National Endowment for the Arts Grant 2023

On October 10th, 2022, I was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant through the Sacramento Office of Arts & Culture.

The work carried out as part of the creation pathway for this NEA grant is two-fold, incorporating both the creation of art and the production of accessibility features. Art creation will produce twelve large-scale (24 x 36″ | 91.4 x 60.96cm) “oversized” 2-dimensional archival pigment prints on photo rag paper mounted to aluminum panels. Incorporating accessibility features into two-dimensional artwork is an emerging field and will be essential to allowing community members of diverse abilities to experience the work.

I’m dedicated to my art, putting in the daily grind to hone my craft. It’s a tribute to my spirit and a statement to the endless imagination of humanity. I don’t discriminate; bring on the canvas, camera, or chisel. My pursuit reveals my inner self and roots me in reality. I aim to make something lasting that sparks the soul and intellect of all people.

This page will serve as a visual journal and will document my grant process and progress through 2023. 

Our story begins in Mexico City. 

October was a big month for me. I was awarded the NEA grant and I had two shows in Mexico City, one group and a solo. See the work from these exhibitions here. Sadly, on October 31, before the group show’s closing, I terminated my professional and business relationship with PRPG, Michael Swank, and their residency. PGRP changed its name in 6 weeks (December 2022) to Art Gallery Studios. After my departure from PRPG (Art Gallery Studios) opportunities and invitations to show my work in Mexico City extended my stay by five weeks. I was delighted to attend these events in person and continue to meet the many memorable and stimulating people who make up the art community in Mexico City. 

November arrived and through the magical luck of Mexico City and artist Helana Gonzelles, I fell into a residency opportunity in the Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood. Before my trip to Mexico, I planned to work in a print studio but did not know which print studio I would be using. I made a handful of 13×19″ (33×48.2cm) archival pigment prints for experimentation. Using my visual impairment as a template, I began using the mono printing process to make color marks on the photographic prints. I used colorful and romantic interpretations of what I saw. Romancing the darkness, I use imaginative melancholy play to mood alter the truth and reality that my precious sight, my love, is forever changed. 

Photographic artwork: pictured a pastoral landscape dotted with trees on a bright blue sky with huge billowy white clouds. A layer of orange, red and yellow wash of color moves horizontally across the entire image.  Photographic artwork: pictured a coca coloa advertisement of a man and a woman in profile looking into to each others eyes. A white and pink wash of color moves horizontally across the entire image. Obscuring the top half of their heads.  Photographic artwork: pictured a white slatted wall with a shop window. In the shop window a large poster of a woman in a bikini. A red magenta wash of color moves horizontally across the entire image. The poster is not obscured.

The tranquil location and peacefulness of the living and studio space allowed me to create work, formulate various ideas and be alone with my thoughts for hours each day. After breakfast, most days, I would head outside for a walk. As a neurodivergent person, getting out helps to clear and calm my mind, access hidden pictures, and find ways of accomplishing work not yet realized. Walking is a significant aspect of my art practice.

December was cold, rainy, and full of discovery. The weather and other reasons left me housebound for half of the month. This gave me time to research materials and formulate ideas. I began pouring over the notes I made over the last year while traveling through Italy and during my many trips to Mexico City. I found using different techniques of obscuring the photograph beneficial. After review, the work created in Mexico City, and moving forward with this project, need to be more photographic or sight-based. I researched and found acetate materials to mark up with inks and shoot through. After many failures, I hit on something and a merterial that worked and gave a look to the images I imagined / pre-visualized. 

Doug Winter photographing nature through an acetate sleeve marked with red ink. Doug Winter photographing nature through an acetate sleeve marked with red ink.  Tree branches without leave against a plan blue sky. Dots and blobs of red and pink inks dot the entire image.

It was a very successful exercise. In the comp book you will read, “The placement should be inspired, perhaps pulling colors on matte acrylic.” 

January brought destruction to our northern California region through severe weather conditions. The high winds fell large trees and power lines all over the city, leaving many trapped in their homes without power. As the New Year begins, I continue to look back through my composition book and read my cracked-up cursive writing. The pages bookmark memories of the many places I traversed in 2022.

wildfire with smoke orang, white and grey smoke obscuring the roadway on a bright sunny day, bits of blue sky can be seen through the smoke Composition notebook page with a pcolor photograph showing an italian alley with a painting of the wall of a girl religious saint holding a bucket. Obscuring the image is a white scribbling of paint.

I found the first experiments of this project. I made these images in Catania, Italy in June 2022. The wildfire image replicates the visual impairment in my right eye. I used white oil pastel in the second image to replicate my visual impairment. I taped it into my comp book on June 8th. The photos were printed using a mail center with a printer they used for passport photographs, but it was Italy, so the quality is superb. I will take time to thank myself for consistently making entries into my comp book. The ADHD rages as I write this, so consistency is rare and needs to be acknowledged. Good work!!

Housebound due to crazy weather, I’m reading books about color and trying to construct a visual language combining mixed colors with nature scapes. These colors make up and romanticize my visual impairment. When making photographs or using a machine (camera) to make my artwork, I have an existing color palette in the form of the picture I make with the camera, which is an extension of myself. I use this to construct and communicate my inner perspective. Yes, I utilize software to create slight adjustments in the final image using the existing colors of the photograph. But I have insecurity when mixing pigments of inks/paints by hand to overlay on a photograph or put in front of the lens to capture a scene. So I hit the books to learn and practice on my own. It’s a fascinating investigation of the color story and within myself as an artist.  

I started to use the Polaroid Lab in new ways too, making images with external objects over the film plane of the Polaroid lab. I used magenta and other filtration to create obstructions in the beautiful painterly image of the polaroid. I’m working daily on obstructions and replicating impairments, visual barriers on imagery. 

Polaroid of a landscape on a sunny day. Rolling green hills, blue sky and white puffy clouds with a stip of magenta color across the middle of the image.Polaroid of a landscape on a sunny day. Rolling green hills, blue sky and white puffy clouds with a stip of magenta color across the middle of the image.

January,23. I experimented with a new technique for capturing images – painting directly onto the camera sensor and shooting without a lens, using my fingertips and the “Bulb” setting on an old Canon 5D. I pressed the shutter, opened the camera mirror to reveal the sensor, and applied a small amount of burnt umber gouache to the bottom middle area of the sensor. I made horizontal movements to create a mark similar to my visual impairment. I also made images with the lens on the camera and then removed the lens to see the sensor painting. With the lens removed from the camera, I shot the image at a fast shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second. What is seen in this image is very close to my visual impairment. These experiments lasted weeks. I will post more images soon so you can discover the process or image making.

abstract image with colors of blue burnt organs and magenta. A swath of color floats i the middle of the image, a magenta square of color and a blue square of color are small in size and are at the top and bottom of the image.

However, when I loaded the old CF card into the card reader, the photo files did not appear. I successfully used file recovery software to bring the images back from oblivion. I found an image to edit in Photoshop. Unfortunately, when I opened the image in Photoshop, the file corrupted, and two small squares of color – a magenta square at the top middle left of the image and a smaller blue square at the bottom left middle. Despite this setback, I was delighted with the beautiful accident and planned to further explore this technique by attempting to alter the code with RAW camera files to corrupt more files as digital impairment. 

 

 

 

February is here already, I will be sharing with you as the month progresses. Including creating file corruption (altering code) of RAW images to replicate visual impairment.