Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 1: Sketchbook Show and Tin: The Element of Surprise

Opening Reception for Tin: The Element of Surprise, Mendenhall Gallery, Greenville, NC

The ECU Symposium takes place over the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, giving participants time to travel and us hosts time to prepare before everyone gets too busy with school. We have people arrive Friday afternoon/evening and join us for gallery receptions where they can see great work, mingle, and students can meet the local students they'll stay with for the weekend. Lectures and workshops run all day Saturday and Sunday, finishing with a big bash at a local coffee shop Sunday night. Monday is reserved for traveling, recovering, or both.

We're lucky enough to have a little gallery space in our student center here on campus and for both symposiums now, we were able to use this space to host shows relating to our theme of Material Topics. Last year's show was an array of student work from ECU craft's departments and this year we were able to have work from outside the school on display.

Sketchbook Pages, Mendenhall Gallery,

ECU grads Abigail Heuss and Josh Craig had the idea of asking people to send in a photocopy or print out of a page in their sketchbook to be put on display for the symposium and later complied into a book. I think that this is a great idea in theory, because I think most of us enjoy looking at other people's sketchbooks. But when it comes to sharing our own, well, we take a different view. I know I choose one of the more bland pages out of my own sketchbook, since most of what I keep is only for me. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way, and we all have sketchbook hang ups, which is why I think participation wasn't as high as it could have been. Still, what was there was fun to look at.

We were also able to have Tin:The Element of Surprise up for the symposium. Curated by Marlene True, Tin exhibits the work of contemporary artists who utilize tin as a material in their work.

Works by Terri Blond, Tim Lazure, and Bryan Peterson

Marlene states: "Color, images, and text found on tin cans are designed to lure and entice us to purchase the products they contain. However, once consumed, the can has served its intended purpose and is often thrown away. Sometimes they find their way into the hands of an artist. This is where transformation begins, as they are a great source for color, text, and narrative. What we throw away says a lot about us as consumers referencing culture, time, politics and taste. These references can be manipulated in an infinite number of ways to create new meaning in relationship to form and function. While recycling is not the focus of this exhibition it does illuminate what can be done when creative and intelligent thinking are applied to post-consumer materials."

Marlene True, Pocosin 2, Steel, Tin, and Plastic, photo by M. True

Tin as a material seems to be growing in popularity. Several of our recent and current grads either make work predominantly out of tin or incorporate tin elements. And while I have little to no desire to work with tin, I really enjoyed this show. After seeing the same types of work in tin from the same people simply because we share space, it was really great to see work I was unfamiliar with along with the work of my friends. It put both the work and the material in a broader context. Tin, I now realize, is incredibly versatile.

Marlene True, Pocosin 3, Steel, Tin, and Plastic, photo by M. True

There were a ton of great pieces in this show, but my favorites were Marlene's Pocosin Pendants. I tend to gravitate towards minimal and subtle pieces, and these are right up my alley. They're quiet, not trying to smack you in the face with any kind of overt statement, but you can sense something in them. A breath, a sense of place, a sense of something personal and meaningful, something poetic. Or maybe they are just simply beautiful in color and arrangement. All in all, just a few of the wonderful pieces in an amazing show.

Tin: The Element of Surprise has been shown in Edwardsville Art Center in Edwardsville, IL, Montana State University in Bozeman MT. and is still currently on display at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. It will soon travel to College of the Albemarle in Manteo, NC.

Quote of the Week

"Walk this forest full of lions and don't consider the danger."


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rosary Photos

Here are some better shots of the rosaries I made this summer as part of my Italy trip. They are, in order Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All the enamels are double sided and utilize a different technique. I was really quite pleased with these, and surprisingly got a very positive response to them. They are, I think, the most personal pieces I've ever made, and was shocked when someone actually asked me how much I would sell one of these for. A nice complement, but these are something I will never sell. However, I would love to make this type of artistic rosary on commission. But is there even a market for that?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Let the Freak Out Commence!!!

Or rather, continue. . . .

I had a pretty good week last week, despite the many meetings. I got my AMAZING brooches from the swap in the mail (I promise to post about them soon!) I got some other lovely gifts, and a surprise pair of earrings from kick-ass Arrowmont resident Jennifer Wells. I made some little things, just for fun, just to give myself a break from the thesis work for a hot second. I spent some time by myself, which for me is as necessary as breathing or art making. I made some books, which I'm beginning to realize is a bit of a stress reliever for me.

But this week. . . . Well let me tell you. I'm a total wreck. Every other day I either get asked "How's the writing going?" (in regards to my thesis) and "What are you going to do when you graduate?" The answers to these questions are respectively: "I haven't started." and "I don't know." The what am I going to do after I graduate is freaking me out way more than the thesis writing (or not writing, as it were). I'm also getting too much unsolicited advice on the matter, which is not something I react well too, along with constant reminders that I have a HUGE amount of student debt I'm going to need to start paying off. I need to get my shit together, and I only have maybe the foggiest idea of how to do this. The only thing I really know how to do is make work.

And speaking of student debt, I'm still waiting on my financial aid, because someone in the study abroad office screwed up my schedule. This makes me so angry. You don't make mistakes that affect other people's money. Just because you have the luxury of a regular paycheck doesn't mean we all do. And I'm waiting on my financial aid so that I can do something about my computer and my digital camera, so that I can get back to my regular life. I kinda hate how much I depend on my technology. I am seriously tweaking out about not having my computer and camera.

Anyways, this too shall pass as they say. Sorry for the rant. More interesting things to come, I promise.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quote of the Week

Sorry I haven't done a quote in a long time. Did I mention that my computer is still busted? Anyways, I was given a lovely book of poetry just yesterday, and while I haven't had a chance to really delve into it yet, I did come across this passage:

"Then he took the wind in his fist
and let it out like a butterfly,
to show what power was.

When no one understood,
he let himself go
and they followed the simple flight into his mind. . ."

~Stephen Dunn, Teacher Answering Young Radicals

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blogs Abound!

So a couple days before the symposium, I was invited by Brigitte Martin to blog about it over on crafthaus. I'm way excited about this, and my first post went up yesterday! I'll be re-posting everything over here too, but posts will always be up of crafthaus first. I'm still in the process of contacting participants for images and permissions, etc. but I wanted to do a quick introductory post to kinda start things off:

This student organized intercollegiate symposium, Material Topics, was originally conceived by East Carolina MFA candidate, Laura Wood as a way to connect with fellow students and faculty from neighboring schools. With the support of our wonderful faculty and the hard work of both our graduate and undergraduate students, the idea rapidly developed into a two-day event including lectures, workshops and exhibitions. Educators, professionals and students of all levels came together to share their passion for materials and making.

Now in its second year, this East Carolina University sponsored event has drawn
participants from across the country. Co-chaired by MFA candidates Kat Cole
and Laritza Garcia, this year’s theme was Shifting Tradition, emphasizing new
techniques, alternative materials, and exciting dialogue on the current direction of
the field. Once again our students out did themselves, putting on a spectacular event.

As a graduate student at ECU, I've been fortunate enough to both help organize and attend this event both years. I was also fortunate enough to be asked to blog about this year's event here on crafthaus. Over the next few weeks I'll be blogging more in depth about the presentations, the exhibitions, and topics of this incredible weekend. I hope that through these posts you are able to get the overall feel of the event.

Just as a quick preview, here's a list of this year's presenters:

Ken Bova

Michael Dale Bernard

Dan Dicaprio

Caroline Gore

Mi-Sook Hur

Nicole Jacquard

Lisa Johnson

Tom Muir

More to come!

Please, please feel free to join my group on crafthaus!

(Sorry that third paragraph is so weird. It looks fine in my editor, I swear.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Well, we made it through another successful Symposium, here at ECU. I'll be blogging about it in depth after I've had time to digest and organized my thoughts a little bit better.

In the mean time, things are starting to return to normal, or as normal as they ever get around here. Last fall the students from Indiana University's Metal's Program contacted us about doing a joint show. After some brainstorming and back and forth between programs, we settled on BLOT. Students from IU and ECU are designing pieces based on the Rorschach ink blots, the idea being to see how different people interpret the same blot.

I think this is a great idea for a show. But, after being the last person to get my ink blot and then loosing my ink blot, having to look up my ink blot (I'm pretty sure this is the one I was assigned) I'm faced with making a piece based on the image above. And I'll admit, I don't see a damn thing in this image. Even Wikipedia says that people typically don't see anything in this card. It's blurb says:

"Characteristic of card IX is indistinct form and diffuse, muted chromatic features, creating a general vagueness."

General vagueness. Awesome. I'm trying to be positive about this, and embrace the fact that I can pretty much do whatever. I want to be a vague as possible. I don't see anything in this image, except for some funny colored liquid, so maybe the piece should reflect that, instead of me trying to force something.

Of course, I could always take this route.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blast from the Past

I was poking around in a jewelry box of stuff I don't really wear anymore, and I came across this necklace. I made this when I was 16, when I was just starting to get really into jewelry making. I remember how old I was, because I wore it to my brother's graduation. It's funny to think about how far I've come. Ten years later and I'm making my thesis work. I don't know what I find more fascinating: the differences in the work or the similarities. How much I've changed, or how much I've stayed the same.

I'm interested to see where the next ten years will get me.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Still Standing

Well here we are, another semester, my 9th and final one of graduate school has begun. I spent Christmas with my family, New Year's on the beach and the the past week sitting in my apartment, nursing a physical and spiritual exhaustion, spending time with my unruly children (aka: the thesis work) and bracing myself for the weeks ahead. I read an actual novel and watched some bad movies. I made cookies. I took a hiatus from blogging because my computer crapped out on me right before I went home and I haven't made the effort to go and get it fixed yet. And I was trying to stay away from school for as long as I could.

I started a piece titled Pilgrimage while I was home, and made quit a bit of progress on it over the past few days. I'm hoping to have it all wrapped up by the end of the week. The ECU Symposium is this weekend, and I've been setting up work and dealing with the exhibitions. I'm stressed out and I'm not even that involved this year. I feel a little guilty for not being more available, but my peers seem to have everything under control.

I wish I had some profound words of wisdom, some wonderful new outlook on the new year, some amazing thing to say that would let you, my readers, forgive me for falling off the face of the earth for a few weeks. But really, things feel the same, this semester feels the same. Deja vu all over again. I get up in the morning, do what I need to do and try to put all my focus on the work, and wait for the next disaster to strike.

But maybe this is just my low blood sugar talking. . .