Saturday, September 24, 2011

New York Spray Can Memorials: A Backdrop to Life
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

One of my passions is to create Post-Graffiti artwork on cloth. A series of posts on this blogspot have addressed issues in Graffiti and Post Graffiti Art as well as presenting images of such art. I have listed some of these below for your enjoyment.
Time Dimension in Art
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art
Act of Engagement
Another Brick
Cultural Graffiti
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona@Spoonflower
Neu Kunst: Mona & Marilyn
Paste Modernism 4

In order for people to get a wider appreciation of my Post Graffiti artwork - and where it springs from – a series of art essays have been and will be posted in order to put into perspective future posts on my Post Graffiti ArtCloth.

These art essays are in themselves self-contained and attribute the work of previous artists (some unknown) that have contributed so much for the development of Graffiti Art and for the fledgeling Post Graffiti Art movement on cloth.

The book, "R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art", by Cooper, Martha and Joseph Sciorra, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1994 [also published by Thames and Hudson in UK as "R.I.P.: New York Spraycan Memorials" and in France as "R.I.P. N.Y.C.: Bombages in Memoriam a New York City"] - was an extremely valuable resource. Most of the images below were procured from this book. It would be a truly remarkable tome in your art reference library.

A Background Briefing
The picture drawn on the wall is mankind’s oldest form of graphic communication. It was the first conscious act of our prehistoric ancestors to liberate themselves, via communication, from the daily grind of survival. In learning to draw images on cave or rock walls, they separated themselves from all other living creatures. The ancestors of the Australian Aborigines have been shown - via recent genetic studies - to be the first peoples to escape from the cradle of Africa. Their rock art abounds across all parts of Australia, including where I live in Lake Macquarie.

A kindred spirit links the huntsman of antiquity with the street muralist of today. Although the bison paintings of Lascaux are revered among the world’s finest works of art, many of today’s art critics would assign a lesser status to today’s wall art murals, the latter of which are displayed in our urban landscape. Note: I use the word “wall” in a generic sense and not in terms of a distinctive surface.

A timeless bond exists between the wall art of antiquity with its modern variant. For example, the huntsman were motivated by an artistic drive to transfer an image onto a solid surface - as do the wall muralists of today. Both are communicating via a visual language and using the wall structure as their art medium. Furthermore, today’s wall muralist, in common with their ancestral mentors, entertain no illusions regarding the life expectancy of their artwork. The surfaces employed, necessitates that nothing they paint may survive the natural and/or social forces at work in the cave or urban setting. It is therefore transitory art – not necessarily by design, but most likely by circumstance.

There are differences starting to emerge. Graffiti Art is often splashed on trains and buses – moving items. Ever since Einstein, we now realize our universe contains four dimensions: three with respect to space (length, width, height) and one with respect to time. Unwittingly Graffiti artists when using the “walls” of moving vehicles are now introducing a time element into their art (i.e. displaying a form of kinetic art). Time with respect to the act of engagement becomes an important factor. Fleeting glimpses of Graffiti Art have serendipitously introduced pace of engagement into the art equation. Even murals are often engaged at a brisk walking pace, where a passerby would not entertain the notion of loitering.

In developed democratic countries, such as Australia, UK and the USA, economic and social policies of governments eroded the essential urban qualities of industry, density, service and transportation - policies that unwittingly ensured the political and social enslavement of the poor and furthermore, the cultural alienation of the middle classes. The establishment - under peacetime conditions - of the most deplorable state of urban desolation and alienation known to western civilization, was exasperated due to its systematic implementation via misguided social planning.

In the Arab Spring of 2011, the political disenfranchised - armed with the internet and courage - rioted, bringing sweeping changes to their political infrastructure in some of the Arab countries. However, the Spring riots in the UK in 2011 was of a different ilk. It was forged from the anger of a social disenfranchisement; anger against authority, anger against unemployment and reliance on social services for their existence, anger against a pluralistic society, and anger against cultural isolation, all of which culminated into social riots - although anarchistic, nevertheless without a political framework - of youth with mindsets that were completely and perhaps unwittingly - via government policies and enactments over several decades - stripped of hope. Looting, trashing of small businesses, acts of violence against the police and against the public in sympathy with law and order, were the actions of the hopeless and the hapless of a mobile modern democratic internet-connected society.

The modern demonstrations against Corporate greed in Europe, USA, Australia and elsewhere reflect the views of those who are economically disenfranchised. The common refrain of - "privatising profits, but socialising any losses" - reflects the unfair burden that government expenditure cuts have on those economically disenfranchised, when those who have the means to contribute are effectively insulated from any monetary pain.

New York Spray Can Memorials
In the USA atrocious social conditions over past decades have provided the context for the emergence of spray can murals. They were attempts to come to terms with a tragic and hopeless situation through a visual language using public spaces for mass dissemination. The special nature of this genre - naïve orientation, nearly spontaneous creation, rapid deterioration and public location - may have been the catalyst that brought together diverse elements to produce works of unusual significance and power. Nevertheless, Graffiti, Mural, and Cartoon Art that sit on walls is embedded within a current modern art frame. It has antecedence in terms of cave or rock art and modernity in terms of post modernistic art.

Graffiti artists currently producing memorials differ in a number of ways from earlier subway writers[1]. They comprise a much older group, with the average age being about twenty-five years old. To date, there are few well-known female memorial artists[1]. Several artists are academically trained: Jabster, Jad and Tracy attended Manhattan’s famed High School of Art and Design; Nomad holds a bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts. However, the majority of memorial artists are not artistically educated. Moreover, most have a Puerto Rican heritage. The work of white artists, such as Michael Tracy and Frank Fischetti, are found on spaces in the Bronx and furthermore, African American painters entered the scene only in 1993.

The strong Latino presence reveals a historic precedent for the memorial tradition. The walls are updated versions of the simple roadside crosses often erected at the site of a car accident in Latin American (Catholic) countries (and now in many developed Countries). These crosses manifest the belief that the souls of those, who die unexpectedly, have not received the last rites, and so their souls are suffering in purgatory. The marks on the walls, serves as a lasting reminder for passersby to pray for the person’s soul and so speed its delivery to heaven.

New York memorial artists were also inspired by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The chevron shaped, black granite monument has been internationally acclaimed for its ability to elicit quiet contemplation on warfare’s destructive magnitude rather than champion blind patriotism and/or macho glory.

New York’s memorial art[1] developed in close connection to the indiscriminately violent street battles waged for market share of the city’s lucrative drug trade. Dealers seeking to honor fallen comrades could afford to pay top dollar for a wall artwork, and as a result they helped to establish the business of memorial art. While Tracy and Chico have made a conscientious choice not to commemorate drug dealers, others did not wish to relinquish what they considered to be a money making opportunity.

An advertisement for the United Martial Arts School in the Bronx also doubles as an anti-drug mural. Artists: Alfredo “Per” Oyague Jr. and Joey “Serve” Vega.

Community patronage is paramount; the artist must consider the aesthetic tastes and religious sensibilities of the deceased’s family and friends, and not those of the Graffiti world. A wall is selected because it is near the place where the deceased died, lived or congregated with friends.

The artist Jad stands on the terrace of Carol’s apartment building. “The letters have to be really nice because this is for the family. When they come to look at it and to think about the person who died, they don’t want to see really deep Graffiti because they don’t know what it says. You got to make sure that everybody knows what it means. You have to give them the picture”. Artist: Jose “Jad” Diaz.

The memorial wall transforms personal grief into shared community sentiment by serving as a vehicle for community affiliation and potential empowerment. Covering the expenses for materials and the artist’s labor is often a collective endeavor, with neighborhood residents making contributions in memory of one of their own. The murals create new public spaces for community ceremony. Life is celebrated at the walls with parties, marking anniversaries and birthdays etc. These centers of congregation become rallying points for candlelight processions and demonstrations held by community people, who march through the streets in opposition to violence, drugs or police brutality.

A trio of painted candles burning brightly with perpetual flames is reminder of the “living” that remember the deceased in prayer. Artist: Unknown.

These neighborhood billboards are used to elicit critical examination of the root causes and solutions to the daily onslaught against inner-city youth. Teenage members of the South Bronx Photographic Centre used their photo exhibit documenting community life and commemorative murals to kindle discussion on the untimely deaths of neighborhood residents.

Paco’s graveyard scene in Brooklyn’s East New York.

These professional and semi-professional artists are creating a body of stylistically discernible work, distinguished from the untrained individual, who paints a simple but heartfelt memorial to a close friend. This new genre of art - born from bloodshed and grief - has established a close relationship to the proliferation of handguns and escalating violence. Memorial walls are designed to stimulate the heart and the mind, tapping art’s transformative and healing powers.

The late Graffiti artist, Eugene “Risk” Cleary, appears as a winged spray can, flying to heaven. Artist: Hoist.

Religious imagery, overwhelmingly Christian, predominates. Crosses, angels, hands clasped in prayer, heaven’s clouds and portraits of Christ and the Virgin Mary are among the favorite emblems of faith. Walls containing Islam’s Star and Crescent or the Jewish Star of David, although rare, indicate an acceptance of memorial murals beyond their original Catholic Latino audience. Painted candles, flowers, hearts and other traditional finery motifs abound.

In the early hours of 9th September 1991, a knife wound punctured 14 year-old Robert Torres lung. Robbed of his wallet, the body of "John Doe" lay in the morgue for a week until his frantic parents found him. This mural features a rare representation of God. Artists: Jose “F-Boom” Crespo and “Dek”.

A single red rose was chosen for Jessica’s mural, a twenty-one year old, shot by a bullet intended for her boyfriend. Artist: Nicer.

Memorial artists borrow images from mass-produced holy cards and religious calendars, which they enlarge and incorporate into their public art. These memorials also proclaim an optimistic belief in the afterlife.

Artist: Unknown.

The deceased may be remembered by their possessions as well as by their portraits. Evoking prestige, and expensive consumer goods bestowed in life, images such as the red Nova identify an individual in the same way, as do the iconic attributes of Catholic saints.

Cano’s killer was AIDS. It was the cause of death for a number of American men aged between 25 to 44 years of age. Artist: Antonio “Chico” Garcia.

Cartoon characters were a major source of images for subway Graffiti writers of the 1980s. These animated stars, which bounce back to life when shot, continue to pop up to pay their respects. Betty Boop was a favorite of 10 year old Jenny Valentine and 11 year-old Evelyn Leon, who were crushed beneath a collapsing marble entrance.

Chico’s memorial decorates a nearby playground created in the tragic aftermath as a safe haven for neighborhood children. Artist: Antonio “Chico” Garcia.

Unlike subway Graffiti, the name of the deceased, rather than the artist, is the centerpiece of memorial wall art. The artist’s name if included at-all, is of minor significance. While subway writers painted their tag names in esoteric wild-style, memorial artist’s inscriptions are legible to the general public. Since these murals offer the passerby a station for solace and contemplation, it is important that they be visually accessible. As with tombstones, birth and death dates are listed. The artist is allowed his say in the epitaph written for the deceased even though the two may never have met. Often, another person actually composes the words. Painted in scrolls or open books, the text might extol a person’s character or empathize with the family’s loss.

Poem, The Legend Lives On. Artists: Julio “Fade” Caban, Oliver “Kazo” Rios and Jose “Solo” Cordero.


Artist: Unknown.

At the Graffiti Hall of Fame in East Harlem, Bio reserved a space in his contemporary wild-style burner for the late writer Shy 147.

As memorial walls became increasingly common in New York, old-school Graffiti artists have taken to dedicating pieces to colleagues, as they occasionally did on subway trains. Artist: Bio.

Portraiture has emerged as a key feature distinguishing contemporary memorials from sub-way art. A common bristle brush or electric powered airbrush, are the portrait painter’s tools of choice. Either of these offers greater control than the spray can, allowing for a more detailed and defined shaded image. Portraits range in style from cartoon line drawings to photo realist depictions. Memorial artists mostly work from a photograph.

Shahid. Artist: Vonce Campbell.

Seventeen year-old Noemi “Suly” Villafane was three months pregnant when a bullet from her boyfriend’s gun snuffed out her life.

While painting the portrait, Per improvised the anti-violence message on the spot in rap-like fashion. Artist: Per.

As artist, Art Guerra summarizes [1]: “A mural is a sort of barometer measuring the different pressures in a neighborhood at that particular point in time. They are a testament to the local people and they voice a concern for the issues of the day. By looking at the murals, you can know a lot about the community around them. Maybe that makes the communication even more intense.”

[1] M. Cooper and J. Sciorra, "R.I.P.: Memorial Wall Art", New York, Henry Holt and Company (1994).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Barbara Scott
Master Class In Using Disperse Dyes

Tutor: Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot exhibits many of my students outputs from a variety of workshops. There are one, two and five day workshops as well as workshops that have a different focus. Nevertheless, it always surprises me how much I learn from my students and how enthusiastic they are to learn and so for your convenience, I have listed the workshop posts below.

Visual Communication and Design (The University of Newcastle Multi-Media Course).
The University of Newcastle (Newcastle and Ourimbah Campuses, NSW, Australia) 2008 to 2010.

In Pursuit of ArtCloth:Improvisational Screen Printing Workshop
The Australian Textile Arts & Surface Design Association Inc. Sydney, NSW.

One and Two Day Disperse Dye Workshops
Various Textile Groups (Australia) 2008 - 2011.

Five Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
“Wrapt in Rocky” Textile Fibre Forum Conference (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) 29th June to 5th July 2008.

Five Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
Orange Textile Fiber Forum (Orange, NSW, Australia) 19th to 25th April 2009.

5 Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
Geelong Fiber Forum (Geelong, Victoria, Australia) 27th September to 3rd October 2009.

Two Day Workshop - Deconstructed and Polychromatic Screen Printing
Beautiful Silks (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 20th to 21st March 2010.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
“Wrapt in Rocky” Biennial Textile Forum/Conference Program (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia) 25th June to 1st July 2010.

Two Day Workshop – Improvisational Screen Printing
ATASDA (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 28th to 29th August 2010.

Two Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Day One)
”Stitching and Beyond” Textile Group (Woodbridge, Tasmania, Australia) 2nd to 3rd October 2010.

Two Day Workshop – In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Day Two)
”Stitching and Beyond” Textile Group (Woodbridge, Tasmania, Australia) 2nd to 3rd October 2010.

Advance Silk Screen Printing
Redcliffe City Art Gallery Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia) 10th April 2011.

One Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth
The Victorian Feltmakers Inc. (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 14th May 2011.

One Day Workshop - In Pursuit of Complex Cloth (Felted and Silk Fibers)
Victorian Feltmakers Inc (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) 15th May 2011.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
SDA (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) 13th to 17th June 2011.

Five Day Disperse Dye Master Class – Barbara Scott
Art Quill Studio (Arcadia Vale, NSW, Australia) 15th to 19th August 2011.

Five Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Fiber Arts Australia (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 26th September to 1st October 2011.

One Day Workshop – Improvisational Screen Printing
Newcastle Printmakers Workshop Inc. (Newcastle, NSW, Australia) 5th November 2011.

One Day Workshops – Low Relief Screen Printing
Various classes within Australia.

Two Day Workshop – Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
ATASDA (Sydney, NSW, Australia) 23rd to 24th June 2012.

MSDS Demonstration at Zijdelings
(Tilburg, The Netherlands) October, 2012.

Five Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Fibre Arts@Ballarat (Ballarat, Victoria, Australia) 6th to 12th April 2013.

Two Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
EFTAG (Tuross Head, NSW, Australia) 13th to 14th April 2013.

Two Day Workshop - Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing
Zijdelings Studio (Tilburg, The Netherlands) 9th to 10th October 2014.

PCA - Celebrating 50 Years in 2016
Art Quill Studio 2016 Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Image Dreamings: Basic Silk Screen Printing Workshop - Part I
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Image Dreamings: Basic Silk Screen Printing Workshop - Part II
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Improvisational Screen Printing Workshop
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP) Workshop 2016
2016 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Art Quill Studio 2017 Workshop Program
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of: Low Relief Screen Printing (LRSP)
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

In Pursuit of Complex Cloth: Layered Printing Approaches
2017 Art Quill Studio Workshop Program (Newcastle, Australia).

Melding Experiences: New Landscapes Using Disperse Dyes and Transfer Printing.
2019 Art Quill Studio Workshop (NCEATA, Newcastle, Australia).

The Master Class Grant
Barbara Scott was awarded a grant to do a five-day Master Class in “Melding Experiences: New Landscapes Using Disperse Dyes and Sublimation Printing” under the tutorship of Marie-Therese Wisniowski from the 15th - 19th August 2011 at Art Quill Studio in Arcadia Vale, New South Wales, Australia.

The Grant was awarded by “The Regional Arts Development Fund”, which is a Queensland Government and Toowoomba Regional Council partnership in order to support the local arts and culture. It is a prestigious grant that is merit based.

Barbara Scott and Marie-Therese Wisniowski in the studio.

Barbara Scott’s Shortened Biography
Barbara Scott has spent many years working with wool and other natural fibers in the fashion industry. She has now returned to her first love – developing her art concepts through the exploration of textile media on wool.

She loves to work with wool, silk, cotton and their blends. She loves to spin, dye and manipulate these fibers.

She began designing original knit wear in the 1960s, progressed to developing Aboriginal artefact industries in the late 1970s, studying all areas of textile art in the 1980s, before moving to the commercial production of superfine woollen garments using cutting edge technology in the 1990s.

Along her sojourn in creating textile industries, she has won some major business awards. For example, in 1993 she won the NSW Business Award For Excellence; in 1996 she was the ABC Australian Rural Women of the Year; in 1997 she was listed in the top 100 of Women in Australian Agriculture and she was Business Women of The Year (Sydney Business Review); in 1998 she was a national finalist in Business Woman of the Year.

Her textile art has galvanized in the new millennium. She has exhibited her textile art in a number of group exhibitions. In particular, in October of 2010 she was in a group exhibition with the “Women on the Edge” group titled - “Elements of Red” - which was exhibited at Goombungee Gallery, operated by the Toowoomba Regional Council, Queensland, Australia.

Barbara Scott’s Artist Statement and Motivation
“I believe there is a spirituality indigenous to every land. When you move in harmony with that spirit of place, you are practicing native (not Native) spirituality. If you are from a race or culture that isn’t indigenous Australian, you can still feel a soul connection to the spirit and form of this land. All of Earth’s life is interconnected and sacred - its flora, fauna, land and people, all parts that make up the whole. We have the opportunity to participate in life, attune to the natural pace of rhythmical change. Wherever we live, there is an underlying presence of indigenous change - the shifting balances of light and dark, dry and wet, growth and rest. There are moon cycles, seasonal cycles as well as the cycles of bodily function - hormonal, digestive, respiratory. Whether we live in an urban or rural environment we can experience a way of life offering connection to the natural forces of the universe. My artwork explores the spirituality of the land, its shifting balances and the integration of the Soul to the Earth.”

Barbara Scott working on one of the "illusion of depth study" projects.

The Master Class Program
The Master Class program followed on from the - “In Pursuit of Art Cloth: Disperse Dye and Transfer Printing” workshop, which was held on Sunday 4th July 2010 at Crows Nest Community and RSL Centre in Queensland, where the master class participant, Barbara Scott, learnt some of the basic techniques and principles of dye sublimation processes on synthetic and polyester fibres.

This advanced, comprehensive master class melds the student’s experiences as a valuable resource to create new artistic landscapes using dye sublimation processes that included complex multiple resist and overprinting.

Barbara was introduced to the tutor’s signature, MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) technique employing multiple layering and resist techniques, using flora as "the" thematic experience. Employing papers, stencils, brushes and flora, Barbara created richly colored, textural and vibrant three-dimensional effects on polyester and synthetic fabrics. In summary, it was a fun and exciting workshop, where individual instruction and experimentation forged the potential and artistic growth of developing the voice of a "new" master in the use of disperse dyes.

Barbara Scott's Project Outputs

Value study employing color wash plate.

Batik style resist, texture and color study.

MultiSperse Dye Sublimation technique employing flora – version 1.

MultiSperse Dye Sublimation technique employing flora – version 2.

MultiSperse Dye Sublimation technique employing flora - version 3.

MultiSperse Dye Sublimation technique employing flora - version 4.

MultiSperse Dye Sublimation ghost print.

Barbara Scott using the iron to sublimate the disperse dye painted plate to the fabric.

Barbara’s sublimated print on fabric incorporating texture studies.

Barbara’s dye painted plates and shapes for her "rock formations" personal explorations studies.

One of Barbara’s initial "rock formation" printed exploration study.

More of Barbara’s personal "rock formation" exploration studies.

Detail of one of Barbara’s above "rock formation" studies after overprinting.

Barbara’s "rock formation" and landscape movement study.

Master Classes are available in situ (i.e. in my studio) with respect to the following: "Melding Experiences: Master Class in Disperse Dyes And Sublimation Printing" and "Master Class In the Art Of Complex Cloth". Personal instruction is also available for my "Low Relief Screen Printing" (LRSP) and "Improvisational Screen Printing" techniques. For further details please email:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where and When Does the Act of Engagement Occur?
Opinion Piece on Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

One of my passions is to create Post-Graffiti artwork on cloth. A series of posts on this blogspot have addressed issues in Graffiti and Post Graffiti Art as well as presenting images of such art. I have listed some of these below for your enjoyment.
Time Dimension in Art
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art
New York Spray-Can Memorials
Another Brick
Cultural Graffiti
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona@Spoonflower
Neu Kunst: Mona & Marilyn
Paste Modernism 4

Where And When Does The Act Of Engagement Occur
I have often stated that there are three necessary conditions that all artworks possess: (a) they must be “engaged”; (b) they are non-functional; (c) they are aesthetic. To make the "necessary" conditions clearer: (a) engagement - unknown buried art objects are not art since there cannot be an act of engagement; (b) functionality - wearable art is “art” when placed in an art context, but when placed in an non art context (e.g. when it is worn) its functionality obscures the act of engagement; (c) aesthetic - if we were blind, water color paintings or ArtCloth (where the hand of the cloth is unaltered) could not be conceived by our restricted senses and so would preclude an act of engagement. Hence the latter art forms - in a world without sight - would be not deemed as art.

Marie-Therese Wsiniowski's ArtCloth Work: Global Warming - Surviving Remnants (see earlier blog for series)
Technique: MultiSperse Dye Sublimation technique on satin.
Note: The hand of the cloth is unaltered.

The act of engagement is now a critical necessary condition in that it encapsulates a conscious or sub-conscious interaction with art forms. It is by its nature temporal and personal. The person needs to be awake, but does not need to be in a particular state of mindfulness; that is, the exact neurological form that the act of engagement takes on is not definable at present. (Whilst monkey’s can paint, they are unable to discern or articulate what paintings of theirs they like or dislike.) Hence, there needs to be a biologically evolved homo-sapien's form of mindfulness with respect to the act of engagement of art forms. Note: It does not matter if there are higher or lower life forms in the universe, they will never have the same evolved chaotic "collective" view of art as homo sapiens.

Painting by Congo (chimpanzee).

When I have given this reasoning in art talks to an art audience inevitably questions arise with respect to new forms of art (e.g. Graffiti, Post Graffiti Art, ArtCloth etc.). Are these legitimate art forms? Some members of the audience seem to have difficulty in accepting "Street Art" (or evolved forms of it) as a valid art, since examples of it are not held in the collections of the Louvre, Tate or MOMA etc. (thereby unwittingly defaulting to an art institutional theory of what constitutes art). So where and when does the act of engagement need to occur for it to be deemed as art?

Marie-Therese Wisiowski's ArtCloth work: Millenium Palimpsest.

It is clear that there are "agreed" places that have been purposely built to promote the act of engagement of art. For example, early museums had their beginnings as the collections of wealthy individuals or families or art institutions of rare natural objects and artifacts. The first modern and public museum was the Louvre in Paris, which opened it doors in 1793 during the French revolution. It became the blueprint for many public museums that followed.

The court of the Louvre with its pyramid at night.

The types of museums today vary greatly, from large collections that cover a wide range of categories of art to narrowly focused museums that may concentrate on a particular subject, such as on the art of a single person of note. What they house and display has also altered significantly – from object-based art to non-figurative art to art installations etc. However, no matter what the size or what they house and/or exhibit, museums and galleries are “agreed” places where the act of engagement occurs.

The Tang Dynast. Leshan Giant Buddha near Leshan in Sichuan province China. Construction began in 713, and was completed in 803, making it the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world. It is in a public place.

There may be "non-agreed" places. For example, Graffiti Art often makes use of "non-agreed" places such as on buses, trains, fences, walls and pavements etc. Although there is no agreement between the Graffiti artists and the viewer - with respect to the latter being able to loiter in front of the artwork - an act of engagement may nevertheless occur in these "non-agreed" places.

Graffiti Train Message. Tags: Atos (see earlier blog on street art).

Many public places have been especially set side in order to allow an act of engagement to occur. Statues, sculptures, mosaics, and murals (to name a few art categories) find themselves in public spaces. Whether an act of engagement does occur - or whether the art form is blurred into the background - is in the providence of the passerby.

John Robertson-Swann’s Vault (Yellow Peril) Melbourne, Australia.

Many public accessible places - that are privately owned (such as corporate spaces) - also promote the act of engagement with respect to art forms.

Corporate Wall Hanging: Margo Lewers’ ArtCloth work – 05 (1976) (see an earlier blog on her ArtCloth works).

To answer the question posed in the title - where and whenever there is an art form and a mindful viewer, artworks will be engaged. It is therefore unreasonable to claim that art forms held in art collections or categories of art forms sanctioned by art institutions circumscribe the totality of art. Clearly, an art form or art category sanctioned by art institutions is a "sufficient" but not a "necessary" condition that it is art. For example, how could Christo's artworks be housed in galleries or museums or even be sanctioned by them? Art philosophers will claim that "Christo's Art" is contained within the photographic image. That may be "an" experience, but not necessarily "the" experience. For example, we may view the Mona Lisa in situ once in our lifetime. Nevertheless, we may view photographs of it a multitude of times. The photographs are "an" experience, viewing it in situ is "the" experience.

In the presence of transient art, "the" experience is fleeting by its very nature and moreover, by design. These and other transient art forms (such as the native American sand paintings and Australian Aboriginal dirt paintings) will always be sanctioned and engaged as art whenever and where ever they are engaged by non-believers. The institutional theory of art in terms of the necessary and sufficient conditions that define art has been well and truly discredited - even by art philosophers. Art forms can be engaged anywhere and at any moment or even within a moment in time. After all, isn't that the way we engage art physically - within a moment in time.

Christo: the Reichstag wrapped in silver fabric. Photograph. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Web. 30 May. 2011.

Hence, Street Art, Graffiti Art (or evolved forms of it), ArtCloth etc. do not need to be collected by art institutions or shown in "agreed" places in order for these works to be deemed as art. It is art since it satisfies the three necessary conditions and moreover, it is viewed as art by its practitioners and by a cohort of its viewers - where ever and whenever it is displayed or exhibited.

Navajo Sand Painting 1907, Library of Congress.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS):
Technique Based Article In Quilting Arts Magazine

Author: Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Over the last decade and more, I have been experimenting with hand printing techniques using disperse dyes on synthetic/polyester fabrics. These experiments have led to one of my new signature techniques that I have developed which I termed - MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS). I have been teaching my MSDS technique at international and national conferences/workshops, textile forums, to textile groups and within university courses.

Sublimation Printing
There are four distinct processes by which transfer printing can be achieved: melt-transfer; film-release transfer; semi-wet processes; sublimation printing.

What is commonly termed "transfer printing" in reality should be termed sublimation printing. Sublimation describes a process that goes from a solid state to a gas state without passing though a liquid state. Dry ice has this property.

In sublimation printing once the dye has been painted on a paper and is dry, the painted side of the paper is placed on top of the fabric surface that is to be dyed. Then heat is applied via an iron or a heat press (under pressure) to the back of the dry dyed paper. The dye vaporizes from the paper and infuses into the surface of the target fabric. The vapor dye reacts with the target fabric surface and adheres to it via dispersion forces (van der Waals forces) and hydrogen bonding. The heat of the iron serves a dual purpose: (a) it vaporizes the dye; (b) it assists the dye to infuse into the fabric surface and adhere to it.

We need to examine (a) and (b) more closely in order to appreciate the importance of the amount of heat applied (under pressure) in the disperse dye process. With respect to (a), the more heat that is applied, the more dye is vaporized, and so the more dye is available for uptake and adhesion to the fabric. With respect to (b), the more heat that is applied (under pressure) the more vigorously the surface fiber molecules vibrate, the more passages become available for the vaporized dye to venture into the voids of the amorphous region of the fiber, the greater the promotion of dye uptake and adhesion to the fabric.  That is why the amount of heat applied (under pressure) by the iron or heat press is so important since it determines the amount of dye that sublimates, the amount of dye the fabric uptakes and adheres to. Parts (a) and (b) work hand-in-hand to achieve that end. Not enough applied heat (under pressure) results in a very pale dyed fabric. However, there is a trade-off. The more heat you apply (under pressure) the greater the possibility of damaging the fabric and the transfer paper. You need to walk this tight rope for each fabric and paper you choose.

The adhesion that the dye forms with the fabric surface is why the fabric automatically becomes color fast, wash fast, light fast and moreover, why it cannot change the hand of the fabric. Furthermore, it is a surface technique and so the reverse side of the fabric is unaltered. Also, image creating objects such as stencils, resist items etc. can be inserted between the paper and fabric surface ready for transfer as well as painted images that were resident on the surface of the original paper can be transferred directly onto the fabric surface.

The MSDS Technique
The MSDS technique employs disperse dyes and involves hand printing multiple resists and multiple overprinted layers employing numerous color plates and low relief plant materials. The completed works are rich in color, light, shade, contrast, movement and depth. The multiple layers also imbue a painterly aesthetic and textural, three-dimensional quality to the finished ArtCloth works. Each print is unique and cannot be replicated.

My MSDS technique has been published in the August/September 2011 issue, No. 52. of Quilting Arts magazine. If you would like to have a reference copy, which shows images and text of the technique as applied to a melding of landscapes, you can subscribe to Quilting Arts magazine (please see the following URL for more information) - Quilting Arts

The magazine is also available from bookstores and newsagents in the USA, Canada and elsewhere. In Australia it is available from specialist outlets like The Thread Studio and Unique Stitching etc. – check your preferred search engines for other suppliers. The issue also includes other surface design techniques and feature articles.

The article "Introduction" (on page 32) shows in the background some of the MSDS ArtCloth works.

To whet your appetite, figure 5 on page 34 shows one of the initial steps in the creation of MSDS ArtCloth.

To keep the enthusiasm forging ahead, figure 6 on page 34 shows the next step in the process.

These steps eventually lead you to create a MSDS printed ArtCloth work (in this case on satin).
Note the complexity of the work, the painterly quality, and the three dimensional aspect of the finished ArtCloth.

See this blog site for more examples of disperse dye ArtCloth works employing my MSDS technique.