Recap – AIGA CO Boulder Makerspace | AIGA Colorado

In April, AIGA CO Boulder had our first Makerspace Series at BLDG 61. The Makerspace Series is an event designed to highlight the amazing program at Boulder Library called BLDG 61. BLDG 61 is an all-ages public workshop located in the Canyon portion of the Main Library that features programs l…

Source: Recap – AIGA CO Boulder Makerspace | AIGA Colorado

Exercise 2: Judging a Book by It’s Cover

Covers for albums, books and newspapers, among other media, need to evoke qualities of what lies within, drawing the prospective reader into the story. In this post, Catherine responds to four images she finds compelling and one that went to press a moment too soon.




This poster for the movie, Black Swan, is extremely effective and clever. The title uses the nice serif typeface, Bodoni, and then to portray the ‘swan’ is the letter ‘S’ extremely blown up from the typeface being used in the title of the poster. This is a successful cover because the story is so intense and complicated that by making the poster simple, yet artistic, it contrasts the movie as well as drawing towards it. The story in the movie is also about ballerinas and the beautiful artistic curve in the serif ‘S’ mimics the dance and shape of ballerinas.

Typeworship. “Typeworship.” Type Worship: Inspirational Typography & Lettering. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Sept. 2016. <;


This poster wasn’t very circulated that I saw, but it is a wonderful representation of a static “cover” for the book/movie. The story is about an Editor in Chief of…

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Evaluating Career Decisions

Musicbed, a company providing royalty clearance of music for use in the film industry has an excellent blog with highly relevant articles for filmmakers and creatives of all stripes. Their recent post “Four Career Decisions Every Creative Should Make” asks some questions that I’ve been asking myself as I search for meaningful work in a new city.





I decided to take a whack at responding to these questions, and if you respond on your blog and send me the link, I’ll post it at the bottom to create a network of responses.




My people are the outsiders, the ones always pushing to engage in interesting ways. The questioners, the ones who see a challenge and want to figure it out – just for fun. My people are the ones who got left behind and decided to write a song about it. They are the ones willing to debate. My people have an interesting story, or they see an interesting story happening in the shadows and want to bring it out into the light. My people are the ones who think everything matters and want to do something about it. My people want to succeed and to make the world a better place.



I’m building a portfolio. I’m piecing together fifteen years worth of teaching media into the media itself. I’m creating new work and demonstrating my ability to tell stories for myself as well as others to build brands. I’m developing strategy and voice. I’m hitting short term goals with long term vision. I’m reaching out, making connections, and keeping my eyes peeled for the right path. I’m seeing where opportunity leads, and also working to shape opportunity so I do what I love. I’m drawing. I’m writing, shooting and editing video. I’m creating motion graphics. I’m managing social media. I’m teaching. I’m making music. And maybe, if I dare, on weekends I’ll be tattooing.

I’m gonna add one…


I’m not designing UX. I’m not working as a print designer. I’m not developing code. I’m not fitting into a box.



Colorado. Boulder, Denver, Lafyette, and Longmont. I’m doing what I can where I can where I am. I’m working with an outdoor retailer, soon a design department, and in the coming months, to promote music at a local venue.


Because businesses, organizations and people can be better. They can reflect more. They can commit more deeply to what they are really there to do – their mission, vision and values. They can learn to understand and manage their shadow side. If they are success oriented they can better understand and manage greed. If they emphasize care and concern for social work clients they can better understand context and collateral challenges their clients bring to the table. Nothing is one pointed – not sales, not education, not government, business, manufacturing, marketing and PR. It is the dynamics of the push and pull between stakeholders and constituencies that make all of these endeavors interesting and compelling. It is what makes stories.

The Gutai Art Manifesto’s relationship to the Western Avant-Garde

laceration of paper

Laceration of Paper, Saburõ Murakami 1956

In 1956 Japanese painter and avant-garde artist YOSHIHARA JIRŌ wrote a manifesto that would drive the art making of a group of young, energetic, daring young artists in Japan following the end of the Second World War. In the opening to his manifesto Jirō wrote:

“To today’s consciousness, the art of the past, which on the whole presents an alluring appearance, seems fraudulent.”

The movement drew from other daring art movements of the 20th century – the Dadaists and the Futurists before them as well as their near contemporaries, the Abstract Expressionists. These movements doubted history and tradition as viable foundations upon which they could create meaningful work. Given the recent acknowledgements of the emperor of Japan, Hirohito, that he was not a living god, a tenet of faith pressed on the people before and throughout the war, it is not surprising that the youth would rebel against historical narratives and certain cultural traditions of their homeland.

“Let’s bid farewell to the hoaxes piled up on the altars and in the palaces, the drawing rooms and the antique shops.”

He set a daring new tone for modern art in Japan, echoing the sentiments of F. T. Marinetti in the Founding Manifesto of Futurism when he wrote, “Museums: cemeteries!… Identical, surely, in the sinister promiscuity of so many bodies unknown to one another. Museums: public dormitories where one lies forever beside hated or unknown beings. Museums: absurd abattoirs of painters and sculptors ferociously slaughtering each other with color-blows and line-blows, the length of the fought-over walls!”

Jirō continued:

“They are monsters made of the matter called paint, of cloth, metals, earth, and marble, which through a meaningless act of signification by humans, through the magic of material, were made to fraudulently assume appearances other than their own. These types of matter [busshitsu], all slaughtered under the pretense of production by the mind, can now say nothing.

“Lock up these corpses in the graveyard.”

The movement set out to create a dynamic relationship between the art object and the actions of the artist creating the work. Jirō’s manifesto continued:

“Gutai Art does not alter matter. Gutai Art imparts life to matter. Gutai Art does not distort matter.”

In 1955 Kazuo Shiraga created a defining work titled “Challenge to the Mud” in which he flung himself into a mud pile made of clay, wrestling and fighting with it as he attempted to shape the clay into something new.

Jirō’s manfiesto stated that “In Gutai Art, the human spirit and matter shake hands with each other while keeping their distance. Matter never compromises itself with the spirit; the spirit never dominates matter.”

Many people were influenced deeply by the Gutai movement. They were successful at gaining recognition internationally through their use of media, relationship building and public relations. The Fluxus artists of the 1960’s and 70’s in the United states were immediately and directly influenced by Gutai. While in college I read about the Gutai movement and drew influences from their work, most directly, Shiraga’s challenging mud.

Here are images from one of my performances, “rising from clay,” in which I coated my body in clay, laid out wood from the stack by our college’s wood fired kiln the length of my body, and continually attempted to rise from the floor, as though the clay were shaping me in a reversal of the traditional potter/clay relationship.

Rising from Clay

In another performance I would approach a wall touching and pressing on the wall reciting, “This is a wall. I accept the challenge of this wall.”

This is a wall

The intent was to address and heighten my and my audience’s awareness of simple things we put faith in such as stable engineering and the consistency of the world around us.

While many contemporary western artists look back to Fluxus, Dada and Futurism as well as movements like Surrealism and Suprematism as foundational concepts for modern art and performance, they may be missing a rich source of creative influence if they overlook Gutai.

To read the full manifesto of Gutai, follow this link to the full text at


Karrie Higgins’ Performances on Salt

Utah’s Salt Flats are a striking natural feature in the state’s West Desert. It is one of two places on the earth so attuned to the earth’s gravitational pull it is said you can see the curve of the earth on the horizon.

After living in Salt Lake City for four years Karrie and I had yet to go visit it.

I remembered seeing it as a kid on trips west to visit my grandparents and uncle on my Father’s side, but my last visit had probably been in the 4th grade.

We made the trip in spring 2013.

Photo at the Salt Flats 2013 by Alan Murdock

The ground was still wet from snowmelt which brings fresh salt and minerals down from the mountains each year, creating a fresh crust of salt when the flats have dried out by Fall.

That first trip it was little things that stood out: a dead sparrow partially preserved, salt incrusting its wings and beak. A plastic pirate sword, probably from a mixed drink or fruit skewers from a casino in the Nevada border town just twelve minutes away by car.

“It reminds me of Matthew Barney,” I said, remembering the Cremaster 2, the story of Mormon murderer Gary Gilmore, parts of which were filmed on the Salt Flats.

Opening to Cremaster 2 by Mathew Barney

The vastness, brightness and starkness of the environment were hypnotic. After only a few minutes it hurt to look without squinting. Taking photographs was a challenge as it was nearly impossible to check color or contrast on a camera display. We didn’t stay long, but the place created a draw.

“I think I want to come back here and do a performance,” Karrie said on the drive home.

She started imagining elements that could come together into a performance influenced by the story of Ezekiel. The starkness of the place suggested something of the apocalyptic messages of destruction and of the starkness, clarity and rigidity demanded of prophecy.

We went back in 2014 in late summer and shot “Valley of the Dry Bones,” Karrie’s video engaging with the apocalyptic messages in Mormon culture about “latter day” saints as the world prepares for end times.

“Valley of the Dry Bones” by Karrie Higgins video and post production by Alan Murdock

In March 2016 we went back on Memorial Day weekend to shoot more photography and more video footage. This time we produced a series of images with printed images on skirts, the prints designed by Karrie, and the skirts sewn by her as well. These images relate to literature Karrie has been writing and publishing that relate to truth in the face of victimization, medical trials by fire, and the writer Virginia Wolf, among other themes.

In one still photograph, Karrie stands by the sodden flats in a skirt with Virginia Wolf’s image on it, holding a cane similar to the one Virginia Wolf used, gazing out across the water wearing a modern jean jacket.

Karrie stands on shoreline of flooded salt flats. Wearing a skirt printed with the portrait of Virginia Wolf and holding a wooden kane, Karrie looks pensively towards the mountains on the horizon. Soft clouds float in the distance in the upper right of the photograph.
“Virginia Wolf” Karrie Higgins performance still 2016 photo by Alan Murdock

In a video Karrie holds her arms in the position required during a lie detector test with a stethoscope from her heart to her ears and a blood pressure cuff around her arm, the pump to increase pressure in her right hand and the gauge in her left. Exploring the possibility the epileptic mind is a superior mechanism for memory, Karrie flips assumptions and transforms her experience into disability poetics.

“Control Questions” by Karrie Higgins video by Alan Murdock (no sound)

So far no one is looking back, and no one is turning into a pillar, despite Karrie’s references to biblical texts. I suspect salt and the flats will continue to inform Karrie’s work, and these pieces have not yet reached their resolution. They will become components of essays, installations and other video. These are only a test. These are only control questions for work to come.

Essay and Images by Higgin’s artistic collaborator and husband Alan Murdock