mid week, cullowhee mt. arts
I'm halfway through my first week of teaching at Cullowhee Mountain Arts
, an exciting new program of workshops held on the campus of Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC. We have use of the excellent facilities of the art department, which seems quite an outstanding one for a smallish college (both BFA and MFA programs are offered) and each session is a week long. When I first heard this I wondered if it would be hard to fill the time with enough information and things to do in class (most of my workshops are 3 days.) As it turns out, the week already seems short, each day packed with interesting ideas and interactions. I can see the benefits of the long session in the work of the artists in my class--they are taking the necessary time to build up rich surfaces without the urge to push for a conclusion, and making great use of the stretches of uninterrupted work time. There is also time for discussion, for presentations, for impromptu get-togethers after hours. It's a rich environment of learning and sharing.
It's also a special pleasure this week to be teaching down the hall from Lisa Pressman
's encaustic class. Lisa and I have been aware of each other for a few years online, through blogs and Facebook, but met in person for the first time on Saturday when we both arrived on campus. We hit it off right away and discovered much in common, and we talked about ways to collaborate and combine aspects of our teaching during the week. On the first day, Lisa offered to run my class through her exercise of 30 drawings in 30 minutes. This was like an aerobics workout with pencil, charcoal, pastel, ink and paint sticks. The pacing was very fast as Lisa gave us drawing prompts and handed out various materials. At certain times we passed the drawings around, worked over each other's pieces, or worked simultaneously on the same drawings. My own drawings are shown, in part, above. I have found myself studying them off and on each day since, seeing ideas, sensing possibilities. It was exhilarating to work so fast, as a group, keeping just enough focus on the task at hand to make a drawing work before moving on.
Lisa and I are also working on two collaborative panels which we have passed back and forth during the couple of sessions in which we've worked on them so far, and have brought our students into each other's slide presentations. In addition, each instructor this week has done an evening presentation and studio demo, and we have all had the chance to see what various students are working on. Lots of interaction, and getting to know people in various fields, from different parts of the country.
This spirit of cooperation, friendly interaction and collaboration has really defined the week so far. As it grows, the potential for the Cullowhee Mountain Arts program to bring together artists for intensive weeks of interaction and sharing is very exciting. Many thanks to program director Norma Hendrix
, an excellent artist herself, for her vision and persistence in launching CMA this summer.