This week, my Native American art class headed to DC with several other art classes to visit some museums and see some of the art we have been discussing this semester. My class of course went to the National Museum of the American Indian.
The museum is unique on the mall and was just completed in 2004. There are four floors of art divided into sections for the different exhibitions. It was really interesting to see some of the art we learned about in class but even cooler to see some things we didn’t learn about. We all had to pick a piece of art to write a paper on after the trip. I found a ceramic stool from the Chiriqui and I can’t wait to look up the history behind it. The modern art section was also really neat and I saw pair of beaded converses that were super unique.
After exploring the museum, my friend and I went to find the colossal Olmec head outside of the Natural History museum. Our professor had told us it was located there after we learned about it in class. We also took a quick peek in the National Gallery of Art as we met up with a friend in a different class for lunch. Although we only had four hours in the city, we enjoyed the time.
It is always great when I get to go into DC and it is convenient that the city is so close – only about an hour and a half bus ride. I will certainly miss the location of McDaniel College when I graduate.
Tonight was the big unveiling for graduating studio art majors at the Honors Art Exhibition in the Rice Gallery in Peter Hall tonight. The theme: smARTies – they are clever students! I sure enjoyed the large bowl of smarties up for grabs.
Six seniors were in the spotlight and showing of their wonderful pieces of art ranging from embroidery on cotton to nails and string on wood. They included: Danika Allen, Elyse Hyle, Dara Dinisio, Claire Woolley, Caitlin Bennett, and Kira Young.
The overwhelming number of guests politely weaved in and out of corners to get their opportunity to admire each and every piece. Friends, family, professors, and President Roger Casey and his wife Robyn were all in attendance. After about half an hour of appreciating what the artists had to offer, it was time for them to speak about their exhibit individually, one by one. This created a great opportunity to make their work more comprehendible to the audience and add more depth to the focus of their exhibit. We learned about holding onto our childhood, creating multiple homes across the country, learning when to let loose and when to take control, how we seek security when fearful of attention, underestimating the complexity of high fashion and how it relates to individuals, and creating honest conversation about masturbation and sexual fantasies. The themes were definitely an interesting meld and as a result conversation ran wild all through the night.
This semester I decided to mix up my sciences classes with something different so I signed up for a ceramics course. There is no regret in this decision! So far we have had assignments ranging from brownie pans to olive oil bottles. I might not make the prettiest things, but I have a great time attempting to.
Our field trip today was by far one of my favorite experiences that I have had in the class so far. Our professor, Ken Hankins, invited us to his house/farm to use a special kiln designed for a technique called raku. Ken talks constantly during class about his life and his farm and we thought that he thoroughly prepared us for what to expect, but we were wrong. I have never visited a more interesting farm. He had quite the array of farm animals – dogs, cats, roosters, sheep, peacocks, “Teddy” the alpaca, and “Goat” the goat. I felt like a lived a deprived childhood once I saw his spectacular hand built tree fort that consisted of stairs along a slanted tree trunk that led to a bridge connected to the tree house. The most interesting element of his farm was the replica of an Egyptian pyramid situated right behind a replica of a Chinese paifang. His pottery studio was overflowing with creative, funky ceramic pieces including kiln goddesses, chicken head birdhouses, and self-potrait gnomes.
Back to raku! This is a special type of firing that is traditionally Japanese and known for its unpredictable results and intense colors. Our assignment was to make two matching tea bowls (mine were not so matching…). They were bisque fired before the field trip so that we could glaze them in his studio the day of the raku firing. The raku process is slightly terrifying since it involves heating up the pieces to 1000 degrees Celsius, removing the pieces from the kiln while they are glowing hot, and tossing them into a trash can full of newspaper so that hungry flames engulf the pieces before slamming a lid over the trashcan to trap them away from oxygen. After waiting for the trashcans to cool off, the pieces are removed and tossed in a bucket of water to cool down. They are initially covered in black filth until they are cleaned to reveal illustrious bronze, silver, or rainbow colors. As mentioned earlier, the results are extremely unpredictable and almost all the pieces came out with different colors despite the fact that the same glaze was used on all of them. You can see below that mine turned out shiny and bronze! Raku is definitely a technique that creates a different look compared to normal firing methods and one that I consider myself fortunate to have been able to experience.
The entire class had a blast exploring our professor’s studio and farm. It was a great way to enjoy the Spring-ish weather that is finally coming around. Every student agreed that they were definitely going to return for another adventure!
Tonight I have a meeting for the Jan Term I will be taking during the weeks between fall and spring semesters. I will be taking a photography in northern Italy trip and I am beyond excited!
We will be visiting Florence, Siena, Assisi, Rome, Venice, and Milan, among other cities. This will be my first time traveling out of the country, with the exception of Canada. And definitely my longest plane ride to date.
Jan Terms on campus make it really easy to study abroad because the trips are discounted for students and the price is all inclusive. On my trip we even have a 24/7 tour guide.
The trip will be with a group of 30 students and adults, both from McDaniel and local schools. Among those going are my two roommates, Laura and Nicole, Nicole’s twin sister, and her best friend. Laura’s sorority sister will also be on the trip.
I haven’t been wanting to wish fall semester away by counting down for Italy, but I can’t help but get really excited when I think about it. I’m already putting in extra time at the gym in preparation for all the pasta, pizza, wine, and dessert that I will be consuming.
I can’t wait!