I came across this video from TED Talks today, and thought I’d pass it on to those who read this. I think Chip Kidd makes some great points about book and book cover design in a quirky way which, if you like it, might even make you laugh. If you concentrate on what he has to say about design (instead of what he says about technology), then there is a lot of good material here.
If Mormons are fun, are we doing this?
So I saw the TED talk below today:
So, I thought, are we doing that?
Make Known His Wonderful Works: The LDS international art competition and a failure of web-imagination
I could be wrong, but I don’t think there is a big crossover between AMV readership and Thumblr (my Tumblr blog, natch). On Thumblr for the next few days, I’m posting art from the Church’s international art competition; theme this year, “Make Known His Wonderful Works.”
With each piece I post, I’m directing people to the competition’s website where they can view other pieces and vote for their favorite[s]. (I’m unclear on whether you are allowed to vote for multiple pieces.)
Notwithstanding the Church’s clear interest in social-networking Internet efforts (eg, mormon.org), this effort of mine is likely to prove an abysmal waste of time.
This is a shot from one of my favorite pieces, a painting of Joseph Smith holding the baby Jesus, by Brian Kershisnik. If you’re having trouble making out the image, it’s because the Church website has broken the painting into several jpgs and by copying the image’s URL, this is all I was able to share. This is, I presume, to prevent people from stealing the images, I suppose? Continue reading “Make Known His Wonderful Works: The LDS international art competition and a failure of web-imagination”
“Something Fresh Out of Something Stale”
Or, Mashing Up MoLit Redux: Redux
This past September, in response to Ken’s post about mashing up Mormon literature and the purposes behind the repurposing of language and literature, in general, Ardis asked a question that turned my wheels a-spinnin’. Asked she, “[W]hat’s the point of being deliberately, unrelentingly unoriginal” by taking others’ work, repurposing it, and sending it out into the world? “Why is suppressing the urge toward originality,” as she assumes mash-up arists do, “more conducive to self-expression than the effort to, you know, actually be self-expressive?”
Seuss-style, I respond to Ardis’ question with three things (I was going to add my comment to the post itself, but my response grew beyond comment-length; hence, this):
Thing One: I don’t think it’s productive to argue that all mash-ups or remixes suppress the urge toward originality and self-expression. I’m thinking here of seven instances—four specific and three more general, though even as I think I stir up more instances—in which artists/creators have, to various degrees, remixed different aspects of culture or other preexisting materials in order to create something new: Continue reading ““Something Fresh Out of Something Stale””
The Brilliance of the Gilgal Garden
Last week, I visited the Gilgal Garden (749 East 500 South, Salt Lake City) for the first time, and I came away impressed and surprised. I knew quite a bit about the garden before my visit, from articles online and the initial campaign to preserve the garden in 1997. Still, the garden far exceeded my expectations, leaving me awestruck by the audacity of Child’s attempt to literally imprint in stone a personal expression of faith and”¦
“create a sanctuary or atmosphere in my yard that will shut out fear and keep one’s mind young and alert to the last”¦”
Better than Thanksgiving? Anticipating MSH/AML
The program for this year’s Association for Mormon Letters Conference is up. Themed “Liberating Form,” it’s a joint venture with Mormon Scholars in the Humanities (which appears to be a vibrant organization, even if their homebase on the web is a bit drab). MSH is themed on Mormonism and embodiment. And, my, does this family meal have my mouth watering! (Yes, that is the sound of me smacking my lips.)
Here are the courses I’m most anticipating, though I likely won’t be able to engorge myself on them all: Continue reading “Better than Thanksgiving? Anticipating MSH/AML”
Glowworms for Jesus: the Expressive Arts meets the Enrichment Committee
When I first met Nancy I thought, “She must be a convert. There’s no way a life long member would ever say that.”
That first impression was less about what Nancy actually said and more about what she did. Continue reading “Glowworms for Jesus: the Expressive Arts meets the Enrichment Committee”
That Time Brian Kershisnik Answered My Question
Now that I finally have a moment to sit down and write that one story I’ve been intending to post since last summer, my notes are in a notebook in a storage unit in Orem and I am hiding my cough from the heat with a box of Kleenex and some rooibos tea in an apartment in urban Taiwan. But it’s worth relaying the story nonetheless, so you’ll have to just trust me on the specifics.
Last summer I was very posh and attended frequent lectures at The Bridge Academy in Provo. If you’re not wealthy enough to take classes at the Bridge, I at least recommend attending their guest speaker and workshop events. It’s honestly kind of the best thing Mormon art has going for it.
Christopher Young was fantastic, James Christensen was inspiring, Walter Rane was lecturing the weekend I was leaving the country (fie!), but my favorite moment so far was getting to attend a presentation by Brian Kershisnik. And the moment I had been waiting for came at the end when he opened it up for questions and answers.
See, I’ve had this connection with Brian Kershisnik’s paintings for years. There’s something about his world inhabited by industrious, angelic Mormon women that just fascinates me. It connects to this Mormon quality that I saw in families in the ward I grew up in in Colorado, but has been harder and harder to find in recent years. I know a lot of Mormons, a lot of faithful people, but there is a certain quality in Mormon women that seems harder and harder to come by. I don’t know what exactly the quality is, but it’s shared by Mormon women who grow their own zucchini and/or wear their hair in one really long braid and/or dress their children in holiday-themed fabric from the discount rack at JoAnn’s and/or have those needlepoint covers for Kleenex boxes in their living rooms. Do you know what I mean? The quality isn’t defined by any of these practices of course, but it seems to be present in women who do those sorts of things. Women who have some sort of earthy connection to the divine, and you would almost think it’s just small-town fundamentalism but it’s not because these women also watch the Discovery Channel. Maybe it’s just some sort of surreal Southern Utah mineral that he eats and extrudes in his paintings somehow, and maybe the women in his life that he paints are just nutritionally primed to emit whatever serene righteousness rays it is that I’m picking up from his paintings. But there’s something behind it, and Brian Kershisnik knows what it is because he paints it, on purpose, over and over again.
Well, now was finally my chance. Here I was, with the man himself, and it was time for me to ask the question that had been burning within me: “Why do all the women in your paintings wear dresses?”
He looked startled. His eyes darted back up to the screen he had been displaying images on. “Do they?” he asked.
“Yes! They all do! I always imagined there was some sort of cultural message buried there. I’ve been wanting to know for years why your women look so Super Mormon; suspended between centuries.”
He flipped through a few slides, verifying that all of his women were wearing dresses. “Hmm,” he said thoughtfully, “it looks like they do.” He paused, and I sat breathlessly waiting for him to continue with his grand revelation. “I think it’s because I like to paint patterns and a dress is a big open space to paint a pattern.”
He smiled beneficently at me and then took the next question.
Weekend (Re)Visitor: Arnold Friberg
Arnold Friberg’s passing this week is cause to reexamine him. His work has been a victim of backlash lately from the High Minded. (I suspect because of the massive influence his Book of Mormon paintings have had on depictions of the book’s characters, particularly of Lehi’s family. It’s simply understood now that, for instance, Nephi wears leather over one shoulder, Lehi has a long white beard, Laman and Lemuel are physically brutish. His influence has so overwhelmed Book of Mormon art that sometimes people seem to forget that his work is not The One True Depiction.) Continue reading “Weekend (Re)Visitor: Arnold Friberg”
Couple-Creators: Casey Jex Smith / Amanda Michelle Smith
A couple Saturdays ago, my wife and I were visiting friends who are notable (among other reasons) for buying art. They have a Bryan Mark Taylor for instance and they had two other pieces on the wall near their computer that I found quite striking. They were the work of Casey Jex Smith, whose name I suppose I should have recognized as I had seen it often enough. For instance, he was the driving force behind the now defunct Mormon arts forum Head of Shiz.
Our friends then set me in front of their computer to look at his site, and also that of his wife, Amanda Michelle Smith.
Continue reading “Couple-Creators: Casey Jex Smith / Amanda Michelle Smith”