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Film@JCSM: The Artists of Camera Lucida

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Film@JCSM: The Artists of Camera Lucida

On Thursday, September 8th, Jillian Mayer will be participating in the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art’s first video art exhibition, Camera Lucida. Her work is in the form of common viral YouTube videos which often have “click-bait” titles. Mayer pokes fun at some of the most common popular videos that become viral but are virtually meaningless. Her video with the most provocative title, “Hot Beach Babe Aims to Please” features a woman in a bathing suit walking out of the ocean while surrounded by computer mouse arrows. Mayer turns the common theme of these videos on their head and uses the arrows to show how everyone judges and stares at the woman in the short. In her video “MakeUp Tutorial HOW TO HIDE FROM CAMERAS”, she mimics the many viral how-to makeup videos on YouTube but with a twist. She advises her viewers on how to do their makeup in order to be unrecognizable by cameras, computers, and robots while walking around the city. Mayer uses common phrases generally found in make-up videos and repeats that her viewers need to make sure they are “breaking up that [the forehead] region.” Mayer’s most watched video features her in an eclectic range of costumes as she confronts her own future demise as well as what her future grandchild will think of her. “I AM Your Grandma” has over three million views on YouTube. All of her videos seek to turn a lens onto the culture of mainstream society and make it question the perspective from which is views the world.

This video contains and excerpt from the artist’s work, I AM Your Grandma

Mayer has presented her work at galleries and museums internationally such as MoMA, MoCA:NoMi, BAM, Bass Museum, the Contemporary Museum of Montreal with the Montreal Biennial (2014) and film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW, and the New York Film Festival. Mayer’s recent awards include the Creative Capital Fellowship for 2015 as well as the South Florida Cultural Consortium’s Visual/Media Artists Fellowship in 2011 and in 2014. The respondent to Jillian Mayer at this event is Hollie Lavenstein, an associate professor in the department of Communication and Journalism at Auburn University. Lavenstein says of Mayer’s work that it is “accessible, playful, yet cerebral all at once. Her visit is a terrific opportunity for Auburn to talk with an internationally-acclaimed artist who works seamlessly across multiple platforms.”

Written by Leslie Rewis, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the English Department at Auburn University.

Camera Lucida: Yeon Jin Kim

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Popular culture has been molded by television and electronic graphic information since the mid-20th century. Whether appearing on a TV console, computer monitor, or smart device, video has become a comfortable, accessible, and preferred medium for both consumption and creation, especially to those among us under 30. Many critics today consider it to be this generation’s quintessential format for expression. Camera Lucida features eight contemporary artists from around the world who work with video and digital moving imagery. Artists Jay Bolotin, Rob Carter, Joe Hamilton, Yeon Jin Kim, LigoranoReese, Jillian Mayer, Rosa Menkman, and Rick Silva offer fresh perspectives on enduring concerns and new issues, using a technology that is widely familiar through common exposure, if not as broadly known as an independent art form. Yet video has been used as an eloquent and powerful vehicle by artists for more than 50 years, ranging from early documentary formats and narrative expositions to digital abstraction and game-playing interaction. JCSM’s survey provides a compelling look at the state of the medium today, where age-old intentions find new purpose in new applications.

This exhibition has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

While all of the eight artists featured in Camera Lucida apply advanced processes in widely different ways, some draw significant inspiration from older, pre-electronic technologies to craft their moving picture art. Early filmmakers, as far back as the mid-1800s, created dynamic effects using stop motion animation, miniatures, and painted matte backgrounds. Even today amid eye-popping CGI digital treatments, such mechanical techniques involving clay model animation and puppetry are still effective and popular. Camera Lucida artist Yeon Jin Kim stages narrative videos amid miniature sets of hand-drawn and collage components, with moving scrolls that measure hundreds of feet in length. Tiny, marionette-like protagonists are manipulated through the sets via monofilament lines, with no effort made to hide their low-tech mechanisms. Kim’s charged atmospheres derive in large part from their peculiar settings and eerie plots, but equally through a viewer’s dawning realization that the entire video is shot in one continuous take. The elemental risk of missteps inherent in “live” performance invigorates her work and adds to our appreciation of their inventiveness.

This video contains an excerpt from the Zoonomia, 2015

Camera Lucida: Rob Carter

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Popular culture has been molded by television and electronic graphic information since the mid-20th century. Whether appearing on a TV console, computer monitor, or smart device, video has become a comfortable, accessible, and preferred medium for both consumption and creation, especially to those among us under 30. Many critics today consider it to be this generation’s quintessential format for expression. Camera Lucida features eight contemporary artists from around the world who work with video and digital moving imagery. Artists Jay Bolotin, Rob Carter, Joe Hamilton, Yeon Jin Kim, LigoranoReese, Jillian Mayer, Rosa Menkman, and Rick Silva offer fresh perspectives on enduring concerns and new issues, using a technology that is widely familiar through common exposure, if not as broadly known as an independent art form. Yet video has been used as an eloquent and powerful vehicle by artists for more than 50 years, ranging from early documentary formats and narrative expositions to digital abstraction and game-playing interaction. JCSM’s survey provides a compelling look at the state of the medium today, where age-old intentions find new purpose in new applications.

This exhibition has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Rob Carter

Rob Carter uses stop motion animation to render fictional yet conceivable transformations of the landscape through mankind’s propensity for building. His video “Foobel (An Alternate History)” traces the imagined evolution of a simple outdoor soccer pitch through time into ever larger and more bombastic iterations of stadium architecture. A later work, “Metropolis” depicts a similar metamorphosis of rural, 18th-century Charlotte, North Carolina into a futuristic urban conglomeration of skyscrapers and sports arenas. Created by video-recording printed images on paper, cut and folded progressively into elaborate compositions, Carter’s videos comment on the politics of hubris and humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

 

 

Courtesy of Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA

This video contains an excerpt from Metropolis, 2008.

Plan a Field Trip to JCSM!

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As 2017 gets underway, consider making the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art part of your school year!

Our mission is to bring the arts to our community. We invite classes, community groups, clubs and organizations, and other groups of school-aged children to visit our museum for a guided tour led by trained museum educators and docents.

Exploring the galleries with a docent offers amazing learning opportunities for your students to engage with art, discover more about artists and their processes, and have meaningful discussions about the arts and their relevance. Our docents work to engage students in casual dialogue, encouraging peer discussion, critical thinking, and hands-on analysis.

The arts are an integral part of all cultures, and JCSM educators are eager to explore the relationships of artists and their historical context with your class. Guided tours offer a wealth of relevant information based on the interests of each group. Below is some information about our fall exhibitions to help you plan your visit.

Jiha Moon: Double Welcome, Most Everyone is Mad Here

Exhibition Dates:

January 21—April 30, 2017
Bill L. Harbert Gallery and Gallery C

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Camera Lucida

Exhibition Dates:

Aug. 27, 2016 to Jan. 7, 2017
Bill L. Harbert Gallery and Gallery C

2012 1072 Reception_0047

1072 Society Exhibition

Exhibition Dates:

Nov. 5, 2016 to Jan.29, 2017
Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Gallery

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Audubon Inspirations: Prints by Jane E. Goldman

Exhibition Dates:

Nov. 5, 2016 to Jan.29, 2017
Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Gallery

Guided visits are recommended for students who are at or above pre-k level and last about an hour. Groups are free to explore the Museum on their own after the tour.

Group Size
We ask that groups have no more than 75 students per visit, with one chaperone required for every ten students.

Visit Schedule
Guided visits are available at any time during our museum hours listed below. While the museum is closed to the public on Mondays, tours may still be scheduled in advance for university and K-12 classes.

All guided tours must be requested at least two weeks in advance. You may schedule a tour by contacting our tour coordinator by e-mail or call 334-844-3486

K–12 Studio Art Programs

The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is pleased to offer art-making activities to supplement in-gallery tours and discussions. After exploring and discussing the works on view, students have the opportunity to take part in related hands-on lessons lead by members of the museum’s education staff. These activities serve to provide a personal tangible art experience for our young learners and encourage material exploration and problem solving.

  • K–12 Studio Art Programs can accommodate a maximum of thirty students
  • $50 per workshop
  • The museum provides all necessary materials and staff members to facilitate the lessons

Call and Response: Andrew Kozlowski

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JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.

Andrew Kozlowski

This, That, These, Those

The first important words that I learned living in Italy and learning Italian were “questo”and “quella” which, mean “this (one)” and “that (one)”. Paired with pointing at something you want to eat, they are wonderfully powerful words that can get you almost anything.

What I love about scientific illustrations is how specific they are.  They say “this one” and “that one” with such confidence. Their designs are beautiful, stiff, ordered, and generally so unlike what they depict.  They often forego expression, leaving no choice but to accept totally and completely what you are being shown. “This (one)” is fact. Though I appreciate the sturdiness of facts and the reliability of recorded language to communicate them from generation to generation, I can’t help but acknowledge the gulf between naming a thing and knowing it.  We still don’t know what half the stuff is buried in the Earth, how it got there, who put it there, and if they had a good life, let alone the stuff that ends up in a closet, an attic, a basement, only found when you move out, when someone dies, or when you want to renovate something old for something new.  For all the times we found things, dusted them off and labeled them, or the times we sliced a berry to make a diagram of its insides, or killed and mounted a bird with wire to make it look alive so we could study it to make a drawing to tell others about the life and habits of that bird, despite the research, the writing, the museums and libraries, as many times as we’ve done all these things, the orderly curation of things still doesn’t capture the entire picture.  We can name a lot more than we know.

In my experience, I hope to balance knowing with naming, abstraction with exactness,research with story.  I want to recognize those parts that can’t quite be understood, labeled, or named, those parts that make us incapable of more than pointing and saying:
“this one”,
“that one”.

Andrew Kozlowski, printmaker

Call and Response: Claire Wilson

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JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.

Claire Wilson

“Collections and Collecting”

“As the acquisition is incorporated into the collector’s self, it is imparted with a sense of sacredness. This sacredness may be enhanced through contagion, where the collector infers a magical connection to the collectible’s creator or prior owner through ownership and handling of the collectible” (William D. McIntosh and Brandon Schmeichel paraphrasing Russell Belk, 1995).

I love to collect things. There’s art and books and music in my home, of course. But there are also nests and fossils and pods and seeds and lots of living creatures. And in my professional life as an editor for “The Encyclopedia of Alabama”, I get to collect my favorite thing: information. I think that the quote above gets to the heart of my collecting. I chose this lithograph by Stow Wengenroth, because it struck me as beautiful, but also as odd and slightly menacing. This artist “collected” an image of two birds that are not normally found together for his own reasons, and they work well together. In our collecting behaviors, we humans like to organize the world into neat categories, but this piece breaks that convention. I found that attractive because it made me think about the way we categorize things. I volunteer at the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in its paleontology collections.  I do so because I want to “collect” the experience of interacting with the world at a time I can never “be” in.  In the lab, scientists have organized the animal collections according to categories that made sense to them. Birds are in one set of drawers and dinosaurs are in another, but birds ARE dinosaurs. All of our categories are, at some level, manufactured. I don’t say this in a negative way, however.  The act of collecting—art, fossils, pets, data—helps give us the necessary illusion that we can make sense of our world.

Claire Wilson is Senior Editor of  “Encyclopedia of Alabama”

Call and Response: Zdenko Krtic

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JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.

Zdenko Krti?, painter

“Siblings”
Powdered graphite with laser and hand engraving, salvaged frames

Owls have a distinctive forward-facing gaze that can make them seem almost human. Their eyes are actually fixed in their sockets, but their necks have a remarkable range of motions, allowing them to swivel their heads 270 degrees! Here are two portraits of owls, Barred Owl and Great Horned Owl, framed in a manner that family portraits would be. The two species of nocturnal birds of prey possess the resemblences one might find in siblings in typical family portraits. And just like with us humans, these animals also have their unique and varied personalities.

“Bubo Virginians”
The Great Horned Owl, also known as the Tiger Owl is the quintessential owl of storybooks. Her hooting sounds and her extraordinarily large gleaming eyes are easily recognizable. Depicted countless times in both fact and fiction, owls are a staple of great world mythologies, occult, children’s books, and unavoidable cultural kitsch.

Diptych, “Nocturnal Flight”
Watercolor and India ink with laser and hand engraving

We have a natural instinctual connection with nature (wildness) that we often lose as we grow up. My intent in this work is to remind us of this often neglected connection.

John James Audubon’s representation, “Barred Owl” was my starting point, to which I added another majestic owl, the Great Horned Owl, a skeleton of which is on display in the gallery. Both owls are native, common, and widespread in our region.

The feathers of these stealthy nighttime hunters are engineered for silent flight. In addition, these birds have acute night vision and hearing. Being nocturnal and often hidden from view, owls, that tend to be solitary, became symbolic. The gift of premonition (foretelling events) among other powers was ascribed to them perhaps because they live in the darkness and silence of the night, a space we can enter to concentrate and compose our thoughts.

For these reasons, and to showcase their majesty, I have depicted them in “negative,” looking almost like ghostly giant moths, gliding effortlessly through darkness, surrounded by silence.

Call and Response: Kathryn H. Braund

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JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.

Kathryn H. Braund

William Bartram’s “Animated Scenes of Nature”

This selection of prints was curated by Kathryn H. Braund, Hollifield Professor of Southern History at Auburn University. Bartram’s work first attracted her attention due to his description of the Southeastern Indians, her research specialty. But her curiosity about the natural environment of the South sustains her interest in his writings and art.

William Bartram (1739–1823) is the best known American botanist of the eighteenth century as well as one of early America’s most widely read authors. The devout Quaker spent most of his life helping run his family’s landscape business at his father’s residence near Philadelphia. Bartram is best known for “Travels“, published in 1791, which documented his tour of eight southern states from 1773–77 and built on an earlier journey to East Florida in 1765–66. That extraordinary book, which stands as one of the great classics of American literature, was equally influential as a new approach to writing about the natural world and continues to serve as a rich source for the study of the southern landscape and southeastern Indians.

In these “animated scenes,” Bartram the artist reveals the motion, conflict, and drama inherent in simplest natural settings. The prints here feature carnivorous plants like the Venus flytrap and pitcher plant that were native to the American South and eagerly sought after by plant collectors in the Atlantic world. To Bartram, these “curious” plants defied the passivity expected of a member of the “vegetable kingdom” by actively consuming animate beings. Bartram was also fascinated by the “motion and volition” by which plants twirled and reached for the sun or, like the flytrap, actively expanded and contracted to trap prey. Rhetorically, Bartram asked the readers of “Travels,” was it not apparent that “vegetable beings are endued with some sensible faculties or attributes, similar to those that dignify animal nature.”

The four works here were all produced for English patrons following his first Florida tour. The original manuscript drawings are now owned by the British Museum of Natural History. The prints in this exhibition are facsimile impressions produced by Alecto Historical Editions. The prints and book are on loan from Auburn University’s Ralph Brown Draughon Library Special Collections and Archives.

Call and Response: Anton DiSclafani

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JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.

Anton DiSclafani

“Wilson”

I am traveling across the sea, again. Sometimes it seems I have spent more time on water than on land; sometimes, when I am home, I wake up in the middle of the night and am surprised when my old legs meet solid, unswaying ground.

Earlier tonight I was dining with strangers and one of them—a young lady, with a hawk’s nose—mentioned Wilson, and looked at me, slyly, with a hawk’s intelligence. I did not answer her. My son swooped in, and changed the subject, quickly, delicately. He is my protector in all things.

But now it is late and the rest of the ship is asleep, save the seamen, for their work is never done, and I sit on the first-class deck and stare at the black, black sea, my father’s pocket watch in my hand. I was born on an island, with a native’s mistrust of the water.

It has been many years since Wilson was mentioned in my presence. I do not hate Wilson. I do not think of him. Others have hated him, in my stead. Others have thought of him for all these years, so I might turn my mind to birds.

My friends, who came to my defense: they said Wilson copied me. And then Wilson’s friends: they said I copied Wilson. There was symmetry, at least, to the accusations. This evenness of proportion: it pleased me. Wilson was already dead, felled by dysentery. I met the man once, in Louisville. He was finely featured; when he opened his mouth, a Scot’s brogue emerged, roughly beautiful. I could have listened to him speak forever.

Audubon, Audubon! My name unfurled on strangers’ tongues, across the world. Audubon, Audubon! Wilson—I wonder how my name would have sounded on his tongue. He never spoke it in my presence. I imagine he thought of me as he lay dying. I imagine he hated me. Because though Wilson knew birds he did not love them. He must have envied me my love.

A wave slaps the ship. I do not have to consult my watch to know that it is late. The young lady has unsettled me. But not for the reason she intended. It is like that, when I am near a woman who is young, who is smart, who might have been Rose or Lucy in the life I might have had if God had looked the other way.

Infants: they move like baby birds, bones within a sack of downy, featherless skin, their movements irregular, fitful.

“Father?” I turn, startled, toward the voice. My son. I would have liked to see the girl again. I would have liked the pleasure of her company for a few minutes longer.

He takes me by the hand, prepares to lead me back to my cabin. I resist.

“Wilson envied you,” he says, quietly, this boy who understands me so well and not at all.

“Yes,” is all I say.

He should have envied me nothing. He was a smart man: he never married, never fathered a child, never closed a child’s eyelids so that she could rest in peace. The eyelids: they were warm. They gave easily beneath the pressure of my fingertips.

I myself am a bastard, conceived in the tropics. Whatever I have in this life, I have made it. Whatever love I have received, I have returned it, two-fold. When I see a bird I see movement, I see flight.

I see a way into a new world.

Anton DiSclafani is the author of the novels “The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls” and “The After Party.”  Her fiction and nonfiction has been published in “Washington Square,” “This American Life” and “Biographic.”  She teaches creative writing at Auburn University.

Call and Response: Keetje Kuipers

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JCSM called nine members of the university community to respond objectively and subjectively to art from JCSM’s growing collection of natural history prints. The resulting exhibition is an orchestrated chorus of diverse voices responding to the art, science, and wonder of representing the natural world.

To expand the conversation, Ralph Brown Draughon Library’s Special Collections Department loaned materials from their collections; JCSM appreciates their kind collaboration. We also thank the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in the College of Science and Mathematics for loaning materials from their ornithology collection.

The above video player provides audiences with a reading of the poem by the author. This recording is also available to hear in the gallery.

Keetje Kuipers

Hollow Haunts

A sculptural poem, Hollow Haunts explores questions of historicity: What is the work of time, and how are we at its mercy when
we attempt to negotiate our collective histories? Is historical authenticity at odds with the evolution of our collective humanity?

In responding to Walton Ford’s Scipio and the Bear, I turned to the text that inspired the painting, a section from Audubon, the Naturalist of the New World that first appeared in Audubon’s 1832 Ornithological Biography. Volume 1. The ornithologist recounts participating in a plantation bear hunt during which a slave, riding horseback, kills the largest of the bears by landing an axe in its skull. The man’s name is Scipio, a popular moniker for slaves displaying bravery, a reference to Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who defeated Hannibal. Though Audubon admires Scipio for his horsemanship and saddle-making skills, he remains an animal in Audubon’s eyes, a centaur at best, half- man and half-beast.

Rather than turning away from this difficult material, I wished to excavate the text. Making use of only the first two pages of the passage, the red line of correction cross-stitched on Hollow Haunts functions not as an erasure—though it takes the form of an erasure poem—but as a kind of bleeding through. The Scipio I see here was brave for insisting on his humanity, for declaring himself in a time when selfhood did not exist for black people in America. Hollow Haunts pits the slow march of time’s progress against the rightfully impatient hunger for personhood, recognition, and respect—the refusal to be captive to time’s constraints in the making of a self.

With thanks to Erin Curry and the Jentel Artist Residency Program.

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