OK, this entry will bring me up to date and then I’m walking away from this computer for a while.  I was up too late putting up the salt fire  pix and the crit results, and I’m cleaning my studio today to get ready for summer productivity.

I was kind of background-nervous about my mid program review, increasingly so in the last week.  So much of what I have been making this year was either assigned, or designed to address my weaknesses, or both — so while the process was important, it mostly produced fodder for the slop bucket and the occasional fired milestone for my progress. Lined up in chronological order on the big tables P. covered with white paper, they looked decidedly clunky at the last-september end.

I decided to make rowns of things marching toward the more recent work — all the teapots following each other like little ducks in a row, spouts pointed toward the future.  Bowls, lidded things, the row of anatolian jugs. It was reassuring to observe how they got lighter in the course of the year, both visually and in weight.

Fortunately, when Paddy and I unloaded the salt kiln with gloves just hours before the review, I ended up with a big box of not half bad ewers. P. had brought me a pedestal from the gallery where he’s a half time GA, so at the “new work” end of the table I arranged a flock of ewers like little penguins on an ice floe, looking in every direction. They were still warm ;0)

The bad part was having no idea what to expect from the process. Patrick had his review first, and wisely provided coffee and a collection of his own very tactile coffee mugs for the 7 profs to hold during discussion of his work.  I had taken off to buy bread at the co-op, since bread was mentioned in my artist’s statement — got lost in depot town (p. is usually my copilot) and by the time I got back, his review had already started.

When I passed the door, I saw 7 stern looking profs (ok, one smiley one) all facing down Patrick, who stood by his table  of carefully placed, loosely thrown, lively ash crusted or shino-gleaming lidded jars, mugs and tall pieces. 

I paced around the MFA space, waiting for my turn.

When Patrick was done, we passed each other in the hall.  He looked a little rattled. “Be ready for them to ask you questions you can’t answer”. he said. “That was pretty tough.”

I was tempted to flee, at that point.

I think what saved me was my nervous tendency to blather on. I was invited to make a short introductory statement before the questions began, and well, it was not so short. By the time the coordinator flagged me down to start the questions, most of the allotted time was taken… and of course my answers were windy and detailed as well. Before we knew it, time was up, and I was invited to leave the room so they could discuss and vote.

I wish I had known how reviews work. I went into the wheel room and cleaned off my shelves, half overhearing just enough discussion about me to make me nuts because I couldn’t make out the words.

Eventually the coordinator came in to get me, told me I had passed, and asked me to come back for final comments and questions.

The jewelry prof had kind of a crit and admonishment for me about my (not her words, but accurate) “ADD” approach to my work. She cautioned me to stay with problematic pieces and work through it, rather than jumping to another project and another. I said that I would, and that it’s really one of my goals in coming back to school — becaus ein my own studio I only pursued what was fun for me, and ended up with gaps in my skill.

I had given each prof a folder with my artist’s statement (also windy) and a copy of my clay times column called “why we need teachers” whick kind of spelled out the batttle between my ego and my studies.

The coordinator pointed out, as they left, two ewers that were his favorites that he would be willing to buy if they ever went up for sale: one with a vertical roulette pattern, and one with the little faces that used to grace almost everything I made before I went back to school.

After some grad students came by later that evening (I had signed up for the grad student gallery walk, since my stuff was already going to be set up) Professor Lee took us all out to dinner at Real Seafood in Ann Arbor. We were both relieved to be done and have passed, and a little freaked out still about the nerve-wracking process.

Next I need to pick my MFA committee for next year.

It’s really weird that this year is just going to be OVER, in a few weeks. Patrick is driving back to Tennessee, and I’ll miss him terribly. 

I need to go clean my studio. If I can keep up the kind of momentum that has carried me through these last three months, I should be able to come up with some work to sell this summer.

Next week is the last week of class… then finals. This year has gone fast. At the same time, I can barely remember life before school.

 

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