KU offered the perfect major for me – I could earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art History through the School of Fine Arts (now the School of the Arts). The same number of studio courses were required as Art History courses. I could indulge my desire to make art and study art history in equal measures!
My studio courses consisted of some art and design basics, photography, and as many ceramics classes as I could fit into my packed schedule. I would spend the weekends in the clay studio, losing track of time and losing myself in creative flow. It was so wonderful!
I met my good friend Leah in the clay studio. We shared a space in the basement of the art building where ceramics classes were held. Our work was quite different – she created small and intricately detailed pieces, I created large vessels. (Though our work has grown and evolved, we haven’t veered off our paths too much!) One thing we both did was argue quite a bit with our professor, Dave, about the direction of our work. I think he pushed us to do so on purpose, and was pleased when we defended our work and stood up for ourselves. (Leah went on to grad school and is a professor of art at the University of Wyoming, so I get to see her pretty often!)
My favorite clay at the time was porcelain. I loved the smooth and elegant feel in my hands. (The small test piece pictured was sagger-fired with copper wire emerging from the hole and wrapping around the vessel. Sadly, a piece of the vessel was broken off in a move.) Often I experimented with firing the hand-built vessels in a variety of dried materials in smoke firings. The surprises on the surfaces thrilled me.
My 3D design professor, Eleanor DuQuoin, was demanding. I have a vague memory of hearing she had studied at the Bauhaus when she was young. One of our assignments was to go to the hardware store and buy a small roll of 18 gauge wire. We were to cut a number of 6″ pieces and straighten them. Then we had a test: she would roll each section down a slope to see if they traveled straight or veered left or right. I spent so much time trying to perfectly straighten those sections of wire!
At the time, her demands seemed a bit much, but in hindsight I’m very thankful she pushed me (gave me a lower grade in that class because she “expected more” from me) and learned that excellent craftsmanship is a priority in making art.
It was under Eleanor that I presented my first land art concept, a kinetic sculpture to be installed on the high plains. I crafted the model using wire, and used my hair dryer to demonstrate how it would move in the wind.
Now that I’ve finished cleaning out my studio (for the most part), I’m done posting on artifacts. Time to make stuff!