End of Year Studio Plans

Seeing as this may be my second to last blog post that I will have for this semester in school, I wanted to cover some end of the year studio plans.  First things first, I've got to go bigger.  All of my sculptures have been about the size of a toddler, but they are usually smaller.  They max out about about 3 feet tall and 1.5 feet wide and they contain little space.  Bottom line, I must go larger next semester. 

I have also found a very useful material for creating bases and larger pieces and thats corrugated cardboard.  It creates such a unique and unexpected texture once fired that I believe it will make for some interesting works down the line.  I also transformed a stuffed teddybear into a forever ceramic piece.  It's solid, with sharp glass hairs all over its body and hollow eyes.  I didn't want to display it for my critique this past Friday, but after some persistent words from my professors I put it on the shelf anyway.  What a mistake that was.  Everyone only talked about the bear, and I really wanted feedback on the other works ... such as the cardboard, the blued towers, the lace, and the terrycloth.  I'll know better next time though I suppose.  I did learn from this critique however that the the bears are not the direction I want to go in.  It was an experiment in transformation, and I found out that I can indeed do it.  But it is not what I want to do.  I enjoy creating the landscape-like sculptures from clothes, and binding them up to contain and restrain them.  This is also something I have to work on over the summer.

Summer.  Not to be melodramatic but I've been in school for an entire year now and summer is only two weeks away.  Where is the time going? Two semesters down and only four more to go.  This summer I'll be in Ireland for six weeks and I really hope that being away from the studio that amount of time will open up some doors for me mentally.  I have revised and revised my artist statement with little luck.  What I have now I feel most sure about, but after my critique I can see that what I think about the work is still not what it's actually portraying.  So yet again I am back to square one.  Theres a number of galleries I intend on visiting while in Ireland and I believe this will help me get some answers to the questions about my work I've got swimming around up in my brain.

As soon as schools out I am planning on going to Atlanta for a bit of a mini vacation away from Statesboro.  While there I want to revisit the Marcia Wood Gallery to check out artist Kim Piotrowski and her solo show called Field and Territory which is on display from March 31st to April 30th, 2016.  I wanted to go to the opening reception of this show but school wouldn't allow for it.  I do plan on attending the next opening in May though since school will be out.  I've looked at her paintings online and I have a postcard of Ravel 2015 but I think having the opportunity to talk about them in person will be good.  As for other artists I have been researching lately, Ill be honest I slacked off a bit as soon as critique rolled around.  Some of my professors gave me artists and philosophers to look into, and I've gathered the sources to read but have yet to actually read them.  All in time I suppose.

I think that is about it for this weeks post.  Nothing fantastic happened besides a critique and I went to another conference.  This time a Research Symposium at Georgia Southern where I presented my research on Visual Data in Glazing a study of ceramic glazes for student use.  It was a successful presentation and I have a number of questions at the end of my talk regarding glazing and how it works.  Other than that, it's winding down and things are getting tight on the time line!

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.

Is it even "Homework"

Homework isn't what it used to be.

Everything is NOW considered homework.

Research is homework.  Something that for the longest time i didn't know that I was even doing until my professor explained it to me, everything you DO is "Research."  Looking online at images....that's homework too.  Reading an article about artistic cooking, oh, that's homework.  Spending hours on Pinterest because you can't stop scrolling, also homework.  Discussions with fellow classmates about what is even considered homework, definitely 100% homework.  Traveling to a far away city to explore, that can be homework right?  Looking up books to buy in an old shop in downtown Savannah, GA and sipping on Ruby's Tea, probably could be homework.  Getting lost on Highway 16 and using your non-GPS skills to find your way back-hell yes that is some detective homework right there!  Watching old black and white films on the oldies channel in your pj's with a glass of wine, especially ones like the 1920's Metropolis or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, well of course that is homework.  Point is, it's all homework.  I could go on and on and on about it and all of its' entirety, but...

Maybe I should get back to work.  It's all homework in the end anyway.

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