In addition to the workshop, I have been busy getting ready for a solo show at Spark Gallery. I showed work here almost three years ago, but haven't put together a show of work since then. This will be a show of work that I have completed as work towards my MFA at Fort Hays State University under Linda Ganstrom. This is an opportunity for me to take a look back at what I have accomplished over the last two years and to reflect back on the changes that have occurred during that time.
Many of the pieces in the show feature a pointed oval shape that I have been working with for several years. This form has always symbolized the soul or the intangible part of who we are, beyond our physical bodies. It symbolizes potential like the shape of a seed or a pregnant belly, physically representing the potential that we each have inside of ourselves. In many of the installations and drawings that are in the show are arranged in groups of two or three, symbolizing our interdependence on those around us, the importance of friends and family in achieving our goals in life.
Working at the community college, I am very aware of the importance of community for the students in the ceramics department, many of whom have been taking classes there for a number of years. Recently, this community was tested by the loss of our department chair, Robin Furuta, to cancer a year and a half ago. After her cancer had been diagnosed, I had to leave the college for a while because of a contract issue. It was during this time that I found out about the low residency program at Fort Hays State University and applied and was accepted into the program. When I came back to the college in fall of 2014 I knew Robin was sick, but didn't understand the severity of her cancer. This semester proved to be one of the most challenging times of my life both because of Robin's poor health and because it was my first semester of grad school. In many ways, right or wrong, I felt responsible to try and hold things together during this difficult time for the department. A friend mentioned the other day that I never smiled during that semester, reminding me of how stressful that time had been for me. Looking back on that time, preparing for this upcoming show, I remembered attending Robin's graduate thesis show in August 2014*. While I was congratulating her on her beautiful show, she asked me when my thesis show would be since she knew that I was just starting to work on my MFA. When I informed her that it would be in four years, she made the comment that she didn't think she could make it that long. I think that's when I first had the idea to do a show mid way through my program, hoping that she would be able to attend it. Even though she passed away in February 2015, I still feel that she has greatly influenced the work that I am creating and I wish she could be here to see it.
People often ask me what the grid that has shown up in my work recently means. I often reply that it symbolizes the life experiences and the connections that they make for us that all come together to form the people that we are today. Another explanation could be to see it as a net that is trying to hold together those souls that have come together to form a community, an attempt by me to hold onto the people who are important to me during a time of change. Both my grad school experiences and work have brought some significant changes to my life. Many have been good, but some have been really hard to accept, and perhaps the net symbolizes my attempts to hold on to the good during this challenging time.
Within the Lines will be up at Spark Gallery, located at 900 Santa Fe Blvd in Denver, from June 16 through July 17. There will be an opening reception June 17 from 6-9 PM.
*Robin had been working on her MA in Studio Arts for several years before her death and she worked hard to complete that degree before her time on this earth was up. Such an inspiration!