Friday, June 26, 2015

Portraits of People on the Move- The Book

One of the main parts of the Portraits of People on the Move exhibit is a book telling over 50 different immigrants' stories told from their own perspectives. Jennifer has been meeting with people for the last few months to interview them and hear all about their experiences. My task was then to gather these stories and arrange them into an 85+ page book format including their picture, which Jennifer would often take after the interview or they would later send.

Jennifer wasn’t sure what program would be best for me to use and left the option up to me. Up until this point I had pretty much zero experience with InDesign but I knew it would be the best way to go about completing this book. I immediately got to work watching tutorials and learning the shortcuts. Thankfully, the program was incredibly quick and easy to learn. I now feel really confident in it and would be happy to explore it again with other projects.

Since my return from Ireland, Jennifer and I have been meeting in her studio a few times a week to compare notes on how things are going (also through many emails) but a lot of the book I was able to work on in my apartment. Speaking of Jennifer’s studio, I have to bring up how beautiful it is! It’s on the very top floor of her building with really high ceilings and hardwood floors. Two of the walls are filled with really big windows that are surrounded by smaller squares of cut glass. She also has her awesome artwork around along with plants and cute sofas and things. It has been an extremely welcoming space with a very productive atmosphere.

It is hard to say how long the entire book creation took since we’ve been working on all parts of the project at the same time, but it was certainly the largest task. A lot went on each page, like photo credits, names and locations. The first few times we met up I spent the day emailing the 50 people who were interviewed to gather this info, which really upped my email writing speed. We also had a few versions of each story because we were constantly editing (up until the minute it was sent to print). I really enjoyed putting this book together and reading all of the incredible stories. It's extremely exciting to finally have it at the printer.

Here are some of my favorite portraits with an example from the book. The rest of the stories can be read here on the project's blog:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Theresa's Intro

Hi everyone,
I can't believe how late I am on my introduction post! I am certainly having a busy summer. My name is Theresa Finocchiaro and I'm an illustration major about to go into my senior year. I was thrilled to be matched up with Jennifer Baker for the Summer Fellows Program to assist her on the Portraits of People on the Move project that is in hand with Supper, People on the Move. While Supper is the dance performance exploring migration (who's rehearsals I have unfortunately not yet been able to attend), Jennifer is putting together the gallery space that leads into the performance area. For this area we have been busily working to collect Philadelphia area immigrants’ stories and interviewing them to hear all about their journeys to the United States. Paired with these amazing stories are their portraits (some left anonymous for security reasons) in an almost Humans of New York kind of set up. We have 14 of these formatted into very large prints to hang on the gallery wall along with books containing 50+ different stories that will be on tables in the gallery area.

My summer started off very crazy, leaving on a two week trip to Ireland only five hours after my last final. Jennifer and I started putting things together the day I returned and have been working very hard ever since- her collecting and translating the stories while I format the book and contact people for their information. Everyone that has been interviewed for this project has been so kind opening up and letting us hear their stories (which I hope to share in a future post). They’ve given us really positive feedback and all seem to be really enjoying seeing their stories posted on the blog/facebook page. This project has had a really cool impact on my personal life as well. Three of my grandparents came to the United States from Italy and my parents have been starting to tell me more about their immigration process, even showing me their passports and boat paperwork. I have always had some small contact with my cousins in Italy, but now we have been chatting more about finally visiting each other, which would be a really exciting future meeting to come out of this project.

The gallery space for Portraits of People on the Move opens Tuesday June 23 and is on display until Sunday the 28th. There is also an opportunity to view these stories and photographs at The performances for Supper, People on the Move are the June 25-28 at 8pm. I invite all who are interested to come to the performances or stop by to check out the gallery space.

Along with the stories we already have, Jennifer is hoping to add to this book over time. If you or someone you know would like to add their story, please feel free to contact me!

Haley C #2

Ryan recently introduced me to his studio assistant, Giordanne Salley. Sometimes she is there, sometimes not. She just had a show in the lower east side of Manhattan, she has her own studio and practice, assisting other artists is a way she makes some extra money while staying connected in her network. 

We are getting ready for a show Ryan has in the future. When I have to stretch really big canvases, me and Giordanne do it together with each of us on opposite sides of the frame. By working with someone who has more experience than me I am able to learn easier and smarter ways or tricks. Both Ryan and Giordanne teach me the importance of economy, doing things smart, that time is money. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


My internship is in Brooklyn with the artist Ryan Cobourn.
One of the main reasons I choose Ryan was because of the location. New York has more opportunities for artists than anywhere else in the country, by taking this internship i am being introduced to an art scene I need to familiarize with in order to be successful as a fine artist.

Ryan has me do basic studio assistant jobs - storing his drawings, stretching canvas, cleaning up after he paints or draws….. 

I ask him lots of questions as topics come up, where he gets supplies, specifics about working with galleries, how many, how often artists have shows…..
I have a lot of fun there. He introduced me to his girl and his baby, we got coffee (good coffee)

I make observations about how he balances between being an artist, responsibilities, and being conducive to society. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Week #3: Supper Rehearsals "mindfulness in simplicity"

During this week of rehearsals I noticed how efficiently the props are being used throughout the piece. Growing up in the competition world, I was used to seeing an overload of props being used. Most of the time, these props lacked purpose or were extremely cheesy and actually took away from the dancing. In Supper, there is a set of three tables that are built to make multiple foundations. I appreciate the creativity that went into using the tables to simulate a dining table, a truck, a flotation surface, a stage for a duet, a barrier, and a wall. For the ending, more tables are added and multiple islands of tables are created. These transitions that the dancers use to build the different shapes with the tables are quite impressive. There is a great possibility for the props to get on the way of the performance, but the dancers move the props quickly and smoothly and don't let the transitions interrupt the performance. I'm learning from Silvana how to integrate props into a performance with simplicity and grace. 

Speaking of simplicity, Silvana mentioned to her dancers to be mindful during moments of simplicity. She added to this bit of wisdom by instructing her dancers to keeping a quality in the body's moment rather than expressing emotion in the face. This gives the movement a more natural and pedestrian vibe. Even though at times the choreography is far from the everyday-normal movement, like lifts and headstands and crazy jumps, the often dancers return to natural and relatable ways of moving.

Even though I'm usually busy watching for cues to change the track or taking notes, I am constantly learning from assisting Silvana. There is a fight scene in one of the pieces, and originally it looked completely fine to me. However Silvana noticed something was missing. She said tension needed to be building so the fight scene could be the explosion of tension. This is definitely something that seems simple but is necessary for me to learn. 

The dancers are completing full run throughs and I'm so excited to see the final product in 2 and a half weeks! 

Summary of 5/30, 6/1, 6/8, and 6/12

    The first day that I got to start working with Michele in her studio was Saturday, May 30th. When I first got there she gave me a brief overview of the building, how her studio is laid out, and how everything works in her studio. We also had a conversation about what she needed me to get done today and what she needed me to do everyday that I came in, like clean her brushes for her, sweep, and make sure everything stays organized and neat. 

     Once that was finished I got straight to work. First she had put away some artwork that was on her studio floor. Then I proceeded to wash all the black graphite off her back wall where she usually photographs her artwork. Once the graphite was washed away, I painted over the wall and the ledge with a coat of white house paint.

     Next I got to work with organizing and going through all of her paints on her paint cart. I had to open each container, see if the paint was still wet and usable, if so I dabbed some of the color on the lid and set those aside. Dried paint containers had to be cleaned out. Once all the paints were sorted through, and a list of which paints were gone that she needed to get was made, I organized the paints on her cart by color.

    After her carts were looking great, she started me on organizing all these paint sticks that she had used in a large installation. I was to try to organize them as tightly and as efficiently as possible. The end result of the sticks together in the plastic storage containers was actually quite beautiful. I didn’t get to finish going through all the boxes of sticks that day, we ran out of time.


     The next day I came in to work with Michele was Monday, June 1st. I started on finished organizing the paint sticks right away. Once I finished with that she directed me to her supply shelf. I took inventory of the type of tapes, glues, adhesives and fixatives that she had and what she needed to restock. Once that was done I went to town organizing everything on the shelf. Books, papers, artwork, materials, tools, you name it. When I finished her shelf and desk, She asked me to take down a bunch of smaller diptychs that she had done for a previous show done from her loft storage space. She was unpleased with how the gallery space had wrapped her work to send back to her. So she showed me how to wrapped them professionally and then I unwrapped all the pieces, rewrapped them neatly and nicely, and labeled all of them with their titles.   After I finished them, I took them back up to the loft space to store them. I had asked her about how she prices her work, so she told me all about how she does it and what her system is like. Which is very helpful because pricing my own work is something I struggle with. That was a wrap for that day! 

    Monday, June 8th was the next day I came in to work. When I got in she taught me how to prep her wood panels. She had a large wood panel in the studio that she let me prep myself. First Iapplied the Gac 100 and then wait for it to dry. Once it dries then you lightly sand the surface and apply another coat and so on. For the rest of the day I spent my time working on my computer while asking Michele questions and discussing art related things with her.  She helped me get a lot of things done such as working on my artist statement, creating my own website (still needs some work), enter some artwork into a contest to be included at a show at Uarts, research how to write a bio, and research more opportunities to apply to. At the end of the day I helped her hang some smaller panel pieces for her to photograph.

     Today when I came in I finished up the wood panel that I started Monday. I sanded it down and them apply another layer. I repeated the process once more was that layer was dry. After I finished the panel, Michele gave me these British Art magazines called Elephant to read through. They had a lot of really great in-depth bios about all the featured artists and articles about their artistic processes and what painting is in general. I also got more time to think about my artist statement and try to improve it. I spent some time researching for more future opportunities to apply to. I also swept the studio floor today. Tomorrow Michele is getting a large shipment of wood panels that she ordered, so the day will probably filled with prepping them! I really enjoy Michele's paper chalk pieces and I got to see her working on them today which I was pretty excited about!