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Inside Out: Back to Boston

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Hello and welcome! I’ll be your artist-in-residence for the next few weeks. Sadly, I won’t actually be residing at the offices of BR&S, nor at the domiciles of its affiliates. You are, however, welcome to imagine me warmly nestled just behind this screen, snacking and making art in the blogosphere, if that helps.

First off, a little about myself.

The sun is setting on my final semester at UMass Amherst as Visiting Assistant Professor in sculpture and drawing. I’ve got three classes going, and some wonderfully bright students who are processing information and creating amazing works at an alarming rate.

Maybe in the coming weeks I’ll highlight some of the project prompts, since, at least in the more advanced classes, these have lots to do with my work as an artist.

My time is split up between Western Mass and Boston, and I’ve got apartments and studios in both places. I am very excited about the summer, when I’ll be consolidating my life back to the Boston area. I get the impression many artists live like this, taking jobs or projects wherever they can get them. It’s tough to really strike out any place in particular, as you never know where the next opportunity will pop up. I really hope things work out in Boston, though, as I love this city.

In the next month, I’ll be working on two projects. First, I’ll be initiating Phase Two of the Decoys For Sacred Cods, which John Pyper mentioned in his intro last week. These sculptures are part of a series made in homage to our fair city. Here’s the sculpture in its near finished form:

I brought the sculpture to my Davis Square studio from Amherst over the weekend. I’ve been in that building for the last four years or so. It’s a great spot with shady trees and nice neighbors, so come on by for a six-pack and some sandwiches.


Delivering the goods


Assembling

Hopefully adding some faces and an audio component to the piece— perhaps something along the lines of a numbers station—will resurrect those long-lost beauties. I’m really into how these sequences maintain a sense of place and meaning (in that they are from somewhere and communicating some encrypted message) while having no announced location, and to the average listener, no discernible meaning.

I’m also working on a series of drawings I showed earlier this year at a show I called This Æther Keeps Soakin’ Up All Our Rays. Here are two of them:


Somewhere in the Neighborhood of Always


Somewhere Between Never and Never Ever

They are 42 x 60 inches and were executed with the same old 0.7mm pencil I’ve been using since undergrad'. From a distance, the drawings appear to be a collection of abstract pencil line. Closer inspection reveals thousands of two-inch tall drawings of Moondog, a New York street musician who dressed in a handmade Viking costume in the 1950-60s.

I like that the drawings look as though they could have been cut from a much larger one. My plans for the next in the series involve similarly scaled drawings of outer space, comprised of tiny renderings of Sun Ra, and giant Cronenberg-y blobs made out of fighting WPA workers.

The grip had to be customized using extra-soft toilet tissue and masking tape. It's helped with some of the serious pains from so much drawing.


Here I am churning out some laborers:

That does it for this post, kiddos. Come on back in a week or so to see what’s been happening!

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AJ Liberto is April's artist-in-residence on Big Red & Shiny's blog series, Inside Out.

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