Art Made Here 2014

September 4, 2014


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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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SOMA Summer 2014

July 27, 2014

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I’m excited to be the recipient of a Stanford fellowship allowing me to attend Mexico City’s SOMA Summer program. This annual event gathers artists, curators, critics and art historians from around the world for seminars, critiques, fields trips and discussions. There are 30 artist participants in total, hailing from Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and North, Central, and South America.

We’re a month into the 8-week program during which I’m making new work with light, fabric, and video. The final projects will be exhibited in an open studio event at the conclusion of the program. More news as the show materializes at the end of August.

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LV Sketchbook Page 056

June 25, 2014

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Antarctica has no official flag since it’s not a nation nor ruled by any single government. Many designs have been proposed, each with their rationales. I too have ideas of my own which I’ll be posting in my next few Long View blog entries. The first one is here.

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LV Sketchbook Page 009

May 31, 2014

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My latest Long View Sketchbook image isolates elements of the remote Dumont d’Urville research base in Antarctica. Read about the windswept coastal station on my Long View Project blog hosted by the California Academy of Sciences.

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Half Tilt Full Lean at Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery

May 18, 2014

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Stanford’s MFA Thesis show, titled “Half Tilt Full Lean,” is on view till June 15 at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery. The artists are Galen Jackson, Eleanor Oakes, Ben Peterson, Anja Ulfeldt, and myself. The exhibition is curated by Enrique Chagoya, Professor in the Department of Art & Art History.

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My wall installation, Phase Transition, was created by cutting long, two-inch strips of metallized polyester film, commonly known by the trade name Mylar, that were then draped into loops and hung from clear dowels, giving the viewer the impression of dripping water. The Mylar, with its metallic sheen that sways lightly in the wind of passersby, reflects brilliant shades of green, blue, and red on the wall, facilitated by colored flood lights that shine on the installation from above.

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I utilized Mylar to explore light, color, material, and reflectivity in referencing concepts of transition, modulation, and mutation. This piece treats light in a painterly manner, blurring the boundaries between Mylar, wall, and reflection. In doing so, the space from the area in front of the wall extends into a virtual space beyond it, allowing viewers to deconstruct perceived shifts in dimension and perspective.


My installation also addresses shifts across time and states of matter. Its composition is based on a line graph accompanying a recent study which tracks Arctic sea ice extent over the last 1,450 years. The uppermost ribbon of Mylar accurately traces the peaks and valleys of the timeline, below which bands of ooze hang like swollen droplets or misshapen stalactites. The melting process concludes with the Mylar’s final and precipitous drop to the floor.


Phase Transition also speaks to translating indexical data into subjective and symbolic imagery. Diagrammatic in origin, the installation’s multitudinous ‘eyes’ and bulbous, viscous tendrils acquire a biotic constitution, emphasized by their movement in response to air currents. Seen as both an organism and the cosmic web to which we are united by multiple bonds, my composition proposes a perpetual state of vulnerability and transformation in which human presence is ever complicit.

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This installation grew out of an earlier iteration I created in the studio back in February. That version can be seen here.

Many thanks to my family, professors, and colleagues for their unflagging support throughout the program and a special shout-out to Stanford Art History doctoral candidates Sydney Skelton Simon and Joseph Larnerd for writing thoughtful essays about my work in the exhibition catalog.

The Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM–5 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. The Gallery is located in the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at 419 Lasuen Mall. Parking is free after 4 PM and all day on weekends.

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LV Sketchbook Page 007

April 27, 2014

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Long View Sketchbook page 007 pictures the constellation Sagittarius, the site of our galaxy’s central supermassive black hole. Researchers are on track to imaging the black hole with an Earth-sized array called the Event Horizon Telescope. Read about how the EHT works — and Antarctica’s role in it — on my latest Long View blog post.

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