Back to the Drawing Board: Jarrett Key

A mark is a first step to achieving any great masterpiece. Artists achieve marks traditionally with brushes, pencils, pens, or even scraping a surface with a palette knife. What happens when an artist rejects established modes of production in order to satisfy their own vision for a work? Jarrett Key (RISD MFA 2020 Painting) leads this mark making workshop inspired by Ed Clark's brush paintings.

Participants learn about Clark and Key's individual creative processes and then have the chance to get their hands dirty! Everyone is encouraged to grab any kind of paper and tools around the house to make your own works of art. Many objects can make a mark, such as toothbrushes, nail polish, dish towels combined with anything that can stain paper – mustard, homemade paint, coffee or shaving foam. Get creative and explore how everyday objects can make extraordinary art.

Recorded on 7.30.20

Jarrett Key grew up in rural Alabama "to the echoes of my grandmother singing, ‘your hair is your strength.’” In the tradition of Southern old-time religion, her words reference Judges 16:17 in the Bible. Yet Key’s grandmother couldn’t read so Key sought to memorialize their family’s history and oral traditions in ways that don’t require high levels of literacy. Key’s Hair Painting series marries performance and visual art through codified movement, tempera paint and a ponytail, straightened with a hot comb. This literal “hairbrush” transcribes the movements and gestures of the embodied tool. Each mark on the canvas is a signature of identity, a relic of performance.

Edward Clark (1926-2019) is best known for his “push-broom technique” in which he used a household broom, occasionally guided by wooden tracks, to cover a canvas in sweeping strokes of color. Clark was drawn to this kind of nontraditional practice after living in Paris in the early 1950s, where he abandoned representational imagery for the creative freedom of the abstract expressionist movement. He has also been credited as one of the first artists to use shaped canvases.