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?

inspiration, hiding in plain sight. by Jeff Herrity Artist

So I've been slowly organizing my studio at school - meaning picking up random chunks of wood that have littered my space. I always like the post-creation mess. It's a great way to document the residue of the process. I've always been the type that documents my process every step of the way, taking photos and keeping records in my sketchbook. I like to look back and see how things evolved and the physical evidence I leave behind. Hidden Inspiration

Pinned to the wall in my studio, from the very beginning of the year, was a photo I took last year from the Met. This was taken during my 'fascinated with shadows' period. It's a Giacometti sculpture. I probably didn't even realize that I look at this every day and I suppose my subconscious finally made me act on how much I LOVE Giacometti but didn't know it.

One of the things that I really had to determine when making my figures was my vocabulary. I had made several maquettes of the pieces and there were some structural decisions that I had originally made that I edited out in my final work. (not to say that I won't re-introduce them in my next pieces) I really tried this time to focus on what makes a male figure look male and what makes a female female.

In the one form, the male figure has a broad chest made by adding an additional piece to the chest area, but in the others they ARE very narrow and simple. Just two arms along the body starting at the shoulders. For the women forms I went with smaller pieces and created hips. For the smaller, children, forms, they had no extra pieces, just the plain form without any physical development. Post-Modern? or Neo-Post-Modern? I'm not quite sure. But there is was. Waiting for me to discover it.

Even once the work was done.

what's NEXT? by Jeff Herrity Artist

Sorry for being so quiet the past couple weeks. It's been intense and i'm just now getting my head above water with anything non-thesis oriented. Oh, yeah, that. Thesis. Dropped off on March 19th and have been working to get it fully installed for the opening on April 14, from 8-10pm.

What a strange place my worked ended up in. I don't think I saw the work happen until it was in front of me like an army staring me down before battle. I did it. My spring break was spent in the studio making the pieces that only arrived in my head a few days before. Jim and Janis were talking to me about my pieces and really encouraged me, and they punched me in the gut too. With their help and guidance, my hands were ready to make things.

in progress

I had to think really hard about what I was trying to accomplish with this piece and how trying to get to my original idea caused this new approach. I created an 'army' of data. One thing that I think was in the back of my head was that these tall devices that I wanted to make were actually figural. Once I knew that, they started to create themselves in my head and THEN I knew what I needed them to be.

I had many sketches in my journal, all with various approaches to expressing the form. During the critique for the work (in Gallery 31) -  the maquettes - a 4x4 secured to a 17 x 17 inch board on casters. I didn't realize how figural they were until they were out of my studio and in a space, and then with my artist statement, it was only obvious. Then, Ivan pointed out the same fact and I knew it was was the piece was supposed to be. NOT some strange video carts with monitors on them.

I spent many hours at Home Depot trying to figure out the best way to produce these forms without revealing hardward or their structure. But that was the easy part. I KNEW what they needed to look like, and then after some trial and error, I knew how they would be created. Then, the whole 'paint or don't paint' dilemma that the Jim and Janis critique made me think about.

In the museum

One day down in the sculpture studio talking to Dan or Elliot (both probably) I realized that they were to be painted black. for some reason, in my head they were always black. After painting the first one, and then looking at the base, I realized the base needed to be the white part. But then, how did I connect these pieces to all my other work this semester and create a cohesive - or close to cohesive - body of work. Flame orange. Yep. The flame orange - SAFETY - orange duct tape around the first painting of the QR code, was to be what the sides of the bases would be.

It's like the data from the QR Code painting arose from the canvas into these structural formal figural forms.  Odd how that works. NEVER was this my original idea, but I'm so glad that I allowed flexibility in my process to guide me. (so very NOT the way I used to work)

The final pieces, 10 total figures, will now be gathered on the second floor of the Museum and visitors will be encouraged to move them around. The cameras have been their own adventure and the Dropcam staff have been incredible. The cameras will be battery operated and I'm currently trying to resolve how to keep a constant feed going. Right now the cameras are plugged in, and you know the drill - you can watch on your comptuter:

Focus Group View

giacometti, comin' through.... by Jeff Herrity Artist

After my CORE class on Wednesday and some great feedback from my instructors (but also a bit of panic set in), I had to give some thought to my project and really make it become what it was wanting to become but what I had failed to see. With renewed energy I dove in and started some new sketches and figured out what I needed to make to complete my thesis work. My army of drones. kinda. I realized that the piece isn't about all the techno whiz-bangery, but the simple shapes that were waiting for me to discover them standing silently. Figures. Right in front of me were these forms that my critique in gallery 31 first brought to my attention, but I ignored it. Giacometting

I think subconsciously I was channeling some Giacometti. It makes me think back to a photo I took a long time ago at the National Gallery of Art in DC that I had filed away with the 1000s of other photos from my phone - important at the time but now forgotten amongst photos snapped quickly on my iphone. Inspiration waiting to be re-discovered. I found the photo this morning, and it still makes me smile. It's just funny. So much movement in such simple lines. A sense of purpose.

Art as participant in the gallery space. 

My Thesis work is about that participation or choreography the artist has on the viewer in the museum or gallery. Artwork serves as a conductor with each dance different. Do you go right or left when entering a gallery space? Does the work guide you? I tend to go right to the piece that interests me most on first glance and then build on that movement...on to the next. I rarely read labels on the wall unless something needs clarification. I pinball my way through a space.

My thesis work is also about that movement through the gallery, and how the artist guides you and then of course, how and what you see.

My work is the art, and my work is the participant viewer.


I'm making figural forms in groupings (the work is titled Focus Group) - four groupings in all each with various figural forms that are representative of the average museum goer. Couples, families, singles. All tethered to each other through the devices - in this case the Dropcam. Of course what they see, you can see also by visiting (and you know that you can 'tune-in' to my studio while I make the work and watch it's creation, birth) on your computer (ironically, and thankfully, the feed does not work on iphones unless you have the Dropcam app, which I will offer as a solution in some way at the opening) These forms will (hopefully) be scattered throughout the museum space observing art and observing the observer.

These (to the right) are two of the forms that will be part of my Thesis. They are connected to each other via the cord from the camera. The camera is also powered by an external battery which the other form holds. there are no cords to the walls. These are completely free roaming camera forms. My hopes are that when the show is running, museum guests will move the forms to wherever they want them to be in the space (with a respectable distance from other works...) This is the participation of my work.

The participant will guide what the viewer at home sees. 

in my next post, i'll discuss the origins of watching at home.

Please touch the sculpture.


coming along? by Jeff Herrity Artist

So, in just over a month our NEXT at the Corcoran opens. NEXT is our thesis show, and we are all frantically working out the kinks in our work and concepts for our 'drop-off' date of March 19th. I'm in a bit of a different position because my piece wont' be finished until well after the 19th because of what my work is about - the space itself. It's hard for me to be doing a lot of work on the piece since I really won't be 'making' it until the drop-off. However, that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about follow up work or continuing my exploration of this work. Guides - 4x4s and IV stands with Dropcams mounted on them

I'm still thinking through several aspects of the work - mostly the guides - the figural forms that will have the cameras mounted on them. My original idea was to use the 4x4s with the Dropcam mounted on the base with casters. I really like this, but stumble when I look at them and think "well, I like the way they look in the raw wood" - but I'm sure many would have a problem with that. Part of my thought about this work is that all the cameras are completely exposed so they subvert the idea of hidden cameras. I'm bouncing around ideas about how or where or even IF the images are projected in the gallery or if people must go home and look on their computers. I may walk around the opening with my iPad and monitor the cameras and have people see - also to drive traffic at home later.

(remember, you can watch from these cameras NOW at

My other thought with the piece, may actually be a different piece - but it involves a more pointed use of the IV stands and the meaning that those bring to the piece....stay tuned....

lights, camera....CAMERAS....action! by Jeff Herrity Artist

Dropcam HD Last night I received an email from my friends at Dropcam and they are sending me my cameras...I even have a tracking number that I will begin to obsessively check every five minutes until they arrive. (personally, I LOVE tracking my shipments) I can't say how excited I am that I will have my cameras in time for the test run in Gallery 31, and to be able to really use and promote this fantastic product.

Looking at the beautiful simplicity of this new HD camera has me really thinking about the device I will be making that will be in the show. I really like the industrial appearance of the device combined with the shiny pupil like camera. This is something that is just as much an art object as the piece it will be used for.

Keep watching this space for details once I get the cameras, and get them up and running.

and, thanks a million times to the folks at Dropcam.

are you ready for your close-up?

will work for art by Jeff Herrity Artist

Well, I began my final semester of my fourth year in my BFA/MAT program here at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. I also have begun the first of my two consecutive years of thesis work. First up, fine art thesis. My thesis preview work has been well received and I think a great chance for me to begin to think about how I take a 4x4 foot tile piece with an embedded camera to the 'next level.' When I created that piece, I had some pretty clear thoughts about what the work was accomplishing, and what I was trying to communicate. It wasn't until my critique for that work that new ideas came to the surface and I realize that the work is about some other things that also fascinate me.

Surveillance. Watching. (not in the creepy way) What does it mean that we live in a post-9/11 world where we are constantly living our lives on cameras?  Is this for our safety and protection, or an invasion of our privacy? Are we different people when we know we are on camera? How does marketing influence the art world? How does technology influence our connectivity and communications with each other?

This is the direction my thesis work will be taking and I'm still in heavy research mode trying to understand my work. I know - at this point - how the 'piece' will be in the museum and the cameras have all been ordered and sketches sketched.

Because the nature of my work is marketing and communications it only made sense to me that I needed to involve sponsors to help me finance the work. I've been talking to friends that have small businesses and have had a great response towards my sponsorship goals.

sponsorship QR code

I've created different levels of sponsorship, and there are many great benefits to them all. First and foremost, they get their company logo and name included in my artist statement, and incorporated into the piece in some way. BUT, the hidden benefit is that each level of support includes several hours of my marketing consultation time. Considering I spent over 15 years as a consultant, it only makes sense that support of me and my work translates back to MY support of my sponsors work. Perhaps this is the nature of the piece, this technology driven communication and connection between two individuals is really structured on a barter system.

please contact me if you want more information on sponsorships. And, watch this blog over the next few months for regular updates on my thesis project, and information specific to my sponsors. It goes without saying that I would like you to support them as well.'s HOT at The Fridge by Jeff Herrity Artist

jeff and jess and aselin Seven of us BFA seniors are currently showing our work at The Fridge gallery in Washington, DC. Our work was first on display at the Corcoran Gallery of Art + Design in the side gallery 31 - but unfortunately due to bad timing and events, our show was missed by many. (Thanksgiving holiday break, Obama tree lighting ceremony, and portfolio review day)

In a fit of frustration that my partner John couldn't see the show or attend the opening, I called Alex Goldstein the founder and director of The Fridge gallery. I'd been to several shows in his incredible space on Barracks Row near Eastern Market, including the Corcoran's own BORF - aka John Tsombikos - and knew at that time, I wanted to show my work there. Alex was instantly welcoming to our group, and lucky for us, his month-long downtime was immediately filled making sure that we would have the best show.

And we did.

dan and aselin discussing their work

As Alex stated in the announcement of the show on The Fridge website, this show is a great opportunity for us to get feedback from people outside of our normal creative environment - the critique space. Having our work in a gallery setting gives us the chance to tweak the work some, and most importantly to TALK about our work when a grade isn't hanging over our heads.

The other great aspect of this show is that we were able to 'set' the show ourselves in a more intimate space that complimented our work amazingly. My piece required a sturdy wall to support it's weight, and so we were able to then build the show around it, and each piece seems to seamlessly blend to the next and really play off each other.

I think we went from loading the work to fully installed in just a few hours, also with the help of Edwin the gallery technician at The Fridge.

Our opening was a huge success. So many people, some we knew, and some we know now, showed up and talked to us about the work, and really spent time with each piece. I had a great conversation with Amanda Wilson, and she wrote some great reviews of our work.

thanks a million times to Alex.

AND, look for our first post-graduation show at The Fridge sometime in May or June....


yes, it scans. by Jeff Herrity Artist

Herrity_Jeffery_Target Audience - Audience Segmentation_49x49_ceramic tile and web cam So, last week I installed my Senior Thesis Preview Show in Gallery 31 along with several other classmates. All the stress leading up to this show instantly melted away once my piece was successfully hung on the wall. I was a bit worried that the weight of it would send the whole piece crashing to the floor and I would have to quickly re-write my artist statement to include how this was planned. Ok, not really, I wouldn't be able to bullshit my way through a catastrophe such as that. I think in total, the piece weighs in at a little over 100 pounds.

One thing DID change once the piece was hung, my beloved Dropcam got fuzzy. This isn't because the quality of the camera isn't good - it is fantastic - but many things started to work against me as I got closer to finishing. I had to embed the camera into the middle of the structure behind one of the black tiles which caused the signal strength to drop significantly. This isn't a flaw in the camera. The Corcoran is also notorious for bad internet signals, and so the wi-fi up in the senior studios is also working extra hard. Never once have I had the signal drop.

screenshots of people interacting with the work

Once the piece was hung on the walls, the camera is really sandwiched between tiles, plywood, 2x4s, drywall and more plywood. Across the gallery, directly in front of the QR code is the monitor that displays the live internet feed. One feature of the Dropcam(have I mentioned how great this device is??) is that I get a notification on my iPhone and email any time there is movement around the piece. I wasn't sure how I would use this when I was planning the work, but then found that I like a record of the people interacting with my work. There have even been a couple times when friends have been looking at the camera and playing around and I take a screenshot of them and text message it to them. It goes from fun to creepy in about a millisecond. BUT, that is what the piece is all about, interacting with me and interacting with the work.

My critique for the piece went well and there were many questions raised that I had also been considering. In my head and my plans everything went perfectly, but it wasn't until the piece was hung in the configuration that I wanted that some new ideas arose. This piece has become more about how we live today under constant surveillance. Sure, my original idea about how we interact with objects and gallery spaces holds true, but the broader question is how we are constantly watched EVERYWHERE has come into play. My THESIS piece may change a bit...

We have our celebration reception this Thursday December 1, 2011 from 6-8 pm. hope you can make it, and if not, sit down at your computer and go to: to watch.

"boy, what a great show." - mike teavee by Jeff Herrity Artist

"Look at me, I'll be be the first person in the world to be sent by television!" - mike teavee Growing up, I loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder. To this day, the movie creates a sense of wonder in me and every time I watch it I want to be one of those kids who explores the great unknown world of Willy Wonka. (Don't get me started on the terrible Tim Burton version...) To me, Gene Wilder is the only Willy Wonka.

scene from Willy Wonka where people are transported via the airwaves

There is one moment in the movie that has stayed  with me all my life, and probably in some way guided me into a career in the internet. The scene where Willy Wonka is transporting the chocolate bar across the room and all the bits are zooming above everyone's heads. That also kind of freaked me out. But it has made me think about how we share information today. We send information, now wirelessly, almost anywhere. I always think about these little particles of information constantly floating over my head in our wireless wi-fi world. We even store our data in some magical cloud now. (which also totally freaks me out)

We have iDevices that allow us to pay our parking meters, video chat with people on the other side of the planet, control our homes while NOT at home, and surveil our surroundings. We can look and interact anytime, anywhere.

My latest piece that I have been documenting on this blog is nearly complete. Today I finished all of the grout work on the tiles, and I just need to wait for it to cure before I embed the webcam. This piece is also about how we see, and how we watch and how we look. But, at the same time, it's about how we are looked at and how we are seen, even when we don't know it.

close up image of my ceramic tiles with the web cam built in.

As we all know, i've been exploring the current marketing phenomena - QR codes - and how through our devices we are able to quickly get a marketing message. That seems weird to me; companies are doing very little work to get their messages to us. WE do all the work. It only takes a few seconds to make a QR code. It's a total marketing win - just put this little doohicky on things and people will scan it and hopefully buy something. The ROI on these must be astounding.

But, what happens when these codes look back at us like we are animals in this greater marketing zoo? What would the QR code see?

I've been giving much thought to how people see with their new iDevices and how we use them to interact with our environment and the gallery space. Like I mentioned above, my large ceramic QR code has a webcam built into it. This webcam will broadcast, via the internet, a feed of the people interacting (scanning) with the code. This information will be transported to another part of the gallery during the show - much like Mike Teavee - and put back together so everyone can see themselves as they are seen by this code.

AND, even if you are not able to see the show in person, you can watch from wherever you are via the wondrous powers of the  internet. I've even been broadcasting the creation of the piece if you have been watching - and I know you have.

enjoy the show.

is this thing on? by Jeff Herrity Artist

Oh, it's on! On November 21, 2011 I will be installing my newest piece called 'Target Audience' which is a continuation of my previous works incorporating QR codes. My last piece 'Mission Statement' was well received, and I learned many things during my critique of it. It's hard to describe how a critique went for a piece that is fairly experiential - it's hard to critique an experience where not everyone participates - meaning they did or didn't scan the code. And, this piece wasn't available to the general public, only my fellow classmates. It is now in my studio at Flux and I've had some interactions and positive feedback. Hopefully the piece will be in some shows and I can reach a broader audience.

my task list for the project Target Audience

My new piece is a bit more ambitious and at any point the whole concept can come crashing down on me. I'm creating the same QR codes but with 2inch by 2inch ceramic tiles. The first problem I have encountered is that there are tiles of different heights. The black tiles I ordered are taller than the white ones. Of course the price different should have clued me into the difference in height (and quality.) I'm not entirely sure if I will seek out shorter black tiles or taller white tiles. I've spent many hours already working on the layout of the code - and not sure if I want to spend the time doing the same task again when my task list is already so long.

I'm at the point where I need to solidify my decisions and proceed with construction. I was talking to a colleague yesterday who informed me of something even more important...the tiles will need to set up before I can really manipulate the object. UGH. So, that means that I have to be done before the 21st - which is good for time planning.

the initial layout process for my QR code

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when working to a deadline is that the timeline is not considered in a backwards direction. I was so glad that he reminded me of this, and so I was able to go back and look at my timeline differently - backwards. My calendar has changed drastically now.

It's funny that when I work on these types of labor intensive projects, I reject all technology. Normally, everything I do and manage is through technology. iTechnology really. Now, some cloud manages my entire existence. In this case, my calendar is hand-drawn in my project journal.  My new finish date for the tiling is November 18. Less than a week. And there is so much that has to happen now. It is no longer a project but a carefully choreographed dance. And at this point, I have no idea who my dance partners are. WELL, I do know, but I don't know what kind of dance they are doing. Tiles. Home Depot. Wood. etc. Oh, and a webcam where I can't control the IT environment in the gallery space. fun.

This piece, while a working scannable code, will also have an aspect that addresses time and how we perceive space in a gallery. Embedded into the middle of the piece, UNDER the tiles, will be a webcam that is creating a live video feed over the internet. I won't get into specifics here, but there is something that I'm working on that will make the piece multi-dimensional. Is this QR code a code or a doorway to another place? (admittedly, I won't go into specifics because this part may change depending on many variables...) BUT, if you want to take a peek into my world you can (but only if the camera is turned on...i'll post when I have it more permanently active...) Hopefully, I will move this camera into my studio so viewers can watch my progress on the piece.

The webcam was it's own little nightmare aspect for me to deal with. (seems like a lot of my work these days has a hint of unpredictability that keeps me 'honest.' My friend Jim R. once told me that I always saw the finish line in my work which made me often miss opportunities to all my work now has this aspect of uncontrollability (i think i keep making up words here...) that terrifies me.

But, back to the webcam - i've purchased several and only one works with MAC nicely. The Dropcam. I was able to set it up in minutes, no PC required. It was fun yesterday getting that side of the piece working and I had the camera pointed at me while I worked. I sent an email to my partner John and told him he can see me. I promptly forgot about it and that it was recording and broadcasting my every move. At one point I had an itch in my nose and started picking. Yes, I was picking my nose. And then I looked over at this eye - webcam - staring at me and I thought 'oh great, is that thing still on?'

It was on.

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.

to scan or not to scan... by Jeff Herrity Artist

So, my piece "Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore" continues to generate conversation. I wasn't sure what kind of response, if any, I would get from my use of the QR code.

Since the piece was installed, last week, people continue to approach me and tell me they like (or don't like) my piece in white walls. How would they know it's me if I do not have a name label on the wall?

Nate G. came up to me yesterday and showed me his friend's phone with my text on the screen. I was glad about that interaction with both my work and me personally. I like when someone tells me they think my idea to use the code is interesting.

I will share one more bit of information about the code and it's placement in my installation. I made it small so that you would have to get closer to the piece, interact with it more, just in order to scan the code.

I'm excited where this work is taking me and I have already begun working on my second piece in this series that will lead me to my Thesis preview show in December where the largest piece of this series should (god i hope) be complete and generate just as much conversation. Good or bad.

I've even included the QR code so that you can scan it on your phone from wherever you are. you don't even need to be at the Corcoran White Walls exhibit.

no forwarding address. by Jeff Herrity Artist

So, I survived my (e)merge art fair experience relatively unharmed. Well, actually, I think I came out of the other side a different person and different artist armed with a better idea of how to talk about my art. It's interesting to me to think that I may make different art now. Not different in that I am going to pander to the art community, but with the understanding that everyone will look at my art differently. the de-install of my piece

I cannot influence how people interpret my art unless I specifically say "My work is about..." or "This is what you are to think..." Hopefully, I will be able to be clear in my intentions with what I want to communicate - but I'm also secure in understanding that not everyone will 'get' it. That's ok from my perspective, just as it should be ok from the viewer's perspective.

Heading into the (e)merge show I knew that immediately after the de-install of that show, I would be installing my first senior show at school called FOCUS. This show sets the stage for our final thesis project and show in the museum. For many weeks, I worked and worked on a new piece for this first show. I was working on a large wall piece, or floor piece (I didn't really know) and was really struggling with what the piece meant to me and why I was making it. I started to enter my previous work style, and was forcing meaning that was not there. During my one-on-one meetings with my instructors, each gave a different set of critiques and I continued on my way.

the wall piece

On the Wednesday during my install of (e)merge Ivan basically challenged me about the piece and it did several things: 1. made me panic, 2. made me rethink the entire piece, 3. made me panic even more because I was already knee deep in working on a piece where I didn't know the outcome. So, now, I have two pieces that I have no clue what they were going to be. Fuck. I knew I wouldn't have time to completely make something new and I thought that I was going to have to go with a piece that I couldn't talk about and just take the hit. I knew that I would get slaughtered if I put up a piece just because it was pretty and shiny.

another view of the piece

Pretty and shiny doesn't always go well in art school. And pretty and shiny CERAMICS definitely doesn't (always) go over well...I might as well have said I wanted to be a visionary artist just for the trifecta of art school sins.

So, all during the (e)merge show I was fretting over what I was going to install on Monday morning. I figured I would just continue making the horns and something would come out at the right minute.  I thought the solution was to work with a different material - glycerine - and so I started working on those.

Still nothing.

I realized that I would have to make something work during the install and just put it all out of my mind and would deal with it at the time.

Well, just as things always work out, the (e)merge art fair came to an end. The last day was the best with so many friends coming to visit  - Beth, Art, Tara, the amazing Jen, Greg, Daniel, Jim, Judith, Novie (the owner of Flux Studios DC) and so many others. Forest Allread continued to be a great friend and we had so many more great conversations. The day definitely was ending on a high note.

Then it was 5pm. The show was over. Time to take everything down. Time to face reality that I still didn't have a good piece for the show the next day.

I got sad.

It was amazing how quickly the other artists were able to pack up their work and return this magical art wonderland to it's own reality: a parking garage.

I was standing in the middle of a parking garage popping garbage bags. Shit. Is this my future? Where was Jesus in the Clouds?

I continued to clean up my mess. Thinking about my work and what this experience meant to me. Did this work still exist? My strand of Jesus lights were revealed to me and as I unplugged them I jokingly said to myself: "Jesus doesn't live here anymore."

Then it hit me like a bag of deflated garbage bags - literally. All this shit i've been carrying around with me, this garbage,  was the work. All I had to show for this amazing experience was thrown over my shoulder and into the back of my car. I wanted to keep it, but also wanted to break out of it like a bull through the toreadors cape.

I had my piece for my FOCUS show. Dear sweet baby Jesus, I hope I can pull this off.

how to make gifs How to make gifs

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.

i saw jesus in the clouds by Jeff Herrity Artist

Finished day one of my installation of my piece at the (e)merge art fair. All is going very well so far because the awesome Andy Martin, a fellow artist and great friend from Philadelphia, came down for the weekend to help me install. And, let's face it, it takes a special friend and person to deal with me when I am in this 'mode'. (read: INSANE)

I was able to get a little bit of a head start yesterday and got my infrastructure built and even a few bags inflated and installed. This was great for me because I felt that I was able to get several hours of work out of the way so that Andy and I could really get rolling on Thursday.

Today, we spent 7 hours working on the piece, and again like the first time I worked on it in CORE last year (a version of it anyway) - I remember what this piece is really about. Me, diligently working on something that I have a basic idea of the outcome, but really let the materials drive the finished piece. Some bags pop, or deflate, the piece will shift as i'm tying new bags to the form. It's insanely frustrating.

There are several new aspects to the piece that help me with the space and how the piece comes together in the end...and these new elements are how the piece got it's new name:

I Saw Jesus in the Clouds.

before. by Jeff Herrity Artist

This is quite a week in regards to work and art making. Yikes.  Two big projects happening in the same week. For CORE Studio (my main studio class for my fine art studies) we install our first show on Monday September 26 in White Walls. This is technically our first contract or project that is leading up to our thesis preview show in December. My work is focusing on...well, i'm not entirely sure yet. I've been reading this incredible book The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, and it has really helped me to understand my work and my thoughts on my work in ways that I suppose I knew was there somehow, but hadn't been fully realized. horns CORE project

My first piece is dealing with horns. But it's mostly about how horns (and teeth, hair, etc) are just by products of things our body doesn't need anymore and we shed it, and what our body produces that will help to protect us. I've always identified with the bull (being a Taurus) and these specific horns have always fascinated me as objects - i've incorporated them into my work for a long time but didn't understand the connection they were making to me and my work.

I've made many of them because it's my favorite mold in the ceramics studio - but it wasn't until the Poetics of Space and my more detailed understanding of space and home and what makes a home a safe place that these horns have taken on a new meaning. I see them as an expulsion of my self and the repetitive creation something that - in mass quantity - can be rather agressive looking and protective. In my one-on-one critiques with my instructors we've discussed the many possibilities for this piece and I'm excited that even up to the last few days of work-time, I still don't know 100% how the final will look. (the old art-making me would be having a nervous breakdown at this point.)

The parking lot before....

Speaking of me making pieces that I don't know how they will be finalized, I started working on my installation at the (e)merge art fair. I'm revisiting a piece that I did for CORE last year that was a further exploration of my cloud installation (which you stood inside of) but instead, it was me making a cloud but intentionally allowing the materials and the process dictate what happened. This was very helpful to me because it made me have to NOT know what the end result would be. Working with the garbage bags was a great way to wrestle with the act of creating, but having to give-in to unseen forces (air leaking out of the bags.) In the end, I had a piece that was enormous and showed my process as well as my efforts.

When  I was invited to be in (e)merge I was talking with Joe Hale (our exhibit director) and was talking about what I should do, I mentioned the cloud piece and he said that would be great because he needed installations. This piece, when finished should definitely command a presence in the show (good or bad) and will hopefully be the bait to bring people to our booth/area so they can see the fine work from my fellow students in the Fine Art program and Photo/PhotoJournalism programs. There are 10 of us total, and only four fine artists (well, we are all FINE artists...) I plan to do a few different things with this piece and with the help of my good friend Andy Martin (from Philly, and graduate from the Tyler School of Art) so, again, I'm not entirely sure what the end result will be - with the exception of a marketing tool to get people to our space. . .

guess i'll be a marketer until the end.

so many options. by Jeff Herrity Artist

Last night I went to the opening of the WPA show Options 2011  <--click for details -in what has to be one of the coolest spaces for a show in DC - some random pre-demolition or pre-renovation space on New York Avenue next to District Crossfit and the DC Eagle. You enter the space up a flight of crack-house style stairs and through a narrow (about as wide as me) opening into a large cavernous series of rooms. Amazing. There were many artists' work in the show that I'm familiar with, Heather Boaz, Lisa Dillin, and Katherine Mann. Katherine's work greeted me as I walked up the stairs and blended into the space nicely, almost too nicely since some attendees didn't even realize it was her work. Corporate culture was the theme in Lisa Dillin's work (also a current teacher of mine) and I really connect to it having spent so many years in corporate america (lowercase intentional) - and the work seems even more relevant today in how hostile corporations are towards the public and their own employees.

I was instantly jealous when I saw the installation/performance by Heather. She had sent out a request for volunteers to be in the piece and I wanted to do it sooooo badly until my feet betrayed me. She needed someone with a size 10.5 shoe. I'm 11.5/12 and would have gladly cut off my big toe to fit in the shoes that the person had to wear. They had handles on the bottom. Incredible.

If you have a chance, you should check out the show.