Joshua Goode has joined T/AP as our final artist and mentor of the 2012–2013 class year, and we are very excited to have him with us. Working in various media, he is an artist interested in not only creating an art object, but also harnessing its setting as an integral part of the work. As he discussed his own art practice, we learned that much of his inspiration is autobiographical, often dealing with his family and personal history.
Josh described the work of Joseph Beuys, an artist who used a constructed personal history (a myth) as the source of his art practice. His use of animal fat and felt material throughout his artistic career harkened back to his supposed rescue by Crimean Tatars after being shot down while flying over the region in 1943. He recounted that they wrapped him in animal fat and felt for warmth and nursed him back to health. Though his personal myth was proved to be false, it does not discount the power that personal histories, whether real or constructed, may possess and convey to others.
We further discussed the themes of personal history and mythology in front of Anselm Kiefer’s Papst Alexander VI: Die goldene Bulle (Pope Alexander VI: The Golden Bull), 1996.
Kiefer was born in Germany in 1945, the year World War II ended. Growing up in postwar Germany, Kiefer inherited the shame and guilt of actions he was not responsible for, leading him to search for cultural touchstones and mythologies elsewhere.
One of the Modern’s current FOCUS series exhibitions showcases the work of Yinka Shonibare MBE, a British/Nigerian artist whose works explore the effects of colonialism. Another artist who draws subject matter from history, he explores the hybridity that developed between distinct cultures during the period of Europe’s colonization of Africa. Part of this hybridity can be seen in Shonibare’s use of batik fabric—while strongly associated with West Africa, batik originally came to Africa from Indonesia via European colonizers. Josh also discussed how colonialism exerts its influence over identity and history, pointing out that histories are told in different ways by different peoples with various perspectives.
Returning to the lab, Josh introduced the students to their project for the day, first by teaching them to tear paper (rather than cut it) for an attractive deckled edge and then by experimenting with brushes and markmaking using water, acrylic paint, and/or India ink.
After the demonstration, Josh asked the teen artists to pick an object that they always carry with them (one that implicitly bears some significance simply because there must be a reason why it is taken everywhere), explore or construct its history, and then produce an image that conveys the history and personal importance of the object. After completing the first paintings, the teen artists recreated the image on a smaller scale, refining them through simplification.
Next week, T/AP will take a field trip to Dallas to see various kinds of art environments, such as galleries, studios, and exhibition spaces. It will be a fun learning experience!