ALBANY — Albany area residents will have an opportunity Wednesday to take a drawing class from artist William Downs, whose work is currently showing in the “Figure Forward” exhibition at the Albany Museum of Art.
Downs also will join with fellow “Figure Forward” artists Jill Frank and Jaime Bull on Thursday as they discuss their work with museum guests. The panel discussion, titled “Body Image: A Conversation with Contemporary Artists,” will be moderated by Annie Vanoteghem, director of education and public programming at the AMA.
“Participating in a figure drawing workshop taught by William Downs is a special opportunity,” Vanoteghem said. “He has extensive experience drawing figures from life, and he creates a dreamlike, timeless quality in his work from combining that with historical references.”
Downs earned his MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and his BFA in painting and printmaking from Atlanta College of Art. He is a lecturer in drawing and painting at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
The Wednesday workshop, which is aimed at adults, will be held 5:30 to 8 p.m. The cost is $50 for AMA members and $65 for non-members. Space is limited for the class, so early registration is suggested. To sign up, contact Vanoteghem at (229) 439-8400.
“The workshop is for participants of all skill levels,” Vanoteghem said. “We’re going to conduct it in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere so everyone will be comfortable. Your materials will be provided, so all you’ll need to do is show up, learn and enjoy the evening.”
Participants will have a chance to meet Downs the next evening. He, Bull and Frank will discuss their work with guests at 6 p.m. Thursday at the AMA. “Body Image: A Conversation with Contemporary Artists” is free and open to the public.
“Through William Downs’ drawing, Jaime Bull’s sculpture and Jill Frank’s photography, visitors to the ‘Figure Forward’ exhibition gain a valuable new perspective on the female figure,” Vanoteghem said. “We are happy that we could get all three here to talk with museum guests about how their work addresses the movement of the body, identity, human relationships and even the concept of beauty.”
Frank’s photography explores relationships between individuals and their social groups, and between subject and camera. Her work often operates as portraiture, but the focus of the portrait is prone to extend beyond the body to its immediate context. The subject is often shown caught up in a moment of negotiation between internal self-awareness and external presentation.
Bull’s artworks approach bodies — specifically women’s bodies — with affectionate humor and a celebratory, feminist perspective. In her sculpture, she utilizes materials such as bright spandex, second-hand, one-piece bathing suits, and workout attire — often stuffed with plastic shopping bags — to create lumpy, curvaceous, slouching figures. There is a poignancy and pathos present beneath the absurdity and humor of her work.
Both Down’s figure drawing workshop and “Body Image: A Conversation with Contemporary Artists” take place during National Arts in Education Week, which starts Monday.