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Studying art by making it

first_imgHistorically, Harvard has valued the head over the hand, but that may soon shift — at least in one discipline.Under the auspices of Jennifer L. Roberts, the Elizabeth Cary Agassiz Professor of the Humanities, and Ethan Lasser, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr. Curator of American art at the Harvard Art Museums, graduate students, particularly those in art history, are joining a University movement against what Roberts calls a “longstanding, multi-century bias toward conceptual and mathematical, verbal, abstract forms of knowledge over the forms of knowledge embedded in making.”As their class “Minding Making: Art History and Artisanal Intelligence” goes through its second iteration, students are learning how hands-on experience with materials and processes feeds a different kind of awareness and a new appreciation of the finished product.Part of a larger project, detailed at mindingmaking.org, the class follows several summer graduate workshops, as well as a broader trend toward recognizing art-making as part of the University’s “cognitive life,” said Roberts. “The humanities are in the middle of what’s known as the material turn,” she explained. “There’s a lot of interest in matter and materiality, but that hasn’t really yet translated into a clear new way of thinking about making, about interacting with all that material.”,“Maker is a generic term that would encompass both the ceramicist and the person soldering together a circuit. We wanted a term that moves beyond studio art-making or craft artisanship.” — Professor Jennifer Roberts, pictured below with Ethan Lasser,This course seeks to address this tactical way of thinking, with readings on the intellectual history of crafts, as well as visits to artists, artisans, and their workplaces, including an aluminum casting factory.“Maker,” Roberts explained, is a “generic term that would encompass both the ceramicist and the person soldering together a circuit. We wanted a term that moves beyond studio art-making or craft artisanship. Art historians tend not to go to factories. They’re not interested in mass production. There are a lot of assumptions about what someone does.”“Art history,” added Lasser, “is constructed around a finished object, and the power of this approach is in going back through it and understanding what it takes to get to that object.”In Roberts’ words, the practitioners seek to “get outside the library and books for sources of knowledge.” Lasser elaborated, explaining that the goal of the course is to provide “a sense of the feel, the tactile knowledge, of how much physical labor goes into something.”“At every stage,” he said, “there’s some information that art historians don’t generally write about because they don’t know about, because they’re just looking at the finished object.”,On a stormy Friday, students were involved in another element of the course, trying their hands at etching: from the first preparation of the plates through printing. The work is laborious, and students such as Destiny Crowley of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences were spending considerable time applying the thick black ink and then wiping it nearly off before attempting to print a first proof.Speaking while she worked, Crowley, a first-year student in the history of art and architecture Ph.D. program, explained that she signed on to address “a gaping lack in my education when it came to the actual creation of art.” As she wiped the viscous ink over her plate, she noted how that also gave her additional insight into works she has long admired: the Blank Signs series of prints by artist Ed Ruscha, who hails from her home state of Oklahoma.“The aquatint gives the print a very light shade of coloring,” Crowley explained, describing Ruscha’s series. “And the signs themselves are left stark white.” Noting “the juxtaposition of moving from darkness to light, the pitch black of the ink, the deep blackish brown of the asphaltum ground that we had to apply to the plate,” she said, “I find it very interesting that the print ended up being such a bold interplay of lightness.”Working with the coal-black ink, she shared her insight. “It is really amazing how you can go from a really onyx black — almost a void on this space — and strip that away,” she said. “There’s a reason why artists choose the artistic processes they do, an etching versus an oil painting.”,“There are so many different reasons for choosing a material,” agreed Iain Gordon, who is pursuing a master’s in design studies. Unlike several of his classmates, Gordon, who was drying a treated plate, has been involved on the “making” side, building furniture as well as other projects for several years. “For me, this is a way to engage with the making in a theoretical and critical way,” he said.“I knew it would be time-consuming and unpredictable and a different kind of mental and physical energy,” said Rachel Vogel, who is in her second year of the Ph.D. program in the history of art and architecture. “But you don’t realize the extent of all of those things until you really start doing it.“Learning those kinds of chains of causality and being able to recognize how a particular choice an artist made might be a response to something else that’s happening in the print …” She paused as she continued to wipe ink off her etching plate. “To begin to unpack the layers that must have happened in order for the artist to have constructed a plate is something that really can only happen once you’ve had the experience of making prints yourself.”last_img read more

Iowa farmers nearly complete corn, soybean planting

first_imgDES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Thanks to favorable weather, Iowa farmers have planted most of the corn crop and are nearing completion of soybean planting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday that in the week ending Sunday, farmers had planted 96% of the expected corn crop, putting them nearly a month ahead of last year and almost three weeks ahead of the five-year average.Farmers had planted 86% of the soybean crop, also nearly a month ahead of last year and three weeks earlier than the average. They were helped by good weather that made for 4.3 days suitable for field work.last_img read more

Mets End Skid, Stop Nats, 1-0

first_imgNEW YORK — Prep week is over for the New York Mets. Now, it’s on to the playoffs.Jacob deGrom looked especially sharp in his abbreviated tuneup, and the NL East champions finally scored on Curtis Granderson’s eighth-inning homer to beat the Washington Nationals 1-0 in their regular-season finale Oct. 4. “I just think it’s a great way to finish,” Manager Terry Collins said. “I think we’re ready.”One day after Washington ace Max Scherzer pitched a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts to complete a doubleheader sweep, the Mets (90-72) made a run at a combined no-hitter of their own. They reached 90 wins for the first time in nine years and stopped a five-game losing streak that cost them home-field advantage in the Division Series against the Dodgers.Next up, deGrom starts Game 1 in the best-of-five matchup Oct. 9 at Los Angeles. “This is what we play for,” deGrom said. “I’m really looking forward to this.”Seven pitchers combined to hold Washington to two hits — the first was Clint Robinson’s two-out single in the seventh inning off reliever Jonathon Niese.Bryce Harper hustled for a two-out double in the ninth to finish 1-for-4, but that wasn’t enough to beat out Miami speedster Dee Gordon for the National League batting crown.Gordon went 3-for-4 in Philadelphia and finished with a .333 average to Harper’s .330. The front-runner for NL MVP, Harper began the day ahead by the slimmest of margins — .330754 to .330606. The slugger ended his sensational season with 42 homers and 99 RBIs.“I probably could’ve took the last two weeks off and hit .340 and do what I did,” Harper said. “But Dee Gordon is such a great hitter, and he had over 200 hits, and I tip my cap to him because he’s done such a great job all year long.”Jeurys Familia retired Jayson Werth on a fly to center for his 43rd save, equaling the franchise record set by Armando Benitez in 2001.With the Mets gearing up for their first postseason appearance since 2006, deGrom was pulled after throwing 72 pitches in four innings. He struck out four of his first five batters and finished with seven strikeouts.“I feel ready,” deGrom said. “I worked on some things and my changeup’s definitely getting better, so today was a big step for me.”Bartolo Colon and Logan Verrett each tossed a hitless inning of relief before Niese entered in the seventh. With two outs, Robinson sent a sharp two-hopper up the middle that went between Niese’s legs and caromed off the shin of shortstop Ruben Tejada as he tried to make a sliding stop.The ball ricocheted into right field, and official scorer Jordan Sprechman ruled it a hit almost immediately.Tyler Clippard (4-1) struck out two in a perfect eighth. Moments later, Granderson launched a drive to center off Blake Treinen (2-5) for his 26th homer of the season and third hit of the game.It snapped New York’s scoreless stretch of 18 innings and marked the team’s second run in a span of 43 innings.Following the final out, Mets players came back onto the field for a victory lap and saluted a crowd of 41,631 that pushed New York’s total attendance to 2,569,753 — highest since the club drew more than three million during Citi Field’s inaugural season in 2009.With the NL East championship banner flying above the ballpark and flapping in the wind, captain David Wright grabbed a microphone and thanked fans for their support. “Let’s go beat LA!” he said.For the second-place Nationals (83-79), a World Series favorite way back in spring training, it was a fitting end to a tumultuous and disappointing season.“We thought we had one of the best teams in all of baseball,” Harper said.Key players such as pitcher Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond can become free agents; a choked-up Desmond shed tears in the clubhouse.It might have been the last game with Washington for embattled Manager Matt Williams, too. Amid speculation Williams is likely to be fired, General Manager Mike Rizzo said a decision will be made soon.“We’re all disappointed in the outcome,” Williams said. “It provides fuel, it provides fire to everybody to understand where we’re at now and to look forward to getting back to where we want to be.”(MIKE FITZPATRICK, AP Baseball Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more