Category — Art
My boyfriend and I were recently discussing information design and data visualization (because we’re a little nerdy like that). He referred me to the site of data visualization pioneer Edward Tufte, where I happened upon the short documentary Teaching to See. This simple, thoughtful film is like having a coffee with Inge Druckrey, a longtime graphic arts professor at Yale (and Tufte’s wife). It’s about learning to observe, practice, create, and teach. As a musician, I enjoyed seeing some of her work directly related to classical music (such as the inspiration for her Beethoven poster, at left).
But also fascinating was how some of her visual design concepts paralleled ones I heard during my musical education. In one segment, she explains how what is mathematically equally spaced on a page is not necessarily optically spaced on a page. In other words, the human eye perceives differently from a ruler, and the graphic artist has to make adjustments for this. I remember one of my teachers constantly saying the same thing about the space between notes. Often what is metronomically perfectly in time sounds “off” to the human ear. That was part of her teaching me to listen in the same way Inge Druckrey was teaching her students to see.
April 22, 2013 No Comments
“It’s certainly a strange phenomenon that all artists, poets, musicians, painters are unfortunate in the material sense — even the happy ones . . . That rakes up the eternal question: is life visible to us in its entirety, or before we die do we know of only one hemisphere?
Painters — to speak only of them — being dead and buried, speak to a following generation or to several following generations through their works. Is that all, or is there more, even? In the life of the painter, death may perhaps not be the most difficult thing.
For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream in as simple a way as the black spots on the map, representing towns and villages, make me dream.”
. . .
“The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”
- Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible
October 5, 2011 No Comments
I’ve been extremely slow in adding wall art to my home, both because it’s expensive and I’m kinda picky. But this might help things along: Jen Bekman’s 20×200 affordable art site is teaming up with Fab.com for a big weekend sale. Coupons can be used towards any purchase, though are intended for framed prints.
(Above: Winter Flags by Youngna Park)
A very small sampling of the offerings:
September 9, 2011 2 Comments
Philip Ryken, newly appointed dean at Wheaton College and Conservatory in the Chicago area and author of Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts, recently wrote about the importance of the arts in Christian higher education:
“Two convictions lie near the heart of my commitment to the arts as a vital aspect of Christian higher education: one biblical-theological and the other social-cultural. The first conviction is more important, by far. It is simply that as creatures made in the image of a Creator-God, we have a calling and capacity to create in ways that reflect the goodness, truth, and beauty of God.
The other conviction (which may be more of an instinct) pertains to the role of art in the wider culture. Although I do not have the historical expertise to prove it, I tend to believe that the arts are at the leading edge of cultural transformation. Thus, if we want to know where a culture is heading, we should visit the studios and galleries where emerging artists are doing their work. What we see shows us what will happen in our culture, not just what is happening. Art is generative as well as reactive.
If these convictions are true, then the arts should never be merely an afterthought for Christian colleges and universities, as they often (usually?) have been. Art is a deeply human activity, and therefore a place where God can do his redeeming work, both at the level of personal discipleship and at the level of cultural transformation. The arts are too important to neglect.”
He goes on to list seven practical ways he tries to encourage the arts at Wheaton. Check out the entire post at the excellent Transpositions blog.
August 15, 2011 2 Comments
(The Longing, Oil, charcoal on paper, 38″x58″)
I met visual artist Amy Oates earlier this year at a Seattle art and coffee discussion group we were both attending. We had some great conversations about topics like criticism and performance art; and her responses always struck me as thoughtful and genuine.
I recently got word that Amy was moving to Uganda for a year (she’s leading a team to serve under a long-term, church-planting team as part of an internship through her church). And she’s selling all her art – paintings, installations, and prints.
(All the people I encounter each day, paper, 37″x72″)
But this is not your normal art sale.
“I am selling things at whatever price people will pay. This is about more than making money. It’s about making it possible for anyone to enjoy art. To make art accessible to everyone. (Though art does cost me money, time, blood, sweat, and tears and I would like to make some money back).”
If you’re in the Seattle area next Monday, check out her art at The Epic In Progress (an art party). In addition to Amy’s art, the event also features music and dance performances.
Amy says about the event and sale:
“The vision is multi-faceted: in part because I’m going to Uganda, but also because I have loved the ways I’ve gotten to grow in doing art with others this year (in the broad sense, this includes the coffee group), and there’s nothing I’d love more before I leave than to bring together various artists to celebrate and support creative endeavors and to offer talents for others to enjoy.
And I really think there’s a bigger expression of God’s heart for us as we are creative, unified, and generous in that. Selling my art is also about getting my art out to anybody who wants it. An experiment in trying to be generous with my art. If someone wants something, then any price they can offer is enough.”
If you’re not in the area or can’t make the event, you can still view, bid on, and/or purchase Amy’s art through August 8th via her website.
August 1, 2011 No Comments
The Berghs’ Exhibition recently interviewed leading designers and artists about fearing failure. I thought the words from designer Milton Glaser (best known for the iconic I <3 NY logo) were especially helpful:
“Everybody gets this idea, if you go to art school, that you’re really a genius. Sadly, it isn’t true. Genius occurs very rarely. So the real embarrassing issue about failure is your own acknowledgment that you’re not a genius, that you’re not as good as you thought you were . . .
There’s only one solution: You must embrace failure. You must admit what is. You must find out what you’re capable of doing, and what you’re not capable of doing. That is the only way to deal with the issue of success and failure because otherwise you simply would never subject yourself to the possibility that you’re not as good as you want to be, hope to be, or as others think you are.”
May 12, 2011 4 Comments
From Brett McCracken:
“Ours is the long day’s journey of the Saturday,” writes literary critic George Steiner in Real Presences. “Between suffering, aloneness, unutterable waste on the one hand and the dream of liberation, of rebirth on the other.” But it is precisely in this lasting Saturday—this divine discontent, this limbo—that art finds a reason to exist.
I’ve seen a lot of “Friday” art in my life. You know, the really dark and depressing stuff that hipsters cling to and art museums solicit. This is Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream, Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, Pedro the Lion’s Control, Holbein’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. . . To be sure, these are beautiful things, and in their darkness and discontent they carry a throbbing pulse of life and even grace. But it is still very stark, sin-centric and Fall-focused. Eden, heaven, Sunday, redemption … all are almost unthinkable. Against the bleakness of Friday, Steiner notes, “even the greatest art and poetry are almost helpless.”
But then I’ve also seen my fair share of “Sunday” art. These are the “all is well, the Garden is redeemed” dreamscapes of hope, love and happiness. This is Thomas Kinkade, Celine Dion, 90% of all Disney movies and 80% of all Christian music (these stats are not scientific). There is beauty here as well, but so much of it is disingenuous gloss and happy-face faux. This art looks only forward and jumps the gun with the whole “unresolved tension in our fallen world” idea. In such a utopian state, argues Steiner, the arts “no longer have logic or necessity.”
But in this long day’s journey that we all tread—this “Saturday” existence—art is the fuel that keeps us going. We are stuck here in time, looking forward and backward for Eden. What we were created to be is lost, though still felt in moments of memory lapse and epiphany. This is art.
(Image: Mercy Seat / Makoto Fujimura)
April 23, 2011 1 Comment
Here’s another neat example of disciplined creativity and how to heighten the awareness of your current surroundings. Illustrator James Gulliver Hancock is undergoing a project to draw all the buildings in New York. I’m particularly impressed with the mix of styles he uses for his ambitious project:
In this video he explains the beginnings of the project and describes a bit of his creative process:
I’m heading to New York for a few days in May, and am definitely interested in comparing some of these drawings to the original inspiration. Much more to see at the project’s blog.
March 10, 2011 No Comments
For the past five years, Michael Beirut at the Yale School of Art has offered a 100 Day Workshop for graduate graphic art students. The class assignment: repeat and document a design operation for 100 straight days.
Anyone who’s tried to keep a simple new year’s resolution knows this is harder than it sounds; and, in fact, many of the students drop out before the halfway point.
Beirut gives his reasoning behind the assignment:
I’ve always had a fascination with the ways that creative people balance inspiration and discipline in their working lives. It’s easy to be energized when you’re in the grip of a big idea. But what do you do when you don’t have anything to work with? Just stay in bed? Writers have this figured out: it’s amazing how many of them have a rigid routine. . .
The only way to experience this kind of discipline is to subject yourself to it. Every student who has taken this project had a moment where the work turned into a mind-numbing grind. And trust me: it won’t be the first time this happens. The trick is to press on.
Beirut posted about a number of the completed projects. My favorite was Jessica Svendsen’s 100 variations on a 1955 poster for a Beethoven concert:
February 23, 2011 1 Comment
“[Thomas Aquinas] says that a work of art is a good in itself, and this is a truth that the modern world has largely forgotten. We are not content to stay within our limitations and make something that is simply a good in and by itself. Now we want to make something that will have some utilitarian value. Yet what is good in itself glorifies God because it reflects God. The artist has his hands full and does his duty if he attends to his art. He can safely leave evangelizing to the evangelists. He must first of all be aware of his limitations as an artist—for art transcends its limitations only by staying within them.”
-Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners
February 20, 2011 No Comments