FINALLY, Validation via Art Historian

Rodney Pygoya Chang, M.A., Ph.D.
On a remote Pacific island distant  from Mainstream Art

May 4, 2008 

     A satisfying feeling of validation has been bestowed to me.   Ingrid Kamerbeek, art colleague on the other side of the planet, sent good news to me today by email.  If not for her diligent monitoring of the infinite art cyberspace of the Internet, I would probably never have known what had occurred in February of this year.  What could be so wonderful to make me feel like Clint Eastward, with someone who did “make my day?”  In Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, at the 96th annual conference of the national College Art Association, was a formal presentation of my creative process!  By association and examples to illustrate the speaker’s description of my art making methodology, my art had to have been displayed through electronic projection.  This would also validate the artist’s works, as no creative process would get profiled at such a prestigious event without the art being judged to be great (or at least successful and original) as product.  The audience was distinguished college art instructors and professors of American universities and colleges. 

     As one of five presentations on innovation in contemporary printmaking, Monica Kjellmann-Chapin, professor of art history, presented Reproduction on Reverse: The Paradoxical Production of Pygoya.   I have not read the lecture notes, as it is not available on the Internet.  But from the title, I gather that it is about my process of “digital painting design.”  It entails a shocking, for most traditionalists, reversal of values in regards to art medium and the intent of the artist.  I work digitally to design and produce an original oil-on-canvas painting.   But the painting is only an intermediary step to get to the final product, which is an edition of archival quality digital giclee prints-on-canvas.  After the creation of the edition, the painting can be disposed or dumped as a collectible.   Bottom line, the painting is a reproduction of the original digital image!  Although the hand-crafted work is true to the original digital picture, now the print edition is a direct descendent of a medium accepted as "fine art."  Mind games yes; strange if not weird but logical - for an art market still stuck in the past century. 

      It is marvelous to know I have made a dent in the ivory tower of art academia.  After toiling, financially sacrificing, and being ignored for over two decades (including the local University of Hawaii art department and island art museums), it’s nice – especially as a Rodney (as in Dangerfield)-  to get some "respect."  I feel like the load (of self doubt and art medium prejudice) to prove myself has been lifted from my shoulders this fine day in Paradise.  To have a professor of art history proclaim one’s creative process and thoughts as significant to the culture-at-large, in front of a distinguished audience of college art professors, is so much more satisfying than selling the stuff.  I always, however, did believe that if one rises to fame as explorer of the aesthetic process (Ph.D., Art Psychology), one’s output – even the inferior works, would be coveted as collectibles.  In other words, then even the inferior/failures/crap sells along with the masterpieces.  What a wonderful – and profitable- day that would be.  The studio rent would always get paid!

    From the perspective of economics, my art process is an aesthetic manifestation of the new global economy.  It's cost effective for my digital creations to be outsourced for skilled human labor.  Then the high quality oil imports are scanned, number crunched back into a data pool of 1's and 0's, as preparation to be rematerialized to complete their final destination - as digital prints.  In essence, in this high tech-Internet cultural climate, the painting in my art process is sandwiched between digital means of personal expression.

     Academic discovery and notice of my life's work in art is a win for all digital artists.  It is an incremental contribution to the integration of digital art-making tools with the other more traditional means of visual human expression.


Reproductions or originals?      Photo courtesy of Richard Gessler., collector


The lecture was one of five for the symposium session entitled –

The Vernacular Print in Contemporary Art, chaired by Beauvais Lyons of the University of Tennessee

Thursday, February 21, 2008 2:30 PM–5:00 PM
Lone Star Ballroom A4, 2nd Floor, Adam's Mark Hotel

Archived sources from the Internet


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An artist-friend’s response-

  Congratulations.  I think I went to one of those but not to the lectures,
just the job hunting section where anybody could go.  It happened to be
close to where I was at the time.  It might still take a bit of time for
your recognition factor to filter down to art speculators buying your worst
works but who knows, you could have stepped onto that road.


Harvey, MFA, San Diego, CA 

 Online Sharing of this page - May 6, 2008

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