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A Decade of Teaching

Back to school month, for many anyway. I'm looking back over what has somehow become a decade of teaching art--hundreds of students in a variety of public and private venues. I feel so much pride for these individuals and knowing who, how, and why some of this work got made makes it even richer than what these images can show. But that is private, this I can share, this tip of the iceberg of work produced by my students over these ten years.

Set Design

This was wild and fun! I love cross-discipline collaborations and have got to work with literary artists and musicians, and now for the first time theater. Here's a shot of set design work I did for Key City Public Theatre. This is a near-future dystopian set for Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1.



I like having applications out, feels like setting messages in a bottle adrift on the ocean. The likelihood that anything will come of it is slight, but there's POSSIBILITY. I love possibility. I love open doors.

Mostly these notes disappear without explanation and that must be accepted. However, a recent rejection (bottle sinking under the waves) came with a hint from the other side. The folks at the Sustainable Arts Foundation give their jurors an option of providing feedback to applicants. To have some of the veil removed gives me valuable solid footing, helps make it feel worthwhile to keep sending these messages/applications out into the world; my messages are becoming more compelling and they are being received. Possibility. 

Here is some of the feedback I received:

"Your work is expertly made and extremely impressive, especially given the circumstances outlined in your essays which are also beautifully and succinctly written." 

"This is beautiful work: straddling the border between abstraction and landscape. I love the alien-like quality to this work -- the repetition and patterning of circles feels like a language. I also loved reading about your zoom in-zoom out approach and how you incorporate zoomed in, manipulated prints of a work back into the work itself. Very fractal. I also love the quote you reference ("I'm beginning to notice some improvement.") A wonderful statement of humility." 



An excerpt from a grant application. The grant is for artists who are also parents, so they want to understand how having children impacts your life and creative work:

"I live in the Pacific Northwest with my commercial fisherman husband and my three children, two daughters and a son, Emerald (13), Dare (10), and Liam (4). The kids have spent much of their childhoods homeschooling in our humble home. They and their friends are around all the time and are welcome into my studio space which is always inside our home. Artmaking, homemaking, schooling are interwoven--if I have five minutes while the pasta boils I work. I work early in the morning, late into the night, and grab moments throughout the day.

Truth is this life can get real messy. With my husband gone fishing much of the year parenting is often a solo job. The kids get in the way, sheer volume of mess, illnesses that hit at the height of a deadline crunch, kids' most urgent needs tend to happen late at night during my only sustained work time, that is just how it is. But it is big, it is rich. It is worth it. Making art is a non-negotiable part of who I am, I am a better person when I am actively working, this helps me be the parent I want to be. In turn the kids feed the art work. Their creativity is astonishing. I often collaborate with them and am inspired by their choices. I also find intense satisfaction in teaching my kids, their peers, and within my community at large. This is a good feedback loop.

I like to put it this way, I am "living my whole life right now." Sometimes I confidently own this powerful statement, other times it is a quiet mantra used as a reminder that I chose  all of this. Always the message is that the different areas of my life are not separate from each other--I choose not to put anything off until later."