The past two sessions with visiting artist Randy Guthmiller primarily focused on the practice of other artists, most of whom are in the current exhibition Urban Theater: New York Art in the 1980s. This Sunday, Randy focused on his own work and created a lesson that relates to his current creative pursuits.
The day started in the classroom with Randy giving the students a little time to finish their self-portraits for the group zine from last week. The students’ work really captured the spirit of the project.
Then we were off to the lecture room where Randy had a presentation waiting. He spoke in detail about his work, sharing older images and then moving forward to some of the concepts that he is interested in now. One of these concepts is wabi-sabi, a Japanese notion centered on the appreciation of imperfection and impermanence. Randy also spoke in detail about his embracement of not knowing, meaning that it is totally acceptable for an artist to make work without preconceived ideas or goals. From his perspective, this helps artists explore, actively learn, and gain a sense of humility.
Randy is most well known for his handmade zines, SHAPES. It was interesting to hear his inspiration for creating zines. He shared that once he returned to the Dallas/Fort Worth area after studying at Hampshire College, he didn’t know the arts community and found that creating and handing out zines was a great way to introduce himself. Randy’s zine, SHAPES, is exactly what it sounds like—a collection of interesting shapes, one per page. He draws inspiration from a variety of sources, such as architecture, animals, and shadows. Randy hands his unique zines out freely or trades them with other artists. Guthmiller also has a line of T-shirts that feature one-of-a-kind Shapes as well.
During the Q&A, we asked Randy a variety of questions related to his art and his methods of teaching. He has had a great deal of practice making art and a variety of teaching experiences, from five-year-olds to the elderly. Randy is not only an interesting and talented artist/teacher, but also a great resource of information.
After learning more about Randy as an artist, we left our phones behind, grabbed our sketchbooks, and went outside to gather under Roxy Paine’s Conjoined. As we all stood in a circle on the grass, Randy guided us all in a meditation of sorts he calls “tiny dance.”
Following the quiet moment, the class was introduced the next project, SHAPES. The teens will work on this project for the next two class sessions. The assignments started with the students exploring both floors of the museum. As they moved through the galleries with their sketchbooks, each student made five drawings based on shapes found in the artwork and five drawings based on shapes found in the architecture
Following a chat about our sketches, we returned to the studio and created graphite drawings from one of the shapes drawn in our sketchbooks. Each student was given a full sheet of good rag paper and a choice of pencils. Randy instructed the students not to outline their shape, but instead to build the form from the center out, filling the entire page. The remainder of class was devoted to finishing this drawing.
Class ended with a brief presentation about the artist we will be working with next class, Kenny Scharf, a homework assignment, and a group pic!