"the artist has one function--to affirm and glorify life."
- w. edward brown

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I'm home!

and my oh my are there Christmas goodies to be had! hurry up and come on down siblings, because there are lots of things to share... and yippee! the next class I have to take is in Italy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I'm all done! Now I can pack, do laundry and get some sleep before I go home!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

hip hip hooray!

Another exam done and now all that's left is to finish up my drawing final project and then work tomorrow morning and evening and Thursday morning, do some laundry and pack and fly home!!!!

I'm so ready!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


All I have to say is that NPR's online holiday concerts are getting me through my paper so fast. I love Christmas music.

I can give my vote for the Chanticleer Christmas recorded December 21, 2004 and The Morehouse-Spelman Christmas Concert recorded December 20, 2004.

Very good music. And very ready to go study some flashcards now that my take home exam is done!

one almost done! (with one)

I'm almost done (3/4ths) with my first exam. Yes its a take home, and I have another 600 words to write in the long essay part, but the 5 hours I spent in the library last night working on the 'short' answer part is done and all I have to do is finish my long essay. Not to bad for the day before exams...

As for the weather, I think its snowing again... and cold.... and snowing again. Did I mention the snow? I cannot wait to sit out on the deck and read my book in the sun, even if I have to wear a sweatshirt, its better than the grey!

Oh, and a random question, are crochet hooks allowed on planes anymore or will I have to check it? I have some hats to make as Christmas presents for friends and roommates over the holiday...


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Getting there...

Well, I have to say that I think this semester has been one of the most difficult of my schooling carrer. I know I over extended myself, and it sucks a little to realize how much is left, but at the same time, my BFA review went well, and while I haven't had a chance to talk to the professor I was assigned and hear the critical feed back, I heard from numerous profs that they thought my work was excellent and that I showed that I had really been working hard. So, when I get stressed out, and I'm freaking about what I have left to do, it is nice to remember that it is for something, and that my work is being recognized. On the flip side, I think what is most difficult for me knowing I have my art history exams coming up is that I don't see the final result like I do in a studio class. But I do know they are extremely worthwile and I do enjoy learning.

So, its down to three exams, two final class critiques, an individual final critique, and plane ride home only six days away (of course I never count today, its almost over. Not really but six is better than seven) :)

Friday, December 09, 2005


I had to get up at 7:00am this morning to get in to work by 8:00am.
I was up till 3:00am in the art basement setting up my work.
I'm falling asleep at work.
Today's the BFA reviews.
I have exams starting in three days.
Oh boy...

Thursday, December 08, 2005


The artist statement has gone through another round of editing... it is now more concise, but I'm not sure it really says what I want it to. Well, I guess there's just more to write in my lengthy artist statement next year... the art studio senior seminar students have to write a 15 page artist statement. yep, that's a lot.

My Artist Statement

Well, here it is, at long last, my artist statement that I had to write for my review. Let me know what you all think.

Sorry it's kind of long, but I have a lot to say. Oh and the second gas firing went well, we unloaded it today and it all looks good!

Artist Statement:
In the art work I have been producing this semester I have attempted to deal with the boundary between the physical and the spiritual. As a Christian, this means asking two questions. Where does God come to me? and Where do I meet God? These two questions, I believe are radically different. Best explained by the writer Anne Lamott, my understanding of God and his grace comes often in the mundane, small things of life; the created ‘stuff’ that so often goes unnoticed. This is where I feel like I meet God, in the everyday small things where I can begin to understand who this creator God is. It is in this understanding that my functional ceramics are situated. The mundane of a mug, I believe, can show the goodness of a creative God, working through me, just as much as a figurative sculpture.
On the other hand, I see God coming to me in a different way; he comes to me in my heart and in my mind. I know that God loves me, and I know that I am created by him; this is the knowledge of my heart. So often though, my mind can not understand that knowledge, and in this way God speaks to me where I am most vulnerable, in my fallen human self where my understanding is flawed and my mind limited by what I can understand about an unlimited God. This problem of understanding the creator God, I believe is deeply rooted in the idea of humans being image bearers of God and how despite the goodness of creation our understanding of God had been disrupted, and what significance that has on our interactions and daily lives. It is in this half of my interaction with God that I find other individuals explanations most useful, to verbalize what I cannot.
Kasimir Malevich, in his essay titled “Suprematism” discusses the losing of the physical and the spiritual that comes from this nothingness, where there are no symbols or artistic conventions. While I agree with him that the idea of the spiritual is often lost in our modern world when we become so busy with the clutter of everyday life, there is a profound difference in my beliefs. Where Malevich wants to rid himself of the physical to find this spiritual, I believe that because we are made in the image of God, there is good to be found in the physical. In addition, because of the goodness of the creation, there is something worthwhile about the physical. This is one of the reasons that I am exploring the figurative form. While there are issues with the fallen body, the fact that we are made in the image of God, I believe reveals that there is an inherent goodness to our physicality.
An artist who I feel captures this sense of the goodness of the physical in his work, albeit in a very different way, is Felix Gonzales Torres. While Minimalist in their appearance, Torres’ works represent the physical and the emotional in ways never envisioned by the minimalist originators. His sculptural works to tend to be critiques of society’s treatment of certain bodies, specifically those individuals affected by AIDS and the resulting struggles and eventual death, but there is still an inherent hope that exists in his work. Mundane objects are transformed into objects that represent love, loss, grief and so many human emotions. Maybe more poignant is the lack of the human figure in Torres’s work, but nevertheless, his work shows what it is to be human and what it is to deal with the body. This is expressed for me in my abstracted sculptural works which tend to be composite works like Torres’ and made up of small, simple components. And while conceptually dealing with the body, these works of mine do not deal with naturalistic human physicality.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

O Christmas tree...

A Holiday Poem for my Family titled
'Stalling' or 'I Love Christmas' or 'Tomorrow Is My Last Day of Class!'

I've had Christmas music in my head for two days.
It really is something that just stays and stays.
I'm not really sure how all the songs go,
But then when I hear them I think, OH NO!

It's only two days till the time is near,
My BFA review instills in me great fear.
My work is all done, there's nothing more to do,
But unload a kiln and whip up a drawing or two.

And then I get thinking of eighteen days hence,
When all of my family will be within the same fence.
And together we will share some holiday cheer
and try not to fight, or drink too much beer.

:) For you guys...

Monday, December 05, 2005

guess that tune!

OK, so what song is running through my head right now?

that's right that loverly classic "Another One Bites the Dust"...

Another paper done, another project finished, both ready to be turned in tomorrow for classes...

Another kiln stacked (that's the second gas firing in a week), and lit, and tomorrow I'll go in early (but not too early, this time around 8:00 am) and turn up the heat,a and spend the day nervously attending it, as I have two major pieces in it that I need to turn out for my BFA review on Friday... Coincidentally, Friday morning should be the right time to open the kiln! Talk about cutting it close...

So aside from the Art History flash cards I have yet to make to review for my exam a week from today (there are 260 cards total), and the BFA statement and title cards, and works to set up for Friday morning, and the agonizing hours while the Faculty deliberates, and the final drawing project that I have to finish.... Well I'm almost there!

At least the end is in sight...

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim....

Set that to music and you're my hero... and that folks is my life's soundtrack right now... :)

Friday, December 02, 2005

The final push

Well, the final push has begun for me. A week until I have my BFA review, and then a week of exams and I'm home. That of course means I have a lot of work to finish up in the next week, but I think it's doable. It better be at least.

For those of you interested in the kiln firing results, I am sorry, but I don't have a digital camera so I can't take any pictures for you, but trust me it was a good one!

Now, it's time for some homework at the Curriculum Center. And then after work its down to the Art Department to finish glazing my work and maybe make a stand for a piece for my review. Then I'll be heading home to work on a paper for the rest of the day and all day tomorrow!

Hope your day is a packed as mine, and it's only 22 days till Christmas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Its done!!!

I opened the kiln this morning and I was so happy with the results! I had glazed a lot of my work because the intro students hadn't and we needed more work for a full firing, so I had the majority of my work in this firing.

My stuff came out so well, I cannot even describe it! I didn't sleep well last night because I was nervous and excited, but this morning, I was so relieved... It actually was amazing, and I was highly complimented by my prof for both my work and my time spent doing the firing...

Now all I have really is some final projects in my drawing class, a paper to finish for Modernism Art History, and Exams to study for... oh, and my BFA review... I'm a little nervous about that, but I should be alright. Hopefully...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Almost there!

Well, its 6:30 and the kiln is finally up to about 2500 degrees! That means, soon, the firing will be over!

Well, at least the kiln pyrometer reads 2500, but its old and off by about 300 degrees, so its getting there.
At least cone 8, the physical temperature gauge we use in the kiln itself, is starting to melt and arc over... yeah lots of technical stuff, but its fun.

And I got a lot of homework done during my times when I wasn't burning myself... yeah I really did that too. Not too big, but about a dime sized spot on my arm where I accidentally toutched a spy hole plug (glowing red mind you) against my forearm (and it wasn't on purpose either, completely accidental... guess I'm a clutz). Not my brightest moment, but it woke me up real fast and caused me to focus extra hard. Good thing we have a first aid kit down here.

But I'm alright and its almost light! Have a great day

Kiln fun

Well, It's late and I'm alone in the art basement... and the kiln is still on and getting hotter, which is good.

I've turned up the heat on it, actually turned the pressure up, allowing more gas to get to the burners, making it get hotter, and I have closed the flue a little bit, so that the reduction starts. What that means is that the gas dosen't all burn in the kiln because I'm reducing the amount of oxygen that is able to enter the kiln, and because of that, the gas has to get the oxygen from somewere to combust, so it begins to take it from the compounds in the glazes and in the cly body, causing different compounds to form than would in a oxidation firing, where the oxygen is left free...

needless to say, its pretty complicated chemistry that's happening... but its really cool to understand the reactions and stuff...

So while I sit and monitor the kiln and make sure everything is staying where it should, as it tends o fluctuate a little at this stage, I am getting some homework done. Lots of fun stuff happening... I'l be sure to let you all know how it goes. hopefully there will be some good pieces in this firing!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Fun times in the Ceramics Studio

Ok, well, now that my anger at the clay has subsided, and it seems to be doing things that I want it to, I thought I'd post again about that part of my life which is overwhelming, the Ceramics Studio.

After a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at Tim and Pat's, the food was excellent as was the company, and a nice relaxing evening, Friday morning came around, and I knew that I was going to need to head back to the studio to get back to work.
So after clearing the driveway with Dan and Mike, and engaging in a little snow combat, Mike was kind enough to drive me back to Calvin where I could recommence the studio stuff.

I spent Friday afternoon finishing glazing my work and prepping kiln equipment for the stacking that was to begin on Saturday. O ground down some shelves, applied kiln wash to the shelves (that keeps work from fusing to the shelves if a glaze runs) and sorting the work by height.

After that, I went home, ate some dinner and went to bed... Exciting night, no?

On Saturday, I was back in the Studio, and was working on my own pieces, and when Prof. Greidanus came in we stacked the kiln together, as it is a huge job for one person. The two of us got everything stacked and placed correctly by 4:00 pm and at that point I was really tired... kiln shelves are extremely heavy by the way, and awkward to place. Not easy work, rather strenuous actually...

An then today, after going to church this morning, I met with Professor Greidanus at the Studio at 1:00 pm and we ignited the burners, and while a little nerve wracking, as it is a lot of gas in those pipes and a little daunting when you think about all the work in the kiln, everything went smoothly and the kiln is now firing nicely.

Now comes the fun part, tonight, late or rather early tomorrow morning I get to go in and turn up the gas, start the reduction and monitor the firing... this is all extremely exciting, and kinda cool to have this responsibility... needless to say I'm stoked!

So, for now, I'm finishing papers, working on HW for tomorrow, and getting ready for tonight. I may take a nap later, to have some energy for the early hours.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I hate clay (no I don't)

I hate what happens when you literally spend two months working on a ceramic sculpture, working on making it look good, making it look nice, taking the time drying it out slowly, fixing issues that come up when it dries, only to have it crack up the side in the kiln...
I'm rather furious right now... at myself, at the clay, at the stupid sculpture...
But, I may be able to work on fixing it, maybe I can epoxy it together, but I'm not too sure, I think it may be beyond help... I want to throw it out... but it was so good!!! ARRGH!!!

Now, I have the joy of instead of needing to finish two sculptures for my final review this semester (not to mention my drawing final projects), I need to add at least one more on there so I'll have enough work for my review... I think I'm going to bring a pillow and sleep in the ceramic studio tonight, at least, work till I can't stay awake and then fall asleep and wake up for class tomorrow morning... It looks like I'm doing an allnighter in the Art Department... thankfully it's Thanksgiving soon.

But the kicker is that on Friday, I need to get back to Calvin, no rest for the weary, and load the big gas kiln and fire it... oh the joy of holiday weekend working!

And yet, deep down, it really is a blast working in the studio and firing the kilns... and I do love the clay, except when it's not doing what I want.

Oddly enough, only ceramists have this problem, what other media, when they've 'finished' a work do they put it in a fire where it can explode, and then glaze it where it can ruin the surface, and then put it in a hotter fire where it can stick to the kiln shelves, explode, be hit by another exploding piece... I'm crazy to think that I will be doing this for the rest of my life...

Ok, that was an emotional and frustration load that I kinda just puked up... eww, puke.

Monday, November 21, 2005


Ok, so I'm up early, and I'm ready to go to the studio. As this is on the downward slope towards Christmas, I have lots to do and never enough time. But my Northern Renaissance paper on Albrecht Durer is done, and I'm feeling good about that. So now its off to produce work....
I hope nobody gets a case of the Mondays today!

Sunday, November 20, 2005


If there was such a thing as Art Trivial Pursuit, I think I could kick its game board butt... no joke. Maybe I'll make this version...

Here would be some questions:
1) In traditional Western iconography, which saint is shown by a wheel?
- Why that would be St. Catherine, as she was to be martyred on a spiked wheel, but when she touched it, it fell apart... she was then beheaded.

2) Name at least 4 of the items associated with the Passion of Christ that are shown in Western Christian art.
- Why those would be the scourge (aka. whip), the cross, the nails, the hammer, the pliers that pulled the nails out, the sponge, the lance, the plaque on the cross... that's about it.

3) Which artist/engraver made self-portraits that depicted himself as Christ in such ways that papers written about said images would be extremely difficult to write and confusing conclusions would be drawn about said images?
- Right, that's Albrecht Durer... and my paper is still not finished.

better late than never...

Ok, so since the entire family is blogging, and I'm kinda out of the loop, here it is, the Blog of Bob... just don't expect too much, I do have exams and BFA reviews coming up, but I'll do my best...

Right now, I'm taking a break from typing a paper on Albrecht Durer and one of his self portraits depicting himself as Christ....

The difficulty I'm having is deciding how to discuss this issue. Is this really a very heretical thing that should not be done? Or rather is it a pious attempt to understand what Christ was going through?

Anyway, I hope the paper sounds decent...
And its almost Thanksgiving!! Yeah for a short week of classes!!