Donna L. Woodley
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.