Headlands : South

October 24, 2014

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I recently completed a new video installation titled Headlands : South as part of my ongoing Graduate Fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts. The piece takes coastal light, time, and my studio’s south-facing window as its objects of study.

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The video was created by photographing a shifting array of translucent color fabrics against my Headlands studio window throughout the day. The sequence was then edited into a short time-lapse loop and projected back toward the sealed window. The projection of light is reversed but the image of light streaming through the window remains. My aim is to probe ideas of ‘reality,’ check our pre-conceived expectations, and heighten awareness of our surrounding environment.

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I describe this project as ‘painting’ with light — applied in layers and blended temporally to examine textural, spacial, and narrative realms. Its durational aspect is particularly suited to examining our malleable and fallible sense of time and visual perception.

Headlands : South is on view through the end of the month in my Headlands studio on the top floor of Bldg. 945, room 12. More about my residency can be found here.

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XOPAN: Edición en Papel

October 10, 2014

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XOPAN is an artist’s book inspired by my stay in Mexico this past summer. It exists in two forms: as a recently-completed paper edition (shown here) and as a hand-sewn fabric edition (currently in production). Both versions reference the ancient Aztecs of Mexico and their celestial observations, beliefs, and notions of time.

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The Aztec calendar had two different systems of keeping track of time. One was the 260-day Tonalpohualli by which sacred and divinatory occasions were determined and the other was the 365-day Xiuhpohualli by which civil, agricultural and ceremonial events took place. In this book, the idea of ‘layered time’ is suggested by overprinted images on each page.

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The Xiuhpohualli system was based on the perceived movement of the Pleiades star cluster, a conspicuous feature of the night sky that passed directly over the Aztec community. Its points of light appear throughout the book as perforated holes of various sizes.

In the Aztec calendar, fifty-two years comprised a full cycle, marked by a New Fire ceremony ensuring continued movement of the cosmos and re-birth of the sun. On these occasions, human sacrifices were made to prevent the demons of darkness from descending to Earth and devouring mankind, whereupon newly-lit fires throughout the region ushered in the next fifty-two year period.

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In Aztec mythology, the celestial snake Xiuhcoatl was considered the spirit form of the fire god. The serpent was believed to have sprung from the Pleiades, which my book’s text — originally written as a haiku in English — alludes to:
From the Pleiades / stream Aztec serpents of fire / long since extinguished.
In the book this appears as:
De las Pléyades / salían serpientes Aztecas de fuego / ya extinguido.

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My book’s title XOPAN is the Nahuatl word for the time of year that marks the sun’s highest points in the sky and presence of the rainy season — typically from spring through fall. In Aztec cosmology this period was symbolically associated with the night, moon, Venus and the Pleiades. The Xopan Cueponilistle, or Annual Renewal Ceremonies, are still observed by some in springtime today.

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Other important elements of Aztec culture in the book include the eagle that fulfilled a prophecy indicating where the Mexica people (who would become part of the Aztec Empire) should establish their new home, Tenochtitlan. Another is Teotihuacan, of mysterious origins, known to Aztecs as the “place where gods were born.” Yet another is the skull, a powerful symbol of death as well as a positive representation of rebirth and the afterlife.

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The paper edition of XOPAN was designed in Illustrator CC and printed by running each page through a Canon Image Runner Advance laser printer multiple times to achieve densely overprinted layers. It was output on Accent Opaque 100# Cover, bound with red 100% pearl cotton hand embroidery thread, and issued in an edition of 24 numbered and signed copies.

The book is being shown in the Pulp Atlas exhibition series, the next one opening at Needles and Pens in San Francisco on November 13.

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Headlands Graduate Fellowship

October 1, 2014

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I recently began my Graduate Fellowship at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, Calif. The residency runs through June 2015, offering private studio space and opportunities for professional development including public presentation events culminating with a curated exhibition in May 2015.

I’m currently working on a new video installation that takes coastal light, time, and my studio’s south-facing window as its objects of study. This project continues my experiments with fabric and time-lapse begun in Mexico with my piece titled Escandón.

I’ll be showing the new work at the next Headlands Open House taking place on Sunday October 19 from 12 noon – 5 P.M. My space is situated on the top floor of Bldg. 945, studio 12. In the meanwhile, my program objectives and artist statement can be found on my Headlands page.

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LV Sketchbook Page 062

September 15, 2014

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My Long View sketchbook continues with a series of Antarctic flag designs. This page incorporates the Scandinavian Cross motif found in flags of four signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty. My design is less about the cross however and more about the spaces around it. Read more on my Long View Project blog hosted by the California Academy of Sciences.

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PULP ATLAS

September 9, 2014

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I’m pleased to be part of PULP ATLAS, an upcoming series of artist book exhibitions featuring the work of 12 artists experimenting with the book form.  Each artist is producing an edition of 12 artist books or zines, allowing for 12 exhibitions to happen in different cities during the Fall of 2014.  

From curator Christopher Kardambikis:

PULP ATLAS explores the contemporary book form as well as the cultural borders surrounding alternative exhibition spaces. Artist books and zines occupy a unique territory: inherently legible even while experimental, they are precious and disposable, able to be viewed in public but read as an incredibly personal experience.  PULP ATLAS aims to explore the dynamics of the book form in an alternative viewing space.

The first exhibition will open on September 29 at the Philadelphia Free Library. Other participating venues in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, as well as Toronto, Canada, Ipswich, England and Edinburgh, Scotland will be announced as dates are secured.  

The exhibiting artists are Morgan Cahn, Matt Coors, Edie Fake, Christopher Kardambikis, Mark Lander, J. Pascoe, Vanessa Roveto, Jim Rugg, Tim Schwartz, Mary Tremonte, Imin Yeh, and myself.

Fundraising is now in progress at Indiegogo, and more information is available on the project blog here.

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Art Made Here 2014

September 4, 2014

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Art Made Here is a series of community art workshops that Kelynn Alder and I have led
for a number of years. The bulk of them have taken place in Chiapas, Mexico, with the indigenous Mayan communities of the Lacandón jungle and the Central Highlands region. This year however we held the workshops in Mexico City at the renown Casa Luis Barragán with the help of our artist colleague Beka Peralta.

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The Casa Barragán was designed by Mexican architect Luis Barragán, famed for his mastery of space and light. The building was constructed in 1948, serving as his house and studio till his passing in 1988. A radically vibrant take on mid-century International Style architecture, the structure was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Today the Casa Barragán is a museum that offers architectural tours, educational programs, and arts workshops.

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For this round of workshops, Kelynn, Beka and I introduced the kids to working with recycled cardboard. Using boxes acquired from the local market, the group constructed sculptural masks and animals, many of them freestanding. The cardboard theme was inspired by my Handle With Care project with the California Academy of Sciences three years ago.

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Our workshops took place over two days, attended by kids approximately 5 to 15 years of age. Many of them came from the public schools in the working class neighborhood surrounding Casa Barragán. One the first day, most kids opted to make elephants similar to the one I used for an introductory demo.

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On the second day, Kelynn led a demo on constructing 3D dogs from slotted shapes. Like the elephant, it had great appeal as a ‘pet’ with the ability to stand. Numerous as the elephants and dogs were, each proved as unique as their creators’ imagination.

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As the kids gained confidence with cardboard, a diversified procession of creatures appeared: rhinos, bears, owls and whales, both flat and dimensional; some standing, some suspended, some held aloft on sticks. The objective was for each participant to take something home with them at the end of the day. Some managed two or three pieces per session.

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Our hope is that kids will continue upcycling paper in creative ways well after leaving the workshop. Environmental themes have always been important to us, and we aim to build kids’ awareness and appreciation for the natural world while encouraging innovation and resourcefulness.

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Every workshop offers pleasant surprises and this time it was mask-making. Not originally on our agenda, masks entered the picture when we discovered that the boxes’ pre-cut holes and handles resembled eyes and mouths. Our youngest participants enthusiastically embellished these panels and flaps to produce creatures of great personality without the need to draw or cut elaborate shapes.

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Many thanks to Beka for facilitating these sessions, and great appreciation to Casa Barragán director Catalina Corcuera for hosting us. Much gratitude also to Mimi Duke for her hospitality and participation. Additional images from this and past years’ workshops can be seen at Art Made Here’s gallery pages, and information about helping to support our program is here.

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SOMA Summer presents SPEED DATING

September 3, 2014

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The participants of SOMA Summer 2014 and curator Flora Katz announce the release of SPEED DATING, a collaborative artists’ publication issued in Mexico City on the occasion of our exhibition “You Can’t Choose Your Neighbors.” The edition is printed in red and blue, numbering 37 pages and limited to 200 copies.

Contributors include After All, Michael Bartalos, Julien Berberat, Jake Borndal, Nancy Brown Brown, Magda Buczek, Violette Bule, Leo Castaneda, Artemisa Clark, Henry Coleman, Collective Magpie, Danilo Correale, Nina Dubois, Ericka Florez Hidalgo, Sofía Garfias, Ariel Goldberg, Gabriel Gonzalez, Anthony W. Graves, Stephanie Greene, Julien Gremaud, Carla Herrera-Prats, Jeremy Hutchison, Flora Katz, Emanuele Marcuccio, Beka Peralta, Adrian Pijoan, Xilomen Rios, Sarah Rodigari, Hermione Spriggs & Curtis Tamm, Zachary Trow, and Ion Yamazaki.

The zine is also accessible online in PDF format here.

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LV Sketchbook Page 053

August 31, 2014

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Flags serve many purposes, but rarely that of gauging population and development. This one does. Its composition is intended to be updated periodically to reflect the level of human activity in Antarctica. Learn more about this sketchbook page on my Long View blog.

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Escandón at SOMA

August 25, 2014

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Mexico City’s two-month SOMA Summer program concluded this week with a group exhibition titled “You Can’t Choose Your Neighbors.” The show was conceived by the program’s thirty artist participants and visiting curator Flora Katz as a platform to share, experiment and respond to Mexico City and our time together as a group.

Escandón, (video still), 2014, silent 3:41 minute loop.

Video still from Escandón, 2014, silent 3:41 minute loop.

My piece is an installation called Escandón, titled after the neighborhood it was created in. Escandón’s centerpiece is a looping time-lapse video chronicling the sun’s path as shot through a colorful array of shifting fabrics from morning to nightfall. The translucent fabrics, shot against a floor-to ceiling plate glass window of the apartment I stayed in, migrate across one another to produce optically mixed color fields that hint at flag motifs while revealing glimpses of street life outside. The piece is a ‘portrait’ of my time and residence in Mexico, serving as a meditation on the insider and outsider, domestic and public space, nature and artifice, stasis and transition.

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The time-lapse is projected onto hanging fabric adjacent to a sculptural banner made from the same cloth featured in the video. The vertically-looped banner hangs freely from the ceiling, allowing viewers to experience it from all angles. The play of natural light on the translucent fabric from outside is markedly different than that of the artificial lights inside, encouraging viewers to circle the piece as the video itself loops nearby.

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The SOMA program was beneficial in that it gave me the chance to further develop my work with light and material which germinated in grad school. Furthermore Mexico provided a new context for this work, leading to rich and surprising results. The program also gave me the opportunity to break into video, a medium I’ll continue to pursue.

Many thanks to Stanford’s Department of Art + Art History for making this residency possible and to Enrique Chagoya and Daniela Rossell for facilitating my stay in Mexico City. Also, a special shout out to Eduardo Abaroa for his generous and constructive tutelage at SOMA.

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LV Sketchbook Page 034

July 31, 2014

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Long View Sketchbook page 034 takes the military’s role in Antarctica as its subject. Read more about the armed forces on the world’s most peaceful continent in my latest Long View blog post.

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