a resource for moving poetry
Source: About Us
a resource for moving poetry
Source: About Us
Retreats! Give a look at this post by a fellow blogger…
Increasingly, schools that advertise for positions in higher education ask for a teaching philosophy. It seems simple at first blush, but putting together a teaching philosophy can be daunting, especially at first.
If you are minting your first version of your teaching philosophy, there are some things that you will want to consider. First, the document should be broad so that it can encompass a world of issues. In many ways less is more, but perhaps even more importantly, efficient is best. But are there really any rules? If there are any, no one gives them up. Like that helps on your first go-round, right?
You might feel like you have no idea what your teaching philosophy is about, but you in fact do, even if you don’t know it. For example, you do know how bad teachers have impacted your learning over the years, right? So given a negative, you might be able to work from that in order to begin thinking about what it was that you didn’t like in their teaching and correct for that. The corrected version, then, is you.
Now think about the things that all the best teachers you have had embodied. Think about all the things they did and said, or maybe didn’t bother to do (which could be just as important) and think about what those things meant from a teaching perspective. Let’s say you had a teacher that always listened to you and always encouraged you to talk about your work without interrupting you or inserting hard critical advice at a time when it wasn’t needed or wanted. Maybe that. Or it could be that no matter what, you know they had your back. Or how they conveyed technical information. And you know, you might find that some of the characteristics come down to character, to personality. And you know, how about that? How might personality play into it? Truth is, you can’t teach personality, right? So what might that have to do with teaching and a philosophy? Now I hope its obvious that I am not saying that you try and address personality, I am of course using it as an example. A what if. You, you have to deal with what is. and I hope I can help you see a little clearer when we are done.
I will give you some examples that I know were operative in my life. I had a great high school art teacher. I was increasingly showing interest in 3-D work and this meant that I was veering off the beaten path since most kids in high school were 2-D and thus often did projects together as a group. But me, I was suddenly hungry for 3-D. So when I asked about what was possible, my teacher told me how I could throw clay and fire it using the kiln and pottery wheel. We had a few glazes. I could do stained glass, small projects. I could do a kind of jewelry work cutting copper sheet and polishing it. So I took off on all three of these things. She gave me the barest of demo’s with each. She kind of showed me the way and I took off on my own pretty much. I liked that. And for me, it was a perfect approach. In time what I learned was that as a teacher was that we learn by doing, and art is certainly “doing” for sure. It led me to examine the fine line between needing to know when to convey information and when to stand out of the way and let the student do it. So this experience was huge for me. It was all the bigger because this teacher was highly esteemed by nearly every student who darkened her door. Catherine Pauley. She was, and is, the best.
I also had a number of very good teachers in college, and each of them form the basis of the things that I try to do with students.
But just as a teacher can give, another can take away, and I had a teacher in graduate school who did this. He took away by having favorites. I saw what this did to all of us. It made us hyper-competitive. This teacher chose students for opportunities because he liked them. Now, 20 years out, I can look back at the people I went to school with and see who is using their degree and who is not. Its interesting because I am one of the few who is still using his degree, and I was never one of the golden children who would be approached with an opportunity to do a public commission. This experience taught me a lot about what NOT to do with my students, which is NEVER to set up a pecking order of favorites. It’s probably hard enough as it is to not create the appearance of favorites just in regular conversation in class with students.
I believe there is a better way. I know there is because the art world is competitive enough as it is without my adding the kind of thing my teacher did to the mix. Don’t get me wrong; I really admire my old teacher, I just didn’t agree that his way of operating in this regard was helpful in the short or long run for any of us.
So there you have it; two of my most intimate takes on how my educational philosophy was, and continues to be formed. Me, I had to find a way to express this simply and directly. And for me, my educational philosophy is a series of important notions that I bring to teaching in the arts. What I had to do was to put it together into a narrative or work that reads well and also expresses who I am. This is not an easy document to put together! But by starting, you have the document, and as I have told you before, it is a living document and it will naturally change over time. I can tell you that five years after graduating with my M.F.A. my teaching philosophy changed a lot (I had digested a lot of new experiences) and it also changed a lot when I did more teaching as an adjunct at Radford University.
While you may not have done much in the way of teaching, you do know what makes a good teacher. If you are committed to teaching the way you believe makes a good teacher, then by golly, THAT is a teaching philosophy! this is your guiding light, a statement of principles that you find important in your career in education. Oh, and you know, that philosophy can change from one year to the next. I know mine has. What has changed mine has been my own experience in education. Like instances when I saw a teacher being unfair to students, like me and others, and was able to see what the fall-out was from that. I bet you didn’t think your teachers might be teaching you how to teach based on a negative model, right?
I am loathe to mention this next part, but I am going to put it out there not because I feel I would personally do it, but because it is relevant for some people, which has to do with the type of school that you are going to teach at. Yes, context can matter. So I ask you, what is the context? Would there be a difference between teaching at a community college, an all-women’s school, a baptist-based small liberal-arts college? think about that one for a minute. Would your teaching be different for a school with a strong ethnic population? Fact is, these kinds of things are relevant. It might be that yes, you do teach differently in an environment where the first language is not English. How would you deal with this?
What I am saying here is that context could well change how you teach. How I teach beginners is different from how I would teach graduate students. I write about this in my education philosophy because I think it is important. I expect certain things from graduate students that I do not expect from undergraduates. I want the school that is considering hiring me know where I stand. To avoid any misunderstandings, but also to be clear about how I would run a program, for example, were I to be hired.
The bottom line here is that a good teaching philosophy will clue people into who you are as a teacher. So to begin, especially if you are having trouble getting started, I suggest that you make a list of all the characteristics that you can think of that you esteem, and even the ones you don’t, and begin from there. Think broadly and generally and let those general principles be your guiding lights. Oh, and one detail; keep the document within a page to two pages. Say what you need to say, so if it has to run longer, then the reason is a good one, right? There are a lot of suggestions about how to go about this important document, and there are some very good advice out there.
To learn more about this important document I am including some links to a variety of blogs and pages that discuss this in some greater depth that will help you even more in your quest for the perfect education/teaching philosophy.
Museums today are in a state of rapid change. They are changing due to our changing landscape in the digital domain. As a result, many museums are making their content available in an open and free way to those who view their web sites. Some museums have NO limit to how the images are used, while others have some restrictions, such as unlimited noncommercial use. To find out the specifics, you will need to read the fine print.
To assist you in this effort, I am including a list of links to a variety of museums world-wide who have open content. A sampling of them:
The market for insurance that caters to the arts community has been shaken up by the economic shocks that have taken place over the last seven years or so. Many old companies that were old stand-by’s are gone.
As an artist, you can always talk to a conventional insurance provider to get you the kind of insurance you might need for an open studio event, a show, or for ongoing insurance to provide you with the niche coverage you need to protect you from loss. Right?
It is nice to have someone who understands you. This is why I am happy to provide you with a great company that understands the needs of artists from different media. Many artists are already using this great company and the fees are affordable for event coverage. The name of the company is ACT Insurance, which stands for Artists Crafters & Tradesmen.
The company has two main choices the artists can choose from: event coverage and ongoing policy coverage. And as you might expect from a company like this, they understand that insurance for us often needs to be non-site specific, which is nice.
I suggest that your read through their list of exclusions before deciding on moving forward. If you do sculpture that is part of an installation process, for example, ACT wont cover you. The nice thing is that their web site is very easy to navigate and you can go through their information quickly. You can call them at 888.568.0548 and you can click to them here: Insurance For Artists
Here’s to a great new year!
Over the last few years I have been taking photographs of my glass and finding that the more I zoom into the work, the more interesting the landscapes are that I get. This is a process that believe it or not does not involve any post-production manipulation like filters or special effects. Everything that you see is as the camera saw it. The difference for me with many of my pictures is HOW I choose to shoot the work. Again, this is using direct sunlight, no special effects of any kind. The key has been how I shoot the work, the lenses I use, the light I have and the object that I am photographing. In my case, I have determined that some work photographs better than others in this way.
As we near a new year, I am reflecting a little on some of the pieces that came about this past year and I thought I would share some with you. These are just a few of them.
Some of my pictures look like surreal landscapes, maybe even from another world. This is due to the fact that I am giving people a view into glass that most people do not see. I am shooting glass objects at a high degree of magnification and under very high resolution. As a result, I might turn a half-inch square into a 72 inch square. Under these conditions, levels of detail emerge that the naked eye simply may never see. In other cases, I am not photographing quit this tightly. In this case, the glass will most often LOOK more like….glass.
I like both ends of this spectrum and I have shot thousands of photographs now using my own blown glass as a subject. You might wonder what I am trying to achieve. Its a good question. In the beginning, I had no idea where the work was going. I was photographing my work because a friend had sent me some photographs she took of some of my orbs up close. They were high resolution. I blew one up and kept blowing it up until I realized that the lens she used continued to give good resolution of the glass surface. This got me thinking and exploring. I still am not sure where this type of work is going, except that I like it and I am going to continue doing it. Something interesting happens when you allow yourself to not know where something is headed; it is suddenly free to go anywhere….even places you had never considered before.
As I get older, technique does not dazzle me as much as it used to. Its important, don’t get me wrong, its just that there is more to artistry than just technique. Sometimes our biggest problems lie in what we are unable to imagine….because we have limited ourselves creatively too much. I see this all the time in school where people want to play it safe and get a good grade. The real fun is out on a limb, never sure when you might plop down on the ground. Its there, on that limb, that the good fruit is nearly always plucked.
So often I find I am limited by my own biases of what I think I should be doing or that I am capable of doing that I literally squeeze out vast tracks of possibilities in my creative life. As artists, we have to do this in order to create work that is coherent and focused, but this is a sword with two sides. I use this work to keep me with something new and different running in the background. And really, does it need to be anything? After all, what are most of the “beautiful” materials in the world but a deep visceral reaction to things that are shiny, brilliant and brightly colored? When we say “eye candy” this is what we mean.
Often “eye candy” gets smeared with a sense of vacuity though, as though this feeds the eye but not the soul. I am not entirely sure that this is so. In fact, I think that our need for great color and brilliance is so total that we could probably look at these kinds of things and be fed at a deep level. In fact, this is just what we do when we look at a cut diamond, or a shiny metal surface. What I am saying is that we ought not feel bad for loving the simple pleasure of a brilliant color. After all, art emulates nature, and what we see in my glass is what we also see in nature, and it is that very nature that has informed our likes and dislikes.
I find that when I am creating this work, I am an explorer. I am seeking to see how far into the glass I can go to see what there is to see, to even go beyond the eye and its capacity to see the ordinary in order to pluck something from it that is extraordinary. These are interesting pieces in their own right, and as they continue to emerge in an ever-interesting array of new forms and landscapes, I remain engaged in seeing where it will take me. Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s hoping that 2016 is a great year!Thanks for all your support!
These images are of the ARTS306-03 Sculpture class building their first group project using naturally sources materials.
There is a video that will be posted that has a slide show of the pics shown here along with video shot during a test firing of the sculpture. The pics taken during this time are all in the 6-8 meg range. These pics have been greatly reduced in size. Let me know if you want a high resolution image of any of these. -Parker
Today I am putting up some images for my students in their 3-D course that has to do with our final project which will involve subtractive methods in sculpture.
The images I am going to show you are just starting points. And yes, I am limiting you in some ways by asking you to stick to biomorphic abstraction. There are reasons for this. First, you may have only carved from a block or wood or stone a few times in your life, if at all. The ability to render realistic details in a material like this requires years of study, or a natural ability to do it, like a savant. So by being realistic about this, biomorphic abstraction will allow you to ponder and think about the foundation or forms that make up our world without a slavish fidelity to them. This will allow you to make “mistakes” without losing your piece.
I explained in class, for those of you who were there 🙂 that the process of subtractive sculpture is very different from any other method tried so far. It requires planning out your concept on paper or in a small model (I gave out clay to those who want to mold a model) so that you can transfer your piece to the block in order to know what you will begin taking away. In this method, you begin with a block and then transfer an image of your piece in profile on each corresponding facet or plane of the block. This method requires that you align each profile as close as possible so that once you begin carving, your profiles all match up into one cohesive form. Simple measuring twice and cutting once is the concept to follow. this often means taking time to think through your piece ahead of time and as you lay it out on the block. For your purposes, a sharpie works fine, is fairly permanent, and wont scratch off right away (until you carve along the lines).
This project is wide open to you besides the requirement that it be abstract. I want to see you think about composition, creating an interesting and engaging form that works in the round. To achieve this, most often, you need forms that flow from one to the other through the use of line and gentle transitions from one plane to another. While a focal point is fine for a piece like this, expect us to look at your finished work by turning or walking around it. This is where having a model to work from can be so useful. Conceiving the piece on paper is okay, but having a model will give you a tried and true real-world simulation of what your finished piece will be like. If something does not flow or move you around the piece, a quick adjustment to the clay can solve it. I encourage you to use some sort of clay material to make your model. 🙂
Okay, that said, look at some images related to this project. Some are by well known artists, and some are by students. Some are even in plaster. I will have some notes at the end for anyone who was not present for our talk this past week about lay-out and tools used that can be really useful (and are cheap!).
The piece above is a good example of how you choose to mount or place the piece can give the form more energy (on an angle). Remember how lines that are diagonal are more dynamic? Same here…
This piece was made more visually dynamic when the student placed the piece up on one of the “knobs” and found a balance point.
Barbara Hepworth, Mother and Child.
Okay, this piece? This is not a carving, no. But this is an example of what you wont be able to do with plaster! Remember that plaster is fairly weak in thin cross-sections, so think bulk forms. If you want tendril-like effects, you can carve them into the surface of a larger form, much like how you did your reliefs, extending off the surface. You can get all kinds of surface effects, and while most of the pieces are smooth, you do not need to do smooth; how would texture work with your piece? Using a tool like a nail over a smooth surface could add a great deal of visual energy, like a pointalist effect. Or carving lines into the surface, as I described earlier? There are lots of possibilities. But looking at your proposals will help me to help you navigate what forms will be workable, possible, and not make your next few weeks of the semester filled with sheer frustration!
Hopefully weather will cooperate and we will have some classes where you can bring your piece and we can carve outside. I can show you some really fast ways to rough out your pieces and get moving on the work. Having your tools on-hand once the piece is cast will be good to do because carving plaster when it is still damp makes it much easier, especially for the roughing out process! Also, you can use a cheap dinner knife (not the sharp kind) and I can sharpen it so it is a good carving tool. Also, taking duct tape to a knife handle makes it easier to grasp and will limit the likelihood of getting blisters on your fingers.
Here are a few links for you to use if you need them to refer back, look deeper if you feel uninspired or stuck.
Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture garden in U.K.:
This sculpture park of Hepworth’s work you can see a more cubistic turn in her work, for what it is worth….
2nd Page of the Moore: (a little more interesting, if you ask me….)
This is made out of paper, so its not a subtractive method, but its kind of cool, especially if you are getting bored right about now….
This is a great site for all things art….If you scroll through, you will find examples of biomorphic abstraction. So much of this type of search is just looking and consuming images and finding what interests you….browsing is encouraged!
Okay, so that should get you thinking! Keep this piece small so you can keep the costs down. Six inches in any dimension should be enough. You CAN do larger, but it might mean needing to get more plaster.
This piece is due the last day of class. As mentioned in class, if everyone is good with that time-line, you can be done before exam week. However, if people need more time, we go to our meeting time during exam week. Otherwise, there is no final exam, just a review of your work. Your paper piece is due the second to last class meeting (important to get it done soon so its out of the way as you begin the plaster piece!!). Bring money for plaster next class meeting. Also, a “jab saw” which is found in Lowes in the tool section is a very useful tool for doing the rough-out of your piece and will save you LOTS of time. Paring knives that have strong blades that do not flex much can be good carving tools. Peelers can be good for more finished work. There is also a tool used for scraping callouses that looks like a mini-grater sold in beauty sections of stores that is also good for finish work. For the final finish, sand paper in grits 120 and 400-600 range are two good choices for finishing your piece for those smooth surfaces.
Many years ago I had a series of dreams where Picasso would show up and teach me something related to art. I don’t fully understand why I would have Picasso of all people showing up in my dream landscape except to act in a symbolic role as a creative catalyst. Picasso casts such a long shadow on so much, and from a historical perspective, I get it. I just never connected with his work that much. These dreams though ran the gamut from technique to content concerns in art. One of them helped to cement a notion that I probably had rolling around in the back of my head which I managed to bring more to the forefront of awareness, which is how as artists, we take nothing for granted. It is this sense that birthed the modern movement in art, breaking away from sheer representation of objects as had been the way for centuries, to a complete departure from what all of that entailed. It has given birth to Pop, Op, Surrealism, and a slew of movements within modernism.
In this dream, I am looking out across a grass-filled yard and I see a figure down on his knees looking at the ground. There he was, and he was beckoning me to come closer. I walked up to him, wondering what this was all about and he looked at me with these wide eyes and said, “If you look at the surface of things, you wont see it. Don’t take what you see for granted; there are worlds right in front of you!” He then nestled his nose down into the grass and urged me to stick my face down in the grass, which I did. He pushed me to nose down deeper into the grass. As I looked, I saw how the grass became a canopy, and that canopy opened up into a dense realm of life beneath seeing. He urged me, “Look deeper!” and as I did so, I saw ants, which had been nothing but specks, explode into view. Small mushrooms that were growing beneath the grass loomed into view. He kept pushing me, telling me how everything was animated inwardly by a life of its own. It was this life that artists seek to bring to life, to show the inside of what life is about. As I did this, I noticed how the mushrooms began to glow with something, a kind of light or life within them. It was in some ways indistinct, and yet, what it told me was that what I normally would pass over, had its own reality, its own importance if we could stop long enough to just see it. We miss these things because we simply do not take the time and focus in a very particular way to soak this life up. This might seem “woo-woo” to you, but it is widely known amongst the mystics and inner seekers that a part of all seeing is only possible by looking within. There is a reason for this, but that is a story for another day. This is where the realm of the ordinary doesn’t just transform but is revealed, perhaps for the first time.
For the last two years I have been slowly but surely studying glass in a way that is not too differently from that day in the grass with my Picasso. I have begun to take my camera and use its power of magnification to get closer and deeper into the material in a way that most people do not see into. Glass is itself not animate in the way ants or grass or mushrooms might be, but it is nonetheless a material that responds to the environment around it in fascinating ways, in ways that we might not always see simply because of the vast amount of information that our eye takes in and that our brains filter out. I have begun this “close look” with no notion of just what I will find, and like an adventurer, have gone looking to see what is there.
Artists often pride themselves in how much control they have in their craft. It is most often what makes artists what they are. What they do is called art because they are able to transform the mundane until it becomes profound. Whatever that means, it most often entails a technical capability to lay paint onto the canvas, or to push and shape raw clay into a myriad of amazing forms. In my case, it is glass.
What I have been doing is filling folders with visual information, snippets, pieces, parts, and more. I am like a woodsman gathering wood, thinking he might light a fire only to find that he is actually building a house. Where this leads is already taking shape, and begins to form the corpus or body of a whole new direction creatively. And it wasn’t really intentional, but the possibilities are so exciting that while it moves me away from my familiar 3-D orientation as an artist, it also moves me into realms that I find are marvelous. In this way, the material I am gathering suggests certain directions. I am making decisions all the way, but it feels far more collaborative a process than has been the case in the past. I like this. I like tricking myself into thinking I have no earthly idea what will come next, because in truth, my intuition has built a realm of possibilities all floating in front of me, or just behind my eyes and sometimes behind my awareness. I LIKE working this way for the simple reason that when I work so rationally and intentionally as I used to, the results are rarely as good or as exciting as when I let go and allow something a little broader and perhaps beyond the scope of my rational to take the reins. Again, that might sound woo-woo to some, but it is in truth what all the great thinkers and mystics down through the ages have been pointing to as a hitherto lesser known part of ourselves. Its less intending as it is letting go of the vast filtering and biasing effect that take place within our minds every single second of every day in order to touch on another aspect of who and what we are. Mind you, I am not saying that I am relying on accident. Accidents can sometimes suggest new directions simply because you never had thought of it and some random movement or event in the studio results in such an outcome. Certainly Jackson Pollock looked down at the paint dribble that had landed on his canvas and decided to try a little more, then more, and then wound up filling canvases with it. This is less accident and more suggestion. But the suggestion exists simply because I am so open to it.
The images that you see are copies of images that exist in high resolution taken in certain kinds of lighting and at just the right angle. I am seeking to get the glass to show me how it can look different as I move it around in the light. From one single three-inch swath, I can get five completely different results based on the angle the glass has to the light and what lies behind the glass itself. I am investigating just how interactive glass is in its environment. It offers up some amazing possibilities. Many of the images that I am showing here came from just a couple of pieces of blown glass from the studio.
I call these “Orbitals” partly because the forms that the glass pieces take. They are round, and they suggest environments, worlds, planets of some sort, perhaps. Some beg to be scanned, and some have no focal point. This is where I come in by using these images as the basis for assembling a new form with these images as part of the material from which I will draw. This work is in its early stages, even after two years of doing this close up work. It has grown and developed from a series of photos taken from some of my pieces by a client and friend who found them fascinating up close. I do too, and I have taken this and run with it, although in the beginning I had no idea where it was leading.
To be clear, though, the images aren’t manipulated in post production hardly at all. The most I ever do is to adjust lighting and adjust sharpness. Everything else, though, is as I saw it originally, which are amazingly rich and fascinating landscapes, environments, and even worlds within the one we normally see.
Certainly these will lead to painting on large shaped canvases of some sort, but exactly how this all comes together is a work in progress. And really, this is what I am doing, giving you a peek into this early stage process and hoping that perhaps in some small way, it can serve as inspiration for you in your day to day to see things differently. Sometimes, looking beyond the obvious is all that it takes!
For the last month I have been busily making ornaments (done!) and small Gaia lamps (done!), and am now doing the grinding and drilling of the vases to light them. I have begun making the large pieces now, and have two of eight made, at a studio in Northern Virginia. Over the last week I have had two people claim their perks from the campaign. One was a family who had a series of pieces made; two paperweights, a small drinking glass for a delightful little lady, a small gold ruby ruffled vase, and a large pink and purple Nautilus bowl. Its been a lot of shuttling back and forth in cold weather, but worth it.
Once the pieces have been drilled and lit, all items will next be packed and shipped. The weather has been glitchy the last couple of weeks, resulting in the family that came recently to reschedule due to a power outage.
Today, with snow coming down, I hope to get out to the studio to get more large vases assembled before the weather gets so bad that we have another power outage. Fingers crossed! Unfortunately, in the area where the studio is located, power outages are far too common.
So before I head out I am including these pieces that were made a number of years ago as examples of pieces that can be made once the studio here is operational. These pics are all from the same piece, which goes to show just how much variety that can be packed into a piece such as this. I hope it helps brighten your day, especially if you hail from our neck of the woods, which is facing as much as a foot of snow in the next 24 hours. Enjoy! Stay warm!