My Artfest 2004 workshop, Breakthrough Shrines, was very controversial. The class had been designed as a process-based experiment to push students towards artistic expressions that were new and different… and perhaps uncomfortable.
There was nothing “safe” about this class. Students either loved it or hated it. Some caught the spirit of the exercise and produced amazing work. Others sat there and stared at me.
Would I teach that class again? Maybe. If I did, it would be only for extreme, process-oriented, experimental artists. And, I’d teach it very differently.
These following notes reflect what I taught during the class, and at the pre-class meeting the night before.
Where to begin
To get the most from this process, start with a box or container. Drape the outside first, using plaster and gauze as described in the “Easy antiquities” directions.
Then, work on your shrine’s interior. I recommend using rubbings for your background. Although my examples are very gothic in nature — intended to challenge students with unfamiliar motifs – any rubbings will work.
(Try rubbings from a screen door, the sidewalk outside your home, the numbers from your front door, objects in your jewelry case or from your kitchen tools, keys and coins in your wallet, and rubbings made with rubber stamps.)
After completing the inside of the shrine, finish the outside by layering paint and polyurethane, completing the directions in the “Easy antiquities” section.
Pre-class preparations: Easy antiquities
- Adding texture with plaster and gauze, two pages of step-by-step instructions.
- Layering paint and polyurethane for rich depth, up to three layers is ideal.
- Embellishments for mystery and dazzle, ideas for even better results.
In-class work: Rubbings from Colonial carvings and other surfaces
- Casting from gravestones and other sculpted surfaces with polymer clay and plastic wrap.
- Elegant rubbings with Renaissance Foil – a neat trick with dazzling results.
- Using rubbings in your art – far more than just gravestones