29 March 2009

Addicted, no...wait... obsessed with clay. That sounds better. Right? Questions Concerning Emerging Artists

I thought it would be worth while to look at the problems and difficulties of working in clay: how blind and unaware can our obsession leave us? Is hard work enough? How does the student get by financially? What is our place in the market? Should we even be concerned with the market, or simply academics, having chosen to pursue ceramics academically?

For those students who hope to pursue ceramics after their undergraduate degree, perhaps shortsightedly optimistic (art for art’s sake), whether hoping to get an MFA or land an apprenticeship with someone we admire, one must distinguish his/her portfolio, working with a manic fervor, or risk leaving school and joining the tide of white collars. Is our portfolio everything once we leave school? What about the emerging students/artists, naive of the reality that most of us will fold under the market pressures? What, if any, responsibility does the education system have for preparing us to enter the market (as opposed to academics) as a reality of viably continuing ceramics without the support of a system?

At times I feel my pursuit of an education borders on nihilism, consuming all my time, money, energy, and relationships. I channel my concerns into my work, telling myself that there is time for rest and relaxation after school. Here in the Midwest lies the motto: work, work, work and you shall succeed. But I ask, at what expense, the words of a struggling potter’s proclamation ringing painfully in my ear, “I wish I had taken some business classes”.

So I have asked question upon question, expressing fears and anxiety of entering the market and of working obsessively in clay. In the second part (assuming that this can be contained to only two parts), I will give my point-of-view, attempting to answer the questions I have asked, while hopefully referring to the comments of others.

Finally, I am linking an interview by Forrest Snyder with Alec Karros on Critical Ceramics to help stimulate the discussion of the emerging artist/students place in the market: http://www.criticalceramics.org/articles/haysta99/akarros.htm

24 March 2009

Arizona State University Ceramics Program Website Review Part 2 of 2

In light of NCECA I chose to start with Arizona State University: http://art.asu.edu/ceramics/. At a glance I feel the site is up-to-date, very tidy and visually appealing, reasonably easy to navigate, though not without its bumps, and provides all of the information a potential MFA student needs: request for info form; faculty and their work, as well as a quick bio; detailed info on graduate accommodations (studio space, number of kilns, etc.); gallery information; available resources such as libraries and collections; and a reasonable number of studio/workspace pictures.

All of the information is easy to access, presented on a static toolbar in the middle of the page. Clicking on one of the tabs, such as "Facilities", brings up a sidebar/sub-directory of information: CRC (Ceramics Research Center), Ceramics Studios, Galleries, Visual Resources, and All Art Resources. I like that each of these headings brings you to a brief, but explanatory, writing and usually provides hyperlinks to more information. Once you are ready to move on, there is no need to keep hitting the “back” button on your browser, you can just click the next area of interest on the toolbar.

Though they aren’t restrained to a single page, they do work within a standardized (within their Art Department) format. I think it is important to applaud their presentation, but now onto the few weaknesses I have found…

The most annoying thing I found was being redirected by the “Events” and “News” headings on the static bar. These tabs bring you to a “School of Art” page and to continue browsing the Ceramics Department you must click the back button on your browser. A small annoyance… Also, under the "Faculty" button I would like to see the faculty listed immediately in the main body instead of having to click on the sub-directory ambiguously labeled “Directory”. Lastly, but also surprisingly good considering how often this happens on the web, I found only one hyperlink that was broken, not directing you anywhere.

So that’s it. I think Arizona State University has a good, easy to navigate, and informative site. To wrap this up I would like to encourage any comments about my observations. If you find anything in addition to my writing or disagree, please comment!

23 March 2009

Arizona State University Ceramics Program Website Review Part 1 of 2

I have come to realize that the original proposal of evaluating Ceramics Program websites, with the hope of improving the information available to prospective students, isn't as simple as I initially suggested.

Considering that the Ceramic Program pages are usually embedded in the Art Department’s, their format is usually consistent with every other department. This can be problematic because if the format is lacking in general, what hope does any single department, like ceramics, have in setting up an informative and useful site?

I have found that despite the limitations of a general format (which I hope can be discussed in the future), some programs have utilized hyperlinks and/or pdf’s to add useful and pertinent content to their website which may not otherwise be there. These resources allow the program to break from the constraints of the sometimes single page provided them, or other restraints, to emphasize the strengths of their department.

To be continued…

I want to reiterate my hope that this can become a discussion… please consider Ceramics Program websites which you find of interest, and post your comments. Later today (I know I said this morning, but I want to be especially accurate when referencing particular sites) I will be posting my opinion on Arizona State University’s website.

Check back soon!

18 March 2009

Courting of the Graduate Schools at NCECA

With NCECA coming upon us in a few weeks, starting a blog which caters to undergraduate and MFA students seems especially appropriate. NCECA gives us the opportunity to impress our work on school recruiters – usually the professors themselves because Ceramics is still a small, comfortable, community – and potentially make or break our dreams with a stupid or intelligent comment; luckily there is our portfolio to save us from our mouths…. But what about those schools and students who miss out on this strange, time-honored, courting tradition?

Unfortunately too many programs have underdeveloped or poorly managed websites for the prospective student to easily navigate or acquire recent, even relevant, information. This is a disservice to both the school and the student who may not ever meet, despite great chemistry, because of this simple but seemingly overlooked issue.

I am interested in people posting examples of great, and not so great, Ceramics program websites. This is not an opportunity to criticize, but instead to help. To be direct, I hope this can become a resource for professors and professionals to reference for improving their programs through the constructive and cooperative efforts of today’s students.

Blog Discussion of Undergraduate Ceramics, Pottery and Schools

I am interested in creating a blog to start a discussion about undergraduate work around the country. As it will take me a few days to start the blog, I have decided to initiate it on my personal space. I hope I can gather interest and support for this endeavor, so please check back soon for my first posting.

06 March 2009

Spring 09 Wood-Fire

These works range in height from 1' - 2-1/2' and are representative of my current direction. Plus a cone 10 reduction piece I forgot to post earlier.