On the Wall: UMassD MFA Ceramics @ the Thomas Hunter Projects, NYC

I had a nice scenic drive through Manhattan yesterday afternoon.  At least, I’d imagine it was probably scenic.  I didn’t actually do too much looking, because I was completely lost.  Five of us went down to Hunter College to install our show at the Thomas Hunter Project Space.  My car’s navigator, Tom, decided to ride back to New Bedford with Alia and Leslie so that he could stay and hang out in the city for a little longer, which was fine with me.  I wanted to get back to MA ASAP for a friend’s birthday party.  I thought I could make it back A-OK by going out of the city the same way we came in.  In hindsight, this was grandly delusional.  Even though I found the correct road, going north instead of south (which I was pretty proud of), I either missed the exit for I-95N or it just doesn’t exist going that direction.  I’m choosing to believe the latter!

After many angry yellow cab honks, a singular, brief attempt at using an atlas while driving (I don’t recommend), and a phone call to have someone else googlemap me out of the city, I came to the startling realization that all I had to do was turn on the GPS function of my cell phone.  I finally escaped the city’s clutches.  Free!  I thought gleefully.  And then I ran into traffic going 18mph in Connecticut.  Because it was (barely) snowing.  Needless to say, I missed the party 😦  But my friend was understanding, so that was good.

The first part of the day went much more smoothly, however.  I think we were all pretty happy with how the installing went. I’ll post some pics here of everyone’s work for those of you who can’t make it to the closing reception (which is going to be on Friday, the 24th from 6-7:30PM).  If you’re coming to the closing reception, you’ll need to check in at the main entrance to Hunter College on 68th and Lexington and get a visitor’s pass before trying to get past the security guards in the art building.  You’ll need a photo ID.

I’m pleased with how my piece turned out.  I think I’m going to make another version of it for the thesis show in April.  Below is a gallery, so if you click on an image, it’ll blow up larger and then you can navigate forward and backward using the arrows to the right and left of the image.

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A Rude Awakening

Well, I’ve been back at work here in my MA studio for a little while now.  Last week, I had the brilliant idea to slip-cast some large panels and sagger fire them.  In the process, I found out just how much muscle mass I’ve lost over the past 7 months.  To be fair, I did have some major medical issues for most of the summer, so I’m cutting myself some slack.  However, last week I was made well aware of the fact that I need to go back to the gym, if for no other reason than to make it possible to do my studio work.  See, I have these big molds that I use:

plaster mold with yardstick

They didn’t use to be heavy.  And now they are.  Last spring, I could crank out 8 or more panels in a day – I was only limited by the amount of time it took the panels to set up (can’t take the slip-cast object out while it’s still wet and runny!).  My body was not the limitation.  Now it is.  I made 4 in one day and stopped because:

#1) I was exhausted,

and #2) I seriously thought I was going to injure myself.

It’s super disgusting to me.  I used to always be able to count on my body to do whatever I wanted it to.  I was in competitive sports starting with YBL (Youth Basketball League)  in 1st grade, I think, and going continuously through my 3rd year of undergrad, where I was an All-American in track & field as a sophomore.  Even after quitting track to focus on other things, I continued to maintain a fairly consistent level of fitness up until last summer.  I think it’s safe to say this is the most out of shape I’ve been in my entire life!  Maybe this is what it’s like to be an old person?  Needless to say, I will get back into the gym, beginning today, but I’m dreading it!  Which is why this post got written…

Here are some results from my sagger firing, unloaded today.  Half of it is still in the kiln.  I like the burnt-up board almost better than the ceramic piece.  What do you think?

sagger firing results - porcelain on left, burnt-up boards on right

Review Today!

I just found out that my mid-semester Skype review will be at 2:45pm EST today (8:45pm my time).  Wish me luck!

This morning I had a nice conversation with Jona Gudvardardottir about my piece.  She mentioned a lot of things, but one in particular was that I need to decide whether or not to allow people to view it in the round.  While I do think the silhouettes that happen (see pic below) are pretty neat, I don’t think allowing people to walk behind this piece furthers my so-called “agenda,” if you will.  Light is a major component of the installation, and if I let people wander behind they’ll have an experience other than the one I’ve intended.  So, I need to figure out a non-obtrusive way to block off the open spaces on either side of the work.  Any ideas?

Jona also recommended I check out an Icelandic artist’s work – Ruri.  If you have time, you might want to take a look; some of it’s pretty interesting.  (My favs are “Moderation” and “Dedication.”)

ICS installation, round 1

With the help of a very nice woman in the casting concrete class, I raised my tiles off the floor into a vertical position this evening.  It was SCARY!  Next time I’m laying them all out on a piece of plywood or sheetrock that can just be tilted into position and then removed after the hanging wires are in place.  I did it the stupid way, by lifting it from the support rods on the back one section at a time, about 6″-1′ at a time, then readusting the line connecting it to the steel cables above.  It was slow and there were lots of bad noises, but it worked, so I’m really happy.  I’m pleased with how they look in the space.  I was originally going to pull the tip of the triangle back toward the far wall so that the entire piece is at a slant, but I decided to wait to do that for a few days and think about it “as is” for right now.  Here are some pictures – I’d love to hear what you think about it.  The tentative title is, “This far you may come…”

sewing tiles together with wire

Here I am, sewing tiles together with wire. Good times. Right now I'm thinking, "Why, why, why did I come up with this idea? And why did I decide to act on it?"

translucent porcelain tile

Each tile only needed to be stitched together in 8 places... (there are 137 tiles total).

porcelain tile

"This far you may come..."

Herend porcelain tile

detail

Herend porcelain tile art

detail

Off to bed!  Good night!

Scribing My Procrastination: Shakespearean-Style

Well.

Midterm next week + statement to committee due tomorrow = birth of this time-consuming post.

Let us review these last few days in verse.

Oct. 10: A kiln! “Twas loaded snugly this cold morn.

11: Said kiln was lit and run while off ran I,

America-bound, a wedding to see.

12: Deep sleep one shouldn’t seek in Heathrow’s lounge;

but hugs abound when plane lands down in time

for wedding, showers, wine, and ropes course fun.

13-16: See twelve above with cow-boy boots and smiles.

17: To sleep, oh blessed sleep; eighteen hours is

just enough to sate this tired body,

and when it’s done more tiles to make and words

to write which stay unwrit,’ locked in fingers

frozen o’er keyboard mine, unsure of their

paths, lacking guidance. Whisp’ring, “Tomorrow

we will know which keys to press, as if by

magic, you’ll see. Pouring out by tens and

twenties, the words will come, you’ll see, you’ll see.”

18/19: They lie! These digits lie! The words don’t come.

And here sit I, with kiln alight once more.

The fingers fly, and words come ‘cross the screen,

but not the necessary words, oh no.

Those hide and wait for fear’s increase of strength.

until perhaps water hot and steaming

will shower away their dams of scheming?