2015 National Mature Media Award WINNER

2015 National Mature Media Award WINNER
The Creative Landscape of Aging Wins a NMMA Award!

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

THE CREATIVE LANDSCAPE OF AGING: My book WINS THE 2015 NATIONAL MATURE MEDIA AWARD

This beautiful full color book is filled with select essays and interviews from this blog PLUS photographs of artist works AND my Introduction. You can read about the book and see inside pages at: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Landscape-Aging-Judith-Zausner/dp/0986339806/ref=pd_rhf_ee_p_img_7

To email and connect with me: www.thecreativelandscapeofaging.com

WHAT IS THE BOOK ABOUT?
The Creative Landscape of Aging presents compelling essays that explore the power and grace of creativity and aging from an intimate perspective. Includes a series of interviews with successful older artists such as Judith Leiber, Nelson Shanks, Isaiah Zagar (and many more) with accompanying full color gallery insert of artist works. Zausner's book is ideal for anyone who wants to explore the insightful world of aging and creativity and read about older adults at different stages in their lives and careers. 

WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING?
Zausner has taken an appealing subject, late life creativity, and suffused it with energy, insight, and most of all, compelling story-telling. Her writing is original, vivid and spot on. This book is one to curl up with, savor and then treasure. 

-Dick Goldberg, former National Director, Coming of Age
In The Creative Landscape of Aging, Judith Zausner helps us deal with the inevitable “third act” of life by offering wisdom stories from remarkable creative older adults. Having worked with everyday creativity and older adults, in this new book Zausner demonstrates and celebrates the power of creativity to heal.
-Ilene A. Serlin, Ph.D, BC-DMT, Union Street Health Associates, San Francisco, past-president San Francisco Psychological Association, author of Whole Person Healthcare: Arts and Health​

Judith Zausner is a gifted teacher, writer and commentator who illuminates the life
and work of artists who have changed the way the rest of us see the world.
Her insights and passions sweep away confusion and promote clarity.  Imagine
a wiser---and more sophisticated older sister whispering in your ear, as the two
of you embark on a great journey together.
-Dick Levinson
Central Senior Services, Free Library of Philadelphia




Monday, October 27, 2014

An Interview with RICHARD BLAKE: Sculptor of Public Art, Historic Realism

As a sculptor, Richard focuses on historical figures with social significance. His compelling sculptures capture the realistic figure, the social context and the spirit of the person. His work is in many private collections and can be viewed as courtesy of many public outdoor commissions.

Growing up in Philadelphia, you began taking Saturday art classes at Fleisher Art Memorial at the age of nine. What event or series of events ignited your interest in art? And what triggered your change of creative expression at age 15 from painting to sculpture?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in the visual. My earliest memories were of my fascination in the pleasure of seeing and noticing things… everything. Things as simple as dust floating lightly in the sun’s rays. I think visual artists are uniquely sensitive to forms, color, texture, and patterns, which are the bare foundation of art and distinctly key to the visual dialogue.

This coveting of everything visual led quickly to drawing as a way of recording. Drawing is almost always the young artist’s first clue as to who they are. It provides an outlet to celebrate their world throughout their life.

By the time I was 8 or 9 years old I knew my drawing was more accomplished than my peers. The whole process of understanding what I saw and recording it seemed to come easier and with less frustration. All of this gave me great pleasure and still does.

Later when I was 12 -13 and I became more serious, I thought my drawing had to lead to painting, except I didn’t like painting with the intensity I had for drawing.  And that’s when sculpture came into my life. I was attending painting classes at the Fleischer Art Memorial in South Philadelphia, taught by my aunt Louise Clements, one of the most influential people in my life.

I stumbled on sculpture by happenstance when visiting the basement studios of the Fleisher art memorial. I fell in love immediately , it was the smells the physicality of the media and it all. I studied for the next few years under the tutorage of Frank Gasparro who was the head sculptor at the Philadelphia Mint.

 You served as the President of the National Sculpture Society (NSS) from 2007 thru 2010 which is a different role than that of university teaching but they both are leadership roles. Do you see any similarities?
The roles of President of the National Sculpture Society (NSS) and Professor of Art at West Chester University (WCU) had some crossover but were generally very different. The Presidency role called for me to play a leadership role in guiding the NSS which is national organization of 3500 professional members. The time that I served as president of NSS was a difficult and transitional period. Direction was needed to move the organization forward but to keep some of the strong attributes that were part of our identity i.e The Sculpture Review Magazine. At this time most of the art magazines were going out of business or turning completely to digital publications. Our magazine is one of the outstanding art publications and it was deemed important by the membership to remain in print form.
As a professor at WCU I had to give direction and guidance to students, some of which had no experience in the plastic arts and others which were quite talented. The role of educator and mentor while very stimulating exercised a completely different set of demands.

 
In thinking about your extraordinary sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King, your art celebrates a person’s legacy by defining a depth of character and a dramatic moment captured in time. What kind of research, preparation is involved?

My sculptural concerns have always been in reference to figuration and the human spirit. I’m particularly interested when I can use my art in public projects that commemorate social activism and correct or put history in perspective.

I start the creative process by delving into the history of my subject, probing through what facts I have at my disposal to piece together a mosaic of their lives. There is usually some nexus or series of circumstances that are pivotal to who they are, and why they invested their lives in the ways they did. The discovery and dimensionality that research brings to the projects adds strength to the forms. Often during these readings I find fascinating tidbits about future subjects.

For instance, a few years back, while researching material for The Frederick Douglass Monument, I stumbled upon several lesser-known but important social activists, scholars and abolitionists. Among these lost American Heroes were two fellow Philadelphians, Octavius Valentine Catto who was the founder of the first black baseball team, founder of the first Negro infantry, advocate and leader of the desegregation of public transportation, and educator. The other Philadelphian was Richard Theodore Greener. Richard Greener was the first black graduate of Harvard University, Diplomat to China, Secretary of the Grant Tomb Project, and Professor at University of South Carolina.

The more I researched the lives of these gentlemen, the more fascinated I became with the parallels in their lives and their impact on their times. Often larger than life characters seem to have an interconnectivity; a circuitous thread tying their lives together. Perhaps that’s why, despite the greatest of adversities these gentlemen were able to accomplish so much.

Actually I equate research as an integral part of the creative process for public commissions. As I mull over some revealing piece of information, I start to leave the logical to explore a more dimensional and intuitive processing of information. The same is true with the creation of sculpture. A process of following what you know to be true gives way to an endless series of “What Ifs”, each series of what ifs takes you at times, in completely different directions. I think of this process of tangential thinking, as similar to exploding fireworks, which then gives raise to the next array of explosions.  Later to be balanced by more linear or logical thinking.

With your public art do you prepare the work in a special way to protect from outside elements? Do any ever require onsite repair?

Its important with public commissions to protect the sculptures from the elements. Typically in this area unprotected bronze will tend to turn green which is part of the process of oxidation. To prevent this I use a hot wax technique. That is when the bronze is heated up after the patina has been achieved and while still hot wax is applied. the wax melts and absorbs to a certain degree in the metal and when it is cooled it is then buffed to the desired finish. This coat of protective wax is usually enough under most circumstances to keep the patina stable if it is done every two years or so. I have used commercial sealers which give a high degree of protection but are difficult to remove if any restoration is required.

 I understand that travel is an important component in your creative and personal life. Can you talk about that?
I have always enjoyed traveling and visiting different cultures. I find the change in location to be very stimulating and I love the sound of different languages and experiencing different cultural traditions. And of course the art.

I prefer locations and countries that are different than the big cities in the states because I find that most large cities have more in common than not. I haven’t traveled nearly as much as I would like but I have been to Central America, Africa, Israel, Paris, Egypt, Mexico, Italy and China.  After traveling I always feel transformed and invigorated.


Has there been an artist whose talk/work has resonated for you?

I remember attending a lecture given by Isamu Noguchi in Philadelphia and I was struck by an explanation he gave for why sculptures were made. He said that one of the roles for sculpture, from pre-history to the present, was to create a kind of magic and sense of control. I believe that good sculpture has that element of the magical. It has to be transforming and take us on the artist's journey.

Your sculptures are massive and many weigh as much as a ton or more, As we get older in our golden years, our physical approach to creating art often changes, Have you made changes?

Have the golden years come? I am still looking forward to them. I hope I recognize them when they are here. I would say that the nature of monumental work and sculpture in general for me is a discipline of form and volume. It means that I may have to find different ways to do things because of the weight, but no my basic process remains the same and I consider the weight almost as an indelible part of the medium of sculpture. Actually, over the years my sculptures have gotten more volumetric.

I have adapted my process to more current trends. So instead of a steel armature I have my small models scanned and cut into foam which greatly reducing the overall weight. The clay is then applied and worked to the desired surface. I actually like this new way of working much more. It cuts down on time, cost and certainly weight in the working stage. In the end my monuments are bronze and stone and the weights of these remain constant.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Interview with BILL CUNNINGHAM: Fashion Forecaster on Wheels

Bill Cunningham with Creativity Matters Blogger, Judith Zausner in 2014


Bill Cunningham has passed. We lost an amazing icon and fashion lost its humble advocate.

About Bill by Bill

In 2014, Fern Mallis interviewed Bill Cunningham in September, 2014 at the 92nd Street "Y" in New York City. The "Y" has graciously provided the following excerpts from the event:
In a rare interview, New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham chronicled his fascinating career documenting style through the decades. 

To close out the Fashion Icons event, the 86 year old told the packed house about the best fashion show he’d ever seen. What followed was a compelling and emotional story about the 1973 show at Chateau de Versailles that brings together a cultural movement that not only signified a new era in fashion, but also was a marker in racial equality. - See more


“If you don’t dress the inside of your head like you’ve been dressing the outside of your body, you’re in trouble.” —Bill Cunningham


During his Fashion Icons talk with Fern Mallis, New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham spoke about his legacy (or self-proclaimed lack thereof), and also offered cautionary words for the future of the fashion industry. - See more

Sunday, August 31, 2014

CREATIVE GADGETS FOR ELDERS: No Computer Required!

Baby Boomers are the youngest of the elder population group looking to make their daily living a little easier.  Fortunately there are many helpful devices available that are outside the medical related world of assistive and supportive devices. While some products may be new on the market and others have been around for a while, there is hardly an area untapped. These are just a sampling of what entrepreneurs are developing for this huge and growing demographic.  And you don’t have to be an elder to enjoy their usefulness!


For Food Preparation:

 Safe-T-element: Supports Safe Cooking on an electric stovetop!
Welcome a revolutionary new safety gadget for cooking created for electric stove users! This new Smart Burner will  help prevent cooking fires, save energy and provide superior cooking performance while providing an attractive design
 
Microwave Ring Dish Holder: Prevents spills and burns!
Avoid possible spills or burns when you remove a dish out of the microwave! This simple holder will help you safely remove your bowl or plate from  the microwave.
 
Americano Coffee Maker: Serving single cups of Coffee, Tea, or Expresso!
This is simpler than having multiple devices that each make a different drink! You can have a cup of coffee for yourself and a moment later be brewing tea for a friend. Fast and easy!


For Communicating
Jitterbug Cellphone: Basic, big buttons and easy to read!If you just want the basics including operator assistance, this is for you. Medication reminders, a live nurse hotline and wellness calls are optional extras.

Amplified Phone Ringer with Strobe Light: For hearing issues and alertness concerns
This device monitors your phone line and alerts you of an incoming call by amplified sound and blinking light. 

Memory Aids

Personal GPS Locator : Aid to remember!
Toss the breadcrumbs aside! This personal GPS locator will retrace your steps back to where you started and can store up to 5 locations.

PILL DISPENSER with Audio Visual and Cellular Capacity  For taking medicine on time!
These pill dispensers are basically cellular connected pill boxes that provide both visual and sound reminders. Forget your pill? The box will phone family members if the medication(s) aren’t taken within a specified time.
GPS Shoes GPS is now on your feet!
This is the latest GPS revolution in your feet! It will alert a caregiver if the wearer leaves a designated area.

For the Home

Universal Remote Control It's big, has light-up buttons and was recommended by Dr. Phil! Because of its size, it will be hard to lose and easy to find.

Ergonomic Reacher to make grabbing those items near you so much easier. This one comes in a choice of different lengths, has a big 5 1/2 inch jaw opening, rotates 360 degrees and can pick up something as tiny as a pin or as big as a 5 pound object!

MonoLight Table Lamp - a lamp that illuminates & magnifies. Eye-sight deteriorates with age and long-hours in front of the computer screen or television.

Grande Carafe- a drinking bottle with a built in three chamber vitamin and pill storage cap for on-the-go use

Long Handled Comb and Brush This is very helpful for those with limited reach and has a rubberized non slip handle.

Bath Tub Rail and Grab Bar  No major installation with these suction devices! Place them exactly where you want them and change their location as needed.

Robotic Floor Cleaning With iRobot get floors cleaned without bending and lifting a vacuum cleaner or broom or mop. Great for seniors and everyone else!

Bracelet Valet This is an easy to use device for putting on a bracelet that has a clasp. All ladies will enjoy the simplicity of this gadget!



 

 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Creative Yarn: TELLING STORIES IN STITCHES

Storytelling is an old art form; early humans vocally grunted, signed language and hand painted pictures in caves. Over the centuries life became more sophisticated and what was once a primitive form of communication evolved in other ways in their lives. Before tapestries could be conceived, the concept of fabric was developed. 

Around 27,000 years ago there was the first evidence of weaving that appeared as impressions on hard clay.  Fabric or covering of one's bodies for decoration, protection or social rank has been documented to the late Stone Age in the Middle East. And archaeologists believe that human beings may have begun wearing clothing as far back as 100,000 to 500,000 years ago with the advent of the sewing needle some 40,000 years ago.

That is a brief history of early textile development which was critical to the advance of craft using fibers to depict a story.  

The Bayeux Tapestry (which is actually embroidered not woven) was one of the first notable works and most probably was created around 1070 in England . The 230 feet long Tapestry was made on linen cloth and illustrates the events which led up to the Norman conquest of England and concluded in the Battle of Hastings. There are approximately 50 scenes with Latin captions and is now displayed in a museum in Bayeux, France.

The Unicorn Tapestries, probably woven in the Netherlands, consists of seven tapestries which date between 1495 and 1505 and can be viewed now in The Cloisters in New York. The tapestries depict a group of noblemen and hunters pursuing an elusive unicorn which was a fairly common theme in art and literature at that time. One of the unique aspects of these magnificent  tapestries is that they were perfectly woven in richly colored wool, metallic threads, and silk.

Gobelain Tapestry, Beauvais Tapestry and Aubusson Tapestry all had different beginnings and were developed around the 17th century. 

Like the previous tapestries that were created for and about royalty, contemporary story telling by Bjørn Nørgaard has had a similar direction. He is a Danish artist who has explored making many different types of art with many different types of materials.  Having seen his work,  Queen Margrethe II, on her 50th birthday, contracted Bjorn to create a unique piece of art. She paid 13 million Danish crowns for a series of tapestries that would trace the history of Denmark from its beginnings to the present day. The tapestries were based on Nørgaard's full-sized sketches and were woven by the historic Manufacture des Gobelins in Paris. Completed in 1999, they now can be viewed in the Great Hall at Christiansborg Palace.


For many centuries tapestries were reserved for the elite to depict aspects of their world.. They were created to tell stories related to the noble class or as a pictorial history spanning many decades. Commissioned, they were meticulously executed by expert crafts people.

Esther Nisenthal Krinitz depicted stories through her fiber art also.  However these stories were not about royalty but about her life during the Holocaust. She created an extraordinary embroidered collection of panels after immigrating here from her survival days in Poland.  Although Esther had no formal art training and no prior art experience, she was trained as a dressmaker and at the age of 50 she began telling her story with one hand stitched panel after another that cried of war and touched on remembrances of family life. Rich in colors and textures, each of the scenes is detailed beautifully and her tapestries were displayed at the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.. A book about Esther and pictures of her work, Memories of Survival  was first published posthumously in 2005 (4 years after her passing), and there is also an award-winning thirty-minute documentary, “Through the Eye of the Needle”.

Telling stories using stitches is an art legacy that is unique. It empowers the creative mind to produce pictures using a variety of fibers and stitches to convey a moment in time.


Storytelling is important. Part of human continuity.    -Robert Redford
 
A picture is a poem without words.       -Horace
 






 

 

 

Monday, June 30, 2014

An Interview with YVONNE BOBROWICZ: Fiber Artist of the Almost Ethereal

photograph by Judith Zausner
 
Trained in traditional textiles and weaving, Yvonne has found her path to an ethereal visual effect in fiber art.  By knotting enormous amounts of mono filament she creates a compelling experience of both light and texture.  
 

You came from two parents with creative genes. Life had to enable that for you.

My mother had talent in the design and textile area and made clothes for me and my 2 sisters. She also could have been an actress. My father was a master woodcarver and taught woodworking.

My first weaving was when I was 10 years old at camp; it was a bath mat.  

When I was in 7th grade I was asked what I wanted to do in life. That was unusual. I said that I wanted to be an Arts and Crafts teacher. I'm the teacher type; I taught at Drexel University from 1966 to 1997.


Was there a clear point when you knew that your direction would be in fiber?

Yes, it was at Cranbrook (Cranbrook Academy of Art), which was a very beautiful and inspiring place. It was there that I was exposed to all arts and crafts  and discovered "the thread". I was taught functional weaving and created suiting, upholstery, drapery and rugs.


And then how did you enter the world of fiber art after graduating from Cranbrook?

My father built a large loom for me which replicated the one at Cranbrook and that was special. And then I opened a studio designing and handweaving functional textiles for architecture and designer clients.


After you moved to Philadelphia with your husband, you had three children and continued working with your art while meeting some important people of the day

I moved to Philadelphia because my husband started teaching Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). Penn was going through a metamorphosis and it was a very fertile and inspiring time. There was Buckminster Fuller, Lou Kahn, Ann Ting. LeRicole, and Louis Munford.

In the 50s I had studied with Anni Albers at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art (now the University of the Arts) and also wove. In the late 60's I started creating wall hangings,tapestries, room dividers, rugs with high and irregular pile that evolved in to floor sculpture. In the 70s I did work for corporations as well as a tapestry for Lou Kahn's Fort Worth Museum.

In the 60s there was a new craft movement which reflected what was happening in society. It was the women's movement, civil rights, space exploration and developing individuality. Lenore Tawney and Sheila Hicks are good examples of this new movement in fiber art. Jack Lenor Larsen did a show in 1969 at the Museum of Modern Art. That was incredible to have a fiber art show in a celebrated art museum that also included well known international fiber artists. It was an exciting time!

Processes go through change and I just go with it also. I had the good fortunate of being provoked creatively.


Going forward, you gracefully transitioned from more traditional weaving to woven structures and your current work looks almost ethereal with the clear industrial monofilament fibers.

When I was about about 50, it was a rebirth time for me.I rented a loft and heard that DuPont was giving materials to artists  I went from weaving with heavy natural materials to light. I started knotting masses of clear mono filament that picked up light beautifully. In new ways of exploration, Flavin, Irwin and Terrill were working with light on the west coast.
I also started reading Jung and the Dao of Physics and many books by well known psychologists, philosophers, etc.



You had an exceptional upbringing and an extraordinary life. You won the Pew Fellowship and your work has been collected by museums such as the Chicago Art Institute, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Racine Museum of Art.
Now at 85, how do you look forward?


I showed abroad frequently and I am still creating. Even though my body does not cooperate every day with what I want to do, I'm still working on these fiber pieces and continue to receive show invitations from overseas.




Exploring the CREATIVE WORLD OF PLEATS in Art and Function


Pleats have a history and in their history they have served as a mechanical function and also as an art form. The construction of a pleat is simply consecutive multiple folds in a material that can be sustained when ironed, stitched or otherwise fastened to secure it in place. There are 12 different pleat styles that have been documented and they are often identified by the width of the pleat and their placement in a garment.
The virtue of a pleat is its compact nature and ability to expand which provides purpose in both utilitarian items as well as in fashion and art. Consider one of the earliest fashion statements was made by the famous pleated collar of Mary Stuart.  It was actually referred to as the “ruff” collar probably because it created a rippling of ruffles around the neck; it was detachable and supported by a wire frame.  In 1634, the Dutch painter Rembrandt painted a portrait of vanHaesje v.Cleyburg which beautifully exemplified the ruff collar. In the next century, the Scottish pleated kilt evolved and was used initially by the British Army and then became popular with everyone..
Fashion has always had a love affair with the pleat. In the early 1900s, Fortuny a Spanish designer who grew up in Paris, created the famous Delphos gown. It was a shift dress constructed from finely pleated silk with glass beads that weighed down the fabric while holding its shape and also allowing it to flow on the body. His genius was not limited to fashion design; over a period of 30 years he patented more than twenty inventions.

In the 1930s, pleats were styled on pants for both men and women and with film stars wearing this new style, there was a new buzz in fashion. Fast forward to the present and there is wonderful artful play with fashion using pleats by designer Issey Miyake which are extraordinary and sculptural. By translating the pleated garment as an art object with a mechanical approach, Industrial designer/mathematician Li-Rong Liao created a pleated paper dress which fans out and looks like a cross between a prom dress and a lamp shade yet is constructed with compelling elegance .

For functioning pleated products, there is the accordion instrument which arrived here in the 1800s. It became popular for dance music because it generated loud sound and amplifiers were not developed yet. More pleated products with a long history that manipulate air are the bellows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellows and the decorative hand fan (the oldest existing Chinese fans are bamboo and date back to the 2nd century BC). Using the pleat attribute of  efficient expansion, there are many products in many fields that can be identified. For example in the field of medicine, there is the surgical mask, the balloon catheter and even folded track doors separating room areas.

Yaacov Agam enjoys bridging art with technology. He is an Israeli artist who has generated work on canvas using the pleat to create a three dimensional approach to a two dimensional art form. He plays with illusion and color to engage the viewer. From each visual approach, the right, left and full front, every view holds a distinctly different play of colors, shapes and composition.

And finally there is the static pleat. Yes, a cemented pleat which is actually steps to a building but if it were in fabric it would be able to contract and expand. A wonderful example of this is the painted steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Dali show. Each step was painted with a part of the entire image in sequence. From a distance, the eye reads and unifies all the steps as one flat painting..

So many pleats in so many ways in our world. Extraordinary. Functional. Artful. Visionary. You be the discoverer.
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

An Interview with BILL DALEY: Man of Monumental Ceramic Art

Photograph by Amanda N. Williams
 
As a clay master of large ceramic art vessels, Bill continues to draw forms that that are often in anticipation of his next piece. His beautiful work is in museum collections here such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Smithsonian Museum of American Art as well as other museums abroad.
 
Your first experience using clay was in elementary school building a pot and then in high school you learned to use the potter’s wheel. Did you have a string of "clay memory" that spanned those years?
I remember swimming in a small creek in the summer with friends when I was about 8 years old. It had a mud bank and we would cover our bodies with mud and then jump off a tree branch into the water and rinse ourselves.

I made a coiled pot in 6th grade and used the pottery when I was in high school.

In art school after the war, I wanted to be a painter and then switched to ceramics and have been doing both ever since.

These are what I call memory traces and each one has an effect.
So you remember being focused on both painting and ceramics , but it was not until you met Charles Abbott in your junior year at Mass Art that you decided to major in Ceramics. Can you talk about this? Who were other ceramic artists whom you revered?
During the first 2 years of art school, I had to take all types of art classes and by Junior year I had to declare a major. I was a veteran-most of us veterans wanted to teach because it was a challenging program and we felt profoundly that art could make the new life better for everyone.

I drew all the time. and at one time thought of becoming a painter and although drawing is still at my core it is my tool now for working in clay. I often describe my clay work in the same terms as those used to observe a painting such as fluidity of paint, nature of line.

I decided on clay as a major after deciding on art education.
 
Abbott influenced a few of my friends who later became very successful. All of his teaching was through indirection; introducing us to his world through his eyes he exposed us to so much of ceramic art.  He was my first clay teacher and I knew right after the first class ended that it would be my major. I was also very influenced by Viktor Schreckengost in the 1950s who created the magnificent murals at the Cleveland Zoo and Richard DeVore who is the greatest vessel maker of the 20th century. Also, I had the extraordinary privilege of teaching with and being mentored by Joseph Carreiro, William Parry and Marcus Renzetti. And it was the Shang bronzes of China wooed me away from the wheel and the Silla dynasty in Korea that inspired me to make vessels.

I have worked in many different diverse materials and each time I learn more about clay. When I worked in metal I learned about clay, when I worked in wood, I learned about clay, etc.

In learning more and more about clay, you became a clay inventor combining different clay sources together; some with iron, all with plasticity while creating these mud elements with different percentages of grog and water to get different colors through firing in the kiln.

Every place I taught, I looked for native clay- and its often free for the digging. Now I have 5 clays that I purchase from Ohio, California, Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Each has a property that's useful; it can be strength, color, etc.

All of these different clays are blended. They come in 80 pound bags and I mix 400 pounds at a time. If  I want to change it, for example, I can grind up bricks to make texture. There's a chemistry all its own.

We now have greater mastery over materials; we can make them behave in new and exciting ways;  and we have more master crafts people than ever before in history.

It's amazing to consider the depth of your resourcefulness with clay and that you have no boundaries in teaching art.. At PCA (Philadelphia College of Art), you taught and supervised a wide range of art related courses that included ceramics but also had the breadth of courses from drawing to textiles. It's amazing that you can cross over and engage so many art disciplines in teaching. How does this affect your own art?

As an art education major I had to experience all creative techniques and it's part of my belief in teaching to reach out to many disciplines. I read many books on how to teach and it is not the technique but the ability to be creative, to take risks, not to do the same thing over and over. You can change all the time. The material says different things but its what you tell the material that's important. To be fully creative, you must be enjoy thinking outside of the box.

I remember during one of my classes I invented a playful experiment. I placed 500 ping pong balls in a box on the ceiling and connected it with a string that I had access to. Then when the students were ready, I pulled the string and these balls came out bouncing all over every surface including some heads. After a minute or two when the balls settled down, their project was to draw their experience. It was great fun and very interesting too.

That lesson is like drawing conceptual art and yet your work is so boldly architectural. Many of your stoneware sculptures are exquisite in their lines, surfaces, shapes and general design and remain unglazed. Many commissions that you have rendered involved pieces for building installations such as those for churches, schools and interior walls for airlines. Do you experience having an architect's creative mind?

When I went to teach at what was known as the Philadelphia School of Industrial Arts, the teachers were masters in their expertise. And so I had a chance to watch them and I  learned how it is to be a good craftsman. I worked with wood, stone, clay, metal, fiber and developed a keen sense for the differences in materials.
I also worked and taught in an industrial design office where I was on a project for the World's Fair in Brussels.

Ironically, my son is an architect!


Being a good craftsman with clay requires very physical strength. Now that you are 89, how do you maintain that creative energy with "mud"? 
You must have inner energy to want to do it. I am focused on keeping well with yoga, walking and eating healthy. I am starting to do smaller pots now so it is something I can lift myself and move myself to and from the kiln.

I also draw all the time; it's a form of exploration.

Monday, March 31, 2014

ART and the SMARTPHONE:#1 -PHOTOS

Sure you know that the smartphone is more than just a cellphone but it can also open an incredible world of art exploration.

CLICK. With the camera, you get an instant digital picture. But wait, it’s not quite what you wanted. You’re thinking the colors are wrong, lighting could be better, and, well, boring in many ways. STOP. There are apps to simply enhance or dramatically transform your photos. Go from color to black and white with a touch of the screen, blur edges and opacity, choose your favorite color and paint with your finger, put your favorite person on a faux cover of PEOPLE magazine and much more.  It feels like a magical world of Photoshop tools on a miniature palette and there is a plethora of apps that can make this happen.


You can take a photo and work on it right away, choose one that is already on your phone or often just use one from the app site.  It can be remarkably simple or more complex depending on your needs, skills and time available to delve and experiment. The following apps are FREE, Compatible with Android & iPhone and recommended by many users although I also encourage you to explore additional offerings online.


PICSART 

Comprehensive photo editing program includes drawing, magical effects, photo sharing and much more.


SNAPSEED

Another excellent photo editing app. Google owns it so photo sharing is given a big push thru Google+


PIXLR EXPRESS        
Lots of editing options and with over 600 effects, you can even whiten your teeth in a photo!

PHO.TO.LAB  

I love the hilarious photo options offered in this app. Easily and quickly, you can place your photo inside a magazine cover or a hat on a friend. On the other hand, just beautify a photo for fun.

SKETCHBOOK 

Developed by the giant Autodesk software company, this app offers lots of sketching tools to replace those urges to draw on paper napkins. 
Check out Eric  Molinsky’s portrait drawings. He uses this app and only his finger to create wonderful caricatures of people he sees as he travels the New York City subways!


It’s important to know that
:
• While some apps are free and others cost just a few dollars, many try to engage you in upgrades for a fee. For example, pho.to.lab is free but if you want to use the animal morphing feature to merge your face on an animal, that will be extra.
• Not all apps are available on all platforms so it’s important to read whether it is available on your Android, iPhone or Windows phone.
• Be prepared to see advertisements because if your app is not charging you then they may be selling their traffic to advertisers.
• All these apps encourage photo sharing and engaging in an art community. It is interesting for the user and his/her circle and also is a soft promotion for the app.


Post photo editing suggestions in addition to sharing them digitally:
• Use a greeting card template to create a card. Some apps may offer this option.
• Place it alone or as part of a group in a calendar
• Create “wallpaper” 
for your smartphone; some apps have this function available 
• If you have a wide format printer, tile your photo and create wrapping paper
• Print on specially treated paper or fabric to utilize in a craft project
• Upload it to a website that will process it on a plate, cup, etc.



It’s a new mobile world of photo transformations on the fly. So spread your creative wings and get moving!

“ You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” - Ansel Adams