Break Week 8

Friday arrives, and once again I face an empty “page” here on Medium, and worry about disappointing my readers. This blog is supposed to be about art school and the things I am working on there, but it’s a bit difficult to write about that when I am not in class (due to the obvious summer break) and when I also find myself less than fully motivated for unknown reasons.

The lack of motivation I am struggling against, but so far without much success. Based on the photos I see go by on Instagram, many of my fellow students are also not feeling like creating this summer. One or two are still working, but others have fallen silent or are posting travel photos and the like. Perhaps this is normal. Maybe two intense semesters of working a ton of hours takes it out of you for a while, and getting back into it takes time and/or structure. I am not sure, but I am trying. Honestly.

There are some extenuating circumstances — beyond laziness — that have kept me from doing much in the way of creative work. I won’t enumerate them, though. They’re really more like excuses, and as a result not really worth sharing. I will say, though, that next week and the week after we will have a guest here, and as a result there is basically no chance I will be doing anything creative during that time. There might be photos of things and places, though, as there will be significant time playing tourist.

But anyway, what about this last week? What actually happened?

Well, two things of import that I can share at this time:

First, I had to confront what I call “the sculptor’s dilemma”:

Where do you store work when there is no space for it? All artists have this problem. Even digital artists wind up needing more disk space eventually. And while 2D artists can stack their works in various ways so they take up less room, it does eventually overwhelm available storage space, and something must be done.

Sculptors, however, have a serious disadvantage in this case. Our works are large and clumsy, often heavy, and sometimes they can’t even be dismantled. That means finding a place to keep them can be a serious challenge. In the photo above you see Leo disassembled and stacked on a shelf in the very tiny garage in our rental (converted from the original car port decades ago, I believe). The 13th Labour is also on that shelf, covered with a towel. These had been sitting out in the garage — in the way of everything — since the grad show ended. That had to change.

I am not willing to toss either work into the garbage, but there is no obvious place to put them in the house at this point. This week, though, I removed the seats (that go in the back of the car) from the shelf you see in the photo, and put them back in the car. (That makes it harder to transport dogs, but does empty out the shelf, and makes the car available for more than two people while our guest is here.) As a result I could move the art to the shelf, which means we can walk through the garage once again. Handy, as the garbage cans are kept out there. (This isn’t generally a car in the garage. It’s so tiny that while we can squeeze a car in there, it’s not all that fun to do so.)

Anyway, for the moment those works have a new home, and I avoided having to make awful decisions about their fate. That’s good.

The other major thing that happened this week is that the school published a link to the fall course catalogue, so I have done the work of picking the classes I intend to take this coming term. They are, as I expected:

  • Public Art 1
  • Advanced Ceramics 1
  • Cultural Theory

For the record, note that I have not registered for these classes yet. Registration happens in late June, I believe, and when I get to it there may be challenges about signing up for these classes. It will be interesting to see how it goes, and while I should be able to get into all three, there are no guarantees until registration actually happens.

Public Art is a class in exactly that: creating art for public spaces. The instructor also teaches advanced sculpture, and she has a ton of experience and connections in the public art realm. It covers budgeting and planning for big works, has each student create a work to be displayed outdoors on campus, and the class collectively also creates two group works that are installed at the nearby skytrain station. It’s a significant effort, and largely amounts to sculptural work, though one of the group works is vinyl on a set of windows at the skytrain station.

Advanced Ceramics is exactly as it sounds, but my understanding is that there is no wheel throwing. I could be wrong about that, but it seems most of the work done in that class is hand building of various kinds. I’m told there will be a wheel throwing class in the spring term, along with the second half of advanced ceramics.

Cultural Theory discusses the philosophy of art, or at least that’s it what it appears to be based on my very limited understanding. It is also the last academic course I need to take to graduate. That said, I won’t actually graduate until the end of the spring term so I can finish the other halves of the public art and advanced ceramics course sequences.

With luck, as I say, I will be able to register for all three of these courses in June, and classes will start in September. Amusingly, those courses will only require my presence on campus two days a week, but in truth I will probably live there anyway. The ceramics courses consume vast amounts of time, and knowing me I will pick ridiculous projects to work on for the Public Art class. Ones that have me there for weeks on end.

I honestly don’t think there is anything else to report on this week. There may be news to share next week, though, despite all the time with the guest, so be sure to check out next week’s post. (Oooohhhh… mystery! Foreshadowing!)

In Other News

I have two videos to share, but they aren’t the usual humorous stuff I try to include at the end of these posts. Instead they are educational, and I learned things from them both.

First, if any of my readers are interested in writing (something I have said I want to do for years, but have only really done in this blog) I suggest this short video by Hank Green:

In it he discusses a number of things about his writing process, and despite reading several books on writing over the years there were some surprises in there for me. He mentions a longer video about his writing as well, but I haven’t watched it yet. (I will, though.)

The other one to share this week is about quantum mechanics. Specifically Bell’s Theorem. Yes, really. I know most of you won’t click on this, but I think you should. You probably won’t follow the math — don’t worry, I don’t get it either! — but the demonstrations (involving simple polarizing filters) are striking, and it turns out the way the universe works is just very, very odd. The fact that you can see quantum effects with three pairs of polarized sunglasses is amazing. If you’re like me and find all kinds of things fascinating, then just watching this will make you happy.

That’s it this time. Cheers!

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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Jeff Powell

Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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