Wow! What a beautiful weekend. But, let us rewind. Last week changed everyone’s schedule up. The studio days were fun. It was nice to have random people visit my studio and ask questions. The challenge of speaking under pressure is always fun. When I was 16, I applied and won a grant from my Mom’s employer to participate in a week long leadership conference at William Jewel College in Kansas City, Kansas. It was a memorable week of meeting new friends and learning interpersonal skills while doing projects. We had to create a cooperative, raise funds, then market and sell our items through our cooperative. I had a blast then when I returned, I had to speak to the Cooperative Board that sent me to tell of my adventures. My Mom failed to mention that there were nearly four-hundred people on the board! I stood at the lecturne and gathered all of my 16 years experience in public speaking [none] and quickly panicked. I knew that panic was not a solution and decided to just imagine them naked and convinced myself that they thought I was the President or something. It seemed to work. From time to time, I still get nervous speaking but I generally ask a question to put others on the spot while I focus my thoughts. At times, the studio visit seemed like a lot of elevator speeches. I became tired saying the same things over and over and changed my speech as the evening went on. Hopefully, I said the right things to the right people. A few times I became bored and had to change it up and ask them questions, or experimented with having them respond to the work and tell me what they thought it was about. Marina told me that she would ask people to participate in games and such to keep it fun and combat awkwardness.
First Year Show (in Roman numerals)
Again I was totally impressed by the work of my peers. I am lucky to be able to work with such talented people! This was backed up by the studio visits. It was great to see people in their environment. Beside their work, you can see their tools and inspirations as well as glimpses into their processes. The next thought is a little rough, but hang with me: In undergraduate study, you can only take so many foundations courses and no one learns everything. In Graduate school, we have a more common art knowledge and ability to speak. When visiting other students, we can enjoy as they quickly (relative to taking a full course) talk through a process that they use in their work. Another advantage is others having skills to share amongst disciplines. If you are not exactly getting what you want, there is always someone there to assist you with a skill that they have learned along their journey; be it welding, acid etching, plastics, casting sugar, posing road-kill carcasses etc.
The show was great. Two days prior, I admit, I was worried. People were still finishing pieces, work was being dropped off, laid in corners and such. I was guilty as well. While paint was drying on one of my pieces, I submitted a note card with the size of my piece on it to hold a place in the show. I apologize to the crew that put this show together. You all did an amazing job! Especially dealing with 32 procrastinating artists. I helped to move artwork Friday morning and it decided to rain. People’s work got wet and we drug water into the gallery with every load. By Sunday night, the crew pulled it all together and it looked magnificent. Hearing the install crew talk made me more conscious of the curatorial aspect as they dealt with so many various types of art that had to live with each other for a week. It took a deal of consideration to arrange both aesthetically and logistically.
I am looking forward to Cynthia Pachakara’s visit to Colloquium this coming week. Hopefully, I will be able to get a critique with her. I have yet to crit with any of the visiting artists. The ones that I was most interested in filled up quick. I hope that it is a good experience. Everyone seems to write about their critiques as great experiences. I have a cynical theory on this:
A.) They are guest artists and are being too complimentary to the students.
B.) The students are focusing the critique on work that is already successful.
C.) Students choose artists that have similar interests.
I could be wrong, but I don’t want to short myself of possible growth as an artist. I hope that my crit goes honest so that I can get the most use out of it. Three years ago, I critiqued with John Henry. He is an Old (Chicago) School international style artist. Art for arts sake. Make it big and paint it red. Each student was allowed fifteen minutes to crit a slide show. He went through my slides and kicked out comments like: “yes, hmm, no, no, umm, no hmm,yes, no, no, maybe.” After two minutes, he told me to go back to an image that had an exposed door revealing electronic type stuff. Mr. Henry looked at it for about twenty seconds and said: “Yeah, keep doing this, the outside is smooth, inside is small and fussy and I like the idea of a door because in my minds eye, I can just close it and not have to look at all that shit on the inside.” Then it was time for lunch. If memory serves me, one student cried after their critique. Everyone believed it was one of their harshest crits ever. But we gained honest feedback on our work and most people focused and improved.
I was thinking that writing a thousand words per week pretty much turns into a small novel by the end of the semester!