SchoolArts Magazine

MAR 2019

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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34 MARCH 2019 SchoolArts L O O K I N G & L E A R N I N G ARTIST Q&A SchoolArts: When did you first realize that art was what you were born to do? Eric Wong: I think it was when I believed that artistic endeavors can have a positive impact on the urban environ - ment—which eventually led to the study of architecture. SA: What are some of the biggest influences on your work, including other artists, events, or things outside of the arts? EW: Graphic influences largely depend on the premise of the design thesis. Specifically for the project Cohesion, which suggests a blueprint for the United Kingdom, inspiration was borrowed from famous British creatives who depicted romanticized and alternative urban utopias. The spirit of W. Heath Robinson's absurd yet insightful inventions and his ingenious sense of wit helped to inform the graphic setting and design endeavor in this specific proposal. Color influences come from a variety of disciplines from cinematography, graphic novels, illustrations, paintings, and photographers. Chris Doyle, Wes Anderson, L.S. Lowry, and Henrik Spohler utilize color in very specific and differ- ent ways. The use of color thus became a tool to influence and develop my architecture and design thesis. SA: What is a typical work week like for you? EW: I work in a large architectural practice four days a week, teach undergraduate university students in architec- ture one day a week, and come up with the next big idea and draw during evenings! SA: Do you have specific strategies, rituals, or routines that help you and/or generate ideas? EW: I sketch out the initial idea before the day really starts, regardless of how impossible, absurd, or silly it may seem, then commit to drawing it up! A realized and considered body of work is always better than an unreal - ized discarded idea. SA: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself as an emerging artist? EW: Don't be afraid to make mistakes or fail. SA: Please tell us more about the themes in your work. EW: The Rockefeller Foundation has tasked 100 cities, many of which are capital cities, to build greater resilience and a more inclusive economy. Cities are resilient when they are "united." Inspired by The Blazing World by Mar- garet Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, the 1666 novel follows a heroine who discovers a world where diversity and inventions work harmoniously together, the knowledge of which she would later transfer to save her homeland, the United Kingdom. The thesis employs this hypothetical premise to ask, "How can Britain be a truly united kingdom?" and "What is the reimagined role of capital cities to suggest new urban cohesive typologies?" Cohesion, the new capital city of the United Kingdom, is located at the center of the Brit - ish Isles—the Isle of Man. It is the speculative driver and investigative model to cultivate accessibility, green sus - tainability, and compassion. The narrative aims to reunite an arguably broken Britain in the twenty-first century, providing for the disenfranchised generation within the UK and the increasing dislocated global communities. While the UK's Parliament performs as the head of foreign poli - cies, the Queen is the champion of national unity. SA: What advice do you have for art students who are interested in depicting cities or architecture? EW: Dream big, be decisive, consider elements of the impos- sible/fantastical, and most importantly, have fun! DISCUSSION Introduce students to Eric Wong's Cohesion designs. Discuss the concept of utopia, and how Wong's concepts are designed to improve life in the UK. Compare Wong's work with images of the Isle of Man and London from Google Earth or an interactive online map, and ask students to identify the differences and fantastical elements of Wong's imagery. Ask: • How do you think these designs might improve life for people in the United Kingdom? • If you were to design your own version of utopia, what things might you include? What problems would you try to solve? STUDIO EXPERIENCES • Imagine a perfect world. What would the buildings look like? What materials would they be made of? Design the inside and outside of a futuristic building. • Design a building that solves one of the problems you encounter in everyday life. Start with several sketches before moving on to the media of your choice. • Use a 3D design program to create a neighborhood or series of buildings. • Consider the architectural designs in your community. Is there an area badly in need of a new design, such as an intersection that is always jammed with traf - fic, neglected buildings, or a bridge that needs repair? Design a solution and present it to the mayor or town planning office. • Design your own version of utopia. In your sketch - book, begin by brainstorming a list of things you plan to include and problems that will be solved in your utopia. Then consider architectural styles or move - ments that appeal to you: How can you combine them in interesting ways? How can your designs solve prob - lems? What materials will work best for your ideas? After spending some time thinking, sketching, and planning, create a 2D design or 3D model using the materials of your choice. Written by Karl Cole, Art Historian and Curator of Images at Davis Publications and Robb Sandagata, Digital Curriculum Director and Editor at Davis Publications.

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