Saturday, July 20, 2013

It really does pour when it rains

While riding the elevator, I saw this in the corner, on the floor. It came true. Today was our last full day of class, followed by a big clean and then open studios. I was floored as I went around with my camera to shoot while everyone else was at dinner. My students made an enormous number of books across an enormous range of material and voice and with enormous enthusiasm. I had no idea what they were up to during all of those long and hot days and nights until I saw the full output today (and that's not even full output, it's just what they chose to display). All I could feel was incredible pride and surprise: when did they manage to do all this work, and WHO taught them all of this? Because it certainly wasn't me. At least that's not how it felt. So, a selection:

Naomi makes hilarious books with amazing comic timing. Loads of talent, an art teacher in my hometown, the younger sister of my drawing/painting professor back in undergrad. So many connections, such a pleasure to work with.

Ania had impeccable books, so many, so gorgeous and touching. She has so much love for people and art and what she does and was incredibly enthusiastic EVERY DAY ALL THE TIME. She pumped out models of my models like wildfire and has some serious skills, plus lovely sensitivity.

Marty has been like a rock, supportive of me during the hardest days, and so eager to learn. She has this luminous touch with her books and they are all radiant, quiet, and carefully and lovingly made.

Martha is one of those silent but deadly students: barely a word out of her, a petite woman who worked solidly, constantly, standing in heat without a single complaint. Her set of books is a deep exploration of form, content, structural play and experimentation, powerful and concise graphics, and a strong grasp of the technical and conceptual aspects of her work.

I was laughing out loud at Barbara's first book, though she followed it (all text) with a series with almost no words at all. Process, fragmentation, reintroduction to new places and homes and pockets. She kept at all of the work even when it was a struggle, no surrender.

I loved the four things tacked up on Susan's wall: a bit of bark lace, a paste paper gingko leaf, a photocopy with tiny images of cows, and a stem of still green curled-up leaves. She added such balance to the class with her insightful and genuine input and willingness to help, mad paste paper skills, and rich, thoughtful books.

Irene came in like daylight each morning, dressed beautifully, always in a cheery mood. Her work was as strong as her generosity and positivity, and I loved the way she knew exactly how much to take on, how to challenge herself but not overwhelm herself, and how to pace a story to touch the reader. You can smell that first book from here.

Bob was our lone man in the class, and somehow survived all of the chatter around him by working diligently and consistently on his books, knowing exactly what he wanted but not quite how. He'd then sit there for hours and days figuring out the answers with models and study and lots of excellent questions. I didn't get the last book until now, finally, when I got the time to browse through all of these images.

Eleanne makes the most beautiful magic with paper, layered, torn, and rendered painterly. She also loves thread and was always working, ALWAYS. She wrote me one of the most hilarious papers for her credit requirements, which was such a pleasure to read because she is usually quiet save her questions on structure. Dogged in getting the exact effect she wants.

Good god, Rebecca completely floored me when I saw her set of books. Most of her assignments had been dummies because they weren't ready for crit, so I had no idea what awaited me. The reason they were that way is because she goes through real drafts of books, mapping out the pace and engineering. She figured out pop-ups that I didn't even teach, and refused to let her mistakes lie. She is a masterful storyteller and with ambitious scale and heft to her work. 
Franny was still working when I was shooting, and I didn't get a chance to shoot her books during open studios, but she was so wonderful to teach. There was that anxiety about being able to get the work done, but she never ever complained, and worked like a maniac on top of her 1.5-hour commute each way, daily. Lots of energy, so much politeness, and excited about embarking on this whole new adventure with books.

I don't have images of Sally's books, either, but she was another gem. She knew exactly what she needed and had a really strong background in books already. I so appreciated how she kept us on track but not ever in a pushy or impatient way. So diplomatic, so intelligent, always listening to music as she worked. And funny to have another Oberlin connection: I used to work with her daughter, who was a couple years ahead of me in college!

Super impressed, so gratifying to see the culmination of this week. Of course, after nonstop days of searing sun and humidity and heat, once open studios ended, I walked out into a night lit up with constant lighting and then the winds and rain came through. For the first time, I feel cold air. Tomorrow, crit, pack, and drive home for less than 24 hours before the next class. Hoping for enough sleep to keep me awake on the road!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Great selection of student work and sensitive comments. Thanks.


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