From our continuing series of “EC Artists At Work” videos… EC artist Yesenia Vargas at work in the studio (filmed April 2016)
(video filmed and edited by EC Clay/Ceramic Arts Teacher Kristine Hansen… thank you Kristine!)
(video filmed and edited by EC Clay/Ceramic Arts Teacher Kristine Hansen… thank you Kristine!)
January 2016 may be a new beginning, but it’s business as usual for the EC artists. Our first post for 2016 is the first in a monthly series called IN THE STUDIO. Today’s post is a slideshow of snapshots of EC artists working on new projects.
Robert Garcia is working on a poster for Disney Infinity 3.0. And this is just the sketch!
From snakes to sharks to birds of prey, Oscar Onsurez is drawn to powerful animals. He’s starting 2016 with a new eagle portrait. He doesn’t need a reference photo. He just needs to take off his hat!
Luiz Gomez is starting a new canvas from one of his fantastic sketches. (He’s always sketching!) He’s got his music, Continue reading
Over the past few months, we’ve been so wonderfully busy that we have neglected to keep you informed. For that we apologize, though we think you’ll agree the wait was worth it. Tomorrow we are unveiling our newest exhibition, Reality Unchained: Portraits of Human/Nature. The collection of 18 works from 14 artists provides an engaging look at the ways we see the world around us, unhindered by a need to strictly replicate what is technically there. Instead, you’ll see portraits of the feelings and influences we experience from our environment and ourselves.
Denise Saelee, Armando in a Purple Shirt, acrylic/canvas panel, 2014
The Merced County Arts Council is throwing it’s first ever Artageddon event.
The challenge: You have four hours to paint, using only the materials you are given. Weeks later, comes the competition… a single elimination tournament, judged by the audience. Winners move on to the next bout, and losers… are destroyed!!! The Wheel of Death determines the mode of destruction, and only an audience member’s purchase will save the painting. The winning painting not only survives destruction, but earns $500 for it’s creator.
This is mega-exciting, and we cannot wait!
The EC artists are embarking on a new project—public art. The project was initially inspired by an
image of J. Seward Johnson’s public art piece “Awakenings” depicting a giant embedded in the earth, struggling to free himself as he wakes. The image inspired conversations about the differences between public art and “private” art. Who is the public art is for? What is its purpose? What do people think when they see it? Does it change the way the artist creates, when the art will be public?
Phase 1 of our project involved understanding the role of public art in the world, and in our small town. We recognized that our project does not fit the standard definition of public art. Our project will not be sanctioned by any local government. Our art is not meant to be a permanent or fixed installation. We know it may move, be damaged, and even disappear. We want people to interact with our art. Our art will not be big, bold, and obvious. We want it to be small, subdued, and installed with guerrilla-style sneakiness. So, the project soon revealed itself as being more street art than public art. Same intention, different label.
Our ideas were all over the place during phase 1, until our clay/ceramic arts instructor Kristine Hansen introduced us to Ji Lee’s Mysterabbit project. The message? In this hustle-bustle world, stop to enjoy the moment—art is everywhere. We love that. We decided that Lee’s project was exactly what we were trying to achieve, in the same manner we were planning, but on a much (much) larger scale. It was the template we needed.
Once we decided what our overall project would look like, we walked around our neighborhood (Downtown Merced), to scope out locations for installation. We also needed to decide what our small sculptures would be.
It was important to everyone that they be simple and identifiable.
There was brainstorming, model making, and eventually we decided upon the snail.
Phase 2 of our project involves the making of our snails…
The visual arts class, led by current teacher/dcs Cristal Flores, is coming to the close of a weeks-long study of the artist’s greatest critique– the self portrait. It is safe to say that every visual artist makes at least one self portrait during their career. We might go farther to say that most visual artists make a number of self portraits during their career… in fact, we know some artists who’ve made themselves the subject of much of their work.
And why wouldn’t artists make their own portrait before attempting that of another? We know our own face better than any other. It’s the face we see in the mirror, and touch with our hands. We know every wrinkle and pore. What it is, and what it is not. And because we know how we see ourselves, we think we know how other people see us.
But do we?
Do people see us as we see ourselves, or do they see us differently?
And if they do see us differently, how do they see us?
And, does it matter?
And, is that why we make self portraits? To document what we see of ourselves, so that others will see it as we do?
As a program, we know what and who we are. People, artists, friends. We know our purpose. Coming to program every day to make art and be with each other. We know our abilities and disabilities. They don’t frighten us. Why would they?
But, people who don’t know our program don’t know what and who we are. They don’t know our purpose. They don’t know our abilities and disabilities, and that may frighten them.
This becomes obvious when we are looking for new teachers. Some applicants are completely interested in the position, right up to the point where they read the words developmental disabilities…
“Down’s Syndrome. What’s that?! Isn’t a syndrome contagious?”
“Mental Retardation. Am I even allowed to say that?!”
“Autism? Seizure Disorders?… really?? People are going to be having seizures?!”
“I’m not qualified to work with people like that.”
“Don’t they need nurses or something?”
We could get offended, and call them names. But that wouldn’t be fair. Or nice. And if there’s anything we know about ourselves, it is that we are fair and nice. We could say “Eh. So what? Who cares if people understand who we are and what we do?” But that would be dishonest, because we really do want people to know who and what we are. We’re awesome, duh.
So, we created this video– a self portrait. It shows people what we see– who we are, what we do, our abilities, and disabilities, and gives a brief glimpse into our awesomeness. Enjoy.
The Enrichment Center is designed for medium to high functioning adults with developmental disabilities. Our clients feed themselves, and take themselves to the restroom. They don’t need nurses. Yes, some of our clients have seizure disorders, and we may have one or two seizures occur at program each year… but we don’t think that a seizure looks like you think it looks. You won’t get in trouble for saying ‘mental retardation’. It’s just a diagnosis. Down’s Syndrome is not contagious. And no… you are not a bad person for wondering about any of those things.
Sgraffito is a clay decoration technique involving a combination of painting with colored slip and scratching the surface of the clay. The EC Artists’ sgraffito work began with tiles, as part of a unit in slabbing clay. The result was a large collection of sgraffito tiles which the artists agreed would be good as coasters or trivets. Each one is a handmade tile of approximately 4 inches square, coated with clear glaze, and backed with protective felt pads. Sgraffito designs are unique and reflect the individual style of each artist.
When our managing organization, the Merced County Arts Council, made the announcement that they were having trouble keeping the Multicultural Arts Center going, the artists asked that we sell the tiles to raise funds to keep it open. While the program could survive in another location, the Multicultural Arts Center has been the Enrichment Center’s home since the program began in 2000.
Our “Buy 3/Get 1 Free” holiday ornaments campaign was so successful, that we are repeating it with these tiles. $2 each. Buy 3/Get 1 Free ($6 for 4)
If you’re interested in purchasing sgraffito tiles, call, email or visit, Monday through Friday 9am to 3pm, or by arrangement. We can reserve tiles for youSee our Contact page for more information.
The Enrichment Center occupies a healthy section of the 3rd floor of the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. As the resident arts program, we manage the “gallery” space on the 3rd floor. We try to change the exhibited artists to coincide with the changing exhibits in the actual public galleries on the 1st and 2nd floors. This season, we are featuring the work of Carolina Mendez, who just recently left the program, Denise Saelee, Koi Saechao, and a multi-artist tribute to Vincent Van Gogh in reproduction. These are short video tours of the featured work:
Koi Saechao has been an artist with the Enrichment Center for 8 years. When teachers ask her what color she wants to begin her palette, Koi always begins with “green”. Each additional color she asks for is also “green”. This might seem like a limitation– a one color palette, but it is not. Everything can be green with some color adjustment.
When Koi is beginning a new canvas, the visual arts teachers mix various shades of green in acrylic. Koi gets a brush, a cup of water, an apron, and she paints. She does not look at her canvas while she works, instead chatting with and making observations of the people around her.
Koi’s explorations in green paint are being featured on the 3rd floor landing of the Multicultural Arts Center.
In the case below, the clay/ceramics’ class is displaying “Birds & Nests”.