Exit Essay For Graduation

When I was getting ready to graduate, one of the requirements was to write an exit essay. This goes in your file for whoever (potential schools, employers?) looks at your school records. It was supposed to show something of what you’d learned, where you were headed. As I was being scrutinized as to whether or not I was going to be signed off on by my committee and what, if anything, I was going to be contributing to society as an artist going forward should they let me, this was also written to answer (hopefully) that question, at least somewhat.

Here it is:

Over the course of pursuing my Art Degree, I’ve found myself inspired and reinspired with each successive art history and studio art class that I have taken.

As early man discovered new techniques and technologies, he broadened the definition of art from a minimal and conceptual idea implied on a cave wall to the full-bodied technical skill of the great masters. Since my childhood I have enjoyed a close relationship with the quintessential Renaissance Man: Leonardo Da Vinci. His inventions and interest in many areas of creative innovation have always resonated with me.

The width and breadth of technical mastery of representation was well and truly explored and eventually gave way to new ways of making art. From the Impressionists onward, the artists of the day have slowly and steadily pared the fruit of what constitutes art down until we came once again to the minimal and conceptual core of artmaking. As we have learned from Marcel Duchamp and his brethren, the idea, the concept, the decision of the artist is what makes art art.

When art is stripped down to nothing, surely it must wither and die. We found ourselves at the end of art. Or so it seemed. As Ad Reinhardt said, “Art about Art is Art. The End of Art is not the End.” It may have been the end of an era, but that only left room for the beginning of a new era.

As we add new techniques and technologies to the concepts of art and our knowledge of art history, once again art has opened wide to new horizons. It is in this open field of options that I find myself traversing this art degree and art life.

I take great inspiration from the broadening of the definition of what art is, and can be, from the revolutionary works of Robert Rauschenberg, especially his combines. For me, this expansion of painting off of the two-dimensional plane out into the third dimension is where I want to take my art. Another artist I take inspiration from is Jackson Pollack. Action painting is, for me, a way to allow the paint freedom and to loose my firm control over it.

More recently I’ve had the privilege to study the works of Lyrical Expressionist Helen Frankenthaler. I am enthralled by her delicate treatment of the paint and I definitely am planning to explore and incorporate her pouring, staining, and soft color and shapes into my work moving forward. Another artist whose work I’ve learned of recently who I admire is Eva Hesse. What I appreciate most about her work is how she blurs the line between art and craft. This blurring of the lines of categorizing is the cornerstone of my artistic sensibility. I intend to explore this avenue in my future works as much as possible.

Looking ahead to after graduation, I hope to be able to act as a conduit for creativity. I believe that creativity is a muscle that becomes stronger with use and training. I plan to pursue certification in Creativity Coaching, a new career which helps empower creative people with the tools to move through blocks, such as the infamous writer’s block.

Moving from art school out into society it is my goal to spread creativity and to help increase awareness of the benefits of, and need for, art and art education. Our society is in desperate need of creative problem solvers. This is the very definition of an artist. We need new and innovative solutions to the problems that we’ve built for ourselves. This is one of the functions of the artist in society’s arsenal.

Six Word Friday: Happy (June continues)

the family is driving over today

because tomorrow is the big day

finals are over, books put away

happy? yes, so I would say.

Gradoodle-ation is tomorrow afternoon at two.

more happy here 🙂

More Adventures in Synchronicity

In my Art History/Literature class we are reading Zoot Suit, a play about the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots in Los Angeles.

I had never heard of these riots and I grew up in L.A. But I guess I left before they got to the real history stuff–assuming they did. But it casts an entirely different light on the song Zoot Suit Riot by Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

Who’s that whisperin’ in the trees?
It’s two sailors and they’re on leave
Pipes and chains and swingin’ hands
Who’s your daddy? Yes I am

Fat cat came to play
Now he can’t run fast enough
You’d best stay away
When the pushers come to shove

Zoot suit riot

throw back a bottle of beer
Zoot suit riot

Pull a comb through your coal black hair

According to the article on wikipedia

 “The Zoot-Suit Riots sharply revealed a polarization between two youth groups within wartime society: the gangs of predominantly black and Mexican youths who were at the forefront of the zoot-suit subculture, and the predominantly white American servicemen stationed along the Pacific coast. The riots primarily had racial and social resonances although some argue that the primary issue may have been patriotism and attitudes to the war.”

My teacher showed a bit of the music video to show what a Zoot Suit looked like.

And that was my morning class.

So then I went over to my Dancercize class and we started our section on Swing dancing and guess what song we were dancing to?


Zoot Suit Riot!

Now isn’t that a riot!


P.S. if you need a Zoot Suit

you can find some on this site that I found:


Spring Term

This is my first time taking all upper division courses since I finally finished my core classes last term and had my portfolio review to enter into the BFA program. I’m sure it will be fine, but I’m a tad bit nervous. This term I’m taking

Painting: Abstraction and Multimedia

So far we are working on a Picasso-esque portrait. Tomorrow we will start doing encaustic which is painting with melted colored wax. Sounds pretty cool. Later we will have the option to make movies.(!!)

Art History: Modern

This is basically looking at this century. The cool thing about this class is that it is a combined art and literature class. So we are looking at images and movies and also readings from the period. Nice!

Art: Issues in Contemporary Art (Writing Intensive Course)

Again with lots of reading and writing about art.

and Dancercise.

I ♥ this class and try to include an activity class whenever my schedule allows.

I’m starting to get used to my schedule and realized I would have to drop my Stretch and Relaxation class in order to have time during the day for lunch and homework.

So that’s how things look this term. Hopefully I’ll be able to get into a rhythm and figure out when blogging will fit best.

See you next time!

An Ode to Equality

I wrote this as my final “essay” for my Gender and Race class.

An Ode to Equality

As we draw down to the end of the term

It’s time to assess what we might have learned.

That can feel like a rather difficult task.

But here is a brief tour of our term that just passed.

What do you get when you take a book on race, another on gender

and add movies, discussions, personal experience and articles to the Blender

Then mix it around and shake it up a bit?

You get a whole host of new ideas and thoughts from it.

For me, the meat of the class was the emphasis on connective tissue.

We can draw a thread through seemingly disparate issues,

Sewing together this piece with that part

In order to create a new fabric, or paradigm, from which we can now start.

Start to move forward and onward and up

Away from the old ways; the unfair, the unequal, the corrupt.

Hopefully we take from this class a feeling for how very lucky we are living in this place, in this time, in this skin.

The challenge, of course, is to not get too comfortable in this privileged situation we’re in.

But, from my own perspective, and as pointed out in the class readings

Every person can probably find a minority and majority group in which to find seating.

I am privileged to be white in a system that favors the lightness of your skin.

I have the honor, but perhaps not privilege, to be a woman in a system that favors the brawn without over the heart within.

Perhaps we are short, when the world likes us tall.

Perhaps we are big, when our world favors the small.

Yes, the media and, by extension, our culture favors the tall, skinny, blond woman with big boobs and a small intellect.

But, more importantly our culture wants the woman to be quiet and unaggressive; circumspect.

If I speak out in favor of more equal distribution of this nations bounty of rights and riches,

Then you know I’m probably one of those FemiNazi Bitches.

I don’t have a daughter, but if I did I would teach her about strength of character, body and mind.

I would show her every strong female role model I could find.

If she wanted to be a princess when she grows bigger

Then I would show her examples of the depth of the job, the importance, the rigor.

Because the point is not whether you want to be a princess or not.

The point is when the one cookie cutter image of a princess is all we’ve got.

But since I had the good sense to create a tall, slender, white male child in this particular society,

I will just have to teach him to love and respect women and people of all varieties.

I’ll have to help him to see the fallacy of the media’s portrayal of masculinity as angry, violent, stupid, and muscle bound.

I will seek out other definitions of manly and strong wherever they can be found.

My plan is to teach him and help him to grow into a man who is strong, respectful, smart, considerate -worthy of

The strong, respectful, considerate, smart woman who would be worthy of sharing his life and love.

And then there’s the issue of race

That’s now, thanks to this class, staring us right in the face.

I’ve been exposed this term to some of the subtle discriminations that are hidden in our supposedly nondiscriminatory system.

These are the kind of things that are quietly subverting true equality and as a member of the white race it’s so easy to miss them.

Or even to dismiss them.

Because on the surface it appears that we have eradicated discrimination based on your skin color

And those of us who aren’t prejudiced are tired of being blamed for the actions of others

We are weary of hearing how it’s still going on even though we have made so many strides and come so far.

This weariness, I think, leads to a reluctance to honestly look at the way things were and still sometimes are.

Or maybe we do look and we get overwhelmed by the systemic codification of discrimination and stereotyping that is far too often present.

How can we possibly root out these subtle and pervasive inequalities? This feeling can lead to apathy and even resentment.

The problem stems mostly I think, from a lack of honest and frank conversation about race and discrimination.

It seems as though sometimes it’s hard to have a talk without fear of some kind of retaliation or recrimination.

But, the real solution for our racial situation and indeed, I’d hazard, pretty much all of our societal woes.

Is free exchange of ideas and the honest baring to each other of our souls

I really responded to the article we read describing the symptoms of Attachment disorder and its effects.

I believe that we as a culture suffer from a form of cultural attachment disorder that leaves us distrustful and treating each other as suspect.

We, as a group, are guarded trying to protect ourselves from some real or imagined hurt.

This is perhaps understandable, but doesn’t often work.

All that happens, really, is that we create greater divides separating us.

We create more opportunity for misunderstanding when we treat each other thus.

I hope that in the next little while (because I can’t stand to wait very long)

We are able to sing a new, brighter more positive song.

The trick to the writing of this brand new song is, however,

That we must find the harmony so we can sing it together.

There is room within the music for everyone to sing their individual parts.

And music is the language that speaks directly to our hearts.

I know many people are nervous to get up and sing.

But the best part of music is that you can come to it with your own thing.

Can’t sing a note? Perhaps you play an instrument.

Not that either? Just hum or clap along with it.

From the information in this class I could probably come away feeling sad and wearing a frown.

I choose not to focus on how far we still have to go, but instead on the fact that we are on the journey; and pretty far down.

Man Up Monday: Tough Guise and Intro

I recently watched the movie Tough Guise in my Gender and Race in Political thought class.

Here is a portion of the description from Mediaed.org where it is available for purchase. It is also available online for watching.

“While the social construction of femininity has been widely examined, the dominant role of masculinity has until recently remained largely invisible. Tough Guise is the first educational video geared toward college and high school students to systematically examine the relationship between pop-cultural imagery and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century.

In this innovative and wide-ranging analysis, Jackson Katz argues that widespread violence in American society, including the tragic school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and elsewhere, needs to be understood as part of an ongoing crisis in masculinity.”

Perhaps because I have a young son, I was inspired by this movie to do something to promote alternate views of what masculinity is or can be. I’m calling it Man Up Monday. I will try to post something on (hopefully all, but certainly most) Mondays dedicated to the healthy raising up of our boy children in to whole and healthy men. So, with that in mind, here is an except from another essay that I turned in in that class. It’s a 5 page letter to my son about masculinity and role models. This time I can break up the text into more manageable chunks-unlike the last one.

My Dear Son,

I love you and am enjoying watching you grow into a young man. Let me tell you that I will do my level best to keep society or family or even your Dad and I from confining you into a box that defines who you are based on some stereotype of masculinity. I promise to help you follow your dreams, whatever they might be, even if they are seemingly hyper-masculine like racecar driver and bull rider. I will help you learn to be strong in the face of adversity, not because men must be strong, but because people must be strong and persevere when we feel like giving up.

I will make every effort to show you alternate definitions of strong. In challenge to the mainstream media’s sledgehammer definition of strength, I will find role models who show you how to be strong in quieter, softer or more subtle ways. I think we may be off to a good start, given my obsession with dance shows. Male dancers are often some of the strongest athlete’s in the world, but they are so graceful at the same time that it is often overlooked. I will teach you to look at our culture’s stereotypes with a critical eye. I will show you how to “win battles” with words and knowledge. I will preach to you of Dr. King and Gandhi whose strength was not brutish and violent. Their strength came from nonviolence and peaceful ideals.

Look for Role Models in Football (his other love) next week

Six Word Friday: Sum it up

and in summary I would say

choose a year? month? week? day?

last year in sum: completely devastating

this year: so far-so good

last month in sum: blessedly uneventful

this month: so far-so good

last week’s sum: essays and birthday

this week: exams, portfolio review, midterm

photoshop midterm

yesterday in sum: good, dinner out

today? early yet, so far-so….








An Art Education

Yesterday I had my Portfolio Review to get admitted into the Fine Art Program at my school. I passed it and submitted the paperwork to change my major. So, I’m all official now. One thing I had to do was write a page about why I want a BFA. I learned last term that if you were to follow a science track, this is how the degrees go:

BS=Bull Sh##, MS=More Sh##, PHD=Piled Higher and Deeper

Since I figured I probably shouldn’t bring that up, here is what I did write:


I’m entering the Fine Art program to complete a Bachelor of Fine Art with an eye toward continuing on to complete a Master’s degree. There are a few reasons why I’ve chosen to pursue an art education.

First, I am an artist. For as long as I can remember when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my reply has always been, “An artist.” I am here to hone my skills as an artist by exploring new media and techniques in a collaborative and supportive environment. Along with that I hope to narrow my focus of interest somewhat by whittling away at media or techniques that don’t appeal to me as much as I had thought they might.

Second, because art is for the most part unquantifiable, it helps people who are not artists (but perhaps are clients or family members) to understand where you are and what you are doing on a benchmarked trajectory. Returning to school as an adult, I am completely conscious that this is a second chance that I need to put to good use. They say that if you do something you love than you will never work a day in your life. This is my opportunity try to translate what I love to do into a career.

Third, I hope to use my education and the knowledge gained here to promote Art in our society. I believe that art and creativity are vital to our well being as a society and, ultimately our survival as a species. Without creativity and invention, humans would not have come very far on this planet. From my studies of art and civilization I have learned that one important mark of a stable society is it’s ability to support and maintain an artist class of people. A group of people who are able to develop a skill set beyond mere subsistence living and trade the products of those skills for their daily needs. This is only possible if there is a steady stable surplus of food and other staples. We will not be able to maintain our status as a civilized society if we cannot elevate art to a high status in our culture.

I believe that artists are not unlike magicians. Who else, besides artists and magicians can conjure an idea and manifest that idea into reality, seemingly from thin air. My personal goal with this degree is to better manifest my imagination into reality. That is why I choose to pursue a BFA.


Orlando and Gender Roles

We recently watched the movie Orlando in my Gender and Race class. This is what I wrote on the topic of gender roles for our weekly “Think Piece.” These are short papers giving our take on what we saw, discussed, or read that week.

Orlando and Gender

I found Orlando to be an interesting and odd movie. Obviously one of the main subjects was the role of women and men in society. Not just the lower status that doesn’t allow for the ownership of property and other legal inequalities for women, but also just the social expectations attached to gender roles. When Orlando was a man, he was expected to charge into the glory of battle willingly. These expectations don’t take into account the personal feelings of the individual. People who buck these stereotypes are often treated as weird or, in some places and stages in the world and history, outcast from society or persecuted legally. This was the case when Orlando was changed to a woman. Her lands were confiscated unless she had a male heir.

In my own life, I don’t recall growing up with any particular gender role expectations. I saw my mom raise me by herself. I also saw her enter into the male dominated world of the timber industry. She worked for years on tree planting crews and eventually became a sawyer there. She put up with quite a lot of teasing and ridicule in that setting for doing a “man’s job.” I say that I didn’t feel any particular gender role expectations. But, on second thought, that’s not entirely accurate. There is always the pressure to fit the beauty standards of the day. These are always much harsher for women. I read a study last year for another class about the self esteem levels of women of different sexual orientation. They compared heterosexual, bisexual, and lesbian women’s general levels of self esteem and found that lesbians had the highest levels overall. This isn’t surprising when you consider that heterosexual females are competing for the attentions of males who are biologically hardwired to pay more attention to physical attractiveness. This puts the onus on us to measure and compare that attractiveness against each other.

Also, some gender inequalities are so institutionalized that it’s hard to even see them. I’ve read recently that women still are paid on average approximately seventy-five cents for every dollar that a man is paid for the same job. But, it’s hard to see that because we don’t talk about finances openly. How would I know that the man working next to me is making more than I am? I can say that I didn’t feel much in the way of gender role pressure, but I think it may be like trying to explain water to a fish. It’s there, all around you, but you can’t really fathom it because you can’t see it and there isn’t anything else to compare it to. I don’t know what would have been different had I been born a boy. Would I have been more encouraged to participate in sports? I have no idea. I played basketball and was supported in that. I doubt it would have made a lot of difference in my home. In my life in society? Probably a very big difference. But I can’t see that from here.

Winter Classes 2010-11

Ok, so I’m taking four classes this term. They are all four credits so it’s a fairly full load.

Last term was crazy, but I ended up with 3 B’s, 2 B+’s, and an A. Considering everything, I’m really kinda surprised I did that well. But, I’m not complaining.


So, this term.


Intro to Water Science and Policy.

I’m taking this to fulfill a requirement. But it’s interesting and I like my teacher.

Art History 202.

This is the second in the series of western art history. This also fulfills a req. As a matter of fact all my classes are required this term. After this term, I will have completed my lower division classes and can concentrate on on my art stuff exclusively.

Gender and Race in Political Thought.

This is a really interesting class on examining our stereotype’s and reframing the stories we’ve absorbed over the years.



This is a cool class where I finally get to learn how to use that program. By the end I should be certifiable 🙂

This is our homework this week:

me before

That’s me before.



And that’s me after.


A little bit creepy, but a new skill.


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