2, April 2011 § Leave a comment
7, November 2010 § Leave a comment
Paros attracts creative persons: many painters, sculptors, photographers, and writers are denizens of our island, however invisibly. They live here some of the year, much of the year, or even all year. Many come to the Aegean Center to share their thoughts, ideas, and presence with our students.
On October 28th we were fortunate enough to have one such artist, Apostolos Doxiades. He and his family have a house here and he gets on the ferry to Paros when his busy life allows. This was ‘Ochi Day’ – the holiday that commemorates Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas’ rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940 – and so there was a festive air about town despite the rain (on a farming island, rain is welcome).
After an introduction by John Pack, Apostolos spoke to us for about an-hour-and-a-half on many subjects. A widely and passionately learned man, he wears his erudition lightly, and he was entertaining as well as formative. He discussed the origins of Romanticism, the modern Greek conundrum, his choice of language in which to write (he alternates between Greek and English), the joys and difficulties of the writer’s life, the connections between mathematics and literature, and more. The room was full; students, teachers, andfriends of the Aegean Center allowed for standing room only. Afterwards our minds were abuzz with new ideas, associations, and questions.
Apostolos has directed movies; produced, directed, acted in, and written plays; delivered many lectures; and written many essays. Of late he has concentrated on fiction, and his books are easily available. The last one I read is a graphic novel, called Logicomix, that investigates the search for absolute mathematical truths as narrated by Bertrand Russell. It is both educational and delightful, like Apostolos himself. Check his website: www.apostolosdoxiadis.com/en for further information.
And we expect we see him again at the Aegean Center.
24, May 2010 § Leave a comment
On Friday, May 14th, the Aegean Center hosted another poetry reading by Adrianne Kalfopoulou. She read poems from her newest book, Passion Maps, which explores a variety of themes, including nostalgia and biculturalism.
After the reading, Adrianne met with the poets in the creative writing class for a special workshop. She had suggested we each bring two poems, which she then took us through, line by line, analyzing as she went.
She made a point of urging all of us to work within as many forms as possible, stating that “learning form is like learning a language; it gives you more options.” Adrianne is mostly a free-verse poet herself, but still practices within form as much as possible. More often than not, she would cut out pieces of our poems, in hopes to add to the “immediacy” of our work. She suggests that all poets try removing all the prepositional phrases in their poems as a way to improve that sense of immediacy, even if you end up putting them back in. It’s a good exercise, and all of us felt its impact on our poems.
Adrianne also helped explain the role of the title in poetry, something we were all struggling with. She said that the title is “the extra line that you get in your poem.” If you choose to leave a poem untitled it means “either it’s beyond you, or a title would limit the poem because it has so many options.” Titling prose and poetry is still one of the hardest things for all of the members of our workshop to do.
We all found Ms. Kalfopoulou to be very relatable, a helpful editor and a wonderful writer. It was special to all of us to meet with her for some workshop time, and I think it’s safe to say the Center will be happy to have her back again to read in future semesters.
15, May 2010 § Leave a comment
The Aegean Center has been featured in the Summer Issue of Creo Magazine. The author, Silvia Viñas, wanted to highlight a student’s firsthand experience at the Center and chose Shanoor Seervai, a student fall 2009 Italy-Greece Session, to interview. (Shanoor, we miss you!)
15, February 2010 § Leave a comment
This coming March the Somerville Manning Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware will be hosting a exhibition of three women. I will be showing paintings on paper and monoprints , another artist uses encaustic to create her work and the third a bronze sculptor. We don’t know each other but the galley is presenting our work under the title, Mystical Shores, as we all live on islands. I will attend the opening and hope to see some familiar faces of Aegean students.
The paintings on paper are part of a series I did investigating and rendering three dimensional space using landscape as a vehicle to explore intimate and long distances (which are more common to traditional landscape ideas). I drew out of doors on large sheets of paper held on my lap and then worked up the images in the studio using both tempera paint made from egg and oils. The images reflect my immediate surroundings in the olive trees, terraces and sycamores which flourish near by. I wanted to combine the activity of line with the color and spatial qualities of the vegetation.
My newest works are illustrations of Greek myth. I am using a monoprint process which is best described as painting ink on a zinc plate and then transferring the image to paper by running it through the press. This means that you only get one image, hence the “mono” in monoprint. I then use egg tempera to add color and dimension and some traces of shell gold, ground gold in a gum base which paints out like watercolor. You can see more of this ongoing work at my web site: www.janemorrispack.com
Myth used to be an important element in every western education and people were familiar with the stories and characters of Greek mythology. Now however they are largely forgotten or mostly referenced in a cursory and unstudied manner. These stories offer a very real and important vision of what it means to be human, how our life paths may differ and cross and how to deal with eventualities we all must face as living beings. I find that my students are the most obvious embodiment of the myths and play out many of the stories on their journeys to discover who they are. If familiar with a myth which characterizes a moment of growth and decision, the story can help you to see potentials, dangers and solutions in our real lives. The stories offer rich messages and images of possibilities. Perhaps living on a Greek island for so many years enables me to connect more forcefully with the nymphs and gods of old but I see the power of this mythology helping to tap creativity and expression in young artists as well as finding it to be a constant source of imagery for my own work and devlopment.
2, February 2010 § 1 Comment
When lovers of Paros get together away from the beloved island, it is always an elite occasion. We know just what we miss, where we were, whither we should like to return.
When, during the spring semester of 2008, Liz and I told several students that in December we would be in New York City, where we grew up, to visit friends, relatives, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they importuned me to accompany them about the great museum, as I had so many museums in Italy as part of our September course of study. Usually Liz and I are so pressed for time in the city, that we can barely manage to visit one or two students, though often there are a dozen there. I agreed, and in early December sent out an announcement on Facebook that on December 22 Liz and I would meet any students who cared to join us in the museum’s lobby, and that we would proceed to look at great art, with plenty of blah-blah to go with it.
The delegated morning was cold, and there was snow on the ground. We arrived an hour early, and soon students began showing up. By the appointed hour, 20 students had arrived; three from a dozen years ago, three from a month ago. With them were a mother, a sister, a husband, a lover, and several friends – and memories of Paros and anticipated revisitngs introduced everyone. The first object we looked at, of course, was the Classical Girl with a Dove, a beautiful marble relief found more than a century ago, built into the Castro Wall on Paros. Its skill and tenderness made Paros glow in our minds.
Since most of the students had studied with us in Pistoia as well as Paros, we next went to the medieval room, to inspect a sculpture that has probably not been looked at more than a dozen times in its long stay in the crowded room: the lectern, in the form of Saint John’s eagle, from Giovanni Pisano’s pulpit in the church of San Andrea in Pistoia; the rest of the pulpit fortunately remains in situ. Giovanni was probably Europe’s greatest sculptor in 1300. Dominating the room was the Met’s beautiful Christmas tree and crèche, with its eighteenth-century wooden figures from Naples.
Then we went upstairs to look at paintings, beginning with Duccio’s little tiny Madonna, a recent acquisition and the museum’s most expensive. We had spent a long time looking at the great Duccio altarpiece in Siena, and were almost startled to discover that our memory of the radiance of its forms and colors were not exaggerated.
After an hour of Italian paintings, we moved on to Rubens, Hals, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. I don’t usually get to talk much about these artists, and lecturing focuses the attention. And although the museum was crowded for Christmas, the rooms with the greatest paintings were, as usual, sparsely inhabited.
During lunch at the museum’s cafeteria we chatted, inevitably, about Paros. I was amazed and pleased to discover how many older students were still in the arts, and how many younger ones were hoping to remain so. May John, Jane, Elizabeth, and I take some credit (or blame) for this, and not just the inspiration of the beauties of Paros?
A year ago students under Jane had undertaken a Velazquez project, and the museum fortuitously had a small, choice show of the great Spanish master. And then, for the photography students, we looked at the big Robert Frank show. It was now three o’clock, and most of us had been there almost four hours. We parted reluctantly.
These were all top quality students, whose interest in art is unwavering. And it is the best students who are most likely to return to Paros, to remember what the island gave them, what the Aegean Center gave, and what they have given themselves.
7, December 2009 § Leave a comment
Art History means knowing the history of art – societal expectations, stylistic norms, symbols, social and religious context, commercial background, and more. You need it to recognize skill, freshness, and intention, and to develop taste, which is to say personal preference based on knowledge and discrimination. And as history illuminates art, so art illuminates history. Art appreciation means having enough aesthetic sensitivity based on knowledge to form your own opinions – which is more than “I like/dislike it.” So art’s history and appreciation are intimately connected. And if you love art, it is a joyful lifetime study.
In the autumn of 2008 and spring of 2009, a lot of students who had studied Art History with Jeff, Liz, John, Jane, and Jun in Italy and in Greece, upon learning that Elizabeth and I were to be in New York City this Christmas, requested that we take them around the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This would be a reunion based on study and recognition of what we all care deeply about. Since this is the museum where Elizabeth and I, New Yorkers both, first learned about the art of the world, we have a special affection for it, and we agreed.
Our time in the City will be only a few days, and we perforce have many obligations, but we have now made a date. We will meet students (siblings and partners welcome) who are able to join us on Tuesday, December 22, at 10:30 a.m., at the big central desk in the museum’s lobby. Our e-mail is email@example.com.
What should we look at first, the Girl with a Dove from Paros or Giovanni Pisano’s Pulpit Eagle from Pistoia? Or maybe the giant crèche with its 18th-century Neapolitan carved wood figures under the tree?
See you there!
9, August 2009 § Leave a comment
From July 24 to August 10 I have had opportunity to exhibit my latest series of paintings, The Twelve Labors of Heracles and Other Myths at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts. These paintings were inspired in large part from a trip to Italy in the fall of 2008 with the Aegean Center. While visiting many cathedrals throughout Italy, I saw a number of narrative paintings based on the biblical tales. I was fascinated with the idea that each image told a piece of a story, and in some cases described the entire narrative in various parts. The images illustrated the stories to the people who attended Mass with drama, emotion, action and a sense of mystery. In effect, the paintings had to tell a compelling story.
Last winter, I began work on paintings based on stories with its fantastic, dynamic characters and adventures, much like ones found in the Old and New Testament. Naturally, I turned to the stories of Greek Mythology, abundant in its imagery. The number and variety of myths allowed me to approach each respective piece differently. This was a project that enabled me to interpret the richness of the Greek myths in my own hand.
I want to thank the individuals that helped me put The Twelve Labors of Heracles and Other Myths together: Konstantina Andreakou, Jeffrey and Elisabeth Carson, Daria Koskorou, Emily Oglesby and especially John and Jane Pack. Also, to the students, friends and family who encouraged and supported me through out this project, a huge thank you.
2, August 2009 § Leave a comment
Intensive Digital Studies / The Art of the Digital Print
July is usually a quiet month at the Center. This year was an exception. John Pack lead a two week intensive course in The Art of the Digital Photograph.
Many photographers share the idea that the print is the final rendering of the artist’s intent, and this demands an extensive and deep working knowledge of the tools and process of the medium. Using digital tools to produce that important manifestation of the idea in a print has become too dependent on the tricks of the equipment rather than the skill and judgment of the photographer. In two weeks of exciting and intensive learning John guided a small group – eight participants – through the intricacies of the entire digital workflow with specific attention to Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4 as photographic tools to an understanding of how to bring the image to the concluding expressive print that emerges from the printer.
John’s extensive knowledge gave us a broad understanding of the possibilities, which he then attempted to scale down to workable tools we could master in the time given. Time was a major factor. We worked 6, 8 and even 12 hours a day for 13 days. Yes, we did take one Sunday holiday.
After the first few days of deluge, the group rose to the challenge of learning myriad details while constantly reassessing its understanding of what the results would be. A list of the Photoshop and Printer techniques we studied would include extensive colour management, monitor calibration, tools, layers, masks, ICC colour profiling (building our own profiles), and much more; this would be only an outline of the wide scope of knowledge we acquired on how to see and feel the images as they progressed.
John’s enthusiasm for the digital medium, coupled with his deep respect for every detail, carried us through to a collection of photographic prints which were a great satisfaction to each of us. We all shared knowledge and ideas. The group, working together, became an important part of our learning, as John had intended. We concluded with a very stimulating sense of new knowledge and the ability to carry this forward to create the quality of photograph that was our goal.