Art Thesis Saturday March 2, 2024 EST 
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April 1 and 2, 2005 Friday and Saturday

Art Thesis

I never had to prepare a thesis in the 4 years I attended college. I don't know what the dynamics are, or what it's all about - until a few friends tell me it's something you research in defense of your work. I'm now thinking...if I sculpt a face from a block of wood...a face is released or freed from the confines of the wood block. What is there to defend? Doesn't the art work speak for itself independent of the artist? I've asked that question to several people and somehow, I never got a satisfying answer. I guess I just never got it.

The Graduating Class
Now, most of my students from the web design class I teach has invited me to be an audience to their thesis. Now was as good a chance to get this question answered. There can't be a better group. I've seen the level of artistry of this class and I know they've labored hard to get their thesis prepared.

Noteworthy Work
All the work exhibited are noteworthy, but some more intriguing or more provoking than others.

An eye-catching work is Winner's. A mural-size face emerges as he patched stickers together. It must have taken eternity for this to complete.

Another intriguing work is done by Mark Rodriguez. It's all painted cubes protruding from nowhere and everywhere. It looks abstract until you view it from a specific angle...and voila, a face emerges. The work even accounted for front, side and back view. I wonder what level of complexity would have been introduced if he endeavoured to present a top view.

Renan, described by a senior art teacher as a promising poet lauriat of the art scene, presented the billboard art. He argued that the proliferation of billboards within the city was an eyesore. The first time I heard such an argument was at the opening of the Mel Lastman Square in Toronto. Some urban activist was crusading that the square had the densest concentration of billboards. I didn't get it. So what? Shouldn't it be expected that an urban landscape have either the skyline and billboards to map its horizon? I'd be outraged if I saw a billboard on the remote hinterland of Sagada...but along EDSA, it seems even appropriate. I respect the artist and appreciate what he stands for, but we'll have to agree on disagreeing on this one.

One of my promising students and a team member of the AutoFocus team, Mervin, presented cartography. Based on verbal descriptions, he tried to capture the personality and likeness of the person. Interestingly enough, he was dead-on.

Carmel presented the ghoulish installation that seemed to float. Contrary to what I thought, it was about presenting a form on void. With the drama evoked, I thought it was about ethereal presence. I would have loved to see it in pitch black condition with glow-in-the-dark paint.

Gretchen's Fragmented Landscape benefitted from her elaboration. It certainly added dimension. It's a pity that not all viewers will be accorded the privilege. Having riden the TGV (high-speed train) at over 320 km/hr, the nearby landscape was reduced to a blur...very much like her work. Even though it's said art should be independent of the artist, hearing the artist talk about the work certainly adds more texture, body and meaningfulness to it. That is not to say it needs to be defended.

When I asked another senior art teacher what piece of work grabbed him, he said "Ian's" for it's directness and forcefullness. I hear the panelists even gave him a high mark. A friend who has been in the art scene for sometime said similar paintings are sold at international auction houses commanding millions. I couldn't see it. Even after hearing his deliberation, I still couldn't get it. This is another occasion where it's not the work but it's me. It's simply beyond my comprehension.

Lenie's genius is overshadowed only by the magnitude and enormity of her metalic art...more so considering her petite and fragile-looking physique. The gender disparity of the work lent themselves to a union...two distinct sides of the same coin.

Ending Thoughts
After attending the 2-day deliberation, viewing the art work, reading the thesis compilation....and I'm left awed by the creative input I've seen. However, I'm back where I started. What is there to defend if I want to release a face buried inside a block of wood? Am I just immeasurably out of my depth? I remember a Bob Dylan song saying,"...don't criticize what you don't understand".

--- TheLoneRider

April 1, 2005

Reader Comments:

Virginia B. Dandan - Dean, College of Fine Arts
(17 Apr 2005) It's not all about what the student does alone, it's about what goes on in the student's mind, heart, guts, even the 2nd chakra without which art is just a fancy word for objects created. The thesis draws the line between doing something for the sheer pleasure of it (hobby) and doing something because it's struggling to be expressed in a way unique from those of others (serious, formal, okay academic too). It's also about taking risks with fresh perspectives on not-so-new-ideas.

That's the academic side of it. Now for the non-academic side from a person notoriously known for formalism (just to show you how I'm totally misread by everyone around me, probably including you (-:). Artmaking (as I like to call it) proceeds from a hunger to be released from the shackles of convention, from the norm, from the known, from the expected. And to take wing and soar without caring about the crash dive that might come shortly after takeoff. It's pretty much like any adventure. You won't know what's there until you go for it. Sometimes it turns out ho-hum at the end of the road, but the getting there is something else, a real high, a shot in the arm. The bonus is, you learn something new about yourself each time, no matter how long you've been around. It's the self-discovery that drives the artist, keeping his spirit supple, his mind ever vibrant, his heart always young.

Welcome to the club! You're doing just fine.

Leslie e de Chavez - panelist
(10 Apr 2005) I was so amazed by your adventures specially the one with the Burningman? Oh my god! that was so cool im sure! seeing your docus, my god! sarap ciguro dun no? with all those people and their art and performances, man!!?

Well I just wish you to have what you really need and need to understand in your drawing workshop. It can be learned for sure, ikaw pa! madali na yan sayo! gudlak na lang! it was really nice meeting you, will keep in touch rin para sa mga future art endeavors natin. Salamat!

(7 Apr 2005) hey thanks for showing me these art works the other day. it was fantastic!

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