Monday, March 28, 2016

Associate Professor Josie Mai on Her Process

Josie Mai is Associate Professor of Art Education here at Pittsburg State University. Mai is this month's Neosho Arts Council featured artist, and spoke with them recently about her process creating hand-rubbed collage works (video below).

This months featured artist Josie Mai talks about the process of creating her hand rubbed collage pieces. #NeoshoArts
Posted by Neosho Arts Council on Thursday, March 10, 2016

Originally from Kansas City, Mai received her undergraduate degree and certification in art education from the University of Kansas. She taught art to urban and suburban high school students in the Kansas City area's public schools and not-for-profit organizations such as Studio 150 and Chameleon, Inc. Mai went on to receive her Masters of Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in New York City. Before joining our faculty at Pitt State, she taught at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri for several years. She has also worked closely with the George A Spiva Center for the Arts developing curriculum, public art, exhibitions, and events.

Letter from Georgia. Acrylic and collage on cardboard.
Bamboo. Collage on canvas. 

The Neosho Arts council held a reception for Mai on March 10th at the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce. Mai also has upcoming shows in the Urban Art Gallery and Post Art Library in Joplin, MO.

SeaSky. Collage on canvas.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Student Spotlight: Jacqueline Denton

As part of our new "Student Spotlight" series, the Pittsburg State University Department of Art blog will be periodically highlighting the work of one of our students. This week, we're featuring the work of Jacqueline Denton, a senior 2D Studio Art major from right here in Pittsburg, KS. As part of her educational program here at Pitt State, Jacqueline participated in an internship working with the artist Oliver Hibert. This internship resulted in an exhibition of her work alongside Hibert's at the Palabra Gallery in Phoenix, AZ. 

Department of Art: What was your path to pursuing an art degree at Pitt State? What got you interested in art?

Jacqueline Denton: One of my earliest childhood memories are of me coloring at a desk with markers my mom had bought for me on my 4th birthday. A lot of my childhood memories are of making things, or having art class in school. My mom is an art teacher, as well as highly resourceful and creative, and always encouraged me to be creative, too. I also had a great art teacher in middle school, Mrs. Pate, who always encouraged me and my ability, and made me realize that I actually had one. Art is the only thing in my life that has ever felt natural for me. 

DA: Tell us about your work. What type of work do you most enjoy creating? How would you define your artistic style? 

JD: This is still hard for me to describe to people. I would say my work is bold, psychedelic, surreal, dark, and whimsical. My work primarily focuses on femininity, sexuality and identity. 

DA: What class at Pitt State has had the biggest affect on the way you approach your work? 

JD: I've loved all the classes I've taken with Emi. Her classes have allowed me ways to use and make work in a digital type of format, which is important to know. It also gives you another platform that you can display your art. I love the internet and connecting with other people through it through my artwork. It's something that's really essential to me. This semester I'm taking a GIF art class which I'm really excited about.

DA: Tell us about a project you completed recently that you were really proud of. Where did you get your initial idea or inspiration, and how did the project develop over time? Describe your process. 

JD: I recently created some jewelry designs for one of my friends, Marina Fini, who lives in LA. She makes amazing jewelry pieces out of plexi. She wanted to do a Halloween collection and asked me if I wanted to design some of the shapes, so I said yes! I ended up drawing a few fun designs I thought would work with her plexi designs. She took my designs and made them a reality. It was really cool to see my work come to life in a more three-dimensional way, as well we something that was totally wearable. It was also cool to work with Marina. She is a huge inspiration to me. If anyone wants to see more of Marina's work you can check out her website:

DA: Who are some artists that inspire you? What is it about their work that you find compelling?

JD: Everyone from Lisa Frank to Andy Warhol. A lot of my friends who are artists are the ones who inspire me the most. Oliver Hibert has really inspired me. His artwork changed everything for me. I like work with bright colors and dark contrasts, and work that pushes the boundaries of reality and normalcy.  

DA: What is an experience you've had at Pitt State that has changed the way you think about art?

JD: A lot of the time at Pitt State I have felt pretty isolated because I feel my work doesn't really fit in anywhere. I've learned that your work doesn't have to fit in. 

DA: Tell us about your experience participating in the internship program. Where and when did your internship take place, and how did it come about?

JD: The internship program was a great experience for me. I can't thank Portico enough for encouraging me, pushing me, and believing in me and my art at a time when I really needed that. I sought out an internship on my own. I didn't want to do something here in town. I wanted to get out an experience something different. I did my internship over the summer in 2015 in Phoenix, AZ with artist Oliver Hibert. He had mentioned he was looking for an intern so we talked about it. We spent 2 weeks over the summer learning how to stretch canvases, how to transfer a drawing to a canvas for painting, and we did a run of around 200 three color silkscreen prints that we printed by hand as well as some other smaller printing projects. In December Oliver and I had a show together at Palabra Gallery in downtown Phoenix.

DA: What was the most challenging aspect of your internship? What was the most fun?

JD: It was very labor intensive, physically. Stretching a canvas is tough, making 200 silkscreen prints is tough and tedious. And, honestly the summer heat in Arizona. We were basically night owls for two weeks because the only time it was cool enough to work in the printing studio was after midnight. The most fun part was being able to have a show together at the end. It was something that really built up my confidence and experience that I will remember forever.   

DA: Tell us about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

JD: This is a huge question. I just hope in 5 years I'm happy, have a job that I can sustain myself with, and still have time to create my own work.

DA: What projects are you working on right now that are outside of coursework?

JD: I'm always working on my own work. I recently finished up a piece for a group exhibition in San Francisco, and have been working on a page for a coloring book that some of my artists friends are putting together and publishing. 

DA: Where's the best place to see more of your work online?

JD: You can view more of my work on my website:, or look me up on instagram to see more work in-progress type updates: @jacquelinedenton, as well as other shenanigans. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

GIF Art Students Combine Old and New Technology

A new topics course in the Department of Art introduces students to the animated GIF as both a digital fine art object as well as an artifact of popular culture. Since its inception in 1987 the GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) has become a ubiquitous element of our visual landscape. Its history is tied to pre-digital looping animations, such as Eadweard Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope photography of the late 19th century. One such device for creating these pre-digital animations is the phenakistoscope, invented by Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau in 1832. Phenakistoscopes are small discs featuring short animations created from multiple still frames, alternating between equally spaced radial slits. The animation can be viewed by spinning the disc while facing a mirror and looking through the slits to see a moving image.

Phenakistoscope wheel by Mattie Parrigon

Students in this semester's GIF Art course, taught by Assistant Professor Emmalyn Gennis, created their own phenakistoscopes for a recent assignment. Before beginning the project, students looked through Richard Balzer's online collection of 19th century animations for inspiration. 

In addition to creating the physical phenakistoscope wheels using foamboard, paper, and toothpicks, students scanned their designs and brought them to life in Photoshop, enabling them to post their animations online. You can see all of the students' phenakistoscopes, as well as their other assignments, on the class Tumblr page,

Phenakistoscope wheel by Jacqueline Denton

Projects in the GIF Art class will provide students the opportunity to work in a wide range of media over the course of the semester, including traditional 2D animation, stop motion, and found video. The course places an emphasis on developing a personal approach to the creation of GIF art, as well as the technical skill required to create seamlessly looping animations. Students enrolled in the course are also engaging with online communities by posting their work on platforms and social networking sites where GIFs are often shared by other users.

Phenakistoscope wheel by Mandy Reno