Wednesday, December 28, 2005

MFA Journal.
December, 2005

End of a Semester.
My first semester at University of Notre Dame has now been completed. I would categorize my progress and investigations a success. It is definitely a relief to be done though. I am fortunate to not have any required assignments or duties during finals week so I can take off a week early. So with a five-week break from the Midwest (which includes a break from everyday snow, 10-20 degree days, little sleep and not so healthy eating) ahead of me I look back over the last few weeks. Since Thanksgiving I have been focused on my semester end review and first year show.

We had to hang the “New Faces” show the week after Thanksgiving so now the show has been up a couple of weeks and I feel like I have enough distance from my new images to understand them. I included my first two paintings I completed at ND, which where on birch veneer, and related to my past series of Holes. The pieces I was focused on as far as critical review were a painting (32 x 60), a diptych of drawings (22 x 30 each) and a small hand-toned (graphite) etching for a total of five pieces. To condense my explanation of the pieces I’ve included some images and my artist statement which I had on hand for the show:

" My latest images focus on creating an emotional fabric that incorporates the language of Romanticism. The exotic, dangerous and desolate expanses of these seascapes indicate sites of mythic occurrences. Yet the formal qualities render such grandeur impossible as subtle value shifts and quiet compositions yield a melancholic reading. The work reveals traces of exploration but the absence or remnants of human form suggest that nature’s power has won out. We are witness to a site of anti-discovery. The icy islands drift across empty spaces and become symbolic due to their commanding presence on the horizon. Some are crested with flags that suggest nation building exploration, giving a political, perhaps even humorous reading. But the iceberg’s temporal nature and mobile presence rejects mapping and claims of ownership. While we can assume there are bigger pieces to this puzzle the lack of clues returns our attention to the Iceberg itself. Our presence confronts these emotions as we inhabit the uninhabited scenes with our gaze. Ultimately, our departure from the work further enhances the emotional clime by leaving it in its placid state. "

So we had a really fun opening for the show and then the second year MFAs were responsible for putting on a little party afterwards. I received excellent feedback and compliments on my new work and even sold the two drawings (to a Industrial Design professor).

Then this week we had a final crit with all the professors in the department. We have the opportunity, 5 minutes, to introduce the work and then the professors critique the work. All the grad students are on hand but don’t get to talk during the crit. My crit went very well, although I felt a bit scattered- trying to fully explain all my research and background behind the pieces. Because we are required to do these crits at the end of each semester I think by the end of my 3rd year I’ll be much better at speaking about my work. The thought of speaking intelligently about a series of work that I’ve only been working on a little over a month was a bit intimidating at first.

We just found out that Tom Friedman will be the big visiting artist next year. I really enjoy his work so it will be great to meet him and have him critique my work before I start solidifying my thesis topic.
All in all, I felt like I struggled through some uncertainties this semester and strengthened my studio practice. I’m enjoying the freedom I have to explore my interests and the supportive environment has helped that a lot. Hope everyone had a terrific holiday and I’ll be writing more as it comes.