In The Studio
What better way to cruise into a new week than working on projects in the studio. Yesterday was Monday– a studio day, when the EC artists are working on personal visual and performing arts projects.
Ask ten artists, trained or untrained, for input on a particular medium or technique, and you’ll get ten different suggestions about the right way. The ways may differ slightly or drastically. The artists may be hardcore insistent, defensively indignant, or “whatevs” ambivalent about their way. Get those ten artists together, and they’ll discuss and debate for an hour (which is great).
At the EC, this happened most recently while five of my staff asked me for input as they discussed the right way to apply an acrylic wash. My response was derived from a video I found after a similar conversation about the right way a few years ago.
I was surprised to discover that we each had a different way. Discussion among the six of us revealed that some use water to thin the acrylic. Others use a medium. Some apply the wash very thin. Others apply it rather opaquely. Some use a tone which matches the overall color temperature of the palette being used. Others use a contrasting tone. One prefers a gray. Some cannot abide brush strokes, and others tolerate or even like them. … and… Some don’t use a wash at all.
The truth is that there is no right way. None of these artists is so oblivious that they set themselves up for failure every time they paint. Each of these artists is using a way that works for them. Yes, yes, yes. It is possible that there may be more efficient, productive ways—ways they may not care for or know about. But right now, their way is the right way for them.
As the director, I will eventually be expected to make a decision about the right way for the program. How will the artists on staff mentor the EC artists? Which way will be the right way?
Too lazy to consult the shelves of art books behind me, I turned to the internet. (Send me answers, internet. I need to know the right way to apply an acrylic wash.) But the internet knows that everyone has a different way, and there is no one right way. (Hence, a million results instead of, like, five.) Fortunately, among the million, the internet sent me a video which, in addition to the video above, sort of sums up a few different ways, lending options to the EC artists (and staff) and a sense of legitimacy to my decision.
As usual, the EC’s approach is that art is not about right ways and wrong ways. There is always a way. Be creative. Find the way that works for you, and get to work.
Thank you, internet.
New technology inspires apprehension in some people, but not in the EC artists. They’re explorers. They are used to learning and exploring new ways of artmaking. The iPad screen is just a new surface, like paper or canvas. A stylus is just a new tool, like a paintbrush, pencil, or pastel stick.
The Enrichment Center introduced a new Media Arts component this summer. Twice-weekly classes introduced media devices, such as Apple iPads, Apple TV, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus (styli?), Continue reading
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 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.