Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Independent Clay Blog Project

This quarter every student in Independent Clay (ART 299) will keep a blog about his or her Independent Clay experience. The blog will provide a written and visual record of students' experience and growth throughout the quarter. It will provide a flexible way to maintain communication between myself and my students. I believe maintaining the blog will also encourage students to think about their goals, inspiration and working methods throughout the quarter.

This first week I am asking students to set up a blog. In the first post, students will introduce themselves and discuss what they expect from this quarter. Some students may be planning to complete a particular project or practice a particular technique. A quarterly goal may be to complete a particular quantity or type of work in the next 10 weeks. A student may also wish to receive direction from the instructor on a particular process, like firing, glaze formulation or more advanced clay techniques.

In the blog posts for this class, I am interested in learning what my students are thinking and what they expect and hope to do in this class. I am not particularly concerned with style or formatting of the posts. In some ways the blog posts function more like journals or e-mails with a casual, conversational tone. This isn't a writing class (I don't expect perfect grammar or punctuation or even sentence structure); we are using writing as the vehicle for discussions about art.

In the spirit of the project, here is a first blog post of my own in which I will discuss my own goals for Fall 2011.

Rachel's First Independent Clay Blog Post

As the instructor, I have goals for how the quarter will progress in the school clay studio. I also have goals for my own work this quarter, though WA state law requires that my own work be created off campus (so you won't see it in the YVCC studio).

My YVCC studio goals are to work towards a greater equity between hand-building and wheel throwing techniques in the classroom. Often the beginning hand-building students are greatly out numbered by the beginning throwing students. Sometimes this disparity allows the smaller class to create less ambitious work. It appears that they look around and don't see much work from their classmates and start to think less is expected of them. This year both beginning classes are large. I hope that having more hand-builders will allow those students to be inspired and challenged by each other and to try more ambitious projects or techniques.

Having independent students in the studio helps both groups of beginning students learn the studio etiquette and, more importantly, they see the impressive things the higher level students can do and are challenged to try for larger or more complex pieces themselves.

As I write this the week before school starts, I don't have any ART 299 students signed up, so it is hard to know what goals I might have for them because I don't know who to expect. One broad goal I have for my ART 299 students is for them to think a little more critically about what they are making and why. Why they use certain techniques or materials, why they consistently return to certain forms (or not) and where their ideas come from.

In my own work, one simple goal is to spend at least an hour in my home studio each week. This usually means squeezing in an hour after I leave YVCC and before I pick up my daughter or an hour during a weekend nap time (her nap, not mine).

I have several pieces that, as of this writing, are not complete. I hope to have them finished and ready to photograph before October. I have a few older pieces that need repair and at least one 2-part piece that needs to be put together and epoxied. After that I will need to photograph the work and update my inventory. Most of the work created this summer has yet to be named or priced.

This winter I will be exhibiting work in a clay show at Larson Gallery. One work I intend to show is an installation of several separate pieces. I need to find some quiet, uninterrupted time to determine an arrangement of these pieces and to determine whether I need to create any new pieces.

Though finishing my summer work and preparing my winter work seems like it might eat up all my home studio time, I also have a few new projects I wish to try this fall, time permitting. I have been reading From Mud to Music by Barry Hall and I would like to try making some of the instruments he discusses. I have a vague idea about making instruments in a clay class, but I want to try some things on my own before I test them out on students.

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