Monday, February 8, 2010

productivity

i am so unproductive as an artist during the school year. sometimes this causes me huge angst, othertimes i shrug and say, that's the way of it. i always am working away on little projects, dye samples, shifu bits, snippets of words and phrases that haunt, books, of course, all of that.  


at school reading crow and weasel is an odd experience, mostly because barry lopez uses a rather formal language, which my students don't much like. but they do like tom pohrt's  illustrations. and they like the idea of vision quest, though most of them are very fearful about such a thing. their ambivalence has been somewhat mitigated by the introduction of my asking them to search for an animal spirit or totem that somehow represents themselves to themselves. they've thought about it, written in their journals about it, and today i gave them their introduction to soapstone, from which each of them will birth their animal. i use the zuni fetish as a sculpture guide, because i have a little collection of them, and because i know when i was a girl how i loved little animals. (and still do)


these are tough but hurt teenagers, not city kids, but nevertheless pretty battered by life and circumstances. and they just took off, touching the stone, drawing sketches, making connections. it is my belief that we sit at the table together as learners, so i am carving as well. i tell them about my way of working, and invite them to do so, but mine is different. i let the stone tell me what it wants to be, and i joke that otherwise all i would ever make is horses! as we move more into this project i will tell them about sourcing this soapstone, harvested from quebec, our neighbor just north. 



when i first harvested local plants for papermaking, i found milkweed everywhere. see the little fibers coming off the stem? they are bits of bast. (you can also see seed fiber) i harvest handfuls everytime i walk in my overgrown meadow. now, after much winter, the bast is field retted, bleached white, almost luminous. i will take home pocket after pocketful and in spring i will make milkweed paper. i must remember when i am anxious about non-productivity, that i am gestating many things, paper, books, and a tiny sculpture. the thinking of young minds, too. and it will, in time, become something meaningful. 

10 comments:

Joei Rhode Island said...

Gather thee milkweed whilst thee can.....and enjoy the walk through the cold winter... spare in it's offerings.

deemallon said...

i love the image of you walking through fields with luminous milkweed bits trailing behind you and filling your pockets...

MY reminders (about non-productivity) of late must include acknowledgements of what it is i AM doing ...

aimee said...

MILKWEED!!! i wish i could be there to gather with you.

Eva said...

Your teaching sounds like art too, I'm sure it counts! Beautiful photo of the milkweed.

Velma said...

i'm sure i have a milkweed book in me... aimee, you must come after belfast and make paper.

thank you eva, i have the great luxury of developing my own english language arts curriculum that has one major goal; when ready my students will sit for and pass the GED exam.

jude said...

i admire your sense of patience...

chuck bolyard said...

i have similar moments when i think that i will never get any of my own work done for myself, since all my time seems to be occupied with the needs of my students........but i have noticed something as i get older....even though i seem to have less time to complete works of art....my own abilities grow and mature as i work with my students.....as i explain artistic styles and help my students understand thier own work....i get better myself....and it shows in my own work in the summer months.....teaching helps me to grow and develop artistic thought.....think about it velma....i will bet that after some thought you will agree that your artwork only gets better come summertime! hang in there!

Velma said...

you're right, chuck, but i think february syndrome has hit me hard! it's friday and the beginning of a winter break, so maybe some work can get done and make me feel less unfinished. but the summers are very, very good for me. what do you work on in summertime?

chuck bolyard said...

i refresh my mind by riding my recumbent bicycle every day!.........artistic wise, this summer i hope to do an oil painting of a mountain climber that i have wanted to paint for ten years........every year i put this painting off...last year my excuse was to build a dining room table for my daughter...this summer i will build eight chairs........i hope i do not put off this painting again since i have painted it in my head over and over........two things for sure for me this summer are bike riding and a colorado fly fishing trip.............
maybe then the painting! hah! we are a lot alike.....we never have enough time for all the art that fills our heads.
i hope that is a good thing!

Velma said...

your very lucky daughter! ... if you're close to estes park go visit eagle rock school. check it out online, it's a marvelous place (my kids went there)

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