This year kicked off with a semester of fantastic classes. In the spring semester I took papermaking/book arts, a Native American art sampler, and sculpture II: making multiples. I learned a lot of new techniques and experienced new materials I had never used before such as cotton linters, flax, foundry wax, and various mold-making materials. I completed my first bronze piece (SO much more work than I could have ever imagined) which makes me finally feel like a "real" sculpture major.
My papermaking/book arts class was interesting. It had nearly twice as many students in it than it was supposed to which caused it to be chaotic at times. Despite the often times tumultuous class environment, I found myself coming in around 10pm at night, when no one else was there, and making 50-100 sheets of paper at a time! Once I established this system, it was hard to put down the screen and walk away. I am really in love with papermaking because it is symbolic of family trees (at least my method of papermaking is.) You start with some pulp and some pigment, mix it with more pulp and pigment until you have a plethora of colors, textures and thicknesses that, although different, all come from the same pulp...the same family, if you will. I guess I'm romanticizing the entire process, but I love to incorporate the idea of the life cycle in my work.
As I mentioned before, I completed a bronze piece in my sculpture II class. I can't concisely explain the process, so I wont even bother. Instead, I will make a safe estimate and say that I spent around 200 hours from start to finish on my bronze strawberries (Ode'minan.) I am still not impressed with bronze. It simply isn't my medium but I have gained an understanding, appreciation, and overwhelming sense of accomplishment from the project. I also learned different mold-making techniques such as plaster, alginate, rubber molds, plaster bandage, and many more. It was one of the most well-organized classes I have ever taken, and the group as a whole was very focused on making quality work. The final assignment for the class was to simply make a piece that involved using multiples to some degree. I chose to not use any of the techniques I had just learned and made "Firewater" instead! I hammered and rolled (by hand) around 600 beer caps into jingle dress cones and attached them to a dress I designed and brought to life. The piece is still "in-progress"....it takes a while to sew that many beer caps on.
Finally I save the best for last. I had the opportunity to take a Native American Art Sampler class with the "Smithsonian Artist" Shirley Brauker! It's hard to put into words just how important this class was for me. I learned a lot of new skills and was introduced to a lot of new artists and techniques, but this class affected me on a more spiritual level than anything. Prior to this experience, I had not been in class with a Native American teacher since elementary school at Saginaw Chippewa Academy. It's just different. It's hard to describe it to someone who has only been educated through public schools, but you're just treated differently. The class was small, only me, my mom, two other ladies and Shirley. We sat in a group and just worked on stuff. We worked on projects while she taught, while we talked, and we were constantly productive while we shared stories, laughs, and advice with one another. She helped me learn more about my culture and traditions, and taught me about her own. I made some good friends in this class, and the quality work I made in this class was just the cherry on top.
Now with the fall semester starting, I am just trying to finish up my minor and get my last core class "digital design" out of the way. It is a class meant for freshmen- ideally it is the first class you take upon entering the art major. Needless to say, it should be pretty simple but wont exactly help me create gallery-ready work. I am excited for the spring semester as I will hopefully be starting the BFA program, and the light at the end of the tunnel will start to get significantly bigger and bigger once I finally round that corner.