Sunday, November 20, 2011

Eco-Artist, John Dahlsen

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"7 Brown Foam Totems" by John Dahlsen

I noticed I had a post saved back in August that I never made public.
I decided to go ahead and put this on my blog today
as it shows some of my students' work and...

I am firm believer that
art needs to be seen!

My Master's research question focused on authentic assessment, which is
finding ways to assess student work by connecting the classroom to
real world experiences. My research questions was as follows:

"Does displaying student artwork in a public setting increase
student motivation and the quality of their artwork?"

I planned a two week unit (which ended up taking three weeks) that
focused on eco-art. My students learned about different artists who use
recycled materials as their choice of medium and then worked in
small groups to create their own eco-art.

All of the artworks are posted on my blog, except for the one that is below.
These pieces were created by students who finished early as
supplemental work. Therefore, these pieces were not originally planned
for the student art show - but I am glad they were added.

All of the works were on display at Cleveland's City Hall.
With the help of Erin Dorsey, the Mayor's public relations coordinator,
the work was show-cased with two professional artists.
We had a wonderful art opening with the mayor in attendance.
Needless to say, my students loved it!

The work below features three assemblage totems made from plastic Coke bottles,
soda cans and recycled styrofoam.

This artwork was inspired by Australian artist, John Dahlen.
Dahlsen transforms discarded items (aka litter) that he
finds on beaches into beautiful works of art.
He is one of my favorite eco-artists.

You can view more of his work at:

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"Coke Totems" by John Dahlsen

"Primary Totems" by John Dahlsen
"Primary Totems" by John Dahlsen

Students preparing totems

Totems on display at Cleveland's City Hall

If you're curious what the answer was to my research question,
the answer was equivably, "Yes!"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chuck Close and Plastic Bottle Caps

I was introduced to the artist, Chuck Close, when I was doing my
student teaching at John Hay High School School of Architecture and Design.
My mentor showed me some of his art while we were studying photorealists.
I immediately fell in love with his work, especially his later work.

Here is an example of his earlier work.
Talk about photorealism - look at that detail. WOW!

Mark (1978–1979), acrylic on canvas. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.
Detail at right of eye. Mark, a painting that took fourteen months to complete.
Close encountered a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 which left him severely paralyzed. He found a way to continue painting - with a brush strapped onto his wrist.
No longer able to paint with intricate detail, Close managed to paint large portraits in "low-resolution grid squares that were created by an assistant. Viewed from afar, these squares appear as a single, unified image which attempt photo-reality, albeit in pixelated form."

Self-portrait by Chuck Close, 2000.
Detail of Self-Portrait by Chuck Close, 2000.

I cannot remember what I was researching when I came across the artist,
Mary Ellen Croteau, who was inspired by Chuck Close. I was captivated by her work
because she chose as one of her media, plastic bottle caps!
Here is the excerpt from her web-site that inspired her work:

"Plastic bottle caps - like bags, a plastic product that can’t be/ isn’t recycled. 
I conceived of an “endless column” of these caps, after Constantin Brancussi’s iconic
modernist sculpture (see image below). One became two, and two became many. 
While making these columns, I noticed the smaller caps tended to nest
inside one another, and the color combinations reminded me of Chuck Close’s painted portraits.  So I got sidetracked and started on a large self-portrait made entirely of bottle caps.  The piece measures 8 feet by 7 feet.  No paint is used, except to delineate a few shadows where white board was showing through. 
In a few cases, the caps are trimmed in order to fit into a tight space.
Constantin Brancusi, "Endless Column" 1937-1938

"Endless Columns" by Mary Ellen Croteau

And below is the end result!
"CLOSE," a self-portrait of Mary Ellen Croteau made with plastic bottle caps

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Vibe of Portland Documentary

I was very fortunate to work for Vibe of Portland this past year, a music and art non-profit in Portland, Oregon. I served as an art instructor for their after-school programming at Harrison Park Elementary School. I was excited to work in this particular school as it reaches a large underserved population in the city of Portland. My Master in Education focused on urban education and working with low-income students, so I possess an understanding and passion for this demographic. As a former Jesuit Volunteer (the Catholic version of the Peace Corps), I am "ruined for life" and am dedicated to working for social justice.

At any rate, Vibe of Portland was interviewed by Christianity Today this past Spring and was included in the documentary, "This is Our City."  I am in part of this documentary!

Here is the link: