Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Graduation, Summer, Inked Up Fingers and Giving Thanks

Greetings, all my little inked up friends and colleagues. This time of year brings about a slight shift from our normal working  routines as we move on to the summer season and the activities that keep us human and keep our sanity to deal with the rest of our yearly commitments. Those that are lucky enough head out of town to the summer cottages, clean out or redesign studios, move to new places and set up new studios, squirrel ourselves into said studios for some uninterrupted quality time, take a workshop to refresh and improve our skills or take something that will keep us abreast of the latest technical developments. We also travel to see new things and places for personal and artistic inspiration and we look at art in museums, galleries, art fairs and read books on art and philosophy and catch a few barbecue cookouts, outdoor concerts and movies just to round out our collective cultural experience. Then there's baseball, fishing, swimming and sleeping in the backyard hammock. Yep, that's summer in a nutshell. Gotta love summer.

Yet, there is something else that occurs at this time of year, and it may just be me, but I think about graduation. The sea of little art graduates embarking onto their next adventures in life make me I think about  my own graduations from college and graduate school; the poignancy, sense of achievement and abject fear about the future that came with receiving that little piece of vellum. It makes me think also on the people that helped get me to those points in my career: family and friends, surely had a hand in it all, but I think about my teachers' and instructors' contributions. Those men and women gave considerable time, talent and effort to help me on my way to doing what I do today, and I have to say "Thank You".

Like most of us, I know I haven't said it enough over the years, but I am privileged to still be in regular contact with many of my university professors, and consider several of them colleagues and friends. There have been some instructors (and colleagues) that have retired, passed away but for the most part they are still around and working. Their mentorship has been invaluable.  I want to state here and now that they have been a source of inspiration and a role model of teaching that has extended well beyond the classroom, and I am grateful to have worked with them.

I want to extend the invitation to all my fellow printmakers that you think on the impact your mentors and teachers have had on your work and your career. Give them a call, email, text, skype, or in the case of my undergraduate mentor, Robert Wolfe, from Miami University, where only a hand-written letter will be appropriate to send (if I should hope to get a response). Tell them something you remember about working with them, some funny story, or how they stood up for you during a terrible critique, or how they demonstrated patience showing you some technique outside of class time that you just couldn't get, or how they casually said something one day in passing that made all the difference to becoming an artist.
The world is filled with artists, and we are as good as our instruction, drive and stamina can stand in a world that largely undervalues the profession. Give something back to those that helped you achieve your goals, keep your fingers inked up and helped you get to where you are in your own career. It's a small gesture, but it's impact for them will be immeasurable. I have had students come back and keep me abreast of their achievements, and I feel proud about their accomplishments as like a parent with her own children. It's part of this cycle of art, and the least we can do to repay their efforts on our behalf.

So, this is my personal thank you to the following persons, in no particular order: Mrs. Schawn, Mrs. Truster, Robert Wolfe, Barbara Telleen, James D. Butler, Harold Boyd, Ray Jackson, Richard R. Finch, Raymond E. George,  Crossan Hayes Curry, Catherine Johnson, Alex McKibbin, Rocio Rodriguez, Claire Seidl, and Clive Getty.

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