Visiting the Past

Looking forward to Juroring the Arnie Hart Student Exhibition at The Mattie Kelly Arts Center, located at my undergraduate college: Northwest Florida State College, Niceville, FL in March 2019 . . . where I took my 1st art class in 1997. Back then it was known as “Okaloosa-Walton Community College”. I was a young 27 art student and I still use those fundamentals art skills in every work of art I created.

Perspective Exercise at The OWCC Library, Drawing 1 with Professor David Owens, Fall 1997

Perspective Exercise at The OWCC Library, Drawing 1 with Professor David Owens, Fall 1997

I still use the Principles of Design Professor Owens taught me. I became so passionate about art and becoming an artist through him and, later, my Art History Classes with Dr. D. Anne Waters, deepened my artistic obsessions even further. My art advocacy started way back then, when - discontent with the ‘status quo’, I pioneered a new system for the student exhibition and even fought for it to be held in the fancy NEW galleries of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. I didn’t know what I was doing - but I figured it out: demanding outside Jurors and even drumming up Cash Award Donors (who later left millions to the college to build a new art instruction building as our old one had, literally, DRIPPING ceilings).

Status: The American Dream, 1998, Painting I with Dr. D. Anne Waters, OWCC

Status: The American Dream, 1998, Painting I with Dr. D. Anne Waters, OWCC

It was a privilege to take Painting I & II as an Independent one-on-one course with Dr. Waters. Day one of the syllabus required focusing the entire semester on sketches from one item. I had recently the SW for my anniversary and choose a bovine skull as my subject. Each assignment required a different technique: from how to build and stretch my own canvases to full abstract (although referential) triptychs . . . I completed a series and I still use that theory to this day - developing a single item or thought or phrase into multiple works that stand alone or together.

Some people might deride community colleges, but as a woman who chose to get married young and start a family - those small, local doors opened my passion wide open. I hope that I have continued to build my techniques and I KNOW that the fundamentals I learned there have kept me in good stead all of these 20+ years.

It took me 7 years to finish my AA (I was raising 2 kids and had an additional ‘surprise’ baby), and only attended part-time and a total of 9 years to earn my Bachelor of Fine Art (1997 - 2006, first class to finishing). I was accepted into some prestigious graduate schools in 2006, but after already moving my entire family from NW Florida to the Nashville area in 2003, I decided NOT to continue my education. For me, the struggle between my responsibilities and having to choose between my family and art opportunities (such as moving to attend grad school), the stress was too much to ask of my own soul or to expect from my family.

I have had amazing avenues to expand my techniques and exhibition options, following a path of an internship with the amazing Adrienne Outlaw - leading to becoming a Studio Manager and eventually making work about the challenges of being an artist mother, such as Coping Skills and A Paxil A Day . . . one thing leads to another, and we learn and grow.

Life is full of obstacles and challenges (such as falling down the stairs of my new studio in 2009 and subsequent spinal surgeries in 2010 and 2015). It leads back to the beginning, though - doesn’t it? What drives you? What do you get excited about?

I hope I am regaining that eagerness and anticipation I had in August of 1997 when I walked through the doors of a decrepit building in Niceville, FL, sat down on a drawing horse and heard the words of David Owens: “Let me see where you are at”. We all drew an old, bent bicycle tire and I knew I had entered the gates of heaven. David Owens died less than a year later. I remember speaking at his memorial and vowing not to let his death stop us (the ragtag group of art students and himself) from making the art department better and we just formed a student art club (The Association of Visual Arts/AVA, now defunct).

I know I kept that promise . . . returning to Jury the Annual Student Exhibition, still held in those gorgeous new galleries and still based on the entry forms I made back in 1998 and knowing those art students aren’t sitting under a dripping ceiling. I may have moved away, but I did make a contribution to the arts; and, REALLY, isn’t that what matters? Making your mark (unbeknownst) and carrying forward all the foundations that have made you a stronger (hopefully, better) person.

Hibakusha (one of trio), Encaustic Mixed Media, Private Collection, Hiroshima, Japan

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

So I want to blame the dog for eating my homework . . . but that would be me lacking verisimilitude.  What really happened?  Well, it was animal related - my MIA status.  Snappy, The Evildoer! Snappy, The Evildoer! It was the cat's fault.  All Her Royal Tailless Snappyness was doing was sleeping . . . possibly purring.  This is normal - but where she chose to slumber was unexpected.  SO unexpected that I fell down (possible threw myself down) five garage steps until I splayed onto the concrete floor.  Somehow, I managed to levitate myself over the cat slumbering on the stairs. Similar to my garage stairs . . . Similar to my garage stairs . . . Having birthed three children, busted my head and arm open in an all-terrain vehicle accident, several failed childhood suicide attempts . . . I have never felt such searing pain.  Mainly in the ankle regions of my appendages.  The Controversial General Hood The Controversial General Hood We have to put this in chronological perspective as well, because THE VERY DAY BEFORE this a friend and I went to three Civil War Battlefield sights in Franklin, TN and the theme of the day was appendages -  the loss thereof, in particular.  In fact this friend and I had stayed up all night (again) ruminating over the severity of the war, the injuries, and the deplorable decisions by Hood that lead to the carnage.
The bad timing was that I was loading the car to head into Nashville to crate the  TAKE CARE exhibition to prepare for its shipment to Grand Rapids, MI.  Needless to say, I didn't make it to that appointment!
banner8inch So, I and my apparently disconnected legs lay tangled on the concrete.  I couldn't breathe, it hurt so much. "It" meaning - everything.  My back, my shoulders, my hands and wrists where I had tried to catch myself, but worst of all - below the knees just seared and sang with so much pain they were almost numb.  I did some lamaze breathing.  I shed tears.  I collapsed when I tried to push myself up with my arms. After about 10 minutes of writhing and gasping, I managed to sit up somewhat and although I couldn't feel how the feet were connected to my legs, I visually assured myself that they were, indeed, there.  So - this is good, no?  Because: 1) I don't have to wave goodbye to my own leg from the window (as did some of the Confederate and Union soldiers in the war); 2) Well, at this point I couldn't think of a 2nd good thing! When I felt I could talk I scouted to the van on my bruised behind and retrieved the already packed cell phone.  Who to call?  My friend was in the house, but she was sleeping 3 levels away with the very loud, highly coveted hurricane fan on . . . in the the cave sleeping chamber . . . no way would she hear my screaming.  Humm, also her cell phone was on the charger in the basement so it would do no good to call that phone. So, I decide to call my husband.  He is a PT, if nothing else he can come home and scrape me off the cement.  I was so shaky I had a hard time calling the number . . . and, of course, he didn't answer the cell, which meant he was with a patient.  I decide this qualifies as an emergency and call the front office - I squeak out that I need Don and that it is an emergency . . . so he leads me through a few toe moving tests and we determine that the right ankle/foot is not broken, but the left probably is.  He advises ice.  So I crawl back up the steps, get icepacks and lay on the couch.  I figure my friend will wake up and can take me to the doctor or when my son gets home he can drive me.ankle clip art Before that can happen my son calls from school saying he is sick with a fever.  So.  I can drive with my right foot so I go get him at school . . . he drives home and drops me at the doctor and I get xrays . . . and diagnosed, 1 sprain, another bad sprain and a crushed outer ankle bone (that triangle thingy that sticks out), do the air cast/boot, get painkillers . . . home.  My son goes back to the dr. on his own.  He has mono.  Lauren comes home, sick.  Dylan takes her to the doctor.  My friend wakes up in this chaos - we laugh as I giggle on my painkillers and we imitate General Hood waving his shoulder stump as he tries to say good bye to his own arm.  We are, obviously, evil beings.  We have never laughed so hard.

Dylan's Mono

So that was all about 4 weeks ago.  I am off the crutches and am down to braces and wraps for the ankle and can hobble almost anywhere.  The worst part is trying to walk down stairs.  (remember, my studio is down a very steep flight of stairs, I didn't see it for a whole week).  If I have been on my feet too long I am exhausted . . . but, you know - it could have been so much worse.  For a few days I had the perfect excuse to sit and talk and get giddy on painkillers.  Not a bad way for the universe to inform me I better slow down OR ELSE!  I found out what OR ELSE meant . . . just like the Fairygod Mother that swoops down and wacks Little Bunny Foo Foo on the head. Little Bunny Foo Foo LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO . . .

So that gives you a bit of the story of where I have been . . . not to mention the fact that I lost the information on how to access my very own blog for several weeks . . . I am back on track, back on my feet and there are NO MORE EXCUSES!

You can expect more updates, and the saga of how I am making it to Grand Rapids, MI in the near future!

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What I Have Learned From Trees

I began this post several weeks ago, which now seems like years. Since then, many events have occurred in my life and the lives of my most beloved of souls.  The thoughts I was having seem even more timely now.  Perhaps my soul was preparing itself . . . in any event, I feel led to make these observations on TREES.   Right View: A view as seen along the Natchez Trace in Rural Tennessee.  Taken May, 2009. If I could choose to be any kind of tree, it would be a POPLAR.  Poplar trees have the added bonus of filtering toxins from the soil/ground water.  I would love to be considered a filter - to take in the poison and give out only cleansed energy. From my early days as a barefooted, country girl growing up in rural Illinois and Indiana, trees have framed my life.  From the giant, canopy of grandpa's oak tree on the Indiana farm to the Ginkgo Trees that grew across the street, I have been drawn to the strength and beauty they provide.        What intrigues me most about trees is that they internally and externally exhibit their key characteristic of RESILIENCE - which if you follow me at all, you will know is my eternal quest to grasp.
re·sil·ience [ ri zílly?nss ] or re·sil·ien·cy [ ri zílly?nssee ]
noun 
Definition:
 
1. speedy recovery from problems: the ability to recover quickly from setbacks
2. elasticity: the ability of matter to spring back quickly into shape after being bent, stretched, or deformed It is amazing to me that a view of the tree's internal rings reveal it's entire biography - the year it was born, the travail of injury, the years of abundance and nurture.  I am amazed at the individuality of each scar.  Not only the individuality, but the fact that these scars are the cause of so much beauty and the site of resilience and self-healing.  In a way, these trees are my 'heroes' and nature is where I can instantly receive the succor and peace from everyday challenges.  It is like an instant realignment of internal and external health.  See, echophsycology posting, http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/01/essay-eco-psych.html (Eco-psychology and Inner-World Balance) as well as a previous posting http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/10/natures-gifts.html (Nature's Gifts)   Along the Natchez Trace I became lost.  Lost, literally, but emotionally as well.  This sojourn provided time to dwell in the bucolic world.  I saw the way nature ate away at the attempted confinement of man.  The trees were devouring the very man-made structures used to tame them.  As time passed, the con-finements were devoured, but the fact of them was left behind - the trees had continued to grow about the chains of man and left behind the visualization of their conquering spirits.   I, too,  seek to be triumphant and to devour my oppression and create a beautiful outcome.  Just like these trees, I hope to heal and transform my internal and external scars into marks of strength.   So, once again, my ruminations return to WHAT REMAINS?  What we keep and why? What will my story say at the end?   To learn more about the Life of a Tree, visit

http://www.arborday.org

 

 
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