Our art history FYE, now drawing to a close, was first and foremost a study of Western art from pre-historic times to the 20th century. This subject matter was a fascinating look into the cultures, beliefs, and systems of different civilizations throughout time. That being said, what interested me the most during this course was the unique opportunity to work with the Fine Arts Center, just around the corner from our classroom in Packard Hall. Through working with the museum to put together an exhibit of American art, we experienced firsthand the curatorial process of the modern museum. This was particularly engaging, as it broadened our understanding of the art world to include the present-day industry.
The curatorial project was so gratifying because it allowed us to apply what we had been learning about how to unpack a piece of art. Just as our professor taught us how to pick up on a variety of techniques, styles, and innovations to better understand ancient and classical art, each of us picked a piece from the FAC archive and used our visual analysis skills to better understand them. For the majority of the museum project, which spanned both blocks, each of us was working with a single piece of art. This allowed us to get in-depth with our artist and, study their place in the wider context of the history of art. It was exciting to bounce between studying the old and curating the new every week, and the hands-on nature of the museum project balanced out the rich, cultural study in the classroom. At the end of the course, I’m proud of the exhibit our class created, and I’ll miss our trips to the FAC.
Taking art history really opens your eyes to what is right in front of you. This includes everything from the art everywhere on campus to the art in your own home. I was home for a weekend and was able to look at all of the pieces hanging around my home, and I thought it would be interesting to try and analyze a few.
Although I don’t know very much about most of these works, there are three wood blocks prints done by my grandfather. My grandparents have lived in Corrales, New Mexico, and most of the prints made by Grandpa Paul are either images from his life there or inspired by Japan, where he traveled to learn how to do this style of printing.
In this first print, Barranca de Corrales, you can see the Japanese influence in the flatter perspective and more simplified shapes, even though this is a depiction of the hill on which my grandparents live. The majority of the piece is black, white, or tan, with the only color being the sky and the figures going up the hill. The effect is to make the blue and the yellow of the sky seem even more vibrant, and makes the viewer wonder if the sun is just rising or setting to have such a bright, yellow horizon. The red and blue of the group climbing the hill draw your eye to them, but they are so small and indistinct that the focus of the piece is still on the skyline.
In the piece just to the left of this, Hokusai’s World, the Japanese influence is clear. With the iconic wave image from The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai in the foreground, bamboo and a bonsai tree in the mid-ground, and what looks like Mount Fuji in the background, this entire work seems like a dedication to Japanese culture and art. All of these environmental additions frame two figures fighting in the middle of the print with what seems to be bo staffs, a traditional Japanese weapon. The color palette is again very basic and shows off the details of the bonsai tree and wave. The patterns around the edge frame the central images, and are a unique addition to the print, unusual in both my grandfather’s work and in Japanese-style printing in general. This homage to Japan and the printing style is both simple and beautiful (although I may be a little biased).
In the third and final piece of the three of Grandpa Paul’s prints we have hanging on our wall, Tiffany Hill: Dawn, we are back in New Mexico. It is an image inspired by what my grandfather does every morning he can: walk his dogs. Although this does show an aspect of his day, this is not a self-portrait, but instead a depiction of the friends he walks his dogs with. The colors are muted, with most of the piece filled with tan, representing the sandy desert that most of Corrales is. But there is still foliage, which fills up the sides of the print, and a town that is in the distance and seems to be the goal of the dog walkers. The dog walkers themselves are simplified human figures, one having a backpack and the other a Harley Davidson jacket. The dogs are even more simplified, just focusing on the essentials. This simplicity is probably a combination of medium restrictions, personal preference, and aesthetics and is consistent through all of his works.
My grandfather is a simple, usually quiet man (except for the occasional pun) who has lived a rich life and learned a ridiculous amount about a ridiculous number of subjects. He spends his days reading, watching soccer matches, and making prints. I am so glad that we are able to have his art hanging in our home.
On our daily commutes, the visuals around us are often the same day after day. We know what buildings are coming up, where everything is, and often just go through the motions; however, on one of my daily summer driving routes, there was something new. This massive metal sculpture had taken over what used to be a standard rooftop, providing me with a little bit of a shock.
According to Colorado artist Trace O’Connor, ”Iscariot depicts a mermaid gracefully leaving her perch to take flight.” This unique mermaid made from reclaimed metal weighs in at 4,200 pounds and is part of the Downtown areas partnership and their affiliates’ ongoing mission to create unique cultural experiences for Springs residents and visitors to the area.
Springs residents should definitely keep their heads up in the downtown area, not only to observe the eye-catching street art, but just in case a giant metal mermaid attacks you or your car!
McMichael, Jon. “Rise of the Octo-Maid, New Sculptures Hit Colorado Springs’ Rooftops.” KOAA.com. August 30, 2018. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://koaa.com/news/digital-original/2018/06/08/rise-of-the-octo-maid-new-sculptures-hit-colorado-springs-rooftops/.
Photo from: “Colorado Springs, CO – Octo-Maid: Metal Mermaid.” RoadsideAmerica.com. Accessed October 17, 2018. https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/61875.
For someone who has never seen the process of making glassware, it is easy to miss the fact that glass is actually melted into a thick liquid in order to make molding possible. The honey-like glass is then collected on the blowpipe (a long metal structure in which air can be blown into to shape the glass) by dipping it in the glory hole of the furnace. It is then made even by rolling it on a flat surface, after which it is dipped in paint if desired, and then reheated.
…Then comes the scariest part.
Remember when we were told as children not to play with fire? Well, imagine having to roll glass that freshly came out of a hole with 2250°F of heat using only wet newspaper in your palm…
Water dripping all around my hand from the wet newspaper, my anticipation grew exponentially in the seconds before the instructor placed the blazing glass in my palm. Smoke covered my view as I softly applied pressure to shape the glass, leaving a black burn mark on the first few sheets of newspaper. Do not try this at home!
I had a very short time to pinch the petals of the glass flower I was making before the glass cooled down, which would make it more difficult to shape. It took me two trials to realize that I actually got worse at shaping my flower, so I decided to announce it as an abstract flower.
The glassblowing workshop was one of the highlights of my first block break because I got to explore a process of art creation that I had never had the chance to do before. My favorite part was pinching the round flat part of the glass in order to create the flower petals. This part defined the way the flower would turn out. I gave one of the two flowers I made to my friend and she called it The Placenta. I can’t say that’s what I was going for, but it made her happy anyway.
At the end of the day, it got me thinking that even though it had been a very fun and insightful experience for me, it is a very difficult process and should be appreciated and valued. So, the next time you have a sip from that beautifully constructed glass, keep in mind that someone might have been carefully shaping it with only a wet newspaper in their palm!
Over the past two blocks, our class has been in and out of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center putting together an exhibit. We became familiar with the museum and each section that we saw has art from various artists ranging from different time periods. It was exciting to take our knowledge from our own art museum and bring it to the Denver Art Museum and the Clyfford Still Museum from our field trip this week. The Denver Art Museum felt like a similar format to the Fine Arts Center. We viewed the special collections they had on display with artwork ranging from Rembrandt’s etchings to sculptures of Ganesha. We saw impressive art pieces in different mediums and in diverse styles. It was intriguing to compare these exhibitions with the collection we found in the next building over. This museum displays solely works painted by Clyfford Still, an abstract expressionist from the mid-twentieth century. Clyfford Still requested, in his will, that all his works go to one US city. Eventually, Denver was chosen as that city and the museum received ninety-five percent of Still’s works. The museum building itself was interesting to experience. The architects who designed the museum knew that only Still’s works would be displayed there, so the interior and exterior were built to accommodate his style and type of art. The walls were made of textured concrete to reflect the verticality seen in Still’s paintings. The ceilings had oval cutouts to let in Denver’s natural light. The lower floor is created to be bathed in less light than the upper one, because the second-floor displays Still’s works, while the first floor is for storage of works not currently on display and research. One advantage to having ninety-five percent of an artist’s works in a museum is that you are able to observe the artist’s style progress over time. On our tour, we saw how Still started off painting realistic portraits and landscapes, then focused on depicting the human form, and from there, produced works that were more and more abstract until there were no longer recognizable forms (as seen in the pictures below). Overall both the Clyfford Still and the Denver Art Museum were wonderful examples of experiencing in person what we had learned in class and had experienced at the Fine Arts Center Museum at CC.
When I first came to campus, I identified Shove Chapel to be one of the more architecturally beautiful buildings on campus. If one were to ask me at the start of school why I found this building so beautiful, I couldn’t have said more than the fact that I thought the color and texture of the stone and wood was visually pleasing and the size and cost of materials made it stand out amongst the rest. After reaching the sixth week of Victoria Ehrlich’s Art History FYE course, I look at Shove Chapel with a new set of eyes.
In this course, we thoroughly covered Romanesque-style and Gothic-style architecture. Romanesque architecture, while not uniform across the board, can be characterized by buildings that are smaller than the heights they will reach in the Gothic era, and almost look like large homes. These buildings have thick walls and are held up by buttresses on the outside. There was often little natural light inside Romanesque buildings due to the lack of windows. Curved arches were common in this architectural style in addition to barrel vaults.
Now, as I walk by Shove Chapel, I see the building has many of the characteristics typically found in a Romanesque church. As you stand in front of the chapel and gaze at the front doors, the arches you see are all round, which differs from the pointed arches found in Gothic architecture. If you stand in the nave of the chapel, the middle section where the seating is, and look towards the apse, the curved area at the front of the church, you will notice a large window known as a rose window. This style of window is characteristic of Romanesque architecture, but later became an even more prominent feature in the Gothic style, and is made of stained glass. Many of the other windows in Shove chapel also feature stained glass, as did Gothic churches. Inside the chapel, you will see more rounded arches and a barrel vaulted ceiling towards the front of the church by the altarpiece, again pointing to a Romanesque influence. Not only has this Art History course made me appreciate the value of different forms of architecture more, but it also has allowed me to form a connection with buildings on our campus, around Colorado Springs, and the greater world around us by being able to appreciate and associate various architectural characteristics with a specific style and era of time.
My Chihuly Experience
Who is Chihuly?
Dale Chihuly is known around the world as an incredible glass artist. He was born in the state of Washington in 1941, where he grew up and graduated high school years later. Chihuly did not think that he wanted to pursue further education after high school, but was talked into going to college (where he would study interior design) by his mother. He ended up getting bored and dropping his studies to travel. At this point in his life, he was able to study art in Florence and the Middle East, which was when he figured out what he wanted to do. When he returned home, he went back to school to get his Bachelor of Arts degree in interior design. Throughout his life, Chihuly had been interested in glass. He would incorporate it into most of the artwork that he did, like weaving, and he even learned to blow glass during his first years of college.
Chihuly’s glass art can be seen in public places all around the globe. Because of his interest in glass art, Chihuly was able to build a career in the field. He has always been interested in architecture, too, which is why most of his works have an architectural feel or design. His work is more about making art for people instead of his own experience. One of his most famous quotes is, “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in some way that they’ve never experienced.”
Glass art is quite unique because it encourages an interactive viewing experience. Like any other sculpture, glass art is 3-dimensional, but it also has an effect from light. When light hits Chihuly’s works, they shine and glimmer as the light is reflected to the walls and floor around it, making viewing the art work an immersive experience. Currently, this artist has exhibitions in France, Czech Republic, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Japan, and multiple locations throughout the United States of America, including one right here in Colorado Springs. The Fine Arts Center, located right next to the Colorado College campus, has a beautiful exhibit up with a few Chihuly pieces. The museum has created a memorable viewing experience for anyone who enters the exhibition by employing light in the display of Chihuly’s objects.
My own experience working with Chihuly’s art was very interesting. Back in high school, my class studied glass art for a brief period of time. We reviewed many of Chihuly’s pieces and got to know his style and creative shapes. This made us want to attempt blowing glass, but because we did not have the resources to actually blow glass like Chihuly, my art teacher was creative and found a way for us to get a true Chihuly experience. Instead of using glass to create giant sculptures like Chihuly, we used tissue paper. My art teacher bought a large amount of colorful tissue paper for us, which we sculpted into strange shapes using glue. The glue would dry and the tissue paper would stay stiff in the designs we wanted. Using chicken wire, my art teacher set a base (in the shape of a sphere) for our sculptures and we attached our tissue paper designs all around the sphere. This experience was amazing. I enjoyed being able to make my own piece and put it together in a creative way like Chihuly would. It was fun to be inspired by his work and create our own “glass art.” –
Source: “Homepage.” Chihuly, 2018, www.chihuly.com/.
I’m Shaian Gutiérrez, and the work of art that I’m learning about in my FYE is called La Catrina, by José Guadalupe Posada. La Catrina is a lithograph print that was made during the Mexican Revolution. The image is of a skeleton with a large, expensive hat on. I’ve been learning about (and will continue to learn about) La Catrina and her significance for our class-curated art exhibition at the Fine Arts Center Museum. Curating our own art exhibition was beyond my already high expectations when I came into college. Opportunities like this are arguably what makes Colorado College so unique. Aside from choosing our pieces, the first step in setting up our exhibition was comparing the artworks formally. Our professor, Victoria Ehrlich, printed out small cards with our art objects on them, and encouraged us to talk with and group up with other students who had artworks that had formal characteristics in common.
One of the first people I spoke to was working with a print as well, Kablaam, by artist John Matos. With Kablaam’s bright colors and cartoon style, the similarities seemed to be few, save for the black and white man in the middle of Matos’s piece. Simply knowing that both of our artworks were created in the same way was enough to find a connection between our pieces. Another student, working with the artwork, Low Rider, by Luis Jimenez approached me. An immediate connection we could draw between the two works was the cross-hatch shading. The cross-hatch shading created white spaces between the lines in both artworks. From the shading alone, our pieces shared a visual connection. Yet another piece of art was a bowl from Mesa Verde, made in the time span of 1100-1300 CE. Although I hadn’t realized it until I saw these objects in person, the lines and colors on the bowl were almost identical to those in La Catrina. I found it particularly interesting that these artworks were made hundreds of years apart and came from different cultures and still managed to resemble each other in some ways.
Every detail in a work of art is significant when it comes to formal comparisons. Whether it is the lines in an object, the colors (or lack thereof), the medium, the artist’s cultural background, the scale of elements within the piece, or the sense of depth, there are always interesting visual parallels that can be drawn between two works.
My name is Calaya, and I am in Victoria Ehrlich’s Art History FYE class. Alongside our study of western art history from the pre-historic era to our present day (we are now learning about the Medieval period), our class utilizes the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center collections to enhance our study of art. In addition to taking a tour of the museum early on, and now, curating our own exhibition with artworks from the FAC at CC’s collection (the show will be up second block, come check it out!), last week we went to listen to the FAC’s artist-in-residence, Virgil Ortiz, give a presentation of his work.
During Ortiz’s talk, I learned about his background as a potter at the Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico. Ortiz’s ancestors were all potters, and he learned the traditional ways of gathering clay, making paint from wild spinach, and baking the pottery in a wood-fired oven underground from his mother (his people are a matriarchal family, and knowledge is passed down through women). He now continues these traditions by teaching his younger nieces and nephews the ancient practices of making pottery. Still maintaining a connection to his ancestral designs and concepts, Ortiz has now branched out into making pottery with modern themes, along with films, jewelry, high-end fashion, and digital art. Much of his current art is social commentary, just like his ancestors made clay figures commentating on colonial times.
Ortiz’s current project at the FAC is an exhibition of costumes for his latest project, which is a film that tells the story of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 with Cochiti people and a sci-fi theme. He generously opened his studio for three days, during which students could come and assist with building his costumes. I went for a couple of hours one afternoon, and I started by helping Ortiz cut out form shapes for a mask. Then, he showed me how to bend the foam with a blow dryer and glue it to the mask base. I was making the mask of a conquistador, and it will later be spray painted a shiny black. Meanwhile, two of my friends were sewing black, glittering beads onto a gas mask, while other students were putting black and blue glitter on another. There were a few completed masks in the workshop, and a large pair of black wings for one of the costumes. The aesthetic of the costumes is sharp, futuristic, and draws on natural shapes, like feathers and serpents. The show is called Revolution – Rise Against the Invasion, and is open from October 6, 2018-January 6, 2019 at the Fine Arts Center.
It was exciting being in a professional artist’s studio and seeing how one would prepare for a museum exhibition. Virgil Ortiz was welcoming and very trusting of us, while still making sure the quality of his art was up to his standards. As a visual artist, I enjoyed being in a collaborative studio environment where what we helped to create will actually be put on display for the public to see. Thank you to Virgil for letting us come to your open studio!
Image Sources: ArtSlant, HuffPost, YouTube, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Surprisingly, in the few short weeks I have been an Art History student, I find myself identifying art wherever I go. After a lesson focusing on Greek art, my fellow classmates and I were delighted to spot some Ionic columns on our way to dinner and asked a stranger to take a picture of us. We even decided to all stand in contrapposto when posing for another photo (see photos for examples of people getting way too excited about art).
Today, we learned about the history of Romanesque and Gothic architecture in European churches, and I was curious to find out if the style of CC’s own Shove Chapel could be related. After some research, I found out that it was designed by John Gray in a Norman Romanesque style, and was inspired by the Winchester Cathedral. This can be seen in its round arches framing the nave and in its very solid and simple appearance. Despite this, there are also hints of Gothic architecture found as well, particularly in the use of stained glass, examples of which can be seen beautifully displayed in the three large windows above the main entrance. This was intentional, as stated in a book titled, This Glorious and Transcendent Place, written by Timothy Fuller as a commemoration of the 15-year anniversary of the chapel. He writes, “Mr. Gray’s aim was to learn from the past, but not to imitate it slavishly. It is, he said, ‘a new expression based on an old model.’” He combined original design with inspiration from historical sources. So although the building is classified as Romanesque, it still has elements from other styles as well. Everyone at CC sees Shove Chapel on a regular basis, hence, they are also regularly experiencing art, whether or not they are aware of it.
Art comes in so many shapes and forms, from simple prehistoric wall paintings, to the incredibly detailed frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Even if one hasn’t studied art or its history, it is important to acknowledge that art can be applied to the “real world,” and that it affects the every day human experience. Studying Art History has inspired me to seek out art in the “real world,” and it is a lot easier to find than one might expect.