Collage … offers an alternative to an ever-shifting, ever-fluid image world and reminds people of tactility, texture, and the reality of the world we live in—a unique approach that visual art can offer that digital media does not convey
“recycled sunflower,” recycled paint cans and wood, by Mati Russo


In December of 2013, ARTnews Magazine examined perception, and the role of collage, in feeling and responding within an environment saturated with sensory overload.  The article presented a generation of artists who commented on how information is processed in a cut-and-paste culture.  The viewer has little choice but to scan information, rather than carefully reading content.  By using found objects foraged from life, the art object implores the viewer to feel, see, and touch.
“same old song,” by Mati Russo, wire, compound, enamel, acrylic, found objects

I look for things that would be overlooked in its significance in someone’s life used so much until it was tossed away because it no longer performed or was useful

For Russo, these tactile objects simply say a heartfelt thank you.  The artist recognizes how things and people are devalued once the shine wears off. Recycling provides her with an avenue for expressing her appreciation.  She recovers discards, and objects that have devalued over time, to make art that embodies her gratitude. —to be cont


Mati Russo, "Guns in America"
Mati Russo, “Guns in America”

Sometimes the message is …  a wish or desire … as in ‘Bam,’ in myGuns in America’ series,  imploring us to take the guns from our children’s hands

Mati Russo’s graffiti is vital to her messaging.  Her art speaks to painful events in contemporary history, including the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school. Russo’s series, Guns in America, addresses the inconceivable horror of that day.  The artist implores the viewer to keep guns away from children.

Last Summer, ARTFORUM magazine examined art and animation implying that graffiti appeals to everyone, except the art critic.  The crux of their complaint appears to be that pop art devalues culture by blurring the boundaries between high art, and alternative sensibilities, and dissent.

ARTFORUM also examined how pop art represents an irresistible fascination with bringing inanimate objects to life.  The formidable Batman rushes to the rescue, cape flying.  Bam.  Batman’s language is choice.  Russo, in presenting her art in pop art style implies that there is an urgent need to act.  Real life issues, like gun safety, are dangerous realities that beg for a speedy superhuman effort. – to be cont.

Day 2 of the 2015 Project: MATI RUSSO’s FEELING ART Cont.

I love to find something that defines me, the subject finds me and I … struggle with it, I try to really feel it.  I’ve always felt like I could heal things and make things wonderful and everything to me … is something special.

In the above interview, Mati Russo explains that in creating a work, she destroys and then repairs it as she deliberates upon the piece.  The work often begins as a literal representation that is then often destroyed and put back together, or repaired, in abstract art form.  The artist’s aspiration to be an agent of healing, in concert with her concept of repair implies that feeling and recovery is hard-wired into her process.

Furthermore, in reflecting about her art, she explain that it is personal, an outpouring of an emotion or words expressing anguish which explodes repeatedly across the canvas, sometimes all but obliterating the art which proceeded it. – to be cont.

Day 1 of the 2015 project: INTRODUCING MATI RUSSO


My project for a series about contemporary artists was germinating when I approached Mati Russo to inquire about her art.  Her answer, it seemed, was delivered on a ray of sunshine.  If my project was nebulous in its infancy Russo was unequivocal — she wanted to talk about her art.  Furthermore, her answers were searching and sincere.

For me, the feeling quality of this artist’s painting is arresting. While Russo paints in a diverse range of styles, her themes often focus on the human condition. As a New Yorker surviving the aftermath of 9/11, and after years of making art that stimulated the senses, she was compelled to make art that stimulated thought and reflection.

Russo’s, it appears, achieved her goal.  Her paintings touch upon human themes, of suffering and alienation, as well as her vivid joy.  Her representations often refer to psychological and emotional states, whether of individual feelings of alienation, or of greater concerns over immigration and guns in America. – to be cont.


Gilda Oliver’s Pride and Joy was republished in the May edition of Fine Arts Magazine  at

*  *  *  *  *

The Challenge: to examine 50 artists and their work in 326 days.

originally found at

The Contender:  Brenda Haroutunian, risking her pride on a crazed assignment with an uncertain outcome

In the meantime, she’ll be scouring material from mainstream glossies like: ARTnews, Art in America, and ARTFORUM, along with niche magazines, for breaking trends on topics under discussion.

She implores you, pretty please tell her about your art!

originally found at
originally found at

Participants are encouraged to share a few paragraphs about their art, between 100-750 words ideally, along with two or more samples of their work.  Art Copy will include their own byline.  There may be minor edits to your submission. Please email your responses to  Feel free to ask questions.  You are more than welcome to include websites, links to articles, and so on, in your submission.

originally found at
originally found at

Finally, the long term goal is to include your response as part of a larger project. TBA.  Thank you very much!

originally found at
originally found at



originally found at
originally found at

— by Brenda Haroutunian

There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum. Arthur C. Clark

The choices made by networks like NBC and CNN about what and what not to broadcast during and immediately after the January 7, attack on Charlie Hebdu magazine, raises startling questions about how free speech is practiced.  They broadcast horrifying details of the attack, including the chilling execution of a downed police officer by a masked gunman.  While the networks reported the carnage in graphic detail, they nevertheless made editorial decisions not to show the cover of the magazine after the shootings.  The cover was news.  The magazine was the site of the massacre, as well as, a powerful symbol of free speech in the days following the attack.  If prior to the shootings, the magazine appealed to a select few, if it was on the edge of bankruptcy, afterwards, it was the most sought after publication in the world.


originally found
originally found


The satirical content was largely irrelevant to Charlie Hebdu’s new supporters, instead, they defiantly defended this emotionally loaded symbol of liberty. Everybody, it seemed, was lining up to buy twelve pages of screw you. Three million copies printed in six different languages sold out minutes after the publication was released.


This was originally found at
This was originally found at


In contrast to the dark images that hovered over the massacre, the coverage of citizens congregating underneath the figure of Marianne, at the Place de la Republique, was profoundly moving.  The legendary heroine, in her signature Phrygian cap, arm raised, personifies the promises of the French Revolution. Furthermore, she stands on sites where monarchs once stood in symbolic defiance to tyranny.  This particular figure commemorates the hundred year anniversary of the Revolution.  In the days following the massacre, the free world once again rejected tyranny, and reaffirmed the promise of liberty.

Glory glory, Hallelujah! Watching the poignant coverage, I began to wonder about free speech here in these United States. Gerard Biard, Charlie Hebdu’s new editor-in-chief, was also critical of American broadcasters’ decision not to show the caricature.  He pointed to the way that totalitarianism follows censorship when religion is inserted into politics.  Moreover, he argued that in declining to publish the cover, American broadcasters’ were diluting democracy in what amounted to an insult to the citizenship.  Ouch.  How limp is free speech in America?

Symbolism perhaps is a bit in your face, and I’ve tried my best to control that as best I can as I’ve grown older and thought that one could approach something with a little more subtlety. – John Schlesinger

If the networks didn’t show the cover, it was available to anyone connected to the internet.  The cover of this magazine, sought by millions, depicting the prophet Mohammed with the words Je Suis Charlie is disrespectful on so many levels. It’s small wonder that the publication was close to bankruptcy.  The prophet Mohammed appears as a silly cartoon character, and supporter of the disrespectful provocateur Charlie Hebdu, who routinely mocks Muslims. Ironically, repulsive Islamophobic content has translated to rousing symbolism.
originally found at


While the free world reaffirmed liberty as a sacred value, Muslim communities condemned the profanity that free speech condones. Richard Engel, chief-foreign correspondent for NBC news, reported that Je Suis Charlie was interpreted as I am with those who ridicule the prophet Mohammed.  The protests supporting Charlie Hebdu, and the backlash in many Muslim communities insulted by the cover, along with the massive support for the magazine, exemplifies how easily the sacred and the profane are confused.  Freedom of expression may be more valuable than ever.  Yet, this coveted right is irrelevant to many who agonize over the perceived profanity aimed at the sacred prophet.

A viewer likely won’t pause to make this difference upon seeing a provocative image.  Incendiary pictures intentionally push buttons, and provoke angry responses.  Americans have had to be deliberative in recent years.  When feelings run high, decisions have been made out of emotion, rather than reason, thereby escalating tensions in battles that cannot be won.  In retrospect, I disagree with Charlie Hebdu’s new editor-in-chief who declared that the failure of American broadcasters’ to report the iconic cartoon cover  is a blow to democracy.  Silence is another agency of free speech, and sometimes, it’s in the interest of liberty to remain silent.