Friday, December 09, 2005

MICA and the weekly hump


After a good bit of time, and a few life events, I have gotten a recommitment to the blog. I am going to try to keep up with this because of a portfolio review I went to recently at MICA.

First, it was full of kids. Lots of teenagers that were their with their portfolios, and doting parents. It made me reflect on how my education as an artist was not as nurtured as it is in these kids. I was never pushed to attend college in any overt way, it was just assumed. But I do remember asking about art school (not really knowing about what I was asking) and being dismissed by my parents. “You could become a radiology tech, and do art in your spare time” is the quote that, perhaps unfairly, rings in my head.

Anyway, hundreds of kids, all waiting to have someone (a grad student or a short-straw/low-totem faculty member) from a blue chip art school look at the drawings that they brought. I was different. I was looking for the graduate portfolio reviews. There was one. MICA had one person (from admissions…not an instructor) look at my work. I showed my slides and one piece that I brought along as an example of the things that the slides wouldn’t capture. He said that they valued someone with “real-life experience”, which I have, in spades. But then didn’t look at my theater portfolio.

The real reason I am telling you all this is because when started telling him about the work, I found myself speaking disjointedly and referencing things as “read”. This is a habit I have, which was thrown into sharp relief in undergrad, of talking about my work as if the audience has already been down the roads I have traveled, read the same books and had similar reactions to other art. It’s a defense mechanism and a shorthand. I don’t want to appear didactic, or too eager to “teach” people, but finding common ground quickly is something I try to do naturally.

So when I began to speak about my work, it was a smear of unfinished thoughts and qualifications. He asked me if I wrote. “a little” I said. Of course I write…I haven’t done any serious writing in years, but I think I could remember how it was done…what did he mean do I write? I suppose that is a fair question to ask of one of those children out there who haven’t been through their senior year of high school. I have a degree, damnit. I have written 20 page papers three hours before they were due…I always thought I wrote pretty well, too. But to answer his question, no, not for a while, other than these letters I write to Johnny Cash, in my sketchbook….which are more an organizational tool than anything.

Well, an organizational tool is what he meant. He was referring to writing about my work as a way to help organize my thoughts about it. Which is, other than a particularly pedagogic reaction to a problem, (a reaction that is not inconsistent with someone who is trying to persuade you into thinking that their institution could somehow help you “figure out” your artistic psychosis) a helpful piece of advice.

I did counter with an argument about how I don’t have any friends that are willing, or able to talk about artistic struggles (citing an example of telling an artist friend that his work was like so-and-so meets so-and-so, {both well known artists} and not knowing who either artist was) The administrators reaction? You need to get new friends (ones that MICA will be happy to provide for you for [I guess] $25,000 a year )

So, Mr. Cash, this is a long winded way of saying that I will be committing myself to using the tools I have been given at this point in history; Word, Blogspot, and Outlook, to help create a log of my activities as an artist. I will write more, which will help me organize my thoughts about my own work, which should, in turn, create better work.
I will be using Outlook to create a schedule for writing (which is better than writing whenever the mood strikes…because the mood only strikes occasionally….)

I think that “hump day” writing might be the best kind. Because it is far enough away from the events of the weekend, on both sides, that it will be a good day to reflect on where I have been and where I am going.

I, of course, will also feel free to add posts if something strikes my fancy…and I think that I will keep writing these things to you Mr. Cash. I know that you have a sympathetic ear. (I must confess, that I haven’t seen your bio-pic yet…reading your autobiography has cemented in my mind what your life was like. I bet Hollywood will just hit the broad strokes)


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