“Musei Wormiani Historia”, the frontispiece from the Museum Wormianum depicting Ole Worm’s cabinet of curiosities. Collecting is a common habit of artists. Featuring one of your collections is an option for the next assignment.
We are moving on to experimenting with watercolors. Watercolor will build upon many of the ink wash skills we’ve developed, but add a few more options into the mix. Students have two choices of subject matter: a collection or “a tree like me”.
We looked at the work of Mark Dion, above, an artist who works with the concept of collections. According to Museum Madre, “Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences. The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkabinetts of the sixteenth century, exalt atypical orderings of objects and specimens. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society.” If you want to learn more about this artist, this video link has an hour long video. Although the visuals are poor, the audio is great. If you are a collector, this will be very interesting.
Other recent artist collections include Damian Hirst’s exhibition entitled “Wreck of the Unbelievable” where he displayed objects supposedly lost at sea that had been collected by an immensely wealthy freed slave. The objects and the story surrounding them are completely fabricated by the artist.
Another contemporary artist/collector is Sarah Sze, makes elaborate installations based upon objects she collects, many of which would be considered trash.
“Tree Like Me” option allows you to use the language of trees to tell at least 6 key events in your life. A sample from a workshop I attended is shown below. Note the mixture of realistic and surrealistic elements.
With either choice, the art should show a sense of space by using overlapping and/or relative scale. Also, background should be developed, although can be secondary to the subject matter.
Homework due Monday, 10/2: Research options
1. Sketch 3 or more objects for your “collection” from observation. Use different views, sizes and types on the same page. For instance you could do a collection of coffee cups, musical instruments, toys etc. (The collection you watercolor could be the same or completely different, but you should collect visual references.) Your collection should reveal your particular collecting interests.
2. If you plan to do the “trees like me” option for the watercolor assignment, sketch 3 trees from observation. Look for all the variety and “language” you can find of trees. (e.g. decay, new growth, broken branches, holes etc.)