Gallery Response Project

The following is an assignment I was given, requiring me to create some sort of lesson or activity in response to exhibits that were on display in the DAAP galleries. One exhibit showed the work of Hollis Hammonds, the other on Hal Lasko (click on each name for more information).

Mix of Hal Lasko and Hollis Hammonds Response

Respond to:

1)   Chat with Hollis Hammonds; she was asked if she feels like her work is all the same or if she feels as though they are all separate projects, responded say “they all feel like separate projects while I’m working on them but when I take a step back and look at them they begin to become one larger body of work.”; Chaotic environment in her work

2)   Hal Lasko’s blindness and how shutting off sight can invite creativity


Plan for before or after Michael’s response

Objectives: Create a collaborative class drawings that incorporates everyone’s personal style to create on larger artwork. Delve into conversation about how the pieces started as something random but eventually came together.


Materials: One large sheet of paper, pens and pencils classmates have


5 minutes explaining project/ setting up

25 minutes creating the drawings/examining drawing and discussing how drawings came together and how shutting off sight frees you and loosens creative inhibitions



-Spend first 10 minutes of bouncing between the two-three sheets of paper drawing with eyes closed. No blindfolds so they can move b/w pieces, but when making marks have to close eyes/look away. Doesn’t have to be continuous marks. (Create a chaotic and random creative atmosphere)


-Spend 5 min to break and introduce discussion on marks that have been blindly placed on page and what things people see in them. Objective is to create a conversation that will linger into the rest of drawing time. Talk amongst one another to analyze and inspect what you imagine in the marks and how you see them coming together as drawings.


-Next 10 minutes going in and adding into and pulling out what they see in the drawings. Encourage them to take into account the whole composition when adding. Try to pull together the marks and lines that were blindly drawn; can continue drawing while conversation is being held. Those that are waiting to add to the piece can partake in conversation; maybe 1 sheet of paper would be best, limiting amount of time each person can add (also creates a little more chaos).


Following the drawing activity, was a little unsure of how effective my lesson plan was. I felt like I had prepared a well thought out plan for my 30 min, but after my time was up, it seemed sort of thrown together. It did not seem as though my activity focused around the two elements I responded to most when viewing the two exhibits. With the Hammonds exhibit, I responded most to her believing that her work feels like separate projects while being created, but afterwards she is able to see how those projects fit in with her larger body of work. I also wanted to plan some sort of activity that responded to loosing a sense, specifically sight, and how that affects our creative impulses. I think the activity I planned for my lesson started to point towards this outcome, but the conversation I planned following the drawing activity did not follow through on the intended outcomes. Instead of focusing on how blindness affects creativity or how all of the random marks on the paper seem chaotic, but still contribute to the overall piece; the conversation focused on simply the process of the drawings. Don’t get me wrong, I was very impressed with the conversation that did take place. Everyone seemed to examine and analyze what was happening on the paper and some insightful comments were made as to how this activity would be a great ice breaker activity. However, the most beneficial comments/feedback I received were in relation to how this activity could be guided more towards my initial intended outcomes. While I did want the conversation to spark organically and continue for the full 30 minutes (which it seemed to do for the most part), everyone felt as though it would be wise to enact some sort of restrictions in order to steer the conversation towards topics like blindness or chaos. Overall I felt as though my lesson plan was a good start at what I wanted to accomplish, but it was just a small step and needs more fine tuning before it can accomplish exactly what I want it to do.

What I’m Looking At: Charline von Heyl


Charline Von Heyl was born in 1960 in Mainz, Germany and currently works and resides in New York City. She is best known for her “large, colorful, abstract paintings that test the boundaries of abstraction by depicting shapes and forms that teeter on the verge of figuration.” This past March I had the opportunity to view some of her work at the Whitney Biennial. For this particular exhibit she appropriated images from a midcentury book on Russian and Polish Folk art. “Focusing on details such as the wood or ceramic surfaces of the objects in the pictures, von Heyl tears up the copies and collages them onto drawings made with ink, wax, crayon, spray paint, charcoal, and acrylic, allowing an element of chance to determine the final composition.” The resulting pieces are dense and layered and at times it is difficult to distinguish between von Heyl’s abstractions and the reproductions she made those abstractions from. What drew me in to these pieces was the connection between the folk art book she appropriated from, and the very self taught nature of an abstract artistic process. Pushing the boundaries of abstraction and figuration is very central to my aesthetic and practice, but it isn’t something that can be taught. My abstractions come from simply re-imaging something I’ve already seen or taken in. Von Heyl’s pieces reveal both a process of abstraction, while simultaneously revealing the images being abstracted, creating dynamic compositions that ignite something unique and particular towards everyone’s subjectives. 

(information found at:


Sycamore High School Field Experience-4/11/14

Myself, along with two peers recently had the opportunity to lead a critique with the AP photo students at Sycamore High School.

Our Lesson Plan: 

Learning Outcomes:

  • Facilitate a conversation directed towards giving students new feedback
  • Engage students in each others work through dialog
  • Have students present work in concise and coherent manner
  • Become familiar with the kinds of thinking and art making the students are undertaking
  • Generate some understanding of what factors are driving their thinking and making
  • Find material and content that the students are passionate about
  • Have students explain, determine, and analyze difference between breadth and concentration


Discuss with students what they want out of critique. Students layout and present their work, self-selecting what content/context/process they feel is relevant for the critique. After all students have presented for about five minutes each focus on each individual student for about ten minutes and have a critique about their work in which we ask students to give feedback to each other.


5 min: Introductions

15 min: Students present work

30 min: Group discussion/feedback

5 min: Conclusions

Assessment Measures:

  • Evaluate whether discussion met goals of learning outcomes
  • Evaluate students level of comfort and participation with the group and with us
  • Reflect on individual students and work, write descriptions of them after class to assess our understanding of them and their work

Questions geared towards students:

  • Name, concentration, what they are passionate about and intrigued by (before/after work presentation?)
  • What are you making and why? How does this relate to a concentration and breadth of work?
  • What would you like to get out of this conversation and discussion?
  • What is the difference between concentration and breadth?


For this experience at Sycamore, our lesson plan was aimed at getting the students in our group to share and discuss one another’s work. We knew that the students have probably been through numerous critiques considering the end of their year is approaching, so we wanted them to get something new and fresh from our session. The work and concepts of our students were not only strong, but they both exhibited a great deal of respect when talking about each other’s work. While I tend to talk a lot and dominate a conversation, but it didn’t feel like it was difficult or uncomfortable for our students to give/accept feedback and ask questions. Next time I would probably monitor myself a little better, just to make sure I am giving enough room for their perspectives to enter into the conversation. It wasn’t necessarily difficult for me to think of suggestions or examples, I did struggle a tad with quickly making them relevant in the context of someone else’s work. My ideas are easily realized according to the way my brain works, but hardly anyone thinks in the same manner I do, so I had to remove myself from my own thought process sometimes. Informing the students on taking our suggestions and adapting, rather than restarting, seemed to make them a little more open to the feedback being given. Overall, I would say our lesson plan worked, and from the verbal confirmation, our students seemed left with somewhere new to go with their work.

One thing that stuck out from our experience was our chat with Peter Griga during the break between bells. During the conversation someone asked how he continues to encourage his students that seem to have difficulty being open to their creative side or resistant to new ideas and feedback. He responded by saying that students should make work for themselves first and foremost and that art is just serious play. I kind of zoned out a little after I heard those words because I agree 100%. Hearing him say this made me realize that as an art teacher, I will need to get to know how my each of my students think and work, and what their more personal interests are. I want my classroom to be an environment in which my students can be comfortable playing with their passions though an artistic media.  In order to create this type of environment, it is necessary for me to use my critical and creative skills to adapt to meet the personal needs of each of my students.


What Is This?

This website is everything you would expect. My goal for it is to do what just about every other artist/educator blog would do; contain posts of my work, links to resources I find useful, and writings done either as assignments for classes or just my own thoughts and ideas. In that sense, my blog is boring. Its just another artist educator website. I want my website to be this, but I also want it to be so much more.

I remember trying to make a final decision on where I wanted to attend college. I had always imagined myself going to a smaller school, mainly to swim, because the goals I had set for my swimming career were much more achievable in a lower athletic division. The ONE public University I did apply to was a school I had considered my safety school; not because I thought it lacked as institution compared to the other schools I had applied to, but because I had zero interest in a larger, public University; so I applied for DAAP. To be honest, I had done zero research on the Fine Arts program and knew nothing about it when I applied. It did, however, give me the opportunity to pursue a career in something I knew I am passionate about, photography (art in general). Fortunately, I had, and still have, the most amazing people in my life who encouraged me to take a stroll down the art path.

But what if I didn’t have those people to tell me what a prestigious (at least design wise) school DAAP is? What if they hadn’t encouraged me to pursue the arts just as much, if not more than my swimming career? I definitely think I would still be a photographer and not the artist/educator I am today. With this website I hope to provide a resource for those who don’t have those people in their lives. Whether their parents don’t support that decision, or whether they themselves are questioning that decision, I want my website to provide a support like system/first hand account of how enlightening art school can actually be. Whether the website focuses strictly on DAAP, touches on art school as a whole, or both, I want this website will make art school seem more relevant to the lives of students struggling with the decision to pursue an education or career in the arts.

My Personal/Cultural Aesthetic

Sometimes I make myself feel crazy with all of the faces I draw. Am I seeing things? Who are these people? What do they mean? Are they people I’ve seen? Are they me? The questions surrounding them never end, therefore I can never quite settle on one answer. I could sit here and cook up a million reasons why I draw the faces I draw, but none of them would be honest. Every reason I start to investigate only begins to breed more questions. So, instead of feeling guilty and giving dishonest reasons, I say that I draw and paint faces to figure out why I imagine them. I hope I never figure out why, because these faces form my personal and cultural aesthetic; one that is always changing because I can never quite make up my mind on what attracts my gaze. My aesthetic is always changing because it is always being influenced by the experiences of my life. In some of my faces you might see Picasso, in another you may see Basquiat. Some demanded more of my attention, some beg for me to stop. Sometimes I do not listen, and just like a cherished moment in life, the face fades as a memory. One face might seem happy, one might seem sad. Despite their differences, the faces all seem to belong with one another.

No matter how beautiful, ugly, goofy, crazy, scary, or normal my faces look, they all represent an equal part of me; parts of my being that have been influenced by those that have passed through my life. I consider this my cultural aesthetic because my influences have no discriminations. Even the faces themselves are heavily influenced by masks, traditions, art, music, personalities and everything else that make up the varying cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, and identities that make up this world (and often ignored, the country) that are often vastly different from mine. Given the randomness of some of the external connections I see in my drawings, I consider them a practice lying in Surrealist Automation, probing my unconscious by shutting my mind off or distancing myself from my drawing and painting process. The faces aren’t just drawings, they’re phenomenon, they just sort of happen without any explanation. These faces aren’t just parts of me, they are me. They are the conglomeration of my artistic and life practices, a representation of my experiences, expressions, and emotions, and they represent the multifaceted identity I see myself having. I may not always know what these faces mean, who they are, or why I imagine them, but I do know that by bringing them to life on canvas I get the chance to better know myself as I explore my personal aesthetic.


Considering Aesthetics: How/Why It Should Be Taught In Schools

While on a recent trip back to my old high school, I stopped in to talk with my old art teachers. It just so happened that on this particular day the regular class schedule was abandoned and “ArtsMania” day was held. ArtsMania is day where the high school students at The Columbus Academy sign up from a wide selection of workshops run by people internal and external to the school. Most of these people have careers in the arts or some other unique or alternative career path. While talking with my former 2-D, photography, and ceramics teachers, I began to realize that ArtsMania day in and of itself was a great platform for introducing students to aesthetics theories and concepts. While the day is not intended to engage students in aesthetic discourse, it provides them an opportunity to take a break from their normal school day. It gives them a chance to play around with “the other”; career paths they might be steered away from if they may not have had the exposure to them on ArtsMania day. I took part in ArtsMania when I was a student there and it was a day everyone looked forward to for the entire year. It combined an intense play, something that is sometimes hard to find in educational institutions, with learning; a praxis that can extend beyond the institution and into the career paths it’s students choose. Everyone wants to feel like they never have to work a day in their lives, a feeling I closely associate with an aesthetic experience.

My teachers described the day as very chaotic, but the pay off was the work the students left behind. Both my painting and photography teachers told that they had noticed students they could never picture as artists having fun and making engaging artwork. It reminds me of the second graders in my Saturday art class. The two and half hours they are with is non-stop chaos and sometimes I think they want to run around the halls of DAAP more than they want to make art, yet they ended up making an incredible amount of artwork for only ten hours of class time. I’ve said this many times, but I think that we forget we are making art when we just play, but when that play is separate from the learning process we don’t go back and reflect upon it. When play is part of the learning process we have a chance to critically reflect and see just how relevant that play was to our individual learning processes. As an addition to this written response, I decided to create a small mixed media piece. My old painting teacher and I spent a lot of time discussing the playful, collaborative mixed media pieces created in his classroom during one of the workshops. We both began to express how we believed the play they were allowed started to form roads towards other theories and concepts within the discourse of aesthetics, such as Formalism and the Sublime. The paintings were very abstract and seemed to be about nothing, yet they engaged us with their formal makeups and left us speechless in our gaze.

Doodles, Surrealist Automatism, and Stream of Consciousness Drawings/Phenomenons

Stream of consciousness writing activities are always usually fun. The illogical sentences formed as we let our thoughts purge onto a piece of paper never make much sense. The activity is more about the funny fragmented sentences that represent individual chunks of brain activity. I always enjoyed activities such as these in school, although I can only recall doing it twice: once my in psychology and once in my English class, both during my senior year of high school. It was a fun break from the normal day-to-day monotony of our class activities. Now, I was always a day dreamer or doodler when class got too boring, which it often did, so the stream of consciousness writing activities were a fun way of keeping track and learn from the things that I weren’t supposed to engage in during class time.

"Untitled Doodle" by me from 2013

“Untitled Doodle” by Me from 2013

Fast forward 4 years and if you asked me what my number one source of inspiration was as and artist is my answer would be the doodles I catch myself making when I willingly or unwillingly let my mind wander. They’re very mindless, yes, but they seem to speak to me in a way that begs questioning. They don’t demand one answer, but every time I gaze into a piece I have made I find a new answer or question; a new chunk of my thoughts and ideas that have organically manifested in what I call my art. A whole group of artist, writers, and thinkers took part in stream of conscious activities in order map everything that goes on in their brain. In art it is credited to Surrealist Automatism. Artists like Salvador Dali, Andre Masson, Joan Miro, and even Picasso were all said to have engaged in art making as a means to map their unconscious thoughts and desires. I liken my artistic practice to this process, and also liken the term to doodling.

"Untitled (Automatic Drawing)"/ Doodle by Wolfgang Paalen

“Untitled (Automatic Drawing)” by Wolfgang Paalen (1950) 

"Automatic Drawing" by Andre Masson (1924)

“Automatic Drawing” by Andre Masson (1924)

I use the term doodling instead of Surrealist Automation because it is one everyone is more familiar with. Not many people study or enjoy art history, and even in art history survey classes the movement of Surrealism is covered more broadly, as Surrealist Automation is a term I have introduced many of my artist friends to (many of them have taken and were exposed to the same art history classes as me). Doodling is something I believe we all engage in; after all drawing is simply mark making. We at least all day-dream, and a great majority of that happens within school. If it is happening within school, I believe it deserves much more attention than it gets. It is something we are discouraged and sometimes punished (to varying degrees) is we do, but it can be a unit of study in English and Psychology classes. If we dive a little deeper into Surrealism, we can take part in and study Surrealist Automation in art classes. When you begin to pair these maps of our imaginations with theories and thinkers such as Freud’s psychoanalysis and Derrida’s deconstruction, we begin to open doors into a wide variety of intellectual discourses that can gradually be introduced as we make our way through school. Those organic, illogical, non-sense sentences, drawings, (“phenomenons”) and thoughts naturally unfold into experiences that expose us to new ways of thinking and questioning, and encourage us to never stop.

SPCA Field Experience Response Piece


During our time visiting with Mrs. Hart’s kindergarden class at The School for Creative and Preforming Arts, I had a blast sitting with one table and exchanging jokes. As the jokes began to become more distracting for the students, I decided to start a drawing with the students at my table as we continued to tell jokes. I drew an eye and let the kindergardeners finish the figure. I took that drawing we made, transferred it onto wood, and made an impromptu woodblock of our drawing. I didn’t want to add to the drawing and take away from the playful spirit that went into creating it, so I simply decided to bring this character to life through a different medium.

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Talk with Tina

The other day I sat down with my drawing professor Tina Tammaro and had a nice little discussion. Our talk seemed to focus around developing as an artist. She shared all sorts of stories, opinions, things she learned, and tips she picked up as she went through art school and establishing herself as a professional artist. After our conversation I let a few things linger in my mind. I began to realize how different every artist is. We all have different interests, inspirations, methods of working, mediums, and goals for our art. We all find our own unique path and follow that as we progress as an artist. Despite these differences, however, we all face similar roadblocks at some point in our careers. We lack creative inspiration, a work ethic to finish a piece we’re stuck on, or even hate art all together at some point. Hearing Tina’s stories and comparing them to what I’ve begun to notice about my development as an artist has helped me feel connected to this immense group of creators.

Tina and I also discussed how art has changed throughout the years. When she was in school everything was about minimalism. All of her professor’s work was minimalist, and because of that she said she felt limited in a sense; she had to sort of tailor her work to the taste of her professors. Tina pointed out that in today’s internet age, more classical skills like drawing and painting are starting to take a back seat. They are seemingly becoming less important skills to learn and practice. While I once avoided drawing classes, I have come to realize just how important of a skill it is. Art is a filter for the things we take in during our lives. While I’ve been trained in how to “see” and take in those things that inspire me, drawing has taught me to sit and really take the time to understand it. By understanding those inspirations better, I have begun to notice a much stronger dialogue occurring in my work. As I keep tuning my drawing and “seeing” skills, I can only get excited about how much stronger that dialogue will become.

If you wish to see Tina’s work, the link below directs you to an exhibition at the Weston Gallery entitled “Narrative Figuration” in which Tina’s works were displayed along with several other artists.