Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kim Larson - Hearing the Color

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In literature, the term “effictio” refers to a verbal depiction of someone's body, often from head to toe. I’m sure there is an appropriate word or phrase to summarize the beauty of the mosaic work that Oakland artist and friend, Kim Larson, crafts, but I don’t know of an adequate one. The best way to describe her method of interpreting the classic theme of the female form in such a unique way is to exclaim, "Totally awesome, dude!!!" (...and I can say that because I live in California.) Kim’s approach is fresh and new. It defies convention.

Instantly, after seeing her art for the first time, I knew I had to own a piece of it ....and today, this one rests on its own Victorian love seat in my living room, much to my delight. It sparkles and shines in the sunlight and possesses an almost ethereal demeanor....if inanimate objects can have a demeanor... :-) Everyone who enters the room is drawn to its beauty.


A large part of the appeal of Kim’s work is directly related to her choices of colors that absolutely titillate the senses. Kim writes,
“I am one of those people who can hear color...I can also see the colors of numbers and the days of the week. When I hug someone or get a massage, I am engulfed in colors swirling behind my eyes created by the feeling of being touched. I have only met one other person like this so far in my life. It's called Synesthesia and is a wonderful way to experience life, I think.”


"I think my mosaic nudes capture the 'sound' of the flowing lines and voluptuous fullness of a woman's body. People react to that experience and can rarely put it into words while kindly complimenting me on the "lay patterns" of the glass or the '3 dimensional look' I can achieve. I love to give the viewer a 'feeling' like that. I have always known that art has to get beyond a person's intellectual reactions and hit them somewhere else - between the eyes, below the belt, in the first and second chakras....just somewhere NOT in their minds."

Kim places emphasis on the harmonies and varieties of the female body in a cutting edge, contemporary way that is wholly graceful. Her work challenges and overturns the more restrictive, complacent assumptions of a dominant tradition of representation and opens itself up to a broader and more distinctive iconic form.


Green and Black Lovers

Blue Sitting Nude

The success of Kim’s artistic explorations transforms the language of aesthetics irrecoverably. This is new art, and I love it. It is totally awesome.....Dude!

Kim Larson has a web site at: Kim Larson Art
and a new blog at: Kim Larson Art Blog Her work will be on display soon at Nest in Napa, California. Kim accepts commissions for her work. She also creates custom substrates for mosaics, creates graphic art and makes children's furniture. See her web site for further details.

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Cartoon #6 for this week's Jen Worden Art Challenge...in which we are to depict some aspect of our lives in a cartoon each day for 7 days...
Click image to enlarge.

Monday, February 25, 2008

On Finding One's Inner Barbie - The Work of Audrey Mucci

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Tree Goddess

When I asked Audrey Mucci if I could write a piece about her for my blog, she told me that artist statements weren’t necessarily her cup of tea. She sent me a little blurb about the fact that she lives in Connecticut with her family, that she is a gallery director at a local community college…. and that she likes to collect ephemera. Interesting life.

I am a collector. I collect all sorts of things. My studio is filled with wonderful bits and pieces just waiting to be used in a piece of artwork. I am drawn to different shapes, colors and textures. The curve of a bottle, the yellow of a vintage apron, or the rough surface of a piece of rusted metal can all attract my attention. When using these things, I often think about how they were used before they found their way to me. I feel like I give them a new purpose by using them in my artwork. When I use these pieces or parts to make a sculpture, I also see my life. It is like putting together a puzzle–this goes into here, that goes somewhere over there. Initially, I do not know where every piece will go. It is in the creative process of putting the parts together that I begin to see the picture develop. This puzzle I am assembling is my own.

Audrey told me to look at the pictures of her work and said I could pretty much choose whatever I wanted to feature here. She makes all kinds of fantastic and thought-provoking art (see photo above), and as I browsed through her images, I realized that this was going to be a tough decision. The woman is talented! However, when I got to the set about Barbie, I knew I had arrived at my destination.

…the doll that manufacturers promote as an icon of cutting-edge womanhood, is viewed by many as, perhaps, the single most heinous reflection of sexism in a young girl’s life…and most certainly the bane of many a feminist mother's existence. Regardless of the fact that Mattel's current ad campaign for the much-maligned doll has traded in her anorexic image for neofeminist slogans and heartwarming rhetoric about rock climbing and math problem solving, I still tend to cringe when I see a little child holding one.

Audrey has put a special twist on the forty year old doll that put a smile on my face, however. I think you’ll enjoy this:

Ready for any occasion, this Barbie is always prepared! She has a heart in the top drawer and a condom in the bottom drawer.


This is another piece with no title, but one reader suggested, “The Lights are On But Nobody’s Home…”


This was Audrey’s first piece to sell in an exhibit:


Searching For My Inner Barbie

Hey, how ‘bout these condom-clad Safety Girls?

Safety Girls

Barbie is never just another pretty face…

Soaking in It

....but at times, she loses face…

See Whats Become of Me

This final piece, “Old New Piece” is one of my personal favorites.

Audrey writes, “ … the thighs rub together-just like in real life.”

Another blogger who calls herself, “The Urban Feminist” says, “I'd like to live in a world in which six-year-old girls aren't encouraged to be obsessed with dresses and make up, but I'm glad that I no longer live in a world in which six-year-old girls are encouraged to be obsessed with the circumference of their thighs.”

'Nuff said! Thank you, Audrey! Love your work...Oh...and happy belated birthday!


Day #5 of the week-long portion of the Jen Worden Art Challenge to draw a cartoon that depicts some portion of every day. This one is called:


Day #5 - Shopping for Art Supplies

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Hero - Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama

Since I was a child I have been in love with the work of Yayoi Kusama. Her art includes sculptures, books, performance art, installations and photo collages. Kusama is nearing 80 now and seldom allows herself to be photographed. Seeing her recently in a documentary about Marc Jacobs, (one of my favorite designers), prompted me to write today's entry about her.

Known as "The Diva of Dots", Kusama began her career by showing paintings in New York. These "net paintings" were large works with circular repetitive patterns. The example here, My Flower Bed (1965-66) is made of painted, covered mattress springs and stuffed gloves. This piece shows her frequent use of repetition and every day objects. The work suggests, as do the sculptures pictured in the background, a fragmented biomorphism and a lush and out of control blooming.
Her first sculpture (probably 1961) was an armchair covered with stuffed fabric phallic shapes and painted white. More objects covered with these phalluses followed. Kusama has also covered objects such as suitcases, coats and mannequins with macaroni and paint. Her installations often feature mirrors and polka dotted objects.

Yayoi Kusama's mental illness began in childhood when she began hallucinating the dots, nets and flowers which subsequently appear in her paintings and sculptures.

Kusama's most noted work was created between 1958-1968 in New York City. She has recently had a retrospective, Love Forever, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Today, Yayoi Kusama voluntarily resides in a mental institution in Japan.


Day #4 of this week's Jen Worden Art Challenge:
Reading About Yayoi Kusama

(click image to enlarge)

Bert Simons - Hollow Paper Sculptures


Do you ever happen across someone’s art that makes your heart race with excitement? Bert Simon’s paper sculptures do that for me. I was so happy to have received an email from Bert in the Netherlands this morning giving me permission to write about him on this blog!

Bert makes these hollow paper sculptures via a detailed and precise process that takes hours on end. Each piece takes around six hours of cutting, folding and coloring the edges before he applies the glue. These works of art are made in the same way as the familiar papercraft houses and animals that you see around.

Bert’s paper model of Harry Hamelink has been featured in a book about 3d graphic art called 'Tactile' and the October 2007 editions of 'Bright' magazine.

In July of 2006, Bert played a hoax on unsuspecting beach goers about green sea turtles that arrived at the shores of Dutch beaches due to a change in the Atlantic currents. For this project he made several realistic looking cardboard turtles and placed them on the beach as evidence of this rare side effect of climate change. I wish I had been there.

I would have fallen for it…hook…line…sinker!

CLICK HERE to go to Bert's awesome web site!


For Day #3 of Jen Worden’s Art Challenge to draw a little cartoon each day for a week about our everyday lives, I came up with this little piece about how exasperated and utterly uninspired I feel with the continual gray skies and rain we have had in the Bay Area lately. I’m ready for some sunshine. How about you?!
(click image to enlarge)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dragonfly Bambuca

(click image to enlarge)

13.5 x 6.5 x 4"
Mixed media mosaic on wooden box
Stacy Alexander

There are many myths associated with the dragonfly...some good...some bad. This piece was inspired by a Zuni Indian legend in which the dragonflies are shamanistic creatures with supernatural powers. The word, "Bambuca" comes from the national dance of Colombia, South America. It is characterized by cross accents in the music and was formerly danced only by the natives but became a ballroom dance to be added to the gentle Pasillo, a favorite with Colombian society. Sometimes, when I walk along the estuary that separates the island of Alameda from Oakland, I see entire ballets performed by dragonflies along the shore.


Cartoon for Jen Worden's Art Challenge - this week's challenge is to depict some aspect of each day (of this week) in cartoon form. This is a tough one for me. Not good at drawing...but I'm having fun!

If you would like to join in Jen Worden's Weekly Art Challenges, please go to THIS WEB SITE and join the fun!


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Friday, February 22, 2008

Art as Subversive Communication - Honoring Laci Peterson and all victims of domestic violence

Drawings will be held each month for free art giveaways to subscribers of this blog.

This is the story of how I managed to expose information about domestic violence to tens of thousands of readers via one piece of my art. It is NOT a post about Scott Peterson, the tried and convicted killer of Laci Peterson.

Andy Warhol’s philosophy embraced the notion that fame dehumanizes people;that once a person becomes famous, they “belong” to the public. By excluding all sentimental associations his work spoke to the media’s ability to strip the famous of all characteristics that actually made them thinking, feeling human beings and made them objects to be loved or hated by people they had never met. His emphasis on heavy make up and overly glamorous representations of people were the vehicles by which he arrived at this destination.

Fast forward to the year 2002. Young, pretty Laci Peterson was reported missing and later found dead along the California coastline, tragically killed by her own husband. The media launched a massive campaign about the case and in the process, offered new exposure to the problem of domestic violence.

A cute picture of Laci’s smiling face appeared over and again in newspapers and on magazine covers across the country. I was horrified to read that people were disrespecting Laci and her family by selling things that had belonged to her on Ebay, making a spectacle of her that discounted who she was as a woman dehumanizing her just as Warhol's philosophy about fame had illustrated. This beautiful young victim of her husband's own hand became a media star, probably the last thing she would have wanted.

During the extensive search into Ms. Peterson’s whereabouts and subsequent media coverage outcries were evoked from those who claimed the public was witnessing what is known as “ Missing white woman syndrome” (MWWS), also known as “missing pretty girl syndrome” a term used to describe disproportionate media coverage of white female victims. The essential element of the syndrome is that the victim's gender, race, relative attractiveness and age matching the "damsel in distress" stereotype is alleged to result in positive discrimination in terms of media coverage and public interest in her case. With no disrespect to Ms. Peterson, there were and remain countless women who, because they are less attractive, whose rapes, beatings and murders are never mentioned in the media. This is why I created the mixed media piece, “Four Laci Petersons” in the style of Andy Warhol.

Accompanying the piece, I wrote about domestic violence and I used subversive marketing techniques to get this message across to the public. I uploaded the painting to Ebay and asked an exorbitant amount of money that I knew I would not get but if I had, I vowed to give the funds to charity……and I used the description field in the Ebay form to write my protest about the dehumanization of Laci in the media and about all the other victims of domestic violence who were never mentioned. I posted statistics about domestic violence set the auction for 10 days.

News of this event spread like wildfire and soon there were tens of thousands of hits on the Ebay Auction. That was all I wanted...to raise awareness. A newspaper reporter from the Contra Costa Times came to my studio for an interview and the story was picked up by the Associated Press and printed in newspapers across the country.

Subversive marketing. Getting the word out about an issue through art and creative thinking. If I only helped one person through this message, it will have been worth the effort.


Since I have a whole slew of new subscribers to this blog, I should mention the weekly Jen Worden Art Challenges. Sigh up at the "Stretch Yourself" icon to the right of this post on the actual blog site. The exercises are fun, inspiring and not-too-difficult.

This week's challenge (#8) is to draw a cartoon that depicts our lives...one a day for each day of this week...upload to a site that hosts pictures and post the link to Jen's blog at: http://jenworden.com.

Here is Day #1 of the #8 Challenge for me:

Jen Worden Art Challenge #8

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Revenge is Living Well Without You

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Van Gogh's Eye
Van Gogh's Eye
Acrylic on canvas panel
Stacy Alexander

When I made the above painting, my goal was to express as much emotion as I could in one simple element. What better subject could I use than the tumultuous life of Vincent Van Gogh? There was no need to paint the whole figure when I could tell the whole story just by painting the eye. I attempted to capture the pain, the sadness, the fear and the insanity...and I think I succeeded.

Compression. Simplifying. Reducing waste. These are all areas that have been holding my focus for awhile in areas of my emotional life ....which, of course, is directly connected to my art life. It is hard to have this attitude when one is a mixed media artist who views the entire world as one big treasure chest of offerings. It is so hard to pass by that coil of wire or to not pick up that rusty piece of metal that I know will go so well in a future assemblage. The downstairs portion of my loft is brimming with containers full of buttons and glass, images and fibers, papers and paints and so many found objects that I dare not try to count them all.

However, the kind of simplifying I want to talk about is more a state of mind, than a tangible item. It is the ability to simplify thoughts that will not allow the negativity of others to interfere with the creative process.

Clearing the garbage of a third party's negative input out of one's heart and mind frees the spirit to create art that has more ...umph...to compress the elements that are most important into a more powerful work. Couple this with the very real and intense love that I feel for my beloved husband, John, and I think I could accomplish just about anything.

Compression. Try to say as much as possible with as few strokes of the pen, the brush, the collaged images, the mosaic tile, the design, the words ...as you can. Sometimes, less is more.

Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response:

For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.

See how powerful that is?

Read the title of this blog post. Six words by Joyce Carol Oates. Powerful and potent. Simple.

I got them from this video:


In other news...

"If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn't seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white."

William James

Over the last two weeks, I have had horrible, crushing headaches that require me to lie down until they are gone. During these times, I have dozed off and have had the same dream each time in which I was visited by a white crow. I finally decided to paint what I saw. Mind you, crows don't have beaks that are curved this much and this guy looks more like a sea gull than a crow... but then again...they don't usually fly over red clouds either. Anyway...this is a painting from my reoccurring dream....
White Crow
30" x 24"
acrylic on canvas
Stacy Alexander

My friend, Jette, wrote from Scotland to say: "
Birds are usually a good omen in dreams, especially brightly coloured ones. Crows, OTOH, are often birds of ill omen, foretelling sadness to come (but not necessarily grief) - but then again, crows aren't usually white.

Looking at the colours of your picture - deep red means unexpected good news and white is "certain promise of success!.

So perhaps your white crow is an omen of good fortune and joy, perhaps from a situation you're expected sorrow?"

My friend, Kim, wrote:
"...crows are omens of good magic. They are omens of change and the master of shape-shifting. This is a quote from my Animal Medicine book:
"...Crow Medicine teaches you to let your personal integrity be your guide...to stand in your truth....walk your talk and speak your truth and know your life's mission...knowing a higher order of right and wrong....speaking in a powerful voice about issues you know to be out of harmony and balance and unjust..."

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