Study With The Best: The Visual Arts



welcome to study with the best the magazine show that's all about CUNY i'm tinabeth pina today's show highlights the visual arts from the subway platforms in new york city to the desert to rural Mexico from the Brazilian favelas and Queens to a pop-up art shop in Manhattan we're looking at art across the CUNY spectrum first up the Brazilian slums known as favelas have a harsh reputation but that perception is changing with the help of Brazilian artists and Queens College what's behind me is georgette Omaha the marina project which has been called a social sculpture in other words of sculpture whose borders between art and everyday life are not clear it's something put together by a group of artists in the Pieta the Silva neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro as children they were living in their neighborhood at a moment of intense conflict between drug traffickers and police and this was an escape a way that they could say stay safe and enjoy themselves what they developed was a role-playing game it's a virtual reality they used Lego avatars to depict different archetypes of Rio citizens people soon began to notice what they were doing they appeared on a variety of Brazilian TV shows and National Geographic they themselves have travelled to Berlin to London to New York to East Timor this is their first installation in the United States and it's one that we really prize I would say most of all in relation to the engagement between CUNY students and these young people from Rio I was basically part of the whole creation process started painting bricks from the very beginning and then assembling them and arranging them I didn't know much about fellas I had seen them depicted in films like City of God I knew that they are a social phenomenon in Brazil from working with the artists I just learned that much has changed in their community so we're like evaluating and interpreting what was going on in their surroundings through active play as they called it before I was talking to you about the film City of God which was my only impression beforehand of favelas you you know according to that film it's all violence these kids who grew up were the same kids who came here to work with us I got to work here on the favelas I got to build them I got to paint them and I got to know the people who I worked with we have kind of a cynical way of looking at things they can't trust the police there obviously there's that but you know there's kind of innocence behind it as well I help with the project in many different ways from the initial stages of the actual painting of the Brazilian bricks to mixing the concrete it's changed my awareness of favelas getting to me the people actually came from favelas you have to see what they're actually like and there are such as regular people favelas are often seen as sort of these dangerous or exotic zones that are outside of the city and the best sociological work indicates that in fact they're they're essential parts of the city that are tied in to labor markets and consumption and all sorts of politics throughout Rio and I think that what they're doing with this is enacting that message it's very inspiring that in an environment that we might perceive as being a very violent space an impoverished space something so creative and smart and dynamic can come about it recognizes that favelas are places of inequality and violence and even drug dealing it presents a much more complex picture of the community people who live in a neighborhood where there's discrimination or poverty are not constantly simply reacting to that discrimination in poverty it's not like you can explain everything they do through that but people around the world look for joy and it's not simply an antidote to pain oftentimes this is seen as you know outsider art or naive art and I think that they very much reject that designation that this is art that is about the core of what it is to be from Rio suzan trial is a renowned artist whose work hangs in the world's most prestigious museums we went to her Manhattan studio to hear more about her latest work but she describes as moving between the poles of beauty and horror my work has been a kind of inner weaving over the years where I pick up a theme it may disappear for a while and then it picks up again in another incarnation from another angulation in 1991 when the Gulf War happened I had a real break in a shift in my work and that's when the work turned sort of overtly political and from that point on until now I've worked in a bifurcated way I'm always working on something that has more to do with the beauty side whether it's the fading disappearing colors of the walls of Rome or whether it's the sort of ancient worn tiles and patterns of some of the great cathedrals in Italy that sort of gives me a sense of beauty and that other side while I'm working on 9/11 the burning oil fields Guantanamo Abu Ghraib there was something so unacceptable that we would torture people you know given all of our rhetoric about human rights and so forth the internet really played into this so much and I felt that you couldn't I couldn't disassociate myself from those photographs this man was Egyptian taken off an airplane it was a mistaken identity it was standing on his tiptoes in that he would have drowned if he had let go and that was testimony that that I had read he finally did get released the doctors psychologists were involved in complicit lis involved in creating the circumstances of what happened in these black boxes they figured out what were the phobias that these men had these are actually the size of the black box and that's exactly how they fit into it I've tried to show the distress and the discomfort of what it must be like to be in in a container like that for hours and hours and possibly days on that the metaphor for me was when I found basically the white line the chalk line with all of its associations at a crime scene that's drawn on the pavement or whatever or when there's an accident of where the body was I also thought about Pompeii where what was left after those terrible fires for these voids of where the human beings had been and what they then did was support plaster into these voids to recreate the figures that sense of the void and of that fragility of what that line is the skin is a protection it's a major protection obviously for the body and when someone is tortured what happens I believe is that that protective layer is gone it becomes porous it becomes no longer there I do think the beauty has been an entry point in into some of this more horrific work because if you all you see is the horror you just automatically turn off think that if you can enter it and then begin to feel and experience the horror I think it's a stronger experience I need that balance the eventual thing that I want to do is to finish the third part as I see it of a trilogy the first being Abu Ghraib the second being Guantanamo and the third I would like to investigate the American prison system because I think they're all interconnected they're all under connected with torture abuse with rationalization of things that are simply unacceptable like how can you say that 10 20 30 years of solitary confinement is not torture I would hope that one is able to connect in with one's own experience about what it is to be in pain what it is to inflict pain and maybe think about it and feel it in some way LaGuardia Community College has a new photo exhibit on display that's off the beaten path Rudolfo de caballos between heaven and earth captures the harsh reality of the desert in northern Mexico as well as the uncommon occupations of its people it's a very emotional for me to see the photographs over here when I came here for the very first time and I saw all the galleries at the Soho I really realized the museum's and I say my say one day you have to show you were here so now I'm doing it you have to be very careful with this photographs because they are in color and color is can be tricky when I use this strong colors because I'm a Mexican that's the way I see but my photographs are kind of sad for me because things for all these people should be better than they are as far as I can see we are not connected to modern art so to speak and because of that we are not connected to heaven so we are living in a space between when I think about it I say myself what are we doing to survive in this space I can see a lot of struggle in order to make a living over here I was driving a truck for wayforward some friends and in the middle of nowhere and all of a sudden we saw this cover and inside of the cover I found this beautiful lady she made all these baskets in order to get some money or harem for a baby it's a lot of order inside a lot of beauty a lot of color with a the most humble element this photograph is from the an area of Durango rock state and the name of the place is dinamita like a dynamite because there used to be a factory from DuPont they left left so it's not that kind of ghost town but beautiful place and I used to go very often because I found this place very quiet very strange I really like to be here in the desert and one thing all of the sudden from an hour this guy appears and then he said I work here in this quarry getting the stones to sell it and get some money but well it really attracts me what the this guy is the same color of the stone these guys they are very very young and nevertheless they are working on their own business and the business is a very complex one because they fly balloons I don't know how to fly a balloon but they know I feel a lot of love from Mexico because I spell of my life in Mexico seeing the color the food sometimes I fear I miss the foods sometimes I made some friends some relatives and I really miss the color I really miss the color a recent exhibition here at the James gallery focuses on a realist painter who lived to be 112 years old theresa Bernstein was an American artist to live true 1890 to 2002 we actually believe that she exhibited in every decade of the 20th century she paints Gloucester Massachusetts which is where she had a summer home she paints daily scenes in New York City including the elevated trains people on the street suffragette parades truce of Bernstein I think because of her interest in scenes of daily life has been aligned with the ashcan school of artists the ashcan school wanted to paint every day kind of gritty reality so Teresa Bernstein would go out onto the street and sketch things and then she'd go back into her studio and paint them with the vibrancy of color and the types of colors she's used and the emotionality to her paintings I think she can be aligned with the German expressionist this is theresa Bernstein's painting lofts from 1920 this one in particular is extremely autobiographical directly related to Teresa burns T's emotions about having lost a a daughter this is one of the paintings that is very expressionistic in the use of color and in the brushstrokes she's trying to show her emotion through the painting the window there's actually a baby carriage a woman holding a baby in front of a house and then the angel of death here then there's also a small angel here in the vase and then there is a vase holding three peaches which I think you could argue represent Willy Meyerowitz her husband the baby and Teresa Bernstein but also the peaches appear in another painting as representative of the different stages of life abuse and maturity and adulthood by looking at an artist like Teresa Bernstein who made a very definitive choice to stay a realist artist we can learn a lot more than we already know there's so much art history of the United States particularly in the nineteenth and early twentieth century that we haven't studied and that needs to be studied and by studying mr. Bernstein's life and her career I think that that broadens our understanding of our culture commuters in the city might not know it but there is a wide variety of art created by CUNY artists as part of the MTA's arts for transit program I've been doing public art commissions for about 10 years now even though I had never worked with laminated glass before they told me it was a laminated glass project because it was this fabrication technique I could basically make the design as complex as I want it to so then I just thought well why don't I make it as bright and cheerful and startling as possible the panels were installed in the summer of 2012 I have four laminated glass wind screens when it was first installed people would actually just kind of stop in their tracks and a lot of people would look and some would photograph and that was actually it was just nice to see that it gave them something the title of the piece is called rediscovery I'm talking about the fact that the world is magical and that at one point we discovered this but we kind of periodically have to read this government my work is very intricate and ornamented and I use a lot of pattern and repetition and I use a lot of layering it is in this way that I get kind of a sense of complexity even though all the individual elements are very simple all of the patterns are basically based on nature there are a lot of circles there are a lot of spirals there are a lot of bubbles dots I think that the work also just references a lot of things that references flowers it references pearls it references fabric if you look at the station it's just a very functional station it's not unattractive but it's there's nothing particularly attractive about it a little lifting your day visually is a good thing it's one of the largest subway Commission's in the system it was a three hundred and thousand dollar Commission you know it was originally pitched as a gateway to the Upper West Side this is 14 years ago the Upper West Side staged quite a bit in that time back in the 70s 80s Verity Square was known as needle park junkies would hang out there and they would leave their works and before we built that station it was a rat infested not such a nice place but I saw that location Verity Square as a departure point they were talking about how to bring light down into the tracks below how to bring light down into the station I said you have to use light and because I had done so much studying how the light would work I could show them exactly what it would do I did my research I studied the Crystal Palace which that design is based on I researched Giuseppe Verdi I researched Rigoletto one of his operas I thought that mosaic an Italian tradition combined with Verdi and his musical scores and this notion of Crystal Palace the Train shed how can we combine all these together the whole project took five years to start to finish it was so much pressure it took a year just to place all the pieces the painting around that station matches the pattern that I created the quatrefoil pattern that I created in my mosaic that artwork that design it's not just the the skylight that I need but it's the whole dirty square I did the engineering and to know that millions of people are walking underneath my glass and that it's safe in addition to beautiful it's a great feeling for artists it's an honor to be a permanent part of the fabric of New York to have a piece that will survive you it will last much longer than me all my life I grew up watching boxing with my family on Friday nights in San Francisco all my father's friends would come over on Friday nights they would watch Gillette's cavalcade of sports and these guys would all talk and bet on every round and talk a lot of trash this place is really alive it's the magic of it is still here what's your name Jules Allen no no no oh I saw you fight a lot man my name is Jules Alex I'm a photographer and I teach at Queen's Royal College in New York I'm interested in social aspects life living I like the way people woo in the gym you have to pay attention to be alert I like all the movement of the bags the rhythm in the media I like the sound of it you know beautiful to watch man it's beautiful to watch the photographs that I make a about African American culture in in effect I mean being responsible and mature I mean I hate photographs of black people sitting around being dependent victimized criminalized I can't stand that type of imagery so you are going to shut it down but you can counter this is a book that was shot in Gleason's jump between 1983 and 1986 one now places was on 30th the book was published in 2011 you can't just walk in here with a camera start photographing I had to be part of a community my trainer Bobby McQuillan he said what do you do I said a photograph and he said whatever you do if you train with me you'll be better at it crazy party seems like it improved my focus name is Rodney Watts Eibach's Rodney for three rounds and the only reason that I'm here today good Rodney adversity all this is a gentleman rocky we argued for two years and I used to mess with him all the time telling me didn't know what he was talking about stuff is Bentley and there was a pistol is a crazy and we laughed about it foot you carried it everywhere so this is great to see that this has been able to sustain itself you know what I mean in trying times in troubled times that this gym is still holding up and then it's a boxing is embraced this way thanks for watching study with the best for all things CUNY log on to our website at CUNY TV or you can facebook and tweet us see you next time bye I spent I'd say almost ten days and in the burning oil fields I took about a thousand photographs I hadn't been able to read what I was looking at it didn't make sense and when I got there I understood because it was like Mad Max is meeting you know Alice in Wonderland I mean everything scale the dimension of it

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