I am a student, writer and artist living in Pittsburgh, PA, and most of my work explores ekphrasis and the poetry hidden in everyday images and objects. I am interested in our imperfect attempts to communicate our private narratives to one another. My artworks are layers of attempts to divulge stories with both images and text. “I Have Some Living Things” features lines from a poem by Duriel E. Harris that are hand-drawn and inverted. My work explores the way certain words hide in our bodies and in nature and become decoded through art and poetry.
In order to understand my position and place in this culture of sensory overload, I must be aware of my surroundings: the images, landscape, sound bites, media, color saturation and architecture that create my environs. As I process this wealth of information and imagery, I synthesize my daily experience of living and how it corresponds, or fails to, with the greater existence happening simultaneously around me – locally and globally. This multi-layered understanding passes through the filter of my perception and interpretation. These drawings negotiate the edge where verbal language and visual imagery overlap. They were created from pieces of overheard conversation, misheard broadcast media, and found written notes.
I’ve always enjoyed taking photos. The whole process has limited the amount of photos I’ve taken. Buy film, change lenses, carry everything. Most days I’d rather go without and I did. Missing those moments worth remembering. These photos were all shot with an iPod touch. Whenever I wanted to capture something, I did, instantly. The photo is there, done. Someone’s expression, the way the light looked that day, it’s there. Not crisp and perfect, but the feeling is there. I look at these images and I remember the hardest, yet most profound and moving year of my life. There is nothing simple about the world any of us live in. The simple part is knowing that we have to keep moving forward.
Lady madonna: over and over is a series of works that comments on celebrity and the ubiquitous nature of the celebrity machine in America, namely its undercurrent of religious fervor. Using Madonna as a metaphor, the installation utilizes and references objects, methods, and motifs inherent in the commercial world by exploring ideas imbued in the celebrity machine. One of these ideas is the mass production of personality. Such symbiotic themes as psychological control and the aesthetic of desire, consumption and saturation, materiality and aura are represented within the installation. Yet, the work avoids traditional, pictorial representation, choosing instead language and typography as the mode of expression. Madonna’s lyrics, therefore, are the image. And by taking them out of context from her famous songs, the lines no longer represent the frivolously, light-hearted message of first love that she originally may have intended. Instead, the words expose a love of a different kind – that of media and consumerism. The myth of celebrity, then, to a society obsessed with consumerism, takes on religious proportions.
This four page book expresses my vision of the future as an endless, bright, yet mysterious concept. To communicate this interpretation I used words and phrases relating to the future like: dawn, the sun awaits beyond, present, future and thousands of futures are possible. These expressions are also open to many interpretations. I chose to use clear straws, yellow thread and tape transfer lettering. Over time products have become much more mass produced, machine made and technology oriented. Straws are synthetic and mass produced reflecting this transformation. I chose translucent straws because we all know there will be a future but it will always be unknown. The computerized letters and tape also reflect an increased use of technology and artificial materials. The yellow thread holding the pages together contrasts the other artificial materials used. It represents that nature and the sun will always be with us. I chose yellow because it is the color of the sun, associated with brightness and it creates an optimistic mood.
In Cuba, a place where there is very little advertising, revolutionary messages proliferate. Even a straight razor blade bears a revolutionary slogan. While you are shaving, you should be thinking “We Will Win.” The word “SIR” is a paradoxically modest show of respect for the revolution’s undemocratically appointed leader of over 50 years.
“You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.” This quote by Paulo Coelho evokes a message of perseverance. Coelho’s quote, while simple and brief, elegantly reminds us that throughout life everyone battles obstacles; we must overcome them, grow from them, in order to succeed. If we allow our hardships to overcome us, we will only continue to fail. By using a river to display the text, I have literally incorporated Coelho’s words. I have used the river winding to the vibrant sunrise to represent the twists and turns we must all endure to reach our goals.
The impetus for my work is to invite people to question the human condition and our existence. The speed of the internet age and the phenomena of people sharing quotes through digital images – whether they have been written on a wall, on a scrap piece of paper or typed into photoshop file – is waking up humanity. People want digital art so they can more beautifully express the words they love to share. This is my way of enabling that and satiating the invitation.
E. SHERMAN HAYMAN
WHEEL, DEAL, STEAL, THE SPIN is a political series – 10 narrative panels that address current vicious-circle politics by referencing past American history. Painting, drawing, old engravings and photographs – all are combined with statistics, poetry, quotations and research, so that TEXT (speech bubbles, incised lettering, and highly manipulated fonts) becomes the portal through which the viewer confronts the image.
What had originated as consistent small doodles, has over time developed into numerous organic abstract drawings in colored and metallic pencil. As a true typophile, with many years of experience working in print publishing, I have decided to try antique newspaper as my most recent canvas (The Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, 1871, salvaged pages from a crumbling stack). The newspaper pages have been cut into new square compositions, highlighting new typographic arrangements and contexts, and the drawings intermingle with the vintage printing. My photographs on display are from a series called “Recession Porn.”
I feel that there are many ways to tell any one story. I think that no one way can tell a story perfectly. And so, we sometimes confuse the medium with the message. In doing so, we often forget that the message is what’s important – not the medium that the message is delivered through. The message – the act of sharing – is the real product. The medium isn’t the important thing. It’s just a way of connecting people with things that matter to them, and with other people who matter to them. That is the real power, regardless of the medium. “Respect” is captioned: Minutes after Sen. Barrack Obama became President-Elect. 125th St. & MLK Blvd. Harlem, New York. November 4, 2008.
KATIE DILLON LOW
I have for many years been interested in words and the idea that an idea can be art. The words I find or make, are the kinds that stick in journals and in your ears, and are delicate if not in context but in their material presentation. White-Out is an interesting material to think about using because it represents not actually creation but elimination, and maybe the idea that you can change context by omission. This is the idea that an idea can be art. The words I have found or made here are the kinds that stick in journals and in your ears and are delicate if not in context but in their material presentation.
These pieces started as simple doodles in my notebook. Doodles tap into the subconscious and like most people, I’m usually thinking of some other place I’d rather be. After a while of looking at the simple doodles, I wanted to continue to turn them into art pieces, by adding layers of spray paint, acrylic and photography.
A few years ago, I began a project in which I photograph subjects with a quote of their own personal significance that I have hand drawn on their bodies. In this project, the human body becomes a canvas, and the quote becomes a message about the person in front of the lens. The resulting image combines both type and photography.
happyrain is an interactive art piece created to explore social media information from twitter as a medium to create art. The interactive piece constantly receives data from twitter, specifically data in which people have expressed happiness. The piece explores dynamic art creation using social media and how to display updated mood based information data as an art form. The result may be a change in the attitute of the audience as a result of using data as a medium from social media channels.
My artwork is a single word that sums up my feelings towards beginning to carve my way into the art world. Sisyphean is a word based on the Greek myth of Sisyphus meaning an endless or futile task. Sisyphus was doomed for all eternity to push a giant boulder up the side of a steep mountain, only to have it roll back down. Its seems to me that in a way I have chosen the same cruel fate. It is a constant struggle to push past self doubt, rivals and rejection. Everybody has their own boulders to carry. The true test is no matter how many times you fall that you are strong enough to keep going. Another draw to this word is its visual beauty and the way it rolls off the tongue.
PAULA SEARING and BRIAN O’NEILL
The text within Thunderstorm Over The Ocean creates a dialogue that is void of physical characters as the two figures are visualized solely through text. The static nature of the background rain imagery causes the text to become the primary element of motion within the narrative. The absence of text also is used to communicate not only the passage of time within the dialogue, but also the tension and the awkwardness of the conversation held between the two characters.
Baptism utilizes handwritten text over type-face, to serve two purposes. One is as an element of organic texture that works alongside organic markings. The other as a contribution to the content, an act of journaling or submersion of thoughts that are as intuitive as the marks surrounding it. The text is as just an involved part of the message as the piece as a whole, because it echos thoughts on baptism and new life, but it is not 100% necessary to be read in order to understand the piece.
With these images I am thinking about the text as an object in the spaces depicted. The words, removed from context, become a medium which quickly arouses connotations specific to the viewer, but not necessarily the same thoughts as another viewer. I like the words outside of a sentence structure (as we are used to seeing them) because they begin to have a life of their own – as in the “present tense” piece, where the spoken sounds become a thread to tie the piece together outside of the two dimensional page. Words are quick and direct, but when they are placed strategically there is a lot of potential for them to function abstractly.
The idea to use coffee as my medium came to me in seconds, while enjoying my morning cup. I thought it would be the best way to illustrate my message, and also give the piece a beautiful coffee stained look.
“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.” I first read the Tao Te Ching when I was a sophomore in high school. The beauty of the concepts, the clarity and brevity of the chapters, are matched only in the inscrutability of it’s interpretations. Words, sentences, poems dissolve into meanings that are more than the sum of their parts. They must be intuited. They are hidden in plain verse. The QR code is a binary language, understood only by the computer program written to interpret it. The positive and negative space, the yin and the yang, work together to create words, sentences and poems that can be read by our eyes. This tool of the advertiser becomes something greater when employed for a greater purpose; that of encoding wisdom.