Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Vishnu and The Raven

Julius Robert Oppenheimer's Dream

A "dream raven" is a symbol of fear, death, and the dark unknown. It represents things that you would rather not hear about.
Dreaming of a raven suggests that you are not afraid to face the unknown or to find answers in places that may frighten you. It signifies your capacity to be strong and courageous during tough times.
Ravens in a dream may also act as messenger, telling you to pay closer attention to something that is happening in your waking life, or that you must bring a project or relationship to a close before you can begin a new one. In Norse Mythology, the twin ravens Huginn and Muninn were messengers for Odin and flew worldwide discovering knowledge and secrets and reporting them to Odin.

Julius Robert Oppenheimer 4/22/1904 - 2/18/1967
Julius Robert Oppenheimer is often referred to as the "Father Of The Atomic Bomb". During World War II he was the head of the top secret Manhattan project which lead to the first A-Bomb. Oppenheimer was Jewish, he had hoped to use the bomb on the Nazi, but it was developed after Germany surrendered. It was used on Japan instead. Oppenheimer talked to President Truman, penitent about the "blood on his hands".
Oppenheimer regretted his achievement later in life
 "If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of the nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people of this world must unite or they will perish." Eventually he saw the "Bomb" as a cure for war, believing that it would make war obsolete.  After Russia obtained the bomb he compared the US and USSR as two scorpions in a jar, doomed to destroy each other. He spent his last years regretting his invention. Oppenheimer’s continuing quest for wisdom led him far beyond the confines of modern science and he studied Sanskrit as well as philosophy and all world religions, finding comfort in Hinduism.  
detonation over Nagasaki
 Believe it or not the idea for this print came to me in a dream. Raven has a dual role as bringer of both death and life. I  wanted to do a print about the A-Bomb and could not figure out how to work it out. My dream supplied the answer, merge Oppenheimer with Odin and have raven whispered his message in his ear.

Robert Oppenheimer was napping. He had been struggling with the problem of nuclear fission. He had dreamed that a large raven appeared and perched upon his shoulder. It murmured into his ear “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” and flew away. He awoke and was baffled by the words and their meaning.
He continued his work which culminated with the horrific blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending history’s most violent conflict. Years later, filled with remorse, he was reading a sacred Hindu text Bhagavad-Gita written in 500 BC. There, in chapter 11, verse 32 were the words once whispered to him in a dream.
The purpose of the ravens visit became clear. In 1965, when he was interviewed about the explosive power of their new weapon he said:

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
I suppose we all thought that one way or another.”

Oppenheimer quote on Youtube

“Vishnu’s Reincarnation as Raven”.
 Intaglio etching 5" x 7" 2011, $40

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2017 Artist of the Year

I received a regional honor!



The Seminole County Board of County Commissioners, in association with the Seminole Cultural Arts Council (SCAC), recognized SSC’s Laurence Vienneau as Seminole County 2017 ARTIST OF THE YEAR.  

The award and resolution were presented to Professor Vienneau at the regularly scheduled morning meeting of the Seminole County Board of County Commissioners on May 23rd in Commission Chambers in Sanford.

Each year, the County Commission and SCAC jointly select an individual (performer, visual artist, historian or author) who is a resident of Seminole County and has contributed time and talent for the enrichment of Seminole County.  Laurence Vienneau was chosen for his dedication to teaching budding artists, promoting the arts in our community, and helping revive interest in an art form which was in danger of disappearing from the Florida art scene.

Professor Vienneau, who has been with Seminole State College since 2008 as an instructor in printmaking at the Center for Fine & Performing Arts, saw the need in 2015 for an organization focused on printmaking, where emerging artists could exchange ideas and produce artwork for exhibit both locally and nationally, and so established The Seminole County Society of Printmakers. Printmaking, which began during the Renaissance and includes etching, engraving, woodcuts, lithography and silk screening, almost became a lot art due to the introduction of personal computers and printers. Laurence Vienneau has helped spur renewed interest and has educated students, local artists, college faculty and the public in printmaking. The Society he founded has a broad, inclusive membership, works with artist associations and SSC, and participates in many Lake Mary and Sanford arts events.  

Addressing the County Commissioners

I am always the shortest one

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Unkind Conversation

The gathering of Ravens is called an “Unkindness”

The origin of that name is associated with conspiracy. The raven is a vocal virtuoso. The world’s largest song bird, raven blends a unique rendition of clicks, yelps, trills, thumps, chucks, trumpets and rattles repeated perhaps to emphasize an important message, but its vocal variety is what distinguished the raven’s language from all the animal kingdom except Man. Some signal common dangers or opportunities while others are mimics, such as a dripping noise, perhaps interpretations by a raven composer as she listened to sea shells clink against pebbles in the tide. They can hold intense conversation and also seem to vocalize for the sheer joy of expression. Caesar Augustus owned ravens that announced his as “our victorious commander”, the ravens in the Tower of London have been speak to tourists for years, and YouTube is full of videos of speaking ravens, the most articulate of avian conversationalist.

From Gifts of the Crow by John Marzluff Ph.D., Tony Angell:
“Talking crows reveal a part of their cognitive lives. To talk, crows must be able to form and replay memories. They confront the immediate with memory of the past. They dream. While we don’t claim that speaking crows really grasp the complexity of human language, they use our words to get what they want, which is remarkable. That a crow will learn and use a human trick reinforces the depth to which our species are intertwined. Crows manipulate, deceive, play, and converse with other species. They anticipate rewards and, to reap them, devise and carry out plans. When we overhear crows singing softly to themselves, we wonder if they derive pleasure simply by listening to the sounds they can make. So much of what we hear from crows or ravens is inexplicable. They ring like bells, drip like water, and have precise rhythm. They sing alone or in great symphonies. Some of their noise could be music.” (Copyright 2012 Free Press)

This is a series of large Linoleum Relief prints, one and a half foot square.

Relief printmaking is the the oldest form of printing and was invented by the Chinese.
A traditional woodcut is done by taking a plank of wood or sheet of veneer, oiling the surface with linseed and then dried. After the wood has been seasoned the image is carved directly into the surface with carving tools. When the image is printed a sheet of paper is laid over the block and it is either sent through a light pressure press or it is hand rubbed with a wooden spoon or barren. The process is repeated several times to create an edition the number of prints.

Linoleum was invented in the late 19th century and many artists prefer it to wood because it is easier to carve.
I had assigned my printmaking students a relief print project and they had infinite reasons for their plates NOT to be finished. So I challenged them. I said I bet I can do six feet of plates over "Spring Break". I spent 15 hours on each plate and had them finished and printed during break. 
My students lost the bet.
Cutting the Linoleum plate
one can never have enough carving tools
three finished, one more to go!

 These plates are handmade and hand printed. The image is 18 inch by 18 inch and the paper size is 24 inch by 24 inch.

"Unkind Conversations", Number 1, Relief print. 18” x 18” on Thai Kaso Paper. 2014 by Larry Vienneau

"Unkind Conversations", Number 2, Relief print. 18” x 18” on Thai Kaso Paper. 2014 by Larry Vienneau

"Unkind Conversations", Number 3, Relief print. 18” x 18” on Thai Kaso Paper. 2014 by Larry Vienneau

"Unkind Conversations", Number 4, Relief print. 18” x 18” on Thai Kaso Paper. 2014 by Larry Vienneau