Making art in my studio is a solitary occupation I have enjoyed for many years . The residency at the de Young presents a more social opportunity and I am up for trying something different. The Big Foot Project is a collaborative art piece. I’ll be using images of California’s endangered species, graciously lent by many photographers, and putting them in place on a big paper mache foot with the help of visitors to the studio. Visitors can also put up their handprints on the wall and footprints on the floor. I’m hoping this project will have a bigger audience and impact than my smaller ceramic pieces.
Why use a big foot ? I like it because it suggests we are trampling on the earth like oversized giants. It’s also a reference to the carbon footprint of the environmental movement. We use far too much of the earth’s resources. Our overuse of carbon as fuel results in high amounts of CO2 in the air which captures the heat of the sun producing acidification and thermal expansion of the sea, water rise and climate change on earth.
The inspiration for this project came from a ceramic foot I had done in 2010. It has waterlines suggesting the rise in sea level, and scratched into the dark water or oil stain are scenarios of human caused problems for life at sea. These graphics include overfishing, plastic refuse in the Pacific gyre, melting ice bergs, coral reef destruction, sea temperature rising.
Here is a photo of the ceramic big foot just before it’s fired in the kiln. The drawings on the surface of the clay are scratched into the blue underglaze with an exacto knife to expose the white clay beneath it. After it’s fired the underglaze becomes a darker blue.
“Certain types of art are described as having a Monetesque quality to them in that, the closer the viewer gets to the work, the more disjointed and sloppy it appears. Certain types of artists place deeper import on the work as a whole, rather than the sum of its intricate parts.
The work of Ian Kuali’i is just the opposite…”
Read the entire article by Michael Mantovani on The Digest Online.
After two months of intensive paper cutting, the artists Mayumi Hamanaka, Adrienne Heloise, Ian Kuali’i, and Kai Margarida-Ramírez have filled the walls at Galeria de la Raza with beautiful new works. Join us for the opening reception on Saturday, April 12, 7-9 pm, and the exhibition, April 12-May 25, Wednesday-Saturday, 12-6 pm.
Friday Night, March 28, a crowd celebrated the fantastic talents and overall awesomeness of the four artists. Congratulations to them for carving four unique and exquisite stories out of paper. Thank you, Adrienne Heloise, Mayumi Hamanaka, Ian Kuali’i, and Kai Margarida-Ramírez.
I got a little emotional as I thanked the artists but with smiles and a little kiss on the cheek of support for me, I made it through my remarks. I wish we could keep them forever, but they’ve got to move on to other things.
Cheers to the fabulous women behind the scenes!
Mayumi Hamanaka, Adrienne Heloise, and Ian Kuali’i take a break from cutting paper to pose in the studio.
Working from the opposite coast in NYC, Kai steadily creates a new body of work for Paper and Blade. Today, she invites us into her studio to see these works-in-progress.
Kai Margarida-Ramírez has a personal journey in mind for her newest body of work. She has been investigating her family story telling, how memory impacts such stories, and how family stories have become a kind of origin mythology for herself. Like Mayumi Hamanaka, Kai sources old photographs, particularly from her family archive, creating a conversation with her ancestors across time and realms. This connection and conversation create the narrative that defines Kai’s motivation.
With its beautiful symmetry and preciseness of cut, Kai’s work mirrors the delicate and hauntingly sacred dedications of Papel Picado. Her New Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage is super imposed over portraits of her family, a familiar metaphor for the viewer’s own inflections on past and present.
Cut shapes of Moorish tile patterns from her great-great grandmother’s kitchen provide a backdrop for figures in black and white photographs. As if they were taken from an altar banner, Kai’s photo perforations represent the “motifs of memory” from Kai’s matriline.”
Kai is concurrently working on her thesis as an MFA candidate at Parsons the New School of Design, New York, and creating work as a long-distance member of the Artist Fellows installation. She describes this as “one body of work, one investigation, two coasts.” Through distance, Kai stays conscious with the theme of Paper and Blade: Storytelling Under the Knife. By enlarging the images and carving out tastefully decisive pieces, she is inserting her placement into the past. As the only woman in her generation, she is the curator and interpreter for her matrilineal storytelling.
Take a close-up look at one of Kai’s new works.
Have you ever wanted to ask an artist about their work? Did you know that you can visit the Kimball Education Gallery/Artist Studio at the de Young museum Wednesday-Sunday every week to meet artists, see them create new work, and ask them about their artistry? You can also send them questions by email.
Adrienne Heloise chats with a visitor in the artist studio about her latest creations.
Along with outside exhibits and events, the Paper and Blade project has given Mayumi Hamanaka the opportunity to shine with like-minded artists. Together, they explore the past by overlapping the present.
In Mayumi’s case, she uses a unique style of overlaying paper over old photographs to create layers of topography. In Aboveground 2, a camouflage of shapes and patterns create a veil over an old black and white photo image. A cut out collage of abstract windows becomes a palpable visual experience into the past.
Mayumi Hamanaka is not only a paper artist and photographer, but a keeper of memories for the invisible and misplaced. Each piece describes a fragment of memory aided by Mayumi’s intricate forms. These three-dimensional images build their foundation on snapshots rescued after the 2011 East Japan Tsunami. After the city’s struggle to return stray photos to their original owners, the Lost & Found Project was founded to exhibit the unclaimed personal relics otherwise deemed disposable. Mayumi works with these photos to give them a voice.
In her newest work-in-progress, the Mayumi’s design creates a mosaic of mapped geography around the portrait of a little boy, his form eroded by the disintegration of the original photograph. By filling in the voided and ruined areas, the artist forges new locations and identities for these irrecoverable remembrances. They represent someone’s memories, but whose? They define someone’s location, but where? Mayumi ponders the thought that, if someone loses their photos, they’re essentially losing their own words. By creating topographic textures in paper and design, she hopes to create a resonance for lost storytelling.
– Photos by Daisy Mayorga