Saturday, November 21, 2015

art department halloween extravaganza

Each Halloween our department throws a little backyard bash for the students.  We gather at Singletary's house in costumes and hang out around a grill or a fire pit and goof around for a while.  We work our students pretty hard so we like to give them an opportunity to play and relax a little too.  

 To prepare, we load up on hot dogs, cookies and s'mores ingredients and we go into the sculpture studio and make a pumpkin smasher.  That's Queen Elizabeth showing off this year's smasher.  

 We also have to have a steel trophy for the winner of the costume contest.  I threw this one together the morning of the party.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?

 Not only is the party a hit with our current students, often our graduates from the last few years will come as well.  Front and center up there is Ashley "The Whisk" Bush.  Apparently she's dressed as, and I'm quoting her here...."the stripper alter ego of McAbee".  She's mocking my bald head, plaid fashion sense, work boots and my love of Taylor Swift.  Her standard white tshirt says, "cray cray for tay tay".  Very well done Ashley, very well done.

 I'm really bad at taking selfies.  Megan and Krysten were Snapchat filters, Seth was Spiderman and I was an angry banana.

 Seth's nephew comes every year just to try to hit me in the groin.  

 Olivia (OG) led everyone in the Time Warp.

 Scarlet was one of the characters from Orange Is The New Black and Amanda was a mermaid.

 While Ashley mocked me, Haley (H-Dawg) dressed as Singletary.  She even had a small chihuahua with her at all times.

 Slagle was "Antonio" a great Italian dude, Sean was a "sexy lumberjack", Katertot was a comic character I forgot and Cessquatch was Waldo.

 I mean really.  These are interesting people.

 Our house photographer was on hand to take photos of the angry banana, 

 Antonio and Whisk,

 and he caught this action shot of some of the pumpkin smashing.  Apparently Singletary's chihuahuas feasted on pumpkin guts and seeds for weeks after this event.

The banana suit got hot so Olivia Bolt inherited it.  She's a hoot.

How do you know the party is over?  When the cops show up.  
Singletary's house has no parking and she lives on a tiny street.  We don't carpool here in the South so there were tons of cars blocking the entire neighborhood in.  We had to pause for a few minutes to get half the people to go move their cars before the party could resume.  Hopefully the neighbors will forgive us before next October.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

casting experiment

Some students sent me an internet link to a video over the summer.  The video showed how to make a small charcoal forge for about $50 from common items bought from a home improvement store.  

We all know the internet is full of lies.  I assumed this was questionable information despite the tutorial video so I did a little research and figured that it must be really close to the truth.  At least close enough to give it a try.

 $50 later I took an afternoon to make the refractory chamber and lid.  An old fire extinguisher that was rotting in the sculpture room made a perfect crucible and an old hair dryer and some duct tape gave us a blower.

 Luke took a keen interest in these parts lying around the studio.  He asked some questions and had the same amount of disbelief I had.  But he also had the same amount of interest I had.  It didn't take much encouragement for us to start carrying things out on the sculpture patio.  Everything assembled as expected and soon we had the heat to melt our aluminum scraps.

 Fire is always interesting to watch but molten metal is awe inspiring.  

 The blower did it's job of heating up the coals and blasting a nice little orange flame up and out of the vent.

 Once the aluminum was liquid, we poured it into the mini muffin pans.  This gave us small nuggets of pure aluminum that would be easy to melt down when we were ready to cast a sculpture.

Apparently Luke was ready to to cast something pretty soon.  A couple of days later he showed up saying he bought some foam and he wanted to give it a try.  Later that day he came back to the studio with a small owl carved out of foam.  This was not part of my plan for this already busy day, but how could I resist such an opportunity?  Again we carried the parts outside and got the charcoal burning.  

 While the aluminum ingots melted in the forge, we grabbed a small bucket and filled it with sand.  We scooped out enough space to insert the foam carving and carefully packed sand around it in the center of the bucket.  The sand we had on hand was pretty coarse but we didn't exactly have time to run out and get more.  As soon as the aluminum was ready, we poured it onto the exposed foam and into the mold.  

 The foam instantly burned away and the liquid aluminum took it's place in the sand.  We grabbed the exposed aluminum with the tongs and lifted the cast owl out of the sand.  

Luke took a wire brush to the owl and cleaned it up.  Not bad for our first try.  We're going to have a lot of fun with this in the near future.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

fall art hike 2015

What do you do when you plan a hiking trip and it rains for weeks on end?  What do you do when the night before the hiking trip you get sick?

You go hiking anyway.  

 We had tons of students sign up to tag along on my hiking trip this semester.  Lots of new people planned to go and the weather only kept a few away.  G and the kids were planning to go but the sickness swept through our last the week prior and dragging everyone out in the rain didn't seem like a good idea.  

 That's the group at Hooker Falls at the start of our day.

In a somewhat clockwise manner around my head we have Jamea, Cessquatch, Katertot, Chelsea, Sean, Sebastian, Kristen, Elizabeth, Laura, Oscar and Lindsay.

 Almost everyone but me had a giant camera and all those photographers had to get their shots.  Oscar broke the rules to get this one.  I fussed at him.

 Cessquatch, Sean and Katertot were our returning alumni for the trip.  Because they know how to have a good time.  This is what happens when you tell them to pose.

 Triple Falls in the background.  The rain was nice enough to hold back and the temperatures were in the upper 60s all day.  It was a perfect day for a hike.

 Cessquatch tells me that at this very spot, the lady from the Hunger Games movies did something in the filming of the movies.  Cessquatch briefly became Catnip Evergreen and posed for this historic shot.

 At the far end of our out and back hike was High Falls.  The rains for weeks had the water raging over the rocks.  The mist from this one was like a driving rain.  

 I donned my rain jacket for the first time to get close to the base of the falls.

 Lindsay fell and had to walk with wet foot all the way back.

 This was Jamea's first hike with us.  She seemed to enjoy herself.  She also tried to push me over every cliff we came to.

 We had lunch at the base of High Falls and then headed back down the trail.

 The trail had some muddy/completely submerged areas but we managed to move through without losing anyone.  

 Sean's umbrella came in handy for standing under the waterfall.

We always find a way to leave the Mighty S on our hikes.  The fall foliage provided this opportunity.  Katertot and Sean displayed their ultimate coolness by wearing their Sculpture shirts.  Well done guys.

 Just as we approached the parking lot again, it started to drizzle on us a little.  Even that didn't keep this group from wanting to do more exploration.  I was beat after a long night and was ready to find a nap.  Everyone else drove over to Caesar's Head to take more photos from the overlook before heading back to civilization.  Coolest group of art majors around.  Next semester we'll do it again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

new sculptures

These guys were tricky.  The forms came about more or less quickly during the summer studio time.  The ideas and juxtapositions came fluidly.  The initial plan was to have these powder coated as usual but as the summer went on, that plan started to change.  

Working at a smaller scale demands attention to craftsmanship.  I grind and polish the entire surface to make sure I've covered all the cracks and holes.  And it's that polished surface that kept grinning at me and insisting that it's raw material beauty was more interesting than any coating I could put on it.  I've used bright colors for so many years now, it was very difficult to even consider leaving part of the steel showing.  

Once I knew I couldn't cover that shiny silver metal, I had to figure out how to continue to incorporate my love of color at the same time.  I think I figured it out.







Artist Statement

My work attempts to find beauty among the ordinary.
Working with common materials like plywood or steel, I seek to use those materials as transmitters of sublime concepts, mirroring the idea that ordinary people can be transmitters of sublime actions.  Using everyday moments and experiences as a starting point, I strive to highlight their uncommon beauty and draw attention to the possibility of their transformative teaching.

Monday, November 2, 2015

i get to hang with good people

This semester is moving quickly.  There's been a ton of work but since that can be boring, let's just talk about the fun stuff.

 The department had a cool art party for our majors in a swanky apartment uptown.  I'm not sure what the finger pose thing is but they assured me it was cool.  I had to cut out a little early to go hang out with some slightly more famous people.

 That's me, in a suit, hanging with Daniel Craig, Ursula Andress and Sean Connery later the same night.

 G was nice enough to invite me along to her fancy hospital fundraiser thing.  

 We had a 1,000 year flood a few weeks ago.  The rain started and wouldn't let up.  It's a commonly known fact that I hate rain.  Still, we didn't let that keep us from getting some good barbeque at the annual Squealin' on the Square BBQ festival.  No crowds meant more BBQ and funnel cakes for us.

 After a couple of days of pouring rain, we got cabin fever pretty bad so we ventured out to the local state park to see the big water.  That's a view of Horseshoe Falls above.  Normally there's a stream flowing over some giant pieces of granite.  All that was covered by very fast moving muddy water.  The park ranger was there with us observing and she told us this was a once in a lifetime event.

 Next we ventured out in the back yard and the woods to see the water flowing across the yard and into the pond.

 Eventually we had to venture into town to eat and we stopped by the "Little River" to see how high the water was.  We got there just in time to see a couple of high school daredevils swim across the flooded river.

 After a week or so we went back to Horseshoe Falls to check the damage.  The granite was still there, but the whole place looks different now.  

 The area in the photo above used to feature an island with full grown trees on it.  The creek split around the island before moving down into the Enoree River.  The flood removed the trees and the island and re-routed the water flow.  

 We also had to deliver some art to Tryon, NC.  This meant we got to eat at the Hare and Hound in Landrum.  We checked out the Halloween decorations along the street while we waited on a table. 

 Shunkawunken Falls has been on my "summer of waterfalls" list for a while and the art delivery gave us a good opportunity to drive almost straight up a mountain to see it.

 The art delivery led to two gallery receptions in one week for that exhibit...

...and one more in Greenwood for several of my students.  That's Drinkwater and Preston on the other side of a glass door I was hiding behind.  The exhibit was an Instagram based exhibit.  IG users submitted images by hashtagging them and the best ones were chosen and printed for the exhibit.  Cool idea.