Clay

People Make Things

This week has been a week worth of playing catch up in basically everything.


Brief and wondering thought: I was a bad grad student/teacher.

I let my emails get backed up. I know. Gasp right? I felt just the same, so I spent a good amount of my Friday afternoon sifting through the mass of unread inbox mail in both my personal and my school account. I'll just say that it was enough that I had to stop after a while and pick it back up Saturday morning. My brother also vacated my apartment this weekend, after staying with me for roughly two weeks time. (He is being stationed in a new location.)  Needless to say I needed to put my living quarters back in working order before I could get to work in the studio, because I hate coming home to: a messy couch, dirty dishes, unwashed and unfolded clothes, unkept bathroom, and most importantly an unmade everything.  (All of which my brother managed to do in the short time he was at my place.)

Strange as it is, my house is the complete opposite from my studio. In the studio I have used paper towels strung about every table top imaginable. The collection gets used later on in my pieces and in a way I feel like I'm saving the environment despite my excessive use of the "paper towel" in the first place. At least I reused it form more than just drying off my hands right?


Anyway this weeks blog post is going to be an artist overload.  Nothing much happened int he studio besides my largest piece surviving the bisque firing.  I'll be posting images of that here soon.  I did  however have the pleasure of getting to speak to a number of my professors this week in depth about my work, my artists statement, and some new influences to dive into.  So I am going to amass a few of them here just to see what kind of connections they can produce between one another.

First on the list is Aganetha Dyck, an artist recommended to me by Naomi Falk, the visiting juror for the undergrad Form and Content show this past week. Turns out we were on the same SECAC panel last October in Roanoke, and she's great friends with my ceramics professor Jeff.

"In North America, Europe and many other parts of the world, bee populations have plummeted 30-50% due to colony collapse disorder, a fact not lost on artist Aganetha Dyck who for years has been working with the industrious insects to create delicate sculptures using porcelain figurines, shoes, sports equipment, and other objects left in specially designed apiaries. As the weeks and months pass the ordinary objects are slowly transformed with the bees’ wax honeycomb. It’s almost impossible to look at final pieces without smiling in wonder, imagining the unwitting bees toiling away on a piece of art. And yet it’s our own ignorance of humanity’s connection to bees and nature that Dyck calls into question, two completely different life forms whose fate is inextricably intertwined." --Colossal

Next up is Martin Kilmas, also recommended to me by Naomi.  She said I should maybe look into drawing my sculptures, as a way to activate the wall space, not only with the ceramics on the wall, but perhaps large ink drawings or prints.

This next artist Jessica Stroller came recommended a few different ways, all within the same week. My friend Jessamy sent me an image on Instagram, then not a day later my professor sent me the same thing. 

My professor Jeff mentioned to me Chris Antemann, which then brought up Jessica Harrison.

Chris Antemann    Inspired by 18th C. porcelain figurines, Chris Antemann’s work employs a unity of design and concept to simultaneously examine and parody male and female relationship roles. Characters, themes and incidents build upon each other, effectively forming their own language that speaks about domestic rites, social etiquette, and taboos. Themes from the classics and the romantics are given a contemporary edge; elaborate dinner parties, picnic luncheons and ornamental gardens set the stage for her twisted tales to unfold.  The pieces Chris is making in the Meissen Art Campus use the literary technique of a frame narrative, a story within a story, to build relationships and create layers of information between the sculptural aspects and the painted surfaces. The main story is presented in the guise of the 18th century porcelain figurine as a context, which frames a parody or second narrative between the sculpted characters. Other stories and in many cases, the sources of inspiration for the piece are painted into the scene in elaborate detail.

Chris Antemann 

Inspired by 18th C. porcelain figurines, Chris Antemann’s work employs a unity of design and concept to simultaneously examine and parody male and female relationship roles. Characters, themes and incidents build upon each other, effectively forming their own language that speaks about domestic rites, social etiquette, and taboos. Themes from the classics and the romantics are given a contemporary edge; elaborate dinner parties, picnic luncheons and ornamental gardens set the stage for her twisted tales to unfold.

The pieces Chris is making in the Meissen Art Campus use the literary technique of a frame narrative, a story within a story, to build relationships and create layers of information between the sculptural aspects and the painted surfaces. The main story is presented in the guise of the 18th century porcelain figurine as a context, which frames a parody or second narrative between the sculpted characters. Other stories and in many cases, the sources of inspiration for the piece are painted into the scene in elaborate detail.

Jessica Harrison was born in St Bees in 1982, Jessica moved to Scotland to study sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art in 2000, going on to do an MFA before completing a practice-led PhD in sculpture in 2013, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. 

Working with a wide variety of materials from ceramics and marble to paint and digital collage, her practice explores the mechanics of perception and a fallibility of observation through an examination of the interaction between the visual and the tactile.

Her interest lies in how we handle, interpret and navigate materials, objects and space and how this process can define the shape of the body. The things she makes propose a re-imagining of these definitions, offering an alternative shape to our perception of things, using the simplicity of materials to explore the complexity of the sensory body.

New to New York

This week marks a special time in my life, in that I will be traveling to New York City for the first time. It has been called the city that never sleeps, at least so I've been told by every main stream media outlet that references the place. But for me it's going to be a non stop, go go go kind of adventure looking at art, going to a super art conference, and eating everything I can get my hands on. Jessamy (my grad school battle buddy) and I are going up there this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the annual CAA conference, which is summed up as:

The College Art Association Annual Conference is the largest international gathering of professionals in the visual arts. The program is filled with opportunities to join more than 250 stimulating sessions and meetings on a wide range of topics on art scholarship and practice; to engage in in-depth discussions on new scholarship, innovative art, and issues in the arts today; and to connect with colleagues from across the country and around the world.
— CAA

We will be staying at an old international student youth hostel in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, two blocks out from Central Park and only a short subway ride to the conference center and all things New York. What I am most looking forward to aside from going to NYC, is the conference itself. CAA is the largest art conference currently, and I feel like I have been climbing the ladder up to this point. Although I am not presenting at this conference, I hope to do so in the future. This year I applied for a number of things at CAA, but it was all revolving around simply attending the event. I applied for the graduate travel grant which allows students from far away access to the conference with a travel stipend, and lodging, as well as complimentary conference admission. Unfortunately however I was not awarded that grant, but I was offered a position to work the conference by Katie Aspey, the Director of Programs at CAA. She was very helpful in attempting to get me involved in working the event, but after some talk with my professors they advised that this first go around I should just attend the conference and explore the city. Ms. Aspey gave me a rain check for next year's conference so theres hope for the future in getting more involved like I have at SLSA and SECAC. As for the conference, Jessamy and I will be using the new and improved CAA-Pay as you Wish day passes for the conference. Which gets us in for the day and lets us not be so locking into the full registration of the conference cost, even at the discounted student rate.


Lately I have been reading up on things to do in the city and places to see as well as artists who might have shows going on that I have to put on my to do list. What has been extremely helpful has been the New Yorkers "Goings On About Town" column online. You can actually click through what sort of things you want to see and the art column is fantastically jam packed with the current things to do and see in the city. Galleries such as the Gagosian Gallery on 24th Street, The Pace Gallery downtown, Matthew Marks Gallery, and the Sean Kelly Gallery are a few on my list of maybe swinging into and seeing what exhibitions in a top tier gallery are like in person. In particular the Gagosian is having a showing of a new Mark Tansey work called "Reverb" which he completed just early this year. I really enjoyed learning about Tansey in class with Julie McGuire, and the theoretical reasoning behind his work has always interested me. His work deals with:

Each of Tansey’s paintings is a visual and metaphorical adventure in the nature and implications of perception, meaning, and interpretation in art. Working with the conventions and structures of figurative painting, he creates visual corollaries for sometimes arcane literary, philosophical, historical, and mathematical concepts. His exhaustive knowledge of art history accumulates in paintings through a time-intensive process. Images are mined from a vast trove of primary and secondary sources assembled over decades—magazine, journal and newspaper clippings, as well as his own photographs—which he submits to an intensive process of manipulation. The strictly duotone paintings have a precise photographic quality reminiscent of scientific illustration, achieved by applying gesso then washing, brushing and scraping paint into it.
— Gagosian

Next up lets talk about museums. New York is the stomping ground for good art and some of the best museums around are located in the big city. On our list of places to see are The Met, the MoMA, the Whitney, and the Guggenheim. If there were any bigger names in the art world this blog couldn't handle them all at once. Old school Velasquez paintings art housed in the Met, but then right down the hall new works by up and coming artists flood the walls. Down the road in The Metropolitan Museum of Art there is an exhibition on Maiolica, Italian Renaissance Ceramics by Timothy Wilson, which I know some of the ceramic students would love to hear about since they just completed their very own maiolica project last semester.


As for a quick update on whats happening in my studio...here's the deal...I have no idea, well, yes I do. I put up on my wall about 725printer points worth of color images of all sorts of things. Let me just leave you with some images of what has been happening, and I'll explain more later. For the rest of the day I am going to Savannah to grade assignments, read heavy theory articles for homework, and probably have some kind of fancy dinner.

Terminals in Art

Greetings from East Alabama, to all those who follow my blog and are interested in my travels! I decided quite irrationally to leave Statesboro for the weekend and drive to my hometown of Columbus, GA which is on the opposite side of the state about three and a half hours away. However, by the time I reach my sleeping arrangements out at my mothers in Salem, AL its a long haul of four hours and fifteen minutes...including a snack/rest stop along the way. I am delaying my return to Statesboro as long as possible since it'll be back to reality come Monday morning, so for my blogging purposes this week I am writing on a sketchy portable wifi connection in the woods, and then will continue at my fav local coffee shop in downtown Columbus, Fountain City Coffee.

Julian behind the bar at Fountain City in Columbus, GA

For starters this past week has been pretty spectacular. Monday and Tuesday the first critique of the semester within the graduate department went underway and needless to say the roast was not as "hot" as I expected. I am trying out a new style of making that incorporates all my past research into one collective piece, and am attempting the defy gravity as best I can. Since January, I have used class-studio time attempting to develop my artist statement in a way that makes it reflect my work and vice versa. Needless to say this is quite difficult and is probably the single most bothersome thing to deal with as a studio artist. When a new method of making comes into play, the statement must change as well to reflect this new style which is proving irksome indeed.

Let me break it down my past semesters and what all has happened within my studio so you can understand my current studio situation a bit better.

Semester 1, I came to Southern wanting to do basically what I had left off doing in undergrad which was welding and making large sculptural works.  After I graduated undergrad in '13 I spent two years trying to get into a graduate program any and everywhere. I traveled, read abundantly, and felt like every application fee was just a waste of money because the work I was making outside the university system wasn't what I wanted to be doing. I was making mixed media paintings (I know right...me...painting...ha!) It was all I could get my hands on materials wise so I called the body of work Making it By, By Any Means Necessary, which is what is seen below.

Losing access to a studio space with tools and equipment made me harshly reassess my craft and purpose during those two years. So upon arrival at GSU, I landed in an enormous open room to myself, with limitless directions in art I could take--- I felt completely lost. The solution? Do what you know-weld, paint, sculpt. That whole semester I spent it making crap. Literally, it was some of the worst work I feel I have ever made looking back at them. They had purpose for the moment and they opened me up to new possibilities for me down the road. In terms of their depth theoretically, historically, and their placement in a contemporary art world context: what a bunch of total crap. I count them as stepping stones to what happened next.

Semester 2, I had no where to go for Christmas break so I just lived in the studio while the rest of the town vacated to bigger and better things. This is when I feel back into clay. I had spent the whole first semester working in the ceramics studio as the graduate assistant and had been making things here and there on the side, but I decided give it a shot and work in the material I had worked in a majority of my undergrad, all of high school, and even so far back as sixth grade when I took my first ceramics class. That semester I developed new techniques with clay, fabrics, and clay bodies. It really was an eye opening semester of research and development.

Semester 3, was the moment of all out turmoil. It was my 30hr review, in which I had to make work to survive, literally. This semester I pushed the processes I had worked on further and further and made more relatable work to what my artist statement had been hinting at. I was getting closer to where I am now and I really felt like the introduction of casting ceramics, as well as using wheel thrown pieces, and hand built parts made my work better. I was pulling out all the stops for my defense and in the end I passed allowing me to get to where I am now.

Semester 4, the semester of "last chance experiments" before the final year of thesis work begins. I am combining all my past experiences in the studio into one complete work. Expanding off the pedestal, onto the floor and the wall. Removing work form the obvious context and putting it into a more developed and understandable realm. I finally feel like my pieces are starting to get to the meat and potatoes of my statement, but I've got plenty more research to do. The last actual class I am taking aside from studio time and thesis work this semester, Art in Systems taught by Jason Hoelscher has opened me up to so many new things in the discourse of art. In the class we read articles, papers, magazine posts, and even some of his personal conference papers on topics spanning the art world. I really enjoy it, and believe it's making my work stronger than it's ever been, which is why I choose Hoelscher as my Thesis Chair for the next year. Having him help me push my ideas further is really going to challenge me and I look forward to the outcome.


Thats where I am at; it's been a long haul, much like my drive out here to Columbus but worth the trouble. We had an visiting artist Alicia LaChance come down from St. Louis to talk briefly about her work in the exhibition in the Contemporary Gallery at GSU, Flatbed Picture Planes as well as do individual visits with us graduate students. She was beyond inspiring, mostly because of the support she showed me throughout our talk in my studio. I showed her what I was currently working on (soon to be finished for you viewing pleasure), as well as past work and my website. We talked about future plans and what sort of things I needed to get into during my last year. The Craft Alliance Center for Art and Design was the biggest thing she turned me on to. After hearing about my residencies in Ireland, and some of my recent shows she insisted I reach out to them and make a connection. I've looking into their page and what they stand for in the arts and I have to say I am really interested in what could happen. It's one of the many things to dig into on my list of things to well, dig into!

Alicia Lachance

She also mentioned an artist to me named Kahlil Robert Irving. LaChance mentioned him mostly I believe for his use of materials, as well as his fellowships and exposure in the art world. After looking into his page and reading a few articles on him I can see why she made the connection. his website describes his work as:

Kahlil Robert Irving creates installations and sculptures that collage pattern color, complex forms, and recognizable objects relating to different signs and symbols from his cultural and social environment.
— Kahlil Irving

I intend to keep in tough with Alicia in the future just in case I am ever up in St. Louis and want to grab a coffee and a small pick me up of kind words and harsh criticism. It's always nice when a visiting artist makes a real connection with us graduate students. Makes the future of "what do we do after we graduate" so much better feeling. Aside from that, it's been a busy week of planning travel, trips, and adventures.


This summer the graduate department will be taking a trip to Germany for a study abroad extravaganza. I am in the works planning the itinerary, where we are staying, and what we are doing with my Professor and fellow grad student Jessamy and Cyndy-and what a rush it is! Kassel, Germany for the Documenta 2017. Venice, Italy for the Venice Biennale 2017. And Berlin, Germany because well it's Berlin and why not?! Thats just a small two week stent of my eight week adventure. I'll be in Ireland again for five weeks for the EC Waterford, Ireland program as the resident, and then I'm taking a personal six day trip around Europe while I wait for my Germany trip to start. Edinburg, Scotland, London, England, and Ireland all over again is on the to do list with my step mom who is coming over to take part in the shenanigans with me.

As for me I am going to enjoy the rest of my Sunday with some light reading in my Networks book for class, as well as maybe take part in some Super Bowl festivities. I don't follow football, but apparently it's kind of a big deal that some team as made it this far. In my attempts to be well rounded, I guess I should know a little something about whats happening outside my "world".

 

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.

Already Existing, But Still New

One week into the fourth semester of my grad experience and despite it being the repetitive process of coming to class on time, doing the assignments, and not binge eating at all hours of the day...its still all around a new experience.

So yes, lets take a moment and bask in the glory of the newness of things. Much will be changing in 2017- to include a new president of the free world for better or worse, a solar eclipse that hasn't happened since 1918, a march of women on the White House, new gym memberships that will get at least some use, technology will continue to evolve, conflicts shall arise, and we will all get a little older. But let's get real, all of these things have already been happening in the world for who knows how long, and yet with each new year they magically become new again, and the bit of hope in our own existence is renewed.  It's a cycle, endless as it may seem, the only things really that come with a new year are realizations of what was not accomplished in the last.

Therefore I want to talk about some things that I did not accomplish and what I learned that I intend to apply to 2017 moving forward. They are less resolutions and more so just board concepts I hope to apply to myself as we circle around this bright star.

1. Understanding- What I mean by this is that I honestly just want to take the time to understand better. To listen to what someone has to say and before I give my option, take a moment and reflect on what was just given to me and then and only then respond if it is actually worth my two sense. Often I noticed last year I had a tendency of letting my strong personality dominate others. I am strong willed, a leader, and have a extreme confidence which is great for what I want to do in life, but not so great when it comes to actually taking the time to understand those around me who are less confident or who have opposing ideas/personalities. Understanding is not a resolution, it's just a better way of going about my day in general.

2. Knowledge- I will, at all opportunities, look into and read up on things suggested to me. In grad school its not uncommon to have ten new things you'd never heard about thrown at you in one conversation. This year I intend to look into all of them on some level. Knowledge is more than understanding, which is why it's number two on my list of things because it's being able to take what you know and apply it through understanding as an application, a tool.  Reading essays on art theory will boost my own art process as well as my teaching in the classroom. Plus I'm sure we could all use a little less social media, television, and internet for a change and actually get into some literature thats been around for decades.

3. Health- Now this last one also builds on the previous two in a way. Over the last four semesters here I have taken it upon myself to be mindful of my heath while in school. It is easy to lose track of an eating schedule (especially when you teach a class from 11-1:30...the prime lunch hours) and then consume low quality, cheap food. Grad school does that to you. The lack of money, time, and energy is begging for health problems down the road. Therefore health is a combination of understanding and knowledge. Understanding that I need sleep, water, and exercise, and knowing that I can educate myself on bettering my daily life through research into a healthier lifestyle.

Understanding, Knowledge, and Health-what do these have to do with a grad students art blog you might be asking? Well they all already existed but now I am giving them priority over the smaller things in my life.  I can already see small changes in the way I am going about my day now that I put a focus on these three broad concepts. For instance I did some significant digging on how to throw larger ceramic pots without hurting myself and came across an immense amount of information that I didn't even know was out there. This interest was spurred on by somewhat of a failure of mine from last semester in that I limited the scale in my work and gave in to gravity.  This year I am changing that for the better I hope. I've got quite a few things going in my studio right now in terms of larger thrown pieces but I can already tell that just after this first week and the few discussions I've had with my professors that I need to sit down and draw out my plans. At this point in my program I can't go about my work so intuitively, and I need to develop my sketches of my ideas further before I begin actually making. Of course the work will evolve as I make it, but I need an end goal in mind before I begin.


As for artists that I came across this week while looking for inspiration and technique ideas, I found Bryan Yerian. In looking for a youtube video on composite, or coil throwing I found this artist and then realized that his artists statement is actually quite referential to my own. Here is a snippet of his artist statement:

I view art as a byproduct of a process; the pursuit of preserving a moment in time. My artworks are reactionary artifacts inspired by life experiences and memories. Objects, materials, colors, and patterns are the vehicles I use to communicate the striking contrasts I observe in everyday experiences.

Mold making is a symbolic process of capturing and preserving an objects likeness. By utilizing molds to replicate objects I am able to transform objects into symbols meant to evoke a sense of familiarity, as well as unknown. The objects I choose to replicate carry inherent meanings I associate with contrasting themes such as mortality, vulnerability, comfort and safety, and real and surreal.

I intentionally use archival and timeless materials as a method of preservation and transformation. Clay and glaze are unique materials, in that they can easily mimic other known materials, such as metal and fabric, and are simultaneously densely archival, yet extremely fragile. These are characteristics I intentionally exploit in my art.
— http://www.bryanyerian.com/artist-statement.html

His work looks interesting but I don't see the relationship with the words in the statement to the actual work, which is my exact same problem so I've been told. Connections with the concepts to the actual work is the struggle we all face as artists but it's really the struggle of a graduate student and the ten or so professors critiquing work. I've got to connect the ideas in my head to the work in my hands at some point, or at least get closer than I am now. The video on composite throwing surely helped me though. Already in the studio I have three new vessels working, and a forth made from building together thrown donuts and hollow bowls. Here's hoping that will pan out a bit more.


I know that the goal of these blog posts is for use to research artists and get involved in their work on some level, but I take them more as a stream of consciousness in terms of whats happening within my studio and then with myself in the larger art world. I was bad and didn't post a single blog post last semester. So much has happened to me since I last wrote back in April 2016, that I feel a brief but elaborate recap is in order.

First of all I went to Ireland for five weeks as the resident assistant for the European Council Water Ireland Program and had the time of my life. Learned how to direct 44 students in a foreign country and did my job well enough to be offered a return position for Summer 2017 as the single resident assistant.

I went to conferences. A lot of them. Specifically I attended SECAC in Roanoke, Virginia with my friend Cyndy Epps and presented on a panel titled Letters to a Young Artist. My paper focused on the "artist on their phone" and how media is interfering wth their working process in the studio. I also presented at SLSA in Atlanta, Georgia on a senior panel for theory in art regarding "object-ness". I was the youngest on the panel, and also the only graduate student in a group of four other well established professors across the country. At SLSA I also presented a poster on the Inherent Qualities of Clay and was one of four art students in the entire poster session of art historians and theorists, which was over two-hundred in number.

My show Trifecta, which I curated with my friend Jessamy McManus was a great success over the summer at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. It had eighteen artists from across the state participate, and highlighted the three public master of fine art schools in the state- Georgia Southern, Georgia State, and University of Georgia. Trifecta prompted a connection to within all three schools and has since developed a "show swap" within the universities as well as Trifecta 2.0 happening this summer at the GA State campus. So that was an enormous success in my book!

In December the graduate group went to Miami again for Art Basel 2016, and this time brought along a few deserving undergraduate seniors as well. The trip brought about discussions of art and the art market as well as the context of the fairs and their purposes.  Places like Pulse and NADA, who have more so emerging artists verses the big names like Art Basel who focus on the well known and the classics.

I also taught that dreaded 2-2 load at Georgia Southern that I mentioned in my previous blog posts and it in fact was not that bad at all. I actually really loved it.  I ended up teaching 2D Design and 3D Design Monday thru Thursday in addition to taking my own classes, and am currently doing the same thing again this semester. Teaching I feel is what really got me to the point of my three new years goals/concepts.  It put myself into a bigger picture and allowed me to see myself in a new light. So I have immense gratitude for the opportunity given to me in that respect.


As for 2017 so far, I have kept up with myself but it's too early to tell what will happen this semester. Jessamy and I bought out tickets this week to attend the CAA Conference in New York in February and thats about as much excitement as I can muster at the moment. I intend to continue presenting at conference, want to get into more shows, and am in progress of trying to establish opportunities elsewhere for myself. Just have to keep pushing forward and things will happen.

Thanks for the read if you made it this far and welcome to 2017, the new year, new semester, and new opportunities!

Finding Purpose and Direction in Your Studio

It might be the fact that I've been listening to the soundtrack of Shawshank Redemption on repeat, or that another month of school is slowly ticking it's life away, but lately I have been having a hard time finding the purpose behind making work.  Countless hours spent in the studio till odd hours in the morning must produce some sort of reasoning right?  When does this moment of "ah ha" happen, because I am not finding it.  (I assume this is a normal conclusion for someone in my predicament, but it is never the less frustrating.)  All I am getting is more and more questions. Questions like what happens when I wrap and tie my ceramics up to the point they look constrained and bound to no end? What does it mean to want to contain this space within, to restrain it from escaping with strings, twine and bindings? What does color do to the pieces, does it make them less chaotic or more so?

Never ending questions that I still can't even begin to answer.


But enough of the whaoo is me, I can't figure out the meaning of life bull crap!  I have made some big leaps since last week.  First off, I am going to my second conference of my grad school career in Savannah this upcoming weekend and will actually be Chairing my very own panel session.  This is a big deal people! Its through the British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies International Conference and I am one of four conference liaisons that will help host, direct, and chair the conference as a whole.  I am extremely excited about this since it's a major opportunity to learn the insider scoop on how conferences work and how to properly chair panel sessions.  I will be watching a number of sessions on Friday at the Conference, and then actually running a panel by myself Saturday, called Gender Equality in a Postcolonial Context with three foreign presenters discussing their papers.

This week also brought about my first exhibition of the semester, in Gallery 303 at Georgia Southern called Inspired.  It's a mixture of student work, both graduate and undergraduate level and will be on display for just over a months time.  I also applied to the Vermont Studio Centers residency program in hopes to land a residency over any of the school holidays later this year.  We'll see what happens I suppose.  There's also one other major event that happened but it's still under the radar so I won't be able to disclose it this week but maybe next week I can spill the beans on another great opportunity I received.  Until then I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the best!

I found a number of different artists to highlight in this weeks blog, and narrowing them down to one I really wanted to discuss was tricky.  Right now in my studio I am dealing with figuring out the right size my pieces should be, their color, and their texture.  The artist I found that helped me most answer these questions is Canadian sculptor Susan Collett.  She creates large scale ceramic works that she pushes towards the edge of collapsing by stacking hand built clay slabs one on top of the next.  He pieces are extremely sculptural which is something that I like because my works also have no functional purpose.  This May, her and two other ceramic artists are exhibiting in Montreal at the Galerie Elena Lee in a show called Master Ceramicists.  She's had her ceramics displayed all over the world, in places like Dublin, Taiwan, and New York to name a few.

Two of her body of works from 2015, called Aggregate and Maelstrom are probably the most influential to me at this time simply because of their visual qualities.  Maelstrom is mostly black and white while Aggregate is full of color.  The contrast in surfaces in the two groups has shown me that one artist can swing both ways and doesn't have to commit to one style.  The works are very much alike structurally, but their glaze coloring groups them into different collections-something that I want to try in my future pieces.  I miss working with bright obnoxious colors, but making that happen in ceramics and it not look muddy or like a big accident is a logistical nightmare.

I completed four new pieces this week and tried color out for the first time in them.  I am still not sure if I like the results yet or not.  I am working with stains that do not run or flux much, but that leaves them almost with a milky surface texture.  I only glazed the string and twine a color, leaving the body of the piece a soft white.  So now I am left with collapsed and slumping forms wrapped and tied down with bright yellow, orange, green, and black "string" which isn't actually string at all because it's all just ceramics.  One piece in particular which I have named Box is encased in black thread, even across its gaping opening.  But one yellow piece of string works its way throughout the encroaching blackness on the white body.  It's a pretty powerful looking piece in my eyes, but I think only because I know how much went into making it work.  I'll have to see what the audience thinks about it, and it's fellow colorful companions next critique.

The newer pieces I am working on have scaled up in size, as well as techniques.  I've changed clay formulas, adding more alumina hydrate to stiffen the mix, and sprayed white engobe on the forms to give them a whiter base once bisque.  This should increase their opaqueness once glazed and the underlaying clay body will not be as visible.  I will also be making a porcelain body clay this week to try out, because the type of clay a person uses is just as important as what the final piece looks like.  Not saying that my clay body is bad, but to a ceramicists, a stoneware clay, and earthenware clay, and porcelain clay all come with different difficulties and qualities once fired.  I'm going for a whitest of whites clay body, so porcelain is my next move.  I may not know all the reasons yet as to why I am making the things I make, but I at least have a direction and that's all that matters at the moment.


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