Do not be shocked by my foul use of language! I assure you it is in the name of art and is a vital art historical reference to this post ( and perhaps series...)
Artist's Shit is the name of a piece by Piero Msnzoni, a precursor to the Art Povera movement or "poor art". Basically it is a can (series of 90) with a straightforward label of contents in a couple different languages for inclusivity, mocking the practices of mass production and consumption and " satirizing the reverence usually accorded to artists work" (theart story.org) No one has opened the can to see if it does in fact contain 30 g of excrement so it could be literal shit or just BS! The world will never know!
I was reminded by this piece during my daily rounds around art school. Art(school) Shit is therefore the title of a list of sorts of sights and sounds that are so typical it is hilarious around the revered SAIC.
1. This is a new piece of ART displayed prominently by Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate. Yes the rocks have been imported from Nigeria. If you do not get this, the meaning is obviously to deep for you. Art school ROCKS!
2. Doesn't your school have cacti parties? Art school celebrates inclusivity.
3. In my art history class, a fellow grad passionately proclaimed "the world is my studio!" Just let that sit there for a while.
4. The new artist must be avant garde with their distribution method. Bathroom trash cans =perfect place to reach new audiences.
5. Today I overheard a furried debate over the structure of a writing workshop class.
" I do not like the attitude of the class! How am I supposed to work in this setting? It is not that the people are mean, more like its stiff. I just don't like the feeling. There is NO RESOLUTION! Obviously she (the professor) needs to be hit over the head!"
Art students are nothing if not opinionated.
This has been your daily source of Art School insight. I'm your host, Becca Beaird. Ta ta for now blog readers!
Today marks one month since uprooting, leaving everything I knew and moving to the Windy City. What a journey! All I can seem to come up when asked about the city life is "it sure is different!" Are you homesick? Of course, but mainly on Clemson football game days! Go tigers!
The month has flown by so fast that I have not had a moment to take pictures, much less recollect and analyze. Instead, I am going to give you a smorgasbord list of observations- some may seem obvious or a bit trivial. As with any blob, there is no order.
1. Drivers Honk here a lot! I still jump and look for the impending wreck every time. Down South honking is seen as rude, here is is just a normal method of communication.
2. It is always loud, partly due to above but also because the city is always in motion- that can be said for the people and the wind.
3. It is not true that everyone here only wears black but it is very prevalent, especially once the temps started to drop. My Southern style sensibilities have been commented on as a high fashion statement.
4. Chicago is a foodie heaven! From gourmet cupcakes to pizza pies and crazy grilled cheese sandwiches, you can find and eat it all! What pics I have taken have all been of food. (shameless plug: check out my Instagram on the right bar)
5. Lots of walking does not mean practical shoes. The true Chicagonista takes her miles in heels. Bonus: You burn off the above food with so much walking!
6. Diversity is my favorite. Coming from their own societal experiences, the people in my classes argue that there are no defined identity labels anymore. I would not agree in terms of the structure of my home state but in this city, full of people from every conceived background, that could be possible. Diversity makes people-watching exponentially better.
7. Christianity is still at work in this city; Bible Belt, you were wrong! The North's temperature may be cold but the people's hearts are not.
8. Chicago has a great selection of hats. This makes my heart (& head) so happy! Only a true old soul would understand. Basically I have take it upon myself to bring Sunday morning hats back into the foreground of finery.
9. Tall buildings make me feel like I live in a doll house. Or perhaps a movie set. I have no explanation for this but at least I can wear a fun hat to represent my mentality.
10. The only things Chicago needs: Sweet tea, Zaxbys, and buttery biscuits.
Here's to Month Two! May it be full of memories and hopefully accompanying photo documentation!
Without the customary selfie, many may have missed the start of this new chapter, Graduate School. I am attending the School of the Art institute of Chicago for a Masters in Art Education. This first week was a whirlwind of syllabi, google mapping, excruciatingly long readings and the return of personal insecurities. Will I make friends? Can everyone tell I'm lost and clueless? Am I smart enough, creative enough... good enough? As a graduate student, everyone assumes you have it all together: that you know the campus, the customs, the ins and outs. In reality, we are all new to this like any freshman.
Day 1 was marked by a bubbly undergrad orientation leader coming over to me as I quickly ate lunch.
"Are you a freshman," she asked eagerly, expecting a new mentee.
"No. I am a graduate student," the crisp air and disdain coated my voice.
Even still, she insisted on walking me to class because I must have appeared quite lost ( I wasn't actually at that moment).
I walked towards my art history course with comfort in the familiarity. It was a survey course and my 8th in the long string of college level Art History courses. It should be a cake walk! The first discussion left me intimidated and bewildered but with a revived competitiveness. (I can now say the second class was much better!) It is interesting how a difficult situation often makes humans just work harder, we have a drive to be the best for better or for worst.
In this new academia world, full of art people, creative thinkers and individuals, the typically stand outs are just one of the blur. Pink hair is the norm. I have seen more man buns this week then I care to take account of. I find myself grasping and holding onto my identity with everything I do, say or wear. I am one of the minority: I am southern, I am a practicing Protestant Christian, and I am on the conservative side of the spectrum and I am proud. I find myself asking many questions about my personal identity and identity in general. Should I immerse myself in the dress and look in order to experience and immerse myself in urban culture? Are my traditions hindering me? Is it bad that I refuse to change? Will the new location alter my identity significantly even if only a 2 year excursion after 22 other formative years? What are other peoples identities around me? How do we relate?
The introspection and focus on identity is an aspect of graduate school I did not expect. It is another way in which grad life is about balance.
In the art ed program we have begun to look at culture and identity as a way to understand a community and be able to relate to them. You must understand people and build trust in order to teach them. In the same way, I think you must understand where your teacher and peers are coming from to build respect and be able to learn.
This is one of the beauties of art education. Through art you can communicate and put a piece of yourself out for the world the see. You self-reflect, become vulnerable, grow and learn through the creative process. As an art teacher, I hope to instill the importance of self reflection and the drive to make in my students in hopes that it will build confidence and problem solving, skills that go much farther than the classroom. I am realizing that my observation and experiences as a student, even at the graduate level, will inform my habits and understandings as a teacher.
As an architect in a historic city, my Dad sometimes gets exciting opportunities to go clean out abandoned buildings before they are renovated or torn down. Last winter, he went and cleaned out the basement of the old Weed School (yes.. that was the actual name) that had been abandoned since the 60s but will soon be renovated into posh apartments. He came home with heart of pine shelves and cabinets and tables galore!
This summer as my search for a practical, not too deep shelving unit for some extra storage in my apartment came to no avail, he decided to cut down the old and make something new. Then I sanded off the cracking paint and gave new energy to the piece with some warm grey paint and gold leaf.
Basically my Dad cut the original in half to make a better fit for a small apartment. Then he took the right side panel off of the discard half and attached it back to the keeper half. Once done, it looked like that was the size it had been all along!
Today Im going to talk about my part of the project though: the reface! the makeover! GOLD!
The move to Chicago has been, to put it mildly, stressful. The months before were full of doubts, tears and fears. Many times I felt lost and as if I had made a BIG mistake. Pre-move, when people asked me about the move, "Are you excited?", or asserted "I bet you are so excited! You are probably ready to be there already!", I would smile and nod as my eyes gave away my true feeling. Terrified.
Since getting here, each day has brought new blessings from friendly doormen, to new jobs and Chickfilla! PTL!
I want to back up a bit...
Back in May on the return car ride from NOLA, a friend wanted to play a psychology question game. He asked a series of questions, one of which was " describe my favorite place. Where would I want to live? and why?"
That was a tricky question because I love to travel and I really just can not see myself settling one place, at least not yet. I answered that I would like to live at Lake Lure, NC (where Dirty Dancing was filmed!) because it was beautiful, and peaceful. I had sentimental feelings about it from a family wedding years past but had not been in a long time.
My friend said that Lake Lure and all of my accompanying feelings represented my relationship with God, that I felt sentimentally about it and it was a place of comfort, but I had not been in a long time. Those words rang true and it haunted me the rest of the summer. Honestly, I still have a hard time writing it now because the truth is scary, broken and imperfect. I really had not been in a comfortable relationship with the Lord in a while, I was treating our relationship like a distant but cherished memory.
About two weeks ago, I decided that I had to stop waiting for a spiritual high to find me, instead I needed to begin trekking up the mountain. I began to pray with a goal to bring back this daily habit that I had forgotten. I wanted to be in a real, and present relationship with my Father after year of letting Him get lost in the shuffle that was undergraduate student life.
Today I read a chapter of The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis called "Be Guided by the Spirit." The title caught my eye when flipping around and I was hoping to find some insight. Maybe a step by step guide to life? That would be nice, right? Pope Francis begins by telling us that we live in a world skeptical of truth. We hear this everyday as people worry about religion, politics and events, not able to stand strongly on one platform, but rather being swayed by the currents of society. We worry about personal, daily questions as well: what job? who to date? where to live? what should I order at this restaurant? But if the answer bit us or tattooed itself across our arms, we would still be skeptical. We are weak and full of doubt.
But we should not be because the Lord "will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13), since he himself is "the Spirit of the Truth" (John 14:17). Weekly, many churches recite the apostles creed like little drones. I am reminded of this creed as I read the Popes scriptural references, "Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Light..." Wow perhaps instead of going through the motions I should take those rituals through deep consideration.
Pope Francis goes onto say that to recognize this Truth we must be led by the Spirit. I learned a new word; Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a Paraclete.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his disciples (and us!), to help them and guide them. The Holy Spirit will guide us "into all the truth" (John 16:13 again); " not only does He guide us to encounter with Jesus, the fullness of the Truth, but He also guides us "into" the Truth- that is, he makes us enter into an ever-deeper communion with Jesus, giving us knowledge of all things of God. And we can NOT achieve this by our own efforts." (Francis, pg. 44)
Wow, just wow.
This is where I had gone off track. I was lost because I could not find the Truth without the Holy Spirit. Pope Francis ends with a reminder for everyone to pray daily. He wanted his readers to ask themselves if they have really taken steps to know Christ and the Truth? Are we open to the Holy Spirit? What steps our we taking to "ensure the faith governs the whole of our existence?"
The Whole of Our Existence.
Our Whole Self.
This is beyond my comprehension. Just try to think for a second how powerful the Lords calling on our lives would be, how loud and clear it would be, if we listened and sought with Our Whole Self.
When I look back at dessert times, lost and grey, I see my priorities. God was a Sunday thing and a work thing. I did church a lot because it was my job and I felt like I was supposed to be there. On Sundays I go to Church. On Wednesdays I wear pink. The Lord did not get my whole self. I was divided between school, social life, entertainment, commitment, plus that search for "true love" that every good southern church-goin' girl is gripped by.
Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by The Jealous Curator (I highly recommend *****). She was interviewing an artist and art professor named Mark Bradley-Shoup. He said that his recommendation for all of his students upon graduation was to literally schedule time for their studio work. You must carve time away to work in studio or it will get lost in the shuffle of crazy life and your art will suffer or even cease.
I began thinking about my relationship with God in this way. I needed to make it a vital part of my week. But He is even more important than my studio practice, so really He should be everyday. But really, one step further, Christ wants Our Whole Self, so we should be praying continually. Think "Constant Contact" and how you get so many ridiculous emails and reminders about emails (not saying your prayers our ridiculous...).
I want to end this never ending post, (I hope you read it to the end and did not give up half way. I would have given up half way...) with this thought. Jesus says that if you knock repeatedly the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:5-10), but you must get out of your own little apartment cubby-hole world to knock on that door!
As promised, here are picture of my new studio apartment. It was tough going from a whole house to 400 sq ft, but I think it turned out quite nice. It is cozy, but that is not necessarily a bad thing; it will make me keep it nice and clean.
I set up everything to make three areas: living, bedroom and kitchen. My kitchen is super tiny so I refinished a little cupboard for some extra storage. (hmm, this might be a future Monday post...) Luckily with the added storage of the cupboard and cart (Great buy from Target!) I was able to find a place for all of my cooking and baking supplies.
I am in love with the practicality of my table and stools combo. The stools fit right under the table, out of the way but easily accessible. I picked the set up at an estate sale for cheap and then gave them a minor facelift with the paint.
Finally, check out the sweet hexagon shelves my Dad and I built together. They are simple pine boards cut at a 60 degree angle and nailed together and painted steel blue. I sadly did not document the process but if you want some steps, message me and I will gladly send some to you. They were very simple to build and make a fun place to display some of my trinkets. It is not "home" until I have a glass ballerina and a jar of buttons.
This Georgia peach has left the tree and moved up to the snowy North. So far it is not snowing, its actually about as hot and sweaty as home. After two days of unpacking and arranging everything into my new (tiny!) loft, I was ready to go exploring and hopefully meet some smiling faces. This morning I visited Urban Village Church-Andersonville, which was a reassuring breath that I can in fact make it. I have also located some local hardware stores and the HUGE historic library! So far everywhere I have visited I have been pegged as a newbie, I am not sure whether my deer-in-head-lights expression or my accent gives it away...
As I mentioned above I have been unpacking and decorating! After months of preparation, planning and packing, my new space is almost complete. I will share pictures of my new home shortly!
But here is the beginning of the madness...
I have two weeks till class so until then I will be exploring the nooks and coffee shops of this new place and nailing down a job.
Oh! and also an Important Announcement: I am on the hunt for pen-pals! If you are interested in applying (no worries, it is not competitive, I will write to anyone and everyone) please email me! Every first (and maybe second...) letter will come with a sketch!
Sorry for the scattered array of this post, but it reflects the inners of my brain right now.
Freshman year at Clemson I was assigned a semester long assignment to keep a "texture sketchbook." The assignment was pretty vague except for filling up an average of 5 pages a week and filling it was "texture" whether found or created. At first I was overwhelmed by the openness and magnitude of the assignment but then I fell in love with the process. I now try to keep either a separate texture sketchbook or incorporate the technique into my own textbook.
So this Monday I want to go through texture sketch booking: what? how to? rules? etc. You do not need technique or skill for this project so please do not turn back from the fear of "not being able to draw!"
A texture sketchbook can contain anything:
1. found objects like leaves, labels, "trash", magazines, collage
2. Drawing and painting. It is a sketchbook after all.
3. Glue! You will need a lot of glue whether it is Elmers, hot glue or Mod Podge (that will depend on what you are attaching).
4. Sewing- I love to incorporate stitches and fibers because it gives a little something special for your fingers when you are flipping through the pages
5. fabric, buttons, ribbons, etc.
As you can see it really can contain anything. My first texture sketchbook had an antique cabinet door hinge in the middle!
How do I go about making a texture sketchbook?
1. Pick a base. You can choose a regular sketchbook, gridded paper, or watercolor paper pad. Keep in mind the size and dimensions. Portability is important. Right now I am using an old life advice book because I thought the binding was nice and sturdy and I enjoy covering up all of the advice as a little bit of rebellion each day.
2. Gather materials and start thinking about them visually rather than what they used to be. You will start to notice correlations and contextual connections. Incorporating these relations will make your book flow.
3. Just get to work. Take out your scissors and go to town! You can not make a mistake so you have nothing to be afraid of!
I like to think of each page in two ways: as a singular composition that stands on its own, and as a part of a book, so how does it relate to its neighbors.
4. Have fun! Whether your book turns out gorgeous or a bit strange, your brain will be whirling with creativity and problem solving seeping into every other part of your life.
Over the past couple of weeks I have learned a whole lot about teaching and leading in a classroom setting. My classes are 3 hours for 5 days and how I fill that time is completely up to me. Woah, that is a lot of freedom and responsibility...
I teach with one main goal that my students are creative, expressive and make something they are proud of. I like to allow for choices and freedom which may mean they face obstacles and mistakes. They may get upset, with me or themselves or the silly tiny piece of wire that just won't bend the right way. Then they figure it out. It is that shining, spectacular light bulb moment that I teach for.
Balance is the little piece of wire I have been struggling with all summer. I want to find the perfect balance between freedom and direction. I like to give demonstrations and guidelines but that can also limit my students' creativity because then they will simply copy what I am doing. They will probably mimic me perfectly without mistakes and then no light bulb moment. Where is the creativity in that? On the other hand if I give my students complete and total free reign, my classroom will turn into a chaotic war zone, glue, wire and paint flying everywhere. They will not be able to focus on one thing that they could learn and grow from, so again no Ah Ha moment.
I have turned to simple demonstrations followed with free make time to find a pretty good balance (pretty good, as in nothing is ever perfect. I am only human). At the beginning of the class I outline the project, give an example and show them the techniques they need to know. Then I always give some suggestions on how they can explore the material and personalize their work. Then its Go time! You can see the knobs and wheels turning in their heads as their tiny fingers start moving and the room gets quite. The quite never lasts but hopefully their drive and focus on making something they are proud of does.
God is our great teacher. No I am not comparing myself to God in my classroom. Not even close because God is perfect, with never ending patience and mercy. He gives us free will to make and do things which sometimes means we run into obstacles because we make mistakes and this world is not perfect (that is an understatement. Have you seen the news lately?).
Life is tough, sometimes I wish that God had just not given me so much free will and that I just mimicked him and did everything perfectly all the time. But free will is love. Love is God watching His children make giant messes until they fix the problem and experience the light bulb moment. No free will would mean no light bulb moment and no personality or individuality. That would be pretty boring and sad. Our Heavenly Father is the great teacher who is with us always, guiding and supporting us so that we can be the best we can be and make something we are proud of. He also gave us a demonstration on how to live in the world, that demos name was Jesus. He was flesh but also perfect and holy. He loved without boundaries and was selfless and humble even when surrounded by temptation. Like any good demonstration it shows us the end product goal, shows us how to get there and then lets us go and create!
This weekend I was honored to celebrate the marriage between my cousin (sometimes more like sister) and her forever best friend. It was beautiful and a true testament to this true love that every girl hopes to find. They help and support each other while making each other consistently stronger as they grow in Christ. Naturally, I cried through the rehearsal, the T Swift music in the limo to the ceremony, the gorgeous bride putting on the dress, walking down the aisle and basically the entire ceremony. Rest assured they were All Happy tears; my heart was just too full of joy.
At the reception, my body was out of tears so I grabbed a sweet tea and I just wanted to hit the dance floor. I was so lucky to get to dance with one of my other cousins that I do not get to see very often, named Gracie. We had a blast and danced the night away!
But there is another side of this story, or maybe should be described as a different view. You see, my dance partner has a developmental disorder, some people may say Gracie has special needs. So after we danced, twirled and twisted all over the dance floor many people came up to me to tell me how great I had been and thanked me for dancing with her. The more I thought about it, the more befuddled I became. I should not be thanked even though every one meant it harmlessly. They were happy Gracie was happy and wanted to extend thanks. I understand the reasons but I did nothing special. Nothing that anyone else could not do and nothing I needed to be thanked for. By thanking me for accompanying implies that Gracie is burdensome. That could not be farther from the truth!
Prior to the reception I had been worried that I would have no one to dance with. I was the only one in the bridal party not from the brides home town and I did not bring a plus one, prospects seemed lonely. Then my night was completely turned around when Gracie came to my rescue. She exudes joy and energy and even when I did not know the Top 40 song (I live under a rock) she could catch me up on the words and get me back in sync. I may have actually been the burden because I had to stop multiple times for a water break to keep up, I am not as young as I used to be. My night without her would have consisted of me sitting with my parents feeling self conscience and lame (no offense to my parents who I love and are very cool).
I want to extend my own Thank You.
Thank you to all those beautiful souls who have a special need. You are much more than your special need. You are joyful, kind, humble and always ready to brighten mine or any strangers day. I want to be more like you.
Especially, Thank You Gracie for making the reception last night so fun and memorable. Thank you for teaching me the words and dance moves to "Cheerleader", I had no idea what I was missing out on! You are fabulous so never be nervous to shine. I can not wait until the next time we get to share a dance.
Wander with whimsy,