Auerbach Lecture: Nancy Stahl & Zina Saunders
Yesterday I sat in on one of the best Auerbach lectures I’ve attended to date. Granted I was excited from the get go because these are artists in the field in which I am pursuing a career. Also my department professors are the one’s who invited them up and I completely trust their judgment.
Nancy Stahl presented first, and once she got over the horror of the image quality from the projector, her lecture was full of little jokes and impressive pieces. She got her fair share of “oohs”s and “oh!”s while she went through her gallery of work as we recognized pieces found on butter containers and postage stamps. One of her stamps has been printed 8 billion times. Dennis Nolan pointed out that means every single person on Earth could have one if they were handed out. That’s pretty crazy considering an illustrator wants to have their work out to as many people as possible. In most cases it’s not a limited edition scenario. It was comforting to know that Nancy’s style has changed and grown with her. So often we (at the art school) get hung up of the idea that we need to establish a style so as to be known for it. Meanwhile, many of us, I dare say most of us, aren’t ready to commit to anything, especially not a fabricated style. So her showing us a retrospective of her work since her college days that ranged from colored pencil to knitting was really uplifting.
Then Zina Saunders took the stage. I have sat in on many, many, artist talks, lectures, demos, and speeches and have found that most deeply visual people are not the best or most engaging speakers on the planet; but damn does this chick have stage presence. Instant captivation by her prevalent NY-I’ll-kick-your-ass accent and the energy behind her stories. Not only was she loud, funny and in your face, but she got serious and teary eyed when appropriate. You can tell that she is deep, yet transparent with her emotions, with a full range of feelings that will take you with her as she jokes about borderline deranged Manhattanites who convince her to teeter across pipelines 12 stories up to examine their rooftop beehives, to biting your lip to hold back tears as she tells of AIDS orphaned woman run bicycle teams across the globe in Africa. Her illustrations mirror her colorful lifestyle in a somewhat painterly style, but the main attraction of her pieces always go back to the story. Whether it’s a subway musician or Sarah Palin riding a T-Rex, you can’t help but take a minute to smile.
So yes super grateful that the Illustration Department got these two F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) professors to leave their busy Manhattan lives to come speak, inspire and entertain us for an afternoon.