Pablo Picasso, Guernica
Hanna Hoch, From an Ethnographic Museum
Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie
What is a Project?
The dictionary says a project is “an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned and designed to achieve a particular aim.” That gives us a start, but it doesn’t describe the curiosity, creativity, cohesion or the ultimate clarity a project can offer a visual artist. Unlike more purely spontaneous endeavors, there is a special consciousness to a project. It can be as simple as a single artwork, or multifaceted, but what all projects share is an organizing process and a finite purpose.
Picasso’s Guernica was a project originating with passionate political and moral motives. Matisse’s Jazz was a publication reflecting the improvisational qualities of two art forms. Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie is a single easel painting culminating a lifetime’s experimentation with the potentials of Neoplasticism. Aaron Siskind’s abstract Road Tar photographs or Hanna Hoch’s political photo-collages From an Ethnographic Museum are tours de force in the original use of the photographic medium. Joan Mitchell’s La Grande Vallee represents a year’s work on a group of deeply personal paintings conceived in memory of her sister.
Each of these projects are notable because they are masterworks, but there are many ways to consider the possibilities a project inspires, whether ambitious or modest in scope.
Examples could be the development of a suite of collages exploring abstraction, a portfolio of mixed media combined with photographic imagery, a series of paintings investigating the use of color in relation to a particular subject matter, a limited edition of experimental iPhone imagery, a traditional photo essay, a sketchbook dedicated to the study of form in landscape, or a sequence of drawings capturing time and motion in space.
Identifying a project initiates a process wherein the imagination and creativity can find structure. It provides a space where ideas and feelings can be brought together in a way that nurtures their growth and supports their production. It carves out a place for the artist to concentrate on transforming curiosity, intuition and intent into a tangible, personal, united whole.
-Lon Clark, SFSS Dean
Aaron Siskind, Road Tar
Joan Mitchell, La Grande Vallee VI