Friday, October 24, 2008

"Concious Vibes"


Medium(s): Micron Pen, Pen & Ink, Sharpie
October 9, 2008

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USD -Design 1- project #2 required to collage images we find, then interpret value and shading using a variety of lines, designs and shapes. Concious vibes relates to the overall composition thats supposed to represent the power of music, and depending what is put out from it, how it can change and unite people for righteousness, and teach them about their own roots and the culture they come from.
Starting from the top, is the Star of Judah, with the lion created in the center of it, which can be referenced back in the description in "Jah is Forever". From the star, come rays extending in every direction. These have a few symbolic reasons withtin themselves. The rays can represent the calling to all displaced African people throughout the world to return to their homeland and regain their culture. Also, they could be causeways, the music in a way is a bridge for people to see things differently and learn something new. The causeways extended outward to all directions on the planet, giving displaced Africans a direct road and path back to their homeland. The rays can also represent the power concious reggae has, as it effects everyone all over the world and has become an international music. Teaching those who may not even be apart of the culture such as I, but have many parallels. The same "outreaching" rays can also be represented in the waves and lines coming off and extending outward off the coast of the continent.
My favorite part of the composition, the heads of an unindividualized Rastafari, a representation of a non-conformed African who is very proud of his roots and culture, and all that which is in him from where he comes from. The happiness he express relates to this, also in Bob Marley's belief that Love itself could literally cure the "sicknesses" such as Racism.
Again in the center appears the Lion of Judah, silhouetted using negative space and a dark background.
Behind the lion is the word "Revolution"..which reggae itself displays on many levels, from a person's individual inner revolution, breaking the robotic way of living in "Babylon" to living a more cultured a global revolution, that which there are true people of Jah (God) versus those that aren't. In the word revolution is the word love (r-EVOL-ution), and with the greatest acts of revolution, are always rooted from the greatest feelings of love. A true revolution cannot exist without fighting for something that a person loves deeply. Before you assume a person or group of people are terrorists, look at their culture and know overall it is based on a love they have within themselves, a love so great they are willing to die for it. Overall in this piece, it is is hidden for that fact, the fact that people usually do not see revolutions are driven from love, that something so opposite from what they feel is right must be straight evil and terrorism.
Below is a soundsystem, with a center speaker blasting through the center. It expresses the power bass has music-wise, but also how many barrers and walls music has the ability to break down and go through. The bottoms of the soundsystems are shaded green, gold, red, using the words themselves as the pattern and color value. Depending on how close I made the words shows the color value. Gold is very bright compared to green and red, so I spaced the word and made the letters bigger, versus red where the word is much smaller and more compacted into each other. The effect is when seen far back enough, the visual is simply shades of value.

"Until the philosophy which hold one race
Superior and another inferior
Is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war, me say war

That until there are no longer first class
And second class citizens of any nation
Until the colour of a man's skin
Is of no more significance thanthe colour of his eyes
Me say war

That until the basic human rights are equally
Guaranteed to all, without regard to race
Dis a war
That until that day
The dream of lasting peace, world citizenship
Rule of international morality
Will remain in but a fleeting illusion
To be persued, but never attained
Now everywhere is war, war

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes
that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique, South Africa sub-human bondage
Have been toppled, utterly destroyed
Well, everywhere is war,
me say war
War in the east, war in the west War up north, war down south
War, war, rumours of war
And until that day, the African continent
Will not know peace, we Africans will fight
We find it necessary and we know we shall win
As we are confident in the victory
Of good over evil, good over evil, good over evil
Good over evil, good over evil, good over evil"

"War" - Bob Marley and the Wailers

--Artist's Critique--

A collaging composition is definitely my comfort zone, so the assignment was very easy and enjoyable for me. I also havent been able to express my new love for this music on a scale of my artistic talent (not including "Jah is Forever"). Using designs and shapes for shading was also a very new technique, and I enjoy the outcome to the point of it has influenced me to do another piece common to this with similar designs. The fact also I've been wanting to express many things I've learned more deeply in this music through art, and I feel this was a good venting of that knowledge.
I haven't really done any serious composition before using symmatry also, so I treaded new territory in many ways with this project. A thing I would change would be the left face for some reaosn is less appealing to me than the right face. It is somehow different, perhaps the outer-edged shading or what not..perhaps I'll take tracing paper to discover what it is thats so different about the other.
In actuality, the bottom corners seem to pop out because they literally do. I covered to be what I thought was a mistake using ink in a more painting technique to create some cool effect. I was very displeased with it though and thought I had ruined it, until I remembered this was my second attempt, and had an extra canvas board lying around. I cut out the overall shape of the mistake and covered it. As much as it adds to my meaning of "breaking barriers", the piece perhaps now is too static with the technique and the style. Perhaps the painted flowing ink would have given it a more visiual appeal.
Other than that thought, I thought this was a very well-developed and designed composition, using new techniques to create the same effects I've always done before. This project was very fun and interesting, and I'll enjoy doing another like it.

"Jah is Forever"

Medium(s): Pencil, Linolium base
June 19, 2008

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What does it really mean to be a Rasta? To follow the rastafari way of life? Contrary to Bob Marley's popularity where people love him and his "ras colors" because people think it all relates to smoking weed, and that is what he undoubtingly has become a symbol of. When I learned who Bob Marley actually was and what he did, weed was such a small part of what he was all about and what he believed. Bob Marley was probably the most internationally well known and outspoken freedom fighter of his time in this music. He was not the first for sure, nor the last. With his songs I recommend people hearing (search youtube where he plays live) are Get Up, Stand Up..War...and Crazy Baldheads.
His dreads were extended in here because of what they actually symbolized. I learned dreadlocks actually publically showed a person's pledge to the visions of Emperor Selassie of Ethiopia, practically a living God in their view. All of this was and is a very outspoken movement about displaced africans returning to Africa to regain their roots and culture, and outspeaking against "Babylon" which symbolizes any kind of oppressor depending on context, mostly referring to tyrants like the United States. Dreads themselves were seen as revolutionary, and today most true rasta's allow only certain people to see them. Next time you want make dreads and rastafari a style and fad...keep this in mind when you exploit and disregard its rootical meanings.
The Lion symbolizes from the Lion of Judah to the lions Selassie as a child played with. It stands for lots of inner spiritual power, inner strength in Africans, and overall African pride. The little African continent in the middle is bleeding, which symbolizes all the blood that was and is being spilt fighting over the land. Enough said.
The flag on the left is the Flag of Ethiopia and the Rastafari Movement..though not the actual country's flag. I researched that many Ethiopians do not recognize the changes that were made to the flag, because the president who did led the country into poverty and famine. Many still recognize their flag with green, gold, and red with the Lion of Judah on it.
The AK47's at the top represent Bob Marley's song Get Up, Stand Up and War.

Reggae music has highly influenced my artwork presently. Concious-reggae for that matter (reggae relating to strictly lyrics that teach and speak about recognizing and regaining one's roots and culture, uplifting people from their current state to improve their lives and for their fellow people, recognizing within oneself and the natural world as creations of "Jah" or God, and many forms of revolution on different scales. Jah is Forever comes from a song "Jah Is" by Mystic Vision, which describes to the listener that the body may get hurt, grow old and weak, but not the internal fire people have within themselves, and that God is forever, since we are apart of his creation.

I have personally emersed myself in the parallels that this music has, with what I believe indigenous people all throughout the land need to hear and listen go back to their roots and regain their recognize Ihtsipaitapiyopa in everything that he has created, the essence of all life.With this sight, our people will once again be a proud people, and do anything to protect and save ourselves against the overshadowing Babylon.

"Though the body grows old and weiry, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weiry but Jah is forever.
Majestic is the body's only composure.
Everything that breathes moves together,
and Jah, the orchestrator.

Though the body grows old and weak, but never the fire
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.

Who made the mountains? Who made the seas?
The works of Jah.
Who made creations, like man woman and child?
The most high.

Though the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.

Speak of Jah Jah in a genesis revelation.
Jah the grand master of all the nations.
Who transgress the love? Transgress against Jah?

Though the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak, but never the fire,
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.
Jah is forever,
Though the body grows old and weak, but not the fire, never.
the body grows old and weak, but Jah is forever.

The body is complex in design.
So divine are I rastafari given,
tell them Jah Selassie I.

Jah is forever,
Jah is forever,
the body grows old and weak but what, not the internal fire, no no.
The body grows old and weak but Jah is forever."

- "Jah is Forever" - Mystic Vision

--Artist's Critique--

Originally drawn on a linolium pad intended to be a linocut print, I had made some major mistakes in my carving. The overall result had turned disaster because the inner carved color was almost exact as the original untouched surface. Unless I had really good lighting and often lifted the piece up to eye level to see the canyons versus the flat uncarved sections, I wasn't really able to tell where I had worked versus where I hadn't and what still needed to be carved. The print itself to me was ruined, but the pencil drawing itself I thought was alright, nothing special, just a pencil drawing in my collaging style.
Different pencils on different days contributed to there being a contrast in darkness between the left side from the rest of the piece and other subjects. Though in someways it displays a balance compared with Marley's dark focal point beard and the dark leaves on the african trees below on the bottom. A nice exploration more into the human face and what it does during different emotions, where skin wrinkles and tenses, etc. Overall a nice composition, the new topic alone compared to the rest of my portfolio adds variety to display and show the same meanings in the bigger scheme of things.

"In Whose Honor?"

Medium(s): Regular "Bic" Pen, Pen & Ink
September 14, 2007

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edication piece for Native mascot activist Charlene Teters, a composition done to represent the falsehoods, discrimination, and racism involved with "honoring" Indigenous people as mascots in modern day entertainment. This was a reaction piece to her documentary "In Whose Honor?" which showed her inspiration of starting this movement, what she experienced, and her massive struggles in attacking modern day Native mascots. Thanks to her efforts though, the University of Illinois retired their Chief Illiniwek mascot, which started her life involvement in modern Native activism. She is currently a professor of Fine Arts at IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts), so I knew she would appreciate artwork being done for her in her short 2-day visit to my university last year.
The main subject being a respected elder to represent real Native people, holds a fake eagle feather, dipped in black ink with a small pricetag to represent the fakeness of what is purchased by people to represent what we value/valued highly. The dollar bill beside the tag represents an arguement Charlene was having with someone dressed up as a Native, where he ended the arguement with "its just all about the money", which made me think in this world, when the cash is collected, does it even matter whats racially accepted? The major "but we're honoring you" words coming out of Cleveland Indians mascot "Chief Wahoo" represents what these people that support it tell us when we rise up and say no. To me, how can you be honoring someone when that person is insulted than honored, is there a need to continue it? Which also shows it really isnt about honoring us, its about the profit.

--Artist's Critique--
A rather quick and not well though out composition, it served its purpose the next day after presenting it to her during her portfolio presentation of her mascot-related activist art. The collaging images in my opinion are poorly related and melded together, and some placement of certain subjects are too random. Certain areas also between subjects leave too much negative space, which gives this compositions overall feel to be unfinished. I'm usually not a fan of written language in my art also, so there are many major factors about this composition that turn me off to my usual effort and style. Though the meaning and intention served its purpose to Charlene Teters and what it stands for.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Love" (In the Style of Oscar Howe)

Medium(s): Acrylic
March 9, 2007

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High School -Senior Project- the last and final addition to my senior project portfolio. This composition, the first of its kind in my portfolio using acrylic paint, is based on the inspiration of Yanktonai-Dakota artist Oscar Howe, a very popular historic artist and professor of the University of South Dakota, is considered the first modern Native American painter. His style of geometric shapes (but not considered cubism) to portray traditional Siouan culture, his artwork became widespread and well known.
"He became known as one of the few artists that emerged in and defined the Native American Arts Movement between the 1940's and 1960's. This movement saw the emergence of a professional Indian Arts community dedicated to expressing Indigenous values as a vital part of 20th century culture.
On another level, Oscar Howe's importance exists free from the context of his time and his Native heritage, to be judged solely as art. Based as Howe was in his heritage, he ultimately saw his art in universal terms as expressions of fundamental human responses to spirit and beauty. Without pride, he often spoke of his art as having a power equal to that of Picasso and Matisse, which many agree with and believe today." - (par. 3-4,

Soley on my composition, this piece is simply a representation of his style, weaving in his purposes also by means of expressing traditional values. This shows a Niitsitapi young man from my people, courting with a flute. The love is expressed by the glowing red art, and the hummingbirds that circle and even attempt to land on his fingers. Hummingbirds are seen as symbols of love with many nations. Elk also were seen as singers that no female could resist to as well, which explain the elk tracks leading to him, as if he himself is the elk, walking to this spot and sitting to sing his songs through the flute (somewhat relating to a small interest series including "The Flute Player").
His overall body shaped formed a diamond shape, which helped me decide and define the background geometrically, as Oscar Howe does in his work. The blue represents a peacefullness which one feels when playing this instrument, blue relating to the calmness of a nice day, where the blue sky is exposed fully.

--Artist's Critique--

An extremely important and vital portion in my portfolio, its my first and so far only composition dealing with a paint medium. Acrylic to me is a bit, if not completely uncontrollable, especially at this time when creating this, but I took my time and put in the effort so the edges would not be overlapping or sloppy. I was told he also used painter's tape to achieve his very fine sharp edges in his geometric backgrounds and even shapes within his main subjects. I believe a good composition, many things could be changed though to enhance the power this piece has the potentional of expressing to viewers. Certain places the background overlaps into the body, which in some ways shows a little poor craftsmenship, but it was mainly trying to create the same blues after putting it down for a day and picking it up the next. I believe with more exposure to acrylic and other paint-based projects, colors will become easier to create later, as well as my overall craftsmanship will improve.

"The Flute Player"


Medium(s): Woodless Colored Pencils
February 2, 2007

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High School -Senior Project- composition done with woodless colored pencils, colors red, black, yellow, and white only, which are sacred colors. This is an Apsaroke (Crow) teenager, noted by the mother of pearl shells worn by most northwestern plains nations, and his top knot or pompadour. This piece overall is supposed to represent the countless uses of the flute among indigenous nations all throughout Native land from Alaska to Argentina. From courting for his possible future wife in secrecy, to more spiritual ceremonies, it represents its pure beauty within our real people. This composition does not however represent modern-day flute music, what it has turned into, and how it is misused and seen today by people globally relating to our ways. This represents the instrument itself and us as people untouched and unaltered, simply in its purest form, for its sole purposes among our lives as Native people.

--Artist's Critique--
An exploration in the use of color, as well as a low-key background, both were extreme opposites of my comfort zone. It adds variety to my overall portfolio, and shows me also as the artist that I can actually work with color and it turns out ok (haha). Compared to the rest of my usually black and white dominant compositions, this tends to be a favorite among viewers.
I enjoyed used the woodless pencils, very smudge-free and easy to control. One thing I would change would be to somehow remove the blending of red and white, which turns pink. Viewers usually enjoy the pink tone, which contrasts to the pure red paint on the young man's face.
Another aspect of overal design in this composition is the subconcious balance the piece is given by the one eagle coup feather coming out directly left, visually filling in the negative black space on the entire left side of the composition. Overall I thought it was a successful color-exploration piece, possibly my lines and color blending needs work, but I'd say successful work.