Art Writing and Criticism

Words | and | Images

What is it about the construction of the human mind that makes the interplay of words and images seem, despite innumerable historical and regional variations, to be something like a cultural universal?

~ W.J.T. Mitchell, Word and Image essay from Critical Terms for Art History

At the moment, I’m taking a Voice and Vision class at the San Francisco Art Institute through the Continuing Education program. We’re learning how to incorporate text and words within our work. It’s pretty difficult to make something that looks effortless and not contrived. Well, for me, this is the case. Seriously.

One of my favorite artists is Travis Somerville. We study his work quite a bit. I’m absolutely enamored by his technical skills and concepts. I had the opportunity to meet and talk to him early this year. What a night but I digress. Looking at his work, a lot of what he does is convey his understanding and experiences of the South and its history and culture. Still, you can’t fight the feeling of wanting to do what you think people want to see. He doesn’t do that. He just produces and it’s always some of the amazing stuff I’ve ever seen. Yes, I am an art writer but making art helps me understand the creative process. Overall, the class has been enlightening and rewarding. I’m one of those artists that can’t escape words and I’m starting to accept that fact. I’ve got more of an illustrative style and THAT is okay.

By Dorothy R. Santos

Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina American writer, artist, and educator whose academic and research interests include feminist media histories, critical medical anthropology, technology, race, and ethics. She is a Ph.D. student in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow. She received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts and holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Her work as been exhibited at Ars Electronica, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the GLBT Historical Society.

Her writing appears in art21, Art in America, Ars Technica, Hyperallergic, Rhizome, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA’s Open Space. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is a co-founder of REFRESH, a politically-engaged art and curatorial collective and serves as the Executive Director for the Processing Foundation.

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