Thursday, May 31, 2012

What the hell am I doing?!

   Good question! Grad school is like being an ant. You work hard to build a your anthill, and just when you are getting somewhere, it gets kicked over. Seemingly on purpose.
   In the beginning of April, the other new grad students (we just finished our second semester) and myself had to go through candidacy. You present your work to the faculty and tell them about it, and tell them about your show idea and they give your their comments. They get to decide if you have the ok to proceed with what you are doing as-is, or if they think you need to change some things, or need to just start over, or run for the hills, or whatever. Seth and I got the thumbs up, however both of us (and some others I think too) have to re-show two pieces in the first two weeks of next semester. I have several pics to post here, but there are some things I like about them, and some I don't. I'll talk about that as I go I suppose. Also, I have something a bit different to start working on for my show next semester as I've yet again changed my mind about what I want to do (happens for everyone all the time, especially over the summer), therefor, these pics might be kind of moot as far as my direction goes, but just so all you folks back in KY can see some stuff I've been doing, well, here ya go.Warning: these are not the best pictures.

   We had to set up on campus because that's where our first show has to be (for the the MA show. In another year and a half we have an MFA show which must be off campus. UD is a three year, two degree program). Prior to grad school I had always made pedestal pieces, and I wanted to break away from that this time. I wanted to create environments for my strange, plant creatures to live, and I used mulch and moss, etc, instead of just ceramic materials.   

   I really liked the woodsy dirt floor this gave, but faculty pointed out that because of the color similarity between the dirt and the piece(s), it got a little lost. They are right, but I didn't particularly mind in this case because heaven forbid someone has to actually LOOK at something to think about what's going on, eh? But I do see their point.

   They also questioned why everything was left on a flat surface, which was something I actually hadn't though about up until that point. I think creating hills and valleys within the gallery space is actually a great idea, and up until a recent new idea, was going that route. 

   I love it when bugs land on my work. :D 

   This was a sampling of something I wanted to do much bigger. I wanted about 30 of these vine-like creatures growing out of the ground creating a path you had to walk through. 

   The tallest one here is well over six feet tall and constructed from two parts that were epoxied together after firing, and the seam filled and painted to hide it. 

   Not much got said about these specifically, just complaints about dirt. I could still use the same pieces to show again next semester if I wanted too, just a different presentation, which is fine. Although I've grown bored with these, and have similar, but new ideas to work on now. 
   I think my biggest complaint about grad school here is that getting any kind of positive feedback is a rarity, with the exception being maybe your studio-mates. While it's easy to point out everything a student is doing wrong, I absolutely believe that it is important to also let students know when they are doing something well, even if it's just a "Hey, I really like what's going on right here." There's a difference between being babied (which I do not expect to be at all) and getting some positive encouragement. And being encouraged by your superiors is important in every filed and every job. It's a psychological fact. But whatever, I'm gonna keep on keepin' on and practice listening to my instincts about my work, which I think I've been having a hard time doing. 
   I also have some things for etsy, pics ready to go and all. I'll save that for later though when I actually get them posted. There's enough pics crammed into this post, haha. All in all, things are pretty well here. :) I'm glad to have the summer to be in the studio with no other classes to steal my time. Now if you'll excuse me I have lunch to eat, and clay to mix. 

EDIT: It has been suggested that I add my artists statement to this post, and I think that may be a good idea, so here ya go: 

I draw inspiration for my work from the oddities and mysteries found in the natural world; microscopic organisms, unusually shaped or textured seeds and pods, fungi, lichens, and carnivorous plants. I’m excited by their growing process, the evolution of how they came to be, and the mystery of what might be inside something such as a large growing pod when cracked open. Rather than recreate these objects, I use their unique textures and forms to create ambiguous botanical life forms of my own invention. I want to create that same excitement and curiosity in the viewer that I myself have when exploring the environment around me. I find myself often giving pieces anthropomorphic characteristics since much of my work is a narrative of my personal experiences and growth as a human being, and also the experiences, changes and observations I make of the people around me. I work in clay because I love the intimacy of such a malleable material. It is a meditative and therapeutic process that puts me in direct contact with the earth that gives me my inspiration. There is an unlimited amount of discovery in the process of exploring glazes and other surface treatments as well as firing the work.