August 13-26, eight Academy students lived and worked at the Terra Foundation for American Art-Europe in Giverny, France as part of a two-week Artist in Residence Program. Daniel Bilodeau (MFA 2013), Adam Carnes (MFA 2013), Ivy Hickam (MFA 2013), Jacob Hicks (MFA 2012), Gaetanne Lavoie (MFA 2013), Robert Plater (MFA 2013), Amanda Scuglia (MFA 2013) and Valentina Stanislavskaia (MFA 2013) will continue to share their experiences here.
Over the course of two weeks I was lucky enough to join a group of gifted artists led by Professor Jean-Pierre Roy, Daniel Bilodeau (MFA 2013), Adam Carnes (MFA 2013), Ivy Hickam (MFA 2013), Jacob Hicks (MFA 2012), Gaetanne Lavoie (MFA 2013), Robert Plater (MFA 2013), Amanda Scuglia (MFA 2013) and Valentina Stanislavskaia (MFA 2013), on a residency in Giverny, France, the residence of revolutionary seer, Claude Monet.
Monet was wholly indebted to phenomenological truth, more than he was indebted to pre-conceived standards of art affixed to institutionalization. He was never to give himself over to the ways in which he was taught to see-though he was clearly taught, from an early age, the precedence of French academic art. History is opened when placed in the hands of someone willing first to learn, and then to seek change.
Initially to him, I assume, it must have seemed ludicrous to speak the visual language of established artistic tradition and call it mimetic truth-- as it seems ludicrous for any member of contemporary life to refer to a Cimabue painting as the realistic mirror of the human eye to the exterior world.
Traditions are born. They swell, grow roots, share excitements, age, and then must be upended, just as the dilapidated building, whose structure was once perfect, must be demolished and rebuilt. To upend institutional thought is to teach us our thoughts want and will always focus on progression. We are taught ideas as if they are unchangeable, but to triumph is to change.
So Monet goes outside, to a garden, and decides to paint the arc of time by way of color and movement. He dabs in the changing light against a white linen the optical equivalencies of water, weeping willow, chapel, haystack, human--knowing those containing lines of structure are the lies of his mind wanting to create demarcations and separations. What he comprehends is the melt of visual unity.
He calls a work Impressionist Sunrise, and his critics poke fun and name his friends and followers “Impressionists.” The sonorous bell of the word rings, and the way western society sees again moves. A new cathedral of thought slowly builds awaiting its fall.
It is necessary to love the modes of thought that shape us, that come before, and to thank them. It is our duty to shape new modes of thought.