Accessing Creativity by Working Backwards by Jacob Foran

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Lakeside Visual Arts Faculty Show

The visual arts faculty group show is an annual teaching tool — a way to model for our students and community the creative process that culminates in an art exhibit. This year I made a series of sculptures and works on paper from start to finish in about two weeks with hopes of exposing our community to visible process.

I viewed this project as an opportunity to access creativity and share a little bit about how it works for me. I am currently in the middle of a creative deep dive and I wanted to demonstrate for students that I don’t always know what I’m doing with my work all of the time. There is a ton of process involved getting from one place in my work to the next.

I work in many ways and I wanted to try mixing it up. Normally, I start by sculpting clay and then make drawings inspired by the sculpture. In general, my work is intuitive and I refine a concept as it comes into the world. Then I find galleries or shows to exhibit finished works. But for this show in the Pigott Arts Center gallery, I worked backwards.

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In the studio, my process began with 60-70 small studies using watercolor, ink, and paper materials (images 1, 2). Eventually, I projected the contours of 3D-modeled images of mannequin heads (that I found on the internet) at three different views: profile, three quarter, and frontal (3). I experimented, tested, and learned everything I could about them. I then scaled up and made a series of around 15 large-scale 2D works that would have an impact in our gallery space (4, 7). Essentially, I was going through the same thing that we ask students to do for their senior shows: I was creating a series, iterating, and editing.

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The works on paper influenced how I approached my sculptures. I began with the same idealized form in three dimensions (mannequin head) and made a plaster mold for casting clay (5). While I will eventually glaze the seven heads with a black and mirrored finish, I decided to leave them as fragile, raw, unfired objects for the duration of the exhibit (6, 8). That decision — along with several others — was the product of conversations I had with students during the process.

This exhibit began with a raw idea that probes at idealism and fragmentation in contemporary culture. The initial concept began in 2013, after noticing the impacts of social media as it relates to being in the physical present. Now, in 2017, that feels super relevant.

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As I told students, it can take up to several years to grasp the outcome of a plunge into the creative unknown. I don’t know everything about this work but I believe in it and I know it is the start of something bigger that I will continue to explore. In my mind, I am expressing something I see in our world right now and I am suggesting dualities such as “important” and “isolated,” “perfect” and “imperfect,” “human” and “non-human,” “connected” and “fragmented.” Now I wonder if my idea has turned into something else. Now I have more ideas than I started with.

Original story published by Lakeside School.  See full version here:

'A Space For Everyone' at Cinema Gallery by Jacob Foran

"A Space For Everyone" is a show of ceramic sculpture that recently happened at the Cinema Gallery in Urbana, IL and has since traveled to Millikin University.  Along with the work, we put together a 22 page book with a brief text that discusses my work in relationship to our present.  You may order a copy at cost.  Contact me through the website and i will send you a link to place your order.  Here is a preview.

..."A Space For Everyone alludes to a place of acceptance and unity for all beings. With closed eyes and subtle smiles, these faces symbolize inward thought and act as dreamlike objects that exist between inner and outer worlds. They symbolize imagination, creativity, innocence, and they promote access to the child heart and mind that exists both within the individual and collectively in our unconsciousness. Their aesthetic conveys a sense of timelessness; they are like ancient artifacts from archaeological sites or childhood time capsules from some colorful, playful, wild, and whimsical universe. They express calmness; they are like contemplations and wishing wells in a time of civil unrest in America and beyond. " 

View the show at Millikin University now through Oct 27th:

Gallery Hours and Location

Studio Update by Jacob Foran

Currently  I am working on 2 solo shows for Sept and October.  And too,  I am committed to pushing my studio practice and investigating questions that i may never have answers to.     I am working towards a Spring of 2018 release date of new works that bring together various facets of my past 10 years in the studio with a new and unified aesthetic-- categorically they will distinguished as follows: narratives, heads, vessels, artifact, and 2D.  Here is a glimpse of some new work in the making.  

 

‘Head's 1-4 , 2017’ orbit around metamorphosis and change.    From every vantage point different ‘faces’ emerge.  Value shapes morph around form creating abstracted imagery that changes based upon light and space/ vantage point.  20-30 new works are in various states and will be glazed with black metallics.

Artist Trust Announces 16 Recipients of its 2017 Fellowship Award Program by Jacob Foran

May 15, 2017 – Artist Trust is pleased to announce the names of the 16 recipients of the 2017 Fellowship. First presented in 1987, Fellowship provides a total of $107,000 in funding to artists across Washington State and is one of Artist Trust’s flagship award programs.

Fellowships are based on merit and awarded to practicing professional artists of exceptional talent and ability. 14 of the 16 Fellowships are unrestricted awards in the amount of $7,500 each. Two are residencies to the Millay Colony for the Arts in upstate New York, plus a $1,000 stipend.

“It will take several years to finalize a new project and I will be able to turn to these funds at that time with a sense of humility and purpose,” says Olympia-based visual artist Amjad Faur on receiving a 2017 Fellowship. “This is an extraordinary moment for me personally, professionally, and creatively. It will stand as a formative moment as I move forward and I will always do my best to represent your decision with grace and creative fire.”

A total of 280 applications were received and across four disciplines: emerging/cross-disciplinary, performing arts, traditional/folk, and visual art. The breakdown of the awards was based on the percentage of applicants in each discipline.
• Nine of the recipients are visual artists
• Three are performing artists
• Three are emerging/cross-disciplinary artists
• One is a traditional/folk artist

Of our 2017 Fellowship awardees, 11 of 16 are mid-career artists, seven of 16 are from outside of King County, six of 16 are artists of color, and 12 of 16 are women.

“In all honesty I couldn’t have done it without Artist Trust in the first place,” says 2017 Fellowship recipient and 2010 GAP recipient Jenny Hyde. The cross-disciplinary artist from Spokane expressed that with the support she received from the GAP “I was able to produce and complete an ambitious project that otherwise most likely would not have been made. Because of this experience, my practice changed. Since then I have maintained the confidence in producing works of art that are often challenging, overly ambitious, and never ending.”

Fellowship selection panels are discipline-specific and held over four days in the Artist Trust office. Each panel consists of three artists or arts administrators working in the same discipline but usually in different mediums. Half of our panelists were from outside of King County, and 9 of 12 panelists identified as a person of color. 
The full list of 2017 Fellowship recipients is below, along with a list of this year’s panelists. The Fellowship award recipient’s biographies and images of their work can be viewed on the Artist Trust website.


2017 Fellowship Recipients

Emerging/Cross-disciplinary Arts
Anne de Marcken*, Thurston County
Natasha Marin, King County
Mary Rothlisberger, Whitman County

Traditional/Folk Arts
Monica Rojas-Stewart, King County

Performing Arts
Esther de Monteflores, Whatcom County
Alice Gosti*, King County
Jody Kuehner, King County

Visual Arts
Julie Alpert, King County
Dawn Cerny, King County
Amjad Faur, Thurston County
Jacob Foran, Snohomish County
Jenny Hyde, Spokane County
Eirik Johnson, King County
Dave Kennedy, King County
Anna Mlasowsky, King County
Yuki Nakamura, Pierce County

*Millay Colony for the Arts Residency 

2017 Fellowship Selection Panelists

Emerging/Cross-disciplinary Arts
Alan Chatham, director, Laboratory Spokane
Ryan Feddersen, artist
Brent Watanabe, artist

Traditional/Folk Arts
Miranda Belarde-Lewis, curator
Erin Genia, program coordinator, Longhouse at the Evergreen State College
Jan Hopkins, artist

Performing Arts
ilvs strauss, performance artist
Dani Terrell, choreographer
Bryan Willis, playwright

Visual Arts
Andrew Hoeppner, artist
Ellen Ito, collections management associate, Tacoma Art Museum
Ellen Picken, program manager, Spokane Art


About Artist Trust
Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in Washington State artists since its founding in 1986, through grant programs and direct support. Artist Trust also provides a comprehensive suite of career training and professional development resources to help artists achieve their career goals.

Artist Trust is a not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Find out more at www.artisttrust.org.

Artist Trust has invested over $10 million in Washington State artists since its founding in 1986, through grant programs and direct support. Artist Trust also provides a comprehensive suite of career training and professional development resources to help artists achieve their career goals.

Artist Trust is a not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State. Find out more at www.artisttrust.org.

Major supporters of Artist Trust include many individual donors along with: 4Culture, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Amazon, ArtsFund, ArtsWA, The Boeing Company, The Dale & Leslie Chihuly Foundation, The Klorfine Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Raynier Institute & Foundation, Seattle Art Fair, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Jon & Mary Shirley Foundation, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and Vulcan Inc.

Announcing the Spring 2017 Art Walk Awards Finalists by Jacob Foran

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | by AMANDA MANITACH

On Thursday, May 11, our Art Walk Awards return to Capitol Hill's Sole Repair. Come drink, dance and vote! (And RSVP here.)

The three artworks with the most votes will receive cash prizes ($1,000 for first place, $450 for second and $250 for third) and the first-place artwork will be featured in the June issue of City Arts. This round of guest judges was invited to nominate artworks that were exhibited during February, March and April. These are their picks:


Claire Halpine and Erin LynchNe-Yo Liberalism, HD video, 2017. At WeWork (nominated by Emily Zimmerman).


Andrew Lamb SchultzDream Poodle, digital print, 11 x 17 inches, 2017. At Greenwood Space Travel (nominated by Clyde Petersen).


Jacob Foran, In Space Together Forever (Moon Landers Vessel), ceramic and glaze, 16 × 16 × 12 inches, 2016. At Abmeyer + Wood (nominated by Miranda Metcalf).


Tariqa WatersProtection Order, giclée print on canvas, 7 x 5 feet. At Martyr Sauce (nominated by Clyde Petersen).


Joe RudkoOut of Frame, torn photographs on paper, 50 x 38 inches, 2017. At Greg Kucera Gallery (nominated by Emily Zimmerman).


Aaron HexomGood God, Get Down, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches, 2017. At AXIS Gallery (nominated by Clyde Petersen).

Alex KangUntitled (rollerleg), video. At WeWork (nominated by Emily Zimmerman)


Ryan MolenkampFear of Volcanoes 53, acrylic on panel, 30 x 40 inches, 2015. At Linda Hodges Gallery (nominated by Miranda Metcalf).

Michelle de la VegaHer Sweet Words 1, archival pigment print on paper mounted on plate steel, 18 x 20 inches, 2017. At Bridge Productions (nominated by Miranda Metcalf).

In Between Dreams at Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art by Jacob Foran

‘Jacob Foran: In Between Dreams’

Seattle ceramic artist Jacob Foran’s dandy exhibit at Abmeyer & Wood Fine Art explores color in ceramics in two sharply contrasting ways. About half the pieces are heads of smiling youngsters with closed eyes who serve as pale clay “canvases” for fancifully dripping pastel-hued glazes.

In the other half, black shiny glazes are so reflective that they half-obscure the detail. In “Head of Boy with Rockets,” for instance, the glossy uniformity of the dark glaze makes the child’s mind and the rocket-pad perched on his head merge into a single dreaming entity.

Something similar happens in three ornate pieces titled “In Space Together Forever.” Whether the focus is on two newlyweds or a pair of spacemen, the formula is the same. The figures, with rockets and/or flowery bowers rising behind them, stand on planetlike orbs cradled in dishes tarnished mirror-black. We’re talking space-travel fantasies as formal-dining centerpieces.

Skulls, scuba divers and roses turn up in Foran’s other work. The next stage in his artistic evolution is hinted at in “Head 2,” with its four increasingly small heads sprouting from one another.

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Feb. 28. Abmeyer & Wood Fine Art, 1210 Second Ave., Seattle (206-628-9501 or abmeyerwood.com).

Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times


Preview- The GALLERY GUIDE

In his second solo gallery exhibition, 33-year-old Jacob Foran underscores his growing reputation as a nationally recognized figurative ceramic sculptor. Coming up through the ranks of the North American clay establishment — undergraduate, graduate, residencies, competitions, scholarships, in-group awards — Foran displays a dedication to the human figure that is less elegant than that of one of his University of Washington teachers, the late Akio Takamori, and not as violent or expressionistic as another, Doug Jeck. Nevertheless, Foran seems more dispersed, with a wider range of subjects, moods and material approaches.

The new sculptures add to the group of busts and heads he showed at Zinc Gallery in Seattle last year, and bring to the gallery eerie children’s heads dipped in white glaze and dripping with pale colours. In Space Together Forever (Moon Landers’ Vessel) and Head of Boy with Rockets, he introduces outer space travel as a metaphor for sleeping, dreaming and death. Drenched in dark metallic lustre glazes, these pieces glow and vibrate, especially appropriate given the glistening spacesuits of the astronaut couple. He has already shown in juried clay exhibitions in New York, Chicago, St. Louis and the Netherlands.

-Matthew Kangas

See Full Story: by Matthew Kangas, Preview, Feb 9th. 2017


VANGUARD

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Q & A with Zinc Contemporary by Jacob Foran

What's the medium?
Ceramic and glaze. The drawings are charcoal on paper.



Can I walk you through the making of a piece?
The sculptures are hollow and made from the ground up using a coil technique. I start with the slab in which is essentially the cross-section shape of whatever I'm about to build (shoulders or neck in this case). I begin stacking and compressing coils of clay that are approximately an inch and a half in diameter. It's a big game of timing. Add too much too soon and it'll sag or collapse. Too little too late and it'll be too dry to work with. I work general to specific. With this series of heads I build up to what looks like a vessel, and then begin to form from the inside out. At this point I am up to what will become the forehead. I push the features into shape from the continuous wall of clay which I've compressed into the thickness of half to three quarters of an inch.  When the time is right, i build up and inward to close off the head.
   I allow them to dry slowly over the course of a couple weeks or so. They are then fired in the kiln to approximately 2100°F. Cone 3 in ceramic terms. The first firing lasts more than 24hours. Now they've changed from Clay to ceramic and I glaze them with 3 coats. The second firing is faster and to a lower temperature of 1945°F (cone 04).   done.

The drawings are made from charcoal on paper. Most of them are taken directly from photographic imagery of the ceramic heads in different lighting. I use my computer to zoom in and find intriguing moments/passages . Cropping and rotating, it's all really basic stuff.  It becomes interesting with shifts in scale so I often play around with the projector or a large TV monitor so that I can experience the image before I commit to re-creating it with a stick of charcoal. From there it's just like drawing a map or topography of value shapes.


What do I like most about this series?
What I like most is that it is so generative.  The work triggers more work. There seems to be an almost infinite creative presence here. I can walk in the studio grab a camera and just play. If my eyes are open, these things are talking back to me and I've got my next idea. So far it's felt like a pretty natural leap back and forth between two and three dimensions. Is the first time I have felt really at home with abstraction. And still there is the figure.


How would I describe this series?
They feel like things that are from really far away place, such as outer space or a strange alternate the universe. But also as things we haven't yet seen.  In the gallery they're both loud and very bold yet stilling and serene.

I described the sculptures as muted. The Clay forms Are like ancient heads from some Buddhist temple . The glaze is black but not black because it reflects the light around it. And I described them as changing with time and space. I describe them as kind of in between objects. someone said "like crystal balls with an inner eye!"

I Describe the head drawings as photo realistic until you get closer. They almost look like something that was digitally modeled but they're not, they're made by hand. Some of the drawings look like satellite imagery from outer space looking at a watery planet or the moon. Some of the drawings look like waves or flames or Sea creatures – – you could almost approach them like Rorschach's.  Others venture towards minimalism and focus more on the void, or the dark passages constructed by the light and reflective properties of surface.

What are you inspired by?

I'm inspired by other artists and simply looking at art. I deeply admire abstract painters as well as potters although i am a figurative ceramic artist and sculptor.  My source imagery is all over the board of art history, ranging from prehistoric figures all the way to modernism, then to contemporary abstract painting.   A few of my favorite artists: Jun Kaneko, Lee Bontecou, Anish Kapoor, Rothko, Brancusi.


Give me an idea of something I struggle with when making the work? How do you approach it, face it, and overcome it?

The challenge for me as I work on the body of work is not so different than any other artist who has a day job. When I make these things I just want to be working with them, And not be pulled away for any extended period of time. We come back into the studio a different place than we were before. It can be challenging to remember where we were at before. In other words it's easy to feel severed off from the emotional and mental state which initially prompted the making of an image or object.  One of the ways that I face it is just like we talked about during our studio visit , the Jeff Mitchell approach: I've learned what I love to make and I know how to make it fast. There's a lot of merit in skill, and part of it is just practical.  Another way I face it is being versatile enough to work a couple different ways so that I can move forward no matter how much time is on the table in a given day or week or month or year. For example, I know it takes 20 hours or so to build the head and I know that clay dries out. So a large portion of my sculpture work happens in the summer when I have three straight months. Drawing on the other hand happens from a static image that I can work on in short duration of time, no problem.  The sculpture is very intuitive and demands an ongoing engagement while the drawing is more planned out and methodical, somehow easier to walk away from and return. In some ways I try to use my schedule to my advantage and enhance what I do rather than the opposite-- i the case of this body of work, i've expanded by adding drawing into my practice.

 

Works on Paper by Jacob Foran, 2016