Art Seen in 2017 - Nick Nixon

2017 was a big year for me creatively, due in large part to the opportunities I had to see some absolutely incredible exhibitions. I can't accurately describe the impact of experiencing good (and frankly, sometimes bad) work has on my studio practice, but I often find myself hungry and motivated to hit the studio hard afterwards. In the next few weeks I'll be posting some thoughts on the exhibitions which moved me the most in 2017, in no particular order, starting with Nick Nixon: Persistence of Vision at the ICA Boston.

Nick Nixon: Persistence of Vision at ICA Boston
 

Nick Nixon in this room. This is not merely a result of his making the 112 images in the show, or holding direct eye contact with the visitor in a few pictures, or even that the subject matter is deeply intimate (which, much of it is) but it is in the the exhibition's modest presentation - subtle, rhythmic, and cyclical, that Nixon's work sings. 

I had the great pleasure of being instructed by Nixon at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He began each class by reading something out loud to us, usually excerpted fiction from someone like Jack London or a short essay, and he often shared with us something he was currently working on. His flawless contact prints are perfectly humble and insanely detailed. I will never forget the day he brought The Brown Sisters, with him to class, the series of yearly portraits Nixon has been making of his wife, Bebe, and her three sisters since 1975, and let us spread them out in order. Being in the exhibition at the ICA felt the same way. It feels to me more like a living room slide-show than a cavernous museum gallery, and there's juuuust as much interpretive material (on handy guides which can be carried through the room, my preference over excessive wall text) necessary to guide the viewer without insisting on a particular experience. The prints are lush, and the starkness of the room allows you to really see the images, their intersecting narratives, their recurring characters, their humanity. 

When considering the dynamic range of Nixon's ouvre it is almost necessary to treat The Brown Sisters, as the backbone, which is exactly what Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Jessica Hong, Assistant Curator, have done. This large, square gallery comfortably accommodates The Brown Sisters in chronological order, and each year is flanked with an image or two from Nixon's other work from that same year, each hanging above or below Bebe and her sisters. All are in crisp white frames, unfussy and to the point, just like Nixon. I often find viewing photography in a museum setting to be difficult due to scale and layout, and I have strong opinions about the consideration of  lighting, framing, and glass which allow for the full tonal range to be perceptible (it is appalling how often an incredible photograph is rendered banal due to poor lighting and framing!). Nixon's talent for photographing skin, hair, and the infinitesimal details of life are able to be truly appreciated, and the depths of his grey tones are delicious. There is enough space in this room to step back and behold many years, or have a private moment with one year's set of images, and the minimal scale of Nixon's prints become larger as a whole. The natural chronological passage of viewers allows for an organic ebb and flow - some pausing longer to examine, reflect, and internalize the expanse of time and space before them. Nixon is neither a participant nor observer but somewhere in between, and his photographs of those who aren't part of his immediate family - especially the elderly, ill, and impoverished - are treated with the same intense yet quiet reverence.

I find him in my work all the time. He once told me that my work was better when I "made pictures with my vagina" which, in his special, bizarro way, was exactly what I needed to hear, even though it's taken me many years to make photographs that are just starting to get there.  I always appreciated his candor and his constant demand that our work go deeper, challenge more, and force us to work through our resistances. He encouraged us to try new approaches, embrace failures, and go for the jugular. He photographs with an unparalleled technical mastery which has become intuitive at this point in his career, and started us toward the process of figuring out how to find our own gestures of photographic intuition with integrity and grace. Taking in his work now, continually feeling reverberations of his teaching in my own practice, I am reminded of, and moved by, his remarkable Persistence of Vision. 

all photographs in this post were taken by lydia see at ICA Boston - images are of Nick Nixon's photographs and should not be used without credit to Nick Nixon / lydia see

 

 

 

"Get Well Soon" at the Southern

SHOP GET WELL SOON (edit: all of my pieces have sold)

I'm so pleased to share that I'm participating in "Get Well Soon," which will be my second time showing in the Southern's annual affordable art Black Friday exhibition. These family photographs from 1988 are embroidered with text inspired by mid-century travel postcards, and are mounted on 5”x7” vintage photo album pages with black picture corners. This Black Friday please consider buying art and supporting your local creative economy. All works in this show are for sale between 50$-200$.

from the Southern:

GET WELL SOON

EXHIBIT DATES: NOVEMBER 24 – DECEMBER 31
OPENING RECEPTION: NOV 24 FROM 6 – 9PM

A GROUP SHOW OF FEEL-GOOD, SMALL WORKS

Art has always been a cathartic means of communication. While it is a common experience to fall in love with a certain artwork, scientists now have evidence that shows the brain reacts similarly when viewing artwork as when falling in love! It has always had the ability to serve as a source of happiness, light-heartedness, and joy. When the going gets tough, whether it’s in your career, the unfortunate political and social climate, or even your love life, it’s important to have imagery in your life-spaces that brings a calm over you; that part of your art collection that when you look at it, stimulates a positive chemical response and releases the feel good chemical dopamine.
 
This exhibit will open on ‘Black Friday,’ November 24, and run through December 31 2017.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS

Adam Eddy
Adam Stockman
Alex Waggoner
Allyson Church
Amy Bagwell
Amy Herman
Angela Chvarak
Anna Hopkins
Anne Cimballa
Antonio Modesto Milian
Ari Bird
Arianne Renne King Comer
Beau DiFiore
Blakely Little
Camela Guevara
Carly Thomas
Carley Rickles
Carrie B Waghorn
Chambers Austelle
Chloe Hogan
Creighton Barrett
Christine Bush Roman
Christopher Dotson
Chuck Keppler
Codie OConnor Kyle
Colin McNaught
Colleen Critcher
Court Sparks
Crystal Desai
Danielle Cox
Deonna (Bettis) Janone
Diana Toma
Dorian Warneck
Dorothy Netherland
Doug McAbee
Douglas Piper
Drew Yakscoe
Elena Hutchings
Eliot Dudik
Elizabeth Winnel
Emily Hoerdemann
Emily Reyna
Fumiha Tanaka
Hannah Helton
Heather Thornton
Hollie Chastain
Holly Veselka
Greg Hart
Jen Ervin
Jena Heaton
Jennifer Pate
Jeremy C. Darby
Jessica Diaz
Jonathan Rypkema
Jonathan White
Joshua Lynn
Julia Deckman
Karen Paavola
Kate MacNeil
Katherine Dunlap
Katy E Mixon
Kelly Crosby
Kevin Morrissey
Kirsten E Moran
Kristin Malin
Leigh Sabisch
Lese Corrigan
Lydia Campbell
Lydia See
Lynne Riding
Marina Dunbar
Mary Walker
Michael Hayes
Michael R. Lucas
Morgan Kinne
Natalie Escobar
Natalie Lanese
Nikki Scioscia
Nina Garner
Olivia Cramer
Paige Feigley
Rachael Nerney
Rachel Jones
Reba West Fraser
Richard Drayton aka Concept Rxch
Riki Matsuda
Rosie Harper
Samantha Rueter
Sarah Collier
Sarah Frierson
Sarah Lyons
Sarah Savannah Roach
Savannah Rusher
Shanequa Gay
Sheila Burgos
Sophie Treppendahl
Susan C Gregory
Susan Klein
Taylor Adams
Taylor Faulkner
Tedd Anderson
Tim Jump
Timme Lu
Tory Wright Lee
Tracie L. Hinnant
Vassiliki Falkehag
Victor Hart
Whitney Stoddard
William Burnside Bolton
Yvette Dede
Yvonne Cheah

Bookended Podcasts - Artist in the Community Residency Comes to a Close

"I was not just interacting with an art crowd, and I think that was the greatest responsibility I placed on myself: to be as inclusive as possible, and to communicate fluidly about creative practice in as accessible of terms and accessible of settings as possible."

As my Artist in the Community Residency was coming to a close, I was invited back to the City Podcast with Christopher George to reflect on my time in Spartanburg and the evolution of my practice over the last year. Christopher is a fantastic interviewer and editor, and we really covered a lot of ground in this conversation. 

If you're interested in hearing the first podcast, recorded in early September 2016, a few weeks after my arrival to Spartanburg, click here

Family Vacations I Have Never Taken

Referencing iconic destinations and women’s work, multidisciplinary artist Lydia See’s newest series of embroidered vernacular photographs invites the viewer to consider one’s own memories and how time and circumstance may have altered them.

With more ubiquitous access to digital cameras and mobile devices comes an extreme lack of physical prints being made, a premise which prompted the concept behind Family Vacations I Have Never Taken. The transience of photographs, social media timelines, and instant sharing has replaced the communal nature of vacation slide shows and family albums. These works invite a closer consideration of place, experience, and memory-making. Memories are not stored in brains in an orderly or systematic way, they are re-creations or reconstructions of past experiences from elements scattered throughout various areas of our brains.

Utilizing embroidery, a stereotypically “feminine” domestic craft, applied to images of sites commonly associated with masculinity and new frontiers, “The Classic American Road Trip” never taken is recreated by stitching together memory elements which never occurred, fabricating a fictional journey, obscuring and highlighting detail, drawing attention to what is held and released in one’s memory and allowing the photograph to supersede the absent memory itself.

The panoramic images were taken by the artist’s Uncle Charlie and Aunt Joan (who stated in response to the works: “Interesting contrast in the careful, precise stitching and the natural free forms of the eroded rocks, also that the actual textures are paradoxical, soft for precise and hard for sculptured.”) between 1997-2002. The sewing thread used for embroidery was given by Aunt Jean, and the works (titled according to notations on the backs of images when available) were created by Lydia See between October 2016 and February 2017.

download press release here

familyvacations-composite.jpg

practice/process, self doubt, and old work

While in a whirlwind of new-work-making one of the drawbacks is that I'm not as great at sharing the work with the world. Unless I have a show or a specific reason to show or tell beyond glimpses on Instagram, I often let it sit. Especially my photographs. I make them and then...?

I go through the various (grief-like) stages of/responses to making: deep love and admiration of the work and myself for making it, complex self-deprecation, light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel excitement at the glimpse of a solution to a material or conceptual investigation, exponentially expanding line of questioning on the point of art and art-making in general, and myriad other modes of making myself miserable until I get to a place of near completion, at which point I often hide the thing away and pretend it never happened. 

Then I have a reason to look at the work: refreshing my cv, applying for residencies, doing some much-needed website updates, and I come across something that I had forgotten, or a WHOLE BODY OF WORK that I neglected to do anything with for some of the aforementioned reasons, that causes me to stop and consider the work.

And I often like it. Sometimes I even think it's pretty good, and I wonder why I never did anything with it, or, at the very least, put it up on my website.

So I'm working my way through some pretty deep archives, especially the 4"x5" and medium format negatives from the last few years, and the photographs I made in another life. Until I figure out where all this work fits in with the rest of my work, it'll be here. 

So, here's a smattering to start, all taken in early 2015:

 

 

UPDATES, UPCOMING, AND "SPECIAL COLLECTIONS"

THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON HUB-BUB's WEBSITE:

Hello All! Lydia See here - It's been a whirlwind of a few weeks here in Spartanburg. I'm so thrilled to be the first Artist in the Community Artist in Residence in partnership with HUB-BUB and the Spartanburg County Public Libraries and I feel as if I have hit the ground running!

HUB-BUB and SCPL and I have joined forces to build a more creatively engaged Spartanburg, starting with community access to arts programming with a focus on inclusivity and a gentle point of entry. So what does this mean?

When I arrived almost three months ago, I wrote a little statement which the following is excerpted from: 

"I believe that art and creative practice in any form should be inclusive and accessible to anyone. Teaching and exchanging dialog about art is an integral part of my practice, and spending time in the service of a community will expand my ability to learn about my own work while facilitating the aesthetic development of others. By using my studio practice and through designing a series of community-oriented programs, I hope to inspire and create connections within the community, and offer a gentle point of entry for those who might not ordinarily seek out art in their daily lives."

We've started this initiative to engage the community through accessible creative programming in a few ways: by creating a Studio in the HQ Library where I have begun teaching workshops and classes, as well as keeping regular studio hours, open to anyone who would like to stop by. We've also built a custom traveling loom (with the help of former AiR Eli Blasko) which has been out in Morgan Square for both of HUB-BUB's Hub Crawls this fall, and now lives in the Studio at the Library when not traveling. The influence of fibers and textiles on my practice has been immense, and after moving to Spartanburg and learning more about the rich textile history here (particularly thanks to reading the Hub City Writer's Project book Textile Town, which should be required reading for every resident!) I felt compelled to offer textile arts education to connect Spartanburg residents to their own heritage. 

learning to weave at Hub Crawl on the Community Loom

learning to weave at Hub Crawl on the Community Loom

Building community has always been important to me, and I've spent years working in community education, non-profits, and as a museum professional. I received my BFA at Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a focus in Photography, Fibers, and site-specific sculptural installation, and I have a deep commitment to public and community-engaged practice. Residencies often offer artists an opportunity to work unfettered by daily obligations, isolated in their studios with their residency culminating in an exhibition. I was so drawn to this partnership residency specifically because it offered a completely unique experience: to contribute to the creative health of a community while folding in my own studio practice, connecting everything by "the event of a thread" as Anni Albers states in On Weaving

Since my arrival I've also been working on some other public projects, including a forthcoming public work in partnership with Partners for Active Living, a collaboration with Northside Artlet Artist and former HUB-BUB AiR Eli Blasko, as well as consistently working on my personal projects. Pictured below is an image of nearly three months of my daily practice, imagine it as a warm-up sketch in a figure drawing class or a 10-minute run before lifting weights: I embroider an old family photograph, which didn't make it into the family album, every day, refining my embroidery skills, measuring time, warming up my fingers at the beginning of each day of work in my studio. By the time I leave the residency I will have accumulated 335 of these embroidered "other pictures" - process on this project and my studio practice can be followed by visiting the HQ Studio, on Instagram - @archetypographia and with the hashtag  #stitchingtheotherpictures

stitchingtheotherpictures.jpeg
stitchingtheotherpictures2.jpeg

If you would like to HEAR me talk about some of this stuff, I was recently invited to be on the City Podcast, and had a fantastic time talking with Christopher George about moving to Spartanburg, my work, and how excited I am about this residency. CHECK IT OUT HERE 

Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light

The City of Spartanburg was selected as one of four cities to participate as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a new program to support temporary public art projects that celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development. Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light brought nine temporary art installations to public spaces in ten neighborhoods throughout the city. The project was a partnership among the City of Spartanburg Police and Community Relations Departments, internationally renowned light and digital media artist Erwin Redl, the Chapman Cultural Center, and neighborhood associations in the city of Spartanburg. Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light, built on National Night Out, an annual event that promotes crime prevention efforts, police-community partnership, and neighborhood camaraderie.

I volunteered during installation for several pieces and documented the process. 

I'm curating Andy Herod's new show – Sorry I Made it Weird: Portraits of People You May Know

What is the algorithm Facebook uses to assign the suggested connections for each user? Do they look familiar? Do we already know them? Should we? How and why do we have access to them? These are all questions Andy Herod will be undertaking in his new series Sorry I made it Weird: Portraits of People You May Know. Nationally known as a printmaker and multidisciplinary artist and musician, Herod is unpacking the cultural zeitgeist of social media with this work, attempting to tackle the unseen narratives which tether us through the internet, following a thread through social media, out of the computer screen, and in to our homes.

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Lost in Translation: Selecting a Translation of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies

Rilke lived for the true understanding of of human nature. "I lived for others while life lasted; now, after death, / I have not perished, but in cold marble I live for myself / as if in death-spasms for the first time bitten into the fruit of life" (Mitchell 553) and seemed to revel in his place as a vehicle for this dialog. Unfortunately, as he died so young in life, his words were only translated in life by a Polish translator, who died before the common era of English translators. It is, then, the responsibility of each translator to represent Rilke to the best of their academic ability, while entertaining that Rilke was a lover of human nature, and possibly anticipated the ongoing dialog regarding the meaning of his work. As he was so preoccupied with the meaning of life, it would probably please him to know that translators have argued over his intent. In reading the Elegies, then, it is important to remember that each translation carries varying weight with regard to particular subject matter.

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FAVORITE RECENT OLD PICTURES

It seems lately that I am finally able to catch up with myself in the strangest of ways. I am slowing down, thinking about and doing only what is most important to me, spending time with those I haven't crossed paths with in years or those who have just crossed my path and stayed firmly in it for whatever reason. 

And in this process I am examining vernacular artifacts, ephemera long-enough outdated to qualify as "old pictures." Some rolls just never got processed, some film never scanned, some simply forgotten in a box, only resurfacing because I am spending so much of my time in studio practice, allowing myself to be slow and thoughtful, remembering being given permission for my studio practice to be whatever I was doing in the studio at that time, in that moment, right then. Right now, my studio practice is in the taxonomy of memory with regard to human interaction and geography. 

  • Vernacular photography is the creation of photographs, usually by amateur or unknown photographers both professional and amateur, who take everyday life and common things as subjects.

.. here are some of my favorite, recent, old, pictures:

the Black & Whites: Ilford 100 Delta Pro damaged by salt water / the Color: CR100 (both rolls Summer 2012) / unedited

 

Farewell, Molina. Again and Again.

I am without armour at this juncture. And yet I feel protected, prepared, Jason's music so prevalent every step of my journey, his spirit an apotropaic force in my life.. Every corner I turn, there he is.

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