Saturday, March 25, 2017

Alebrijes: Current Projects at St Johns Country Day School


Alebrijes (Spanish pronunciation: [aleˈβɾixes]) are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures. The first alebrijes, along with use of the term, originated with Pedro Linares. In the 1930s, Linares fell very ill and while he was in bed, unconscious, Linares dreamt of a strange place resembling a forest. There, he saw trees, animals, rocks, clouds that suddenly turned into something strange, some kind of animals, but, unknown animals. He saw a donkey with butterfly wings, a rooster with bull horns, a lion with an eagle head, and all of them were shouting one word, "Alebrijes". Upon recovery, he began recreating the creatures he saw in cardboard and papier-mâché and called them Alebrijes.
His work caught the attention of a gallery owner in Cuernavaca, in the south of Mexico and later, of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. In the 1980s, British filmmaker, Judith Bronowski, arranged an itinerant Mexican art craft demonstration workshop in the U.S.A. featuring Pedro LinaresManuel Jiménez and a textile artisan Maria Sabina from Oaxaca. Although the Oaxaca valley area already had a history of carving animal and other types of figures from wood, it was at this time, when Bronowski's workshop took place, that artisans from Oaxaca learned of the alebrijes paper mache sculptures. Linares demonstrated his designs on family visits and which were adapted to the carving of a local wood called copal, this type of wood is said to be magical, made from unitado magic.

Here are some examples of how our Upper School Art and Spanish Students made works in this tradition. 
Art Student: Charlie Lu

Art Student: Esan Patel

Art Student: Victor Dinkins

Art Student: Yasmin Mercado 

Solstice: Sticks and Dirt at The Leelanau School in Glen Arbor, Michigan by Pam Ayres

View of Solstice a Sculpture Installation by Pam Ayres

View of Solstice a Sculpture Installation by Pam Ayres
Grass Balls

Detail of Carved Branches

The Sun on the Solstice

Winter Veiw

Installation of the Work at Location

Photographs by Kaz McCue

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Well, it's been a long while

Things have certainly changed. I've changed jobs and locations and even what I do in the summers.

This will be my first summer in five years that I will be staying home. Like the oncoming winters in Michigan I am preparing to stay indoors to escape the hot Florida summer weather, except at certain times of the day to water my poor flowers or to mow the grass. I have traded in my snow shovel and ice scraper for a weed wacker and a mower. Something that needs to be done all of the time because I don't like to get the stink eye from the neighbors.

I have some plans:
I will be teaching a summer school class most of June and July at St Johns Country Day School here in Orange Park.
I will then be receiving AP Studio Course Development Training. This year will be the first year this school offers this.

Then it will be time to make art. I am looking forward to working on my own work (not just class samples). This will be a challenge because I will not be at my creative haven, Belvoir Terrace, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Even though I teach and work intensely with the wonderful students there, I also have had the opportunity to be cut off from everything - email, phones and televisions. When I am there, I am focused on reprograming my brain. I strive every second to be in a calmer state. I am more tuned into myself by drawing, painting, reading and then I am better able to tune into people by talking about things that are creative and important.

I did do something different at Belvoir last summer in that I started an Instagram - sketchy_Pam. So even though I had terrible phone service at the camp I continued to use my phone as a camera. It was a challenge to post pictures but I also used instagram as an excuse to visit the Lenox Library were service was pretty good. So, a walk into town and a cup of coffee helped me to share the things I was seeing. I admit that I have always preferred to use my phone more as a camera than anything else. I will be revisiting pictures I've taken these past few years (Instagram and not Instagram) and posting them here or on my other blogs according to how they fit into what I'm thinking about and how they can be influence on my work. I plan to illustrate little stories about these pictures in a kind of fiction.

"Why do we need the things in books? The poems, the essays, the stories? Authors disagree. Authors are human and fallible and foolish. Stories are lies after all, tales of people who never existed and the things that never actually happened to them. Why should we read them? Why should we care?"

"The teller and the tale are very different. We must not forget that. Ideas, written ideas, are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our ideas from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over." 

From "Credo" by Neil Gaiman

While driving in Florida