Sunday, January 15, 2012

A New Semester Begins at Heartwood College of Art

Below is a recent piece that I finished, a three dimensional model for an installation
about military recruitment.

Let's Make a Deal
Shanna Wheelock, 2011
3D model for installation, 36" x 24" x 12"
Wood, ceramic, fabric, paper, acrylic paint, found object

Let's Make a Deal
(front side, view from top)

Let's Make a Deal: Curtain #1

Let's Make a Deal: Curtain #2

Let's Make a Deal: Curtain #3

Let's Make a Deal
(backside, view from top)

This week marks the beginning of my fifth semester in the Heartwood College of Art MFA program. I have spent the past couple weeks working out some new ideas and soon I will be able to step into the studio to begin the physical manifestation of my visualizations. It's kinda funny how the process works. Two weeks ago I felt solid about my plan, but then my mentors chimed in with their thoughts and it gets me to rethinking everything. Ultimately, the decision becomes my own, but there's just enough of a curve ball to make me doubt, then eventually come to a space where I once again feel comfortable with my (sometimes altered) direction. The thing about direction, though, is that it can change in a flash. Sometimes we choose this way or that, and sometimes we are veered by another force. Much of life is a combination of both.

Joining the program at Heartwood has had profound effects on my thinking and actions as an artist, teacher, and human being. A program such as this is NOT your typical educational experience where you step into a classroom, listen to a lecture, take notes, then recall facts for an exam. It is unfortunate that much of education is that way. Instead, with the MFA program at Heartwood, we are forced to think and create our own path. We have mentors who guide us in the process, who provide an immense amount of feedback, and offer an objective eye. It's easy, as the artist, to be too attached to your work and idea that you can forget that other eyes see and interpret your work in different ways. Art is, after all, a powerful form of communication, and we all know how lines of communication can get tangled!

So, I am beginning a new semester and am eager to jump into the materials. I have two spaces in which I do most of my creating - one being the dark 'neath earth dingy, clay-dust clad cave where I sit at the wheel or sculpt with clay. The other space, in much contrast, is part of my home - a favorite nook with a futon where I can get warm and cozy while I sketch, research, and write. I hop between the various spaces depending on which part of the process is on tap for the moment. The past few days I have spent time reorganizing my spaces, clearing out the supply closet, and taking inventory, all the while allowing the art images to flow through my mind. I have a couple of sculptural goals this spring, one being to create an installation piece for an upcoming show in June, and the other to work with a specific color. Color. Such a simple concept, right? Well, color is what I would consider one of my personal areas of struggle. I am very much comfortable with form, which makes sense since I am a sculptor. It will be interesting to see the path my work takes this semester. It's always a surprise for me. No matter how attached I feel to a plan, inevitably, things change along the way.

I will still continue to hone my skills as a juggler in the circus of life. Yep. Multitasking at its finest. I am bumping up production with my pottery and setting new goals, balancing my sculptor and potter self with my teacher self, all the while continuing to teach art in public school.

One of the major pluses about the MFA program at Heartwood is that it is both part-time and low residency. It's not an online course even though I use email for some correspondence between campus meetings. Rather, it is a program where we meet on campus twice a semester for intensive seminar weekends and presentation critiques. The schedule was specifically created for people just like me, who might be teaching or working some other job. Luckily most students in my pod are teachers and we not only support each other in our teaching roles, but we work on a similar timeline. It's perfect for the self-motivated working artist who needs flexibility in scheduling. Two courses a semester is half a full time MFA program so it takes a bit longer to get my MFA, but I couldn't imagine trying to handle a full time program on top of my other work commitments.

Speaking of commitments, I am continuing my work with Lubec Arts Alive and we are getting ready to begin planning for this next summer's event. Some of our committee members (well, more than half!) are in other locations for the winter months so it will be a gentle re-entry into community planning mode until everyone is back in town and on board. Time to get the binder organized and go over last years event to see what goals should be set for future, and check in on the financials. I love community organizing - but absolutely hate fundraising. Luckily - our community has been very generous with supporting artistic endeavors - both financially and with volunteering. Thank you!!!!!

It's a quiet Sunday morning so far. Mom has been visiting us here downeast. We've enjoyed a relaxed schedule and time to talk. Meals have been a notch above the typical food prep in our kitchen, and that has been quite enjoyable. (see pic below). Today she heads back home to central Maine - where life moves at a different pace with lots of traffic, strip malls, hordes of people, and appointments. Winter in Lubec is a whole different experience. Hopefully she heads home feeling well-rested and rejuvenated. Me, I'll snuggle into that futon for a reading and sketch session then head down into my cave to see what kind of earthly mess I can get myself into.

Many years off and on as a vegetarian I have succumbed to culinary pleasures recently that include four legged, winged, and finned beings. The guilt was particularly piqued two nights ago when talking to the little lobster before she met her unfortunate demise. While I felt a certain degree of guilt before, during, and after consuming the sweet crustacean, Bouli did not exhibit one iota of remorse. Turns out she quite enjoys lobster and makes no apologies for it.

And - for you poetry buffs out there..some links about my husband's writing.....

link to Bangor Daily article

link to chapbook:

Lastly, a link to an interview with Chris that was recorded and archived last summer by Jane Crown's Poetry Radio. Ecellent interview. takes about 15-20 minute before the conversation gets rolling with some excellent poetically philosophical's an hour long....but well worth the listen.

1 comment:

Jimmy Buehner said...

I'd like to learn more about the Zati masks you are making. I taught in Liberia as a Peace Corps Volunteer many years ago and collected a few masks, a few of which are Dan "passport" masks allowing entry into the men's secret society. There was civic law in Liberia, which in a pinch, was always trumped by animistic proceedings presided over by masked "devils".