Feb. 9, 2010: Western Connecticut State University, Connecticut, USA – ” Under Pressure ” a visiting artist lecture.

On Feb. 9, 2010, after an early morning 2 hours commuter’s  train ride from New York City I arrived at Western Connecticut State University. I had been invited  by the Visual Arts department to make a presentation based on my art work experience ;  It was an rare moment. Upon my arrival I gave a lecture followed by a critique of student’s arts works that lasted until the end of the afternoon.

The title of my lecture was “Under Pressure”. A title that I believe may best illustrate :

  • an art printing technique I had practiced and tried to master for a number of years to create my artwork.
  • the tight dead lines of execution imposed by  commissioned works
  • the “press” [ the medias or the publishing companies ], an environment I  been working for.
  • the acute  demands imposed by a contemporary life style, specially in a big city [ heath, economy, politics, relationships ]
  • the struggles dictated by painful life circumstances [ men created and natural disasters such as the recent Haiti earthquake crushing of 200 000 human lives ].
  • In  a more positive note , the most amazing natural creations which are part of our inner life: a flower that pushes thought the dirt to come out in the Spring, the baby that struggles to comes to life, the little bird that brakes the egg shell to pop its head out… and for each on of us our blood pumped by our hearts.

In many of  its manifestations life comes and goes with pressure….transformation, good or bad  accrues from pressure. Maybe a more accurate title possibly may be ” capacities  for observing, utilizing and mastering pressure”. But verbal and editing skills need a different form of brain then mine otherwise why will I made visual arts my profession.

Regardless of a defined  title, the preambulary goal was more specifically  to present  an introduction to relief printing :

  • By underlining the historical importance of this technique as well as its graphics rarely utilize and misunderstood superiority, still today in 2010. As an example, I presented a series of works commissioned by The New York Times for the Op-Ed section where I had, over a period of time, taken advantage of this technique. It has allowed me to establish part of what some perceived as my personal recognizable style. In other words my images are the result of my struggle on integrating this challenging technique into my esthetic needs.
  • My discourse, while presenting a specific part of the visual arts, was above all a pretext to communicated to an artistically motivated audience what this particular technique [ versa any other techniques] has to offer now a days.

To reduce a presentation to technical considerations only would, in one way, keep it at a level of comfortable banalities. Unless we  are willing to consider the purpose of a use [ any use], ” the tree will always hide the forest”.

  • Technicalities must never be taken/mistaken as a goal,  but rather as a means to achieve  it! There are tools to help us to open ourselves to the world and the diversified form of lives, [ keys to open doors].
  • For example, to act ethically in our profession is not less important.
  • Being an artist is not a light way to interact with others and our surrounding, but rather,  it is a call for greater sense of responsibilities, an urgency to perform to the highest level of our capacities and understanding.
  • Yes, we may been have given some  precious skills but we are not allowed to take them for granted. In return we must put them to the service of a noble cause: helping out, rather than using it in an harmful or a negative manner. It this respect our role as artists is not less then the one of a surgeon in an operating room or a mechanic securing correctly an automobile’s tire .

Let’s not be ever carried away!

  • Also conscious of the importance of our role we should remain humble. Over the ages, many  of the magnificent  artisants, artists,  inventors, writers and thinkers did! Van Gogh use to sign its painting modestly ‘ Vincent ‘ and while referring to his profession wrote in one of his letters: ‘ I am a worker’.
  • Also, our  now a days society is forcefully turning the world of the arts into a ‘star system’, lets not forget, if we had to count most of the arts’ world  legacy know to us today , we may be surprise how little trade labels or creators names are attached to them!

Photo shots of the artists students in their studios during my critic visit:

Tom’s Viking world

Jami’s humor

grand mastro at work

Danielle relationships

David’s good nature and my timing guide [ special thanks ]

caring friends

Pink smile

crazy horsecrazy horse

Thomasina's worldThomasina’s world

Hiroshi tradition

Hiroshi’s tradition

Professor Abe Echeverria and Hiroshi

As I have tried to create images to echo different Editorial Opinions I am aware of the limitation of the signification of the word ‘opinion’, and of course no less when it relates to my own one. My visit should not be regarded as a statement on stone but rather as an invitation to all my fellow artists to self criticism: How do we view and position ourselves in a conflicting and confusing world and how do we find answers through any form of art we choose to embrace? Obviously the answer is in ourselves as well as through the ones that we can trust to help us to formulate them. We have to keep endlessly learning and perfecting how to lay down our ’emotions’ and thoughts in a physical visual form in order to ‘transfer’ them to other [ like relief printing uses transfer process].

In all circumstances we must learn ways to be fair and supportive to one an other! Again thank you all.

Western Connecticut State University, White Hall

Western Connecticut State University, White Hall

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