Tuesday, May 18, 2010

2010, Shanna Wheelock
Clay, metal, acrylic, wood
35" x 45"

A detail of the sculpture

Close-up of the pomegranate

The initial sketch for the pomegranate

Five poms sculpted (extras in the case of a kiln disaster...good to be prepared!)

Initial sketch for the grenade

Planning for the grenade project began in December of 2009. I remember spending an entire day in the studio sketching and writing the proposal. I still have the paper with my hen-scratch scrawl and a list of about twenty things that I could visualize as a possible long-term project.

I am a student in what Heartwood College of Art refers to as their "Pioneer Pod". We are a small group of artists working toward our MFA in the state's first low-residency program of its kind. The program is a good fit for me. I am able to work independently in my own studio under the guidance of a mentor and an advisor. We gather once a semester for a "weekend intensive" and move along at the rate of two classes each term. Though it is an immense amount of work, I am able to schedule it around my full-time teaching job without interruption. As an arts educator, this is a perfect program as it complements what I do in the classroom perfectly.

So, I spent that winter day in December in the studio racking my brain for an idea that I would be willing to commit myself to for five month's time. I am not sure exactly how the image came to me, but I began to research grenades. As soon as I read the Wikipedia entry, I was solid in my idea.

"The French military term grenade probably comes from the shape of the pomegranate fruit, which is also called grenade in French."

Much of my work in the past has emphasized symbols and objects associated with women-centered mythology. The idea that the term grenade was a direct translation intrigued me. I decided to juxtapose the two objects: The pomegranate with it's warm magenta color and ancient fertility symbolism against the drab cool color of the grenade which represents the loss of life.

I researched the grenade online as well as read a US military issued book on grenades. An inert M67 grenade was purchased and used as the model for each of the hand-sculpted objects. The process was long, often tedious, and came with lots of challenges that I did not foresee. Ultimately, I feel that I became a better artist for having to endure the many obstacles. Perhaps, this experience could be understood as my "artistic rites of passage".

My philosophy associated with the piece runs much deeper than I am stating here, but for now, I will allow the image to ruminate within each viewer, permitting interpretation.

Life is still moving at a fast clip and the past few weeks are a blur. It is a good feeling to have the final evaluation complete, as well as my two major projects. I'll plan to post pics of my second MFA creation next week , the "Transformation Tapestry".

As a side note - it was way cool to see myself and my words in glossy magazine color. If you have access to a news-stand that carries "Artscope" (termed "New England's Culture Magazine") you can find me on page 12, in the column "Roundtable", May/June 2010 issue.


Nicky said...

aha! this answers the question i just asked you on FB -- yes it is finished! Amazing...


Owl Who Laughs said...

It IS amazing!


Sophie said...

Waow! That’s the mystery project. Love it!

What are the orange tags attached to the 6 upper left grenades?


thanks all. sophie, those are not orange tags - it is just light/shadow. i don't have the best set-up or camera for photographing such a piece - but have a professional photographer coming over next week to take some pics for me.