Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Artist's Path - Part 5

Dazed and Confused


I was enrolled at UCI as a physics major and it was not going well. The classes did not really engage me. Since I was getting a well rounded liberal arts degree, I had to take a range of classes. I signed up for a studio art course figuring it would be different. I had no idea what I was getting into. The teacher of the class was Ed Bereal. The class was unlike any other. We drew on large newsprint sheets with Japanese Sumi brushes using ink which we had to grind ourselves. This was not what I knew art to be.

One assignment I remember was to create an actual size self portrait. There were no rules, you had to come up with an idea and execute it. No one was there to hold your hand and tell you what to do. You had to come up with a personal strategy to finish the assignment. Art was not the teaching of a set of specific skills but instead a way of thinking. This is where I learned to be a critical thinker.

So I started taking more art classes. Since I was on a path of exploration at college, I tried all the different courses, painting, sculpture, printmaking, video and then performance art. A lot of the work I did dealt with large scale drawings and large scale pieced together xerox works. In the xerox works and some of the drawings, I would use appropriated photos and drawings. One of the first drawings was a lift of a Jack Kirby drawing of the Stonemen of Saturn. Much of my visual art was a cataloging of images that appealed to me and then altering them in scale.

At some point I changed from being a physics major to being a studio art major. My parents were very supportive of the change. My parents were always supportive of me and by extension all of my friends. For a period after I had moved out of my parents house, my good friend Mark would still go by my parents house, let himself in and write papers on their computer. My mom would come home and pay him no mind.

I remember thinking at one point around this time that magazines were the ultimate form of communication since they reached such a wide audience. And I produced some small zines by xerox but never really knew what to do with them. I was producing things and slowly gaining some understanding about what things resonated with me.

Then there was performance art. I am not sure why I was drawn to performance art but it was the form that I was most drawn to at college. UCI had a great program of rotating artists teaching performance, teachers included Lin Hixson, Linda Burnham & Steve Durland, John White, The Shrimps (Pamela Casey, Steven Nagler) and Rachel Rosenthal. Looking back it was a pretty amazing lineup of teachers.

I did performances involving chemistry, archery, slide shows, fire, puppets and a million other things. The work was all over the place. But the puppet performances were the ones that worked the best.......


Anonymous said...

WOW! Just WOW!

MHPayne said...

Mac Tonight! Mac Tonight!

I still remember your line about him being the child of the Moon Goddess and a mass murderer...

Mike Again