Today, i got the opportunity to experience a very unique art gallery. There was an abundance of impressive and intricate artwork on display. One particular art piece stood out and by some luck the artist was there to share her ideas with us. Elaine Kwak is one of the fifteen artists who had artwork in the gallery. The name of the art exhibit was Liminal. The word is an adjective and it describes a transition. For Kwak herself and the rest of her classmates, this is their last gallery as undergrads at CSULB, so for them, it is a bittersweet transition.
They have known each other for three years and in turn have experienced alot together as friends and colleagues in the art major. Other students, as well as myself, understand this feeling also. Since I am about to graduate this semester, i think of all the experiences and friends that i made at CSULB in the civil engineering department. My classmates and I see each other every other day at least and take the same classes; we all shared the same experiences and struggles.
This is parallel to Elaine Kwak and her peers. Their artistic style has been influenced by each other and they all grew together in an artistic sense as well as people. They would work on their pieces and critique each other, sharing different perspectives and without question that has had an effect on their style.
Regarding Kwak’s show piece, she did an oil painting of a landscape. It includes multiple colors and has an untamed garden in the foreground as well as a mountain landscape in the background, which gives it a nice contrast. Another thing that i liked was a secondary layer of the foreground; which includes a staircase and a walking path, producing another contrast of colors between the garden and the rest of the painting.
As far as the process goes in creating her art piece and just for her work in general, she likes to first look at a landscape that is fitting and then proceed to sketch it through direct observation. She takes the canvas on site and draws it out. She keeps her drawing loose, the charcoal lines and shading is suggestive because she will then take it to the studio to paint it. This is important because then she will paint the piece using her memory and add in what she likes. In this regard, she feels that she can create a landscape but still give it that abstract perspective. She likes doing this part by memory because she feels memory is a powerful tool to help create and inspire ideas.
This week i got the chance to talk to Zack Kim, a freshman whose attitude reminded me alot of my own when i was his age. Realize that I am 25 while my friend Zack is likely only 18 or 19.
To him, he said art didn’t really interest him much. Understandable, when i was 19, i didnt really have a reaction towards art, it was just one of those things that people that were really good at drawing could do. I couldn’t really draw and i enjoyed drawing straight lines in drafting class or in my math classes. Art just seemed to be one of those things that if i didnt think i was good at it and i wouldn’t be able to make a career of it, why bother paying attention to it at all.
But believe it or not, although he isn’t into art one bit, but he does play instruments and does a bit of singing. His mother has experience in singing classical. He told me that he picked up the guitar on his own recently and he has been working on his range with a singing instructor. This is really cool because he said to his mom that he wanted to improve his range. I also had thoughts about wanting to improve my range, especially because i basically have no skill with my voice and feel really limited. Improving my singing is something on my bucket list. But as for Zack, to him, visual art is not something important to him, music is a large part of his life, considering the influence that his mother has on him.
Zack was raised in Davis, CA and then moved to Southern California in the 2nd grade. We talked a little bit about how we both had to move from place to place when we were younger. I moved from a school i thought i would graduate from in 8th grade to a whole other school, something that was unexpected and took alot to adjust to. Him being Korean, we talked about the culture alot. I was able to talk quite a bit about it cause alot of my friends are Korean.
This week i got the privilege to view Michael’s art gallery. The first thing i noticed about his gallery was just how abstract his art was. It seems that he painted on canvas, some of his art pieces were around 3×3 feet, but he had other pieces that were just huge, around 5×5 feet. The great thing about paint is that you can add chemicals to it to make it smoother and give it either a shiny or matte finish. This contrast is specifically what i picked up on soon after viewing a couple paintings. The paint is laid thick and has no additives, giving a very apparent texture and roughness to his pieces.
Asking Michael about this, he describes the thick paint as physicality and experimentation. I mentioned that it seemed rough, raw, and messy. To Michael, it is contrasting and something that he likes to use to show change and different. He uses the contrast with buttery strokes like with a paint brush stroke and then have areas with gnarly textures.
When asked about how long it takes for him to do his work, he mentioned that he will work on a few paintings at the same time. This is really cool to me because we started talking about multi tasking. We both had a mutual understanding about how it can be easy to tunnel vision on certain things or tasks in life. Sometimes it is better to step away from something for a certain amount of time, whether it is 15 minutes or 15 hours. It happens where we can focus on something too much and then the energy just becomes almost negative and we lose sight of what we originally intended to do. It’s a surprising relief when you can sometimes just walk back to a task that you were having trouble with for whatever reason and then you just have the answer, solution, or breakthrough as soon as you come back to the task. Problem solving!
Continuing on breaks and having multiple tasks to work on, Michael talked about trusting instincts, going with the flow when it came to working on several pieces of art at once. Art is one of those things where there isn’t a direct answer. When he does his art, he found it much easier to trust his instincts as the painting develops over a few months. He doesn’t have a very clear idea at the start because in his experience, the idea that he begins with and tried to stick to conveying through the whole art, does not come out the way he ever intends it, so he embraced going with the flow.
Another important thing that he mentioned that stood out to me was the fact that ‘painting was still around’. Looking at this idea in the small notecard where i jotted down notes is helping to jog my memory a bit. Even in the modern world today, people are still finding time to appreciate art. I mentioned how Glenn does a great job of promoting the art exhibits. I didn’t even know we had exhibits until the semester began and it is truly a shame because i am about to graduate! Nonetheless, having grown up and matured a bit, looking at art has become more of a feeling and experience that i do enjoy alot. Michael says there is a very apparent reason that it still exists, it’s not always about money, it is something truly abstract that keeps art today in modern times.