right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

pushing & trouble — conversation on creative practice with CJ Jimenez & Beth Nixon

April 26, 2014 at 5:52 pm

This coming Monday, April 28th, from 7pm to around 9, I’ll be part of a broad-ranging conversation at New Urban Arts with CJ Jimenez, facilitated by Beth Nixon, one of the current NUA Mentor Fellows.

Here in an authentic multi-dimensional Providence context is the multi-dimensional poster made by Andrew Oesch (unfortunately the other two conversations already happened, sorry for not posting this earlier! TIME! augh!):

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… and here’s the event on Facebook if you wanna “share” it.

This is the seventh (I think?) year of having these series of “conversations on creative practice” at NUA — I’m really honored to be asked to be part of one. Based on the preliminary discussion that Beth & CJ & I had, a) there is a lot to talk about, and b) we will be getting pretty real? or at least I aspire to that (as always, but especially in this context). Come even if you’ll be late, you can jump into the conversation at any point… it’s free & there will be snacks… Okay! See you there I hope!

Among some likely subjects: non-documented actions/interactions as art, racism / white supremacy, dog walking, political art, narrative & text, tumblr, invisibility, bodies, the possible scope of our actions as humans…. and more? I’ve known CJ for a long time through various connections (if you go back far enough in this bloggy, you can find a picture of CJ helping Emmy Bright print a poster for one of the earlier iterations of the “conversations” series), & I keep being amazed at how New Urban Arts has created these connections which extend over time and allow me to keep understanding new things about people I first met when they were teenagers… and to grow and learn alongside of them. Yikes!


Other things that have been happening:

— with the organizational help of a friend who is good at the organizing & prioritizing things, I am *finishing* lots of projects to get ready for the RISD Alumni Spring Art Sale, Saturday May 3rd! 6 more days to get ready! lots to do! gettin it all done hopefully… Jess X. Chen & I are sharing a table, & we’re near other friends — come say hi at the corner of Benefit & Waterman Sts from 10-4 next Saturday!

— Hand-drawn letters, they are everywhere:::

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…and I’ve been posting the cool ones that I see, as well as work in progress / neat buildings / interesting patterns / cats / etc. on instagram, I like its simple interface for whatever reason, follow if you want… most of those pictures get cross-posted to tumblr

— In other bloggy news, I’ve been keeping track of my favorite spring happening, the bright green blooming maple tree in our yard

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— Did I write anything yet about being a contributor to the 6th issue of Headmaster Magazine? Well dang, again, TIME!!! (Here’s the preview image I posted a couple months back, but all the contributors were still under wraps at that point, and I have yet to put together a full post on that project…) Also on May 3rd, from 9pm till late, Headmaster is having their Providence release party: “The Pawtucky Derby” (facebook event) at Machines With Magnets in P’tucket. Dancing, fun times, magazines, drinks, snacks? boys? (“men?”) okay! Headmaster (aka. Matthew & Jason) are the sweetest most tender fancy-art-magazine publishers everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr <3 — Along with a bunch of other local artists, I'm working on a project for a show at Slater Mill, celebrating the Pawtucket strike of 1824, that will be opening in mid-May! More three-dimensional letters, coming up. I’ll post progress pictures along the way; here’s the space we’ll be working in:

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!!!

— found a use for old laser-printed offset plates! as the best, water-proof, re-usable sheets for masking off areas of silkscreens while printing. YES:

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“I feel like… sometimes…” (in the new year, part 2!)

April 3, 2014 at 5:50 am

Yikes, I meant to write about this a while ago! The short version: I have a piece in a show at the Carpenter Center at Harvard U. in Cambridge, MA; it’s up till April 6th, 2014; you can see it for free. The whole show is vast & awesome, featuring some hyperlocal as well as global “social practice / art & activism” projects. The work in the show is generally extremely generous, inspiring, & great.

My piece was made specifically for this show and context, & the way you look at it (through a viewport hole, at a certain height) is an important part of it! I hope all y’all New Englanders get a chance to check it out before Monday!

More details & background follow…

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Late last year, I was asked to be part of a group installation along with other former and current members of the Dirt Palace, a feminist / women’s art space here in Providence. My relationship to the Dirtpal has always been a little complicated, which meant I didn’t automatically agree to participate… but I did my research about the larger show that the installation was going to be a part of, called Living As Form, and the approach the Dirt Palace’s owners were taking to the whole thing — asking every person who had ever been a member of the space to contribute a piece of their current art that would be assembled into an installation — and I got psyched about making something… also because one of my stated goals for 2014 was to “make more three dimensional letters”, and this would give me a chance to do it.

So then in the fall I was really really busy, with the fall & holiday art sale seasons, moving stuff out of Building 16, my show at URI, etc. The first two weeks of January I spent doing a lot of house & general life projects that had gotten put off since, like, September… Then in the third week of January I realized that the deadline for the Dirt Palace installation was upon me! So I worked really hard for FIVE DAYS (!?) & busted out a thing.

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I had known I wanted to make a three-dimensional diorama, based on the awesome time I had had making the poster for my show… the Dirtpal folks had given me the maximum dimensions that the work needed to fit within, and I had told them that I wanted a 6″-diameter hole in the wall that all the art works / dioramas / slide-viewers were going to be set behind. I built this box out of plywood… & made a cardboard mock-up to show the placement of the viewing port… & started drawing and cutting out letters.

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The words in the box make a sentence that is a lil’ joke on me, a lil’ joke on Dirt Palace house meetings, and also a really true idea that might be the most important thing I learned while participating in the group processes & workdays of the Dirt Pal.

(…and I’m not gonna say “it’s supposed to be illegible”, cause that’s a little bit of a cop-out, but I will say “it is definitely intentional that it should take a certain amount of effort to read” — that’s for real.*)

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This was fun fun fun to make and I worked really directly and I moved things around and when I liked where they were (from the viewpoint determined by the porthole) I glued them down with hot glue. YES! (ahem, excuse me, “thermoplastic adhesive”…) Part of the reason I hope folks can go see this in its installed context is that it is meant to be seen from a specific angle and I don’t know when the next chance will be to display it that way…

Also because it was made specifically about the Dirt Palace, and for this show Living as Form which talks about “social practices” and “community engaged art” and a whole bunch of other buzzwords which I am all for as real things, but which, as words, often get bandied around without people’s feet being on the ground. In figuring out what to make, I wondered: what is a way I can talk about real horizontality, true non-hierarchy? And I feel that, like washing your own dishes, shutting up can be a deeply radical act — especially when practiced by those who aren’t often required to shut up (aka. white, masculine-appearing know-it-alls like myself). !!!

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ALSO! the whole Dirt Palace installation wall (seen above) is great, and does an excellent job of celebrating the history of the building and the contributions of all the alumnae (& alumni) of the D.Pal — while also extending to all those people an opportunity to have their current personal work showcased in an international show, at a fancy institution.

So much work went into the installation on the part of Pippi Zornoza and Xander Marro, Arley-Rose Torsone who drew the wall text, and many other helpers & installation workers, not to mention all the artists themselves! The labor of all the people who have worked to build the Dirt Palace into what it is today often gets erased in the magical-seeming glow of the physical building as a desirable object, and by the oft-told, simple narrative that tends to glorify the owners of the building… and it’s way more complicated than that. This installation begins to get at the multifariousness of the 40+ people who have lived & worked at the Dirtpal over the past 14 years!

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In some aspects, this felt like a reunion — though we didn’t all live at the Dirt Palace at the same time, of course — and this was actually the first time I had really met a couple of these people. I was struck by the honor and delight I felt at being able to exist in this awesome company — being able to be associated with this intense, thoughtful, & creative multigenerational crew.

Here’s the one other piece in the Dirt Palace wall that I took a picture of, “Chosen Family” by the brilliant Samuel Lopes:

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And here’s a picture from what was, in my opinion, the best project of the show, whereby a Harvard Business School associate seated at a desk offers financial advice to gallery-goers… the associate puts each question through a pneumatic tube through the wall behind them… on the other side of the wall, a child writes an answer to the question and sends it back. !

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Some close-ups of my “RIGHT” letters, which kinda get lost in the back of the diorama… construction process:

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Graphite, white colored pencil, and watercolor on pink paper:

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and… infinite shout outs from me & JR to the butches, fags, gender-non-conforming folks, & queers of the dirt palace and the hive archive (its previous, collective incarnation)! “we are everywhere, making foolish smiles”

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(n.b. all photos by me, except for: Emmy Bright took the “horses” picture & the picture of me & JR… and I am not sure who took the group Dirt Palace picture, I snagged it off their blog!)


*if your device can’t display the hover-over title text on the diorama images, the sentence is: “I feel like… sometimes… to create a truly anti-authoritarian space, … the people who know the *right* way to do things… might just have to… shut up…(question mark)?”

print objects, printed objects

April 2, 2014 at 3:36 am

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Okay! I just got back from spending a good chunk of time in the Bay Area, for the “Southern Graphics Council International” graphics, print, & printmaking conference. I was nervous about attending this, I’m not sure exactly why, I think I was a little intimidated by the rumoredly academic/MFA-y focus… and maybe the general vague worry that one is not in the “cool kidz club” or something??? and maybe because I had been spending lots of time in the studio working in the past bunch of months, I was nervous about a highly social environment. but anyways, my fears were unfounded & it was awesome.

… and ultimately there were way more interesting events, talks, & shows happening as part of the conference than I could ever hope to do or see all of. Even in its aftermath I find myself overwhelmed by the feelings of “okay, I want to be in touch with that person, and that person, and follow up on that possibility…” with what’s probably an unrealistic number of people…

BUT, speaking of which, if we met there, or if you ended up with my print in the membership exchange, or if you found me through SGC, please be in touch — I would love to stay connected!

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(the print I made for the exchange)

I have been gathering some conference photo notes & links here on my tumblr, but this is definitely not a complete catalog of the neat stuff that I saw or was part of! And there is also a *very* partial selection of interesting letters and building things I saw out west, here on the instagram

Also, San Francisco, Oakland, & Berkeley (and Walnut Creek and Grass Valley/Nevada City, which I also visited, to see my cousins, uncle, and great-aunt!) were beautiful & interesting, and I was really excited to get to spend some time experiencing the different topographies, architecture, and ecologies of all those places… as well as noticing different ways that people interact in different cities, I feel like I am inspired to make more & better eye contact back here in Prov, as opposed to avoiding catching people’s eyes, which I think I have been doing? Hmm.

… more thoughts about (and images from) those travels soon…

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Anyways, one thing I was trying hard to get done before I left for California, but mostly failed to get done, was to finish some more of my bandanas (as visible here in their original incarnation/context) on different fabric (100% cotton this time) & trying out new inks. I did a bunch of printing (above & below, on Beth Brandon‘s fabric printing table), but didn’t get to finish the (even more time-consuming) sewing part…

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… so I had only one finished bandana to take with me and when people were like “OMG can we buy those??” I still had to say “aah no I’m sorry I’m still testing the colors and methods of making it” which is just aggravating and it’s pretty stupid to have too many ideas and not be able to get them all done!

BUT guess what I got when I was in California???

MORE BANDANAS. Just what I needed!

This seems to be a new bandana, “made in China”, from a vintage store in Berkeley:

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This is a real nice old one (also from the same vintage store), I think I have a similar-patterned one in just white (no black) on blue, but it’s really ripped & torn up:

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This one is faces of historic printers, made by students in the printmaking dept. at Ohio University:

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This one’s discharge-printed (aka, with a bleach paste) & hand-heat-set (to make the bleach work properly) (with a heat gun, on the sidewalk outside, apparently?!!!) by Matt & Lena at the Compound Gallery in Oakland.

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The Compound’s central clerestory and shared studio space, with various letterpresses & proof presses…!

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Another nice old bandana from the same vintage store as the earlier ones above, never seen one in this pattern before:

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And this isn’t really a bandana but instead an absorbent cotton towel in a perfect color, this was a gift from my uncle, a trauma surgeon, who says that a specific kind of kit for sewing up human beings comes with three of these towels, and that he always uses just one of them, and saves the other two because he doesn’t need them, and the hospital would just throw them away because they are no longer sanitized! and they are the best towels! so he keeps them and gives them to people.

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(…now you know where I originate from…)

Oh and if that wasn’t enough nice fabric for you to look at, check out “discharge-style” for more drooly times!

and… here are some more bonus shots: a detail of the shelves of a homemade print drying rack at the Compound Gallery…

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… and the custom-made tool for tightening the wing-nuts that keep the rack shelves in tension. So nice!

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