Monday, April 5, 2010

Minor Artisans

I'd like my students to become more familiar with local and regional artists and craftspeople and more aware of accessibility.
I also hope to demystify art and art-making; to get them up close and personal with the makers; to break down that wall and widen the realm of possibility.

I've been putting the word out to professional artists and designers in the area and the response has been grand.
We had a 3-day Art exchange with local glass artist, Linda Munoz, who was kind enough to invite us into her studio to explore her process.

Linda specializes in stained glass, jewelry, and mosaics.
Working with college students at U. West Alabama, she started this mosaic mural in downtown York over a year ago. But due to circumstances she hasn't been able to complete it with them.

Our highschoolers enthusiastically stepped in and finished the job with finesse.
They added colored glass and pottery fragments and they repaired damaged sections.

Yahlah owns a space adjacent to Linda's on the main strip. She's currently renovating it to open an organic produce and sandwich shop sometime in the fall.
She was just passing by and decided to pitch in.
Yahlah's one of those people who grew up here, then spent a lifetime away, then returned to her roots for good.

Linda also introduced us to the tools and techniques of stained glass and jewelry making. We cut, chipped, and assembled our own pieces, firing them overnight in the mini kiln.

We converted our small but pretty cool-looking glass works into jewelry by applying pendant, pin, and earring hardware.

Linda gave us an excellent intro to the wonders of glass and its varied potential as both a large and small-scale medium. I think we all would love to return to it at some point.

Marilyn Gordon and Lillie Mack run Black Belt Designs, a hands-on fashion house based here in Sumter County. They have a highly inventive, folksy approach to clothes making, incorporating recycled materials and hand-painted fabrics.

Black Belt Designs commissioned me to fabricate a series of hangers for their exhibit at Webb Gallery in Livingston. I thought it'd be a great idea to involve students, staff, and anybody else with a hankering for hangers.

I cut 30 or so identical shapes out of standard 1/2 inch plywood and invited young and old people of all skill levels to paint a hanger.

No rules or limits were imposed. We left it wide open, sorta reflecting the eclectic style of the clothing.

Funny thing is, no one had any prior knowledge as to which outfit their hanger would be paired with. It was all chance. Marilyn and Lillie simply took what we gave them and managed to match things up quite nicely.

Didn't matter if a hanger was abstract, realistic, crude, or cartoony. Together they made for a wild but oddly harmonious display.


This here little dude is Travin. He lives next door and comes around any time he pleases. Never mind if I'm busy with something or other. He'll just march into the studio and help himself to whatever supplies, materials, and tools he can get his hands on and proceed to construct some far out scary thing.

This time it was a cardboard, wood, and cotton ball man with a huge nose and spindly legs. Looked like some kind of nightmare gnome or a supernatural fetish you don't want to cross. I questioned Travin about the figure's supine position and the red paint. He excitedly replied, "He's dead! I'm MAKING him dead!"

Travin once came in with a plan to build a box. I helped him with the drill and saw and he just went to town with it. He was clear that he had to have swinging doors so we rummaged around for some old hinges.

Once it was constructed, I advised him that he was going to have to put something IN the box. Travin gathered rocks, twigs, leaves, dirt, glue and paint to fill his box. I snapped a photo of him and we threw that in too.
"Now, what's the title of your box, Travin?"

"My Box"