Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Where's the Kiln?

Art is nothing new to me. I remember as a freshman in highschool when I used to spend my free time teaching myself the basics of photoshop. My friend Matt Mantel and I used to change our high school ID photos weekly to altered versions with fictional characters and pass them out to others.

Pikachu ID
As school got harder and I found devoting more time to academics and athletics, I no longer had the capacity to create art on my own time. I was fortunate that my school offered 3D Art as elective and fell in love with sculpture and specifically glass sculpture. I continued my education in glass for years, creating both functional forms (bowls, vases, and cups) and non-functional art (3D sculpture and 2D works). I learned how to cut, etch, fuze, shape, slump, and form glass from an inspirational artist named John Luebtow, to whom I am most grateful for instilling my passion for creativity and expression through art.

Caesar's Cup exhibited in New York
As Mr.
Luebtow retired prior to my senior year, I moved to a directed study in glass with Dylan Palmer who pushed me to never settle in my work and expand my potential. Mr. Palmer introduced me to casting, crushing, and blowing glass and inspired me to submit my work for exhibits and awards. Art was a significant part of my life and I was good at it and felt fulfillment from it. My work was exhibited at a local university in the Cal State University system and I was recognized both locally and nationally for my work. I traveled to Carnegie Hall to accept a Scholastic National Gold Medal for Glass & Ceramics and my piece traveled the United States for a year.

When I came to Duke, I discovered that the arts department lacked a program for the rare breed that is glass artists. Like many, I became so consumed in my coursework that I never considered taking another art course and reaching out of my comfort zone. People may say, "Oh, you're such a great artist" but what they don't realize is that each form of art is so different. I was scared to take an art course that wasn't in MY art, fearing that I wouldn't be successful or fulfilled merely by another art as a substitute. I would tell you, as I've told others, that art was missing in my life and my life was missing art, I felt a void where a large part of myself and my identity had been, but I made no attempts to fill it.

Carolina Origins Brewery Logo
It wasn't until this past summer that I even considered bringing art back into my life. I was working in the Marketing department for the Milwaukee Bucks and spent two weeks entrenched in creative services and brand marketing process. The graphic designer told me that I had "a good eye" and should take an art class at Duke while I still had the chance. I have kept in touch with him since and shared my work with him while I got back into graphic design on my own and started making logos and labels for my home-brewed beer.

Finally, in my last semester at Duke, I needed one more ALP course. I fulfilled my first one while abroad, taking "Architecture of Sydney" and learning the history of the city through its zoning, planning, and building ordinances. I had known for four years that my ALP requirement would be filled by a visual arts course, they were the only ALPs that I ever looked at when course registration rolled around. My fried Matt, who I used to do photoshop with, is now an Animation major at SCAD and recommended I take Drawing. He said he could give me a few pointers and a technique or two and would look at my drawings for me as I went.

Art is nothing new to me, but drawing is a whole new story. I had never drawn. I don't even doodle much on my notes and I feel uncomfortable holding a pen or a pencil for anything other than writing. I have hurt my fingers from gripping to hard and broken the tip of the lead from applying too much pressure on the page. I have left smudges trying to draw and erase and redraw and re-erase. I'm messy with the pencil and my lines aren't always straight nor my curves round. I have been frustrated every single week trying to learn an entirely new skill. An interviewer recently asked me what my current biggest challenge was and I told her about how difficult drawing is for me. I've spent countless hours trying to align the shoulders on a bottle or create empirical perspective and bring three dimensional life onto a two dimensional page. I have put more time into this course than any other course I've taken at Duke. Three months later I am proud to see how far I have come. I'm still not so great at drawing, I still hold my pencil too right and draw my lines too heavy to erase fully. I don't know if I will every truly love drawing and I know it will never be how I define myself as an artist, but drawing has patched the void that losing glass left and brought the notion of an artist back into my conscious identity. I wouldn't say that I've been successful, but I walk away from this course feeling fulfilled and proud to be an artist.

No comments:

Post a Comment