December 12, 2012

[ ] Windows on the Artistic Process [ ] and Election Day [ ]

A week and a half before Election Day, I swung by a lunchtime gallery talk given by Ellen Alvord at the Mount Holyoke College Museum of Art:  African American Artists and the Experimental Printmaking Institute:  The Janet Hickey Tague '66 Collection.  Alvord's talk effectively mixed technical details along with the aesthetic approach each artist brought brought to printmaking, whether David C. Driskell carving and printing the top of a stool or Faith Ringgold alluding to her story quilts by printing marks that evoke actual thread stitches.

Melvin Edwards, Untitled, 2005
 "The material is the metaphor for what you want to create."
Sculptor Melvin Edwards used a laser to cut a 1/4 inch thick aluminum plate to print this striking image.  From the notes jotted in my sketchbook:  Slave blacksmiths created chains at night to make extra money to buy their freedom. 

After the talk I discussed with Alvord teaching the creative problem solving process and she generously printed out for me the article Let's Get Serious About Cultivating Creativity by Steven J. Tepper and George D. Kuh. (Download the PDF.)  Inspired and energized, I drove home along the Connecticut River corridor, pondering cutting and then printing aluminum.

Plate and Stencil

The day before the Obama-Romney showdown, I started cutting some aluminum flashing bought at Home Depot.  Laboring to cut the material a matte knife, I flip flopped between yearning for the precision and power of Melvin Edward's laser and enjoying experimenting with refining methods to cut the shapes I desired with the tools I possessed. 

Nature's Adhesive

Knowing of Faith Ringgold's powerful symbolic use of the American flag in her work, and with the election nigh, I combined the two ideas.  Aiming for art rather than craft,  I eschewed glue and attached the punched aluminum stars with sap from a pine tree.

Process and Product

Watch the whole process unfold:

Both Sides Now

On my way in to vote, I worked with the light penetrating a Scott Brown for Senate sign.


Posing for a picture, I made my marks with care and precision, imagining I was teaching my Zentangle drawing students.

Compass Points - Walking to the Polls

Leaving the polls, I delved into making multiple exposures.

Thank you - Melvin Edwards - for the inspiration.
I outline the artistic process as follows in the syllabus for my digital photography students at American International College:

Prepares - Contemplates: plans, sketches, thinks, writes, looks at art and works on basics.

Practices - Creates: tests techniques, experiments, has fun, produces art.

Makes Mistakes - Redoes: takes risks, seeks peer and instructor support, tries again and learns from failure.

Presents - Appraises: Online exhibits, reflective journaling and critique.

Create Art.  Look at Art.  Enjoy your Life.  © 2012 John Nordell