Sunday, May 29, 2022

Bridge to Now

The narrative from my application to the Bridge program at the Hyde Park Art Center, to be curated by Jory Drew.

What I Might Get

I imagine the Bridge Program as a mini-residency and mentorship, a time to focus on one project, to challenge myself to go as deep and far as I can in the five weeks, to participate with others on a similar adventure, to take myself seriously (but not too seriously) as an artist.

I want to learn from the other artists and from the program curator - How do they make their art? How do they incorporate their lived experience? How do they create space for their viewer/audience to engage on their own terms? 

I am currently working with the imagery in The Bull, a poem by Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese-American Buddhist. I’ve been making watercolors and drawings based on that. There is a mix of desire, longing, fear, and loss in the poem, as we enter into a not knowing, heightened sexual awareness and vulnerability. There’s also a thousand-year history of ox herding as a Buddhist teaching metaphor of the search for enlightenment and living after enlightenment. It’s traditionally a combination of woodblock prints and poetic commentary. Bulls and oxen have a long European history as well, from bullfight to minotaur. I am engaging with this as a drawing and watercolor exercise, where does my mark making take me? And also as a conceptual research into the culture of bulls and oxen.

Larry Wolf, Bull (2022)

I expect the Bridge Program will bring a few surprises and discoveries about myself and the work I’m making.

What I Might Offer

I bring a curiosity about how others see the world, how they make sense of it, how they make their art. I bring a commitment to listen closely to what is said and listen deeply for the message beneath the words. I am both an outsider and an insider. We will be finding our personal truths by working together to understand who we are.

I have taught contemplative photography courses which emphasize looking closely at images, for what they contain and for what they evoke in each of us. I bring this openness to look and see, to making, viewing and discussing artwork. 

I have training and years of experience as a mentor and coach, teaching meditation, leading advisory committees, working with nonprofits as a volunteer and board member. I have taught collaboratively and found ways for groups to move forward while acknowledging differences. 

I am a retired married gay white male Buddhist born Jewish former technology executive. I didn’t think I’d make it to my current age of 70 - many of those identities might have killed me - from gay bashing, from AIDS, from anti-semitism, from a family history of early deaths. Some of those identities gave me privilege - a masters in computer science, a job with a national healthcare provider, and, clearly, being white. They have shaped who I am and what I bring.

A Work That Works

To Hold Infinity

The work is an altar made from a sheet of 8 ½ x 14 paper, printed front and back, folded to be freestanding. Light passes through it, in a kind of radiance, as well as reflects off of its surfaces. 

The impetus was the sudden death of a friend’s wife, his grief and yearning for continued connection with her. He asked if angels needed fire to get to heaven, as a reframing of her request to be cremated. He felt her spirit in the waves on the beach and the quiet of a moonrise.

The work combines photographs of a solar eclipse, a full moon and a nuclear explosion, with my own drawings of hands which cradle the cosmos, the angels which populate our world. They are manipulated in Photoshop and through risograph printing, with the final version produced on the laser printer at a local copy center. 

The paper is folded as a variation on an 8-page mini-booklet zine, modified to be viewed without turning the pages. It is a descendant of the portable folding triptych shrine. The title is from the poem Auguries of Innocence by William Blake (To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour).

Larry Wolf, To Hold Infinity (2021)

This webpage provides more information and shows the evolution of the work:

Artist Statement

I create works as a self-discovery process and to share that with others. For the past year, I’ve been making zines and three-dimensional works from single sheets of paper. I want the work to be touched and manipulated, sometimes with a DIY component, not kept at a distance as something too pure to be handled. My work combines drawing and watercolor as well as new and archival photographs.

In addition to zines, other paper-based and photographic traditions inform my work: origami, calling cards, snapshots. The work lives at the intersection of small-scale mechanical reproduction and hand crafted unique objects. The resulting object is ephemeral and strong, easily mailed, easily recycled, possibly archival. They are passed among friends as part of a shared experience.

The process of creation is a personal unpacking/repacking of aspects of my white gay male jewish buddhist technologist life. I lean into the potential for queerness and shield myself in the ordinary. I combine my history with the current moment - the long shadows of AIDS, the Holocaust, colonialism/racism - the recent deaths of my parents and the end my corporate career - the exuberant days of early Gay Liberation and the quiet joys of a walk with my husband. There is an undercurrent of grief, of loss, and also of new life and celebration, a firebird arising from the ashes, a wolf in sheep's clothing, an irritating grain of sand around which a pearl forms.


Larry Wolf, SIP-Mobile (2022)
SIP Installation 2022

Larry Wolf, Angels (2021)
SIP Installation 2022

Larry Wolf, Zines (2021)
SIP Installation 2022

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