Chinati and MISD’s ‘Project 22’ to open next Thursday

Photo by Molly Bondy / Chinati Foundation MISD eighth grade art students, Ava Lola Flores and Kayla Vasquez, painting their final compositions onto plywood.

MARFA –– A series of emotive paintings offer a glimpse into the lives of Marfa ISD students in Project 22, an art show on view this Thursday, May 12, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Arena at Chinati Foundation. 

The skeleton of a hybrid creature, part-man-part eagle, gracefully lands next to Donald Judd’s 15 untitled works in concrete. Meanwhile, a young woman with electric blue hair enters a realm of kaleidoscopic patterns. Further on, a Marfa sophomore is “literally just vibing” and another transforms into Shrek. These are just a few of the uncanny portraits produced this spring by eighth-12th grade artists in Chinati’s annual partnership with Marfa ISD’s high school art teacher, Adele Powers. For Project 22, students undertook a multi-step process that culminated in painting graphic-style compositions on plywood. 

At the project’s start, these young artists visited Chinati to view paintings by John Wesley and consider his use of found imagery and graphic-style painting. The following week, the students gathered at the Ayn Foundation to contemplate Andy Warhol’s Last Supper canvases and further explore ways an artist may alter and claim imagery they did not originally make.

With Wesley and Warhol as an entry point, students began composing their own artworks by collaging together self-referential and found imagery. From homages to friendships to wackadoo composite creatures, they explored themes of identity, humor, emotion and fantasy.  

Next, each collage was photographed and digitally processed into hi-contrast black and white images printed onto transparencies. Setting up in Hunter Gym, students projected their transparencies onto wood panels and carefully traced them with pencil. For the final iteration of this project, students painted in their tracings –– ignoring, editing out, and sometimes adding to their compositions. 

To view these remarkable artworks and celebrate the achievements of these talented young artists, please join Chinati and Marfa ISD on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Arena (Chinati Foundation, 1 Cavalry Row, Marfa, TX, 79843). Students will share their favorite playlists and there will be free ice cream.