Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Interview with 2015 EVAs Finalist Audrey Nation

Audrey Nation, Kenyon College

Audrey Nation, one of six finalists in the 2015 AICUO Excellence in the Visual Art Awards competition, recently participated in a brief interview. Be sure to check out her portfolio at: http://www.aicuoartaward.com/aicuoEVAs15/portfolio.aspx?pID=103

How have you grown as an artist since coming to college?

I have grown in so many more ways than I expected during my time at Kenyon. In high school I had done a lot of photography, so I played it safe and took film photography my first semester freshman year. The next semester, I ended up stepping far outside of my comfort zone and taking an intermediate sculpture class. At the same time, I was in a survey of architecture course - that’s when I came to realize how much I enjoyed working with my hands and the power that a structure can have, and that I loved architecture. I took more darkroom photography classes of course, but I have also taken classes that seemed way beyond my interests, both within the art major and other departments. (How else would I have ended up in economics?) Every class and professor challenges you in such new ways, and the techniques, materials, ideas, thought processes, etc. from each class could be so different - as more and more were introduced, they came to influence and be influenced by each other. I started to experiment with adding sculptural elements to my photographs, and photographic techniques to books, and book-making techniques to sculptures, and each process informs another and it keeps going.

I have had to learn to work with the fear of uncertainty. I still like to know what's going to happen when I start a project, to work towards a mental image of the finished product, but I also know now that it can be more exciting and satisfying to jump into an idea without knowing exactly how or if it's even going to work out in the end. How could we otherwise learn what else works and doesn't work without stepping outside our comfort zones? Even knowing what doesn't work is helpful, it's still learning, and I think knowing that is probably the greatest contributor to my growth as an artist. Of course, I have also learned so many more technical skills and processes than I could've thought, but that wouldn't have been successful without turning the fear of trying something totally new into a good thing.

What type of art do you look to for inspiration?

This is sort of a tricky question - I don’t know that I go to any specific type(s) of art for inspiration. It’s more that I am inspired by different aspects of many types of artwork, and what I look for then depends on what I’m working on. For example, the way an artist treats the lines or colors or light, not limited to a particular medium or style. Even if I don’t particularly like or feel drawn to a piece, I try to look at it in parts so that I can see what is working well and learn from that.

Just thinking about it, it’s hard to say whether there is one medium or style or idea that I go to more than others, but there are at least a few forerunners. Black and white film photography, architecture and architectural drawings, sculpture, and illustration definitely would be at the top of the list. I also just enjoy looking through art magazines and websites and find pieces or artists whose work catches my eye. I can spend hours going looking at art online - bouncing around from artist to related artist - or flipping through art books. It’s so easy to get lost in all there is to look at and looking at a lot of different things, even if only briefly, gives me so many new ideas to think about and potential ways to solve any problems I’ve been having or to get unstuck from a creative block.

What is your favorite piece within the portfolio you submitted to AICUO and why?

Of the pieces I submitted in the portfolio, my favorite would probably be “Elizabeth”, for many reasons. The piece itself is a set of window blinds with the image exposed directly onto them, which was done using Liquid Light to paint the photographic emulsion onto the surface of the blinds. It was made for a Photography of Invention course here, which focuses on alternative darkroom processes, and was consequently full of totally new experiences for me. Before attempting this piece, all of our class had had varying levels of success with the liquid light and from a few test blinds, it was hard to tell how clear the composite image would end up. I had to ignore my worrying that it wouldn’t work out and just do it and see what happened and when, developed blind by blind, the image began to come together, I was absolutely euphoric. It was one of the first major times that I had jumped into a piece so fully without knowing what the end product would be and just trusted myself and the process and it had worked out! The piece was also my first “sculptural/structural photograph” and the first of my pieces which was reliant on interaction with the viewer (opening and closing the blinds) so the creation itself of this piece was incredibly significant to my growth as an artist.

In addition to the personal reasons for this piece being my favorite, I think it is also one of my more successful pieces overall both conceptually and aesthetically. It was made to answer a “conflict of meanings” assignment, and looks at the idea of privacy against the counterintuitive function of the blinds - as the blinds are open further, the image is more distorted until it is no longer visible.

How has participating in this competition helped you develop as a professional artist?

This competition has really forced me to take a step back and look at my body of work over the past few years, to see my own growth, to understand where and how it happened, and to be able to talk about my work in retrospect. In doing all of this, I’ve come to recognize several commonalities throughout my past work that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, like in aesthetic decisions, creative processes, and concepts. It’s also made me consider more what has worked in the past and what has not, which has already helped me learn and make better work, playing off of those observations.
I have also been working on my Senior Exercise for art, where we each produce new work to be shown in the gallery on campus. Having this competition coinciding with that process has been very helpful - looking at past work to put together our portfolios was very beneficial, as I said earlier. Also, this has provided invaluable experience in the arts outside of our small college town, which will undoubtedly prepare me for a (hopeful) transition into a larger and professional art community.

What are your plans after graduation with the arts?

Thinking long-term, I'm not sure what I want to do after graduation. I'm not even sure yet what I'll do in the short term either. I would love to end up working somehow in the arts - teaching art, working in a gallery, going to graduate school and pursuing architecture, etc. etc. But I’m also keeping options open on the economics side of my interests. Career-wise I don't know if I will end up directly in the arts, but I would definitely like to be doing something that is creative in some way, where I can challenge myself and where every day is not the same. I do know that I will keep making art and exploring new things and that I will be involved in the art community wherever I end up - so many people who are close to me are artistic in so many ways and we will undoubtedly keep each other thinking creatively. As strangely related as studio art and economics have turned out to be for me, and as important to me as they both are, trying to combine my interests into one career seems somehow more limiting. I would love to find a way to keep both actively prevalent in my life, and that is probably my only concrete plan looking ahead right now.

AICUO Welcomes the 2015-2016 Art Awards Coordinator, Audrey Vrancken!

Audrey is from Tiffin, Ohio and now attends college at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. She is currently a Junior studying Business Management. She plans to enthusiastically pursue a career in event planning upon graduation. She also hopes to continue working with non-profit organizations. Audrey is very passionate about the arts and has always played an active role in the arts community.

In addition to her degree requirements, Audrey has become increasingly active among campus programs. As an active member of Tau Epsilon Mu sorority, Audrey serves three roles: Recruitment Chair, Spring Weekend Coordinator, and Senior Standard Representative. In her local chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), she actively participates as their Treasurer. 

Audrey is tremendously excited to start her first internship as the 2015-2016 Arts Awards Coordinator at the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cleveland Institute of Art presents Women to Watch – Ohio in Partnership with Ohio Advisory Group of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

Show highlights five nominees for biennial exhibition at the Women’s Museum in Washington, DC

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Cleveland Institute of Art, in partnership with the Ohio Advisory Group of
the National Museum of Women in the Arts, presents Women to Watch – Ohio, an exhibition
featuring five accomplished Ohio women artists who are pushing the boundaries of
contemporary art in ceramics, tapestry, painting and drawing, photography, installation,
printmaking, and mixed media.

The featured artists are CIA graduates Christi Birchfield (Class of 2006) and Lauren Yeager
(Class of 2009); and Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson, Mimi Kato, and Eva Kwong.
According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), 51% of visual artists today
are women, yet only 5% of work on display in US museums is by women, and work by women
makes up only 5% of major permanent collections in the US and Europe. And according to a
research paper, “The Gender Gap in Art Museum Directorships,” published by the Association
of Art Museum Directors, women hold just 24% of art museum director positions at museums
with budgets over $15 million and earn 71¢ for every dollar earned by male directors.
Women to Watch – Ohio shines a light on these disparities, while showcasing five artists who
come from across the country and around the world but now call Northeast Ohio home.

The exhibition was initiated by Barbara Richter and Harriet Warm who are founders and cochairs
of the Ohio Advisory Group (OAG) of NMWA. This group of influential Ohio women
convened to advance the museum’s mission by promoting Ohio women artists and creating
exhibition opportunities both locally and at the Women’s Museum in Washington, DC.
On behalf of the OAG, Richter and Warm tapped curators Reto Thüring, of the Cleveland
Museum of Art, and Rose Bouthillier, of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, to identify
deserving, underrepresented artists according to criteria presented by NMWA. Bruce
Checefsky, Director of CIA’s Reinberger Galleries, selected the works for Women to Watch-
Ohio and curated the exhibition with the assistance of Jen Rokoski, a graduate level intern who
was recruited by the OAG from the Art History and Museum Studies program at Case Western
Reserve University.

“We’re thrilled about the collaborative nature of this exhibition,” said Richter. “It is wonderful to
see so many prominent arts institutions in Cleveland working together to showcase Women to
Watch – Ohio.” Warm added, “The association with NMWA and the international Women to
Watch exhibition in Washington, DC brings additional visibility and prestige to the project.”
All five artists in Women to Watch – Ohio were nominees for Organic Matters – Women to
Watch 2015, which opens on June 5, 2015 at NMWA in Washington D.C. Curators from the
museum chose Kato to participate in that international show, which recurs on a biennial basis.
It is the first time that an Ohio-based artist will be represented. Kato, who works in
photomontage, is a 2013 recipient of a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community
Partnership for Arts and Culture.

Women to Watch – Ohio is the last major exhibition scheduled for the Reinberger Galleries in
CIA’s George Gund Building on East Boulevard. The college is vacating that building as it
unifies its campus on Euclid Avenue with the recent completion of a new George Gund
Building adjoined to its historic Joseph McCullough Center for the Visual Arts. The East
Boulevard building is being sold to Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland
Museum of Art.

“We’re organizing this exhibition because women have been under recognized in exhibitions in
this region and nationally, and this is an important effort to show the significance of their
contributions,” Reinberger Galleries Director Checefsky said. “These particular women artists
represent the very best artists in the region and have reputations that extend nationally and

CIA President Grafton Nunes echoed that sentiment. “Cleveland Institute of Art was founded in
1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women and has educated generations of
accomplished women artists since then,” he said. “It is particularly fitting that CIA is cosponsoring
this exhibition, which showcases five women artists, highlights the hurdles that
women artists face, and precedes a significant international exhibition at the National Museum
of Women in the Arts in Washington."

Public Events

Women to Watch – Ohio opens to the public with a reception in CIA’s Reinberger Galleries on
Thursday, April 2, from 6-8 pm. As part of CIA's Lunch On Fridays series, the featured artists
will participate in a public panel discussion on women in the arts on Friday, April 10, 2015, at
12:15pm in Aitken Auditorium in the Gund Building. Rokoski will moderate the forum.

The Artists

According to Rokoski, the curatorial intern, Kato’s creates performative photomontages, which
feature her image embedded into traditional yet modernized Japanese landscapes. Yeager’s
mixed media installations of everyday objects (like pencils and construction cones) function as
urban taxonomy, organizing seemingly banal objects and systems into something more
interesting and often absurd. Birchfield’s printmaking looks to both the natural and mechanical
world in efforts to create her own nature morte that is anything but lifeless. Inspired by both
macrocosmic and microcosmic environments, Kwong’s ceramic sculptures are direct
manifestations of the natural world. Jónsson’s textile-formed paintings recall the landscape of
her native Iceland.

NMWA and the Ohio Advisory Group

The National Museum of Women in the Arts, based in Washington, DC, is the only museum
dedicated to celebrating women artists through exhibitions, acquisitions, educational initiatives
and archival research. (Read more at nmwa.org.) The Ohio Advisory Group of NMWA provides
leadership, guidance, and resources in support of the museum's mission and works to elevate
the profile of accomplished women artists from Ohio. The founding members of the Ohio
Advisory Group are distinguished women leaders in Ohio who share a passion for art and/or
advocacy for women. In addition to founders and co-chairs Richter and Warm, members
include Victoria Bell, Diane DeGrazia, Marilena Disilvio, Diane Downing, Helen Forbes Fields,
Susan Goldberg, Sally Gries, Shannon Lundeen, Ellen Stirn Mavec, Sharon Milligan, Kristin
Morris, Sandra Pianalto, Barbara Robinson, Catherine Scallen, and Eliza Wing.
Women to Watch - Ohio is the final installment in CIA’s year-long series, Community Works:
Artist as Social Agent. The series focused on socially engaged art.
Sponsorship for Women to Watch - Ohio was provided by Huntington Bank and media partner,
ideastream, which includes WVIZ/PBS, 90.3 WCPN, and WCLV 104.9. Additional funding was
provided by the Ruby Shoes Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

About CIA

Founded in 1882, Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design
offering 15 majors in studio art, digital art, craft disciplines, and design. CIA extends its programming to
the public through gallery exhibitions; lectures; a robust continuing education program; and the
Cinematheque, a year-round art and independent film program. CIA’s public programming is supported
in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. For
more information visit www.cia.edu.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Interview with 2015 EVAs Finalist Justine Neuberger

Justine Neuberger, Oberlin College
Justine Neuberger, one of six finalists in the 2015 AICUO Excellence in the Visual Art Awards competition, recently participated in a brief interview. Be sure to check out her portfolio at http://www.aicuoartaward.com/aicuoEVAs15/portfolio.aspx?pID=109!

How have you grown as an artist since coming to college?

I have been able to think about contemporary art making in the context of art history. I have also been exposed to many new ideas, which have challenged me and made me think closely about why and how I paint. 

What type of art do you look to for inspiration?

Byzantine murals, Duccio, Grünewald, Caravaggio, El Greco,
Rubens, Jan Steen, Frans Haals, Chardin, ​
 Velasquez, Goya, Manet,  
​Picasso's paintings of Pierrot and Harlequin, Watteau, Courbet, ​
"Selbstbildnis mit Rasierschaum 
​" by Rudolph Wacker, G
ino S
​'s paintings of clowns, ​Brian de Palma, Harmony Korine, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Howard Stern, 
Audrey Flack, Burger King, Lie Detector Test Television 
​, Footage of block parties on public access tv, Books. ​

What is your favorite piece within the portfolio you submitted to AICUO and why?

My favorite piece in the portfolio I submitted is Thanksgiving Bliss. I made it around Thanksgiving when I was away from my family, so it had a nostalgic feel. I also loved painting all glistens on the meat. 

How has participating in this competition helped you develop as a professional artist?

This competition has helped me realize some of my ideas as I wrote about each piece and how they related to a main theme and to each other.  

What are your plans after graduation with the arts?

After I graduate I would like to get a dog and work on a collaborative project in which I dip the dog's paws into neon paint and have her walk along the surface of my canvas. Then I would like to contribute to these initial marks with my own.
Just joking (I think I saw Riff Raff suggest something similar on GGN)! I just hope to be in a place where I can keep painting and showing work.  ​

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Interview with 2015 EVAs Finalist Lauryn King

Lauryn King, Xavier University
Lauryn King, one of six finalists in the 2015 AICUO Excellence in the Visual Art Awards competition, recently participated in a brief interview. Be sure to check out her portfolio at http://www.aicuoartaward.com/aicuoEVAs15/portfolio.aspx?pID=124!

How have you grown as an artist since coming to college? 

My skill level and concepts have both improved tremendously since attending college.  I have learned many different techniques, such as a Media-Ramic life casting process I utilize most in my work, pursuing art in college has made me realize that my work does not have to be limited to only a few mediums.  Coming to college for art has forced me to create work on what I know best. This has forced me to find ways to deal with past traumas and living a life plagued with mental illness.  This has forced my art to become an outlet for pain, both my own and others.  I primarily make this art for the connection others see in it. College has given me the space and motivation to find my own voice within my art.

What type of art do you look to for inspiration?

I draw inspiration from both sculpture and 2D works.   In sculpture, I gravitate towards a hyper-realistic style of work done by artist such as Tipp Toland, Ron Mueck and Sam Jinks . The movement in Beth Cavener Stichter’s animalistic forms and Matt R. Martin’s figurative forms also inspires me. 

What is your favorite piece within the portfolio you submitted to AICUO and why?

My favorite piece is titled Empty for several reasons.  I love the way the negative and positive space leads the viewer’s eye throughout the entire piece.  Conceptually the piece is talking about trying to hold oneself together.  Almost everyone has experienced some sort of hardship or pain in their lives, which has made them feel as if they were falling apart. The sweatshirt is the comforting tool,  which keeps the piece (person) together. 

How has participating in this competition helped you develop as a professional artist?

This competition has helped me put together a professional portfolio.  Through my participation, I learned how to photograph my work and to edit the images to meet the criteria.  This competition has also compelled me to put the emotions and thoughts behind my pieces into words. 

What are your plans after graduation with the arts?

I intend to experience many different residencies and assistant-ships.  I will relocate in order to immerse myself into different artistic communities, so I can learn new and different techniques that I will be able to incorporate into my own work.  I plan on creating art and learning new processes as much as I am physically capable of doing.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview with 2015 EVAs Finalist Catherine Stanley

Catherine Stanley, Cleveland Institute of Art
Catherine Stanley, one of six finalists in the 2015 AICUO Excellence in the Visual Art Awards competition, recently participated in a brief interview. Be sure to check out her portfolio at http://www.aicuoartaward.com/aicuoEVAs15/portfolio.aspx?pID=130!

How have you grown as an artist since coming to college?
Before I came to college I was not sure what I wanted to do as an artist and was unsure how I could find a job that used my skills. When I found out about scientific illustration at my college I was so intrigued by it because it combined my love for science and art. Being in college has helped me find a focus with my art and has helped me to find lots of different ways to use my skills as an artist. 
What type of art do you look to for inspiration?
I read a lot of research papers and non-fiction text when I am working on my projects and within those texts there are sometimes beautiful illustrations of complex topics which I find really inspiring. I also have found it inspiring to look at old botanical, medical, and scientific illustrations that were created in traditional mediums. Another source of inspiration for me is microscope and macro photographs of nature, I love being able to see things in a different way. 

What is your favorite piece within the portfolio you submitted to AICUO and why?
My favorite piece in my portfolio would have to be my illustration of a surgical procedure for a patient with Chron’s disease that I created after having the opportunity to observe the surgery being performed. It’s hard to describe how beautiful and amazing it is to see the anatomy of a living person and to know that the procedure being performed is going to greatly improve that person’s life. I have friends and family who suffer from Chron’s disease so it also meant a lot to me to see the actual effects of the disease and how it could be treated. I loved figuring out how to accurately illustrate the procedure and being able to share this knowledge. The whole experience just really spoke to what I want to accomplish as an artist, helping others through my work.  

How has participating in this competition helped you develop as a professional artist?
Participating in this competition has helped me to put together a really great portfolio that I know will be extremely useful as a professional artist. The competition has also helped me to gain recognition as an artist and that opens up a lot of opportunities. 

What are your plans after graduation with the arts?
After graduating I would like to find work in a scientific related institution or corporation where I can use my skills best. It would be amazing to be working specifically at a hospital or museum but I am really open to going anywhere as long as I can continue to help others with my work. In the future I would love to become a certified medical illustration and to further my education in the sciences with a master’s degree.