OK y'all, I am taking a terrifying leap! I'm launching a GoFundMe! As many of you know, I have been a painter for many years and am now super excited to work to extend my art-making practice to include video, specifically meditative immersive video using VR(Virtual Reality) and projection art. My goal is to raise $2000 by the end of August so I can purchase video equipment, create new work that will be accessible in VR format online for free, and host an immersive video art exhibit titled "Altar-ed Spaces” to include VR and projection art by late fall.
How did this desire to transition to video come to be? Last year I worked on a series of paintings exploring the nature and sacredness of water. As part of my process, I recorded multiple videos of water across the U.S. and in Egypt. My plan was to use the video solely as image research for the paintings, but, as the series progressed, I found myself more and more intrigued by video as an art form in its own right. I am finding working with actual light in video rather than simulating light in paint immensely satisfying. I am excited about the added dimensions of sound and movement as well. Several of the videos I’ve recorded have had a meditative quality through moving pattern and light, an effect I have struggled for years to simulate in painting, but which naturally flows in the moving medium of video. The feeling of a meditative space sparked the idea for immersive video, the direction I would like to take in my new work. Why meditative videos? When I have taken moments to notice meditative spaces in the world, I have come away transformed, more at peace, and feeling connected to the world. This is a feeling I want to share and give to others. As a public-school art teacher, I'm acutely aware of and passionate about the need for art to be accessible to all. This new medium will be accessible to anyone with a phone and a cheap VR headset. My goal is to produce videos that are available online at little or no cost to the viewer. Our phones, which can often be a distraction or a source of anxiety for many of us, can now become a tool for meditation and reflection. You can view my current video experiments and transition from painting to video on my Instagram: @artwithamirra
Over the next three months, I would like to create this new series of immersive video experiences entitled Altar-ed States, where the viewer is immersed in rhythmic luminous moving patterns creating liminal spaces that become perceptual altars and inspire reflection and connection. The videos will create spaces rather than be objects to look at. I envision creating a series of VR videos that can be played using a VR headset that works with most phones as well as a series of videos designed to be projected in an interior space. (If you haven’t yet experienced VR, I highly recommend purchasing a cheap Google Cardboard VR headset for about $15 online, downloading the Google Cardboard app and exploring this amazing medium).
In order to make this transition to video, I will need to purchase equipment by the end of August both for recording video and for presenting video. I would like to use my iPhone as my recording device because, as I learned from recording video of water over the course of a year, I am more likely to film if I don’t have to haul a large camera around. “The camera you use is the camera you have with you.” I have researched equipment that will both improve my iPhone’s standard video footage and will expand the capacity of my phone to film in 360 degrees for a fully immersive experience. Equipment includes a 360-degree camera that attaches to my phone, a compatible microphone, attachable lenses, and a gimbal for steadying my filming. In order to be able to present the video in a public space, I would like to purchase a high-quality VR headset, video screens, and a projector so that I can create immersive spaces in an interior space by projecting videos at a large scale. While researching and experiencing VR, I’ve realized the quality of the sound is critical to a fully immersive experience, so I would also like to be able to pay for consultation with a sound artist.
I will produce new work from September to November, and, in late fall, I will host the “Altar-ed States” immersive video experience at an event open to the public where visitors can access the VR videos and projected/displayed videos. All VR videos will then also be made available for free online.
For supporters, I’ll be offering the following thankyou gifts based on your donation amount:
All donations:Exclusive preview of 2 new VR videos viewable using the Google Cardboard headset and app.
Donations over $100: Exclusive previews and downloads/links of ALL new VR videos viewable using the Google Cardboard headset and app.
Donations over $ 200: A preview tour of the exhibit hosted by me before doors open to the public.
If you support my project, I will be incredibly grateful! It can be terrifying to take a leap in a new direction and to ask for help, but this is honestly the most excited about art-making I have been in years, and I can’t wait to get started!
Baraka: The Blessing of Water Exhibit at the Columbia Art Gallery
When: Month of May, 2018
Opening Reception 6-8pm, Friday, May 4th, 2018
In addition to the exhibit of my body of work exploring water, on First Friday in the studio, Pamela Larsen, local artist and educator, and her daughter, Sofie Larsen-Teskey, teen artist and activist, will lead an art-making activity where participants of any age can create a small flag honoring and celebrating water. Flags will be hung in the gallery studio as a collaborative public art piece. After the exhibit is over, the flags can travel to local activist events where protecting water is the focus. Come!
Where: The Nook in the Columbia Art Gallery, 215 Cascade Avenue, Hood River, OR 97031
The Arabic word baraka (بركة)is used to describe that which is imbued with sacredness. This series celebrates and explores the sacredness of water. I was inspired to visually explore water by the phenomenal actions of the water protectors at Standing Rock last year. I was moved by their use of non-violent action to protect the water for future generations and by the unifying nature of the camp where indigenous and non-indigenous people from all over the U.S. and world came together in defense of the Missouri River. Water has been a constant touchstone wherever I have lived. I find myself returning to water whenever I need to center myself and reconnect. My father grew up on the Nile River and has shared many stories about the rhythm and life-giving qualities of this river. I now live on the Columbia River and continue the connection to rivers in my father's heritage. I have also experienced what it is like to not have easy access to clean water. When I lived in Egypt, the tap water was not drinkable and the Nile was and still is very polluted. Locally, the Columbia River is under constant threat from oil trains, coal, nuclear waste from Hanford, and corporate threats such as Nestle. Through this series, I hope to call attention to the sacredness of water and inspire others to protect this essential element of life.
I have spent this past year on a visual journey exploring the nature of water. In my process, I sketched, photographed, and filmed water in its many states, from frozen and fractured, to rippling with movement. I then translated the patterned images into paintings using Egyptian tile designs, Arabic calligraphy ,and deconstructed Arabic calligraphy brushstrokes. The word barakais painted repeatedly in several paintings, the text infused in the water imagery to show its inherent sacredness. In this spirit, I often gathered and painted with water from many of the bodies of water I studied. In each painting, the unique forms of each experience with water was emulated by changing the quality of the brushstrokes, the repeated marks becoming a mantra or meditation, a celebration of the life-giving nature of water. In addition to studying the states of water, I visually explored multiple bodies of water throughout the U.S including the Hood River, the Columbia River, Goose Lake, the Twin Falls in Maui, and creeks and rivers in the Red Woods in California. In January 2018, thanks to a Scholastic Art and Writing Alumni Microgrant, I had the opportunity to return to Egypt and revisit the Nile River, the river of my childhood. It was exciting to synthesize imagery of water from the land of my ancestral heritage to complete the series.
My hope is that this series will bring the importance of protecting and honoring water into focus and that the viewer will be inspired to take action to support local and global water protection efforts. In this spirit, 5% of proceeds from the sale of art in this exhibit will be donated to the Wanapum fishing people against Nestle. They were part of the successful effort to keep Nestle from accessing Oxbow Springs and are continuing to work to protect the Columbia River and all local water sources.
This project was made possible, in part, through funding from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Alumni Microgrant Program.
Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Alumni Micro-grant Pays for Travel to Egypt!
Limited Time One Week Signed Print Sale of New Work to Celebrate!
I’m excited to share some fun news! I was recently awarded a Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Alumni Micro-grant to pay for travel to Egypt to gather visual research from the Nile River to complete my Water Is Life series! It feels so satisfying to incorporate imagery from the body of water from my father’s heritage with images of the bodies of water where I live in the Pacific Northwest. You can read about each alumni recipient here. The awards are given to practicing artists who won Scholastic Art awards in high school. It was fun to reflect on the work I created way back in 1990 that won a Scholastic Art Gold Key award. I did some digging and found the original announcement in the paper in Greensboro, North Carolina, where I graduated high school. The timing was so serendipitous! I learned of the award soon after hearing that over 100 Scholastic Art awards were won by my art students at Hood River Valley High School. I had just contacted the local paper here in Hood River to make sure my high school students’ awards were also announced and had set up a gallery exhibit showcasing their work. This magical thing often happens being both an artist and art teacher. Frequently, when I work hard to get my students’ work honored and recognized, the timing somehow aligns where my own art earns recognition as well. I never plan it that way, but this alignment of giving and receiving has happened more than once and always feels like the universe is creating a lovely balance of ebb and flow, exhale and inhale, nurturing and being nurtured. I have completed two new works based on the imagery gathered at the Nile River and will be continuing to create new Nile art over the next two months to round out the series. CLICK each image above to read more about them and to order prints. You can see all available prints in my shop.
Order Signed Prints of New Work by March 18th
In the spirit of this mutual celebration of creativity, I am launching a limited time one week signed print sale featuring three new prints: Snow, Nile Rhythms 1, and Nile Rhythms 2. Snow is inspired by the massive snow storm in the Columbia River Gorge in 2017/18 while both Nile Rhythms pieces represent my experience of the Nile River this January. You can read more about each piece on the prints page. 5% of proceeds from this print sale will be donated to Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network, a local organization which “educates, organizes and motivates Columbia Gorge activists to reduce and eliminate fossil fuel usage and climate change, at all levels from individual to global.” Like my series, this organization focuses their efforts locally and internationally.
When? All prints ordered by March 18th will be signed and shipped by the end of March. Signing each print takes time, plus I’m working with a small local print company Gango Custom Printing in Portland with a 3-5 day turn around. Know that you are supporting a local artist, a local small business, and a local non-profit when you purchase prints! #artequalslove
What? Signed by me Gicleé prints on archival cotton rag paper. Prints will include a one inch border. Small prints will be shipped flat. Larger prints will be shipped in a tube. All prints ordered during this time frame will be signed! Other prints are available in my print shop.
Thanks for celebrating with me!
Give the Gift of Art and Give Twice! (Or Thrice?)
1. Give Art: In honor of Small Business Saturday, I’m excited to share that 4 more works from my Water Is Life series are now available to order as fine art Gicleé prints which make lovely gifts. Several of you have requested that these new images be made available as prints, so here they are! I am running a limited time one-week signed print sale for the holiday season. All prints ordered in the next week will be signed by me. Orders will be shipped after the first week in December. Prints will be available in a variety of sizes to keep art accessible to all.
2. Give to a Nonprofit: But here's the coolest part! In the spirit of honoring water and water protectors, 5% of all print sales will be donated to the non-profit Columbia River Keeper, an amazing organization that works tirelessly to keep our water clean for future generations. Donating a portion of proceeds appeals to my artist activist heart and is a model I will be following in future sales campaigns. I'll be choosing a different non-profit each run, so stay tuned!
3. Support Small Business: Your purchase will also support the local small business Pearl Printing, the stellar print shop I order from in Portland, Oregon. Maybe I should have titled this email "Give Thrice"! :) Remember to order by DECEMBER 2, 2017 to get SIGNED prints and for donations to go to Columbia River Keeper. Prints don't have to be from the water series, they just need to be ordered in the next week. Thank you for supporting small local businesses, artists, and our rivers!
Everybody wins! Click below to start shopping and give twice! (Or Thrice?)
Shows, Shows, So Many Shows!
I'm excited to share that my work is being featured in several shows in the next couple of months! I applied to shows on the east and west coast recently. What's truly wonderful about getting into this particular group of shows is that they each represent a different part of my multi-faceted artist self: art teacher, artist activist, and artist of color. Now if I can get into a show involving artist mothers, I will be truly complete. If you think you can make it to one of these shows, it would be great to see you there! I will be at the Maryhill Museum reception and the Artists of Color Expo in Seattle. I won't be able to be at the reception for the New Jersey show. If you're able to attend any of the shows, it would be so awesome if you could post a picture of yourself at the show and tag me, @artwithamirra, on Instagram.
Teachers as Artists: Beyond the Demos
Maryhill Museum of Art
35 Maryhill Museum Drive
October 6 – November 17, 2017
Reception Sunday, October 22nd, 11am-1pm
I'll be there! Come!
Teachers as Artists is a juried exhibition in the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Education Center showcasing the state-wide talents of Oregon’s arts educators. Presented in partnership with Oregon Art Education Association.
Water is Life
Raices Cultural Center
Downtown Highland Park
Multiple locations along Raritan Ave btw. 3rd & 5th
Highland Park, NJ
Art will be though out the area in various storefronts. For locations of art and more information about the show, click here.
October 23rd-Mid November
Reception October 28, 5-8pm
I won't be able to attend, but New Jersey folks, check it out!
All art being displayed in the exhibit aims to bring an awareness about the detrimental affects the natural environment is undergoing and inspires a desire to protect our water, land and air. More than 50 local and international artists, and a dozen community partners will a part of the opening reception of the Water Is Life Art Exhibit Series. Meet some of the local and international eco-warriors working on the front lines to protect our waters and mother earth.
Artists of Color Expo
Seattle, WA 98109
Fri, Nov 17, 2017,
Sat, Nov 18, 2017
9:30 AM –7:00 PM PST
ACES is a two-day, POC-led, community-curated program with performances, exhibits, presentations, workshops, listening opportunities, and open forums. Our vision is to establish a space for us to celebrate and center ourselves. We are coming together with intentionality to value our work and to see each other as resources, while focusing on the challenges and and solutions we face as artists of color in the Pacific Northwest.
For more information, click here.
Solar Eclipse Water Color Featured on Scientific American's Blog! Signed Solar Eclipse Prints to Celebrate! Order by October 13th.
I am so excited to be featured in this fun article with seven other artists! To celebrate, for a limited time, I will be offering signed Solar Eclipse prints. I normally just have Pearl Printing in Portland ship my prints directly to you after printing, but for the next week, I will collect print orders, have them shipped here, sign them and send them to their new homes! Order online from my Prints page by October 13th. Orders will take a little longer, but your print will arrive signed by the end of October.
About the article:
The author, Kalliopi Monoyios, is a science illustrator herself and scoured Instagram for solar eclipse art to feature. Check out the blog post aptly titled "Out of the Shadows" here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/out-of-the-shadow/
I am beyond thrilled to be featured considering I was torn between art and science as a major in college and have always loved the connections between the two worlds. I often tell my students that science and art have so much in common; both involve discovery, a sense of wonder and understanding your world. Speaking of sense of wonder, check out my video experimentation where I created a time-lapse video of a bowl of water during the eclipse then overlaid the actual sounds my family and I made during the brief moment of totality. The solar eclipse infused water was then used to create the Solar Eclipse water color.
New Work! Solar Eclipse Water Color
Available as original or in my print shop
I am so grateful to live in Oregon and to have been able to witness this awe inspiring event! I went with my family and closest friends to a remote location in Oregon.
I first video taped the changing light of the eclipse in a bowl of water. I've been enjoying experimenting with video lately. I then created a time-lapse video of the water and edited in sound from those of us who were at the eclipse together including my children. You can't miss the gasps and sense of wonder! I then used the solar eclipse infused water in this water color painting. I was struck by the multiple solar crescents projected in the shadows of trees, a million tiny projections of the phenomenon above. The painted crescents remind me of the millions of viewers who turned their eyes to the heavens in wonder, their eyes also filtering, perceiving, projecting this amazing event. One sun, millions of shared experiences.
You can check out my process, view the water video, and see the time lapse video of this painting on my instagram feed! https://www.instagram.com/artwithamirra/
If you love this work, please share!
Two new prints from my Water is Life series available! Order here.
Students Respond to the Presidential Election Through Art
OEA Magazine highlighted my work with students post election. Read full article here.
Benefit for Standing Rock
January 19th, 2017
911 Pine St, Seattle, Washington 98101
Work from my new Water Is Life series will be displayed at this event.
Seattle Theatre Group is pleased to invite you to the exhibit launch party for Re:definition 2017! FREE & open to the public!
Hors d'oeuvres, beverages and music provided.
Kindly RSVP here: http://bit.ly/2hQsU4p so we can prepare for the event.
The evening will focus on fundraising for the Water Protector Legal Collective, the on-the-ground legal support team for Standing Rock. In addition, there will be an exhibit of artworks by both Native and non-Native artists from around the country. Artists were asked to submit artworks that thoughtfully consider and comment upon issues addressing threats to the environment and the connections between land, culture and identity. Artists will also be transforming the large mirrors scattered throughout the Paramount Theater. The night will include music, speakers, information booths and worktables to create artworks that will hang from the balcony.
In The Paramount Theatre Gallery
All Ages / bar with I.D.
Doors at 6:45 pm, event from 7:00 to 10:00 pm.