Posts Tagged ‘West Liberty University

15
Mar
16

Making Moondog

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Robert Villamagna and “Moondog” at thr Crosscurrents Exhibition, Stifel Fine Arts Center, Wheeling, WV.

My newest work is a portrait of “Moondog”, described by the residents of Wheeling, WV as an icon, a mascot, a protector, a cyclist extraordinaire, a legend, and keeper of all flags waving. The portrait is 36″x36″ and made of repurposed lithographed metal, highway signs, license plates, nails and screws on wood panel. Here are a few images to show how my portrait of Moondog came together.

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To view more of my work, please visit my website!

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13
Apr
15

The Altoids Project: MADFEST 2015

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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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12
Apr
14

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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15
Dec
13

Remembering the Padge

West Liberty University held it’s fall 2013 commencement ceremony yesterday, and as I sat in the auditorium, I could not help but reflect on my friend and colleague, Robert “Paul” Padgett. As many of you know, Paul, aka “the Padge”, passed away this past October. As the year comes to a close I want to share with you the Padge I knew through a short album of photos.

The Padge

The Padge

Padge in Dumbo. He loved NYC, and we made fifteen trips there with WLU students.

Padge in Dumbo. He loved NYC, and we made fifteen trips there with WLU students. Also in this photo are WLU Professors James Haizlett and Lambros Tsuhlares.

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Padge and I in front of the the Washing Square Hotel, NYC. I had just found a sign and a stretched canvas in the trash. Padge would encourage my obsession of picking up other peoples discards, and then would joke with me about it later. “What’s Chris going to say when you bring that home?” he would always ask.

Padge on the subway, always an observer of life.

Padge on the subway, always an observer of life.

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Our trips to NYC always began with Padge having his morning coffee. I took this with a Polaroid as we were pulling out of McDonalds.

This was the second WLU Art Faculty Exhibition that I was a part of. I was always by Padge's creativity and sense of design. Padge created the floor installation which he titled "Nesting Penquins".

This was the second WLU Art Faculty Exhibition that I was a part of. I was always amazed by Padge’s creativity and sense of design. Padge created the floor installation which he titled “Nesting Penguins”. This is several years before the gallery was renovated.

A closer look at "Nesting Penguins". Padge and I pulled the band hats out of the dumpster behind the Hall of Fine Arts. Those are eggs on the top of each hat.

A closer look at “Nesting Penguins”. Padge and I pulled the band hats out of the dumpster behind the Hall of Fine Arts. Those are eggs on the top of each hat.

I probably had few dozen exhibition openings of my own work during the time I knew Padge, and I believe he attended every one. Here we are at my opening of "I've Seen You Naked" at Penn Gallery in Pittsburgh, along with artist and friend Howard Lieberman.

I probably had few dozen exhibition openings of my own work during the time I knew Padge, and I believe he attended every one. Here we are at my opening of “I’ve Seen You Naked” at Penn Gallery in Pittsburgh, along with artist and friend Howard Lieberman.

Padge and Lambros, in front of a NYC Restaurant called "Ginger", which happens to be Lambros' favorite root!

Padge and Lambros, in front of a NYC Restaurant called “Ginger”, which happens to be Lambros’ favorite root!

Padge was always ready for a photo op that contained wording that somehow connected to one or all of us.

Padge was always ready for a photo op that contained wording that somehow connected to one or all of us.

Padge, in a NYC gallery. wearing a Hershey rain poncho I loaned him.

Padge, in a NYC gallery. wearing a Hershey rain poncho I loaned him.

Paul, Janice Barnett, Chris, and I camping at Seneca Rocks, WV.

Paul, Janice Barnett, Chris, and I camping at Seneca Rocks, WV.

My wife, Chris, took this photo of Padge and I discussing the art world as we enjoy a hot tub near Hocking Hills, Ohio.

My wife, Chris, took this photo of Padge and I discussing the art world as we enjoy a hot tub near Hocking Hills, Ohio.

I took this photo of Padge in front of the George Washington Arch in Washington Square Park, NYC.

I took this photo of Padge in front of the George Washington Arch in Washington Square Park, NYC.

Me and the Padge at my birthday party at Later Alligator in Wheeling.

Me and the Padge at my birthday party at Later Alligator in Wheeling.

We were at Powerhouse Arena, a great bookstore in Dumbo, when Padge saw a poster advertising a book by one of his design heroes.

We were at Powerhouse Arena, a great bookstore in Dumbo, when Padge saw a poster advertising a book by one of his design heroes.

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Taking a break at a Chelsea gallery. This was our last NYC trip with the Padge.

Paul and I in front of a light installation somewhere in Chelsea.

Paul and I in front of a light installation somewhere in Chelsea.

Padge checking out the design books at our favorite bookstore, the Strand, in NYC. This is my favorite photo I ever took of my friend.

Padge checking out the design books at our favorite bookstore, the Strand, in NYC. This is my favorite photo I ever took of my friend.

 

 

 

 

14
Nov
13

Clay Pots in Memory of Paul

We recently lost our good friend, professor, and artist Robert Paul Padgett. Paul’s sister Kathy had asked Lambros Tsuhlares, ceramic artist, and Adjunct Professor of Ceramics at West Liberty University, to create 35 small clay jars that will contain Paul’s ashes. It is the plan of Paul’s family that these jars of ashes be given to family members and friends, and that the ashes then be taken to various locations throughout the country that Paul loved.

Over the past few weeks, Lambros has been forming and glazing the jars. Yesterday Lambros did a raku firing of the jars, assisted by West Liberty Univerisity students Emma Romanowski, Josh Verhovic, Natalie Rees, Lexis Irvin, and Roy Jenree.  Raku is a process by which pottery is fired at a relatively low temperature and then moved while hot to a closed container with combustible materials (as paper or sawdust) that ignite and cause a reaction creating colors and patterns in the pottery’s surface. (Raku means “enjoyment”, “comfort” or “ease” and is derived from Jurakudai, the name of a palace, in Kyoto, Japan, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598), who was the leading warrior statesman of the time.)  Here are the photos I took during the raku firing. In addition, I have included Paul’s obituary at the end of this post.

Robert Paul Padgett was born April 17, 1945 in Chicago, son of the late Ralph Emerson and Agnes Loeb Padgett.

Paul was a dedicated and loving father; grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend. His children and grandchildren were so important to him and he cherished visiting and traveling the country with them. Paul made many trips out west and down south in the pursuit of family unity. His family felt so appreciated and supported because of his effort to remain connected despite the physical distance. Paul interjected the spirit of discovery and joy into everything he did with his family.

Paul had the true heart of a teacher. He enriched the lives of his family and friends by sharing facts and trivia about art, graphic design, music, literature, history, and geography. Paul effortlessly used every moment as an opportunity to teach us all something inspiring about the world and impart to us his sense of wonder and curiosity.

Paul began teaching graphic design at West Liberty State University in 1972, retiring this year, only when his illness required him to do so. Paul was a favourite professor of many adoring students and contributed greatly both personally and professional to the art department family at West Liberty. Paul revelled in simplicity and structure in his own art and design and left us with an amazing body of work to appreciate for generations to come. His work was in many ways ahead of its time and will continue to give us the gift of discovery every time it is shown.

Paul was an avid guitar player, singer, and song writer, sharing his gift of music to those who were closest. Through music, Paul brought us an appreciation of love and life, and a deep understanding of the emotional truths that make life worth living. The personal songs he wrote for us were huge gifts that can never be removed from our minds and hearts. In addition to his own musical compositions, he was like a missionary, creating many converts to a musical appreciation of the greats like John Lennon, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and his number one favourite, Bob Dylan.

Paul was also a champion of human right and equality and generously gave his time and money to support causes such as Occupy Wall Street, Amnesty International and many others throughout the years. Social activism was an important value that he encouraged us to participate in, even at the end of his life.

Paul was a lover of life and fought long and hard to continue to be here with us. Paul did not lose to cancer, he conquered over fear. He showed us strength and courage and the ultimate selflessness. These and many other gifts will never be forgotten.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Douglas Padgett.

He is survived by three children, Robert Padgett of Los Angeles, Amanda Padgett of Spokane, and Michael Padgett of Wheeling; four grandchildren, Lily Evans, Asher Stewart, Sorrel Stewart, and Dylan Padgett; two sisters, Jeanette Farhangui of Tampa, and Katherine Padgett of Dahlonega; nephews, Bijan Farhangui and Matthew Jones; nieces, Shirine Fawaz, Christina Blymiller, Giselle Padgett, and Claire Rodriguez; and great-nieces and nephews, Alexander, Christopher, Megan, Alexandra.

28
Sep
13

The Tagliavini Project

Last spring, while doing some internet research, I stumbled upon the work of artist Christian Tagliavini. Tagliavini is a Swiss-Italian, born in 1971, educated in Italy and Switzerland, where he lives and works as a graphic designer and a photographer. This combination provides him with the ability to create and  produce images that blend fine arts, design, and excellent craftsmanship. Through his photographs, Christian Tagliavini tells beautiful stories that are this mix of the real, and the surreal. I was so excited by his work, that I decided to create a “Tagliavini” project for my Design II. at West Liberty University. This class is a 3D design class and is made up almost entirely of freshmen students.

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Two images by Christian Tagliavani.

I began by introducing my students to Tagliavini’s work through images, a Youtube video, and a short biography.  The students were impressed with what they saw, and excited to see what they could create.  We discussed Tagliavini’s images, and afterwards I gave the students part one of the assignment. Each student was instructed to come to the next class meeting with his or her idea for a cardboard “outfit”. All proposals were to be accompanied by sketches.

We had two sections of Design I., each with 12 to 14 students. Each of the students presented their idea, and then pinned their proposal sketches on the wall. After all proposals were presented, each of the students voted for their favorite. The seven proposals that received the most votes were created by a student team. The student whose design was chosen became a team leader, and each team consisted of three or four students.

Whenever possible, I try to get my students to use repurposed materials that otherwise might go to the landfill. All the “clothing” in our project was made from repurposed cardboard shipping boxes, adhesive, gesso, and acrylic paint. One of the outfits did have a non-cardboard element: a veil.

Once the projects were completed, Wheeling photographer Neal Warren worked with the students and created the images that brought our project to life. Neal also teaches photography here at West Liberty University.

The photos below will give you an idea how our project turned out. I believe that students, as well as myself, learned so much from this experience. In turn, we gained even a greater respect for the work of artist Christian Tagliavini.

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Neal works with the students setting up the photographs.

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Neal Warren hard at work making out project look great!

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Yes, I got a chance to be Iron Man for a moment!

My thanks to Neal Warren for shooting our project, to my students who worked hard to turn an idea into reality, and to artist Christian Tagliavini for being the inspiration behind our learning experience.

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25
Jan
13

Oddities

I was 13 years old when I visited my first sideshow or “ten-in-one” at a carnival in Weirton, WV. I still recall all the acts that were in that show, and I recently decided to revisit four of those acts by creating a series of mixed media works for Oddities: The WLU Art Faculty Exhibition.

The barker was at a podium on a wooden platform in front to a huge tent. In front of him was a large spool of tickets. The tent was covered with illustrated banners showing us the wonderful oddities that we were about to see, as the barker kept repeating at the top of his lungs, “They’re ALIVE…..on the INSIDE!” Imagine, I thought, all this for only 35 cents!

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To a kid, the bulldog lady did indeed look like her namesake. The barker spent several minutes telling the audience about the history of the bulldog lady. The climax came when the carnival barker removed the lady’s veil. For an extra ten cents we were invited behind a curtain to see her dog-like limbs.

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The pinhead man had the most intriguing banner on the outside of the show. On the banner, his head came to a point similar to a pencil. Sharp! In person, he did have a pointed head, but it was a somewhat softer, smoother point, and a bit rounded at the top. I remember he looked sad, did not speak, and just stared into space. I felt bad for him, without really understanding why.

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The world’s smallest policeman was just a little person (or “midget” as we said as kids) in a police uniform. I had my doubts that this was a real policeman, but this was the first time I had ever seen a little person outside of TV or the movies, so I thought it was still pretty damn cool.

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The sword swallower started his act with a small sword not much bigger than a hunting knife. He demonstrated his abilities by using a series of swords, each one longer than the previous one. Before putting each sword into his mouth, the man would bang the tip of the sword on the wood platform to show us that it was real. To close his act, and as a way to quiet those in the audience who doubted his abilities, he put a long, yellow florescent tube down his throat. I still remember how his chest glowed.

Working with collage and paint was a nice switch from my usual studio work in cut tin and assemblage. I have been thinking of ways to combine my tin work with paint and mixed media, so perhaps this process was actually warming me up to go in that direction.