Day one of Vandana's residency consisted of an artist talk as well as a running Q&A from the students. I must say, I love the students' uncensored enthusiasm. Vandana would move onto the next slide of her work, and before she could open her mouth a student would exclaim, "Aw, that's sick!" (translation for those of you who don't work with urban young adults: sick means amazing). She captured them.
As young adults and active consumers, they responded to her work. They loved dissecting the corporate logos she used, asking "What company uses the red dragon?" or "I know that one, it's SONY!" She talked about visual literacy and how these logos have become a language of their own.
Vandana also gave a chronological narrative as to how her work evolved from her mid-twenties (when I first met her!) to present. I think those stories are important to our students; it lets them know that there is a process to becoming whoever it is you will be professionally and that it takes a lot of work. Vandana stressed the concept of work, too, which I appreciated. She has an advanced degree from Fashion Institute of Technology in Surface Design, and she works as a freelancer doing textile design to pay the bills and makes her art in addition to her job. She emphasized that many artists do this, and that there is not much money in making art, but you make it because you have something to say.
While Vandana spoke, I took notes on the whiteboard. She used many words the students were unfamiliar with, and I wanted them to see them written down. I didn't ask the students to take notes, but I was surprised how many did anyways and how many came up and took photos of my notes after class ended. They wanted the information for themselves.
At the end of class, Vandana introduced the project that she created for this residency: A Self-Portrait. She asked students to go home that night and make a list of the brands in their homes in three categories: food, technology, & clothing to bring to the next class.
Images from Vandana's artist talk can be found under Class 1 images.
Vocabulary: mandala, tanagram, gouache painting, logos, rangoli, slogans, Tibetian flags, totem poles, luxury brands