I have 1/4 of a Post Graduate Education, true story. A few years back I attended a MFA Printmaking program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco for 6 months. It turned out, that while I was a huge fan of Art and Print and making things, I was not a huge fan of Art School based MFA programs. After leaving my program, I decided instead to continue to make Art outside of academic institutions, and try to do things my own way.
While an MFA Program was not the right path for me, there is definitely some pretty stellar work that comes out of such programs. It was my adoration of such Studio Art practices that brought me to the San Francisco Art Institute’s Graduate Open Studios Event a few weekends ago. It’s inspiring to attend events where I can gauge the pulse of the art world, and get excited about what folks are making and what is hot (as well as what is not!).
As I mentioned earlier, I was a printmaking major during my time in Graduate School, and I have a very soft spot in my heart for creative, original, printmakers. At SFAI I was introduced to the work of Seul Hwa Eum. This lovely lady makes amazing etchings, artist books, and manipulates her prints in unique exciting ways. I was absolutely smitten by her prints that presented framed in wooden boxes shaped like houses. The scale and detail of some of her etchings was also very impressive. Her attention to detail betrayed how much time she spends creating her work, and how much she must love what she is doing. Taking square shaped prints presenting them in alternative ways that encourage viewer engagement seems very important to Seul, and she executes it well. These works were some of the most sincere innovative creations I’ve seen in awhile, I recommend you look up more of her work or visit her website!
Using Typography is a tricky situation for most artists. It’s difficult to use type and not have it dictate the viewers interpretation of the piece in which it is situated. Like reading a book it discourages the viewer from looking deeper than the surface level of what the words communicate. Aware of the difficulty of such a practice, I was surprised by the work of Jon Gourly, an artist whose work primarily consisted of simply layed out Sans Serif text. His diptychs were simple yet clever, and his prints were laced with references to internet culture. Referencing memes and chat slang, he seems well aware of these influences. I find the intersections of traditional art practice and technology very intriguing, and I hope he can find a way to talk about these things that gives them new meaning.
Kevin Tijerina’s work used a lot of found objects and unique materials, like glass bottles, and feathers. I enjoyed his collections and the meticulous way in which he arranged them. His practice was steeped in an old-timey aura, I would like to hear him explain his work, or read his artist statement to understand his deeper meaning. I felt as though I didn’t quite grasp what he was going for, but I liked what I was seeing.
And last, but certainly not least there was the work of my dear friend Sarah Tell, yet another SFAI Printmaker. Sarah like Seun explored a large variety of presentation styles in her work, and I look forward to seeing what other ways she will find to present her prints. There seemed to be a theme of found objects and an obsession with old time memoribelia that was echoed between many of the artists at this event.
It goes without saying that there was also quite a bit of not quite up to part art school creations and creators floating around as well, but I was thrilled to find a few gems in this mess! Having experienced graduate school I always wonder how these artists will manifest in the real world post-grad school, hopefully a few of these folks will end up lifelong artists!