I am now an official Master of Fine Arts graduate from Louisiana Tech University! So much has happened since I moved to Ruston, LA three years ago and I have grown so much as an artist and person. Fellow graduate MC Davis had the best way of describing how I feel about graduate school: “The third year [grad students] in the past warned us we would miss it… it’s super stressful in the moment of things but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Grad school is a very humbling and productive experience. It will fly by. It’s hard, it will make you want to quit and walk away, but the satisfaction of walking away with having completed it is………… there’s not a word for it.”
I had incredible support from the LaTech art/design faculty and friends I made there. Though I am excited of new changes that are coming as I enter the career world, I will miss the community that I experienced there. I encourage anyone interested in pursuing their MFA degree to give Louisiana Tech University a look.
All seven of us MFA graduates participated in the graduation ceremony on Saturday. It was a wonderful moment of celebration in realizing that all of our hard work paid off. It felt good standing out from the crowd in our big hoods (which are brown….why do MFA graduates get the ugliest color in combination with black?!) and funky sleeves. We made photos together and said our goodbyes, because who knows when we’ll see each other again? I will miss them dearly.
For my next adventure in life– I have been hired at my alma mater Mississippi State University to work as a lecturer, teaching basic design software courses in the art department. I am so thrilled about this opportunity! This summer I will be getting settled there, and establish my lesson plans. I will mainly be interacting with students that are trying out for the graphic design program, so I will completely relate to how they are feeling! I also hope to find a space to rent so that I can continue papermaking. I have a dream of having this studio space for people to walk in and purchase items, and also have the chance to learn papermaking. I would also love to start a business through Etsy.
Today I read an article about actor Jim Carey’s commencement address to some graduates. He stated, “My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. When I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” I could not agree more. I am so glad I followed my heart!
My friend Matt Ramsaur (www.ramsaurfilms.com) is a talented videographer and photographer, so I hired him to do a short film of me in my studio. I demonstrate a bit of my hand-recycled papermaking process, discuss why I enjoy papermaking, and what inspires my work. Even Bailee makes her appearance throughout the film! I will have this embedded into my portfolio website’s home page soon. Enjoy!
I have practiced making large paper with my rigged system, and I think I’ve concocted a successful method. I really had to experiment with how much pulp to make per page. If I don’t prepare enough, the sheet may be too thin, have thin spots, or tear when I pull it away from the silkscreen. But then again, I don’t want to prepare too much so that it is as thick as cardboard. I already knew 1 light batch of pulp (fill blender halfway with torn junk paper, add 4 cups of water) was enough to make 3 – 8.5×11″ sheets. I found 1 heavy batch of pulp (fill blender 3/4 with torn junk paper, add 4 cups of water) was enough for 1 – 16×20″ sheet. And finally, I figured out 2 heavy batches of pulp was thick enough for my 21×32″ sheets.
I also tried different paper pulp designs, and these sheets appear to be works of art, themselves! I mixed all sorts of colors with liquid pigments, and used a turkey baster and a cup with a small hole poked through the bottom to distribute the pulp in different ways. I would decorate them right after the sheet base is pulled, so the water can continue to drain into the kiddie pool. Some sheets can take up to 45 minutes to finish– from making the pulp, pulling the sheet, decorating it, and removing as much water as possible before placing it away to dry.
Making such large paper means a lot of wet blotter sheets and felts. So thankful I have a good bit of space to hang everything to dry!
Below is my paper drying station in action. The paper is sandwiched between layers of felt and cardboard, with 4 cement blocks on top for pressure. The air from the two box fans flow through the layers and circulate back again. The paper can take at least 2 full days to dry. I managed to get more large cardboard so that I can switch them out to increase drying time since these photos were made. I also bought a dehumidifier to suck up as much moisture out of this Louisiana air as possible. Oh, what a difference it makes! The studio was also getting a little smelly from all the wet materials, and with the dehumidifier it’s smelling nice again.
TA-DA! I spread my dry paper onto a table to feature the many designs I made.
I added a sheet of 8.5×11″ typing paper and a pen to give a comparison to the papers’ size.
I am working on some other projects with my paper, and can’t wait to finish them so I can post them on here! Have a happy November 1st!
Well, I am in my final year of grad school at Louisiana Tech University as a Communication Design student. I’ll be getting into the nitty gritty of my artwork and research, and I got an awesome new space for my artistic experiments. My small home kitchen just wasn’t large enough anymore for my papermaking supplies and mess, and to make larger paper, I needed much more table space and drying space. These studios are on campus for any art student that needs one, so you can see it’s been used by previous artists with the random paint on the floor and walls.
Yes, that is a kiddie pool. I use it for my water vat. $12.00, y’all!
The table against the wall also functions as a drying “box”. I’ll stack my new, wet sheets underneath between felt and cardboard with concrete blocks on top, and when I turn my box fan towards it, the air will be able to circulate in the blocked off space.
Plenty of space to hang and dry papers and felts.
And my sweet baby, Bailee 🙂 She’s my little helper, and enjoys the box fan.
I still have some supplies coming in to use for my new body of work, and I can’t wait to start! I will post new designs, hand-recycled paper, and prints as I finish them. If you would like to see the blog of what I accomplished last school year, visit http://www.art.latech.edu/blog/author/bes019/.