Archive for March, 2010
Monday, March 29th, 2010
If this doesn’t inspire you…nothing will!
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
I was reading an article the other day covering a well known charity that had just won a funding contest, pumping about $1 million into their resource pool. Very cool stuff. The reason I mention this, is because the founder was asked something about the “level of involvement from volunteers” or something along those lines, and he used the word “slacktivism”. My curiosity was immediately piqued, so I Wiki’d it (yes, Wiki is a verb now). I was not all that surprised at the definition;
Slacktivism: The word is considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts also tend to require little personal effort from the slacktivist.
Examples of activities labeled as “slacktivist” include signing internet petitions, the wearing of wristbands (“awareness bracelets”) with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, joining a Facebook group, posting issue-oriented YouTube videos, altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services, or taking part in short-term boycotts such as Buy Nothing Day or Earth Hour.
When I first read this, I had a good laugh thinking about those “lazy fools” who consider themselves to be doing good from the safety of their own computer. Bracelets? Facebook Messages? Please. Give me a break. What I’m doing is so much…er…I mean, I kind of….crap; I’m a slacktivist. They are talking about me! No! The horror, the humiliation, the shame!
The truth is, the connected world we live in today makes this type of “activism” not only easy, but normal. I will freely admit that I expect to be able to do just about anything I want from the comfort of my computer. Stay connected with friends, make a quick donation to a cause, promote an event I know I will never, ever attend. Look what we’ve created!
This is not all to say that those above things are bad, or even inadvisable. In fact, they are one of the perks and major benefits of the Social Media driven world we live in. The viral nature of the social networks we live in are major players when it comes to spreading the word about anything, good or bad.
So what’s my point, you ask? My point is that those things need to be in addition to actual, physical, self-sacrificial actions. Things that make you a little uncomfortable, a little nervous…a little scared. I say this b/c when we retreat back to the safety of our homes and desks, we now have actual flesh and blood relationships on which to build those online initiatives, and this time it’s with a very different perspective. We’ve gotten our hands dirty. We’ve looked into the eyes of the individuals in need. We’ve broadened our perspective, and ultimately bettered ourselves for it.
What does this look like you may ask? It doesn’t mean you need to start your own charity. It doesn’t mean you need to adopt an entire village of needy people. You don’t need to build a soup kitchen (by all means, if you’d like to please do!). It can be something as simple as getting a group of friends together to make a meal for a homeless shelter. Go through your closet and donate some old clothing. Participate in a “green up” day. Just do something already!
In closing, I offer this directive not from a soapbox, but standing right beside you. I too am guilty of this slacktivism. It’s actually one of the major reasons why we founded Faith & Fortune. We want to use something we are passionate about to help others, even if in some small way. We may sell clothing and great designs, but we’re selling something even greater. The community. People being part of others lives. In the end, that’s what it’s all about, right?
Friday, March 19th, 2010
See our previous entry below for part I!
4)From looking at your work, you have a wide range of styles and abilities. How would you characterize your style?
In my paintings I have developed a consistent vocabulary and intentionally limited palette. I’ve been using painterly lines against sharper edges created with painter’s tape. From the work I produced in New York, I developed a sort of ‘editing of hand’ as I would describe it and have incorporated that since then. By ‘editing of hand’ I recall when I heard Jasper John’s say ‘I take something, do something to it, and then do something to that’. I took interest in working with that kind of freedom and layering of forms. Such freedom has also come from a concept Bruce Herman learned from Philip Guston, which is that a painting is like stuffing a mattress. (And I paraphrase the concept) If you put too much in it will overflow or pop out, but if there is something good going on it will turn up in another painting so you don’t need to fuss over it.
I can see now that my style came about from a variety of influences in my life and what interested me. I took elements from what I loved in the motion of video and even the crafts I did as a child. I’m drawn towards child-like mark-making. There is something so calming and confident about it. It has always seemed funny to me that we spend so much time as children learning how to draw and color and do crafts, but when we get older somehow it seems less valued. I recall how as a kid I used to always win these coloring contests at the local video store. I took them seriously and if I ever made a ‘mistake’ of coloring outside the lines, I would begin a new one. I can see how there is some connection now in that I am still drawn to the act of coming close to a line with paint, sometimes covering the line accidentally and then putting a new line back in its place and that is somewhat obsessive.
5)Who are your artistic influences?
Jasper Johns, Rothko, Barnett Newman, Richard Diebenkorn, Richard Tutle, and Agnes Martin have had a strong influence on me. Minimalism has always appealed to me as well as diverse surface materials, using found objects, and simpler ways of seeing things. When I began painting abstract landscapes I was introduced to the work of Richard Diebenkorn at the Whitney in Manhattan. He was wonderfully describing space, balancing the use of line, and layers of color. He is an artist I keep going back to for inspiration and instruction.
6)How have you handled the business side of being an artist? Advice for those looking to make a career out of their talents?
The most important thing to do is to show up at the studio. Having a strong body of work is definitely at the root of being able to get it out there and to continue to sell. My first year out of college I was fortunate to show at a variety of restaurants, a small gallery, open houses and even a muscular clinic. Having those experiences helped me become more confident with the business side of dealing with people and being a professional artist. No matter how ‘insignificant’ a venue it may seem don’t be afraid to ask. Network and make yourself some business cards because you never know what connections may come of it. I highly recommend artists to study under or intern for other artists if they have the opportunity to see professional work being produced.
7)What are your favorite works of your own? What are you most proud of?
The series entitled ‘Northshore’ seemed to successfully convey what I discovered to be interested in and became a launch pad for all the work I’ve done since. The video piece ‘Linear Studies’ is an extension of how I am often looking at landscapes, which I am equally proud of.
We would like to thank Ben for taking the time to thoughtfully consider these questions! We hope you’ve enjoyed some insight into what he does and how various influences in his life brought him there. If you would like to see more of his work, visit him at http://benmacadam.com or http://macadamdesign.com
Sunday, March 7th, 2010
Our desire at Faith & Fortune is to dabble in the serious and the juvenile, the artistic and the entertaining, the day to day things that capture our attention, and the beauty in our world that makes us stop and ponder. When doing this, it’s essential that we involve those who are the creators and visionaries of these things. One such artist is Ben MacAdam, who was introduced to us through our current featured artist Grant Hanna. Below is part I of a two part series of an interview with Ben. We hope you enjoy!
1)Where do you currently work, and what do you do there?
I was born in Colchester England, but most of my youth was spent in historic Concord, Massachusetts. I moved back to this area with a new perspective of it as an adult. I’ve come to appreciate the landscape here with all its open fields, barns, and farms. As a kid I was mostly occupied with skateboarding so pavement was more appealing at the time. I see a large correlation between the landscapes I experience and the elements in the art I make. The solid grid-like urban scape and the soft countryside always have their voices of conversation in my work.
I worked at the design firm Bartlett Interactive in West Concord, and then began taking my freelance design a bit more seriously. I also wanted to spend more time painting. I now work part-time at Francesca Anderson Fine Art Gallery in Lexington, MA. Being surrounded by paintings, meeting experienced artists, critiquing art, is a healthy environment for me as a young artist. At the end of this year I will have the honor of curating a show, hopefully I can slip some of my work in! I’ve been selling pieces I’ve done in the past every now and then so whenever that happens I get pumped to keep painting. Also, I’ve just recently started working part-time as a junior designer at http://abovethefolddesign.com.
2)When did you know that the Arts were your “calling”?
In the act of drawing from still life and the human figure I discovered art was ‘my calling’. My professors played a large role in how I began to value art, to be interested in how light told stories, and be able to participate in the dialogue of art today. But to be more specific I remember a direct affirmation from my life drawing and painting professor Bruce Herman. During a personal critique at the end of one junior semester he said ‘Ben, Art is your vocation”. I thought to myself ‘perfect!’, and I wasn’t sarcastic to myself at all. To hear that from someone I so admired as an artist and person, I couldn’t help but let go of any doubts and continue the pursuit.
3)What kind of impact did studying art in school have on you?
I am thankful for how my teachers shared their personal world views with me, how it infused their work, and created a sacred atmosphere in the studio. As a student looking to worship Christ, I absorbed so much of what they expressed in their lectures and what they said about their own art. The result was that I was able to build myself up with a concrete base of how and why to make art. I thank them for that.
I also appreciate that studying art in school gave me the opportunity to explore different mediums. Having a broad understanding of the tools helped me realize that the idea had to come first and the idea would choose an appropriate medium, not vice versa. From a semester in New York City I was able to see this more and more in the galleries. And discussing with peer artists I could see my own work expanding outside of the traditional idea of painting being ‘a window’ and into a more interesting arena. One example was to use found surfaces, such as the ‘Graffiti’ series (using surfaces already covered in another person’s marks), which helped launch my work into creating dream-like abstractions of landscapes and even textures on their own.
To be continued….
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
This is Such a cool video…what do you think?