Monday, December 29, 2014

Rob Tarbell in Installation Magazine

Rob Tarbell’s new work from the All Ages and Failure to Appear series was featured at Decorazon Gallery (London) at SCOPE Miami.  

Installation Magazine has posted an article and video studio visit/interview of Rob by Matthew McLendon, Modern and Contemporary Curator at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art as part of their coverage of Art Basel, Miami.

Rob was awarded the 2014/2015 John Ringling Towers Fund Individual Artist Award by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County for the Failure to Appear series.

For sometime now, Rob has been using smoke in his work to create lyrical gesture and a mysterious atmospheric quality. Rob uses paper suspended above a flame to take advantage of smoke’s natural inclination to rise. Wearing a flame resistant suit and using a fresh air system with a mask and air hose, he carefully controls the accumulation of smoke on the paper surface. In some works Rob allows the Wearing a flame resistant suit and uses a fresh air system with a mask and air hose.

One series from Failure to Appear that uses aspects of silkscreen technique to repeat the image, prominently features holes accidentally made during the smoking process. These become more pronounced in subsequent versions of the image making for a very interesting and rather unsettling degradation of the original image.

Robert Reed 1938-2014

VCCA is very saddened to report the death of its great friend and supporter Robert Reed on December 26, 2014. A former VCCA board member and founder and Director of the Institute for Studio Studies at VCCA's the Moulin à Nef in Auvillar, France (part of Yale University’s Summer Session), Robert’s "commitment to VCCA in Auvillar helped ensure the success of the program," according to Sheila Gulley Pleasants VCCA Director of Artists Services. Robert's widow, Susan Whetstone, relates that VCCA was "such a crucial part of his being able to pursue his passion to teach studio arts. There was nothing more important to him than "his" program in Auvillar and he counted it as one of his singularly most significant accomplishments."   

Robert was a highly regarded member of the faculty of Yale University’s School of Art’s Department of Painting and Printmaking for almost fifty years where he was a beloved professor known for his “tough love” style of teaching.

A gifted artist who used a dynamic language of abstract forms, Robert’s paintings and paper constructions have a palpable energy with bold, jagged shapes and vibrant colors that threaten to explode off the surface. Though firmly rooted in an abstract expressionist formalism, Robert used his work as a means to process and document personal experiences. During his career, Robert participated in group shows at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, the Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Robert had solo shows at the Whitney; the Fralin Museum and Second Street Gallery both in Charlottesville, Virginia; the Washburn Gallery in New York; and the McIntosh Gallery in Atlanta. His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Fralin Museum.

Born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1938, Robert received his BS in 1958 from Morgan State, a historically black college located in Baltimore. His lengthy association with Yale followed. He received his BFA in 1960 and his MFA two years later. It was in 1969 that Robert began his teaching career at the university when he was appointed a professor of Painting and Printmaking.

Robert also served as Director of Undergraduate Studies at the School and was also Director of Graduate Studies in Painting. In addition to his teaching duties at Yale, Robert also lectured extensively and taught at Skidmore College and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he was head of the Foundation Studies Division in 1964.

Robert’s commitment to intensive studio studies and practice was reflected in his close ties not just to VCCA but also to the MacDowell Colony where he also served on the board, and to Yaddo where he was a fellow.

Robert received many awards and accolades including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980, the national award from the National Council of Art Administrators in 2000, and in 2001 he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2004 Robert received the Distinguished Teaching of Art award from the College Art Association. He was elected to the National Academy Fellowship in New York in 2009.

Robert had been ill for several years and while waging his courageous battle with cancer, he never waivered from his dedication to his students. VCCA extends its condolences to Robert’s family and wide circle of colleagues, students and friends.

Jennifer Karady’s "Soldiers' Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan"

Jennifer Karady’s long-term photographic project, Soldiers' Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan consists of staged narrative photographs that are collaborations between Jennifer and the veterans she photographs.
Before taking the photographs, Jennifer interviews the veterans to pinpoint a moment in war that has stayed with them, following them back into the civilian world. So the photographs present both the memory of war and how that memory has manifested itself in the present — in essence Jennifer is interested in conveying the experience of two realities at the same time, a common occurrence for those returning from war. Accompanying text and audio tells the story in the veterans’ own words. Jennifer’s project speaks to the humanity of the servicemen and women: ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances.

Soldiers' Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan was featured on the PBS NewsHour on November 11 in honor of Veterans Day and is currently on view in 
In Country: Soldiers’ Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan at the Palm Springs Art Museum through March 29, 2015. 
Jennifer’s project, which is ongoing, has been funded by grants from the Compton Foundation and Getty Images; commissions from the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Institute of Humanities at the University of Michigan, and through an award of the 2013 Witt Artist-in-Residence position at the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan.

Moss' "Omeer's Mangoes" takes top spot at 2015 Saturday Evening Post's Great American Fiction Contest

More good news for N. West Moss whose short story, Omeer's Mangoes, as reported here, won the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom Award back in the fall.

The story has now also won the Saturday Evening Post's Great American Fiction Contest of 2015.

“Omeer’s Mangoes is my first piece of fiction to reach a national audience,” says West. “The New York Times published an essay back in 2008, and that was exciting and unexpected. But this is exciting in a completely different way. Having people read my fiction feels much more vulnerable because it is entirely mine in a way that nonfiction skirts.”

After receiving her MFA from William Paterson University in 2013, West took a year off to write full-time. The hard work has paid off as West has been mopping up the awards. In addition to the Faulkner-Wisdom and The Saturday Evening Post kudos, she has also won the Diana Woods Memorial Award for Creative Nonfiction — for work appearing in such journals as The Westchester Review, The Blotter, and Hospital Drive.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Adria Arch "Passing Strange" in Staunton, VA

Passing Strange at the Hunt Gallery, Mary Baldwin College features new work by Adria Arch on view January 12–30, 2015. Adria credits her April 2012 residency at VCCA as the reason for the show. It was then that she met Dinah Ryan, also in residence. A critic of contemporary art and visual culture, and an independent curator, Dinah has been she has been a contributing editor for Art Papers magazine since 1992. Dinah’s husband, Paul Ryan, is the Hunt Gallery’s director.

Based in Arlington, Massachusetts, Adria is a mixed-media artist who produces striking compositions that pair strong graphic elements and intense color. There is a purposeful rightness to her compositions despite the fact that Adria incorporates bits of chance in the form of doodles and paint spills: “I look at the edges of things: the eccentric and unpredictable shapes found in unexpected places such as the puddles and pools of spilled paint and the overlooked doodle found in the margins of a notebook, or the swooping lines of tar patches on asphalt after a hard winter … I begin each piece by pouring and pooling paint onto thin plastic, allowing the colors to disperse and blend naturally. When the puddles dry, I cut out the most interesting shapes. These forms become central to my work and I respond to them with additional painting and collage. A narrative is suggested but not pinned down.”

Adria’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited throughout New England and nationally at a variety of venues, including Bromfield Gallery (Boston, MA), Danforth Museum of Art (Danforth, MA) and the Joseph Gross Gallery (Tucson, AZ) among others. Adria’s work is in numerous public, corporate, and private collections, including the Boston Public Library, the Library of Congress Collection of Prints, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. She is also a technical consultant for GOLDEN Artist Colors and teaches privately and at local museums and art centers.

A closing reception will be held on January 28 (4:30 to 6:00 PM).

Friday, December 19, 2014

Honoring Seed Saving: Rachel Breen's Social Practice

Seed saving is a topic Rachel Breen’s explored from a number of different angles over the past four years. The practice preserves heirloom seeds by collecting them and then sowing them, with the goal of keeping the plants in circulation. Seed saving speaks to the very essence of sustainability. In husbanding what we have inherited from the past and passing it onto future generations, we are fulfilling a sacred duty.

We’ve all heard about the threat from GMOs, but as Rachel explains there are other factors negatively impacting our agricultural biodiversity. “One of the problems is that we’ve lost a lot of edible plants over the last 100 years,” she says. “Many farms, in their effort to provide a particular kind of tomato or apple to a grocery store, have only planted certain varieties, letting other ones disappear.”

Prior to arriving for her VCCA residency, Rachel visited Association Kokopelli, the largest seed saving organization in France, where she made drawings of the seeds in the collection. “In all my research about seed saving what I’ve seen are storerooms with shelves full of brown glass jars or plastic containers or plastic bags. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I wanted to depict the seeds in really important containers, like treasure chests, because that’s how precious I want to say they are.” This sense of value is evident in the very nomenclature: an heirloom being something valuable passed down through the generations.

While in France, Rachel also went to the Louvre to source rare and beautiful containers: jewel encrusted snuffboxes, ornate reliquaries and so forth. Influenced by folk art, her renditions, which she’s been working on while at VCCA, are not completely representational. The project has forced her to think about things she hasn’t thought about in years like composition and dimension. She’s fiddled with the colors using brightly hued pencils and played with their shapes a bit before pairing them with a particular heirloom varietal like black Aztec corn, Japanese millet or Bloomsdale spinach.

Recent research has revealed the Cherokees carried black bean seeds on the Trail of Tears. Her next challenge is to do a drawing about this. “When you think about the Trail of Tears how awful it was,” says Rachel. “And yet, they carried these seeds. It tells you how important they were, and in a sense they represent the future and hope. How can I do justice to the seed and to the people that carried them?”

The work Rachel’s been doing at VCCA is a departure for her. Like many Fellows, she has been able to use her residency to push herself in a more experimental direction, exploring new ways of expression. Typically, Rachel works in a non-representational mode, with a major piece of equipment being an unthreaded sewing machine which she uses to punch holes in paper. Sometimes she runs the paper through repeatedly so it falls apart and then she sews the pieces back together. Other times, she uses the sewing machine needle to make a stencil. She shakes powdered charcoal through the holes to produce a design on a surface, or, in ephemeral installations, directly onto a gallery wall.

This fall, funded by a grant from Minnesota, Rachel bought an airbrush and reproduced the effect of her charcoal stencils on garages in her neighborhood as part of The Heirloom Project. The medium was well suited for the delicate heirloom plants and seeds she created; their delicacy and fragility neatly evoking the precious plants and seeds they represented. Rachel led walking tours of the murals, teaching participants about seed saving and giving out free seeds donated by the Seed Savers Exchange. She encouraged people to both plant those seeds and also to save seeds from their gardens to be placed in a seed library at the local community center.

“My work has always been about social issues and political issues, but I get really tired of art that’s just critical,” says Rachel. “It’s really easy to complain. I’m interested in work that can be political, but also offer solutions. Seed saving is such a cool thing,” she continues. “Because it’s affirming—it’s such a positive way to be political and to make a point. It’s a very optimistic act to me, very hopeful about the future. Seed saving is something that affects everyone and it’s something anyone can do. It’s not only cheaper than buying new seeds it also ends up making the plants stronger because you tend to save the seeds from the hardiest plants, and this helps to cultivate that strength and the plants therefore can adapt to our changing environment.”

Rachel’s next project focuses on the relationship between the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the Ranza Plaza Fire in Bangladesh. Because she works with a sewing machine, she feels a special kinship with the workers in both these tragedies. Thanks to a grant, Rachel and her collaborator, a writer, will be going to Bangladesh in February to meet with survivors of the Ranza Plaza fire, go to the site and visit other garment factories.

“There’s something very intimate about working with the stitch, because almost all humans throughout the word wear a stitch close to their body,” she says. “It’s so common, human and intimate. I want to get people thinking about that and who makes our clothes. I don't see getting people to buy fair trade as a viable option for many of us. But I am interested in coming up with specific actions people can take to address the terrible working conditions garment workers face."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lori Horvitz’s "The Girls of Usually" to Be Published

Lori Horvitz’s new collection of personal essays: The Girls of Usually, hailed as “Deeply intimate and wickedly funny," will be available February 1, 2015 from Truman State University Press.

A professor of Literature and Language at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, where she teaches courses in creative writing, literature, and women, gender and sexuality studies, Lori’s work has appeared in Epiphany, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Hotel Amerika, and Chattahoochee Review among others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Adam Grossi's "Wind Through Quiet Tensions" to Be Published

Adam Grossi is a Chicago-based artist and a yoga practitioner. Having successfully melded the two disciplines, Adam produces work that is a combination of painting, drawing, writing, chanting, breath-oriented movement and contemplation. It sounds incredibly serene and fluid.

But things weren’t always that easy. At 21, Adam’s mental health imploded. Blindsided by this calamity, Adam was looking at a grim future. But he managed to navigate the subsequent decade through trial and error, and emerged healthy.  Adam’s account of his experiences, Wind Through Quiet Tensions is being published by The Chicago Perch a creative platform for social exchange in February 2015. Both hand-bound, hardcover (limited edition of 50) and a paperback version are both available for December pre-sale.  Adam is also producing a handsome limited-edition print based on the book's cover.

Wind Through Quiet Tensions is divided into two parts. Part One, entitled: Thicket focuses on Adam’s journey through mental illness, psychotherapy, and therapeutic applications of yoga and ayurveda. Part Two: Garden is a collection of musings on “what it meant for me to be sick and how I’ve been able to heal.” Photo by Paul Goyette