Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Inspiration, Julie Mehretu and Lichtenstein

About two months ago, a friend decided to commission me to create a piece for his living room. The holidays happened, and two months later, his living room wall is still bare. It is not for lack of trying however: I have visited several museums, researched artists and had serious pencil to paper brain storming sessions.

I recall a similar day - without benefactors - during my first year of art school. I was set upon the task of creating a collage of acrylic and ink. I remember how beautiful the inspiration was and how much I disliked my recreation. Looking back, the scale was completely off, and I had not yet learned how to use painters tape! Keep in mind, it was my first 'painting' created in color theory class. The inspiration came from works similar to Julie Mehretu. Until recently, her pieces had all but escaped my memory. SFMOMA brought them back.

I stood in front of her work in the SFMOMA for ten minutes; pen, moleskin and DSLR in hand. I attracted attention from both foreigners and guards. Why was this girl standing SO close to Julie's piece? Surely there must be something interesting she is examining.

I sat in front of Mehretu's piece examining her techniques, attempting to identify her inspiration and her process. Of course, this was explained in the little white caption floating on the wall, but its more fun to figure it out on your own. Her piece in the SF MOMA was inspired by architectural grade mylar, the lines that sit on them, and building plans... I saw weather patterns, topographical and city maps. I was, however, able to identify the materials use and her process.... and it now something I would like to attempt (again).

Another artist I have been contemplating gathering inspirations from has been Lichtenstein. Mehretu and Lichtenstein both share a quality of exactness and preparedness when creating their pieces. They are well thought out and executed with an incredibly high level of craftsman ship. My friend Sam is a computer programmer, it only makes sense I create something in his living room that is in line with his analytical thought process.

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