First Seminar Blog
Welcome to my first blog posting! Though technology is an amazing thing, I am still pretty old-school and would rather converse in person. Posting electronically does make it easier for a group the size of ours. For every hour I enjoy surfing the internet for books, vehicle parts and clips of pole-dancing accidents, I spend another hour fussing with some new program, resizing photos and trying to get Widows Vista to read my Mac files. Hang with me here and we might investigate some interesting stuff.
Starting with my bio, I have two children, been in the Air National Guard for 18 years and am a career student. I am a sculptor. grew up near Decatur, IL in the geometric center of the state. I spent a lot of time customizing cars and making art. I found in school that artistic talent would get me out of study hall which was a much better option as I usually ended up in trouble in a situation like that. I got in with the Drama Club and began painting every back drop for every play and dance that the school had. During proms, it even got me out my normal classes. Art was a positive action that helped me out many times in life. The Principal, Gordon Eckols, who looked like the eagle character off of the Muppets, thought that I was a ne’r-do-well and stuck me in “special needs” study hall my senior year since I had no college plans. The term “special needs” is a P.C. term for the name that it was usually referred to. It was a place to let everyone realize that they were A) not smart or motivated enough for college, or B) not good enough for the basketball team. I actually just needed motivation.
One day during study hall an Air Force recruiter came to speak. She talked about working on jet aircraft and traveling the world. She also said that they would pay for college at a later date. Just my luck! As an adventurer from my first day in Cub Scouts, the Military seemed like a fine solution. I rocked the ASVAB tests, qualified for many technical areas to get a promised position in Aircraft Maintenance. My mother claims that she told me to go to college when I got back from training, but we still dispute that to this day. Senior year came and I was off! Basic Military Training in San Antonio, TX was first, then I traveled to Denver, CO for six months to learn about the weapons systems on the F-16 Fighting Falcon. This was honestly one of the best times of my life. I got out of the small town that I grew up in, got to meet different people and learned how to study. My memorization and test taking skills improved dramatically during Technical School as I did not study much in High School. I lived in dorms with my classmates and got a taste of college. During the Flood of 1993, I traveled all summer eventually ending up in college dorms as a state worker. By five years out of school, I still had not started college. I had traveled to half of the American States for free but still not settled enough to study.
During this time in my early twenties, I had a daughter with my at-the-time wife. She is a great person, we were just young. Together, we started a business that earned pretty good money customizing cars and painting signs. I “lucked” into a decent paying job at an automotive factory where I tried buying every toy that I wanted. I was working sixty hours per week at the factory, twenty five at my own business, and still helping my friend farm a few hours each morning during the harvest season. After burning the candle at both ends for so long, I learned relationship lesson number one: You have to actually see each other from time to time for it to work. Hmm. I had been working with an engineer at the factory for a couple of years. I was hired as a line worker but was doing technical drawings and renderings for this guy, he told me to quit the factory and go back to school. Great idea! I ended up taking a management job a short time later at the factory and within a year, came home and told my wife that I put in my two weeks notice. She freaked! I began making signs full-time and going to college part-time. Within a year or so, we got divorced. I began working on a degree in graphic arts. I figured that it would make me employable. I landed a job for a beverage company. Greatest job ever! I spent my days making ads, meeting with brewery reps, planning promotional events, printing and hanging banners, drinking on company tabs, etc. Much of my work at this time focused on advertising. Making palm trees, designing costumes, and building trade show displays took most of my time. I geeked out for a while and built some Star Wars costumes that you can check out Comrads on www.decaturvader.com . Since I had a job, I decided to work on my Air Force Degree. At this time, the military began deploying more frequently. I had been in school for four years and did not even have an Associates Degree yet!? Ok, I slid out of a couple of deployments (and a couple of sales meetings) and hammered down on school. I soon had my AAS in Aircraft Maintenance, and an AFA in Studio Arts. I was now motivated to dive into a university. After a couple of tries and three deployments to the Mid-East, I got in to Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. I landed in America on Friday and had an apartment by Sunday, and started class on Monday!
At SIUE my work became really focused. Drawing on my experiences in the Air Force and my childhood, I began to develop a cohesive body of work dealing with children and violence. I will finish up exploring this work at UW Madison and probably delve into something new. Most of my work is wood and steel. I sometimes use concrete or paper. Pieces that I create are many times constructed “government style” using lots of rivets brackets and over-engineering. I take frequent jabs at defense contracting practices that are hidden deep in my pieces.
SIUE was a great experience. I told myself that I would finish my BA and that would be enough school for me. Turns out, I had to apply to BFA just to prove that I could rock it out even though I was not going to graduate school. After watching all of your friends start going off to school, one wants to find their own new experiences as well. I was sitting in Iraq for my second tour and decided I would apply to Graduate School. I was motivated and ready to go! Soon after application season was over, I severely injured my back on duty. I won’t go into that here but being unable to work for nine months is hard on the savings account. So, I am at a point now where I am totally motivated for Grad School, and trying to find a creative solution to getting settled into a new city.
This is a good lead in to my hopes and fears as I have been employed for only four months before I moved here. Right now, my greatest fear is destroying our family while in school or destroying my Master’s education. I want both to work out in the end.
Enough about my life, Ask me if I was unclear about anything, We just covered a lot of ground in a short time. Check in next week and we will have some amazing things to talk about. We will talk about ideas and the future! With any luck, our group can slowly chip away at some amazing realizations with our art and make an impact on others.