Lucas Briffa was born and raised in Oakland, California. He received his BA in Visual Arts from Oberlin College in 2012 and is currently pursuing his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From 2012-2013 he spent one year working as a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of…
Check out this profile of artist Lucas Briffa OC ‘12!
The Real “47 Ronin” - The recently released 47 Ronin, a visually striking film but a critical and box office disappointment, is very loosely based on one of the most famous heroic tales from Japan, typically called Chūshingura 忠臣蔵 (“A Treasury of Loyal Vassals”). The many versions of the story were inspired by an historical event of the early eighteenth century. Forty-seven loyal samurai, rendered rōnin 浪人 (lit. “wave” or “wandering” persons, i.e. masterless samurai) by the unjust death of their lord, planned an elaborate revenge against the wicked lord who caused their master’s demise. Chūshingura has been retold and re-imagined in many forms, beginning with the amazing bunraku puppet theater, followed by kabuki theater, and of course many later film, television, manga, and anime versions. Not surprisingly, the story was also the basis for countless ukiyo-e wooblock prints in Early Modern Japan, and the vast AMAM collection provides us with an excellent example.
In this print by one of Japan’s best-known printmakers, Hiroshige, the forty-seven rōninmake their final assault on the mansion of their enemy. It is winter, and the white snow that covers the setting also makes the figures stand out in their complex and colorful armor. Both the tension of the moment and the narrative flow are enhanced by the dramatic diagonals: the line of men, the snow-encrusted pine branch, and the walls of the mansion. This movement is stopped in the lower left, however, by a moment of drama: the rōnin have cleverly prepared stalks of bamboo, bent and tied like bows. When one end is inserted in the top of a sliding wooden panel (used in Japanese traditional architecture both for security and insulation) and the other end secured on the ground, cutting the ropes with their swords causes the bamboo to spring apart and pop the panel out of its track, allowing the rōnin to burst unexpectedly into the interior. Of course if that hadn’t worked, the two rōnin with a giant axe and giant hammer (at the center of the line) might have come in handy.
To see other Chūshingura prints from the series by Hiroshige and others, search the AMAM eMuseum database by clicking here.
Although it is only in Japanese with no English subtitles, for a clip from a bunraku puppet theater performance of the scene just preceding the attack, click here.
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Breaking into Moronao’s Mansion During the Night Attack, Act 11, no. 2, from the series Chushingura, Mid-1830s
Color woodblock print
Mary A. Ainsworth Bequest, 1950.1078
LECTURE TODAY: Resisting Neoliberalism: Environmentalism and Imagery in Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests by Dr. Aksel Casson, Anthropologist from Slipper Rock University’s Middle East Studies Centre
Tuesday May 6 at 4.30 pm in Classroom I, Art Building
Should be super interesting!!
SIMMONS & BURKE
Case Simmons and Andrew Burke, known together by the moniker Simmons & Burke, have been collaborating since 2006 to create their multi-sensory collages, typically composed of visual and audio components. Simmons received his training at the San Francisco Art Institute while Burke studied at the Oberlin Conservatory and Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. Together, they scour the internet and collect images and sound clips, which they aggregate into overwhelming experiences. A collaged image might contain over 15,000 individual images, while an audio piece might be a multi-layered composition of fragmented sounds taken from recordings of the street, music, and television chatter. The artists have said that the overarching theme of this sensory overload is the contemporary state of the information age: “We like the idea of making a Frankensteinian world that is both overwhelming and quieting.”
Siri Swanson, Shiba Milan and Slick Sigsby at Oberlin College Drag Ball 2014.
Shout out to the James-Franco-as-Cindy-Sherman outfit
Please join us this week for the last First Thursday event of the academic year. This month, we will be holding the evening event at the Weltzheimer/Johnson House, located just a mile and a half from the center of campus.
Pradnya Martz will give a talk titled “Growing with the Times,” discussing the largely unrealized landscape plan that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Oberlin’s Usonian house. Martz has served as consulting curator for the house since 1998 and is an architect/project manager at Oberlin College. At the conclusion of her talk, Martz will lead a tour of the surrounding landscape and grounds.
The talk will begin at 5:30pm, and will be followed by a small reception.
The Weltzheimer/Johnson House is located at 534 Morgan Street. Please see the link for directions. If you are walking from campus, Walk south on South Professor St for a half mile. Turn right on Morgan Street, and continue for one mile. The house is located on the right side of the street, set back from the road. The walk will take about a half hour.
Five challenges, five weeks, hundreds of writers
In the 5 x 5 Series, we’re releasing one challenge open to a limited number of participants each week for five weeks in a row, every week highlighting a different genre of writing.
- 4/30 - Poetry
- 5/7 - Short Story
- 5/14 - Memoir
- 5/21 - Mystery
- 5/28 - Fiction
All of the books from this project will be digitized and added to our online Digital Library! Books from this project will also travel to Mobile Library events in the month of October 2014, and each will become part of the permanent collection at Brooklyn Art Library.
Keep checking the blog for inspiration updates!
Your project includes:
- An official lined sketchbook for this project
- A rule card giving you all the details you’ll need to remember
- Digitizing included for your submission, which will be uploaded into our Digital Library
- Your book’s entry into the permanent collection of Brooklyn Art Library in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
- Your book will take a trip in our Mobile Library to our tour stops in October 2014, including Portland (ME), Philadelphia, and Mahattan!
This 16th Century Book Can Be Read Six Different Ways
Erik Kwakkel Historian
A few months ago, we showed you a dos-à-dos book—one with a hard back that forms the front of another book. This rare book owned by the National Library of Sweden is even more complex. Erik Kwakkel, a medieval book historian at Leiden University, says that this book is actually six books that are each opened differently. Each book opens and closes with a little clasp.
All of the books are devotional texts printed in Germany in the 1550s through 1570s, including a copy of Martin Luther’s widely-read The Shorter Catechism.The book is currently owned by the National Swedish Library and resides in Stockholm, among the Royal Library’s archives. Only for advanced readers, advanced readers with low attentions spans.
- Image: National Library of SwedenDesign
MONDAY 4.28 PLUG IN: kickoff event 7-9 pm @ Antique Shop Annex (entrance in Apollo lot)
TUESDAY 4.29 Martine Syms Art Talk, “Black Vernacular: Lessons of the Tradition” 5:45 pm, CII (art building)
WEDNESDAY 4.30 CASEY JANE ELLISON (video artist + comedian) performance 10 pm at the ‘Sco
THURSDAY 5.1 Juliana Huxtable and Junglepussy 10 pm at the ‘Sco 10
FRIDAY 5.2 Jen Chan Art Talk 4 pm @ CI (art building)
SATURDAY 5.3 Student Showcase 7-9 pm @ Antique Shop Annex (entrance in Apollo lot)
Location: Art Building Room 162 (Photo Lab) Time: 5PM Date: April 29, 2014
Join renowned photographer and Oberlin College professor of Studio Art Pipo Nguyen-duy as he showcases his life work and gives words to its engaging imagery. Born in Hue, Vietnam (within thirty kilometers of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Vietnam) and having immigrated to the United States in 1975 as a political refugee, Pipo’s photography offers thoughtful insight on the transient spaces created by war, immigration and geographical boundaries. Much like the life he has crafted within such interstices, Pipo’s photography speaks of more than what appears within a picture’s borders.
The Impossible Convention – Hybrid music-art practices in Gotham and beyond
Tuesday, April 29 at 4:30pm Allen Memorial Art Building, Classroom 1
Join the Art department and Nick Hallett (OC ‘97) for “The Impossible Convention – Hybrid music-art practices in Gotham and beyond”. Over the past 15 years, Nick Hallett ‘97 has built a creative practice which connects music to visual forms, with the human voice at its core. His projects in the art world span opera, visual music, historic re-performance, and media ritual. Refreshments to be served afterwards.
Welcome to Coffee With Clarence, an Oberlin art community blog run by the Clarence Ward Art Library. Check back to find out about art events, new books at the library, work by Oberlin College students and just anything that's interesting and art-related.