Saturday, December 24, 2005

Fall 2005

The semester is over. I've gotten back all but one of my grades. I'm ecstatic about all the ones I've gotten so far... 4.0! That's never happened before. I'm still waiting on my Art History grade, but considering that I got an A++ on the midterm, I am fairly unconcerned.

I don't even know what to say, I'm so exhausted. I've held down a job for the last 6 months, which has never happened before. I've managed to pay my rent without help from my father. But I've been working like 25 hours a week for the last 6 months, in addition to the fall semester.

But the whole reason I started this was really chronicles of a craft major.... so time to chronicle. Hopefully next semester I will actually post regularly.

Let's start with glassblowing.

Glassblowing is by far one of the most bad-ass things I have ever done. I think it replaces welding, possibly for the top spot. However it is also the most frustrating thing I have ever done. It is hard. I knew it was going to be hard, but I can't express how hard it is. For the entire semester, I was frustrated with my lack of progress, frustrated with my inability to control the glass, frustrated with the artwork I was making. Everything I made for that class seemed sub-par, everything seemed like the shit I was making in my first semester of art school, only now it was made of glass. And the thing about glassblowing is that everyone automatically thinks "GLASSBLOWING!? THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME THING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD EVER INVENTED!!" Finally, in the last two weeks or so of the class, I was finally starting to catch on, and actually be comfortable working in the studio. I was finally becoming used to the heat, used to bossing people around and relying on them to do really important aspects of my work. In the last two weeks, I was starting to think that maybe I did like glass, after all. I admitted to my teacher that I felt like I sucked and that I was intensely frustrated with the class. And he was astonished; he had no idea that I felt like I was really far behind. In fact, he told me that he thought that I was doing well, that even if I didn't have total control of the glass yet, I seemed to be really comfortable working with it. Of course, I felt like anything but. My slightly neurotic, slightly OCD personality does not allow me to be comfortable blowing glass. I want to have complete, total, utter control. This is why I am well suited for textiles. I can be just as crazy-detail-oriented as I want.

Worse, I couldn't ever seem to express myself in glass. Each time I had to do a piece, I would suddenly remember, "Oh yeah, this is Intro to GLASS-WORKING not crochet some sculptures. And I was never happy with the way my pieces turned out. I'm never entirely happy with how my pieces turn out, but this seemed to be to a greater degree than normal.

I should clarify my position on glassblowing, in relation to myself. Glass has amazing possibilities as a material. It can be transparent, translucent, or opaque. It can be organic, or sterile, unnatural even. It can be a lot of things. However, in my hands, glass is just frustrating. This may perhaps be that I have barely done it. But ultimately, though an amazing and rare experience, glass is not my medium. Unfortunately, most people can't seem to understand my reluctance to continue with glass. I can't explain it, really, either. By the end of the semester, I was making bottles that I was fairly happy with. But ultimately, I don't think I can feel fulfilled with making bottles for the rest of my life. I am interested in them as a vessel; I think that containers are definitely going to begin appearing as major elements in my work in the next year or two.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

School, Exhaustion & Work

So school has finally started.

What's weird is that school has been strangely easy. It might be that I actually want to take these classes. I am taking textiles! And who in their right mind doesn't want to take glassblowing? Except that this morning was my blow slot (get your mind out of the gutter! it means that I have my scheduled time in the studio with only two other people working) and the furnace wasn't lit, and I was secretly glad that I had an excuse not to be there. Because I am exhausted. I have had a total of four days of classes, and already I'm exhausted. This semester is the first time that I've ever had a job and gone to school, and I'm already thinking I might have to quit my job. I don't really need the money, I really just work because I like to be busy. And my job is perfect. All I do is make coffee and sandwiches, and hang out and talk to customers. It isn't particularly difficult or stressful, and it gives me enough petty cash to buy as many CDs and art supplies as I want. My co-workers are awesome. We actually hang out outside of work, and go to galleries and cook food and knit. My boss is hilarious (although at first, I thought he was a tool. And he is, at least somewhat, but he is growing on me). And my customers are awesome. I actually run into these people outside of work and say hi, and they recognize me. I've had meaningful conversations with some of these people. I've given out my phone number a few times. I know my roommate because of working there, I know my latest boy(toy?friend?) from working there. I have vastly widened by circle of friends by working there. I sometimes hang out there when I'm off clock. But I am exhausted.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Knitting My Anxieties

I want to knit my anxiety and frustration. I want to make a physical representation of my fear that I'm not good enough. My fear that I'm alone, my fear that I'm unloved, my fear that I am unimportant. Perhaps if I can create a physical manifestation of those anxieties, I can extinguish them. If I can define their forms, I will understand their essence, thus releasing me from their control.

But what if knitting my fears doesn't solve my problems? What if, when I seek enlightenment, I end up afraid to knit? It seems plausible that the process of knitting could become too entangled with my overwhelming fears.

And knitting sculptures also seems to conflict with itself. There is the physical conflict between an even gauge, fine craftsmanship, and a more literal display of the chaos, as uneven and unnerving as I feel. And does this feminine (at least in modern Western society) craft take on a different context than I intend? Does it resolve my issues with my femininity, or does it simply confound my confusion? Is that aspect present in my work? Do I want it to be?

All I know is that as an artist, I hope my anxieties help me produce good work. As a person, I wish they'd just go away.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Trying to do

For years, my goal as an artist was to do something great. I had no clear definition of "great." I figured that I know it when it happened. It would be something influential, some previously inconceivable direction.

But lately, my goal, or at least what I seem to be striving for, is to do anything. I feel like I am struggling for concepts. Today, I got out my sketchbook, and realized it has been sitting on my bookcase since at least May. It isn't as if I haven't drawn lately, but I haven't done much more than doodle. I haven't been contributing toward a meaningful collection of ideas.

So it seems time to turn to two seperate sections of my sketchbook. The first is a list of the 9 fundamental issues of art. These "issues" are defined by the Art Foundation Program at VCU. According to VCU, these issues are: meaning, context, limits, material, means of construction, structure, form, space and time, and light. (WARNING: EXTREME ART MAJOR BS TALK AHEAD. PLEASE TAKE COVER.) I don't feel like I have fully examined any of these in any of my works. I wonder if this is why I feel like I will never accomplish greatness. I think I don't think about my work enough. I get an idea, and start working on it. I don't consider all the various materials I could use, or even enough about whether it is a good idea. It is as though I am so starved for ideas, that I must immediately act upon it before it is forgotten. This is probably why I have so many unfinished works, mostly already forgotten. Thinking about this seems necessary, yet is also incredibly depressing. I feel like I am going in circles, rehashing the same concerns, yet I can't move past them.

But this is why there is the other section of my sketchbook. It is an excerpt from a letter from Sol LeWitt, to Eva Hesse, from Eva Hesse by Lucy Lippard (p. 35, DeCapo Press, 1976).

"Learn to say 'Fuck You' to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, gasping, rumbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose-sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding grinding grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO...

"Do more. More nonsensical more crazy more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever-- make them about nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your 'weird humor.' You belong in the most secret part of you. Don't worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you-- draw and paint your own fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as 'to decide on a purpose and a way of life, a consistent approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end.' You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!..

"Try to do some BAD work. The worst you can think and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell. You are not responsible for the world-- you are only responsible for your work, so do it."

The first section is to get me to think about why I should be doing a work, and how to make it better, the intent clearer, more accesible. But the second section is to keep me from thinking too philosophically, and just think maniacally, and DO.

A side note, even though I'm super into Sol LeWitt's work, I really want to meet him, because his letters rock. I wonder if there is any way he'd be my penpal.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Even though I am only starting my second year, for some reason, thoughts of the FUTURE have been bothering me. I think I've come to the realization that I can't just hope for financial security and health insurance, I actually have to do something in order to get it. I've always just assumed everything would work itself out.

This may be brought on by the fact that I am looking for my first apartment. I think I've found it already, a gorgeous two bedroom with lots of windows that I will share with a friend of a friend. The thing is, my dad is paying my rent. That seems reasonable, considering I am 18, and a full time student. But, it just makes me feel young, and useless. It reminds me that as independent as I think I am, I can't support myself. If my cash flow were cut off tomorrow, I'd be screwed. Yes, I have a job. I really like my job (barista at a local coffee joint). But it isn't enough to pay the bills. And although I have scholarship money, I wouldn't be able to afford to go to school. And I want to avoid entry into the real world for as long as possible.

Plus, I feel like I have lost some of my creativity, or maybe just my motivation. I haven't done anything since the school year that I'd want to show anyone. I've painted a bit, drawn a bit, knitted, but, nothing I'd call art. I certainly can't call the sweaters I've been knitting art. I didn't even make up any of the patterns. I'm starting to wonder if the craft blogs and forums I read are stifling my creativity. Although I sometimes get ideas from them, I feel like I'm stealing those ideas. Or worse, I still won't have any ideas, and I'll feel even more uncreative.

So to sum things up, I have no idea how I will ever support myself. I am going to school for a degree that doesn't guarentee a job in the end. Worse, if I have no ideas, I can't even make arbitrary, pointless things to sell.

I think I had better work on becoming a trophy wife. Too bad I'm only half joking.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Second Semester

My second semester of college seems rather uneventful.

January, February, March: cold. snow. lots of snow. I discover that long johns are a wonderful invention. Too bad they are the most unsexy article of clothing I own.

I also knit another sculpture. I start it during winter break, and finish it March. I was pretty much knitting constantly. Including during Art History and Economics.

April, May: April 1st, my portfolio is due. This will determine my future. 16 pieces. 8 drawings, 4 from direct observation. Luckily, I get into my first choice major, crafts. Crafts is a really small department, so it could have ended badly. It is also finally warm. I start riding my bike almost every day.

Throughout all this is my awesome studio class. I basically spend all the class knitting things. Every class, we'd have a half hour coffee break. I spent a lot of the time talking with my studio teacher about philosphy and literature. Drinking lots of coffee and knitting... for a grade? There is no way to improve upon that.

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Knit Club

Funny movie (quicktime) parodying Fight Club made by some students at Western Washington University.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Float (detail)

Float (detail)
Float (detail),
originally uploaded by popsicle sticks.
Media: knitted and crocheted yarn, trash bags, wire. November 2004

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originally uploaded by popsicle sticks.

My first knitted sculpture. Media: knitted and crocheted yarn,
trash bags, wire. November 2004

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Seeing as how it's summer...

Seeing as how it's summer, there won't be too many posts just yet.

But here's how the story has unfolded so far:

Late August 2004: I begin college at Virginia Commowealth University in Richmond, VA. It is a public college, and has the best public art program in the nation, apparently. I begin the rigours of Art Foundation, or AFO. AFO is a required program for all visual arts majors. It consists of two studio classes, a color theory class, a figure drawing class, a 3-D perspective drawing class, 2-D design (I'm still not sure what the purpose of this class is), and two elective classes. It is a total of fourteen credits, over two semesters. Unfortunately, art credits do not add up the same as other academic classes. For example, a four credit studio class meets twice a week for three hours, plus one hour for lectures. Despite being an art major, I know enough math to realize that I spend three hours a week in class that I don't get credit for.

September 2004: I cut things out of paper. Over and over. I also manage to turn 18.

October 2004: I meet a lovely boy. I meet another lovely boy. I meet a not so lovely boy, I meet a boy who has awesome hair. In the span of about a week.

One of these boys I end up dating. As of this post, I still am.

November 2004: I make my first knitted sculpture. It is supposed to slow down time. I originally wanted to wrap the room in white mohair and pour molasses on the floor. Although the sculpture in no way slows down time, it is a lot less messy.

December 2004: exams. Christmas. I go home, and realize that I am no longer comfortable calling it home. I go back to Richmond multiple times during the break.

End of my first semster.

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