"Space, Air, & Seeing the Masters" by Ryan Kerr

Much of the instruction from artists Jay Noble,  Matthew Lopas, and Tai Laipan has been around ways of conceiving and organizing space. It's making me think of space in an entirely new ways and more importantly making me realize how many different ways there actually are of conceptualizing space. Matthew Lopas’s panosphere painting was challenging but forced me to apprehend space in an encompassing way. Objects in the periphery suddenly became more apparent.

At John Goodrich’s visiting artist lecture, he made a point about the very narrow angle we generally experience the world through and how little we look up at extreme angles.

Objects of focus are often bound to the ground by gravity so it makes sense. I find myself looking up a lot more here, happily fulfilling the cliche of an artist with his or her head in the clouds.

On one late night trip to Walmart not unlike any other taken before, we were picking up some minor art supplies. I found myself struck by the perfectly repeating, receding fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling when viewed from the front checkout lanes. It gave a measure to the space that was beyond what the maze-like aisles might have you believe.

The drawing instruction has also focused on space. Tai Laipan introduced us to Persian miniatures and their stacked space logic. Overlaps become very important in these contour heavy drawings and figure ground reversal can easily be incorporated because of their graphic nature. There was one minature in particular where the sky was white and one of the figure’s turbans was too. It carried the weight of the sky downward in the picture making the billowing clouds that much more affecting.

Over breakfast one morning with the other intensive program students, David Foster Wallace’s ‘This is Water’ commencement speech came up. After reflecting on it, its making me think about figure ground reversal and that trip to Walmart. So much of the time our perceptions play tricks on us for the sake of convenience. It's so easy to to slip into a narrowed view of the world and get tied up in specifics, to forget the big picture, to walk around with horse blinders on.

Another drawing technique that I was introduced to here is intersection drawing. It consists of drawing little T’s where overlaps occur, areas where things create little pockets of air. It feels really satisfying to record the entirety of a space this way. It becomes about simple relationships and reduces the process to ticking little space making events. In this way the task seems drastically less daunting. It gives permission to get caught up in specifics with the aim being big picture.

Drawing the air in the room is difficult. Seeing the Giacometti show at the Guggenheim during the New York trip made this idea seem worthwhile, but no less difficult. What if the object of focus was the air in the room?  Is it as lonely as Giacometti makes it feel? It sobers you up to the psychological scale of objects for sure. Form is suddenly battling against void, commanding the area it occupies with exactness. The Soutine show in New York also left an impression. He was so focused on the presence of his still life subjects, their forms filled the rectangle with the feeling of wanting to burst past the edges. These two shows were, in this way, polar opposites but seeing them in tandem made a contrast of concepts that heightened my experience of each show.