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About a week ago in Critical Issues in Contemporary Art, the seminar for junior art majors (yes I know I am a senior), one of my all-time favorite people/professors Fred Hagstrom talked to us about his life, influences, and work.  The best part was definitely a photo of him when he was very young, but the second best thing was a comment he made about being in a funk.  Whenever he gets stuck, he says he just does his best to draw his way out.

That is a piece of advice that I really relate to.  In ceramics I have felt frustrated lately because I don’t really have an outlet for my abilities as an artist (ha, phrasing it like that sounds really pretentious.  Really I mean that I love to draw, and sometimes I’m pretty good at it).  Ceramics is a lot about design, function, form, etc. and I’ve been feeling insecure about  about my capabilities and dejected about my future.  I decided to try drawing my way out, which resulted in my final project.   I’ll post about that as soon as I have slides of my pieces.  Preview: I used majolica and drew imagery from Wisconsin Death Trip (both the book and the movie).

Mostly what I want to do is listen to Aaron Copland music and google image search pictures of Montana.  Wouldn’t you rather be here:

I would definitely rather be here. Lets go to Montana, everyone.

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Shalene Valenzuela is totally rad.  She makes ceramic irons, blenders, shoes, pencil sharpeners (The Grind, pictured left), nail polish bottles, pot holders, toasters, and all kinds of other girly shit.  She’s delightful!  She takes these objects and paints on them stereotypes of women’s roles, and sometimes text about the dichotomies women are often placed in.  A lot of her work is a commentary on those dichotomies, which I think are entirely damaging to any true understanding of a person or experience.  I have always loved those 50’s illustrations of women (a la Vogue patterns or something like that) and I really love when people use them to subvert conventional ideas of gender.  I highly recommend checking out her website at http://www.shalene.com/.

As you can probably tell from my post about Misty Gamble, or my entire life if you know me at all, but I’ve been thinking tons (more) about gender lately.  Mostly about gender representation and presentation because of my comps (which I am tentatively calling Sexual Dimorphism).  So much of femininity is tied up in appearances and presentation.   I put antlers and other animal-gender-signifiers on women initially because I am obsessed with antlers and because antlers are beautiful.  But antlers are associated with aggression, power, and ownership.  They are prized, valued, and hunted — words I normally associated with courtship (can tell I’m in man-hater mode of late?), but also words that I associate with women’s quest to adapt to typically masculine mannerisms in order to succeed.  Antlers are at once masculine and feminine, and I think my point is that nothing is ever as simple as you think.  Every situation, every gender and experience with gender, is more nuanced than you think.

I also like Shalene Valenzuela because she has a blog.  It’s hard to follow, but it’s there.  I really like hearing artists’ ideas about their work and their lives in a vernacular that is less formal than an artist’s statement.  I also really love that she plays up the kitsch factor.  So much of my work (especially in ceramics) is kitschy, and I can’t help but love things that are gaudy and tacky despite my love of simplicity too.  Valenzuela’s work en masse reads like a pantry, which I think is so tremendous.  I would love nothing more than for my future house to be populated with household wared designed by her, with my goofy antler junk on the walls.  That would be some kind of heaven.  I love work that really gains momentum as you add more, and  Valenzuela’s work especially plays into that cluttered 50s advertising aesthetic when you see her pieces together.  Anyways, I love her and her work.  I leave you with probably my favorite piece of hers, the Virgin Mary in a slice of bread:

In anticipation of NCECA in Philadelphia, I’ve been looking up interesting museums in the area.  Whenever I travel, I look up interesting museums on Roadside America, a repository of goofy roadside attractions all over the US.  All kinds of amazing places like Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron near Baraboo, WI or the Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA.

Philadelphia has some great ones that I am just itching to see!  The Insectarium, the Saint in a Glass Coffin, the Museum of Mourning Art, and the Mummer’s Museum.  The one that’s highest on my list is the Chemical Heritage Museum and the Mutter Museum which has a plaster cast of conjoined twins, a giant colon, Grover Cleveland’s tumor, John WilkesBoothe’s thorax, a collection of swallowed items that one doctor removed non-surgically, and a soap woman!  I know we’re spending most of our time at the conference (which I am excited about too, by the way) but I definitely want to take some time to myself to explore the gems that Philly has to offer.

Hello.  My name is Allie and I am a senior studio art major from Milwaukee, WI.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said that in the past 4 years.

Both this blog and this idea of blogging are quite new to me, but I am excited to jump right in.  I plan on using this blog to post about the National Council on Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) conference in Philadelphia in a few weeks as well as posting about the upcoming throwlympics (an exciting ceramics competition, open to the entire campus).   I don’t have a ton to say at this very minute, but I assure you that won’t last long.

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