The idea of play is central to the creative
process. Artists often speak of the studio as a place where they are
free of constraints and possess the ability to invent and explore new
ideas. Experimentation and chance, where the outcome is uncertain and
evolves from the artistic process, are central aspects of play. Some
degree of chance and serendipity also show up in recreational play,
thus linking art making with other forms of amusement.
Concepts closely related to the idea of play
include humor, whimsy, and fantasy - qualities that we find woven throughout
much of contemporary art. The use of these devices ranges from social
and political satire to visual filtering, where art helps us to see
the world around us in new ways, as if through the eyes of a child.
This exhibit will include Boston area visual artists whose
work in some way addresses the above theme, either through explicit
use of imagery or through their studio process. Matt Carrano and Kelvy
Bird co-curate the exhibit. An opening reception is planned for the
evening of 15 July 2004 to kick off the Somerville Arts Council’s ArtBeat
festival on 16-17 July 2004.
Matt Carrano: email
Matt Carrano is a painter who has maintained a studio in Somerville
since 1995. He has participated in various solo and group shows in and
around the Boston metropolitan area and is a former Somerville Arts
Council Artist Fellowship winner. After moving to Massachusetts in 1980,
Matt worked for a number of years in the high technology sector before
beginning the study of fine arts in the early 1990’s. From 2001
- 2002, Matt Carrano was event director and currently serves as President
Kelvy Bird: email / web
I've always had an itch to connect the dots, and when faced with lines,
transform them into shapes. Seeing myself as a dot, and you who read
this as another dot, and the meaning between us as a line, I naturally
ask: "So what, then, is the shape we are meant to make together?
What other dots are in this picture? How many forms, all together?"
Since the fall of 2003, I've been putting lots of time into local art
activities, including core development functions with ARTSomerville
(an organization formed for the purpose of providing arts and cultural
programming and services to Somerville and its surrounding communities),
managing the website and co-coordinating open studios for Vernon Street
Studios, and occasionally scribing for Citizen Schools. Since 1995,
I've worked as a process and graphic facilitator in the field of organizational
development with clients such as MG Taylor, Capgemini Consulting, Dialogos,
BP, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, on aspects of collaboration, innovation,
leadership, and collective intelligence. Since about 1972, I’ve
consciously made art – the concern of my painting being human
relation – with a focus now on creating “visual conversations,”
where color functions to mimic verbal and energetic exchange. My hope,
with all my work, is to open inquiry around the relationship of neighboring,
yet disparate, parts.
Since 1976, I have worked as an independent filmmaker in the medium
of hand-drawn animation. Using approximately twelve images for each
second of film, I have created thousands of drawings in the production
of nine films. The piece "Civilization" is from my newest
body of work: a series of large two-dimensional paper wall constructions,
reassembled from hundreds of these animated drawings. This work reveals
the mechanism of animation, while capturing some of its essential qualities:
a sense of transformation and movement, multiplicity of images, and
a frame-by-frame approach. Time is compressed, allowing the viewer to
experience a multitude of images in one frozen moment.
Karen Aqua graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 1976. Her
award-winning films have been screened worldwide, at festivals in Europe,
Asia, North and South America, and New Zealand. She has received fellowships
from American Film Institute, New England Film/Video Fellowship Program,
Somerville Arts Council, Puffin Foundation, LEF Foundation, MacDowell
Colony, & Fundacion Valparaiso. Aqua has taught animation at Boston
College and Emerson College, and at workshops and residencies around
the US. Since 1990 she has produced/directed/animated 22 segments for
the television program "Sesame Street."
Emily Arkin is an artist and musician from Somerville. Her filigree
playing cards grew out of a series of sketches for a tattoo...Before
she knew what she was getting into, the project had evolved into the
design for an entire deck, hand silkscreened and cut with pinking shears.
The resulting cards are not completely uniform, but suitable for stately
games of solitaire. These cards and the techniques for creating them
will be featured in two national outlets soon: "Crafters Coast
to Coast," premiering on HGTV in the Fall, and a Viking Studio
book on craftartists by Greg der Ananian in 2005. "The Game of
Rock Star" is intended to be the perfect picnic accessory--play
a song, play a round of the game, eat a sandwich, play another song.
Emily currently plays the game of rock star with her band The Operators
(members of the Handstand Command music collective), sits on the board
of the Somerville Arts Council, and is a founder and organizer of Bazaar
Bizarre, a local-turned-national punk rock crafts fair.
My work both illustrates and IS a methodology: my pieces often demonstrate
how something is made by visibly maintaining the steps of the process
of its creation. Often I create a piece for each step, showing increments
of growth, slow accretions, and revealing the accumulation of parts,
shapes, particles or objects. The piece is the event.
Some of the events I work with are environmental and/or psychological,
but more recently I am exploring mechanical events, where a psychological
parallel or metaphor may or may not also exist. My current work addresses
simple mechanics such as stitching, knotting, pulling, tension, leverage,
attachments (attaching things to each other),support systems. It explores
the essential impulse of how we make the world work for us. Specific
actions are cutting, gathering, containing, keeping warm, and moving
I choose common materials, such as sheet-rock, plaster, cement, pvc
pipe and wool There‚s a quality of utility as well as a pleasure
about them. I find satisfaction in the “unprecious” qualities
of these materials and their contrasts: the softness of wool and the
density of plaster.
I’ve been especially influenced by the material and formal experimentation
of Hess; Bourgeois‚ embrace of the emotional and psychological;
the Arte Povera artists use of unspecial everyday matter; and the process
art of the 60s and 70s.
I began, some time ago, painting imaginary abstracted landscapes. My
paintings are spacious, meditative, and impart a feeling of quiet potentiality.
I favor textural work with an emphasis on color and strong composition.
The choice of background fields of color has become more important;
and the forms are often less defined and more abstracted than previously.
All of the paintings come about intuitively: no sketches, many revisions
and layers. Formal issues come up and are resolved as part of the process.
Many forms are distinguishable as originating from nature; fig, poppy,
lotus, calla lilly. These have certain correspondences for me; for instance,
the lotus represents compassion; the poppy, wisdom. There is a continued
subconcious reappearance of certain forms while painting: a visual catalog,
a language. This is a language whose code is not completely deciphered
nor understandable. A language that has not been fully translated, yet.
These works can be read as an evolving story of forms and colors; a
continuum of forms: sky, field, tree, seed, pod. Time stops. The subtle
message of awakening, of potentiality, remains. I hope to evoke feelings
of pleasure, wonder, and tranquility.
My clay work reflects many ideas and concerns over twenty-five years
of making, but throughout is a love and respect for the clay process,
working with an ancient material and transforming it by fire. A common
thread is the thrown and altered vessel with hand built parts, often
based on a traditional form, and low-relief tile making. My current
work is focused on using the vessel as a metaphor for dwelling, and
the inspiration comes from dreams and stories that house themselves
in the clay. The forms are derived from sources as varied as shells,
Mayan temples, Spanish architecture, Benin and Chou bronzes, and Chinese
funerary urns. Having lived in Chile and Spain for twenty years has
enhanced my love of history and travel, and making art for me is another
way to continue my journey.
My art is made out of the material created in the headlong rush of materialism,
including media. I think of my own assemblages as “image poems,”
where, just as happens in poetry, images are presented in a way that
allows them to be experienced immediately and with evocative power by
Most frequently, I’ll find myself drawn to an object aesthetically
and metaphorically, and I then start puzzling out how to present the
object, along with other objects, by building-up the metaphoric content
of the arrangement. At times—in what I think of as my “found
furniture” approach—I’ll get a wooden box or other
sort of container such as toolbox or drawer that strikes me as an interesting
presentation environment, where the first challenge is to determine
what form “fits.” By bringing a utilitarian function to
my work—however formal or improbable—I hope to further elicit
the participation of the viewer by heightening the presentation. Many
of my pieces use lighting elements for just such purpose.
I am a counter-puncher, responding to the requirements and limitations
of actual material. I’m sparked by a strong emotional—even
visceral—reaction to an object or group of objects, but I’m
captured by the puzzles that follow one after another as I work to sculpt
meaning and form into the work. In the end, I hope, my work reflects
puzzles of a larger sort, as an effort of wrestling with the most basic
struggles with which we are all engaged: consumption versus conservation,
paying attention versus being overwhelmed, mass commodity versus individuality,
nostalgia versus presence, despair versus grace.
I am interested in the mysterious realm of dreams and the subconscious.
I am especially inspired by the rich imaginary life to which children
retreat in times of distress. Sickness and recovery are major themes
in my works. As a high-strung and anxious child, I looked upon sickness
as a haven; staying in bed made me feel protected and safe. Illness
was a break from the overwhelming demands of everyday life. It has been
said that illness is the Western form of meditation; it is like coming
to a rest after having run a long time.
I am inspired by other cultures in which art is not separate from everyday
life, where the average Joe is welcome to make art and it is not judged.
Everybody can be an artist. Our culture makes people feel like they
have to be a “great artist” if they want to make art; otherwise,
it’s just a waste of time and materials. I hate that attitude.
It kills the creative spark. In the movies, artists are always portrayed
as tortured, insane, or chronically drunk. That’s because there
is this myth that if you want to make art, you have to be “great”,
and that to be “great”, you have to be tortured, insane,
or chronically drunk. How stupid.
I try not to think too hard about what I’m painting; I just try
to free my mind and make paintings that I like to look at myself.
There is an active intersection between the art making/creative process
and the process of psychotherapy. Despite the numerous theoretical underpinnings
of psychology and it’s applications in therapy there is a common
element of approaching the unconscious and assessing how this impacts
on an individual’s life and well-being.
The pieces in this show highlight both the intersection and reflect
the importance of play as a creative medium and what lies beneath the
surface of what we may or may not be aware of. These pieces all reflect
or reference "Sandplay" which is a Jungian therapeutic modality
where one "plays" in a box of sand, which incorporates objects.
From the play the participants access the unconscious. The "Stacked"
series consists of over 100 or so small wooden shapes that are meant
to be interacted with by the viewer. The viewer interacts, plays with
the pieces and makes their own configurations. From the play the participants
access the unconscious. The imagery ranges from benign to extreme as
a reflection of this. The thread that ties this together is playing
with the unconscious. Both our play and our dreams easily tap into these
Luis Montalvo: email
Luis Montalvo attended Fordham University where he earned his bachelors
of arts degree in art history spending the junior year of studies in
Paris with Columbia University. He earned his masters of architecture
from Yale University in 1992.
Upon receiving a Fulbright Scholarship and a Graham Foundation Grant,
Luis transferred to Mexico to study interdisciplinary collaborations
within the work of architect Luis Barragan. Luis Montalvo has taught
and lectured in art history as well as architectural theory and design
Luis is currently the Director of Visual Studies at the Boston Architectural
Center, where he is responsible for curriculum development in the fields
of drawing, photography, and media. Luis is also head instructor of
the Center's summer academy. Married for six years to his wife Diana,
Luis enjoys playing with their two-year-old daughter Maria.