Monday, March 7, 2011

New sculptures, and paintings, and jobs oh my!

The past month has been a whirlwind and I'm happy to finally have a chance to blog about it all! To start, I just got back from a family vacation to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last week! I was invited on the annual girls trip this year so my cousin Kim and I flew out to a condo in the Zona Romanticas to meet my mom and two aunts for a week. I've been to 'PV' a few times as it is my family's favourite vacation place but this trip was definitely unique. Rather than sleeping in and drinking margaritas on the beach (I did do this but not daily like my family) I found myself getting up at 6:30am to be picked up by local sculptor, Octavio Gonzalez, to go to his foundry to create a bronze sculpture. Octavio is a family friend who creates a lot of the big sculptures on the malacon in PV. He offered to show me how to make a bronze when I was down here so I had the most amazing week spending the day working in his foundry and coming back to the condo at night to hang with the fam.

The beach by our condo

Chili covered mangos on the beach - the best

Octavio Gonzalez with his work

Octavio's daughter Fabiola, who is a jewelry maker, with my cousin Kim in front of some of Octavio's sculptures in his studio

Sculptures in the studio

I kept pinching myself while I was working in Octavio's foundry. It was located in a REAL neighbourhood which was so great to see because often on vacations you often get stuck in touristy areas. The foundry was right across the street from a local fajita stand and beside a house with a chicken coup. There was also a circus in town so we'd constantly hear a car driving around shouting in spanish about the circus. I would be sitting working on my sculpture and find a chicken pecking around near my feet and be hearing these spanish circus advertisements. It's such a different experience compared to the indoor studios I'm used to in Winnipeg.

The kilns - one working, one not - and see if you can find the wandering chicken!

One of Octavio's sculptures waiting to be finished

Step 1 of the bronzing process: Sculpt from styrofoam

Continuing with the theme from my thesis - the relationship between animal consumption and how women are viewed I decided to create a woman whose torso was modelled off a hanging cow carcass.

Usually when preparing a sculpture to be cast and then bronzed you would create an armature and use chicken wire/insulation to make the foundation but Octavio has simplified the process by sculpting directly from styrofoam. This was a very interesting process and quite funny because of the language barrier. I took two years of Spanish in high school so I can get by but talking about sculpting in another language is very different than talking about the weather. Octavio was quite busy during the day with delivering sculptures and having meetings around town so I would often be hanging out with his studio assistants who did not speak any english and we would jointly attempt to solve my sculpting dilemmas. For instance, because of the nature of styrofoam, when I was trying to model the arm I kept accidently breaking it off and needing to mix a glue (essentially spray foam insulator without the spray gun), to fix it. It took a lot of pointing and silent demonstrations to communicate what my problem was and find the solution.

Sanding away...

Juanita, one of Octavio's studio assistants and main secretary, modeling for me

modeling for myself - stryofoam EVERYWHERE

I had to disassemble my woman to sculpt away at the ribs

Crockpots filled with wax

Step 2: Pour wax over piece

First layer of wax on

Positioned on a pole with several layers of wax and ready for Step 3: Scultping away at the wax

Front view

Back view sculpted and ready for Step 4: Casting

Front view

Unfortunately my stay in Mexico was so short that I didn't have time to finish the rest  of the process. Octavio has offered to finish casting and put the patina on it and send it to me so it should arrive in the next few weeks. I would have loved to be apart of the rest of the bronze pouring process but I guess I'll have to wait for another trip - I'll be sure to post pictures when the piece arrives!

The TOMS shoe display was also going on in the Gallery of Student Art at the University of Manitoba all last week! Here are the shoes I designed for that event...

And Friday night at Gallery Ingenue, the March artists, Julie Coss, Lauren McPhaden, Jill Peters, and Leanne Roed and I were busy setting up for their show Canadiana.

Jill and I hanging her painting - Oh yes and I got a haircut - nice and short :)

Leanne's drawings

Leanne and Ben hanging her work

Ben and Lauren

Since getting back form Mexico I've also become heavily engrossed in my 9x12ft painting! My fellow thesis friend,Ryan Trudeau, is the best and helped me stretch it, then I used a house painting roller to gesso it and the past few days painting on it has been bliss. I love a big canvas. 

My thesis advisors told me to do studies (something I never do) before my big painting so the painting below is a smaller study of an earlier idea. 

I've gotten used to painting on a large scale to the point where I feel uncomfortable painting smaller and find it quite restricting - so I stopped - changed my idea - decided to toss aside the idea of studies and just got going on the big guy.

I've been working off an image of the classical painting by 17th century Flemish Baroque animal painter, Jan Fyt, entitled Diana and Her Hunting Dogs Beside Kill. 

Diana is a figure of Roman mythology and was the feminist goddess of the hunt. Originally, I was solely looking at the image but I think it's meaning is becoming more and more apparent. My thesis work this year has evolved into my interest in the idea there are relationships between the inhumane treatment of animals and how women are viewed and treated. I am also interested in  how we view animals, such as which ones we have domesticated and deem as our companions and others that we are used to killing or eating. There is no way I would be painting the classical painting in a realistic manner as I am an abstract painter so i began painting the animals in flesh colours to relate them more to humans. I also made the decision today to start painting a stylized/abstracted vagina over Diana as she is such a powerful female goddess. I also wanted her to relate more to the dead and hanging swan she has killed on the left side of the canvas. I'm excited to see what happens in the next few weeks as I love painting intuitively on such a big scale. I will be sure to take photos as I go and I have been setting up a video camera every time I paint so I'm hoping to put the footage together in a video of how the piece was painted afterwards.

And to add to this all this excitement I got a new job! I don't start until April (thank goodness because thesis is crazy right now) but I will be working at LUNE Vintage

I originally met Jill Monroe, the owner, when the shop was located on Rathgar (it is now on Broadway & Balmoral) and I began selling some of my jewelry at the shop. Lune Vintage is actually sharing a space with Freckled Nest designs which should be quite cool as Leigh Ann from Freckled Nest designed my blog and I have also known Kyla Roma, now one of their main designers since we were little. It's going to be the best and another great perk is my friend Cara Mason was hired too! It's going to be a great summer :)

Some things I can't wait to get my grubby little fingers on are one of Jill's Ojo de Dios necklaces 

and one of Moorea Seal's amethyst rings....

Looking for something to do this weekend? Join the March Gallery Ingenue artists Friday night for the Canadiana Opening from 7-10pm at 166 Osborne Street! I'll be there :)

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you're such a multitasking artist! How long did you make the sculpture and the painting? And what does that sculpture of a woman with a raised fist mean?