists in the abstraction movement differently. Also, society was changing and people of the middles classes were trying to find a language to describe internal feelings and struggles. They borrowed terms from music to describe art and and color became a metaphor.
Great quotes: "The reconstruction of society, nature, the mind and material construction became a frontier for thought in ways that previous generations were not able to entertain, due to the power and disposition of entrenched institutions."
"As older institutions lost power, there was a search for newer ones, spirituality underwent many avant garde changes, the personal, mystic experience was often at the center of surrealist and abstract artists interest, ritual occult practices, although not popular were also en vogue. The independence streak of Modern people’s zeitgeist resisted the success of this kind of new medieval iconography but it remains an undercurrent, complimenting Freud through Jung."
Tuesday was a lot like Monday with a lot of time to work from the model in the morning, and a lecture in the afternoon. Tuesday morning, we had to take a piece from someone else's artwork and repaint it, continuing it on abstractly to create a new image.
My take away from the lecture was that people started to use less content, with the purpose of imposing a strong feeling about an image to invoke meaning. Many connections were made with contemporary artists and how they relate to the original abstract artists in the early 20th century. (Julie Mehretu, Dana Schutz)
Quote from the lecture:
"Modernism is the title given to a kind of aesthetic ideaology, or project that was in some ways superimposed upon the activities of many artists, thinkers, architects etc. Its fundamental argument is that the new age required a new orientation of the traditional arts to more sufficiently explain being and thought. Industrialization, Darwinism, modularity and the rise of American culture and industry (due to its remaining infrastructure after ww1 and ww2) allowed for this notion of “newness” to be deeply inspiration in midcentury American artists."
My biggest take away from this lecture was how does it feel to be alive as an artist in the world right now?
Jonah was not afraid to paint right on our paintings to demonstrate something. "What is this, work for your show at the louvre," he joked. Jonah encouraged us to find 5 hours a week to work on our own artwork. He said that teachers are like Ferraris, we are always on and moving fast.
Thursday morning, we did not work from the model, we just worked in our studios. After lunch, we walked over to the Nelson-Atkins to see the 30 Americans Show. After that, we carpooled to the West Bottoms to see Jonah's studio. Dinner that night was in the banquet hall on campus, they catered Q39 BBQ for us. After a presentation about portfolios from the recruiting office, we had to hang our show in the gallery.
Jonah provided very thoughtful insight into our work and gave each of us very different advice. He told me: "You are a very gifted artist. You are running on a 6 cylindar but you don't turn it on very often. You need to trust your instincts with your camera, don't be afraid to make it uglier. You can make art that looks good, but you've done that before you have found yourself as an artist. You have a need to be a good wife, career, friend and artist at the same time, you need to make artwork that is like if you won the lottery/ship is going down."
Wow, I've never had a critique like that in my life. It felt good to be noticed as an artist and a person and to be respected.
Not many people came to see, but it was fun to see what the photography students and the product design students had been working on.
Also, I won a prize for my social media use of our hashtag (you can use it to see more images from the week on instagram) #kcaieal #eal2019 My prize was geli plates!