Sunday, January 10, 2010

Questions about Peace and Art

Two years ago I worked as the apprentice printmaking instructor at a residential arts program at the Putney School in Vermont. I had most mornings off and spent it working with writer Devan Schwartz on a concept for a Graphic Novel titled Beckett’s Nexus. I remember him asking me how well I knew Picasso’s Guernica mural. At the time it was a vague art history lecture, I really had no sense of the Spanish Civil War, or how this story would have such a huge impact on my creative practice.

That following year I was accepted into the MFA-IA program at Goddard College and what had been a few preliminary sketches of Beckett’s story, had transformed into the foundation for my studies. I found myself somewhat frustrated by only understanding Spain through the lens of an out-dated library book. I felt like the character in the story, I knew I had to visit Spain for myself to get this story right, to see the Guernica for myself. Ride up and down the glass elevators at the Regina Sophia.

The Goddard Practicum project was approaching in my studies and I knew what I had wanted to do since my very first residency began. So I explored a bunch of residential opportunities for artists in Spain and sent out several application packages. After more than six months I sort of gave up hope that I would even hear back from these applications.

One morning I checked my email and I heard back from Can Serrat a residency in the Montserrat Mountains north west of Barcelona. I received a support stipend and was going to develop my practicum project and travel in Spain at the same time. So I spent a great deal of time mapping out my trip and saving money for this experience.

I made my way to Barcelona after traveling for a few weeks in Madrid and Toledo. I arrived to the Montserrat Mountains stunned by the bizarre mountains. I made my way to this old villa at the base of this mountain and encountered some of the most interesting artists I have ever met; it is difficult to put my experience to words.

Norwegian painting classes partying, poets, late night conversations with friends in almond orchards and ancient cathedrals. We all shared meals and ideas, and all worked as a community in the studios. I got a chance to share my work and participate with other artist’s work. I encountered many different people coming and going in the two months I was there. My initial goal was to follow the thread of the Guernica mural. To eventually create an animation interviewing artists on how they perceive peace. Or how artists foster messages of peace through their art in a short animation.

Although this animation didn’t quite become the product I envisioned I still feel that my questions were answered through all of the people I encountered at Goddard, here in Vermont and in Spain. It has been an amazing journey that I has helped shape this Graphic Novel into what it is today. In an effort to sustain this frequency in my work, and create a social engagement with other thinkers, artists, and wanderers I wanted to create somewhat of a forum on this theme of “Artists and Peace” on the Web and let this response evolve by being a project that connects artists.

I have created a blog-spot to exhibit some of the responses from the artists I worked with.
I encourage any participation with this dialog, and can be reached @


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is awesome Peter. I want to read the whole thing now. 'Guernica' is such a powerful work of art, and telling this story to accompany it is a fabulous idea. Please let me know when and where it will become available in print because I will most certainly be picking it up. Great work!

-Jeffrey Donato

February 3, 2010 at 10:34 AM  

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