Friday, January 6, 2012

All Dolled Up Artist Talk... Part 1

The kid's asleep, I have my big bowl of popcorn, a little vino and I am ready to begin my speech preparations.

Just a general introduction for blog readers----I am curating (and participating in [I cheated and curated myself in]) a doll show called All Dolled Up taking place at Vincennes University at the end of February.  I have to do an artist talk after the opening, and I am writing out what I am going to say here on the blog.  I feel comfortable sharing myself on this blog----it is a comfort zone format, so hopefully the words will flow forth.  Come on words!  Flow!  Forth.  Go!

I will start off by thanking Vincennes University for hosting the show.  It is not a conventional show to have in an art gallery, but I think the humble medium of doll-making deserves a clean white space with some lime-light every now and then.  A lot of softie makers that I follow have studied art and somehow landed on doll-making and now they are stretching the boundaries of what a doll is and making beautiful little soft objects that can range from dark and mysterious to joyful and whimsical.  It is a thing now.  Thank you Vincennes University for being so open-minded!

The words are coming out, but a bit in a clunky way.  I will edit later, though.

I am going to get personal in this talk:

A.  Because art is personal, and
B.  It really all does lead to doll-making

Like many of (the students at Vincennes University) I also began college at a 2 year school.  This was after I took a semester off to pursue dreams of moving to Vermont and leading a hippie sort-of-life while working at Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory, which I know doesn't make any sense.  Lucky for me I never raised enough money back then to even visit Vermont for a weekend. I was just exhausted with school and wanted to do something romantic, but I quickly became jealous of all my friends who went away to school and had tales of all the interesting things they were learning and people they were meeting.  So, I began taking drawing classes at my community college.  I loved it.  Some students started complaining mid-semester that they were tired of drawing still-lifes of junk from professor so and so's garage, but I couldn't get enough of it.  My high school art program wasn't very good, so I had never really been exposed to drawing with charcoal or even drawing from direct observation.  I began drawing all the time, and eventually I transferred to Memphis College of Art in Memphis, TN.  MCA is a tiny school, only 300 students, which was very good for me because even though I tend to be a loner, I like to feel like I am part of a community.  I chose MCA for a variety of reasons:  I wanted to go some place other than the midwest, it is the most affordable private art school, and it's Elvis' hometown--and I love Elvis---I love his music, I love his jumpsuits, and I love how he is simultaneously soulful and kitschy; not many people can pull that off. 

I fell in love with the city right away, and I still miss it so much that my stomach hurts sometimes.  Memphis is equal parts gritty and shiny.   It is the south, so maybe because of southern hospitality it feels like a small-town in that everyone talks to everyone else, and people sit on their porch swings and don't ignore you when you walk past.  But it is also a big city, with lots of music and noise and it always smells like barbeque.  The school shares a big park with Brooke's art museum and the Memphis zoo, and if the windows to the painting studios are open you can hear the howler monkeys (an actual thing).  Students can access the studios 24 hours a day.  I loved being completely immersed in art.  I initially started MCA as an illustration major because I thought it would be practical, and because I wasn't confident that I could make art without some sort of direction from someone else.  I thought I would always work best in the confines of assignments.  But I was swept away by my first painting class.  I was much more at home getting messy in the painting studio than in the computer lab.  After I changed my major to painting, I didn't really think in terms of "practical" any longer.  I just told myself that if I worked very hard in school and did my very best that "practical" things would work out.  That is a mistake by the way.

That's it for today.  Thanks for reading!


Susan said...

You are so cool. I wish I knew you in person.

unsightly said...

The words aren't as clunky as you probably think they are. I think it flows nicely thus far. I can't wait to read the rest of it.

mom said...
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