Month: September 2013

A professional pencil sharpener

posted by – 09/27/13 @ 12:55pm

I think people are usually really impressed with things that are really big (the Statue of Liberty, Christ the Redeemer, The Pyramids etc).  people are also super impressed with work that is really tiny. One of the eggs Fabergé created featured a scale model of a Trans-Siberian railway train that measured a foot long.  Not only this, but the train was also mechanically functional!

Now Imagine using the tip of your pencil as the beginning of your sculpture.  That’s exactly what Dalton Ghetti does.  Ghetti grew up in Brazil using a razor to sharpen his pencils in school.  He later incorporated needles, hammers, chisels, and knives into his toolbox and started carving pencils in 1986.  Looking at his works really makes you appreciate the details that we so often overlook (remember back in the day when you would try to examine snowflakes to see if they really did look different from one another?). It  has an intrinsic beauty that begs us to examine and appreciate the intricate organization of otherwise ordinary objects that surround us every day.


Check out the other cool stuff that he’s made here!

Please Do Not Disturb

posted by – 09/26/13 @ 1:51pm


Contemporary artist Katrin Sigurdardóttir’s installation “High Plane” is an exciting reconstruction of the Icelandic landscapes she grew up with. Invisible from below, viewers have to climb a ladder to see the piece in its entirety. At the top of the ladder, viewers stick their heads through small squares that allow them to see the landscape as if they are a part of it. Despite being difficult to view, the piece sparks viewers’ curiosity and feelings of adventure and discovery.


On top of being visually inviting, “High Plane” makes an interesting point about people’s relationship to our environments. As humans, we often romanticize and long for pristine landscapes. But the moment we enter a landscape we disturb its purity. Despite our best efforts, when people step into a natural environment we make sounds and movements that affect changes on previously “untouched” landscapes. For example, you might find it difficult to go on a hike without creating a path, or watch wildlife without scaring them away. In “High Plane” viewers of the piece are limited in how they can interact with the environment. We can see it and become a part of it without truly entering and disturbing it. “High Plane” reminds us of our limitations, but it also simulates an experience with nature that doesn’t disturb the environment we seek so much.

To read more about Katrin Sigurdardóttir, go here.


Parking in the park

posted by – 09/20/13 @ 11:31pm

To my surprise, today is national park day. Nashville took 30 parking spaces and turned them into parks. How cool is that? As I walked around 5th Avenue, I came across one of these parklets, and I thought it was awesome too see people nonchalantly playing checkers and enjoying their day while cars and buses are whizzing past them on the road.  It’s great that there is a group of people willing to wake up ridiculously early in the morning, lay down some sod on a parking spot, set up some tables and a hot dog stand, and pleasantly surprise people with some extra green.  Actually, there have been several studies that show that plants and parks make people feel better.  Great job contributing to the creative vibrancy in the Nashville community!

When Tradition Meets Modernity

posted by – 09/19/13 @ 11:36am

It’s not hard to tell that contemporary artist Yang Yongliang was trained in classical Chinese painting and calligraphy. His works pay homage to the beautiful Chinese landscapes found in paintings as far back as the 900s. However, Yongliang is no traditionalist. He subtly infuses signs of contemporary society into what appears to be pristine rural landscapes. For example, Yongliang’s work Viridescence, Stock World seems like a beautiful landscape from a distance, but a closer viewing reveals urban decay. Instead of relying solely on traditional techniques, Yongliang uses digital technology to make his works incredibly detailed. Some may wonder why Yongliang maintains a classical aesthetic when using new technology and addressing contemporary issues. He explains:

“I think modernization is devouring everything at an ultimate speed, including history and culture, that is to say some humanities, and even a kind of kinship, a kind of human interest that Chinese people value so much… Actually, in my view, development is essential, but I think we should think about retaining something behind the development, or protect something we should have originally so as not to lose all traces after a number of years. Otherwise, this will be very horrible.” (Source)

Yongliang preserves China’s ancient art forms while engaging in a dialogue about contemporary cultural concerns. To me, the best part about Yang Yongliang’s art is that he manages to provide visual enjoyment while addressing the pitfalls of rapid urbanization. To learn more about Yang Yongliang and his works, go here.


Remembering 9/11

posted by – 09/11/13 @ 12:24pm

An important part of temporary art installations is that they are temporary.  One of the more iconic tributes to the victims of the 9/11 attacks was the temporary art installation “Tribute in Light.”  The two towers of light in lower Manhattan lit up the sky for about one month starting in March 2002.  But we never forget, so in 2003 to commemorate the anniversary, the lights were again present.  And the year after that too.  In 2008, there were talks that it would be the final display, especially since the beams of light were interfering with birds’ migrational patterns.  Nevertheless, they have been seen on every 9/11 anniversary since then and will be again visible tonight.  The arts never forget too.


By the way, in order to ameliorate the bird situation, the lights are turned off for 20 minute periods to allow the birds to escape.

Last summer, I went to Paris and stumbled across an interesting painting in the Centre Pompidou.  A cloudy image of what appeared to be the smoking towers that I saw on TV when I got home from school more than ten years ago.  Gerhard Richter had originally painted it with brilliant flames, but later removed it.  I think it creates an interesting effect where the towers are fading from existence but not our memories.

"September", Oil on Canvas, 2005

Carlos Alonso: Requiem in Art

posted by – 09/10/13 @ 3:59am

If you’ve read the news lately, you would know that there is a lot of conflict going on in the middle east, specifically in Egypt and Syria.  Amidst all the debates about whether we should get involved or who the real bad guys are, thousands are dying.  Reading about this in the news reminded me of my trip to Berlin last year.  We visited the Holocaust Memorial for what was a rather somber afternoon.

There are hundreds of Holocaust Memorials all over the world, and all of them have the same message.  They are a reminder of the dreadful murders that took place in Nazi Germany and a warning of the evil we are capable of.  You would think that since then, we would have tried to completely eliminate genocide from the world.  Unfortunately, at least twenty genocides have taken place since World War II.  That’s averaging three per decade—not our proudest moment.

Okay, so what does art have to do with all this?

Last summer I went to Argentina.  While I was chatting with my host mother, she mentioned the Coup of 1976.  During this time, the government would send citizens who were deemed disloyal to a concentration camp, take the children, and “assign” them to loyal families.  To this day, there are about 30,000 children who don’t know their parents.  Such was the case of Carlos Alonso and his daughter.  Following the traumatic experience, Alonso’s paintings became dark and disturbing.  He vividly portrays the torment which has befallen him and many other Argentinians as a result of oppression by a corrupt government.

Bajo la lluvia ajena by Carlos Alonso


Mel Zeigler: Local Professor, Farmer, and Distinguished Artist

posted by – 09/05/13 @ 1:37pm

Renowned artist Mel Ziegler has a new show opening September 19 at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art in Omaha, Nebraska. Expanding on the American Gothic sentiment, Ziegler takes a contemporary approach to the classic American landscape. The Vanderbilt professor and Art Department chair spent the past year traveling through the Midwest to document America’s rural farmlands. He set up and photographed light events that illuminated stretches of crops during the night. The photographs reflect on the idea that farming is a quintessentially American profession. The bright lights add a cinematic effect to the farmlands, emphasizing the profundity and expansiveness of food production. Some might say the lights add an eerie quality to the landscapes. A farmer himself, Ziegler explains,

“Farming is full of dichotomies and contradictions. We think of it as peaceful and serene, but it is also extremely violent. We kill animals, have equipment that violently cuts, crimps, tears, rips, and tills. What is serene about that? Farming has constant ups and downs [with] no getting ahead [and] no end in sight. Few people realize that unless they have lived it.” (Source)

Ziegler is also interested in the social dynamics of farming communities. The friendliness found in the close-knit communities of rural farming towns inspires optimism in Ziegler’s work. However, his work also confronts ownership conflicts and environmental depletion in farming communities. Ultimately, Ziegler’s works provide a unique perspective on the ever-controversial American landscape.

To learn more about Mel Ziegler and his works, visit his website here.

Reactive Virtuality: Time, Space, and Movement in Camille Utterback’s Work

posted by – 09/04/13 @ 2:41pm

Exteroception – one’s sense of self in association with one’s surroundings – is essential to broader understanding of humanity’s engagement with the world. This cleavage between the self and the exoteric provides a spatial context for the perception of reality. Furthermore, this divide facilitates the construction of observable, yet intangible space in time. Many aspects of modernity influence this resulting experience of concurrent observation and inhabitation. Notably, technology’s  evolution has a major impact on humankind, encouraging both astonishment and anxiety. It is impossible to overstate the ubiquity and importance of technology in the modern era. As a result, the history of modern art can be perceived, in part, as a procession of artistic responses to technology’s evolution. Artist Camille Utterback, for example, explores this relationship between self, perception, and technology.

Utterback’s early work, Text Rain consists of a large screen representing letters of the alphabet falling. As the viewer approaches, her silhouette is captured and projected onto the screen, and the falling letters interact with her projected image. The previously disordered and indecipherable letters now begin to make sense as they form lines of Evan Zimroth’s poem, “Talk, You”. By engaging the relation between chaos and humanity, Utterback makes an objective statement about technology, art, and human presence in the contemporary world.

Counterbalancing the use of digital technology as a tool for the creation of traditional art objects, Utterback employs technology as its own medium, making use of its interactive features to expand, challenge, and articulate existing conceptions of art. In doing so, her work not only explores technology’s role in art, but more importantly, technology’s role in the human experience.

Stefany Hemming opening reception this Saturday during the Art Crawl

posted by – 09/04/13 @ 11:54am

Stefany Hemming’s art process is quite intriguing–one tool, one layer, no do-overs.  That’s the same process I used when I was coloring in elementary school.  Hemming, however, can make so much more out of it than I ever could.  It seems like rather frank and straightforward expression, but, at the same time, her strokes are complex, creating chaos that has an incredibly natural organization…like nests.  You can find more information about Hemming on her artist’s page.


"NEO" Oil on Panel

Stop by Tinney Contemporary this Saturday from 6:00 to 9:00pm for the opening reception of Stefany Hemming’s exhibit of her nest-like oil on panel pieces.