old work, new forms. by Jeff Herrity Artist

Looking forward to a show coming up in November in North Carolina with my studio-mates from Flux Studios. Before I left for Naples, Florida, I had a great talk with Novie about my work, and the work for this show. It was a really great conversation for me, one of the first one-on-one type critiques that I had after finishing at the Corcoran. It was nice getting such direct and caring feedback. It made me think about my ceramics practice and that I really need to focus on that a bit more since I sort of abandoned it at the Corcoran in my last year of study. I'm glad I made a couple hundred pounds of porcelain slip, and started playing with molds again. closeup of horns

Like any artist, I have about 100 projects currently in the works. Ok, probably only about 10, but it might as well be 100. My timing leaving for Florida came right about when I was getting some good studio-practice practice. Luckily for me, I am working on a piece for a friend (i'll do another post about that later) that has me very excited and it has a deadline which is great because it forces me to get through any creative blocks I CLEARLY have as a result of this new found artistic freedom.

So, for this show - which I'll post details about as soon as I get them - needs to be ceramics. Ok...I can do that. In my conversation with Novie, she mentioned a piece I have been manipulating so many times - each result better than the last - and so we started playing with the pieces. We talked about different approaches that I could take, and as I've been thinking about it over the past few weeks away from the studio, not yet committed to sketchbook stage yet, I think I know what I'm doing.


Ok, there are two ideas.

The first is a large wall piece, much like this configuration here when I was trying to make it into a piece at school (and there are probably photos of it on this blog from a while ago) for my first project in my CORE studio class nearly a YEAR ago. (I abandoned it at the 11th hour and did something completely different)

My new idea will require about four times as many of the pieces arranged something like this, but much much bigger.

Of course, this probably won't even been the end result because there was something else that Novie and I discussed that i'm eager to get working on as a further exploration of the piece. More on that as I work it out.

But, the whole point of this post is really that I'm excited to work on this new piece and not really know the outcome. I see the finish line, but I'm not sure the path I'll take to get to it.

who says you can't teach an old piece new tricks?

how do you see? by Jeff Herrity Artist

Mission Statement QR code So, my first full attempt at incorporating QR codes into my work has passed, and I'm currently working on the second piece in the series. I'm very happy with how the 'painting' ended and again, lively discussion during my critique.

Mission Statement QR code on critique wall

I'm still working on the 'experience' of the piece(s) and how we are expected to interact with them. It's a very fine line that I'm trying to walk which means a drift in either direction can be disastrous. This first piece, Mission Statement, is my introduction to the work and lays the foundation for the following work. I'm looking at how we look at art and how we interact with art, and then how we interact with each other in a digital age.

book cover image: Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media

I've been doing a lot of reading on the topic of interactive museum/gallery experiences and have found a great bible for me: Rethinking Curating: Art After New Media. This book has already proven to be very valuable in helping me to identify what has been done in the past with interactive or experiential work in museums and gallery settings. I've quickly added it to my list of favorites along with The Poetics of Space.

I'm very excited about the work that I have started for my next piece - Target Audience - which will continue with this theme and message but uses the codes as a doorway to another place...stay tuned

what will you see next?

How will you see it?

please touch. by Jeff Herrity Artist

Next Monday, Halloween, I will be having my critique for my second project in CORE studio class. This new piece is a step closer to my December show - Thesis Preview - and I'm now beginning to get knee deep in the concept. I'm thinking a lot about how people interact with art and how we live in a world where everything is vying for our attention. a 36x36 frame with black felt flocking on the ground

I've spent about 40 hours working on a painting. That's a really really long time for me to work on one piece. I already know the work will be met with controversy just based on how my last work(s) utilizing the QR codes went over. Some people loved it, and some didn't. Perfect.

This new work is my attempt to orchestrate an interaction with a piece of artwork, the physical push and pull tension that any object may create.

Let me back up a second and explain something about me. I'm a very tactile person. I touch everything. It is very hard for me to walk through a department store and not want to experience the way something feels on my fingertips. (once on a field trip to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, I ran my hand along ancient hieroglyphics - let's just say THAT situation didn't end well...alarms, guards, etc)

This tactile nature of mine may be one of the reasons that I like working with ceramics; engaging my fingers in a way that is natural for me. Eyes open or closed, my fingers can see for me. I always touch the braille bumps whenever I see them - this is something that fascinates me - sight-impaired people can read with their fingertips.

my studio with my latest work: Touch.

My newest work is about how we 'look' at art. Some people stand many feet away, while many other (myself included) will walk right up to a work and inspect it visually. I want to see the brush strokes or how it was constructed. There are not many situations where I can 'see' with my hands.

My exploration of the QR codes continues with this painting, which to me isn't a painting but an installation. I want the viewer to come closer, 'see' how I want you to see and abandon your need for information on how you should interpret the work.

However, once you have seen what I want you to see, you - as a borg-like device-driven viewer you must walk away, out of the tactile sensory zone to pull out your smartphone and scan the work with your new eye, the device scanner, and 'see' in the way that our culture is heading. On a small screen in your hands.

But, please, first come close and touch the artwork. It's ok.

I promise, alarms will not sound.

i feel different. by Jeff Herrity Artist

It's been since Thursday afternoon that my piece "I Saw Jesus in the Clouds" has been on display at the (e)merge art fair. Over these past few days, i've watched the work transform and slowly become something a bit different than the fully inflated bags that represented the clouds. Now, the piece has become a great learning experience for me. Spending time near the piece over the past few days has made me think a lot about how people interact with art and how I interact with people interacting with my art - if I do at all. There have been two main take-aways from this experience for me, which ends today:

  • Do I, as an artist, interrupt the viewer and discuss my work?
  • How do I actually talk about my work?

I have also enjoyed the times that I spent with former Corcoran student and current MAT2 student (the art ed program I am also in) Forest Allread. His work won him a place in the show, and I've always thought that his work was leaps and bounds better than many folks coming out of our school. His work is just so unique and interesting to me. But, anyway, he and I were discussing the 'problem' of when do you - as the artist - approach someone in the art space and interrupt their exploration of the work? I think he and I were both in agreement that you have to really let the people spend the amount of time uninterrupted. But, there is a point when some cues are given that you can talk to them, or if they approach you. I've had both experiences by my work both with different results.

I was watching a father and son (about 7) walking all around my piece, and then the son finally settled in the chair that is nestled under my clouds. I could tell they were having a conversation of some depth. I got curious and slowly started to inch my way closer and closer. The little boy was looking up and all around him. Finally I got into earshot and overheard:

I Saw Jesus in the Clouds

Father:  "....but, do you think this is art?" Son:  "...ummmmm....yeah, because I feel different when I look at it"

Well, that was all I needed to hear. Of course a few seconds later he noticed the brightly lit magnet piece across from mine and took off. I can't blame him, i'm easily distracted by the brightness of the piece as well. And, it's got magnets. Who doesn't love magnets?

A little bit later a woman, older, and clearly drunk, wanders into my space. She's puzzled and appears frustrated. I intentionally decided to interrupt her because I knew she probably needed my guidance. I chose poorly.

She didn't know that the piece was mine, and I approached her - cautiously - and said hello. The floodgates of confusion burst and her unsuccessful day of looking at and interpreting emerging art and artists was spewed all over me.

Lady:  "....Can you splain thish to me? I jush don' get it...." me: (after taking step back, not sure if I could get contact drunk)  "Sure, it's about white trash"

Of course, my description was a little bit longer, but the funny thing is she then finally understood it. The 'it' being ART in general. We had an interesting conversation about art and that it is ok not to understand it all. This woman was probably in her late 60s and like I mentioned, she was drunk. But I think she was drunk because the day for her was so frustrating. The gallery rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors could be intimidating to the casual art viewer. Even I had problems understanding some of the concepts. But this drunk woman was upset with herself because she didn't understand the art that she so desperately wanted to 'get.'

I told her that it was ok not to understand it all but that she had to focus on what she liked and then could dig in and ask questions. Finally, her eyes lit up like it was me that finally gave her the validation that she wasn't stupid for not understanding what she was seeing. At one point Mia Olsen (whom I adore) came up and I asked the lady if she remembered the 'room with the hair all over the bed'  "YESH! I didn unnershtand that."

me: "That was Mia's work"

A few seconds of awkward entered the conversation again, but I think the woman was finally OK not understanding some work. At this point I directed the woman to the Art Whino area, armed with a new sense of understanding the art scene and knowing it was OK to be puzzled by work.

me: "Sorry, Mia, I had to help that woman drive the bus that just ran both of us over"

But, all of these exchanges also made me realize that sometimes people DO need the help of an artist statement or some sort of explanation of the work. We are not all art students and lovers of art or art theory. I realized that my work may be different things to different people. (let's face it, my piece is a bunch of garbage bags tied together...) Some people need the work explained in terms that they can identify with. I can tell them what it means to ME, but they will interpret it based on what they bring to the work.

guy with long ponytail: "I have work in this show too." me:  "GREAT! what is it?"  (I realized afterwards that his statement was a challenge to me, but I took the bait anyway) guy with long ponytail: "I installed the walls and drywall [that enclosed] the space." my thought bubble said "OH FUCK, now what do I say?" me: "GREAT! thank you for your effort, fine job you did." his girlfriend with the 'Buddha Say Relax' tshirt: "Can you tell me about your work?" my thought bubble repeated, louder this time: "OH FUCK, now what do I say?" me: "It's about sitting under the clouds and meditating on what you may find"

Buddah say relax.

They both took off arguing over who would sit in the chair first. They took turns taking pictures in the chair, and I took pictures of them as a reminder of this exchange.

After they were done, the woman came over and suddenly was full of insight into the work as if Buddha himself whispered the meaning to her. And as they walked away, lured again by magnets, they kept looking back and pointing, seeing different things in the cloud.

Sometimes you have to tell the people what to see. And sometimes, they tell you what THEY see and it brings further meaning to the work that may not have been there in the first place.

But of all the interactions I had with people, the most special to me was walking Jacquie Ionita - the Gallery Directress at Hamiltonian Gallery - through the piece. I don't really care to tell everyone about our exchange, but in just a few minutes she gave me the best advice for talking about my work.

Because of that, I feel different now.

I feel like an artist.