Sunday, May 19, 2024

Art and Basketball plus a Manifesto: The Unavoidable Assertion of Art || By Graphic Arts and Design Major Rhay Porter

Part 1 - Art and Basketball: The Maestros of My Life

I think when people think of athletes, they don’t associate them studying a subject like art. They think that they probably study exercise sciences, or physical health, or even biology or nursing. I study graphic arts and design at AIC and am also on the women’s basketball team on athletic scholarship.  Click any image to enlarge.

When being a student athlete, you are constantly tested. Emotionally, physically, positively, and negatively. Being on the basketball team is a blessing for more than just keeping me in shape. Its connected me with my sisters, its taught me patience and teamwork. 

However, it has stressed me out to no end. I am a perfectionist, and so I want to do my role to the best of my ability at all times which isn’t completely possible. It connects over to my art life. When working on a piece, I’m hunched over for hours on end spending that time on the shading of one specific spot. 

When working on assignments, I constantly ask myself, “Is this good to the standard of not only my professor, but to my class? What are they going to think?” 

For both art and sports, you are exerting yourself emotionally, letting go of emotions positively and negatively through something you love and adore. I wouldn’t trade the world for my skills in art or in basketball, and I would go to war for them both. They are both mental processes that you can only perfect through time.

Part 2 - Manifesto: The Unavoidable Assertion of Art 

To read the full text of the manifesto speech Rhay delivered in Professor Borrelli's Theater and Society course click here.

The conclusion of her manifesto:

The universe will reward those courageous enough to do what they love. If what you love is painting, then you shall do it with the fluffiest blush as your sword. If what you love is writing lyrics as a musician, then you shall do it with the boldest of scriptures. The connection between artists and non are too similar to continue to discriminate. If what you love is to save lives as a doctor, then you shall save the blood of the mightiest soldier. But do not do so without the strength of your creative mind beside you. If what you love is to defend a client in court as a lawyer, then remember what inspired your solution suddenly. We pave the way for so many, and never gain the appreciation, when all we thrive for is connection. We demand to be seen.

(Rhay paused her speech at this point to reveal her artwork of Vincent Van Gogh as a doctor.)

Vincent Van Gogh created from pulling deep within himself, especially during time of need, and stress, and made something life changing from not only himself and his reputation, but the world around him. He became a household name, with his disabilities and misunderstandings of the world plaguing him at every moment. He could’ve made his life into so many things. For all we knew, he could’ve ended up a doctor, a lawyer, a singer. But he chose his inner calling and shared his life through the means of art like so many want to do, but get downgraded by society every day. Artists through time know the struggle, now we beg that the people yearn to know it too, alongside us instead of against us.

This is why I do it. This is my why. You may know me for so many things, but this is it. My breath, my air. And I only hope to continue to share with you my reason, my itch, my yearning. I only hope to inspire youth, to find theirs too. I hope the shadows that we were forced into form, with your help, into a beautiful painting that we all can experience together.

Thank you.

Click to view Rhay's photographic portraits using studio lighting.

Click to view Rhay's photographic portfolio. Click on an image to view full image.

Professor Nordell photographed Rhay competing on the court.

Digital Photography 2 Students Respond to the Prompt "Cities" and Submit Their Results to F-Stop Magazine

Striving for an authentic real-world publishing experience Digital Photography 2 students submitted images to F-Stop Magazine's group exhibition on the theme of "Cities". As it turned out, none of the student submissions were accepted for the exhibition. Not accepted for a juried exhibition... now that is a real-world experience! Several of these same students later persevered and their creations were accepted and exhibited at an area gallery.

Worcester by Amelia Rodriguez

During one class period, Professor Nordell picked up the students in a van and they headed to downtown Springfield.

Motor Man by Grace Boisvert

Michael Mendez in Action by Professor Nordell

Single by Rhay Porter

Professor Nordell Consults with Isaiah Darden by Rhay Porter

Barbershop by Dahvey Hicks

Kyana Andrews at Work by Professor Nordell

Street Side by Isaiah Darden

Just a Break by Madeline Jackson

Restaurant (Flights) by Brianna Westberry

New York Gallery Digital Director and Artist Sofia Love Connects with History of Art Students at AIC

Sofia Love is the Digital Director for Sargent's Daughters Gallery in New York/Los Angeles. A year after graduating from Parsons School of Design in 2022 she had her debut solo exhibition at the Shelter Gallery in New York.  test

In advance of her Zoom visit to class, Professor Nordell assigned his History of Art students to formulate questions to ask Sofia.  

"I love teaching General Education courses," says Professor Nordell, "because you have students from all across campus with different majors and perspectives."

We hope you enjoy the variety of questions as well as the diverse takeaways students gained from class with Sofia. Her Instagram.

Website bio: Sofia Love (b. 1999, Boston, MA) is a multidisciplinary artist and designer tackling themes of identity, perception, queer expression, and cultural aestheticism. Born and raised in Boston, but with deep family ties to the Mexican community of Laredo, TX, Love’s acrylic paintings serve as a negotiation between ancestral memory and contemporary identity. The cowgirl recurs throughout her work – gun slinging, brown, and frequently nude – framed by expanses of desert. She’s a real, historical cowgirl. She’s the artist traversing her own imagination. For Love, the vaquera is an object of desire and an extension of herself.

"Do you ever feel like you undervalue any of your artwork? How does it make you feel and do you make changes to the prices, if so?"  - Amari Jones, Criminal Justice Major 

"I saw that you work as a Digital Director at a gallery in New York.  I was wondering what that position entails?"  - Dario Beljo, General Business Major

"Being a younger artist, what are your thoughts on AI generated art?  Do you consider it art? Or do you consider it something of not as much as value as something an actual person made?  - Damon Asencio, Undeclared

Each student reflected on what they learned from class with Sofia.

"One thing I learned was how to price artwork and how much art really goes for." - Bella Capua, Educational Studies Major

"I sketch all the time but using colored pencils is a good idea and I will try it." - Kyana Andrews, Visual and Digital Arts Major

"One idea I learned is that it matters to the artist who and for what reason their art is purchased."  - Damon Asencio, Undeclared

"I use Pinterest a lot in my daily life. I don't know why it didn't cross my mind to use it when doing an art assignment. I'll be using Pinterest for inspiration more often now." - Christian Torres, Visual and Digital Arts Major

"An artwork’s value comes from the artist’s career and the dimensions of the art."  - Mateo Castro, Undeclared

"I learned that you should always have confidence in your ability to produce."  - Chase Pham, Visual and Digital Arts Major

"It was very interesting to learn about the role of a Digital Director and what that position entails." - Dario Beljo, General Business Major

"Seeing that most of my questions and interest were based on the value of art, one thing I learned from Sofia is to always take pride in your work and never let anything tell you otherwise when it comes to your work." - Amari Jones, Criminal Justice Major 

"I learned how she's more than just an artist. She does many other things as well."  - Marquis Lundy, Athletic Administration and Leadership Major

Friday, May 17, 2024

Photo 2 Photo Shoot: Points of View

Digital Photography 2 students Rhay Porter and Madeline Jacyszn worked with studio strobe lights to complete the Project B option of their semester's end projects. Click to view more Project B work. Big thanks to model Iman Williams and photo assistant Marquis Lundy. Click any image to enlarge.

Let's engage in visual thinking and creative comprehension by interacting with the images while reading points of view from the participants.   

Model Iman Williams is a graduate student in AIC's Mental Health Counseling doctoral program.
Photo by Graphic Arts and Design Major Rhay Porter

Photographer Rhay Porter: "For shooting with the strobe lights, I was fortunate enough to have assistance not only with an assistant (of whom it was my first time meeting), but also my professor and two models. The shoot was for an assignment, but we were even able to capture photos that could be used recreationally. It was a very fun experience because not only was I able to learn more about using strobe lights (I wasn't completely new to the idea of them, but I still have to learn a lot through experience), but I was also able to connect with my models and assistant through learning together.  For the models, it was interesting feeling what they were comfortable with doing, and I found that one of my biggest priorities was finding how best to make them comfortable. Same goes for the assistant, but more so for him I was learning how to instruct him to get the best shots (along with my professor's help of course). I think overall it was a one of a kind experience and I am very honored to have been able to have something like that under my belt as an artist and photographer." 

Photo assistant Marquis Lundy is a member of AIC's football team.
Photo by Professor Nordell

Photo assistant Marquis Lundy is an Athletic Administration and Leadership Major: "My experience with helping as a photo assistant during the photo shoot was a very cool and enjoyable experience. I say this because it's always good to see others happy. I enjoyed seeing the photographer feeling hyped and excited by the fantastic work she was doing. I also enjoyed seeing the models happy and thrilled to do their poses. Usually, I am the student/athlete in front of the camera waiting for my picture to be taken."  

Photo by Rhay Porter

Model Iman Williams: "In the past I have been a fashion model for AIC and walked in 3 Pride fashion show events at the school. I have also done other photoshoots in my personal life.

My experience with working with Professor Nordell, Photographer Rhay Porter and assistant Marquis Lundy was a joy! The photoshoot took place in the West Wing area, so we had plenty of space to work in. They set up the equipment pretty fast and we began to shoot right away. I felt very comfortable working with them. We shared lots of laughs throughout the shoot. I forgot I was there to take pictures. Rhay was so kind, and I can tell she really enjoyed shooting. My favorite part was taking pictures with her at the end and doing the “test shots” before each set. The whole experience was a learning journey for myself and for Rhay. I am looking forward to seeing her work in the future. It was such a pleasure and I had so much fun. My only regret is that it ended. (Time flies when you’re having fun).

I would like to personally thank Professor Nordell for having me, Rhay for shooting me, and Marquis for assisting me.  Looking forward to the day where we can do this again." 

Rhay photographs Madeline Jacyszn.
Photo by Professor Nordell

Liberal Studies Major and Visual & Digital Arts Minor Madeline Jacyszn is close to earning her black belt.
Photo by Rhay Porter

Model Madeline Jacyszn: "Using the strobes was like being on both sides of school picture day.

The setup was basic but recognizable: a bulb mounted on a stand with the inside of a reflector umbrella facing the subject. Slide a small antennae piece onto the top of the camera to cue the flash, and it was good to go.

Unlike school picture day though, my turn as the subject required some dynamism. Specifically, jumping. So there I was, in my karate uniform and socks for the aesthetics, against a hastily erected white paper background I was deathly afraid I was going to tear down by accident once I started hopping around.

Truthfully, I was a little stumped too. The style of martial arts I practice doesn't have a lot of jumping moves, and I'm not the most flexible person. Despite having a decent kick, I couldn't hold my leg straight out in front of me without it bent and trembling from the effort. Would a flying kick from me look acceptable enough for the picture?

Turns out, what I should've been worried about was more the faces I made than the kicks I tried. I guess I should just feel relieved that the strobe light put me under decent lighting like it's supposed to."

Photo by Rhay Porter

Madeline and the set in the West Wing Gallery.
Photo by Professor Nordell

Rhay and Iman
Photo by Madeline Jacyszn

Photographer Madeline Jacyszn: "Luckily, once I was on the other side of the camera and taking the pictures instead, my concerns became less physical and more technical.

First was lighting. I had to take several test pictures to check how the lighting setup looked and make adjustments accordingly. Sometimes the strobes would misfire and change the lighting up entirely by throwing sudden deep shadows over half the subject's face, requiring more test pictures.

Next was posing and framing. This project wasn't under my directive so luckily I didn't have to worry about posing, but I did have to make sure I kept the framing within the makeshift backdrop that had been set up. Surprisingly not always as easy as it sounds, as I kept getting the edge of the backdrop in frame by accident."


Rhay and Iman 
Rhay is on the basketball team.
Photo by Madeline Jacyszn

Look what Digital Photo 2 Students Chose to Create for their Final Projects: 3D Photography, Generative AI, Studio Fashion Photography and Surrealism

To foster student engagement, Professor Nordell offers choice to students for their projects.  All Digital Photography 2 students completed Project A, the first part of their semester's end projects.  Please enjoy the results of their Project B choices. Click an image to enlarge it.

Project B: Student Choice - Choose one of the options:

Option 1: Based on your end of semester reflection, identify what you further want to learn about photography. It could relate to using the camera, lighting, Photoshop techniques, etc. After you clearly identify what you want to learn, create a plan to acquire this new knowledge. The plan may involve researching on the web, experimentation, engaging in tutorials and asking Professor Nordell and/or classmates for guidance. Engage in the creative process and produce photographs that exhibit your newly acquired knowledge.

Dahvey "Scooby" Hicks uses a 3D scanner to capture Grace Dervan's likeness. 

We experimented with different settings on a 3D printer to print versions of Scooby's scan of Grace. 

Scooby reflected on the process: "I had a really good experience using the 3D print scanner. It wasn't a long process, but it was harder than it looked, in my opinion. The hardest part was trying to keep the scanner on the object, and you had to look at the computer screen. Scanning a human took a little more patience because the person would have to move, and sometimes the scan would go over the same spot twice and mess up the scan. Ultimately, I am glad I got the opportunity to use the 3D scanner and printer. I would love to learn more about it."

Option 2: Create a Multi-layered, Multiple Image Project that Displays the Photoshop Skills that you have Mastered this Semester. Assemble a minimum of 5 new images that you take using the tools we have studied: blending layers, making selections, masking, cropping individual images and using the clone stamp tool. You can explore any of the types of imagery we created this semester, such as Layered Self-Portraits, Photomontage or Surrealism. It can be one of these ideas, a combination of several or some new direction.

Grace Boisvert used studio lighting for fashion photography.

Option 3: Use alternate technologies. You could work with the studio strobe lights. You could work with a 3D Scanner to take 3D photographs and then print them using our 3D printer. I can make arrangements so that you could access Generative AI in Photoshop, so you could do a project that includes AI images.

A surrealistic rendering of AIC's campus by Isaiah Darden.

Madeline Jacyszn used Generative AI in Photoshop to add elements to her character portrait of classmate Rhaymi Porter.

Amelia Rodriguez captures a contemporary still life using the 3D scanner.

Amelia's scan of Iman Williams was 3D printed two different ways.  The details of Iman's hair and face are clearer on the left.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Artwork Created by American International College Students Chosen for Juried Art Show

Artworks created by five American International College students were selected for the What’s On Your Plate? exhibit, on view May 5 - June 29 at The Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls, MA.  The What’s On Your Plate? theme asks artists to investigate the entanglement of food, time, commitment, and ecology. Exploded View curated the exhibit in collaboration with the Discovery Center's 2024 Food, Farms, and Factories project and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Opening reception:  May 5, 2024 from 2 - 4 pm.  2 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01376 

Realizing the connections between the What’s On Your Plate? theme and the Food and Society focus of assignments in the Division of Arts, Media, and Design, Professor Nordell encouraged 17 select students to answer the call for entries. Here are the five accepted artworks created in Digital Photography 1 and 2, along with the General Education course Cultivating Creativity.  Click on images to view larger.

GMO by Biology Major Mar Busqueta, Digital Photo 1

Reliability by Graphic Arts and Design Major Rhaymi Porter, Cultivating Creativity

Impulsive Temptations by Liberal Studies Major and Visual and Digtial Arts Minor Madeline Jacyszn, Digital Photo 2

The Hidden Truth by Nursing Major Katilyn Baek, Cultivating Creativity

The Plastic Waste by Visual and Digital Arts Major Frances Arnold, Digital Photo 1

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Food and Society Art Show Opening Celebration at American International College 4/24/24

Art show opening celebration Wednesday 4/24/24 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm. Location: West Wing Gallery of the Karen Sprague Cultural Arts Center, 1000 State Street, Springfield, MA Food will be served. You are invited to join us.

This semester, Midterm Projects focused on Food and Society created by students in Digital Photography 1 and 2, Graphic Design 2 and Cultivating Creativity. Student responded to the following assignment prompt:

What we eat, how food is produced, and the conditions of the workers who farm, prepare and serve food have huge implications for our lives.

Absorb the provided resources.  Or, you may have your own personal connection to Food and Society. Find an issue relating to Food and Society that resonates with you. Then, imagine how you would visually portray this issue. Finally, create the artwork to express your ideas.

(Click any image to enlarge it.)

Ingredients by Jermal Streeter, Digital Photo 2

To aid student research, Information Literacy Librarian Maxine Girard visited Professor Nordell's classes to explain using the Gale in Context: Environmental Studies Database. Maxine also made a tutorial video that shows effective use of the database.

Resources provided to students:
The Hidden Truth by Kaitlyn Baek, Cultivating Creativity

Taking the role of a curator, History of Art student Charlotte Tvelia distills the essence of the exhibition:

The following pieces illustrate the consequences of the processes and people involved in preparing the foods we consume. Each year, twice as much greenhouse gas is emitted from agriculture and farm usage compared to emissions from cars. As a society, we tend to overlook the workers involved and the compensation they receive working in industries ranging from farming, to serving in a restaurant. The students used a variety of art styles and mediums to convey these messages, as well as to encourage more eco-friendly practices in the foods we choose. 

Sustainable Agriculture by Grace Boisvert, Digital Photo 2

The Poison of Capitalism by Kendyl Vermette, Cultivating Creativity

GMO by Mar Busqueta, Digital Photo 1

Salt, taste and repeat if necessary by Taisha Jones, Graphic Design 2