Posts filed under ‘Lectures at ASU Art Museum’

Artist-in-Residence Christine Lee encourages artistic and sustainable consciousness

DSCF4273

Visiting artist Christine Lee stands next to one of her pieces at the gallery at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Elizabeth Kozlowski.

Christine Lee takes in the disregarded, salvages the thrown away and harbors the excess. For this wood-based artist, the original intention of a material is only a hint of a much more meaningful possibility, making Lee’s artwork a process-driven venture and a thorough material investigation.

Lee’s work crosses back and forth between sculpture, furniture, woodworking and installation. As part of the ASU Art Museum’s Crafting a Continuum series, Lee has given public lectures, taught classes and installed her own work at Combine Studio in downtown Phoenix.

The Crafting a Continuum series is sponsored by a Windgate Charitable Foundation grant, which has enabled the museum to attract and support craft-based visiting artists, such as Lee, who incorporate new ideas and technologies into their artwork.

“I think they were interested that I was working with a range of composite material and creating functional and sculptural work,” Lee said. “I feel like they both can happen in the same studio space.”

Lee’s work stretches the standard associations and intended functions of ordinary materials. According to Lee, people now are looking at the material and how it is being used, but not in a way to determine which medium is better than another: “It’s not so much about the end result of what you make but how you take that material and transform it. It’s the process and where it goes.”

In this sense, public perception of what is craft art and what is fine art is changing. Lee says she believes the line between the two will either significantly blur or be completely nonexistent in the future. “People realize it’s not so much about categorizing everything,” she said. “It’s more about seeing what can happen when you start weaving things together.”

Last month Lee put together Piece by Piece, an exhibition at the ASU International Artist Residency facility at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix, for which she stacked slender individual pieces of wood to fan out over an entire wall. No glue, no nails — just balance. This wasn’t her first endeavor for a project like this, however. In other galleries she has created similar works on walls, spanning up to 26 by 12 feet.

DSCF4272

A closer look at Lee’s work. Photo by Elizabeth Kozlowski.

With her own art, Lee strives to create substantive art that is both useful and aesthetic. She added, “It seems these days there’s more exciting work out there that straddle those areas.”

Lee finds potential in material that people casually throw out, a trait she attributes to her family’s concern about not wasting and appreciating the value of things.“We would reuse things like aluminum foil and we wouldn’t throw it away unless we absolutely knew we couldn’t use it,” she said. “And that stayed with me. I’m always very conscious about what I use and if someone throws away a scrap, I’m like, ‘That’s perfectly usable.’”

As part of her residency  Lee taught a class for the Fall 2012 semester — ART 494/598, Sustainable Wood Art, an upper division seminar in the wood program of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts — which she is teaching the Spring 2013 semester as well. Lee’s students use composite boards formed by collecting sawdust and fibers and putting the raw materials into processing chambers. Prototypical, a show on view in December and January in Wrigley Hall, home to ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and School of Sustainability, highlighted work Lee’s students made using a patent-pending interior composite panel developed by Lee and research engineer John F. Hunt of the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. The panels are naturally bonded without an adhesive binder such as urea or phenol formaldehyde and are biodegradable.

What Lee enjoys most about teaching is watching her students as they grow to understand the process and connect with what they make. “Teaching for me is really exciting because I like the dynamics between interacting with people who are very excited about learning something new, and I also like watching them kind of see that transformation of material happen,” she said.

By encouraging recycling and reuse, her students have initiated a sustainable practice in their work. Peter Held, the curator of ceramics at the museum, said the students’ work has evolved as they applied the lessons they learned in Lee’s clas: “ [She] is not only a talented and innovative artist but is exploring the intersections of art, craft, design and application of new materials in her artistic practice.  This interdisciplinary approach to the arts is an important initiative for the museum. When Lee taught the wood class, she brought fresh ideas and techniques to the students.”

Lee at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Elizabeth Kozlowski.

Lee at Combine Studios, in downtown Phoenix. Photo by Elizabeth Kozlowski.

Maren Romney, a senior sculpture major and former student of Lee, explained she more consciously considers the materials she uses when making art after taking Lee’s class.  “[Her] class… helped me to understand what I can do on an individual level,” Romney said. “She really did a great job of creating discussions about the importance of sustainable design and living and brought up points from multiple points of view, which I really appreciate.”

Romney added she feels privileged to have taken a class under Lee’s direction, and she hopes Lee makes Arizona a permanent home.

During her time in Phoenix and Tempe, Lee has found a wealth of possibilities.

“I feel like there is so much to tap in here,” Lee said. “I just felt it was very serendipitous that I could be here working on this.”

Mary Grace Richardson

To see more images of Christine Lee’s show at Combine, visit the ASU Art Museum International Artists Residency at Combine Studios Facebook page.

March 11, 2013 at 7:15 pm 3 comments

The Desert Initiative’s DI:D1 launches at ISEA 2012 in Albuquerque

The Desert Initiative is taking the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Albuquerque by storm — or haboob, to be desert-specific — where it’s kicking off Desert Initiative: Desert One, a.k.a. DI:D1, which runs now through the spring of 2012 and encompasses exhibitions and projects around the Southwest.

DI Director Greg Esser is participating in ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness, Sept. 19-24, as are ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox, artist Chip Lord (whose Ant Farm Media Van v.08 [Time Capsule] is on view at the CRC, and ASU Art Museum International Artists-in-Residence Clare Patey (England), Miguel Palma (Portugal) and Matteo Rubbi (Italy).

On Sept. 20, Knox, Patey and Phoenix artist Matt Moore presented at the symposium on the topic of extinction; Patey and Moore are collaborating on a project titled Rare Earth, to be unveiled at the ASU Art Museum in the spring of 2013.

Here are Patey and Moore pre-presentation:

Chip Lord will speak about the Media Van on Monday, Sept. 24 and Miguel Palma will be one of the featured artists during 516 Arts Downtown Block Party on Sunday, Sept. 23, with his Remote Desert Exploration Vehicle, a converted former military vehicle that explores desert surroundings during the day and returns to urban areas to project the desert imagery on buildings at night.

The Remote Desert Exploration Vehicle will be on view at the ASU Art Museum starting Sept. 28, as part of Palma’s exhibition Trajectory.

Here are some photos by Phoenix photographer Sean Deckert of the Remote Desert Exploration Vehicle’s trip out to Albuquerque:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Join us at the Museum on Sept. 28 and 29 to celebrate the season opening of both Ant Farm Media Van v.08 [Time Capsule] and Miguel Palma’s Trajectory!

And if you’re wondering about those passports pictured in the slideshow above: Stay tuned…

September 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Grant strengthens ASU Art Museum’s role in rethinking contemporary craft

A visitor to the ASU Art Museum sits on Brace, 2012, a new piece by Matthias Pliessnig. Photo by Tim Trumble.

A generous grant for Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking the Contemporary Craft Field has given the ASU Art Museum the means and tools to dig deeper and explore craft even further through research, travel and community outreach.Designed to fortify and advance the museum’s commitment to craft, Crafting a Continuum acknowledges the field as a noteworthy and integral part of the fine arts.

“The ultimate goal of the grant is to assess the current and extensive holdings in ceramics, fiber and woods,” curator of ceramics Peter Held said. “We want to move it forward by including younger, emerging artists working in new ways.”

The comprehensive Windgate Charitable Foundation grant, in the amount of $330,000, will be used to accomplish a two-year multifaceted project that focuses on both acquisition and artist residencies, invigorating the museum’s position in the field of craft. Along with community outreach, the museum has hired Elizabeth Kozlowski,  a curatorial fellow focused on contemporary craft, and will also publish a catalogue to go along with the exhibition.

“With these residencies, for instance, the artists are playing an active role,” Peter Held said. “They’re working with our students, (and) they’re working with our community. I think that’s a really powerful aspect of the initiative.”

So far, the Windgate support has helped commission a piece from Matthias Pleissnig, a visiting artist who combines furniture-making and sculpture. As part of the initiative, Pleissnig led well- and enthusiastically attended workshops in the School of Art, and along with giving a public lecture at the museum about his work, Pleissnig delivered a piece for the museum collection (currently on display in the lobby).

Above: Matthias Pliessnig works with ASU students during his visit to campus. Photo by Elizabeth Kozlowski.

“With the trend of contemporary artists using traditional craft materials to make fine art, disciplines are a lot more fluid than they were. The need to define the two as separate seems to have dissipated,” Held said.

Artists today are more concerned with using the appropriate materials to execute ideas rather than drawing hard lines between art and craft, and in support of this, the ASU Art Museum has an extensive history in presenting and working with artists in the craft field.

“We’re one of the few fine art museums in the country that started collecting  mid-20th-century studio craft. Now it’s becoming a more prevalent trend,” Held said.

The permanent collection of ceramics at The ASU Art Museum originated in 1955, and since then, the museum has consciously built a collection of contemporary studio ceramics at a time when craft based media was considered a lesser art form. The collection of works extends over six decades and contains over 3,500 objects.

In 1990, the museum co-sponsored the exhibition, Meeting Ground: Basketry Traditions and Sculptural Forms, which studied the relationship between traditional baskets and sculptural forms and also highlighted artists’ interests in hand processes and natural materials. More recently, the museum showcased Intertwined: Contemporary Baskets from the Sara and David Lieberman Collection in 2006, which charted the blend of ancient and modern basket making and baskets as sculptural forms. The exhibition traveled to five venues nationally.

Given one of the best turned wood collections in the late 80s/early 90s, the Jacobson Collection, the ASU Art Museum displayed the pieces internationally, and with the influential traveling exhibition and media response, turning became more established as an art form.

“We have a venerable past in contemporary craft,” Senior Curator and Associate Director Heather Lineberry said. “One of the things that is pretty unusual is that we have always shown contemporary craft within the broader contemporary art context.”

The museum is currently evaluating the purpose and quality of its collections, giving the museum the opportunity to rethink the recent history, the present and the future of contemporary craft as well as encourage interactions and connections with rising voices within the field.

The initiative’s exhibition will debut in the fall of 2013 at the ASU Art Museum and will then travel nationally to about five venues.

“As an institution, we are guided by the fact that we focus on contemporary art and that we are a university museum, and as a university art museum, we should be focusing on transdisciplinary issues,” Lineberry said. “We should be focusing on education… We should be experimenting. We should be exploring new ideas, new art forms, new approaches in the museum, and we should be as much about the process as the final product. With the Rethinking Contemporary Craft initiative, we have a real opportunity to reassess the field.”

Gustaf Nordenskiöld
Mure, 2011
Colored porcelain and climbing rope
20 x 16 x 12 inches

–Mary Richardson

June 19, 2012 at 4:58 pm 1 comment

Looking for miracles at the ASU Art Museum

Julianne Swartz and Ken Landauer are looking for miracles at the ASU Art Museum this January. As the Social Studies artists for the spring, they will be in residence much of January exploring the miraculous through people’s perceptions of it in their lives. Julianne and Ken will interview school children, ASU students and community members of all ages and backgrounds to gather a range of definitions and life experiences. Their findings will be combined in an installation of fleeting vignettes in video and sound playing on all of the Museum’s available equipment.

Andrea Feller, Nicole Herden and I have been doing advance work talking to teachers, faculty and community members about the project. We just received more than 100 student projects back from Tesseract School and ACP (Academy with Community Partners) High School, grades 5 through 12. The written stories, guided by questions from the artists, are heart wrenching and compelling. They include a child telling the story of his great grandmother dancing with the ghost of her late husband in his wedding suit to a child’s story of the miracle of her own birth to teenagers with siblings surviving near-fatal war injuries.

An incredible start to Miracle Report, the eighth Social Studies project at the ASU Art Museum.

Heather Sealy Lineberry, Senior Curator and Associate Director

For more information, or if you would like to schedule a session with the artists to retell your own miracle, contact Nicole Herden at Nicole.herden @asu.edu.

Here are the dates of the project and the artists’ mission statement:

Artist Residency: December 26, 2011 – January 20, 2012

Exhibition: January 21 – June 2, 2012

Reception: Friday, January 20, 5-7pm; Julianne Swartz will speak at the opening.

Mission Statement:

-We will spend our Social Studies Residency looking for miracles.

-We will locate the miraculous through other people’s perception of it in their lives.

-We will interview many local residents and ask them to “describe a miracle you have experienced”.

– Interviewees will be of varied ages and backgrounds. We will gratefully record anyone who wishes to retell his or her own miracle.

-We will record audio and video from these interviews, but identities will be obscured.

-The recordings will be edited into fleeting vignettes that attempt to establish “the miraculous” through many entirely subjective perspectives.

-We will seek to use all of the available audio and visual equipment in the museum’s possession to display the recordings.

-Our installation will strive to embody some beauty, some hocus-pocus, and some unexplainable magic.

January 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm 2 comments

“Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project” – Calendar of public events

Check this calendar for an updated list of public events and panels connected to the Securing a free state: The Second Amendment Project – Jennifer Nelson, Social Studies 7, including an artist reception at the Museum on Nov. 4. We hope you can join us!

 CALENDAR OF PUBLIC EVENTS

Open gallery sessions with the artist

Saturday, October 8 – noon-1:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 15 – noon-1:30 p.m.
Participants are encouraged to attend for the full 90 minutes.

Public panel on the topic of how people find security,
individually and collectively.

Tuesday, November 1 – noon-1:30 p.m.

Panelists include:

Kim Hedrick, Trauma Survivor

Nick Katkevich, Co-Director of the Phoenix
Nonviolence Truthforce

John Kleinheinz , Captain/Commander of the Maricopa
County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics
(SWAT) Division

Scout McNamara, Counselor specializing in trauma
resolution, mood disorders, addiction and relationships

Jim Neff, Firearm Instructor, Generations Firearm
Training

Moylan Ryan, Somatic Coach

Field trips

We recommend that you attend more than one field trip to better understand the
full scope of the project.

To sign up, call Lekha Hileman Waitoller at 480-965-0497 or email at Lekha.Waitoller@asu.edu

Thursday, October 13 – 6:30 p.m.

Artificial Limb Specialists, 2916 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85012

Sunday, October 23 – 11 a.m.

GPS Defense Sniper School

Saturday, October 29 – noon-2:00 p.m.

St. Luke’s Behavioral Health, 1800 E. Van Buren
Street, Phoenix, AZ 85006

Enter through the main entrance, signage will direct you to the
Behavioral Health Auditorium

Artist reception

Friday, November 4 – 5:00-7:00 p.m. Closing remarks by Jennifer Nelson at 5:45 p.m.

Gallery events

Friday, October 21 – 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Performance by visiting dance artist Tim O’Donnell

Thursday, November 3, noon-2:00 p.m.

Nick Katkevich of the Phoenix Nonviolence
Truthforce, will provide an introduction to Kingian

Nonviolence focusing on the fundamental strategies and
aspects of nonviolence based on the philosophy and movements led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For more information, updates and further opportunities to engage in the project,
please check the ASU Art Museum blog: asuartmuseum.wordpress.com or contact
Lekha Hileman Waitoller at 480-965-0497.

October 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm 1 comment

Meet Diablo

Diablo the anaconda has finally arrived.

He wasn’t thrilled about being moved, and released an indescribable smell to express his displeasure, but he is now safely installed in his enclosure on the third floor, as part of an installation by Juan Downey titled “Anaconda Map of Chile.” It’s an important piece, and it’s never been shown in the U.S. the way the artist intended; because of Downey’s point about the Anaconda Copper Mining Company’s role in the downfall of Salvador Allende and the installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet, the piece was censored more than once.

Diablo, front and center. Photo by Anne Sullivan.

Diablo is a 6-foot Eunectes notaeus (Yellow Anaconda), on loan to the Museum from the Phoenix Herpetological Society, a non-profit reptile education and conservation group. He was rescued by his current owner, Russ Johnson, who is president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, when he was just about year old. Diablo’s enclosure is heated, and is one-and-a-half times larger than his cage at the Society, giving him more room to stretch out, although he likes to spend most of his time coiled up. During his stay at the Museum, two staff members of the PHS will come regularly to care for him.

Native to tropical South America, anacondas are members of the boa constrictor family and are the largest of the snakes of the Americas. Yellow Anacondas live about 15 to 20 years and grow to be 8 to 12 feet long. Diablo is a young snake, probably 8 or 9 years old, and his diet consists of rats. In the wild, anacondas eat fish, alligators, birds, small deer and large rodents. The anaconda can unhinge its lower jaw, allowing it to swallow animals whole after squeezing them to death with its powerful body.

At the time of his rescue, Diablo belonged to a young man who had purchased him from a local pet store but didn’t know anything about anacondas. Diablo had grown very sick, so someone contacted Russ, who nursed Diablo back to health. It took almost two years. “It was a labor of love,” Russ says.

Now Diablo’s skin is the right color and is iridescent, as it should be. Russ notes that under normal circumstances, people should not own anacondas, but because Diablo was born in captivity, it is against international regulations to release him back into the wild. So Russ will always take care of him.

The museum is grateful to Russ and to the Phoenix Herpetological Society for helping us make sure that Diablo is well cared for during his stay at the ASU Art Museum.

Tonight at 6 p.m., Marilys Belt de Downey, director of the Juan Downey Foundation, will speak with Curator Valerie Smith about her late husband’s work, including “Anaconda Map of Chile,” followed by our Season Opening Reception from 7 to 9 p.m. We hope you’ll come visit Diablo during the course of the season, to see the significant role he plays in the Juan Downey retrospective here at the Museum. If you do, we ask only that you please refrain from touching or tapping on his enclosure. He won’t enjoy that. As a preschool teacher we know tells her students, “Touch with your eyes.”

September 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm 1 comment

Ralph Lemon and Muntadas: More news from our “Re-Thinking the Museum” series

Thanks to our capable video guy, Robert Madera, we now have abridged versions of the two most recent lectures/presentations in the Re-Thinking the Museum series to share with you. The first is taken from an extraordinary and inspiring multi-media performance by Ralph Lemon that incorporated spoken word and film. The second is an edited version of a slideshow/presentation by Antoni Muntadas, covering the pioneering conceptual artist’s long and esteemed career.

The Re-Thinking series (but certainly not the act of re-thinking) will draw to a close this fall, with a panel to include San Francisco artist Rico Solinas; his 100 Museums: Paintings of Buildings that Have Paintings Inside will be on display in the Museum lobby beginning in September. Here’s a taste:

Rico Solinas, from "100 Paintings of Buildings that Have Paintings Inside," 2011, oil paint on saw blades.

More details to follow on this blog, so stay tuned.

August 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Adventures in curating, or “The Invisible Architect”

 

Juan Downey, “Anaconda Map of Chile,” 1973. Photo by Harry Shunk, courtesy of the Juan Downey Foundation.

Just back from a trip to the East Coast to research several upcoming exhibitions and projects. My first stop was the MIT List Visual Art Center to visit the Juan Downey exhibition, The Invisible Architect, which the ASU Art Museum will be presenting this fall. It is a fascinating and complex body of work by a Chilean-born artist who experimented with new technology and its role in our society beginning in the late 1960s. Downey (1940-1993) worked with a number of artists from that period, including Gordon Matta-Clark and Bill Viola, on interactive performances and videos. Much of his early work explored the invisible connections between and among humans, the body and the built environment .

Later he started to explore issues central to his personal history and experiences. In the mid 1970s, he and his family lived for several months with the Yanomami Indians in the Amazon, arriving by canoe with their art materials and video camera. Downey made ironic, pseudo-documentary videos that critiqued Western anthropological approaches.

The sleepers in the exhibition are the beautiful paintings and drawings, many of them maps of the Americas or fantastic architectural structures. The show was featured in Artforum’s summer preview issue; after showing here in Tempe, it will travel to the Bronx Museum.

Ever since my return, I have been working with the rest of the curatorial team to plan for the installation of The Invisible Architect in three of our galleries. We are juggling multiple videos, installations — and an Anaconda.

You never know where curatorial work will take you…more soon.

Heather Sealy Lineberry
Senior Curator and Associate Director,  ASU Art Museum

July 20, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice – It’s not just black and white

It was a couple of very busy concluding weeks for Gregory Sale’s social practice residency/exhibition It’s not just black and white, which officially closed on Saturday, May 14. Led by the artist, individuals came together through artistic gestures, gatherings and programs that have figuratively and literally broken down walls, working toward dismantling often blindly accepted and stereotypical power and victim structures in our society that are consistently unspoken or brushed aside. They are the difficult conversations that need to take place in an open society to move forward in positive directions, yet they often do not occur because of our biases, preconceived notions and unwillingness to listen in respectful ways to opposing viewpoints.

The ASU Art Museum has a long tradition of providing a safe venue for community discourse – including Francesc Torres’ Too Late For Goya (1993), a real-time analysis of the first Iraqi conflict, Desert Storm; school programs collaborating with artists Brain Weil for his project AIDS Photographs (1994); public conversations and panels addressing civil war and conflict through the exhibition programs associated with Art Under Duress: El Salvador 1980 – Present (1995); social injustices presented by artist Sue Coe’s visits and programs in association with Heel of the Boot (1996); twenty-one Cuban artists visiting and directly engaging with our community through Contemporary Art from Cuba: Irony and Survival on the Utopian Island (1998); and the numerous projects, panels and outreach programs addressing city growth and the responsibilities associated with such growth through the exhibitions Sites Around the City: Art and Environment (2000), nooks and crannies (2001), New American City: Artists Look Forward (2007), Defining Sustainability (2009) and Open for Business (2010).

It is this institution’s curatorial approach through a social practice mind-set that sets it apart from the majority of institutions addressing contemporary art in the United States.

We open the institution to the artist-driven ideas of social practice, rather than inviting the artist into the institution under the guise of social practice with the agenda of solving one of the museum’s problems, such as way-finding, age-group audience building, empty spaces or a one-off exhibition, as is the case with many of the institutions within the United States today. Dedicating a long-term initiative to social practice, the ASU Art Museum has fully committed to this type of artistic practice and, more specifically, to the artists and their vision. With that commitment, we find that artists often create what seem like new problems for our institution rather than solving existing ones, but we embrace their ideas and work to realize them to their fullest potential.

I provide this background to give a better understanding of what Gregory has achieved over the past three months and give you an insight into how much this overall initiative has developed through the experiences and research of this institution’s past projects. Gregory’s project definitely pushed the barriers for our institution, and we are much stronger and better informed because of his unbelievable efforts, vision and artistic practice.

As I mentioned above, it has been a three-month residency, but this post is just going to cover the last two weeks of the project. The project has concluded, and we are now in the process of sorting documentation, reflecting on what has happened, submitting reports to museum participants and supporters, and fundraising for a more expanded catalogue, which will document the entire project.

Any conversation about issues of criminal justice and incarceration in Arizona would be incomplete without the acknowledgement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s role in current policy. Yes, he is a polarizing figure — his Tent City Jail complex, the striped uniforms, pink underwear, immigration round-ups — but from the beginning it was important that this be acknowledged in a way that brought value to It’s not just black and white. At the beginning we stepped lightly, as a key component of Gregory’s vision was working with the inmates within the gallery space of the museum. The inmates’ visit had been approved by the sheriff, so we worked hard to avoid any conflicts occurring prior to the completion of the inmates’ visits. Once Gregory was set into the project and the inmate visits were complete, we began to brainstorm about best approaches for inviting the sheriff into the overall conversation. Gregory and I felt it was important that people have a firsthand opportunity to hear from the sheriff regarding his policies and programs, instead of the sound bites fed through media. It was an opportunity for individuals to hear directly, to ask questions in person and get past the media circus or shout-down that often occurs. We went to the sheriff’s office and met with him in person, inviting him to the ASU Art Museum for a roundtable conversation titled Considering Matters of Visual Culture and Incarceration, and he accepted.

On April 29, the gallery space was packed with individuals from all walks of life: students, museum staff and patrons, civic leaders, former inmates, activists and others. Prominent figures at the table with Sheriff Arpiao included Frantz Beasley, former convict and Director of Arizona Common Grounds; Barbara Broderick, Chief Probation Officer, Maricopa County Adult Probation Department; Jeremy Mussman, Deputy Director, Maricopa County Public Defender; Jerry Sheridan, Chief, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office; and Gordon Knox, Director, ASU Art Museum, as well as Gregory and myself. The conversation opened with an overview of the project, which I presented, followed by a presentation by Gregory on the history of the stripe in visual culture and incarceration, which included the forced wardrobe of 14th-century prostitutes who had been pardoned by St. Nicolas, Charlie Chaplin imagery from early films, Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, and performance artist Vanessa Beecroft’s Ponti sister project in Pescara, Italy.

Gregory then engaged the sheriff in conversation, asking him about his use of visual identifiers within the current Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, mentioned previously in this blog. The sheriff explained how most of these uses came to fruition within the structure of the system as guided through his vision. It was an insightful conversation, with audience members being able to judge for themselves the value of their use. The sheriff also talked about the programs within the system of which he was proud, including the ALPHA and Journey Home programs; individuals from both programs participated in It’s not just black and white activities. There were lots of questions and conversation on the topic of exploitation, but what I found most telling from the program was Sheriff Arpiao’s insistence that it is extremely difficult to attract press to the positive programs in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. After experiencing what I have over the course of this three-month residency with Gregory, I think the sheriff may be on to something. Yes, it is so easy to get press in our society for the over-the-top, often exploitive and morbid occurrences in society, but much more difficult to get the same amount of press for the positive. Think of your nightly news — it almost always leads with the sensational and graphic story, saving all positive stories until the last five minutes of the telecast. So when the topic came up about the sheriff’s posting of online “Mugshots of the Day” which viewers can rate, something clicked in my mind. I do find this an abuse. The sheriff stated that “media post such mugshots all the time,” but it still doesn’t make this activity right. What I find to be the even greater problem is that society engages these sites, makes them popular, visits and votes. It becomes a sort of joke — “how funny some of these people look, especially since they are someone other than us” — but people visiting the site might not consider the fact that many of these individuals are pre-sentenced and still presumed innocent by law, and that they may have mental illness issues or may be victims of abuse. These images become a part of the visual culture and perhaps desensitize us to the real issues we need to address as a whole society. So perhaps, in an effort to draw attention to the positive, programs such as ALPHA and Journey Home, which do appear to be having an impact, should be the  featured spotlights on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s website.

That afternoon was capped off with a visit to the space by artist Mel Chin. Mel was in the Valley for a think tank on public art and is a friend of the ASU Art Museum. You might recall the museum’s participation in his Fundred Dollar Bill project last year and our screening of his animated film project 9-11/9-11. It provided us an opportunity to get an update on Mel’s project and to share with him the activities of Gregory’s over the past three months. It’s always great to have Mel here in town.

May 2nd marked the third and final visit by the high school students from Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon detention centers. Through temporary (escorted) furloughs arranged by Gregory, we were able to get to know these young people in amazing ways, working together through artistic discovery and practice. This day was packed with activities rooted in the promise Gregory made to them on their first visit, that they as a group would decide the best approach and work together to tear down the community grafitti wall. The wall had been written upon, first by inmates on day one, then by those who visited the space over the course of the three-month project. The students were handed small notebooks and asked by the artist to rediscover the wall, thinking about 12 specific questions and responding to those questions any way they wished in their notebooks. Upon completion of this activity, there was a group reflection and sharing conversation. The young artists were then provided disposable cameras, each with one of the 12 questions printed on it. The students were asked once again to rediscover the wall and document components of the wall’s collective gestures in photographic form based upon the questions, which they did. It was then time for lunch, so we all headed to a local restaurant for a hearty meal, returning to the museum to find all the photographs taken by the students developed and spread across tables within the gallery. Again, there was a group reflection and sharing conversation, leading into the discussion on ideas concerning the tearing down of the actual wall.

Then the tools came out — hammers, ladders, crowbars, drills. Working with Gregory, the students began on the back side of the wall, dismantling the drywall from the aluminum stud structure. Once the back of the wall was removed, it was again time for conversation. The students examined both sides of the wall and brought their ideas for best approaches to use in taking down the front side. It was decided that, if possible, the wall should come down in one large piece, with every attempt made to prevent it from splitting or cracking. The students worked to free the drywall from the vertical studs, hoping that the horizontal studs would still hold it in place, and it worked. Once the wall was freed, ladders were place on the back side so that the students could position themselves to push from the top. On the count of three everyone pushed and the wall came down in one large piece — success!

The remainder of the day everyone worked together to clean-up and then create an installation from the remaining materials of the wall within the space, before sitting together to enjoy bowls of ice cream and one last conversation about the overall experience. It was at that moment one of the young girls shared the fact she is getting out in a month and already had scheduled a meeting with the associate dean, based upon her meeting the associate dean on the students’ second visit to the museum, to talk about scholarship opportunities and the application process for attending ASU’s School of Dance.

A few days later, working with the collaborative support of ASU Project Humanities, noted scholar, activist and author Angela Davis presented a public lecture titled “Incarceration of Education? The Future of Democracy.” With over 600 people in the room and another 100 outside, Ms. Davis gave an inspiring hour-long talk focused on the industrialization of both the criminal justice and education systems, providing the background history on the development of these structures, their current state and the impact these approaches are having today in the United States. Her talk was followed by a brief conversation with Gregory and audience questions. The audience was then invited to join us in the It’s not just black and white gallery space for a book signing and powerful live dance/music/spoken word performance by Grisha Coleman, Eden McNutt, Sam Pilafian, Eileen and Monica Page Subia titled “Days/Months/Years.”

The final week of the project kicked off with a program of training for community volunteers working with the recently released, led by the National Advocacy and Training Network through Support, Education, Empowerment and Directions (NATN/SEEDS). The seven-hour training was conducted with mentors from the GINA’s Team’s Welcome Home Program and members of the public.

May 9th marked a wonderful day, which started with a meeting in the gallery of the Maricopa Adult Probation Division Unit. Immediately following that meeting we began to reunite with some of our collaborators who painted the original stripes on the gallery walls when they were inmates of the Maricopa County Jail. Now released, Joshua, Michael, Grayson, James and Erik (you might remember Erik from the previous post; he came back after release and proposed to his girlfriend in front of the graffiti wall) all joined us back in the space, coming on their own time to help Gregory and a few of his original students and community collaborators paint the black stripes white. It was a very symbolic dismantling of this space that had been visually charged by these stripes over the past three months. It was so great to reconnect with these guys and to see them in their personal clothing. They all mentioned how the ALPHA program helped them move forward and how their original experience in the museum space was their second best day of jail (the first being the day they were released). They are starting new jobs, reconnecting with family and moving forward in positive directions. Over the course of the final week, the guys came back for two additional visits, continuing to paint the black stripes out. It has been a pleasure to have them participate in the project, and I look forward to their continued engagement with the programs here at the ASU Art Museum.

The final Tuesday night presented the program Changing the Face of Re-Entry. AZ Common Ground and its partners, South Mountain Re-Entry Coalition, Kingdom Communities of the Valley (KCV) and Phoenix Police Department, presented the history, evolution and success of the community engagement model that is truly changing the face of re-entry. The program has been so successful in south Phoenix that it is now guiding programs in Houston and Miami. When you see the passion of the individuals, including members of the Phoenix Police Department, making a significant difference and affecting policy from inside the system, it gives you hope in our ability to find solutions to the current difficulties we face as a society. And to hear that AZ Common Ground came about through conversations among inmates within the system trying to figure out how they were going to survive on the outside with only about $75 to their names, it makes all that they have accomplished in such a short amount of time even more astonishing. A big shout out to AZ Common Ground’s Frantz Beasley for putting this together and allowing us the honor of hosting the event within the gallery space. A truly inspiring evening!

And as Gregory had planned from the beginning, the last week provided opportunities for reflection. On May 10th, Conscious Connections led a walking meditation from the space. The organization specializes in yoga and meditation study with at-risk and diverse communities.

During the afternoon of May 12, a group of individuals who are trained in association with the national organization Prison Visitors came together with Museum staff and Gregory’s collaborators for a conversation and contemplation. The individuals leading the conversation are specially trained and approved to visit federal and military institutions. For many prisoners, these visitors are the only contact they have with the outside world. Their insight and conversation during the afternoon transpired into a silent reflection period as we all concluded our day at the museum.

The last day of the project was marked by the revisit of our collaborators, who put finishing touches on the black stripes to make them white. The space was returned to a white box gallery of sorts, with hint or what had occurred still present. To conclude the project, collaborators and public were invited to join in a one-hour introduction to meditation, a very fitting way to conclude such a project and move forward from what we have experienced.

Thank you to all the individuals who participated in programs and activities, and to those who made this entire project possible. The project would not have been a success without the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the openness and guidance of the ASU Administration and legal team, specifically Jose Cardenas, Art Lee and Bruce Hooper; Kwang-Wu Kim, Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox and Associate Director Heather Lineberry; Bill Hart, Senior Policy Analyst, Morrison Institute for Public Policy; Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and most specifically MaryEllen Sheppard and our collaborator SRT Officers; Dean of Humanities Dr. Neal Lester and Brittany Allcott of ASU Project Humanities; Choreographers Elizabeth Johnson and Teniqua Broughton; Lindsay Herf and Katie Puzauskas of the Arizona Justice Project; Dr. LaDawn Haglund and Dr. Alan Eladio Gómez of ASU’s School of Social Transformation (Justice and Social Inquiry); Ana Maria Tomchek, Elmar Cobos, Margie Lucas, Adam Henning, Laura Dillingham, Peter Luszczak of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections; Sue Ellen Allen of Gina’s Team; ASU Art Museum preparators Stephen Johnson and Chris Miller; artist collaborators Kara Linn Roschi, Matthew Mosher, Jason Dillon, Stephen Gittins, Ricardo Leon, Ashley Hare, Claes Bergman, Matthew Garcia, Brett Thomas, David Tinapple, Rebecca Ferrell, Cory Bergquist, Amariell Ramsey, Kimberly Haug, Nathan McWhorter, Kathleen Arcovio, Catherine Akins, Chris Santa Maria; members of Gregory’s Advisory Committee; and most importantly the fourteen adults and fifteen youths who took a chance with us while they were serving time, and were open to our process and willing to join us in efforts of move things forward in positive ways.

THANK YOU!

-John Spiak, Curator

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s not just black and white is supported by grants from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and
Friends of the ASU Art Museum.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

May 25, 2011 at 8:12 pm 8 comments

Re-Thinking: “Thinking About Re-Thinking”

During the course of Gregory Sale’s exhibition It’s not just black and white, the space was home to many lively discussions.

On Feb. 1, Gregory hosted “Thinking About Re-Thinking,” a panel moderated by Darren Petrucci, Director of the School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University. The blurb for the event, which was part of the Museum’s “Re-Thinking the Museum” series, went like this:

“Is the museum defunct? Can it shed the elitist and colonial past? Can it be remade? Gordon Knox, Director of the ASU Art Museum, will argue for a new, socially engaged museum; Adriene Jenik, Director of ASU’s School of Art, will discuss the appeals and perils of museum involvement from the artist’s point of view; and Richard Toon, ASU’s Director of Museum Studies, will argue that the inherent contradictions of the museum are why it continually changes, why it must be continually rethought and why there is no such thing as the museum.”

Which is pretty much what happened, except that Adriene had to cancel, so Gregory represented the artist’s perspective on the panel and read aloud something that Adriene had written for the occasion, as well as offering his own perspective. And the conversation went in some fascinating and unpredictable directions, as you can see for yourself from the abbreviated version posted here.

May 25, 2011 at 12:01 am

Older Posts


May 2021
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Follow us on Twitter!

ASU Ceramics Research Center Library