Tuesday, August 23, 2016

team sunergy

I love the emotion in this video, toward the end. Good stuff...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Friday, July 22, 2016

clarissa's recent visit

Clarissa Halat came to visit me several days ago. If you have been reading the blog regularly, you might remember that I have posted about Clarissa before. Clarissa was one of my Jewelry and Metalsmithing students and she took numerous courses with me. She moved to Minneapolis after graduation but occasionally she stops in to visit when she's in town. Though this time, Clarissa made a special trip down to see me before I leave for Boone. I was moved that she would do this. We had a wonderful time catching up and talking as we always do. I have mentioned this before, but Clarissa has a special soul. She is inherently kind and thoughtful beyond her age. She has an intense wisdom and clarity of her inner soul and what is important in life. Clarissa has started a new website and I am sure you will gain more insight into her thoughts by visiting it.

In addition, during this visit, Clarissa gifted me with one of the necklaces she made during her BFA thesis exhibition. I simply was moved to tears. I have loved this work ever since Clarissa completed it. I totally "lost it" when she gave this necklace to me. I know what went into this work and remember vividly working one late night in the studio with Clarissa, Aaron, and Emily to assist Clarissa with making display for her thesis show. We had a blast that night even though is was a stressful time for Clarissa. These pieces were so special to me at the time and they mark a special relationship that Jill and I have always felt with Clarissa. Jill and I keep a fairly private life outside of school and we like a bit of a separation, but from time to time, students break through that barrier and we get seriously attached. Even though Jill doesn't always meet all of the students, she senses my connection through the stories and conversations about many of the relationships with students at school. We feel like we have many older children that are off in the world doing their own thing and living their lives and they fill us with great pride and joy when we get to see them again. We love to hear of their successes in discovering their God given talents and what they're meant to do in life. Clarissa is one of those special adult children that we feel a special bond with, so it is so meaningful and dear to us to receive this gift from her.

Clarissa reminds me that teaching is about more than teaching students a skill or imparting specific knowledge. Teaching is really about discussing and demonstrating how to be a person that contributes to society in a positive and meaningful way, by using ones abilities to impact others. It's interesting though, in looking back, how many of my students have impacted me in such a positive manner. Clarissa is one of those special students. For that, I thank you Clarissa!

Friday, July 15, 2016

thoughts on leaving...

Chuck took all of the pics above when he visited. Yesterday, John McGeen helped me move some things around as I am loading skids and packing boxes at my studio and in the DCRL. As I look through these images and I talk to John, I am reminded of all of the good things that my students built in this place and the environment that they all created here. The last few blog posts and seeing this work has reminded me how much I have been impacted by my students. They all have pushed me to be a better teacher but more importantly, a better person. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to do what I love to do and to work with so many talented people. I was able to develop as an artist/craftsman here and to build something truly unique. In addition, I feel like I was able to use my abilities to do something greater than myself AND NOW I get to witness (via the internet) all of the creative people who I had the opportunity to work along side and discover things with here at UWM. Thanks to all of you students out there that left a lasting impression on me and thanks for helping me realize that your success and contributions to society are more important than my own. 

chuck kraus

Chuck Kraus dropped by ta few days ago to pick up some images of his work that I had taken for him several years ago. We got together with Bruno and George for lunch at Ma Fischer's and then they came up to the DCRL to see the student work and the exhibition that was in INOVA. Chuck took a bunch of images in my studio and in the DCRL as I showed them various things around the place (I'll put these in another post). 

The image at the very top, was in a collection of things that Chuck gave me when he retired. It was taken in the atrium area of the art building before it was enclosed and used as a teaching space in the Sculpture studio. Chuck taught foundry here and they would do iron pours here. Chuck trained many of the individuals who now teach foundry at other major institutions and the list of alumni who worked with Chuck in Sculpture is long due to his 40 years of service to UWM. I met Chuck for the first time in the atrium area as I taught a 3D Foundations course inside the Sculpture studio where he taught. We frequently taught courses at the same time and we became good friends during my early years at UWM. Out of all of my colleagues during my time at UWM, I LEARNED THE MOST from Chuck. His knowledge of foundry processes is unparalleled. Chuck had a tumultuous relationship with many people in the Art Department. I know there were various forces and circumstances in the UWM Art Department prior to me being hired, and I have heard stories from many different points of view. I'm not usually one to air internal politics in public but I want Chuck to know what an impact he has made on me and my career as a teacher.

I am glad that I did not base my opinion of Chuck on the comments of others and that I chose to form my own opinions from direct observation. That said, I can only speak to my experiences and I will say that in my years of working with Chuck, he had the student's best interests in mind and he did a excellent job of teaching students skills that they could apply to their careers. During my early years of teaching, the Sculpture area went through a difficult transition with new faculty and technicians, changes in policy, and a lack of trust by both faculty and administrators. At the time I did not have tenure and found it difficult to navigate the space between groups within the department. Chuck eventually retired as I believe he felt the pressure and changing times. I was very disappointed when he retired and I truly missed the community that he had built with various retired auditors that took courses such as George and Bruno (Bruno frequently took time to talk to a two or three year old Noah when he would be in the studio with me). Contrary to administrative pressure and opinion, the seniors citizens that enrolled in courses were an added value to the classroom setting not to mention they advocated on behalf of the departments within the local communities and passed on valuable knowledge to students. Too bad the Department didn't realize that these are the future benefactors that can make an impact on student learning and scholarship. I wish I could have done more to stand up for Chuck and what he had to offer, and I still have regrets to this day about this. After having my ten years of experience here at UWM I realize now that many of the things that were said in private were discriminatory, and the actions were harmful to the greater good.

It is interesting that once Chuck retired, other people became the target(s) of this behavior and I began to realize that there's something else at work here. The names and job titles change but the behavior stays the same. As a few years passed, many of the people that were pushing for our older faculty to change the way they taught or conducted themselves, found themselves on the receiving end of the same behavior. The trend continues... 

What is it about our society that devalues the collective wisdom of our aging population? In a society where we talk about discrimination, bullying, and collegiality, I have been appalled by the activities and comments of others that are driven by peoples desire to "get to the top" or prove themselves to be better than another. As I prepare to leave UWM I am reminded of my true friendship with Chuck, his devotion to his students, his willingness to share information, his down to earth demeanor, his support of my professional activities, his kindness to my children when they were in the Sculpture studio with me, and his honesty. I have such respect for Chuck, his abilities as an artist and teacher, his knowledge, and his fairness. 

I have respect for anyone who lives their life by the Golden Rule and Chuck did that during the time that I worked with him. Chuck GAVE more than he took, and I think you can't ask for more from someone when they do this. He deserved more than he received after working at UWM for 40 years and in this time that I am preparing to leave, I felt obligated to make note of this. Chuck, thank you for all that you shared with me, for the impact you made upon me, and thank you for being a true friend and colleague.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

milwaukee industry

One of my UWM colleagues from Ceramics, Christopher Davis-Benavides is sitting in on my Rhino course this summer. Chris brought me this great photograph today of a machine that his father designed and built. The machine reminds me of the Cole Drill Michael loaned me so long ago. He told me that his grandfather had taken some self built machines to the Worlds Fair and was recruited by Allis Chalmers to work in Milwaukee and design and build machines. I absolutely love this image. This image was taken at the Davis Manufacturing Co. The men are appear to drilling holes in a giant steel wheel. I can't even imagine how and where this wheel blank was created. Regardless, it makes me realize and well aware of how little I know...

I'll miss the industrial roots that Milwaukee has inspired me to research and investigate in my own work.