Sunday, May 15, 2022

a long spring

This academic year has been a very tough one for me.  It feels as if it could have easily been 13 years long.  Maybe that's because I'm getting old or maybe that's because I taught 17 different courses this year (true fact).  Either way, it's important to go back through the actual events that made up the semester so that I'll be able to remember more than just the bad things.  Right?

This will be an image heavy post.  Get a hot tea and a comfortable seat and enjoy this little stroll through what I remember about the Spring 2022 semester...

This was my first day on campus.  As I recall, we all just ended up crossing paths at the same time.  These are good people and it was a nice way to get started.

The semester officially began with a nice little faculty exhibit in our gallery.  Almost everything I had was in a solo show in Charleston but I got these guys back from another exhibit just a few days before the show began.

The solo show at Redux was still going on and I knew that a few of the drawings there had sold.  I had another solo show coming up at the end of the semester, so I needed to complete at least 4 new drawings before May.  I got started pretty early because I knew the semester would get crazy near the end.

Our new design colleague Maria had a cool idea for our full time faculty to work together to create the alpha-numeric alphabet using all of our various abilities.  This was a good excuse to keep thinking creatively and to keep making new things.  This was my first letter.

We got a decent snow in January.  Just enough to play in and have a really good excuse to drink lots of hot cocoa.

And we played a lot.  We hadn't had a good snow in a couple of years so we got out all the toys.  We snowboarded with a boogie board and I even rustled up the old skis from the basement and we skied across the yard.

It was pretty.  Then it melted and life moved on.

There was still a bit of ice hanging around on the roads when I drove to Charleston to get the artwork from my show at Redux.  It was very, very cold.

But when you're minutes from the beach, you don't let a little cold air and strong wind keep you from hitting the beach.  I grabbed a lunch at Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island...

and then braved the cold to make my sand sculpture 5.  Seriously, it was 38 degrees with a stiff wind.  My fingers were wet and frozen.  Worth it.

Back on campus, the work had started in the sculpture studio.  This is a cool non-traditional student I had this semester who was a joy to work with.  She was auditing the class and had ideas of things she wanted to make and my job was simply to assist her.  This is not how I teach but given the situation, I decided this was the best way to offer something to her.  She made me smile every day she was there and I hope she will audit my class again.  She hugged me on her last day.  Very cool.

These two (inside the steel sculpture) were a hoot as well.  They shared a class time with another section but they worked on their own and made cool things.  The weirdness of the studio time allowed us to try things we wouldn't normally attempt.  It's always fun when they try things that shouldn't work and succeed.  

And these two.  Both were BFA seniors and both had a plan for their show.  They worked together and helped each other out.  I mostly let the BFA students run wild (within some small barricades) and they did amazing work.

Violet wanted to go hiking on a cold day.  We picked a good one to hike to Rainbow Falls.  Lots of ice around that day.  Zeke had a great time as well.

Speaking of Violet, she was in an angry mob.  The angry mob was a part of her school's production of Beauty and the Beast.  

Back at school, Kennedy started her semester-long project idea of carving torsos.  

Molo, Katie and Molo's kid visited.

And on 2/22/22, someone decided we should all wear tutus so we did.  And we made some photos before frolicking on the front lawn.

I think that brings us to Spring Break.  I drew for a couple of days and then did a few workshops for high schools in the area.  At Lexington High one of my workshop attendees just happened to be one of my former students from Winthrop ages ago.  Allison was a cool student.  She once told me I looked young.  That's how you get your professor to remember you for 15 years!

And I always jump at a chance to see Stan.  He invited me to do a workshop for his people at Walhalla High and I got to see him AND Jarecki!  Then I got to see Robin and the new puppy whose name I just forgot.  Sorry Stan.

And a moment that deserves it's own separate post, Cessquatch and I both set aside our introverted tendencies long enough to agree to meet for coffee.  She and I got along great when she was a student and though it's been several years since we've seen each other, we picked up right where we left off.  This photo was the most accurate depiction of our time together.  We sipped our fancy teas and laughed hysterically for hours before Starbucks finally kicked us out.  Good times.

Timmy got his weird lump removed from his chest.  He was a little angry for a while but he's all better now.

The Sculpture 3 class took a field trip to Greenville and did a cool workshop with Katie Poterala, another former Winthrop student who's doing cool things at her business MakeMade.

I ran a half marathon in Greenville and got a huge PR.  It was nice to run a race healthy for once.

Students started installing cool art on campus.  We got new concrete pads for sculptures this year and these were the first to use them.  That's Ana and her functional Chinese Lantern Lamp.

We did another cool field trip for Sculpture students to the Columbia Museum of Art.  The Rodins were cool and all, but these light/shadow sculptures were the real hit.  I took this photo.  I'm an artist.

This was the whole group.  Fun people.  I also took this photo.  Some ideas are better than others.

So apparently all this happened in about one week....I saw Old Crow Medicine Show at the Peace Center....

I got to take a real photo with Blue on Easter...

And I delivered a public sculpture to Charleston.  My great friend Dan (in the burgundy shirt) agreed to help me unload and install my sculpture.  Then we got to help Hana Jubran unload his red sculpture (above) and carry it across what had to be snake infested ground cover.

That's the kind of guy Dan is.  You need something?  All you need is a Dan.  He's happy to help.  And such a cool guy.  He let me eat lunch with him after we carried a couple of sculptures.  Dan is an amazing dad, musician, husband, friend and business owner.  Also, sculpture carrier.  Go find Dan and become his friend.  It's one of the best decisions you'll make.

Then it was time to install the BFA exhibits.  The students had their exhibits planned and I was the designated helper for the installation.  I drove a lot of art around that day.  Carried a lot too.  It was fun.

I also got to help hang things from the ceiling of this really old federal building.  That meant snooping through the attic, rafters, and abandoned rooms upstairs.  I also got to climb out the top of the cupola.  

The next day I had to drive to NC to uninstall a year long public sculpture exhibit.  Do you know what it looks like to uninstall a public sculpture?

This.  This is what it looks like.  

So then there was the whole BFA Exhibit.  Super great.  Talent and skill everywhere.  These people are awesome and they wowed the town.  

Two days later, Victor's massive alien dinosaur decided to take a nap on the floor.  Given the situation and the pressure to get it fixed within 24 hours, things went very well.  The sculpture was back up by the end of the day.

I also got to teach the MFA students in the Intermedia class this semester.  They really stretched and did some cool explorations and I'm really proud of the work they produced and especially of what they learned.  This is Emily's blanket fort installation.

We like to celebrate students and have a little fun too.  We had our spring party to honor our seniors and this year's theme was creative hats.  The night ended with a crazy conga line that moved around the city block following Holloway with his rolling speaker.  Very fun.

The Sculpture Deathmatch was next.  Tons of fun.  There's a whole post about it.  Keep scrolling.

I had tickets to see Willie Nelson a few years back and the tour was canceled for health reasons.  I saw he was touring again this year and coming really close to my house.  Violet had no idea who Willie Nelson was but she wanted to go with me.  I had been toying with the idea of getting a cowboy hat for a few weeks and this concert seemed like a great excuse.  We drove to Tractor Supply, made some strong choices and then headed to the concert.

Turns out Violet did know Willie's music.  I wouldn't call myself a "fan" really, but I love good music and Willie is a legendary songwriter and a dang good musician.  It was great to see him perform.

Ok, we're almost done, I promise.  Just hang in there a few more minutes.  I forgot this one and now it's out of order by a month or so, but I also got to pour plaster for the freshmen again this year.  I covered this one in a previous post as well but it's here for the historical record.

Then it was time for people to graduate.  I had these three in classes for all 4 years.  The "Fun Girls" was what I called them because they were always laughing and having a good time.  

I had ECoop all 4 years too.  We even had a Covid semester together where basically what we did was eat my mom's leftover Christmas candies until quarantine.

It's impossible to get all the graduates in the same photo on graduation day, but this was a lot of them.  

And I was adopted by the Santos family.  I also had Victor all 4 years and he is hilarious.  His family is also great and they have treated me like royalty since their Open House tour.  It was nice to be formally adopted, even if it was just for graduation day.  Soon Victor will be gainfully employed and will have whole new group to entertain daily.  

Last thing.  That sculpture Dan was kind enough to help me carry?  Right after graduation I found out it won an Honorable Mention in the exhibit.  Sweet.  

Oh, and sometime in there I was promoted to Full Professor.  That was nice.

So it was a hard year and a long year.  But it was a good year.  I am grateful for having such wonderful experiences with students and so many great opportunities to show my work.  Summer break starts now.




Tuesday, April 26, 2022

sculpture deathmatch 2022

This year's Sculpture Deathmatch was Saturday, April 23.  Held during the busiest semester of the academic year and during the absolute busiest part of that semester, the Deathmatch is something that I keep in my head all year.  I'm always "thinking" about it.  When it should be scheduled is important, but I also have to carefully consider how I'm going to do it.  I have to know the date in order to put out the call for volunteers.  Then I have to know the volunteers in order to know exactly how I need to divide up the teams.  Then I need to know the teams in order to know exactly how much chaos to conjure up during the event.  

This year Victor wanted to be in his first Deathmatch and he indicated that desire to me early on.  He also suggested that it would be fun for him to be paired with only one other team member, perhaps a freshman.  I was very interested in the idea.  I love to get mismatched teams and see how they perform under the intense pressures of the Deathmatch.  

Soon I had a date set and a large list of volunteers.  Shirts and stickers were ordered and the snacks were purchased.  

The weather was perfect and there was definitely an excitement in the air.  Violet wanted to help again this year and she was appointed as one of the judges.  I was up at 4:45 am to run and after coffee, she and I were headed to school.

Freshmen are reluctant to participate in the Deathmatch because they don't know a lot of people and the whole idea is ridiculous even before you consider that a freshman has no sculpture experience.  I recruited MG because I liked her energy during plaster pouring day.  She admitted she was apprehensive but she still jumped at the chance for an adventure.  She joined Victor to create Team Ducks.

Team Leave It On The Horse was a bit of a super-group.  Michael, Georgia, Lux, Abbie, and ECoop have a lot of sculpture classes in their past.  Michael and ECoop are return contestants and none of them are afraid of anything.  Seriously, any one of these students would make a good solo contestant.  

At 8:45 am the teams were announced along with the rules of the day.  Each team was given a 12" steel sphere, 60 feet of 3/8" steel rod, and a plastic container filled with recycled plastic lids.  All of these materials had to be used in the creation of their sculpture.  Other materials could be used as well, but they had to use all of the provided materials.  They were also asked to pick a number between 1 and 5 with no explanation.  Team Ducks chose 4.5.  Team Leave It On The Horse chose 1.

Both teams understood the importance of using time wisely so they immediately got to work.

It was interesting to see MG jump right into an important role working with Victor to create their design.

MG also got a crash course in using the plasma torch.  Victor showed her the basics and then left her to cut out shapes while he formed them with a hammer.

Meanwhile, the opposing team was multitasking with everyone doing a different job and moving very quickly.  

We had a good group of spectators all day.  Sure, some just came for the food, but many of them set up camp and stayed all day while doing work for final projects or just hanging out and having fun.  At noon, we devoured several pizzas and the big surprise was unveiled.  This year we introduced the Wheel of Misfortune.  This 2 foot wide wooden wheel contained 8 horrible misfortunes and the teams were forced to spin.  Remember that whole "pick a number between 1 and 5" stuff?  Well, the number each team chose was the number of times they had to spin the wheel during the day.  Both teams spun for the first time at noon.  Lucky for Team Leave It On The Horse, they chose 1.  They got a "no welding for 30 minutes" misfortune and they were free.  Team Ducks, however, had 4.5 misfortunes to deal with.  This was hilarious for everyone except Team Ducks.  

Providing annoying hourly time updates is a fun part of the event.  This year Hannah reprised her role as our Deathmatch Hannah-Hannah Clock.  Each hour she posed with a new tool to announce the time.

During the afternoon hours, several trips were made to get supplies.  A couple of food runs and a supply run to Lowe's and Walmart were necessary.  The teams continued working while I took my Minions to gather supplies.  

Our friend Abigail was in town on a job and she stopped by to visit.  Seeing Victor in anguish caused her to step in and see how she could help.  Team Ducks needed a few tutus for their dancers and Abigail was on it.  She took some measurements, some fabric and some wire and disappeared for a couple of hours.  

I love teaching people how to use power tools and I especially love teaching people how to weld.  As the 2 person team struggled to divide up the labor, MG quickly needed to know how to weld.  My favorite part of the day was getting to teach her.  She showed no fear and was a natural at it.  Within 10 minutes she was welding completely on her own.  

By this time, Team LIOTH was already painting their sculpture outside.  They began with a simple idea for using their materials and just kept stacking more ideas on top.  Each team member was providing input and helping to solve problems.  Even with 5 team members, they still ran into their fair share of issues but they were moving right along with no outward signs of panic.  

Around 7:00 pm, Team LIOTH was putting on finishing touches and planning their installation.  Georgia volunteered her truck to move the sculpture, saving a lot of time and effort.  Soon the sculpture was oriented on the pedestal and safely anchored.  Then they made a few final adjustments and they were done!

Team Leave It On The Horse with their spider family sculpture.  A job well done.  They worked together as well as any team in Deathmatch history and Micheal didn't burn his hands off this year. They were now able to relax and wait to see if the other team would finish.  

Panic had set in on Team Ducks.  As the minutes ticked away, major design changes were required.  Victor and MG worked together to come up with solutions and there was a lot of movement in that final hour.  As the clock neared 8:00 pm, other heroes stepped in to help.  Katherine helped MG with some tasks while Ethan appeared like an angel and became a crucial helper in that last hour.  

Team LIOTH was watching and Georgia offered to let Team Ducks use her truck to save time.  Soon there was a large crowd gathered in the dark at the final pedestal.  Victor and MG applied paint while Ethan held the sculpture in place.  A few anchors were placed and around 8:45 pm the second sculpture was installed, just 15 minutes before the deadline.  

A very relieved and exhausted Team Ducks posed with their sculpture. We all went back to the studio to clean up and put away tools before heading out to dinner.  

So who won?  
Well, most of the judges were present during the Deathmatch and witnessed the spectacle.  We let the dust settle and on Monday all the judges saw the finished sculptures in daylight.  Each judge turned in their vote to me and the winner is......

Team Leave It On The Horse!  Congratulations to Michael, Abbie, Lux, Georgia and ECoop!