Saturday, March 15, 2008

Here are some links to the work of Kelley Walker. I don't like his work that much, but Charles Saatchi does. I have been looking at similar topics with my work. Also here is a wikipedia article on reflexivity.

I used to get hung up on consumerism too (like a lot of people in this class seem to be), but not so much these days. Just consume what you like.

(posted by Adam)

Friday, March 14, 2008

When silkscreening becomes consumerized

We talk a lot about how art works in the social sphere and how it changes when it becomes consumerized. These are images from the website:

Although commonly sold in specialty stores, these t-shirts are often considered to be art in the social space. I'm sure that there are those who would disagree, but it would be interesting to identify exactly when an artwork starts to lose its identity as it becomes more popular.


My original idea for my final multiples project was to screenprint chalk outlines of animals to put in the street to call some attention to roadkill. I thought it would be an interesting comment on the difference in activation of space between roadkill and a chalk outline of a human in the street, or the difference in value placed on human deaths vs. animal deaths. Then Christa pointed out that this project didn't really require a repeated multiple, nor did it require silkscreening at all--why wouldn't I just draw the outlines in the street? She was right. Anyway, after some googling, I found that it had been done before. This one's kind of funny:

I decided to stick with street or ground space for the final even though I gave up on the roadkill idea. I made prints of the bottoms of my feet and tracked my existence around Evanston. I only attached the newsprint to the ground using water, and when I went back the next day, the prints were mostly gone, which I had expected--the effect mimics my own disappearance from Evanston. 

An interesting unexpected effect was that the ink from the prints got on the bottoms of people's shoes and, when I went back to check on my sites, I found that some of them were gone but had new ones in place. They looked like this:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Graffiti in the Not-So-Social Space

I may have been up on a floor of a campus building that I'm not supposed to be on and saw this image. I instantly liked it for the message and the execution, and I was glad that I had stumbled upon it in the manner that I had.

But it made me wonder: this image is technically in the social space, but it's limited to a very select group of people who get to see it. How does this change it's meaning and what would be different if everyone could have access?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Evanston Ordinance ###-##

Since January, there has been a large debate in Evanston about passing an ordinance which would restrict landlords and city officials to inquire about a tenant's citizenship status when signing a lease to rent in Evanston. City Counsel has been unwilling to recognize this as a pressing issue that needs to be addressed any time soon. At a town hall meeting last Wednesday, the issue was not recognized by the counsel although community supporters were present. They were merely advised to write to their alderman.

Abc News7 covered the story a few months ago, when the issue was 'fresh', reporting for both sides. The video can be seen here:

My final project was a comment on this issue, using a little bit of satire and humor. I did a "composite sketch" of four famous latino actors/singers. The faces of Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias, Gael Garcia-Bernal, and Mario Lopez are meshed together (a la Photoshop) to form this 'typical Latino' face who is wanted by the FBI because he attempted to illegally rent in Evanston. Just as in rough composite sketches in real Wanted Posters, I wanted to play off the idea of how social constructs define the features which make one stereotypically latino.

I posted 38 flyers in downtown Evanston and Northwestern, but especially around apartment complexes. Take a look, and tell me what you think!

Bed Bug Project

Long story short, my apartment had a bed bug problem earlier this year. Most people don't know much, if anything about bed bugs, but they're a growing problem in cities, so I decided to address this in my final project. I'm working on a collaborative piece with an online community of bed bug victims at

I was inspired by hobo symbols and wanted to create a image to tag infested buildings (like mine) to warn people away, but also to serve as a sign of solidarity among fellow sufferers of bug trauma and raise awareness of the problem.

Check it out at this link, which has more pictures and a detailed description of my goals and process.

if anyone has also had bed bugs and would like to become a part of the project, please email me at for further information

(posted by Debi. I can't figure out how to turn off my Blogger username)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Make Me Nervous Dot Com

In regard to our first project of creating a zine, I came up with an advertisement for my (at the time, very empty) blog. I started off with a few general ideas, but eventually landed on the concept of mimicking pull-tab flyers which are often used to advertise dog-walking or places for rent. I decided to post these mainly where I saw other pull-tab flyers, but also on other telephone posts and bus stop areas. I enabled comments and hope to eventually see some from people other than my friends. I also plan to distribute more flyers throughout the next few months.

Lately, in my own work, I have been very interested in the drawings/doodles I create in the margins of all my notebooks--sometimes without even realizing it. In my paintings I find myself constantly reiterating every detail from my photographic or observational references. Just like anyone else who doodles, I let myself fall into a completely different zone. Creating these shapes and creatures almost from my subconscious, and yet I also notice that even when I am simply scratching away at a tiny corner of my notebook, I manage to include even the slightest of details.

For the past few months I have been trying to incorporate the stylistic elements of my "doodles" and place them in areas other than scraps. So after finishing the design for my flyer, I started a sketchbook with the intention of drawing in it at least once a day and then updating my blog each time a new image developed. Though I eventually let go and included digital sketches and ideas for other projects, I still hope to maintain the website as a public sketchbook and an on-going project to motivate myself and my work.

Chris Tavares Silva

Though Christa has already posted a link under "ARTISTS" I wanted to reintroduce everyone to a Chicago-based artist named Chris Silva.

Rather than only using spray paint or silk-screen, Silva uses found objects and shapes them into eye-catching installations by either literally cutting into and around the surface and/or painting directly onto them with enamel. I was first acquainted with his work in the fall of '06 and have maintained an interest in his media. I find it intriguing that he puts a lot of time and detail into his work on these objects that people had originally thrown out and then gives them back to the community. What I also love is his attention to the material and location where he presents his work and how they affect his translation of what colors to use and objects or people to place in these particular locations.

Under Silva's artist statement he says:
"I believe that collective consciousness is infinitely more important than that of individual intellect. For this reason, I am most interested in the interventions of public art. It is my goal to find more ways to expose the general public to art that they can relate to and be inspired by. I want to create progressive, quality public artworks as visual alternatives to the manipulative energies of advertising in public spaces. My goal is to push the envelope of the public art movement by producing work that uses engaging combinations of materials and content to encourage the perceptual and spiritual evolution of the general public.

I am saddened by the cruelty, ignorance and greed of humans. My priority as an artist is not to receive accolades and praise for my talents, but rather to inspire others to help to create a just and meaningful world."

A couple questions I want to ask are do you think this is a successful and affective way to distribute art? Does the fact that most of his work can be easily removed add or retract from his goal? And just like questions brought up in class about Swoon, how does the idea of moving street art into an interior installation work for or against his purpose?

"Jobs not Jails" - Homeboy Industries

I am very interested in the "social" aspect of silkscreen. In the context of the class, that means interacting with work outside of the gallery space or the typical "art world." After some creative googling, I came across a different meaning of "social silkscreen."

I was very excited to learn about Homeboy Industries, headquartered in Los Angeles. It was started in 1992 by Father Gregory J. Boyle, a Jesuit Priest, to create businesses that provide training, work experience, and above all, the opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side. Other economic enterprises have been created since the first venture, including Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, Homeboy Graffiti Removal, Homeboy Maintenance, and Homeboy Landscaping.

Homeboy Silkscreen was started in 1996, and is currently the largest division of Homeboy Industries. It has employed nearly 500 gang members who have learned the fundamentals of silkscreening while developing a work ethic working side by side with their enemies. State-of-the-art silkscreening and embroidery techniques are used to create custom clothing and accessories for a variety of schools, churches, private companies, and city organizations.

Take a look at the Homeboy Industries Web site at

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New World Order Stencils

For my stencil project, I decided to relate it to the Freemasons and the Illuminati—secret related groups that have a lot of conspiracy (true or not?) behind them and supposed satanism. I chose four stencils: the symbol of the Masons (compass and ruler), the all-seeing eye (found on money), the words "New World Order" and the number 13 (number of the Freemasons). I printed the words "New World Order" on the front of dollar bills and the Masons' symbol on the back. I also printed "New World Order" with the all-seeing eye on the bumper and hood of a Dodge Minivan. The number 13 was printed with the all-seeing eye on a McDonald's fries carton. The logos of McDonald's and Dodge may be related to the Freemasons in that McDonald's old logo represents the number 13 and the Dodge logo is a modified ram's head to portray a goat's head which is a symbol of satanism.

I realize that many people may not know about these secret groups, but I believe that many people will recognize the symbols. Yesterday, during critique, I mentioned that it does not matter if a person knows all about the Masons or not, but it is more to function as a curiosity. People that recognize the symbols might want to learn more if they don't know much about the Masons, and people who don't know anything might go on the internet and search "New World Order." During critique, people mentioned that it is not enough information to put it together. I felt that seeing the all-seeing eye and those words together would connect some sort of meaning regardless of how much information a person knew, as well as the Mason's symbol and the words together printed on money. It was also mentioned that "New World Order" is a common phrase and may be used for different things, and that googling those words might land you in many places. I found that extremely hard to believe, so I did a little test. I googled "New World Order" and the whole first page only had sites pertaining to the New World Order I was speaking about.

I am curious to see what other people not in the class at UIC feel about this project and what suggestions you might have? And for the people that are in my class, do you still feel the same way knowing that "New World Order" really only means one thing?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Detroit. Demolition. Disneyland.

The DDD Project is a group of anonymous artists that came together a couple years back in response to the ignored decay of so many areas of Detroit. They cake on a layer of neon paint called Tiggeriffic Orange to the front of the most visible abandoned buildings in the city. Dilapidated, burned out homes have almost become part of the everyday landscape of Detroit and these artists have made them impossible to ignore. Two of the first houses painted by the DDD were almost immediately demolished.

These houses had all been previously marked with a circled "D"--a designation made by the city which meant that these structures were intended to be demolished. All it took was the simple gesture of painting the buildings bright orange for them to actually be destroyed. This destruction brings up interesting questions. In an anonymous letter to, the DDD writes, "From one perspective, our actions have created a direct cause and effect relationship with the city. As in, if we paint a house orange, the city will demolish it. In this relationship, where do the city's motivations lie? Do they want to stop drawing attention to these houses? Are the workers simply confused and think this is the city's new mark for demolition? Or is this a genuine response to beautify the city?"

The rest of the group's statement can be found here:

There are tons of other artists and groups whose work addresses the declining neighborhoods of Detroit. Artist Tyree Guyton decorated the abandoned houses on one street with discarded objects he gathered from the streets.

Back in 2001, Kyong Park stripped and dismantled an abandoned house from Detroit and shipped it to Orleans, France where it was reconstructed. There the house itself became an exhibition space.

For more photos and information on this project, visit

Field Trip!

Last week, the UIC half of our class trekked through snow and train transfers to visit the studio of poster artist Dan MacAdam, who makes remarkable multi-layered prints as Crosshair Press in his meatpacking district print shop. Dan talked with us about the audience for his work, which includes the bands and music venues who commission him, the fans who swipe the free prints after shows, and the hundreds of collectors who support his work thanks to the affordable nature of multiples. He also discussed his technique for using translucent layers of color to achieve elaborately multihued prints, which I'm still wrapping my head around . There were plenty of questions, and he was happy to answer them all. Interested in seeing more of MacAdam's work? Check it out at