Opening Reception: October 11, 2013 6 pm – 10 pm
326 W Josephine San Antonio, TX 78212 (210) 827-7652
Recently I was listening to a recording of linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker. He stated something first noted by Charles Darwin that I found interesting. He pointed out that our throats and nasal passages had changed, due to evolution, from their first usages of breathing and swallowing food, to facilitate the production of spoken words.
In doing so, the larynx was set far back and low in the throat. While this set the larynx in good position to produce language, it exposed it to a much greater risk of choking due to food being forced to pass over the opening of the windpipe.
It seems, on some level, our need to communicate is, in evolutionary terms, more key to our survival than eating.
Another fact that I find interesting that I recently learned is this. Jules Davidoff, a neuropsychologist was studying how people perceive color. Showing different colored slides to people of the Himba tribe of Namibia, he found that they could differentiate between shades of green that most westerners couldn’t perceive. However, they could not see blue. That is, until they were taught a word for “blue”. It seems that somehow, providing the language unlocked an ability of their brains to perceive something that was always there.
A third thing I find interesting is the example of Jane Elliott and her “blue-eyed/brown-eyed” experiment.
Now Jane Elliott is, among other things, a prominent anti-racism activist. In 1968 she was a third grade teacher in Riceville, IA. After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King she felt that her students weren’t “internalizing” the event. So she set about a controversial exercise to make her students understand the aspects of racism
Shortly after the assassination she told her students that tests had proven that blond haired/ blue eyed people were superior to brown haired/brown eyed people. She ordered her students to behave accordingly, told brown eyed students they had to be subservient to the blue eyed children, and even had the brown eyed children wear special brown collars to designate their rung in life.
The following day Elliott reversed the lesson. Now the blue-eyed children were subservient.
Of course there are many valuable lessons to take away from this. But what I found most interesting was this. During the time both groups were subservient, you can understandably see that their classroom performance fell. A, B students were now making Cs and Ds. But what most surprised me was that among the dominant students, students were, before the lesson, making Cs and Ds were now scoring in the A-B range.
Through the use of the simple symbols of blue, brown, and special collars they were able to change their perception of who they were. And thus, change who they were.
So what does this have to do with my art? I don’t exactly know.
For the most part I make small scale paintings and drawings, combine them with found objects and collage. I include both hand written and printed texts. As an artist I am interested in symbols. Not only as a way to construct and convey meaning, but also in how we relate to symbols themselves.
I believe art is, In some way, a language.
I don’t have a well thought out plan. I gravitate toward my images and objects through my own sentimental bias. My work is usually very personal. But, I hope my work conveys something to others. That they are useful in conveying some sort of social sensibility.
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I paint without any preconceived ideas, only vague generalities to start. The painting tells me it wants this or that, and I try to oblige as much as possible. I want to give it life. Again, I don’t chart out compositions or color schemes, but try and paint at an intuitive level, responding to what I see as the painting progresses. Use of controlled improvisational gesture to express thoughts, feelings and ideas is central.
Talking about painting is a little like dancing to poetry. The painting is, and it stands or falls. I like to connect in some primal way with most and not only with those who have training in art. I realize when
my Dad says, “If I could just paint something he understands”…he may be a lost cause. But it is enough to get noticed. Not affecting someone in a positive or negative way is indifference. Indifference is the death
knell. So, if you don’t like it, it’s ok. If you do like it, you can take it home today.
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