Tag Archives: Resin

Meet the Artist in Residence: Ari Norris

Ari Norris, artist in residence at Main Street Arts, during the month of July 2018, is working in one of our two studio spaces on our second floor. We asked Ari some questions about his work and studio practice:

Ari Norris

Ari Norris

Q:Tell us about your background.
I’m the son of two art educators, from Muskegon, Michigan. I grew up watching both of my parent’s studio practices and helping along  when I could; it made the decision to pursue a career in art an easier choice than I’m sure a lot of other kids had it. We joke now that I was really just doomed from the beginning.

Large scale collaborative piece by Timothy Norris and Patti Opel, w/ two T. Norris pieces to left.

Large scale collaborative piece by Timothy Norris and Patti Opel,  two T Norris pieces to left.

More recently, I apprenticed with Gary Casteel for two summers (2016, 2017) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; learning how to sculpt figuratively with oil clay, equally picking up the trade of commission-based bronze. Thankfully resulting in some public work of my own.

Norris' bust of Gary Casteel

Ari Norris’ bust of Gary Casteel, bronze 2016

Coming up in a few months, we will be dedicating a life-size bronze sculpture of Clarence Zylman, a fellow Muskegonite, in November 2018, in Muskegon, MI.

Zylman was given the title of the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” by the U.S. Army, during his service in World War II. The song had already been released by the time of Zylman’s enlistment, though he inevitably lived the role that the hit song had immortalized, and the Army publicly recognized him for that.

Clarence Zylman/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, oil clay

Clarence Zylman/Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, oil clay

I am currently in the summer before my final year at Northern Illinois University, finishing up a BFA degree. Jose Jimenez, a fellow sculpture student, and I, run an independent space on campus named Backspace Gallery. I’ve lucked out and gotten great campus employment as well, at both the Jack Olson Gallery here, and the NIU Art Museum.

"the (g)rad stuff" at Backspace Gallery

“the (g)rad stuff” at Backspace Gallery

 Q: How would you describe your work?
The current body of work I’ve been building at NIU has partly stemmed from an area artist’s interview I had read; never before had I been hit with such an ego in writing before, and it helped realize some similarities I saw growing in myself.

It really encouraged me to try and deflate this prevalent machismo attitude, that I’m sure all of us can imagine in some iteration. The artist’s work that I was responding to was very much about “man’s work”/construction, so adopting similar materials and language was the starting point. The first pieces utilized realistically rendered, impotently sagging, cast resin hammers that I made.

Acrylic on cast resin

Acrylic on cast resin, 2017

Q: What is your process for creating a work of art?
Lately, trying to find my own balance between technology and tradition has been changing my process immensely. While I have been finding ways to incorporate digital fabrication, dually burying the technological aspects by hand-skills has been changing the ways I make anything now.

I am constantly battling myself when questioning, “does one approach visibly outweigh the other?” Because for whatever reason, I have this pre-conceived idea that using new technology feels like I’m cheating in some way – and that’s one way I think the work thankfully combats my own ego.

Laser cut and painted wood, aluminum, cast resin, acrylic sheet, mounted on aluminum composite panel

Laser cut and painted wood, aluminum rod, cast resin, oil, acrylic sheet, mounted on aluminum composite panel, 2018

I want my work to stay informed dually by current topics, and art history, without hitting the viewer over the head with either sources, for lack of a better euphemism. The hammer, and objects in general, have already been long immortalized by Joseph Kosuth,  Magrite, and many others, so it’s not exactly doing anything new on that front.

Finding ways to converse with, and utilize these established and familiar motifs, I think is what part of my overarching motivation in art making could likely be.

Jennifer Mannebach, an artist who recently exhibited at Jack Olson Gallery, and is an NIU Alumni herself, titled a piece, “A Means of Asserting While Also Giving the Slip.” That’s been resonating with me for a few months now, as each new object I work on, is both trying to emulate the source material, but also show the viewer that it is an impersonation.

Q: What are your goals for this residency?
As I mentioned before, I have been working around the clock on the Bugle Boy Sculpture. In the days before I leave Dekalb, IL, for Clifton Springs, NY, the clay figure will be going to a special arts foundry for bronze casting over the next several months, and I will be able to get some short term separation from it. The residency at Main Street Arts is coming at a perfect time, and I am really thankful to have been selected.

During the residency, I will be switching gears from working mostly  three-dimensionally, to focus on printmaking. I’ve been trying to make a connection from embossing as a flat, absent image on paper, to clear epoxy castings of objects, both being so ghost-like.

Intaglio print on laser cut embossing

Intaglio print on laser cut embossing

Q: What is your most useful tool in your studio?
Razor blade/Box cutter; I think I even prefer them over the smaller X-Acto knives. Mike Rea, the sculpture professor here at NIU, has shown me some really precise moves with a blade for framing/woodworking. Using a razor with the resin work I’ve been doing is great too, I’d rather shave flashing down with a blade than try to sand it and breath in all that dust. Cannot beat the replaceability either.

Q: Do you collect artwork?
When it’s reasonably priced, I try to! Since moving here to Dekalb, IL, I’ve been trying to collect work from retired NIU faculty. I think the fact that they are largely pre-internet, the amount of information sellers can find is more limited, so the price can be closer to what a student can afford. Not to mention the thrill of stepping into an area Goodwill or some other thrift store, and finding something with a name that is recognizable, but that’s rare.

Q: What’s next for you?
I have two public sculpture dedications in the months following the residency, and college will be back in full swing as well. During all of this, I will be getting my applications prepared for grad school, and getting ready for the Spring BFA show. Ready to let the chips fall where they may!

Q: Where else can we find you?
arinorris.wixsite.com/home
Facebook
Instagram

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Amy Vena: Process

Art is my life-long passion. I’ve always maintained a connection with art, specifically drawing and painting. However, it wasn’t until graduate school that I really investigated using industrial materials as painting mediums. My relationship with high-gloss epoxy resin began in 2011 and has continued since then. Applying resin to both canvas and panel has taught me about the medium and it’s behavior.

photo

Amy Vena, In her studio

My painting process is inspired by both contemporary and past artists. Similar to Abstract Expressionist painters of the mid-21st Century (like Helen Frankenthaler), I strive to produce paintings that are active and contain energy. The focus is to achieve expression through tonal variation, depth, and color.

Most importantly, creating artwork is fun and spiritual. When I am in the studio I work through thoughts and problems until everything drifts away. Thoughts about life turn into brushstrokes. Eventually, my mind is quieted by work. Space, healing, and peace are all achieved while painting.

Image 1

By Amy Vena

The pieces contributed to Solid Gold were recently created. They are part of a transitional phase coming from a previous series inspired by images of nebulae. These new paintings are not meant to be representational images. They are  abstract, diverging from themed work. They focus on color and movement.

By Amy Vena

By Amy Vena

I often incorporate objects into my artwork prior to applying epoxy resin. Leaf skeletons and gold leaf add subtle detail. The actual process of creative development is pretty standard between pieces:

  1. Lay gesso and modeling paste on canvas to create the foundation texture and organic ambiance
  2. Use Acrylic Inks to develop a composition
  3. Create or enhance depth in certain areas working the entire painting
  4. Apply aerosol spray-paint
  5. Saturate each end of the value spectrum
  6. Allow the paint to dry
  7. Apply the clear or colored resin
  8. Create striations with iridescent acrylic/epoxy resin mixture
photo copy

By Amy Vena

Layering is one of the most valuable elements in my creative process. It takes patience and time. The application of epoxy resin bears the heaviest risks. Epoxy resin is toxic, and all precautions must be taken when handling the medium. Mixing must be closely monitored, as the epoxy resin will not cure if mixed incorrectly. Complexity level is something to consider when deciding to work with epoxy resin, but when done correctly the medium is fantastic and exciting.

Painting is a journey, and I am excited to see where each new painting will lead me.

For more information please visit Amy’s website, amycvena.com. You can see Amy’s work in person during our current exhibition, Solid Gold. #amycvenaart

Take a look at our previous Inside the Artist’s Studio blog post, by multimedia artist Jeanne Beck.