Tag Archives: art550

Artist Interviews :: Top Contemporary Artists? Or Are They?

Continuing forward with our discussion, what does it mean to be an artist? (in 2018) – Below, I have organized several interviews/ talks taken from various time periods with some of today’s top contemporary artists.

Several of the interviews below will be screened and discussed in class on 9/18/18.

*In the comments section below, please leave your sentiments about what you have observed.

1. Does one artist stand out to you? If so, describe why?

2. Do you see and hear more similarities or contrasts between the artists? What are they?

3. Do you have a favorite artist that you have heard speak in a recent interview or talk? Feel free to paste links into the comments section as well.


Video with Damien Hirst- 


“I just thought, ‘What can you pit against death?”[1]

‘For the Love of God’, a platinum skull set with diamonds, is one of Hirst’s most important and widely recognised works. Its raw materials define it as an artwork of unprecedented scale. The 32 platinum plates making up ‘For the Love of God’ are set with 8,601 VVS to flawless set diamonds, weighing a massive 1,106 carats. The teeth inserted into the jaw are real and belong to the original skull.

The skull from which ‘For the Love of God’ was cast, was purchased from a London taxidermist and subsequently subjected to intensive bioarchaeological analysis and radiocarbon dating. This research revealed it dated from around 1720 – 1810, and was likely to be that of a 35-year-old man of European/Mediterranean ancestry. The title originates from exclamations Hirst’s mother would make on hearing plans for new works when he was starting out as an artist. As he explains: “She used to say, ‘For the love of God, what are you going to do next!’”

‘For the Love of God’ acts as a reminder that our existence on earth is transient. Hirst combined the imagery of classic memento mori with inspiration drawn from Aztec skulls and the Mexican love of decoration and attitude towards death. He explains of death: “You don’t like it, so you disguise it or you decorate it to make it look like something bearable – to such an extent that it becomes something else.”[2]

The incorporation of the large central stone was inspired by memories of the comic ‘2000 AD’, which Hirst used to read as a child. He relates how the comic, “used to have a character in it called Tharg the Mighty who had a circle on his forehead. He was like a kind of powerful, God-like figure who controlled the universe,” Hirst explains. “It kind of just looked like it needed something. A third eye; a connection to Jesus and his dad.”[3]

Alongside their dazzling brilliance and “Eucharistic” beauty, Hirst’s fascination with diamonds results partly from the mutterings and uncertainty surrounding their inherent worth. In the face of the industry’s ability to establish their irreplaceable value, it becomes necessary to question whether they are “just a bit of glass, with accumulated metaphorical significance? Or [whether they] are genuine objects of supreme beauty connected with life.”[4] The cutthroat nature of the diamond industry, and the capitalist society which supports it, is central to the work’s concept. Hirst explains that the stones “bring out the best and the worst in people […] people kill for diamonds, they kill each other”.[5]


1. Damien Hirst – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jQ6isqr2OY

2. Jeff Koons – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZWwqlcA50w

3. Kara Walker – Domino Sugar Factory Interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRkP5rcXtys&t=2s 

4. Marina Ambramovic – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4so_Z9a_u0

5. James Turrell –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bvg6kaWIeo

6. Mariko Mori – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qztEpDgYA1Y

What Does it Mean to be an Artist in 2018?

Welcome ART 550 Students!

Our first class met onTuesday September 11th, it was great to meet you all!

Please leave your feelings & sentiments below in the comments section below. After you post your comment I will manually approve it. (don’t get worried if it does not show up right away, it will!)

Assignment #1 simply asks you to reflect and state:

What Does it Mean to be an Artist in 2018?



**Don’t forget to sign up!! This blog is the main way that I will communicate with the class as a whole. Simply add your e-mail address and verify your subscription. You will be receiving an e-mail each time there is a new publication to the blog.

Welcome to ART 550 Fall 2018!

Welcome ART 550 Students!

Our first class is tonight, Tuesday September 11th, it is great to meet you all!

This blog is one of our main formats of communication and learning. You will be receiving an e-mail each time there is a new publication to the blog. Reacting and responding regularly for currently enrolled students is mandatory. Alumni and those who have already taken the course are encouraged to participate and share with us!

Between now and this coming Tuesday, I would love for you to take a peek at our class schedule again – it is located here. <— thats a hyperlink, you will see a lot of these on our blog in the future.

I would also like for you to leave a comment below describing your impressions of our first class. Also, are there things that you would like to focus on during our class, feel free to share those things as well.

Thanks so much!

ART550 – MA & MFA Thesis / Personal Research Paper Examples


Below are 2 great examples:  The first is an the MA Thesis written from the post thesis exhibition perspective, and the second one is a first semester MFA reflective / research paper in progress.

Both papers are great examples and follow the template that we spoke about during the first part of our semester, you can refresh your memory on that format here.

Click the hyperlinks to view.

1. Meghan Hallock – MA Thesis, pre-graduation submission draft – Click Here – “Blue”

2. Leonard Altinori – MFA first semester research paper of works in progress – Click Here to Read

Feel free to leave comments and feedback below.

The Internet’s Own Boy Documentary

I would like you to watch the portrait documentary of Aaron Swartz, The Internet’s Own Boy.

Aaron Swartz was a prodigy web developer that participated in some seminal web projects – RSS, Creative Commons licensing, and Reddit. He founded Demand Progress which successfully campaigned against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) with a broadly adopted 24 hour internet blackout of well know sites like Wikipedia. Swartz was later arrested by M.I.T. police for systematically downloading thousands of academic articles from JSTOR and federal prosecuted with charges of wire fraud and 11 violations of the Computer Abuse and Fraud Act. Facing possible jail time, Swartz committed suicide at the age of 26. Larry Lessig who was a mentor, colleague, and friend to the much younger Swartz commemorated his life and work with Lessig’s appointment as Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School with a lecture titled “Aaron’s Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age.

Reactions to this assignment are optional and not mandatory, if you choose to react please post all reactions in the comments section below.

Guest Artist Visit Reactions

On Tuesday night 11/7/17 Reem Hussein was our guest artist in ART550. Reem shared her experiences as an MFA student, artist and educator. She is currently the director of the Mannes Center for Art Education at the Nassau County Museum of Art. We followed up her talk with a Q&A from the class. 

Students were asked to bring in one piece of current art work for a critique led by Reem.  A dialog about each student’s work proceeded.

In the comments section below please share your sentiments and reactions about what you learned from the evening as a whole.

What insights, comments or reactions have stuck with you? What do you see or understand now about your piece/work that you may have not seen prior to the critique?

Feel free to also include other thoughts and feelings.




11/7 – Class Reminder – Guest Artist Info

Dear Class,

This is a reminder. All students will bring in one piece of current work for a critique and discussion with our guest artist on Tuesday 11/7 starting at 5pm. 

This can be anything that you wish just as long as it is current work. Please do not bring in work from 5 years ago,  a wet painting or work that is difficult to transport.

The guest artist will give a presentation first, followed by a Q&A. The critique will take place after.

Week of 10/31 – Info & Assignment

**Note – Tuesday – 11/7 – Guest Artist Visit – Presentation, & Critique .

*Students will bring in one piece of current work for critique and discussion with our guest artist.

Week of 10/31 – Info & Assignment –

This week in class we began a discussion about responding to various works of contemporary art that fall outside of the traditional. We talked about how we can suspend our first judgements of what we may interpret as “the unconventional” or “strange” and look deeper into the works with out jumping to first impressions and opinions? Easier said than done..

*Students should view, screen & engage in the content below by selecting a piece (or two) of work to react and respond to in the comments section below.

In your response, you may choose to react from the perspective of the artist. What do you think the artist is communicating and what do they want the viewer to most understand? you are also welcome to discover a work that is not included below and share the URL along with your response.

We touched on a few specific examples including:

  1. Joseph Beuys’s action / performance of 1965 – “How to explain pictures to a dead hare” (below) Rich in symbolism and metaphors, what do you see or not see in this piece? (further research may be needed and is welcome to form your response).


2. Rhizome’s NET ART Anthology. A two year online exhibition that portrays the history of Internet Art. – https://anthology.rhizome.org/

There are several pieces in this building series, you may need to get very specific about what piece or pieces you wish to respond to. (Use the titles in the website’s link to help your classmates identify them)


3. Marina Ambramovic, Various works.

Several examples of her performances can be found here: – http://www.ubu.com/film/abramovic.html


Class Collaboration 2017

Collaboration Synopsis:

This is a studio work session / reflective exercise based class.

Students will chose to bring in the materials of their choice (not mandatory but you may choose to) to generate, complete and present their group outcomes during this class session. If you have a lap top computer, this would be a good class to bring it to (not mandatory but may prove useful).

This class project is generated, documented, presented and critiqued in immediacy all in one class session. We will record our process and results by publishing them to our class blog. Each group will submit a statement of their piece and then individually respond below.


Group #1 – Statement: – Meghan, Sharron, Laura & Chie


Duality kickstarted with personal experiences revolving around male expectations of feminine behavior. From this cloud of negativity positive success stories were shared, which in turn highlighted the complex thought process culminating a duplexity of feminine mindset in society. Examining what is said or projected versus what is actually felt allowed us to simplify emotions as related to representational colors.

Each artist identifying with a specific color was able to recognize the duality of their hue. Yellow radiates happiness, warmth, perfection. When thought of as mustardy yellow, the grit of earthy elements forms a dichotomy of image.  Red is a hue that has the power to motivate yet intimidate a soul. It’s dominate nature can be overwhelming but in turn can also be used as inspiration to try something new. Pink is associated with femininity and sweetness but when turning a hot pink it can represent an edginess. Blue can denote an inner weakness and sadness yet it serves as a stable source of strength. These colors and feelings suggest how people see you and how you see yourself. It has the power to bring the imperfections of humanity to the surface if only in the subconscious.

Duality is the collaboration of four strong women permitting the simultaneous transmission of two messages in opposite directions. We reveal the complexity of the female mind and celebrate the ability to prosper through challenges.


Group #2 – Statement – Grace, Len, Joselyn and Hyon.

Our presentation centered on the socio-political causes that most interest us: ANIMAL RIGHTS, THE ENVIRONMENT, HOMELESSNESS and NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION. As these issues were discussed, pertinent articles were downloaded and digitally collaged on top of a photo of planet earth as a unifying visual, illustrating how all of these concerns are presently at-risk due to the policies of Donald Trump.

Each student will leave a comment below about the project by answering the following questions:

What did you learn the most through this collaborative experience?

How did the immediacy of the project’s time-frame effect your decision making and ability to work in a group?

What will you apply into your writing practice as a result of this experience?

In reflection, what would you have done differently and why?