Archive for 'Artists Drawing Club'

Artists Drawing Club: Between, with Amy M. Ho

Artist Amy M. Ho talks about her Artists Drawing Club:

For the March edition of the Artists Drawing Club, I led a group of museum visitors on a sensory exploration of the space.  I started out explaining my own interest in the subject matter.  Most of my artwork is installation based and deals with our understanding and experience of the spaces and environments we inhabit.  Our relationship to space is key to our emotional and physical experiences but we often take it for granted.   In walking through the museum, I was hoping that the group would learn something new about their own experience of space and see how lighting, architecture and sound work together to choreograph our experiences.

After the introduction and as an icebreaker of sorts, we each mentioned a favorite space or an experience with space that we’ve had.  It was great to hear how experiences of space can shape our memories.

Next, I gave a short tour of the spaces that stood out to me in the South Court area of the museum.  We looked at some of the various shadows cast by the light coming in from above.  We closed our eyes and listened to the sounds echoing though the atrium.  We went to the back of the escalator to a nook that is often ignored.  Finally, we explored the corridor behind the museum store.

After the short tour, each person was assigned to a specific part of the museum and was asked to spend the next twenty minutes there observing the lights, sounds, architecture and anything else that stood out to them.  Each person was asked to sketch, photograph or write about what they saw.  Below are some of the photos and sketches.

Carey Lin

Carey Lin was assigned to the back staircase. Here’s her graph of the sound in the space.

Jamie Emerick

Jamie Emerick was up in the third floor galleries. Here is a sketch she made of an art piece and its shadows.

Dave Lyons

Dave Lyons was assigned to the Chinese Jade Gallery on the third floor. Here’s his image of the underside of the display.

Brandon Drew Holmes

Brandon Drew Holmes stayed downstairs in the South Court. Here is a sketch he made of how the light changed.

Amy Ho

I assigned myself to the escalators and the landing at the top of the escalators. Here is a view of the building across the street through the streaked window.

Owen Lawrence

Owen Lawrence went up to the Loggia. Here is a sketch of the architecture.

Marc Mayer

Marc Mayer stayed in the Contemplative Alcove in the Japan Galleries. Here is his sketch of the floating wall.






Beyond II, Amy Ho

Beyond II, Amy Ho

On March 28, artist Amy Ho presented the next Artists Drawing Club to investigate the museum’s architecture from its history starting as San Francisco’s public library to its transformation into the Asian Art Museum. The session, titled “Between” looks at the between space in the museum whether it is space between the old and new architecture or between light and dark of collection galleries. Structured as a non-traditional museum tour, participants explored the museum’s architecture looking for shadows, spaces, and sounds and came together to discuss their findings and assemble a collaborative map of the building.

In preparation for the session Amy and I discussed how this project came about, how it relates to her artwork and areas of interest, and how she hopes to engage museum visitors through this event.

-Marc Mayer, Educator for Public Programs

Marc Mayer: I was really excited about your Artists Drawing Club session because of your work and interest in space. The architecture of the Asian Art Museum is something intrigues and perplexes me. I am curious what about space of the museum that drew your interest.

HeadShot-AmyHo-webAmy Ho: Last year, I was able to take an architectural tour of the museum as part of Imin Yeh’s SpaceBi project. Since then, I’ve been attracted to the museum’s transformation from a public library to an Asian art museum. It is interesting to walk through the space and take note of how certain parts of the library have been preserved while other parts have been adapted to accommodate the current use of the building. The combination of the new and the old architecture also creates an interesting backdrop for the exhibition of the artwork. In touring the museum, I keyed in on certain interesting facts about the buildings construction, but I’m also fascinated by the architectural elements of the museum that were supposed to be invisible or ignored. Since the architectural tour, I’ve returned to the museum several times to look at the in between elements of the museum. I’ve been paying attention to the way certain walls or rooms were constructed or ways lighting is controlled. All of these elements choreograph our experience of the museum but we are inclined to ignore them and take them for granted.

MM: What elements of the building intrigue you or stand out in your mind? 

AH:There are a lot of elements of the building that stand out to me every time I visit the museum. In the atrium downstairs, I am amazed by the way sound echoes. You not only hear the sounds of the people talking and moving about, but also the sounds of the building. The sound of the air being pushed through the atrium and other background mechanical noises are all amplified by the space. If you step from the atrium into any of the exhibition spaces downstairs or the museum store, the sound suddenly becomes muffled and muted. All conversations become whispers and the soft sounds of people shuffling through the room become apparent.
MM: Considering sense perception, what elements help define space for you?

AH: I find that our understanding of space is very much determined by light. We interpret the environment around us through light. A brightly lit room in the daytime and a dimly lit room at night can feel like entirely different places. Light allows us to determine dimensionality and perspective, for example a space can feel claustrophobically small or infinitely huge, but many times that sense is shaped by how it is lit. I am fascinated by how our sensory experiences affect our emotional experiences and how we can assign particular moods to different physical spaces. Our sensory experiences of light and space seem like they should be objective observations, but they are inevitably tinted by our consciousness and psychology.

MM: Your installations seem to demand a certain openness or presence. How do you want your work to impact viewers?

AH: I hope that my work brings attention to the immediate environment around us and to experience itself. In daily life, we often forget to stop and experience the world around us. It has become even easier in contemporary times to ignore the physical environment by withdrawing into the digital world of smartphones and computers. In my work, I distill certain elements and present environments that focus on particular sensory experiences. I hope that by focusing on and exaggerating certain physical aspects, that the viewer will have a bodily and mental experience of the space around them. Certain fields of science and philosophy have focused on trying to explain how concrete elements can combine to create consciousness. Although humanity may be moving toward a better understanding of neurology, I believe that subjectivity and the sanctity of every single person’s experience can never be explained through objective terms. I believe that we can only understand consciousness by examining and embracing it though experience.

MM: What are you planning for the Artists Drawing Club on March 28? What do you hope that participants will get out of the experience?
AH: For this Artists Drawing Club session on March 28th, I aim to engage the participants to create a collective and collaborative “map” of the museum by exploring the “between spaces” of museum that might be defined by sound and light, but more so by each person’s observations and experiences. I am excited to see how others consider, define, and understand space. As group I wonder if this exercise will allow us to look at the museum differently and to appreciate the various elements that contribute to the overall experience visiting the museum.

On a larger scale, I would love to see the heightened perception practiced during the event transferred to life outside of the museum. In our busy daily routines, we often don’t take the effort to experience the physical world around us. If we can dedicate a few moments each day to just feel the spaces around us, I think we can lead more enriched and centered lives.


Artists Drawing Club is here


Towards a Creole Procession

On Thursday, February 28 the Asian Art Musesum launched a new contemporary art program series called the Artists Drawing Club. The Artists Drawing Club is a salon of sorts.  Every month a local contemporary artist is invited to use the museum as a project platform, drawing inspiration from the collection, special exhibitions, the building, or the surrounding neighborhood to create an interactive event for the public to engage with museum through the artist’s process.  The inaugural event featured artist Ranu Mukherjee and future session will include artists Amy M Ho, Julie Chang, Weston Teruya, Binh Danh, Lordy Rodriguez, Toyin Odutola, and Ala Ebtekar over the next eight months. I spoke with Ranu just before the first event about the project and the process of working at the museum.

Marc Mayer: The Artists Drawing Club grew out of conversations I had with Imin Yeh and other local artists while working on the event at the museum, Taking Up Space which was part of Yeh’s larger project SpaceBi. Knowing the development of this series, what interested you about this opportunity?

Ranu-HeadshotRanu Mukherjee: I was excited about the idea of doing a site specific project in the museum that would respond to the objects and their positioning as historical and cultural artifacts. This opportunity seemed like it would challenge me. It is outside of my comfort zone, yet it also connects with some very core elements of my work. I was sold on it by your enthusiasm and vision, as well as the fact that it felt like such a perfect way to engage the class of graduate students I am teaching at California College of Art (CCA) this semester. It seemed to be a really nice scale of event. Rather than a bigger spectacular kind of proposition, I really liked the sense that the event might be a place to actually experiment with ideas in a public yet intimate format.

MM: What are some of those “core elements” of your work that have a connection to the museum?

RM: I’ve been working with Indian mythological images from the 19th Century for a few years now. I am interested in the way that these images are so familiar and accessible and have become part of popular culture, yet were not addressed in the my art school education, which was based in Euro-American art historical framework. I like to think about and question patterns of cultural influence and how objects embody those patterns.

I think that many of the artifacts in the museum’s collection possess the power of being immediately accessible, even if the specific stories attached to them are not. I am intrigued by the consistent presence of the archaic or ancient in the contemporary moment and the difficulty to imagine a future without these influences. While my reasons for being interested in the idea of Asia have a personal origin, they also engage with current narratives about the ‘rise of Asia’ and how those stories might manifest at the intersection of culture, matter and economics.


Ranu Mukherjee, Orange Chimera, Narottam Narayan,2012. 19 x 19inches. Ink on paper. Image courtesy of the artist.

MM: Can you tell me more about the class you are teaching at CCA?

RM: The class is a studio lab comprised of 6 MFA students, and part of CCAs Engage program.

It is called ‘Towards a Creole Procession’ and looks at ways that mixed cultural heritage can appear in aesthetics as well as how artists think and work with the idea of ancestry, whether in line with dominant cultural heritage or in contrast. I was excited to work with students to explore the idea of ancestry in relation to contemporary art, because these can seem incommensurable. Framing an artwork as a cultural or historical artifact positions it as a vessel for understanding a larger society and conditions wherein it was produced, while framing work as contemporary art brings the subject of the artist to the forefront. I think good work is always both, yet it matters how the work is contextualized. How does one balance this delicate act, merging the historic/cultural with the contemporary? The class allows us to focus on some of these questions.

The second half of the class will continue a conversation we have started with Leah Gordon, a London based artist, filmmaker and curator. She has been curating the Ghetto Biennale in Haiti with Andre Eugene of the Grand Rue sculptors group, Atis Rezistans. The class will be held at the Luggage Store Annex/ Tenderloin National Forest for the rest of the semester and will culminate in a workshop with Leah and Eugene about the ever presence of ancestors in Haitian culture,  tactics used by artists like Atis Rezistans, and ways these artists’ work is received outside of Haiti.

MM: What are you planning for the Artists Drawing Club at the Asian Art Museum this Thursday?

RM: I, along with the six MFA students in the class (Dimeng Brehmer, Jamie Emerick, Maral Hashemi, Laura Arminda Kingsey, Opesanwo Omoifa and Tali Weinberg) will conduct a procession that travels through the permanent collection galleries on the third floor and concludes in Samsung Hall. Each artist is devising a piece that responds to a specific object in the collection. Some performances will be ongoing throughout the procession and others will halt the group to let an artwork unfold. It is an attempt to re-animate some of the objects or images we see in the vitrines or on the walls in the museum. All of us are engaging with distortions of history, personal associations, interpretations and translations to intervene and reimagine these works as artifacts for the future.

MM: What interested you about the concept of a procession?

RM: Originally I had thought of the procession as being a fiction around which we could make artifacts. I wanted to take the format of the procession as the starting point for our studio lab. The procession embodies and honors mixes of culture and heritage. I think the format, especially considering our project at the museum, allows each person participating to work with what is meaningful for them, while tackling some of the complexity around cultural representation in the context of cultural heritage. I also liked the idea that a procession physically maps out a place while also blurring boundaries. The procession can blur the role of audience from spectators to participants. At a most basic level, if you walk with us, you become part of the procession.

MM: What has the process of working on this project been like for you and your students?

RM: We have been working at the museum for the last month. During our first class we explored the collection galleries. Each of us chose a few objects that spoke to us in some way. We narrowed it down further selecting objects that might be more dynamic in the context of audience engagement. During the next class we had the opportunity to research these object in the museum’s library.  We also met with multidisciplinary artist Dohee Lee who discussed her performance-based work. As visual artists, we are not as well verse in performance yet it is a skill we need to employ for this project. Dohee’s perspective and insights gave us strategies to help animate the procession.

The process has made me realize that making an ephemeral work in the context of a museum, with all its limitations is going to contribute a lot to the content of the project. It has been really exciting to start the class right in the middle of this amazing collection-outside of a classroom- because we are immediately steeped in the ideas that the course was designed to consider. It has been remarkable to witness the way that these objects affect us in the present, through watching the students’ responses unfold.

For more information about Ranu’s work you can visit her web site.

Mukherjee’s studio research lab is part of ENGAGE at CCA, an initiative merging project-based learning with community engagement.