Tell us a little bit about yourself - your background, major program of study, reasons for taking this trip, and anything else interesting you want to share (maybe something people might not know about you).
Hello, my name is Margaret McDonald and I registered in the KPU Fine Arts New York/Venice Field School as a first year part-time student in the BFA program. I come to visual arts after a full career in business in the sales and marketing arena, and I consider returning to school and working on art as my new creative life. For this field school trip I have given myself permission to be free, permission to have fun, permission to be childlike and full of wonder. My main objective is to explore and experience all the contemporary venues of artistic expression that New York and Venice have to offer.
What has met or exceeded your expectations or surprised you about New York so far?
I have visited New York a few times before coming on this art focused field school; the last visit was in 2009. One comes to New York for the art and theatre and the wonder of how 8 million people move around this high-density area. People in New York are working on the age-old problem of how to learn to live together and they are not doing such a bad job when you consider all the different races and religions and genders trying to find their way in the world. This truly is a United Nations City.
Give us some insight into your assigned artwork from the Museum of Modern Art. Who is the artist? When was this work made? What is the content of this work? In what context and as part of what art movement was it made?
Kerstin Bratsch is the contemporary artist I was assigned, a member of the 'new painting art movement'. She was born in 1979 in Germany and, like so many contemporary artists of today, has made the move to New York to work on her many art disciplines, and also to sell her work. Bratsch's piece of art to be reviewed is titled Unstable Talismanic Rendering 27 (2015). FORM: a very large, oversized, ink, glue, solvent painting on paper on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. CONTENT: In the 'flesh' the colour is intense and beautiful and is created with a strong focus on harmony; for example, Bratsch plays with the compliments of blue and orange colours. It was a great treat to see this painting, up close, and observe, in fine detail, the repulsions of oil and water as they fight to create intricate and complicated patterns in parallel rings of bold and intense colour floating on the white background. CONTEXT: Bratsch is an expert at creating tension between the parallel bands of colour on a 'macro' level. The large sized paper is very impressive but complex in structure, very physical in production as she reportedly works alone to remove the large, wet, heavy, and fragile paper from the ink and solvent bath. Bratsch is a very complex artist and is very skilled at the marbling process, and she has learned her technique well from the master marbler Dirk Lange. This piece of art is now part of the permanent collection of the MoMA and is shown as part of a special exhibition of recent contemporary works.
How did you approach the creative task of responding to this assigned work in studio? What were your challenges as an artist to be in dialogue with the artwork and artist? Would you do anything differently now that you have seen the work in person?
I discovered very early that I am not Kirsten Bratsch; for example, I do not have the discipline or experience to work at her macro level of marbling therefore my project took a different direction and instead of a 'macro' or all over painting of the repulsion and attraction activity of parallel lines I worked at a 'micro' level and kept this tension in small pockets of activity scattered all over my large scale (43X43 inches) painting. I wanted to be free to play and experiment with mixing oil paint with water based fabric dye and glue.
I get the impression Bratsch knew exactly how to manipulate the inks and solvent in her large tray to achieve the desired end result. This was a good challenge for me in that I was able to think outside my limited 'art minded' box and have fun with the freedom to play and experiment with a new approach and new medium on a very large scale.
Today's activity was a free day to spend in any way that you choose. What were your impressions of the part of New York that you explored? What will you take away of the experience of this day? What are the most memorable moments for you?
Today's activity was a FREE DAY and I spent most of the morning and into the early afternoon reflecting on my stay at our home base-- the New York Moore Hostel in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn. From my room one can just make out the Chrysler building nestled in the distant, water separated, Manhattan skyline. The Williamsburg neighbourhood is full of hard working people, a poorer neighbourhood, in comparison to Chelsea. There are many brick, four or five story apartment buildings from the early 1900's, lots of open metal fences around schools, houses, cars, businesses, playgrounds, and parks. Everyone seems to have a pit-bull dog on lease. The restaurants and take out food places are very good; for example, we have Roberta's for great thin crust pizza, Danny's for more traditional pizza, Thai food take out, and a wonderful eat in or take out Mexican restaurant. The NY Moore Hostel is the meeting place of young, old, single people, and families, from all over the world (a mini UN in Williamsburg). I have chatted with travelers from Germany, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. It is great fun finding out where people are from and what people are up to. People are just people everywhere you travel in the world and we all have the same needs and aspirations for our children, our lives, and ourselves.