Tuesday, May 19, 2015

a few more pictures from my EPES residency

here's a few more pictures from my workshop with Eastern Pulaski Elementary School last week. the kids did a great job. they focused on what they were doing, and worked together. thanks to all 600+ for their patience, their attention, and their collaboration. great job kiddos!

these 4th graders shared their block prints with each other to create print zines!

the finished products lining the counters of the classroom. when dry, these will be folded into zines.

1st graders coloring in the coloring books they made

coloring the robot


Sunday, May 17, 2015

a long time coming

this past saturday was the end of mindy's student career as she donned her cap and gown and walked the procession of graduation at Purdue University. she's EARNED her PhD in American Studies and will be an Alain Locke visiting scholar next year. Her tireless research, interdisciplinary approach and quizzical mind has produced a work that redefines the place of Norman Lewis in art history, civil rights, and philosophy, and her work will certainly have an effect on the way future generations think about abstract expressionism and how artists on the fringe of the movement can/should be included and excluded at the same time.


her parents arrived from singapore last week to see the culmination of her past decade of hard work.  they told me that since she was a little girl, she said she was going to be a doctor. and now she is. we sat toward the back of the auditorium, and watched as she approached the stage, was hooded by the director of the graduate school and shook the hand of Purdue president mitch daniels (aka mitchy mouse).



and that was that. she is officially Dr. Tan, and i'm so proud of her. it was a long road to get to this point and we are ready to start a new chapter in our lives.



keep an eye out for her insightful essays in upcoming exhibition catalogues and conferences!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Superhero coloring books



I spent last week with Lynn Darda, at Eastern Pulaski Elementary School in Winamac, IN as a visiting artist. I taught her students about linocut and relief printing and we made our own block printed coloring books. last time i visited winamac we painted a huge quilt mural on the wall representing the things in town that people gravitate toward. it was one of my most successful community based mural projects as we had lots of input from students, teachers, and community members alike.  then we had plenty of volunteers to help paint the mural as well. so i was excited to go back and work with these kids again.

superhero coloring book

zach medler

zach medler

I decided that superheroes would be a fun theme for the kids, and i thought it would be something interesting for them to wrap their heads around.  so all 600+ kids at the school got to do a project revolving around that theme. The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders got to cut and create their own images and the kindergartners, 1st, and 2nd graders used my images to print their coloring books. i cut 18 different superhero blocks for the kids to choose from, then we folded a sheet of paper into a little zine, and printed them. the results were fantastic little coloring books, that the students were all really excited about.  the older kids shared their images and made numbered print books using each others blocks, in the spirit of collaboration.

superhero coloring book

Lynn and her husband Don Darda do so much for the kids in their school system. it's a rural community and a small school, and it was amazing when Lynn told me that they had received more than 50 graduation invites from kids. they've made such an impact on their community and when i get to go and spend a week with them and their students, that impact is visible in the way the kids faces light up when they see either of them. sometimes it is really difficult to get kids to understand the importance of the arts in a rural community, but Lynn and Don do it so well, and their community shows it.  it is quaint and quiet, and thoughtful, and that is a testament to their ability to encourage and inspire their students. teaching is a hard job, and teachers are the superheroes of our generation. i'm honored to get to work with Lynn and Don and all the kids they inspire on a daily basis.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

advertising, propaganda, or art?

zach medler

 more new stuff from the studio. today it is the stencils i began working on over the weekend. i've been sort of enthralled with advertising for a while now, and i've been appropriating images from old ads into my work. in the past, i've focused mostly on the 'mad men' era of ad images, and i did make a new image from that generation of ads. but then i started looking at older stuff in the art nouveau era and before. Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is a favorite and i felt like his image/language concepts could be recontextualized into some of my work, so i made a stencil of one of his famous images of jane avril. the images here are all works in progress. i'm still lacking language in these pieces, but i'm working on that.

zach medler

zach medler

beyond the advertising images themselves, i've been studying information psychology and marketing and the effects of advertising on choice. this manipulative field of study is quite fascinating to me, in the idea that the products being advertised become a secondary point to the access achieved through the ad. the mind tricks and hidden subliminal messages that get us to behave in a way that can be predicted is a key point of interest for me, especially as i see art and advertising truly merging into something that is indiscernibly one thing; something meant to affect as place-taker for the actual product or idea, but when it comes to selling something what's the difference between tangible and intangible sales. this is why we buy brands, more so than products. i don't have a cell phone, i have an iPhone. i don't eat cereal, i eat cheerios. i don't drive a car, i drive a chevy. so on and so forth. so what is really being sold to us is an image, not a product, but typically it is an image of how we perceive ourselves. what man doesn't want to smell like nature; thanks old spice. it's quite concerning when you think about corporate ownership and brand making alongside an idea of population control and propaganda. advertising is always propaganda. propaganda is proliferated by those seeking the power to control people. should corporations, or anyone for that matter, have that kind of access to your mind?

Friday, May 1, 2015

New Assemblage Pieces

i've been building some new assemblage works over the past couple of weeks. i've finished a few with stencils and some new prints, and have several more that i have yet to approach.  there is something i really like in the process of telling a story through elements.  there is a great sense of discovery in arranging all the shapes and figuring out how to fit them into a semi-square frame, and i can spend hours sifting through already sifted through junk that i've hoarded in my studio to find the right piece to fit an empty space that will balance out the whole piece.  the hard part then becomes trying to find and manipulate a narrative out of the materials with images and language.  but like the junk that fills boxes and shelves in my studio, i also have piles of prints and stencils waiting to be pasted or sprayed to create those narratives.  i like the idea of creating stories through repetitive imagery.  i like that some of my stencils are so over-used that they are nearly a quarter of an inch thick and webbed with solidified strings of paint. some of the more deteriorated pattern stencils look really raw now.  here are some of the finished pieces from the past few days.


'nighthawks: after hopper' is my take on Edward Hopper's painting that hangs at the Art Institute in Chicago.  i carved a linoblock and printed the bar scene. then i built the rest of the scene out of small canvases, wood panels, frame pieces and the bottom of a tv, trying to capture the angles and the depth in the scene. this painting has always felt so lonesome to me, i must relate to the guy sitting alone at the counter. my addition of the cell phones further isolates everyone, even though the structures are more palpable.


'public auction' is about the forced loss of small businesses and a localized way of life.


'nostalgia' was a challenge to create. i've had these roller skates and ice skates for quite a while.  the foot form was my grandmother's; my whole life it was used to hold the bedroom door open at the house in portland. the serving tray was also my grandmother's. but all these odd pieces went together like a whack puzzle of some kind. this piece is pretty small, only about 20" x 20", and has a lot of info stuffed into it.

zach medler art


'robot faces i and ii' are painted over old paintings that i never could sell.  they felt disjointed so i free-handed some robot heads over top of the old paintings. i began manipulated the spray paint on the surface more than i usually do.  i scraped or wiped it away to reveal the layers underneath and thin out lines. the effect worked to combat the flatness of the spray paint and add more layers to the work.  i like how these turned out. they're just fun. and they were fun to paint.


'never stop searching' is a piece i've done several times now. the image stays the same, but the surfaces always change. this is one of my favorite prints from last year.


'chorus line' has one of my often used ad images. the background features a joseph albers/frank stella/revok appropriation (albeit sloppily) of concentric squares of colors leading into a center, each color effecting the others.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

carving a new block





Carving a new block and working on some new paintings ... stay tuned.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

from the studio: 4.23.15


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