Advanced Engraving bracelet projects

This semester to get things started with the advanced group, I gave them a copper bracelet project in which they would engrave scroll. Some of them went with a more traditional approach and some elected to experiment with scroll. On Wednesday, we will be bending the bracelets and coating them with spray lacquer. Below are a few examples of the work.

Graham Bisnette

Anneliese Narcisi

Peter Shoemaker

Inspiration: Rambling of the evolution of my Artistic Influences

I remember meeting the artist Gregory Gillespie and him describing his artistic influences as “affairs”. You become infatuated with someone’s work for a period of time and that begins to fade out when something else comes along. I don’t know that I would consider my artistic heroes “affairs” per se, as I still think their work is pretty amazing. So for my students, or who ever wants to read this, I thought I would write about the evolution of my artistic influences.

The earliest I can remember is a Chinese Dragon that my brother drew in his notebook. When I saw that, I remember wanting to learn how to draw. For while I was into Disney. I remember thinking that cartoons were amazing. I had these drawing books that taught you how to draw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc. I collected Mad Magazine, Cracked and Garbage Pail Kids as I was mesmerized by the artwork. After Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, I became obsessed with horror flicks such as Hellraiser, Night of the Living Dead, Evil Dead and a Nightmare on Elm Street. In middle school, I used to go to Charlie Frye’s house and watch horror flicks and we would draw zombies and monsters. We were both really into that stuff. My mom was concerned (this was during the big devil worship scare of the 80’s). I remember we had Pinhead’s dialogue memorized at one point. Charlie is also the one that introduced to me to Alice in Chains – anyone who really knows me, knows that I am a huge fan. We looked at Spiderman (the Todd MacFarlane issues), X-Men (Jim Lee issues), Faust (Tim Vigil) among other things. This was back when crosshatching still happened in comic books. Charlie was an incredible draftsman and I remember learning a lot just drawing around him. He would later become the guitar player for Louisiana metal band “Choke”.

Before becoming an art major, I remember liking Dali and H.R. Giger. Shortly after declaring my major, I recall Joel Peter Witkin, Caravaggio and Ivan Albright leaving a huge impression on me. As I began to pursue intaglio a few of my print heroes were Durer, Kurt Kemp and Hans Bellmer. I was also inspired by my undergrad professor, Gerry Wubben. It was from him I learned to engrave. At McNeese works on paper, I saw for the first time a print by Oscar Gillespie. He became a huge influence on my work as well. As I began to research more artists, I recall sitting on the floor in the Bradley University Library as I was stunned to see the awesomeness of “Amazon” by Stanley William Hayter. For a while the influence of Hayter and Mauricio Lasansky could be clearly seen in my work. I have a soft spot for intaglio printmaking of that era. Other artists that floored me were Hans Hofman, William Kentridge and Francis Bacon. After arriving at Florida, most of my previous influences would continue to stick with me in my work. I was introduced to Sally Man’s “What Remains” series and Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster Cycle”. Photography and cinema have had a great impact on how I arrange my imagery. Being around other artists at UF was inspiring – particularly in Ceramics (Linda Arbuckle, Matt Shafer, Rene Wirtz, Matt Long, Jeremy Randall). My engraving technique improved through careful study of works by Durer and Hieronymus Wierix. I’m sure I’m leaving some artists out, but these are the ones sticking out at the moment.

As I began the job of engravings arts professor, I began to dig further in learning about engravers in printmaking (Aldegrever, Ruysch, among others) and surface ornamentation (Gianfranco Pedersoli, Sam Alfano, among others). The most recent thing to blow my mind were the Dutch paintings of flowers that I saw at the Nelson Atkins. Being active in the print community has exposed me to some amazing established and up coming printmakers – which are too many to list. As a professor, my colleagues and my students regularly inspire my work.

So when I hear an artist say that no one inspires or influences their work, I can’t really process it. It’s like that annoying Macintosh pinwheel (the hour glass for PC people) of doom pops up and my brain freezes. Ok…mild exaggeration. I just think that there’s entirely too much awesomeness out there to keep your eyes sheltered from it. Go look up some people!

The joys of rejection and acceptance letters

My undergrad professor, Gerry Wubben, used to always say to me, “you’ll get more rejections than acceptances.” Hearing that as an undergrad doesn’t make it easier when it actually happens. The more it happens the more you get used to it. I recall one year in graduate school I sent to fifteen shows and got accepted into two. These things are a part of the life of an artist. The other day as I was cleaning my studio, I found a few letters that have always stood out to me as very different from other rejection/acceptance letters.

Many of you may be applying for tenure track positions right now. I’ve always thought of it as two hundred mice going for one tiny piece of cheese. It’s tough! Right out of grad school I was sending forty applications a year (back when there were that many jobs) and I had piles of rejection letters. One year I got a call for an interview and then they never called me back to interview – I never got a rejection letter either. COLD! Most of the letters were very considerate and addressed the following: apologies for not being selected, something about the number of applicants, appreciation for sending an application and well wishes in your job search. Having been on both sides of the situation as an applicant and search committee member, I understand the sensitivity of the situation. The letter I received below hilariously cut to the core and left out all the fluff….although by September (these are usually sent out in the Spring), I probably figured out that I didn’t get the job.

When you receive an acceptance letter, there is a feeling of euphoria that can affect the rest of your day. Getting into a show or having a proposal accepted is an awesome feeling that validates what you have been working on. The letters usually embrace that…”congrats! You are a righteous artist and you are invited to join the ranks of these other righteous artists. Join us in righteousness.” Every acceptance letter I have ever received has given me joy….except this one below. I found it odd and off putting that I would get a critique in an acceptance letter. It should start off by saying “Congrats, we begrudgingly accept you.”

Juried show rejection letters have a pretty common theme to them – they usually appear very formal and a little on the apologetic side, as they understand that rejection can be hard to take sometimes. There was one rejection letter for a juried show that has always stuck out to me. This is by far my FAVORITE rejection letter I have ever received. I thought it was so funny, that I wasn’t even annoyed that I didn’t get into the show. I have highlighted the best part.

I hope you found these as funny as I did and good luck to all of you that will be submitting to shows, jobs or whatever else this year.

PS – Here’s an article I found that analyzes the academic rejection letter.