On Wednesday, December 10th, the art studio was filled with eager juniors and seniors partaking in BSGE’s first Visiting Artist event of the year. Ms. Schwarz arranged for her friend, Catherine Tafur, to present her work, inspiration, and process to the IB art students. Tafur’s presentation included seven paintings from her current exhibition at the Porter Contemporary Art Gallery: The Assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Hillary Rodham, Revolution, Rana Plaza in Savar: Death of a Thousand Workers, American Disco, The Bucket, and Drone War. These pieces addressed social issues such as feminism, the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, and the 2013 Savar building collapse. Although many of her pieces are based on current political issues, she described her inspiration as “whatever keeps me up at night, things that I want to understand.” Tafur’s work is very surreal; it is made up of various patterns, shapes, and vivid colors that “pop” in your face. Every single aspect of her pieces is symbolic, each holding a significant meaning that adds to the overall effect.
However, according to Tafur, creating art is not as easy as it seems. She demonstrated to students the extensive research before she conducts each piece, staying updated on current news, drawing several studies, and utilizing programs such as Photoshop. Ms. Schwarz reminded students that this was similar to their preliminary works for IB art, such as the Artist Research and Critical Art Analysis. Tafur also explained her initial shock at being labelled as a “news junkie” or “political artist” by the press and critics. She used it as a life lesson for students in their artistic pursuits, saying that “you will be criticized no matter what you do. Use it as a lesson; take it into consideration.” Tafur ended her visit by giving advice to IB art students and future artists. Several students asked her questions about the symbolism in her pieces and how she achieved the final product. Some took it a step further by connecting their questions to the IB art program, asking about her opinion on topics that are “controversial” to the IB program or how to finish art within time limitations. Based off of her own journey to become an artist, Tafur stated that the key to being a professional artist is “to be stubborn, paint what you’re passionate about.” But she also warned about the risks of being an artist, how “you will be in tons of debt,” and “go through periods of frustration.” When asked about what is “keeping her up” at night now, Tafur gave us a sneak peek of her work in progress about “climate change, how humans ruin the world.”
If you missed the Visiting Artist event, have no fear! Ms. Schwarz plans to have many more throughout the school year.