ART 121 PROJECTS, OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY, SPRING 2017
Culture Jam: #masterssowhite
The Masters Tournament is the pinnacle of American golf. The 2017 Masters was won by Sergio Garcia, a Spaniard. Despite his nationality, and the obvious example of Tiger Woods, the whole flavor of golf (at this time in history with leisure and cost out of reach for so many, plus its strong association with expensive, exclusive country clubs) seems the symbolic epitome of elitism. In fact, many minority players enjoy golf but most do not reach the top. The Masters does attract the best players from across the world. But it is a particularly American championship and it remains true that we see mainly rich white males wearing and winning that famous green jacket. (Garcia himself is worth almost fifty million.) This lack stood out in a year in which our country’s simmering fear of the Other has once again become a storm. This was true despite Mr. Garcia’s win – an incredible feat in the context of his own career ups and downs. Even the spectators are mostly white.
My culture jam plays off of the term “Masters” (the role of whites, note text color, during American slavery.) It references the rise or new visibility (to whites?) of American racism these days (stirred by the recent election of our president – a man who was, in my view, elected to protect the dying dominance of his type -- who also owns many of the top golf courses in the world (whether or not they are “integrated,” as he puts it). The culture jam gestures towards the cultural critique of last year’s Oscar awards (“#oscarssowhite”.) Finally, it uses the phrase “we do accept tokens” – lifted from NYC and other subway signage – to acknowledge that yes, minority players like Tiger Woods and others do show up at the Masters occasionally but are hardly the norm. This year I was particularly aware, as I cheered Garcia on, of these glaring inequities so visibly apparent in the Masters. Via Trump, rich and poor have tried to hold off their inevitable loss of perceived white status. Thus, “still the game you love” but also “the one you voted for.” The Masters is a great athletic tournament, with some historically heroic players including Garcia. But it is a cultural and visual illustration of much that is wrong right now. *And if you ask me (see Dana Schultz controversy in art) “whites” had BETTER be able to see and say this. Who needs to wake up most? We do. Athletic mastery is beautiful. Cultural dominance is deadly.
Reflection: Culture Jam
With this project, I took my first steps in Photoshop. I learned the rudimentary skills of importing, layering and manipulating photos. Now my decades of reliance upon iPhoto seem almost wasteful. I learned how to combine and refine images in order to make a thoughtful, critical statement about something I care deeply about. I was challenged by every step. I also realized that I learn best from or with another person, so I learned to ask for help. With this project I allowed myself to ask at a level I have never accepted before. After a lifetime of using programs like this in both personal and professional life, this project also showed me that I can gain the skills to do this myself. (I used to hire this out when it got too complicated.) This is especially true if I am patient and not too critical of myself, while maintaining high standards.
Gibson_Amy_P2Statement Micro to Macro in Shades of Pink The goals of science, its processes, and the sheer aesthetic beauty I find in these have inspired me all my life. In this video, I attempt to link my delight in images of the micro world to those of the larger world of nature. I took as my overall reference the production and study of (shades of pink, in most but not all of its states) tetrazine in the Mehl Research Laboratory at Oregon State University. My son has excelled in his work as head of tet production during his years as an undergraduate in this lab. Thanks to him and the welcoming faculty in the Biochemistry/Biophysics program, I have been able to explore this lab like a free-range artist unleashed for two terms now, resulting in many projects and one significant collaboration with two scientists. This video is an extension of one from last term that focused purely upon the micro level. It was fun to link those images to the macro and suggest those glorious connections. As my video skills sharpen, I hope to do much more. I took as much of my research as possible from the exceptional science university that is OSU itself. Many departments have produced wondrous videos to draw from. A few are from a general search on YouTube. All are fairly current; some are serious and some playful. It is perhaps worth noting that, as a child, my favorite color in the Crayola box was, with zero doubt about it: "magenta." I was committed with all my soul. In the Mehl Lab, my primary feeling is that of the five-year-old I was, in love with colors -- one above all. (Tetrazine, a biochemical stain that provides a unique marker for experimentation, comes in many shades of this color depending upon its chemical state.) I have been able to view the stages of tetrazine changes in the lab. Both scientifically and aesthetically, these changes are mesmerizing. Being a witness to the scientific process is even more fun now, working and playing on the full range as an increasingly child-like grownup.
Reflection: Video Remix
Again, I learned the first of many new steps in a whole new software program: Premiere Pro. This time I truly thrilled to the project. Though I have only mastered a few crucial steps for remixing a video, I did learn, and gained confidence. This time a study group formed and new friendships blossomed. Because of this, I was able to work on my own much faster, and to make something exciting -- progressing beyond my very first video that came only a few months prior and in a less powerful program. The possibilities of Premiere Pro are endless. I look forward to mastering effects that will smooth the sequential transitions and allow me to play with the many visual and audio possibilities this program provides. This is a skill I have already put to use several times since this project on my own, to record and enhance other art projects. Amy Isler Gibson Art 121 5.6.2017
Interdimensional Forms: Wade Park Rooftop Garden, Cleveland, Ohio (GIF)
Gibson_Amy_P3Statement Wade Park Rooftop Garden In this work, I explored the idea of home by creating an abstracted version of one place I felt most at home. This was not the house of my childhood. There I felt loved but afraid of my parents’ intense fighting -- which years later resulted in an explosive divorce. I chose a place where I felt safe and special with my father. This was an exquisite, miniature garden on the roof of the Wade Park Garden Center. The W.P. Garden Center sat at the SE edge of a beautiful pond filled with swans, fronting another favorite place of ours: the Cleveland Art Museum. My dad took me often and without my brothers. He did other special things with them. As a tiny girl of three or four I could never quite believe people had thought to place a garden on a rooftop, nor to miniaturize it. These two things seemed magical to me. The beauty was something I could both see and feel, in the plants, the building, the view, those swans. Swans! I thought there could be no other garden like this in the entire world. I cannot recall other people up there ever, though I am sure there were. There it was just me and my dad (whom I honestly sometimes mixed up with John F. Kennedy. I am exactly Caroline’s age, and this was the very early 60s.) My father blames himself for so much, but has no idea how many great things he gave to my siblings and me.
Reflection: Interdimensional Forms
This was a touching project for me, as it is as much about my father, with whom I am deeply close, as it was about a very special place from my early childhood. I had never made a gif before, nor even heard of Sketchup. But I love the creativity of sculpture, hard or soft, and some time ago greatly expanded my idea of how freely one can explore materials in three dimensions. That part was a joy to put together. Sketchup was hard to master, but I have some background in AutoCad, which helped. As always there are so many tools left to learn that I know I only did a fraction of what might be tried. I look forward to learning more ways to work with this useful program. I found the ability to add textures and backgrounds especially exciting and visually stimulating.
Amy Isler Gibson Art 121 Spring 2017
Artist Zine: Stand Up America
Gibson_Amy_P4Statement.pdf Artist Statement: Zine
My zine explores, as well as performs, the act of standing up for what I believe in: justice for all, fairness for all, love for all. The text and images are intended to challenge our current situation across the globe but especially in America. In our own country, we are seeing an unleashing of the worst of the id: a selfish, unbridled hatred and blame of the Other, and a cold and brutal version of nationalism I have not witnessed in my long life. This is happening in too many areas in which so many have been fighting for justice and equality for too long. I do not know if the people holding the greatest governmental powers at this time are using fear to divide us, or really believe what they are espousing and making laws to control. The quality of their leadership matters, and is harmful. America is now being systematically deconstructed, law by law, and violent prejudices are in full bloom. It is outrageous that we are putting economics and short term gains ahead of human rights and climate change, at home and in our role as a great power affecting the rest of the world. It is as if, if anything is good, it will now be destroyed if our leaders can possibly make it so. I am so angry I do not even know if I myself can be consistently fair towards those I with whom I disagree. But I must try to live up to that value. There are many ways of standing. I fail and fall and judge -- all the time. Nevertheless... I hope our checks and balances hold. But citizens have a right and a duty to stand up and fight for what is right. Rage is wrong; righteous indignation is just. I have focused on only a few issues out of so many that deeply trouble me; most of them American but some global. These include but are not limited to: immigration policies that are tearing families apart, racism and hate crimes towards many groups of people, harms against women, harms against the earth, more. I have tried to make my point by celebrating those who do stand up. I have taken the vow that I am most proud of in my 25-year marriage, that we will stand together “side by side for justice,” as my guide.
Reflection: Artist Zine
InDesign was not as easy as it looked, but this was also the first project I was able to master almost entirely on my own. It is a pleasure to learn a new way to present and combine text and images. This program offers a far more productive set of tools than those I have been patching together all these years. The most challenging facet was figuring out how to keep the images linked to the document I was working in. I learned that I must keep a separate, organized folder of the images I am working with (instead of just grabbing images once from a source without recording the original somewhere.) This will help when links do get lost. That was a painful lesson but not one I will have to learn twice. The loss of time was frustrating as I had to sacrifice time for composition and adding effects.
I was also particularly challenged by my own choice of subject matter. Once I decided that it was time for me to use my artistic voice for political matters, I found it hard to do so in a way that did not seem cliche or trivializing due to the familiarity of some of my images. I forged ahead anyway, and hope to do better in the future. I do mean what I say in this zine, and feel strongly about my expressed opinions. I have a ways to go to present them in more artistically powerful ways -- again, starting with composition, and again, needing to gain experience with more of the tools of this powerful program.