Epic Fail at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery


love.watts (by Julia Borrebaeck)

Jordan “Watts” Watson has commercialized art by posting it on his snapchat and instagram. In a way, he has participated in the movement of making museums obsolete in reaching art. Although not as nice an experience as going to an art museum, he has made art easy to access for a bigger part of the population and furthermore, it is free. On his snapchat account he posts videos of pieces from many different modern art exhibitions with up-and-coming artists. He zooms in so you can truly see a close up of the work and the lines of their brushstrokes. He is currently at 340k followers and ever since he built this large base, hundreds of artist send him photos of their work where he can choose from what he would like to promote. After promoting a certain artist on one of his mediums, they can instantly see how their sales go up.

love watts by JuliaUnknownlove.watts by julia

I would encourage you all to follow him @love.watts on instagram, snapchat, tumblr, pinterest and probably any other social media site. Here are some photos from his accounts.

Interview with Professor Indira M. Morre (by Sosun Park)

What work do you most enjoying doing?

I love “behind the scene” work; it’s the research, reading, strategizing, testing, prototyping, and failure that excites me equally as working on an intended artwork.

How do you define success and failure?

In art there is no one answer to this question. Every artist has their own measure of success and failure. For me, being able to make art is a success in itself. I truly believe that art shapes us into better versions of ourselves.  And teaching art is a big part of it. Making, thinking, looking, writing, promoting art is a profoundly generous cultural activity and I feel deeply satisfied to be a citizen of the art world. Failure would be abandoning this part of my being.

What’s the best comment you’ve been given from your recent work at Worth Ryder?

I was most pleased to hear from number of people that they never realized how insistent, pervasive, and predatory banks are. The survival of financial institutions depends on our inability to pay off our debts. Calling attention to their insincere lure is a way of gaining more power in our financial decision making.

Interview with Farley Gwazda regarding the Senior Exhibition (by Hyesun Kim)

  1. I understand that this will be the first annual Senior Thesis exhibit. Can you provide a brief explanation/description of what the Senior Thesis Exhibition is?

    2. How is this show unique amidst the other shows?

    3. What are the main reasons for the department curriculum change?

    4. In what ways will the students, faculty, and spectators benefit from such changes in program/exhibit?

I answered your questions out of order in one go:

The Senior Thesis Show has its origins in a show the department had been doing for a long time called the Senior Show, which always occurred right before graduation. It was a huge show – as many as 50 students (!), and was only up for three days! It was a fun event, but didn’t feel like a fully realized exhibition, and for some students this was their only opportunity to show in the gallery.

I’ve always felt that the experience of showing your work in the gallery context is an important part of a well rounded art education, and an essential element in the life cycle of art. There is a set of concerns you have to address when preparing your work for public display that are quite different from those of the studio or classroom experience. And, of course, artists benefit enormously from the feedback they receive from the public and other artists.

Therefore, last spring the faculty decided that each senior will participate in a Senior Thesis Show, and that this will be structured so that each student will show during whichever semester that they take Senior Projects, which is required for all majors.

The artists are expected to create a fully realized project in any medium, using any process, any concept that they find interesting or important. While assignments are a useful part of art courses, perhaps the most interesting part of any artwork is the fact that the artist is declaring to their audience that what they are doing is worth considering. At first glance, this open-ended task seems a deceptively easy – basically you can do anything you want! But the old adage “with great freedom comes great responsibility” definitely applies here. Artists need to answer questions like “What is important to me?” “Who am I?” “What is my voice?”. Plus it’s a ton of work! I have the deepest respect for our student artists for taking these on, and am really excited about the work that I’ve seen so far!

Additionally, the department hopes that this show will not only benefit the participants, but will impact the culture of the department (and beyond). This forum gives student artists an opportunity to speak to one another, to form a set of community concerns, and to have a critical conversation. To my mind, this is what art is really all about. You don’t make art to get an “A” – you make art to transmogrify the universe. And that’s no cakewalk!

I hope that all of our majors will show up to the exhibition, take a deep look at the work, and think about what they will do when it’s their turn!

EPIC FAIL: Excerpts from the Art Talk (by Taylor R. McAllister) 

From EPIC FAIL Faculty Show Art Talk on Wednesday November 4, 2015, 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Farley Gwazda: Welcome to exhibition artist’s talks. My names is Farley Gwazda; I’m the director of the [Worth Ryder] Gallery and it’s great to see such a big crowd in here. This is an annual event and I think it is a great opportunity for students to hear the faculty speak about their work. All of our faculty are practicing artists and have really interesting practices. A lot of the time in class you don’t really get to know what your teacher does as an artists. So this is why the faculty exhibition is always so exciting for me, and I think the faculty members as well….So as you know the theme of the show this year is EPIC FAIL. Every year I’m asked to choose a theme for the faculty show and of course, there are so many different artists doing different things. So it’s difficult for me to choose a theme that engages everyone’s practice. So my thoughts about EPIC FAIL are that essentially, failure is an interesting part of all artists practice. Now we don’t often frame it as failure, but what I’m saying is that when you’re creating work, often it’s the things that you try to do that don’t quite succeed the way that you are trying to do them, that instead work out some other way, that make being an artist so interesting. If you could just envision your project and then realize it, it wouldn’t have the kind of nuances that makes art practice exciting. So all of the artists here have something to say about this topic and the way that we are going to structure today is that we are going to walk around from piece to piece…and the artist will say a few words about their piece, and then take some quick questions from you. We only have about five minutes apiece….so I thought that since we’re standing here looking at your piece Craig. (Crowd laughs)

Craig Nagasawa: Twenty one years of going first. (Chatter and laughter)

FG: So, I’d like to introduce Craig Nagasawa. (Applause)

CN: Any questions? (Laughter and applause) Okay. First off, I’m going to go really fast. I’ll go really fast. Here, I need my props though. (Puts on Japanese sun hat) I’ll wear this.

Look, here’s the questions you always get when you make something. “What is your piece about?” Is it about failure? I don’t know. Okay. So, you could say it’s about—I can’t talk with this on. (Takes off hat) you could say it’s about how I grew up. You could say it’s about Asian American ethnicity. You could rhetorically go through the whole line of stuff that art’s supposed to be about: entrepreneurship of small businesses, dislocation of minorities, you know on and on and on. But, is that really what it’s about. I don’t think so. Alright. So, there’s all of this stuff in there that has ques that I work on all the time. But it’s not literally about that stuff, right? I think the piece is about a kind of experience and I can only do it through a kind of analogy. So, if you’re—nobody in California know about this, probably—if you’ve ever driven in the dark in a really bad snow storm, your headlights hit the snow and there’s this really weird hypnotic thing where you’re driving down the road and you can’t really see what you’re doing. But it’s beautiful because all this stuff’s coming at you on your windshield but at the same time you have to sort of stubbornly stay on the road. Right. So you’re doing two things at once and if you’ve ever noticed when you’re in the mountains there’s these things on the side of the road that have reflectors on them. They’re about six feet high. The reason for those is so that you know if you’re going off the road or not. Right? …You can see those things, so if you start clipping those things, you’re about to go off the road and you should turn back in. So, I think that if a situation like this is that I give you all of the little reflectors. Those are the little reflectors that keep you from going off the road and it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to stay on the road or slide off the road and crash. It’s not really my story anymore. It’s your story and you’re experiencing—so I can only just provide those little reflectors and then it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to interface the piece. Stay on the road or slide off. Pretty simple. That’s all. Questions? (Laughter)

FG: Let’s see if we can stump Craig. Who’s got a question for Craig?

Guest 1: When you started the installation, what piece or object did you start with first?

CN: A grain of rice. (Laughter)

I make these things all the time. Constantly making little things that never really get shown, so they’re just part of the practice of finding out about things. And that’s how it started. I just had all of these—I thought I’d just put a grid of paintings but you know, one things leads to the next and then it’s too late.

Guest 2: How do you make all your own pigments? How long does it take you to make the pigments that are your colors?

CN: Well, I have a sort of secondary prison structured yard where I employ all these people to break rocks. (Laughter) And they get community service for it. So. Nah. It, it takes what it takes. I mean it doesn’t take that long. I just use a hammer and break a whole bunch of rocks and then turn it into pigment. Once I have a storehouse of pigment you know, it lasts for quite a while. So it’s not like every day I have to break rocks. (Laughter) I get a rest every once and awhile. Does that answer your question?

Guest 2: More or less.

CN: Doesn’t take very long. Not as long as you’d think.

Anyone else? That’s a big crowd. Kevin.

Guest 3: I was wondering, did you touch on the autobiographical and how it surfaces as your history and as a public gesture?

CN: Well. Everything is kind of biographical, right? In a certain sense. You could divorce your experience from your work but it’s fairly inundated—for me it’s fairly inundated. In other words, my experience is really the only thing I have that seem kind of solid. But, experience is also subjective and made up of a whole bunch of different kind of chronological snapshots of things…I’m interested in the seams of how those things kind of jar against each other. Right. You can’t read it seamlessly. You read it in pieces and all those pieces add up to the reflectors I was talking about—about not sliding off the road. So. That’s just my methodology of putting them together. And yes, I mean I have a whole—everybody has their story and it’s all embedded in there. But, really I’m not trying to like make you believe my story. I’m just trying to let you come up here and have your own experience in relationship to the parameters of what’s been set up.

And obviously I can go on and on about my story but you know.

Guest 3: Well there is the gesture of the political and the cultural. So is there dynamics in there (trails off)

CN: Well, it’s just all—I mean that’s how I grew up. So no matter which way I turn I have to look at the politics of ethnicity, the you know who I, it’s my experience. I’m split in half. Sort of Japanese and half American so I can never really settle into one place. But, I don’t really consciously set out to go, “I’m going to make a Japanese-American piece.” It’s just the stuff that I’m interested in that I pursue. And it kind of falls into place, hopefully, along the way.

Guest 4: Where does the line fall between you, as in you as a human being and you as in defined as a Japanese-American? Is there a line? And is it sometimes the same, sometimes different? Is it overlapping?

CN: uh, well. When I eat pizza I eat it with rice. (Laughter) So, so I guess that’s where the line is. (Laughter)

Guest 3: That’s the best answer ever.

FG: Let’s wrap it up on that high note. Thank you so much Craig Nagasawa. (Applause) Since we’re right here, Kwame could we have you speak about this piece here.

Kwame Braun: Okay. This is a complete departure for me. I usually make video. But I literally, I read Farley’s invitation to submit something and I immediately came up with this thing. Quite spontaneously. I don’t entirely know why. The original inspiration, well I have a Roomba…uh YouTube is full of cats riding them. (Laughter) But I guess the most immediate inspiration was the mess after the most recent Gay Pride parade, which was a lot of fluff and glitter on the sidewalk and I thought that it was really lovely. So I thought I’d do a face off Roomba’s and stuff raining down…Now, Farley’s invitation was perfect for me because as a departure from my normal practice, I felt it was an invitation to fail. So I built this thing without really knowing it would work. And, in fact, some of the things haven’t worked out as I conceived of them. For example, the Roombas…normally take a good deal of time to find their way around a room. And they have some sort of algorithm that eventually creates some sort of map so that they don’t keep on bumping into things. But what I didn’t realize is that, put them into a small area like this, they only run for seven minutes…and then shut down. So I took the opportunity to say, “Well what can I do with this.” And I came up with this. A little sign here that say, “If the robots are dormant, please provoke them [by pushing their buttons]”. (Laughter)

(excerpts from the beginning 16 minutes of the Art Talk)

… indicate sections where the author removed words or sentences.