Projects new and old

Before I begin, I have to show you this:
This is truly a marvelous day. A day in which Portland Maine marches boldly into the future of urban transport.

That’s right, a bike lane up Munjoy Hill. Now I can finally ride my bike blindfolded while talking on my cell phone and waving at pedestrians. That’s right, cyclists are now safe from all dangers.
In reality, I find the bike lane great, except that Maine drivers seem to ignore all other forms of traffic related signage and markings, so why would this be an exception. This is one of those states that hasn’t yet realized that yes, talking on the cell phone with one hand while you drive around a city, however small, is in fact, a bad idea.

Anyway, that happened. with all the excitement about new white lines one section of one street in one tiny city, it’s easy to forget that this is a blog with real important things to address, and issues and such.
For instance, I have just begun my second year as a full time professor. Sound impossible? Well it sure feels impossible. Just a little over a year ago I was driving across the country thinking “I wonder how bad that truckstop coffee is” and “I wonder what teaching will be like”, and “Oh, this truckstop coffee tastes runoff from an aging tar roof”.
This is an interesting landmark for me. I still feel at times like I am in over my head, as I’m sure many of my students do too, but I’m starting to get the sense that I may just know more than I thought.
This year I’m teaching an interesting freshman class called First Year Initiative (FY-In in MECA-speak). This course is essentially intended to acclimate freshmen to college, the studio, Portland, their peers, and life in a new setting in general. It focuses on community, group projects, and non-studio-specific work in a way that, hopefully, creates some good strong bonds between students and students, students and faculty, and students and community. This course is a lot of fun as it features a public engagement component, and the class I’m teaching is undertaking two fun outdoor public projects with local collaborators.

The first of these projects is a quick one in collaboration with a local architectural firm, Wright Ryan, in which the students are creating a large mural to be hung as a several week long cover-up wall while construction happens inside the new Preble Street Teen center. This project is also in collaboration with another section of the course and we have come up with a text based project in which each group of two students has a letter. Each letter is also assigned a culture, and that culture is researched thoroughly in order to treat the painted letter in a style based on the visual language of the particular culture. The letters are each on a 4’x4′ panel and they all will go together to complete a phrase. I won’t give the phrase away until it is in place, but it is a really public, visible project for freshman to make and they are really doing great work. Good research, good drawing and layout, good painting. I’m pleasantly surprised. In the end this will be a 44′ long by 10′ ish feet high mural right in the middle of town. Here is a progress shot of some of these panels in process. (remember, there are many letters not pictured, so don’t try to guess what it says.

This is our “We are the World” wall.

Speaking of public work, I am going to Albuquerque this weekend to show a piece that you’ve all seen on this very blog, Build Your Own Cities, for one afternoon and then coming home. That’s right. I am shipping a 25 foot long sculpture in pieces most of the way across the country, flying there myself, installing it, showing it, and then coming home the next day. Why, you ask? because I’m a chump. That, and It is a really interesting venue that I could not pass up. I’ll be showing as a part of an event at the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA2012)
This is the first time in a few years that this event has happened in the United States, and I feel that, having been invited to show work, I would be remiss to pass on the opportunity. The theme is Machine Wilderness. Artists from Laurie Anderson to my friend and former Professor Matthew Hebert are exhibiting and performing. I’m really excited for this whirlwind adventure back to the desert.

With this project in mind, I should take this opportunity to beg. They had no money to help with this project, so I have been seeking alternative funding sources and here is one of them…
vote for me (project 1) so I can stop begging.

Please take this opportunity to vote for my project, project #1, and pass it on. It’s a small grant, but every little bit helps. It was not cheap to ship this work out there.

And now finally, before I reach the end of your attention span, I will say goodbye, but not before showing you this…

This is a shipwreck on Higgins beach in Cape Elizabeth. It has sat there since the 1890’s when she ran aground in the fog. The ship was carrying over 800 tons of coal.

also, this.
This is one of our teenage neighbors wrapping his fathers work truck in stretchy cellophane. Just the windshield part. It didn’t seem like a prank. He seemed to have a distinct purpose.

This is life in Portland Maine. I can eat at any number of locally sourced, farm to table restaurants, take in a concert by a psych-rock outfit from San Fransisco, and watch the neighbor boy wrap his truck in cellophane, seemingly to hold it together.

until next time.

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