Monday, January 10, 2022

Individual Artist Fellowship 2022: Works on Paper

Dear friends, I'm so so happy to announce that I have been awarded a 2022 Individual Artist Fellowship by the Delaware Division of the Arts in the category of Works on Paper for my "Making the Invisible, Visible" migraine series of self-portraits.

Words can not even begin to express my enthusiasm - mostly because anyone who knows me, knows my enthusiasm is most aptly expressed by exuberantly jumping up and down with an excessive waving of the arms... Oh wait, here's a video of me doing just that...


So, it's fair to say I am BEYOND thrilled! I have seen so many talented Delaware artists like Shannon Woodloe, Eric Zippe, and Lauren E. Peters awarded this fellowship in past years and I am so excited to join their ranks! It is rather funny timing, as I was just discussing this body of work in my last blog post, and how it has taken me many years to follow the advice from my professors at the Carnegie Mellon School of Art about creating a cohesive body of work. And well, my friends, here is the proof, because it was with that very same body of work that I created over the summer that I was awarded the fellowship!

A little bit about the fellowship and what it means for me and why I am so excited. The fellowship "recognize[s] artists for their outstanding quality of work and provide[s] monetary awards. Individual Artist Fellows are publicly acknowledged and benefit from the additional exposure to their work." In addition to the monetary award, fellows are given the opportunity for a solo exhibition as well as participation in the group exhibition, Award Winners XXII, at the Biggs Museum of American Art tentatively set for June 3 through July 23, 2022 with an award ceremony and reception to be announced. 

As a longer lasting bonus, awards such as these add to an artist's general reputation and can be helpful in winning future awards, residences, other exhibition opportunities, etc. In other words, it looks kick-ass on your resume! 

You can learn more about the Individual Artists Fellowships awarded this year here: and stay tuned for more information about upcoming exhibitions and events!

If you haven't already seen some of my work in this series, you can read my artist's statement here: When you have gone through six years of intensive art school training, you get used to writing about your own work pretty quickly. But I've never really read someone else's interpretation of my work before! Getting the news that I had won the fellowship made me so incredibly happy, but reading the juror's comments and knowing that a complete stranger resonated so with my work made me want to cry! Particularly given that this work has been so personal and meaningful to me, even just knowing that it could reach someone else who has suffered in a similar way makes me feel that I have succeeded. And so, I leave you now (to go jump up and down some more, obviously) with the words of the juror...

"The works shown are impressive. For anyone unfamiliar with this "invisible illness" the drawings on glassine paper, china marker and thread are beautifully rendered and convey the intense frustrating pain that accompanies this illness. The works rendered in pastel and paper are haunting, and show the despair, nausea and depression that this disease can bring. They show the intense claustrophobic isolation that one endures. In these works the artist has indeed may the invisible visible. As a one time suffer, I appreciate the artist acknowledgement of the creative power and strength that can be obtained by overcoming this debilitating disease." 

Okay, one LAST last word: Thank you to all my amazing friends and family who have supported me to help me get to this place in my career - I sincerely couldn't have done it without you in so so many ways!!!!!! Seriously, Delaware is my home because I live here, was born here, and work here... but most importantly it's home because the people that I love and that love and support me are right here with me! Sending you guys All. The. Love!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Coming Full Circle

Updating my website has been an ongoing endeavor, but as I worked on it these past few weeks, I was reminded of some most excellent advice that I got as an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon School of Art. At both my sophomore and senior year portfolio review, the repeated, resounding advice that I consistently got was, FOCUS, MAIA, FOCUS!!! Sometimes I wanted to paint, sometimes draw, sometimes work in the foundry… Their advice definitely checks out, because as I have found in the real world, most applications, fellowships, grants, etc. are looking for works that speaks as a whole, not a little bit of this, a little bit of that. So clearly, armed with all of this real world knowledge on top of 6 years of art school, I took their sage advice, and…

…Completely ignored it! My work continues to be all over the board, ha! Some days I feel like cats and comics, some days I like to revel in the beauty of a landscape, or maybe some creepy skulls, but no, what about portraits? Let’s paint them, no, let’s draw them, wait, what about a coloring book? So yeah, I continue to explore my vast and varied interests which leads to a bit of a random website, but on the upshot, it definitely helps me as an art teacher!
I’m still not quite sure how I landed my dream job at the premiere art school in Delaware, but I’m pretty sure that my knowledge of everything from printmaking, digital art and photography, murals, ceramics, painting, and drawing may have played a part in it. (Also for which I have CMU to thank for giving me such a well-rounded foundation!) One of the biggest challenges I have found teaching at the AP level is that students are doing ALL sorts of different artwork, and having a diverse skillset to be able to help them is definitely key, although let’s be very clear, I am STILL very much learning! I am lucky to have had such amazing coworkers over the past few years, like Cheryl Lynn, Kate Huffman and @dweldzius , and now Lindsey Ostafy– I have learned SO much from all of them!
Aaaaaaand, circling back to my professors at undergrad, Mary Weidnerand Susanne Slavick, they will be happy to know that I did SOMEWHAT take their message to heart... It took about 20 years, but I think that this past summer I finally figured it out, and have created a body of work that I’m truly proud of. It is cohesive, meaningful on a personal level, and it is a style/technique that I find myself falling into and in love with and see so much potential for coming projects. It’s actually interesting that I have come full circle in more than one way. It was in undergrad that I embraced large scale charcoal drawings, and I loved it so much! But somehow, somewhere along the way, drawing fell by the wayside for me. I think I fell into the trap of trying to make the artwork that I thought would be “marketable” or saleable versus the artwork that I truly felt compelled to make. Another great thing about teaching, is that hey! I don’t have to sell my work for money – that’s what the teaching is for, ha! But realizing this means that I feel more freedom to pursue my own interests, and I’m not beholden to any market.
So thank you to my profs so much for helping me all those years ago – I’m still learning from you both, and I’m super excited to see where this body of work will take me! Ya’lls can check out this body of work under the “Portraits” tab (okay, and then the “Self-portraits” tab… yes… still too many tabs and sub menus, but hey, work in progress, right?). Check it out and let me know what you think of my website!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Once an art teacher, always an art teacher!

Now that I have been teaching art for some time now, I have a hard time turning my teacher brain off! As I was working on this drawing, I kept thinking about all of the things that I would tell my students to notice if they watched this video, or what I would tell the if they were creating a similar drawing (newsflash, they will be, quite soon!)

It was also heartening to realize that I do, in fact, do the things that I am always telling my kids to do! I think they think I'm nuts, with some of the advice that I give (particularly the not using black for shadows part), but I truly do believe what I tell them, and am about to tell you :)

Some of the advice that I would give, that I think I did pretty well in this piece are as follows:

1. Don't be scared to start over! Students HAAAAATE to start over, and I get it, it's scary and hard and it sucks to have spent time on something just to realize that you may need to do it again. This is actually my 3rd version of this drawing. I did one in my sketchbook, liked it so drew it larger (you can see the remnants of it in the top right hand corner at the start of the video), but I didn't like it so I erased/smeared over it, and then did version 3 straight up on top of it. And am happier with this version than either of the 2 prior.
2. Plans are helpful, but sometimes you have no idea WTF you are doing till you do it! I hadn't intended for this work to be in color, it was black and white, with maybe some purple for my hair as I envisioned it in my head. But I was so confused by my earlier drawing, I had to add color to help me sort out new/old drawing, and then I just ran with it. Sometimes, you just gotta go where you drawing takes you!
3. Don't use just "skin" colors for skin tone!!!! I mean, you CAN, and some artists do that very convincingly. But after my initial pass of a skin tone, I ran with the reds, purples, blues and even some greens. I love it when you layer colors and the hints of one color peeps through to the next layer.
4. Avoid black holes!!!!! omg. If I have to take away one more black colored pencil LOL. To be fair, I did go in with some black conte crayon at the end, but only after I had exhausted my full repertoire of conte crayon colors. And I love working with black and white! But why make a shadow with just black when you can get such a richer more lively dark shade by layering colors?? My kids laugh at me b/c they know my answer to almost every color question is JUST USE PURPLE (so they won't be surprised when I show up to school with purple hair at least haha!)
5. Mark making is beautiful! STOP THE SMUDGING! I totally get it's not everyone's jam. But sooooo many of my kids default to using a smudge stick (or heaven forbid, THEIR FINGERS!....actually.... I smear my big charcoals drawings with my hands all the time for the same reason I tell them not too, shhhh!!!) In my opinion, this can be a bit of a cop out. If this is the ONLY way that students know how to create a gradient, then they won't have as many skills in their skill set as the student who can both use a smudge stick AND one who can use just the pressure of the pencil to create variances in value. I always feel like why learn only one method that only will get you one sort of result, when you could learn MANY methods and then choose the one that makes more sense for your desired goal????
6. LOOK AT YOUR SOURCE IMAGE! Students will spend more time looking at their drawing then at their reference and then wonder why it doesn't look right, ha! But no, my kids are doing well this year, and they suffered through a lot of blind contour drawings, and they are pretty good at actually looking at the thing they are drawing/painting. But watching this video made me laugh with my constant frantic head turning haha. It's because my computer is set up in the corner with my image. I usually have a print out but it was black and white so I preferred looking at my actual photo so I could see the colors better.
Can you see evidence of my tips in the video???