The Arrival and The Arrival

When I ordered The Arrival for class I noticed that it had the same title of the recent film, The Arrival.  Although the film is about an actual alien space invasion, it includes themes about family and parenthood, like the book.  This may just be me but there’s also a nonlinear concept of time in both works.  In The Arrival (movie) a scientist sees the future through aliens.  She sees that her daughter will die of cancer and therefore she writes a book about the alien language to save her future self and civilization.  The alien language therefore appears in a drawing that her daughter makes at the “beginning” of the movie.  In The Arrival the book the creature appears at the very beginning as well, in the drawing that the child does of her family.  I’m curious, are both works saying that the unknown, the future is actually always with us?  Apologies if you haven’t seen the movie, but if you have I’d love to know what you think!

Miss Potter: A Tragic Life

After watching Miss Potter the first time a few years ago I was struck by the Victorian confines in which she lived.  Even when she achieved what he parents wished, a marriage, her parents disapproved.  When her publisher, Norman Warne proposed, Potter immediately accepted.  However, due to reasons of class, her parents ardently objected to the union.  Potter remained engaged to Warne, but agreed to keep the news secret.  When Warne died of leukemia merely weeks later, she was forbade from discussing her grief with her parents.

This is the heartbreaking side of Miss Potter.  Similar to Peter, Potter tested social norms and the restrictions of her parents.   Unlike Peter, however, her escape from the social norm was tragic.  The reader is satisfied that Peter learns his lesson at the end.  Not so much with Beatrix.

What Does Play Mean?

In creating my illustration for a representation of “play,” I began to think about what that word means.  It’s usually associated with activity; biking, hiking, skipping stones, Legos, etc.  I love those forms of play but I also love the internal play.  For me, going to class is play.  I’m taking a Russian Literature class this semester and it’s the ultimate embodiment of play.  It’s challenging, maddening, exciting, and confusing.  I talk about it constantly and bug my suite mates about the various plot points of my current read endlessly.  We all need to get outside and be active, but I think adults also need to spend time thinking, wondering, and dreaming.  I know that zoning out and letting my mind imagine is one of the most freeing, playful activity I do.  How about you?

Marble Cake With Ice Cream

Did I choose the ice cream painting because I’m ready for summer?  Probably.  I was drawn to Julia Jacquette’s 1998 “Marble Cake With Ice Cream” painting because I think it encapsulates the complexities of food and feeling.  Underneath a blue plate with marble cake and a bowl of vanilla ice cream she writes, “I dreamt I felt your skin against mine.”  Jacquette’s current exhibit at The Wellin plays with the same depiction of food with sensual paratext.  Although marble cake and ice cream are not themselves particularly sexy, the spoon dipping into the ice cream paired with the paratext below invokes a feeling of indulgence and taking part in primal urges.  Some of Jacquette’s other images of food are off-putting, almost disgusting in their extravagance.  Food is a metaphor for sex, and how sex is portrayed in society.  Sometimes it’s pornographic, over-amplified, and dramatic.  Other times it’s delicate and sensual.  I can’t wait to discuss this with Jacquette herself!

Gorey’s Cats

I love cats (I love dogs too so let’s not start that debaccle).  Apparently so does Edward Gorey!  Gorey did the illustrations for T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.”  As we discussed in class Gorey is a dark artist, but expresses his humor and white through “children’s” illustrations.  I find that cats are the ultimate metaphor of Gorey’s art.  They can be ferocious, playful, and scary.  Like Gorey, they have a style all their own.  What do you think?  Is Gorey a paradox of stoic and fun?  Or was he simply an artist trying to express real issues in a medium that was more socially acceptable?

Gorey’s Cats 

Max Ernst Female Friendship

I was completely taken in by Une Semaine de Bonte.  Many of the images depict the “destruction” of women by men, the male gaze, and sexuality.  Simultaneously many of his collages depict women corrupting men.  I was struck with the images on pages 97 and 98, both depicting women confiding in one another.  There are less images in Ernst’s collection showing women interacting with other women.  Page 97 shows one aristocratic woman leaning on the shoulder of an older aristocratic woman . The dragon is at their feet.  Three portraits in the background show a woman’s hands, the same image of the young woman leaning on the shoulder of an older woman, and a man shooting a gun.  Initially I thought the collage was meant to advocate female friendships, but the presence of the dragon seems like this is an act of sin.  I’m not sure whether Ernst believe it is an act of sin, or that society does not support female friendships.  The second page, 98, depicts the same two women, only the second is covered by a crocodile-like creature.  The paintings in the background show the flood that occurred earlier and a homo-erotic painting of the two women.  Perhaps Ernst was demonstrating the progression of female friendships to romance, and his disdain for such.

Out of Sorts: The Letterpress Experience

I am having a blast with the letterpress workshop.  Not only did I not know we had a letterpress, I’m happily surprised at the fact that it’s offered as an XA trip option for incoming freshmen.  It was interesting to learn that the term “out of sorts” came from the tiny metal letters called “sorts.”  If you were putting together a book, say, the Bible, and you ran out of letters, I think that’s a fair claim to call yourself out of sorts.  Putting together the sorts for our phrase, “It’s not about you!” was time consuming.  It made our group rethink how we were going to center and frame the words.  We originally want to do each word on a separate line, but learning that we would have to fill all of those spaces with tiny blank metal pieces, we quickly opted out.  I wonder how many great works of letterpress art were changed for this very reason.  As I’m writing this, deleting words as I go, I must remind myself to take a moment and acknowledge the ridiculous ease of software writing.  It’s easier but it’s also less beautiful.  The lack of manual labor, patience, and time required in the letterpress process is an art that I hope more people learn to appreciate.

Dali and Don

Dali created thirty-eight drawings and watercolors for the 1946 book.  Fittingly Dali’s “paranoiac-critical method” worked well with Quixote’s paranoia and delirium.  Dali said he was inspired to illustrate the book because he found the character of Don Quixote fascinating.  Whether this is because he saw himself or his artistic style in the imaginative and dreamy Quixote we can only speculate.  The sketch above is unique to Dali’s other drawings of Quixote.  Here he appears more of a shell of a man.  He is no longer the heroic knight inflated by creativity, but a defeated old man.  Both Quixote and his horse are half skeleton half flesh and blood.  It’s as if you are viewing them with x-ray vision, seeing the bones and ligaments that keep them together.  It’s also revealing Dali’s style.  His work could, to some, be viewed as incomplete.  There is no color and the outlines are not erased.  Quixote is exposed just as Dali is exposed.

Is Copying Art?

Before launching in to my point I should note that I do not encourage or support plagiarism.  This is merely a rhetorical exercise.  In My Name Is Red, the masters or those that are the best copiers.  Their ability to copy the greats brings their work from “good” to perfection.  During our workshop I attempted to draw Shekure.  I pulled up an image on my phone of a character from the animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings.”  For some reason that woman was exactly who I pictured when I read about Shekure.  I love to copy or imitate artwork.  I find it relaxing to follow the lines, colors, and elements of someone else’s work.  Someone else, who, frankly, is much better at this than I am.  What are the ethical implications of this?  Is it wrong to produce work that’s not your own?  What are you thoughts?

“Real” Life

In My Name Is Red, the Sultan states, “An illustration that does not complement a story, in the end, will become but a false idol.  Since we cannot possibly believe in an absent story, we will naturally begin believing in the picture itself.” (Pamuk 109).  This quotation highlights the significance of what pictures mean, and how they often twist our sense of reality.  With this, the artist has an immense responsibility when depicting a story.

In my Russian Literature course we recently discussed how we narrate our own lives.  We make sense of the threads of our lives be spinning them into stories.  Whether conscious or not, we often embellish or leave out moments in order to provide a logical series of events.

In this way paintings are stories of stories.  The layers of fiction build on one another.  Like the Sultan says, “We believe in the picture itself” regardless of its origins.  There’s something beautiful in illuminating our lives and illuminating stories.   We are the artists of our lives.

The Story of Love