Archive for March, 2009

28
Mar
09

How to Build a Chicken

 

    After devoting the first half of the day to house chores, I got into the studio in the afternoon. I decided to work on something small in scale with the idea of possibly finishing the piece before going out in the evening. A few years ago I created an assemblage titled “High Speed Chicken”. I have been thinking of that piece lately , as well as the chickens on the small farm in north east Ohio owned by friends of ours, Kate and Keith McMahon. The McMahons are also artists and they just recently built a new studio. I am only a wee bit jealous.

    So my plan is to make a large chicken, about 40″x36″, using deconstructed tin cans on MDF. But this day I would just make a small work and just do a chicken head. I took several photos to show how the piece came together. I begin with the support (MDF in this case) and a sketch. I do not predetermine which metals I will select. That happens piece by piece as I build.

Sketch on the support

Sketch on the support

 

I have cut out a few of the shapes that will form the head.

I have cut out a few of the shapes that will form the head.

 

More shapes to form the head.

More shapes to form the head.

 

I cut up part of an old sign advertising a device used hatch chicks.

I cut up part of an old sign advertising a device used hatch chicks.I begin to address the negative space.

Getting close to completion.

Getting close to completion.

Using an old frame from a biscuit tin, I wrap it up! Title: "The Chicken and the Quaker"

Using an old frame from a biscuit tin, I wrap it up! Title: "The Chicken and the Quaker"

And there you have it: how to build a chicken! If you would like to see a better photo of the finished piece. please visit my website: www.robertvillamagna.com   Now that spring is upon us, I can begin searching the flea markets for tin cans!

14
Mar
09

Ode to Clase Oldenburg

 

    In my ART 160/ Design II class at West Liberty State College, I present what I refer to as “The Big Tool Project”. Each student is asked to bring a hand-held tool to class and make a large version of that tool using any of a variety of materials: cardboard, foamcore, fibre, paper mache, etc. To make a successful “big tool”, the student must get to know his or her chosen “model” inside and out. During the three week designing and building process problems do occur, as most of these students will tell you. Hard work does pay off as seen in the photos below. These are just are a few of the 26 tools that were completed recently.

 

Lint remover

Lint remover

 

Great-grandfather's wrench

Great-grandfather's wrench

Paint brush

Paint brush

 

Box of matches

Box of matches

Pipe wrench

Pipe wrench

 

X-Acto knife

X-Acto knife

Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguisher

 

Rubber stamp

Rubber stamp

 

 

 

 

 

 

    And just to give you an idea of the scale of these tools, take a look at the tools with the artists who created them:

 

 

Olivia with lint remover

Olivia with lint remover

 

Kyle with matchbox

Kyle with matchbox

 

Tyler and paintbrush

Tyler and paintbrush

 

Sam and pipe wrench

Sam and pipe wrench

Chris with X-acto knife

Chris with X-acto knife

 

Courtney with rubber stamp

Courtney with rubber stamp

 

Kate with fire extinguisher

Kate with fire extinguisher

09
Mar
09

Gerdy Art

    Each August my wife, Chris, and I make our annual drive to the Ohio State Fair in Columbus. This huge fair has an endless mix of sights, smells, and sounds that we totally enjoyable. One of the highlights of our annual visit is the art exhibition in the Knox Fine Arts Building. This juried exhibition always seems to have a wide range of high quality, creative work by a variety of talented artists. Now you might just be thinking that the words “quality art” and “state fair” don’t go together, but you would be wrong! It is a terrific show!

    At the 2007 exhibit we saw the work of artist Dan Gerdeman and I told Chris that I would like to get this artist to do a show at the Nutting Gallery at West Liberty State College. Seventeen months later I was helping Dan install his exhibition at West Liberty.

Dan Gerdeman's work hanging at Nutting Gallery.

Dan Gerdeman's work hanging at Nutting Gallery.

    Dan paints original cartoon-like subjects and weaves words into the artwork. The content of these paintings come from Dan’s life experiences and memories, mixed in with bits of quirkiness and humor. Here are a few of Dan’s works from the exhibition:

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dsc_0090dsc_0077_21    Dan Gerdeman’s show at Nutting Gallery closed March 6, but he will be exhibiting his work, along with nine other artists, in a one-day show at ChopChop Gallery in Columbus on March 28, 2009.  To learn more about Dan Gerdeman and his art, check out http://www.gerdyart.net

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07
Mar
09

Altered Book Project

One of the encyclopedias given to each student.    Like many artists, I teach 8 months a year so that I may make art the other 4 months (along with eating and keeping the heat on).  I teach at West Liberty State College in West Virginia, and one of the classes I am responsible for is Crafts (I & II.) I decided to begin the spring semester with an altered book project. Several years ago I presented a similar  project when I was teaching at the West Virginia Governor’s School of the Arts. I had collected a variety of old books and let each student pick one. This time the process was just a wee bit different.

    I had recently rescued a set of 1970’s German encyclopedias which were on their way to the dumpster. This time I was going to see how far the creative limits were stretched when each student had basically the same text. As it ended up, 15 students each got one of the German encyclopedias, while two students got an outdated American encyclopedia. I presented the students with the following objective: To transform a discarded book into a  creative art work of art that encompasses a theme and may utilize any variety of media and techniques.  The book may be rebound, painted, cut, burned, folded, added to, deconstructed, collaged in, gold-leafed, rubber stamped, drilled or otherwise adorned.

     I also explained to the students that regardless what they did to the books, it should still be identifiable as book. In other words, I want the viewers of the finished works to see what these were in their “previous life”. Here are just a few of the 17 books:

 

"Literary Explosion" by Amanda Carney

"Literary Explosion" by Amanda Carney

 

    While I did not require that the altered books be given a title, Amanda referred to hers as a Literary Explosion. Amanda deconstructed and reconstructed the pages and text to create a mushroom cloud rising out of the open book.

Telephone Book/ back side

Telephone Book/ front

   Joshua Hoffman created a two-sided “telephone book”, one side becoming an early wall phone, and the other side a more up-to-date pay phone. 

 

Cutaway icon by Amanda Kiger

Cutaway icon by Amanda Kiger

    Cutaway Icon is not Amanda’s title, but just a way for me to refer to her book. Amanda inserted an image of the Madonna and Child and then carefully removed parts of pages in order to achieve a kind of 3D look to her text.

 

John Madden's book is just a bit creepy!

John Madden's book is just a bit creepy!

    John shows his love of horror and sci-fi topics through the creation of this “monstrous” text. John also partially filled the book with his own hand-drawn illustrations. As a bonus, John deconstructed a talking greeting card, and put the sound chip into the cover of his book. When you pull the dangling tongue, you are treated to the words, “Let’s put a smile on that face!”. 

    This is only a sampling of the finished project, showing how these outdated textbooks were given a new life. Perhaps I will present additional examples in a future post.