Residency 3 Summary

Residency Summary

Donna L. Woodley

Group 3


The third residency was one of the most informative and beneficial thus far. My work consisted of six smaller paintings of African American women in underwear, collages combining photos of the women in the paintings with magazine cut outs of women, Victorian underwear, and some small scale nonrepresentational works on paper. Group critiques with faculty, graduates, and peers along with one on one critiques generated a discourse surrounding the work that informed and spawned potential paths of research that I believe will add new layers to the current topics of my work this semester in addition to exploring other topics.

Much of the feedback from the critiques concentrated on the six paintings as well as the collages. Technique was discussed very little if at all during the critiques which was significant since a large portion of the conversations during the second residency dealt with painting techniques. It was specified that turning the collage compositions into paintings would be an interesting exercise. I agree with that suggestion. Seeing the relationship between the figures would likely read somewhat differently using paint as the medium. Other observations and comments consisted of the possibility of reintroducing me back into the work as well as the “granny panties.” The figures with the black “sexy” underwear appeared to be typical to some viewers as it related to the underwear and the posing of the figures. It was also an interestingly noted point to consider that I had the control and power as the photographer in the photo shoots thus raising questions about placing the models in a vulnerable position versus a comfortable and confident position. Was my role as a female photographer the same as a male photographer? The self-made underwear captured the curiosity of the viewers. Some of the viewers resonated with the underwear from more of a costume perspective mainly because of the polka dotted pattern. It was suggested that I should continue to explore sewing as a medium which is being considered.

The professional development seminar as well as critical theory seminar were informative and thought provoking. Professional development was a wealth of knowledge of the unspoken rules of the visual arts industry and a laundry list of tips to facilitate the success of the artist. Critical theory was a thorough lesson on ideas of construct, history, enlightenment theory, and philosophy. These courses were a perfect combination for the third residency and presented in enough time to start thinking about the thesis from a critical point of view and to revise resumes, CVs, and artist statements.

Based on the feedback received during the third residency, continuing to build the work through research and the development of my ideas is the primary focus. More specifically, combining self-portraiture with the consideration of posing and narrative is one of the paths I will explore this semester through a series of paintings incorporating the underwear represented in the work from group 2’s residency with contrasting poses similar to paintings from the group 3 residency. Among the artists that will aid in informing this semester’s work is Cindy Sherman. Similar to Ms. Sherman, I seek to raise challenging and important questions about the role and representation of women in society. However, my work will focus on the demographic of African American women and their role in hip hop culture as video girls. The purpose is to start a conversation on societal views of black women and the role, if any, that hip hop culture plays in shaping those views through the depiction of humorous narratives embedding myself into the work. With this work, ideas of absurdity and strength versus femininity are associated topics that could possibly be a part of the discourse.

In addition, empty interiors and the examination of social spaces are among additional topics that I plan to explore this semester. The energy of an empty room in comparison to a room with living organisms be it humans, plants, or animals is a topic that I am very interested in. How does empty social space compare to occupied social space? What does the energy feel like when there are only two people occupying the space? What is the energy when there are five hundred occupants?

Goals for this semester include creating habits of allowing the research to better inform the work. Artists such as the aforementioned Cindy Sherman along with Mickalene Thomas, Marlene Dumas, Jenny Saville, Francis Bacon, Yinka Shonabare, Kara Walker, and Whitfield Lavelle are among artists to research this semester. Further review of John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage are also included on the lists of artists. The bibliography for this semester include the following:

  1. “Narcissus in the Studio: Artists Portraits and Self Portraits,” by Robert Cozzolino
  2. “Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe,” by Lisa Milandri and Mickalene Thomas
  3. “Cindy Sherman,” by Cindy Sherman

Overall, I was extremely thrilled with the feedback that I received in group three. During this residency, I felt more successful at effectively talking about my work and clearly relaying my intentions for the work. That accomplishment was the catalyst for feeling more confident and validated as an artist as well as the spark of new ideas for this semester’s independent academic studies and studio work.



“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ~Pablo Picasso
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
“When I was a child my mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general. If you become a monk, you’ll be the Pope.’ Instead I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”  ~Pablo Picasso



Residency Summary

Donna L. Woodley

Group 2

I think that I fared very well during the second semester residency.  My work consisted of eight 30×36 paintings in oil representing the female figure in underwear.  There was discussion about the work during critiques that generated discourse regarding the subject matter, composition, personal issues, process of painting, and race that resonated with me.  Although the second residency was very different than the first and at least one panic attack ensued due to an overwhelming amount of suggestions and information, I was able to take away a few key shards of advice.  That being said, my goals for this semester became very clear and simple.  As Tony Apesos said “If you want to paint, paint.”  I want to paint so that is exactly what I will do.  The other goal is to further develop my ideas and put more research behind my work, as suggested by Sunanda Sanyal.

Below are a few points discussed during two of the critiques that summarize most of the information compiled during the residency.

  1. Peter Rostovsky-During this critique, Peter mentioned the gaze in the art world and how it’s been overdone and expressed in so many different ways. He went on to say that if the work is about the gaze, the work has to be presented in a new and unique way in order for it to grasp the attention of the viewer. I didn’t consider the work to be about the gaze nor did I anticipate that it would generate discourse about that topic. The core of the work was about comfort level, vulnerability, and the figure itself in underwear. I thought that he made a great point in stating that ridding the figure of its eyes could possibly be viewed as taking the power away from the subject and giving it to the viewer. That was an point of view that I had not seen until he mentioned it during critique. My goal in making this work was to generate discourse among the viewers and observe the viewer’s interaction with the work. The most interesting observation that I made was Peter reference to the subject matter as “things” when talking about the bodies depicted in the paintings. He proposed possibly cropping the figure to further magnify the bodies in the paintings. Peter also mentioned that flesh should have a “buttery” appearance which requires more paint and a certain way of applying the paint. Artists that were recommended during this critique were Jenny Saville and the need to see her work in person to personally view the texture of the paint and how the skin is represented in her work. He also recommended looking at Manet’s work.
  2. Jan Avgikos (First Semester Advisor)-During the advisor critique, Jan discussed a number of points pertaining to the subject matter of the work. She mentioned exploring what it means to have a figure without a head and what that means in my work. In addition, she pointed out the idea of a figure in the nude versus being naked and that I explore that path. I explained that some of the pieces depicted a portion of the face which was a means of a slight introduction to incorporating the face in the work. The initial concept was to eliminate the face for a couple of reasons. I wanted to convey the idea of comfort from the standpoint of an overweight woman being courageous to show her body as is but on her terms which resulted in the exclusion of her identity. I also wanted to body to be the focus of the work in the effort to generate discussion about issues of esteem, societal views of beauty and perfection, and the idea of being comfortable. Jan and I also talked about dealing with technical issues of the work. She talked about the idea of my work and whether the distortions of the anatomy were deliberate or whether the renderings were the result of not knowing how to render the figure particularly speaking of the painting with the black underwear where the arms were proportionally larger.
  3. Moreover, she discussed embracing the “mistakes” and expressed that Tony Apesos would be an excellent advisor during the second semester in her opinion. Jan recommended that I look at Manet’s “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” and late Renoir work to explore distortion of the body along with nudity. We discussed taking a painting class and learning how to better render the body, but being careful to maintain the power in the work. Finally, we talked about race and I expressed that although I didn’t want to focus on being an African American initially, I eventually during the residency embraced this idea from the standpoint the it is included in my work but not the primary premise of the work.

For the semester, I am looking forward to making new work that will generate a similar discourse but with more developed ideas and solid research to support the work.  My goals are as follows:

  1. Continue painting
  2. Explore different ways to apply paint
  3. Take a painting workshop (Oil workshop August 9th)
  4. Explore posing and underwear: distortion of the body through posing, history of underwear, purpose for wearing underwear and how that has evolved and remained through time.
  5. Incorporate pattern into work
  6. Draw
  7. Read the following:
  8. Artforum
  9. Modern Painters
    1. “The Nude” by Kenneth Clark
    2. “Bathers, Bodies, Beauty: The Visceral Eye” by Linda Nochlin
    3. “The Naked Nude” by Frances Borzello
    4. “The Female Nude” by Lynda Nead
  10. Artists: Rembrandt, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, Barkley Hendricks, Henry Taylor, Jenny Saville, Gustave Courbet, Sylvia Sleigh, John Currin, Eric Fischl, Victoria Kate Russell, Patrick Earl Hammie, and more.
  11. Physically see more art

As I previously stated, coming into this second residency was very different than the first residency.  All of the information discussed during the critiques I felt was valuable and provided me with a number of things to think about.  I’m excited to see what I will come up with this semester in continuing to build a solid body of work.

Residency Summary

Residency Summary

Donna L. Woodley

Group 1


I didn’t know what to expect in preparation for the spring 2014 residency at LUCAD.  I just knew that I was excited to be accepted, thrilled to take the next step in reaching my goals as an artist, and scared of the unknown.  I asked myself these questions:  Why was I accepted into this program?  Are they sure?  Is what I have to say through my work valid enough?  Can I do this?  Do I know enough about the history of art?  Do I know enough about contemporary art?  All of these questions that I asked myself generated the anticipation and curiosity that I needed to get on the plane and come to Boston to continue down the road I was meant to travel.  After arriving in Boston I realized that we made the right decision.     

During the residency, many ideas and concepts were generated and discussed from the critiques and classes.  The residency experience as a whole was most helpful because I left with validation of my work and some specific ideas of where to take my work for the second residency.  I learned a different way of researching and developing ideas in the Artistic Research class facilitated by Ben Sloat that has been of great benefit to me in developing ideas for the next body of work. 

The topics listed below were discussed heavily in my advisor critique with Jan Avgikos.  In addition, my non-advisor critiques with Oliver Wasow, Stuart Steck and Matt Keegan generated conversation surrounding similar topics.               

 Body image and self-evaluation is the foundation of my work.  I will continue to research these topics using figurative images while also trying out different media with the goal of creating conversations surrounding these issues.

  1. Monumentality was the most common topic discussed during critiques based on the angular depiction of the subject matter in the painting above.  The bodies are overweight; however, they stand with genuine confidence and self-acceptance.  Exploring a variety of angles will be a consistent element within my work in discovery of the different emotions that read through body language.  Depicting the figure of women in monumental style can generate discussion concerning the ideas of power, confidence, and vulnerability.  I ponder whether these characteristics be demonstrated through the pose of a woman?  I’d like to learn what other discussions can be raised from focusing on monumentality.
  2. The small hands in the painting shown above were pointed out during my advisor critique.  The size of the hands was interesting and a contrast to the size of the bodies.  This conversation generated ideas to explore scale with body parts.  For example, Picasso depicted two women running with oversized hands.  I am including this element in my work.
  3. Anonymity was also discussed during my advisor critique.  The faces are not the focus of the painting.  The bodies are the most important part of the subject matter.  I am interested in working on evoking characteristics based on body language which does not require the face to be included in the composition.
  4. Shadowing is a style that I used for added interest within the composition.  I’m interested in seeing how experimenting with shadows can add additional ideas for new work.  This element has potential to be explored exclusively but with the same foundation of body image and self-discovery. 
  5. Embracing the primitive style was a comment that was most helpful during my advisor critique.  Jan recommended taking a painting class but then thought that it may not be necessary.  She thought that I should maintain the primitive style that came across in my work and continue to develop it.  I’m still determining whether I will take a class because it’s always my goal to learn technique, but I was validated that the work that I’ve made and that was critiqued was interesting and generated great conversation.
  6. I am currently reading “Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution”, “Vitamin P”, “ArtNews” and “Artforum.”  Other books recommended that I plan to read are Judith Butler’s “Bodies That Matter,” “Modern Painters,” and “Global Feminisms New Directions in Contemporary Art.”  I’ve researched Alice Neel, Carroll Dunham, Picasso, Cezanne, Renoir, Matisse, Alex Katz and Lucien Freud.  

Coming into this residency I was hoping to receive some valuable information and also determine whether my work could produce discussions about body image and self-evaluation among other topics.  As a result of attending, I have a clear path to travel and take my work while maintaining the foundation and subject matter previously discovered and explored.  Going forward, I am working on pieces that compare and contrast abstract forms and naturalistic figures.  Scale of body parts are compositional elements to my work.  Lastly, using a light source to explore shadowing is what I’m working on as well.