Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog

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Clarissa’s Art Appreciation Class Finals Assignment: A Virtual Exhibit

April 30th, 2011 by Clarissa

The following is my Finals Project for my  Art Appreciation online class this semester with the University of Alaska Southeast with Professor Karen Meizner from Sitka/Haines.   We were instructed to create our own online museum exhibit, with at least 12 works of art.  (In my opinion, it’s like we are playing “curator” of the exhibit, oh boy!)  With the guidelines kept in mind, I explain my choice works of art, why the works are appealing, and how it affects my personal and/or business life, and my personal “vision.”   I describe the relationships these works have with each other and why I have placed the particular objects near or far from each other, including descriptive labels (for the imaginary exhibit and in this case, for my virtual audience), and what I expect my audience and  I will gain from this exhibit.

A full-time artist for almost 35 years, I have worked in a variety of mediums, most recently painting and collage.  Throughout the years, naturally I have been inspired by a variety of artists such as Haida artist Robert Davidson, Tahltan Tlingit artist Dempsey Bob, Haida artist Delores Churchill, and Tlingit Chilkat weaving teacher Jennie Thlunaut.  These artists helped set the traditional foundation of my work from which I sprang into creating contemporary works.   In the late 1990′s I began to dabble in painting and collage,  introduced by my friend and artist, Cecil Touchon.  I have worked in the style of Tlingit Northwest Coast form line art in silkscreened images, Native ceremonial regalia in Chilkat and Ravenstail weavings,  button blankets, and cedar bark weaving.  Cecil’s cubist-style works were inspiring and encouraged me to take a leap into creating cubist-influenced Northwest Coast paintings.

This exhibit leads the viewer to experience the influences of Tlingit and Western cross-cultural blends and the influence of other artists’ work in my present day work featuring 5 contemporary pieces.  I feature seven artists 2 works each who have, and continue to,  influence my present-day and future work.   Six are presently living, some of which I personally know; others include colorful works by German Cubist nature artist Franz Marc (1880-1916) and I aspire to create works incorporating the style of South American artist Teodoro Reque Liza, where I want to learn how to bring more fractured light and geometry into my paintings and collages.  Innovative Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary introduced the glass medium to Native American artists; Nick Galanin also followed suit by introducing computerized digitally-cut masks made from books and Paul Bond’s oils on canvas paintings portray the spiritual essence and livelihood of human kind.  As I mentioned earlier, this exhibit is an example of how a variety of other artists’ work influenced my becoming a contemporary painter.

What do all these artists have in common?  1)  Vibrant color, textures and obvious fine talent; 2) Leading edge as a pioneer in their style during the time they “came out” of the woodwork;   3)  Courage to experiment and put themselves out there; 4)  A sense of playfulness included with a level of spirituality; and dedication to their families, work, community and nation.

I also include a sketch of the floor plan design for the exhibit.  The works of art is displayed in a simulated traditional clan house, with the opening at one end, and the triptych painting serves as a “house screen” at the opposite end.  Three levels of wood flooring step down to the simulated “firepit” in the center of the room where the “smokehole” (skylight) cast natural light onto the firepit.   Additional track lighting casts beams of light criss-crossing the main shaft of natural light from the “smokehole” above.  (See exhibit floor plan shown below for more detailed information on exact exhibit layout and lighting design.)

Welcome to my exhibit where I honor those who have helped lead me to where I am today as a traditionally contemporary artist, and the direction of where I wish to go with my imagery.  I also include links to view the other artist’s websites.  I present you the artists and a small sampling of their work.  –   Thank you for visiting.

"Hoisting Our Dreams Into the Light of Another Sun" by Paul Bond - 36" x 48" oil on canvas - 2011 - inspired from a line from a poem Paul wrote: "Ladened with the weight of a thousand squandered opportunities, we hoisted our dreams intot he light of another sun." It is about the dichotomy of our dreams as both the burdens, as well as the things that make our lives worth living. Every one of us has unrealized desires. When they are ignored or not followed out of fear that we cannot achieve or don't deserve them, our lives are tethered to an unfulfilled burden. On the contrary, when we pursue those dreams they immediately lift our spirits and give new meaning to our lives in unimaginably miraculous ways."

"Birthing A New God" - Paul Bond - oil on canvas - 48"x48"

Paul Bond’s images can evoke immediate responses of happiness and mysterious wonderment putting the viewer in touch with the spiritual aspect of life creating a pure communication between artist and viewer.  His painterly style is similar to Norman Rockwell yet Bond incorporates symbolic images with less components in the overall composition.  I have kicked myself time and again when I once had the opportunity to purchase an original painting when I first met Paul in the late 1990′s in Colorado during a dinner party for local artists in the area.  For larger views of the above images and read about Paul, please visit his website at:  www.paulbondart.com

"Blue Horses" - Franz Marc - oil on canvas - 1911

"Rain" - Franz Marc - oil on canvas

Cubist artist Franz Marc was born in Munich, Germany in 1880.  He is best known for the intense nature mysticism of his colorful oil paintings of animals. Marc’s “Blue Horses” is one of my favorite images with the powerfully simplified, rounded outlines of the horses echoed in the rhythms of the landscape background creating a unified composition.  I was first introduced to Marc’s work when I visited a museum in New York City and was struck by his magnificent original painting, “Stalls.”  I immediately bought a book of his work; Franz Marc inspired me to paint!  A few years later, for an art class painting assignment, we were given the task of reproducing our favorite artist’s work on canvas.  I chose to paint “Rain.”  In the process, I learned so much about cubist design concept, choice and blending of colors, how to create textures and to play with technique to evoke emotion and mystery.

"Fusion Series 3054ct11" - Cecil Touchon - mixed media collage - 7"x5"

"Fusion Series 2999ct10a" - Cecil Touchon - 2010 - mixed media collage - 8" x 12"

Cecil Touchon mixed-media collages employ the use of new and antique papers and posters, maps, reject art prints and antique scripted ledgers, with a touch of color pencil or paints for shading and depth.   His bold, graphic style and playfulness lends one to believe that “hey, I can do this too!” (it worked on me…) – and this is the basis of his intent; he wants to show the world that what he can do, anyone can do too and actually make an income!  Cecil also works in acrylics on canvas, sometimes painting very large murals in a modern cubist style.  He recommends artist create at least one piece of art per day even if it is just a simple sketch; it is part of his philosophy and the way he sees it, you just never know when the work will  eventually put the bread and butter on the table.   It was Cecil’s  encouragement with my first painting lesson that led me into the world of becoming a painter.  You may visit Cecil’s extensive website at:  www.ceciltouchon.com

"Subtle Forms II" - Teodoro Reque Liza - oil on canvas - 39.4" w x 31.5" h - 2010

"They're Off" - Teodoro Reque Liza - 28.7" x 46.5" - oil on canvas - 2010

Teodoro Reque Liza’s work invokes a “coming home to” emotion with spirituality.  It’s as if his paintings reflect a world that actually exists all the time, we are just not aware of it like this painter.  He definitely employs a simple graphic sense profound in color, tones, hues and shafts of light – always with shafts of light!  Each image has a focal point, a vantage point or a horizon, simple in context and composition yet powerfully moving.  I discovered Teodoro’s work on line as I was roaming the internet (which I rarely ever do) to see what other modern cubist-influenced artists are out there.  Teodoro is from the land of the Andes.  His images reflect the cross-cultural influences of this modern day.  Yes, I aspire to meet this artist one day as I aspire to learn more how to paint in his style.

"What We Have Become" - Nicholas Galanin - book pages - 2008

"Imaginary Indian" - Nicholas Galanin - porcelain, wall paper, red cedar bark - 2010

Nick Galanin is one of the few young, Northwest Coast Native artists who is taking the art form style into another dimension and modality.  Strong in his quiet and modest mannerisms, his work always twists the minds of fellow artists, the Native community members, collectors, gallery owners and museum staff.   His work is true to Northwest Coast style and form combining traditional materials with non-traditional as in the mask made with book pages or the use of wall paper.  Nick was one of our artist panel speakers at our Northwest Coast Artists’ Gathering 2008 in Juneau, Alaska.  His manner of speaking is as eloquent as his works in any medium he works.  You may visit Nick at:  www.nicholasgalanin.com

"Oyster Catcher" - Preston Singletary - 20" - 2005

"Bentwood Box" - Preston Singletary - approximately 28"w x 20"h x 11"d - 2004

Back in 1980, Preston Singletary’s glass “cedar hat” hit magazines and newspapers throughout Alaska and Washington State.  He takes traditional art forms and creates them in glass.  Nobody had ever done this before.  Like Galanin, he too has expertise in the traditional form line art as well as the medium he chooses to work; his design work always has a story to tell – the process of how he creates his work, in itself, is always a story to tell!  Preston’s glassblown images reflect the innovation of modern-day influences using a modality not customarily traditional.  The photographs of Singletary’s work is a work of art in itself with the directional lighting casting shadows where need be to provide the viewer the depth of the “carved” surfaces of the glass work.   You may visit Preston’s work at:  www.prestonsingletary.com

Below are all works completed between 2000 – 2005.  They are my very first paintings on canvas (except for the traditional button robe which is shown as example of traditional art inspiring the contemporary painting).  Again, the intentions of including my works in this exhibit is to show my audience the variety of influences from other artists.

"Emergence" acrylic on curved canvas - Clarissa Rizal - based on button blanket robe of the same name - 2000

"Emergence" button blanket ceremonial robe - wool appliqued on wool w/mother-of-pearl buttons - 1992

"Totem Theory I & II" - acrylic on canvasses (there are two identical) free-standing "totem pole" - Clarissa Rizal - 6' h x 28" w - 2001

"Tlingit World Series (TWS) #052 - Clarissa Rizal - mixed media collage - 7"w x 9" h - 2001

"An Ocean Runs Through Us" triptych acrylic on canvas - Clarissa Rizal - 30"h x 10' w - 2005

As stated earlier in this post, below is the floor plan layout for the exhibit.  The works of art is displayed in a simulated traditional clan house, with the opening at one end, and the triptych painting “An Ocean Runs Through Us” serving as a “house screen” at the opposite end flanked by the two totem poles “Totemic Theory I & II”.  Three levels of wood flooring step down to the simulated “firepit” in the center of the room; the firepit is represented by Preston Singletary’s yellow “bentwood box”.  The above  “smokehole” (skylight) casts natural light serving as a spotlight for the art in the center of the room; additional track lighting casts beams of light criss-crossing the main shaft of natural light from the “smokehole” above; the criss-crossing of the light reflects the cubist-style paintings of shafts of light and color.  The “Bentwood Box” firepit is surrounded by Singletary’s “Oyster Catcher”,  Galanin’s Raven mask and book pages mask, each set on pedestals.  On the walls are the paintings and collages by the other artists.  Each painting is lit by an oil candle resting on a small shelf just below the painting.  Here’s the floor plan layout:

Exhibit Floor Plan of the Simulated Clan House - color coded... Violet: Paul Bond - Green: Cecil Touchon - Blue: Franz Marc - Red: Teodoro Reque Liza - Orange: Nicholas Galanin - Yellow: Preston Singletary - Gray: Clarissa Rizal

Thank you for imagining this virtual exhibit with me, and thanks for visiting!

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