Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Thank you all so much for coming out last night + celebrating the remarkable work of the students!

It was a great turn out -- some pieces had as many as 9 bids on them. I think it is safe to say that this innovative course was a great success. It has whet my appetite for finding a way to improve upon it and expand it. Will you imagine for a moment with me what the potential is for such a course? Should it be given the opportunity to be not only a recurring course lasting an entire semester,  but one that starts cropping up at academic institutions around the world? Imagine each academic institution essentially adopting a waterway to maintain and protect by partnering students enrolled in such a course with local clean up organizations. Conducting a class clean up changes a fundamental aspect of cleaning up a river or water way - it becomes like a shopping spree for artifacts.

The impact of this type of course, should it be implemented internationally, could be quite substantial. We could substantially restrict the flow of toxic debris (plastic + otherwise) to our oceans and into our food chain, while teaching young people to re-evaluate their relationship to material on a level that stretches their creative muscles and opens their eyes to the world around them in a productive and healthy way. 

Sustainable practices in the arts can be fostered by academic institutions to have a huge positive impact on our environment.

We raised almost $1000 for the Friends of the Middle River from the 17 works created by the students, with roughly only 2 weeks of studio time. All these pieces were comprised of once thoroughly unloved, disregarded materials - that have now found homes and will never re-enter the waste stream. They have successfully transformed waste into art -- objects worthy of reflection and contemplation -- through their hard work and love. 

Here are some pics from last night:
Professor Paul Ryan explaining the course & introducing me.
Phoenix Down is so photogenic!

Everyone loved Sarah Webb's You Are What You Eat

Beth Hodges of the Staunton Augusta Arts Center was a wonderful hostess!

A lovely crowd!

Monday, May 13, 2013

The big night!

Tonight is the night!

The students have worked so hard. I hope many people come out to celebrate the highly relevant careful work they've done! This exhibit reflects a synchronized meditation of sorts. It is a lovely exhibit and again, I am so very proud of the students!

Tomorrow we will wrap up by de-installing any remaining works at the gallery (high bidders can just take their new artwork with them tonight - if they are at the reception) and delivering the work if necessary -- and then the students are free to do what they will with what they have learned. I truly hope that the things I've shared with them continue to resonate with them and have a positive impact on the way they choose to live their lives.

My biggest hope is that this course serves will serve as a model that can be implemented at other academic institutions around the world. Any institution that wants to honor nature in their art department. This course is designed to engage young artists in this topic of global relevance while giving them an opportunity to have a continuing positive impact on their world and tap into their sensitivity and creativity. There is little in life that is more satisfying than making a positive difference! No matter how small it might seem. This exercise has so much potential to grow - and now, thanks to MBC, the seed has been planted!

Here is a lovely 1 minute video about the exhibit "INTERCEPTORS" that we just watched as a class: Staunton Newsleader Video (I have to admit, I got a little verklempt watching it...)

So, tonight from 5-7 is the reception to celebrate the accomplishments of these young people -- you can possibly snag a very inexpensive and lovely object that will help do something important for all of us! Hope to see you there.

Below are a few install pics -- pics from the reception will be posted tomorrow: 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Day 13: Installation day

17 students, 3 weeks, trash + love

Phew! The exhibit is up! It was a whirlwind of a day, but we managed to get it all done. I am so proud of the students for staying true to their visions, following through and creating their pieces with dedication, sensitivity + care.

After all the pieces were photographed, (Thank you Woods Pierce!) the class voted on the best image to use for an evite for the exhibit. Phoenix Down by JoAnna Mills won the class vote! I think the students voted most wisely as it was quite fun and easy for me to design the evite using the wonderful image of her stunning piece.

Here it is:

 And here are some pictures of what today looked like installing:

I will post images of all the individual works with their titles and reserve prices over the weekend. The exhibit officially opens tomorrow morning. Bid sheets are in the binder at the gallery on a podium fully prepared to start receiving bids.

Hello deadline, so nice to meet you.

BRAVO to the "Interceptors" and THANK YOU to the students, MBC, The Staunton Augusta Art Center, Tom Yeago, Joe McCue, Friends of the Middle River, Bruce Dorries, Modernboy Woodshop/Paul Borzelleca, Professor Jim Sconyers, and Professor Paul Ryan so very much for giving me the opportunity to work with you and for your valuable help and input. It has been an honor + means a great deal to me.

Enjoy the show!

l o v e   l i f e   l i g h t

Thursday, May 9, 2013

DAY 12: Birth & Death

There are many seemingly pivotal moments in our lives. These moments are like edges. When we reach what we think of as an edge -- a place where we think we can go no further -- we actually have quite an interesting decision to make. I suggest you try to reach your edge as often as you can. We can either stop at our edge and and say; "Ok, I'm done." -- or we can push ourselves to go just a tiny bit further. If you can go to your edge, you can go just the littlest bit further. (Giving up is so boring).
When we go that one or two tiny steps further than we think we can, or frankly want to, we are actually reprogramming a fundamental aspect of our consciousness. This is a way we can 'enlighten' ourselves. If we approach our work, our lives, our relationships with one another and ourselves with this in mind, we become increasingly comfortable in an increasing number of states of mind and body. This makes us more part of the whole of existence that is life on earth as a human. If we decide to practice this, we become more flexible and creative, we inspire ourselves and one another. This, I believe is a path to becoming a master of your own destiny -- the world can become a far less scary, depressing, problematic place.  Intellectual fluidity or flexibility of this nature gives us a far broader perspective -- one that is truly rewarding.

So. Students have til the end of today to complete their pieces, provide me with titles, dimensions and set their reserve prices. 

The debris they decided to use should now be dead and their art should be born, but I am sure some students will be up quite late - or early even. Hopefully only a few and hopefully their efforts will be fruitful!

Yesterday, we got the photo studio in Deming ready to document these pieces and today I made a quick little scale model of the gallery space where we will be installing tomorrow in order to plot out placement of work. We install tomorrow after photographing the works... And then we will vote upon which image would be best to use for the e-vite and then voila - the students open themselves up, once again and the exhibit will open on Saturday morning.

Here is how today looked:

Students are reminded to be at Deming with their work ready to hang at 8:30 am tomorrow.

Be on time! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

DAY 11: Fear vs. Love

As you near completion with your projects I encourage you to check and recheck your motivation for each course of action you choose from this point forward. Typically humans are motivated by either fear or by love. If love is motivating you, the results are much more likely to go in your favor. Fear will get you in trouble pretty just about every time.

There is little to fear in life - and typically fear functions much like desire, the more you understand your fear the less power it will have. Get close to your fear, embrace it, then gently, lovingly dissect it, empathize with it, study it. Once you are clear on its structure and mechanisms you can see where it is attaching itself to you and trying to control you. Then you can make a conscious choice to let it dissipate let it die. Sometimes death is a gift. You will thank yourself if you do this.

That said, if any of you are really and honestly finished with your pieces -- Are you? First, ask yourself have you explored every option to make your piece as good as possible? (I don't think any of you are 100% finished..)A couple of you are about 98% there... Still, you need to email me or post thoughts on your TITLES. That takes time. You have a deadline -- end of the day tomorrow.

Also, figure out your dimensions and start thinking about what your "reserve" price will be if any so we can prepare for installation and exhibit.

Remember the goal is to set your reserve low enough that people actually bid on the work so that we can raise money to keep the waterways here in Staunton clean!

GOOD NEWS: Photography of work has been post-poned until friday morning. On Friday we will need to start class at 8:30 am so that we will have enough time to cram both the photos and the installation into 1 day. Please be on time. We are so fortunate to have one extra day of studio work - please show me you appreciate that and use the time wisely. (I have never finished a piece with time to spare before a deadline because I have trained myself to almost always see a way to improve upon what I've done... The more refined your piece is the less it will resemble debris!).

Here is what today looked like in the studio:

NOTE: If you need a break and want to enjoy something inspiring, I suggest heading to Miller Chapel tonight at 6:30 pm to hear Patrizia Bernardi (Claudia Bernardi's sister) speak. She is a founding member of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team - a group involved in the investigations of sites of massacres in Africa and the Americas.

The studio will still be here afterwards and sometimes work needs a moment to marinate or breathe... and we need a moment to reflect on our good fortune. We are lucky to have this time.

l o v e          l i g h t           l i f e 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

DAY 10: "Its not easy being green" - Kermit THE frog.

Small decisions have huge consequences.

We are so fortunate to live in a part of the world where we can exercise our choices. The students are making all these decisions with their sculptures -- there wouldn't be options like these in many parts of the world. We take this freedom for granted a lot in the United States. I suspect some of the students are really beginning to grasp the power they have and are enjoying wielding it --with care. 
Savoring decisions - giving each decision time & ample consideration so that you don't let your autopilot take control.  Once you fully arrive at a conscious decision it is much easier to proceed with caution, determination & care. How you handle your material, how you schedule your time, how you present your work (there is a reason it is called "presenting"), how you interact with your classmates, with me, how you share the studio, what information you chose to share with others, how you handle pressure, to what degree you chose to be flexible and so on. I am asking in this course, that students are conscious of the power that they have, both as consumers and producers. That they make conscious decisions in the execution of their sculptures with regard to each and every component. The delirium inducing number of choices we all make on a daily basis can be dizzying. In this context, recognizing the consequences of such choices can cause paralysis, or be incredibly liberating. Let it be liberating. Up to each one of us...This choice. How do you choose to respond? If at all?

One student chose not to come in today as she was "suffering from a migraine" and didn't want to exacerbate it with the buzzing of the ballast that desperately needs replacing. I can certainly empathize, but at this point, I am very worried about how she will finish her piece in time...

Here is how today looked in the studio: 

I came in this morning to find a reminder of my college days!
This student has diligently been working on a small but intricate object. Soon she will add her Lewis Creek debris...

What will soon transform into a Darling Clementine...
Lungs forming...

Nice utilization of old DVD boxes...
The fish is earning its scales...

All students were reminded that Bag It is screening tonight at Francis Auditorium at 7pm. (1 paragraph comment expected before class tomorrow. Perhaps I neglected to mention that during class - but really it should be a pattern most of us recognize by now no? If not, I am willing to extend til end of day tomorrow).

I really hope you all enjoy the film and that you choose to enjoy your process of creation + transformation. Others will be able to tell if you don't... myself included, but really, chose to enjoy it for your own sake! You are in charge.