Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stress During Thesis

Thesis semester is stressful.

There is no way around it. To properly complete the program I've had to front load all my work. Of course, the initial writeup of the Thesis takes place at the beginning of the semester. Once that was done I immediately jumped into "tweeking" my project for graduation. This has been broken up by a Thesis reorganization. So really my semester has been about 50/50 art making Thesis writing.

So the stress comes in unexpectedly. I wasn't feeling like I had more work than usual until I realized that any little change in my life led me down the path of extreme freakout. Every...single...change.

I'm trying to keep my workout routine intact so I don't make the stress worse, but my social life is taking a major back seat still and probably will until I graduate.

Moving on...

I had my first face to face meeting with my Mentor. Ultimately, the flag boxes I have created are complete. Now it's a matter of making the resource shelf fit with the overall feel of the boxes. We spent most of our time discussing that, as well as, what I can do with my life when I graduate. I feel like that aspect of the degree is seriously ambiguous. I mean, what do we do once we graduate if we don't want to be a full-time teacher? How do we get grants, how do we get shows, how do we get to know the people we have to know in order to make these things happen, what shows should I decline, how do I choose a gallery, is there room for local art fair work to go with my "high" art most people won't buy?

Claudia was really helpful with answering these questions. She is a very sharing person and I really appreciate that. Sometimes it feels like people don't want to share because they worry there will not be room for everyone in the art world. I feel like if you are good enough it doesn't matter who you share with.

Anyway, writing my Thesis is also helping me frame my work better and figure out what art I want my art to be associated with. And although I'm not making any "new" work for the graduate exhibition I think the work that I have tweeked has taken on a "new" glow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Surfacing To Post

So I haven't been on my blog because every spare minute of my life has been absorbed by making art and writing my thesis. I figured it was time to post some form of update. I've decided to try to make this semesters posts informative in regards to the thesis semester process for my future self, and for others that may be curious about the program.

My first week back I tried to take a few days off, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it...until I got sick. So while I was sick I brainstormed and decided instead of doing a ceramic insert for the flag box I am completely going to redo I am going to do a knit flag. The only problem was I didn't know how to knit. So I took my sick down time to learn to knit.

The following week I was functioning mentally and physically again so I began reading for thesis. I read all day every day ALL WEEK LONG. At the end of all that reading I rewrote my thesis outline to include what images I wanted. I also had a Skype meeting with my mentor to try to figure out the balance for the semester. She recommended I get some help with the massive workload. I decided to take her advice, and the following week I hired a studio assistant.

I spent 7 days writing my first draft thesis to include the bibliography, images, citation, but not the abstract. I turned the draft into the writing tutors and waited 3 days for feedback. I then made the necessary changes to grammar and sent it off to my lovely editor, Lindsey Schmitt with a deadline. She returned it with content comments. After editing a second time I sent it to my mentor who graciously did a quick turn around so I could edit for her comment suggestions and get it turned in to my adviser. First thesis draft done I began focusing on studio work.

With my assistant I have removed all the rebar from the boxes, patched, painted, and varnished (thanks for the tip Kevin Blake) them to completion. I had her cut all the quilt squares for my replacement quilt piece, cut out the shapes for my resource scrapbook, and put all the boxes back together. I have knitted the knit box insert, constructed the quilt box insert, and redone the military medal and ribbon insert. This required I rip the other box inserts apart and put them back together with the new surfaces. I've been putting in between 50 and 70 hours a week. The only reason this is possible is due to my ability to stop living since my boyfriend is on deployment. I have tendinitis in my right arm, eating has become an after thought, my pets feel neglected, my house is filthy, and I'm running out of clean socks and underwear. I don't recommend this normally. Normally I try to stick to the 25 hours a week in the studio to maintain sanity and my health, but I have to meet the catalog photo deadline, and I want my new project in the grad catalog. So that means I'm going to kill myself and my assistant with studio hours until the deadline is met.

With that said. After averaging the hours from February and half of March over the 18 weeks that make up the semester it works out to roughly a little more than 20 hours a week. Crazy right?! I know. I don't know if I'm going to post pictures of this project because I would like everyone to be surprised. Don't worry Sunanda, I will send you pictures so you know I'm on track.

I will, however, post pictures of whatever new endeavor I attempt after I complete the requirements for this flag box project.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trying Something New

So my boxes are just about done. Waiting for my big F to go away and my boyfriends pinched neck nerve to subside so we can put the last three backs on and I can paint them. Hopefully, we will get them done tonight.

Since my boxes are done I decided to try my hand at an idea for a ceramic anchor sculpture. I used a 20lb anchor and about 32lbs of plaster. It is the biggest heaviest thing I think I have ever made, and it was not 100% successful.

Turns out all the poking and prodding to remove the anchor from the plaster left huge gaps between the mold pieces. So I tried building the clay body like a slump mold and sticking it together with tons of slip and clay chunks. My Frankenmold is now drying. In a few days I will know if all of this back breaking work and money was worth it. I'm feeling like it probably wasn't, but at least I've tried. It has also made me realize that I physically cannot handle such large objects. So back to the drawing board with that idea. I think for now I will stick with my necklace boxes.

Next week is Thanksgiving and the last week of studio time for school for me. I've been busting my butt to get everything done for shipping, as well as, a few weeks time to rest my poor beat down body.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Seven Boxes in Five Months

The work I have been doing for the last six months is almost complete! At this rate I will have it done by my deadline of December 1st with corrections as well. The boxes were surprisingly difficult and time consuming. The backings look great but they each had to be tailored to the specific box it would be attached to. Overall, I'm really happy with the end result. There are many future possibilities for this series as well, but for now I need a break! So here it is, 7 boxes in 5 months...
The colored glass beads have writing on them, but the picture is too small to show that detail

flash so you can see the crushed velvet.

same box different lighting



Quilt. I restitched with thicker white so you could see the quilting.

Land of the free.

Scrapbook flag has had a few reworks and it is at a stage where I'm going to start constructing and completing it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Once The Paint Dries!

Well I'm surfacing for air finally! Papers are done and projects are coming to completion! So it's time to put some pictures up. I was planning on completing 5 of the boxes today, but my dog had a medical emergency that has taken my whole day. He should be back home tonight though and I can complete the 5 boxes tomorrow before seeing my mentor on Wednesday.

My third paper was about how the work of Rosemarie Trockel and Elaine Reichek use feminist art to create institutional critique. Studying these artists as well as some basics on semiotics helped me come up with the text in these pieces. Some of the writing is much more subtle, but every word was researched and decided upon very deliberately.
I may display the boxes on the floor in a similar manner. They all have holes to mount them on the wall as well.

The rebar is labeled, "honor, courage, commitment" 3 Navy Core Values
The centerpiece complete.

crochet stars (still needs to be ironed so the star centers show better)

Cross-stitched forget-me-nots and a common military phrase with loaded meanings

quilted star complete.

The centerpiece, a pillow with the medal and ribbon attached and iron on transfer.
close up. If you look closely "land of the free" is quilted into it.

Beads. See below for explanation...
 So I had a major meltdown with the ceramic bead box. Specifically, the beads. I fired them without thinking about the shrinkage rate of the stringing holes. Once fired the holes were too small to stilt again for the second glazed form. Fixing the problem would take too many man hours and I had already spent over 80 hours making the 2,140 beads. So I did research and chose Czech drop beads. They have a long history of disrupt due to wars, but continue to be made in Czechoslovakia despite the adversity Czech bead makers endured. Not only that, but they are the exact shape and size to match the ceramic beads I had initially created. 

That's all for now...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Seattle Art Museum

Last weekend I drug my boyfriend to the Seattle Art Museum to see the exhibit Minimalist Moment. It was small but filled with some interesting art. I got to see a piece by Daniel Buren, which surprised me due to the nature of their small collect. There was also an interesting piece by Robert Morrison and an interesting collection of curatorial pieces by Lucy Lippard.
Another great surprise was a room with three artists dealing with identity politics through African American art. Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, and Carrie Mae Weems. It was like having a slice of pie and realizing you get ice cream with fudge too! If you read my second paper it discusses identity politics through the influence of Adrian Piper. I really enjoyed the piece by Weem's and all of the tricky little symbols and meaning openly displayed as well as under the surface.
Glenn Ligon

 I really just wish the museum was bigger. Going to New York City really did spoil me :(

Monday, October 7, 2013

Furthering My End Game

Paper II complete and now working on paper III. Research for paper III is helping my concept progress in the studio. I started the semester thinking about institutional critique and identity politics AND semiotics. Fia and I decided my third paper should be on institutional critique, but as my process and research has progressed I feel a paper on semiotics would be most helpful...which way it will go is still to be seen.

I had a meeting with my mentor last week. Claudia has been very helpful clarifying concepts I struggled with while working with Susan. She is working with me to continue removing the literalness from my work, as well as, developing new ways of thinking about the process. I have realized my current flag box project may have a singular manifestation for the next residency, but there are many new tangents it could potentially branch off towards. I am thinking multiple projects focused around these flag boxes. We also discussed the use of language and words in art, and she gave me a few more artists to research in the direction of semiotics.

Since my last post I have eight flag boxes constructed, prepped and ready for paint and one box with the steel rebar installed.  Below area  few pictures of that. The rebar installation was a bit of a mental and physical challenge, but once my boyfriend and I figured it out I think the other seven/15 boxes will come together much easier (if I decide they all need rebar).

We used two of the boxes to hold up the one we were working on.
Complete and ready for paint. I've decided to keep the rebar in its natural color state
I have also begun to explore and develop further the contents of these boxes. Below are the starting points for the contents. The cross stitched piece will be based off of a plan I drew out on Thursday (forgot to photograph it so I'll just surprise you) that utilizes the catchy Navy recruiting phrase, "Accelerate your life!"
One Forget-Me-Not done, and one petal almost complete
I'm pleased with the pace I am keeping with this part of the project. I thought the cross-stitch would take me forever, but I find it enjoyable and it's interesting to see my drawing coming together in thread and fabric so I think I should have this done within the next two weeks. I also decided to reduce the size of the overall piece and center it in the flag box with a plain but elegant white velvet background (yes, a certain level of cheesiness is implied).

Today I worked out my quilt star. See pictures below. I decided instead of three stars to just make one star with radiating white velvet as its border. I am then going to back it with batting and hand quilt it together with potentially another Navy phrase thrown out of context.

This is where it started
This is the half-finished product
So it is all starting to come together. This project has been a huge undertaking and I've found myself wanting to flit back and forth never really completing anything. I think of making sculpture in the same way I was taught to make paintings. Don't complete one area and move on to the rest because that will create imbalance in the piece. Work the whole thing with shared enthusiasm to make the entire piece one cohesive composition that naturally flows together. I've been really taking my time to get the craft right as well, which means my usual short cuts of not measuring and calculating are not going to cut it.