Are you…?

Observant? Yes.

Yeah, the godless institution on Gower Street doesn’t really do religion. But I do, and that seems to be ok anyway. One of my tutors inquired. I had mentioned Yiddish language and something else Jewish and she asked if I am…observant? I am not in Brandeis anymore and that’s just fine. Everytime I see a “does anyone have this or that textbook” or “pleeeeease pick me up my plane landed in Logan 10 minutes ago” or “does anyone know of a good NEJS class that fits in with my absolutely inflexible schedule?” type post on my newsfeed I can’t get over how lucky I am and how doing all that class shopping, Sherman eating, oh hi how was your break amazing how was yours-ing couldn’t not be any less appealing. Huzzah for escaping inanity! That one’s for you Yael Rus (my little Koala!!).

Couldn’t fall asleep last night because I was so excited to wake up in the morning and getting out of bed this morning wasn’t a thing at all. I got to the studio at about 9:20 and worked on small embroidery sample in my sketchbook until our 10 AM meeting. No one really had anything to share (any news on events, gallery openings, exhibits worth seeing, etc are welcome) so it ended quickly. Then I went back to my space to embroider something else and eavesdropped on a conversation behind me worth eavesdropping on, after which I had a tutorial (British equivalent of office hours) with Kieren Reed, one of the sculpture tutors. We had chatted briefly last week about my bunnies, specifically when it became “art.” So much of it depended on community engagement, and he left me with that lingering question. Today he said that he thought about it and decided that it “became art” through the press I got as a result of the installation. I’m going to think about that, ask Kieren to elaborate and report back to you.

We talked about the materials I’ve worked with in the past, the materials I plan on working with this semester, art worth looking at, including that of Sarah Sze, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, and Helen Maurer. Talked at length about maps–he was quite taken by my map project (the red line one) and that developed into a conversation about spelling things out in the routes you take (there was an artist who did that…) He also touched on feminist theory of crafts associated with women (i.e. embroidery, paper cutting, etc.). Kieren remembered that I like doing site specific projects so he gave me few suggestions on how to scout a place and some places worth checking out, both on campus and beyond and if I find something I like, he and the other tutors would come out to see it and talk about it. Bottom line, he thinks that I’m in a great place and I should just keep going with whatever I’m doing. Cheers.

Yael Stern came over for a tour of the Slade and then we ate our packed lunches together and talked about art and craft and stuff and made possible weekend plans. Tate Modern! Huzzah! After Yael left, I had a tutorial with another tutor named Melanie. A much different conversation than the one I had with Kieren. She was a lot more critical, asked more challening questions, asked if my penchant for making minature, infantile-like things might mean I’m mentally stuck in my childhood. I didn’t deny it and she’s like whyyyyyy are today’s 20+ year old stuck in their childhood? And I’m like, bunnies? She was so convinced by my philosophy behind the bunny project (elusiveness, longing, etc) but once she saw pictures of the installation itself she stopped challenging it as much. I like that there is a variety of opinions here. Speaking with Kieren in someways is like looking in mirror and ego-inflating while being enlightening at the same time. Speaking with Melanie C. (not the Spice Girl) reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do and they look at your art anyway and this is what they might be thinking whether you agree or not but it’s refreshing and important and necessary to be challenged. If my work was never questioned, I would perpetually plateau. The chat with Melanie was identity shattering in any way. No, it generated balance. Always a good thing.

Right after my tutorial ended I packed up my stuff and headed to Warren Station to take the Tube to Kennington, the stop closest to City and Guilds Art School. I was telling Melanie before, and I think saying it out loud made it concrete, that every time I’m on the Tube, and it’s more than 4 stops and I have a seat, I will take out my sketchbook and draw whoever is sitting nearby. I honestly believe that you can teach yourself to draw and I have successfully drawn things in the past, and I want to successfully draw things all the time so this exercise forces me to be focused and draw quickly. No time to think, because your subject might get off at the next stop.

A few sketches later, I found myself above ground and registering for the stained glass course I discovered last week. I thought it was going to be 10-15 people but it was just me and Carey Smith, the instructor! What a great deal. Private stained glass lessons. I was giddy the whole time. I’m just so lucky! I couldn’t believe that under a week ago I was despairing at my desk about how my attempt to pursue stained glass failed and that the number I called to reach this stained glass instructor was probably no longer used. Amidst my despair, a moment of that might actually work shone through. I was thinking about maps and glass and though: Stained glass map? Then I started sketching a map (the one I posted last week) and felt satisfied. Today I was holding a google maps print out of my neighborhood and started cutting out the negative space (as I define it, anything without a street name). I did this with the intention of trying to go about making some kind of illuminated paper lantern thing but then I looked at it a bit differently and realized it resembled the sketch I made last week. Then I took out my silver pen and colored it in, to make it look as it would if it was soldered. I brought this sketch withme tonight and described my vision to Carey and we got to work. I love being aware of process as it develops and unfolds.

First Carey gave me the necessary safety talk and described what the various machines do and gave me a quick tour of the workshop. Another moment of gratitude: Had I been able to get ahold of what I needed last Thursday and went about teaching this to myself, there would have been quite a few things that I wouldn’t not have been able to intuit. Carey’s tips and instructions was incredibly helpful. We started off by blowing up my paper cut sketch to around 150% and then I traced the design (you need to work off a template) and started cutting glass. The pictures will clarify. As Carey showed me the different bits of glass (muffin! Hey brother!) I saw some shards of mirror and knew I wanted to use it. I wasn’t sure what kind of color scheme I wanted to use. But I did know that if I had gone with reds, yellows and blues (as I had considered) my piece would look to Mondrian-inspired and I wasn’t going for that. As of now, it will be both mirror and clear glass (window glass. Can’t remember the proper word for it). Halfway through, we took a tea break and I chatted with two other artists, Rebecca and Susan. Rebecca is writing her dissertation on glass before and after the advent of laser cleaning. Talk about learn by doing. She’s replicating Medieval stained glass windows and studying chemistry. I’m impressed. Possible career path? I have no objections. Except that whole chemistry thing might take some more convincing. Rebecca said she learned it because of the glass; she did not come to this with a science background and she grew to love it. I can see that. I “grew to love math” because of my architecture class. Math, meaning addition and subtraction and maybe multiplication. I was sad to see the clock was about to strike 8 because that meant I had to start cleaning up. Too soon. Looking forward to next week! Ah!

On the Tube ride back I sketched for a while (it was a longer commute than I’m used to) and I found myself incredibly frustrated when every person I set out to draw got up before I was ready to move on! Definitely creates incentive to move quickly and prevents over-thinking, to which I’m a frequent victim.

Got home at twenty to nine, ate some turkey kabanoseys (hey family!) and olives for dinner, and here I am, writing to you.

Another exciting day coming my way: Bookbinding induction tomorrow from 10:30 to 4! Then I’m going to see the work the Third Year students have put up at the Woburn Square location. From 5:30 to 7:30 I’m have HiattChat–hopefully there will be some traffic (the email went out to all the study abroad students today!) and if not, I’ll probably be staying in the studio anyway and I’ll find something to do…

xx

Sarah

And now for your viewing pleasure…..pictures from both yesterday and today:

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