Artistic Gratitude in Second Life

The University of Western Australia has been a long-term patron of the arts in Second Life

The end of 2020 marks the end of an era in Second Life, as we will be saying farewell to the in-world presence of the University of Western Australia, as their last remaining active region is due to close.

Between 2009 and 2018, the University’s name was synonymous with patronage of the arts in Second Life, sponsoring as it did numerous Art Challenges with large-scale cash prizes on offer to participating artists. In the process these challenges yielded some of the most exceptional displays of art and creativity seen within – and beyond – Second Life. Art that I had both the privilege and the honour to both cover in these pages, and to help adjudicate as an invited judge for several of the challenges, allowing me to witness an appreciate first-hand the depth of creativity they seeded and nurtured.

UWA: Gratitude – Suzanne Graves
By way of a last farewell and to offer a “thank you” to the UWA for its support of the arts down the years, the arts platform over the region is currently home to a special exhibition of 2D and 3D art.

Entitled Gratitudes, the exhibition has been organised by Chuck Clip, who issued an invitation for artists to contributed 2D and 3D pieces back in September (see: Calling artists: an exhibition to say farewell to the UWA in Second Life). The result is a exhibition that includes news pieces created specifically for inclusion in it, as well a pieces that have been past UWA Grand Challenge winners – such as Sharni Azalee’s evocative Never Say Never,  a Grand Prize winner back in 2014.

UWA: Gratitude – Elle Thorkveld

The art is displayed on the sky platform over the UWA campus grounds in the region, and is framed by a collection of posters marking some of the art challenges organised by UWA under the stewardship of Jayjay Zifanwee and UWA in SL curator Freewee Ling.

Artists who responded to the open invitation to participate in the event include Sharnee Azalee, Chic Aeon, Suzanne Graves, Pixels Sideways, Merranda Ginssberg, Vroum Short, Ciottolina Zue, Cherry Manga, Alpha Auer, Sheba Blitz, Kayly Iali, Judylynn India, Monroe Snook and Chuck Clip himself, among numerous others. All of whom present s rich mix of 2D and 3D art to be appreciated and admired. Further 3D art selected by Jayjay can be found within the ground level of the university in what is very much a 3D art garden.

UWA: Gratitude – 2D art

All told, Gratitude presents a rich cross-section of art and creativity, and is well worth taking the time to visit and appreciate. It will remain open until the end of December 30th, 2020.

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  • Gratitude (University of WA, rated General)

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery in Second Life

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020

The Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery is a new gallery venture that has been established by Sevant Anatra to celebrate original Native American / Indigenous & other cultural artwork. Earlier in November, Sevant invited me to pay the studio a visit – and I must (again) offer an apology that it has taken me a good several days to follow-up on the invitation on account of physical world matters taking up a good deal of my time.

Sevant is herself is a contemporary fine artist of the Anishinaabe – a group of culturally-related Indigenous peoples that includes the Odawa, Saulteaux, Ojibwe (including Mississaugas), Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, and Algonquin peoples of the north American continent. The work she displays in Second Life is all her own, and is a reflection of the creativity that has been central to her entire life.

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020
My preferred subject matter is people, and I use soft pastels on black or dark surfaces, usually recycled black artigain paper. I use my art to process knowledge, memories and emotions of either myself or those who pose for me.
In  recent years I have been focusing on reclaiming my Native American heritage and culture one art piece at a time. There is a unique story behind each piece that I often try to express through the use of composition and colour.

– Sevant Anatra discussing her art

Currently, the Gallery is displaying Sevant’s work, together with a slide show of physical world photographs (touch the slide projector to advance the images). Her drawings are richly evocative, fully capturing her subjects in marvellous detail. Native American culture is celebrated within them through the use of traditional clothing, whilst also encompassing simple emotions – love, uncertainty, simple joy – with one also offering a glimpse of a creation story. If I had one niggle at all with this selection, it is that it is potentially too small – this is art that deserves an more extensive showing.

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020

The gallery itself officially opens on December 5th, and Sevant is seeking artists specialising in pieces representative of indigenous and similar cultural art and heritage. The closing date for being a part of the grand opening on December 5th is Saturday, November 2020 – although applications will also be accepted for slots throughout 2021.

Accepted artists will be allowed 30 LI to display their work, and general requirements for applications can be obtained via note card from an info kiosk in the gallery, or artists can contact Sevant directly in-world. When visiting, do take time to explore the ground, which have by landscaped to reflect the landscape of the Pacific North-west – there are several places t sit and enjoy the setting, and the corner studio is available for exploration.

Miigis Shell Art Studio & Gallery, November 2020

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My Second Life Landscapes at Konect Art

Konect Art Gallery: Second Life Landscapes

I genuinely don’t like self-promotion, particularly when it comes to my Second Life photography ( which I view as blog illustrations rather than “art”). However a couple of months ago Gonzalo Osuna (Jon Rain) asked me to exhibit at his Konect Art Gallery – and was not going to take no for an answer!

So, running from Friday, October 16th through until the end of the month is an exhibition of some of the many images I’ve taken over the years as I’ve explored Second Life, entitled Second Life Landscapes.

Konect Art Gallery: Second Life Landscapes

I’ll admit that it is my biggest exhibition to date – and as such, I’m glad it has had something of a “soft” opening rather than a big splash, as I think I would have been too nervous to do anything more than  hide in a corner. When invited, and given past exhibits at the gallery, I was anticipating being one of two people displaying their work – so I was stunned, surprised and deeply flattered (as well as slightly panicked!) when I arrived to set-up this week and find that the entire gallery had been made available to me!

So, the result is some 35 of my images are offered across the two floors of the gallery in a relatively large format and which feature many of the places I’ve particularly enjoyed visiting since around 2014. I’ve even managed to include one or two that haven’t shown up in my Flickr stream!

Konect Art Gallery: Second Life Landscapes

Anyway, I’m not going to prattle on about things here – but I hope you’ll pop over to Konect Art between now and the end of October and have a look around. And while there, why not chill out to the sounds of Konecta Radio?

My thanks again to Gonzalo for the invitation to exhibit!

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Cica’s Halloween in Second Life

Halloween by Cica Ghost

Cica is back with her October 2020 build, and given the time of year, she’s presenting Halloween. However, rather than going all dark and gloomy with things that go bump in the night and nasty things hiding in the shadows, she offers something very different: a homage to the the genius of a film-maker known for his unique style of fantasy / horror storytelling that’s mixed with Cica’s trademark lightness and whimsy.

That focus  of the homage is given away by the quote Cica offer with the installation:

Every day is Halloween isn’t it? For some of us.

– Tim Burton

And indeed, set out across the region is a series of little vignettes, many of which feature characters that may have popped out of the consciousness of Mr. Burton. They are all going about their business in this landscape of graveyards, pumpkin patches and strange little houses that appear to have grown, rather than having been built.

Halloween by Cica Ghost

Round-eyed and slender, these are characters who carry on their skull-like faces grins that appear genuinely happy as they go about their business, be it stroking a cat, pulling a pumpkin-filled cart, riding a swing, playing a piano or some other endeavour. Like many of Burton’s characters, while their appearance may be drawn from the ideas of horror, they carry a natural attractiveness that encourages us to wander among them.

However, they are not the only attraction here. There are lots of little touches that add depth to the setting: flowers that will cause you to consider the term “spider plant” in a new way, crows that watch over everything with mischievous look in their eyes, and footprints that magically creep across the ground whilst eyes stare out of some windows, suggesting menace whilst none appears.  And do keep watch for the rooftops that occasionally hinge upwards – they have a little surprise of their own.

There’s also interactive elements throughout the region waiting to be found as well, one of which carries a little touch of the macabre as it brings a whole new meaning to the words “dancing on a grave”, while for those who are taken by the folk occupying the region, a little shop offers the chance to purchase them, together with several of the other characters to be found at various points. And if the pumpkins in the patch take your fancy, they can be purchased directly from there.

Halloween by Cica Ghost

Finished in a semi-monochrome environment, Halloween is another Cica delight. So, if you fancy something a little more whimsical for your Halloween, be sure to pop over – it’ll be there for the rest of the month!

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Seiko Blessing and Raging Graphix in Second Life

Raging Graphix Gallery: Seiko Blessing

Raging Bellls opened the August exhibition at her Raging Graphix Gallery on August 13th, with a selection of art by Seiko Blessing (softandred), that will run through until Sunday, September 20th, 2020.

Seiko is a physical world artist and photographer, starting in the latter at the age of 14 and graduating to the role of her high School public relations photographer whilst still a student. In adult life, she has self-published two books of photography and has seen her work exhibited in museums, galleries and coffee houses.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Seiko Blessing

For this exhibition she offers a selection of her Second Life landscape photographs, many of which are linked by heavy, evocative skies, laden with cloud through which sunlight filters. This evens may of the pieces presented what at first glance might appear to be a dour look, but which actually emphasises the settings present within each piece, delineating houses,  trees, animals, boats and so on with a clarity that is captivating.

Others within the selection make rich use of depth of field to offer richly evocative images, each offering a story that easily captures the eye – so much so that I found it a little sad they were relegated to the stairwell area of the exhibit space, and they might easily be overlooked.

Raging Graphix Gallery: Seiko Blessing

Considered in their composition, tone and finish, sometimes framed with in-world props for a little extra depth, Seiko’s exhibit at Raging Graphix serves as an excellent portfolio of, and introduction to (for those unfamiliar with her photography) her work.

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The Uprooted in Second Life

The Sim Quarterly: Le Déraciné

Open as of June 14th, 2020 at The Sim Quarterly is Le Déraciné (The Uprooted), an installation by JadeYu Fhang.

Described as being a study about “How to transform the pain of uprooting into a poetic vision”, it’s a typically layered and semi-interactive piece by JadeYu; one that invites interpretation more than it offers one for itself.  Also, and in keeping with YadeYu’s viewpoint, it is a piece that perhaps blurs the line between the physical and virtual dimensions, being present in one whilst created from the other, whilst also standing as a dream linking both.

The landing point sits above the main installation, a board presenting the required graphics settings needed to best appreciate the installation, while local sounds should also be enabled for the fullest experience. Once visitors are set, an Anywhere Door teleporter offer the way down to ground level and the installation proper.

The Sim Quarterly: Le Déraciné

Here the setting is made up of multiple parts: a central hill form which grows an enormous tree; a great vale of flowers that extends out into the water; and a village in the air, set as if floating upon wafer-thin clouds. The tree at first appears to be denuded, but slivers of green flow over the branches and wrap around the trunk, which is in part carved into a female form, while more green floats around the branches as orbs. A second figure lies in the shallows below, legs entangled into a network of roots. As well as the green on and around the tree, paths of light glimmer as they rise from the lowlands to pass over the tangle of roots that form the hill’s crown, offering a way up to the tree as then converge upon it, whilst a single path rises to the cloud village.

Throughout the setting, the motif of roots is clear: but what of the idea of being “uprooted”? Perhaps it is in relation to physical relocation: there is the village in the air and the one at the landing point – are these then symbolic of the pain of moving home? Or is the meaning more bound in matters of ecology or in the erosion of cultural identity due to the demands of an increasingly homogeneous modern world, perhaps invoked through the dancing figures?

The Sim Quarterly: Le Déraciné

As noted above, interpretation is down to the observer. What is apparent is JadeYu’s rooting in surrealism, edged with a sense of spirituality.

Open through a period of three months, Le Déraciné offers plenty of time for you to visit and consider it for yourself.

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