20 Drawings Project: Crit #2/Final Crit (ARTS 2332, SP 17 – Alex Robinson)


  1. Draw looking up while sitting under a tree
  2. Draw the negative space of the sky on black paper with silver for 5 min
  3. Draw positive space of the trees and branches on butcher paper with black for 5 min
  4. Cut the drawings out
  5. Sew them together

After the first critique for this project, I began branching out and creating a little more tension using the sewing machine, by stopping and lifting the string up with out cutting it, and then starting again somewhere else on the piece. I also began making them slight more dimensional or pop-uppy, but I was still timid about straying too far from the flat pieces I had made before.


However, after the second critique, I was forced to think about the other ways I could manipulate the paper I was using to further enforce the idea of two forms or images being forcefully made into one. Naturally, I began contorting the paper more and more as I went, creating more dimensional pieces that extended out into space. I decided to cut the brown paper larger than the black, and attempt to squish it down to fit with the sewing machine after cutting the two up.

This is a before photo showing the difference in size:

And the results started to look a lot more interesting:


So, I kept experimenting with the dimensional pieces and continued with the two differently sized papers, using the sewing more as a form of drawing and also a source of tension, which went along with my concept pretty well.

I ended up mixing up the flatter ones with the dimensional ones when I hung them for final critique, and I liked them side by side in a grid format, adding to the idea of restraint of the rectangular limits of the paper. Some of them weren’t exactly rectangular, but they still fit into the grid in my mind because of how involved I was in the process and how familiar I was with the pieces’ original orientations.


Overall, I learned how frustration and boredom and lead to pushing the limits of the constraints of the body of work, and I really enjoyed seeing the pieces transform as I discovered new things about myself and the way I think about making work. I’d want to experiment even more with installing fragile yet dimensional pieces like these, maybe layering them or hanging them in open space. I’d also like to try and make bigger versions of these and see how the medium or technique might change according to scale.


20 Drawings Project: Progress/Crit #1 (ARTS 2332 SP 17, Alex Robinson)


  1. Draw looking up while sitting under a tree
  2. Draw the negative space of the sky on black paper with silver for 5 min
  3. Draw positive space of the trees and branches on butcher paper with black for 5 min
  4. Cut the drawings out
  5. Sew them together



After the first 5 drawings, I was tired. The drawing while looking up became more like blind contour drawing as I was looking less at my paper and more up through the trees at the shapes and forms I was seeing. This was more automatic than I expected, which was kind of nice. But when it came to cutting, I realized how much conscious thinking and mental planning I had to do in order not to cut out the wrong parts. I ended up abandoning trying to hard to cut out he right parts and keep the paper all together in one piece. I tied to let the cutting be almost as automatic as the drawing, and focused less on whether I was doing it “right.”

I shared all of this in our first critique about the first 5 that I had made:

Questions that came up throughout critique:

What does a layer mean?

What is the complexity of the relationship between layers?

Are the objects on surface? Are objects revealing the surface, or being revealed through the surface?

What’s the purpose of sewing?

Could I spend less time drawing, and more time drawing with thread?

Why red thread? – scars, blood, visible

Why thread?


Answers and Ideas Going Forward:

I was asked to interrogate myself about the purpose of sewing. So I did:

I like the concept and aesthetic idea of utility. I like seeing the seams, the idea of seeing the inside on the outside, and the ability to see what is holding two things together. Because I am essentially mashing two images into one, even through they are technically two different components of the same image, the visibility of the stitch across the paper shows he part of the process in which I force the two components to become one. I am okay with the fact that zipping across the cut-outs with my sewing machine appears unnatural, as that reflects the inseparability of the negative and positive space, and the mental capacity it takes to draw each part independently. The sewing represents the inability to mentally separate them and portray them accurately.

A comment was made about flipping the pieces over so that the black is in front, which gives more of the silhouette look that I thought about prior to starting the project. The red stitching also stands out a lot more when the pen and silver marks are gone and not distracting from it. Facing the way they are in the photos above, they have more of a topographic association, and I like how the stitching looks like roads or rivers on a map, cutting through the land.

Going forward, I’m going to think more consciously about where and how I sew on the pieces, using the thread as another instrument of drawing rather than just an element that holds the pieces together. I also might play with dimension, and different cutting strategies that will hold the pieces together better on their own. I may also reverse the order and have the black sewn on top, depending on the piece.




SPLIT: Drawing II (ARTS 2332 SP17, Alex Robinson)


SPLIT is a process-oriented piece:

– I sat in front of two children’s tricycles, one pink and purple, and one red.

– I wrote for 15 minutes about what they made me think of. I wrote about how my dad used to ride a big wheel and race his friend Craig when they were little kids. They would race around the apartment complex, and meet on the other side, seeing who could get there first. My dad always left his tongue hanging out when he focused, so when they crashed into each other, his tongue ended up getting pinched between their handle bars, almost cutting his tongue in half.  

– I drew ten children’s tricycles on the same sheet of paper, overlapping one another and creating shapes, lines, and compositions through the abstractions my layered gesture drawings made.

– I did some research about tongues in relation to the writing I did while looking at the tricycles, looking at taste buds and the inside of lizard tongues, finding some really interesting textures and patterns. I liked the vascular aspect of the images I saw, and decided to get close up and create something scientific and organic. 

– I added and subtracted, using erasers and vine charcoal, which was pretty much the only medium I used throughout the process. Finding composition in the craziness I had created was interesting, as I wanted to find balance but had to create some that wasn’t there.

– I used the various layers of matter I had created to fill the composition appropriately, and balance the dark bottom right corner out with the darker pieces in the top left. I also fleshed out the bumpy texture with a touch of white pastel to give contrast and dimension. 


I’m always looking for ways to layer, which may mean flatting or giving objects dimension but not in a way that necessarily makes them identifiable. One thing that pleased me to hear in critique is that the content I created here was familiar, but still unidentifiable, fantastical, and kind of gross. I can see how the space within the frame is a little confusing, but I don’t know if I mind. I think it adds to the idea that we’re looking under a microscope.


The Fragile State of Things (Installation)

installation3  installation2


This installation is centered around the idea of memory and the information stored in the mind, using the concept of multiples as a visual communication. The wooden cabinet containing glass pieces is representative of the mind, as it is the most commonly and frequently accessed form of storage. Hanging from the inside of the cabinet to communicate fragility, the various glass pieces serve as memories and data which are constantly being influenced by the light coming through them and the dirt that has settled on their surfaces. Though this installation is meant to emulate my grandmother’s old china cabinet and collection of dishes within it, the transparency and suspension of the objects inside imply the fragility of memory and it’s tendency to be influenced by emotion and time. We rely so much on our ability to remember, though our brains are not the most credible resource and are susceptible to change.




Don’t Panic! (Writing Project 5 – ENGW 1302)

I’ve been using this blog in my visual studies and art courses this semester to log my reflections, inspirations, and record my ideas for various projects. This blog is intended to be an archive of information for me to look at in my future semesters and see how I’ve developed as a student and artist, so I felt that it was a sufficient medium for communicating with myself in the future. As an art major at St. Edward’s who’s always had an interest in creative writing and analyzing literature, I have always really liked my english classes. But now that I’m in college and it’s time to be all academic and professional about my work, I have different questions than I had at the beginning of the semester that I’m hoping my future experiences at St. Edward’s will answer for me. Since this is the last technical writing course I’ll be taking, my thoughts and concerns about writing have more to do with writing and research within the art major, and less with how to write for Rhetoric and Composition. I’ve learned a lot about writing this semester. I could probably give you a plethora of answers to the questions, “What are you even gonna use rhetoric for, anyway?” and “How do you write like an academic?” I’ve learned how to read academic writing, read about academic writing, think about academic writing, and I’m hopeful that I’ve learned how to write it. (Not 100% on that one, but we are our harshest critics, right?) I hope to find these answers at some point in my college career and be able to come back to this creative and reflective blog site to see the transformations I have made over time. So let’s get on with it! First, I’ll address myself.


Yo, Chlo! How do you find the gap in the conversation about the topic you plan to write about?

At the beginning of this class, I can remember feeling a little panicked when thinking about research and how it often felt like I was starting writing projects with nothing and with no direction. One of my questions in my Writng Project 1 was about how to start with nothing in the initial research process of a researched based writing project. I remember thinking that once I had a topic, I would be unsure of what direction to take as far as finding valuable sources and incorporating them into my project, along with the ideas I wanted to include. In our class this semester, we have used a variation of research tools and methods for gathering and organizing information. These have helped me realize that there is a strategy for research. Surprise! It begins with pre-search and finding out who my audience is for the writing I’m about to do. I learned how useful pre-search was in our Information Literacy Sessions because we had a set time in which we would explore our topic and find sources that would help us build credibility in saying what I had to say about writing in the arts. But even after the research process begins, its hard to know what information your audience needs that others haven’t already written about. When you sit down to research and get an idea of what others have said about the topic you’re interested in learning about, think about what kind of ethos you need to establish with your intended audience. There should always be a gap in order for your information to matter to your audience, it’s just a matter of exploring enough to know what that is and create a legit argument. This will lead you to the missing link that academic writing is meant to fulfill.



Now, for the questions I will need a little help answering:

Dr. Rodenborn, if I want to do a creative presentation for my honors thesis during my last semester at St. Edward’s, how would I incorporate evidence from my research and what kinds of writing would I need to accompany this project?

I know honors theses revolve around some sort of thesis. Duh! But the genres we saw presented in the honors symposium were really unique and related heavily to the student’s major and creative preference in presenting their information. The two presentations I saw at the Honors Thesis Symposium were plays, and each of these students could only present one scene from their play to their audience because of time constraints. This led to a time for the audience to ask questions to fill in the gaps of the play’s purpose and message. Despite the small exerpt they were able to show, it was obvious the writing they did for the project improved their ability to explain their topic and exigence, and communicate the information that their creative presentation couldn’t get across in that short period of time.

I’d like to be creative and use the knowledge about art and my particular interests that I’ve gained over my years at St. Ed’s in presenting my thesis. I’m wondering, when it comes time to propose my thesis and research, if I will have to do immense amounts of convincing, explaining, and establishing ethos in order for my thesis project to . I know this depends on my choice of medium for presenting my thesis and how well I communicate my purpose through that medium, I’d just like to know what the preparation process is like in terms of the kind of writing I will have to do so I can better prepare myself and choose my thesis wisely. I also know that it’s really early in the game to ask this, but I started thinking about it when I was preparing my final presentation for this class.

In my Writing Project 4, being an art student and gearing my genres toward fellow art majors, I wanted to communicate the role of writing in our major and various career paths in a very creative way that would resonate well with artistic minds. While I really enjoyed channeling my research and insights through creative mediums, it was really challenging to condense my information into genres that my audience would interact with only for a short period of time. I almost felt like they wouldn’t communicate sufficiently on their own, especially since they were more conceptual and needed a little more explaining. The fact that we had to do about the same amount of writing, in explaining and reflecting on our genres, as we did in the research paper for WP3, shows me now that I may have a lot of explaining to do if I choose a creative pathway for presenting my honors thesis. I’d like to know how intensive the writing has to be in comparison with the actual content of my presentation, and how would I effectively use my research in my final product.


Hey Visual Studies professors, what is considered “academic research” in the visual art major change and how does that change from project to project?

In my little bit of experience so far, the common view of the art major is that it is generally unassociated with academic writing and research. I quickly realized that this wasn’t true once I chose to write about the many uses for writing in the arts in my Writing Project 3. I talked about this in light of being a student artist working toward eventually being a professional in the creative field. The writing I have done for my art and design classes this semester has been mostly reflection blog posts, kind of like this one, and artist statements that we present when our work gets critiqued. In Writing Project 3, although it involved developing practice in the arts, it discussed how to create higher quality work and build artist identity through the strategy of writing reflectively. My point is, the writing I did about this topic was still about writing, and not just art, which meant the sources I found were written by academics in the visual studies field who conducted studies and used theoretical learning to help students in their creative processes. 

collage video

In constrast with this research process, is the little bit of extra research I conducted for my Writing Project 4 genres. One of the mediums I used for communicating my information about writing in visual art, was a layered collage. (I’ve provided a link if you’d like to check it out!) The research for this was really casual and didn’t feel very academic. I searched things like “educational collage” and “interactive collage” in Google images and found some examples that helped inform the creating of my own interactive and educational collage. I’m enrolled in a new class next semester, in which a group of art students will be creating an installation piece about the Holocaust for the Bullock Texas State History Museum here in Austin. When I was invited to enroll in the class, I was told that we’d be doing research about the Holocaust and the symbolism of butterflies commonly used for this time in history. In this course, and through this cool new experience, I would like to discover what true academic research means on the professional level in the arts, and if there should be any guidelines for sources or material that art majors use in their work. I’m not sure at this point if there is a definite line, in visual art, between academic research and just material that provides inspiration and concepts to help in creating impactful work. I’m wondering, for future personal and school related projects, how the research process translates over into other creative subjects besides writing.


This semester has been a whirlwind of theorizing and researching, but through the stress and sometimes painful amount of reading, thinking, and writing my butt off, I’m really glad I’ve come to realize that I am now a part of the academy. The work I’ve been doing from the beginning of the semester has built up to now, the very moment I am typing these words, in which I recognize how much I know, how much I don’t know, and how much I am seeking to learn. I have faith that my unique experiences here on the Hilltop in my courses and working with students and professors, will bring me to all of these answers, and I hope that there is room left for questions in my mind after every endeavor I encounter in my future St. Edward’s career. I’ll leave myself, and any anticipated readers of this blog, with the song that got me through Rhetoric & Composition II. Now that I’ve made it through this course, I can remind myself to always go back to the foundation and theory I’ve built around academic research and writing over the semester. Most importantly, I can remind myself, “DON’T PANIC!”



Blog Post #12

Kim Garza, the assistant professor in the department of graphic design, had some very interesting things to share with the class in our seminar. I liked how she expressed the openness and unending opportunities there are in design because it showed her true interest in it and I could tell she was passionate about her work. The film and music collaboration she has been creating with her husband is very inspiring to me because I am really interested in film and music as two separate genres, and together I think they have the power to create a really powerful art form.

Tammie Rubin’s work is vey unique and intriguing. I like how she said her roots, growing up in Chicago, influence the structure of her art. I am a really big fan of letting memories and the places you grew up show through in your work, so that was really inspiring and cool to see. The sculptures themselves are really funky and fun to look at, and seem delicately constructed despite the vivid color of each object.

I liked the psychological importance James Sheran, professor at UT, placed on photography and it’s ability to capture things that are overlooked. I was interested in the concept that people do things that they don’t even realize, that are second nature, but when those actions are photographed, viewers are forced to see them and recognize the things they do every day that they don’t think twice about.


Class Reflection

I personally really enjoyed this seminar. It was encouraging and enlightening, and kept me motivated to make work outside of my classes. I also got a cool perspective on the artist community in Austin and within St. Edward’s, which is encouraging to me because that means I am surrounded by people who know what they’re doing, and can help me figure out what I’m doing with my life and my education in visual art. It’s been real, y’all. Thanks for taking the time to help make us better students and shape us into more aware artists. Besides the time of the class (Monday afternoon), I don’t have any complaints about the quality of the course.



Blog Post #11

Part 1

I really enjoyed hearing each professor’s reason’s for creating art and getting to see samples of their work. Each had a different perspective that stemmed from their varied backgrounds and expertise, which made for an interesting mix of exigence, execution of ideas, and concept development. Bill and Hollis both had fairly conceptual ways of thinking and explaining their art work. I really liked what Hollis had to say about how memory is just a perception of reality, and it’s not always the truth. In the interest of preserving/representing things of the past, it made sense that most of the things we know about reality come from our own subjective memory. I thought that her way of portraying natural disasters and giving the aftermath meaning and direction was really fascinating because she literally constructed destruction by stringing objects together, along with the memories tied to them.

My favorite insight of Bill’s was that life is not linear. In his personal work, he let’s ideas guide him without thinking of things chronologically, which I found was a really freeing concept when it comes to making work. The work he began after he quit his commercial photography job had such a real and etherial quality to it, which showed how much artistic expression can be held back by doing more commercial work for so long. I really liked his ending statement, because he told us to find a way to love what we do so that we can stay connected to it, and to ourselves.

Juan’s presentation was different than the other two, mostly because his was more about design and a little bit of problem solving and processes. What I gathered from his work was that design is a really broad field of study and work, and so many things can be achieved through design elements and visual communication. The prototypes he showed reminded me that everything is a process, and that sometimes when things don’t work out, you are led to another idea or solution. Although Tuan designed a lot of different things for a broad array of purposes, there was a common aesthetic throughout his work that was representative of his style.


Part 2

After graduating from St. Ed’s with a degree in art, I would like to go to grad school and get a masters degree in something like industrial design or theatre design and stagecraft. I’d really like to be able to design sets for films and theaters, but also be able to build them. I have played with the idea of possible owning a set design company with some of my close artist/theater friends, but I think that would definitely be after the next five years. In order to get to that point, I’d want to build a really strong portfolio in my undergrad studies here to ensure I get into the best masters program for what I want to do.

As of now, I am really interested in learning how to vigorously prototype designs, and I am really excited to gain some basic building skills in the shelters project for Foundation Art & Design. I am going to take some technical theater classes here at St. Ed’s like Stage Craft and Lighting, as well as some film classes. I’ve been attending and volunteering for some film festivals and screenings, as well as interning with Jenn Hassin because I want to create a well rounded network of artists and creators that I can get experience working with and gain insight from. In five years, I’d like to be in grad school with a more specific idea of what I want to do, and how I’m going to use those resources to achieve my goals out side of the university.

Foundation Art & Design: Shelter Project

Horizontal Box Shelter

I wanted to build a shelter that provide both protection and comfort. A rectangular prism would be a very cost efficient structure to build, and would not require much complicated assembly skills. I wanted the walls to open as opposed to having a door so that there would be air flow and a way to experience nature while having a roof and shade overhead. One of the walls would lift upward for shade, while the other would fold open downward to provide a small sitting space or porch-like area. The 6 walls would be made of some kind of plywood because the material is light and would be easy for rope to life and hold in place.





In order to fit three people, the shelter would have to be roughly 5 x 4 x 4 which would require about 5 panels of 4 x 8 plywood, costing $10 each. Could possibly use found plywood to recede the cost, because there will be additional materials like rope and a few pulleys.

Blog Post #12-The Way Things Go

I was really fascinated with the Rube Goldberg effect of this video. I was really engaged as one thing led to the next and different events created surprising consequences that led to more unpredictable turns in the process. This video made me think of how narratives are often linear and someone on the outside might be able to clearly determine what direction it’s headed, but there is no way to know what lies directly ahead without being the person traveling through it. There is always an element of surprise, that poetry of change that was mentioned in the Beyond Time podcast, that creates a beautiful story made up of eclectic parts.

Specific parts of the constantly moving machine are sometimes destroyed in the process of moving forward, which I thought was really interesting concept, and contradictory to the idea that all moments exist for ever and cannot be destroyed after one person experiences them. In order to get to a certain point in a story or processes, there is often a letting go of the things that came before it so that progression and growth can occur. There is no going back and revising the stages in the past that have brought the timeline to where it is “now”, where or whenever “now” is. It reminded me of a time in middle school when two of my friends and I stayed up one night making a Rube Goldberg to enter into a contest the next day. We extremely underestimated the level of planning and design thinking it took to accomplish something so complex and directional. We found that the more we tested it for success, the more it began falling apart and eroding back into it’s original separate parts.


Blog Post #11-David Blaine


David Blaine’s attempt to hold his breath for 17 minutes underwater was actually really unsettling. As he described the way he felt at certain points of the performance, I began to feel light-headed myself just listening to the details of how much pain he was in.

What I did find interesting was how much physical preparation he had to do in order to complete this achievement. He really focused on the specific things he could do in order to  make this seemingly impossible feat a reality in front of thousands of people. Each little step he went through, like slowing down his heart rate, started in smaller increments of time, breathing exercises, and building up his red blood cell count, were all part of the journey he traveled through to do something that defies nature. He surpassed natural human functions in order to survive with nothing, not even air.

That’s really scary to think about, and makes me wonder how little humans will need in the future to live once people keep making discoveries and pushing the limits. David Blaine’s story shows that mental and physical hinderances can sometimes be overruled by determination and a strong sense of purpose.