Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Senior Project

I have been remiss in my posting! Been busy, what can I say? I thought it would be good to talk a little bit about senior project. The image above is of Georgie's ceramic sculpture work. The image represents probably less than half of what he has made as part of his senior project requirements. Less than half! I think the biggest thing that most student's don't consider is the shear massive amount of work needed to complete the project. Never mind the 20 page paper and the full portfolio due at at the end along with the museum show. Every year I have folks come to me for advisement and think they can take two or three additional studios at the same time as a senior project. When I hear this I laugh. It's pretty much not possible if you want to have a good senior project experience AND do well in all your classes. Why would you want to have all that stuff to do anyway? The senior project is such an amazing time in your student career, why cram it up with all this other busy work that will take away from your experience?

I still remember my senior project. I was lucky as I had enough foresight to get rid of all my core classes and art histories so that I only had senior project, a photo studio, an easy theater workshop and a fun art/math course. Just enough classes to keep my financial aid but easy stuff so I could fully enjoy my final semester and make as much work as humanly possible. My job for my last two years of school was to drive a stretch limo in NYC. Boy were those fun times! And some very late nights as well. I worked at my job pretty much solid from Friday afternoon to late Sunday night, usually starting with airport pickups from JFK, then the Broadway dinner and theater crowd, followed by the late night club scene. An hour or two of sleep and then it was off again with weddings, and maybe a longer trip down to Atlantic City. Sunday was a repeat of the other days. I was always back at the studio Monday morning where I could take advantage of a full five days of studio to get a huge amount of work done. I also learned that no one worked in the morning so I could have the studio all to my self. On top of that the shops at our school were open half the time they are at USM and then whole building closed at midnight. No 24/7 access like we have here.

It's never too early to start preparing for senior project. Using the last studio class or two in your course requirements to start developing your body of work is imperative to giving you a head start with your project. Working out structural and material issues and technical problems should be done prior to starting your project, not halfway into your final semester! Senior project is not the time to be inventing new things, or trying some crazy new material that you have never worked with before, it's a time for developing a body of work that already has some momentum in it, something you know you can work on and develop further, something you can push the limits on, in a huge way. It's also important to do something you love as you will be spending hours and hours and hours with it, as well as investing all your money into it.

Senior project + all your money, all your time, every ounce of your soul = an amazing body of work, and then maybe grad school, shows and exhibitions, grants, fellowships and who knows what else!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Group Projects

As sculptors and ceramic artists we don't get many opportunities to work together as a group. For the most part I hate group projects but I miss the fellowship that comes from working together with other artists. Things like wood firings and iron casting are the perfect ways to hang with the group, accomplish something useful, and be creative.

This past week and into this weekend Mark Rigsby did a wood firing out at his studio. A bunch of us partook in the project. Folks from upper level were invited as well as some faculty and staff. A number of folks joined in, Krista, MJ, Anna, Ken and some other folks I think. Every one helped with aspects of loading and stoking. It's big work and it is so much easier and more fun when a bunch of people help out. MJ Hill has some good pictures on his blog, check 'em out.

Projects like this are a perfect opportunity to learn something new (including how to make smores)! I look forward to see what comes out of the kiln!

It's a good time to remind folks that we have a big iron pour coming up soon, another good opportunity to work together and make something happen!