12.13.16 Studio Ajar 2, Final Project Presentations

The final project presentations occurred on 12.13.16 at the second Studio Ajar event of the semester. I documented and took notes for each exhibition. I will eventually post all of this data as well as my reflections on the process. Due to time constraints, I am only listing my own work today (12.14.16)


The “Work” of Art by Destin Black

I displayed my largest project for the semester, The “Work” of Art. Since each session was only 30 minutes long, I had limited time to respond to everything that I heard. I will do that here in order to ensure that I fully process and consider the feedback I was given. The majority of the information was useful and constructive. It should assist me in developing better work in the future.

Our knowledge of each other influenced us significantly. This isn’t really a parallel to a public exhibit.

Lessons Learned

Pick a concept or concepts and stick to them.

Let myself be funny.

Be more clinical.

Refine the collection (add more jarring concepts)

Dissect it.

Separate it into pieces.

Add flow and direction.



          Steve appreciated the data charts that were compiled. He said that it was interesting to see how long it took to do things. It shows all of the “work” that does not end up “really in your face” in a final piece.

          I am both proud and embarrassed by the data in the charts. I genuinely like to spend my time painting. I like detail work and I am very dedicated and patient. I think that those traits are more beneficial than problematic. Not everyone can maintain concentration and patience to do things that take so long. I am proud of that. I am also embarrassed because in this case, I am not really sure the final result is worth the time. It worth it to me, because I like to do it, but I am not sure the worth extends beyond me. I am not a particularly gifted painter. I am limited. I can’t always realize the images I would like to. I put in all this time, but it doesn’t produce anything unique or interesting to others.

          I think that conflict was the primary impetuous to the project. It was as much a psychological exercise as an art work. I wanted to try and come to terms with it.

Question: What if I had done the same project but used something other than painting? I may not be an awesome painter, but there are other things I am good at. I could have done sculpture or bead work or origami. All of these are areas in which I would judge the final products to have value beyond my own enjoyment.

          I picked painting because it is a general artistic skill that is often used across many different kinds of projects. I have not done it in a long time because of my travels. I knew I was rust and I thought it would be beneficial to improve. I also felt that I would produce more work by doing small pieces multiple times. I wasn’t sure other mediums would allow me to do enough pieces to accumulate a lot of data.



“The attention to detail was astounding. ” She also commented that it was interesting to see the way specific parts pulled the viewer into the world and broke down “the 4th wall.”

          I am not sure if I meant to break down the 4th wall or not. I did, in that I wanted to connect the work to the “work.” I am not sure I wanted it to be about me. And yet, it was.

          I think there was some muddled thinking involved in the decision. I don’t really want to do so much self-focused work. I picked it at the beginning of the semester because I was struggling with the idea that I could not work fast enough to produce enough for the program.

          I like the idea of showing the work that goes into production of art. I made it personal. I am just not sure that I truly want to do that. I am not sure my individual psychology is directly relevant to the concepts I most care about.  I think maybe, maybe, if I were to redo this, I would perhaps create another persona or multiple personas. I might also consider treating it more like a scientific analysis where by the person creating the display is not the artist, but is instead, trying to understand the artist by figuring out how they did what they did.

          I really like that idea. It goes into my idea log! A scientist researching the artist.



          Alicia saw the beginning of the piece when it was meant to be only about the data. She liked the shift from presenting only the data to the full display because it tied together the narrative of the work and the personality of the artist. It gets to the heart of the matter in showing the difference between museum and studio work. She liked the most that the paintings were not the focus. They were not distracting so that the focus remained on the time spent. There was also a good focus on detail. Add some things to the wall and not just the table. Go further with fetishizing the art.

          I did intend to start with the data. I am still very interested in the idea of compiling lots of data and simply displaying it as charts and graphs without the art that goes with it. I have more data than I showed. I have a lot of research I intended to include on the cost of materials and the time it took for them to be made, shipped, purchased and shipped again. I didn’t use it because the data is incomplete. It has been very challenging to find the information I need. I am not sure if I am going to continue the quest or move on to another project.

          It is insightful to point out that the images were not the focus. I wasn’t initially sure I was even going to show them. I think that helped me to make them. It took some pressure off. I don’t usually paint for other people. It was a weird experience to show them in public instead of as part f some other project.

          I may continue the project and expand the display. It depends on whether I move on or revise this work.



          Eleanor began by saying that the  identification cards were funny because she could hear my voice in them. They made her laugh. Then she commented that she did not fully understand the relationship between the time and the paintings because the paintings looked like they were done quickly. They had a lot of uniformity and an almost factory-like feeling. She saw this as a type of data in itself. There wasn’t a lot of meaning behind them. She wanted to know if there was a concept driving the choice of the pieces. She also said that all of the time put into this piece could later be combined with time on other pieces into one larger piece. She also asks whether it was my intention to “break the 4th wall.” She pointed out that Virginia picked things up but she didn’t because she did not feel it was her place. She found it interesting because the statement I wrote discusses the way museum art is perfect and perfectly framed and in a way, that is what I did. It kind of was “perfect looking.” She asked if that was intentional.

          I am glad the cards were funny. They could have been funnier. I kept writing things and then deleting them. I don’t know why I resisted allowing them to be. I think that is a psychological issue. I spent too much time thinking that what I thought was fun and funny wasn’t necessarily valuable to anyone else.  Owen has helped with that a lot this semester. He always seems to like the things that I value the most personally and the least professionally. His encouragement is helping me to see that maybe they don’t have to be so different. It was nice to know that someone who does not know me well, also saw humor in it.

          I should have put up a sign that said “Please Touch” or something to that affect. I did not intend for the work to be prohibitive. I think I defeated myself in that regard. I didn’t make it accessible. Virginia was right, it was more like a museum display. That counteracts what I said I was trying to do.

          I am not insulted at all that the paintings seemed to have been done quickly. Some of them were. I took Susan’s advice and gave myself time limits for a few pieces. However, it is entirely likely that what was perceived as “fast” actually took me a long time. It is both a part of mature to take my time and a reflection of skill (or lack thereof). I am just not that good. I have to work very hard to produce things. But I am completely sincere when I say that I am OK with that. I paint because I love the challenge. I think I do most of what I do because I love the challenge. If I can’t do it well, it just makes me want to try harder. It absorbs me more. It feels good to me. I don’t have good words for it. I think you have to be in my head to understand. Most of the time everything is going very fast. I am always in a state of intense thought. Everything matters. I am always kind of over stimulated and intense. When I do things like painting, it focuses me. It is a break from my own mind. It becomes this meditative thing. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t even matter if it isn’t very good. It is all about what happens in my head. If I happen to also produce something I find visually pleasing, that is just a happy bonus.

          So, was there a concept behind the pieces? Yes and No. I did a second, related project. I have been slowly revising the images from my Introductory Pecha Kucha. Some of the things I painted where specifically done for that purpose. Those pieces had conceptual backing.

          The rest? They have patterns. I find them interesting and somewhat amusing to look at. I know which ones I spent time on and which ones I care a lot about. I see the patterns in the colors and subject matter. I also see that I did try to stretch beyond the kind of images I would normally paint. You might note a complete absence of dinosaurs, a favorite subject of my art. Also, only one bug. I like bugs. I tend to like heavily detailed, somewhat illustrative work. I pick the things I like, like bugs and airplanes, microscope slides, Nasa images and electronics. I do my best to reproduce them in as much detail as I am capable. This time I tried to do more abstract and expressive pieces. I don’t think I did a great job, but I tried and I think I learned from it.



          Virginia began by referencing an artist named Damien Hurst (check name)who does very detailed, clinical medical installations. She said that knowing me, she feels that my space is probably more meticulous than my display and that I should explore that and take it further by making the work more clinical. She also commented that the idea would be great for students to see, “yeah, this is what it takes.” She did not like the placement of the photos in the front. She felt they were too perfect, unless that is how they are in the studio. She asks if I mean to reflect myself or another artist. In a way, it is much like “dissecting” an artist. There is something to the similarity to the “museum of natural history” look of the display.

          I went back and forth a lot about clinical v. organic display. Initially I wanted it to be highly clinical and sort of satirical. Then I felt I simply couldn’t make that happen with the space and supplies available and I went another direction. Then I ended up with the sort of “natural history” display style. I would like the more clinical style but I think I have to be more committed to the project to do that. The display stations alone would end up costing me a lot of money. I don’t know if I am willing to invest that yet.

          I love the idea of “dissecting.” That is much better thematically than where I ended up.

          Virginia is totally right that my space is much more orderly than the display. I feel like that goes back to what I said above. I was muddled. I kept fluctuating between displaying myself and displaying from some other perspective. That needs to be resolved to make the piece better.



          Jim focused on the visual aspects. He said that he would let his camera speak for him. He said it was difficult to know where to start because it was jumbled together. Unfortunately, I think the video turned off during some of what he said.

          This makes me think that creating a documentary film style video would be an interesting addition to the piece if I were to expand it.



          Adam was also dropped from the video. he also commented that he didn’t quite know how to approach the work in sequence. He appreciated the humor of the title. Hopefully I can find the rest of his comments somewhere else.

          I meant to be funny and series at the same time, which is typical of me I think. I should have gone further with it and embraced that theme.



          She enjoyed reading the bits and pieces to see the process. It was interesting, amusing, thoughtful, colorful. She likes the painting more in the process. She says that she thinks the piece needs to be more disturbing. “No sweat.” It is very comforting and not very disturbing. It isn’t that it needs suffering. It just inst as surprising as it should be. She wants to see things like phone calls, interruption, jarring moments that intrude e=even if they are good. Everything on the table is expected. I want to be pushed further. It needs to be deeper and more nuanced and complicated. She also felt that it needed to be linked to the larger postcard project.

          Jolene is absolutely right. It needed to be complicated. I needed to let myself be funnier and more expressive. I also needed to decide who it was I was displaying. Is it me? Is it someone else.

          The cards could become post cards, but they were not created for that purpose. I figured when I was done with them I might send them, but that is as much connection as there was. I just needed a small size so that I didn’t end up with just one piece. However, it might be interesting to see that as a part of the rooms that Owen described. Maybe that is the final iteration of the work.

          That goes in my Idea Log as well. I like the idea. Part of what I like is that it adds value to the paintings beyond my ability as a painter. It lends them importance.



          Nate doesn’t think I fulfilled my purpose. He thinks I did the opposite of what I stated because I took the work and broke it into discrete charts. He likes the humor in the piece because it is “taking the piss out of” the work of art. He doesn’t think the “4th wall thing really works.” He felt the piece contained mixed messages.



          He disagrees with the previous comments but agrees that there are mixed messages. The biggest problem is that it is kind of “mushed” and “jumbled together.” he says that since I did not fully work out how to use the data, I didn’t lay it out very well. The work contains data, and anthropological data and personal/historical data. All of it needs to be separated out and given breathing room. He said he sees it as a multi room installation. He suggests that there could be one room full of charts and another of the artifacts of the work and another room of the finished pieces. He pointed out (ads did others) that the exhibit did not contain a clear direction and flow. The segments need to be separated and given “breathing room.” He also said that a lot of what was interesting was not the data but the way that the piece spoke to language and art. Art has been given cultural value. It has been made to matter and yet it is still just a manufactured thing. Some of the language needs to be worked on. The significance of presentation is very important and something we all need to work on. The collection of the things needs to be more finely curatted. Where does value come from?

          Owen was entirely right about it being jumbled. It isn’t that I didn’t think about it or plan it. I did. I just kept thinking and rethinking and I never quite ended up with a solid direction. I had all these ideas that I couldn’t quite connect up. It made a jumbled mess but inside that it left me a lot of things that were worth keeping and expanding. I like the idea of dividing it into rooms. I think maybe it would work best as a book, the way we discussed in studio class .

          This is the first time I have ever presented like this. It shows me how important it is to have a clear concept that focuses everything you do. I know I didn’t have that as I should this time, but I am getting there. It will happen.