art in the woods, art in the city

the view from the painting studios at Haystack Mountain School of Craft

So, after a torturous two weeks without reliable internet connection, I have finally emerged from the woods to return to what really matters, Blogging to no-one about the mundane things that I see and do. If you sense a note of sarcasm there (read it again, it’s there) it is because, in fact, two weeks at Haystack Mountain School of craft and a few days at my parents house in Maine is actually the opposite of torturous. it is, in reality, exactly the vacation that I needed.

For those of you that have never attended Haystack, take this as a warning: For your own good, find a way to get there. This was my second time, the first was on a work study scholarship and this time I was assisting a steam bending workshop taught by the fantastic Mitch Ryerson of Boston. a full photo album covering the class can be seen here, but here are a few highlights…

central stair case: classic

the rocks and crazy clouds

Nate and Micah putting salt in the kiln

a late night steambox sesh

geeking out: here is our steaming settup. I like the pvc one with the wallpaper steamer

Dave brought a pink bike. Jodie rides it around the deck

Jodie made this cool bent sculpture using comealongs and a team of mules

one of many firetimes

Steves bench: it's more for sitting than laying

Anyway, Haystack is a really great environment to work and just be in. In my case, it was the perfect follow-up to completing my MFA (all but that pesky paper). These two environments are essentially extreme opposites but somehow manage to similarly aid in artistic growth. After three years in the academic side of making, craft camp is like culture shock. Places like Haystack allow and encourage a kind of experimentation that I don’t think can exist in the academic setting. Not because experimentation is discouraged, but because the stakes are higher. In graduate school, and this is a good thing, we are constantly questioned on our decisions. This is how we grow there: we are trained, through discussion and criticism, to consider every aspect and it’s consequences for work. I have thrived on this type of environment, but it is interesting to go back, immediately afterwards, to a place in which making and playing and exploring is enough… for everyone. loving to work is a given, that’s why people go there. they paint the rocks, throw pots, blacksmith swirly things, and generally do whatever they want, but with a passion that rivals most graduate students. This is vacation from having to worry about the importance of what you are making. I went to learn how to steam bend and I did. then I made three bent over sawhorses. then I gave them away. I don’t consider them strong work but studies made in a setting that encourages study. I think this environment can be equally helpfully in forming an artist. We all need this kind of time to step back and remember that we love making things and have more than one track.

I realized the other day that Haystack has actually framed my graduate school experience… or maybe book-ended it. I went there with my friend Amelia in 2007 and returned intent on going to graduate school (after a great session with Eck Follen). I applied, got in, and did my time (it was amazing), and topped it off by returning to Haystack. It is the perfect place for this. like a pause for reflection on where I am at. Ellen, the assistant director asked me before I left if I would be interested in returning for future sessions to tech the wood shop. I can’t really imagine a better occasional job.

now, back to reality. in the next few weeks, I intend to write my thesis. This would seem less daunting if my summer were not completely packed. Funny, none of my responsibilities disappeared while I was playing in the woods. But, I can’t complain, a lot of my upcoming work involves showing my stuff and that is really satisfying. which brings me to the shameless plug portion of today’s post…

First: this Saturday, I am in a show of sketchbooks and notebooks at National University’s “214 a” gallery in La Mesa. This should be an interesting show. it features 20 artists from NYC and 20 from San Diego. I have never considered myself a drawer but I think the sketchbooks give a fun insight to my work and is the flyer for the show…

Next up is a month long exhibition at Art Produce in North Park. This is going to open on July 9th in conjunction with Ray at night. I will be showing two works from my thesis exhibition as well as one repurposed part of the show that will be a surprise… to me also. The following week, date and time TBA, I will be doing a presentation and slideshow there talking about my thesis body of work and “You are Here” exhibition. I see this a great opportunity to sort of extend the life and audience of a show that was decidedly short lived as the MFA shows often are, and a chance to get more feedback and insights on the work as I move forward. come check it out…

on that note, I have to go to day two of the Americans for the Arts conference downtown. I will of course be blogging on that after it ends. I like to keep up the suspense. here is a teaser though from yesterdays sessions…

Tim Hawkinson: boy genius

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