Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Into a New Year

It has been a while since I have posted anything in this blog. A lot has changed for me in the past year. It has been a time for exploring and continuing to build a new relationship in my life. I never thought I would be in a relationship like this but he is everything I was looking for. I managed to find my best friend in a pretty unexpected way. It has been tough though because of our distance. Through this, I have learned a lot about balancing the many different parts of my life. I am far from an expert but I am much better than I was.
Patience has also become an important word in my life. I have to be patient and not expect to get everything I want or expect all at once. I want so badly to move into this next phase of my life with Alan; that I often forget to stop and appreciate the many wonderful experiences I have day to day. I am very lucky to have been able to continue my education and Alan is an amazing support to me. All good things come with time. I just have to let them come.
I am now half way through my second year of graduate school and headed into my candidacy semester. I must admit that I am scared to face it. It is not just that I am scared of rejection, but I am also scared that I won't achieve the goals I made for myself. After all this time, I am still so insecure when it comes to my artwork. Over the next few months, I believe I will really see what I am made of.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Home Stretch

This past Friday all of the MFA students had final critique. Weeks of hard work was finally at an end. All of the faculty and grad students would be meeting to view our semesters work.

Thursday was set up day. I was going to present my work down in the Ceramics studio, so there was a lot of work to do in order to get it presentable. I was able to borrow two pedestals from the gallery in the Fine Arts building, but I still needed more display space. I had the idea to wrap two of the little wooden shelves we have next to the wheels in fabric. Then I wrapped a paper box in fabric as well. I was trying my best to get them to resemble pedestals. It was not the most ideal situation, but I think it turned out pretty good in the end. It was really hard to edit myself to decide what pieces to show to the faculty.

The critique started early Friday morning at 9 am. We had the largest number of MFA students to be critiqued in a while at 11. Each of us got 30 minutes in front of the faculty. We would give a brief presentation of our work and then the faculty could ask any questions they had. This was the time for us to defend our work and our ideas. I knew there was going to be a lot of professors there, but when I walked into the first classroom, I was a little shocked to really see how many. My nerves kicked into high gear. Unfortunately, I had to wait until 2:30 for my turn. I was a little worried about that because I knew I would be going at the end of a very long day. I was hoping the professors wouldn't be too cranky by then. Although, there was also the possibility that a few of them might not show up, so maybe that would be a little less stress.

As each of my peers presented their work, I got a little more nervous. Some of these professors were being really tough, but all of the grads did a really good job of defending their ideas. The lunch break finally rolled around, and I was ready to get my turn over with. I knew that afterwards I would feel so much better. I could almost relax, the hardest part of the semester would be over.

I had the absolute worst headache leading up to my turn. The stress was getting to me. I stood up to start my critique, and all those eyes on me caused me a little moment of panic. I took a deep breath and started my presentation. I am not really able to completely remember what I said, but I hope it was somewhat intelligent. Most of the faculty were receptive to my work, but there were a couple that grilled me almost the entire 30 minutes. I was not going to let myself get trapped or confused by their questions. I am told by my peers that I handled myself really well. One faculty member did say how good it was to see that I had tried so many different things this semester and had experimented. That is what they want to see especially in the first semester. I was glad that she recognized that. As one particular professor's questioning was getting especially tough time ran out, and I escaped.

I was so happy to be done with this critique. I had worked really hard this semester, and had to adjust to a very different environment. I cannot even begin to say how much I look forward to the holiday break. Now all that remains is to get my evaluation forms back and to see how I did in the critique.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

So it's been a little while since I have posted anything. It has been busy, busy here. I have struggled some since my mid-term critique finding my footing again. I have done what many have warned against. I let the critique get in my head. It wasn't that the critiques were harsh or anything. Overall, I got a lot of really good information. I think the problem that arose was that I got too much information. My mind was a bit overloaded for a bit. I am working through it though.
The budget was due for A.C.E., the club I am president of and we had a budget interview tonight. Hopefully we get the money we need to bring in some visiting artists next semester and to help fund some students' trip to NCECA, The National Conference for the Education in the Ceramic Arts. This year it will be held in Philadelphia. I am very excited about it. I haven't been in a few years. It's a great opportunity to see some great work and to meet a lot of new people.
The semester is almost over! We have our final critique in a few weeks. I can't believe how quickly it has come up. It seems like just yesterday that I moved here. I am in the home stretch for a nice break to go home and see the family. I know I will make it =).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

First Critique Down!

This past week or so has been especially crazy. We are quickly approaching mid-terms so I have practically moved into my studio. Caffeine has quickly become a very good friend of mine. I have this theory that there is some kind of time warp in the studio. I swear I get to working and it only feels like a few minutes have gone by, but when I look up it has been like four hours! How can that happen? It makes me wish I could get more done sometimes. But it has been noticed by my professor how much time I spend working, so that is a good thing for sure.
I had my first critique in Grad ceramics today. While I didn't have anything completely done, I had a lot of work to show the class. I have been trying out a lot of different techniques on a variety of different pots. The best way to go is just to make as much as possible. It seems like quantity eventually leads to quality =). Just this past week, I have really been figuring out what I want to be doing. I am sure there will be more confusion to come, but I do not see any more break downs in my near future. Yes folks, only a month into the semester, and I already had a mini nervous breakdown lol. I recovered quickly. Luckily, I had a good friend to hold my hand, so to speak, through it. Friends have been a real blessing for me that is for sure.
Next week is the mid-term critiques for the grad program. They are small group critiques. I will have professors coming in and out of my studio throughout the day in groups of 2 or 3 to critique what work I have done. I am firing my work this weekend. It is a kiln I have never fired before so I am definitely hoping for the best. One thing is for sure that it will be a learning experience no matter what happens.
The semester continues to breeze by. I cannot believe how quickly it all happens. I have had plenty to do to keep me focused and busy. So my thoughts are positive, and I hope to be able to report a good critique at the end of next week.

Off to the studio! Who needs sleep?

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Month into the Semester!

I cannot believe it is already a month into the semester. I knew time would fly by but these weeks went by in the blink of an eye. They keep us very busy here. I gave my first presentation in Graduate Seminar last week. I was so nervous but my partner and I did very well. We have some really difficult readings in Seminar, but they are helping me to think more critically about art. It is also helping me to be more comfortable when I have to discuss these things with my peers. That is something I have always struggled with. I get a little better each class. I know that this is one of the most valuable lessons I can learn.

Deadlines are something that are always on my mind. Everything has a deadline and some of them are very difficult to meet. Time management is one of the most important things, and I really depend on my planner to make sure I don't forget anything.

This coming week, we have visiting artist Christa Assad. It will be great to see her work. She will be in the studio for two days and on the second day she will meet with the graduate students to critique their work. It will be a wonderful opportunity to have another artist look at my pieces. It will really be a useful tool.

So as you can see there is a lot going on here in Arkansas.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Experiments in photo transfers

My first semester in grad school is well under way. Classes are going very well, but there is an amazing amount of work to do for each class. The other grads weren't kidding when they said they never get to sleep. I wouldn't trade it for anything though. I am being challenged on a daily basis not only in my own work but on how I view and analyze all kinds of artwork. My favorite thing has been the amount of experimentation I have been able to do. I have been able to try all kinds of new techniques. One of my professors actually said she would prefer us to fail in our experiments because we would learn more from it.
At the moment, I am doing experiments with photo transfers and decals. I have some really great photographs from when my mom was a little kid. I added a picture of one of the pieces I am working on. This was the first transfer I was actually successful with. It was very tricky figuring out how much liquid to use in order for the image to transfer properly. It took many tries but I am pretty happy with the results. Now the test will be to see if the image stays during the glaze firing. I am also doing pieces that have drawers in them. I love having little drawers or compartments to hide things in.
I am very excited about all the new experiences I am having here. There are so many different types of people. They all bring something unique to any discussion. This has been such a great time for me, I can't wait to see what is ahead.

Friday, August 28, 2009

First month in Arkansas

I moved into my new apartment at the beginning of the month and was very excited to get settled in. The area seems really nice and my neighbors are quiet, which is a plus. I was able to do a little exploring before the fall semester started. My mom and I went to visit the War Eagle Mill, a great experience.
Fayetteville is very different from Jacksonville. First of all, there are a lot of hills. I discovered that a beach cruiser may not be the best hill climber when I tried using it during orientation week. I ended up pushing the bike most of the way. It was painfully slow going. I decided against using the bike in the more hilly areas. I found a bike riding friend and he seemed very intrigued by the idea of a beach cruiser. He was excited to get the opportunity to try it out. A beach cruiser is quite the oddity around here strangely enough.
I was able to meet the other grad students and they all seem nice and very talented. They are all so different. We even have a good number of international students in the program. It is a great atmosphere to work in. I moved into my studio and have a huge space. I will be able to make a lot of work.
I am now at the end of my first week of classes. I am taking a pretty heavy course load and have an assistantship. I was really overwhelmed by the amount of work I have ahead of me, but at the same time, it was so much fun. There will be a lot of reading and time spent in my studio. I am so happy and lucky to have this opportunity to really develop my work. I was also just named president of the student clay club, A.C.E. (Association of Ceramic Enthusiasts). I have not really learned all that I am in charge of, but I know the group has a sale every semester which brings in lots of visiting artists and helps send a group to NCECA every year.
So all in all a very good start to my grad school experience. Time to get to work!