Our little escape to the hills last week was to Anderson Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado – just outside Aspen. Despite it's reputation as a celebrity hangout, it is one of the most beautiful parts of the state. And with all the rain the state has gotten, it was emerald green. Anderson Ranch is a learning community dedicated to the making and understanding of the visual arts. I took a class called, "Drawing As Installation" and…
…here my husband heads towards his woodworking class.
I wasn't at all sure what to expect with my class, but I have had the hankering to work larger, so I took a flyer and signed up for the Level III class. We each had our own space – three blank walls (to be thought of as "pages") and a floor, plus shared work tables that lined the center of the room. Intimidating and exciting all at once.
A group wanted to head out to the Aspen dump and I jumped at the chance. A lover of the found, I was curious and thought I might find something that would help jump start me. They had bins of e-waste, plus piles of scrap lumber, shredded appliances, heaps of plastic headed for recycling and then your garden variety landfill waste. We kept to the recycling areas.
As luck would have it, this big dump truck came roaring in with a load of twisted and crushed metal. Quite impressive watching it being uncerimoniously dumped as we stood just a few feet away.
As I walked around the new heap, many beautiful twisted metal sculptural shapes appeared. There really is beauty everywhere.
Juxtaposed against the dump, were the amazing wild and cultivated flowers that surrounded the ranch. On the drive in, these glorious lupine arch and stretch to the morning sun.
And this little beauty is about to burst forth in yellow glory.
Meanwhile, back in our studio, art supplies were unloaded and we began to let the wild dogs of our imaginations run loose. While I loved my experience there, I have to say I got in a little over my head with a Level III class. I was the only one without a BFA or MFA. The teacher, a brilliant, but remarkabley intense woman who has taught, and loves, conceptual art, was very much the art director all week. I would have loved more freedom to experiment, and maybe I just should have let her rip, and criticism be damned. But there was lot of high level art talk flying in the room and instead of feeling inspired to use my own voice, I just felt intimidated. So while I found the week very interesting intellectually, it wasn't very satisfying.
And so my installation became very minimal. Which is interesting because I don't usually work that way, so editing and letting simple elements speak became my mantra.
I feel this is the most sucessfull wall or "page" of my installation. The piece of found garden fence from the dump, against a white wall with shadows falling, was really quite stunning. Edit and simplify. Beautiful. Elegant. Not very satisfying to me as an artist. My hand is not in it. But is was appreciated as "ART". But is it? These are the kinds of questions that haunted me all week.
I found the large xerox machine at Kinkos and this image is blown up from a journal page, with added collage.
This is a blown up photo of a temple guardian from Japan with found elements from the dump. Fierce. Minimal.
These objects feel like offerings and engage the floor space. It reminded me of the sand sculptures I did in Port Townsend.
This beautiful drawing installation really won my heart.
Another minimal but very beautiful installation from a class mate.
The use of repeated images, very large and small. Interesting and personal.
I took a flyer on a class that was way out of my comfort zone. It shook me up and spit me out. I came away with a renewed sense of my own work and what to watch out for should I ever take seriously my notion of going back to school for an MFA. And all the while we toiled and worked, these beautiful columbines just sang their beautiful song in the mountain light unencumbered by thoughts of "art".