Friday, March 29, 2013

sensory sculptures

My advanced sculpture class has been working on a project to create sensory sculptures.  The Lander Equestrian Center shares a campus with the Burton Center in Greenwood.  This proximity allows the Equestrian Center to offer Therapeutic Riding.  Recently a grant made it possible for the Burton Center to develop a Therapeutic Riding Trail in a beautifully serene patch of land behind their building.  The trail features grassy areas, flower beds, a cement walkway and a gravel path for horses.  The trail is open and accessible to walkers, wheelchairs and horse riders.  A few sensory stations had been set up on the trail and the administrators were interested in developing the idea of sensory stations further.

My first public art project idea was not able to be approved in time for the students to work on this semester, so when this opportunity became available, we jumped at the chance to learn about sensory stations.  A sensory station is some device placed along a trail designed to stimulate at least one of the five senses.  As visual artists, I figured we could nail the visual sense, but we all had to do some research to figure out how the other senses were normally involved in a trail like this.  The projects needed to stimulate a sense beyond the visual, needed to be safe for interaction and needed to work well with the natural environment.  

Last Tuesday we loaded the seven finished sculptures up on my trailer and made our way slowly and carefully to the trail for installation.

 Bethany created a seating area with a bamboo planter.  There are also hanging bamboo planters suspended from the twine at the top.  

 Whitney created a series of running horses out of steel.  Ten horses in different stages of trotting.  I'm pretty sure one of them only has 3 legs but don't tell her.

 Danielle (The Tavmanian Devil) created a giant abacus.  The sides are made of horse shoes and the blocks are made of wood.

 The blocks have textures and at least one on each row has a hollow interior with tiny pieces of steel and bells inside.

 Fred used the Equestrian Center horse logo to create an outdoor rocking chair made of wood.

 Jermel (Canada) came all the way back from Toronto just to weld again.  He used steel to create this tall wind chime and he drew the horse head with steel rods.

 Haley (HDawg) created a gear tree.  The tree is steel and the giant gears are made of wood.  There are handles at the low gear and high gear to make them turn.  Admittedly, her design was foolproof.

 Samantha created an arch for the sidewalk with spinning metal leaves at arms reach as you walk/wheel through.  Horse riders can tag the hanging metal leaves as they go by.  A large planter will be added to the left side.

 The Honorable Dr. Tom Pitts, art historian extraordinaire came out to help with the installation.  He showed off his skills with some power tools and even used the post hole diggers a few times.  I'm in constant awe of him.  He's a sculptor from way back.

And here's the group photo on installation day taken by Jeff Lagrone from our PR office.  Starting with the tall guy on the left, Jermel Kennedy, me, Samantha Brown, Danielle Tavernier, Fred Parker, Haley Floyd, Bethany Murray, & Whitney Price.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


ink on wood
12" x 12"

I've been pretty productive lately in the drawing area.  It looks like I have six new drawings completed since the season of Lent began.  This whole 'not watching tv' thing seems to be working out well.  The most recent drawing shown above was completed 2 days ago - 364 days after my dad died.  If I were a better planner I could have held off for one more day on that, huh?

The drawing was based on a photo G took a while back.  The look on his face makes me smile.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

great moments in great moments

 Time for the end of the academic year stuff to begin.  This means each week is a whirlwind where I have more things to do than I have days to do them.  Last week was a perfect example. I came back from spring break to two days of critiques which means two days of grading.  We had night events on Tuesday and Thursday which meant 12 hour days for me and getting home just in time to go to bed.  

Thursday night we had two events stacked one on top of the other.  First up was the reception and awards presentation for the Student Juried Exhibit.  This is one of the big events of the year for us and each year we try to make it better than the year before.  Our students do great work and we try to have awards in place to reward them for their labor.  This year we held a sneak preview of the exhibit for Friends of the Gallery on Tuesday.  These Friends showed their support for the students and sponsored purchase and merit awards that almost doubled our usual awards budget.  This was a real success for us.  

So on Thursday evening I walked down the hall while brushing sawdust off my pants and buttoned my collared shirt and within minutes I realized that I would make a terrible photographer.  

 I raised my phone to take the first photo and focused on a group of my students.  They were laughing and eating until one of them spotted me.  Instantly two of them ducked behind other students, one turned his head and poor Anne turned to see what was going on.  Andrew was nice enough to not move.  Thanks Andrew.

 I figured it was a fluke and moved on to the next group.  I got closer, raised my phone and got this reaction.

 By the time I got to EllenBess and she made this face at me, I started to think I might be the problem.

 Then Singletary looked at me like this...but then she always looks at me like this.  But look closer.  Notice Colleen's response?

 So I gave up on the candid shots because apparently that's impossible for me.  I scoped the room and when the presentations began, I found the best possible spot.  I was right behind the real photographer, Jon Holloway.  In this great spot, I managed to snag this one of Stacie accepting the Excellence in Foundations Award.

 I wasn't prepared for students coming from the other the Tavmanian Devil accepting The Sculpture Award from inside the tiny glass case.

 And Cessquatch accepting The Mac Welding Award inside the same glass case.  She looks like she's squaring off with the ceramic sock monkey.  The Mac Welding Award is given in memory of my dad who was called "Mac" by his students and many of his friends and who is responsible for all my students learning to weld.

 So I moved.  Foolproof plan, right?  Not so much.  Here's a very blurry Sean getting his 2nd Place Sculpture Award.  Or at least I think that's Sean.  And I didn't even get to see Mia, the new queen of sculpture get her 3rd Place Sculpture Award.  She's short and she was on the other side.

 And there's Anne accepting her 2nd award for the night.  She received a purchase award and The 1st Place Sculpture Award.  She's now made more money on art this year than I have.  I think I'm kidding, but sadly I'm not so sure.

 As bad as I am at taking photos, Sir Tom Pitts is even greater at addressing a room full of people.  That's him up there holding court while presenting the awards.  We could Photoshop him out of this environment and put him in the White House and he could be president.  Pope would be a nice touch for him too.  He could pull off both.

 It was great to see the expressions on the faces of so many students who were apparently shocked to win awards.  It was also nice to see alumni there like Melissa and Ali.  And speaking of people coming back, there's Jon's back again.

 Our winners gathered for a photo opp.  No one was ready when I took this photo but I love it because it looks like the Lander art department.  People are goofing around, almost everyone is laughing and the art is really good.  That's pretty much what it's like every day.  

As soon as we were done we had to motivate into the auditorium for the Student Academic Showcase awards ceremony.  For this year's event we created a new student juried exhibit in the fall semester designed to give the students experience in entering a digitally juried exhibition.  Our juror was Brandon Oxendine, an excellent designer at Google and also one of my former students from Winthrop.  Our five SAS student participants were chosen by Brandon and he selected one of those as the Best in Show award and SAS overall winner.  The tiny figures in the photo are Anne Beaudette, Jessica Bass, Brunhilda Floyd, Whitney Price and Mariano Robla.  Whitney Price was our winner

In summary, our students are great, our supporters are great and my photos are terrible.  Stay tuned - there's about a month of school left and way too many things left to do in that time.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

spring broke

Spring break happened a week or so later for us this year.  Instead of the last week of February, when things always seem cold, we enjoyed a warmish week in March with a range of temperatures between 29 degrees and 75 degrees.  And except for one day of rain, it was a beautiful week.  

We started at the beach with a quick trip without the kids.  Blue and Violet absolutely love the beach....almost as much as we do.  One of the parents may have tried to keep our destination a secret from the kids.  The other parent may have forgotten to mention this secret to his mother, the babysitter.  When we called to check on the kids we got an earful from one angry 7 year old boy.

I don't remember what this thing is called but I made it.  We have some wild scuppernongs (or scupperdines) growing at the edge of the yard and we needed something for them to climb.  Yes, I realize it's blue.  I know I have a problem with color and I'm working on it.  I really tried to make it brown but I just couldn't do it.  

I spent a lot of time outside this week.  I ran the chainsaw for a while one day and then couldn't hold my hands still enough to draw for the next two.  Since I couldn't draw, I found things to do outside.  The flowers were starting to hang out too.

And so were the lizards.  There were tons of them hanging out in the warm afternoon sun.

I took a few walks in the woods and found this cool half hollow tree.  It's diameter at the base is 7 or 8 feet and you can stand inside the middle of the tree.

When you do, and you look up, this is what you see.  Beautiful.  

I picked up student artwork from an exhibit in Spartanburg and delivered it back to school.  I stopped in the studios long enough to clean up the ridiculous mess my students left trying to meet a deadline before spring break.  I also left this nice note to my 3D design students who have a project due the Monday morning after spring break.  I know, how terrible of a person am I, right?  

I fixed my fire pit and christened it with a nice little camp fire.  The kids thought they were camping because there was a fire and they roasted marshmallows.  As long as I don't have to sleep outside on the ground, that's perfectly fine with me.  There you see Violet demonstrating how patient she can be while waiting on a marshmallow to cook properly.  It got cold again that night so the fire was perfect.

Blue was out of school on Friday so we decided to head to Riverbanks Zoo.  The day Violet was born a gorilla escaped from there.  I don't know why I think that's funny, but I do.  I remember hearing it on the news while we were in the hospital room and I wrote it in my sketchbook.  Oddly enough the gorillas were no where to be found on Friday.  All the other animals were very well behaved and completely civil, which is much more than I can say for the humans who were there.  

We stayed all afternoon in Columbia so we could try to attend an art event I was a part of.  We killed some time at the mall, had some food, and then headed to Main Street.  The kids were exhausted and we didn't last at the event very long before heading out.  

The kids spent a lot of time outside this week too, which makes me happy.  They can entertain themselves for hours with a stick and a swing set.  I'm not sure why they'd ever need an iPad game.  The days were longer after the time change and more sunlight meant more play time.  This excited Zeke as much as it did Blue and Violet.  

Zeke would spend a few minutes between naps allowing us the privilege of scratching his head.  Sometimes he would even follow us around the house to a new location so he could sleep near where we were hanging out.  He's so thoughtful.

Oh, and it's still the season of Lent and I'm still not watching TV.  This week I've been so busy that I haven't really had time to even think about TV.  I'm sure it's no coincidence that I've also completed 5 new drawings over the last few weeks.  Which reminds me, we should talk about coincidences sometime.  I don't know why people say I have ADD.

So the break is over and now comes the downhill race to graduation.  We have tons of events and activities scheduled over the next few weeks.  It's going to be a busy time but it should also be a lot of fun.    

Monday, March 11, 2013

a series of blue rectangles

A quick trip to the beach to find the horizon.  So much beauty condensed into one place.  

Finished a book, didn't watch TV, drew a little, ate a lot and numbed my feet in the cold water of the Atlantic.  

Beauty sensors have been re-calibrated.  Expectations have been raised.

Monday, March 4, 2013

quack quack

"The One About Seeing You Later"
powder coated steel

"The One About Tree Rides"
powder coated steel

I sent these guys to Louisiana a couple of weeks ago to be a part of the Masur Museum of Art's 50th Annual Juried Exhibit.  The exhibit opened on Saturday and will run through June 8.  If you're traveling through Monroe, LA in the next couple of months, stop in and say hello.  

Better yet, if you happen to know any of the Robertsons from Duck Dynasty, put in a good word for me.  The Masur Museum was featured in one of their episodes from last season.  "The One About Tree Rides" would look great on a shelf behind Willie's desk.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

great moments in sculpture #372

Taylor made me some "work work work" stickers for the sculpture room just in time for the infamous plaster project.  I love the plaster project for lots of reasons and most of those are curriculum based reasons.  My students argue that I love it because of the entertainment value it provides me and that is certainly true as well, but honestly, there's so much this project does for the students.  

But I will agree that there are some other small reasons I enjoy it.  I'll share the photos of the two plaster pouring days from last week and demonstrate a couple of those reasons.

 Here's a good example.  I took this photo right after I gave all the warnings and instructions.  They are calm, collected and trying desperately to seem unstressed by the looming disaster.  Stacie's checking her messages.  Logan's eating her elementary school food.  

Less than 3 minutes later I took this photo.  The pouring has started, the leaking has started and the panic has surfaced.  

 Of course the group effort involved in pouring the plaster is huge, but just as important is the laughter.  Check out Paige's face in that photo.  That's the best face ever.  This traumatic event places the emotional highs and lows side by side.

The white puddle grows larger while the cardboard form sinks lower.  The smiles trail away.

And then moments later the smiles are back.  Everyone is covered in plaster, everyone has done something they've never done before and even though they think their designs are ruined, they laugh.

Other sources of entertainment come along in surprising ways.  I couldn't have planned for it to be 40 degrees and windy when I placed the foot washing pan out on the sculpture patio.  I couldn't have planned for students to take their shoes off and brave the plaster in their bare feet.    
Better than TV.

The next day it was the other class's turn.  It's fun to see what one class warns the next one about.  Some came in with modifications to their cardboard based on the advice of the first class.  It's also fun to see what one class conveniently forgets to warn the next one about.  Notice the bare feet in the image above.  I guess they figured if they had to suffer through the cold water, everyone should have to suffer.

Caitlin and Laura racing to patch holes.

And then you have those students who are their own islands.  Rashaad didn't have time for the bare feet nonsense.  He threw on his pajama pants and wrapped his sneaks up in plastic bags.  Smart guy.

And here they are properly bonded and showing off their plaster caked skin.  And Seth is flashing the international sign for "work, work, work".