Thursday, March 27, 2008
This piece represents a continuing theme for me…how we live. It’s the core of what I’m about. Many times we don’t recognize the things that are the worst for us. They’re wrapped in such pretty packages! There’s no telling what’s good from what’s bad. It’s hard to remain focused in an atmosphere swirling with every option and it’s up to us to walk carefully. Christ represents the epitome of the Spirit filled person. The three in the background represents the Trinity of Christianity. The words “morning stars” in the background represent hope and purple is the color of royalty.
I was involved in a round robin project not long ago in which the artists were to alter pages from a desk calendar. This piece was done on a calendar page which featured a vintage photo of a street scene. I love the juxtaposition of the accordion player, isolated and obsolete, and the way the man in the background is staring at him. Could he learn a lesson on feeling isolated and obsolete or is he sympathetic? There are others who pass by without even a look at the accordion player. Or, maybe they peek without seeming to… they shut one eye. You can see the word “story” in the upper right background. There’s a story here if you look closely.
James Michael Starr
“The Day I Wanted Nothing Else” (2007)
12” x 9”
Lithographed book images on canvas
Last September I was invited to mount an exhibition at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, an alternate art space here in Dallas. The two galleries that show my work are a bit partial to my sculptures, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do a show that was all collage. I created fourteen, 12” x 9” stretched canvases interpreting the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Virtues, and titled the show, "Fourteen Days." These were quite a change for me, and marked a transition away from working exclusively with very old materials. Where in the past my collages used almost nothing but nineteenth-century engravings, these were all built from halftone reproductions of photos and paintings, some of the images only 50 or 60 years old. Piecing together images using the stark black-and-white lines of old engravings had been fun, but adding the variables of hue and value present in halftones made it even more challenging. (For those unfamiliar with the term, halftone is the lithographic or offset printing term for the pattern of tiny dots used to translate the infinitely variable gradation of photographs into a form that can be printed with as little as one color of ink, the way they're most often seen in black-and-white newspaper or book images.)
For favorite artwork I chose two items that I have created in the last month: one is a traditional collage and the other one is digital (a new medium for me).
The traditional collage was part of an altered book swap and uses layers of paint, gel medium, tar gel and images taken from National Geographic magazines. The funny thing about this collage is that my computer was down at the time, and with a deadline to meet, I was forced to work with what I had. No adjusting sizes of images on the computer, or making back-up copies, just in case. This caused me to approach the work differently, and I think it helped with the end result.
The story behind the creation of the digital collage is somewhat similar, in that I began the project in a different frame of mind. I was at the computer to kill time before an appointment, and just started playing around with some favorite images. It seemed to all fall together, and virtually make itself.
Another thing that both collages share in common, is that I was concentrating more on the shapes and colours of each piece, rather than what the image was. This seemed to help with the "weirdness factor". Although the pictures are somewhat random images, somehow they all work together.
I would love to learn how to tap into this creative zone again, but I am unsure of how to go about it. Ban the use of the computer on specific days? Only
make art when there is a deadline breathing down my neck? It would be great to see how others get into their creative groove. Perhaps this could be featured
in another Pulse (hint, hint).
I went through some of my recent pieces and came up with 2 postcards. Postcards seem to be my medium du jour(at least as far as 2007/2008 goes).
The first piece titled fragile is one of the pieces I worked and worked. That is why I have been unable to part with it. I used butterflies in both pieces because I think they are a work of art all by themselves. Fragile uses my beloved spray paint, alphabets, and my most recent fave for adding texture, the sewing machine. It has multiple layers and a complexity that I love. It also shows pink (a color that is really only one of my fads) in a delicate light.
The second piece which is named 23A shows my love of bold color. Color excites me. I find I tend to gravitate towards artists that are not afraid of color; artists that use it with daring; artists that just make me catch my breath with their color combinations. Don't get me wrong; I appreciate art uses softer colors and neutral colors to make a statement; However, I have found that the use of bold color usually gets my attention. So there you have it.
This piece was created during a very happy time when I was down in Phoenix, staying with artgalpals and we were just messing around, layering spackle, drywall compound and inks onto paper. I later transferred a photograph that I had taken that week onto the finished background and love the layers, colour and depth of the resulting artwork.