14 March 2010

Here we go again!




(Photographs copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)

Ok, it's an aaaaaaawwwwwwwwww moment! Meet the newest addition to the Messy household. I give you Charlie (as in Parker...the Bird....). He's 15 weeks old and stinkin' cute. Also, he's as tall as our adult cats and yes, I know what that could mean. He's doing all of the obligatory cute stuff and so far doesn't seem to be afraid of the older cats. I suspect there will be some - er - leveling before we're done here.

But that's not why I'm here. No, I have a conundrum, and I'm going to ask....everyone else for advice. Oh, I know what I SHOULD do, and I know what I'd tell OTHER PEOPLE to do, but I'm asking anyway. Ready?

As some of you know, I'm what The Boy calls a stay-at-home-mom-with-no-kids. What I've been doing for the past few years is working on things that I love to do, but never had the time for, one of which is take clay classes. By way of explanation, I don't make functional things. Ever. If something I make looks like it might become a vessel of some sort, I poke a hole in it. It's just my "thing". I don't throw pots on a wheel either, I hand build everything. A fair number of people work that way now, but not many did when I started. I'm regarded as somewhat radical because of this.

So. We moved here, I found a new place to take classes, and a new teacher is a good thing. I've learned a lot from my first teacher, so I figured I'd take an advanced course. As luck would have it, there's a resident artist from Japan working at the studio for a year or so and I signed up for her class. She's a terrific instructor. I've learned a lot.

Here's the "but". This is an advanced class, and it attracts a different sort of student. Now you have to keep in mind that clay folk are a mellow bunch. "Instruction" is pretty much like herding cats. Generally, teachers work with the first-timers and there are various assignments given to teach the basics. Those who have already done that sign up for class and pretty much do their own thing, asking for help if necessary.

There's a student there who is younger than me by about a decade. She has an MFA, which is as far as you can go in educational terms, and never lets anyone forget it. She doesn't have the time of day for anyone but a friend of hers and the instructor. In fact, she's so busy telling the instructor (patient and kind soul that she is) what she's done that if anyone DOES want to ask a question it's generally not happening. I find this student VERY irritating, because as far as she's concerned, the rest of us shouldn't even be there. We aren't as "important" as she is and are therefore beneath her notice.

I am battling an intense desire to smack this person. She seems to have an issue with me personally and because I don't play those games, she's getting more pointed. Last week, for example, I went to class tired (we had got back into town late, after a LONG travel day) and I know my patience was thinner than usual. I started dumping out tools on the table to get to work, said hello to the instructor and went to get a cup of tea. When I got back with it, I walked up to the instructor with a finished piece to ask a question about glazes, and this broad shouldered me aside (!?) with a question of her own. She then addressed the air, saying, "I don't know why some people bother taking this class."

I left. I figured that I was too tired to deal with that kind of crap and I'd probably put my foot in it within a millisecond if I stayed. Besides, we'd been gone for a week and I needed to hit the grocery store.

I know I'm going to have to suck this up to some extent. There are a LOT of things I'd LIKE to say, but I won't - at least not where anyone else can hear me, if you get my drift. Clay classes, after all, tend to attract a pretty eclectic group. There's an older man in the class that I absolutely adore. He's a sweetheart, and his wife is a lucky lady. There's another "artiste" that spends a lot of time staring into space. The usual.

So, how patient should I be, everyone? It's not like they can fire me..... I just don't get why it is that some people are so freakin' competitive that they feel compelled to deride everyone around them who isn't a True Believer in their greatness. So tell me. Can I let'er rip?

Betcha never thought Messy would be asking for advice, right? Right?

37 comments:

  1. You brainless inept cheese-breath...

    Oh, wait! Messy? Is that you?

    Goddammit. I gotta behave.

    There are a few things in play here that ring my bells. First, She of the Scentless Feces may be a flagrant, massive asshole of epic proportions, but in my case that's typically not a decent reason to land in her yard and act her way by loosing invective, even quiet invective.

    I had someone elbow past me in a line at the theater recently, and offered "gee, idiot, I hope I'm not in your way. I mean, am in your way? I'd hate to be, you know, rude or something?"

    We were surrounded by people, and the glare he shot me was outdone by the snickers and glare he got from the crowd. I felt a little better, and he scamped away quietly and without response. The fact he was an asshole was irrelevant. The fact he was rude was unacceptable.

    Had you been a little more energetic, you might have stuck your foot up her ass when she elbowed in front of you. And I, for one, would have applauded.

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  2. Hello there Messy!

    I have a general rule I follow about letting 'er rip. Here it is, for what it is worth:

    You should visualize the consequences of it first. How will you feel [after you let her have it] about going to the class? What are the foreseeable consequences of putting her in her place? In other words, would the results of letting 'er rip be good for you, good enough that whatever bad feeling (and at least for me, there is always just a little bad/guilty/uncomfortable feeling associated with letting my anger out of the bag) be worth the benefit?

    I'll tell ya, it sure sounds like this bitch needs to see that her rudeness just MIGHT have consequences some times!

    If you are quite sure you can take whatever heat may ensue, let that bitch have it!

    I wish you could tape it or something!

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  3. My thought is simple: did you pay for this course? As such, did you pay for the instructor's time? Does your money mean anything to you, because, Messy, I'll insult you for free if you'd like, but, I'm guessing you wouldn't put up with that from me--and my insults don't even cost you anything! But hey, if you want to pay me what you're paying your instructor for me to then pay attention to others, I'm all for it! Need my address for the check?

    I wouldn't start with the student. I'd start with the instructor. Before or after class, I'd politely let her know what you think is going on and that, because you're all paying for the course, you believe that you have a right to speak to the instructor. Let her know that you've been patient thus far, but that's only been to keep the peace and that your having trouble staying your pimp hand. As such, and if she doesn't immediately correct you (as in, "Oh, Messy, I think you aren't seeing that actually..."), then it's her responsibility to answer your questions, too, and to control this other student, actually. And if she doesn't immediately fix this issue, then, yes, stick your foot so far up that other student's ass that she'll think her insides are made of whatever brand shoe you wear. And then take a picture of her face and share it with us.

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  4. Wow what a conundrum! I feel like giving that bitch a good shake myself!

    The only way I've found to deal with that sort of people (mean and borderline or completely insane) is to pretend they're telling a joke and laugh in their faces. That will get them really confused because they wont know if you're insulting them or not....

    Another possibility is to pretend she's a fly and just shoe her away, or pretend you can't hear her and/or when she says something offensive, respond with "hey, isn't the weather terrible today..."

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  5. Dammit! I had a response typed up, and Blogger ate it. *pout*

    My advice has been covered nicely by Smag in the interim though. I'd go to the instructor first.

    My advice if that doesn't work though, is to channel Aunt Messy and make this idiot feel 4ys old in the nicest way possible. She'll be too confused by your tone to even interpret you're calling her a disrespectful idiot until far after the incident.

    I'll also note I hate people like this. MFA or no, she has no right to act like she's better than other people that love their art. The fact she's throwing her ego around means she's insecure in her own talent, and can't deal with what she feels are her artistic failings. Which makes her pitiful, but no less deserving of a beat down.

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  6. I meant to also note that Charlie is one handsome feline! Best of luck with the continuing integration!

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  7. I thank you all! I have to admit that I was in no shape to smile her back to kindergarten that day. Remember that I had spent a full twelve hours traveling the day before (ferry/cab/feet/train/plane/cab) and that plus the time change and minimal sleep left me too cranky to risk it.

    Smag, you're right about paying for the course. It's more expensive than the previous one I was taking. Not by a lot, but every nickel counts, right? The trouble about going to the instructor is that she is a darling 20-something Japanese girl with a limited command of English and I think she'd be so intimidated if I said something that we wouldn't see her until summer. Besides, we're SUPPOSED to be adults.

    Schuyler... feel free not to pull any punches with me. I have to admit that it's so long since I had to deal with shit like this that I was caught rather flat-footed. Plus....no one really DOES that to me (at least...twice), if you get my meaning.

    Sigh. I shall not hail her with SHADDAP!-style invective. Truthfully, it's been a long time since I've done that. Twice I was vindicated, I still feel guilty about the third (don't ask, I won't tell you), so I'll hold in the worst of it. Now if she comes at me here, that's another kettle of fish. If that happens, her ass is MINE.

    I'll try a couple of "bless your hearts" and try to keep from asking her why, if she has the exalted degree, she's not teaching like all of the other MFAs I know....

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  8. Ditto what others have said re: discussing the situation with the instructor. You pay for these classes just like twit does, and you pay for the same amount of the instructor's time. It is the instructor's job to say, "I'm sorry MFA-girl, but Messy One was already up here, just a moment please..." not to cave and start interacting with the twerp instead of you.

    Those who act like brats tend to continue because they are permitted to do so. If your instructor fails to take the bull by the horns, I'd say that's defacto permission for you to go ahead and take care of matters.

    Please tape it? :)

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  9. Are you serious right now? Do you not know how to assert yourself beyond this blog, Miss Thing? First the post office and now this. (Btw, I would have got the ball rolling with "Don't speak to her that way." I'm just saying.)

    What do you mean she shouldered you aside? As in committed a battery upon your person? May I ask why you didn't just say "Don't shoulder me aside" or "I was speaking to the teacher, please don't interrupt me." Because you were too tired? Oh Messy you have reclined too long among the flowers and keekats ~ are you losing your touch, girl? I can hear your purr all the way from here.

    Surely you can't be the only one in the class who is suffering? The nice gentlemen, the bong makers? You're not going to get your teacher's help so help your teacher. The next time little miss tampon-in-a-teacup (10 points) starts doin' her thing and takes the teacher's entire time just say over her, "Excuse me, but the rest of us would like to speak to the teacher during class. Perhaps someone else can have a turn now?" and get the party started on some righteous shit in that class. Snap!

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  10. I'm with Kati on this, when she starts the Scentless Feces routine just start chuckling. If she asks what you're laughing at, reply, "Just you." Do not elaborate. And might want to wear steel-toe boots that day, just in case. :)

    Or if you want to go with the oh-so-satisfyingly-juvenile approach, see if you can manage to cause her bowl of slip to overturn onto her lap or handbag. It's fun to think about, anyway.

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  11. Some good points here, but I have to say I would approach the situation a different way.
    I'd agree with Miss McStickinerass. Perhaps effusively. "Oh, you are SO right! The rest of us simply can't compare with your artistic genius." "Oh, I am so blessed to be able to share a studio with you! I've learned that potting isn't really about Art or Aesthetics, but competition! You've saved me from wasting so much time on this!" "Excuse me, Miss Stick? You are obviously leaps and bounds ahead of me in this, do you think I might beg some of the instructor's time on my silly little efforts?"
    Agree, agree, agree, and you will piss her off no end, while never doing anything the least bit objectionable. The rest of the class might take your lead and make her feel like such an idiot for flaunting her little Stick Life that she'll shut up.
    I find that to be more entertaining in the long term...

    xoxo

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  12. "Schuyler... feel free not to pull any punches with me."

    Yeah baby! Let's go!!!

    STUPID FUCKING SCROTUM-LICKING BUTT MUNCHER! EVIL HIDEOUS CARBUNCLE SUCKING FART SNIFFING VAPID SMEGMA HAULING NIPPLE TWISTER! ANUS TESTIS UVULA MUCUS EARWAX SPITTLE HOBGOBLIN!!!

    Ah, hell, Messy. Can't do it. You're my favoritest Aunt Messy!

    What I said, though? Simplistic, but I meant it all, yet more complicated.

    You lead by example, dearest. In the short few years I have known you, you always have. All the hellfire and brimstone and invective and SHADDAP-edness in the world can't overcome the truth of you: you mean what you say and you say what you mean, and assholes beget assholes...and you are simply not one of those, ever.

    If the very last of your frayed nerves are trod upon by her icky toes, you are certainly within your rights to lay on a stern yet hearty shellacking. My Aunt Messy is certainly capable.

    When enough becomes enough, just think of that. You'll know. Just leave enough meat on her bones to avoid legal repercussions.

    Skoorbza has a little Messy in her response too, eh? Chipper, grinning, game sarcasm is a Messy trait, and I like the style!

    Cheers dearest, and if you do succumb to your anger and kill her, I will be a character witness in the courtroom.

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  13. Skoorzba, you are a doll! Sarcasm may penetrate the thick skull of the pompous, but it IS the lowest form of humor, so I'll try and stay away from it, if I can. Perhaps a well-placed "bless your heart"? I'll work on it. I have a particularly good version of "isn't that SPECIAL!" that I haven't used in awhile.

    It's making me snicker just to think about it.

    Schuyler, I have rallied! It may be just the cask-strength Lagavullin talking (Have you tried it? Yum, but not for the faint of heart...or weak of palate.), but I think I have a handle on it now....

    How's this. I don my regular working attire of snark t-shirt, religious (meaning holey) jeans and motorcycle jacket and channel the Feral Years, but just a bit. Perhaps this one?, and be.... you know. The chick that likes Van Santo. Whaddaya think?

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  14. Like Smaggie said, you paid for this class just like she did, and you deserve your share of the teacher's assistance, just like each of the other students do.

    Had Miss Too-Good-for-This-Class made that comment around me, I very possibly would have answered, "I don't know. Why DID you?" Or had she pushed me out of the way, would have said as sweetly as possible, "Just a moment. I was here first. I'm sure someone as experienced as you can *surely* wait a few seconds."

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  15. One thing none of the other comments mentioned, the teacher is from another culture. She may be unsure how to handle the twit. Perhaps she feels that the rest of the class, by not saying anything, is acknowledging that the Twit is more entitled to have her questions answered than they are to have theirs answered.

    By example, let the instructor see that it is NOT acceptable to the students and that you each deserve your turn.

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  16. Messy, I think you should be true to yourself. Combine Aunt Messy with SHADDAP and deliver your snark so courteously that MFA won't know what hit her.

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  17. You know, one thing I don't think anyone has suggested (and it may not be palatable at all) is to try to make this person an ally. A frenemy if you will. I've had very good luck with this at work, where I run into this problem all the time with people needing to shout out how great they are, how great their background is, and how impressive are the things they have to say, especially in comparison to everyone else. People in academia are SO like that (as I am sure they are everywhere!).
    Ask the person a question. Compliment her work. Engage her in conversation. When people act like this, they are usually hugely insecure and just dying for a little 'respect.' Doing this just might change her dynamic enough to make her tolerable. You don’t have to demean yourself in the process at all. You don’t have to ask for her help (although she’d love that, if you could muster it up with a straight face). Just engage her.
    Once again, this person does not deserve this kind of treatment. It is just all about creating a positive work environment for yourself, in this case, so that you can enjoy the class.

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  18. See, just to continue a bit. In my case at work, trying to explain to the person how rude they are being, or giving them any of the treatment they really deserve, would only make things worse. And management, such as it is, expects us all to 'get along.' And we are certainly in a position to make each other miserable, at least on meeting days! And in other little unexpected ways too. In this case, I think the teacher is not up to handling this. I am not sure she will learn by example, although I may be wrong. It does sound like a case of needing to handle it one way or the other independently of the instructor.

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  19. The Leonardo T is stunning. You just trounce into the room singing 'Wishmaster" and outshine the vermin? Yes, dear. May we have another?

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  20. Schuyler, your eyes are SO DAMN BLUE.

    You could be an eye model!

    Anyway.

    Yes, sir, you are the master at those kinds of remarks. You'd put these people in their places for sure, and I'd pay to see it done. My advice is probably not the way any of you would want to go, or maybe should go. I just know it works for me and it occurred to me later that I KNOW that MFA woman, I mean, I think she maybe WORKS with me....or at lesat someone just like her....I think I might be co chairing a committee with her right now!

    Anyway, for the moment, I am enjoying spring break! Hooray for the academic schedule, if nothing else!

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  21. Well Bella, here's the problem. She won't address me directly AT ALL. Seriously - no hello, goodbye or go to hell - won't even make eye contact. Weird, huh? I mean, even if I don't especially like someone, I can make eye contact and be polite. This is easier if you don't see them all the time.

    I was thinking about it last night, and I think I put my foot in it months ago, when I was talking to someone else in class and "she" overheard it. One of the instructors came in with his bike and parked it in that classroom because there's room for it. It had snowed copiously the night before then warmed up and the snow was all sloppy and salty, and I said, "There is no way I'd ride my bike in this weather!"

    My neighbor snottily replied, "Well, SOME people can't afford cars."

    I responded, "Forget the car! I'd WALK before I'd ride a bike in this."

    She, "It could be a couple of miles, you know."

    Said I, "So? That's not so far, and there's less chance of getting clobbered by a bus or slipping on ice when I'm on foot. I'm a walker and I'm not graceful. I'd sooner trust my feet. Or let's face it....I drive."

    That was the end of the conversation. Her mouth puckered up like a tomcat's ass and she's never spoken to me since. I'm guessing that older lady/apparent money (I wish!), and non-PC commentary did me in as far as she's concerned. Sigh. Most people are full of shit and sour apples, I'm afraid.

    Oh well. It's not the first time I've been dismissed as a lightweight by someone. It happens all the time, in fact, although less lately.

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  22. Schuyler, every time I go on the Threadless website I see about half a dozen ways to get into trouble. So does The Boy. In fact, he just ordered two shirts - God Save the Villain and Lose Your Mind.  Just think, so many people think he's so conventional!

    I don't sing. Trust me, you don't WANT me to sing. Not out loud. Never. However...I believe I shall zone out to my workout playlist, which includes a lot of Smashmouth, The Ramones, some David Bowie, and a touch of American Dolls. That should put me in the right mood, don't you think?

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  23. Ah Messy, so she fancies herself a member of the educated but poor intellectually elite class, and has decided YOU are a member of the rotting, rich, UNGREEN, undeserving, oh hell.... I don't konw where I am going with this.

    Yeah, I see what you mean. In my work world, she'd have to deal with me eventually. And I with her. In your class, probably not. I suppose, if you really wanted to, you could initiate a conversation even through her frost.

    But she really does not sound worth it. If she is physically assaulting you with her shoulder, she needs to be reminded that is NOT okay. I know you are more than capable of putting this person in her place, given the right circumstances and mood and NOT on a day when you are fatigued by travel.

    I have complete faith in you.

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  24. Bella, I fear you're right. I have always mocked people like that because we all know it's bullshit that you have to "suffer" to make good art. If you're one step away from opening a vein but paint something instead, you're not inspired, you're just fucked up and whatever you do will reflect that.

    It's funny that she, of all people should think that of me. I noted that her teeth are FAR too straight for anything Nature could have come up with, and they appear to be bleached regularly. I know my haircuts, too, and that carefully tousled coif is at LEAST an $80.00 cut, not to mention the highlights.

    Add to that the North Face winter gear and artistically faded jeans and we have the makings of a hypocrite!

    No No NO! You guys were supposed to be helping me hold my tongue, not give me ammunition! Sigh.

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  25. If you really want to hold your tongue, Messy, here's the advice:
    Learn to block her out of your reality. Seriously. She doesn't exist for you when you're in class, except for when she tries a douchebaggy stunt like elbowing into the middle of your conversation.
    When she does that you say, "excuse me" and continue your conversation as if it hadn't happened. If the instructor doesn't get the clue and pay attention to you at that point, then it's time to find a new instructor, because, really, there is a level where the instructor, even young and from another culture, will pick up on who they should be listening to.

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  26. Hold your tongue? What fun is there in that?

    Okay. Ignore the Twit. When she carries on about herself and you are dying to say something. Let out a TINY little chortle, soemthing between a chuckle and a cough. You can act like you just had a frong in your throat, but she'll "KNOW" that you're laughing at her. After awhile, others will pick up on it, and they'll start chuckling, too.

    And yet, you'll never have said an unkind word.

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  27. As a former ceramics student and former subsistence artist I speak from experience.

    First, the mud princess is trying to impress the Japanese instructor. Japanese ceramics is often considered to be the benchmark.

    Second, she sees you as a dilettante. The following is not meant to insult you personally. In my experience there were always several middle-aged to late middle-aged women who came to class and played artist because they had the time and money. After a while most of them produced thoughtful, quality work. The work always got better after they got through the "woman holding her heart in her hands" or "woman tearing her chest open to reveal her heart" stage. I always got along great with these women and learned a lot from them and the other graduate students--the instructor was "aggressively unhelpful" to quote Dilbert.

    Third, unless her work is really, really good, and she went to a really well respected school, the best she will do with her MFA is teach high school or part-time community college. I know a few satisfied high school ceramics teachers and several bitter part-time community college teachers. An MFA is not a badge of honor. I don't know what type of school you are attending but I wonder why she is there in the first place (unless her MFA is not in ceramics).

    She is an ego-maniacal, over-educated, attention slut. There is always one in every classroom and office. She is also rude and self-absorbed. Self-absorption and self-promotion are qualities frequently found in successful people in all fields. Rudeness is not.

    If she interrupts your discussions again put her in her place as you would a disrespectful child, you know: calm, stern, and polite. You can always add, "For someone with such a high level of education I would have thought you would have learned some manners along the way." Accusing her of poor manners is a good way to embarrass her to the Japanese instructor.

    If her work is not up-to-snuff you can tear her apart during the critiques--of course following the rules of the critique (you have to know what you are talking about). A great insult is to call her work pedestrian, if it is so. If you can tell she is emulating another artist or style you can study that and take her down a peg or two if she isn't close to her goal. The list is endless here. If her work is conceptual and she explains all of the meaning during the critique you can use one of my favorites, something like "This is a visual, not a verbal art. If you have to explain your work so much you really haven't created a strong enough image." If at anytime she says you aren't qualified to talk art or any nonsense like that you can always tell her that when she creates an object she doesn't get to decide how the viewers feel about it or discuss it. You can also ask her how she got an MFA without getting upset about negative criticism. Is she so perfect that everyone loved her work and understood everything she was expressing? If so why isn't she famous and well-respected. You can also ask her to produce her thesis so you can read it.

    I tell you, Messy, I have suffered through many long, brutal critiques (more than a few actively and progressively inebriated). After while I began to loath all of the explanations about how "this represents my relationship with my..." or "man's role in the..." and what not. I finally stopped explaining my work at all and said, "Here is my work, you tell me what it means." The instructors hated that. Most artists were afraid to comment unless I explained something. I learned a few things from the brave souls who told me what they really thought. Oh to return to those carefree and self-indulgent days.

    I'm over the character count. Please see the next post.

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  28. Conclusion to previous post:

    Nothing you do or say will ever get through her self-image. You can keep quiet and seethe or you can have at it. Your word-craft is of the caliber that you can tear her apart and make it look like friendly constructive criticism. I've done both--neither is particularly satisfying.

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  29. Silicosis - I can tell you've taken these classes. I can't imagine putting a ton of pressure on this instructor. She's a brilliant potter (even among Japanese potters in general) and a sweet kid. I've learned more from her over the past couple of sessions than I have for the last couple of years.

    As for my fellow student her work is...ordinary. There are a couple of things she does well, and she is a reasonably good sculptor, but that's about it. She's fairly competent and her technique is good, but not outstanding. She doesn't experiment. I'm sure you'll understand when I say that she found it revolutionary when she found out that thin Josh Green looks like.....thin Josh Green when it's fired.

    She can be safely ignored, I think. My I-Pod is my friend.

    I've always found critiques to be a bunch of self indulgent twaddle. It's an art school stereotype that everyone makes up a huge, overblown "statement" about a work, when in actuality, they just made it because it looks cool. Art doesn't have to be "deep" to be good, and this business of parsing a brush stroke or thumb print to find "meaning" is generally pointless. Having worked in an art gallery selling the stuff, it does convince people to buy it and if the artist is a good creative writer, you can charge more, too.

    One of my instructors was fond of saying, "Well, what's it FOR?"

    My answer, for the entire five years I worked with the guy was, "Larry, it just IS."

    Maybe that's what bugs some people. Everything I make is Utterly Useless. It ranges from damaged-looking Steampunk-ish stuff with odd finishes are aren't glaze to Dr. Seuss-like shapes that are just a bit off, even for him. Imagine one of Seuss's machine drawings with rust and fangs.

    I am no navel-gazer. That whole "finding myself" stage is something I've never done. Maudlin sentimentality is not my scene. Maybe next week I'll publish some photos of my work....

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  30. Messy? Please do get some pics up, I'd love to see your stuff. Your photography shows you have an eye for the visual. Love to see how you craft in sculpture.

    Bella - why thank you! My eyes are a very lovely shade of...hazel. My blue-eyed icon is my daughter's left eye when she was about three. Her eyes can freeze burning gasoline, like my wife's.

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  31. My most favoritest things are all technically useless. Even the cat!

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  32. My daughter's college art professor claimed that art has no purpose - if it has a purpose, it is not art. Of course, if it wasn't *interesting* *intriguing* *calming* *annoying* or **whatever**, one wouldn't keep it around, which means it does indeed have a purpose. Even if that purpose is only to hold the table down to keep it from floating away.

    I think the pieces you posted on the other page are beautiful.

    I fuse glass, usually into functional shapes (bowls, plates, coasters, etc). I've found that the items that sell the fastest are those that have somehow shifted in the kiln and "did what they wanted". The pieces will sag lopsided or the picture pieces will slide around. I guess people want what is unique. (Of course I couldn't do some of these things intentionally if my life depended on it.)

    As for the PIA, I vote for a cold "excuse me" when she elbows in or the "chuckle/cough".

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  33. I think all art has a purpose. I've seen very artistic pices of furniture, for instance. They could have been plain and boring, but they weren't. Some people find a monetary purpose in art, buying and selling as an investment. I find art to be calming. Art which doesn't at least make me happy in some way is completely useless, and to me, unartistic.

    My kids and I talk about "open" & "closed" paintings. "Closed" paintings have become very popular of late, and I hate it. You look at the picture, and the scene is completely captive. No doors, walkways, windows, to get out of the painting. Only fences and shrubs and such.

    Open pictures have rivers and roads or open meadows. You can (figuratively) explore the painting and beyond. The closed paintings out there are pretty high dollar, but to me they just aren't artistic. I wouldn't have them if you gave them to me, complete with a hand-painted certificate of authenticity signed by the creator.

    But pieces which speak to me in some way, like your vase which looks to me like a Roman toga with an invisible occupant, I can look at stuff like that all day.

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  34. evelyn - Glass and clay have a couple of things in common, but the important one is that they're all about physics and chemistry. It IS possible for works to be consistent over time, but where's the fun in that? It took me awhile to realize that these things don't need to be "perfect".

    In fact, even if you think you've made something perfect, things happen to it, like your shifting glass, that only serve to make them interesting. Its that little bit of unpredictability that keeps me going. Even very famous and professional glassblowers run into that. People like David New-Small and Susan Rankin use that to their advantage.

    The only way you're going to get "perfect" is if you buy something that's been made in a factory (and even then stuff happens). People who make functional work - dishes, vases, etc. - can literally spend decades working to force the clay to be uniform and the glazes to be identical every time. I think that pursuit is pointless. If I want perfect, identical dishes I can get them at Crate and Barrel.

    As for the "purpose" of art - Of course it has a purpose! Artists make art for the sake of making a statement about whatever they feel strongly about or to tell the world what they think is beautiful or a thousand other things. It's political, decorative, pretty, whatever, art makes us react.

    We buy and make things that make us smile. What we do reflects our mood and what's going on in our lives. In a foul mood one day, I made a large(ish) vessel that is covered in sharp points. It's both heavy and difficult to pick up because there are no smooth surfaces on the thing. I consider it one of my favorite pieces.

    CoolOne - the business of "closed" and "open" paintings reminds me of my pet aversion. It seems that lately everywhere I go I see bleak, black and white winter scenes. There is no bloody way I would buy one. I grew up freezing my backside off every winter and to see a scene like that all I had to do was look out the window. I've seen some that are truly lovely, but they are (as The Boy says) "not to my taste".

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  35. Here's my two cents...


    An academic friend of mine once taught me a few simple words that have served me well over time. I have used this phrase while looking incredulously about what some moron thought they could get away with...and the key is to use it while the event is happening and in an almost humorous tone filled with kindness..and could be preceded by...Oh, my Gosh...I'm so embarrassed for you, are you usually so rude? And it can continue with these additions ( fill in the blanks here) by elbowing people aside, by yelling at the counter help, by coughing all over those around you? By constantly touting your MFA as if everyone else is less than? And my friend also taught me that when you can't do something as yourself do it as someone else, pretend you are Betty White when you say this to her. You can also keep it very short with I'm so embarrassed for you, are you usually so rude.

    They usually proffer an apology immediately.

    All due to the fact that any answer of yes or no would not be appropriate and their educated brain stumbles a bit before they know they have been caught being rude and there is no way out other than an apology...and if they have a brain they will also escape as fast as their little butt arrived.

    What does not work is if you make this same statement by showing aggression and the anger you rightfully feel and adding on all the things the person truly deserves...by being an educated dumbass, and my favorite Miss McStickupurass. In a large group of people it is always the person who loses their temper that comes out as the asshole, a perception of calmness always comes out looking to be the better person regardless of whether they are in the right or wrong.

    And this woman and this class sound like the perfect place for you to practice rolling these words off your tongue, you may get to like them so much it will be your standard phrase for these types of rude people. It is mine. Also due to my growing up blonde, I find being called Sweetie, Honey, or any odd term of endearment from some stranger to bother me to the point I will call you Pun'kin in return 99% of the time, I rarely let it go. One rare occasion it called for Cupcake as a response. My friends know when they hear it exactly what is coming and find this encounter highly entertaining. I can call you Pun'kin or Cupcake with the same straight face as when you refer to me as Sweetie or Honey!

    And if you find this of value and work this magic on this woman would you please bring it to my attention as I want to hear all about it!

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  36. Hahahahahaha!

    Betty White! Thank you for that. Exactly what I was looking for. Generally, when someone bumps into me or otherwise makes rude body contact, I do what The Boy does and say, "Excuse you!", while smiling prettily. (Disclaimer. He doesn't smile. He actually looks pretty forbidding. But he also outweighs me by 70 pounds or so and pumps iron.)

    There was a guy once that always called me "toots", and not in an endearing, old-fashioned kind of way. It was nasty. One day I was in a pissy mood and came back to him with, "That's MRS. Toots to you, kid."

    He never did that again.

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