This blog highlights the talents of this years symposium presenters. For more information about attending this years symposium, please see

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Caroline Gore

Caroline Gore in Philadelphia Studio, November 2014
photo: Patricia Huston
Caroline Gore is an artist currently working in Philadelphia. She recently joined the faculty at The University of the Arts as an Associate Professor of Jewelry/Metals in the Craft & Material Studies program.  Gore holds a BFA in Crafts with a jewelry focus from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University. Although her studio practice is rooted in jewelry and metalsmithing, her work varies in media, scale and implementation – ranging from jewelry to sculptural installations, photography and large-scale drawings.

In 2012, she was awarded a sabbatical from teaching, the exhibition …mercurial silence… was the result of this intense period of time spent in studio where through research and experimentation she plumbed deeper into material meaning, the histories jewelry and objects hold and our unique ability to process memory though remembering, forgetting and transforming. 

Gore’s lecture at Yuma will reveal the research and investigations that led to the work in the exhibition.
...mercurial silence...
The exhibition …mercurial silence… is the culmination of an investigation of how grief and loss manifest in society. Comparative meanings were sought through multidisciplinary research of historical jewelry, Roman myth, and materials and objects as they relate to commonalities across human experience.

Memorializing tragic events through leaving objects and ephemera at sites of violence and tragedy is now pervasive: in doing so we attempt to process what has happened, honor victims, and give some physical form to loss. However this was not the case 30 years ago – we tended to walk away from the actual site and perhaps more directly towards one another.

Looking closer at objects in relation to personal losses – how does one thoughtfully negotiate possessions of loved ones received through inheritance? As in processing grief there is no clear answer, instead we search our lived experience as it reveals itself over time through remembering and forgetting. Objects we have lived with, that others have chosen and lived with, are often murky and become laden with a multitude of meaning. Transformation of these objects, while at first may seem an act of violence in itself, offers to make the negotiation physical – despite the persistence of grief continually marking and changing the interior of ourselves.

Caroline Gore, installation view of ...mercurial silence... at Western Michigan University, Kerr gallery, 2014 reclaimed cherry from inherited furniture, jet, black spinel, silk, 18K gold, oxidized sterling silver, brass, seven identical silk dresses, tintypes, black glass ambrotypes, photo: Caroline Gore

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

John Risseeuw

In 1972, when perhaps less than a hundred people in the U.S. had learned hand papermaking, I received the rudimentary basics while a grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was an eye-opening gift to be able to make paper of the size, color, thickness, shape, and content I chose for my print projects. Eight years later, I came to Arizona State University to begin a new faculty position establishing book art courses within the already solid Printmaking Area of the then Department of Art and discovered that Dean Jules Heller had created a papermill a few years earlier pursuant to his current interests in contemporary hand papermaking and the book he was writing, which became Papermaking, Watson-Guptill, 1978. 

View of the ASU School of Art papermill studio

Feeding fibers into a Hollander beater to make pulp.
Pulling sheets of handmade paper.

Within a couple of years, with the book art studio well under way with presses, type, equipment, and students, I began teaching papermaking in Dr. Heller’s mill, learning more and more about the process, craft, and medium as I went along. By 1988, I realized that the content of handmade paper could contribute to the content of the work printed on it, and new conceptual doors began opening up that I slowly explored over the next 25 years. The Keepsake of the Risseeuw Family Farm was printed on paper made from sisal binder twine, jute feed sacks, straw, hemp ropes, and cotton seed sacks from that farm. It seemed to make sense.

A Keepsake of the Risseeuw Family Farm

In 1991, Pyracantha Press staff printer Dan Mayer and I decided to print a broadside to commemorate the bicentennial of the signing of the Bill of Rights. We printed it on paper made from cotton American flags and blue jeans, two quintessential American fibers that we felt embodied the freedoms of the Bill of Rights. The paper is purple because of the blend of red, white, and blue fibers.

The Bill of Rights, 1991

Many projects later, I chose landmines and landmine victims as subject matter in a multi-year project. I interviewed victims in Cambodia and Mozambique, asking them for articles of clothing. I also received clothing from victims in other countries, making paper pulp from the clothes plus plant fibers from the minefields and including shredded currency of the countries that make and use landmines. On the paper, I printed stories and facts, selling them to produce revenue to donate to the organizations that help victims and demine the land. To date, over $25,000 has been donated.

 Strange Fruit, 2002
 La Explosion, 2003

Artist books of handmade paper have provided me with yet another form in which to exploit the use of content-specific handmade paper.
Children of War, 2005

 The Politics of Underwear, 1973

Spirit Land, 1996
 Spirit Land, detail, 1996
 Eco Songs, 2000

Total Fucking Idiots, 2003
Boom!, 2011

Subjects include underwear as political analogy, fibers of place, the ecology of the earth, political chaos, and the fragmentation of lives. Making Paper Mean Something has been an interest of mine for a long time, through my printmaking, bookmaking, and papermaking. It is also the title of my presentation for the 2015 Yuma Symposium. I hope to see you there.

John Risseeuw


School of Art

Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Arizona State University

Sunday, November 9, 2014

"Come To Yuma If You Want To Change Your Life" by Neely Tomkins

This is a sentiment I’ve heard several times over the years. The first time was in the 80’s. …..Al Gilmore telling 8 students in Montana why they should all jump in a pickup truck, with camping gear and drive thru sleet and snow to get here!
OK, really?
Last year was the last time, when Danielle James used it as the title of her 4-part blog about her Yuma Symposium virgin voyage on the CraftHaus website. Hilarious. (Link below)
Let me digress a bit. I was just back in Springfield, Ohio for homecoming at my alma mater. It’s been at least 40 years since I’ve seen the leaves turn. The Wittenberg campus looked gorgeous.
I did a little homework before I left, going thru the one yearbook I still had. I also got in touch with some folks I wanted to see. I got a late start, so not many could make the late plans to come, but many I remembered were there. Forty+ years is a long time to look back. Looking at those faces and trying to see the face I knew years ago was easy for some, who haven’t changed much, but really eye-opening for the ones whose lives have altered their appearance beyond what I could recognize. What really impressed me was how friendly everyone was, old friends or new.
It’s been over a week since I’ve been back and I am looking at people my age in a new way…..That lady moves like a crazy dancer….. or……That guy was probably the funniest character in his class.
The same thing happens during the Yuma Symposium. For many it has turned into a huge annual Homecoming. I’ve watched friends age physically, seen them mature artistically and been proud of their successes. People talk to me like we are long lost friends. Some names I remember, some I don’t. I’m bad with names, so that’s my excuse.
Having been involved since before we started counting makes it around 40 years. Let me digress one more time. When Pete Jagoda and George and me first moved here in the early 70’s, we were fresh out of grad school with MFA’s that would surely help us set the art world on fire. Soon, we started to miss our artist friends and wondered what they were doing. Pete and George started inviting them to Yuma to share them with our new Yuma art community. This took the form of weekend workshops at Arizona Western College. Those workshops, born out of the need to reach into the outside art world and pull it here to Yuma, have grown into what we have today.
The next symposium marks 36 years since we’ve been counting. So what brings people back year after year?
Quotes from the campfire:
You can be yourself here. It is a safe place.
Nobody thinks you’re obsessed with art. Nobody judges.
The stage is set for networking.
Everyone is so friendly, sharing and knowledgeable.
I get to see what my peers are doing.
For you Yuma Symposium virgins, invite a friend to join you. Start your tradition of coming to this unique total immersion art weekend. Make new friends that you will stay in touch with all year long? What will make you want to come back year after year?
--Neely Tomkins
   executive director for the Yuma Arts Symposium