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Hohenberg Travel Prize 2016: Rosie Lopeman

Rosie Lopeman, Certificate 2016, was the recipient of the 2016 Hohenberg Travel Award. We asked her to share with us her experience.


Rosie Lopeman, Percussion, oil and acrylic on found wood and stretcher bars, 54 x 46.5 inches, 2016

I am so fortunate to have received the Hohenberg Travel Grant. I remember the day I found out about the award, my teacher at the time, John Newman had been in my studio, looking at my work, and saying “Rosie, you gotta broaden your horizons! Get out of Brooklyn!” A few moments after he left, the email came through that I got the grant.

Planning the trip seemed impossible to me. There were many things I wanted to do, and many unknowns. I started in Ireland, and over the course of 10 weeks traveled to Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Basel, Rome, Tuscany and London. I often feel like a traveler, even at home in New York, so my un-tethered position felt natural. The trip coincided with my training for the New York City marathon, which feels important to mention because running was a huge part of how I connected with each place. I would sometimes set out for a run with no map or plan, and let myself get lost. Eventually I would find a map to take the bus or train back to home base.

I share with you here a few high lights from the many things I encountered along the way. I chose these things because these were the few kinship I discovered, which offered me a sense of belonging as I strayed further and further from things I knew.


Rosie Lopeman, Untitled, acrylic and tape on canvas, 48x 48, 2017


Munich: Michael Buthe at Haus Der Kunst

I arrived in Munich at dawn from a sleepless trip on a night bus from Berlin, and found my way to my Airbnb hosts, Anne and Joerg. They lived in a suburban looking part of the city. I instantly liked both of them. Their house was messy and their walls were covered in their kids’ art. After resting for a bit, I decided to go into the center of the city. I was still in a fog, but in that sort of fresh way, where you’re so tired, and you’re moving so slowly, that you can feel and be inspired by things that you might normally pass by.


Michael Buthe at Haus Der Kunst

I walked into Michael Buthe’s retrospective at Haus Der Kunst, an artist I had never heard of. He was a German artist from Cologne, and a student of Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf. He died in 1994.

The show revealed itself slowly to me. Once I entered into the work, there was an incredibly bright and intense energy. In fact, a lot of his work is devoted to the sun. He was working right on the brink of what he could do, seemingly fueled by an existential, obsessive and fearless love.


Michael Buthe at Haus Der Kunst

The work ranged from drawings, to sculpted paintings on canvas to sculptures and paintings made of unusual materials: earth, shells, hair, doors, brooms, trees, shoes, mouse droppings. I love how he stuck things together. You could see that he lived with these things, and that he had developed an intimate relationship with each element. Because of this, the work was very rich and specific. He was fluent with this broad, wide open language he had created.


Michael Buthe at Haus Der Kunst


Michael Buthe at Haus Der Kunst


Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden

Later in my trip, I stayed in Umbria for several days, in the city of Terni. I rented a car and set out on day trips. As I drove out of the city, I went through this dark tunnel, which released me on the other side into the sprawling Tuscan countryside. I loved having the steering wheel after being bound to public transport for so long; it gave me the freedom to move in more spontaneous directions. The first day with the car I stopped into the town of Tuscania to explore. I walked through a Church, Santa Maria Maggiore. I walked around the grounds of another church, which was closed, but had a looming presence.  I snuck into a culinary school at the top of a big hill, where a student-run lunch was taking place, to use the bathroom.


Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Tuscania

Eventually I made it to Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden, a large sculpture garden in Capalbio, built on Etruscan ruins. My teachers Bill Jensen and Margrit Lewczuk had told me to go there. I had them in mind as I pulled up to this extraordinary place.

The plans for this garden began in 1955, when Niki saw Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona, and it was still partially unfinished in 2002 when she died unexpectedly. It is a garden of large sculptures/architectural spaces, each one dedicated to a card from the major arcana of the tarot deck. Over the years working on the garden, Niki de Saint Phalle lived inside of “The Empress,” with her bedroom in one breast and her kitchen in the other. The archetypes from Tarot were her source, but her specific language encompassed Etruscan art, Native American art, Picasso, Gaudi, all filtered through her own innocent but endless will. As she said “Whether or not people think it is art doesn’t matter to me.”


Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden


I wonder, how can work be made and behave outside of ‘art’? The funny thing, which I was reminded of by this garden, is that all great art does. It is always trying to touch on something outside of what we know and what is expected of us. It was hard to see as much stuff as I did each day, and remember that the goal is not to just add your stuff to the world, but to create a rupture or space for new light. I am so grateful when I encounter work like this.



Tarquinia, the Etruscan Necropolis and Archaeological Museum

The following day, I drove to Tarquinia, where there is an Etruscan necropolis and archaeological museum. The necropolis is a large field at the top of a hill, covered in staircases that descend into 2,500 year-old tombs. You go down these stairs in the dark, press a button for light that goes on a 10 second timer, and look through plexi-glass. The wall paintings inside show life, death, celebration, mythology… checkers, concentric circles, stripes…a perfect integration of exuberant geometry and storytelling… between the form and content. The Etruscan people were mostly illiterate, which I think comes through: this seemed to be their primary way of communicating and defining themselves individually and as a culture. Unlike today, you could see in their tomb paintings and artifacts that there was no delineation between art and life. I would have liked to see what it looked like before all of the jugs and other burial items were removed from the tombs and moved to museums.


In the archaeological museum, I drew all day. I loved to follow the contours of each wine jug, sarcophagus, mirror, and watch with my pen each unexpected turn the maker took. These were jokes that lasted thousands of years. Representation and function were colliding. Is this about drinking wine? Or is it more about Dionysus? Or is it about how the liquid pours out? There was no item that was a static, self-contained thing. Everything showed some kind of metamorphosis, and existed as many things as once.

As the sun started setting, I looked out the window in the top floor of the museum and saw the Tyrrhenian Sea. I left quickly so I could jog on the beach before it got dark. I drove down the mountain and arrived at a beach that was almost totally abandoned. There were a couple people fishing and a few inexplicable stick formations poking out from the sand. Some restaurants that were closed for the season. I began running but the sun was fading fast and I didn’t know how safe I was there. I eventually decided to head back, but first I would make a few of my own stick formations in the sand. Just as I started to work, I saw a cloud of sand down the shore starting to get bigger. In a surreal reveal, I could see it was a man on a horse riding fast, headed in my direction straight out of the sunset. He pulled up next to me and we spoke for a while, mostly right past each other because neither of us knew the other’s language. We established that, yes, this, this is a horse. Si, questo e un cavallo. All was well, and I went back to town for a plate of gnocchi in broth with mint, pork jowl and clams.


As time passes, it is surprising to see how these experiences have cooked down, burrowed inward and resurfaced in my own work. I like to watch this process. For me, there wasn’t a direct transfer of information, in which I saw something and I knew that I would take my work in that direction. While traveling alone, just trying to get from point A to point B in every new city, in each new language, was a big challenge. Now, the more subtle, physical and energetic impressions are dredging up slowly over time in my work.


Rosie Lopeman, Possession, acrylics, oil, pastel, flash paint, watercolor, ink, paper, canvas, 36×36 inches, 2017

One of the few things I have finished since returning is this piece, Possession.  The central part of it was started in Ireland. I was frustrated by it, and everything else I made while traveling. When I got back to New York, nothing I made in Europe, mostly small watercolors, felt of use to me. I started working larger. At one point in the studio, I found a piece of canvas left over from another process. It was a grid shape, with a space in the center that clearly asked me “what goes in here? What is this thing carrying?” What ended up in there was something from the trip… A “failed” work… and now it had a purpose. All of my frustrations in that thing, re-contextualized, became beautiful and clear to me. That’s one of the first things I’ve made recently where I can see the influence of my travels coming through.


Rosie Lopeman, The Rockets Red Glare, oil on panel, 32.5 x 32.5 inches, 2015

I am so enormously grateful to the New York Studio School, for my entire education there and of course for the Hohenberg Travel Award. I remember my first year at the Studio School, I went to Florida with Graham Nickson, the Dean of the school, and another student to take a week-long figure painting class with him. I said to Graham “A year ago I couldn’t haven’t imagined I would find myself here, having Chinese food with you after painting all day.” And Graham said “Painting takes you to extraordinary places, Rosie.”

Thank you to my teachers, my classmates and everyone who makes the Studio School continue to be a place for artists to learn and transform. Thank you to the Hohenberg Foundation and its trustees who make the Hohenberg Travel Award possible every year. Thank you to everyone who housed me, taught me, fed me and inspired me.


Rosie Lopeman, Kimono, acrylic, house paint, plaster, burlap, screws and found wood, 70 x 30 x 33 inches, 2016. Photo Robert Banat.

To view more of Rosie’s work, visit her website.

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Everything Is Sacred: Reactions to the Work of Merrill Wagner

By Kaitlin McDonough, January 2017


“Everything was sacred.”

These words, affirmed simply after a glowing pause, were Merrill Wagner’s response to my recent question, “What was it like to study with the painter Edwin Dickinson?” …To learn a way of thinking, seeing, making in which everything is regarded as profound.

Beyond speaking to Wagner’s formation, her recollection confirms a hunch and seems to offer a lens through which to understand Wagner’s process and the resonance of her work. Painting in a way that honors her found materials (slate, rocks, wooden fences, brick walls), Wagner establishes a humming vibration between these materials and the profound.


She orders with paint, subjecting the organic to the geometry of lines or the code-switching of landscape. Moving fluidly between opposing organization systems, her work is evidence of many co-existing pathways towards meaning.

For me, this is where a certain femininity enters. A femininity in which her works function as both discrete objects and as members of an ecosystem of artworks whose meanings shift and grow in constellation with one another and in constellation with their surroundings (man-made or natural). A femininity that collaborates with time, with weather, with other bodies, with context, with gravity. A femininity that does not depend on rectangles. A femininity of connections that many artists, both male (think Sigmar Polke or Andy Warhol) and female, have intuited and with which they have infused their work.

It is not an aesthetic or a gender, but rather an orientation to the world–and to the stuff of the world–as mutable and as part of an ongoing dance of co-creation.


Her works on paper generate a rhythmic delight while simultaneously and unabashedly revealing the strategy of their making. This equality of image and process is deeply satisfying, deeply affirmative of a wisdom as down-to-earth as it is great.


Merrill’s work is marvelously sensual. It arouses satisfaction of the senses. It is impossible to relate to her paintings as singularly image or primarily as image. Looking at her work cannot be separated from measuring one’s body in relation, cannot be separated from a sense of the smooth heaviness of slate or the bumpy firmness of rock–how one may be within a circle of rocks, far from them, or beside them.

Deeply sensual and deeply intelligent, Merrill’s work proves the arbitrariness of names through the juxtaposition of colors. “Cadmium yellow” as language is rendered meaningless when embodied by many distinct squares of yellow packaged under the same name. The name takes a backseat to the overwhelming reality of the color itself. It is one thing to understand this concept with our rational minds and another to have it become a self-evident verity through the experience of the work itself.


The tender resourcefulness and generous strength of Merrill’s work leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of hopefulness. Her work is a testament to the true liveliness that results from a practice grounded in respect and curiosity, interconnection and integrity, painterly joy and material presence.

It is has been an honor and a thrill to host these works at the New York Studio School.

Thank you, Merrill Wagner!


Kaitlin McDonough is Program Coordinator and a member of the Drawing Faculty at the New York Studio School.

Merrill Wagner at the New York Studio School Gallery, November 21, 2016- January 8, 2017

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Yi Zhang: Alumni Spotlight Interview

Yi Zhang was born in China and works and lives in both New York and Beijing.  She graduated from the New York Studio School with an MFA in Sculpture in 2014.  Her solo show at John Davis Gallery is on view July 23-August 14.


Yi Zhang, Bat Mother, lead, acrylic, steel, wire, 14 x 12 x 4 inches, 2016

Rachel Rickert: Tell me a little bit about your background and your path to becoming an artist.  What led to your commitment to being an artist?

Yi Zhang: To draw was my only interest when I was a child. I studied Chinese ink painting, calligraphy and, using the limited available catalogs, I also enjoyed copying many of the Western old masters’ works. When I was 15 years old, I started intensive academic art training at the Central Academy in Beijing. Those five years of classical/realistic studies  provided me with good skills, however, gradually I lost the joy of drawing. By the end of the second year in college I got so tired of making pictures, that I chose to study sculpture as my major instead. Later on I followed my tutor who was one of the top conceptual artists in China. This was a transitional period for me. I left what I had been trained in and embraced the contemporary art world.

During that period I was suffering from depression. I had to take medicine, which wasn’t helping much. I felt as if I wanted to break something and yell out. Gradually I realized that the art making process, which had always been part of my life, but without much meaning, had become medicine to me.

Around that time I made the first work which I call art. I casted my fingers with wax and painted them. They were full of bloody wounds gnawed by myself. I put them in a small silk case and titled it “The Souvenir”. I felt much released after the work. It had been the first time, during which I was motivated by making something from my inside, from desire.  Art is not decorative, it is my medicine.


Yi Zhang, Ink brushes, lead, ink brushes, wire, 12.5 x 6 x 5 inches, 2016

RR: What is your starting point in the studio when you begin a new work?

YZ: When I arrived to New York I discovered that the city was a heaven of materials. I always looked for stuff in the trashes on the street. My little studio was a storage of found objects. That was my starting point: material! After some time I also began to be interested in natural materials such like a piece of bamboo or a piece of stone. I questioned myself what were the characteristics of the objects or found objects that really interested me? I realized it was those types of forms which suggested  human touch, relating to the human body or some particular structures that suggested rhythm. The sensuality, evoked by an object or material is my real starting point.


Yi Zhang, Thorns, lead, steel, bamboo, wire, 5.5 x 24 x 6 inches, 2016


RR: Your work seems to embody human fragility in spite of the rigidity of the metal materials. Is there something about that dichotomy that you seek?

YZ: Yes, there is. Although the words fragility and rigidity are opposites,  in materiality there is no such border. Probably everything in the world is relative. Is lead fragile or rigid? Is plaster fragile or rigid? Or any natural materials, wood, bamboo… I think fragility is a fascinating subject. Human fragility is part of the duality of human nature. Dealing with human fragility or emotions in art is as beautiful as it is brave.

In terms of making sculpture, I work with the relation and balance that exists between the structure and the material. When the structure is leaner or transparent, the materials and their join points keep it relatively strong and stable. The stability of material secures the fragility of the structure. In contrast, an airy sense of a structure gives surprise to the material. These relationships would make the subject of fragility more sculptural.


RR: The body of work at your show at John Davis Gallery is chromatically and materially narrow in range.  Can you speak about your material and color choices?

YZ: For me, color is physical. Every material has color, so I rarely need to paint my work. If I do, I take it as an action of painting rather than of coloring. I don’t have a painter’s sense of color, which is a pity. I do believe each color has its specific relationship with light and it is the result of light. So, I consider color as one of the features of the material.

The choice of material is of utmost importance to me. In this series I worked with a variety of materials but predominantly I was interested in lead, partly because of the sense of quietness and isolation and partially because of its ash gray color. To me, it feels as if light were hidden within the material. These characteristics really talk to me, which I think are good to represent form as stemming from an inner world, since I always make forms from inner feeling.

Secondly, the dichotomy between flexibility and stability also interested me. Lead is surprisingly malleable and flexible. I could model it like a piece of clay. A very thin sheet is almost as soft as paper; a thick sheet is as resilient as a chunk of meat, to work on which requires a good amount of physical energy. When I forged it with a hammer, the material recorded every movement of my body and constantly changed its form with every single hit.


Yi Zhang, Bite, lead, steel, iron, wire, nail, 16 x 10 x 4 inches,2016

RR: I’ve noticed an accordion folding theme in your work, as well as weaving and piercing motifs. Where do these methods come from?

YZ: When I used found objects to make assemblage work, I liked lamp shades, because of their rhythmic repetition. Same as the foldings on lead, the repetition of the form creates a rhythm, which is as simple as the rhythm of a heartbeat or as that of a breath, which is accompanied by emotional changes.

Weaving, piercing and sewing are common methods in needlecraft. I like these methods because they create district textures, mini spaces and structures. When a material, for example wire, weaves through multiple layers of a structure, in and out, up and down, my hands and eyes follow these movements and the space through which the material moved, felt as big as the universe.

4. Closure

Yi Zhang, Closure, lead, wire, nail, 6.5 x 10.5 x 14 inches, 2016

RR: It’s been only two years since your graduate thesis show.  How does it feel to be having solo exhibitions?  Do you create your sculptures as individual pieces and then curate them into a coherent show or do you think about the larger body of work as a whole and then begin to develop the individual works?

YZ: It is the second show I have at John Davis Gallery, the first one was in the back gallery in 2014. This is the first one I have at the front gallery. I really appreciate that John entrusted me with,  and provided for me this wonderful space. It is so beautiful that it pressured me to live up to its expectations.

When I work, I like to respect the material and talk to it. The making process is like to capture some moments between the various materials and my emotions in response to them. I work on different substances, leave them all on the floor of my studio. I try to keep open the wellspring of potentialities that tends to emerge from any material  or structure and its combination with others, until the “moment” creates a surprising story, the final form. I can never predict the course my work might take, nor its final form,  neither am I interested in that. I am after the bigger concept, which is the meaning of the material.

In order to curate the show and install the work I need to feel the space and the walls, to let the sculptures work with the space and tell their story in a specific way.

In this show John Davis was very helpful in this regard, as he said he is really familiar with the space and knows his walls. He helped me to decide the varying heights and distances for each piece, in order give the overall show a feeling of movement. We installed some works on the first floor where it is a more open and public space. Those works’ structures are referencing  relatively closely nature. On the ground floor, the space feels more private. There we installed those kinds of works, which more closely reference  the human body.

lotus leave

Yi Zhang, Lotus Leaf, lead, leather, horse hair, steel, wire, 23 x 8 x 6 inches, 2016

 RR: What are some of your favorite memories from your time at the Studio School that still influence your practice today?

 YZ: When I studied at the New York Studio School, I worked with Bruce Gagnier in the morning drawing class and with Garth Evans in the afternoon clay sculpture class. Both used a life model. Although these two masters had very different perspectives and styles in their arts, I did find similarities. They both asked me to change the figure constantly. In the beginning I did not understand, because my realistic technique was good enough to finish a figure quickly and to make it resemble quite closely the model. Then, after seemingly endless times of changing,  I realized that the goal had never been to  make a figure that looks like, or attempts to account for all the facts of the model. The process of creating, working with or without a model, was always a journey. What they tried to teach me was to let myself be thrown into this adventure, to keep searching the infinite mystery of form and its meaning. This is still crucial in my studio practice today.

Work from Yi’s Thesis Exhibition at the New York Studio School.

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NYSS Drawing Marathon Summer 2016

Written by Eileen Hsu, Marathon Student, Summer 2016.  Originally published here.


Cave Paintings in Lascaux, France. Image Courtesy Atala of France.

My God, where do I begin?

Perhaps 20 years ago to the first time when I attended the Drawing Marathon at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting, and Sculpture. As a mere bud of an artist, I was unprepared for the depth and length of concentration that the workshop demanded: For the first half of June, it lasted two weeks at 12 hours per day of drawing and critique, with studies of master paintings during the weekend in between. The program is more structured today but the intensity has not changed.

My initial experience at NYSS was no more triumphant than a flail but I knew that this program was important, deep, and transformative, even if it hadn’t been for me to grasp on the first go-around. I had not given up. Fast forward decades to today, I felt an irrepressible hunger pang for it again, with a visceral certainty that this time, the light bulbs would not remain dim, but illuminate, like the Sheila Klein streetlamps of Santa Monica.

Logic may be a frenemi but intuition has always been my fairy godmother. Securing the two weeks of vacation from my employer and finding a kind offer of lodging from my high school classmate Tami, I headed to 8 West 8th Street, NYC.


View of the Drawing room

The school boasts large and small ateliers flooded with luxurious, diffused, natural light. And that’s the extent of its opulence. Scrappy in an unapologetic way, the NYSS is all-business when it comes to the matter of drawing, at least. In fact, it was the home of the original Whitney Museum and the institution itself conceived by Mercedes Matter, Herbert Matter’s better half. With the Whitney’s most recent incarnation in Chelsea as a megalithic stack of glass windows and jutting metal patios, the original stands as a starting point for measure. The Whitney’s evolving manifestations could well symbolize the burgeoning of an artist herself, from a modest but stalwart seedling to an eventually glorious bloom. And both would share the same site of origin.


Thirty-some participants from all over the world, ranging from professional artists, to full-time students from NYSS and other schools, to graphic designers, to photographers, to art educators, and to a civil engineer convened to partake of what NYSS had to offer in a compact and brief moment. Every art school has a philosophy and a vision of what constitutes art. To me, NYSS focused on drawing as an offering of epiphany as a “documentation” of personal investigation and discovery through the great and highly-wrought tradition of drawing.

We used 90-lb cold press paper and layered drawing upon drawing and paint upon drawing. Plus erasures, the buildup was thick and rich. The heavily worked surface seemed to be the site of confrontation between artist and perceptual thought.

The mornings started promptly at 9AM. We started trickling in with a caffeine-induced wakefulness at 8:32AM or so. Ava, whose easel and shelf were next-door to mine, fueled up on dark chocolate like a vitamin or energy drink. I chewed on my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in that same shared silence, which, from appearances, seemed passive and dormant, but inside, all pistons had begun firing and the cylinders had begun to accelerate their churn. As the models took their positions, the staccato of staple guns affixing huge sheets of paper onto boards on metal easels broke the silence and then the soft whispers of vine charcoal stroking the rough paper surface ensued.


Line Drawing by Eileen Hsu

Making work and critiquing it alternated in multi-hour blocks with a 1-hour lunch break in between. The day’s work would often end when the rest of New York City was preparing for bedtime. Sometimes, we’d end by 8PM. But it was never grueling and never burdensome. Many of us had devoted our annual vacation time from our full-time jobs to do this. And it was so good to commune with others who had similar interests and drive. Feedback from my new friends was thoughtful and direct. I tried to reciprocate.

For concepts and inspiration in the realm of drawing, Graham Nickson, Dean of NYSS, shared the works of old Venetian and Dutch masters, noting their compositional strategies in story-telling and spatial creation. When in doubt of one’s work, Graham advised to go back to study the work of the masters.


Titian’s work was often a source of analysis. As was Nicolas Poussin’s.  Also Pieter Bruegel’s paintings and drawings. Below is his Bee Keepers and the Birdnester (1568).


Pieter Bruegel, Bee Keepers and the Birdnester (1568)

As a group exercise, we gridded Bruegel’s Peasant Wedding (1567), to analyze the composition of each component as an independent image.

Then we cut the entire into squares and we each drew one grid square on a separate sheet in charcoal. Finally, we recomposed it in the big lecture hall, The Whitney Room.


The total piece disintegrated a bit only because each of us draw so differently, that the eye had difficulty amalgamating all squares into one whole. The variety of styles created a speed bump for the reading at the same time that it also provided a new interest absent from the original. This joyous, boisterous occasion that Bruegel caught and freeze-framed took on a new life through our group interpretation. The micro-spaces of negative space (or “Golden Space” as Graham rephrases it) as well as the pathways for the eye were different in our rendition than in the original.


Pieter Bruegel, Peasant Wedding (1567)

And it does boil down to the meaning of the mark of the hand, like those of the earliest people. On the second day of the first week, Graham showed to us photocopies of the ancient cave paintings in Lascaux, France. These included the emphatically outlined and blown paint images of the mutilated hands, as well as the bison — two very important, very cherished things. They are rendered with deference, passion and visual awareness of their forms. These also exhibited an understanding of space, movement, and composition, leading me to believe that this knowledge of drawing is a primal one, that we somehow lose or erode and need to reteach ourselves.

And we each painted our active hand too, like our ancestors of Lascaux, as an homage to humanity and the limb that we use the most to inter-relate between our internal and external worlds. Then we drew the model’s hand.

And then we drew all the activity surrounding it. From this exercise, Graham impressed upon us the relational inter-connection that underlies all drawing.

Fran O’Neill, visiting artist faculty and abstract painter, and Katie Ruiz, painter, also guided us through the marathon, with one-on-one comments and provocations that counterbalanced Graham broader historical references and allegorical statements. Each day featured 2-3 models and some simple props on a stage in the center of the room.

While no shortage of drawing insights, some of the standouts for me were: “You might start to wonder what is beautiful or what is ugly. And you think about it more and discover the thing that is ugly might be the most beautiful.” I loved that.


Drawing by Eileen Hsu

While we also studied other a variety of other artists workings, such as Max Beckmann, Montaigne, Gideon Bach, Stanley Spencer, Henri Matisse, Signac, Giorgione, and Giorgio Morandi. In the critiques, every participating artist’s work was reviewed by all, pinned up on the giant wall with nearly 80 eyes and 40 minds considering it. Graham made a point to say:

“Change your thinking and not your mark-making. Changed thinking will automatically change your marks.”

With this one, we drew each 22″ x 30″ tiled sheet separately. After completing nine of them, we recomposed them to form whole. Not everything lined up. It created unexpected charms and possibilities.


Drawing by Eileen Hsu

This one was a 4 feet x 4 feet sheet in which we explored the idea of eye movement through a pictured space, pathways, and staircases, as the case was in mine. How do you invite the eye to tour a space, browse in corners and stroll along edges?


Drawing by Eileen Hsu

Next, this model setup was inspired by the Beekeepers by Bruegel. I tried to convey a sense of depth and a journey for the eye. I have the tendency to draw a lot of the background and not edit out elements, when a leaner image might deliver a more powerful message. Graham often talked about the “Pictorial Subject” of a piece. Sometimes it is clear and the artist knows what its is from the outset. Other times, it emerges over the course of the work. And in the most unfortunate cases, it is vague, under-developed, unaware. We would point this out for each other, talk about sub-themes too, and identify the drawing methodology that either advanced or hindered these ideas.


Drawing by Eileen Hsu


A group of artists’ works hung for a critique in the Whitney Studio.

Graham was also keen at finding “visual echoes” of a shape repeated elsewhere in the drawing in a different context. For example, a fabric fold might repeat the form of an arm. Or a cloud might look like both a cloud and the head of the model. A conscious awareness of visual rhetoric, plus the artist’s own subconscious yearning, combined to help to forge a memorable image.


Drawing by Eileen Hsu

We produced about five times more drawings than what you see here. These are only highlights. The cognizance and momentum built up from such a training has deeply altered the way that I draw. It also jump-started my desire to keep drawing, which I need to keep up. The inter-connection of all space — negative spaces, visual pathways, line quality, tonal range, attention to the corners of the picture plane, noting what is in the center, metaphorical translations, abstraction of tertiary subjects in the service of the primary — became the over-arching theme of this particular Drawing Marathon. Each iteration of this event is a new shade, so some participants come back over and over again, like me!

As we packed up our supplies and drawings at the end of the two weeks, Fran advised us not to discard our drawings. She said, look at them later and they will make sense and be valuable to you.


Drawing by Eileen Hsu

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Philip Guston: Painting Revealed

By Carlo D’Anselmi, MFA 2015



Untitled, 1962, Oil on canvas, 167.64 x 185.42 cm / 66 x 73 in, Photo Courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

Striking unease, ponderous reflection of self, and an acute consciousness of two indelible aspects of painting haunt the works at Hauser & Wirth (Philip Guston: Painter 1957-1967). These works are brilliant pieces from the journey of Philip Guston, a man simultaneously amazed with and anguished by the act of painting.

These particular paintings were made at a time after Guston’s career had already taken flight alongside his fellow New York City abstract expressionists. His unease at the loss of figurative imagery in the painting at that time with which he had so much success eventually led his own work down deeply conflicted avenues. This conflict is the crux of the group at Hauser & Wirth. 


Portrait I, 1965, Oil on canvas 173.7 x 198.1 cm / 68 3/8 x 78 in, Photo courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

The show gives a fantastic sense of the thought process in the paintings from room to room. The more colorful, perhaps flatter paintings of the late fifties spar with a starker patchwork palette, to forms more interloping and bodily in the early sixties. By 1965, as the show moves further, Guston’s paintings have changed massively. The scale is bigger, though the paintings fit easily in Hauser & Wirth’s generous space. In the paintings, masses loom out of the hazy blacks and greys, suggesting heads, ghosts, smoke, rocks, primordial clay. Figuration seems to be writhing out of his process itself, bound up in the paint: lost, found, and lost again. Suppressed hints of his earlier colors hide dramatically behind overwhelming, muscular, sensitive, dark.  


Untitled, 1967, Brush and ink on paper, 46 x 58.7 cm / 18 1/8 x 23 1/8 in, Photo courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

The drawings, which Guston made between 1966 and 1967, are hung at the back wall of the gallery. These, made during the years before he began his late figurative paintings, are his next step after the paintings in the show. These are simple yet profound marks in ink and charcoal. Repetitions, suggestions, allusions; a hint of what would be next in his career. 

 The show at Hauser & Wirth is a must see, and is up until July 29th. The sheer amount of work is fantastic, combining gracefully to reveal moments in the life of one of the greatest painters in the twentieth century. It is an endless revelation.


Vessel, 1960, Oil on panel, 76.5 x 55.6 cm / 30 1/8 x 21 7/8 in, Photo courtesy of Hauser & Wirth



Alchemist, 1960 Oil on canvas 154.9 x 171 cm / 61 x 67 3/8 inches Photo courtesy of Hauser & Wirth

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Exuberance on Paper: The Drawings of Gaston Lachaise

New York Studio School Gallery                                                                                         Exhibition Dates: March 21 – April 24, 2016


Installation View

“The Lachaise Foundation is pleased to present from its collection a selection of never-before-published drawings of Gaston Lachaise, which make their debut in the historic buildings of the New York Studio School, the site of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s studio and the first Whitney Museum (1931). The Studio School has, since its inception under Mercedes Matter and for the last 27 years under Dean Graham Nickson, placed great importance on the art of drawing. That Lachaise drawings have returned to the walls of the first Whitney, now a school for artists, is magical.

These elegant drawings, which have “the same flow of movement, the same serene power as his stones,” to quote Gilbert Seldes, should transport whoever stands within these hallowed halls, to a place of pure art. Lachaise never taught, believing he could not teach what should come naturally. Yet in these drawings lies his teaching.”
– Paula Hornbostel

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Seated Nude, Horizontal, Right Hand on Hip, Left Holding Veil, c. 1932-34 pencil and black ink


Installation View

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Installation View



Installation View

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Opening Reception March 24, 2016

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Opening Reception March 24, 2016

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Opening Reception March 24, 2016

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Opening Reception March 24, 2016

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Opening Reception March 24, 2016

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Peter Rippon/ Royal Academy Travel Award: Martin Dull

NYSS Graduate Martin Dull shares his experience as recipient of the PETER RIPPON/ROYAL ACADEMY Travel Award.


“The Grid” (diptych), 2015, acrylic and enamel spray paint on canvas,       40″x 60″


Martin in his North Jersey studio

In May 2015 I received the Peter Rippon/Royal Academy Travel Award from the New York Studio School. I knew this honor would be a milestone in my artistic practice. I was unaware, however, that this pilgrimage would prove to be absolutely transformative.


“Lapith and Centaur” inspired by the Elgin Marbles in London

During my graduate studies I was exposed to the world of plasticity. I spent countless hours studying the masters, forming guided tastes and opinions, trying to develop my own voice inside the language of painting, drawing, and sculpture.

When I went to Europe, I confronted the masterpieces I studied. It opened my eyes. I experienced, on a visceral level, everything that I spent so long drilling into my head. All of a sudden the shapes I was taught to analyze spoke to my heart and soul. I was privy to one of humanity’s greatest gifts and secrets. It was the culmination of years of thorough training.


“The Judgment” sketch made mid-travels while in Berlin.

The greatest masters had an overwhelming sense of style, but something else was evident. They were all linked by an abstract aesthetic sensibility—plasticity. It linked all the masterpieces to one source, one language. I believe we are all capable of sensing this plastic universe. But, like anything we are capable of, it requires training the eye and exercising the mind.

While travelling I began keeping an impromptu log of my journey through Instagram (@mgdull) and Facebook (martin.dull). I made it a point to post photographs of artworks that spoke directly to my sensibility. I realized that my experience was too powerful to keep to myself. In fact, I am still posting these images today.

Art truly has the power to enlighten minds. This enlightenment has the capability of crossing all borders and cultures. The plastic arts have an extreme potential that wants to be discovered. Thank you New York Studio School, The Royal Academy, Peter Rippon, and Dean Graham Nickson for affording me this opportunity.


“Stairway to Heaven,” 2016, acrylic on canvas, 12″x 9″


A self-portrait inspired by my travels.

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Prince Street Gallery Exhibition

On the occasion of the Prince Street Gallery 8th National Juried Exhibition, curated by Dean Graham Nickson, we asked participating artists who are also Alumni: How does your work in this exhibition connect with or build upon the experiences and influences you gained at the New York Studio School?

The Exhibition is on view February 2-February 27, 2016.


Aaron Swindle, D.P.J 2013, watercolor on paper, 22″x 30″

Aaron Swindle: The experience at NYSS was invaluable. It provided me with space and time to rediscover myself as an artist, to be emotionally attuned to my natural temperaments, re-define my convictions, and rebuild confidence moving forward pursuing my creative purpose. Without the established studio practice that began in NYSS, exposure to the wonderful work of faculty, and the experience of the intensive marathons, I would not have not been pushed to create watercolors nor establish my continued exploration with them. These practices led directly to the production of watercolor works between 2010-2014, which includes my recent painting showing at the Prince Street Gallery, “D.P.J. 2013” from 2013.


Leah Raab, Fortress Study, acrylic on canvas, 14″ x 11″

Leah Raab: My recent paintings depict my feelings of displacement and relocation. Paintings of significant and familiar scenes reflect internal tension: seemingly tranquil landscapes overlaid with a sense of impending danger that might explode at any moment.

NYSS taught me to truly perceive the scenes that I wanted to capture. My work has become more representational and my color combinations more unconventional.


Carlo D’Anselmi, Double Bassist, mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 18″

Carlo D’Anselmi: The New York Studio School taught me many things, but above all, how to be an artist. The painting was made while working outdoors, at a farm in upstate New York. I realized at this point I had enough influences in my head that I could afford to ignore a few of them, and that this was certainly a valuable lesson.


Linda Bail, oil on board, 10″x8″

Linda Bail: My experiences at the NYSS have taught me that “painting is not therapy.”  When I am planning a composition, whether it is in my studio or plein air; or deciding on my values or mixing colors; or applying the paint and then finally realizing that the value is wrong, then, reluctantly, scraping it out,  I am always thinking.   It is exhausting mentally and physically.

What I do know is that I have a great grounding from the NYSS to help me figure it out.


Åsa Schick, Harmony, 2015, acrylic, onestrike filler and oil on paper & wood, 36″x 30.5″

Åsa Schick: This painting was created at a time when I was highly frustrated, felt totally stuck and did not know what to do, or how to move forward. This is the second painting in this series. My experience at NYSS taught me to not quit and to explore new and inventive ways to make a painting work.

I had a general idea of where the position of the head and figure should be and an approximate idea of the size of the figure in relation to the space around it. When the sculpting material had dried, I used tools to take away excess and also applied more in order to create form in space and to create rhythm— I made a lot of corrections. I used oil paint on top of the acrylic paint and I aimed to try to create a harmony in the color. I hope the painting feels bold, unpredictable and mystic, with a sense of poetry.


Margaret Leveson, Along the East Branch, oil on panel, 14″x 18″

Margaret Leveson: The many hours spent drawing from the figure taught me how to structure space, the push and pull of lines and forms. I also worked with Leyland Bell and Harry Kramer in the painting studios and with Sidney Geist in sculpture. All classes were from life. I liked the long hours spent in direct work.


Eli Slaydon, A Choir, 2015, oil on canvas,            14″ x 11″

Eli Slaydon: The painting “A Choir,” which was included in the 2016 Prince Street Gallery Juried Exhibition, is a direct result of a process of painting that developed during my experience at NYSS. It belongs to a series of work that I have continued since I graduated from the school in 2012.

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Hohenberg Travel Prize: Sarah King

Sarah King MFA 2015 was one of our Hohenberg Travel Award recipients of 2015. We asked her to share with us her experience. 

Join us for The Hohenberg Exhibition Opening Reception with works by Sarah King and Katie Ruiz, January 14, 2016, 6-8 pm, at the New York Studio School.


Sarah King, Seeking Lions, Parque Madrid, Gouache on Aquaboard, 12″ x 6″



Sarah King, Saint Micheal Transcription, El Prado, Madrid, Pen and Ink, 7″x 5″

Words cannot express how deeply grateful I am to have been awarded the Hohenberg Travel Prize. This award has had a profound impact on my art and has been one of the most important experiences of my life.

The Hohenberg Scholarship allowed me to travel throughout Spain for seven weeks. I began my trip in the South and traveled throughout Andalusia.  I studied the Islamic art and Architecture throughout the region and I was particularly impressed by the azulejos (tiles) that covered the buildings. I was drawn to the Mesquita in Cordoba, with its rhythmic arches and roman columns. I painted at every location, focusing on the landscape and specific light of each place. My favorite place was Ubeda, which was a small Renaissance town that was up in the mountains.


Painting in Ubeda

After traveling throughout Andalusia I spent five weeks in Madrid. My apartment was located in the Plaza de Santa Ana which was an 8 minute walk to all the major museums. I learned that the godfather theme song was the siren song of all the street musicians and it echoed throughout the stone walls within the Plaza.

I went to the Prado every day, painted in Ritero Park, and saw a variety of retrospectives. The retrospective that had the greatest impact on me was the Bonnard exhibit at the Mapfre foundation. It was so breathtaking I shed a few tears. In the Prado I was truly moved by the paintings of Velasquez, Murillo, Rubens, Bosch, Goya, and Titian, just to name a few. I was so energized creatively from being at these exhibitions that I ended up painting into the early hours of the morning.


Detail of Bonnard mural painting, Mapfre foundation, Madrid

While traveling and looking at the large scale works of Titan and Ruebens I began to imagine how and what I would paint that would echo both the masterpieces that had such an impact on me and tell my story of my own mythological figure.

Since returning from Spain I have embarked on creating large scale drawings and paintings based on a female biblical archetype that is not well known. These paintings will be based on the story of Lilith, who supposedly was Adam’s first wife, based on the book of Geneses I. She has often been seen as the world’s first feminist icon and has been a misunderstood figure throughout history. I am using the landscapes I have painted from life for the backdrop of these scenes, the sculptures and paintings I saw in Spain to inspire the subject matter, while using the paintings of the great Masters such as Rubens, Titian, Goya, and Velasquez for the structure.

I am so honored to have had this opportunity to travel throughout Spain. This trip has truly shaped my creative life and it is an experience that I will forever cherish.


Sarah King, Lilith Slaying Eve’s Serpent, Charcoal on Paper, 60″ x 36″


Sarah King, Blue Trees, Seeking Lions, Madrid, Gouache on Aquaboard, 7″ x 21″


Sarah King, Retiro Afternoon, Madrid, Gouache on Aquaboard, 18″ x 6″

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Hohenberg Travel Award: Katie Ruiz

Katie Ruiz MFA 2015 was one of our Hohenberg Travel Award recipients of 2015. We asked her to share with us her experience. 

Join us for The Hohenberg Exhibition Opening Reception with works by Sarah King and Katie Ruiz, January 14, 2016, 6-8 pm, at the New York Studio School.

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Katie Ruiz, The Dreamer and the Dream, Oil on Canvas, 30″ x 40″


Katie Ruiz, Rachel and Jon, Oil on Canvas, 11″ x 14″

As the recipient of the Hohenberg travel scholarship I decided to travel to Paris. I stayed near Luxenburg Garden and walked all through the city every day. I purchased a 4 day museum pass which I highly recommend as it allows you to skip the lines and go directly into the museum.  I started my art journey at the modern art museum the Pompidou. The high-tech architecture was stunning I took the escalator to the top and saw the view of the whole city. I enjoyed the works by Matise, Basquiat, Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, Francis Bacon and others. I learned about a new painter whose work I enjoyed very much by the name of Adrian Ghenie. His painting “Pie Fight Interior” was a big inspiration for me.

Next I went to the Louvre and saw the new light work by artist Claude Lévêque. He created a red neon light travelling down the center of the large pyramid. Inside the Louvre my favorite paintings were the Leonardo Di Vinci pieces, besides the Mona Lisa of course which is wonderful to see but difficult to enjoy with all the crowds. I enjoyed the room of small very old 1300s paintings by Ambroginio Lorenzetti. I took a travel watercolor set with me to Paris and painted the Louvre at night. I did a small painting each day in different parts of the city.


Watercolor by Katie Ruiz of Louvre at night with light work by artist Claude Lévêque

The next day I went to the Musée d’Orsay. This was a highlight of the trip for me because I got to see a few paintings I have had hanging in my studio for years as a reference. I was so excited by many of the paintings in the Musée d’Orsay. On the top on my list was a Vuillard painting called “In bed” which depicts a person sleeping in their bed in calm Naples yellow colors with blue light. Another one of my favorite paintings I saw was “The bed” (1893) by Toulouse Lautrec and also Van Gogh’s painting “The bedroom” (1889). All of these were pieces I was studying when I was starting my blanket paintings last year at the NYSS. Other paintings I was excited to see were Manet’s “Olympia” and Courbet’s “Origin of the Universe,” Renoir’s “Bal du Moulin de la Galette” (1876). When I left the Musée d’Orsay I sat along the Seine and painted the bridge and the water.


Édouard Vuillard, In Bed, 1891


Toulouse Lautrec, The Bed, 1893

On the fourth day I went to the Musée Rodin. Unfortunately the main museum was closed but some of the sculptures were out and the garden was open. I spent the morning drawing from Rodin’s Thinker in the garden. I walked through the gardens and made quick paintings from the sculptures. It was invigorating and inspiring.


Drawing from Rodin’s sculpture The Thinker at Musée Rodin

Later that day I went to Musée l’Orangerie to see the Monet murals. When I walked into the room of Monet murals chills flooded through my body and tears welled up in my eyes. I have never in my life seen anything so beautiful. It was one of the best moments of my life. Every day I was in Paris I encountered a painting that brought tears to my eyes. I saw art and architecture I have only ever seen in pictures in books I have studied and memorized and transcribed.

In the Musée l’Orangerie I also really enjoyed the room of Chaïm Soutine Paintings. There was a large selection of the bird paintings that were gut wrenching and raw. I love his brush strokes of thick paint and bright reds with blue grays.

That night the galleries were open late to the public because FIAC art fair was going on. My friend Françoise and I went to several galleries. It was wonderful to see what is going on in the Paris art world and meet some gallery owners and artists. We went to Galerie Perrotin and saw new paintings by Hernan Bas and hyper realistic sculptures by Pierre Paulin.


Katie’s Watercolors from Paris

The rest of the weekend was spent going to FIAC held at the Grand Palace to look at modern art at the France International Art Convention. I saw many artists I like very much such as George Condo, Louis Bourgeois, Sigmar Polke, Leon Golub and many more. Officielle was another part of FIAC held at Les Docks- Cité de la mode et tu Design. We took a boat along the Seine to get there. Officielle was filled with many gallery booths from Paris, Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico.

I spend the last morning drawing from Notre Dame and doing some sight seeing at the Eiffel tower. In the concord and all around the city there were sculptures and interactive art up for FIAC.


Katie plein air painting at Notre Dame

This trip has been a true gift. My world has been expanded and I feel inspired to create new paintings from all of the knowledge I have gained from this experience.


Katie Ruiz, The Waiting Room, Oil on Canvas, 24″x 18″


Katie Ruiz, Different Paths you and I but we share the same sky, Oil on Canvas, 84″ x 48″

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