Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Plea to Artists

I've been considering this post for a couple of months now, but I don't feel I can put it off any longer. I'm hoping what I'm trying to say here will come through. A short time ago we remembered the anniversary of one of the most shocking events in US history, the tragic events of 9/11/01. For a time after this horrific event, this country pulled together, felt united as I had not seen for a long time. Today, I feel that we are so divided, and I wondered how anyone could pause to remember that day and not feel how different it is today.

Of course we are in the middle of a presidential election. This has created some clearly marked battle lines. What really worries me, however, is how this battle is being fought in social media, especially FaceBook. Someone creates a meme that shows how they feel, twists statistics to support their viewpoint, and thousands forward the meme as gospel truth. It does not matter which side you support, it's happening in every topic!

Let's look at some non "hot button" issues for a second. Every time FB makes a security change there are half truths and outright lies about the effects these changes will have. Post about privacy settings and legal use of timeline information went around six months to a year ago, and now, all of a sudden they are back. They are completely useless and non protective. Do you ever hit the share button? So, are you not supposed to share if someone has said don't use my pics or info on my time line? (And as artists, don't we want the share to happen? As long as someone else is not taking credit for our work, that is!) Amber Alerts are another one. Of course we all want to be on the lookout and possibly save a child, but any time you see an Amber Alert without a child's name, and certain descriptive information to look for, it's not a real Amber Alert!! Want to sincerely help there? Most states have a system you can sign up to get real Amber Alerts sent to your phone.

So now we come to the nastiness that is the current political race. It's very interesting to me that I see citizens of other countries forwarding some of the memes that are going around. I think that what we do and the choices we make do have an effect on the rest of the world. I hope we can make those effects be for the better. Here is my plea, especially for my artist friends as we go through these next few weeks:

 1) Register to vote if you haven't already. Please.

 2) Do NOT get any political information from FaceBook. Most of it is crap, with a spin put out there to support one viewpoint or another. Be extra cautious about what you see on the news as a good number of programs seem to have lost their ability to be objective. Go out and research, look up actual statistics. Get informed. It's more important now than ever. Get the facts and then if you support one candidate strongly, then get involved in the political arena in your community. Stop spreading misinformation around FB.

 3) Here is the important one. We are artists. We are supposed to be bringing beauty and grace to our environments. We should be looking to uplift and bring thought with our art. I am asking you to rise above the nastiness and craziness out there right now. I'm asking you to help me rise above it. I suffer from depression, and I have a hard enough time fighting that fear of failure. I look to my fellow artists to be inspired, to make me work harder, to be determined to do better. I no longer want to see the mocking, degrading and just completely uninformed mistaken information being passed around. I'm asking you as artists to just stop it. Focus on what you can create and share here, and lets lift each other up. We all have bad days and it's ok to vent to feel that community support and love out there, but let us focus on the positive. Let us be the community leaders in fighting ugliness. If we don't do it who will?

I'm grateful to be a citizen of a nation that supports freedom. Freedom to vote, to express, and to do what I wish to do, which is to create. I ask that you consider the above, join me, and if you like what I've written, please share so that other artists will do the same. Thank you for that, and thank you to my artist friends who have been there for me. It means more than you'll ever know.


Friday, March 2, 2012

School Glass Installation

Last November, I became involved in a program for a charter school here that they call "Discovery". I was asked to teach two groups of students (grades 1-3 first for 4 weeks, then grades 4-6 for four weeks) about fused glass. This ended up being such a fun project!

First of all, I have never been in a situation where small-fry kids opened the door for me! It seemed every time I was hauling stuff in and out of the library, where our "class" was set up, there was a student there holding the door for me, and not just the older students. There were hardly any discipline problems for the two hours each day I had the students, and they really seemed to have fun! For the younger grades, I already had the glass cut for them, and I cut any additional pieces they may have needed. The older students were taught how to cut the glass themselves. They were taught about compatibility and melting temperatures. I showed them a video of how glass is made and they tried their hand at making frit. They made drawings of their glass ideas and then put glass pieces together that I took home and melted in my kiln. The last day of each module, the students split into two groups, one group would tour the other Discovery groups to see what they did, the other group presented what they learned to the other students. Of course, they switched half way through.

Each student made 6-10 pieces. There were almost 200 pieces used in the actual installation, each student got one piece to keep, and the rest were made into magnets for school fundraisers. This week, the two ladies at the school responsible for the Discovery events and I arranged the various glass pieces to go on a glass window over the library doors.It took about 5 hours to silicone and tape each one of these pieces into place (with help from those wonderful ladies during the last hour!)

We decided to match up each piece with another one of similar size, and put the fused pieces on both sides of the glass, so that you would see the art no matter which side you were on. The library is directly in ahead of the front doors of the school, so people will see the pieces when they walk in the door, and the students can enjoy the art while they are reading or on the computers in the library.

I went back today and did the final touch ups. I love the bright colors! It was so fun to watch the reactions of the students and teachers as they walked by and saw the project take shape, the students who were involved smiling as they found a piece that they had done.

They've invited me back for this next fall, and we've discussed some ideas. While it's a lot of work for 8 straight weeks, I've decided that end result is so worth it! I really look forward to going back!

Design by Duane Miles, beaded by Kerry