Showing posts from July, 2015

In Residence: Eric Moe

While at VCCA, Eric Moe was working on two projects. The biggest one, his comic science fiction opera, The Artwork of the Future explores the question of whether individual artists’ work can survive into the future and also whether human beings will even be around, or will robots havetaken over. Though the piece in intended to be humorous, it taps into the fear that most of us share about what lies ahead for humanity. The libretto is by Rob Handel who previously had collaborated with Eric on a 10-minute opera, Valkyrie Suite. “We had so much fun working together, we thought, let’s do it again, but make a larger project out of it.”
The Artwork of the Futurewas work-shopped in New York at New Dramatists, one of the country’s leading playwright centers and a nationally recognized new play laboratory. “New Dramatists covered all the expenses,” says Eric. “So now we are trying to get a company to commit to the production, once we have that, then other things can fall into place. The opera w…

Elegance, Wit and Gravitas Unite in Heidi Kumao's Work

In 2011 Heidi Kumao broke her back while sledding. During the slow convalescence, Heidi spent many hours lying on her sofa staring up at the ceiling. She describes it as like being “Underwater looking up at a layer of ice.“
Her film, Swallowed Whole, which was featured in the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Black Maria Film Festival, Tricky Women International Animation Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival and just won Best Experimental Film at the 13th Annual Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto is a wonderfully evocative portrayal of this personal calamity.
Heidi employs striking images and interesting techniques in her filmmaking. For instance, at one point, she makes the film frames thwack down like the lenses in an ophthalmologist’s phoropter to emulate the crashing down to the ground of her airborne sled.
She uses stacks of books, cookies and lifesavers to recreate the impact and shattering of vertebrae, and later on, melted ice cubes. These ordinary items are amusing and very effectiv…

Olive Ayhens in Elle Decor

Olive Ayhens is the subject of a profile in the July/August issue of Elle Decor.

Olive has developed a highly personal style that combines an almost naïve narrative language with a sophisticated formal approach. Her lush compositions and vibrant palette describing city and rural landscapes grab your attention. 

Olive has deep concerns for the environment and this forms a major theme for her work, but she also revels in her materials. "My work is much involved with my love of the paint itself—with layering it, with building textures, etc. all this is striving for a sensual visual beauty. Color is my first language. I have fun with personification as well as improbabilities of scale. My work is heavily influenced thematically by my environment, both physical and spiritual.”

Originally from Oakland, CA, Olive now lives in Brooklyn. She is represented by the Lori Brookstein Gallery. You New York area Fellows will rec…

Grizzly Bears and VCCA Fellows in Denali National Park

There have been several recent occurrences of a VCCA-nature in the inspiring 49th State.
Earlier this month Fellow Eric Moe was in Denali National Park as part of their “Composing in the Wilderness” program.
Eric’s residency overlapped with VCCA staff member Kimberley Stiffler’s visit to the park, a coincidence discovered by Sarah Sargent, VCCA’s Director of Communications and Grants Management.
On July 14th Kimberley and her husband Dan flew to Anchorage and rented a Jeep for the rainy drive north to the park. The next morning brought blue skies and a view of Denali, white clouds parting to reveal massive snow-capped peaks. On average only around 30% of visitors to the park see the mountain because of the ever-changing weather.
The next day, a park bus shuttled them to the Eielson Visitors Center to get a closer view of Denali following a trail-less hike along the Toklat River. Two grizzly bears were spotted from the shuttle en route. An exhibit in the Center featured a piece by VCCA F…

Mary Laube and Paul Schuette's Collaborative Sound Paintings

Visual artist Mary Laube and composer Paul Schuette met at VCCA in February 2013 on what was each their first residency. After returning home, they kept in touch making collaborative work remotely and getting together when they could for a few days at a time. They refer to their work together as the Warp Whistle Project. Mary and Paul scheduled their recent VCCA residencies at the same time with the intention of exclusively focusing on a project.
The two “sound paintings” they created are visually stunning featuring colorful geometric minimalism paired with lively digital chirps, pitch glides, whooshes and what sounds like some poor sod falling down a well. It’s alien and futuristic and whimsical all at once.
Mary executed the artwork directly onto the wall with the mechanical elements incorporated into the pieces. In one, wire provides a spiral that counterbalances the colored triangles, in the other, straight lines radiate from a 3-D pyramid to the brightly hued round speakers. The py…

Emily Mitchell Dazzles

Emily Mitchell’s collection of short stories : Viral (W. W. Norton), was featured on The New York Times shortlist for July 12, 2015. The collection, which has been called “dazzling”, balances absurdist humor with a haunting pathos.
Emily Mitchell's first novel, The Last Summer of the World (W. W. Norton), was a finalist for the 2008 New York Public Library Young Lions Award and was chosen as a best-book-of-the-year by the Austin 
American-Statesman, the Providence Journal and the Madison Capital Times

Her short fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, New England Review, Alaska Quarterly Review as well as other literary journals. Emily’s review-essays have appeared in The New York Times and the New Statesman. She teaches fiction at the University of Maryland.

Barbara Weissberger: Engaging with the Process

Barbara Weissberger was working on two parallel projects: Books of Marginalia and Collage Formations while she was in residence at VCCA switching back and forth between the two exploiting the cross pollinations that occurred.
Books of Marginalia are bound paper collage artist books. In some of them, Barbara uses text, but not in any legible way. It’s kept fragmentary, “As if they’ve all gone through a mill. They’re chopped up and chewed on.” Generally the books are unique one-offs, but she’s interested in producing a small edition of the one she made at VCCA.

Her photographs of the arrangements she creates, Collage Formations, straddle the world of photography and site-specific installations. Barbara is interested in exploring the tension between the actual thing and the illusion of space. A similar approach can be discerned in her use of representational material to make images that are abstractions.
Barbara’s work develops in a very organic way. She doesn’t have a preconceived idea o…