For Mathew Bourbon’s second class with the T/AP, the students were tasked with another painting assignment. The teens’ homework from last class was to bring one visual resource from home—it could be anything they are interested in. Once we spoke about the students’ images, they were given more free time in the galleries to collect information. Limiting themselves to the David Bates exhibition, each student had to choose one element that they liked about his paintings; it could be the color, the marks, the texture, the composition, or any other element that caught their attention.
This week, the teens met Matthew Bourbon. Matthew is a painter living in Denton and currently an associate professor of art at the University of North Texas’s College of Visual Arts and Design. As well as being an educator and a fantastic artist, Matthew is also an active art critic, writing for esteemed publications such as Artforum.com, Flash Art, and Artnews, among others.
This Sunday was our last class with Sally Glass. For our project (directly inspired by FOCUS artist Fred Tomaselli’s work Flipper, 2008), students were given a piece of 20 x 30 inch paper that had been prepped during the previous class—each had been painted black, and the overall pattern of the project had been drawn on. Students continued to cut images they felt a connection to from magazines and newspapers. Everyone was given total freedom of source material. Once all of the collage elements were cut out, students applied their selections to their individual sheets of paper.
This Sunday, the teens were back with artist Sally Glass. Class began with a short lecture on artists Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long. Goldsworthy uses nature as material to create temporary site-specific sculptures and installations, while Long uses his body to interact with nature in order to create a piece, such as walking back and forth across a field, which then creates a visible pattern on the ground.
This Sunday the students worked with Austin-based artist Jules Buck Jones. In preparation for the class, Jules installed a giant still life in the middle of the studio. The still life was composed of repurposed paintings and sculptures from some of Jules’s previous works configured into a mass that can best be described as a psychedelic jungle. Needless to say, the students were fairly curious about what Jules had planned for the day.
Sally began class with a short presentation about mandalas, a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism that represents the universe. After a brief introduction to mandalas and their multifaceted religious and political meanings, Sally screened a short film about Tibetan Sand Mandalas, which are ritualistically destroyed after completion to indicate the fleeting nature of the material world.
This Sunday we met Sally Glass. Sally holds a BS in Psychology and Philosophy from TCU, and she is currently pursuing an MFA at the University of Texas at Dallas and is an artist-in-residence at CentralTrak. With a background in documentary and journalistic photography, Glass began her artistic practice with photographic abstractions and has recently evolved into object-making, sculptural installation, and performance.
This Sunday, Morris began class with a short lecture about a few important aspects for the teen artists to consider while editing their projects: structure, juxtaposition, and rhythm. Morris explained that structure is composed of two parts, the story and the plot. Though these sounded similar to the students, together we were able to ascertain that the story is the chronological events within the project, while the plot is the way the events unfold. Juxtaposition is the process of placing two or more things in proximity to one another to create a contrasting effect.
Class began with Michael screening his video I Can’t Wait To See You There. The work functions as an elegy and a prayer for musician Kurt Cobain. The twelve-minute video is not only an emotional record of the effect Cobain’s music had on the artist as a teenager, but also a meditation on the subjective experience of public mourning and the ways recorded media affect our understanding of mortality.
Today was our first day with Michael Morris, an artist and educator who works in video, film, and expanded cinematic forms. Class began in the lecture room, where Michael introduced himself and shared one of his essayistic videos, Confessors. Confessors is a short, personal essay that attempts to retrace bits of lost or inaccessible family histories. The artist’s grandparents gave him a can of film marked “X-rated” without explanation, as well as an old 8 mm camera. The film was lost before he was able to watch it.
Today was our last day with the wonderful Cassandra Emswiler. The students’ goal was to complete their tile project and have the work exhibition-ready. Students were given a few minutes at the beginning of class to experiment with designs for display and plan the organization of their tiles onto a support structure.
This week T/AP began with a short lecture about French gardens, in particular the Palace of Versailles. The palace is a site of power, beauty, and tranquility, and the layout of the entire landscape was designed to reinforce the reign of the monarchy. Cassandra shared her interest in architectural mimicry of nature within built landscapes. For example, the fountains of Versailles mimic lakes, and the columns of the structures mimic trees. The palace grounds are a place where nature is controlled by the grid and all elements are orderly and restrained.
The students started their day with a lecture by Cassandra on the history of enclosed garden spaces. They looked at medieval garden plans and discussed the significance of hortus conclusus, learning that the gardens functioned on a poetic level experienced by walking through them as well as looking at them. The enclosed gardens were a way of taming chaotic nature into something beautiful. Cassandra spoke about nature as motif and how society started to bring nature into interior spaces with mosaics, tapestries, and paintings.