Visiting Artist: Denny W. Griffith

Denny W. Griffith was a former CCAD president and Columbus based artist. As a CCAD student, I’ve known him more as an educator. This video solely focused on Denny the painter, and it was fascinating to see his works for the first time.

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He presented some of his new works, which was included in his show Another World. They all use encaustic (also known as beeswax) and oil on top of it, and are very large. Some are as large as 10 ft by 10 ft (if you can’t make it right, make it big, right Denny?). In the paintings are flamboyant creatures that stand, float, or walk with crutch-like support in surrealistic landscapes. Denny calls them amoeba. I think they rather look like daphnia (but a mutated one). Either way, these creatures are quite lively and active. Just like Denny said, they appear to replicate, share, reproduce, and hold intimate relation with each other.

There is life in them. And one that is very human-like. In an interview, Denny makes a strong point that these pieces are not about cancer or death. It is a celebration of living to the fullest. The colors really reflects this positive energy that comes out within them. From bright dandelion yellow, grapefruit orange and to cerulean blue, they outburst life. After all, they are some sort of living organism.

I haven’t seen him much since he retired from CCAD (and no, I couldn’t make it to his talk sadly). It was a shock to see how much he has changed when I saw this video. My heart ached remembering him wonder around the campus and randomly walking into the cafeteria, sitting next bunch of students who were sleep deprived. But I know he will forever be part of CCAD family. Rest in peace Denny.

Visiting Artist: Josh Owens

Josh Owens is an industrial designer who owns Josh Owens LLC, and a professor and the chair of the Industrial Design Department at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is a recipient of many recognized industrial design awards, including the International Design Award and the Athena Emerging Designer Award. As an industrial designer, he has designed various products from furniture, table, water bottle, paper binder, and even to a movable stoop bench.

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It’s always fascinating and interesting to hear the journey an artist took to reach where they are now. Owens’ current career made perfect sense after he shared his background. His father was an archeologist, and as a child, Owen used to scavenge hunt historical objects with him everywhere. This sparkled his interest in human behavior and anthropology, which he studied in his college years. Later on, he further explored form and material studies. Now he uses both knowledge to create a design that highlights the material and presents the effective functionality. It’s as if he applies the work-flow of an archeologist to industrial designer; gathering materials in order to produce an object. Things that seem disconnected or distant from each other sometimes leads one to the same thing.

Amongst many of the works he shared during the presentation, I was particularly intrigued with the thoughtful details he puts into each design. For instance, a standard report cover consists of plastic sleeves that often is thrown away and gets in the way of grading. It really only need to bind a stack of paper together so avoid falling. Owen kept his eye on this ineffective usage of material and usage, and re-designed report cover binder into a much simpler shape and functionality. The result is a clip that clips the paper firmly on the top left hand corner (like a stapler), as well as flips the paper flatly. His design fulfills not only the purpose of the object, but also provides small gesture that helps tremendously.

And just like his studio was extremely organized, his presentation was structured very well. Each section introduced a particular factor (or otherwise he calls it ‘lens’) that he focuses on when creating a design, and is strongly demonstrated by his works. Even to a person who is unfamiliar with industrial design process or terminologies, it was clear and comprehensible. His presentation is one worth remembering for future reference.

4/14 Progress Post

For this week, I polished my powerpoint for the final presentation next next week. Most of the content is the same as the mid-point presentation; the what, why, how, and the process. I’m emphasizing the why part more by adding synonyms of addiction, and making sure to come back to that core idea over and over again throughout. Disgustingl beautiful is another key word I noted to myself to use more often. I made other improvements, such as putting process shots (especially when coating sugar on hand), and couple best ones from each category to analyze the visual impact in depth.

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I also asked couple more people about the best photograph from the series, and they all pointed to the one Julie and I felt confident with. The roll printer was acting up weirdly this week, so I was unable to print as I planned. However, I will print this weekend to see how it will look. All I need for the exhibition are small magnets and nails to hold the print up on the wall. It isn’t going to be framed.

One on One Reflection

Last Friday was the very last one on one reflection with my mentor, Julie. It always feels like there isn’t enough time to finish a project. Maybe it’s the other way around, and a project is just never-ending. Sugar High seems to fit both cases. It is the longest project I ever worked on throughout my college, and it almost became my habit to shoot sugar-coated hands every week. But I do want to put an end (perhaps a pause?) before I leave college. For me, the Honors Capstone exhibition is the perfect opportunity to do so. Showcasing Sugar High can’t be more satisfying and pleasurable than letting the photographs sleep inside cold hard drive forever.

The space in the gallery is limited, and each student only has one piece of wall. Rather than making a triptych or a diptych, I decided to print 24″x 36″ print of an absolute best sugar image that I made this semester. I want the viewer to be immersed and integrated into the sugary texture growing out of the palm through the intimidating size.

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I chose and printed best photographs from each category I shot (white sugar, cookies, chocolate, gummy bear, Jolly Rancher, Twinkies and sugar sprinkles), and discussed with Julie which one was the best of all. And..here is what we concluded as!

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I just love how the texture is reminiscent of digestive system (like acid in stomach), yet still retains its aesthetic through the color. And this precisely is the character of the sugar I’m portraying; its seductive nature is deceiving. I can’t wait to see them printed huge!

I also shot couple more chocolate in case I was in short of selection, which appeared to be the complete opposite (I had so many to choose from!). These definitely felt weaker than the other series and needs work, but nevertheless a great exercise to keep my creative mind flowing. So, here they are;