Reflections

SGCI 2018 - Las Vegas by Clarissa Gonzalez

So.... to be honest I was a little iffy about this trip to Vegas before we left. I'm not talking about the 21 hour drive there and back (plus a detour to the Grand Canyon, which was totally worth it), but really about the whole SGCI conference in general.  The whole point of this conference is to be an convergence of printmakers, sharing ideas, techniques, and creating new connections with other printers across the globe. It still does all of these things, but with a bit of a cost.

I know I sound extremely negative in the beginning of this post, and I didn't really intend for it to sound this way, but I'm being honest about my initial thoughts. So I'll go through some aspects of the conference and kinda show the pros and cons of the whole situation.

First is the whole idea of Vegas.  Who thought it was a good idea to have a conference in Vegas? Or that it was a good idea to take a bunch of undergrads to Vegas (I'm glad I didn't lose any of them!). One of the biggest issues I have with the conference is how expensive it is becoming, not just with conference fees, but paying for hotel and travel. Because the Vegas strip ain't cheap.  The purpose is to bring these printers, educators, artists, and students together, but end up excluding a large majority of these people (especially students) because they can't afford the costs of the trip.  I know that without grant and fund raised money, we would not have been able to go.

Enough of my nagging and I will get to the cool stuff:

DEMOS/PANELS/VENDORS

This is basically the meat and potatoes of the conference. 

The vendor fair is always really cool, because its seems that everyone always comes together here just to socialize. And you get discounted or free loot!

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While with some of the demonstrations and panels of the conference are been done before, its always interesting to see and learn.  Mostly because printers are always looking to see how other people do things.  Because sometimes you learn something new or just learn a new trick from someone else (or solidify that you are doing something a better way).

I went to visit three of the demonstrations. The first being a comparison of metal and wood engraving. While I'm not an engraver it is a type of art that I appreciate (and in awe of) very much. It was interesting to learn the differences of the two techniques and the histories behind them.

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I also attended a demo of electro-etching, while this is not a new technique and is mostly used for commercial purposes, it was interesting to see. I had never seen this done before, and especially would not have considered it in a studio setting. Is it something I would do? No it is not, even if I did etching on the regular.  Printers are always looking for ways to become more eco-friendly (which I'm totally for, even if I'm very much set in my ways).  Conducting this process works to eliminate the need for corrosives, which is cool, but doesn't really work in the art making process. By becoming more eco-friendly, you end up losing the quality of mark making that makes etchings so beautiful.

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The last demo I actually wasn't planning on going to see, but Hannah was interested in it so I decided to go give it a look see.  What the artists was doing was printing collographs into clay tiles and firing them. While this doesn't seem so special, it was not something that I would have thought about.  What was nice about this demo was not just the simplicity of it but it went though what could go wrong with the process and trouble shot any issues one may have from doing this technique.

What I really enjoy are the panels. While most people find these to be bland, I actually find them to be really informative. I've always have found myself to be interested in people's stories, and that exactly what we get out of these panels. The first I attend was about women being community leaders in print (as shown in the picture).  The four women in the panel all come from different backgrounds and are leaders in four different types of print foundations, from a print shop, a non-profit foundation, a foundation for profit, and a community service center geared towards veterans. It was interesting to here their successes and their woes.  One thing they all had in common was the need to stay financially alive. Which is a sad truth in their world.  There is always a constant struggle to fight to stay alive.  What I found touching was one of their shared successes and that is the success of the artists and prints that go to work with them.  I believe this to be the same in academics as well.  

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One of the most important things I got out of this panel came as an answer to a student's question.  The student had asked the panelists (who are all white), what they were doing to help women of color and those in the LGBQT+ communities. They help the at risk communities of their cities and work with trans and artists of color to further their artistic journey. They talked about working towards their needs, these women saw the lack of print shops in their own towns, the need for residencies that help artists who are also mothers, and the need to further educate, and have women as leaders in the boys club that is printmaking.  AND THEY MADE IT HAPPEN.  The majority of that room was white, so they stated that if we see that POC, especially women are not being represented, well then we have to change that.

TRADE PORTFOLIOS/OPEN PORTFOLIO SESSIONS

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This is the fun part of SGCI. You could not go to any other part of the conference and just this and still feel that you got something out of it (which some people did). This is where the networking really happens, and you get to check out what other people are doing and share techniques and ideas.

What as nice for me to see what that other people are also working abstractly, something that you don't see very much in print.  It has a tendency (and history) of being very graphic. But I've come to notice that techniques and art styles seem to come in waves, and that is okay.  Or maybe it just has to do with who is teaching you. I'm still kind of thinking of the answer behind that.

But back to abstraction, I was able to get new ideas and see different styles. It made me consider how to handle my own work.  I spent a lot of time speaking with Mark Bovey who is an associate professor at NSCAD University in Nova Scotia. He primarily works in washes and acrylic reversals in conjunction with charts and graphs. It was interesting to look at his work and see a way how to marry my love of washes with the map work I'm currently making.  Will I do it the same way he is doing it? No most definitely not, but its something to think about.  Above is the work by Kelsey Stephenson, from Alberta. I fell in love with her work. Maybe because at one point I wanted to make work like this, but at a much larger scale.  It was really nice talking to her and hearing about her process and her ideas in art making.

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What is most important about this is the networking.  While my primary goal was to recruit new grads, and I did talk to a lot of really talented artists looking into graduate school (not just in print either!). But it is also important for everyone else to make connections as well.  Which is one of the reason I'm really thankful for Ryan and Rich, because at any point I was walking around with them they would introduce me to all sorts of different people. And I tried to do the same for the undergrads that came with me.  Pictured is Allie with my friend Liz. Liz is the intern for the shop I used to work at in Austin. They became fast friends while hanging out in the casino, but she is well connected with the print shops in Austin and has printed for some big name printers. I also made a connection with some former graduates of TAMUCC, especially with Steph Alaniz, who is a grad at WVU. I have been told by many that I needed to meet here, and when we finally did, we just clicked.

All in all, even with my initial qualms it was really good and productive trip. Leaving me inspired and ready to finish my first year of grad school and maybe start some new projects.

1st Critique Response by Clarissa Gonzalez

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I'm not really sure how to start this post....or even how to go about it. I was kind of nervous about going into this critique. 

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As I had stated before, all of this is a new way of working for me.  Besides not having made a sculpture in I don't even know how long; monotyping is a new mode of working for me as well. I'm so used to stringent planning and layering of prints. While I haven't made an edition of prints in a while, I was initially planning on going back to do that this semester. 

WELL ALL OF THAT WENT OUT THE WINDOW.

And that's okay.

I print to play. I start with a stack of paper and my random found materials and just go at it.  What is interesting to me is how some design and abstract elements seem to come out of my work even if I don't intend it to.  I'm attracted to use of line and pattern.  As shown in the red piece below. I was just layering the collagraph piece I had created. The radial composition and patterning just fell into place.

Which asks the question of how I should handle printing these monotypes.  Should I be more considerate of composition? Or lay objects as they are, to act as another form of documenting these objects.  This question was arisen in critique, and I'm not quite sure what the answer is.  I feel different people would have different answers to this question. That is one of the things I truly enjoy about abstract work. That everyone has a different opinion or different memories or personal experiences that can be attached to a piece. In other words, the question that I pose would have different answers from different people.

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What I struggle most with these the margin of success and error. I knew going into this that some of these little prints would be success and some would be major fails. Honestly, its scary and I don't like it one bit. But I'm taking it as part of the learning experience, and hopefully better work will come out of it.

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It was recommend that I try and work the same way concerning my sculptures. I'm not sure if I can mentally handle that.  Or maybe that's not the right way to say that.  The difference of working with prints and that I'm starting with a pretty good amount of paper to fool around with.  While I can very easily go find more found piece of trash (or treasures) I feel that I'm limited with the amount of objects I have. Looking back I know I don't, but I feel that way once I start building.  Maybe as I make more I will start to become more comfortable with the materials and feeling the freedom to create with them.

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It was recommended that I become more grounded in my sculpture making.  That I let gravity take too much control on sculpture.  It is interesting to me because I had never considered this way of looking at it before. Or really I never realized it.  I'm striving to create works that are more free flowing like my prints without putting the work to actually make them that way. SO I NEED TO WORK ON THAT.

Leticia recommended that I look at the work of Marjetica Potrc. At first glance I was really confused on why; considering Potrc creates works that are concerned with DIY social/living structures.  As I continued reading I started to realize why.  It was more about creating these large scale works (that also function) out of found materials.  It was inspiring to see what can be created out of found objects. It just reminds me that I need to step up my game.

*Chuck Close by Clarissa Gonzalez

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I'm writing in response to the New York Times and Huffington Post articles concern the response of sexual harassment accusations directed towards Chuck Close.

Back in December, HuffPost posted an article stating the sexual harassment accusations against Chuck Close. Since then eight women have spoken up stating that Close told them to get naked during modelling sessions. 

Since then the exhibit of Close's work at the National Portrait Gallery set to open in April has been indefinitely postponed.  His current exhibit at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts has not been taken down, but after the deliberation of the Academy, they have opened an adjacent exhibit concern issues of sexual harassment. 

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The New York Times posed the question of whether an asterisk should be put next to Chuck Close's name when presenting this work.  The article compared it to the asterisk placed next to Floyd Mayweather, Jr's portrait hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. Which states his domestic violence charges on the description card.  The article continues on saying that this is typical when describing the subject matter of an art piece but not necessarily for the artist.

This is beyond just putting an asterisk next to Chuck Close's name.  For centuries artists, such as Picasso and Schiele (both whom are well known for mistreating women) have shown in museums and institutions for a very long time without asterisks next to their names. Do museums and art institutions have the right to state what is right and what is wrong with culture? To put their opinions on the description card? While yes it is easy as a society to say that being a sexual harasser is wrong (and that SHOULD NOT change), I think of Adolf Hitler's Degenerate Art Show, and the xenophobia currently felt by too many Americans. That makes me think, that maybe institutions should not state their opinion on works or artists. 

Many curators also feel that they shouldn't put asterisks on the works. However others feel differently. Performance artist, Emma Sulkowicz (who uses the gender-neutral pronoun, they) is one of these people. Sulkowicz is known for carrying their dormitory mattress across campus until their accused rapist was expelled from Columbia University. They both graduated together in 2015. On January 30th, Sulkowicz silently protested in front of Close's work in New York but standing, in black underwear, high heels, asterisks over their nipples, and asterisks drawn on their body.  The asterisks are in direct response to the New York Times article from a few days before.

SANGSUK SYLVIA KANG  Performance artist Emma Sulkowicz protests Chuck Close’s artwork in the 86th Street subway station in New York by providing their own asterisks on Jan. 30.  Huffington Post

SANGSUK SYLVIA KANG

Performance artist Emma Sulkowicz protests Chuck Close’s artwork in the 86th Street subway station in New York by providing their own asterisks on Jan. 30. Huffington Post

Sculkowicz speaks on the behalf of the survivors and against the masculinity of the museum space.

Either way, Chuck Close is just the beginning. The #MeToo movement has a potential effect on the museum scene, and I'm interested to see what is too come.

ESCAPE FROM PRESSURE ISLAND! by Clarissa Gonzalez

I must write about the closing party for Print Austin, Escape from Pressure Island! This has become a yearly show that Ryan puts on exhibiting print works from students, faculty, and alumni of TAMUCC.  I must say that the show came out really well!

I do have to take a moment and thank Ryan for this one.  None of this would have been possible without him.  He spent all week framing and preparing works to be hung the day before the show.

Ryan and I went to hang the show on Friday. It was important to Ryan to make this show look professional and to be at a higher caliber.  I took the  hanging as a lesson in curation. Some difficult decisions (that I'm not going to mention) had to be made, and sometimes you have to do what is right even if it is not necessarily the nicest decision.  Either way our hard work paid off.

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PRINTAUSTIN: SOLAR // MISREMEMBRANCE by Clarissa Gonzalez

So a little bit about PrintAustin from the people at PrintAustin (because they are way better at words than I am):

PrintAustin's mission to the Austin art community and galleries is to share our enthusiasm for printmaking by helping galleries curate, exhibit, and promote works on paper and to engage a wider audience through in-house artist talks, signings, panels, printmaking demonstrations, and print-focused art happenings. PrintAustin

And this is exactly what PrintAustin does.  It started a few years ago as a small group of galleries and print shops in Austin hosting different exhibitions, demonstrations, and a juried show. Now the event has now grown to an international juried exhibition, multiple galleries showing arts on paper, demonstrations, panels, and artist-talks, all promoting prints.  I feel that the month long event has grown for the good. Not only has brought in a larger audience for print related arts but it also makes it easier for emerging and all ready established print-based artists to show, share information, and generally come together.

My print, Solis, was also chosen for all the promotional work for the show!

My print, Solis, was also chosen for all the promotional work for the show!

Which made me pretty excited when my piece was chosen to be apart of a group exhibition at the Art.Science.Gallery

So a little bit about the Art.Science.Gallery: its a space that shows artwork steeped in and reflective of scientific ideas. They strive to show work that integrate scientific knowledge discovery through artistic processes.

The premise for SOLAR was prints that were either about, made by or for the sun. Which immediately made me think about my print, Solis.

Solis comes from an ongoing body of work, The New Frontier, that I started in 2015. I'm inspired by the scientific endeavors to fully comprehend the different planets, stars, moons, and other entities in our universe. Solis (in reference to the sun), is part of this body of work, that is my interpretation of a full reconnaissance of our solar system (I'm still on Jupiter's moons, there is 69 of them). Current space missions such as New Horizons, Mars Curiosity, and Juno bring forth a plethora of imagery and information from space.  Some of these missions' concerns are the surface properties and atmospheres of the outer reaches of space. Solis speaks on the intensity, radiation, and brightness of the sun's photosphere and while the science behind the new discoveries may not be apparent in my work there is an integration of landscape, cartography, and the impression of looking through a micro or telescope in the prints.

But that is enough about me.....

The other great opening of the weekend was TAMUCC own Silas Braux's solo exhibition, Misremembrance at Slugfest Printmaking Workshop and Gallery. Slugfest holds a place dear to my heart (mostly because I printed there for close to four years). While you may go there for the awesome art or the cooperative workshop, you stay for the company, crazy bathroom, cats, and wine. 

Silas was chosen by Tom Druecker and Margaret Simpson of Slugfest from the Full Court Press Juried Exhibition last fall.  His work comes from his observations of the relationship between natural and built environments.  It is a stunning show of 2D and 3D works, and Silas' hard work has paid off!

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All in all it was a great art filled weekend! I'll be back in Austin for ESCAPE FOR PRESSURE ISLAND on February 10th! All the work featured are from artists from the printmaking department at TAMUCC.

Getting Started by Clarissa Gonzalez

To me the first post is always the hardest. It reminds me of when I was ten years old and I would buy one of those diaries with the tiny lock from the book fair. It would be cutely (is that a word?) designed with flowers or stars or glitter and would come with a pack of stickers or a glitter gel pen. My favorite thing would be the empty pages ready to be written or drawn on. I remember flipping through the lightly dyed purple or pink lined pages, excited to fill the book. But then this ten year old's anxiety would settle in (really how anxious can a ten year old be). I didn't know what to start with;   I couldn't handle ruining what I thought was the best object I ever bought with my allowance.

This might be why I don't like keeping a sketchbook.

Anyway, I eventually get over myself, and start drawing, writing stories, taking notes on the everyday. Which is what this blog is for.

Now that I have bored whoever might be reading this with my trip down memory lane. I'm actually really excited (and maybe a little nervous) about this semester. While this first year of grad school has been about making work and experimentation, I'm wanting to be more conscious about what I'm thinking about; whether it be the universe, dark energy, water, the Earth, topography. I'm in search of way to bring these obsessions together. Let see what comes!