Presentations at Belle High School

This Thursday and last, I gave presentations in Mrs. Cheri Riley’s art class at Belle High School, the high school in town.  The presentations were meant to give a sense of my own journey and experiences as a young artist, and of my specific interests in poetry and painting.  It is a strange thing to talk about your work and yourself- especially when, since I am so young, I feel like I don’t yet have that much to share.  You also don’t want to claim to speak for all artists and their experience, and there is a danger of that when speaking to a community of young students who aren’t around (yet) a lot of working artists.  I actually never took an art class before college, and told the students that they were all ahead of me when I was their age!  

As I grew more comfortable, I found myself enjoying the presentations more.  The last couple presentations were especially rewarding.  I discussed the painters who have influenced me- Jasper Johns, Manet, Philip Guston, among many others- and talked at length about how specific paintings worked.  It was a revelation to me that the students loved and were eager to learn and participate in discussions about some of these great works.  Art can seem very opaque when you don’t know how to enter it, how to read a painting- and it was a joy to share with them a vocabulary with which to approach these paintings.  

What a crazy thing it is to step into a strange classroom full of students with their own preoccupations and histories and lives, and try to connect with them, to bring them into your own world, and to claim that it is also, in some ways, their world.  I read a passage from Wordsworth, one of my favorite poets- and talked about how, as a young British intellectual, he traveled to France to participate in the French Revolution, inspired by the fervor for democracy, and returned home, chastened and disillusioned by the Revolution’s turbulence and violence.  His great poems emerged out of a need to reconcile his experiences and his longings, the torment of history and the restorative power of Nature.  In that way, he is not unlike some modern soldiers, perhaps motivated after 9/11 to enlist and defend their nation, who went to wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and returned, altered in ways that they search to understand.  I could feel the attention of a few students intensifying as I tried to relate a poet from the 1790’s to experiences that they may have or be able to relate better to.  

What a wonderful opportunity to have briefly stepped into the lives of these students.  I’m glad to have had it.  

 

-Victoria

Decompressing on a Snow Day

DSC_0746

Woke up this morning to a blanket of snow; the picture shows the backyard of the main residence.  I love the way the whole world is altered by new snow- somehow the landscape seems airier and weightier at the same time.  

Yesterday I went to St Louis to visit their art museum- it’s always refreshing to go look at other artists’ work after you’ve cooped yourself up in the studio for a month to finish work.  It has been challenging to decompress after finishing my installation of works in the art center- I want to finish another round of work before I leave in a few weeks, but I felt an unexpected sense of completion with the previous round, and feel the need to not simply make more of the same, but to begin new lines of inquiry.   I hope to finish three large paintings in the next few weeks, and am nervous yet excited to see how they differ from the work I’ve already finished.  

-Victoria

Flash installation

temporary installation
temporary installation

The past month has been incredibly busy. Mark had spoken to me back in September about installing works down at the OAC Art Center, in order to take pictures for my portfolio, and to see the works in a different space than my studio. There was only going to be a window of 1-2 days, on December 1, when I could install them, between the ending of one show and before the beginning of another. So I set to work, always imagining how the paintings would function together in that gallery space, and trying to create a dialogue between all the works. Along the way, I had to abandon ideas that weren’t coming together in enough time, and then decided to start a large painting that I worked on for only three weeks before installing it. Last week I thought I was going insane and entertained the idea of not installing at all- I just didn’t feel confident in the work.

I am so happy that I did install everything, and it was an amazing opportunity to see them all together in that beautiful gallery space at night. We just took them down this morning- the “show” was really up for only one day. It feels so good to be done, and to move onto my next set of works before the end of my residency!