Sunday, August 30, 2015

F U T U R E

This whole experience was by far the most noteworthy to date in relation to not only my illustration career but in my life. It pushed me to grow and understand what is required of an illustrator. Greg was such an incredible mentor and friend this summer, and I'm ecstatic to say that I get to continue to work with him on a couple of his upcoming projects. The book show in Narberth will be held in November and we still have work to do in preparation for that, so I will be needed to make backgrounds and working on extra details for the window display as well as set up for the show. Greg and I have also been talking about working on animating a trailer for one of his upcoming book releases with Disney-Hypereon. Here's a trailer for his last book, Templeton Gets His Wish, animated by UArts alum, Jimmy Simpson:


Templeton Gets His Wish from Jimmy Simpson on Vimeo.

Greg wasn't able to get Jimmy to work on this next trailer, but he really seemed to like my work on an animation I worked on last Fall and wanted to emulate the shaky style I work with for this trailer:


QUEST FOR THE DOG from Lizzy O'Donnell on Vimeo.

so I will be assisting Greg in storyboarding and animating a trailer for his amazing book Goodnight Owl! This experience was so great that I'm only so happy that it gets to continue.

Step 1- Organize

In this internship, I found myself working on a wide variety of tasks which varied from menial in labor or thought to ones that required a broad range of creative solutions and critical thinking to complete. Organization was the name of the game for the entirety of the internship, but especially for the first few days. We spent those days getting Greg's workspace in order so he was able to work and progress and so I became aquatinted to this new environment. Seeing the benefits of having this organized space made the process of our work a lot easier. Organizing spanned from just getting his space in order to working on sorting his flat files, taking inventory of his prints for his online store and eventually updating that store, and collecting names and numbers of schools for his upcoming visits. After getting everything sorted, then we began work on things for upcoming events such as the book store show for Greg's book Tricky Vic in Narberth, PA and a show with Philly Independents in Old City. I've helped review proofs of an upcoming book of Greg's, which gave me an insight on the children's book production process, I prepped textures digitally for Greg's future use, as well as preparing screens and inks for prints that we worked on together, without getting our ducks in a row before hand however, nothing would have been able to be completed in the fast span we accomplished everything.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Portraits of People on the Move

Spending my summer working with Jennifer Baker on the Portraits of People on the Move project was such a unique experience. I learned so much that I really don’t think I would have without being a part of this project. Gaining experience with InDesign, and practicing with sewing, book design, and set dressing is something I’m really thankful for. I had never really thought much about doing set work but it was a really fun way to use all of the skills I’ve gathered over the years. Through this experience I also learned a ton about different cultures and countries. I must admit my education on immigration laws was lacking and it was really heartbreaking hearing the unfair ways the system often works out. After working on this project, I’m hoping to go to Italy after graduation to meet a lot of my family that still lives over there. Most of my family was born in Sicily and was lucky with a fairly smooth immigration.

I think a really important veiw I got from this experience was how things work outside of Uarts. It is easy for things to become routine during the semester so having curveballs and last minute changes was very real life. I’m used to staying up extremely late working on assignments, but it was much different having Jennifer also up very late emailing along with me and reviewing corrections as I finished them. I also got awesome experience working with a printer other than Anderson’s imaging lab. Ben, who did our printing, was awesome and I really appreciate how patient he was with me and answering my questions. It was certainly different than dropping something off on the 6th floor and immediately being given your print. Learning how to send large files through the internet while keeping their quality will be huge to know how to do in the future.

Though the Portraits of People on the Move project is no longer in the gallery space, the blog is still continuing as Jennifer gathers more stories of immigration. I’m so thankful being included in this project and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.


Portraits of People on the Move- Performances/Independence Mall

After all of the hard work that Jennifer and I put into the gallery space for Portraits of People on the Move, it was really awesome to see everything come together for the four performance nights of Supper, People on the Move.


One thing I really enjoyed about being involved with the Portraits of People on the Move project was all of the unexpected things I got to work on. Not only did Jennifer and I work on unanticipated things like sewing and light arranging, but I also helped dress the set for the opening of Supper, People on the Move. Even though it was a simple long dinner table with settings, a lot of thought went into our arrangement every night. We thought about things like how to balance colorful fruits with items made of metal and clear glasses (especially since the glasses caught the lighting in a really beautiful way). Another thing we took into consideration was the heights of the objects across the table. We really made a nice set up using glasses and vases to break up the flatness of all the plates. Every night before the performance we would complete this set up before the guests attending the performance were let into the space. Once the performance began the dancers cleared the items from this table.

After we had arranged our set up, Jennifer and I moved back into the Portraits of People on the Move gallery space where guests would enter to speak to people about the project. We set two tables in the center of the gallery with the books we had put created along with some questionnaires so more people could add their own stories if they wished. As people came in, it was really cool talking to them about the project and hearing what they thought about it. One of the coolest parts was when people who were interviewed and photographed for the project came in to check it out. One of my favorite moments was when two young women with extremely different backgrounds who had been interviewed began to chat. When I saw them at the end of the night they were laughing really hard and looked like old friends. They both agreed that they wanted to meet up again.




One really neat part of the Supper, People on the Move project was that one of the nights the performance was projected at Independence Mall the same time it was happening at Crane Arts. While Jennifer stayed at the gallery during the performance, I went along to Independence Mall. Once there I met up with Elise from Mural Arts to set up a table along with one of the books near the projection area. We also brought some of the questionnaire print outs to spark conversation and invite people to add to the book. This experience was really cool. I wasn’t involved with gathering the life stories at the start of the project for the book, so getting to talk to people in person was very rewarding and different then just formatting their stories.


Friday, August 21, 2015

This Is the End


And so it ends,

This was such an interesting experience! Working at Say It With Clay really allowed me to flush out and develop some of my personal ideas and and career choices. Somethings were solidified while others were questioned. Originally I thought “I may be out of my element” (especially when it came to teaching), but as I watched the way they ran the studio I realized I was up to the challenge. Through a little guidance from Abbie and the other staff members I became a competent instructor and worker. My confidence in my abilities to buckle down and help someone has grown. Even though I’m extremely familiar with clay, I was initially nervous giving someone else their first experience with it. I guess I didn’t want to spoil their first time? This confidence in my leadership abilities will definitely help me in the near future. I am preparing to be an Orientation Leader at school and so the new students will really need a guide that is sure of their knowledge and abilities. To be able to fall back on your self is very important when you’re bombarded by eager students and a million questions. The beginning of their college life will be in my hands as it was with clay with the children and adults I taught at Say It With Clay. Working with Abbie also made me realize what kind of artist I want to be and how I want to utilize my degree once I graduate. Abbie severely flexes her degree in Art Therapy, at the heart of her nonprofit is the healing power of artistic creations. It’s in her heart to help and develop a space where people feel great. Unfortunately, from what I observe, she doesn’t really get the chance to put all of her ceramic knowledge to use though. Often she has to run around from meeting to meeting, and stay on top of the business aspect of Say It With Clay. Rarely does she get a chance to sit down and make her own work or make a collection. She has a few pieces here and there that she consistently works on over time but they instantly hit the back burner once she needs to handle business (this is something she is working on, giving herself time to create and express through creations in clay). Observing her delicate balance (or imbalance) has made me realize that in my heart, my artwork is what seems to be most important to me. I’m not sure I would be able to ignore my work for a month or two while I handle paperwork and networking. Her dream was to always run a studio like this and with that comes a lot of responsibility and lack of free time to get dirty. I think what I’m trying to say is that I want my life to revolve around the act of creating art and not the act of running a business. Overall being behind the scenes at a clay studio brought back memories of high school and allowed me to reutilize past knowledge. At the end of the day, I made great connections, wonderful contacts, and intriguing memories. Say It With Clay completed my Summer 2015! :)

Andi Out!

Decoration

Preface: This past summer and the months leading up to it have been really bloody, powerful, and complicated for America. 

I think one interesting aspects of the internship was the effect that it had on my work or the way that I view my work. I tend to lump my work into two different categories, decoration and true art. A lot of my ceramic work tends to just be explorations of visual beauty; the result, something that I’m making without much thought—without a concept. My ceramic work doesn’t command academic discussions or deep thought, I tend to make them as a bountiful glaze for the eyes. And then there’s the work that I create where I really am trying to pack a message into it. This work usually is trying to get the viewer to explore ideas in the world, relationships, power, power struggles, complicated and hidden displays of emotions. This is the work that I consider my “true art”. In my opinion, a piece needs to push someone mentally and get them to think, if it does not…it’s just something that’s pretty or interesting to look at. Over the course of the internship I really got the chance to reflect on my goals as an artist as I saw what other people were creating (even though most of these people were children). They would come in and make something that they could either use later on (a bowl) or a piece that they would just enjoy having (a wall hanging). And for the most part a lot of the pieces that resulted from the sessions showed a lack of care and intention (again, these were children). So I began to reflect and ask myself, are these pieces that are being made works of art? Are they challenging or exposing anything? Nope. So I then lumped them into the other category of decoration and from there I declared them works produced as a hobby or just something fun to do. Why of course these works brought joy to their owners! The pieces would last almost forever and would always give the creator a positive memory that they could cherish and keep every time they looked at or used their work. This everlasting joy is something that’s very dear to Abbie and it is this that gives her great joy and fuels her love for what she does! THIS IS GREAT! THIS IS AMAZING! But. As a Fine Artist, I think that I need to overstep the personal beauty and satisfaction that I receive from my work— it needs to be about more. As I stated, to me art needs to reach another level or else it falls short and becomes an everyday, ordinary object that sits on a table or hangs on a wall. In a way, I think artist need to move beyond the perhaps “childish” and easy route that only satiates the rudimentary want of work that’s fun to look at. The world doesn’t need more pretty things. The world needs ideas and theories expressed through accessible platforms such as stimulating, beautiful art pieces. I can no longer afford to make work that is purely aesthetically pleasing. The world can no longer afford for artist to bow down to representational beauty, creating work that throws a bandaid on a gunshot wound as it glosses over what really needs to be addressed. 


And with that said, here are three pieces I created in the studio. I was inspired by the loose nature of the work that passed in and out of the studio. All of them focus on being decoration (form texture, color). 










Thursday, August 20, 2015

In Short: What I have Gained and Where I am Going

Working with Kay has been a deeply rewarding and stimulating learning experience. I have learned a great deal about how artists manage to work and live in Philadelphia, about the importance of community and how one can be both civically and culturally responsible locally, been forced to evaluate my goals and work ethic, and ruminated on what I am aiming to do with my own work.

I recall a conversation that Kay and I had on the last day of my fellowship on the way home from lunch at the Italian Market, where we both pined for the return of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, which marked a remarkably unlikely period in American history. For that brief moment in time, the arts were a socialized institution. Kay is committed to making art a public, accessible experience. I agree that all of life's necessities, one of which is having access to cultural information, ought to be free and public. Right across the street from her studio, there is a public pool that both Greg and Kay take advantage of on a regular basis. She says that she drinks tap water for the same reason that she visits the public pool - because we must demand via consistent use and participation that what our community makes publicly available be good. I feel that, in some way, Kay makes work with the idea that art (like drinking water and swimming pools) ought to be a public thing for local communities instead of a private commodity for a wealthy minority, in mind.

Her largest installations have been in public institutions - the Free Library and the Philadelphia Int'l Airport. Earlier in her career, she would make large prints of her furniture drawings on paper and wheat paste them around the city, so that they could be observed and enjoyed by people in public, rather than confined to the insular world of galleries and museums. Printmaking, particularly screenprinting, is a process tied closely with the idea of mass production, and is implicitly accessible by virtue of being an affordable means of reproducing large amounts of information. The interview stage of Kay's process, in which she garners the stories of Philadelphians to make up a collective narrative for her installations, requires her to engage directly with the public, making them critical to the work. The sentiments that Kay shared about involving the community in her artwork has resonated with me deeply, and made me think very hard about the context in which I want my own work to belong.

I have also learned a lot about making, and know that if I had not worked with Kay this summer I would be in a much less prepared place creatively to start this school year. Since learning how to properly operate a sewing machine, I have begun working on several studies for a series of dolls I have always wanted to make. They are 3-dimensional realizations of my figure drawings, which have grotesquely absurd proportions and carry the bulk of their weight in the womb region. I am always trying to imagine how these figures might exist in 3-d as I draw, because this kind of thinking allows me to believably record what these figures, which only exist in fantasy, actually look like. Here are a few images of the first doll I made, which I gave to Kay as an end-of-fellowship gift,

 














I hope to continue working on the dolls throughout the school year, and have begun making notes and drawings for a large scale installation featuring life-sized dolls, screen printed wallpaper, and a doll house that I built when I was eleven. It will be about the impossible "search for home" that Kay so often finds herself contemplating.  



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Talking to Aliens

Talking to someone you look up to is always a strange experience, especially when you haven't acquainted yourself with one another for too long. There are so many things you want to ask and say and pick their knowledgeable mind for but, like magic, your own brain seems to leave for a bit until it comes back later to remind you of the great thing you wanted to say/ask, and just leave you regretting not having what you wanted to be said come to fruition in an earlier conversation. I remember when I met a favorite musical/visual artist of mine about a year ago, I was overwhelmed when I had the opportunity to ask and just ended up saying something shallow and stupid like "so how's the tour? I'm a big fan!" I had so many questions on his process and what he was thinking, but I just froze.

This is where this internship comes in to end my anxiety about this issue. Having a prolonged exposure to an artist, ie Greg, who is someone whose work I admire and who I could stand to learn a lot from, made talking to people in positions I would hope to see myself in and those who inspire me a million times less horrifying. I think we always tend to view "our idols" as something other than what they are which is, just like us, human, and when our parasocial relationships with these people become something other than just admiring their work and into having the opportunity to ask questions and learn, we freeze as if a UFO just landed on our feet. My advice for speaking to someone  you look up to is to not treat them any more royal than yourself, at one point they were in your shoes, and they want to teach you. Think of things to ask and just ask, the worst that can happen isn't nearly as bad as what would happen if you froze up and didn't use the opportunity you were given.

A Visit to the Library

About halfway through the summer, Kay and I made a journey to the Free Library to address a small problem with her installation, Lost and Found. One of the pieces had become detached from the wall and needed to be reattached, so we biked down to the library together to accomplish the task. Kay is a cyclist after my own heart - she is very fast and does not regard red lights if the coast is clear. When we arrived at the library, the staff helped Kay mount a ladder so that she could remove the piece until it could be placed back in its spot. Here is a picture of her in the process,


After we successfully removed the fallen furniture, Kay chatted with the cashier at Home Page Cafe, the library's small eatery over which the installation hangs. The cashier was one of Kay's interviewees for the project, and was imploring her to come to a barbecue/block party for 4th of July at her Philadelphia home. It was interesting to observe just one of the many friendships that her creative practice has produced. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Don't Push Me Cuz I Am Close to the Edge.

Heres that explanation...sort of!
Oddly enough, You can’t force someone to do what they don’t want to do haha. So the 14 year old autistic kid that my fantastical story (in my last blog post) centered around retaught me this lesson and I have to say that it’s a very valuable one and it brings up a very important personal question. To manipulate or not to manipulate? But first, some back story. So like I said, the kid was extremely nice and super awesome to work with most of time. He was always pleasant and the only problem that we had with him was the fact that some days he just didn’t want to work with the clay. He was always excited about “time to art” (his words) but he didn’t always want to “art” with clay. After a his first visit, we realized that he really enjoyed drawing and writing/making list. He would create his own worlds and a lot of the time create a world where he was a shopkeeper (and customer) checking his inventory of majestical and ordinary objects. The first session went well, we got him to make a few things successfully and it held his attention; towards the end of that session, we all had freeze pops and had about 30 minutes of down time. Let it be known that each of his sessions were 4hrs and he had them about twice a week. Fast forwarding to about the 4th or 5th session, it seemed like all interest was lost in clay completely. For him, the fascination of clay was gone and he sort of got bored with it. On top of that he would never want to sit down because he was afraid of a few tiny bugs that would harmlessly fly around the studio (the doors were open for air circulation). He was at times extremely paranoid and would yelp when nothing was even there. Needless to say, things got a bit difficult. One day he was so disinterested and paranoid that after about 10 minutes with the clay the only thing he wanted to do was eat a freeze pop and draw on paper…at a clay studio. The staff that worked with him, consulted Abbie to see how we could reach through to him and calm him down. She suggested that we have him use a clay slab as sort of a drawing tablet and get him to work with clay in that way. He tried it, and pretty much hated it, and I don’t blame him, drawing on clay gives me a headache…But a week later he came in and was doing fine with some normal projects. We were pretty confused and were only able to chalk it up to the fact that some days he just wasn’t up for dealing with clay or being in the studio. We also noticed that he really just doesn’t commit to detail and “finishes” pieces very quickly so that he could move on to doing something else or what he wanted.


And so in reflection this sort of creates a rift between for me as a person and then me as a worker/intern/staff member that is representing a business. As an individual person I try my best to never coerce people and bribe people to do what I want them to do against their initial wants—and if I do, then I know it’s wrong. It’s sort of like overriding someone else’s true desires so that you can get your way or so that you can look good. In a way this is exactly what the team had to do with the client. We had to sneak and plot and pick at his brain just so that we could get him to do what we ( and his parents and aid) wanted him to. In a way I felt a bit dirty while doing it. We wanted to keep him as a costumer and in order for that to happen, he would have to produce work so that his parents/aid wouldn’t take him out. But then it also felt bit odd and dirty to allow them to pay for him to work with clay while we just give him what he wants, which was to work with a pen and paper while eating freeze pops. I guess in this case it’s sort of the case of “who knows what’s best for the child? The parent/adult or the child” (he was functioning on the level of about a 7 year old)?
This situation will always follow me into any partnerships, collaborative efforts, and Leadership rolls. While it’s a small, isolated incident, me being a larger thinker forces me to use this as an overarching and ongoing lesson. Am I ok with deception/games to get what I want despite other’s true desires? Oddly enough, we never really FORCED him to do anything, we only gently led him to do what he wasn’t too excited about. Unfortunately in the future when dealing with adults and peers, this issue may not be resolved so easily and the ethics of it all get ever more dramatic. Overall I think he did have a great experience with clay and our studio, he just needs to either work on focusing and completing a task, or have fewer/shorter sessions. Hopefully he comes back and we/they can help him with that.  :)

Until next post,
Andi!

Long Ago: In a Distant Land: There Was a Boy

Stoooorrrrryyyy TIIIMMMMEEE!!!!!

There once was a 14 year old autistic boy that loved to laugh, loved to have fun, and loved to converse. He spent his days making jokes and flitting around from activity to activity. Theater this hour, clay the next. A majestic showman of many talents. This boy was a warrior! Fighting his was through life with kindness and connections he vanquished the never-ending darkness. An aura of white light beamed as he maneuvered excitedly around a room—a young sprite of greatness! This young lad, as powerful as he was, always traveled with his female aid for he knew all could not be faced alone. Giving him strength, confidence, and support his aid was his rock. But the dark day came when he had to begin a journey that was only meant for . He was to venture down a path that he must walk alone. He was to journey to THE HOUSE OF CLAY! Entangled by enchanted vines and webs of yester-years-past, the structure struck him as a place of evil. He arrived at the entrance to the lair and knocked 3 times, unsure of what he would find. The door slowly crept open squeaking like a rat being boiled alive. He cringed as he tentatively stepped through the threshold. Peaking his head in first, he could see nothing but smoke. Oh but it wasn't smoke, it was dust, clay dust! FLIES FLEW THROUGH THE OPENING SWARMING AROUND HIS HEAD FILLING HIS EARS WITH THE BUZZES OF HELL! Suddenly 2 fairies flew through the puffs of dust and flies, their wings clearing the room. The boy yelped and screamed with terror for he had no idea what was happening. These fairies seemed nice, well at least they didn’t attack him…yet. Finally hunkering down the fairies put on guppy smiles and say, “Hello! Welcome to”, they pause and stare at each other for a moment. They then lower their heads, bared their teeth, and roll their eyes back, “THE HOUSE OF CLAY!” They grabbed the boy and sat him down in a chair furthest from the door. One stood guard while the other began the torture. The fairy slammed a large mass in a bag on to the table in front of him, dust began to rise. “Open it!” she demanded. The boy, too terrified, sat without moving. She shot a glance toward the fairy at the door and he began to slowly walk over with fire burning in his eyes. Quickly the boy unraveled the mass “HA!”, she yelled, and forced his hands deep inside of it. Suddenly the world changed right before the young boy’s eyes. Flashes of blue and white light swirled around the room and all the cleared. The webs were gone. The scary fairies were gone. The bugs had flown out of the door. In walked two normal assistants, only a few years older than himself, and they began to make wonders out of the yucky mush that he realized his hands were still in. “Yuck!”, they all exclaimed with a laugh! And they created happily ever after. 

An Explanation is coming haha,
Andi!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Screen Printing

Before working with Kay Healy, I had some commercial and artistic screen printing experience. I worked for my uncle for several years, who runs a screen printing business out of his backyard shed and makes t-shirts and other team merchandise for local sports teams. I have also taken Marisha Simons' screen printing studio at UArts, where I was able to hone and nuance my printing and ink-mixing, and streamline my own screen printing practice.

Working with Kay has expanded my knowledge of the screen printing process. She taught me to properly flood (it seems I've been doing it wrong for years) to avoid ink drying in the screen, to print a repeat pattern on fabric, and to coat screens economically by only coating one side. Here's an image I printed the other day,


 and one of Kay's screens, burned with image for the silver layer of this print. 


This two layer print was on cotton muslin, which when dry, was pillow sewn and stuffed. Here is one of the tools in its final form. 


Here is an image of one of Kay's many Wagner CDs, with (coincidentally) a screen printed image of Wagner on the cover








Solidarity is my Sanctuary

I was hesitant at first to do the Art Sanctuary position, but that was a hesitation that came from arrogance and my own insecurities. I didn't want to work all summer with a program based non-profit after a year of creating large scale events, and I thought I wouldn't be accepted in a black arts center. Thank God I was so deeply wrong.

At risk of sounding like a total cliché…this has truly been a life changing experience. Growing up as an interracial person I have felt a lot of estrangement from the black community. I’ll try not to get too deep on you guys but growing up I was often told that black people, particularly black women would not like me because I am lighter than them. That negativity still haunts me. Being surrounded this summer by beautiful, powerful blackness and solidarity was so life and identity affirming. Art Sanctuary is doing amazing things for this community and beyond. Ms. Val Gay is truly my mentor, and she inspires me constantly. I learned a lot from working with the high school students about how people perceive art as this untouchable privilege. It was my mission (and Art Sanctuary's) to help them understand that they are artists too. I’ve made connections with so many empowered black women of many ages and I will never let go of these connections.


In fact I’m going to continue to be Art Sanctuary’s “resident artist” and write for them. Our UArts African Diaspora Collective will also be collaborating with Art Sanctuary for the Black Arts Festival in March. We will also be collaborating with Penn’s Kelly Writers House because Maya (one of my fellow college interns) works there and is also apart of Penn’s Minority Council. I’m looking forward to being apart of the Art Sanctuary family, and who knows…maybe I’ll become an official employee someday? Either way I know Art Sanctuary will always be an integral part of my life.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pins, Mr T, and Promotion

I love pins. I love getting pins, finding pins, trading pins... I hate losing a pin, especially when it's a really good pin, like a pin of Mr T. throwing up a thumbs up or Godzilla spitting fire. I've known the joy of owning these pins, and the despair of losing them... but now... I CAN MAKE PINS. Greg taught me how to use a pin maker and had me make him pins for promotion for his book, Tricky Vic. I designed the layout of the pin using Greg's imagery and direction, printed them, and turned the design into a bunch of pins.


I made about 70 of these buttons so I got pretty good at making pins in just one afternoon. With this new skill, I got to make some of my own pins with my art on them which Greg has encouraged me to try and sell or use for my own self promotion! 


We've talked a lot about ways to promote yourself through merchandise, social media, and postcards and how important it really is to get people to see your work. No one's going to hire you if they don't know you exist, so make something and throw it in everyone's face! 

Foamcore Felons

This past March, Greg released a book called Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower. As the title indicates, this non-fiction picture book centers around the insane life of Robert Miller aka "Count Victor Lustig", a con artist credited with twice selling the Eiffel Tower. Greg received great reception for Tricky Vic since it's release, so much so that Character Development, a book store in Narberth, PA, has chosen it to be their spotlight book. With this, the store wants Greg to design a window display, which has been the bulk of the work I have been doing this summer. Since he has a lot of books he's working on at the moment, Greg delegated the planning for this project on to me. The show is in October, so the work I've done thus far is come up with a design for the display,  sketch out my idea, and eventually, prepare the elements of the window display to transport and set up at the book store. We decided to print all of the pieces and cut them out on foam core and then paint a background. We printed the figures on a sheet a foamcore about 40" by 70".

Here's in the process..
... and here they are! Free from their foam core prison!!

The Vase

The Vase was my very first assignment from Kay. The object is based on a vase from her childhood home on Staten Island, and is featured in Lost and Found. The vase invokes for her, vivid memories from her childhood - it was a visual staple from the waterside house where she grew up. The vase was broken and consequently shattered into many little pieces. Like the home that was sold when she moved away to go to college, it was essentially "lost".

It was one of the hottest weeks of the Spring when I began in May, a clear warning of the sweltering months to come. Kay taught me on the first day how to pillow sew, and I began turning inside out, stuffing, and sealing these little vase "shards",


The shards, in order to hang on the wall, must be ribboned. I hand stuffed and sewed closed each little piece, some smaller than a fingernail, with a little ribbon affixed to the back. Kay gave me a bag of stuffing and a bag of shards and some needle and thread to work on the piece at home. Incidentally, my power went out the following morning from the heat, and I sewed and stuffed each piece by candlelight.

When all the pieces were stuffed and puzzled together to form the vase, it looked something like this, 


The Vase has been an ongoing project, stretching across this whole summer, as Kay is still figuring on how to display it. Since the tedious process of puzzling each little piece together demands so much time and effort, the requirement of a more permanent mounting system prevents it from hanging directly on the wall. I am interested to see it fully realized, when it hangs for her upcoming show in Tokyo. 


Learning to Quilt, From Mother to Daughter to Intern

Kay, her mother, and I all share an affinity for handmade things, and an interest in the domestic. From Kay, I learned that her mother taught her the Italian quilting technique called trapunto sewing, which she in turn taught to me. Sewing and quilting is an integral part of Kay's process - she manages to create a kind of quilt-image hybrid with each piece. All of the "stuffies" as Kay calls them, are inspired by objects belonging to real people whom Kay has interviewed. For Lost and Found, the project to which many of the stuffies I sewed belong, each one was an object that an interviewee had lost. Here are some of the pieces that I sewed while I was learning to trapunto,
From left, clockwise: Frank's Coffee Percolator, Kay's Onion Plate, and a Reel to Reel. The images are first screen printed on fabric, and then sewn and stuffed.

In a basic pillow sewing technique, the fabric with the image is turned inside out and a backing is sewn on, with an opening left to turn the pillow inside out. 

Once the pillow is stuffed, the hole is closed up and the object is stitched through on the sewing machine from back to front, along the contours of the object's details. For instance, the television and the car (projects I conquered once I was more skilled in the "stuffie" creation process) are given puffy quilt-like dimension by the stitching around the edges of the screen and knobs, along the windows and wheels and along the plane edges of the car. 



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Final Product








In the end we made great products. We made four concrete stools, One coffee table and one large singular seating with the use of the donated palates from Palates Plus. We also incorporated store bought furniture to finish off some other areas that they decided in the end to add. The lounge area is very urban with colors of red/ black and grey, with the graffiti accent wall. The end result were refreshing to see that on a low budget you can achieve a Great room that still fits the needs of the client you are servicing. 

Students do DIY 




We decided to  give the lounge an urban feel. Again calling a resource in my peer Justin Brown who painted Grafiti art for free to help give the lounge the look and feel that was to be needed.  We build Concrete Stools with the use of the palates for the legs. The excitement among the students was very heart warming. Some students even stayed after to keep working on the projects. Some of the staff were curious about what we we're doing and the excitement that they saw with the students.  The students learned how to pour and mix the concrete to make the seating of the stool. Other students learned how to use a tool for the first time. Some students painted the concrete and our choice of color Red and painted tables black.  They helped sand as well. I was happy to see even students that were not apart of this shop also helped. 

Tito F. Williams II

DIY research



After brainstorming because of the budget, I thought of Palates to make most of the furniture because this source of material is normally free.   The palates would allow us to make a sofa, love seat , two individual seating and two coffee tables. The palates would also be able to make legs for 10 bar stools. 


Keeping the students in mind who had no experience with building furniture and the use of power tools that would make the job easier. I looked for only easy DIY furniture with little use of machinery and power tools. I was able to find the perfect  solution. Concrete stools, with making my own modification to fit the schools budget, The concrete  cost $3.98 and choosing palates which were free instead of the  the 2 by 2 wooden stock poles. 

Tito F. Williams II

Calling for donations



With the schools budget challenge,  I thought of using palates to facilitate the project. This resource of material is usually free. I looked for a source that would have a large amount  of products. My first source of course the use of the internet. Searching for places with free palates in the local area, such as Walmart or Super Fresh. They could not assist because they rent there palates and not own them. I called a lot of places. I called a vitiable source my teacher Mr. Tony. His information allowed me to find several restaurants and bars that would give us the palates for the use of the projects. I made a great  contact with a company in Philadelphia called,  Palates Plus, that agreed to give us BRAND NEW palates for  the project. We used this source Palates Plus and was very happy to receive the brand new donations. This donations was very crucial to the project, without the  palates we would not have been able to move forward in making the lounge area on its way to success. 

Tito F. Williams II

Design Challenges 




 My first meeting with Ms. Cook  was very informative. She asked a lot of questions about my experiences in Industrial design and my life goals while attending University of the Arts. After elaborating on my focus on furniture design and building communities on social design, she felt we would  have a great partnership.  She then talked about the biggest challenge at the school which is finding furniture for the new student lounge that was to under go renovations which would include student participation.  She spoke about what was needed for the lounge , student seating, more reading and home work space and a place to hang out. Ms. Cook , I believe had had full confidence of what plan I would brainstorm and present to her . The lounge  renovation budget was   $30.00 or less. This  budget was not surprising , but I knew I could find a project that would be socially functional  and beautifully done to deliver the outcome that would allow the students to participate and feel pride in themselves.

Tito F. Williams II

YesPhilly


YesPhilly , is a non profit alternative high school and GED program. The students of YesPhilly face a number of life challenges. High school students experiencing behavior issues, pregnancy, and students who have fallen academically behind are among some of the reasons students flock to this much needed organization.  Based in north Philadelphia YesPhilly addresses a number of issues the surrounding community of Girard and Broad Street. 

Yesphilly addresses issues of poverty, job security, teen pregnancy, and minority inequality.  By providing free lunch and late evening meals, YesPhilly provides food for students who in many cases have limited food at home.  With many of the north Philadelphia population in need of accessing public assistance, the meals given insure student have a meal to eat everyday.  YesPhilly helps its students find jobs. These jobs are critical for students, they allow students to build job history and make their own money as a start to supporting themselves.  Resources for new and or young mothers are posted through the facilities of YesPhilly.  This fellowship was very promising with meeting Ms. Jeannine Cook who was my project supervisor  and the other staff members. Ms. Cook,who is the Media / Arts Coordinator ,brings different types of projects to help establish the students.  The program INC, which was facilitated by Ms. Cook , with the  focus of helping  students  to better use their time after school and to show them things. 


With all roles in place I and the other staff are excited about the new partnership to begin. 

Tito F. Williams II

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Meeting Kay, and the Importance of Gab

Over the course of the last 2 months, I have had the invaluable experience of working closely with a local Philly artist whose reach (by the end of august!) will be global. We've had conversations about making a living as an artist, spent several hours sharing our family histories and trading domestic tales, enjoyed sunny lunch hours and drained a good many cups of tea, and mulled over the phenomenal truths of astrology, all while I helped Kay to prepare for her upcoming show in Tokyo at the end of this month. The show will feature many of the pieces that appear in Kay's larger than life installation, Lost & Found, which will continue to hang in the main branch of the Free Library until the end of October.

When I began working with Kay, I scarcely imagined it would entail such an Ideal balance of relaxing, stimulating, and gently instructive studio activity. Located in a charming and historic Carpenter street building (complete with an ancient pulley elevator) Kay's studio is shared with her quippy, dry husband and fellow artist Greg Pizzoli. My first time there, which was on the business of a pre-fellowship visit, began with conversation. Our ability to communicate with comfort and ease was pretty much immediately apparent - we spent our first 6-hour work day together chitchatting non-stop. After showing me how to pillow sew, stuff, and close an original Kay Healy"stuffie" using techniques handed down from her mother (also an artist), we settled into our respective workspaces and exchanged anecdotes from our childhoods, reminisced openly about the sensory details of the homes in which we grew up, and interrogated one another about the star charts of family members. Since then, we have rarely been at a loss for things to talk about.

Kay briefly explained her approach to holding down a good chat during our visit yesterday, remarking that it is important to ask questions when trying to come off as a good conversationalist. People love to answer questions about themselves, she says, in so many words. It's true - I was very eager to share when she inquired about my home life, what my parents are like, what kind of child I was, what my "totem animal" is, (and later on) what my feelings are about Wagner. In retrospect I notice that she began our relationship with a sort of informal interview, an interesting thing to consider since the "interview" is such a pivotal part of her artistic process. With that being said, I would argue that her interest in personal historical narratives is more a mark of her investigative temperament than a mere shmoozing tactic. Of the many skills that I have improved during my Summer Fellows experience, the ability to sustain engaging talk is among the most precious. I have always felt safer behind the curtain of the written word, and was admittedly daunted before the start of this fellowship by the idea of spending hours conversing with a total stranger. I was scared stiff that I would bore Kay with my silent anxiety, and appear dull or blank or unintelligent. It was more than a pleasant surprise to be met with a gabber as versed as Kay in the "art of conversation".

I might also mention that Greg and Kay share a profound love for seltzer water. I think this photo really captures the essence of Kay's side of the studio.

Skyler's Week #5

My last week with Monika was the most exciting week for me through out this entire experience. While she and her husband went on vacation, she asked me to make a necklace for her store. She wanted to help keep me busy while giving me the experience of making a commission.
She was interested in me making a tapered chain necklace that I had made in silver. We discussed a design & the different guages I could use and I was ready to get started. I was really excited for this awesome opportunity.
So for two weeks in July while Monika was on vacation, I spent every day in the Metals studio at UArts working on the necklace. I wanted it to be perfect so I spent a lot of time putting care into the necklace.
On my last week with Monika, I presented her the necklace and she loved it! I was worried she would find mistakes or point out imperfections but she had nothing but positive things to say. I was really proud of myself.
It was so awesome to finish the necklace in her store and to see it on display with all the other artists that had inspired me through out the summer with their work. I felt very honored.
I also had to price out the necklace with Monika and that was a very daunting task. We figured with the price of materials, and the number of hours I put into the necklace, it would be priced at least over $1000. I was so excited to know that my work was valued at that price.
I then helped Monika take pictures of the necklace to post to the store's facebook and to add it to their website. I was really excited to see my work looking official on a website with all these other talented artists. It's very surreal to me. I have always been making things, doing art projects, but I've never been motivated to sell my work.
Monika and I discussed plans for the future and she is open to me having more items to sell in the store. I am so beyond happy with my experience at Meeka Fine Jewelry. I learned so much and I made an awesome connection with Monika. I am so excited about jewelry and what lies ahead for me!

Also here is a link to my finished necklace:
http://www.meekajewelry.com/products/skyler-bradford-tapered-chain-necklace

Monday, August 3, 2015

Greg Pizzoli: A+ Human

Since the summer began, I've had the amazing opportunity to work along side Greg Pizzoli. Greg is an illustrator, author, and printmaker based in Philadelphia. His background in illustration varies from having screen printed punk posters, to now writing and illustrating children's books and having them published by companies such as Viking and Disney-Hyperion. Greg is in a position in his career that I myself desire to be in someday, and working with him has given me more experience and confidence to move on into a career in illustration. Other than being extremely talented and accomplished, above all else, Greg is an A+ human being. He's a great mentor and motivator to have while I'm trying to figure out my own path as an illustrator. His extensive knowledge of the illustration world grouped with his approachable demeanor has made this experience one that has and will have a great influence on my thinking. Greg is an artist and person I truly respect and admire, and being able to assist him with work that I see the value of and ultimately believe in has made this program something I'm proud to be a part of. Spending time with him and his wife, Kay Healy (who is awesome), in their shared studio as they both work and make incredible things while maintaining mental and financial stability, makes the future seem a tad less horrifying. I'll be upset when this internship is over, but I'll be comforted to know that I'm leaving with a more informed knowledge of the world I want to be a part of, the confidence and skills to make more of my own work, and a connection with an person who will continue to have a great impact on my life and career as an illustrator.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Surround Yourself with Kings and Queens and all Royalty in Between


Keturah Benson was a senior when I was a freshman. She was a fibers and mixed media major and she carried herself like a queen. She always seemed wiser and more elegant than any 22-year-old college student could ever possibly manage. Never would anyone imagine her under the stresses and pressures of senior year, she would never let anyone see her struggle. She captures in herself the ideals of old world royalty behavior.

I attend Circle of Hope, which is a grassroots, activism based church and although I always attend my small Tuesday group meetings, I don’t always attend the Sunday night services for various reasons. One night freshman year I decided to walk from my dorm in Juniper all the way down to Broad and Washington. That night Keturah happened to be there. I had recognized her from on campus and at the end of the service I introduced myself to her. We decided to walk home together because at the time she lived on Pine Street. On the way home we started by exchanging niceities, but then it turned into exchanging dreams, dreams of our futures and our goals. After a moment of quiet, Keturah started to speak, but her tone was different. It was deeper, slower, and more thoughtful. She proceeded to tell me about how she saw greatness in me and that from the moment she saw me she knew I was going to accomplish astounding things. I was going through a rough time and I actually started to cry but she didn’t see that because I quickly turned my head, said goodbye and walked up Pine toward Juniper. I later texted her about what happened and how much her words meant to me. Her words encourage me to this day.

Now with Art Sanctuary I have been working on these blogs and I’ve wanted to tackle the idea of appropriation. Appropriation is a complicated issue because there is a clear positive side to it especially as artists as we feed ourselves with inspiration and then add that into our work. Although it can become sour quickly especially when groups in power like white people take aspects of minority culture without respect, regard to history, or regard for the people. My advice to you is to watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KJRRSB_XA

It’s amazing just do it. So in order to talk about this subject and not sound like a textbook or like an “angry black person” which I am and not sorry about it…I have decided to take the conversation to different amazing black artists I know, especially some fibers majors because fabric is so important to black culture. 

Keturah so far has been the first person I have interviewed. We met at the Last Drop and I recorded her while asking questions and writing. It was all very cool and official. I felt like an actual journalist (insert swooning here). And of course the conversation was amazing and I learned so much about Keturah. Of course her hero is Claire Huxtable! It just makes so much sense. Even when I stopped the interview the conversation continued and became about how we both surround ourselves with high-achieving people, who then in turn help us achieve. She says that the best thing about UArts is the network she was able to build that branches all talents and art forms. I would have to agree. She also encouraged me again after asking about my hopes and dreams almost two years later. She truly has the gift of exhortation.


Stay tuned for the full interview on Art Sanctuary’s new website.