Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Michelle Wilson

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Michelle Wilson is a papermaker in an extremely complex sense. Her work with paper is both conceptual and concrete as it extends from the making of sheets for artist’s books and printmaking to social practice, sculpture and installation. As a somewhat recent transplant to the Bay Area, Wilson has quickly embedded herself and her work into the consciousness of the local art scene with a residency at the School of Visual Philosophy, a Small Plates commission from San Francisco Center for the Book, teaching at both San José State and Stanford, engagement with a handful of arts organizations, and many exhibitions.

This summer, Wilson’s collaboration with Anne Beck, The Rhinoceros Project, travels to the Salina Art Center (Salina, Kansas), Shotwell Paper Mill (San Francisco, California), the Healdsburg Center for the Arts (Healdsburg, California), and later this fall to the Janet Turner Print Museum in Chico, California. Her work is included in The Power of the Page: Artist Books as Agents for Change at the New Museum of Los Gatos (NUMU in Los Gatos, California), and Pulp as Portal, Socially Engaged Hand Papermaking at the Salina Art Center in Salina, KS. Wilson has a BFA from Moore College of Art and Design, and an MFA from the University of the Arts, both in Philadelphia.

We got together on a lovely spring afternoon towards the end of the semester to talk about art and teaching.

Whirligig: I first became acquainted with your work in 2010 at an SGCI Conference in Philadelphia, occurring at the same time as Philagrafika, where I came upon a Book Bomb intervention in a public park. How did this collaboration with Mary Tasillo come about?

Michelle: Book Bombs began as a question I posed on Facebook. I was reading about yarn bombing, the tradition of knitting or crocheting something that is then bombed — left in a public space — a form of craft meets street art. I’m not a knitter or a crocheter; I’m a book artist, and so I posted a status update, “What would it mean to book bomb?” Mary took me seriously, and through our conversation, we discussed where people read in public space, who owns public space, and it led us to the idea of park benches. In Philly, every park bench has this center bar installed that is called the “arm rest,” but is designed to prevent a homeless person from sleeping comfortably on a bench. This seemed like an ideal place to install a book. Our project grew from this initial idea. And thus, Book Bombs was born.

Whirligig: What were you envisioning regarding the scope and effects of Book Bombs?

Michelle: We originally saw Book Bombs as just a project for Philagrafika 2010. However, we’ve had so much fun, we’ve continued. It’s been tricky to keep it up transcontinentally, but we manage. Most recently, we did a sort of intervention-workshop at the Center for Book Arts in New York called Keeping the Fire Alive. This was designed as a workshop for activists who were interested in using papermaking in their work, as well using it as a form of self-care against fatigue and for continued resistance. We’d originally proposed the workshop during the summer of 2016, before the election, thinking it would be a very different conversation.

Whirligig: How is papermaking used for self-care?

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Angelica Muro

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Angelica MuroAngelica Muro is an integrated artist, curator, and art educator with a strong interest in cultural criticism. Originally from the Central Valley agricultural community of Hopeton, California, Muro grew up on an apple orchard. As a child she became interested in photography, media imagery and popular culture. Muro served as Gallery Coordinator for WORKS/San José for five years, and as Educational Programmer for Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA, San José, California) for three years. She has a B.A. in photography from San José State University, and an MFA from Mills College in Oakland, California. She is currently Director and Chair of Visual and Public Art at California State University, Monterey where she teaches courses in photography, integrated media and media culture.

Her newest project, created with Juan Luna-Avin, Club Lido: Wild Eyes & Occasional Dreams opened February 12 at Empire Seven Studios in San José. We chatted over tea in early January, at Angelica’s Japantown (San José) bungalow. Reina Sofía, Angelica’s eight-year-old rescue pup, sat on her lap.

Whirligig: How did you come to be an artist?

Angelica: I’ve been interested in art since I was a child, but I was never really good at making—I suppose my vision never matched my actual skill set, it still doesn’t. I remember always trying to make things such as sculptures and drawings, but never having the dexterity. Photography came into my life very early—my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Dixon, had a pile of National Geographic magazines I was pointed to whenever I finished my assignment early—this was the first time I was truly able to look at images, photographs, people. Since then, it’s become my primary area of interest, socially and culturally.

Whirligig: The first time you were able to look at images or that you became aware of the power of images?

Angelica: Aware of the power, of ways of seeing, of actually looking. We are so visually saturated, so much so that we are not actually seeing. I read recently that the brain is on a need-to-know basis. Our brains store the information in our environment and we don’t actually see it, even as we know it is there.

I very vividly remember looking through these National Geographics and seeing, seeing things that I had never seen before. It was new information. This is why travel is so exciting, it’s overwhelming new information for us that we are absorbing in a completely different way, and we take that absorption as being creative influences.

Whirligig: Much of your work exploits and reveals the tensions between consumer celebrity culture and the realities of working class and immigrant lives in contemporary America, perhaps even specifically California. Who do you see as your audience for this work and what do you hope it achieves?

Angelica: I don’t often think about audience in the traditional sense; although as an educator, I often address ethical concerns involving audience with my students. I happen to live and work in California, so my work deals with the complexities of this eco-system—the spectrum of productivity, exploitation, and the distribution of wealth—and often explores issues of gender, race, and class. I’m interested in social issues, and I find that visual tension inspires me to create.

I think there’s several ways to think about audience—I remember being in graduate school, a time that allowed me to experiment with ideas with a critical, yet limited audience. Suddenly, I had a body of work about being Latina, being a woman, being the daughter of a farmworker, and navigating social constructs. And then my audience became people who where interested in issues of identity. However, my work deals with larger social issues of equalization, socialization, conditioning, and the various codes of gender identification. It’s a dialogue with my community, my artist cohort, scholars, thinkers, curators, and activists who are interested in issues of positionality and privilege. I suppose that in the simplest and most complicated sense, my audience is one interested in issues of difference, otherness, and diasporic culture. I question ideological frameworks of meritocracy, social mobility, and distribution of wealth, because I want to, in small part, be in dialogue with someone, anyone, interested in discourse about the complicated social structure we live in.

Angelica Muro

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Marion Patterson

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Photographer Marion Patterson has several new bodies of work coming out based on recent travels to Antarctica and the Galapagos. Patterson was mentored by Ansel Adams who became a lifelong friend. She also studied with Dorthea Lange, Pirkle Jones, Jerry Uelsmann, and Minor White. She studied philosophy at Stanford and received her Masters in Interdisciplinary Creative Arts from San Francisco State University. Patterson was faculty at DeAnza and Foothill College for 28 years. She currently makes her home in Anchor Bay, California.

Whirligig: How did you come to paint on your photographs.

Marion: I was a painter first. A watercolor painter. But from an early age it was always photography, and then I fell into the Ansel Adams circle.

When did I start painting again? Maybe when I saw Holly Roberts’ work. She paints thickly and saves only little bits of the photograph. Instead of that approach I wanted part of the photograph to be painted on. I love paint. When I got my Masters at San Francisco State I took a course in animation in which I had to draw on cels. It’s an incredibly complicated thing. I made a camel walking across the screen and all this stuff. It was two or three minutes of film. My instructor said, “Did it come out the way you wanted it to?” and I said, “Yes, and that’s the problem.” It didn’t give me any surprises. The thing with paint is that there is always a surprise. Even with drawing there is a little surprise depending on how you hold the pencil. That’s what I love about paint. It leads you. The camera leads you. The darkroom leads you.

Whirligig: When you are isolating a particular element in an image what are you thinking about?

Marion: It is a matter of how do we see? How do we perceive as we do? Why do we perceive what we do?

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Julia Bradshaw

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Photographer and video performance artist Julia Bradshaw is exhibiting seven different series of work in her first one person show at Fresno City College this month. Her work often comments on language and the mixed messages of cross-cultural exchanges.

Bradshaw was born in Manchester, England. She spent nine years working and living in Munich, Germany where she studied with Michael Jochum before coming to California in 1995. She received her MFA from San José State University in 2007. Bradshaw is Assistant Professor of Photography at California State University, Fresno.

Whirligig: At Fresno City College you are exhibiting seven different series of photo-based works: Cut Pieces (2010), Case X (2010), Nocturnal (2010), On Photographing Breasts (2009), Tissue Blowing Project (2007), Constraints (2003), and Companions of my Imagination (1994). What is the thread between these bodies of work?

Julia: I am interested in the photographic series as a means to problem solve or comment on everyday life. Apart from the Nocturnal series, all of these projects have something to do with our culture and society. Cut Pieces, On Photographing Breasts and Case X are all linked in that they have to do with my investigations into libraries and books. They consider book content, the public’s misuse of books and a library’s policy on “protecting” books. The Constraints Series has to do with the various societal dictums that potentially have something inherently good and bad associated with them. For example, I have an image and text combination I call “polite conversation.” In this image I am trying to say that “polite conversation” is positive in that it ensures a civil society, however it also has a negative aspect in that polite conversation also can prevent people engaging at a deeper level. Likewise in the Tissue Blowing Project I am also thinking about language. In this project I visually represent miscommunication, disputes, failed advances, diametric viewpoints and avoidance and absence in relationships.

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José Arenas

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Bay area painter José Arenas recently completed a mural commission in his hometown neighborhood of downtown San José, now the up and coming art district of the United States’ 10th largest city. Arenas is art faculty at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California; a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and UC Davis, where he completed his MFA in 2000. He is currently represented by Hang Gallery in San Francisco. This interview was conducted at the completion of the San José mural, and will be included in a monograph of Arenas’ work to be published in early 2010 by Hunger Button Books.


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Whirligig: You’ve just completed a mural in downtown San José that is 16 feet high by 108 feet long. How does that feel?

José: It feels pretty good especially now that it’s done. I now have time to look back and reflect on what happened in the last two months. I was really excited to work with other people. I usually don’t get that when working in the studio, in there it’s mostly alone time. So I got to work with a great team for about six weeks and at the end of the project we held an unveiling party. It was a really good way to give thanks to all of them for being involved in such a big project.

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