Independent Study Fall 2011

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Up and Running

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Forge arrived yesterday … good to be up and running with the forging again. Forging outside during the winter in New England?

Sketch #2

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Enjoy working with the pastels…started a new sketch last night.

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My corner of the scene shop … great studio.

Drip Cloth

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I used the plastic underlayment as a drip cloth when I experimented painting some of the wooden strips. Working with the residual paint, I created an impermanent sculpture from the plastic sheet and a couple pieces of the painted wood.

Pastel Sketch/Sculpture?

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Work in progress.

Following the advice of Professor Whittington, I decided to try some sketching this fall. This piece is definitely influenced by the artwork of my friend and mentor Bill Butcher. “Brodiemon, work large,” Bill said as he handed me the pastels, so I decided to sketch on the largest surface available at the time … the MDF board I use to cover the seats in the van. As the image unfolded, I began to cut the board and explore the possibility of turning it into a piece of sculpture.

Earth Bound Scholar – Bill Butcher

This is one of Bill’s recent paintings entitled Earth Bound Scholar.  Although it was created to pay homage to his mentor who recently passed away, it is very much a self-portrait.  Bill passionately believes in the spiritual nature of art and has spent his entire career painting and helping his students discover their own unique, individual artistic selves.

Admirably, Bill embodies the self-examined life which seeks to improve humanity through art.

Prints Experiment

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Perpetual work in progress.

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the residual materials left over from the art-making process. Like the table cover from a print making class in this piece, they are often used as means of control or to establish order. Serendipitously, happy accidents often occur, and sometimes the remnants can be really spectacular. Fortunately, at the school there is an abundance of materials to work with.

Here, I’ve documented one of the impermanent sculptures I created this fall. This was an attempt to give new life and meaning to the table cover. The white sheet of paper was also used by a student to protect the table while inking his linoleum block. I continued experimenting with the pastels by working the page and then cut it to reveal the patterns on the back side of the sheet.

Paul Soldner

I like the plasticity of clay and the organic forms that can be made from it … really would like to combine some fired ceramics with forged steel. Andy McKenzie, the ceramist here at the school, is incredibly knowledgeable and has been a great help teaching me some things about working with clay. Andy introduced me to Paul Soldner, and I was really inspired by his philosophy and sculptural work.

“There can be no fear of losing what was once planned, and there must be an urge to grow along with the discovery of the unknown … make no demands, expect nothing, follow no absolute plan, be secure in change, learn to accept another solution, and, finally, prefer to gamble on your own intuition” (Soldner, 1973).

 

 

Andy and I tried some experiments firing the metal and clay together. Although there was a considerable amount of shrinkage of the clay when fired, it stayed intact around the metal … at least this time.


Social Construct

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While completing my teaching internship this quarter, I have been using a small corner of the scene shop to do my work.  Last Sunday, I arrived to find an unexpected surprise: the theater people had unknowingly left me a gift, a trash barrel full of book pages.  They had cut the bindings off a number of hard cover books to create a faux bookshelf for the upcoming play.  The stage was set for my work that day …

Social Construct is intended to raise questions about how an educational institution socially constructs knowledge.  Since returning to the school community and resuming my part as “the teacher,” I have been thinking more about the role institutions play in the ongoing process of the social construct of the self or, as Victor Burgin puts it, the “politics of representation.”  My sculpture, assembled from discarded history book pages and propped up with a book about the rise of Fascism, is an artifact from the ongoing process of my defining what an “art” teacher represents.  Burgin states: “There is no essential self which precedes the social construction of the self. … We become what we are only through our encounter, while growing up, with the multitude of representations of what we may become–the various positions that society allocates to us.”  So, what is the purpose of the “art” teacher at an institution which is part of the dominant power block?  Is it to open minds and embody the message of living one’s life artistically? Or, has the artist been relegated to playing his/her part in maintaining the Eurocentric class structure?

Rust Never Sleeps

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Work in progress.

“Rust is associated with degradation of iron-based tools and structures. As rust has a much higher volume than the originating mass of iron, its build-up also can cause failure by forcing apart adjacent parts–a phenomenon known as “rust smacking.”

Made from rusty tin cans, Rust Never Sleeps is a metaphor for the slow and often unnoticeable decay of all things seemingly permanent. One day you’re young, the next you’re old and falling apart.