This piece of work was about the imbalance of the young and old in Japan. Being half Japanese I am concerned of the future of Japan and how this imbalance will and is effecting my family. My cousin Luna is 8 years old and is the only person in her year at school. I often wonder how this will affect her as she blossoms into a woman- with no one the same age as her to relate to.
iheartmyart was invited by artist, Yale MFA graduate and RISD professor, Graham Day Guerrato visit his studio to talk about his latest work and studio process.
Readers will recognize Guerra’s earlier series works that include Athlete Ascension, Virgin Assumption and Alpha and Omega which capture a conglomeration of athletic bodies suspended above stadiums and other industrial spaces. These masses of human bodies were composed initially using digital 3D technology software, then rendered on paper by hand in graphite and charcoal.
Graham Guerra:I grew up Catholic; looking at images of saints ascending, or Jesus on the cross. As a consequence, I grew very fond of the aesthetic representation of the human body.
Another part of my inspiration for this period of work also came from Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Olympia and her aestheticization of the human body. In Olympia, the human body is represented in the same way minus the cherubs and the garb of the Mary and the saints, the blood, etc.
I think of the bodies in my work as a modern representation of the idolised religious mythic quality that Riefenstahl imbued into the bodies of the athletes in her films. Also, the modern day stadium as akin to the space where people experienced religious fervour in the past.
I never felt that religious fervor but I have felt that there is something similar in experience of the stadium at night.
iheartmyart: I can see what you mean. In the modern day sporting events, that take place in stadiums like the one that you have depicted in your work, there is typically that hole in the ceiling where a figure could be raised up to the sky. Similar to the way we metaphorically raise the sport players up to this same deity status of celebrity.
The work I see around the studio is a bit different. Tell us about some of these pieces.
Graham Guerra: Some of my recent work layers architectural floor plans of religious spaces with scientific illustrations from educational text books.
I wanted to use these illustrations in ways that they were never intended to use. I like the idea that art makes a mess of things and can be used to aestheticize things. They don’t have to be right. They can be totally wrong.
iheartmyart: In some ways, it is the modern experience of being an adult. Where we have to shift through concepts and have to formulate our subjective opinion.
Do you feel like this work was influence by your teaching?
Graham Guerra: Maybe a little bit. But more just how I reflect upon my own learning or mislearning. I was very interested in science as a kid. I would have been a scientist if i hadn’t gone into the arts. Both my grandfather and father were scientists.
Most recently, I have been doing the same layering of the illustrations but moving away from the high contrast. I have been creating works with gold leaf and exploring the role that the patina places in portraying the effects of time.
iheartmyart: Were you concerned with the contrast because you felt that within the layering that some meaning was being lost?
Graham Guerra: In the end, I think when making artwork, as much as one might like to control it, so much of the learning comes from making stuff with your hands. I knew I wanted the new works to be different from the previous pieces.
Many times, I think about materials as metaphor. My criteria for particular works is, what type of relationship do these materials have with the subject matter? In the case of these pieces, I was thinking about carbon as the basic building block of organic life. A lot of these things have to do with the human body as the starting point for different measurement systems. You can see this one pieces it starts off with architecture and moves up to the solar system; this other piece shows the scales of the human body, moving from Vitruvian man, carbon atom, an animal cell and different shakras.
The most recent pieces are related to the organic natural of things and I used silver to achieve something more elemental in the material. I am experimenting with that now.
Francois Dallegret, Space City - Astronef 732 Space City, 1963, an early Graphic ink drawing
Dallegret concieved a Space City to be shot to Mars for the purpose of studying reactions of younger generations to conditions of extreme crowding in relation to speed. Dallegret aligned himself with the great innovators of the 20th century, Le Corbusier, Buckmaster Fuller (who exhibited a geodesic dome at the Expo ‘67) and Joe Colombo, whose vision of streamlined modular living corresponded with Dallegret’s own futurism.