Action, and Traction

by Aliene de Souza Howell (MFA 2011)
Self-portrait, Till Fog and Clear of Midnight

The life of an industrious artist trying to make something of herself requires a lot of back and forth! But all good things, I was in a show with two other artists in Philadelphia. The exhibit opened Saturday evening at the Mural Arts Program's gallery. I showed the work I made in Leipzig in addition to a self-portrait I made during my first year at the Academy. There was a brief and only mildly nerve-racking Q and A session for each artist after we were introduced by the director of Philadelphia's Knapp Gallery. I was completely humbled when he introduced my work as "somewhere between Eric Fischl and Ceaser Chavez."

The thesis project has been challenging. Caught between conflicting critiques since my last post, I have been oscillating between different artistic paths and wrestling over what I believed in and what resonated the most with my work. I think the best decisions come from plain trial and error and sometimes you just have to buck up and fail in order to move on and make better pieces. So I tried to work it out instead of paralyzing myself with anxiety/indecision. I made another diorama with perspectival suggestions from Vincent Desiderio. And after testing out the antithetical ideas from the aforementioned conflicting critiques, I decided to combine them. One critic suggested I pursue large scale paintings in lieu of the dioramas and another was very gung-ho for them. So, I am projecting my dioramas onto canvas and painting from them. This way I can keep the linear dynamism of the drawing and the spatial relationships without giving up the purity of painting.

New Diorama with Desiderio suggestions!

For Narrative Printmaking, the idea for the class is to create one sequential story throughout the semester. After deliberating over different books, poems, etc and making lots of drawings, I ended up deciding to come up with my own story. The narrator will privilege a Chinatown umbrella as the leading protagonist. The story will follow its path from first finding an owner, through different adventures inside and out, and then breaking and being washed away in the gutter. This was inspired from the solid week of rain we had in New York recently and the countless broken umbrellas littering the street.

A bright spot last week was Alexi Worth's lecture. He is one of the artists that delivers a complete experience; he creates images that exist in their own fully-formed world. He told us about making storyboards to prepare the narratives for his compelling paintings which would explain the pathos his figures evoke. The compositions include the viewer as part of the picture, which is something I have just started to think about myself.

And I can't wait to hear what Odd Nerdrum has to say this week!

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