Monday, March 26, 2012

Detailed Views: Brant Schuller & Dawn Clements

(To learn more about the "Viewfinder Project" see the original post.)

While I taught printmaking at Princeton University, both Brant Schuller and Dawn Clements were visitors to the printshop and both agreed to make a "Viewfinder". Brant came to give a demonstration and made a print and Dawn produced an etching and a lithograph. Brant made his "Viewfinder" during his visit and I observed the drawing as it was being made. The drawing was produced by tracing the outline of a changing shadow. The shadow was cast by a leaf on a work table and was studied throughout a day (see the drawing below). I appreciated how natural and automatic the process appeared and how exact the recording was. The drawing unfolded while Brant was leading other printmaking activities and this allowed me to see him as a juggler and a master at multitasking.

Brant Schuller, Viewfinder, Graphite,  6" x 4 1/4", 2006

Dawn Clements work often revolves around drawing as an expanding activity. She has made drawings of interiors that start with one object and continue outward until a more completed view of the space is realized. These panoramas provide an excess and contain more than the eye can take in at once. An extension of this project has been drawings based on interior spaces in classic films. Because the camera does not catch every part of a room, Clements pieces together what is available from the film footage. This leaves patches where litteral interpretations become impossible and in the drawing this becomes white space. With regard to the "Viewfinder" Dawn sent me, it seems I received a careful rendering of part of the puzzle that makes up a film. Faintly written in the hair of the figure is the name "Karin Thimm". Thimm is a character in the motion picture The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

Dawn Clements, Viewfinder, Ink, 6" x 4 1/4", 2007

Since I worked with Dawn, she has had important developments in her career. In 2010 Dawn was selected for the Whitney Biennial and more recently she had an exhibit in New York City that was reviewed by the Huffington Post (great images of Dawn's large scale drawings here).

This winter I also caught a glimpse of new artwork by Brant Schuller that inspired me to double down and work harder. Schuller's work is diverse and often combines printing techniques with sculpture. Seen below is a recent installation involving the screen-printed image of an ax and a sicle. The multiples are wedged into logs creating a virtual sense of the repetition involved in splitting timber. Irony is also not lost on the fact that redundancy aligns the printmaker with the lumberjack.

Brant Schuller, Screenprint & Sculpture, Winter 2012 Installation

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paul Schumann and Viewing Contrasts

Spring is not officially here, but in Pennsylvania the colors associated with spring are starting to arrive. It seems like overnight the cherry blossoms have appeared and soon apple blossoms will follow. I am seeing the ending of winter contrasted by the start of spring. Below is an image from one of my walks through my neighborhood.

Cherry Blossoms, March 2012

I feel like my blog went into hibernation over the winter because of my less than frequent posts. Here I am highlighting another "Viewfinder" and the artwork of Paul Schumann. I think of Paul as a thoughtful and serious person, but he also has a sharp if hidden sense of humor.  Although he was educated as an artist and printmaker, he later went through training to become an army chaplain. Paul has a patient and steady personality that has allowed him to handle the stresses of recent tours in Afganistan. His patience is also evident in his artwork which merges observation with other worldly visions.

An image from Paul Schumann's website.

Paul sent me a "Viewfinder" that seems to focus on observation (for information about the first "Viewfinder" and this project click here). However, what I found compelling was how it was juxtaposed with an ad for ornamental hunting knives that he also sent me. Of course he was joking about making this kind of object but it does point to a kind of conceptual chiaroscuro. This is also compelling because in a more literal way Schumann does focus on contrasts between light and dark values in much of his other work (example above). Wether it is the push and pull of seasonal change or the shift between contrasting color, seeing these extremes allow us to appreciate all that is between.

The ad that Paul sent to me.

Paul Schumann, Viewfinder, 6" x 4 1/4", Graphite, 2006