On May 5th, I had the opportunity to spend a day with art students and the art faculty at Lawrence University. My day started in Tony Conrad’s practicum class where I spent the majority of the morning talking to students about their work, their process, and their purpose to create. After my introduction we headed to the Mudd Gallery to see their work currently on exhibit in this gallery space located on the 3rd floor of the Mudd Library. Such a neat space!
I find asking basic questions can help ground the purpose behind a work of art. For example, there was a mixed media sculpture made from clay and wire. I asked Liam what the purpose of the wire was and his response was there is no function. I then asked him why is he incorporating wire into his sculpture. He shared with me various reasons. Finally, I said there is a purpose. There were about 4 artists exhibiting in this space. Each talked about their work.
Lately, I have been using text in my photographs so I was immediately drawn to the work of Laura. Laura’s work centered around the trend of eating organic foods. She had several friends model for her as she photographed them. After their photo shoot she incorporated text to compliment the photo. As we talked she pointed out some that were successful and others that could use more work with the composition.
Afterwards we headed back to the art department at the Wriston Art Center. It was neat to see several students working on various projects. The design of the art facility made it easy to check in with students and see what they are up to. These students were finishing their work for their upcoming Senior Art Major Exhibition, which opens May 22, 2015.
In the afternoon I helped facilitate a critique with Ben Rinehart’s printmaking class. I introduced a critique method called the Dialogic Critique, which I was introduced to at a past NAEA Conference (2007). This method focuses on the students’ readiness vs. the finished product. It is a great way to do mid-crits. It is designed to check in with how students are feeling at that present moment with their artwork. It also allows others to provide feedback and for the instructor to offer guidance. In this particular class, students pinned up 4-5 pieces that demonstrated the various stages in which they underwent to complete the final print. I found it interesting to see that some felt that their works in progress were viewed more effective than their finished print. Typically, this method is used for a single piece, however, it was engaging to see how this method was modified. Great discussions!
Later that afternoon I ended my visit with a presentation, . This presentation sums up a decade of being active in the visual arts; locally, regionally, and nationally. These experiences gave me the confidence to ‘follow the beat to my own drum’ by creating projects and programs that are designed to expose, educate, and engage the viewer into the world of art. For example, I touched upon a couple of projects that I founded, the 365 Artists 365 Days Project and the Midwest Artist Studios Project.
If I was to sum up this presentation I would say that it was focused on building art community and creating a support system. In the past year I have found myself in Appleton. It is such a great city that embraces the arts. Recently, Kate Mothes organized her first Pop Up Art Show, which was a huge success and John Adams is working on The Draw. The Draw combines workspaces and offices of digital and fine artists, a modern art gallery and a place to collaborate. The flexibility to adapt to the needs of the community and the artists is what makes The Draw unique. From pop-up restaurants, to fashion shows, storytelling nights and music, if you have an event/idea this may be the place to be! (text courtesy of www.thedrawappleton.com). I love to see younger generations take their journey into their own hands and make something. You have to make s$%& happen if you want to live in a better community.
The evening ended with dinner at Cena with Tony, Rob, Sarah, and Leslie. During our dinner I received an email from one of the students I met and she thanked me for sharing my enthusiasm for community engagement and how I put my philosophy into play. This gesture made my day! This is why I do what I do. To inspire tomorrow’s generation of artists. I am sure I am not the only one who thinks this way.
Here is a collection of photos taken during my visit.
Thank you Tony Conrad and Rob Neilson for having me at Lawrence. You guys are fabulous!!!