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James Barany on Vardo project and creativity

James Barany, Professor of First Year Experience, treated MIAD students, staff and faculty last week to a tour of the Vardo that he constructed during COVID. The 11 x 14 foot wooden wagon is surprisingly spacious and comfortable, featuring a bunk bed, couch and stove. Barany drew on his Hungarian and Czechoslovakian heritage to build the 19th century Vardo, which he named The Leander as a tribute to his late father.

“Everything in my studio practice is a culmination of a certain ‘creative continuum’, where a collision of ideas often manifests into new forms through a transformative process,” he says. “In surgery the term is referred to as ‘anastomosis’ where there is a cross-connection that occurs throughout the body, much the same can be said of my current practice where one thing manifests into another. Here in this specific example, a devotional poem written in regard to my Father’s passing manifested into a series of isometric drawings that slowly evolved into the physical Vardo that was parked in front of campus.” 

In his practice as a professor, Barany counsels current students and creatives to “keep making… then when you’re exhausted reflect upon what you’ve made, think, ponder, dream, reflect, connect, ideate, probe, then repeat in continuum.” 

As an artist, Barany relies on ever-transforming “narrative and storytelling” to drive most of his work. In conjunction with OLGA, a professional singing group from the Netherlands, he has shown two highly successful experimental animations at international film festivals. Currently, he is re-working the live action film Gretel (2012) by Madison-based film group Richland Films into an experimental short that employs AI, rotoscoping and digital visualization techniques. 

Check out more information on Barany’s Vardo, keep up with Barany’s work and learn more about MIAD’s First Year Experience!


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