Wk 11 – Classmate Conversation #6 – Debbie Do & Donovan Le

cc1Here are two awesome people I probably would have never met if it were for this class. As a graduating senior I am at the end of my road and these first years are just beginning. I couldn’t help but feel like a mentor to some degree.

Both Debbie and Donovan know each other from high school in Westminster, CA. Pretty cool to maintain close connections through college! Debbie is an undeclared major, but has her eyes set on declaring Health Science in the near future. She isn’t sure what exactly she sees herself doing with that degree but that is the beauty of the Health Science major, it is broad enough that one can specialize down the road. Donovan is a Economics major – also unsure at this point where he sees himself down the road. He does enjoy his major and is in the process of figuring out how to utilize it for the makings of a future career. I guess who really knows for sure at that age what you want to do. I think its good they aren’t rushing into any decisions.

At some point the pair want to do some traveling. I couldn’t help but encourage them to not wait for only summers and to look into study abroad semester programs through CSULB. They are definitely interested! I probably scared them off with my enthusiasm of travel though! But I hope that they realize now how awesome the experience is. I wish I hadn’t waited until my last semester. They do have a trip planned to San Francisco coming up after this semester and it would be their first time traveling up there. Baby steps.


Wk 10 – Artist Conversation – Clare Samani

Artist: Clare Samani
Exhibition: dressed
Media: clothing, monotype, collagraph
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Merlino Gallery
Instagram: clares_printing


Clare Samani is about to graduate with her BFA in printmaking from California State University, Long Beach School of Art. Browsing through her Instagram you will see she is quite the busy bee. Her work is not only aesthetically pleasing but encourages deeper thought. In her latest exhibition, dressed, she explores fashion as a form of communication and medium of expression. Clare describes her work as, “exploring the symbolism and identity inextricably intertwined with people and clothing”.

The work uses monotype  and callograph print making methods. Starting with the background colors the clothes come into contact with the ink and then are pressed. The lines share the lines print take on the lines of the garment – undulating and rippled.  The tones chosen by Clare are equally bold and subdued. The colors are deep yellow, purple, shades of blues and rusty reds.  Since the prints were developed using the actual items of clothing, they picked every bit of texture the garments had. The texture is so clear and obvious to the naked eye. Even up close the print is so clean that they almost appear as x-rays.

Clare has been working with this particular exhibit for just over a year and a half now. The clothes were either given to her, bought or found. Her goal expressed through her printmaking is to create object based portraits using the fabric as both a material artifact and tool to creating imagery. She sees them as an, “exploration into the complex world of self-representation, cultural and personal identity, and fashion.” Fashion plays a major role in the idea of personal self verse social self. One can use fashion to express their inner self while conveying a message about who they want to be socially.

When I walked into the exhibit I was instantly drawn to the material. The work was captivating. While I know fashion is an expression and form of art, when you take a piece of clothing out of its purpose (to be worn) and put it in 2D format on a print, it modifies the meaning of the item. I like how Clare uses fashion to objectively to create imagery that I otherwise take for granted on people. I agree with the artist that clothing, while serving  a purpose, has grown into having so much more meaning in this era. We get to choose how the world sees us through our fashion choices. It brings me back to my days in retail management. I would help people choose clothing, and everyone has such a different opinion about what looks good. Clare did a brilliant job in catching the simplicity of self expression.


Wk 10 – Artist Activity – Architecture: The Wedge

art4Ahh, the Wedge. I remember my first encounter. I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Well, this is stupid.” There are days when I refuse to partake in the absurdity of waiting to walk through the 2 foot space while a dozen other students squeeze, literally, their way through the space..and there are days when I follow the herd right into the trap. This is the perfect case of dysfunctional design. I agree with Glenn in that I doubt the architects thought about the shear amount of traffic that would pour through this area on the daily. That, however, in my opinion means a lack of planning. Clearly they underestimated the shear laziness of the 21st century college student. Of course they won’t take the extra 20 steps around the blockade. They will save themselves those steps and 10 seconds. Its painful just to look at.

As a person who believes in functional design, this truly gets under my skin. It just adds to the frustration of my daily commute. As if the PCH at 9 in the morning isn’t enough I mumble to myself.  So, that is why I love this assignment! What a great opportunity to vent my frustrations and  dream up an ideal scenario. I am also SO curious to see what other students and design fanatics come up with.

I took the simple approach. Tear down that wall! Tear down that wall! And leave a monument with a plaque to remember what once stood.


Plaque reads: Here once stood the bane of every college student’s commute. May it be forgotten. 

This nod to the old wall will hopefully ease the pain while adding a little humor. In a sense this new standing monument is just a micro version of the wall that it replaced – potentially causing back up. This just adds to the comedy of it in my eyes. Still, my design greatly opens the space and hopefully, just hopefully, students can enjoy their walk to class without the hassle of the Wedge. I imagine in a year from now students will see this monument as being just as bad as the wall, tear it down and insert a street plaque.


Wk 9 – Art Experience – Graffiti Writing

The activity this week was very fun! And challenging.

I began not really knowing what to expect. I had all the tools and was ready!

pic4It is REALLY hard to get the paint spray to look the way you want it to! I know graffiti artists use tips to help, but unfortunately my spray paint game isn’t quite at that level. I worked with what I had. As I began to spray I realized it it much easier to work in a vertical spray rather than a horizontal spray as the paint didn’t spray well if horizontal, so I had to re-position the board. Once vertical, I began painting and noticed the paint was dripping. I couldn’t win! I know this was most likely because I was spraying too close, however, I actually enjoyed the effect it gave and so I made it  a part of my design.


I played with the mixture of colors. My friend encouraged me to outline it in black. BIG mistake. It completely ruined the aesthetic I was going for. Oh well. I went with it. It wasn’t too hard to drown out the black into a gray – and it actually did help with being able to read what it actually said.


Still, I would have liked to keep it light. Overall, I think this was a great learning experience. I have always been impressed with the works of art some graffiti artist are able to create. This art experience just proved to me that they deserve far more respect!


Wk 8 – Classmate Conversation – Khanh Nguyen

me left, Khanh left, photobomb above

This week I got to chat with Khanh. I really enjoyed talking with him! Khanh is Vietnamese and has been living in the United States since 2009. I told him my best friend  is also from Vietnam and we have been planning a trip out there for some time. He advises I don’t go, though! He loves California!

Khanh is a busy, busy man. Can you think back to when you were a sophomore in college and things started to get tough…you begin to question who you are and why you are here. What is the point of all these classes being forced on you? What is the point of an education. You ask, “Do I even need an education?”This is where Khanh seems to be. It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn into a venting session for both of us. School is difficult. Working while in school is difficult. Khanh is a tutor at Mathobotix in the little free time he does have. Sadly, Khanh can’t relate to the term “free time” these days.

Through all the venting though, I noticed Khanh still had a smile on his face.  He is working towards a BS in Computer Science and he enjoys it. It wasn’t easy, but I ended up getting it out of him what classes he likes. He knows he wants to work in the field, so through the thick and thin he will finish. At least that was my advice was to him! Even as a senior the exhaustion felt in sophomore year is still fresh…but I know that you make it through.

It was easy talking with Khanh and I wish him the best with the remaining years in school!

Wk 8 – Art Experience – Finger Painting


It was the perfect afternoon for finger painting. The sun had finally shown its face, I had a new rhubarb cider to sample, and I was in need of creativity. I laid all my materials out, enjoyed the view from my rooftop terrace, and began.


I began with no intention. I just began to smear and smudge the paint onto the paper.


I was using the only paint I had, high quality acrylic paint, and the only large piece of paper I had, the Rives BFK paper. Smearing and smudging was actually harder than I realized. The combination of materials didn’t allow momentum. My motions were forced and not free. With the forcefulness of my strokes, I became compelled to make something with the paint. I realized I wanted and needed to create a subject. A scene. The more my hands swept over the paper, I saw the makings of a beautiful sunset. I enjoyed using my hands and not a tool. I enjoyed how liberating it was. However, I guess I’m not as free thinking as I thought as I turned this painting into a desert sunset. It would have frustrated me to not.


I am happy with the final product and am inspired to take on another free hand painting. I want to try to create “nothing”.  Maybe with practice I can learn to let go of controlling the process and allow the motions to say how the final product will look.  Maybe this has revealed something about myself, and maybe I need to apply this thinking into other areas of my life. My new mantra will be: Trust the process and let things happen as they may.



Wk 7 – Artist Conversation – Ashley Shumaker

Artist: Ashley Shumaker
Exhibition: Storm Studies
Media: Triptych, layered monoprint & cut paper, solar dye, diptych
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Maxine Merlino Gallery
Website: ashleyshumaker.com
Instagram: @ashleyrose


Ashley Shumaker is an graduate student in the School of Art’s MFA Printmaking program. Ashley is originally from Seattle and got her BA from Portland State University in General Studio Art Practices. She chose to continue her studies with printmaking because she really connected with the process of printmaking. She feels it is highly underrepresented and less recognized than other forms of art. Printmaking will carry on into a full time  career in Los Angeles area post graduation for Ashley. She is already solidifying that goal by teaching printmaking for CSULB undergraduate students when not producing great prints.

The works presented in this weeks gallery are abstract landscape works on paper using fallen palm bark to print with. The color palette is very subdued, with different hues of cool blues and grays.  Having used cool gray and blues, the presence or insinuation of water is detected. The coloring takes on formations of their own. The formations are organic, irregular, and asymmetrical. There is an appropriate amount of positive and negative space of white to color. There is three dimensional texture created from the palm bark that adds depth to each print. The texture is soft, yet impactful. As shown below in Fog on St. Vincent Thomas Bridge,

Fog on St. Vincent Thomas Bridge
Fog of St. Vincent Thomas Bridge, 2017

and up close…

fog close up
Fog on St. Vincent Thomas Bridge, 2017


Pooling, 2017
pooling close up
Pooling, 2017

Shumaker was inspired by the recent uncommon weather patterns in the Los Angeles area recently. She was tactical in choosing cool colors that remind one of water and fog to connect the viewer to the environment. Shumaker explains, “Through the color palette, materials, and chosen methods or mark-making, I am trying to create a reaction to the environment around me.” The palm bark used is even bark found fallen after a recent LA storm. She wanted to reflect the quite stillness that is felt after a storm.

I believe Shumaker’s mission was accomplished. When I stepped into the gallery, I could sense the environment that inspired the works. The colors used were so powerful  that they drew me into the gallery. My absolute favorite part of living close to the beach are the foggy gray mornings and the calm that is the atmosphere. Its as if the fog blocks sound and all you can feel is the weight of the mist. For as along as I can remember, these types of mornings have given me the greatest sense of ease. For some reason, as I walked through Storm Studies, I sensed that Shumaker felt this same ease that I do.