Ireland

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".

 

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!

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