Saturday, November 7, 2015

Palmer Martin Hall, in Use and Tour Next Tuesday

This coming Tuesday, November 10, the YVCC Art club is hosting a tour of the new art studios. We are meeting in the lobby of Palmer-Martin Hall at 12:30. If you haven't seen the studios yet, join us.

I am enjoying seeings student art displayed in the new building. Drawing, Design, Photography, and Painting classes have had work up on the walls for most of the quarter. I especially enjoy looking at drawings where the student are all working with the same subject. I think it is interesting to see the different students' approaches to the same view.

student drawing examples in the hallway last week

The wall displays are a way to show visitors to the building what our students are doing in class, they also offer students waiting for class more to look at and hopefully they inspire students in their own art making or to take studio classes themselves.

Palmer-Martin downstairs hallway

The clay students don't have as much of an opportunity to show there work. In part this is because there work takes longer to finish, but it also has to do with the lack of shelving for 3D work in the hallway. We are waiting on some shelves that can be put in the display cabinet, so I am hopeful that we will be able to display work later this quarter or in the winter.

clay studio student work shelves

Most of the other things that were not yet completed at the start of the year have now been finished or fixed. This week we fired the glaze kiln for the first time in the new building. Results seems good, though the firing was unusual. I've been firing this kiln for years, but in the new space it has significantly more venting, which impacts the pressure in the kiln and required me to adjust my firing this time around.

gas kiln in the new building

We also fired the large electric kiln for the first time this week. It had, oddly, shipped without a plug which took several weeks to be replaced, then we ran into another small problem with the controls that delayed the firing a few days.

electric kilns in the new building

Our mixer was finally fully installed a couple weeks ago. We've mixed several batches of clay and my students and work studies are starting to understand what the process is all about.

clay mixer and venting

The whole studio is starting to feel more familiar and more comfortable. Glazing started a little over a week ago and now all students have had a chance to used the glazing room and see the results of their glazes. This means, of course, that the quarter is coming to an end. The last day for students to throw is two and a half weeks from today.

glazing room

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Glaze Firing Results

I unloaded my latest low temperature glaze firing this week. It was mostly successful. Some of my color application inside is a little thin and one bowl cracked.

unloading the kiln

I decided to slip trail the same design on the cups and paint the interiors with a baby blue underglaze. I didn't get the coverage I should have gotten with the blue--probably because I was rushing, but I'm generally happy with the design.

blue slip trailed cups

 I used the same slip trailing on some of the bowls and plates.

slip trailed plates

The color is a bit irregular because these are the same plates I tried to use bubbles on earlier in the summer. The bubbles don't show up with the clear glaze on top, but some of the iron oxide drips show through the clear, making the newly fired pieces look dirty in some spots.

iron oxide bubbles

On one bubble bowl, I traced the original bubble design with my slip trailer. I actually like the design and should have done more of it. Maybe I will revisit the idea in future glaze firings.

bowls with iron oxide bubble remnants

When my daughter joined me on Sunday, I filled a larger slip trailer for her. She used it some, but there was underglaze leftover in the bottle when she finished, so I started using it. I used red underglaze in the large bottle, purple in the medium size and black in the small like the other bowls. 

slip trailing circles

A few of the pieces had some level of glaze on them already. One bowl had patchy pink underglaze on it already and I added blue over the top. It must have had a bit of glaze on it already, too, because the new underglaze took forever to dry. The retire is still fairly patchy.

blue and pink splotchy underglaze

One of the bubble pieces had green underglaze applied before the iron oxide bubbles, so it was green before I slip trailed. I like the design alright, but its certainly an odd piece in this batch.

green with bubbles and slip trailing

I had fun with the slip trailing and I came up with some patterns or design motifs I'd like to use in the next glaze batch I try.
I like the circle pattern on the rim, but with a brighter color for the large circles

I think I'll mainly use slip trailing and subtle interior glazes again on the next pieces. The glazes are different, however, so I may need to run one batch through the kiln to get used to them.

I like that these lines are not straight

I expect to take some of this work to Oak Hollow this coming weekend for the holiday show. I'll find out then what Josey wants to keep for the show. I don't anticipate the next batch of work getting glazed until December, at the earliest.

the lines on the right also wiggle a bit

My daughter also glazed some work. She prefers the slip trailer for dripping underglaze and she also liked using the round foam stamps for the red and purple. her blue underglaze application, ironically, is more even than mine.

my daughter's cups (the one on the left entirely thrown by her, too)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Glazing & Firing for Holiday Show

I'm firing a kiln today. This is noteworthy because the last time I fired was in early August and because I didn't get much studio work completed this summer.

cone 6 work waiting for glaze

I still have a shelf full of cone 6 functional work that needs to be glazed, but I did get most of the cone 04 functional work glazed and in the kiln today. I am taking work to Oak Hollow for the holiday show and the deadline is next weekend, so it was now or never on these pieces.

todays glazing project, mostly with pink cone 04 glaze on top of the color

I figure I used today's extra hour of daylight savings time to get this work done. Since glazing and loading was a last-minute decision, I ended up glazing on the floor rather than cleaning off my tables. I spent a few hours this morning slip trailing and decorating my pieces. Later my daughter joined me and glazed a couple of her pieces, too.

today's glazing setup on the floor in my studio

What is pictured here on my floor is almost everything that fit in the kiln. My kiln is fairly small and I realized today that I need more short stilts. I usually fire sculpture, so I only fit a few pieces in at once. I don't use a lot of stilts. This load was all cups, bowls and plates. As I was loading plates today, I realized I have only four short stilts. Unfortunately those four short stilts come in three different sizes, making the short loads especially tricky.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Showing Videos in the New Space

We've just completed the fourth week of classes in our new Palmer-Martin building and I am mostly loving the new space.

On Friday, I showed a video at the start of my clay class. It was a compilation of Icheon Masters throwing, carving and decorating their ceramic work:

The neat thing about showing the video this quarter is that I was able to get it ready quickly and show it, on the large screen, with audible sound, as the students walked in to class. The students noticed the video and most of them walked over on their own and sat down to watch and discuss the video. Since the audio is just music, the students were able to discuss what was going on in the video while it was playing. It was a casual atmosphere and energizing to see the Icheon artists working. Additionally, students who were working in the space but not technically coming for class, were able to see the video without interrupting their own work (or keep working without being interrupted by the video.

In the old space, showing an online video at the start of class would have entailed about 8 steps and probably a total of 20 minutes of setup on my part:

Step 1: Get the Projector. I would have walked over to the Media Center (upstairs in the library) to get a projector before my first class or in the 10 minutes between my classes. I would have taken the elevator to the ground floor and pushed the little cart through five sets of doors and across the absolute bumpiest sidewalk on campus.(If I rushed, one particular bump would send the remote flying off the cart and, if I wasn't careful, threaten to send the projector off, too. I broke two water bottles by dropping them off the cart while I was trying to move it between classes or on my way off campus for the day.

Step 2: Plug in the Projector. I would have rolled the cart to the middle of the design studio, unrolled the plug, climbed under a table and plugged in the projector. Often I would need to move a second table so that the plug could reach directly to the wall socket. Sometimes, if I could find one with the right prongs, I would use an extension cord to read an alternate plug.

Step 3: Turn on the Projector and Computer. I still have to do this.

Step 4: Move the Screen. While I waited for the computer to warm up, I had to line up the screen with the projector. This classroom had no permanent screen attached to a wall, so I would pull down the screen on the back of the portable chalkboard (on wheels) and roll it to a place where the projected image would hit it straight on.

Step 5: Adjust the Projector Level. Usually, but not always, the projector feet needed to be adjusted or something needed to be stuck under them so that they would be level and high enough for the image to show on the screen. We kept little bits of illustration board specifically for this purpose. Erasers worked, too.

Step 6: Log in. I still need to log in to the computer in my classroom, but I can do this ahead of time if I plan well. I can't log in to a computer before it is plugged in. Often I also needed to fiddle with the connection between the projector and the computer because they didn't always communicate with each other on the first try.

Step 7: Light. Turning off the lights was actually easier in the old studio, but if there was still too much sunlight coming in from the windows I had about six semi-broken blinds that would need to be lowered and twisted closed. We now have three blinds that are easy to close, but the projector and screen are both far enough away that blind adjustment has so far been unnecessary.

Step 8: Collect the students. All of this is taking place in the design studio which is next to my clay classroom. The projector and screen won't fit in the clay studio so I have to invite my students to come next door. Sometimes I have to call them in more than once. Obviously they cannot watch from their wheels and must decide to come in or stay.

Post-Video Step 1-4: Shut Down, Unplug, Store and Return. Of course, after a video I would then have to shut down the computer and projector, rewrap the cord and wheel the whole cart into an office or storage room, since Media Services didn't want me to leave the cart in an unsecured separate room, but also didn't want me to leave the cart in the clay studio during class. After class I had to wheel the beastly thing back across the sidewalk of doom, back through six sets of doors (an extra doorway now, between where I stored the thing and where I used the thing) and up the elevator.

I suppose this means the new studio saves me about half an hour each time I show a video in class, counting travel time. I'm glad it does, but I'm also looking forward to the time when my time savings are not counteracted by the time I spend trying to fix or track down the things that worked just fine in the old space (kilns with erroneous gas lines, kilns with missing plugs, and mixers that still don't attach to electricity).

Pedagogically, the new projector, computer and screen mean that I can show student videos I wouldn't have tried to share during class last year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Larson Gallery's Metamorphosis exhibition

The current exhibition at Larson Gallery in Yakima (on the Yakima Valley Community College campus) is amazing. I don't generally write about exhibitions that don't involve me or my students, unless maybe they involve a lot of clay, but this show is worth highlighting.

The show features four artists whose work I simply love. I never pass up an opportunity to see Renee Adams' work and even made a point of visiting her studio in Thorp when she was on the Ellensburg artist tour thing a few years back. I own work by both Kristen Michael (Kaiten) and Justin Gibbens. And I recently had the pleasure of sitting in a gallery for six hours with work by Scott Mayberry.

All four of these artists reward viewers who spend a long time with the work. Six hours wasn't enough time at CORE Gallery and I've only gotten to spend a couple of hours at Larson Gallery for this show. Metamorphosis is packed with art and each piece in the show is packed with visual stimulation.

Kaiten's work is by turns funny and heart-wrenching. My reaction to her triptych, "Waiting" was physical; my stomach dropped and my heart ached. The small piece is powerful and surprising. And I continued to react strongly to it the next two times I walked by the work. Her "Fruit of the Anti-Spirit" series is witty and fun. I actually laughed out loud at two of them. Luckilly most of my students had already moved on.

I am having my students write about one piece in the gallery--their choice--for their first art history writing assignment. The class is Ancient & Medieval Art History, so they aren't making direct connections between the work and their class content, but they are writing about materials, composition, subject, symbolism and cultural context. I think the works offer a lot of variety in the first four areas and it will be interesting to see what the students have to say about the context of these works, especially when viewed together in this show.

All four artist mixed media in interesting ways. Quite a few of Mayberry's paintings include sculptural elements and even the flat paintings include references to other media. Gibbens has several sculptural works, including some specimen creatures in the back of the gallery, one of which seems to be an exotic chimera of a giraffe and a bug. The construction of these pieces reminds me of some of Adams' sculptural forms.

I have always loved Renee Adams' use of mixed media. When I first saw her work, I thought it was mostly ceramic, but she confidently switches back and forth between polymer or epoxy clay, found materials, fabric and paint. Her work, more that anyone else's, makes me yearn to be in my own home studio, making work and trying to achieve some of the fascinating, graceful, suggestive shapes that show up in her work time after time.

Go see this show.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Faculty Exhibition at YVCC

Classes start Monday at YVCC. The art department still has space in two new classes, Ancient and Medieval Art History and History of Photography. You can check in with instructors on the first day if you are interested in these classes or any others. (Gold card students, if you'd like to audit a class, show up on the first day to check with the instructor, even though you can't enroll until Thursday).

the central display space in the middle of the hall

The faculty exhibition is mostly installed in Palmer Hall. Currently we have work from most of our faculty, including my sculpture, paintings by John Bissonette (who teaches drawing, painting and humanities classes), photographs by Jennifer Saracino (photography), and work by Justin Martin (design, drawing) and David Lynx (art appreciation, Asian art history, and photography). 

my sculpture and 2D work by Justin Martin

By the end of the week we hope to make space for some larger work by Timm Wauzynski who teaches art appreciation online.

work by David Lynx (photographed when I was in the building, not when the light was right)

This year we have also added a new adjunct art instructor, Robert Millard, who will teach art appreciation in the classroom. Robert, as an art historian, does not have work in our display.

work by John Bissonette

We plan to leave the work up through Fall quarter and switch it out for Winter quarter. Classes begin Monday and the building should be accessible for students, faculty/staff and the public to see the work during the day. You are welcome to see the public areas of the building during the day. If you'd like to see the clay studio, you may contact me to show you around. Please do not enter studios during class.

work by Jennifer Saracino

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Summer of No New Work and Upcoming Shows

This summer I have spent a great deal of time working in the new clay studio of the Palmer-Martin building at YVCC. I've also unpacked my office in the new building, planned a new (to me) Art History class beginning this fall quarter, and I took a throwing workshop in Montana. I also spent some time in Seattle at CORE Gallery and on Mercer Street taking down a show.
all this work, the only finished pieces are round and small
One thing I haven't done much of this summer is make any actual work, by which I mean sculpture. I haven't finished any new sculpture and it feels very strange not to have finished anything. Even writing on my blog has become more irregular because I don't have a lot of pretty studio pictures to share.
the functional work isn't bad, just less sculptural
I have glaze fired several times, but most of it has been functional work and functional work doesn't feel the same to me. It is a strange, strange feeling, coming into the new academic year without having made work over the summer. I was busy, I had a break from teaching, and I had a nice summer, but not the sort of summer I am used to.

one sculpture finished this year--it was formed about two years ago

Upcoming Shows
Though I also haven't applied for much this summer, I do have several upcoming shows, or opportunities to show my work.

Oak Hollow
I currently have work in the semi-permanent sales area at Oak Hollow Gallery in Yakima. This summer I added functional work to my offerings at Oak Hollow and I've sold more than usual. Either the utilitarian nature of the work or the low low price has been more attractive this summer.

Palmer-Martin Building at YVCC
Classes at YVCC start on September 21, and the art faculty have decided to fill some of our display space in the new building with a mini-faculty art show. We are hoping to get the work installed by the time other faculty are in the building for convocation events next week.

Seattle's Pioneer Square
In December, I will be part of the CORE Gallery Holiday show.

Windows Alive in Yakima
In Spring 2016, my work will be featured in the Yakima Arts Commission's Windows Alive program downtown. I don't have a lot of information about the dates, but I'll post them when I know more.