Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Full Day in the New Studio

Worked in the new studio all day planning for a five month long sculptural project

Today I write from the new studio space. I admit that it has been a slow process moving myself in here, not only physically, but psychologically. The space is wide open, scarce in decoration, and so pristine. What if I don't create a masterpiece? What if I mess up this gorgeous new bamboo floor? What if...what if...what if....

I came in here about 10:00 a.m this morning, lugging from storage my old drafting table that has not been used in well over a dozen years. I spent the first two hours cleaning dirt and clay from the legging, then sweeping the floor, and washing windows. Methodically, I was preparing myself for the work ahead. In my mind whirled possible ideas for my first MFA class proposal.

Now that six hours has passed, I don't want to leave. The ambiance is extremely conducive to creativity. The drafting table is placed in front of an eight foot wide sliding glass door, from which I watched two eagles and a hawk soar overhead today. I spent time (nearly nodding off!) reclining on the futon in the little nook, wrapped in a comforter, smelling the candle scents of warm apple pie and sugar cookies, and listening to the "spa" channel on satellite radio. I time thumbed through art books and sketched possible ideas for a five month-long concentration in a series of my choosing.

I am excited to begin working on my Master of Fine Arts. I was accepted into the new low residency program at Heartwood College of Art, in Kennebunk, Maine. It is the first program of its kind in the state (and only one of two MFA programs for visual arts in Maine) that will allow me to keep my full time teaching schedule as well as be a student.

It's interesting to be a student again. I finished my fine arts degree in 1993, then my teaching program in 1999. Now I am back at it, thrilled with the possibilities. However, I was less than thrilled when I received my first assignment. I reacted EXACTLY the way some of my own students react when I assign them a project. I thought "twenty six sculptures in five months? I am trying to get away from mass production!"

I am the type of person who translates things literally in my mind, and often, I get a visual and get fixated on that one idea. I doubt that makes much sense to anyone but me, but there it is. I became a complainy whiny student. I found immense humor in this, and a better understanding of my own students. Then I thought, what lesson would there be in this for me, and what would I expect of my own students?

So, I let my mind open and wander and think of the positives. It is a meditative process to concentrate so intently on one object. Also, it teaches me to focus, and if you know me personally, you know that I can become quite scattered with a million things going on at once, multi-tasking, hopping from idea to idea, medium to medium.

I also needed to remind myself that I am artist, and interpretation is quite individual. So, how I approach my one subject twenty-six times may not be the literal translation that another might have. The final topic I decided upon and the final presentation of it is not at all what I was expecting of myself. It is a completely different path than I expected to take when I first started planning three or more weeks ago. And already, I am sensing the possibilities for growth in my own work. Perhaps the bulk of that growth has already occurred, just in my being able to apporach the project from a different perspective and to find its inherent value.

I won't share all the details just yet. First the proposal needs to be accepted, then I need to get into the studio and feel my way around it. There may lie still a learning curve or two for me. But expect an update in May when the project is complete...or perhaps...transitioning to a new phase.


Owl Who Laughs said...

Sounds like a powerful wonderful new space!

Onedia said...

wow , what a fabulous space. I am excited for you. The MFA is a wonderful experience to begin with your new studio....creating a special memory .......

The snow looks wonderful. We could use a snow to cover all the mud from plumbing and drain excavations.

I look forward to reading about your MFA journey.

L.P. Jones said...

Dear Shanna,

I was brought to your blog because the bowls I bought from you some months back have finally made their way into the hands of close friends who are stunned by the luminous beauty of these bowls. I am pleased to see your new studio and to hear of your MFA program. You make me ambitious for my own future! Thanks and smiles from Los Angeles.

Lois P. Jones
Host, Poet's Cafe


owl - indeed it is!


thanks, onedia! you should be in maine now - you wouldn't believe the snow downeast!


Hi Lois - thanks for writing. from all chris tells me - you are a rare talented soul who has LOTS to look forward to in the future! can't wait to see where your journey takes you.