Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lauren Schiller's Stereoscopic View

(For more information about the "Viewfinder Project" click here.)

Lauren Schiller's "View Finder" depicts a stereoscope and a stereoscopic card. Schiller's work often presents food in a way that creates a sense of longing along with a sense of mild guilt. It is not that sweets like cupcakes or cookies are that bad, it is more that they present temptation. However, it seems that the better a person is (e.g. kinder, more studious, careful, generous, etc.) the more smaller temptations can take on a greater significance. For this reason Schiller's style lends itself to this perspective. Her pencil drawings and prints are rendered in the most precise manner placing the artist in a perfectionistic category. This also makes the drawings and prints richly ironic since they often deal with such seemingly superficial yet psychologically charged flaws (e.g. enjoying sugar).

Promiscuous Experience of Sweetness, Graphite Drawing by Lauren Schiller (Size: 4 1/4" x 6")

In the drawing Schiller sent me (seen above), the viewer's relationship to the couple and cake depicted is explicitly voyeuristic. The viewer is twice removed from the activity. Through the stereoscope the cake and the couple exist as nostalgia for a time when the cake and the gaze of the lovers were pure sweetness. We can only imagine what happens after the couple turn from each other toward the cake. It does not seem like the image would become sweeter if the cake were being devoured.

Promiscuous Experience of Sweetness, by Lauren Schiller

Below is an etching Lauren schiller made for a 2005 portfolio of prints titled "Guilty Not Guilty". For more images and information visit Lauren Schiller's website.

Etching by Lauren Schiller

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Rachel Welling, Viewfinder, and Chance

(For more information about the "Viewfinder Project" click here.)

I met Rachel Welling in 2003 at the Vermont Studio Center's artists' residency program. Rachel is a native of Indiana and at the time was finishing college at Indiana University in Bloomington. While in Vermont, Rachel was struggling to both use the traditional skills in painting she had gained at Indiana University while also breaking free from some of the rules of observation. She was aiming for representations that had more of a metaphorical impact. Later, she attended the M.F.A. program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. While there, I once met up with her for a studio visit.

Painting by Rachel Welling, Size: 6" x 4 1/4"

What I find most interesting about the "Viewfinder" that Rachel Welling sent me (the painting seen above) is how it emphasizes chance. I am specifically directed to the dice in the picture. What I find compelling about the dice is that they seem to present a paradox. They represent chance yet they are the most grounded and exacting information in the painting. The figure an the surroundings have a gestural unfinished quality. However, because of their detail, the tiny dice stand out with a sense of permanence that is not realized elsewhere in the picture.

Another element I am attracted to is the mysterious circular outline in the upper right part of the picture. It reminds me of the stain from a coffee cup and seems to reaffirm the notion that anything can happen.

Emphasizing the role of chance may have a heightened sense of relevance to artists who have less than stable financial situations. For some artists chance and art making may remain more of a constant than relationships, paychecks, and living arrangements. Although permanence is an ideal, chance may seem more predictable than other factors in an artist's life. One never knows when or if the the "big break" will come or when or if the "other shoe will drop". In the mean time the artist keeps working and keeps rolling the dice.

A detail of Rachel Welling's Painting

Below is another painting by Welling; it also seems to be fraught with fluctuation and variability. This piece seems to be like a compressed play where the various acts have been superimposed and arranged together. Rachel currently lives and works in Chicago. For more images visit Rachel Welling's website.

From the Desperate City, 22 inches by 30, (Media: Ink, Acetone Transfer and collage) 2010