Eating my Still Life: The Last Meal

The Academy sends four students to enjoy a two-month residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in the historic Spinnerei in Leipzig during the summer. Holly Ann Sailors, Aleah Chapin, Nicolas Holiber and Alexander Barton blog with us while they're on residency in Germany.

By Nicolas Holiber (MFA 2012)

When I first starting working with animal flesh, in Catherine Howe’s Comp & Design II class, we had to write a thesis about the body of work we intended to make that semester. My ideas about working with butchered animal parts centered around my love for food; specifically the communal experience of a shared meal, and the metaphysical symbolism of eating meat. Research led to me to Sue Coe’s book, Dead Meat, in which Alexander Cockburn gives an introduction on “A Short Meat-Oriented History of the World from Eden to Mattole”. In his writing Mr. Cockburn describes eating as “a moral act inextricably bound to killing” and provides a philosophical understanding of meat-eating (told by his friend, Michael), which together made up the backbone of my thesis:
“Bullocks I'd slaughter after about two years. I don't lie to my animals. I tell them the only way I know, using English, that I'm going to slaughter them. I give them as much love and care as I can. Then, when they're slaughtered they will be part of my body, part of your body. You do the same in your garden.”
A big part of my thesis was also devoted to making a meal out of my still life, large enough to feed a group of people and conceptually what that meant in my work. However, that brought on a handful of obstacles concerning meat preservation and studio practice, leaving me with a frozen, half-rotten pair of lamb legs at the end of the semester. It was only until I traveled to Leipzig that my thesis came to full realization: painting, cooking, and eating my still life together with other artists and friends. Another resident here at LIA, Italian artist Lucia Lamberti had the idea of making pasta fagioli with the hocks I had bought. I couldn’t explain to her how excited and happy I was that she had this idea and before I knew it she was slow-cooking the pork and salting the water for pasta. It was an amazing feeling, having my idea come to fruition and the only way I could thank Lucia was by eating myself into a food coma.

Four hours on the stove...
... a Masterpiece!

During the spring semester I created six large-scale, mixed media paintings; meatscapes. It was my plan to continue with these meatscapes in Leipzig however, after many failed attempts at making the same imagery something was just not working. I spent the majority of the month frustrated about not being able to continue with this type of work; it was hard for me to end a series and process of art making that was so fulfilling for me, but I was forcing it since I arrived here. In hindsight, that meal should have been the conclusion for the meatscapes and in a way it was – nothing I made after that operated coherently.

Now, a day after returning from an extended stay in Berlin where I was able to see national collections and special exhibitions, I am completely refreshed. Revisiting the figure in combination with the animal-flesh-vocabulary I have developed over the year, I plan on making a new body of work that will lead into my Master Thesis.

Eric Telfort: Keeping the Brushes Wet, part 4

The New York Academy of Art is pleased to present the next installment in this new series on our blog. Eric Telfort, a 2009 graduate of the New York Academy of Art, blogs with us about “keeping the brushes wet.” Follow us as Eric writes about what it’s like to be a working artist.

Continued from the last post:

Delayed gratification. This concept I find applies to a lot of the random happenings of ones life. I’m starting to realize that in a painting patience really pays off. I, the school trained artist, was built to create a painting in a week to turn in and talk about the following day. The same twenty minute breath used to describe a slide of a painting created before my time was awarded to paintings of my academic experience with the same care. I would think to myself, “Wow we spent twenty minutes talking about something I put together the night before, and I didn’t even think about it.” Bullshit. Today I find the painting process is slowing down drastically. Proper technique and color relationships to convey the message an artist wants to present to the viewer drastically slows down the process these days. I think before showing other people work, and in the event it doesn’t look like care and great thought went into the painting I pass it off as just a sketch. In the paintings I try to do now each stroke has to have a story or a part of the story. I think of it as writing a paper where each stroke is a line from the text so that if one were to isolate each brush stroke and put them next to each other to form a page they would be able to read my unique story. This delayed reaction will one day be helpful in marriage. As a man I am beginning to understand that many women enjoy the Eric experience when I have a “delayed reaction.” I have begun this mode of talking myself through a painting before I start painting. It cuts down the frustration. I will admit I haven’t been able to paint nearly as much as I would like to. There aren’t enough hours in the day. The children and young adults I teach during the day need to be fed education. I need to sleep. Women need to be smiled at and told day-changing comments such as “love those shoes” and “you have the most paint-able face; here’s my card, I’m an artist.” How do I balance this life? I haven’t. I have neither rhyme nor reason to the madness of trying to be an artist and hold a 9-5 job. I am not ashamed to admit this in hopes that someone will one day sit next to me, gently stroke my turpenoid-stained hands and calmly whisper, “Me too.”

To be continued…

Eating My Still Life

The Academy sends four students to enjoy a two-month residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in the historic Spinnerei in Leipzig. Holly Ann Sailors, Aleah Chapin, Nicolas Holiber and Alexander Barton blog with us while they're on residency in Germany.

By Nicolas Holiber (MFA 2012)

Haben Sie Schweinefüße?

“Do you have pigs feet?” was the first complete German sentence I learned while arriving in Leipzig. A little odd I admit, this question was essential in getting my studio practice up and running again after a two-week hiatus since the end of school. Slow to adjust to my new surroundings, the first few days here at the Spinneri were spent gathering art materials, muttering broken-German descriptions of much needed supplies, sprechen sie englisch?, and overcoming jet lag. I quickly realized something about Leipzig; it is nothing like New York City. Here the pace of life is slower, people are very polite and mostly everything besides a few pubs closes around 9pm. So while I lamented over the convenience of New York (I should really say the spoils of NY), I took refuge in the thought that soon enough I would have a couple of fresh ham hocks to make everything better.

Haben Sie Schweinefüße?

Entering my first German butcher shop, or Fleischerei as they are called, was everything I imagined it to be. Cured sausages hanging from the ceiling; enough wieners and wursts to make you dizzy, salamis, pâtés, head cheeses, cold cuts behind the glass, bacon, ground beef, things I had never even seen before! But wait… I looked around in a panic, where were the trotters?! Wasn’t this supposed to be the land of meat? I thought I’d be swimming in pig the moment I stepped inside. “Haben Sie Schweinefüße?” The kind woman behind the counter looked at me with an unassuming stare, “Nein.” Confused, I stepped outside, got back on my bike and went searching for another Fleischerei. I walked into the second store ignoring all of the alizarin eye candy hanging from the walls and went straight to the glass. Pork chop, pork shoulder, pork belly… no hoofs in sight. I asked in vain, Haben Sie Schweinefüße? And again I was denied. I left that place in a daze, wandering on my bicycle in an ungulate-deprived stupor, all hope nearly lost.

Haben Sie Schweinefüße? 

I saw the third shop from across the street, a quiet corner store establishment with the specials written in chalk by the door. I decided to make this my final attempt and sauntered inside. The store was empty, I heard someone shuffling about in the back and before I could realize what I was looking at my hands were all over the glass, practically on my knees in euphoric relief. I had finally found what I was looking for, in a butcher shop not 10 minutes from my studio: access to all the hog feet I could ever want. Then I heard a voice, “Kann ich Ihnen helfen?” I smiled, “Haben Sie Schweinefüße?” 

the Love of my life..

Soaking up the Studio

The Academy sends four students to enjoy a two-month residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in the historic Spinnerei in Leipzig. Holly Ann Sailors, Aleah Chapin, Nicolas Holiber and Alexander Barton blog with us while they're on residency in Germany.

By Aleah Chapin (MFA 2012)

In 2005 I stood at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, WA staring at a canvas by David Schnell. I remember feeling as if I could step one foot forward into the vast expanse of line, color and space. Now, 6 years later I'm sitting in a spacious industrial room with tall ceilings and large windows on the 3rd floor of an enormous brick building in Leipzig, Germany, where David Schnell has his studio. This room will be my home and studio for the next 7 weeks.

I'm one of 4 very lucky Academy students who will be spending the summer at LIA, an international artist residency. The program is located at the Spinnerei, an old cotton mill that has been converted into a thriving artist community with incredible live/work studios, galleries, a theater, cafe and an amazing art store. Leipzig is a beautiful city. Slightly crumbling at the edges, it is full of parks, lakes and gorgeous architecture.

There is so much history here and yet it has a feeling of freshness and infinite opportunity. Over the last week we've explored the city on wobbly bicycles, set up our studios, and excitedly, if also slightly nervously, confronted white canvases. Sometimes life throws you places you would never have imagined being in. I'm finding it fascinating to be exposed to such a different art scene than what I'm used to in NYC and I'm eager to see what I can learn from a style so different from mine. It's impossible not to be inspired in Leipzig and I'm looking forward to soaking up every bit of this incredible experience.

Grit and Mortar

The Academy sends four students to enjoy a two-month residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in the historic Spinnerei in Leipzig. Holly Ann Sailors, Aleah Chapin, Nicolas Holiber and Alexander Barton blog with us while they're on residency in Germany.

By Alexander Barton (MFA 2012)

Nic, Aleah, Holly and Alex in front of the Spinnerei

Acres of rescued brick mills at the Spinnerei supports a fertile artistic community and has informed the success of this cultural collective. Complete with artist ateliers, an art store, galleries, bars, a cafe, businesses, a theatre, resident artists, and from bikes to Porsches, the Spinnerei is a self-sufficient artistic epicenter. This niche of Leipzig thrives on and is influenced by its historical relics and charm. Stone, brick, tracks, broken windows, graffiti, and rubble is coupled with humble renovations to make for an inspiring artistic terrain. Like rings on a tree you can count back the years by the layers of chipped paint in our studios. What is the appeal of this grit to artists? It seems for me absurd to even create work in a clean, plastic, or naïve environment, one who embodies not history, weight, and failure and therefore, potential. Sacrificing comforts for creative faculties, I have been living in mills like these since 2002 and have been evicted three times. The buildings, this tactile character and this evidence of life harmonizes with my purpose. Like that of New York, the rugged physical architecture we climb and dwell in fuels our practices. The scars in the floors and stains to the ceiling offer a great dialogue to creative minds. In the courtyard of the Spinnerei, a massive clock on building #21 has stopped at 10:10. The ghosts of the Spinnerei answer back our efforts in tact. We create with interests of progression, potential and production, however; I hope this stopped clock keeps my time and the Spinnerei’s energy preserved at this 10:10 stage forever.

Bleib dir treu Leipzig!





Plan, Work, Wonder - Spinning Memories

The Academy sends four students to enjoy a two-month residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in the historic Spinnerei in Leipzig. Holly Ann Sailors, Aleah Chapin, Nicolas Holiber and Alexander Barton blog with us while they're on residency in Germany.

By Holly Ann Sailors (MFA 2012)

Cliffside Cotton Mill, North Carolina
Four thousand five hundred and six miles away from Leipzig Germany there sits a sister town. A town that understands what it means to feel empty, abandoned, and overworked. This place once existed as a busting Mill town. Now the community looks back, nostalgic about the days of cotton spinning. I was raised in a Cotton Mill town in Cliffside North Carolina; and this place becomes reminiscent of home. Falling bricks, peeling paint, cracked cement, tufts of grass. Roots and earth pushing its way through cumbersome stone that once represented the livelihood of a town. I sit in a studio, a heavy expanse of brick, steel, and cement that contains my painting supplies and me. This place once filled hardworking Mill employees. I sit in this studio; brush in hand wondering “Does my labor of love compare to the unrelenting work of the cotton spinners? Am I filling a void in Leipzig?”

Loading cotton, Spinnerei, Leipzig Germany
During the 19th century, global demand for cotton had risen dramatically. Leipzig Germany and Cliffside North Carolina were busy spinning their way into the Second World War, clothing and employing communities with cotton, and putting food on tables across town. Generations pass, and times of war and cotton commerce soon fade. Towns sit, barely clinging to the economic culture they once had, moving forward to new ways of life.

Spinnerei workers, Leipzig Germany
The Century-old Cliffside Cotton mill closed its doors in 2003, leaving many of my own family members unemployed. In 1993 the Leipzig Spinnerei was sold. An age has ended. This giant Cotton Mill in Germany has been transformed and now exists as a Mecca of creative productivity for local and international artists. I have the pleasure of gracing this incredible space. Images of women toiling over their work linger in my mind as I push wet pigment onto cotton canvas. My studio fills with the passion and dedication of the past and present people who have called the Spinnerei home.
I shall plan and work and wonder,
When the days grow dark and somber,
As I slowly trudge the upgrade of the hills;
Oh, the good day that is coming,
I shall look so sweet and stunning
- Excerpt from Ida Watkins poem about her Cotton Mill Work; 1926

Crossing Borders With Cool Bags

A Review by Michael Kagan, Jason Bereswill and Jane LaFarge Hamill (MFA 2005)

inside the Japanese Pavilion,
"TABAIMO: teleco-soup" by Artist Tabaimo
Day 3: Crossing Borders with Cool Bags

Our feet are sore, but the excitement hasn't worn off. The pebbled paths of the Giardini are still packed with the art crowd and the line for Mike Nelson's installation at the UK Pavilion is still 2 hours long. Thank god they're giving out free coffee.

Michael and Gordon outside the Serbian Pavilion

Part of the experience of attending the Biennale Previews is feeling the energy of the whole art world focused and hopeful in one beautiful place. The giant leafy trees in the Giardini hang over buildings as varied in design as the nations they represent and the work they house. Parading through the pebble paths; artists, dealers, collectors, press, and fans alike kick up dust from one installation to the next; socializing and debating as they go.

It's apparent after we visited the remainder of the pavilions that it's unavoidable to remove national politicals from ones' experience here. Simply by separating each country into their own pavilion, it sets up a microcosm of international borders. The only country that outstepped its' boundaries was the US; the obnoxious sound of Allora and Calzadilla's clanking military tank reaching far across the Giardini. Interesting comment. The strongest work in the context of the Biennale seems to be that which balances an expression of the individual artist and represention of their nation's culture.

The tote bags that each country gives out with their press packages are worn like flags. Each one is different in design and material and the most coveted bag was Turkey's. Jane lied, stole, and cheated her way into getting us all a couple. See Turkey's yellow tote and the UAE's below.

Following the political theme of the day, we also ran into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - or should I say his bodyguards; who were big, and shut down every path in sight until he moved at least two pavilions away. (We thought the VIP might be Abramovich, who parked his mega yacht equipped with an escape sub right outside the entrance to the Giardini.)

Netanyahu's brigade parade
Besides the official Biennale events there are a few other shows going on around town. After leaving the Giardini for the day we headed into San Marco and ran into Julian Schnabel making a correction to the text of a gigantic painting/billboard in his purple pj's and red vans. This huge outdoor piece is a marker for a terrific survey of his work showing at the Museo Correr just inside the square.

Ciao for now -
Jane, Jason, and Michael


The Giardini Pavilions

A Review by Jason Bereswill, Jane LaFarge Hamill and Michael Kagan (MFA 2005)

Lee Yonbaek
Day 2: The Giardini Pavilions

One of today's favorites was the visual decadence of the Korean Pavilion. The scale of the objects and vibrance of color were seductively polished, but subversively violent - shattering mirrors, flowered neon army fatigues, and one of the only representational paintings we saw- a giant photo-real painting of florescent fishing lures.

Outside the American Pavilion was perhaps the grandest perfromance of the year. Wearing Nike issued Olympic gear and a shirt emblazoned with 'USA', decathlete and superstar Olympic gold-medalist Dan O'Brien ran on a treadmill fixed on top of an upside down huuuge military tank. His movements powered the tread of the capsized war machine, and the mechanics were jarringly loud- overpowering the auditory space of the surrounding pavilions- demanding attention like a beacon. People came flocking.

Inside the pavilion the action continued with performances by US Olympic gymnasts and an installation of a working ATM connected to a church organ blasting random notes as you enter your PIN. Jane took out some of that holy money and onlookers covered their ears as her pin code piped the organ at a deafening pitch.

Hajnal Németh
The Hungarian Pavilion made an impact on everyone in our group. Hajnal Németh's installation 'Crash' is a study of car accidents in three parts. Most notably, a full-room experience engulfed in red light in which the viewer feels as though they've entered one of Warhol's red Crash paintings, complete with a wrecked automobile front and center. Also included are testimonies from accident survivors re-enacted by opera singers.

Gelatin, and the inspired Austrian
We went back to see Gelatin of course, and the kiln had heated up considerably from yesterday. The performance now included an inspired naked young Austrian man who brought a new meaning to the word "tree hugger"... his mouth spewed red wine as his tongue caressed one end of a log, while his torso pumped up and down making sweet/rough love to the other. We really hope he didn't get any splinters.

Kagan ran into a fabulously decked out Stacey Engman at the
Dasha Zhukova party at the Bauer and got hungry... for her hat.

We also can't fail to mention that our nightly bedtime was usually 4:30am, every night a different country, art magazine, and fashion house hosting parties. It was hard to keep track of it all and each other- cue joke about Kagan.

More to come, ciao from Venezia!
Jane, Michael, and Jason

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Julio Stanly Flores

The Academy is pleased to share a new ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT series on our blog. We'll be spotlighting our alums to give you an idea about what it's like to be an Academy grad. Here, Julio Stanly Flores, MFA 2009. 

Julio Stanly Flores, Red Buck
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a series of paintings that depict animals/humans and the potential for violence and destruction. The series at the moment is essentially life size studies of taxidermy animals.

I also started a Furniture restoration and home décor business in Bucks County, PA. During the spring semester I was the assistant Anatomy instructor for John Horn at New York Academy of Art, while also working as a ghost painter for an Artist in NY.

What was your most recent big thing?
Having figured out a new direction for my work is currently the biggest and most important thing for me.

What do you find challenging about your work?
Finding sources to paint from.

What do you find rewarding about what you do?
It's rewarding that somehow despite having multiple jobs I have found a way to keep art and painting integrated into my daily life. Having a dedicated studio in the house allows me to run in when I’m in the mood and having found the perfect balance to be in the mood has been paramount. I also have various jobs that satisfy every one of my needs I get to paint, design, build, teach, and illustrate.

Julio in his studio with studio-mate Kaiser
What’s on the horizon for you?
Now I'm working on setting up an organization in Guatemala with the purpose of bringing awareness to Autism through art and education, Central America has a serious problem with Autism due to a lack of information and unfortunately some atrocities are occurring to children.

Julio Stanly Flores MFA

The Venice Biennale Previews

A Review by Jane LaFarge Hamill, Jason Bereswill and Michael Kagan (MFA 2005)

Day 1: The Venice Biennale Previews

The Biennale is split into 3 different areas: the Arsenale, the Giardini, and some pavilions dispersed throughout the city. Today we went to the Arsenale. Much of the work at the Arsenale was installation-based or sculptural, interspersed with sporadic paintings, drawings and photography. It was difficult at times to understand where one work ended and the next began. But one standout highlight was certainly the art collective Gelatin, whose show took over a part of the garden with Brooklyn band Japanther. While a cross-dressed scruffy man with amazing thighs danced on a stripper pole on top of a pile of split wood, other members of the collective melted glass in a kiln and spread the molten liquid on the ground while serving prosecco to the crowd, garden party style. It was a nice break from the more serious and political considerations inside the pavilions.

And it was interesting that while tote bags with the slogan 'Free Ai Wei Wei' were being distributed outside the Biennale's gates, the Chinese Pavilion mere meters away was business as usual (our friend Gordon Austin, an NYAA supporter and traveling companion, added that it was "stinky business at that"), showing small traditional Chinese pots in a dank boiler room.

Kagan & Tuyman
Showing at the Giardini, artist Luc Tuymans took a picture with Michael Kagan...or was it the other way around... Jason Bereswill followed Thomas Demand around for a while... and we also spotted Rob Pruitt, Jonothan Horowitz, Jerry Saltz, Roberta Smith, Mike and Doug Starn, Tony Shafrazi, and Thomas Hirschorn checking out the exhibits.

Below are some photos of Urs Fischer's fantastic giant wax candle sculptures and a video clip from Christian Marclay's The Clock.

Jane, Jason, and Michael

Urs Fischer