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Mornings are a really difficult time for me.

August 09, 2010 8:33:35

There have been quite a few people who have taken a picture of themselves every day of the year and put them together into a time lapse video.  Those are interesting to me, but frankly how I look during the day and how that changes over a year isn’t really that interesting to me.  What I am really interested in is how people look when they wake up.  A few years ago when I was in advanced painting and drawing I did a book project where I drew pictures of my friends waking up in the morning.  The assignment was to use some kind of system (maps, playing cards, something like that) and do a project based on that.  I chose tally marks and drew images sort of emerging from a field of lines.

August 10, 2010 9:23:44

That project was really fun but it was difficult to get source material.  I had to ask my friends to take photos of themselves, and being busy college students, even if they really wanted to participate, it’s something that can pretty easily slip your mind.  So when I bought a new computer (shitty though it may be) one of the features I opted for was a built in camera.  Every morning (or as many mornings as I can) I take a photo of myself.   So far I have almost 150, starting in August 2010 to the present (some days I miss, other days when I look really funny I take more than one photo).  The photos are time and date stamped, so I can also track what time I got up (or at least what time I took the photo) throughout the year.

I am posting these drawings as I do them to my tumblr.  To see all the drawings in this series posted so far, you can go to


During winter term 2010 I took a class called multicultural education.  One of the first assignments for that class was to write an autobiography.  Most people wrote theirs within this “I am from…” template, but I am not a great writer so any kind of paragraph or full sentence attempt at an autobiography was totally unappealing to me.  I love lists, and I think lists can say just as much about me (maybe more) than prose.  I typed this list (of things I like) beneath an intaglio print I did in the south pacific.   The print is a self portrait that was part of a series of similarly composed portraits.  This image is a photocopy of the autobiography, so it is particularly dark and murky-ish in a way the original print wasn’t.  I think the end result was appropriate to the assignment.


It says,

Things I like:

Leopard print, typewriters, printmaking, books (not reading), analog technologies, my grandmothers (both deceased), handkerchiefs, peas, broccoli, ginger ale, trains, things that cooperate, working/making $$, industrial cities (like Milwaukee), television, optical illusions, gift-wrapping, embossment, sleeping, bringing up disability issues constantly, gospel music, country music, cracking my knuckles, texting, conspiracy theories, miniatures, letter-writing campaigns, marginalia, coming in from the cold, stretching, appositives, bringing up disability issues constantly, prescription drug coverage, Aaliyah, creatures of habit, idioms, AM radio, tattoos, courier new, the aging process, symmetry, asymmetry, Ayyam-i-ha, sass, and clean sheets.

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.

I have recently started researching face jugs.  They were jugs with expressive faces (with abstracted features reminiscent of African art) made by slaves in the antebellum American south.  There is only one name that comes up in that search: Dave the slave potter.  He was a slave who made pottery and was the only slave potter to sign his work.  He wrote poetry on some of the pieces which is truly exceptional because few slaves were literate or could write.  The jugs are amazingly simple and beautiful in and of themselves, the fact that some have a poetry on them makes them more exceptional to me.  An example of one of potter Dave’s couplets:

The forth of July is surely come
to blow the fife = and beat the drum.
4 July 1859

More information on potter Dave at

I really love figurative sculpture and I really love coil building jars.  Why didn’t I think to combine those before?  My current project, very much inspired by face jugs, is a large coil-built stoneware vessel with a porcelain face of an elderly person coming out of it.  Yes I am concerned about how much porcelain shrinks compared to stoneware, but I am interested to see what that does to the piece.  I also love the allusion the white clay body makes to Roman death masks.  And I thought in an homage to Dave the potter, I thought I would inscribe a few lines of poetry onto the side of the jug.  I chose the last stanza from Billy Collins’ “On Turning Ten:

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

This one is my favorite of Dave’s couplets because it alludes to my power color/animal:

I saw a leopard & a lions face
than I felt the need of – grace
3 November 1858

I am obsessed with Misty Gamble.

My favorite of her works is the Chanel / Big Hair series.  She makes ceramic sculptures of older-looking women, allsitting in chairs, wearing Chanel suits, and with enormous hair.  They’re beautiful.  Many of her pieces focus on issues of femininity: the Tan Hands series — ceramic hands on a wall, each differently positioned with a ring on a finger; or the Sweet Terror series — 5 sculptures of young girls, each innocent and horrifying in their own way.  In Chanel / Big Hair, Gamble explores the blurred line between youth and age among cosmetically altered high society women.  Their suits are classic and pristine and their hair is extremely well kept, but there’s something strange and terrifying about them.

My favorite piece  by Gamble is a ceramic “stump” (she dicthes the traditional bust or torso and calls them stumps) with a beehive hairdo (pictured at right with the artist).   That’s exactly how I wore my hair to senior prom in high school!  I also love that this particular stump has red hair just like me!  Unfortunately that’s where the similarities end.  The stumps are modeled after dress forms, have skin textured like fabric, and oddly protruding necks.  They are so fascinating.  I love them and I am also jealous of their hair.

On her website she has photos of her working, which I find particularly illuminating.  It is so cool to see artists at work, especially when that artist is coil building enormous hairdos.  I am building some busts of my own for comps.  I tried to coil build one of them, but I think building solid and hollowing out is more suited to my needs.  I had some issues hollowing out the first one (pictured left) and it got kind of wonky when I put it back together again.  It still hasn’t been fired and doesn’t have antlers yet (I am making them separately) but at least it’s something.

For more info on my favorite, Misty Gamble, visit her website at

I read Ceramic Arts Daily daily, and was recently intrigued by this post about making stamps of natural things using plaster molds.  Jhanna and I made a bunch of plaster molds for slip casting last term (and I only used one of my molds, she didn’t use any of hers) so I thought hey plaster’s not so bad and this method allows you to get way more detail than just pressing clay onto an object.  Cool!

So I tried it:

The making the little pinch pots part went very well, but the post-plaster part was not great.  I think part of that was because my selection of green (or once-green) things from outside was not great.  The only one that really turned out (but holy moly did it ever turn out cool) is the feather.  I think once things start to bloom I’ll try more flowers and green things, but I also want to try lace and doilies.  Mostly I just need things to do while clay firms up.  I spend so many hours in Boliou and I just need a break sometimes!!!  ALSO I am always 100% hesitant to bring plaster molds into the ceramics studio, because as you probably know PLASTER IS THE ENEMY OF CLAY.


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