VVP: Art 434 & Engl. 410

Website for Vision Voice and Practice: An Interdisciplinary Course in Art and Creative Writing

Monday, April 6, 2015

Individual Practice

Each week students post examples of their on going individual studio practices. Here are a couple interesting ones from the  visual artists.

Natalie Crane

 Amy Geiken

 Chris Rasmussen

In this project artist, Lex Aquilina answers how many licks does it take to get to the center of a lollipop. 

Text-based spot collaboration

We asked students to write down one thing they had seen on their way to class. As they did this, we opened, on the screen, a browser. We then asked the students, one by one, to tell us what they wrote down, and we asked other students for each new word or phrase to give us a number, roughly 1 - 7. We made a search for each word or phrases, landing on the image corresponding to the number we received. For example, one student said they'd seen a "crosswalk" that morning, and another student said "4," so we looked at the fourth image of "crosswalk" that came up in the feed. We projected each image on the screen for a few seconds, and asked all the students to write down one or two "concrete," descriptive phrases and sentences for each one. Finally, after we'd gone through all the images, we put students in groups of two and three and asked them to make a collaborative poem out of the language they each now had. They didn't have to use all of it, but they couldn't add any new words, unless they were linkage words, like conjunctions or articles. The words that started the whole thing are below, followed by some of the poems.

Fat cat
Kids wobbling on their bikes
Red tea kettle
Fake bacon
My mother
My speedometer
Utility cart
A muffin I was eating it
Pet owner
Richard’s golf cart
My puppy wanting breakfast
Cement mixer
Flower bushes
The sun
Power washer


Not English Old woman, Keen-eyed baby Can be towed—Fluff or fat, A red child.
Weirdly angled Muffin, kiss?
Orange-lit night drive; Paths all around.
Billowing skirt—Way too loud, Too much emotion.
Flat dead bacon, Bright utility, Over 6000 rpms:
Wheels, lines, beams, glass; Fusion and fires;
Artificial Black sky Offsetting gray
Secure Floating truck.


Gateway View

A blonde woman in a green dress watching from the shadows guards the dream: people moving, eyelashes, purple divine roses; towering people stand like ugly machinery, surrounding, stiff, waiting. This is a library, a common square, a white line framed in black semicircles. It’s all moving way the hell too fast.


Meet the Johnsons

Daddy finally gave in. Lazy scoundrel. Ugh. The mad hatter is always drinking something. The punk. A new strider bike for crossing the street speeding to the nightclub. Don’t be so jealous. It’s a sin. Susi lived over the speed limit, a glowing speedometer. Over abundance. Fat lips on that bay. Hold my hand, happy while the small Sheppard dog sleeps.
Eat, sleep, repeat.


White White White Black

Black sleeping anything
White eating father
Pink kissing hell
Blue smiling kettle
Red holding gum
White laughing child

Four bombing doom
Two going machine
Two sleeping humiliation
Three holding death wish
Four eating turmoil
One hundred and forty eight nothing

That awful butterscotch
A rather sensual display
Don’t take a picture.

Image Text Collaborations

We asked teams of students to create works based on an image/text collaboration. The image was to be privileged. Here are a few fine examples.

Elkins reads Roden

Elkins’ How to look at Nothing reads Steve Roden’s The same sun spinning and fading

We had students read several chapters of James Elkins How to look use your eyes. We then asked them to use one of the chapters as a lense to read a Steve Roden art work. 

Here is an example by Janet Diaz:
          I see forms contained by black lines. Forms that want to expand but are constricted yet defined by the lines. There are colored forms within the colored forms that are not separate but submit to the larger color shape. I see colorful dynamism emerging, evolving, and forming out of the muted earth tones in the background. The black organic lines greatly enhancing the movement and activating the work by giving clear direction. The movement is balanced with moments where your eye drops quickly down a chute but then is caught by a more leveled horizontal wave of a line created by converging shapes. The background has shapes as well, but they are more linear and geometric, more rigid and not as organic and free flowing as the large colorful form that fluidly divides into smaller forms.

There is an abruptness to the select color that meets with the black line, clearly defining its form such as the two large red shapes on either side of the paint and a couple in the bottom center. Though there is an abruptness to the black lines, they unify and hold the piece together, almost as if they are keeping the chaos in order.

I see the work expanding off the picture plane, its exit being the bottom. There is no black line containing the color and it confidentially touches the edge without leaving any space between the edge and itself. The work is delightfully balanced with both muted and saturated hues. There are good spaces of rest in case your eye get tired or dizzy while trying to follow the avenues of color. 

Making Mistakes

The students read and responded to Walker Percy's Metaphore as Mistake. Here is Adrianna Coe's response:
As I read this essay by Walker Percy, I came to realize the high importance and value he places upon mistakes. He uses a few examples in this essay of mistakes or happy accidents, which lead to greater truths. He talks about how he misread a line from Rupert Brooke. He read,
                        The keen
Impassioned beauty of a great machine,

Percy later realized he was mistaken, and had read unpassioned as impassioned. However, this did not change how he was affected by the poetry and potential truth in what originally inspired him in the misread text. He sees how the readers or viewers are just as important as the writer or creator. The viewing of art, or reading of text is always collaboration between the creator and the audience. Percy realizes in his essay that mistakes allow for the creator to lose total control over their work, and allow the work to take on a life of its own, independent of the creator. These mistakes can reveal larger and deeper truths that the author or artist might not have ever stumbled upon on their own.

            I have found, many, many times, I both my own practice as well as my experience of other artist’s work that there are always hidden metaphors within a piece. Last semester, I painted a very simple, straightforward self-portrait on a white canvas, devoid of context. Since I finished this piece, it has sat in my garage at home. My family sees it every day, and every time someone mentioned it, they read into this piece a little more, trying to find the meaning within. When I painted this portrait, I intended it to be a simple study of the human form. However, over time, and my friends and family experiencing my portrait over a large span of time, this work has developed a history and is rich with meaning. They see my expression, posture, how I see myself, how they see me, etc. the mistakes that Percy writes about are some of the most wonderful moments in my art making. It takes the pressure off of me, as the artist, and I have learned to have fun with my work, and allow others into my space and process. Collaboration is not just between artists, but it also between the artist(s) and viewers, and the influence of natural human error, misinterpretation, accidents, and everything that doesn’t go “according to plan.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

VVP @ the CSW

Yesterday and today the English writing program threw the second annual Celebration of Student Writing. We were asked if we'd send some of our work out of our little classroom and into the wider world for display. We did, as this picture demonstrates...

Two Great Photography Projects

I came across these two projects this week, and both reminded me of the sort of stuff students do in this class: site-specific, inspired, inviting viewers/readers think a little outside themselves.
1) "There's Tiny Art Hiding in the Streets of London"