Saturday, January 2

Looking Back on 2015

 Last year I made this piece, above.. "Thaw". We had a deep winter that never seemed to end. It matched my feelings and set the tone for the year, I think. All year I tried to thaw out.
In the Spring I took a woodblock printing class, and made the print, above, "Sawtooth Thorn". It still seems spiky, but there's a warmer tone in it and a circle like a sun rising.
In the summer I got an opportunity to design a piece for a future book. It was good to have an assignment. Sometimes I miss being a student and having teachers set a problem for me. I made a good design that I am proud of, but design work isn't fulfilling like one's own creative pursuits.
At the end of summer another design opportunity sprang up to compete in a mural contest in my neighborhood with the Mural Arts Program. I researched, designed, and painted for over a month. Again I made something I'm proud of, but popular vote didn't go my way. Sadly, I won't get to paint this mural after all. I feel sorry for designers who have to do this all the time- competing for work, going through the whole design process, but not getting to the final stage of production. Guess that's why I'm not a full time designer!

 My website host, Heavy Bubble, put a call out for one-fold books for a small winter show called "Ritual". So in November I completed two little books with painting, stitching, and drawing. They are melancholy pieces- one is titled "Tache" (Stain in French), and the other is "Anxiety". The show is up through the rest of January at the studios at 12th and Carpenter in Philadelphia.
I'm sad to look into my 2015 file of artwork pictures, because there seems to be so little completed. The Queen Wyeth piece, above, is nearing completion (oh thousands and thousands of French Knots!) but it has taken me all year to do. My artistic practice has been slow this past year, but other things have been happening instead.

Family has been very important this past year. I'm an aunt (and godmother!) once more. I've been coccooning with my daughter and husband. I've been reconnecting with my sisters. I've been trying to be more present and available for my parents.
Teaching has demanded a lot of creative energy, but beautiful things emerge out of it. I have amazing middle school artists and wonderful experiences with adults and teens in community arts.
 Basic Design and color theory continue to be tuition-free classes at Fleisher. Working in these foundation areas keeps my eyes always fresh.

 Printmaking with adult classes allows me time to experiment and be playful in one of my favorite mediums as I teach. I really enjoy encouraging adults to enter into material play and collaborative work. It's so different from what adults typically engage in.

 My teens at Fleisher always amaze me with their creativity. This past year I did a lot of screenprinting with teens, but also led a watercolor workshop and a drawing workshop in the summer.
Middle School teaching is an adventure every day. But I'm in the right place for sure. I know it in the enthusiasm and trust and playfulness I share with my 300 5th to 8th graders every week.
 This Fall I even started a fashion design club after school, where I get to indulge my Project Runway-inspired fantasies with a great bunch of fashionistas.
How do you measure a creative year? If I look at what has come out of my own studio, it looks like it was a bad year. It was a year of slow process and even pain. If I look at my family, it was a year of love and growth and reconnection.  If I look at my classroom and community work, it was a year of creative explosion, with hundreds of works of art made with my gentle encouragement. 

I just wish my selfish inner artist could accept the sum total of creative acts of love, care, and teaching as equal if not even more valuable than the works of my hands. Truly, the creative energy I put into my family, friends, students, and community will have more impact than any picture, print, or sculpture I could ever make. But, oh, my poor, neglected, selfish artist.... maybe in 2016.

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