Meta-Practice

Notes from a Juror: New Glass Review

I recently served as a juror for New Glass Review 41. In the interest of making the art world more transparent, here are some of my insights from that process.

Entry way to the museum, with a long path framed by bare winter trees.

Corning Museum of Art. This is a great museum—the largest museum of glass in the world, in fact—and their new contemporary galleries are especially gorgeous. Well worth a trip to Corning, NY!

Invitation

I was honored to be invited by Susie Silbert, Curator of Postwar and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, to be a guest juror for New Glass Review 41, an annual exhibition in print.

Three books, with images of glass sculptures and installations on the cover.

Past issues of New Glass Review 38 & 39, and New Glass Now.

To be totally honest, I was surprised by the invitation. My practice infrequently overlaps with glass. But I trusted Susie’s instincts as a curator and that the perspective I could bring was welcome—that it was OK for me not to be an expert in glass or a glass practitioner, but that my art practice and writing practices could be a good launching pad for worthy contributions nonetheless. I’m OK with being a weirdo outsider in this process (though I would love to return to making hot glass again in the future).

Jurors

There were four jurors: Susie, me, a US glass artist/writer, and an international curator. (I’ll let CMOG reveal the full list of jurors.) We all brought different bodies of knowledge, interests, and perceptions to the table. I found the mix of our backgrounds and where our curiosities lie to be very educational in the jurying process. I was a little intimidated at times, but I also knew it’s OK to be humble and honest about what I don’t know. By the final round, I felt that all our perspectives were different and valid, and that was very freeing for me. I am learning that approaching with curiosity is always a good way to go.

Process

The process was fascinating. There were 978 total entrants. Each entrant could submit one to three images, so we reviewed a total of 2,599 images! The jurors were asked to select 100 images for inclusion in New Glass Review 41. See the art competition odds here.

I was curious as to how this would be accomplished in two full days of meeting in person at the Corning Museum. As with most feats, it was possible because of the invisible labor of support staff—namely, Violet Wilson, Whitney Birkett, AV crew and others. They had done a lot of preparation and were heavily involved in technical, behind-the-scenes work to make the jurors’ jobs smooth and on schedule. (I also appreciated that there was catering to help keep our energy and focus up.)

Round One: Overview

In the first round, we did a quick look only at images; we didn’t look at statements or the title, year, media, dimensions, etc. This was just to see everything and get familiar with the entries. If you can believe it, we started at just after 9 AM and finished by noon.

A note about the format… In this first round, each ‘slide’ of the deck contained one entrant’s images. If there were three images, it filled the ‘slide’ well. Some people submitted photos of one artwork: an overall view, and detail views. Others submitted three different artworks. This is not a distinction that made a big difference to me. But, if there was only one installation view, with no details, it seemed to be a missed opportunity to fill the screen with more visual information. Conversely, when only cropped views were offered, I wanted to see an uncropped image to understand the full extent of the object.

Round Two: Initial ‘Keepers’

In the second round, jurors were asked to voice whether we’d each like to keep none, one, or multiple images to see again in the next round.

We went through all the entries again, this time, with supplementary texts. If I remember correctly, titles, years, media, and dimensions appeared under each image in this round.

An artist’s statement was shown on a large monitor. To be honest, we really could only skim the statement in this round. The shorter, clearer statements, with headers identifying sections, worked better for me. When entrants submitted works that looked disparate, brief statements about each work or project were helpful. I found long, narrative paragraphs too wordy and rambling for my tastes.*

We also stated if we had personal connections with the artist in this round. We recused ourselves or shared relevant context if necessary. I recused myself from advancing artists who I had personal connections with in this round and round three.

Round Three: Cull to 250 Images

The next day, we spent the morning narrowing down the number of images to 250. We went a little slower, spending more time reading the statements. I think this is when we really got a sense of the artist’s intent. Spending the time in this stage really made the final round easier. We went past our scheduled lunch time, and I’m grateful that the support staff bore with us.

Round Four: Final Selections of 100 Images

In preparation for the final afternoon, the staff printed our selections of 250 images and taped them to the walls. Then each juror was given a colored dot sticker and asked to select 25 images to make up the 100 selected works to appear in New Glass Review. Jurors are also asked to write a few sentences about 25 works, and it was generally agreed upon that the works we picked in this stage are also the ones we would write about.

A window case behind glass of nine printouts, each bearing a photo of glass art, with colored dot stickers below.

Sample printouts with dot stickers from past jurying processes on view in the exhibition New Glass Now | Context.

There’s an element of chance in this final stage. Some works that I wanted to choose were already picked by other jurors by the time I made it to that area of printouts.

Full disclosure: In this stage, I selected some artists whose work I had previously recused myself from. I felt that if the other jurors advanced it to this final stage, it was fair game for me now.

We were also given the chance to add an unlimited number of dots to other juror’s selections, so our initials would appear next to the works. This also had some element of subjectivity—I noticed that sometimes jurors spoke favorably about some works in early rounds but didn’t add their dots in the final round. For me, for better or worse, the many small decisions, considerations, and a certain level of decision fatigue gave way to gut instincts by the end.

Observations

I think this process is really efficient for the time frame available. One constraint is that some images that may have benefited from clarifying statements were cut in round two. But given the enormous task of whittling down images, the various subjectivities, positions, and interests of the jurors, and Susie’s varied concerns related to the history and role of New Glass Review in the glass field at large, I’d say there’s a generous mix of rigor and chance in the process. No artists should be discouraged from applying again in future years.

I appreciate the democracy and transparency embedded in the New Glass Review.

Signage that states, "Methodology for Selection. New Glass is democratic in a way that few curatorial projects are. Usually, exhibitions are initiated by one curator who solicits art work from an artist they have researched. By contrast, any artist can submit to New Glass, and all of the artists are given equal consideration. Instead of one curator selecting, New Glass invites a group of people from outside the Museum to select from these submissions. The selectors do not have to agree about every work, instead a piece can be accepted to New Glass even if it was chosen by a single selector. The selections of each panelist are identified in both the New Glass publications and exhibitions, including this one, by publishing their initials alongside their choices."

A didactic text from the exhibition, New Glass Now | Context.

Advice: Apply!

In the process of preparing to be a juror, I reviewed New Glass Review 38 and 39, as well as New Glass Now (sort of a super-version of New Glass Review 40). The juror’s selections varied widely. I would not want any potential applicants to feel that New Glass Review favors any particular look, style, medium, or technique.

This year’s jurors were fortunate that the jurying coincided with the New Glass Now | Context exhibition on view in the CMOG Rakow Research Library through January 3, 2021. This exhibition is a great overview of the history of New Glass Review and how it and CMOG have been formative in fostering the field of glass art. It’s also interesting to see how Susie is shaking up things with new energy.

A case with "New Glass Review 1" in vinyl, displaying the first and most recent issues of New Glass Review.

A display from the exhibition, New Glass Review | Context.

archives

The exhibition, New Glass Now | Context, includes this display showing that all submitted entries become archived at CMOG. This is a really generous additional benefit. Even if works are not selected for publication, they become part of this institution’s archive, available to researchers. I really loved Lenka Clayton’s and Jon Rubin’s  “Fruit and Other Things” project using the archive of past entries to the Carnegie International, and I would love to see artists and researchers dive into the New Glass Review archives for future projects.

I see applying to competitions as a skill that artists develop with practice. Personally, I think it’s fair to advance entrants who are skilled in photographing and presenting their works to their best competitive advantage; writing clear, concise statements that add to the works rather than undermine them with cloudy thinking or contradictory info; arming themselves with knowledge about the formats of the submission and review process (hint: this is the point of this blog post!); and strategizing appropriately.

This skill can be learned by attending professional development workshops (and applying that knowledge!), going to info sessions whenever available, practicing the art of writing, investing in good documentation, not waiting until the last minute to apply to an opportunity, being strategic about which opportunities you apply to rather than taking scatter-shot, cut-and-paste approaches, and asking fellow artists to give feedback on your submissions.

A Caveat

The jurors were asked to share feedback about the process. It sounds to me that the organizers are interested in making improvements, so the application may shift slightly in the future. These notes reflect my experience, during this one particular jurying session of New Glass Review, solely.

Takeaways

Each juror will submit an essay on our perspective, as well as short statements about 25 of our selections. I appreciated the opportunity to articulate what I’m interested in as a viewer, and what I saw in the works I selected. I think this is a unique aspect of juried artist’s competitions that makes a jury feel less de-personalized. As an applicant, I always appreciate getting any feedback or encouragement, but most organizations don’t have the capacity to give feedback. I can’t think of any that includes jurors’ direct responses  like New Glass Review.

I felt honored to be part of the process. I am coming away with a lot of images and knowledge about contemporary glass art from the past 18 months. I’m very grateful to learn about so many glass practitioners around the world, to be exposed to so many artists’ artworks and practices. I hope that New Glass Review 41 acts as a starting point for readers to learn more about these artist’s practices.

I’m grateful to all the artists for preparing entries with care and intention.

Huge thanks to CMOG, Susie, Violet, Whitney, support staff, and the fellow jurors for such a wonderful opportunity, the great support, and generous hospitality.


*Addendum: Unsolicited Advice on Writing Artist’s Statements

If you’re interested, here are some writing strategies I’ve picked up over the years.

One strategy is to print out your artist statement, use scissors to cut out each sentence, and then cut out any words that aren’t necessary or communicative. This is nice for artists who like to work with their hands. Also, taking it off the screen and making it mechanical can help you focus on individual words and phrases.

A chart in the shape of an inverted pyramid with three sections. The top section states "Most newsworthy. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?" The middle section states, "Important Details." The bottom section states, "Other background info, general info."

The Air Force Departmental Publishing Office (AFDPO) derivative work: Makeemlighter // Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_pyramid_(journalism)

Another method to try is to use journalists’ inverted pyramid. (See graphic and link at right.)

The last tip is to use headers. Think of them as signposts for navigating a text. Usually, setting the header in all capitals and extra space are enough to distinguish it from body text, if you can’t style the text otherwise.

(While Susie emphasized that we’re selecting artists, not writers, to me, clear writing is an indication of clear thinking. I like to know what artists are thinking about their work and what they are trying to do. If they can’t articulate it clearly, I can’t understand the work as well. I did allow some leeway for non-native English entrants in this regard.)

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Art Competition Odds

Art Competition Odds: The Corning Museum of Glass’ New Glass Review 41

The Corning Museum of Glass’s New Glass Review 41 received 978 entries, from which 100 images representing 100 artists were selected.

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Selected images represent 1:9.78, or 10.2%, of applicants.

See all Art Competition Odds.

Read “Notes from a Juror: New Glass Review 41.”

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Art & Development, Art Worlds

Casey Jex Smith’s life timeline

Utah-based artist Casey Jex Smith shared a life timeline showing his time to make art compared to career and family benchmarks, student loan debt, and gallery representation.

Multiple timelines showing birth 1976 and other benchmarks, time to make art, student loan debt, gallery representation

Timeline by artist Casey Jex Smith, courtesy of the artist

He contextualized it with:

Really satisfying to create. Just trying to communicate the trade offs in life when trying to be an artist. Artists need more data points to make their decisions —more transparency and honesty from institutions they trust.

I’m always for artists having more information, being more transparent, and self-aware of their conditions in a way that is informative. This is a great visualization and generous gesture of transparency.

What I noticed about Casey’s data visualization:

  • The sharp drops in time available for art after each child was born, and the cumulative effects of reducing his time.
    • Actually, I’m impressed he’s still able to find 10 hours per week for art.
  • The staggering amount of student debt from the MFA from SFAI. How loan interest grew or stabilized the debt amount while teaching, and a reduction in the balance starts only after working at a tech company.
    • Some friends are involved in organizing adjunct instructors for fair pay at art schools—this really puts teachers’ sacrifices in perspective.
  • In the underwear-shaped part of the timeline (ha!), he had up to four galleries representing him. Each relationship lasted during a limited, post-grad-school period—the total interval almost equal to the time passed since then.
    • When I went to grad school, there was a sense that having a gallery represent you was like being “saved”—you’d be set up, and your precariousness would become limited. But that seems like setting yourself up for disappointment. Some galleries close, some relationships don’t work out. Artists are responsible for sustaining our own lifelong practices.

This is a really interesting exercise, and I hope it inspires other artists to make their own visualizations. They could be following Casey’s example, or about other aspects of their life as an artist.

For more inspiration, see the zine I made in 2015 based on an Artist’s Personal Impacts Survey I conducted.

Learn more about Casey’s work at caseyjexsmith.com. Thanks, Casey, for sharing your timeline with me and other artists!

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Art Worlds, Citizenship

It’s not often that major media covers an artist-in-residence program, or the social impact of the resulting public artworks.

This is an interesting profile of a small community in Georgia, portraits of local residents by artist-in-residence Mary Beth Meehan, and the conversations about belonging and controversies around Islamophobia that they sparked.

Read “How 17 Outsize Portraits Rattled a Small Southern Town” by Audra D. S. Burch, NY Times, January 19, 2020.

 


 

If you’re interested, learn more about the Newnan residency program. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Link
A empty white walled room with a bright window in the back corner. Two tables and two office chairs. light brown carpet.
Art & Development, Research

LMCC Workspace Residency: Update #1: What, Who, Where, When, How, Why, and What I’ve Been Up To

About the first third of a nine-month residency.

In October, I started the 2019-2020 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Artist-in-Residence program. It’s a huge honor. I first applied like 10 years ago. The application pool is quite competitive. I’m very humbled and grateful that it’s working out this year.

What

This year’s Workspace residents receive:

  • A semi-private studio space.
  • Weekly salon evenings consisting of studio visits with curators and arts professionals, studio visits with the cohort, professional development workshops, cohort-led activities, and more.
  • An open studio in June 2020.
  • A materials stipend of $1,300.

This is pretty typical of the program, with some variation in the fee depending on funding, and slight differences in timeline and studio space, depending on the space available.

A empty white walled room with a bright window in the back corner. Two tables and two office chairs. light brown carpet.

My studio, before move-in.

Who

This year’s cohort consists of 10 visual artists (learn more on lmcc.net). (The number of residents depends on the space available. LMCC residency programs are usually open to dance, theater, and literary arts, too; check for next year’s application in mid-January 2020.) An on-site assistant, who was a Workspace resident last year, also has a studio.

I really like the cohort! It’s an interesting group of artists working in sculpture, installation, performance, works on paper, and textiles. My cohorts are clearly invested in their practices and in building a respectful, serious, and friendly community.

The program is managed by Bora Kim. Other LMCC staff and interns help out with the program as well as marketing and events.

Where

Building & Location

The studio is located in a corporate building near Wall Street. The building itself is quite impressive. The guards and maintenance team are friendly and helpful. It’s secure and clean.

An ornate, gold, orange and red interior. Lots of embellishment on every surface. The ceiling has built-in light figures that make geometric rays of light due to the bas relief in the ceiling. The walls have a matching louvered paneling in gold. There are multiple spaces defined by transoms with ornate floral grillwork. The floors have a checkerboard of yellow and cream marble with black and white marble interspersed and used as a border. There are touches of gleaming metal.

The gorgeous Art Deco lobby at 70 Pine. View towards the mailroom and elevators.

LMCC encourages residents to learn more about lower Manhattan. One salon evenings was a walking tour led by a member of the city’s landmarks commission. I especially loved visiting 70 Pine, a stellar example of Art Deco. (As a landmarked building, there is a public mandate to make the lobby accessible to the public. Anyone can visit. Don’t miss the bas-relief on the elevator doors.) I’ve also been going on walks, exploring Oculus, the 9/11 Memorial, and longtime neighborhood businesses.

The transportation options are ridiculously convenient: the N/W, 1, and 4/5 subway stations are all very close. I’ve also taken the ferry, rode Citibike, and walked to the studio from Queens.

The Studio

The cohort shares a large carpeted office space, which is divided into studios with tension-pole partitions sheathed with Homasote.

My studio is about 16′ long by 8′ wide. It’s sunny, with a large window facing east. LMCC provided two work tables and two office chairs.

a office with carpet and two folding tables side by side, with an office chair. there's a small ironing board with a bandana on top, and an iron. There are drawings on the wall, and various clipboards, pencils, colored pencils, etc on the table.

A view of my studio, recently.

Two residents have enclosed offices with glass doors. In a large open space in the center, we’ve put a table and chairs to gather for meals. There’s also smaller lounge areas and a conference room. There’s a kitchen with a fridge, electric kettle, microwave, dishes, silverware, and sink (there is no separate work sink). There is a computer and scanner/printer available (it’s been useful for me lately for making copies of drawings to do quick color studies). Residents occasionally work in common spaces when they need to spread out. It feels like there’s plenty of space.

Carpeted office space divided into artist studios with office chairs around a table in the middle. Various art studio supplies: shop vacuum, bin of fabrics, dolly, etc around.

LMCC Workspace studios, one wintry day.

Having an art studio in a corporate building entails a little extra coordination when moving large items in or out, and using the one small, staff-operated freight elevator. LMCC has a dolly we can borrow, which helps.

When

Our first day was October 7. We received immediately received IDs, access codes, and permission to move in. (I love it when there’s no delay!) The program ends after the open studios at the end of June 2020.

Residents have 24/7 access to space.

Salon evenings are held weekly, except on holidays. I’m happy to be there each week, especially because a former resident told me about how much he looked forward to them. There’s a great variety of programming and cohort-building activities.

How

I really like the program for its combination of space and programmatic support. They invest in community-building. The first salon evening was speed intros, where residents got to introduce ourselves and our practices to each other via projected images of our work. Some LMCC staff attended too (which is nice considering that it’s after work for them). LMCC often supplies refreshments, which help lend conviviality.

LMCC asked us to suggest potential guests to invite for studio visits. The final line-up includes many curators from major NYC institutions. Studio visit evenings usually feature a few guests. Each guest are scheduled for four, thirty-minute, one-on-one visits with residents. Residents may have one to three visits per evening. When you aren’t paired with an outside guest, you do studio visits with other cohort members.

Early in the program, when a salon evening was canceled due to a holiday, I asked the cohort if they’d like to have a potluck anyway. We did. It was fun to get to know the other artists in a more relaxed setting. I’m really grateful everyone shares an interest in getting to know and support each other.

A computer printout pinned to a white wall. Text reads:

Skill Share Pictionary Set Up instructions

I had the opportunity to lead an activity one salon evening. I made up an activity called Skill Share Pictionary (learn more on my Glint Project Instagram takeover).

Fellow resident Naomi Safran-Hon initiated the idea of having a group exhibition in the foyer. It was pretty impressive that the cohort organized our group show in about 20 minutes. I appreciate our group’s cooperation, initiative, and flexibility.

Why

Here’s why I applied, as written my application. (My brevity is due to LMCC’s strict word count limits.)

I’ll develop new works exploring resilience, vulnerability, authenticity, and connectedness.

I’ll research and present findings via calligraphy, sign painting, and drawings. Then, I’ll create garments with pockets that reveal or secure aspects of one’s identity, and hybrid books-games-interactive objects in textiles and paper for fostering brave spaces.

WHY WORKSPACE?

I need different perspectives to ground these subjective concepts, and mutual support and rigorous feedback.

WHY NOW?

It’s time to grow my craftsmanship, my fluidity between thinking and making, and my ethics of social engagement.

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

To grow. To do my part to cultivate authenticity, vulnerability and connectedness.


What Have I Been Up To?

I started by trying to define what I meant by resilience, and how it is connected to authenticity and vulnerability. These latter two concepts are things I kept thinking about in my projects on belonging. Being able to express yourself authentically, and being able to be vulnerable, were often characteristic of spaces of belonging. At the same time, belonging allows you to be more vulnerable, and more authentic.

Dozens of small pieces of paper tacked to a white wall. Some of text on the paper are headers written in a black calligraphy marker, such as adversity, risk, exposure, discomfort, pain, loss, failure, fear, blame, shame, othering, disconnection, vulnerability, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, authenticity, hope. Then there are numerous small pieces of paper written in pencil but it's too small to read. Then there's yellow tape lines connecting various parts.

A mind map on resilience.

I have been working and re-working a large mind-map, trying to see these connections and fill in what else I know about related concepts about hope, growth mindset, belonging, sports psychology, shame, etc.

I’ve also been reading more mass market books by psychologists with academic affiliations or longtime clinical practices. I’m proud to say that this year I’ve been more intentional about supporting indie booksellers and libraries.

Cover of a book, with a big red heart on an ivory background. The title and author name with subtitle:

Emotional First Aid, by Guy Winch, PhD

I read Emotional First Aid by Guy Winch, a longtime NYC therapist. I loved that it explains the logical sources behind squishy feelings (violation of rights results in anger, or a fear of violating other’s rights or standards results in shame) and logical responses to those feelings (reflective writing exercises that reframe situations, or deliberate, detailed strategies to repair relationships). (I first came across this book at the San Francisco Public Library, in the Chinese section. I wish more mental health books were translated into different languages. BTW the English version is available at the Queens Public Library.)

Cover of a book with a photo of a gnarled tree atop a rock. Subtitle: Seven keys to finding your inner strength and overcoming life's hurdles.

The Resilience Factor, by Karen Reivich, PhD, and Andrew Shatté, PhD.

My suspicion that resilience relates to optimism was validated when I stumbled upon The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich, PhD and Andrew Shatté, PhD via the Queens Library. Reivich and Shatté were students of Martin Seligman, whose book on optimism was the first positive psychology book I ever read, way back in 2010. Reivich and Shatté build upon Seligman’s explanatory style—the idea that people explain adversities with beliefs, which shape consequences or actions, therefore different responses become possible by examining the beliefs. This book organizes a lot of mental habits and strategies that I find insightful and worthy of sharing. I’ve been working on some drawings (see a few sketches on Instagram), with my Positive Signs series as an early predecessor.

Cover of book, no images, but there are three bars of color: purple, blue, green. Mostly white background. Updated Edition. Subtitle: The new pyschology of success: How we can learn to fulfill our potential. sticker: 2 million copies in print. list: parenting, business, school, relationships. small blurb.

Mindset by Carol. S. Dweck, PhD

I’m also reading Mindset by Carol Dweck, PhD (which I got with credit from selling books at the Strand). This is book has had a huge influence on education and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. People with growth mindsets are willing to take risks in order to grow. People with fixed mindsets are afraid to be exposed as inadequate. I’m starting to see through-lines between optimism, resilience, vulnerability, and courage.

To take a break from reading, I practiced a lot of hand lettering and calligraphy using markers, dip pens, and brushes. It was  fun to dive into different letterforms (my reference book: Hand Lettering by Thy Doan, also from the Strand).

I also just got loose in my sketchbook inspired by Syllabus by Lynda Barry (Strand), which I’ve expounded upon in a previous post.

All this note-taking, lettering practice, and drawing added up into completing a 250-page sketchbook in two months—a record time for me.

Fancy handlettering on a dot grid sketchbook page in pink, blue and black marker. Text reads: Resilience is a mindset that enables you to seek out new experiences and to view life as a work in progress.

Sketch book page: lettering practice with a quote on resilience by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté.

My proposal mentioned sewing. I have some ideas about textiles and garments. I’m letting those ideas marinate as I synthesize all this information and lettering forms. My sewing machine and materials are at the studio, and I’m looking forward to diving in over the next six months.

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Art Competition Odds

Art Competition Odds: Lighthouse Works’ 2020 Spring and Summer Fellowship Program

Lighthouse Works’ fellowship program received over 500 applications for 15 fellowships awarded for the upcoming Spring and Summer.

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Selected artists comprise less than 1:33, or 3% of applicants.

See all Art Competition Odds.

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Impressions

Top Seven: Syllabus, Glass Blowing, Parasite, Color Pen

Seven things I’m loving right now.

1. Lynda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor

The simultaneous experience of looking, reading, and thinking in this mostly-hand-lettered and hand-drawn notebook explaining her curriculum and lessons on leading classes combining image and word made me want to reach out for my notebook and pencils and fill every page with abandon. I’ve been using exercises in my own studio to loosen up, and filing away other ideas to try with future workshop participants. Syllabus is published by the illustrious Drawn and Quarterly. I am working my way through it, to savor each section.

You can see Lynda Barry’s Face Jam Exercise on the NewYorker.com. It’s from another book of Barry’s, Making Comics.

Parasite_(2019_film)

Poster for South Korean film Parasite, theatrically released on May 30, 2019. Source: wikipedia.

2. Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho)

You don’t need me to tell you that Parasite is masterful, and very much worth viewing on the big screen. I’ll say it anyway, since I’ve been enjoying more films lately, especially films by people of color. It’s also really cool to see a foreign language film embraced by US audiences in record-breaking numbers.

A man wearing sunglasses using a gas torch on a molten ball of glass.

Still from Blown Away. Source: Netflix.

3. Blown Away

This Canadian reality TV series was released on Netflix this summer, and I just binge-watched it this week. Despite the fact that it’s a formulaic competition show with goofy hosts and oddball challenges, I loved it.

There have been other artist reality shows before, but none have necessarily revealed so much craft and skill. My heart went out to the glassblowers. Many were extremely skilled, and really deserved honors for their accomplishments, which were not afforded by the structure of the show.

My only other qualm is that the show didn’t show enough glassblowing technique continuously. They could have followed each individual project from start to finish for a half an hour and I would have loved every minute. The makers are casting for season 2. I hope they reconsider having students as assistants—it’s far too much pressure on the competitors and the students.

Blown Away made me yearn to blow glass again. I only did hot glass for two semesters in undergrad. It’s very addictive, like wheel throwing—once you get the bug, you just want to be blowing glass, challenging yourself, and being in the zone all the time. I miss that sense of being in sync with the material. Also, there were tools and techniques I never saw as a beginner glassblower that I wanted to try. I never pulled cane, or used a soffietta!

4. Pentel Color Pen Markers

The other week I was using markers from my set of 36 Pentel markers, when I realized that I’ve probably had this set of markers since 2015 or 2014. That would make these markers nearly 5 years old. All of the markers are still going strong. Granted, I don’t use them often, and usually only in small bursts for lettering, not for coloring. But still, that’s pretty impressive. I’ve had many ballpoint pens, gel pens, and calligraphy markers dry out or stop working; it’s refreshing when art supplies last.

set of markers in a yellow case.

Pentel Color Pen Fine Point Marker 36 Set. Source: uoduckstore.com

I just found, that on the Pentel site, you can purchase individual markers for 99¢ each. So even if one of the colors did run dry, you could replace it and not have a horrible gap tooth in your rainbow palette.

5. Feeling Good, Mel Day’s Wall of Sound Project

Mel Day is a California-based artist who as been collecting videos of individuals singing and compiling them into installations. She’s been scaling up (way up!) lately, by partnering with San José Athletics, Marching Band, Choirs, athletes, fans, students and community allies to create a new, “evolving series of participatory massed choral video works and half-time live singing events” around Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”

You can contribute by recording your video from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to be a “singer” to sing! Learn more at wallofsongproject.com.

6. Museum of Capitalism at the New School, on view through December 10

Spoiler alert: The Museum of Capitalism is a speculative project that invited artists to imagine the artifacts leftover from capitalism in a post-capitalist future. I saw the original iteration in a sprawling Oakland building a few years back. (I am still moved by Packard Jenning’s installation of a guided meditation for riot police de-escalation.)

A new iteration was is on view at the New School, including contributions by friends Related Tactics and Nyeema Morgan.

When I visited the exhibition, it felt to me that I hadn’t seen anything like it in NYC, that I hadn’t been in conversations in NYC that envisioned post-Capitalist perspectives.

There’s only a few more days to see the show. Find the address and hours here: https://www.museumofcapitalism.org/museum-of-capitalism-new-york-city

7. Batalá NYC

Batalá is an “all women Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae percussion band. Batalá New York is a part of a global arts project made up of over 30 bands around the world.” I recently heard them play as they accompanied an Afro-Brazilian dance class. Wow! The beat is palpable in your chest. There’s something so cool about seeing women embracing power and massive volume, with unity and coordination. Check out their videos on YouTube.

Batalá NYC are currently raising funds to travel to Brazil. Consider supporting their GoFundMe.

 

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