In his 1976 book "The Selfish Gene," biologist and author Richard Dawkins coined the word meme as an attempt to explain the way cultural information spreads. Internet memes are the byproduct of the digital age. They are most often images or videos that are accompanied by mimicry or humorous captions and they spread rapidly from one person to another through online channels. Memes are now shared most broadly through social media but they gained their initial popularity in message boards and blogs. Acting as inside jokes, the memes of message boards provided a self-reflective commentary on niche subcultures.
Memes have now made their way into the mainstream and often relate to news accounts, social interactions, or pop culture happenings. They serve as both commentary and parody. This type of mockery existed in the art world well before memes were a part of our common vernacular. In some ways, memes can be viewed as a second coming of the Dada art movement, which spanned from 1916 through 1924 and served as commentary on materialism and nationalistic attitudes that arose after World War I.
This relationship is not lost on fine artist Tony Rodrigues, who is also an avid art historian. Through painting, photography, and printmaking, Rodrigues creates work that appropriates images from popular culture and places them in different contexts. It isn't uncommon for Rodrigues's work to incorporate timeworn materials, such as old textbooks, magazines, and safety manuals that he bought at garage sales and thrift stores. In his work, Rodrigues employs images from past and present alike to create a skewed sense of nostalgia. His repurposed images convey feelings that range from quiet levity to somber introspection.
The Transformation of Spaces - 10 Questions with Arts Professional Aaron Levi Garvey
In the simplest terms, Aaron Levi Garvey is an arts professional. In more detailed terms, he is a writer, lecturer, consultant, and an independent curator of museums, galleries, and non-traditional spaces. In 2015, Garvey co-founded Long Road Projects (LRP) with his wife, Stevie Covart Garvey. The artist residency program and edition publishing house serves as a platform for artistic experimentation, community engagement, and education. Since its inception, LRP has hosted five resident artists, including: Lala Abaddon, Gamaliel Rodriguez, Tameka Norris, Joshua Short, and Paul Weiner. The foundation also recently announced the fall and winter 2017 residencies of Curtis Santiago and Sheida Soleimani.
Garvey is also the newest arts professional to be appointed to the Art in Public Places Committee, which consists of 11 Mayor-appointed volunteers. The Committee is composed of two members from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville's Board of Directors, three arts professionals, and six community representatives. The Committee is responsible for commissioning artists and artworks for the Art in Public Places Program. They oversee the selection, placement, installation, and maintenance of art on City-owned public property.
Get Real, Get Committed, and Do the Work - 10 Questions with Filmmaker, Writer, and Painter Dr. Nadia Ramoutar
Our comfort zone is the behavioral space where we feel at ease due to an established degree of familiarity, security, and certainty. We have higher control of our environment when we are inside of our respective comfort zones. Our activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes anxiety and risk. Stepping outside of our comfort zones, however, has massive benefits related to performance and creativity.
We have been programed to view stress as a psychological state that should be avoided. But, in reality, there are healthy forms of stress that can actually serve as a catalyst for growth, personal development, and ultimately transformation. Directly outside of our comfort zones, but not too far outside of our comfort zones, is an area referred to as the optimal performance zone.
We expose ourselves to new challenges and tasks when we enter into this zone. As a result, we may experience increased levels of uncertainty, which is often followed by fear. Typically, what we fear most about new challenges is that we may fail. But, in retrospect, when was the last time you felt a deep sense of accomplishment that didn't result from overcoming and completing something that challenged you either emotionally, mentally, or physically?
Dr. Nadia Ramoutar spent the last 10-years teaching at The Art Institute of Jacksonville. Prior to her position at Ai, she taught at Flagler College for 9-years. This summer, Dr. Ramoutar decided to exit the world of academia and pursue a career as a full-time freelance creative. You could say that she has stepped outside of her comfort zone in a big way.
Maintaining A Connection To Your Environment - 10 Questions with Mixed Media Visual Artist Crystal Floyd
Visual artist Crystal Floyd uses found and re-purposed objects to assemble mixed-media curiosity cabinets and three-dimensional installations. Floyd approaches her work in a manner that is similar to an anthropologist. She exhibits an inquisitiveness for the natural world and how we as humans interact with it. Her creative process incorporates elements of art, history, and science, with research, collecting, and cataloging playing integral roles in the development of a piece. Floyd's curios, dioramas, and displays allow viewers to examine and mull over individual components found within the work, while the pieces themselves represent a larger narrative.
As an artist, Floyd has the ability to create scenes within her work that are completely familiar yet entirely foreign at the same time. Vintage images and items, succulents, insects, and objects found on the shorelines are elements that are present throughout her work. These materials create feelings of wonderment, nostalgia, and impermanence.
Floyd's connection to the natural world extends beyond her work as an artist. She is currently working to launch a new business venture, Lazy Jay's Tour Company. Through this endeavor, Floyd will share with others the places and activities that she believes make this region uniquely special. Tour packages will vary based on an individual's interests and abilities, but patrons can expect to visit natural springs, lesser known beaches, and both the state and national parks that are sprinkled throughout Northeast Florida.
The Art in Public Places Committee met on August 9, 2017 at 12:00 PM in the Don Davis Room in City Hall. All Committee meetings are public noticed in advance and the general public is encouraged to attend.
Lily Yeh was born in southwestern China in the province of Guizhou, one of China's most diverse territories. The region is relatively undeveloped economically, but rich in natural and cultural resources. Yeh, who was raised in Taiwan and moved to the United States in the early 1960s, has dedicated more than 30 years of her life to urban alchemy. Her lifework is to use art as a vehicle and promote imagination and collaboration as tools to transform decay into vitality; and trauma and despair into hope and joy. Alongside members of the neighborhoods and villages in which she works, Yeh implements projects that foster community empowerment, improve the physical environment, promote economic development, and preserve indigenous art and culture.
Yeh studied classical Chinese painting during her formative years growing up in Taiwan. She received her Bachelor of the Arts (BA) degree from National Taiwan University in 1963. Later that same year, Yeh migrated to the United States to attend the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from the private Ivy League university with her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in 1966.
Yeh worked as a studio artist and in academia after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. She served as an Instructor of Art History at West Chester University for two years before pivoting to an Assistant Professor role, and eventually one of a tenured Professor, at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Yeh didn't embark upon her first public art project until 1986, during which she founded The Village of Arts and Humanities, an organization rooted in artist-facilitated community building.
In 2002, Yeh founded Barefoot Artists, a non-profit organization that aims to train and empower local residents, organize communities, and take action for a more compassionate, just, and sustainable future. The organization, which is made up of a network of volunteers, travels to international destinations and uses art to advance initiatives focused on imporving health, education, and economic development. The name is derivative of the barefoot doctor system, set up by Mao Zedong in 1960s China, which gave farmers basic medical training to bring health care into rural areas.
Questions? Comments? Submit something for consideration?
Please email ellen@CulturalCouncil.org