Posts Tagged ‘MAD Festival


The Altoids Project: MADFEST 2015


The 2015 West Virginia MAD (Media Arts and Design) Festival took place on the Campus of West Liberty University on Friday, April 10. MADFEST 2015 was a day filled with 28 workshop sessions, professional presentations, and a student media arts awards competition and ceremony. Each year, Prof. James Haizlett asks art faculty members to present a 50 minute workshop (or two) for the visiting high school students.

I change my workshop presentation each year just in case a student might be attending for a second year. I was having difficulty coming up with a new workshop idea when I remembered I had several boxes of Altoids containers stored away. About fifty of the tins came from an employee where my wife works, and several hundred more were sent to me by gentleman in Maryland after he had visited my studio. I felt these containers could prove to be perfect supports upon which the visiting students could create collage or small assemblage works.

I began preparing the cans a few days before my two workshops. Using mat board samples that were headed to the dumpster (Thanks Amanda!), I cut pieces to fit the inside and outside each Altoids can. Other cans I primed and painted flat white. Since we only had 50 minutes for each workshop, I wanted the cans ready to accept most of the materials that we had available. I also punched two 1/8″ holes in the top of each tin in order to insert a cord for wearing the finished work.

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In addition to the Altoids tins, each table had craft knives, glue, assorted Sharpies, and scissors. On a nearby counter was colored papers, wallpaper books, color mat board samples, wood shapes, glass beads, etc. Another table served as a hot glue station with several hot glue guns at the ready.

The night before the workshops, I created seven examples to show the students. My hope that these might jump start their creative juices. I photographed each example and presented a brief Keynote presentation at the beginning of the workshop. Here are my examples, front and inside:

I feel that the workshop was successful for the most part. Should I try something similar in the future, I will plan to have more small found objects on the materials table (most of our materials were 2D). Here is a slide show of the students working and some of them showing their work:

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Mixed Media Art on a Stick!

The annual West Liberty University MAD Fest was held on Friday, April 11, with Professor James Haizlett orchestrating the event. Each year I am asked to teach a mixed-media workshop that is geared towards high school art students and their teachers. For the past two years I presented an altered photograph workshop based on the work of artist Alex Gross. I had seen Alex’s exhibition at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in NYC in the spring of 2012, which inspired the direction of my workshop.

This year I wanted to change things a bit,  just in case one of the visiting students might be returning to my workshop for a second year. Last fall I saw the work of artist Tom Sarver in the 2013 Carnegie International. By chance, my wife, Chris, and I got to meet Tom at the recent Out of Hand event at Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh. He was there helping event visitors to make their own puppet, and I enjoyed making one myself.

It was about a week before MAD Fest and I still was not sure what I would present. At this point I am just listed in the MAD program as Robert Villamagna: Mixed Media Workshop. My experience with Tom Sarver at Contemporary Craft got me thinking about creating a one hour mixed-media workshop using a stick as the primary vehicle for the artwork.

The "Mixed-Media Art on a Stick" examples I made for the workshop.

The “Mixed-Media Art on a Stick” examples I made for the workshop.

I made a few puppet-like mixed-media examples earlier in the week to hopefully inspire my workshop students. From left to right: The first guy made up of a deconstructed shipping carton, a foamcore head, Sharpie, and miscellaneous scraps, arms are attached with nuts and bolts; the deer head is a piece of plywood, with plastic bread shelving cut into the shape of antlers, acrylic paint, nails, and Sharpie; the skeleton head is foam core with black mat board scrap for eyes, etc., his body and is cut from a plastic beach bottle, arms attached with a rivet tool; and meat head man is a photo copy of meat on foam core, his body is black mat board scraps, arms are attached with nuts and bolts.

My two workshops were scheduled begin at 1 PM and 2 PM. Early that morning I spent about four hours preparing the studio with labeled bins of sticks (wood lathe), cardboard scraps, cloth scraps, plastic detergent bottle pieces, plastic caps, colored and textured paper, etc. I set up a hot glue station with several glue guns, as well as a station for drilling and riveting. I was able to offer a huge assortment of colored and textured mat samples which a student of mine intercepted from the Micheal’s craft store dumpster. (Thanks Amanda!) At each table I had scissors, Tacky Glue, and an assortment of Sharpies. Due to the limited timeframe, I decided at the last minute not offer paint as an option. Even with a hair dryer on hand, paint takes time to dry and with only fifty minutes to work I felt it better to leave paint out of the equation.

Overall, I felt the students were energized, creative, and having a good time. About fifteen minutes into each workshop the studio became a beehive of activity. A special thank you to my WLU student assistants: Kevin, Jessica, and Alex! Here are some photos from my back-to-back workshops:

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Altered Photo Workshop at MAD Festival

The 2012 West Virginia MAD (Media Arts and Design) Festival was held at West Liberty University on Friday April 27, 2012. As part of this annual, full day celebration of media arts, I taught three 0ne-hour mixed media workshops based on altered photographs. My inspiration for this workshop is the work of artist Alex Gross. I recently had saw the exhibition, Product Placement, at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea. As part of that exhibition, Gross included a series of altered cabinet photos, which were most excellent! Once workshop participants got into their work (play?), I was able to participate as well.

 Here is a slide show of the workshop in progress, and some of the resutlts.

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