On Thursday I had a studio visit with Malcolm Cochran. I had never met Malcolm before but we had a wonderful conversation and I appreciated his interest in getting to know me beyond my artwork. He wanted to know where I grew up, asked me about my family – how did I decide to make art my life. And then we got into the nitty gritty of it all. I’m a talker- and usually during studio visits I feel the time crunch and feel like I have to get things out as quickly as possible- often overwhelming myself and probably the visitor. Malcolm’s visit however felt relaxed, calm, and as if time was infinite. Just another element I really appreciated during our meeting.
As we spoke about my work (both past undergraduate pieces and current works) I began to feel less and less sure of my graduate work. Not in a sense that it’s poor work but rather what it is I have been trying to understand within the work. Malcolm emphasized the importance of exploring ideas and questions and finding answers within the work rather than starting with an answer and then trying to make work about it- which is the place I seem to have found myself in.
Drawn to my photographs from last semester he encouraged me to use them as sketches and re-look at them for more understanding and to try to find perhaps a commonality or what makes them interesting.
As for my most current video work he made a point to remind me that sometimes “confidence can be blinding.” A point that redirected us to his advice on exploration and question asking. There is a pressure within graduate school to make sure you know what your work is about- which myself and my classmates can attest to. Malcolm and I discussed this, and obviously it’s important to know what you’re making and why-but as he reminded me, explore IDEAS, see what kind of QUESTIONS you’re asking yourself and within that you will figure out what your work is about.
I seem to have set an agenda for myself and have worked backwards. “I am making work about Womens issues and oppression within domesticity.” But am I really? I would like to- but what if the work is exploring something else in a different way-not in the way I intended?
One of Malcolm’s final pieces of advice was to think of art making as a way of making soup. Say you make a really good tomato bisque, with fresh tomatoes, basil, chunks of mozzarella cheese, some salt and pepper. It’s delicious but the next time you make it you use that original recipe as a jumping off point to alter it and make it even better- experiment with some more flavors. The fresh tomatoes were a great addition so you decide to put more fresh ingredients in rather than artificial spices. This brands a new type of tomato bisque but nonetheless had the same initial concept behind it.
What he was saying was that each artwork made should be inspiration for the next. Should serve as a jumping off point- take the best parts of the previous work and make a new recipe with them.
I appreciated this analogy in many ways. Since the visit I have felt a bit overwhelmed and lost within my work and have no idea where I’m going. Nevertheless, I am going to go back to my photographs from last semester and really look at them, I’m going to ask myself questions about what I am thinking about or trying to explore, I am going to examine my video works and do the same hoping that after all that I may have some pretty good ingredients to make a strong and hearty soup.
Each week Ric Petry, the Director of the Graduate Program here at CCAD sends out an email with the same title as above. It gives all of the grad students a break down of what we can look forward to with the upcoming week. Meetings, lectures, studio visits, who is critiquing, etc. It’s something I look forward to each week. Even more so I look forward to Ric’s last ending lines. Always uplifting, always encouraging, and always pushing us to be more. It’s crazy to think I have just registered for my next semesters classes- the beginning of my second and final year of graduate school. Time always seems to move too quickly just when you want it to slow down…
“Ok, we are deep in the belly of this beast. Work just as hard as you know how, then a little harder from now till May. This is such a precious time and as any 2nd year student will tell you it goes too fast.”
Thanks Ric, for the constant reminders of how lucky we are to be in such a place in our lives to be part of this program and exploration of ourselves as artists and people.
The last two weeks have been quite a whirlwind. I had a studio visit with photographer Laura Larson prior to her artist talk and it was refreshing to have someone with no prior knowledge of me or my work look at what I am creating. Almost objectively she provided me with some great feedback, questions to think through, and as always, artists to look at. Her visit was a great precursor to my upcoming critique.
Prior to that meeting, I met with CCAD professor and staff member, John Cairns as well as my mentor and CCAD Professor Danielle Julian Norton. John and I met to discuss some technology troubleshooting and the content/concept of my work. As always, he was encouraging and uplifting. Prompting me to push further within the work and continue to make it stronger with its content. Danielle likewise has really been pushing me to further my concept. There is one piece that she believes is missing that could really build the concept and fully flesh out the work.. a piece I am still looking to develop. She also is very encouraging about the discussion points of my work and the development of the language around it. Her questions, curiosities, and points always leave me with more to explore and investigate which I very much appreciate.
My critique the following week was equally as constructive as these two meetings. Leading up to the critique I was excited for my peers reaction and really looking forward to hearing their feedback and their thoughts on how I could continue to move forward. I presented two video iterations of myself ironing in a variety of fashions. What I mean by that is that in one video I am in a way going through the mundane task of ironing in a bored uninterested manner, seeming slightly frustrated. In the other video I become a variety of characters. A woman dressed for work, a woman in lounge clothes, a woman in pajamas, and a woman who has just come from the gym. Within this video the task of ironing is much more apparently frustrating. My motions are much more violet (if you can imagine a violent way in which to iron), and my frustration with the task/notion of the task is much more apparent. Both videos were projected onto a gallery wall, the first one projected through a silk print of a video still taken from the actual video. I also presented 4 photographs in which I was basically overtaken by the clothing that I was ironing and presented the ironing board with the mass of shirts in the corner of the space. (My peers felt these were both unnecessary additions- the videos served enough purpose and I don’t necessarily disagree).
I am keen to continue with the video work and perhaps really take some time to develop these female characters more thoroughly with really thought out and intentional costuming/dress. As I move forward I plan to continue to use the task of ironing as a tool to create discussion and bring to light the oppression of women within domesticity. I hope to develop my video work further and really broaden my skill-set as an artist within this realm as well as really be able to develop the language and intentionality between all of my choices and decisions aesthetically moving forward.
“A blue collar is a working-class person historically defined by hourly rates of pay and manual labor. A blue collar worker refers to the fact that most manual laborers at the turn of the century wore blue shirts, which could hold a little dirt around the collar without standing out.”
Not only do I find an interesting metaphor in silk with its transparency and the transparency or invisibility of women’s work- but also I find a very interesting parallel between women’s work and blue collar work. So often blue collar work is overlooked and undervalued, similar in the way housework and women’s work is overlooked and undervalued. Both receive very little praise or appreciation for the work that they complete.
I am anxious to see how I can make this metaphor part of my work as well…the ideas are brewing.
I have been meaning to post on here with updates about my work for the past week and a half but unfortunately keep putting it on the back burner- but better late than never they always say right?
I had my first critique on January 25th, the second week of school. I was eager to be critiqued so early in the semester so that I could hear feedback from my peers and hopefully be able to figure out what type of images I wanted to make and the materials I was going to use. As I said in a former post, I wanted to continue with silks but I was really struggling with making the imagery on the silks meaningful and was hoping my peers could provide some helpful advice in regards to that issue specifically.
For my critique I printed a 6ft. by 10ft. image on silk hung on dowel rod with free range to move and be observed. The image was of a living room interior- still what I would say, a flat, boring image. Thankfully my peers agreed and came to the conclusion that I was trying to be “too nice” in my image making. My frustrations about the underlying expectations for women to work in the home are extremely apparent when I speak about it, so I needed to start to make the same sentiment in my artwork.
Looking back at some artists like Martha Rosler and Sandra Ogel, who had done performance/video pieces discussing this topic in a similar vain, my wheels really began turning. I started to think about some major chores or duties that women are expected to do within a home and broke them down to folding laundry, ironing, dishes, and vacuuming. Beginning with the laundry elements of folding and ironing I thought about making a work inspired by Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen. I have never done video work before so this is my first attempt, but so far, I am very excited about the possibilities it holds. I don’t want to get away from the silks completely, because I really enjoy the metaphor created between the transparency of the silk as a material and the transparency of invisibility of women’s work. I am working to figure out how to combine the silk printing with the video, possibly with projection or installed hangings with video projections coinciding with the fabric pieces.
My next critique is on the 22nd- just about a week away. I am looking forward to having a video completed as well as silk prints to have a nearly full installation. ‘Til soon!