Literature and Paper | Art Loft 807 Full Episode
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Literature and Paper | Art Loft 807 Full Episode

February 29, 2020

[Female Announcer] Art Loft is brought to
you by: [Male Announcer] Where there is freedom, there
is expression. The Florida Keys, and Key West. [Female Announcer] The Miami-Dade County Tourist
Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural
Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, and
the Friends of South Florida PBS. [Female Narrator] Art Loft. It’s the pulse of what’s happening in our
own backyard, as well as a taste of the arts across the United States. [Joy] “Do you know how to make “a peaceful
road through human memory? “And what of angry ghosts of history? Then what?” [Female Narrator] In this episode, paper comes
to life with both the imagery of the written word, and reimagined as sculpture, artist
books, and collage. I can do anything, I think, with paper. They can’t believe that it just does this. If you touch it, I mean, it’s solid. And then all of a sudden, it becomes something
else, it expands, and it moves, and it gives you that idea of flexibility, of movement. And that’s what I was trying to achieve when
I made this, you know. And not just the top, it goes all the way
up to the bottom. Somehow I’ve been able to change the way that
we perceive sculpture. It entertains, it excites. Hi, my name is Felix Semper, and I am an artist. My first paper sculpture, I glued solid. And I said, “How am I gonna prove this is
paper?” Took me about a year to kind of come up with
the whole system, and once that happened, that first sculpture, I took it to New York,
and I went to Washington Square Park, and I just kind of messed around with people. I just wanted to get people’s feedback and
reactions. It started going viral. Most of my stuff is recycled paper, and I
try to do that as much as I can. So, what I do is, I take sheets of paper,
individual sheets of paper, glue them in stacks, and then I cut them to about the size that
I think the sculpture is going to be, and then I start carving it. So all this process is eliminating paper. It’s kind of like the original technique of
sculpting, but in a different method. I’m using paper versus, you know, stone or
any other medium. But the fun part about it is that I paint
it and give it the original look. So a lot of times you can’t really tell if
it’s paper or what we’re talking about. I was invited to a dinner, you know, like
a wine dinner. And then I brought this bottle with me. And you know, everybody brought their own
bottle and stuff, you know, so I walk in like this and they say “Wow, you got a nice French
bottle right there.” And I say “Yes, it’s Bordeaux, man. Here let me”. And they go like that, they were freaking
out, they went crazy. Things that inspire me are things that are
around me. I made a Lay’s potato chip bags, and then
ASAP Rocky bought it, and then, you know, all these celebrities started talking, so
it’s just kind of exploded that way. So it involves painting, it involves sculpture,
and it involves performance art, because I take these pieces and I go into the public. I open them and show them what it does. So it becomes a performance art. This is my new series. This is actually I finished this not long
ago. This is a flexible wood sculpture. So I said, “I’m going to make a wood “that
I can twist and turn.” And it goes in any direction. And then, of course he has a hat that is flexible. I went to a place where it had, like, old
junk stuff, and this old TV was just sitting around there. When I saw the TV, it was from the 1950s,
I said, “I wonder how many people watching it, “like, what was the most famous show back
in the day, “you know, that kids loved?” So I was, you know, I did some research and
it was, you know, Howdy Doody. So I said, “I bet I can put Howdy Doody “in
there in black and white.” And I wanted just kind of bring it you kind
of mix all kinds of mediums together, so I develop a motor, and put it inside, and Howdy
Doody comes up, remote control, and, you know, he expands. That’s what this art does, it engages the
viewer, not only to look, but to participate. You know, it just keeps evolving, and that’s
the beauty about this art. I think it expands your mind, because you
don’t, you know, you’re looking at an object that is solid and all of a sudden this object
does something else. I can do anything, I think, with paper. [Female Narrator] To see more of these surprising
sculptures, visit Next up, the possibilities of paper continue,
as Twin Cities Public Media shows us the complexities of collage. Where’s this paper from? This is just beautiful. This is a must, I like this one. That really looks three dimensional. All right, let’s keep going, this is good. My paper collection started actually about
seven years ago in Sydney. The right paper can make or break a piece. Oh, I like that one. This one’s beautiful. I’m going to start, like, a Dundee pile. You know, it’s really grown into something. I now have big paper, you know, printer drawers
full of paper. I’m like a kid in a candy store, I’m like
Within my latest body of work, I’ve really tried to push the typical idea of collage
as an art form. Crocodiles actually do feel kind of leathery
and rough like this, not that I’ve felt too many crocodiles. The biggest surprise people have when they
see my work is realizing that it’s made from paper. Okay, you’re going to have to stop me from
going over the top here. When I was younger, I used to do a lot of
jigsaw puzzles and spot the difference puzzles, trying to find hidden imagery in artwork,
which was children’s storybooks. I guess the way that I would describe my work,
it is really a combination of multiple layers of imagery and papers. It’s really trying to gather a lot of stories
and messages in one piece. My father is a native Minnesotan and my sisters
and I were all raised in Sydney, Australia. There was a decade there that I worked side
by side my parents and we ran a very successful training business. But the artist in me was very much crying
to get out, and so I decided to leave that role, to move to Minnesota, and follow the
dream, which was to become a fulltime artist. This here is my latest studio find that I
use for my large pieces of handmade papers. Sometimes I’ll pick up a paper and it’ll be
in my drawer for, you know, six years. I won’t know when I’m going to use it, and
then the perfect project will come along, and I’ll be like, “Yep, this is the one.” I’m going to show you a few of my favorites
though. In here we’ve got my reds and oranges. And this is one of my absolute favorites,
this is a beautiful handmade paper from Japan. The reason I use papers, I found with paint,
I could never really get the fine, beautiful lines that I wanted. And it was when I started working with papers,
using a scalpel and a blade, I got these beautiful fine edges. I have almost an unlimited scope of what I
can play with. Some more Indian papers, and then some more
beautiful papers used in my foliage and trees. I think the biggest step in my development
as an artist was actually really moving into the Lowertown Lofts Artist Cooperative and
being around other artists that I could get feedback from. And actually that’s how I moved into collage. I decided to do some studies that were all
in paper. And I brought them into my studio and I brought
in two of the ladies and I said, “Guys, what do you think?” And they just looked at me and they said,
“You should be working in paper. “You can do stuff with paper that I, “you
know, I can’t even dream of.” At the moment, I am working on two pieces. I really decided to look at who are two standout
characters that tell a bit of a story of Australia. You know, Ned Kelly and the Crocodile Dundee,
one talking about historical Australia and one talking about modern Australia. My series as well, kind of developed very
organically. For example, I had been working on my pinup
series, a subject matter I was very comfortable with and I have a background in fashion and
theater design, so the costuming element was great. Well I was showing at a few different fairs
and I had a lot of people coming up to me and saying, “Oh wow, you know, this is beautiful,
“but, you know, have you done Marilyn or “have you done Audrey or Sophia?” And so they were all over these fabulous women
that they were hoping to see and it really got me thinking, “That’s a whole ‘nother area.” So I went back and I decided to pick a Audrey
Hepburn. And then I embed all of these other fabulous
women that have done great stuff for girl power over the last century within that face. And so that was really the beginning of this
new style of work that I’m doing. I feel I’m creating something with much more
than the popular culture images. How I feel, I guess I’m really adding to the
art world in my way, is by weaving in this fabric of papers and also this fabric of hidden
imagery. I could maybe use the two of these, and then
maybe use this. I think that could look pretty cool. I get this feeling sometimes when I’m driving,
I’ve left the studio and I’m on my way somewhere, and it’s almost like a tingle all over. And I can’t tell you, it’s the most unbelievable
happy feeling in the world, to think that I took a chance. You know, it’s scary sometimes. Actually it is scary, not just sometimes. But it is scary to put that kind of faith
in yourself to be out and make it work and to be able to now write, when I go back to
Australia, on the customs card, I am an artist, that is my occupation, is a very, very cool
thing. I pinch myself often, but I am very happy. “Do not return, we were warned by one who
knows things. “You will only upset the dead. “They will emerge from the spiral of little
houses, “lined up in the furrows of marrow and walk the land. “There will be no place in memory for what
they see. “The houses, the highways, the stores of interlopers
“perched over the blood fields where the dead last stood. “And then what, you with your words “in the
enemy’s language, do you know how to make “a peaceful road through human memory? “And what of angry ghosts of history? “Then what?” I’m Susan Williamson, we’re at the Palm Beach
Poetry Festival in Delray Beach at Old School Square. The mission of the Palm Beach Poetry Festival
is to provide a series of world-class learning opportunities to share the joys of poetry
with our audiences. Every year the poetry festival invites a special
guest. This year’s guest is Joy Harjo. She was recently named Poet Laureate of the
United States and she is the first Native American woman to be named to this position
by the Library of Congress. It’s an extraordinary honor to have her with
us and she has so much to teach us. I’m serving poetry, the creation of poetry,
young poets, older poets, our poetry ancestors, and bringing poetry to the people, especially
American people, but also, you know, internationally. In a way, I become the face of poetry, as
much as I like to hide and write and create. What’s important too, to me, is that Native
people see that Indigenous peoples, we’re still here, we’re human beings, and we have
great traditions of poetry both in our languages, our Indigenous languages, and in contemporary
American poetry. The state of American poetry is flourishing. And I like seeing all kinds of poetry flourish. I know coming up as a young poet, often the
only poetry that we would see flourish, or being there, was academic poetry, or poetry
championed by in the academy of higher institutions. But I think with, you know, the spoken word
movement, it’s been very powerful. And, you know, the poetry that’s more oral
poetry with song or music, it’s all part the origins of poetry are, they always go back
to music. It doesn’t matter what culture or what, they
all go back to music. My name is Patricia Smith and I am the Palm
Beach Poetry Festival Poet-at-Large for the year 2020. I think it’s important for conferences of
this type, festivals to move out into the communities that surround them. And what I will be doing is going out to some
of the local high schools and firing the high schoolers up about poetry, or hoping to anyway. I think there’s also already a commitment
and involvement with high schools here. And so I think we’re going out and we’re kind
of bolstering that and letting the community know that we are not just a community of academic
poets or performance poets, that everyone here is welcome. “As if his clinging little life is stuck on
triumph.” I got introduced to poetry by getting up on
stage and doing it. And so it was always a creative conversation,
it was very important the energy with which the words reached the air. “As if that’s all anybody needs to know this
day.” And I think that’s the thing that grabs students’
attention almost immediately. Because they come into these rooms, they come
into these situations thinking that they already know what poetry’s going to be like. But I want everybody, the first thing they
say to be, “I didn’t know poetry could be like that.” And it’s breaking that fourth wall in a way,
telling them a lot about the genesis of the poem. It’s important for them to know that poetry
comes from very common, ordinary places. It is a very exciting time for poetry in South
Florida and it’s a very exciting time for poetry right now. The poets are speaking from the heart, the
poets are investigating things that the see in the world, and they’re writing about them
in a way that no one else can write in prose. [Female Narrator] The Palm Beach Poetry Festival
offers special events and workshops year-round. Head to their website to find out more. Next up, we continue with poetry. Maryland public television takes us on a spoken
word journey with poet Dora Malech. Love poem. “If by truth you mean hand, then yes, “I hold
to be self-evident, and hold you in the highest. “KO to my OT, and bait to my switch, “I crown
you one-trick pony to my one-horse town.” I’m poet not because I have all these amazing
things to say or all these amazing insights, but because I turn to language to explore
uncertainty. “Dub you my one-stop shopping, “my space heater,
juke joint, tourist trap.” I am somebody who is in love with language
and play within language, and sound, and rhythm, and rhyme. And for me, language itself could just carry
me away like a flash flood. I could get completely lost in the sounds
and the rhythms and the rhymes that I love. And so for me, when I talk about pressure
and putting pressure on that language, it’s a pressure on myself to ask my own pleasure
to cohere into something meaningful for a reader, and something meaningful for me. “Tell me you’ll dismember this night forever,
“you my punch-drunking bag, tar to my feather, “more than the sum of our” My life without
poetry might my simpler but it would be a lot less exciting, a lot less surprising,
a lot less fun for me. And there would be a lot less of a sense of
attention to the world around me. “If and then but, if er then uh. “My fruit bat, my gewgaw. “You had me at no duh.” As the books’ demise is mourned and discussed,
it seems that more and more people want to make books by hand. Artist books are their own art form, just
like photography, or sculpture, or painting. My name is Amy Galpin, and I’m the Chief Curator
at the Frost Art Museum. I was thinking about books in terms of literature
and how books can function as a portal, as a pathway to new experience, new travels. And I was thinking about this relationship
that could be applied to an artist book. I think an artist book can be a sculpture,
it can have text, it can look completely different than we might think a book should look. Or it can have strong connections, like the
work of Margarita Cano with illuminated manuscripts, medieval manuscripts. I used to go a lot to New York to the Morgan
Library. So I was very familiar with books done with
parchment, and gold, and gild, and all that. I started painting in 1993 just after I retired. The first thing I did was an Adam and Eve
being told that they had to leave Paradise. And the Paradise was Cuba, and the tree, instead
of an apple tree, it was mangoes. I thought it made a statement for people to
think about the sufferings of people who have to leave their country. That accordion books, you know, that you open
up, and then I have these little pieces inside, sort of like the mirrors. So when a person grabs one of my books and
starts opening and looking at it, all these things start falling to the floor and it’s
very irritating, but that’s part of what I wanted to cause. I wanted that to be an effect, because the
Cuban situation is so irritating. As some artists are very much dedicated to
the form, I don’t think that either Carol Todaro or, for example, other artists in the
show like Donna Ruff or Rosemarie Chiarlone consider themselves to be only artist book
makers. But they definitely make many artist books. I really enjoy experimenting with media and
pushing the kind of media I can use with artist books. I think a lot about display when I make a
book, I think about where it will be shown and how it will be seen. So this is a group of six artist books that
work together as an ensemble. And it’s called Villanelle. The pages are made of a translucent material
and the images and words are hand-printed on in a very simple method of transferring
text from an actual laser print. And a villanelle is a type of poetic form. It came from a French song form. Therefore, these books, which are a kind of
analogy to the poetic form, are mounted on music stands. The music stands do two things: they provide
a way for the books to be displayed as sculpture, and they also cue us that music is a part
of the content of the piece. So the words are all fragments of poems. This one begins with the words “as if”. So, when you go down to the side, it says
“forming a galaxy”, and on the other side, “becoming a graveyard”. So I’m going from the cosmos to below the
earth in this one segment of the poem. It’s not really a story but more images and
texts that the viewer is invited to put together and make their own meaning from. I think for, you know, most people think of
Diego as a painter. He’s someone who really interrogates, “What
does a painting mean?” But I was really taken with his elaborate
sketchbooks, these deconstructions of other magazines joined with various drawings. And I thought he brought a really fresh perspective
to the exhibition. For me, the artists books came just as a way
of necessity, of just making. And luckily, I work in a lot of art institutions
and what I decided to do was just incorporate a lot of the materials that was around me. They had a lot of catalogs that they were
always throwing away. I didn’t really think about it as like, any
different than painting. I just needed to make. So during my break time I would be making
it, and even during the time when I was working I would be walking around and if there was
like, an interesting page because of the material I thought it would be interesting, I would
just grab it and put it into these, like, artist books. And yeah, I learned a lot from that. And after I made the book, I felt like I couldn’t
make the same type of art again, what I was making in grad school. It just didn’t make sense for me. I’m always thinking about that sense of awe
that a viewer might have, but then simultaneously, what is the resonance? You know, what does the work mean to them
after they leave the museum? [Female Narrator] The Frost Art Museum at
FIU offers free admission every day. Check out current exhibitions on their website. Continue the conversation online. Art Loft is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
@artloftsfl. Find full episodes and segments on a brand
new website and on YouTube at South Florida PBS. [Female Announcer] Art Loft is brought to
you by: [Male Announcer] Where there is freedom, there
is expression. The Florida Keys and Key West. [Female Announcer] The Miami-Dade County Tourist
Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural
Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, and
the Friends of South Florida PBS.

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