A Man of Many Faces

May 11, 2009

l_182674f0f2f300f7eb3b03d958aca9f1     Angel Silva is a Chicago artist with roots stretching back to Mexico. Working out of the Pilsen area, graffiti artist turned fine artist, and further into a world renowned tattoo artist, Silva’s work continues to turn heads from street scenes to galleries. He is most notably recognized for his black and white portrait tattoos, one of which I am very proud to sport. Don’t let that stray you away from his coloring abilities,.. even those pieces are an amazing sight to see. 

     From sketches to canvas’ and even body platforms, there is a highly apparent sense of culture flowing through his work. Whether it is representing images from Dia de los Muertos, or his own hyper-detailed ability of Chicago style graffiti, the aspect of Angel always appears.


     As an artist, he has risen with ability as well as a professional. With owning his tattoo shop, The Native Soul,located on 17th and Ashland, he has progressed by converting the front half of the studio into a recognizable art gallery. There, they hold shows of individual artists coming from all over Chicago, group shows of graffiti based icons working on canvas’, and recently open studio programs for the neighborhood to join in on some fun. All in all, this is one artist that continues to grow with a stature of professionalism and incredible skill.


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     Although tattooing would be a difficult to impossible topic to create a lesson plan on, I think the exposure to artists that work in various fields of their skill is important for students. Additionally, it is equally important to expose them to professional and interesting artists that are from their own cities (in this case Chicago).

     Depending on the classroom setting (school or community center), tattooing is a touchy subject for principles/parents. This includes temporary tattoos. However, if you can squeeze past some of the regulators, there are pretty neat ways to make temporary tattoos. 

     First, you can have your students create a design they would want on their body. Simplify the images for the first round, then let them advance in detail once they get the hang of the process.

Method One (EASY): 

Materials: Masking Tape, Markers, Water, Fan/Blow Dryer

You use the typical tan masking tape and create a layer of tape strips slightly larger than your tattoo design. Then, with a sharpie marker, draw onto the STICKY side. Adhere it to the body, usually clean & hairless areas are best. With warm water, lightly dampen the tape. Do Not Rub or else your design will smear. Press the tattoo area firmly. Continue pressure for a 5-10 minutes, then dry with a fan or blow dryer & slowly peel the tape back and enjoy your new ink!

Method Two (DIFFICULT): Keep in mind, this application lasts Much longer – Creating your own Henna tattoo.

Materials: Henna powder, Lemon Juice, small squeeze bottle w/ fine tip, plastic bowl, plastic spoon, plastic wrap, small container w/ lid, two trouser socks, and rubber bands.

You’ll need to sift the Henna before mixing it to get the clumps out. A simple way to do this is to get a small container with a lid on it. Take two trouser socks and put one inside of the other. Put them into the container, toes at the bottom, and pour the Henna powder into the toes of the socks. Put the lid back on the container and rubber band it shut very tightly. Shake the container as hard as you can until all the Henna is sifted through. Mix the sifted Henna in a bowl with some lemon juice until the consistency is a little thinner than mashed potatoes. Since the Henna paste will start to crack and flake once applied to skin, add some sugar or honey to your mixture before applying it to skin. This will help it stay on the skin better, giving you a better, darker tattoo. Once it’s mixed into a good consistency, cover it with plastic and let it rest until the dye has been released. You can tell when it’s ready when the top layer turns a brownish color and the underneath is a darker, greener color. Spoon the mixture into a small plastic bottle with a fine tip. Next hold the plastic bottle like a pen and apply the desired design to your skin. Next wait until your tattoo is completely dry and doesn’t look wet, but not yet cracking. Heat up a small amount of lemon juice mixed with sugar until it is bubbly, then let cool. Apply some to cover your new tattoo, carefully not to disturb the design. Dry the sealant with a blow dryer. You’ll want to wrap your dry tattoo with toilet paper, and then plastic wrap and leave overnight for best results. When you wake up the next morning, gently wash the paste off of your skin and viola! You’ve got a beautiful new tattoo that will last 1-3 weeks!

Warning about Black Henna:

Most Black Henna contains a toxic dye called para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Some people add this to Henna to speed up the dying process and create a black color. This dye can not only harm your system, it can also leave itchy spots, oozing sores or even blisters on your skin.


Collective Artists

May 10, 2009

Young British Artists or YBAs (also Brit artists and Britart) is the name given to a group of conceptual artists, painters, sculptors and installation artists based in the United Kingdom, most (though not all) of whom attended Goldsmiths College in London. The term Young British Artists is derived from shows of that name staged at the Saatchi Gallery from 1992 onwards, which brought the artists to fame. It has become a historic term, as most of the YBAs are now in their forties. They are noted for “shock tactics”, use of throwaway materials and wild-living, and are (or were) associated with the Hoxton area of East London. They achieved considerable media coverage and dominated British art during the 1990s.

Leading artists of the group are Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. Key works by them are, respectively, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark preserved in formaldehyde in a vitrine, and My Bed, a dishevelled double bed surrounded by detritus.

I’m interested in the YBA’s because they’re on the forefront of conceptual art, our generation’s equivalent of the art stars like Andy Warhol. They began at a time when there was very little public funding for the arts in England, and Damien Hirst is currently one of the richest and most well known artists in the world. Tracey Emin is a personal favorite of mine, her art influences mine more than I even realized until lately. They draw from the dadaist movement, it’s inspiring to see people who began as lowly art students as well become as successful as they are, who were once in my position.

mostly I’m inspired by Tracey because her art is very very personal. Her piece “all the people I have ever slept with” is what I hope to achieve one day.

there’s something about the self deprecation, the brutal honesty, the catharsis of the process. It becomes art when she defines it as art.

LP: I think the project i’d like to do with kids, with this collective in mind, would be something along the lines of a postsecret/found object project. insight into the deeper, darker, weirder parts and more importantly, the things we all have in common. I had something in mind of old journal entries, secrets anonymously posted in the classroom, written on the inside of t-shirts or hats. It was really a turning point in my life and in my art career when I began to loosen up and share things that scared me at the time. The need for acceptance in elementary and high school is overwhelming, and the closest bonds I ever made were in the confines of the art room, theater and my creative writing club. There we found new ways, like writing stream of consciousness and improv activities to let loose and feel comfortable enough to begin the journey of self-exploration, which included a lot of cathartic exercises. I think that looking at artists like Tracey Emin who is SO far out there with her work would be inspiring to kids and adults alike.

Tehching Hsieh dropped out from high school and started creating art in the form of paintings; he went on to create several performance pieces after finishing his three years of compulsory military service in Taiwan. In 1974, Hsieh jumped ship to a pier of Delaware River, near Philadelphia, and made a living as a dishwasher and cleaner during his first four years in New York. From 1978 – 1986, Hsieh accomplished five One Year Performances; from 1986 – 1999, he worked on what he called his “Thirteen-Year Plan”. On Jan 1st, 2000, in his report to the public, Tehching Hsieh announced that he has kept himself alive. He stopped making art since then.

He is most known for his durational Performance pieces:

  • One Year Performance 1978–1979 (known as Cage Piece)
  • One Year Performance 1980–1981 (known as Time Clock Piece)
  • One Year Performance 1981–1982 (known as Outdoor Piece)
  • Art / Life: One Year Performance 1983–1984 (known as Rope Piece, collaboration with Linda Montano)
  • One Year Performance 1985–1986 (known as No Art Piece)
  • Tehching Hsieh 1986-1999 (known as Thirteen Year Plan) which was his last work.


I’d like to ask the kids what they’d like accomplish by the end of their lives. If they have goals, or if they’re interested in learning a new thing. it’s a well known fact that people gain a habit after 30 days of doing it. Hopefully we can set goals and do them for a month, documenting the entire thing with journals. I think that writing statements and following through on things can be beneficial to most age groups. I wouldn’t require that this piece be about art (though it wouldn’t hurt), but rather that the documentation be the project.

Cultural Crossing

April 8, 2009

When I hear the word culture, I have the natural tendency to refer it back to my own. One artist that did the same was the late and great Luis Jimenez. His work was known for it’s large scale and vibrant colors. Sadly though, as much as he loved grand sculpture, that is what killed him. Part of a public art sculpture was being moved with a hoist when it 43came loose and struck the artist, pinning him against a steel support. He was taken to the Lincoln County Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead. One of his earliest recognizable works is “Man on Fire”. The work’s inspiration came from Buddhist monks in South Vietnam who burned themselves and also from the Mexican story of Cuauhtemoc, whose feet were put to fire by Spanish conquerors. Jimenez was always pushing the boundaries of his sculpture. Both with scale, complexity, and the social issues he presented. He made sculptures dealing with very relevant issues. War, immigration, economic depression, etc. Yet another cool sculpture from Jimenez is “Border Crossings”. The art reminds us that we are alcrossingbordersl in the business of crossing borders, including those borders that stand between disciplines, professions, ethnic groups, age groups, etc. It reminds us that nearly all of us are immigrants. This piece especially reminds me of the stories my parents told me about having to cross the border. The cultural differences present in his work are very powerful. He both embraces the beauty and culture of the southwest , as well as the difficulties faced with it.  One last piece that I found quite impressive was his “Southwest Pieta”. The sculpture is based on the Mexican mythic couple of Iztaccihualt and Popocatepelt. Izta was the daughter of the emperor and Popo was a grand warrior. One day war broke out with the enemies of the south. The emperor asked backpietaPopo to bring back the head of the enemy chief,  and he would allow Popo to marry Izta. During his departure, one warrior who hated Popo sent a message to the emperor saying that the war was over, they had won, but that Popo had died. Izta was devastated and eventually died from sadness. Popo then returned victorious from war only to find his bride to be dead. He then carried her body to the mountains to mourn. The gods were impressed by this display and turned him into the volcano Popocatepelt, the volcano that watches over Iztaccíhuatl.


Taking from Jimenez, have the students describe an event from their personal past or culture. They can create a sculpture based on that. I am in the process of creating a fiberglass piece dealing with an event of my past. A moment in my childhood when I was protected by some random High Schooler from the crossing guard at school. I was very small, both in age and stature. I naturally assumed my protector was myself time traveling from the future. So now I have created a styled sculpture of my self from that event. isacarm1


Luis Jimenez dies at 65

Foreground Cultures

April 8, 2009

suh-inst-002Do-ho Suh is a Korean born artist who relocated to the United States to continue his study of art. In interviews, he relates his creating process to his initial reminiscence of home and family. After creating a portable shelter, mimicking the architecture of the home he grew up in on Korea, his work began to influence the occupation of space. Typically he blankets the floor of a gallery with small, custom built figurines that act as a group to support the viewers body weight. Similarly, this act of groups working as a coalition for the power of one symbolizes his reflection of the Korean culture. While he was still living there, he was in the mandatory military, a frame of his life, which has also poked through his work. He has projects incorporating dog tags of Korean soldiers, which like his figurines, blanket the floor, yet build vertically to construct a solid metal jacket.


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Similarly, reflection is a great base for many art projects, especially for students who have relocated. Social interpretations of how communities form to make or break a situation can act as a prime topic for spatial constructions. Whether it is a reflection of home, society, government, or a combination of all three, Do-ho Suh’s art process can influence some interesting outcomes. 



“Harvey Opgenorth knows that one way to consider the many legacies of modem painting is to step into its shoes. Opgenorth begins the works in his ongoing “Museum Camouflage” series, 1998–, with a visit to a major American art museum, where he selects a well-known painting–an Ellsworth Kelly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; a Matisse at the Museum of Modern Art in New York; a Frankenthaler at the Milwaukee Art Museumin Opgenorth’s hometown; and, this summer, a Rothko at the Art Institute of Chicago(where he was prevented from completing his performance). In each case, Opgenorth studies the work closely, then combs thrift stores to find clothes that match the precise chromas of a section of the chosen canvas. He meticulously fashions a complete outfit that will allow his body to blend seamlessly into the painting when he stands in front of it. Then Opgenorth returns to the museum and, in a kind of guerrilla theater performance, without requesting permission or authorization, stands silently with his back to the painting for one hour.”


Helen Frankenthaller


Ellsworth Kelly


Henry Matisse

Body Builder and Sportman Gallery BIO on Opgenorth


Based on the work of Opgenorth student could study traditional and contemporary works of art by recreating them. They could do a photo projects and dress like the painting like Opgnenorth and photoshop themselves into it. Or they could make 3-D scultpures based on a piece of work they are studying.

Illustrating the people in her community and the city as the people who live there. i have been very excited about this artist for a very long time. the images she posts around NYC are not only gorgeous but telling about the people that make up the city she lives in. I think that she has a lot to say and she is saying it and making statements about place, society, and identity. This could be an important project for highschool students in which they could express their identity through place and society. asking them what, who, or what place makes them who they are. or what they see everyday and how it affects their lives and how to make this idea into a visual piece. 6a00d834cad15053ef00e54f7f07298833-800wigrandfather-main1swoon_cphswoonswoon_street_art


this is another one of her projects where she organized this big event making ships to sail in NYC.. this is a video

lesson plan idea: self portraits how do your surroundings make up your identity? printmaking or drawing project.