Maturing Artist 2/2

Maturing Artist 2/2

My passion for drawing and art in general carried into my college years, when my drawings and designs became more distinctively my own.

With a Bachelors in English, I spent the next fifteen years teaching that subject, in addition to some art classes to high school students. I also enrolled in a series of college art classes in preparation for applying for a Masters’ Program. In those I explored all  media. So yes, I spent hours and all-nighters working with watercolor, in design classes, with sculpture classes…and finally… finally…my hands touched clay! It was magic. The potential of this material to transform into something useful and beautiful spoke to everything I understood art to be about. 

My first clay class in hand building introduced me to the painful reality that it is better to destroy a poorly done piece while still workable than have it fired and be part of the history of humanity forever…and we were strongly encouraged to do just that.  The following summer, I spent eight hours a day, five days a week for six weeks to develop a modicum of proficiency on the wheel. 

With acceptance into the MFA program at the Catholic University of America in D.C. came more summers exploring diverse media, but always with most of the time in the clay studio. My thesis show consisted of all sculptural ceramic wall works, one 8’x5’ destined for Neumann College which just happened to be expanding and was happy to have a work from one of their graduates to permanently install in the new building. My art trajectory was set.

All the years that followed proved tremendously productive, teaching art in formal classroom settings from pre-K to college, offering workshops from my studio, establishing community arts events and galleries, as well as creating my own sculptural work, both for commissions and personally imaginative creations. Those years were energized and energizing.

For nearly 30 years now, I have worked solely from my studio, Earthsongs. It was initially a very scary jump from the security of the formal classroom to my own enterprise, but I found it a useful springboard to create many community-based arts endeavors. At this point, with all of the experience, connections and collaborations behind me, I now feel I have come to a moment of centering both in myself and in the medium, called to explore clay as my primary communication and interaction with the world. My images and objects now are my primary engagement with society, and I delight in this new reality.

The Maturing Artist, Part 1/2

The Maturing Artist, Part 1/2

My interest in the arts began very early; going back to my single digit years and my parents’ amazement at my ability to draw “freehand,” in the phrase of the day. In elementary school if art contests were had, they often resulted in prizes for me. In one notorious year when ‘art’ meant coloring in a pre-drawn page, I was given the page Thursday afternoon and assigned to do the coloring; then Friday afternoon the class was directed to ‘color as Linda did.’ Ahh, art it wasn’t, and while embarrassing, it did build my confidence.

High School brought the possibility of really studying art. One of my fondest memories comes from sophomore year and my sweet-talking the registrar to change my schedule from business math to junior-senior art. That was a coup! Of course there was an art club, and senior year I was president and devised all kinds of new activities to engage and enliven the group. 

Music, theater, dance, poetry, all of the arts were very alive in that all girls high school in Baltimore in the early ’60’s, and so performance covers, drawings for poetry magazines, posters, stage scenery, even yearbook ‘end sheets’ in addition to regular art class assignments filled my four years. 

I was in love with the ability to create, found it a useful and much valued skill and knew by then it would always be a major part of my life. Art was about creating beauty, a useful kind of beauty and I believe that simple reality remains at the root of my understanding of art. And the words on the art room bulletin board (never changed in four years and so I remember it to this day), “Art is Right Making,” underscored that. 

The Maturing Artist

The Maturing Artist

When Nancy Ori invited me into a collaboration with her, I was very skeptical. I truly did not see how we could collaborate in any meaningful way. But continued conversation over several months developed into an idea about which I am genuinely excited.

The review of my own journey in art, beginning at the very beginning, was quite shocking. It opened up to me the reality of just how firmly rooted my work has been in my earliest approaches and understanding of art. As each of the installments are published, I invite you to consider your own life’s journey through art, if that is appropriate, or through some other specific focus.

Even as we will have a link to Google Docs with the entire presentation from both of us in the Newsletter, and I will feature Nancy’s reflection in each of my newsletter, my Journal, for each subsequent month, will include my own installment for that month with a few additional comments.

I hope this conversation proves insightful and beneficial for your own beginning to this year.

A Creative Time Calls for…CREATIVITY!

A Creative Time Calls for…CREATIVITY!

The Holidays celebrated at this time of year find nearly everyone tapping into her/ his inner artist. No matter the tradition, creativity flows:  

But I have seen the creative spirit alive many-fold this year in efforts to compensate for our quarantine. The ever-fun, “Ugly-Christmas-Sweater”party to raise funds for a good cause was replaced in one instance with cookies decorated to rival Ugly-Christmas-Sweaters.

Some families have revived the age-old craft of cutting paper snowflakes. It seems there are multiple places to visit online to get you started.  Someone suggested this to be an especially good one. 

I personally delight in being part of the creative swirl as soon as the Calendar flips to December.  Much of what the Studio presents at this time of year is very different from my usual focus and allows my work to add to the treasured traditions for many families.

Which is why I found it so wonderful that Papillion was willing to host Earthsongs’ Winter Market Faire, my annual Open Studio. To be able to actively participate in the season in a safe way was a real stroke of luck for which I continue to be grateful…a new, creative solution!

So while I miss terribly all of the many gatherings, performances, and events that have come to mark this season for us, I invite all to join me in this festive time of heightened creativity to apply that creative spirit in a new way to the season’s celebrations during this very unique ‘time out of time’ year. 


				
					
…of gardeners and farmers

…of gardeners and farmers

In the garden Autumn is a season of removing, of taking away.  On the farm, it is a time of harvest; for the gardener, it means a cutting back so flowering plants can consolidate and renew themselves through the colder season. For the farmer, it means gathering up the produce and grain, so they can be used to nourish.

It seems most appropriate then that this month I brought to conclusion my time as a teacher, ending 25+ years in a formal classroom, teaching levels from pre-K through college (So amusing to have been called ‘Professor’) followed by 25+ years giving workshops, teaching in the studio and in varieties of informal spaces and leading arts organizations. My hope is that this new phase will produce both a harvest of renewed creative energy, even as I now give consolidated focus to what my mind and hands do directly with the the clay, to the sculpture I create. 

My studio practice is now all. 

While I found all that has gone before exciting and so very appealing…I loved engaging with ‘human clay’ as much as the earthy stuff…I do look forward to this new moment with great eagerness. 

Earthsongs lives in the midst of a ‘handkerchief garden,’ a small plot, front back and side, that Nino and I tend with great care. So, I understand the season from the gardeners’ point of view: all quiet, just the structure, the ‘good bones’ of the space making themselves known, as well as all the physical labor it takes to bring it to this point of quiet.  

With my Dad hailing from a farm in the Heartland, I claim something of the farmer in my genes as well. And so I look at this time as one that will produce a ‘harvest of fruition,’ a time that will allow me to create in new and exciting ways, that will be nourishment to not only myself, but all who will encounter my work.