In my first post, about Creativity, I began to describe my experience with sculpting and I thought I might go into more detail on that subject. So as I said in that post I was always a pretty creative kid, and my favorite toys were always the “sandbox” (to borrow a term from the gaming industry) toys. Legos, Play-Doh, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs ( which as a side note can anyone explain to me why they were called that and not “Linkin’ Logs” which seems to me a much more appropriate name, since they are logs that link… Anyways.) I just loved building things, but as I started getting older it seemed to me that Art was only a two-dimensional activity, you could draw or paint, but if you were not some specially trained Sculptor then art was only done on a flat surface.
Until, as I mentioned in the first post, my father got me my first block of clay when I was about fifteen. And it was like an epiphany, that if you got the right medium sculpting could happen anywhere, not just renaissance Italy. So from that point on sculpting was pretty much my first choice for creating whenever it was feasible. And after being transferred to a new high school because I was in danger of flunking my freshman year. I started pursuing my interest in sculpting as more than a fun pass time. I had just been enrolled into a fairly new school called, brace for it, The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical School, or The Met for sort. The school’s basic tenet is that people, children included, will learn about what it is the love and do. so the first thing they try to get you doing is figuring out what you are passionate about and get you going it at least two days a week. Once you’ve started this Internship you work with an advisor to build a curriculum around it.
So that was a bit of a bumpy process,turns out that there are not a lot of artists out there willing to take responsibility for the education of a minor. But in my Junior year I took a ceramics course at my local community college, which is something that the school did to help supplement the students language credits , but also extended the practice to other areas of interest for the students. So this was my first real experience with ceramic clay, if you exclude the two projects I did in elementary school which I think most people do. I learned how to keep the clay hydrated and got my first set of tools and got my first pieces fired in a kiln. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and finished with an A, but that was it for a time, because while I now knew I wanted more of that I wasn’t sure how to get it.
The next year about half way through my Senior year my mother came to me and said that she saw a sign for a Studio Sale. She had checked it out and when she was talked to the owners of the Studio they mentioned that they had interns from The Met already. I could not believe it! I had been looking for a new Internship for like six months, and the Intern Coordinator never thought to mention that we happened to know of a Ceramic Studio that already was familiar with our school, and willing to teach high school students! She never once thought to tell me about them! Gah! Anyways
Now that I had found someone to show me some basic techniques of ceramic sculpting, as well as a place where I could Sculpt, Glaze and Fire my work, I could not get enough. I read everything I could about ceramics, glazes and raku firing (which is only one of hundreds of firing techniques, but was my favorite at the time). I remember during one feverish studying session at the studio, since they had an extensive collection of ceramics books and magazines, they told me that I was probably the first person who ever came to the studio to read. But I could not restrain my enthusiasm I loved ceramics and wanted to do nothing else. That year I built a Raku kiln and wrote an instructional guide on how to build one yourself (I still have it and will post it with photos if there is any interest) for my senior project.
After graduating it was pretty clear that if I was going to go to college that I should look into art schools. Growing up it was always a desire of mine to attend RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) of course once it was an actual choice I realized how expensive it was to attend and with only about 4-5 months of actual work in my portfolio I could hardly win any talent based scholarship. Luckily I was in the College Crusaders whose deal was that they would paid for four years of whatever RIC’s (Rhode Island College) tuition is, if you maintain a B+ GPA and a clean Criminal record until you are 18. So I decide to go to RIC’s four year program.
I loved going to RIC and I plan to talk about my experience there in a future post but to make a long story short I will just say that I majored in Sculpture and got my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts. I studied metal sculpting, wood carving, ceramic sculpting, pottery, drawing, design, photography, and graphic design. I developed what I feel like is a pretty unique style, and found my voice as a sculptor. And then I took a year off before grad school… Worst decision ever. I regret it all the time. Don’t do this unless you and a solid and specific game plan for you you will do with that year or it will never end, and the process of getting into grad school will be all the harder for it.
After a rough time of unemployment I once again was rescued by my mother. She was shopping one day when she bumped into one of the owners of the studio from my old internship and told them about my situation. She told me to go by there new location and check it out. I started working for them in exchange for a shelf a kiln space, a very nice situation if you can arrange it. They helped me put together a portfolio and an artist statement and I began applying to schools it was a stressful and grueling process. 6 months later, after receiving all of my rejection letters, I was pretty bummed. Still, I had gotten back into the practice of making my art and was in a much better place and then I got a job! And was good! But here I am a little less than four years out from graduating from College and I am still not being paid to do the things that I am passionate about.
So I keep my chin up and remind myself that even if you are not being paid to do what you love, at least you still love it… I think I just understood the whole starving artist mentality. Anyways. These days for practical reasons as well as a renewed interest, I have started drawing and writing more again, but there will always be a special place in my heart for sculpture and three-dimensional work in general.
And that’s my take on sculpting.