grad school

…And then it rained forever.

This is our forecast. I am trying to think of this positively. We get so much green! Things grow! It’s not a flaming ball of fire like the other places I consider home!

But still. I don’t know about this at all.

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This week has been a lot of ups and downs, focus and weird floaty feelings. Sleep comes hard. Insecurity abounds. I am trying to speak kindly to myself, noticing how much of my inner dialogue is negative: you’re not good enough, you’re too old, if you were going to “make it” you would have done it by now, everyone else is more together than you, what are you doing still mucking about like a teenager get a goddamn career path already, why can’t you get up early, why can’t you keep a schedule, your work is a joke hahahahaahaaaaaaaa…

Yeah so that’s there. I know this is a common human condition and I am not alone in this vat of bullshit, but GODDAMN it’s annoying. How much could I have achieved if I just blithely thought I was awesome? Why does it seem so hard to be nice to ourselves? What the fuck is that all about?

Did I mention it’s raining forever?

ANYWAY.

Entrepreneurial, history, and the other “classes” we take come in an out of focus. It’s an odd setup because you are basically doing YOUR WORK, whatever that is, and most things are in service of that in one way or another. Very different from undergrad, where you have a range of classes giving you a set of skills and you are applying yourself to all of them and seeing what comes of that. Now we have a PRACTICE. My history professor related it as undergrad being about starting broad and narrowing to a point, and grad school being about starting at a point and opening out again. This is such an exciting prospect, but also a massive undertaking, and this week I feel like it has dragged me under a little. Being as my husband, family, best friends and dogs are all far away, it’s so easy to get lost in all this philosophy and questioning and there’s no one to make me come out. It can get very surreal and eventually pretty unpleasant; I’m pretty lousy at making myself stop working, and I forget where the line is between work and everything else. Maybe there is no line.

I’m sorry, I’m only supposed to blog about happy things like how meaningful life is, and, like, cookies and craft fairs. I am remiss 🙂

I did a fair amount of work this week. Still exploring the concepts of object, symbol, language. I’m continuing work on the ponies. I’m planning to finish at least the 5 large ones and possibly the other 2 small ones I have primed before I let myself move on from this exploration, however long that takes. We are meant to be doing more iterations and experimentation than finished work, but I am partial to the big ponies and I at least want to do right by them.

I found this one at goodwill this week. Serious pony bath time!

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Primed Ponies

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IMG_3906Spring Pony Process. Same model unicorn, different colors.
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Pony progress lineupIMG_3894It’s amazing how long these suckers are taking me. I have a crit next week– I will admit I am nervous.

I also worked more on the letterform stuff. Originally I was looking at symbols and thinking I would make my own syllabary, but then I sat down to consider what concepts or words would need to be represented, and it got real big real fast. Seriously, guys, it’s like ooh ok, “love” “hope” “dream” and then you realize you’re just listing off those inspirational etched rocks. And that there are A LOT of important concepts, and nuances to those, and then it got too big and my brain exploded, so I scaled it back for now, and thought I’d try making an alternate alphabet. Nothing groundbreaking, I’m not going all Tolkien and making a new language, I just want to make my own version of the alphabet and try to learn it. Which is harder than you think! I have pretty much all the letterforms and their correspondences memorized, but it’s the input that gets you: I can write a word in it fairly fast now but I can’t look at a word and instantly see/translate it. So more practice.

Here’s the alphabet. It took me quite a while to decide on the letterforms, and I still have some I feel like perhaps I should change, but I’ve already started memorizing it so I think they will just stay. It’s visually influenced by Sanskrit, Arabic and Elvish (of course).

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Practice pages:

IMG_3862 IMG_3908I began making large, ornate versions of some of the letters, just because I wanted to. They are so beautiful and it’s like getting to know them better. These are 18″x24″

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IMG_3874Sooooo that’s the week. Now it’s off to make mac and cheese for a class project. That’s right, I have to. Hah.

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grad school

The story so far…

Right, so… I moved here:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.00.25 PMWhere they have doughnuts that watch you…

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And I finally decided to learn to be a sort-of bike commuter. Behold: Shadowfax the Magnificent!

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…And now my legs look like this:

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My program takes a mentor-based approach, and my mentor has told me to stop working the way I’ve been working for a while– to open up, explore, and nurture the creative practice. Part of this practice has included creating a collection of inspiration and resonant items– lots of pictures, etc. It’s sort of like making a visual representation of my head.  A psychological mood board.

Another part has involved poking around in vinvtage stores, where I found PONIES!

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Ponies of all sizes!

I can’t exactly explain the allure– it’s surely at least partially nostalgia-based, as I had a LOT of ponies as a kid, but there’s also something just aesthetically pleasing to me about some of them. They are a nicely-shaped object, and certainly cute. We are doing a lot of reading and discussion about objects and our relation to them, what gives an object value, the nature of craft vs. art or design, the psychological resonance of everyday objects, etc. and all this was rattling about in my head. When I saw the pony on the left, something just struck me about it. I felt the need to rescue and resuscitate it; I also felt as if it was a totem object– something of potentially profound significance or spirituality waiting to be found. This is what art school will do to you…

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So I took it home and took it’s face off.

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Our process here is big on iterations– you don’t do just one of something– so I got myself a mini-herd to play with. Originally I thought I’d plan each one out– have a concept and design plan, but then I remembered I’m supposed to be playing and experimenting, and definitely not overthinking, so I just went for it.

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Primed Ponies.Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.03.50 PM

Pony workstation.
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In-progress poniesScreen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.04.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.05.24 PM


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.05.37 PMPonies set up for first critique session
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Part of my visual mind-mapping. This took up a whole wall. I had more pictures but my phone has eaten them in a dramatic fit of pique. Have I mentioned that electronics seem to commit suicide around me?

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Crit went pretty well. I really need to practice speaking about my work; I tend to get so nervous that I am not able to pay as much attention as I would like because I am busy calming the fight-or-flight stuff that is happening. It is also so hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to questioning, as opposed to coming at it from a defensive position. This experience of changing my working patterns has been both hard and freeing, but it did put me slightly in a place of feeling like I needed to defend what I’d been spending my time on, that I’d been doing enough. I think a lot of us felt that way… Anyway I survived and the exploration continues.

I’m adding in new things this week but I’m still working on the ponies. I am still enjoying them and they also seem to serve as a tool to think with my hands. None of them are exactly done but this one is close. I discovered there was a run of large, 9″ tall ponies in 2006 and I have managed to snag a few of them. The large size is so nice to work on and feels very compelling; my theory is because it’s the proper pony-to-person ratio for an adult.

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Through the mind-mapping, I began to recognize (or remember) how much language and visual communication and codes are resonant with me. This has me starting to play with letter forms… 
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So that’s that. More to come.

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Uncategorized

wow… shit got real.

Awright, so it’s been an age and things keep piling up to blog about. I have several art hunt-related things to, um, relate, and i made a bunch of stuff, and there’s all sorts of things I need to report on, and it’s gotten to that point where it’s gotten to big to tackle so screw it I’m starting here.

Short version: I went to Portland to check out a potential school to apply to for fall 2015 (remember all the coat stuff for portfolio work? That’s why). And I really liked it. Then I went to LA with the lovely Emma and did and art hunt down there (someday I will properly post about it but LA you were VERY CRAP in terms of responding to the art hunt so you are in my doghouse) and while I was there I got an email from the head of the program I was interested in inviting me to apply for THIS year, as in rightthefucknow. I said no no I couldn’t possibly no and then my darling husband said YOU HAVE TO DO THIS (did I marry a catch or what?) so I pulled together an application, transcripts and 3 letters of recommendation in ONE DAY (eternal gratitude to my former professors and good friends who came through there). I got accepted the very NEXT day, which was about August 1. Christ on a biscuit.

So I had to move to Portland. OH! and my school (MFA of Applied Craft and Design, a joint program offered through PNCA and OCAC, for those of you curious or just particularly fond of acronyms) has a design-build project they do with the first years every year. No way I was going to miss that and be the weird kid coming in late, so I flew to Portland on the 10th, built the most badass chicken coop ever for 10 days, flew back to CA, and had one week to pack, say goodbye, and, well, leave.

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I spend a lot of time in this building now.

I lucked out majorly with housing in Portland, as an old roomie and friend from SF just HAPPENED to have a housemate moving out on September 1st. And the house just HAPPENS to be awesome. And in a sweet neighborhood and only 2 miles from school. So that’s that. Jason’s holding down the Crockett fort and the dogs and the site/store is down for now because I have not EVEN been able to think in a retail-minded way. I need to open it up again soon… I planned to do it before now but grad school has taken over my whole brain like some well-educated parasite that uses words like “process” and “intimacy of the object.”

So that’s that. Prepare for this to become a log of grad school stuff for a while. I’m sorry. So far, my mentor (my school id very mentor-based) has told me to let go of my product-driven, a-to-be process for a while, to nurture my creative practice, to let things in and gather influences and see what comes up. Sound wonderful? It is but goddamn somehow it is still so hard! I am very stuck in the concerns of making a dollar RIGHT NOW and thinking of audience, market value, salability. I’m sure all that will come back, but I’ve been given this time to stretch and grow and hopefully become a more realized (and balanced) creator, but it is hard to shift that way. Grad school is immensely open-ended and almost entirely self-driven, so deciding if you are doing the right thing or not is tricky. I have been getting very elemental and a bit new-agey in simply trying to trust my impulses. Currently my impulses have me painting on My Little Ponies, but more about that later. I promise to have some pretty pictures soon; this post is quite wordy. Should you want to be inundated with pictures, go follow my instagram. I have taken to posting pictures of strange things I find in vintage shops here, so be warned.

xo

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