So, because I have a day job, I’ve migrated to the Berkshires for the next 6 weeks. If you’re not familiar with the Berkshires, they’re a mountain range bordering Massachusetts and New York (and possibly some other states I’m not aware of).
Long ago, when I was a young artist, a teacher at my school nominated me to participate in a week-long arts-intensive program for youth, held at an old dorm in the woods. We’d see performances by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, dancers at Jacob’s Pillow, and a myriad of famous plays. We’d study our chosen area of arts interest; visual arts, vocal music, theater, etc. for several hours a day, and sleep at the dorms at night, 2 hours away from home in Boston. It seemed like an amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, the week I went was a special one, where Seiji Ozawa and Wynton Marsalis were filming a music special on campus. We (the students) spent the week sitting in a hot barn, while the celebs did take after take. Parents were pissed. I can’t say I learned much, but, years later when I was invited back as a teenager to be a Counselor In Training, I went for it, and had the time of my life. I wish those teenage friendships had lasted, but, they went the way of most things teen-age.
This Summer, I was asked to come back as faculty. I was honored to teach visual arts in the same program I’d attended as a child, and excited at the prospect of working with kids whole love the arts, have art-skills, and really want to be here.
It comes with challenges. The traditional camp culture seems at-odds with art-making/artists to me; how do you maintain the energy to “rah rah” your way through a lengthy school-bus ride after spending 3 hours painting? I can’t say it’s in my nature to make hours of conversation with a ten year old about dorm rooms, truncated showers and the intricacies of their talent show presentations. I don’t have much interest in entertaining, or being the star of the show. I’m more likely to go for a glass of wine and a good movie. Maybe some Words With Friends?
But my students are great. They want to create things. They’re talented and smart. They’re mature for their ages, and are coming into themselves. I enjoy working with them and look forward to seeing what they’ll create. They lack confidence still, but have curiosity for days. We’re working around the theme of traditions this week, since we saw “Fiddler on the Roof” last evening. Get it? “Traditions”? Yeah. I’m having my students consider their traditions, and what is “traditional” to them, and dismantle/modify/recreate a traditional, recycled, object. They’ve turned juice bottles into dog bowls, soda cans into robots, milk cartons into robots, egg crates into a field of flowers. I had them collaborate, and they’re working on a makeshift messaging system with a lightbulb indicator. Are they geniuses? Yes. I think they are.
While I’m here, Hieropice on Etsy is still open, I’m still creating, and, finding inspiration in the mountains, gorgeous forests, flora and fauna here. There are chipmunks everywhere. Deer. Groundhogs and hawks. The logs are mossy and lichenous. It’s the perfect place to make the things I love.
I don’t have much down-time though, so the blog updates might be less frequent in the coming weeks. I will do my best to keep you updated!