A while back our very own Laura Cohen had an exhibition of some of her work at Buffalo Exchange on Valencia and 23rd. She asked me to make the labels for the 10 pieces she had, and I happily obliged. I always enjoy making things based on pre-existing art, objects, and concepts. Rather than act as restrictions, boundaries and parameters more often than not help guide and allow me to more easily explore different possibilities. This is true whether what I'm making is also art, or a design of some other sort.
A visitor to the DeYoung Museum once told me that making art based on other art is termed 'ekphrastic'. Researching the word only leads to dense explanations of the philosophical and historical background of 'ekphrasis'. Whatever the correct terminology is, I prefer to look at it as simply collaboration. People coming together, sharing their respective skills, talents, and perspectives to add to the collective knowledge and repository of cool things in this world.
Laura's photos, along with the labels I made, were on display at the launch reception last June so you may have gotten an up close glimpse there. The labels were first sketched out by hand, then traced onto wood panels using carbon paper, and finally burned in with a wood burning pen. The designs themselves were based on the stylized geometric patterns and the overall feel of each photo.
In these contemporary times, there are few unexplored platforms for artistry and expression, and labels remain one of them. It remains a mystery why more museums and galleries don't take the opportunity to get creative with their labels. Perhaps a movement is brewing?
- Colin Wang