Reflection: Eager & Excited

David Vertrees
day 17::reflection // 5.31.17

I have learned a lot from spending a little over 2 weeks with this group. Having been told about the rigorous schedule that awaited us upon our arrival in Amsterdam I was excited and eager to begin working and using the facilities at AGA, & GWA. The experience of trying to continue my creative practice in new work environments has been a learning experience in and of itself, not to mention the collaboration with the group throughout the duration of our stay in Amsterdam.  That being said this trip really surprised me with the amount of work that took place and how intense our time spent in these new facilities was. I had never been on a group trip previous to this so I had never thought about how important it would be to have a strong group dynamic in order to successfully collaborate and work with each other. This became very apparent the more we spent time together as a group. We were all tired some of us sick, and jet-lagged which carried over into our work via energy and how tolerant of each other we could be. I think this was a learning experience for us all in exercising our patience and willingness to continue working through frustrations and difficulties with each other as well as processes we weren’t familiar with. Not only did this help us to allow ourselves to grow in these practices, but this also enabled us to discover unlikely pairings and constructive results from collaborations that wouldn’t normally happen in the comfort of our studios at ASU. Having to spend close to 24 hours with the majority of the group for the duration of the trip was difficult at times but I feel that it allowed for the majority of us to grow closer and make discoveries in our creative practices that otherwise wouldn’t have happened if we had not been given this opportunity.  One of my favorite experiences of the trip was our visit to the Jan Van Eyck Acadamie. This visit was truly unbelievable. Not only were we able to tour the facilities and see the majority of the Acadamie, but Jo Franken who went to Jan Van Eyck himself and has developed the space as he has continued his work there over the years led this tour. We were able to converse with Jo and hear his reasoning behind certain decisions and reasons for the ways in which certain studios were set up and why the equipment that was being used in different studios. I had never seen studio spaces as clean as the facilities Jo showed us. There was no clutter in the majority of the spaces we saw. Seeing the ways in which the facilities in this space were maintained was inspiring to see and gave us a glimpse of the professional expectations that those enrolled in the Acadamie must uphold.  The Foam museum was another highlight during our time in Amsterdam. The range of work that was being shown in this space varied widely wile all being related to photography. Daisuke Yokota’s installation took works from his archive and presented them without applying any form, selection, or intentional styling. Yokota had scanned entire rolls of film and printed them as enlargements. The presentation made the image subordinate to the form and volume of his archive as a whole. I felt that Yokota’s work showed how well rounded his creative practice was through his combination of sculpture/installation, sound, projections, and display of prints in a traditional format that accompanied his multi-media installations. Foam also featured installations created by the 8ball zine community & Werker Magazine. 8ball is a non-profit operation interested in exchange rather than quantification of the exchange. They stand for anti-capitalism & anti-misogyny.  8ball had created a space that resembled a 16/17 year olds bedroom who had left for the day but welcomed visitors to interact with their space and leave drawings/notes in their notebook, as well as headphones playing music (8ball radio), and a TV with an NES system for viewers to interact with making the room a welcoming space to spend time in while taking in the abundance of printed matter displayed on the walls of the space. Werker Magazine is a publication based on exploring different forms of collaboration, issues of self-representation, and new media. Werker displayed many of their different publications that are formed by inviting different artists to send them work and writings discussing these works that are submitted. Their installation consisted of a salon display of submitted pictures in an attempt to make viewers ask themselves “What is an image?” “What is a valuable image?” and continue this conversation through the publications by showcasing these writings and photos that are collected via their global community of artists.  I found both of these installations to be inspiring and informative to the collaborative community be built by using zines/books as a vehicle to share artwork, ideas, creative processes, and how these publications can connect creative people across the globe.

I had many experiences that I feel very fortunate to have had during our trip. I feel that all of our studio visits and discussions with designers, publishers, and artists during our stay will keep me inspired to continue working towards refining my own personal practice as well as keep in mind that as an artist I am part of a global community and that there are opportunities all over the world. As long as I keep creating and experimenting with the work I create and make an effort to communicate with the people involved in this unique community in order to begin building my own connections and artist friends it is only a matter of time before new opportunities arise.  This trip has shown me that I need to make an effort to stay more informed of the happenings in the art world, but also the world itself. Many of the people that I had conversations with during our stay seemed to be fairly informed about current events. I did not feel as though I was nearly as informed as others were about happenings in the Netherlands and around the globe.  I plan to take the experiences and new processes I have learned and investigate these ideas and influences while continuing my work at AGA. I am very grateful for the opportunities that have been made possible and have already begun to see influences from being in this new environment effect my work. While I am still unsure as to how I feel about these changes I am excited to explore ways in which my printed compositions will inform my painting, and sculptural work, upon returning to the states and the studios where I can investigate different materials that I do not have access to or cannot transport back home to the states.

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