There are only a few days left to see Supersonica in person. The final day of the exhibit will be Friday, October 29. After that, the doors will close, the work will come down, and we will be prepping the space for the next exhibit. Hopefully those who wish to see it in person will find the time in the next three days to make a trip over. As a reminder, the gallery is open from 10am to 5pm on weekdays. We hope you have enjoyed the blog posts and getting a closer look at the recent work of Kayo Nakamura.
If you haven’t taken a moment to look up Kayo’s website, you really should. Here is a link:
As you can see from her website, Kayo has created work using a multitude of materials and processes. Much like the work we see in the gallery right now, the things presented there may appear disparate, but when examined closely, it is possible to see the thematic and formal threads that run through all of it. We can also see the connection between the older bodies of work and the new drawings.
While Kayo was at Whitworth for the reception and lecture in mid September, she also spent time meeting with individual students to discuss their work. Providing our students with the opportunity to sit down with an outside artist or designer to present their own work for review is invaluable. These critiques often reinforce instruction and advice the students had been getting in classroom discussions as well as providing new and interesting insights.
Along with having Kayo present as a resource for a few days, the department decided to give the students a list of other artists that we thought of when looking at Kayo’s work. Katie Creyts and Robert Fifield took that lead and presented the following list for further thought: Shana Moulton, John Baldessari, Yayoi Kusama, Johnston Foster, Takashi Murakami, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Tiffany Patterson, Delphine LeBourgeois, Kiki Smith, Beverly Semmes, Andy Messerschmidt, Gala Bent, Marlene Steyn, Pipolitti Rist, David Lynch, Louise Bourgeois, Bridget Riley, Sigmar Polke, Yoshitomo Nara, Hayay Miyazaki, Shahzia Sikander, and Makiko Kudo.
In this post we will take a look at the three smallest arrangements of drawings. Of the three, Interruption #2 is the most like the larger arrangements. We see the individual nature of each drawing as an important component of the overall presentation, but they could also stand more independently as well. Though they may gain something from being displayed together, they each hold their own as possible narrative components.
Interruption #5 is the arrangement that most clearly requires the presence of multiple individual components to complete the piece. In fact, this is the only set in the exhibit that acts as a triptych, with some elements crossing the space between images and visibly connecting the three lower panels. The upper drawing, though not as clearly connected, works as a compositional “cap” over the central panel, drawing they eye up and then pressing it back down into to lower portions of the arrangement.
The final smaller arrangement, Interruption #6, seems to rest somewhere between the other two we have looked at today. Though each of the four is clearly an independent work, there is something about the repetitive use of compositional and conceptual elements that that makes the experience richer when we see all four together. Whether it is the similarity in color palette, horizontal splits in the compositions or the mix of organic, aquatic and figurative elements, there is something that seems to draw these four more closely together in their communication with the viewer.
Kayo was initially invited to exhibit in the Fall of 2020, however, due to the pandemic causing a certain amount of uncertainty, it was postponed for a year. During that time, she had to do what many of us did, and set up a studio at home. The drawings that we see in this exhibit are the product of a year and a half of working from home.
There are just over one hundred and fifty drawings in this exhibit. Though she had a couple of ideas about how the work could be displayed, it wasn’t until Kayo arrived in the gallery and laid out all the work that things really got going. Over the course of four days I would pop in to see how things were progressing. Early on it was just a matter of finding an organizational strategy and then getting the work off the floor and onto the walls. Once the work was taped up, the refining could happen. There was much movement of pieces from here to there as the groups slowly took on their finished shapes. Hopefully as you spend time with each of the different arrangements, you will start to pick up on the formal and thematic threads that weave their way through the whole exhibit.
The upcoming blog posts will take a closer look at one or more of the pieces from Supersonica. We will begin with Interruption #1.
Each post will provide a view of the entire arrangement, as well as images highlighting smaller sections and photos of individual pieces.
Kayo Nakamura’s Artist Statement: Drawing has always played an important role in my work. For me, everything I make begins with drawing. I can’t generate ideas without seeing them, so I always need to make them visible in order to get to the next step. This new body of work began as an experiment to capture as many ideas as possible the moment they broke. As I became more invested in these drawings, I began adding color and grew interested in the tension between the painted areas and the unpainted; the tension between finished and unfinished. These new drawings are an attempt to give space and intention to possibilities and hunches before they became stationary objects fixed in time.
The Bryan Oliver Gallery at Whitworth University is proud to present recent works from Kayo Nakamura. Please visit us in person between September 14 and October 29, 2021, or keep an eye on the Bryan Oliver Gallery blog.
Supersonica is an exhibition of new drawings by Kayo Nakamura. The title, Supersonica, is a made-up word suggesting blistering speed. The work in this exhibition is the result of an experiment in the artist’s process to do less thinking and critiquing, which yielded surprising patterns and unexpected relationships.
Below is a quick video walk-through of the exhibit. In the coming weeks, we will present a closer look at the different groups of drawings.
Over the past four years, I have been so excited to exhibit my work but was also scared that I wouldn’t “find my style” by the time I would show my work as a senior. This was an unsaid pressure that I put on myself. As I worked through what it meant to have a style and the importance (or unimportance) of that, I was told by multiple professors to “just keep making!”. At the time, I would nod and smile but secretly be confused and tired because I was making and showing up to the studio. Showing up is a huge part of being an artist, but another part is gently setting aside worries consisting of what will come of the art. I was afraid to make something that people I respected didn’t like. Once I started putting in long studio hours, setting aside worries, reflecting on what I made and continuing to make more, I gained confidence not solely in my artwork but in myself as an artist. This installation is something I am truly proud of because of the process it took to get here. I stayed true, accepted my mistakes along the way, and continuously checked in with myself in my making. I was made to make. This installation is me stepping into this identity.
In My Space is about quarantine this Fall in my home with my college roomies. This installation is directly inspired by my printed and embroidered piece, Quarantined. So, like Quarantined, it is my diary of the months of slowing down and being present to myself, my space and my relationships with my housemates. There was a heightened awareness of the physical space around me as well as the emotional and spiritual space within and around me. My world was put under a microscope due to external circumstances. I was able to notice bobby pins stuck in the carpet, and how quickly I went through a gallon of milk, and words printed on the bread tie. I learned so much about what it means to slow down with a community. It is very intimate. I already considered myself to be very close with my housemates, but this strange time has pushed us to a new level of closeness. Unlike Quarantined, this installation is 8×10 feet. The abstract symbols and shapes that are embroidered on my fabric in Quarantined, are painted on the gallery wall in In My Space. For the objects being represented, I use wood cutouts that I was able to make throughout the semester with a laser cutter. Shoutout to my Professor, Rob Fifield for spending hours helping me cut every single piece at least a few times. Mounting these wood cutouts in my installation created a representation of the peculiar but sacred space I had experienced this Fall.
For my final blog post in this series, I would like to talk about my YouTube Subscription Manager Redesign Concept.
This was a project outside of my university studies in which I wanted to think of new ways to be able to help categorize and simplify YouTube’s subscription manager. I did this by reorganizing the dashboard concept of the subscribed channels.
The big problem with your subscription list is that inside of your YouTube subscriptions interface, there is only a single way to view your subscribed channels. Many people like myself have hundreds and possibly even thousands of subscribed channels. And the only way to see your subscribed channels are in a giant list all viewed in alphabetical order. You can end up scrolling endlessly, and it is quite hard to find the channel you’re looking for.
After a few different brainstorming sessions, one of the ideas I came up with was a concept that would help to organize the users accounts subscribed channels. With this new design you’re able to easily see the total number of subscribed channels, most frequently visited channels, recently subscribed channels, and lastly, the joined channels you are a paid member of.
This new design is a much more organized way to view the different activities on your account. You can even see details such as when you first encountered or watched a video of the channel, when the first subscribed date, notification status, last visited date, and a list to show all of the subscribed channels. And here, you are also able to easily unsubscribe to a channel if that is something you want to do.
This dashboard is a concept idea, and can sort through your whole subscribed channels list, or your most frequently visited list. You also have the option to see more in-depth analytics on your account.
I was very happy with the final outcome. After this project, I became very interested in designing dashboards that would help to improve the user interface.
After beginning the Senior Exhibition class in the spring of 2021, I was conflicted about which one of my projects I would exhibit. I knew I wanted to incorporate audio, but I also wanted to showcase my graphic design work. The obvious answer was to exhibit my Amplex music project from the previous year, so I started planning how I could present audio in a shared gallery. This led me to acoustic isolation chambers. They solved the problem of keeping the gallery space quiet while providing an individual listening experience, but when researching costs online, I figured it would be too expensive to buy a professional isolation chamber. Therefore, I felt I had to scrap the idea and find another way to showcase my work.
While contemplating my work and what to exhibit, I began thinking of the exhibition as an opportunity to say something, or to promote awareness of a problem I saw in society. In thinking about my relationship with technology and how much information I consume on a daily basis, I found myself disgusted with the amount of information forced upon me in the form of advertisements. As a graphic designer, I started thinking about how these ads drive supply and demand which contributes to the endless cycle of consumption. This consumption leads to pollution, deforestation, and in some extreme cases, slavery. Should designers consider these ethical implications, or should they just finish the job to make a quick buck? I knew that I needed to make something which encompassed that question, but I didn’t know where to start. I began thinking of acoustic isolation chambers as a way to escape the psychologically manipulative advertisements and that lead me to the idea of Some Goddamn Peace & Quiet.
The construction process was a bit more complex than I initially anticipated. I began by purchasing an orchestral stage microphone stand and 48 acoustic foam panels. After days of searching countless Home Depots, I finally found a flowerpot large enough to act as a base for the acoustic foam. I spray painted the flowerpot black and began attaching the foam panels with adhesive spray glue. The first problem I ran into was that the foam panels would not keep their shape when fixed to a curved surface. To solve this, I cut the panels into strips and attached them lengthwise with staples until I had a piece 1 square by 32 squares in dimension. I then created rings from these pieces which would fit better horizontally along the surface of the flowerpot. To compress the rings as they got closer to the top of the piece, I used 8 staples on each individual square and tightened them with pliers to get to my desired size. Around 2000 staples were used and this was the most time-intensive part of the process. Once I was happy with the shape, I attached rings of EVA foam on the top and bottom edges to cover any flaws and provide a cohesive structure.
The final step was to create the accompanying audio and video for the advertisement. Over the course of a week, I storyboarded the film and with the help of some friends, we began shooting. The video process was quite straightforward, but the post processing was much more difficult. Using the skills in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator I learned at Whitworth, I was able to create the backgrounds as well as the product logos for Some Goddamn Peace & Quiet. The humorous nature of the video made it enjoyable to create, but more importantly, I felt I was conveying something important and relevant to modern society. The project left me with a sense of accomplishment, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to bring my idea to fruition.
This project was created to fulfill an assignment for Graphic Design II, Spring 2021. The brief required us to create a series of three posters: text dominant, image dominant, and text only. The content was up to us as long as it could be adapted to each format. My mom runs a summer camp in Idaho called Camp Rainbow Gold that serves children with cancer and their families. They recently acquired their own property that allows them to have a permanent home that can adequately serve their diverse set of needs. At campfires the kids sing a song that ends with them yelling “boom” and when it echoes back, they were told it was “the man in the mountain” yelling back at them. I chose to create this series of posters to advertise that “the man in the mountain” had moved with them to the new property, Hidden Paradise.
The first poster is text dominant with imagery incorporated with it. I chose to stick with variations of green from the branding guidelines of Hidden Paradise. My style of overlapping text and image from the Whitworth A&D blog can be seen again in this poster. However, instead of cutting out parts of the words I changed the opacity and blending mode of the image so the color changes when it is over the darker text.
The second poster is text dominant. The goal for this one was to create the shape of a mountain side with the text. I accomplished this by changing the size and orientation of the text to create a ragged right side that resembles the side of a mountain. The font used throughout the poster series is from the Hidden Paradise branding guidelines.
When giving the assignment, Professor Ben Necochea encouraged us to think about early forms of poster making and how our experiences in other classes could inform this project. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have found a love for printmaking this year. For my last poster I decided that I wanted to try making it using the latest form of printmaking I’d learned: screen printing. Doing this allowed me to blend my love of creating interesting layouts in my design work with the physical process of printmaking. The image dominant poster was created by making two screens. The first for the image on the bottom and the second for the text and illustration on top. Initially I kept the color palette to similar greens that I had been using in the digital posters.
Once I finished printing the green version I had set out to make, my printmaking Professor, Rob Fifield, asked me if I wanted to try something different with the rest of the prints. Of course, I said yes. We then added the process inks (magenta, cyan, and yellow) to the green ink I already had on the screen. Process inks are transparent and are typically layered over each other to create a full color image. The transparent nature of the inks allows them to mix and create new colors. As I pulled more prints using this mixture, the colors blended to create a pastel rainbow over the first image instead of the original green. While I hadn’t set out with this idea in mind, this version of the print ended up being my favorite of the two.
The Let’s Get Ship-Wrecked series is one that I had a lot of time to think about. At the beginning of quarantine, I had very little to do. I had no classes, no job, nothing to keep me occupied. On top of that, I was stuck back at my parents’ place which is fairly rural. With an overabundance of time, I turned to TV and YouTube to keep myself entertained. It was this extra time spent on YouTube that brought me to the inspiration for this series. Mentioned briefly in a “Family Guy” episode, scrimshaw is the main influence for the decoration of these bongs.
Traditionally, scrimshaw is ivory or bone that has had a design lightly etched or engraved into it. The etched lines are then filled with an ink in order to show the design more clearly. Typically associated with naval imagery, the designs tend to heavily utilize hatching and cross hatching. Given that I have always had an interest in the imagery of the Kraken and had been trying to think up a way to use it, scrimshaw seemed a good fit. The subject matter for the series, sea monsters, ended up being an extension of my original interest in the Kraken.
My designs on the Let’s Get Ship-Wrecked series utilize scrimshaw-like imagery, but that is where the similarities stop. After messing around (and failing) with trying to do actual scrimshaw on the surface of the clay, I returned to sgraffito to make my designs. Despite moving away from scrimshaw techniques, I still wanted to relate back to the style further than just using similar imagery. To do this, I left the surface that held the etchings unglazed. I did this because I wanted the surface to remain reminiscent of the bone or ivory that real scrimshaw would be on. The contrast between the glazed ceramic body and the bare was also of interest to me, and I believe it adds to the composition nicely. This contrast is also something that I used in my subsequent Not All That Shines is gold series, and something that I plan to use in the future. The contrast is not only stimulating visually, but also physically when holding the piece.
These paintings were inspired by different animals that I observed in nature over the last couple years. I chose to focus on composition and color schemes when I made these. While painting, I try to give the animal a sense of life so the image will evoke an emotional response. As I have painted more, I have striven less for photographic realism and opted more for painting in a way that expresses the figure I am depicting.
Each individual creature has a certain character that I hope to express. The different gestures that animals make and the harmonies and relationships that can be found with color excite me. In these works, I explore these while beginning to focus less on fine detail and allowing the paint to say more. As I continue my artistic journey, I plan to continue to learn more about color and composition and to begin using more interesting paint application and textural techniques to add even more life to these animals. I’m excited to see what paint and color can teach me in the years ahead.
Find me on Instagram @zachrossart or online at https://www.zachrossart.com
Abstraction and Illustration
Despite being in the Whitworth Art Department for only two years, I truly feel that my skill in design and illustration has improved significantly. One of the main benchmarks for my success is the incorporation of abstraction into my art. Geometric Portrait and Fruit Triptych are currently being exhibited in the Bryan Oliver Gallery, and are great examples of how my work has taken an abstract direction.
The Geometric Portrait was my attempt at taking traditional “vector portraits” a step further. Each shape and color were meticulously altered to create its current appearance. I chose not to vectorize the hair of the figure, as the interplay of thenegative space between the two main forms allows for subjective interpretation by the viewer. I am pleased with the finished product and plan to create more illustrations using a similar technique.
For my Fruit Triptych, the creative process was much more succinct. My process of abstraction considers both the color and form of each piece of fruit. The apple incorporated more rectangular shapes, the orange focused on curves and crescents, and the banana included both circular and square forms. After abstracting, I used a function in Adobe Illustrator to give the fruit a layered paper effect. I enjoyed this project because it allowed me to experiment and have fun with digital abstraction.
Find me on Instagram @kyles_illustrationsanddesign or on Redbubble at KyleSmithgall