I began a new sketchbook in September of 1997, but I did very little work in it – not like the one over the summer. I was assigned a new advisor, a visiting artist named Su-en Wong. http://www.suenwong.com/
I also got a new studio, in the newly renovated studio building (built where Toxic studio was located). Our old Non-Toxic studio building was sold and a coffee shop opened in our half of it. Once I loaned a friend at Squash our Southpark tape and she had it in her bag while there one night and the owner put it in and the whole place watched it. Years later when I met Steve’s mom she told me there used to be a karate school there, because she took lessons, and Elvis also took karate lessons there.
During my first meeting with Su-en she made a lot of suggestions and gave me a list of artists to look up (the art professor crutch – here, look at these artists). She said I had to choose a direction for my content, and it wasn’t clear with the charcoal faces. She said most of my decisions were “formal” decisions, about pose, composition, color, rather than content-furthering decisions. She liked the quilted piece from the previous semester. She said it gave no pretense of being other than what it was. I have no idea what she meant by that. She didn’t like the 18x24 size of the drawings. She thought I seemed too comfortable with them. Not sure why she got that impression, but that is another art school thing – they say you seem too comfortable with something and therefore should change it.
Then she said something that would totally change my artistic direction. She suggested I work bigger, or smaller – really small, tiny, even. She said, “If you did 10 drawings a day, in 30 days you’d have 300 drawings.” That really stuck in my head. 300 drawings in 30 days.
I began making drawings on little pieces of paper. I wrote in my sketchbook: “I’ve been drawing – recording daily events and thoughts like I do in my SB.” When I showed the little drawings to Su-en at our next meeting, she said they would fly at a real art gallery somewhere. She suggested I try some varied media and composition. I made a list of things to try which eventually became my Materials List.
I wrote: “Wow! Su-en really liked my little sketches! She said they are more about me than anything else. I can’t resolve the faces. They’re still too: So what? Or exercises."
I took the sketchbook work out of the sketchbook.
I also was still obsessed with experimenting with varied materials. I wrote up a huge Materials List with everything that I had experimented with. I was trying to find as many ways to produce drawings as I could possibly think of:
Pen ink drawings
Ink with brushes or pen nibs
Charcoal sticks and eraser
Watercolor washed over dry media
Draw over watercolor or ink washes
Graphite pencils – sketch, drawing
Charcoal and gesso
Charcoal and pastel
Ink brushed on back of pen ink drawing on handmade paper
Hairspray over felt tip pen drawing
Toned Drawing – lay down middle value and go lighter and darker
Rework old drawings – print or draw on top
Drawings coated in beeswax
Stitching on drawings
Wood or panels
Monotype: drawing/painting with ink or paint on Plexiglas
Subtractive: roll down ink, take up with rags, Q-tips, brush or palette knife (draw into materials)
Direct Drawing: roll down ink, lay paper over, draw on back of paper
Carving – wood blocks or plates – then print
Paint Patina on copper or brass plates
I had the idea of a Day of Art, where I would use as many of the above materials and methods as possible. I never really did this. Most of Fall 1997 was just drawing from my life. A lot of the experiments ended up a mess where I had a nice piece which I then messed up by brushing wet media over writing which was then smeared and obliterated. I also kept using different papers, including things like bills and store receipts. Nothing worked as well as Stonehenge paper, which became my signature paper AND STILL IS – it is heavy, sturdy, with some surface texture. The other papers were either too thin (receipts, etc.) or too soft (other art papers).
I also took a Book Arts class, from the Papermaking professor (the one I wanted to be my advisor). I created blog posts on the types of books I made, as a way of preserving my bookmaking notes, so I don't need to keep the very old handwritten notes.
With an MFA, technically I’m qualified to teach art on the college level. But nobody gets a faculty position without already having one. All of the job ads said: Extensive exhibition record required. Extensive teaching experience beyond T.A. REQUIRED. (T.A. means Teaching Assistant, which is what you do while in graduate school.) I have read articles about how art schools make new hires that are more qualified than their current faculty. So what can a new MFA do? Teach part-time, with low pay and no benefits. Recently I saw a list of the most useless degrees, and MFA was one of them.
My MFA Show was comprised of all the little Journaling Project pieces I did during the Fall semester. There will be individual posts showing the Best of...The Journaling Project.
Me and Steve posing with the self-timer by my corner of the show.