huge crowd outside, waiting for the doors to open.

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in january i had the good fortune to see tavis smiley and cornel west speak in pugh hall at UF.  i showed up about an hour early, not knowing what the venue was like or what kind of crowd there would be.  thank goodness i got there when i did because the place was packed.  i was extremely lucky to get a seat, as some folks were diverted to an auditorium where they were streaming the talk live.  not only did the stream not show up well but the auditorium, i heard, was packed as well.

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tavis smiley introduced cornel west.  it was clear in his presentation that he greatly admired dr. west and he seemed to set the stage for him to speak.  this was my first time to hear cornel west speak and they made a great duo, smiley with his clear cut details, and sassy asides and dr. west with his theatrical way of speaking.

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they were there to talk about poverty.  as in, 50% of americans are in or near poverty.  really depressing stuff but when i got up to leave, i didn’t feel depressed.  they said what they had to say in a way that lifted the audience up.

looking down at my notebook, all i see are scraps of phrases, statistics and quotations.  it doesn’t make much of a picture.  but what i remember is a particular feeling of elation every time west spoke of a movement that needs to be multi-racial, multi-cultural, and inclusive all all genders, ethnicities, sexual identities, faiths (including athiests:)).  it goes without saying but i LOVE that he didn’t let it.  i loved that when someone brought up racism happening in the occupy movement, it didn’t phase him, simple, white supremacy and male supremacy come up in progressive movements, we just have to help each other out, push each other to be better.

after the talk i went up to shake their hands, it was a huge crowd, and i think if i hadn’t been alone i may have easily been talked out of it.  but i felt so touched and i wanted to shake cornel west’s hand and tell him that the book race matters had significantly impacted my life.  it’s so easy to get bummed out, to think that their is no way that equality will ever prevail, that things are always getting worse, but one of the points that resonated with me from race matters is that the one thing you can always do, the one thing that will change the world, is to create love and foster connections.

as it turned out, by the time i got to the stage, he and smiley were being encouraged by their assistants that it was time to leave.  west reached down a hugged a few of us left waiting, tavis smiley shook my hand, i said “thank you” and headed out.

(un)contained by galen olmsted.

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friday i checked out the first warphaus show of the semester.  galen olmsted’s installation of ceramic components seems to be taking over the gallery, generating out of the floor and toppling anything in the way.  i love the wall of storage containers hemming in the uncontrolled ceramic material.  they give you a clue as to where everything may have come from and, should someone try, where the bedlam may be contained.

studio shots

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school is in full effect and it was a great first week back.  i’m really amped about all my classes.  they are all studio courses (ceramics seminar, sculpture seminar and performance and installation a.k.a. intervention).

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i had a great meeting with my professor to talk about my research plan for the semester.  as mentioned earlier i’m planning to tackle philosophy of aesthetics and beauty.  i also plan to explore the idea of wonder and how it relates to art and science.  i’m getting really excited to read about what all of these great thinkers believe and eventually be able to articulate my own position.

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for my intervention course i’m going to be working collaboratively on several projects, one of which we hope to be able to share with people at nceca…..will keep you posted.

as for sculpture seminar, which is focusing on relational aesthetics, i’m not sure quite what i’ll be tackling.  i’m interested in challenging myself to work outside of the ceramic medium and….. i signed up for a february 1st crit so…….i’m going to get cracking!

drawing at the museum of natural history.

today i went to the museum of natural history to draw items from the invertebrate collection.  one of the post doc students who’s been working with the creativity in the arts and science events has organized a series of drawing days.  we’ll be doing birds next.

 

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i felt like i was in the ministry of magic in harry potter, all the rows and rows of jars and lockers of dry specimens.

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check out this crazy squid.  the collections manager informed us that there was a 24 foot giant squid in the collection.  unfortunately it was housed off site:)

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this slightly blurry image is of a sea cucumber (in ethanol).  i love how the pattern looks like crystalline formation in glaze.

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they mentioned that sometimes the pigments in animals is alcohol soluble so it leaches into the ethanol.  i don’t know if this guys purple stripes will leach out but in the mean time it was quite beautiful to see.

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love these interlocking patterns.  they are organic and random but they still seem to fit together.

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this armadillo was displayed up front.  there were several displayed but this one’s glistening, perfect, pentagon shapes were stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

this was my messy drawing of a strawberry urchin.  they actually took them out of the jar for us to draw.  i was able to feel the ends of the protrusions and they were fuzzy!  like flocking!  thanks carrie for pointing this little guy out:)

it’s go time

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i’ve been anticipating this moment with excitement and trepidation.  though i’ve had plenty of time to prepare, my syllabus and assignments are approved, demo materials are pretty much prepped and my class blog is all set up, i’m still a little worried.  that’s normal right?   mostly though i’m excited to dive in:)

i’m planning a speed building activity tomorrow to help everyone get comfortable with the clay before we tackle any content associated with the first project.  we’re going to do timed relays pinching, making coils, coiling and slab building small items.  has anyone ever tried anything like that before?

my goal is to get everyone hands in clay without any worry or anxiety as to whether their thing will be “good” or not.  after we finish we’ll fire the objects and use them as test tiles through out the class.

i’m going to play this song for them.

squirrel vs. falcon.

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warning: this story is ridiculously cute.

draaaaa-ma.

anyone who lives in gainesville know how many squirrels there are everywhere.

so friday, we all met up at the studio to get some announcements, divvy up shelf space for classes and, of course, CLEAN.   while i’m sweeping up in the kiln room i decide to open up the bay door (on the left in the picture above) so i can sweep the leaves out.  (whoops)  i got a shower of grime and noticed a bunch of spanish moss jamming up the works.  later when someone else went to close it, 3 tiny bald squirrels fell out!  their little  squeaks made it pretty clear that they were not down with the situation.

everyone sprang into action.  ray put in a call to animal control and mama squirrel came barreling over.  she grabs one of the babies in her mouth and starts (we thought) gnawing on it.  somebody (it was all a blur!) quickly shuts the solid door to protect the rest of the babies. for good measure jon scoots the little guys onto a piece of cardboard so that they wouldn’t get cold so quickly.

i guess i figured the babies didn’t stand much of a chance anyway and if mama squirrels are supposed to eat there babies then who are we to mess with nature?  but i also had the image of the the squirrel that lives in my roof (another squirrel story) in my head so i just didn’t think she was munching on her baby.  so i went outside to scope the situation and she she seemed to be bundling the baby up so she could hold it by it’s arms and legs.  once she had it secure she ran up a big tree and put it in a nest we could see from below.

while she was running that little errand we opened the door again and moved the squirrels outside.

on her second run up the tree this giant FALCON swoops out of the sky and tries to grab her.  i kid you not!  mama strikes out against the falcon and the baby falls from the tree into the soft pine needles below and starts squawking.  the mom runs back to the other baby and brings that one up the tree.  at one point we were literally running after the falcon to discourage it from attacking the squirrels (don’t worry, no falcons were harmed).

finally mama came down and found baby number three and brought it up to the tree tops as well.

BA-NANAS!

needless to say i didn’t have my phone on me so was unable to document all this action but that just makes it more fun to tell.  and everyone was so cute, acting on behalf of the little squirrels:)