Travel

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".

 

Art in the Big City

What a week this has been.  This past week was my first Spring Break in over 3 years, my first of my graduate career, and although I had planned to fill it with relaxation and easy going days...very little of that happened.  The first weekend of my break I went and saw The Lady Chablis in Savannah, she is the Drag Queen featured in the famous book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.  It was her 59th birthday celebration and I somehow managed to get the entire crowd to sing her happy birthday while she was on stage.  And in doing so I was brought on stage and received a gift from her in return, a photograph of her and John Cusack which she kissed with her bright red lipstick and gave me a hug.  What a night that was!

The middle of the week was full of work however once I returned to Statesboro.  I spent all day Monday throwing bowls for the Club mud sale coming up near the end of March and then Tuesday consisted of trimming, loading two glaze kilns, and a bisque kiln.  I made new porcelain tests, recorded all of my fabric tests in my journal, and made a five gallon bucket of porcelain to work with later.  I also unloaded two of my newest pieces from the kiln, which are total tests in my book.  They are both made from stone ware and cotton, coated in white engobe, and then coated in a porcelain overlay.  In my mind, this should give me the white-blue color I am dying to see, but in almost a cheating sort of manner.  It'll be porcelain, but not actually a porcelain piece, just an exterior shell of porcelain.  Pretty sneaky if I do say so myself.  Those two pieces will get glazed and fired for my upcoming critique on the 30th, so stay tuned for photos of them soon.

Art wise I made my way up to Atlanta to see the last day showing of Ceramics at the Marcia Wood Gallery on Monroe Street.  This trip was so worth the drive up.  The ceramic work on display was amazing and actually gave me numerous ideas/solutions to questions I had about my own work.  I saw ceramics with hair, ceramics made from hair, ceramics made from slip casting, ceramics on shelving, ceramics on bases, ceramics made from porcelain and stoneware....I saw it all.

While I was gawking at the delicate works on stone bases by Dawn Holder, I met her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Holder.  They were in town to see their daughters work on the last day of its showing and I by chance began talking to them about how much I appreciated her use of a base, with ceramics.  Her father said "I have not clue why she uses stones to place the work on, probably because they look bad on a shelf alone and thats just what she wanted to do." (This answer made me think of my own father, who would also give a similar non-invasive answer to a question he had no clue how to respond to.) Her mother was just as welcoming to my inquiries, and we talked about Sister Wendy, and what the difference in viewing a 2D work is to viewing a 3D work.  She also asked me about my work and to see images, which I gladly, and as calmly as I could muster, showed her on my phone.  We came upon my bubble wrap, hair piece called Wrap and she insisted I giver her my information, seeing as she worked at UPS.  She had just met the people who make bubble wrap, the creators, and told me she would forward my work along to them seeing how I transformed their product completely but retaining it's original integrity.

Then the unthinkable happened.  A woman walked up, who I had thought was an employee of the gallery (due to my ignorance) and began talking to us.  I didn't recognize her as Marcia Wood herself, the gallery owner.  I told her I was a student of Komatsu, one of the ceramicist on display in her show, and how I had enjoyed speaking to Mr. and mrs. Holder about their daughter Dawn's work.  She graciously walked us around the gallery and explained some of the processes behind the works, answered my questions, and listened to the three of us babble on about the layout and overall aesthetic of the show.  We finished speaking and I asked if there was any type of printed media I could take with me, since there were not labels on the walls.  I was handed a printout, I thanked her for sharing her information with me.

And seeing the art, made all the difference!  Dawn Holders work was very inspirational.  She uses stone bases for her slip cast ceramics.  Which actually look perfect with the pieces.  They seem like barnacles laying on rocks, but she too uses natural materials in ceramics and then burns to material out in the kiln.  So it's a different kind of slip casting, more like slip bunking...which is pretty much what I do, just with different materials.  I've seen her grass works in person too before, but her work at Marcia Wood was much better in my opinion (probably because I could decipher the process behind them!)

Tomorrow though, I must return to school and get back to work.  I've spent the week running like crazy, while inserting a little fun, food, and laziness along the way but now I've got to head back to Statesboro.  It's a three hour drive from Atlanta, could be longer depending on traffic.  I celebrated my sisters 25th birthday, saw a drag show, ate copious amounts of food, saw some fantastic art, and received notice that I made it into my third conference and will be going to Ireland 100%.  I'd say it's been a pretty solid, productive, and crazy awesome week.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.