Monday, September 29, 2014

Building Process

Thursday and Friday of last week I taught process workshops at Grand Valley State University. The classes began with a discussion about process as I described my own and how I came to define it. Then I had students do a writing and thinking exercise in which they listed 50 things that inspire them. This assignment, adapted from one by ceramic artist, Ayumi Horie, helps students see where their ideas come from in both a macro and micro view. Next I lead them through an hour-long thinking and making exercise in which they made a piece of jewelry using limited materials and tools. This activity is like sketching with pencil and paper only in 3D with different kinds of materials. It is an individual exercise and I always tell my students to just let go as they work.

After both classes I did back-to-back 30-minute studio visits with jewelry and visual arts students. Critiques like these are always challenging for me because I have to get to know the person and his or her work quickly so I can help. I usually begin by asking the student to describe her work and then try to question and encourage without derision.  Everyone in both my workshops and the individual sessions was open and eager and I had so much fun with them! I also loved being around Beverly Seley and Renee Zettle-Sterling, the metals faculty. They took such good care of me!

In addition, on Thursday night I gave a public lecture and I'm pleased with how it went, despite some technical difficulties. I had a few blank slides appear even though I had done a test run earlier. I kept going, though, channeling performance skills I had learned when I used to sing years ago: I did my thing and everything was fine.

Other highlights of the trip included a visit to ArtPrize where I got to see some incredible works like "Intersections" by Anila Quayyum Agha. Seeing this piece in person felt like a once-in-a-life time kind of moment. I also got to spend a few hours sitting next to Lake Michigan, which reminded me so much of being by the sea in Iceland.

Thanks for reading. 

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