Mahsa Soroudi

I found this week’s artist of the week particularly difficult to analyze. Mahsa’s art I can say is the type of art I like, but not the style of art I typically enjoy. I enjoy photography, as it’s easy to pick up and you can capture the actual beauty of the world in full vivid color. That being said, I find plants to be an exceptionally boring thing to photograph, they make for good still life paintings, but I don’t necessarily think that they fit my tastes for photography.

That being said, Mahsa does have an interesting background that is very dissimilar to a lot of popular artists. She is Muslim, and she moved out of a highly conservative place that does not have a lot of women’s rights to immigrate to the US. Muslims in the US get significantly more rights that those in Iran. For one, she appears in the interview with Glenn without a veil, an act that would be forbidden for a Muslim to do in Iran.

I suppose this narrative leads me to produce a more neutral view on her than other artists, I think her story is inspiring, but I do not prefer her style of art.



Cuisine, Refined

My challenge this week was to make my cuisine assignment “technically better”. I chose the cuisine assignment for two reasons. The first was that I love making food. Even if I don’t eat the food, I enjoy making it. The second was because I had already thought about how I could make my assignment better without even knowing that this was the final week’s project.

I examined my Cuisine assignment from earlier in the summer and thought that my preparation was rather good. There was a good arrangement of color, but the end result had all the colors muted due to the sauce. I decided to fix that I would need to make a dish with a light sauce, or no sauce at all. My wife had recently been craving Caprese Salad, so I thought, why not do that this week?

As you can tell the preparation is similar, Julian the peppers, slice the tomatoes and mozzarella, but instead of cooking the ingredients, I put them with some basil leafs and balsamic vinaigrette to make a tasty treat that looks beautiful for my wife and I to enjoy. I added pictures, which some are posted to my instagram.

Hanging Art

This week’s activity I enjoyed for two main reasons. The first was simple, I found the whole activity silly, and I really enjoy silly things. The second, was that it was an interactive experience with Aspen and my  Cat, Maximus. It was an interactive experience because The hanging art I chose to make was a leash rack. While looking at the pieces that were examples on the activity description I kept on saying, these things just look like mop heads, and I wanted to produce something I thought was equally silly looking, thus I chose a rack to leashes.

Leashes are supposed to be used on a frequent basis, and I found the idea of putting a bunch of dog leashes on a rack to be both humorous to me, as putting them into art will effectively render them useless, and a bit cruel to Aspen, who just wanted to go for a walk.

One thing that happened, however, was the Maximus’s  love of dangly things to fully annoy me as I was carefully trying to place the leashes onto the rack. After I was done with the assembly, I snapped my shots, dissembled my art and took poor Aspen for a walk.

Vanessa Blaylock

Digital art is something that evolved within the past two decades as computer aided processes to simplify creative became more and more common. Digital art is often times in the realm of certainly art, which I would consider original compositions such as pixel art, game modelling, and even digital painting. One further level of obscurity, done by our artist of the week, Vanessa Blaylock, is to use assets created by other artists and create avatars based off them. This is an interesting distinction as 3D model development has several unique parts that are not necessarily art which need to be done to make a functional avatar.

This first part of the process is created an untextured 3D model. This is easily the least difficult part of the process as a lot of pregenerated models for all body types of humans already exists. If one needs to create these from scratch, the process is a bit more difficult.

The next step is to point map the model. This is done on what is typically tear or pivot points of the model. This is requires precision and experience to correctly map the points to the layers for use is texturization.

The final, and most difficult step is to texturize the model around those pivot points. This requires a skilled artist who is capable of visualizing the 3D layer in which the model will be shaded. This part takes the vast majority of the time in model development.

After that the end user can customize the model realitively easily.

What’s difficult for me to understand is what exactly Vanessa Blaylock is doing with her avatar art? Is she only involved in the customization? If so, that seems like an awful lot like plagorism to me, using other people’s models and textures for your own use and calling it your own art. This is similar to DeChamp’s “Ready Made” lines that took an existing non-art piece and called it art. It’s a bit insulting to those who actually did the work to produce the art.

Joseph DeLappe

Political Activism in art is one of the things I typically avoid engagement in both critique and in viewing. Simply put, I think that modern society is completely flooded with a political opinions, especially in the United States, and more importantly often these opinions are drawn from incomplete evidence. There are two categories (I know it’s a generalization for the sake of argument) of people with strong political opinions. The first are the educated subject matter experts who tirelessly listen, observe, and learn politics to form well-reasoned and rational opinions. The other variety is those who do no research and provide only polarized, one sided views without respecting anyone with a different view. The vast majority of people posting garbage on social media is in the latter group, and for the most part I believe the vast majority of artists fall in that group when it comes to political activism.

As a thought exercise I decided to see how I would classify Joseph DeLappe. For all intents and purposes he means well. He advocates for peace, and is unapologetically anti-war. His platform implies that he believes that all war is a mistake (Ex: Imitating Ghandi, protesting in a war game that is minorly tailored towards US Army recruiting, portraying the Statue of Liberty crying). Who is this trying to convince though, is the question I ask? The majority of the population who make incredibly uninformed political opinions, or the politicians that are making these decisions. Evidence would be pointing to the former as he uses his video games (virtual space) as his medium.

Surely Joseph DeLappe cannot believe that all war is bad? That would be incredibly misinformed as war is ultimately what stopped Hitler, what allowed the United States to become a free governing body of whom he protests against. All of that of course is by right free speech, something that I served to protect and defend when I took my oath to uphold the constitution.

The main war he protests is of course the Iraq War. Regardless of the reasoning we started the Iraq war (which for the record we should not have started the Iraq War for some illusory WMDs), Saddam Houssain was the equivalent of a modern day Stalin who we, the United States, effectively put into power during the Cold War.

The documentary above does some justice towards the horrors that Saddam Houssain did while he was in power, by the fault of the United States government. Should we have allowed Saddam to continue running Iraq the way he was when we effectively put him there? I would think Joseph DeLappe would say yes, and to that I would call his platform incredibly misinformed. I especially hate the thought of American lives lost to remove Saddam or to occupy Afghanistan, but I most certainly believe that removing him was the correct move, regardless of the motives of those in office at the time.

For my closing thought I am just going to link a short video from a documentary by Christopher Hitchens that shows the exact moment Saddam took power in Iraq. This is what Joseph DeLappe would allow to exist if he had the choice.

Art Care Package

This week’s activity was particularly special to me. Something I have not shared with this group yet is that I am a Navy Veteran who served 6 years and went on 5 deployments. During the time I was out to sea I would get rather lonely, regardless of all the people I was surrounded by. When you’re marooned on a ship you don’t get the opportunity to have the comforts of home around you. Something simple like a candy bar, or just some non-Navy stocked toothpaste would mean the world to me to get from my relatives.

I didn’t receive any care packages on my first deployment, but during my second one we were asked if we wanted to sign up for packages. I signed up for them and I did not regret them. Once on a deployment we, as a crew, received care packages from people who signed up through the USO care package program. These were total strangers who signed up for the program and just wanted to help. We were sent a variety of amenities, but we got a personal card from everyone who contributed to the program. Seeing the generosity of total strangers is what really made me feel like I was doing something meaningful while I was out there, regardless of how I felt about the war.

That being said, I am packing my package and deciding who to send it to. I focused more on utility rather than art in this case, as that is what I would desire more often. My wife and I went to color me mine to make bowls for the packages, and we have a few personal cups and artwork that I had made to toss in there as well. I hope the bowls turn out well and whomever we decide to send them to enjoys them the same way that I enjoyed the packages I got on deployment.

Kat Von D and Guy Tang

The theme of the week is body art, and both Kat Von D and Guy Tang are both experts in their disciplines. Body art, including both hair art and tattoos, are incredibly polarizing. While I hate to break things down binarily, there usually is no middle ground between those who enjoy body art, and those who detest it (usually the older generations). Hair and body tattoos as expression has been around in about every major civilization for milenia, and it’s resurgance in popularity in endo-european society is not surprising.

As we get more and more connected through the use of technology, we also become more and more homogenized. The desire to stand out and express oneself is one of the few things that sets others apart. My wife has always wanted to get a tattoo, and this January she finally got one. I believe that has a lot to do with this desire to express herself amid a stressful world.

Guy Tang and Kat Von D do that expression, for a large price of course. Whether you would like rainbow hair, or perhaps the Mona Lisa on your side, that expression is now possible via the hands and tools of these artists.