Drawing As Installation, sort of…


Our little escape to the hills last week was to Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado – just outside Aspen. Despite it's reputation as a celebrity hangout, it is one of the most beautiful parts of the state. And with all the rain the state has gotten, it was emerald green. Anderson Ranch is a learning community dedicated to the making and understanding of the visual arts. I took a class called, "Drawing As Installation" and…


…here my husband heads towards his woodworking class.


I wasn't at all sure what to expect with my class, but I have had the hankering to work larger, so I took a flyer and signed up for the Level III class. We each had our own space – three blank walls (to be thought of as "pages") and a floor, plus shared work tables that lined the center of the room. Intimidating and exciting all at once.


A group wanted to head out to the Aspen dump and I jumped at the chance. A lover of the found, I was curious and thought I might find something that would help jump start me. They had bins of e-waste, plus piles of scrap lumber, shredded appliances, heaps of plastic headed for recycling and then your garden variety landfill waste. We kept to the recycling areas.


As luck would have it, this big dump truck came roaring in with a load of twisted and crushed metal. Quite impressive watching it being uncerimoniously dumped as we stood just a few feet away.


As I walked around the new heap, many beautiful twisted metal sculptural shapes appeared. There really is beauty everywhere.


Juxtaposed against the dump, were the amazing wild and cultivated flowers that surrounded the ranch. On the drive in, these glorious lupine arch and stretch to the morning sun.


And this little beauty is about to burst forth in yellow glory.


Meanwhile, back in our studio, art supplies were unloaded and we began to let the wild dogs of our imaginations run loose. While I loved my experience there, I have to say I got in a little over my head with a Level III class. I was the only one without a BFA or MFA. The teacher, a brilliant, but remarkabley intense woman who has taught, and loves, conceptual art, was very much the art director all week. I would have loved more freedom to experiment, and maybe I just should have let her rip, and criticism be damned. But there was lot of high level art talk flying in the room and instead of feeling inspired to use my own voice, I just felt intimidated. So while I found the week very interesting intellectually, it wasn't very satisfying.


And so my installation became very minimal. Which is interesting because I don't usually work that way, so editing and letting simple elements speak became my mantra.


I feel this is the most sucessfull wall or "page" of my installation. The piece of found garden fence from the dump, against a white wall with shadows falling, was really quite stunning. Edit and simplify. Beautiful. Elegant. Not very satisfying to me as an artist. My hand is not in it. But is was appreciated as "ART". But is it? These are the kinds of questions that haunted me all week.


I found the large xerox machine at Kinkos and this image is blown up from a journal page, with added collage.


This is a blown up photo of a temple guardian from Japan with found elements from the dump. Fierce. Minimal.


These objects feel like offerings and engage the floor space. It reminded me of the sand sculptures I did in Port Townsend.


This beautiful drawing installation really won my heart.


Another minimal but very beautiful installation from a class mate.


The use of repeated images, very large and small. Interesting and personal.


I took a flyer on a class that was way out of my comfort zone. It shook me up and spit me out. I came away with a renewed sense of my own work and what to watch out for should I ever take seriously my notion of going back to school for an MFA. And all the while we toiled and worked, these beautiful columbines just sang their beautiful song in the mountain light unencumbered by thoughts of "art". 

6 Responses to Drawing As Installation, sort of…

  1. mary ann says:

    sometimes it’s nice to let those wild dogs run amok. and if you can think of yourself as BRAVE while they’re doing it, all the better.

    i love that in some circles art is a real discipline. talked of and thought of in ways i don’t understand, but appreciate. i love that you didn’t poo poo it or shrug it off, but kept going. sometimes it’s too easy to dismiss things we don’t understand as unimportant. art is worthy of deep thought, rigorous attention & consideration.
    you went swimming with the big dogs and didn’t drown. my hero.

  2. Stephanie says:

    good for you…to take that step…outside.

    I sometimes cringe at the academic, like MA said…you swam with the big dogs indeed.

    REally wonderful Frannie!


  3. Lisa Hoffman says:

    I love every piece of your “walls”.
    What a great post, giving us a tour of life at Anderson Ranch and the spin on an art class filled with ….artists.
    Well done.
    …and now?….back to your own table and the voices in your own head, long may they sing!

  4. kathy says:

    I am SOO PROUD OF YOU my dear friend!!! You ventured outside of your comfort zone and still kept your voice! Your art is soo distinctly you it is SOO amazing to see your grace among other artists! And why not! Your heartsong tells the most brilliant story of your life. I always appreciate the value of your art journey and the openness in which you share it all with us. As I tell all my students, remember that all life’s sweetest treasures which are worth the greatest joy comes with the drive to push the envelope and step onto the next zone. It may be scary at first and unknown, but that’s where the real true authentic self of your creations lie. Keep it up!!! You DESERVE to be with the big dogs!!! I truly believe that the universe is beckoning you to go further and reach higher because you have it in you to be someone we all can look up to and aspire to be!!! Love and aloha always, Kathy P.S. I am getting pretty good with my left hand don’t you think?

  5. eb says:

    oh gosh Fran – I so enjoyed this post!
    yes a hero – ditto Mary Ann and Steph and Lisa – I once knew these waters
    and have since dived more deeply within
    if water is flow and feelings maybe we go to those waters that sustain and replenish – good for you for this deep diving and sharing – thanks so much!

    xox – eb.

  6. YOU are the COOOLEST!


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