Bernard Palissy

Incorporeal Transformations

For the first time in a long time I took a weekend for myself, and stayed in Statesboro instead of venturing out into the great beyond for school, work, play, or educational purposes and actually accomplished a number of things on my to-do list. I managed to do laundry, grocery shop, and pay attention to my two cats-all of which needed to be done badly in terms of my home-life and the general maintenance that is required on ones part for keeping their living quarters, well, livable.


Studio time has been used to great success I must say, in that I have really up'ed my game this week in terms of work completed and started. It is midterm week at Southern, which means midterms were made, given, and graded. New projects were distributed ate discussed, and this next week will consist of due dates and critiques within my classrooms. That hasn't slowed my progress in the studio though. I am at about what I will say is the 95% completion of my largest piece in the making, and intend on finishing it off later today, along with a few smaller pieces I am working on.

Last Friday was the all faculty critique day, since then my presentation has been re-examined in our class group crit Monday and Tuesday. I appreciated the honesty of my classmates and what they had to say about my current work on when they got a chance to see it in person. Even though they saw the pieces in their "half baked state" because the kiln they were misfired and nothing fully fluxed, I feel they could still see somewhat my vision. The partially developed colors and the hazy white-wash over the five pieces wasn't talked about much to my relief, and instead we discussed the forms themselves, the craftsmanship, and their maximalist aesthetic.

My pieces after the misfire of the kiln. It did not reach temperature, so the pieces are covered in a hazy white wash, which is the clear glaze that did not flux fully.

We also talked about all my major influences in the work and where I was headed. I read off to them my topics of interest, which I have mentioned multiple times in previous blog posts, but my professor Derek brought up some new points I hadn't thought of. He mentioned that I should look into the more "surface" and "face value" topics that my work references. I brought up people like Hieronymus Bosch and Bernard Palissy, who are both from the 16th century as some of my historical influences and then all the new contemporary artists I referenced in last weeks blog ATL Vs NYC. Derek told me that my work has much more potential than just what I've been touching on and that bringing in some current politics such as the new EPA regulations as of 2017. I intend on discussing the topic further with him this week during my studio visit with him on Tuesday.

Wednesday was a day full of building, and back tracking in my notebook for past references, comments, and techniques. I have been trying very hard to make it a point to expand upon all the information given to me when someone references an artists, or a topic to me. Usually I would just go and look up whatever was said to me and then read a bit on it and move on, but now I try and relate it all. Seems like it would be obvious to have done this in the first place but in all honestly I wasn't starting to connect all the bigger ideas until recently, with the help of my current theory class, Art in the Age of Networks taught by Jason Hoelscher.

This is where the title of this blog post comes into play, sorta.

In class we have been reading articles all relating to system aesthetics and the network analogy to the artworld and the artworld discourse, that we as students of art play a role in. Even though I am just scratching the surface of the theories within the artworld and how they are all inner related to one another I still find the theory itself fascinating to say the least. Every essay we read is a new brain busting explosion of ideas, and concepts that opens up a whole new set of "adjacent possibilities" in the grand scheme "effectuations" (all these quotation-ed words are new things that I am just beginning to understand, so bare with me). Things like "Incorporeal Transformations", which is Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophical account of expression and content in “The Geology of Morals” and “Postulates of Linguistic” chapters of their book A Thousand Plateaus. It is from my understanding the idea of change without actual change occurring-- just a change based off of implication, context, and language. This along with the collective assemblages of enunciation in language can then open up new understandings to art related things such as a vitrine. Which is what I am writing my argument driven paper on for the class, as well as hopefully later presenting a small version at Southerns Graduate Research Symposium, and then the full developed version of the paper at SECAC in October in their panel regarding the use of a vitrine and it's implied context.

So what does all this theory talk have to do with my artwork then? If I am getting hung up on the language of things, how does my art then relate back to it all? Well I am learning that it is all in the way you talk about things that ends up making the art work successful or not. Of course the artist statement is just a small part of the "whole" of being an artist, but how you talk about the work in general is also key. Knowing the discourse, or all the presuppositions (PSP's) about the work in question places you within the three art world ontologies, and lets your opinion actually matter. By knowing what my work is, and is not, I can explain better to my audience what is it I am making, and most importantly why. For me, the articles we have been reading, the presentations I have been preparing for is all just part of the bigger game, again, as a "whole".

Knowing the bigger context provides the content for the work. This I am learning to be fact, and I feel like my work is developing along the same speed of understanding, the more I read and write about my work.

In terms of new developments within my research practice for influencing artists, and artworks I have been back tracking and looking into old references. After spending most of my Saturday prepping for this weeks overhaul in the studio by making/doing all of the following:

  • 150 triangle test tiles for glaze tests
  • testing new materials/textures for possibly making my work "lighter in weight"
  • new glaze tests at lower temperatures at cone 04, instead of cone 6
  • developing a new gallon of casting slip slightly different from my original formula
  • making a half batch of my porcelain dunking slip, to cast more fabric
  • hunting and gathering $56.00 of ceramic plates, teacups, mugs, saucers, and bowls from goodwill
  • re-firing my "half-baked pieces" to cone 6, only to realize most of my bright colors burned out
  • finishing up my large piece to 95% completion
  • casting a whole new set of molds (about 15 different molds)
  • started on 3 new smaller pieces (two frogs, and an owl)
  • tweaked my artists statement and the specific terminology used

I really haven't looked too deeply into a new artist, because I spent so much of my time actually making in the studio along with digging into the theory of incorporeal transformations by reading additional material by Deleuze and Guattari. I needed it though. I needed to just work and try to generate my own, internal influence this week.

Sometimes I feel like even though all the reading and research I do is all beneficial to my work, finding that balance between working and reading has been hard for me. I tend to go all in on something. Either I read for hours on end, or a work. I'm not too good at doing one or the other, if it isn't obvious in my blog posts (They are much longer than the required length and cover much more than they need to.) But this is just how I am, and how I have been working since I got here (to grad school). Everything is written down, and researched to the point where I feel at least comfortable with the topics.

Fresh out the re-fire. My piece with some of the colors washed out, because of the high heat.

My professor Jeff keeps telling me that as long as I keep working the answers to what the work is about will come, in time. So I just keep putting in the hours and hope that eventually I'll get some kind of "ahh-ha" moment. I feel that I am close. I think after I sit down and actually have a solid meeting with my chair for my thesis committee, and get some of my "facts" laid out about my work I will be in an even better place than I am now.

Plans for next week are to dive into working on a new piece incorporating more negative space into the work, as well as less weight. I am also having to make new sculptures from cloth, string, fabric, and cardboard, just so I can then break them for use in my current work.  All that materials research I did two semesters ago, to make my "fabric" sculptures, has now become a part of the process for the new works seen here. I also have all my 30hr MFA Candidacy Review artwork up on my website now, so look for that final upload so you can see the jumping off point from last semester to what I am doing now.

Here's to being half way through the semester already!

Understand Fear as Modern Curiosity

As a child I was taught to always be curious, but never too curious.

Things in this great wild world we live in tend to be mysterious and beautiful, with a subduction that can draw a young child in. Especially, one like myself, who was more often than not free to roam the outdoors unaccompanied for hours on end.

Detail of new work in the studio, January 2017.

A majority of my childhood up until I started high school was spent outdoors. I remember living in Louisiana and my brother and I getting our first TV, a small heavy box of a thing with a screen about the size of a standard sheet of writing paper. It went in his room, because he had the bunkbed but we were only ever allowed to watch it after we had finished our homework and gone outside for a bit. Honestly, I think my mother just needed a break from us, but back then going outside was not as dangerous as it is today. My family lived on a military base and it was completely normal for a group of like aged kids to walk the streets until the lights came on. All the families dads and mothers probably worked together on base in some way, and it was customary for parents to feed each others kids snacks in a kind of unspoken agreed upon rotation. Today that would never happen. I remember there being some houses that I was told not go inside of, even though I was friends with the kid that lived there, but these were just rules I followed. The woods were a different story. Rules did not apply the same way they did while in the neighborhood. It was all up to me to keep myself safe, aware, and alive. It may sound a bit of a exaggeration, but some of the things I did as a a child should and very well could have killed me. Jumping off the water tower with a rope around my waist, climbing into the sewer during a thunder storm, shooting bottle rockets at other kids in a game of war---the list goes on and on.


What I am getting at here is that "sense of curiosity" and what it does for an artist. In the woods, particularly in Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia---there are plenty of beautiful, colorful, and eye catching things in nature that can hurt you and still be so interesting. My professor Jeff explained to me that in my work there has still got to be some hope, something that gives the viewer a sense of curiosity and most importantly hope. Snakes, spiders, and four legged things are not the things that give people hope and are the more obvious ones people list off when they talk about dangerous creature sin the woods; which is why I was always interested in the smaller more unassuming plants and critters that were around me. Bugs, mushrooms, creepy crawlies, ivies, fungi, and what lived in the ground where smaller than me so I guess I was more curious than afraid. These things were just as dangerous as the larger counterparts but without fail I collected them in glass jars like the old Victorian glass terrariums seen below, and brought them home. Only to then get scolded by my mother for bringing them in the house. But I loved them. Loved them to the point where I'd create tiny habitats for the critters I captured, only to have them die after a week or two of captivity despite my best efforts.

It's been a good long while since I was out in the woods just to explore though. Something changed mentally and that curiosity I used to have shifted. The fear I lacked as a child only grows the older I get and something about going out in the woods alone as an adult is extremely terrifying and at the same time oddly appealing. But I believe the fear itself has transformed too, because its not that I am scared of whats out there, it's just that I know. I am more educated, and more prone to overthink situations rather than just take them at face value like I did as a kid. That idea of dropping everything and walking into the woods- it's the pioneers dream and probably most cubicle working adults.


I feel my work in the studio lately has the same love that I had for the tiny critters in the jars I collected as a child. I've gone back and researched images of things that are common in the woods where I grew up and the pieces I am developing scream "natures bounty." They reference Bernard Palissy, whom I've mentioned in previous blog posts but they also have new influences such as Mister Finch, a textile artist in the UK. I've seen his work before, in passing while trolling through Pinterest, but it was not until I came upon his series from 2014 called Specimen, where combined various clashing nature forms that I really took interest. He explains the work in this collection as:

Here’s a new collection of my latest work. I wanted to create specimens that look like they have been collected from somewhere else... wherever that may be.... Ive mixed wings with fungus and plants with foxes....spiders with feathers and a bird with translucent plastic fins underneath its plumage and over sized feather collar.
— Mister Finch

I related to this because my most recent work has been combining what I find in nature as well as what i find in the domestic space, and creating new works from that combination. But when I went hunting form more artists who use the theme of domestic spaces with nature in their work artist Giselle Hicks came to light. Her work from 2013, where she created floral arrangements on the wall influenced my work with a few floral additions into my sculptures. Turns out she too went to Alfred for her MFA in 2010-which is apparently where all the great clay people come from! She has taken part in various artist-in-residence programs including the Anderson Ranch Art Center, the Arts/Industry Program at the Kohler Company, The Clay Studio in Philadelphia (where I believe a former student here at GSU now works, Lois Harvey), The Greenwich House Pottery and The Archie Bray Foundation. Her resume is also quite extensive and has given me multiple opportunities to now look into. Most importantly however is her view on the pieces shown nelow, where she describes the domestic space as:

This work investigates the sites within a domestic space that are routinely and ritually inhabited, particularly the bed/bedroom and table/dining room. For me, the bed and table personify human relationships. Their design and function determines our proximity to one another affecting our actions and interactions. I imagine their surfaces as absorbent, retaining traces of our presence and our histories. This work is an abstraction of the expansive and complex life experiences that take place across surfaces of these sights within the home
— Giselle Hicks

As for my personal studio work this week, I have really worked hard for my first critique of the semester which is Monday and Tuesday of this week. I have two pieces complete and ready to show in addition to three smaller pieces that accompany the larger two. I had a third, but it collapsed under the weight of the materials I was adding to it, despite me efforts to keep it upright. Lesson learned...and learned hard. But thats ok-because it's body parts can now be used to build something else.

Nothing is ever a waste in clay-it can always be remade and reused.

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