W. David Powell

The Art of  W. David Powell

Venus does Venice, 2013

Venus does Venice, collage on paper, 14 x 11″, 2013

 

What does the W in your name stand for?

I see you are starting with easy questions. William.

Do all the things you do flow through your art practice of thinking and making? and/or are you thinking of it but maybe not doing it 24/7? 

While everything I do is not truly applicable to my art practice, much of my life revolves around it. I am      fortunate that my day job as a college art teacher focuses my thinking on the formal aspects of art making and design, so even when I am not making my personal work, a lot of my waking hours are spent in conscious thought about ongoing and gestating projects.

rio blanco riding society

From the archives of the Rio Blanco Riding Society, cut paper on collage, 20 x 16″, 2011

Do you know why you are doing what you are making visible to many others? Where does the urge come from, you think?

I am a maker—a creator. I supposed that I am wired that way. I don’t believe it is a rational decision. As you express it—it is an urge.

You are gifted and talented and do you see yourself as unique as well? How do you see yourself today as an artist? 

Thank you. I do not see myself as truly unique. I am constantly reminded by other artists, as well as by writers and scientists, that my quests are not unique, but have elements of universality.

How do you see the role of the artist today? Does it differ from the ancients? 

The truly ancients had elements of ritual and tribute that dominated their art. As patronage became a part of the process, perhaps this was somehow subjugated. I suppose my art is coming from a place that the surrealists were investigating… that of being a conduit for the unconscious and “invisible forces”.  I have no firm definition of the artist of today. The art world is very wide open now. There seem to be so many personal and subjective directions for creation that it is both vast and mercurial.

DP. peasant dance_10x16_2013

Peasant Dance, Cut paper collage on found picture, 16.25 x 10″, 2013

 

Do you believe artists have a responsibility outside of themselves and towards their culture in any way?

Culture seems global now—and corporate. I have no debt to it. Community seems more appropo to creating meaning and change, but in my fine art practice I am not engaged with either in a conscious way. It is just not the way I think or work. I also have a design practice. In that area community is important. I work with performing arts organizations and a coalition of philosopher farmers in Central Vermont that have vision and purpose.

Does living in Vermont have any influence on how you go about your practice and making? if so or not, then how? or why not?

My Vermont home studio provides me with a quiet, undisturbed setting for making art without the distractions of an urban environment. I don’t make Vermont art. I just make art.

DP. strange ritual tower of hives_ blurb

Strange Ritual in the Tower of Hives, Cut paper collage on inkjet print, 20 x 16 “, 2011

 

What lead you to using Photoshop? I know you collage, draw and paint but why is it predominantly your medium now? Do you think this will change?

I was an early adopter of the mac platform in 1984 and Photoshop when it became available. I seldom draw or paint and digital imaging plays an increasingly minor role in my current art production. To a large degree I have gone retrograde and have returned to a medium that I used in the past, traditional cut and paste collage.

Do you think your work would have an entirely different ‘reading’ if it were completely painted or drawn? 

Since my images are appropriated, yes. The physicality and tactility of the original source materials inevitably enter into the reading.

Does the subject matter of your work come from your experience(s) lived, examined and reflected and then you weave it around a focus and/or are you conceptually driven first which you then seek your visual content after? Could you elaborate on how reflection, experience, collecting imagery and composing come together for you in your artistic practice?

In my current mode the collecting comes first (and is ongoing), the random associations come next and the reflection comes after a number of pieces from similar sources come together. The work is not predetermined. It would then become merely illustration. My work in drawing and painting feels overdetermined and interest me less.

DP. Portrait of the Artist as an Ass BLURB

Portrait of the Artist as an Ass, cut paper collage, 14 x 11″, 2012

 

Your work is akin to the field of remixing as opposed to creating an ‘original’ from no external sourcing or a personal narrative from scratch that doesn’t ‘collect’ and reconfigure into new contexts. I think your work weaves both but would you say your overriding critical concerns about where humankind is heading with ‘progress’ at the helm is more important right now? Can you explain your creative methods and strategies and those relationships to the content of your work?

The illusion of “progress” crops up over and over again in the work. I just can’t help myself.

What other artists, visionaries, thinkers and tinkerers are you dialoguing with?

I have a group of collage artists who I talk with fairly regularly. They all live pretty far away, so I meet with them less frequently that they meet with each other, but it is always stimulating. We call ourselves the Rio Blanco Riders and we consist of Varujan Boghosian, Peter Thomashow, Marcus Ratliff and me. On the periphery of this group is a young artist named Ben Peberdy who I met at Vermont Studio Center. He has a great mail art project going. We have been showing together for a couple of years now. Other collage artists that I admire and correspond with are Todd Bartel, Michael Oatman and Lou Beach. I cannot communicate with the dead, but if I could I would add Max Erst, Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausman and Ray Johnson to the list. I also greatly admire Wangechi Mutu, a collage artist who I see as the heir to Hannah Höch’s feminist approach to the game.

DP. some hats 5 x 6.5 cmyk

Some Hats, cut paper collage, with gouache and acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 16″

 

What impact has the Vermont artistic community had on you? Do you slide right into a sense of belonging with it or is it a challenge to see yourself growing here? or is it both or is ‘place’ not important for your work to thrive here, you could be anywhere flourishing?

For many years I felt like an outlier in the Vermont artistic community. The community is now more progressive and has many more farsighted contemporary practitioners. Thriving is a tricky question. While Vermont is a great place to make art, both the market for art and the institutional support of it are out of synch with the vibrant artistic community that now exists in the state.
It would be silly to blame sales and the viability of a career on the location since its a tough art market now all ‘round, but I think that the artists who reside in Vermont who are making a go of it are not doing it here in this state.

Many of the images above come from a book on Powell’s paper collages. The writing below reads like a manifesto to me and shares his thoughtful energy around image-making in the cultural machinery we live in today. 

To Be Determined afterword 

DP.wd powell signature033

 

 

All images are the property of W.David Powell. Please visit his website if you wish for more information.http://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/Wdavid.Powell/ 

Stay tuned for next interview with artist Lisa Kippen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Holy Trinity- Part 3. Taking ‘it’ to heart can suck for a while…

Heart Connections

 

Brain can rule the heart

Between the heart and Brain- The Foolish Heart by the Awkward Yeti

Every week day morning I have the opportunity to walk my kids to school which has become a welcoming ritual in my world.  We talk about the unfolding events and activities of the day, who is doing what and so forth.  Currently we have two days left of the school year which you would think my kids would be super happy about, but this morning unexpectedly my son was in a bad mood. I don’t know what caused him to be mean to his sister, other than it had to be he was hurting inside. Sometimes our hearts and brains around situations are at total odds. We know we can’t live under the sole guidance of the heart. We need the smarts of reason to cooperate. On a bad day such as my son’s this morning, it was evident his brain’s ‘critic’ or ‘protector’ was engaged against his sister and out to fire enough ammunition to burn a city down.  What a way to ruin the bubbly self in his sister that loves life innocently says gullible mama.  He isn’t always the ‘critic’, like all of us he is guilty of big heart loving and obviously his sister provoked him to get him into a wounding mood. The point is we all act in this play  ‘Between Good Heart and Negative Brain’ daily  and we do it because we enter the zone of vulnerability. It can suck.

Now I am not a therapist, or a self-help guru on how to overcome vulnerability. I know we can meditate, drink Oprah’s soothing tea recipes, eat lots of vegetables (apparently two pounds daily to prevent cancer), exercise, travel and perhaps we reach equanimity. Even if I do follow the right regimen I am still a little empty. What I realize is if I delve deeper into the quasi inventive characters we are, I can begin to see differently. Humans are blessed with creativity and I am not talking about the reproductive kind altho that too I suppose. From active creativity comes positivity and connection. I think the remedy that cures all is having a sense of wonder as we flow thru our orbits. Try this once and you might get hooked. Let wonder lead the way in your day from one moment to the next. To be caught by the unexpected or the inexplicable is profoundly liberating. First, you could start with this video on The Helical Heart which unravels the construction of the human heart. . It will blow you away.

 

#2.  Dwell on this fantastic Macramé dress to see the intricate symmetry of human craft encase and drape where complexity is trapped in and outside the body. Where is the solid form anyway?

red is the heart is a dress

The Red dress drips

 

#3. Let’s take on those bad thoughts and feel the heat of fire burn them to ashes…

Red Fire Dress

Red heart Fire dress- Alexander McQueen

#4. Let’s look at our biological systems that keep us flowing and grounded on the earth. Our body is often said to be a machine well, it is also pretty darn mysterious like any scientist or mystic will tell you. Jean Paul Gauthier’s body suit below is an intense reminder of the hidden layers of connectivity.

veins and cloth-Gauthier

 Lastly,

Let’s go back to the 80’s and visit Jana Sterbak’s Meat Dress titled Vanitas. Here we can watch meat age much like we do, from raw innocence to curing wisdom.

The Flesh dress

 

“Ah! The Vanity of it All”…might perhaps lead us down the path of meaninglessness but one thing is clear while our hearts are built around perfect symmetry like that which is hidden in natural structures they also contain the seeds of self-mastery. We can chose to feel the beauty that continuously pervades us inside and outside the human hemisphere, the natural law of the cosmos or we can be burned by that nasty magistrate who destroys from the wounded self. The truth is our heart always wins with love. Second last day of school maybe my son will come around…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


AVIATION GARB AND SMILES

Aviation Garb

Aviation Garb is a particular league of its own

AVIATION

PLAYERS OF THE AVIATION NINETY-NINES

 

JUST FINISHED A RACE

A CREW FROM THE NINETY NINES JUST FINISHED A RACE

 

AMELIA EARHART


American pilot Amelia Earhart in her plane. Photograph: Popperfoto/Reuters

Aviation Garb is a particular league of fashion and I want more of it. Jumpsuits, boots, bomber caps (I got those going on) goggles, dust, oils, leather, pockets, zippers, numbers, dials, watches, radar contraptions, furs- you name it I want the sci-fi apocalyptic now. To make that happen I better first make a jumpsuit, A shirt and pant combo on the dock- airplanes can come later and we’ll be fine if they are made from paper or lego.

birds flying

birds in flight

Ever wonder about flying? Flying is a bizarre concept. What do you think of when you watch birds? where do they take you? The flight of birds is truly more perfect than that of the human made machinery of a plane. I never think of a bird’s vulnerability. Their speed, their efficiency, their grace seems incredible. If I was a bird flying would make sense. The human species is truly impressive when it comes to inventions however, we wouldn’t know what to design without our beloved nature. Science is nature, and humans manipulate the science to come up with extra-ordinary contraptions.  We are always imitating Nature’s perfections. Here’s to funky aviation technology-

flying machine of leonardo's

flying machine of Leonardo’s

 

beginning of a wing

beginning of a wing?

The complexity of aerodynamics, shape, and purpose hold the mysterious quality in birds. Observing the delicacy of the wings one realizes how miraculously engineered bird creatures are.

Stay tuned for my next sewing project- THE AVIATION SUIT- shirt and pant combo!


UPDATES ON “OPEN SESAME”

OPEN SESAME -DECONSTRUCTED

OPEN SESAME -DECONSTRUCTED

A view of the back, dyed calico, designed collar-vest, and chain links that are still unfinished.

pen Sesame- back side view

Open Sesame- back side view. The tulle shirt here is so fine.

Open Sesame- sheer layer
Open Sesame- sheer layer of tulle with top or 4th layer of Jacquard vest

 

 

 

 

Chain Links-start

a close- up of Chain Links- a start and will add more over the course of the week