Believing is being

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Reputed surreal artist and spiritualist visits SC4
Mike Lucas
Guest Writer

A #2 pencil and a box of Cap’n Crunch may prove to be more influential to your professional career than you might think. At least that was the case for Brian Schorn, a successful graphic artist and musician who made a recent visit to SC4’s campus.
In his lecture entitled “In Search of the Philosopher’s Stone” held last Monday, Schorn shared that a simple mail-in artist aptitude test found on the back of a cereal box affirmed his youthful skill in illustration. This affirmation resulted in a lifelong pursuit of arts and the aesthetic, receiving four MFA’s in the course of his studies: Electronic Music & Recording Media at Mills College, Graphic Design at Cranbrook, Creative Writing from Brown, and Photography from U of M. He also attended CCS and studied Pre-Medicine at Oakland.
Schorn captivated his audience with a presentation featuring select works of art that were at times very graphic in nature. He took spectators on a personal journey through his life works, which he related to the Seven Stages of Alchemy in their progression.
His interest in the human body and exploring the unexplored were made apparent in pieces including amputation, decapitation, and studies of gross anatomy. A piece shown entitled “Wisdom Fluxum” included three thousand individual fingernails and his own extracted wisdom teeth.
Mr. Schorn explained that this visceral work both attracts and repels the viewer through display of the raw and tangible aspects of our bodies. In earlier years, Shorn received mixed and sometimes hostile reviews of his work. The pieces, while debatably disturbing were “cooled” and justified by use of medical textbook photography and by maintaining a sense of anatomical accuracy.
Some of his projects developed into performance art, including presentations such as being fully nude and wrapped in plastic while travelling inch by inch across a stage in a worm-like fashion. In another, Schorn invited members of his audience to dip their hands in red paint and punch him in the abdomen as hard as they possibly could. While these acts may seem silly or ostentatious to some, Schorn worked to expand the consciousness of his spectator: to give new meaning to the conventional definition of art, as well as to test the limits of human endurance in the name of personal, societal and artistic introspection.
The following day, SC4 hosted Schorn’s hands-on Surrealist workshop where students learned several abstract art techniques. Schorn discussed more about the origins of Surrealism, spanning from graphical art, to poetry, to literature and psychology.
The workshop turned interactive as Schorn encouraged students to employ their skills and work together to construct “Exquisite Corpses.” These collaborations of art, named after a French parlor game, prompted students to take turns constructing heads, torsos, and legs of figures at random with no planning or forethought. The contributions were then joined to create entirely new figures with components of all types. Such an exercise allowed students to create spontaneously and see the beautifully strange and unanticipated fruits of their labor.
Anthony Petit, an art student participant commented, “I enjoyed this; it was such a thought provoking experience.”
Mr. Schorn’s lecture and workshop took students on a journey through the mind of an influential member of the Surrealist movement and unconventional artist; one who was once in a similar place as we are now as college students.
When asked what words of encouragement he could share to the “starving artist” intending to make a living from his work, he supplied a message of perseverance. “Never get discouraged by society’s unaccepting nature. If you feel swayed, reanimate yourself. You have to make your work no matter what.”

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