Month: April 2014

Serge & Jane 4 Ever

sergejanestitchingstephcloutier

My embroidery series, “Serge & Jane 4 Ever”, is finally done!

I began this series late last year and I’ve been itching to finish them, but with school assignments given first priority, this project had to be put on hold. Now that they’re matted and framed properly, they’re ready to hung on my wall. Or, sold to someone who appreciates the love story between Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.

Year One is done!

Unknown

I’m a little late to post this but I wrote my last exam on Wednesday. This means my first year of university is done! Yes, I do have summer school, but technically, I’m done, right? Yes, right!

As much as exams can be nerve-wracking, I was more stressed about my final projects. I was concerned at how my class was going to react to them, which luckily, all of the feedback was positive. I have noticed that in first year, feedback is polite and positive, not as critical as it is in the upper years. I think all of us first-years don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings, and also I think we’re all trying to understand and put together the thoughts it takes to be critical. I even had difficulty with this too.

My year back to school was incredibly challenging and rewarding. I’ve learned so much about art, its history and practices, techniques, and also about myself. I will always love photography and make photographs but I’m a tactile artist who enjoys seeing the process unfold and develop. I like to work with my hands, and to repeat certain tasks over and over. It’s a meditative process that I found when I was doing assignments where I build things, as opposed to drawing or painting. I’m looking forward to what I’ll be making in my sculpture classes to see what I can come up with.

It was also a time of incredible stress as I tried to keep up with good grades, balance work and social life, as well as to accomplish chores at home. I’m a mature student and I live alone. There were mentally tough and emotionally difficult moments, and where I would ask the question, “is this really worth it?” I realized that yes, they were worth it. I got through them, and luckily, I wasn’t alone. I have a strong support network which included friends that cheered me on and were there for me when I wanted to vent. First year of school was definitely a period of adjustment. Now, I know what to expect for second year and also know to give myself a bit of slack so that the pressure isn’t overtaking the enjoyment of my experience. If I’m not having fun at school, then what’s the point of continuing?

Now, I have the summer off. I start summer school in a few weeks and I’ll be done with those courses by end of June. Then, it’s freedom. I’ve got a few projects in mind that I want to accomplish, but for now, I just want to catch up on sleep.

We’re oh-so close to the finish line

final

Well, it looks like I’m done. I’ve completed almost, if not all of my assignments for this term. The end of my BFA’s Year 1 is oh-so close!

In the above picture is my completed photography assignment. Well, four out of five mounted prints are shown. After spending five hours in the darkroom, I returned to school on Sunday to mount my prints. Sunday was gorgeous in Toronto and everyone was out and about, walking around and enjoying the sun. It had been a long and much too cold winter here. However, I wanted to complete my homework and not leave things to the last minute. As it turns out, it only took me two hours to mount the prints where afterwards, I was able to enjoy the rest of my Sunday by taking a long walk and even bought some new clothes. I’m happy with how the prints look although I did encounter some problems in the process.

I realized that I had made my prints too small. I printed my photos with a large white border around them which made cropping them a tricky task. Luckily I figured out a solution and was able to use the image size I had printed. I would have preferred to use black card stock to mount but I decided to use what I had at home, which was white card stock. I hope that the white picks up the white in the prints, which most of my dominant colour in the prints is black. I love the look of a clean and neutral colour like white but sometimes it can drown out the image. I hope it doesn’t do that here.

Overall, I’m happy with my prints. They look good and they reflect my idea and ode to Abstract Expressionism, even though they were not the original photos I had in mind for the project. But, who cares? They’re done!

Fluxcards for Time Travel

Fluxcards for Time Travel

My second final project is for my curatorial practice class. I wanted to revisit my interest in Fluxkits along with the work of Robert Smithson and his theories of site, non-site artwork. For the final project I created “Fluxcards for Time Travel”. I borrowed a friend’s old Remington typewriter to type special messages on index cards.

Fluxcard-1

I wanted to focus on time and history. I created instructions that enable the reader to imagine scenarios or places that may or may not exist, and that are unique and individual like the person who is reading them. All of them focus on a past event so the reader is time traveling in their mind to these places that may or may not be fictitious. I wrote four different messages and stapled them on telephone poles a couple of miles in and around my neighbourhood. I documented the process which you can see above and below.

Fluxcards-2

The unfortunate thing is that these messages will disappear because as I was stapling them today, the local weather forecast called for rain. And it’s raining as I write this post. Oh well. I expected that these messages wouldn’t last forever and I knew this, which is why I not only photographed them but also created a Tumblr site as well. So far, I have no followers on that Tumblr site but again, these messages were only up for a few hours before the rain arrived. I would like to revisit this idea again one day, when rain is not in the forecast in the near future.

The only thing left for me to do here is to pick up my prints from the lab tomorrow, which I hope will be ready. Otherwise I will have to fall back on my Tumblr site for the final critique.

Fluxcards-3

Visit your perfect oasis today!

So, it looks like I’m done all of my projects early. I’m feeling really good about this. More importantly, I’m not scrambling or pulling an all-nighter. But I’ll admit that this is an odd feeling. I’ve pulled all-nighters almost on a weekly basis this term, which I hated doing. I expected to do one with these projects but things didn’t turn out way.

I feel strangely relaxed about everything, about my projects and even about my exams which are next week. Maybe I should panic? I hope my critiques do well so maybe I should worry about that? This is a very odd feeling, but it’s oh-so nice that I’m done with my projects.

5 Hours produced 20 prints

© Stephanie Cloutier

How did you spend your Saturday? I spent my Saturday working and making art. For five hours, I worked in the school’s darkroom to print my final assignment for photography class. I produced 20 prints. Most of them are duplicates of the same image but each were timed differently, so each print is a unique print.

I’m exhausted. I love to print but I also hate it. I dislike being on my feet for hours, trying to adjust my eyes to the low light, and play the guessing game of “will this print be ok or not?” However, I did enjoy printing during in the last couple of months and I’d like to do more in the future. Printing is one of those artistic skills I want to get better at.

This particular series is about texture and abstract images. I’m very inspired by the photography of the Abstract Expressionists, especially those of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. My original series were more closely connected to Callahan’s street photography and his use of light and shadow. However those negatives got ruined because of an exhausted developer (Damn it!) I had to reshoot and there were no beautiful sunny days in the forecast to reshoot exactly what I had shot. So, I spent Friday morning, in the drizzling rain, shooting walls in the downtown core with Siskind’s photos of graphic images in mind. I like Siskind’s work, and I’m attracted to graphic design anyway so it was my ode to his work. Below is what he shot and hopefully, I was able to capture his beautiful work with my own.

Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind

Aaron Siskind

I found a few interesting looking brick walls with peeling paint, wood and metal. Even though the subject itself is banal, I hope that the graphic elements of these walls will be consistent and present in my series.

Now, the only thing left to do is to mount my prints for the final presentation. I’ll be doing that tomorrow, along with another assignment due this Wednesday for our critiques. The home stretch is here!