Uprise founder Tze Chun curated a mailing (#UAQ01) for Quarterly.co that features Uprise artist Chad Kouri and beautifully crafted objects from Public Supply. Continue reading Tze’s letter to subscribers below.
Dear Subscribers, I’ve always been fascinated by the interrelation of engineering and art-making—how both start with ideas that are realized through the technical act of building and a practical knowledge of materials.
When I was little, I thought my mother gave me the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” (Dr. Betty Edwards’ book hit the New York Times Bestseller List in 1979 and stayed there for over a year) because I was left- handed. To me, it was a special manual for children who knocked chopsticks with the person next to them at the table. In reality, the book challenges left and right-handed readers alike to draw based on what they actually see, and to apply reason, thought and logic to the creative process of drawing.
Inside this mailing you will find a work of art to inspire your own artistic ideas, and tools to help you create them.
The Art: Shape and Color Studies by Chad Kouri. In 2011, I was introduced to Chad Kouri and instantly fell in love with his collages, custom typography, and “Photos That Should Be Paintings.” Chad is co-founder of the Chicago-based art and design incubator The Post Family and works in the gray area between “conceptual and minimalist art, ethnography, typography, design, and jazz.”
Your new artwork is from his Shape and Color Studies series. Most of the paper is from door knob hanger flyers, museum leaflets, prayer-book stock, placemats and a “doodle party” Chad had organized at the Post Family space a few years ago. These materials only exist because they are the excess of something else, and Chad is interested in bringing them back to life by giving them a real and physical purpose.
The Tools. The tools in this mailing are created by Public Supply. I couldn’t think of anything more fitting. Their social mission is to provide classrooms in cash-strapped public schools with the tools students need to do creative work. They’ve made a few items, all geared towards giving you everything you need to create art:
Spiroscope. Custom designed and laser cut in New York City specifically for this Quarterly mailing, these devices are an intersection of geometry, whimsy, and nostalgia. First designed in 1965 by British engineer Denys Fisher (this was shortly after he’d closed his engineering firm, which had been supplying springs and precision parts to NATO for its 20mm cannon, to open a toy company), the math terminology for what spirographs produce is “roulette curves.” (No lay terminology needed.) Included in this set are two nested plastic rings with gear teeth along both their inside and outside circumferences, as well as an assortment of discs with holes at different distances along their radii. So pick a ring, pick a disc, and spiral off into a beautiful oblivion.
Carpenter Pencil. Pencils with rectangular cross-sections actually predate the good old hexagonal ones—look it up. Carpenters prefer this style of pencil because they won’t roll off of inclined surfaces and are easier to perch on narrow spots like ladders. For artists, the rectangular graphite core allows for lines of different thicknesses to be drawn just by rotating it a little. You’ll need to sharpen this one yourself with a knife.
Public Supply Notebook and No. 2 Pencil. To take with you anywhere.
“Growing up I always understood an artwork to be something that inherently takes a lot of time to complete. I have always struggled with the idea of getting up and leaving a piece unfinished. So, rather than forcing myself to drag out a project, I’ve been doing the opposite: making as many pieces as I can in one sitting. These small compositions are examples of my ongoing experiments in shape and color.” –Chad Kouri
I have always struggled with the idea of getting up and leaving a piece unfinished. So, rather than forcing myself to drag out a project, I’ve been doing the opposite: making as many pieces as I can in one sitting. — Chad Kouri
I hope that with Chad’s work ethic in mind, and these wonderfully designed tools in hand, you will build your own experiments and find the scientific method to your artistic madness.
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