25 February, 2013

Weaving book

I have figured out a way to combine my love for bookmaking and my love for weaving -- a book with a weaving as the cover. I love it. I rarely look at my work and confidently say I love this. But this book, I love.

I wove the weaving on a frame loom that I made out of an old picture frame. I'd like to make a sturdier one, but this one works for now. Then I just glued the empty warp strings to the cover of the book. It's bound with a Japanese stab binding. Elegant, simple.

This is a work in progress. I plan to add content to the pages to make it more of an art book. Though, I probably should have done that before binding it together.

22 February, 2013

Snow day

Snow days are perfect for staying home, catching up, an starting new projects. And drinking lots and lots of coffee.

20 February, 2013

New installation, old drawing

My mind has been running around quite a bit lately. Mostly with ideas of I can do with my artwork. How can I expand and improve? Of course I don't want to be stuck doing the same thing over and over, but I want to have a body of work that makes sense, that's cohesive.

I'm in installation in drawing this semester, which is great. I'm interested in installation and the possibilities excite me. So naturally, my brain is running a million miles an hour with a million ideas. Unfortunately, we're only creating four installations this semester, but I can see myself continuing to "install".

This first installation is to create a new installation inspired by an old drawing. While I was inspired by old drawings, I also wanted to use actual old drawings. This installation transformed from one idea to another quickly. My original idea was to only have one drawing cut up and sewn to multiple fabric panels, but it then transformed into collaging several old drawings onto one panel. 

While this installation wasn't extremely concept driven, it turned out to have a concept. I started with the mentality of -- I just want to hang things from the ceiling. And I did just that. But instead of it being large fabric panels with buttons and drawings sewn to them hanging from the ceiling, it became a journey from past work into new work.

When I started college, I wanted to major in graphic design and go on to work for a graphics magazine. That imagined ideal life quickly changed from graphic designer to studio artist. But I still had this mentality of wanting to create hyper-realistic drawings with bright colors -- you know, the kind of art people say wow! about and the kind of art that gets a lot of likes on Facebook. And that's what I made. I made a lot of it. But who cares? Cool, I can draw a portrait that looks just like the person it's of. That's boring.

I've recently learned how to weave and spin yarn, so I've been trying to figure out how to incorporate that into my work. I've made traditional things likes scarves and table runners, and I've also approached it non-traditionally by sewing my warp onto paper and juxtaposing weavings over drawings or next to drawings. Through that, I want to be creating something non-traditional out of something traditional.

So in this installation, I made puffs of yarn out of yarn that I've spun and sewed them to the fabric, and I connected buttons by sewing yarn I've spun between the buttons. Really, I was just playing. I was seeing what I could do. (I have to use all this yarn I keep spinning somehow, right? And I don't like to knit or crochet.) But that's what this piece was really about! I was playing. I was experimenting  I wasn't even sure if it would turn out okay. But that's where it became a journey. Instead of creating a photorealistic portrait, I created... stuff.

18 February, 2013

Paper figures

I'm in figure painting, and to learn the planar structure of the figure, the class's assignment was to assemble these paper figured into the position of an old master's painting. Then we painted them from the back - so a different perspective than the original painting. My first reaction to the assignment was, "awesome!" But as I started to assemble my paper figures, it got less and less awesome. I hated it. And the painting took entirely way too much time. Somewhere around 14 hours. It's going to be a long semester.

07 February, 2013

End of the printed University Leader

A lot has been happening these first few weeks of school, but the most major thing was the University Leader halting its print. The Leader has been around for over a century, and I've worked there since my first semester at FHSU. It's hard to see it go, but it's exciting to keep it going online even though "higher ups" are trying to shut us down. Online isn't ideal, but it's something for now.

It's just embarrassing to attend the only regent school in Kansas with a strictly online paper. That's not even a paper. It's a blog.

Read more about it here
Watch the KSN News segment here

My last printed article:
I thought I was having a terrible nightmare last year during the second reading of the allocations bill when The University Leader’s funding was cut to $19,000 — not enough money to survive.

It turns out, it was a living nightmare.

I’m disappointed to say the least. I had hopes that the Leader would pull through — that we would keep printing the whole school year. I guess I thought the newspaper gods would smile upon us and grant us the extra $30,000 we needed — through what means, I don’t know.

As you can see, that didn’t happen. Now I only hope that doesn’t mean the newspaper gods have frowned upon us.

Disappointment is a daily thing. I was disappointed when it started snowing Tuesday. I was disappointed when my car got stuck in my driveway yesterday morning. I was even disappointed when the Union wasn’t serving anything I wanted to eat yesterday.

Illustration by Lydia Burris
It’s unavoidable. People get let down by the smallest, most insignificant things and by the biggest, most significant things.
You know the saying, crap happens? Well, disappointment happens. And it’s going to keep happening. What matters is how we deal with it.

It’s snowing, so I’m going to lock myself in my room until all the snow melts, and I’m going to refuse to speak to anyone that’s had contact with the snow. I’m going to throw a sissy-fit. Yeah, that’ll show it who’s boss.

No way. That is probably the worst way to handle disappointment. If you were to throw a fit every time disappointment slapped you in the face, you would be living in a never-ending fit. And that is no way to live.

Instead, take it lightly. It’s snowing. It will melt in a few days. It’s not that big of a deal. In the meantime, snowball fight.

The Union isn’t serving breakfast for lunch today? Well, shoot. Guess I’ll eat a pizza.

Disappointment doesn’t have to always effect your attitude negatively. Yes, have your few seconds of “oh, bummer” by all means. Then move on.

The Leader isn’t publishing this semester. Like I said, huge disappointment. While I should practice what I preach, some things are hard to get over. But even though the rest of the staff and I are disappointed that our wonderful newspaper will no longer be picked up and read by students every week, we still can have a positive outlook on things and look forward to the opportunities this downfall presents us with.

The fall semester will be here soon enough, and with it a paper copy of the Leader — funding granted. And even though the Leader will not be present on paper, it will still have an online presence through a blog.

While a blog is not ideal, it is still something. The Leader can experiment and expand — become more user friendly to both the digital audience and the paper audience.

This will be a building semester. We’ll have to learn to work for a different audience. We’ll have to learn to draw in that audience in other ways than picking up something physical. We’ll have to think strategically and creatively.

So look at it this way: Yes, the fact that this is the last paper copy of the Leader this semester is disappointing. But this disappointment will lead to greater things.

Like I said, it’s all how you handle it. The staff could throw a tantrum, stomp our feet and toss paper shreds all over campus in protest. We could rally all of our followers and protest in the quad — picket signs and all. We could make a scene.

Instead, we’ re going to take our disappointment and turn it into something positive and beneficial.

Disappointment doesn’t have to tear you down, and you shouldn’t let it. As A Day to Remember sung, keep your hopes up high and your head down low.

28 January, 2013

New semester

The end of the first day of the second week of the spring semester.

The semester has started - like crazy, if I may add. My classes look like: installation in drawing, problems in drawing, problems in painting, book design, and the others don't matter as much. My goal is to hang as much stuff from the ceiling as I can. High goals. (Get it? Because the ceilings high.)

Here are some small travel journals to start out the semester:

09 November, 2012

Mixed media

I think my goal as an artist is to incorporate as much as I can. I don't just want to draw. I don't just want to paint. I don't just want to weave. I was to be well-rounded, but still have a focus. Mixed media. It's limitless. And that's why I love it. I have so many options.

01 November, 2012

22 October, 2012

Art and research - Frontier City

I love doing research. I'm not talking about researching through a book; I'm talking about researching through a person. Interviewing. Books are so interesting and fascinating. They contain so many facts - BUT people contain personality, facial expression, emotion. You can't find those things in a book. I love to watch a person as he talks about something - especially something he's passionate about or something that makes him sad or mad. The tone of voice changes. The facial expression changes. All of those things just play into the research. You don't just have to research facts. I love researching feelings.

The next project in drawing is Place & Circumstance. We are to create a series of drawings that reflect research of the history of a particular site and consideration of the possibilities for repurposing or rebuilding. That will be presented in a map format.

I love it! I chose Frontier City as my place. It's so unique and interesting without even knowing the history. Frontier City is this rundown, torn-up, fake old west town. It was open at one point in time, but it's not anymore and probably won't ever be opened again.

For my research, I talked to the owner of Frontier City, Henry Schwaller. His grandfather owned it and it was passed down to him. I enjoyed talking to him so much. He had such expression in what he had to say. It was incredible to soak in everything he had to say.

My interview with Henry (mind you, it's long):

Q: Tell me a little bit about Frontier City.
A: Frontier City was created by my grandfather in 1975. He had some success with shopping center development here in town where the bowling alley and Nextech are today. Of course, that goes across the street to Heartland Building Center. He built all of that including all the houses from 22nd and Vine to 27th and Vine all the way east. About a 200-acre development. And about 15 years later he thought that it would be interesting to develop a frontier or historic-themed shopping center and have some historic attractions to it and put shops in there that would appeal to travelers. So not quite a Silver Dollar City, but really something that would tell visitors about Hays and Hays' frontier city but also provide retail opportunity as well.

The business opened in 1976, and there are really two components to Frontier City, and one is the - I forget what he called it - the thing that looks like a downtown, the front street. It's that one very large building that has the false front to it that looks like a series of different buildings. And when it opened, it had a gift shop, a furniture store, a travelers' information center - it was a state designated tourist center - a saloon, and I don't believe the artist had moved in yet. There was a sculptor that was there for a number of years, a local sculptor.

Then across from that are the older buildings, and those were moved in from places. The depot was an actual Union Pacific depot, and there were some houses and a hay barn, and eventually the church, but that was a later reincarnation.

So Molly, there were a couple problems with that, and the first problem was that in 1976 and 1977 things were pretty tough. And the economy was really bad. And we had rapid inflation. We no longer were able to rely on our own oil, so we were importing oil. The price of gasoline was going up very quickly. So people stopped traveling, and that cut down on the number of tourists. And there was a gas station and a motel. All those things were being affected by the economy.

The other problem was that the community really didn't know what to do. I don't know how many people visit Sternberg a year that are from Hays. One of the things I found that was really common, ya know later in life, when I talked to people about Frontier City, they said, "Yeah, I went there once." And then I'd say, "Why didn't you go back?" "Oh, I already went. I was there. It was nice." So we didn't get a lot of repeat traffic because they'd already been there once. I think the Sternberg has the same thing. Once you see the dinosaurs, a fish within a fish, you might take a visitor, probably not. If you've been there, you're not going to go again. There were events there. We had Summerfest, which was a summer version of Oktoberfest. You know, my grandfather really worked hard to promote it. He has a lot of interesting ideas, but those things cost money and they took time. And it just was not lucrative. It just did not pan out.

Then the third element was, to pan out, you really had to have something that would draw people in, that would be a destination in its own right. Like a Worlds of Fun. Like a Silver Dollar City. Like a North Pole in Manitou Springs. I don't know if he didn't see that or he didn't want to put anymore money into it. And it's probably the second rather than the first.

And so, it close and it re-opened and it closed. It re-opened in the late 80s through the early 1990s. A husband and wife lived there. They had a little girl with them - she's now grown-up, Fort Hays graduate. And they lived out there. They put the church. They added more buildings. They had a petting zoo. They added all sorts of things. And they lived there year-round. They had elementary school tours, and they just couldn't make it work. Again, we were in another recession, and things were really bleak. People were not traveling. And even though she grew it - oh, and the saloon. The saloon actually expanded. She had Fort Hays theatre students and dancehall girls. They had a whole review on melodrama. There were new and different things going on there every month. Just still, no real local interest. It was just not the right time. And that was it.

Someone thought it would be a great idea if we turned that into a pavilion like the Fox Pavilion  We were the Fox Pavilion before the Fox Pavilion. So we made about $20,000 in improvements to make it a wedding and reception hall for rental. And we did that for awhile, and I just stopped it because we're not in that business. We don't have the staff to go in a clean and set up for an event. And it was not lucrative at all. And yes, there is and was a need for a really nice place to have a meeting, and that was not it.

That was the last of it, and that was about 15 years ago. The biggest problem we face now, Molly, is - and we actually always faced it, even when it was operating - is vandalism. People come in, they break in, they steal stuff, they write their name on something. I don't know what that's about, but people really wanna leave their mark and destroy it and tear it down. And it just breaks my heart.

Q: Do you think you'll ever open it back up in the future?
A: No. It's been listed for sale, the entire property. We own the entire property from Frontier Rd. - that's where the motel is - all the way down to Rans. So it's about 11 acres. Our hope is to sell it. There's a lot of things I'd like to do with it. I own other vacant land, so I think it would be better if we could sell that. It's difficult. It's a big piece of land to sell at once. And I can assure you, nobody wants Frontier City. Now, we get a lot of calls, they want the church. Fine. Until recently, we didn't own the church. So all these years, it was owned by a family, and they said, "We give up. You can have it."

So nobody wants any of the buildings or any of the artifacts - or whatever's left. Everybody wants the church, and that just shows you how sad it is. "Can we buy the motel?" "Nope." "How's Frontier City?" "I don't want it." So it's kind of like this thing - it could be re-opened. It would take a lot of money. And I don't see why we would wanna do that.

We've had a lot of businesses come and go in the 40 years since that was build, and that's just what happens to business. Either you find a customer or you don't, and that one just did not have a customer. 

Q: You know those little tiny houses in the back?
A: Yeah, and rock sculptures.

Q: Why? What are they?
A: Those were build by a man who lived in Lucas, Kan., and his last name was Miller. And there's actually a city park in Lucas called Miller's Park. And in the 20s, Mr. Miller had fresh drinking water. So travelers would stop in Lucas, and they knew they could get safe water to drink. And he and his wife traveled a bit - I don't think they had any children. And in their travels, they collected stones and other things. And he built those items.

For some reason when he died, I guess he had no heirs, those things came to Hays, they were somewhere else, we bought them at an auction. We just acquired them, and it was part of a tour. We gave a private tour. The facility was actually enclosed - you had to pay to go in to it. And we explained what the different houses and different rock formations were. The Kohler Foundation has agreed to help transport all that stuff back to Lucas, restore them, and put them in Miller's Park where they belong. We're very excited about that. That's the best thing that could happen. And again, they have been really badly vandalized. And not just people picking rocks off, but people kicking them, smashing them. I have no idea what would drive anyone to do that. It would be like take a razor to the Mona Lisa. You have to have an appreciation for grass roots, outsider art. But to think that that man spent his life making that stuff. The buildings are pretty incredible - the detail. But for people to beat them so - it just makes me sick, makes me wanna cry.

Q: If you never sell the land, do you think you'll just leave Frontier City up?
A: No. You know, I have interest in some of the buildings. There are four or five historic buildings. They could be moved; they could be brought here into town. Again, there's land in the downtown area there's nothing on - no parking lot, nothing. They could be interesting as part of the history of Ellis Co. because these are historically significant buildings. So no, I'm not going to let it return to the earth, but given development patterns, this is a pretty attractive corner. Whether it's a truck stop or a KOA Campground, whatever it is, at some point someone will buy the land.

09 October, 2012

Subjectivity, objectivity, performativity

I think self-portraits are safe. I think they're kind of dull - depending on how you execute them, that is. This assignment - Subjectivity, objectivity and performativity. The first portrait shows subjectivity - how people perceive me. The second, objectivity - what I am, plain and simple. The third is performativity - in a sense, if you really knew me, you'd know I was drowning. Did I still take the safe route? Yes. Not my favorite project ever, but you have to have one here and there, right?