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Video on John Udvardy April 21, 2011

Posted by claralieu in sculpture, video.
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Watch this video shot by Paul Falcone of WCAC-TV on the exhibition “John Udvardy: A Sculptor’s Vision” which is currently on view at the gallery. In this interview I discuss John’s creative process and the experience of putting together the exhibition.


Opening for “John Udvardy: A Sculptor’s Vision” April 14, 2011

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Last Thursday we hosted an opening reception for the exhibition “John Udvardy: A Sculptor’s Vision” in the gallery. The opening attracted people from all over the region; many came from Providence and some came as far as Washington DC and Vermont!

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

(above) John Udvardy (left) speaks to RISD Professor Alba Corrado. (right)

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

(above) John Udvardy, (left) speaks with RISD Professor Tom Mills (second from the left), Aaron Udvardy, (second from right)  and Wellesley printshop technician Myles Dunigan. (right)

Installing “John Udvardy: A Sculptor’s Vision” March 28, 2011

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John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

We had a very busy day in the gallery this past weekend installing the sculpture exhibition “John Udvardy: A Sculptor’s Vision”. John arrived with his crew around 2:00pm, and we had indispensable help from Wellesley students Whitney Sheng, Alina Zalucki, Emma Smith, and Anne Tuan during the installation.

This installation was by far the most complex and ambitious undertaking that we’ve done since I started as gallery director three years ago: the exhibition features sixteen sculptures, each with their own pedestal.  All of the sculptures were wrapped and packaged in a specific way to be sure that everything arrived safely into the gallery, requiring special handling and care. Please join us for this extraordinary exhibition at the opening reception next Thursday, April 7 from 4:00-7:00pm!

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

John Udvardy: A Sculptor's Vision

Applied Arts Workshop on Character Design September 20, 2010

Posted by claralieu in Applied Arts.
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Character Design Workshop

We had a blast at the Applied Arts workshop on Character Design led by RISD Professor Shanth Enjeti this past weekend.  Shanth started the workshop with a lecture about basic principles of character design, followed by a discussion of his own work and experience as a designer, closing the workshop with a short exercise and group critique of the works. As I write this blog post, I wish there was some way for me to capture Shanth’s amazing energy and depth of knowledge.  He had all of us laughing uncontrollably throughout the entire lecture, while at the same time demonstrating an incredible depth of knowledge and experience.

Shanth emphasized several fundamental principles about Character Design:

1) Character design is not about drawing or rendering.
2) For a design to be good, a five year old should be able to draw that design in five seconds.
3) Great design is not complicated.
4) Creativity is an impulse.
5) You have to be able to think on an intellectual level for good character design.
6) Geniuses are very simple in their work.
7) If you make awesome stuff and you aggressively tell people about it, it can catch on fire.
8 ) There are some designers who are playing an entirely different game:  their game.
9) All successful designers have had international influences on their work. Examples:  Julie Taymor, Eiko Ishioka, George Lucas, Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki

Shanth moved on to talk about James Joyce’s alter ego Stephen Dedalus’ aesthetic theory: that there exists “Proper and Improper Art”.  Proper art is static while Improper art is kinetic. Kinetic art is didactic art and referrs to a design’s ability to evoke loathing in it’s viewer. Pornographic art refers to a works’ ability to arouse desire in it’s viewer, serving the purpose of creating visual pleasure. Human beings need characters that remind us of an emotional state.

Character Design Workshop

(above) Shanth Enjeti shows and demonstrates his drawing tools.

One of the major themes Shanth discussed in his lecture was the “four elemental closed forms”:  the circle, the square, the upward triangle, and the downward triangle.  The circle is considered by many to be the most appealing and comforting form, it’s the ultimate symbol which speaks to wholeness. Examples include halos in religious art, the Venus of Willendorf, the human eye, doorknobs, the click wheel on the ipod, etc. The most popular character in Star Wars is R2D2:  he has only one eye, and he’s all round.  Mike Wazowski from Pixar’s Monsters Inc. is an angry character, and yet he is loved by every child due to his simple and round design.

The square is a completely different scenario which can be seen both positively and negatively. Negatively, many westerners “fear” the square (“Don’t be such a square!”, “I’m thinking outside the box”, and cubicles.) A square environment represents submission and order: an example being Mussolini’s square colosseum. In Star Wars, Darth Vader, who is a representation of order and submission has an electronic square in the center of his chest. The Borg from Star Trek is a race that is all about losing your individuality and submission-and they fly around in a giant cube. From a positive view, Wall-e’s job is to take away the chaos by making squares and stacking them. The most popular game of all time, Tetris, is all about making us feel better when we arrange squares.  Legos, the most popular toy of all time is all about stacking blocks that even have little circles on them.

The downward pointing triangle is largely negative and all about submission while the upward pointing triangle is about aspiration and perseverance. Examples of downward pointing triangles would be Maleficent from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the Decepticon icon from the Transformers, and the Stormtroopers from Star Wars. The upward pointing triangles on Totoro’s chest, combined with the circular eyes allows that character to appeal to many audiences.  Life is disordered and chaotic: we put it into boxes and circles to make it livable.

Character Design Workshop

(above) Shanth Enjeti shows his corporate and commercial character designs.

Next, the workshop participants got an opportunity to create some designs themselves, and have them critiqued by Shanth. The assignment was to create two characters: one which represented your worst trait, and another which represented your best trait. Everyone had 15 minutes for each character in this assignment. You can see below several of the examples.

Character Design Assignment

Character Design Assignment

Thomas Lyon Mills on John Udvardy May 25, 2010

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In April 2011, the Jewett Art Gallery will be presenting “John Udvardy: A Sculptor’s Vision”, a solo exhibition of RISD Professor Emeritus John Udvardy’s work.  Below you can read a statement written by RISD Professor Thomas Lyon Mills, about John’s work as a preview for the exhibition.

From the essay, “John Udvardy’s Cabinet of Art and Marvels”

Totally enigmatic.
Impossibly intricate.
Better to stop speech here.
This language is not for people.
Blessed be jubilation.
Vintages and harvests.
Even if not everyone
Is granted serenity.

Czeslaw Milosz, from A Poem for the End of the Century

“John Udvardy’s sculptures, drawings, and collages invite me into one of the most rarified of experiences – an unforgettable vehicle for contemplation.  His work is masterfully crafted and imbued with secrets, like our own elusive memories and dreams that we forget at our peril.  John’s work is one of the strangest and most satisfying visual experiences one can have: it is as if his work transports all the senses: giving sight, smell, proportion and silence a raw, unpolluted collective power, like wisps of the seemingly lost yet re-discovered essential.  I see things as I never have before, where forms go transparent, disappear, then seem wholly re-born.” –Thomas Lyon Mills, May 2010

Video: Transformations Gallery Talk May 24, 2010

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The gallery talk given by RISD Professors Thomas Lyon Mills and Ken Takashi Horii from the “Transformations” exhibition a few months ago is now available for viewing on the Jewett Art Gallery’s new Youtube channel. Click on the links below to view all 6 segments of the gallery talk.

Video 1 of 6: Thomas Lyon Mills
Video 2 of 6: Thomas Lyon Mills
Video 3 of 6: Thomas Lyon Mills
Video 4 of 6: Ken Takashi Horii
Video 5 of 6: Ken Takashi Horii
Video 6 of 6: Ken Takashi Horii

Gallery Talk: Thomas Lyon Mills

RISD Fine Arts Portfolio Review May 11, 2010

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon at RISD reviewing student portfolios alongside other curators and gallery directors at the RISD Fine Arts Portfolio Review. Students had the opportunity to sign up for 20 minute individual portfolio reviews with a number of galleries and other arts organizations.  I’ve been to a number of portfolio reviews as a student: to name a few,  the open portfolio session at the Southern Graphics Council conference, the open session at the Boston Printmakers annual meeting, and a portfolio session at the College Art Association conference.

Now that I’ve been on both sides of the table as a reviewer and student, I thought it would be good to share the do’s and don’ts of portfolio sessions as a reference for all of us. Some of what I list below may seem obvious, but in my experience it’s important to keep everything in mind.

1) Don’t make excuses. The reviewers are interested in the work, they’re not interested in discussing why your hard drive crashed 1 hour before the review began or why you’re so busy with your classes and don’t have time to make better work. This is unprofessional and reflects poorly on you.

2)Don’t put yourself down or apologize for your work. You want to always present yourself and your work in the best light possible.  Speak about your work with confidence and be prepared to answer any possible question with enthusiasm and clarity.  My friend who is an actress said that the actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman said in an interview once that you always want to do your best work-regardless of whether you are performing for an audience of 3 in a local cafe or in Carnegie Hall for an audience of hundreds.

3)Don’t get defensive. This means not arguing with the reviewer or telling them that “everyone else likes my work”. You’re there to get feedback on your work, not plead your case to a jury. Remember that venues and organizations have very specific criteria they are looking for, that your work may not necessarily fit. If you’re speaking to a gallery whose interest is in intellectual topics, and your work does not address any of those topics, don’t expect them to be interested in your work.  If you don’t like what the reviewer has to say, simply nod and move on.

1)Be gracious, polite, and professional. Introduce yourself at the beginning and say thank you when the review is over.

2)Do your homework: visit the websites of the venues you’re interested in before the review so that you know what their focus and emphasis is on. You don’t want to sign up for a review with a gallery that focuses on exclusively photography if you work in sculpture.

3)Be concise: Be able to sum up what your work is about in 1-2 articulate sentences. Run the 1-2 sentences by someone else to make sure it makes sense and is clear. These review sessions are quickly paced, you won’t have time to explain your work in a great deal of depth. Sometimes all you have is 2 minutes to catch someone’s attention at an opening reception.

4)Be prepared: Have your laptop already open and awake with the files ready to go. Have a pre-written list of questions you want to ask the reviewer. Have a postcard or business card that you can easily hand over; a postcard is preferable because there’s a visual which will remind the reviewer of your work without a lot of additional effort. there’s  Most reviewers do not have the patience to sit there while you sort through your files figuring out what you want to show.

5)Have professional digital images. The majority of students I spoke to yesterday showed me their work in their laptop which allows them to show a larger quantity of work.  Remember that as artists, we “live and die by our photographs”. A number of images I saw yesterday were poorly photographed; bad lighting, out of focus, not color corrected, etc. Be sure that any digital images you show are high quality, high resolution images. If you work in 3-D, have images of what the work looks like installed into a gallery space.  You can read my blog post here about how to photograph 3-D artwork.

6)Follow up. If you think the review went well and you made a good connection with the reviewer, send the reviewer an email the next day thanking them for the review, and perhaps add a link to your website. Keep your email short and sweet, and don’t write a 5 paragraph memoir about who you are. Add their name to your mailing list so they can stay on top of your developments. Sending your exhibition announcements to your audience is good to do, but do not send announcements for less important developments. For example, don’t send an announcement every time you add 3 new images to your website.

One of the toughest things about these reviews is the overwhelming amount of information you get in such a short period of time. In my experience, it’s hard to even begin to think straight at events like this, so I would even recommend making a recording of each review so you can listen to it later and go through the comments more thoroughly.

Studio Visit: John Udvardy April 16, 2010

Posted by claralieu in artists, sculpture, studio visits.
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As Gallery Director, I’m constantly looking around for potential artists, themes, and ideas that can be assembled and brought together to form future exhibitions and events at the gallery.  I look specifically for artists who I think would be a good fit for the intellect, diversity, and range of ideas in the Wellesley College community, especially in terms of crossing fields and disciplines.   One of the most exciting and stimulating parts of this process is doing studio visits with artists.  Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to visit John Udvardy’s studio in Warren, RI.  Udvardy taught Three-dimensional Design in the Division of Foundation Studies at RISD for 34 years, and retired from teaching in 2008.  Since then, he’s been working steadily on his sculptures in a space that used to be an auto repair shop that he’s converted into his studio space.

John Udvardy's Studio

Put simply, Udvardy’s studio represented a lifetime of collecting objects:  Udvardy explained that he’s on a constant search to find and collect objects for his “palette”. What astounded me was the incredible range and quantity of objects in his studio, and his choices and selections.   Many of the objects were clearly recognizable:  a gourd, a spoon, the leg of an old table, a piece of scrap wood, part of a fence, a branch, etc. What especially intrigued me were the objects that were not instantly recognizable, that ask you to question what their original purpose was and what kind of history they visually demonstrated.  At several points during the visit, I would pick out an object and ask Udvardy what it was, to which he would reply that he had no idea. As diverse as all of the objects were, it was clear that they all demonstrated a passion for surface, texture, and form which was beautiful, subtle, and bold. I was amazed at what Udvary saw in each object, that in a piece of old broken rusted metal that most of us would toss into the trash, Udvardy saw a form ripe for placement in one of his sculptures.

John Udvardy's Studio

Seeing Udvardy’s tools was a wonderful way to get insight into his work process, which is driven almost entirely by the use of manual tools.  Looking at his collection of tools, it seemed that every possible tool or adhesive that one could possibly harness was available to him. The enormous range of materials and objects that he works with requires him to be very innovative and creative in terms of the putting the sculptures together.  In his tools and sculpture, it was clear the profound understanding and sensitivity to materials and tools Udvardy commands in creating his work.

John Udvardy's Studio

One room was entirely dedicated to cast iron objects that Udvardy has collected over the years.  The cast iron works are done separately from the other objects because they have to be welded together.  Udvardy has welding equipment that he uses outdoors to create cast iron sculptures.

John Udvardy's Studio

Cast iron objects, waiting to be assembled into a sculpture.

John Udvardy's Studio

To view more images from my studio visit with Udvardy, visit the Jewett Art Gallery’s Flickr page. For more information about John Udvardy and his work, visit his website at www.johnudvardy.com

Video: Ken Takashi Horii April 8, 2010

Posted by claralieu in artists, sculpture, video.
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View this video of Ken Takashi Horii speaking about his work in the current “Transformations” exhibition. The video was shot and edited by Paul Falcone from WCAC-TV.

Gallery is closed March 20-29 March 21, 2010

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The Jewett Art Gallery will be closed March 20-29 for Wellesley College’s spring break.  Our current exhibition, “Transformations” featuring artists Ken Takashi Horii, Crudelle-Janello, Thomas Lyon Mills, and Nathalie Miebach reopens on March 30 and runs through April 10.

View these videos  of Crudelle-Janello and Thomas Lyon Mills speaking about their work in the “Transformations” exhibition. The videos were shot and edited by Paul Falcone from WCAC-TV.

Video with Crudelle-Janello

Video with Thomas Lyon Mills