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Call Me Master, Acknowledgements

Jedi Master, Yoda

Master

I did it!  I have received the terminal fine arts degree, the Master of Fine Arts.  I entered the program at UC primarily because I was interested in teaching college art courses.  While I did learn about teaching (and have found opportunities to teach courses at the University of Cincinnati, Miami Hamilton, and Northern Kentucky University), I learned a lot more about being an artist.  I am now much more confident about who I am as a visual artist and I understand what I am drawn to and why.  But the ultimate proof that I have a graduate degree is my ability to write or talk at great length about things no one has ever heard of or are remotely interested in.  Ha!

Truthfully, the best thing about the MFA program was being surrounded by so many people who are as passionate about creating as I am.  I never really had that before in my life.  Now we will all retreat back into our dark corners and studios.  I hope I can still find some support in these people online or in real life, and I am looking forward to following the careers and lives of my inspiring creative peers.  Please visit the websites of my friends and amazing artists:

Fazilat Soukhakian, Jiemei Lin, Yuan Liao, Corrina Mehiel, Greg Swiger, Nicole Trimble, Siavash Yansori, Christy Wittmer, Sharareh Khosravani, Mollie Sheridan, Carrie Grubb, Katherine Tepe, John Cairns, Paul Rodgers, Tyler Hamilton, Max Manning, Jennifer Nunley, Jennifer Wenker, Dan Leonard, Curtis Goldstein, Christopher Mullins, Jacob Lynn, Amanda Checco, Elizabeth Herren, David Armacost, Jessica Robinette, Saeide Karimi, Emily Moores, Jio Bae, Allison Rae Smith, Megan Meyers, Tilley Stone, Nick Scrimenti, Randall Slocum, M. Michael Smith and I know I’m forgetting some people.  Thank you guys.

Please also check out the work of the members of my amazing thesis committee Charles Woodman, Kimberly Burleigh, and Dr. Tracy TeslowJane Alden Stevens also offered invaluable guidance and inspiration throughout the last couple years.

Well I guess that was a little dramatic but now I have a compilation of links so I can check up on everyone!

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Thesis Paper

MFA Thesis Paper

My MFA Thesis Paper with $5 Binding at Kinkos

A Stack of Books about new media art and critical theory

Some resources

My thesis paper is finally complete!  It was not without challenges as I tried to synthesize a large amount of information and a wide range of topics into 35 pages.  While a lot of people scoff at the idea of a written portion of a thesis project for an art degree, writing has always been a way for me to organize my thoughts so this was helpful for me as an artist.  Most of the ideas in the paper I have been blogging about or will blog about anyway, but if you have trouble sleeping e-mail me and I will send you the entire document…

I am going to submit my paper and then to the final installment of Launch: MFA Thesis Exhibitions.  This will be my last official event as a graduate student.  Tonight, champagne!

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Launch!

The thesis exhibition reception was great!  I felt so good to be showing art with my amazing classmates at the University of Cincinnati Master of Fine Arts Program, with whom I have spent the last two years of my life.  The show looked amazing and was really well planned.  The turnout was great too, including local celebrities like Mayor Mark Mallory and well-known artists like photographer Michael Wilson.

The director of our program Joe Girandola got ahold of an amazing projector for me so the images were bright and crisp even at about twelve feet across.  Rather than simply project www.solgonda.com onto a wall, I built an environment to kind of bring some of the magic and mystery of the desert outdoors into the gallery.  Bill at Ohio Valley Stone hooked me up with some big rocks, including a 1,400 pound boulder.  I covered the speakers with Papier-mâché and painted them to look like the rocks, put the sub-woofer in a burlap bag, etc.  I figured, you only get an MFA once (unless you’re a masochist or bored and wealthy) so I pulled out all the stops with the details.

People were really into the work, and at many times there were lines to control the interface.  The best moment was receiving a hug from a young boy after his parents pointed me out as the artist.  The boy was so satisfied he was gleaming.  I joked that children were my target demographic.  But really, that is not far from the truth–if I can evoke a kind of child-like wonder in adults too, I know I’m doing something right.  At moments of extreme joy in my own life, I value adventure and discovery over predictability, the way children do.  Curiosity is the essence of my work.  Thank you for letting me share it with you.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the exhibition please enjoy the piece online now: www.solgonda.com

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Exhibition Invitation

After much deliberation, I decided my exhibition postcard should not be a postcard at all, but more of an invitation.  I spent a lot of time on the project so I figured I should invest some love and care into the invite as well.  I think the idea of opening something, of revealing and concealing, and of layers relates more to this project and my work generally than a glossy static image.  So I used envelopes to create a little suspense and used a custom stamp and a QR code to act as clues.

Besides being utilitarian, the QR code has become a symbol of the blurring of the physical and digital worlds.  The brown policy envelopes relate to my interest in the aesthetics of bureaucracy and cold war color (my box project), the Solgonda logo evokes petroglyphs, and the OCR-A extended font suggests computers (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OCR-A_font).

Half of the invites I created have real stamps affixed.  The other half, which I will distribute in mailboxes at universities and among friends in person, have fake stamps.  The stamp was an important design element but obviously not necessary for items that won’t be mailed, so a color printer, some stamp-edge scrap-booking scissors, and rubber cement was my solution to preserve the integrity of the design but not waste an extra 46 cents an envelope.  Not surprisingly, fake stamps are way cheaper than real ones!  To be thorough, I created my own postmark although I decided not to use it in the end as it is a little too fantasy for this project.

Solgonda.com QR codeYou can make your own QR code for free, instantly, for just about any website at www.the-qrcode-generator.com.  This site is nice as it allows you to specify the size in pixels.

For photo stamps, I used photo.stamps.com.  They are kind of pricey but the website is easy to use and the printing is of excellent quality.

I ordered the envelopes at  www.jampaper.com, home of lots of unique and cool paper products.

Go make something!

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Common Threads

My MFA thesis will be continued work on this project that began last summer at Joshua Tree, which is tentatively (and somewhat arbitrarily) named Solgonda.  Above are a few images from a recent exhibition at 840 Gallery at DAAP.  I had intended to shift gears after this show, but I found that I could not stop working on this thing. Instead, I am hoping to present the ever-growing project in a larger format (projection or larger screen or screens) in the spring as a more varied investigation of the visual language of photography, digital art, and science. Everything begins with photography but I am using HTML, PHP, and javascript, to create interactive music and visuals, and exploring themes including:

  • art as information
  • information as art
  • information and code
  • images as code
  • systems of organization and categorization
  • language systems
  • networks
  • buildings
  • clues and puzzles
  • magic and mystery
  • artifacts
  • geology and landscape
  • history
  • wonder (vs. alienation)
  • Simulacra
  • Archive as art
  • Collecting as destruction or preservation
  • Image making as collecting
  • Visual Anthropology
  • ethnography

This list arose as I attempted to find some common threads or links between my last paintings of boxes and the accompanying interactive web project, mintabox.com, and my current research which came out of the Joshua Tree trip but continues to evolve.

Even though I am working a lot with the computer lately, I still think of myself as a painter. Now I am creating interactive paintings. I am also working on a series of 10″ x 10″ static paintings and art objects which I am hoping to show with this project or shortly thereafter. These came about during bouts of occasional frustration with code, which gave rise to an accompanying need to do something physical. They are also round-about solutions to the challenges of commodifying internet art. I will post some images of those soon.

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