Summer Happenings/ MFA Thesis crisis

Here are a few new sculptures that I have finished this spring. Each of them are currently in exhibitions. Unnerving Anticipation is at the Meadville Coulcil on the Arts, Breathing Exercise is at Youngstown University in Ohio, and Dirty Martini is at "Critics Choice" invitational at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine. I'm excited to have already had my work in eight separate exhibitions this year, and in six different states, but I have some haunting questions.

 Each of these pieces are quite different stylistically, formally, in scale and in finish. They're all made by me though. As an artist, Is sticking to a style necessary? Is it appropriate for artists to experiment with different modes of expression? If an artist isn't recognizable, will they be successful?

I am a student at the moment, and for that reason I suppose that I am given more flexibility to experiment. I am not always compelled to make the same type of work, but I do always work with a concern for the environment as a main source of inspiration. Is this enough? can/should each idea be executed with the same style, or does each scenario deserve a unique approach?

I will be mulling on these questions during this summer, and hopefully find some confidence to stick to one answer or another, before I start in on my thesis work.
Unnerving Anticipation
Unnerving Anticipation

Breathing Exercise

Dirty Martini

Sculptures from Candidacy Show "4 Sight"

 This work was made during the fall semester of 2013, the end of which marked the half-way point of my graduate school experience. Three other compatriots, Aaron Pickens, Austin Wieland, and Nash Quinn were approaching the same gate, and we decided combine powers and curate a show that would qualify our work as candidates for "Candidacy".

The work I made for this show continued a conversation that I have been developing with my work. Mythology, humor, heritage and cultural reference all play a part in how I investigate the relationship between humans and the natural world.
I express loss, irony, beauty and the uncanny as a way of reflecting my experience as a participant of the human/nature relationship.
"This Hossenfeffor's Raw"  Wood-fired Porcelain.  Image taken by Aaron Pickens   2013

"Keep Your Nose Down" Wood-fired Porcelain, found wood  and metal   3013

"Keep Your Nose Down"    2013

"Mother Goose" Earthenware, Glaze, Slips   2013

"My Little Pack Mule" Earthenware, Glaze, Slips  2013

"Tripped" Earthenware, Glaze, Slips. 2013.

"Tripped" Earthenware, Glaze, Slips. 2013.
"Tripped" Earthenware, Glaze, Slips. 2013.

"Tripped" Earthenware, Glaze, Slips. 2013.

View from "Mother Goose" Image taken by Aaron Pickens  2013

Image of "4 Sight" A show by Aaron Pickens, Austin Wieland, Benjamin Lambert and Nash Quinn. 2013. Image by Aaron Pickens

Image of "4 Sight" A show by Aaron Pickens, Austin Wieland, Benjamin Lambert and Nash Quinn. 2013. Image by Aaron Pickens


Blue Hinge-Fish.  Cone 6 Oxidation, 18"x16"x 6", 2008,
Headlight, Cone 6 Oxidation,  8"x 6" x 4". 2008
Cone 10 Wood-Fired, 16' x 11" x 7"  2009
Huh?, Cone 10 Wood-Fired, 18" x 8" x 6", 2009
Puff  Cone 6 Reduction, 14" x 12" x 7" 2009

Dressed to Impress.

Dressed to Kill



Ink Blot Test

Liveaboard (Detail)

Mr. Squid-Bird-Head (running wings)

Mr. Squid-Bird-Head (Flying Wings)
Up a River

Sturgeon General

Sturgeon General (Detail)

Wrapping up Spring Semester 2013

It has been a while since I have done a post in here, but a lot has happened since my last post. I finished my first year if graduate school, got married to my lovely wife Jodi Carpenter, and made a dinnerware set for a wood-firing that just reached temperature under two days ago.  The intention of this post is to wrap up the end of my semester last year. Some images are of older work that I never documented until recently and other images are from pieces I made for the show, entitled Over the river and Through the Woods, that I completed with my classmate Jocelyn Howard. The work that I made for this show was my attempt to explore how classic American, Environmental Icons are relevant today. you can probably guess that my outlook is not cheerful.
Bird Woman.

Bird Woman with Papoose

Bird Woman

Cardiograph Specimen



John Muir

After a lot of musing, I decided to call this sculpture If a Bear Falls in the Woods. The whole piece is over 6 feet long

Gallery Shot with Light Hawk at the Diner

Gallery Shot with fish and JM

Studio Work Is Finally Starting to Come Into Focus

I have been working on two large pieces for a show that Jocelyn Howard and I will be installing the last week in March. One is of Sacagawea (bird-woman) wearing a baby board and holding a pink flamingo lawn ornament. The other is the largest of the two and will be about 7 feet long installed. It is a sort of Pieta with Grizzly Adams holding a dead Smokey the Bear.

Shanna Fleigel

I just stumbled across this great ceramic artist Shanna Fleigel. She is a potter as well as a sculptor that utilizes environmentalist imagery, and she uses FISH and other aquatic life! Check her out. Her surfaces are lovely and her content is funny yet serious.
Charismatic Megafauna
Shackled to the Momentum Forward
earthenware, hardware, rubber
Anticipating a Surplus: Going Nowhere
earthenware, found objects
21" x 12" x 6"
Procreation Termination
10 x 10 x 3

Blowin' in the Wind

I'm still plodding away on my John Muir portrait, but progress is abound. One area of him that I have altered is his hair. It will be a stylized windswept look, hopefully without looking too carved out.

I have been trying to figure out why I am putting this crazy hair on him besides just finding it interesting, and in the process was reminded of Andrea Kowch. Shes a contemporary painter that uses a ton of symbolism and her images allude to encroaching low-pressure weather systems. I don't recognize all of the symbols the she uses, or how she is using them (and I believe that that's precisely what she wants), but I do enjoy her homesteading imagery and the feeling of shifting -or something imposing- that her style communicates.

Lake Erie Steelhead

Sunday November 17th, Jodi and I visited Trout Run in PA where Rt. 98 ends at Lake Erie. There is a large parking lot there beside a small creek. The parking lot was filled with vehicles of fisherman and  curious sightseers like the two of us. Everyone was there to witness the migration of stocked rainbow trout or Steelhead (the migrating variant found wild in the Pacific ocean). There were about 20 men wading hip-deep in the cold November lake water, trying to catch these large fish before they made it into the stream. It is Illegal to fish in this particular stream because the steelhead are packed in so tight that it would be like shooting monkeys in a barrel. They are packed in so tight because there is a dam maybe 400 ft. up stream. The dam was put there intentionally to block the fish from mingling with native species inland, and possibly infecting them.

Steelhead in the pool below the dam

Jodi meets the steelhead

Fisherman in front of the stream outlet waiting to catch trophy fish

Catch and Release in action. Notice the size of the fish tail

The Progress of John

 Well, after days and days of fussing, pushing and pulling, and after getting anatomy tips from Linda, I have gotten closer to the likeness of John. He still needs some more work, but here's what I got!

After cutting his head off, lengthening his neck and pivoting his gaze

Twinters and John meet

Rolled up sleeve...."we can do it"

Visit to Short North. Columbus, Ohio

CheTrooper at the Rivet Gallery
Doll at the Rivet Gallery

Ceramic seated-boy at a great antique shop

Ceramic elk at antique shop

Stuffed elephants at Gallery 38

Painting at Gallery 38

I found the Sherrie Gallery, But unfortunately its closed on Sundays

Sherrie Gallery through the front Window

More TED...More Puppets...

Handspring Puppet Co. demonstrate the evolution of their puppetry constructions. A great line from the talk:   "A puppet struggles to live on stage, and an actor struggles to die on stage. That's an important metaphor for life"

The solutions they come up with to make the horse and hyena act more alive are beautiful. Also, I am excited to look at how they break down the anatomy of the horse into parts.

War horse prototype

David Binder on Arts Festivals

Check out this great Ted Talk By David Binder on Arts Festivals. This is a great way to think about art on a large scale as well as community engagement!
Arts Festival in London with huge puppets (a girl and a time-traveling elephant)

Portraiture trials

I have been working on an almost life size bust of John Muir, the Yosemite environmentalist.  I am nowhere close, but I think that I have made some good progress. No stopping until he looks similar enough.
The other issue...This is basically just another bearded guy, and I can not count on the audience knowing who John Muir is.  So while considering that, I am in the middle of deciding what other elements to include in this bust. I feel like it needs to be ironic by incorporating an element of modernity, but want to make sure that I an communicating a feeling of respect and reverence towards John. I have some work to do.
John Muir

one week in with the small maquette peeking over Johns shoulder

More fussing...taller torso

This is the most pleasing angle for me.

New Work

 I just took some shots of Paul and Babe and the Cod Fisherman. I added some acrylic paint to the fisherman (I am really enjoying the plasticy pink and yellow) and the horns of Ox.

Paul and Babe

Paul and Babe

Paul and Babe

Are you paying too much for car Insurance?

Take a listen!

 Listen to Craft as an integral part of the fine art world


NPR's Radio Times  facilitated a discussion with the Curator of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Exhibition "Craft Spoken Here", Elisabeth Agro, Pittsburgh based goldsmith and author of Humor In Craft, Brigitte Martin, and Craft as an integral part of the fine art world, and Philadelphia's "Yarn Bomber", Jessie Hemmons.   The show Craft as an integral part of the fine art world contributes an in depth conversation about art vs. craft to the greater public. Its worth a listen and introduces some good references to look up (Crafthaus being one of them).


The entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of art "yarn bombed" by Jessie Hemmons

Crappy Taxidermy

Here are some images from the Image blog Crappy Taxidermy. The site celebrates all types of taxidermy from the silly to the serious to the downright awkward.
I like visiting this site if I need some inspiration. It doesn't always work, but its usually entertaining
by daikichi amano
via honeybadgerz
via ebay

Radio radio radio lab

Last week in Art History Seminar, we read Oliver Sacks "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat".  Oliver Is a fascinating neurologist and author, and is also a regular guest on the NPR program Radio Lab. I would like to share one of their episodes with the artist Chuck Close and Oliver Sacks both as guests. They discuss how "face blindness" affects their lives, and how each of them deals with their condition.

Listen to:
Strangers in the Mirror

"Lyle" by Chuck Close 66"x 54"