October 7, 2019

From Seed To Fruition - My Aerial Images of Large Scale Drawings Chosen for Western Massachusetts Visual Arts Biennial


Opening reception: In conjunction with Arts Night Out, Friday, October 11th, 5:00 - 8:00PM, at Forbes Library’s Hosmer Gallery, 20 West St., Northampton MA

Exhibition jurors: Donna Gates, Gallery Director and Curator, Salmon Falls Gallery; Jameson Johnson, Founder and Editor in chief, The Boston Art Review; Robert Wiesenburger, the Associate Curator of Contemporary Projects for The Clark Art Institute.

Friend and artist Keris Salmon recently introduced me via email to an artist friend of hers, Anna Hepler. When Hepler and I met (we both live in Greenfield), I learned that she often originates a certain idea/form and then manifests the same idea/form in a variety of media, such as clay, wood and block printing. Her multiple renderings of a single idea in a various ways planted a seed in my creative vision. 

Drawing with Dew

I sometimes do Zentangle drawing, an art form that blends drawing and meditation. By drawing repeated, structured patterns, abstract beauty emerges. Normally, with Zentangle, I use a pen and pencil, drawing on 3.5 inch squares of paper. Inspired by Hepler’s multifaceted approach, I wondered what it would be like to make a computer generated 3D print of a Zentangle pattern and then block print it, or draw on a scale so large that the image would only be fully visible from the sky.

Rick's Paradox - Straight Lines Create Curves - Zentangle Drawing (Not in the exhibition)
My personal artistic vision is one of open-minded exploration. While I love to go back in time, such as drawing with ink made from crushed berries, I also warmly embrace the use of contemporary digital tools. The fruition of my project combined elemental mark making using my feet with using a drone for aerial imaging of the large-scale artworks.

Drawing with Sand


One time I drew by shuffling my feet through dewy grass on the field behind Four Corners School in Greenfield, Mass. Another time, at the Green River Swimming and Recreation Area, I made lines in the sand with a single foot. At Walden Pond in Concord Mass., my drawing straddled the shoreline, with some lines continuing from the sandy beach under the pond’s surface. In each location, upon completing the drawing, I sent my drone aloft to photograph the work from on high.

Drawing with Sand and Water (Not in the exhibition)




My project bore so many fruits: ephemeral artwork that lasted mere hours before evaporating or being walked on; cardiovascular benefits as I worked up a sweat by walking/drawing; a mindfulness practice of literally taking it one step at a time, and a necessity to focus on the process, as I could not even see the product without flying a drone into the sky!

Thank you Anna Hepler for planting the seed.

It takes a village...  Big thanks also to former students Jason Kan and Zach Bednarczyk who have taught me everything I know about piloting drones for aerial imaging.  Thanks also to Jason for emboldening me to push the limits when editing images in Lightroom.  I would be remiss to not mention Cheryl Cianci, who I met at a gallery in Hartford. Her enthusiasm about the Zentangle drawing method led me to become a Certified Zentangle Teacher.

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com  Instagram: @john.nordell

August 22, 2019

Low-fi Tools Create Hi-fi Art - My Images Selected for The Somerville Toy Camera Fest


"The Somerville Toy Camera Fest: a “toy camera” is identified as any low-end, low-tech, limited-control camera, including Holga, Diana and other Lomo products, as well as Brownies and Anscos and any pinhole cameras.

An international festival in Somerville, MA celebrating the quirky and creative results that happen when the photographer is forced to loosen his/her controls.  ....we're happy to note that we had entries from 8 countries and 24 US states this year."

Three galleries will be presenting festival images.  My work will be at Washington St Art, 321 Washington Street, Somerville, MA  Opening Reception: Saturday, Sept 7, 6-8pm 
Regular Hours: Saturdays, 12-4 pm  Exhibition Dates: Sept 8 – 28, 2019   

Snow Sun Goddess

I began shooting film (again) in 2018 as a way to limit living a digital life and to get back to my photographic roots. Starting as a boy, and then later at a professional, I developed and printed hundreds of rolls film by hand. For my recent film experimentations I have been using three cameras. 1: My first Nikon, from the 1970s, a Nikomat. 2: A medium format Holga, bought used for $10. I had no idea if it worked. 3: A new Diana Mini.


East and West

With my first round of revisiting film photography, I shot six rolls of film before sending them off for processing. Bye-bye instant digital gratification. The anticipation built as I waited to see the scanned film. I cannot fully describe the thrill of seeing the scans of my film images. On one hand, I see them as rough, imperfect and bursting with soul. They disrupt clinical digital perfection. I vacillate though, wondering if I am making romantic excuses for sometimes messy, unsharp and grainy images.


Artist Statement - Bio

I liked the light falling on my printed Artist Statement.  More and more I realize that I just simply love shadows!

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program
 at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com  Instagram: @john.nordell



August 16, 2019

Interacting with Art: Inspired by the Museum Milieu


Self-portrait with Younes Rahmoun’s video animation “Seed” at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, MA.


Milieu


Milieu

Milieu
Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com  Instagram: @john.nordell


July 16, 2019

Manifold Histories - From Horse-Drawn Trams to Digital Cameras


"Gallery A3 is excited to announce its 6th Annual Juried Show, to be held August 1-31, 2019, with an opening reception on Thursday, August 1, from 5-8 pm."

I am excited that my image Manifold Histories was selected for the exhibition.  Hope to see you at the opening reception!  28 Amity Street, Amherst,  MA.

Manifold Histories


The digital image, an in-camera multiple exposure from my Reality-Based Abstraction series, melds multiple viewpoints simultaneously of the Summit House porches:

Porches and Pathways
This view from Mt. Holyoke has seen many changes, from industrial ascent and decline to the digital revolution.  According to MassMoments, "With the closest source of water halfway down the mountain, John French built a wooden railway to haul barrels of water up the track.  Power was provided by a horse hitched to a circling crank at the top.  French soon realized that, properly equipped, the tram could also transport people.  He installed the body of a sleigh, and passengers were soon being carried over 600 feet up the mountain.  Moving at a 38-degree angle, riders had the sensation of being pulled almost straight up."

The Covered Tramway, circa 1860.  Photo courtesy of MassMoments
In 2017, a Mt. Holyoke College graduate looked to creating her history:

Bring it On!


In the far distance, beyond the Connecticut River, is the Oxbow, a shape evocative of the apparatus placed over an ox's neck that connects the animal to a wagon.  You can see the Oxbow clearly in Thomas Cole's painting:

View From Mount Holyoke, Northampton, Massachusetts, After a Thunderstorm - The Oxbow,
by Thomas Cole, 1836, The Met

In the same way Cole (bottom center of the painting) looks at the viewer, perhaps asking, "What do you think?",  I encourage my students to look closely at this painting.  They pick out the trees cut down for farming, the storm clouds, the broken tree.  "Might the cut trees and storm foretell the industrial revolution that severely polluted these waterways?" I ask.

One day riding my bike I happened upon the Oxbow Water Ski Show Team demonstrating their athletic waterborne artistry on the Oxbow.  My water ski lesson starts at the 56 second mark in the video.



I wonder what Thomas Cole would make of this activity.  You would need hundreds of horses attached to a circling crank to power one of the boats.

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com  Instagram: @john.nordell



June 24, 2019

On The Joy of Community - Mass Art Educators Hang a Show


The Merry Band - Photo by Casey Westerlind
I spent a recent Saturday with this group of art educators hanging a juried show at the State Transportation Building in downtown Boston.

Much to Do

The exhibit was organized by the Massachusetts Art Education Association (MAEA).  Art teachers from across the state submitted images for consideration.  Unwrapping the carefully packaged selected works I felt like a kid excitedly and gratefully opening gifts.

Epiphany

We hang an art show each semester where I teach: American International College in Springfield, Mass.  Over the years, my students and I have refined the process.  However, learning how to create a jig (or template), as shown above, by affixing a hook on a table (far right) to precisely calculate the desired length of the hanging string, was a time-saving revelation.

Teamwork - Photo by Casey Westerlind

Much of the time we worked in pairs.  Here, I collaborate with Carolann Tebbetts.  She was patient, kind and gave precise instructions.  Sounds like a quality art teacher, right?

Almost Done

As the hours passed, we became a little punchy.  However, due to steady progress, beautiful art and deepening group camaraderie, it felt like only a handful of minutes to complete the work.

Happy Camper - Photo by Laura Marotta

The exhibit runs through 9/13/19. We hope you will join us at the closing reception: 9/15/19 at 4:00 pm.  The State Transportation Building is located at 10 Park Plaza, Boston MA, and is open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday and is closed holidays and weekends.

Below are my images in the show.  Both are double exposures, taken with inexpensive plastic film cameras.  Please click here for the backstory.

Gettysburg




East and West


Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com

March 23, 2019

Part 2: Shooting Film After All These Years - Pick Hits



The Three Musketeers
It was a great experiment in summer 2018, shooting film as a way to limit living a digital life and to get back to my photographic roots.  Starting as a boy, and then later at a professional, I developed and printed hundreds of rolls film by hand.

I used these three cameras.  On top, my first Nikon, from the 1970s, a Nikomat (aka Nikkormat), purchased for me by my uncle in Hong Kong.  It had a roll of film in it that I started shooting in 2011.  I obtained a new battery for the light meter, but did not know if it would work.

In the middle is a medium format Holga.  I bought it used for $10 at the In-Sight Photography project in Brattleboro, VT.  I had no idea if it was functional.

At the bottom is a Diana Mini.  The complex and creative film photographer Beth Maciorowski spoke to my photography students and suggested they use this camera for their nascent film explorations.

Beth also explained how to create multiple exposures and incremental, overlapping panoramic images.  Thank you Beth for the inspiration.

I shot six rolls of film before sending them off for processing.  Bye-bye instant digital gratification.  The anticipation built as I waited to see the scanned film.

I cannot fully describe the thrill of seeing the scans of my film images.  On one hand, I see them as rough, imperfect and bursting with soul.  They  disrupt clinical digital perfection.

I vacillate though, wondering if I am making romantic excuses for sometimes messy, unsharp and grainy images.

Click on images to enlarge them.

For additional film explorations, I invite you to also visit Part 1: Shooting Film After All These Years - Process         
                                    
Holga - East and West






                                     Holga - From Concord to Rowe to Pittsfield, MA                               

Diana Mini - Boston Harbor



Diana Mini - Walden Pond

Diana Mini - Gettysburg 




Holga - Empire State Building 



Diana Mini - Long Point Light

Nikomat - Labor Rally, Greenfield, MA 2011

Nikomat - Self-Portrait, Same Roll of Film as Labor Rally, 2018


Nikomat - Shutter Click Heard 'Round the World


Nikomat - Dam


Nikomat - Black and White Sails

Professor John Nordell teaches courses in the Visual and Digital Arts Program at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He blogs about the creative process at CreateLookEnjoy.com