Blog as a platform for dialogue

Two weeks ago today, I was on a plane, flying from New Orleans back to Columbus. I had spent the previous three days meeting with other museum educators, art teachers, administrators and artists at the National Art Education Association’s 2015 National convention. My stomach was roiling with half a cup of airplane coffee and my head was absolutely swimming with conversations, ideas, things I saw, things I heard and new connections between it it all.

While I was only in New Orleans for the Museum Ed. pre-conference and one day of sessions, it’s probably good I didn’t go to more, as over a week later I’m still in the thick of processing, reflecting and synthesizing all of the conversations.

During our last day in NOLA, a dear friend and former colleague asked my co-worker Steph and I, “So, What’re your big take-aways? Cause you know you’re going to be asked when you get back.” Had I really tried to form an answer right then and there, I’m pretty sure my big idea would have been, ‘beignets are superior to donuts’ or something equally as meaningful.

Even now, I’m still churnning through notes, catching up on sleep and rehydrating (talking to strangers + 80degree temperatures in March had me in a perpetual state of ‘DAMP’), and trying to suss out not just what was most interesting/relevant, but what it means for me in practice. While  I can’t say what my biggest takeaway was or even just how many I have- there were a few big ideas and essential questions that have rose to the surface. I’ll get to the rest in time, but first and foremost was the need for real, open conversation, within conversation, the importance of articulation and, for me personally, that old itch of improving my capacity to  mull things out in the quiet public/private space of the written word.

So why am I rambling about this here?

I’ve been slowly carving out this space online for almost 6 years. That’s 1 year longer than I’ve known the love of my life, 2 years longer than I’ve known how to cook and nearly 3 years longer than I’ve fallen sideways into education. If this blog were a person, she’d be reading and writing, ready for school. From time to time I have an existential crises about it all, leave for a bit, and come back. I always find a ‘why’ for me to keep writing, but NAEA has me wondering if my own ‘whys’ are enough. The question isn’t just ‘why should I write here for myself,’ but also ‘why should I write here where you can see it and what’s in it for you?’

Whether you’ve been reading from the 1st days of portfolio/show promotions or you’re new, I want to invite you to start responding- Not with affirmations or quick encouragement (though those too are wonderful and make me feel all warm and fuzzy), but with your real thoughts, ideas, answers and questions. For my part, I promise to try and give you questions and ideas of my own that are worthy of provoking a response, and to value your words, to really listen, to join the conversation just as thoughtfully, and we’ll all grow smarter together. You in?

 

[As I open this dialogue, despite the disclaimer on the right sidebar, I feel the need to make another, more explicit and intentional disclaimer: While I work for, and sometimes write for the Columbus Museum of Art, there’s a weight that comes from writing ‘for’ an institution. While CMA is my home base, and while there are many wonderful, like-minded people who share many similar philosophies that influence my own (and whom I will give credit when I inevitably pull from their brains) this space is my own. My words (especially if they provoke or offend) are my own and in no way reflect the institution, or even my department as a whole.

Also, despite this addition of the and shift towards dialogue and pull towards learning, I am a teaching artist and thoroughly incapable of living compartmentally. Expect the regular non-sequiturs, in-progress studio shots and cat nonsense to continue.]

What I found in the silence:

  • That I want to be better at writing
  • That I want to be better at coherently explaining my process/intent behind my work
  • That these things happen through practice
  • That I am not adult enough to practice either without the element of shame and accountability that come with a public forum such as here.

 

To these ends, I added some weekly writing time into my morning-studio mix. My rules* are simple: Publish something– once a Wednesday, every Wednesday, preferably with a few sentences of actual writing (by me) involved. Picture-only posts should be used only as a last resort. Following the Elizabeth Gilbert Principal of Creative Work, the something doesn’t have to be great, or even that prolific, what matters most is that I show up and keep showing up until I’ve tricked my habit-driven plodder of a brain into thinking that this is what we’re supposed to be doing. (My art practice really is like a big obsessive compulsive slow-moving beast of burden)

This past month has been full of internet outages (both frustrating and refreshing and entirely what I needed), ill-timed Wednesday morning meetings and intentional self-imposed-rule breaking as I get deeper and deeper into making for Remnants. But that’s the point of self-imposed rules, right? Looking to get back into the habit of stringing together scraps of English on a regular basis as the project continues to coalesce, and I turn my attention towards a) writing a statement and b) figuring out how I will answer when a loved one looks at the piece and says, “So….?”

In the meantime, let’s get excited about blue skies and the return of the sun:

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*because I have to make rules, even if they exist solely to be broken. It’s worth noting too, that these are totally personal and arbitrary. Feel free to steal for your own purposes or disregard entirely

slowly amassing remnants

In the absence of dimensions for the finished piece (which I should get tomorrow!)- I’ve just decided that the amount of bits I need is “a shit-ton”. More on what all this is/is for later. for now just enjoy the strangely seasonal color scheme and try to stay warm wherever you are.

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As the idea comes together for this one I’ve been updating my analog tumblr…

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Herstories and How-tos: Claude Cahun

So not only did I not stop blogging for good, I double not-stopped by volunteering* to write a monthly bit over on CAW (Creative Arts of Women)‘s blog. The column is called ‘Herstories and How-to’s’ (I really lobbied for Corpses and Crafts, but ultimately decided it might be off-putting.)

This month you can learn more about my current dead-lady obsession Claude Cahun, as well as three easy ways to fight The Man!

a picture of Cahun with a levitating cat that I desperately tried to work into the post.

 

 

*Isn’t that funny? They offer a monthly space with lots of eyes to practice writing and I get to call it ‘volunteering’. This is almost as good as the gig over at Ohio House Rabbit Rescue, where one ‘volunteers’ by cuddling bunnies. Living the philanthropic lifestyle really can be so trying.**

**But f’real, you can actually go volunteer to cuddle rabbits for an hour I’M SO THERE.

sorting materials and ideas

…as both start to slowly coalesce around a central gravity.
(When I told this to C he said I’ve been watching too much Cosmos. I’ve only seen three episodes, but as this conversation came on the heels of a dream that involved trying to watch Cosmos on the old set in Neil Degrasse Tyson’s seaside vacation home, it’s possible I’ve been watching Cosmos too intently .)

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