Sprite Art Workshop at the College for Creative Stidies in Detroit

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During the past month there have been a lot of ‘bloggable’ events in my life that I haven’t been able to document because of the lack of time. What can I say, new Zine, new shirts, and travel plans! It is a very exciting moment in my life that coincides with the coming of spring and my 30th Birthday. One of the projects that had me excited all semester was the Sprite Art Workshop at the CCS, Detroit. I was invited by my artist friend Brian Barr whom we went to school together at Purdue’s Fine arts grad program. We hadn’t seen each other for about 4 years, but he contacted me through FB to see if I was interested to do a lecture and workshop with his painting students from the CCS. I immediately replied because I love doing workshops, it is my favorite art activity. It’s really fun to teach something for a day and to interact and collaborate with the participants. The outline of the lecture presentation can be downloaded here:
Here is a picture of Brian:

Stefi drove me there from Lafayette, and it was a long 6 hour trip with a stop in Mc Donald’s. I use to like these Mc Donald’s stops a lot, but since we saw that movie Food Inc., it really ruined it for me. I hate doing statements about meat and stuff like that, but the reality is that it is just fucking gross. Yes the food industry is ripping everybody off and there is nothing we can do about it. My favorite stop ever was on a KFC/Tacobell restaurant, you could order nuggets and burritos on the same place! I asked if I could have KFC crunchy chicken on my chalupa but that was not possible. Anyways those rest stops are over and I’m sure I will miss the MSG craving every now and then. Okay going back to the Detroit story…
We got up early in the morning to go to the workshop. Some students got there fashionably late and heard me talk about digital art for about 1 hour. After that we started sketching some characters and then we went to the computer lab. We used photo cameras to scan the drawings, it was easy and worked well. At the end of the workshop, we had a few functional animations and a lot of creative sprites.
Walking around the College for Creative Arts was awesome, the environment felt very artistic and creative. They had an amazing art library with Magazines I even didn’t know they existed. I have always wondered if state Universities with their tenure track positions are positive to the arts, and CCS shows a different model to this. The teaching jobs there are contract based and have to be renewed regularly. The focus is on education as oposed to research, which makes more sense to me. There is a lot of hostility to get to be a tenure professor. A lot of really nice assistant professors that I’ve liked have been bullied-out of the schools I’ve been to, and it’s heartbreaking and sometimes very unfair.
Detroit has also a growing young artists’ scene that has taken advantage of the real state/financial crisis to take over the city. There are lots of artist-run gallery spaces, and old factories now turned art studios. We visited Brian’s and Lauren’s studio at an old Car/plane manufacturing plant. Here are some pictures:

Lauren and Brian showed us around and they are great hosts. We ate delicious food, had lots of funny conversations and enjoyed sharing experiences. It was so nice to spend time with friends! We went to a show in a space called Butter Projects that was very nice. I had a positive impression of the place when I saw a pregnant young woman giving chilled PBR’s from a tub. The show was called ‘nude’ and featured about 10 artists I think. The quality of the work was a little strange, it seemed that the work in it had been created the night before and carelessly. I really appreciated the sense of community from this opening, and it reminded me of the lively Lationoamerican art scenes like in Bogotá, Mexico DF or Caracas. With a similar cast of participants, the show was more about the gathering of people, but not a lot about the art and the ideas. I wish I would have talked to the guy that did the croched pink costume. That was great work!
I hope that the Detroit kids learn to capitalize the uniqueness of their city to produce significant work. The setting is ideal for a renewal of the american art, with the potential of becoming an art center like LA or NY. The future is now for them and it is in the hand of the current Detroit artists to lead attention to the art critics. Or maybe not? maybe trying to imitate the big-art-center scheme would be stupid? Didn’t the scheme of ‘making it’ already fail?
Thank you Brian, Lauren and Stephanie for such great trip experience.

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