Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Black Rock Press Lecture and Exhibit

Mitch Murway Art 381 Artist Lecture Black Rock Press - Jaime Lynn Schafer The lecture at Black Rock press was very intriguing. I found it rather odd to know that people are still working in printmaking mediums like these…and at first I was a bit confused as to why someone would put themselves in that position, rather than use Photoshop, but I realized rather quickly that the artist’s passion comes through with a more textured and 3D presentation of her vision. Schafer had a pretty wide background, which I found interesting in that she ended up at UNR completing her BFA. I still have a hard time grasping UNR as anything other than the local University. She gave a lot of information on her former work and jobs, but the real interesting bits emerged in her presentation of the art in the exhibit, and told the stories behind them. The first project that she presented was the one that really caught my attention, because she was a Pennsylvania native, she chose to make a three-dimensional art booklet on the topic of Centralia, PA. I’d done research on Centralia before so I knew immediately what she was talking about. The town is a very interesting case study in USA history, and yet it’s considered obscure knowledge by most. Centralia was a mining town in PA, before it’s city officials decided it would be a good idea to light their landfill on fire to consolidate that trash into a smaller mass. After they lit the fire, a coal vein that was exposed underneath the landfill caught fire and has been burning for over 60 years. The part that she didn’t quite elaborate on is the fact that the coal is andecite coal, which burns much longer and much hotter. The burning coal beneath the city made for noxious gas emissions that were very poisonous, and sink holes that were popping up randomly. The real reason that it’s a ghost town is the fact that one of those sink holes swallowed a kid in his backyard and the noxious fumes nearly killed him…so the US govt. relocated the citizens of Centralia. The city attempted to install large heat vents and risers in the streets to redirect the fire, they even dumped god-awful amounts of water into the mines and the fire still raged on. Her book was very interesting…all layers of the “hole” were black and white, aside from the final page, which was all colors of fire. I thought it was really magnificent. EXHIBIT The lecture doubled as an exhibit, and so I wanted to separate the topic of the rest of her artwork as a subject of it’s own. There were two other examples of artwork that really struck me in the exhibit, aside from the piece on Centralia. RED was a book with a great deal of meaning. When Schafer’s wife was teaching at a school in Sparks, there was a code red lockdown situation meaning that there was an active shooter in the school. Students and faculty aren’t supposed to text or use phones during a red alert, but she sent a text to her wife saying that there was an active shooter lockdown and that she would be ok. This triggered the inspiration for RED, which is a book with brick pattern printed beautifully on the outside, while the inside unfolds like walls of a building, the walls have silhouettes of victims and shooters printed on them, as well as disjointed trigger words associated with school shootings. The last piece that really resonated with me was a brochure format book that was Coyote tan with blue trail lines all over it, and topographic featuring (2D) that was documenting the route and history of Geiger Grade, as well as it’s historic significance. I really liked the piece, until the artist said that she had taken artistic liberties with the visuals involved in the piece. This was mildly disappointing, but then I remembered that it is indeed art, and not a documentary piece being submitted for consideration with a museum of any sort, so I returned to admiring her work and interest in Nevada’s rich history.

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