Week 15: Rebirth

Can you believe it?!  I’m all caught up on this challenge!  Who’d a thunk that while amidst the planning of finals and and completing projects that this would be the time I caught up, but here I am.  And I couldn’t be happier to be caught up with a different theme or photo.

Rebirth.  It can mean so many different things in so many different contexts.  It’s a word that has had a particular significance to me over the past two years, so I’m always happy to do some work surrounding this theme.  And even better, it coincided with a project that I was competing for class.  You know I love it when I can hit two birds with one stone!

The project that we had for class surrounded the idea of “constructed reality”, or tableau photography — creating a scene, world, scenario which does not occur naturally, but in a strange way, could possibly happen.  Playing with the border between truth and fiction.  That’s the best explanation I can give for this, because honestly, I had a terrible time thinking of something to do for this project.  The examples my professor gave the class were vast, which was equally helpful and harmful.  Just as I thought I was getting a grasp on what he was asking for, a whole other group of artists would come up which were completely different, and I would be thrown off again.  Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate the broad overview of example artists he shows us — they have amazing work.  Some of my favorites, which you should go check out, were Duane Michaels, David Hockney, and (this one’s a little creepy) Joel-Peter Witkin.  Three very different styles, three very different conceptual minds, and three equally awesome artists.  So, in wanting to emulate all of them, and not sure how one single idea could encompass that and the parameters of the assignment, I was stuck.

The night before I had to bring in “progress”, I still had nothing.  All day during my classes I was trying to think of something to do for the next day.  I had a bunch of ideas, but nothing feasible this short notice.  Ah, the blight of wanting models in my photographs.  So I dug a little deeper, and this idea came to me, finally.  It was actually something that I had thought of during one of my film photography classes, but for some reason, filed it away in my “will probably never happen” group of photography ideas.  I’m really glad I decided to drudge it up and give it a try.

This whole idea started when I first returned back to school, and was debating leaving my old job and finding something that would actually make me happy.  I wish I could say it was at one of my hardest times, and that things got better from there, but I’m just now starting the incline again.  Even then, however, I would dream about how great life could be, and what it would feel like to let all the stress and drama of my then current life behind.  Flowers and nature have always seemed like a great avenue for me to express a lot of complex ideas, and this project made good use of that.  In correlation with this feeling of wanting a new life, and now revisiting it from a perspective of “rebirth”, along with having gone through some major changes, I wanted to be able to express both the pain and beauty in changes simultaneously.

Although it may be a little unsettling to look at, I really am in love with the result I achieved.  I needed something visceral, raw, an essentially disgusting, to really describe how difficult things have been.  On the other hand, I was dreaming of a new, beautiful life, and since then, have made large strides to work towards it, and wanted an element which would exemplify that sentiment as well.  I chose to place the wound (which was incredibly, surprisingly, easy to make) on my wrist.  I think location is meaningful in itself, as many associate this type of wound with self-harm, and in a sense, living the life I was living was doing exactly that, killing me.  The flower that I chose, Star of Bethlehem, though possessing religious connotations which I didn’t not directly relate to this project, represents all of the things that I imagine this new life, or rebirth, will bring.  Hope, for a better life.  Forgiveness, to myself for not doing this sooner.  Honesty, to stay true to myself.  Innocence and Purity, for all the good, new things, untainted by my previous life.

I love it, and I’m even more excited to keep working on this type of imagery.  I’ll be extending this work for my final, so maybe you’ll see a little more of this soon, ya know, if this doesn’t gross you out too much 😉

rebirth

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Week 12: Seasonal

So I’m pulling another theme from my alternate list this week, because, ya know, I wanna 🙂  You know I love the chance to talk about all things spring and summer, and since the alternate list has this week’s theme as “seasonal”, I’m all about it!

Going to Florida always gets me a little out of whack weather wise, but I’m happy to report that things have warmed up around here.  We may be looking at a cold front for the rest of the month, allegedly, but I’ll take a cooler spring over two feet of snow any day.  Even with the chillier than normal temperatures, it’s been warm enough for the world to blossom, and I’ve been happy to enjoy it and capture some springy moments.

First, let me start with a little ode to the cherry blossoms…

They’re always some of my favorites.  I wish they would last a little longer, but with the first windy day, they’re gone.  I’m happy to have had a sunny day off where I got to wander around a little and snap some photos.  It was actually one of those windy days while I was photographing these, so it was a little difficult to capture a clear image.  Luckily, I did, and I was also lucky enough to snap a few of the baby bumble bees which were fluttering around the blossoms and fighting the wind.  Poor little things — they would be there one second, happily bouncing from flower to flower, and then woosh!  A huge gust of wind would come, and they’d be gone.  They’re tough though — they made it back 🙂

As for some of the other flavors of spring, you always get the same first visitors; daffodils, hyacinths, and the cute little “weed” flowers, you know, from the weeds that grow in the grass….not that…I’m not talking about that!  But while I was on vacation a couple weeks ago, and at the Bok Tower Gardens, I took advantage of the garden part of that visit, and took pictures of the gorgeous things they had in bloom there. It was really a fun place to see, and you should check it out if you’re in the area.  According to their website, something is always in bloom, and I wouldn’t doubt it; the weather there is perfect for year-round blooms.  While I was there, I’m pretty sure I was fortunate enough to make it during one of their peak bloom season, and among other things, was able to enjoy their Japanese Magnolias, Camellias, and Nun’s Orchids.  It was a beautiful walk, and smelled amazing!  Even as we were a few minutes away and driving up to the gardens, you could smells the flowers.  So while I’m dreaming of warmer weather on this chilly spring night, enjoy these photos of the little promises that warmer weather is right around the corner!

 

Week 11: Landscape Reflection

I’ve been excited to post this one!  Reflections are always a fun thing to work with, and this time, I found the perfect place to photograph.

The last few times that I’ve gone to Florida, I’ve been searching for interesting little day trips to take.  I like where I go to visit, but I know there’s so much to see in Florida that is not Disney, and I want to soak all of that in, or as much as I can, anyways.  One place that I had been eyeing up was Bok Tower Gardens.  From what I could tell from quickly browsing their website a million times, they have an awesome garden and tower, with a perfect reflecting pool for this theme.  So I decided to read a little more in to it during my most recent trip, and I finally decided to go check it out.

It really was a beautiful garden, and a deceptively quick walk to the tower.  The weather was beautiful, and I was up for a long walk, but appreciated the extra time I had to browse around the gardens since it didn’t take forever to get to the tower.  So many things were in full bloom, so I was able to get plenty of great flower pictures, which you know I love.  The tower, I’m happy to report, did not disappoint.  It was much taller than I expected, and a beautiful pink coral color, with tons of intricate details.

We encountered a sweet older woman while we were there who gave us a great little history of the tower.  The builder, Edward Bok, immigrated from the Netherlands when he was a child.  His goal was to achieve the “American Dream”, as she put it, and with hard work, he did just that.  He became an incredibly successful publisher and author, and in retirement, moved to Florida.  The tower and gardens were a sort of passion project for him, and in it’s completion, he gave it to the American people as a gift.  How endearing, as was our sweet story teller.  He refused to disclose how much he spent on the tower and gardens because he wanted to keep the notion of it being a gift in tact.  I love hearing stories like this, of people overcoming the odds to achieve the “American Dream”; it always makes me think of my grandparents.

It was great hearing the story from her, and I kept that in mind as we were walking the gardens and admiring the tower.  It’s really quite impressive when you think of it.  It was all completed in the 1920’s.  Imagine how incredibly difficult it must have been to create something like this.  Within the singing tower, there is a large carillon, like an organ/bell tower, as she explained.  The bells had to be brought over from England via boat, with the largest weighing about 12 tons.  I really can’t even fathom how they moved it!

I’m glad that I decided to finally check this place out.  If you’re ever in the central Florida area, I suggest you do the same.  It will be a nice afternoon, and don’t worry, the gardens provide plenty of shade from the hot Florida sun.  Enjoy!

 

 

Week 3: Red

Well, I sure am missing the weather I was around during my week 1 self portrait.  With all this snow, I’ve been wanting to get out and shoot, but things have been pretty messy, to say the least!  It’s freezing (ok, so it actually wasn’t that bad today, but it’s been freezing), there’s snow and slush everywhere, and my car has a tire that keeps deflating, so I’m not gonna push it.  Today, I thought I would just run with this theme, and give it a go with the resources I had.

With all the weather related problems in the area, I didn’t want to have the same issues I had last year and miss a chance to do another “red” theme.  I still have my original idea for that one, but also still have my original problem, lack of model, with a new problem, lack of location.  I’ll get it eventually, but for now, I’ll just tuck that one back in the memory/idea bank.

So, red.  I woke up early-ish this morning, and started mixing some red paint with a little bit of water.  With the massive amounts of snow around the yard, and some of them making some interesting wall-like shapes, I thought it would be fun to use those to my advantage, and make something creative.  So with my gooey red paint, and all bundled up, I started splashing paint around, which really didn’t work as well as I thought it would.  With as much snow as we had, and the fact that it’s been sitting there for a few days, I figured it would be kind of frozen and give me a good surface.  On the contrary, the snow was really light and fluffy on the top, so the paint pretty much disappeared.  Good thing I’m cautious, because I didn’t just go and dump all my paint in one spot, so I had a couple more chances to try it again.  Eventually, I started getting the shapes and brightness that I wanted, and though it didn’t look like the paint was sitting on top of the snow, you could see it much better at this point.

I worked in two areas with this.  Once was completely flat, pristine, untouched snow, which, with all it’s fluffiness, didn’t work out as well as I thought it would.  As I was investigating the yard, I found a few dried plants sticking out of the wall-like areas, so I decided to drown them in red paint.  This worked much better in my opinion.  You can really see the gooey texture on the plants while still getting some interesting textures and designs in the snow as well.  And since this is in the “artistic” category of the challenge, I’m happy with how slightly creepy these turned out as well 🙂  I showed them to a friend of mine who doesn’t always like the “weird and dark” things I do, and she said she felt inspired to write a murder mystery.  Thanks?  Thanks; I’ll take it as a compliment, because I know what it looks like!  So enjoy my fun, messy, paint experiment!

 

 

 

 

 

“Well, Welcome to This One.”

I love it when people have just the right things to say.  I also like it when something gets me right in the feels, for lack of a better word, and catches me off guard when they do.  I got that from one of my professors the other day, so I’d thought I’d share a little more about it with you.

It’s been a crazy few weeks since starting school, as I’m sure you’re well aware by my constant reminders.  But even with all the craziness, it’s been filled with some pretty great moments.  First off, everyone thinks that I’m 21…max!  I’m even being mistaken for a teenager, which makes me question some things, but I’ll still take it as a great compliment.  I’m finally starting to feel a little more comfortable, and that I may be someone who is on-par with this “art world” that I’ve flung myself in to.  Yes, I know I made it in to MICA, and that should be reassurance enough, but it isn’t.  “They”, the powers that be at MICA, even send out emails, or did at least, to new students telling them just that — “don’t be scarred/intimidated/depressed/stressed/etc…you made it here, and that means a lot!”  When coming from the world of strict business attire,where the only creativity being expressed was that of craftily written procedure or performance review, it’s hard to see yourself amounting to anything creative.  No matter how bad I want to succeed at this, I’m essentially terrified.

When I think about where I came from, the life of banking, management, stress, abuse, and all things wrong in a corporate environment, I have two feelings that have stuck around: abandonment, and escape.  Pretty conflicting thoughts, don’t you think?  As if my feelings towards them weren’t complicated enough, they still continue to be, even almost a year and a half leaving.  I suppose some of the emotions you could equate to this would be depression, anxiety, PTSD, failure,….freedom and relief?  Like I said, it’s complicated.  I whole heartedly gave over 10 years of my life to this company, only to be targeted, bullied, and attacked.  And when I fell ill as a result of this, they didn’t care at all, and wanted nothing more to do with me.  Don’t get it twisted though, no matter how it may sound, I played the hand I was dealt the best I could, and ended up resigning.  Some what reluctantly, but still, it was my choice to leave — at least they didn’t get that satisfaction.  Either way, it was a heartbreaking change, even though at the same time I wanted to do something different with my  life.  I wanted to make it better, but I was terrified of failing.

But like I said, you have to play the cards you’re dealt, and my game had just changed.  So I decided, why not, apply for this school that I’ve been wanting to go to forever.  I was just about to finish up my associates degree, because I could only handle baby steps, and didn’t see myself making it this far.  Going to school, an art school, to get a Bachelor’s degree seemed unobtainable for me.  After getting in, it was then the financial aspects that had me burdened, because let’s face it, you can’t pay for the “ivy league of art schools” on a non-existent salary.  No one was excited about the news except a few, literally few, friends, so in trying to be realistic about it, I didn’t let myself get excited about it, or celebrate.  I’m 30, and just got my first college acceptance letter in the mail, I should be excited.  Oh, wait, except for the fact that I’ll be 30….in college…with teenagers — another issue of concern.  I convinced myself I was too old, and just needed to buckle down and get a “real job”.  Oh, and back to the no job thing, I had to move out of my apartment, my safe haven, my home….my life was falling apart when it should have been on the up and up.

So I decided not to go, and things got dark, really dark, and fast.  I started looking for banking jobs, admin jobs, anything office job like, and to no avail.  What was the end of an already incredibly depressed year, I was even worse for the wear.  Then a friend hired me to bake a cake and photograph her wedding, and another friend asked me to photograph her baby, and it felt great doing things that were artistic, and that I got paid for!  Imagine that.  I figured, as the deadline for the deposit was fast approaching, I’ll just take this money to pay for the deposit.  As irresponsible as it may be, and even though it’s most likely only delaying the inevitable, I’ll have a little more time to pretend that this is still an option.

In the mean while, I still looked for “normal” jobs, but also worked on art, this blog (yay), craft fairs, and school stuff — scheduling, talking to advisors, financial aid, and so on.  I had it all figured out, except how to pay for just a little bit of it.  So annoying.  With all the work I did, this little percentage of tuition that I couldn’t come up with was going to hold me back.  I begged family to help, co-sign, anything, but they resisted, insisting that I needed to get off this vacation mode and get my life back together.  I have to say, my family has an interesting perspective of what vacation is if my life was the model for it.  Then, out of the blue, my parents, though they were very clear that they disapproved of my idea/plan/decisions/everything, that they wanted me to be happy.  What?  Seriously?  I was dumbfounded, but took their help as quickly as possible.  Though I have to hear about it all the time now, I’m thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to give this a go, even if the future of it seems uncertain.

So then I’m finally there!  Orientation.  Oh my God….can I say that it was exponentially worse than I expected?  The school and facilities seemed nice, but the people — some of the other students are down right…..just, immature, and not good people, and incredibly filled with entitlement, and unappreciative.  It’s a little astounding, and overwhelming.  I felt like crying, and leaving, and never coming back, but I knew I couldn’t let these people, who really didn’t do anything to me except make my age difference become even more apparent, control what was going to be my outcome of going here.  So I did what I knew I would do, what I always do.  I worked.

It felt great to finally have something consume my life again.  While it was nice being away from work, it was pretty boring at times, even with all my little projects that I tried to fill my time with.  Not only that, but I actually started working again, and not at some terrible place that was irrelevant to what my goals were.  I’m busy again, and it’s a great feeling.  I’m successful in this busyness, which is even a better feeling.

Even though the feedback from some of these professors has been minimal, I have enough information to come to the conclusion that I have an A in each of my six, count ’em, six classes.  I would say yay, but I worked my ass off, and there is no yay for me when it comes to grades.  I either get all A’s and am contempt with it because it’s the only acceptable outcome, or I flirt with the line between A and B, and I’m really mad about it.  It’s about half way through the semester now, and I’ve received a couple of mid-term reviews, and hope to have a couple more.  They’ve been informal, and though email, so it’s nice to have the feed back, because not having it drives me crazy, but it’s also a little impersonal.  Lucky for me, I have one professor, my sculpture professor, who is very profession, and a great communicator.  He set up mid-term review meetings with each of us, and actually sat us down to talk about our progress, grades, and future expectations.  Now that gets a yay 🙂

So in that meeting, I heard some great things — I have an A+, something that he only gives out like once or twice a year.  How unexpected.  What else was unexpected was that he told me that I took to sculpture like “a fish to water”.  I have to say, out of all the classes I signed up for this semester, this was the one I was most apprehensive about.  I never work three-dimensionally, so this was all new for me, and in having such high expectations for my self and my grades, this was going to be a challenge.  We chatted a little more, and he got the point of saying that he could tell that I was very dedicated.  Of course — do you have any idea of what I had to go through to get here?! Of course not, I’m being irrational, and joking.  I did say, however, that yes, I’m incredibly dedicated to being here.  I went through hell with the life that I had before, and I’m never going back to that world.  And then he said it…”Well, welcome to this one”.  He went on to say, many more positive things, what expectations he had for me, and that he saw me doing great things, but that little sentence stuck out to me even more than that.  I know that with the grades I’m getting in the school that I’m now attending that I should have more confidence in my work.  It’s amazing to hear that he views me as an A+ student, a natural at this art, and that he, and incredibly successful artist in his own right, sees me being successful as well.  But that welcome, as silly as it may seem, hit me hard.  I’m here, I’m still in one piece, and I’m doing the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.  I’m doing the thing that I pushed out of my mind for the last 15 years of my life.  I’m doing something that will change my life.  It’s hard to believe, but I am.  I’m doing it.  It’s crazy.  Crazy good.  I don’t ever have to go back to that life now, not if I don’t want to.

At the end of all my rambling, I’ve included some photos of things that I’ve been working on for various classes – sculpture, digital photo, studio lighting, and EMAC, which is like a sampling of all this electronic and digital in the art making world. I didn’t include anything from my art history classes, cause I figured you probably wouldn’t appreciate having papers shoved in your face to read.  And it’s ok if you think some of these are a little wacky, cause to be honest, I do too, but I like them 🙂   And what I like even more, is that this is just the beginning of a change so grand that I can’t even imaging how great things will be when I finish.  I imagine a very tear-filled graduation on my part, but only happy tears.  So thanks for the welcome, and just so you know, there will never be a goodbye.

Week 36: Natural Elements

Well now, this is something right up my alley, isn’t it?  Natural Elements is what I’m working with this week, and I’m happy to do it!  With summer fading, I’m going to take every chance to capture anything that is naturally summer.  Although, it was mentioned that the theme does not have to consist of something nature-ie itself, rather, it could be something from nature.  It will be interesting thinking of something from that perspective, so I may go with that.  I’ve kind of overloaded on the same type of nature photography that I do.  Can’t say I don’t love it, but I know you all have seen a lot of it lately.

With that being said, I have some more of my typically nature pictures for you 🙂

While trying to get into my first little photo project for school (yay!), I ventured out a little over that past few days to see if I could find something interesting.  It’s basically an introductory, learn-how-to-use-your-camera, type project, so we have free rein to snap what we please.  I took my camera to work and caught a few shots there (gasp – work? what? yeah!  I have started my new job, and it’s been pretty great aside from my nervous jitters).  Then of course, while driving around yesterday, with out my camera (when will I learn?) I drove past a place I used to work for a long time ago.  Behnke’s Nurseries is a great little plant nursery with tons of things that you can’t find at your run of the mill store.  It was a fun little first job for highschool-aged me to have, and I’ve always liked going back there for random things after working there for a couple of seasons.

So as I said, I was driving by, and was completed captivated by these monstrous sunflowers they had right along the road — something even a little unusual for them.  So this morning, I woke up and headed out with my camera to capture some photos of the sunflowers, and whatever other little interesting things they had around the shop.  Lots of pretty flowers and cute things around, just as I remembered.  So while I think of something a little different to do, enjoy a few of my normal nature-style photos!

Week 35: Half & Half

Quite an open theme I had on my hands this week — half & half.  With my coffee? No, thanks, I’m talking something a little bit different.  What I automatically think of is a divide, more like an opposite type of project, but that wasn’t quite checking the “half & half” box in my mind.  So I went out in search of things that could fit the bill, and just so happen to find them in my back yard.

Summer is starting to fade…

It was literally just a few days ago that I was talking about a hot summer day, but with the slight change of the weather, and the fact that I was at the beach more like two weeks ago, things have started to take a turn for the worse already.  It’s also Labor Day weekend — the official end of summer.  While I haven’t received the notice, and have still been enjoying some hot, sunny days, other elements of nature apparently have.  I’m going to hold on to this nice weather for as long as I can, and will try to ignore the things changing around me.

It does prove for an interesting time of year, as well as some unique garden aesthetics.  While some things are in bloom, others have completely died.  Even within the same plant — parts are trying to grow, while others are giving up and conceding to the slowly cooling weather.

I’m enjoying both the literal and figurative expression of this theme.  Literally speaking, these plants are half dead, half living.  Plain and simple; a great example of a single object being split in to something which would be considered “half & half”.  Figuratively speaking, I see these as examples of life and death; new beginnings, closure for old issues.

I’m sure you all know by now that this has been a pretty interesting year for me, full of many changes and new beginnings of my own.  I’m sure you also know I like to work with opposites, and thoughts of life and death are often projected into my work.  Though I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted for this week, I did go out with a small intention to locate something along these lines.  Over the past few days I’ve started a new job, completed my first week at MICA, and have scheduled to begin my second new job in a few days.  It’s been overwhelming; I’ve been nervous, unsure, self-doubting, uncomfortable, and just plain scarred.  It’s also been the best week that I’ve had in a long time (except for vacation — the beach wins, hands-down, no matter what is going on in my life!).  I’ve also been happy.  Really, truly, eyes watering up, feeling excited, butterflies in my stomach, chills, engaged, inspired, motivated, happy.

For the first time in a long time I feel as if I’m within a group of like-minded individuals, and that I have contributed something of meaning.  I’ve also been able to let go of a lot of old ghosts haunting me by taking these steps in moving on.  It’s truly hard to grasp when I catch myself in the middle of it, but I’m at the begging of a journey that I have been wanting to take for as long as I can remember; a journey which I never though I would embark on.  Though I was unhappy, I fought for a very long time to hold on to the life I used to have.  I was afraid of change, and terrified of failure, both of which kept me in an unhealthy yet comfortable position.  I’ve made some extreme changes, and have taken some chances that even shocked me at times.

So while you may be viewing these pictures as I initially had, as images of the summer beginning to fade, remember that for the blooms to return next year, they have to start over, and let got of the seasons before.  In this case, life will come from death, and things that are half living now will be in full bloom again in a short while.  Letting go of old things will allow for new opportunities.  My life, which was being half-lived, will be in full bloom before I know it, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.