Julie Chen workshop: Day 1

Today was the first day of Julie Chen‘s workshop – Artists’ Books: Ideas, Actions, & Transformations – at the Garage Annex School. I am such a geek. I got a seat right up front. The class of 12 was made up entirely of women, which I find curious.

Julie didn’t look as I had imagined, although I couldn’t really tell you what my vision was. Once the class started though, I was satisfied that she did, in fact, look like she should.

Our first exercise involved the expression of an emotion. We selected a piece of paper with three emotions on it and had to choose one. We then carved a rubber block to represent that emotion using shape and pattern. When finished, we were given 14 cards and had to print our image in the color of our choice, using orientation and position on the card as a way to further convey our chosen emotion.

I had anxiety.

I mean I chose anxiety for my emotion.

In fact, I had anxiety about representing anxiety in a visual manner.

Handmade stamped cards by Elissa Campbell

We then swapped prints with everyone else in the class. We were given a list of all the emotions and had to decide which emotion they were trying to express. Surprisingly, most people seemed to think that I was expressing surprise. It made me anxious.

Then we got back all of the images we had made guesses on. After seeing what the correct emotions were, we were asked to alter the images so that they better reflected how we saw that emotion. I immediately felt my art therapy background come blazing through my brain – how could I tell someone how to better express an emotion? Nonetheless, it was interesting to get everyone’s feedback at the end, when we received our original prints back.

I received a comment that my representation of anxiety was too controlled. It’s my classic response to anxiety – I clamp down and structure structure structure.

The next exercise involved creating a personal timeline. We used a stencil technique called pochoir, which I have already forgotten how to pronounce, so don’t ask me to do it.

Artwork by Elissa Campbell

We didn’t need to share the details of the timeline with anyone else – it only had to have personal significance. The timeline had to include the following elements:

  1. At least one line to represent the passage of time.
  2. Events should be in chronological order.
  3. At least one image of a traumatic event.
  4. At least one image of a joyful occasion.
  5. Use as much of the paper as possible, with little white space in the margins.
  6. No representational imagery, but use an inner logic.

The kicker – we would be using this timeline later in the workshop, but weren’t told how it would be used.

Here comes that anxiety again.

5 Responses to “Julie Chen workshop: Day 1”

By Hilary - 8 July 2008 Reply

Gosh, that does sound a scary workshop – I would definitely be anxious if I were there! (btw you pronounce pochoir – poshwar). I am just new to your blog and look forward to browsing the archives as well as reading new posts – sounds like we have a lot in common, well, mainly a love of paper!!

By elissa - 8 July 2008 Reply

Hi Hilary,

Welcome! Thanks for the pronunciation lesson – I need to remember how to talk about that pochoir technique because I really enjoy it (we did more of it today).


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