Day residency near Goldendale, WA

I took a 24 hour break from thinking about painting/photographing construction sites and went up with my sister to Rainbow Springs near Goldendale, Washington. The grass was pink with tufts of green and some scatterings of purple and dayglo yellow. The light and clouds, in typical PNW fashion, were dramatic. There was silence (except for the birds and bugs) and at night, complete darkness. We hiked to Ekone Ranch, followed a welcoming team through the horses and foliage to look at lady slipper flowers, and stayed for lunch (volunteering to wash dishes). We spent the last hour or so sitting in front of the canyon – I was able to get an underpainting started, while my sister read excerpts from her book about the social hierarchies of baboons. We have been processing the news of a family member’s sudden passing. The processing still continues but I’m glad my sister came up north this weekend.

Oregon IL Summit 2018

IMG_0786

With the help of my coworker Mark and his car (along with his encouragement to apply for the scholarship) – I was able to attend the 2018 Oregon Information Literacy Summit presented by ILAGO (Information Literacy Advisory Group of Oregon) at Chemeketa Community College in McMinnville.  It was a day long conference of modest size, but it was a big deal for me since I hadn’t been able to attend professional development gatherings in the past couple years due to costs. Although I don’t work within classroom instruction (which was one of the main focuses),  I still found the sessions to be relevant to the reference desk.

The breakout session I chose to go to was presented by Lewis & Clark College’s Visual Resources Librarian, Erica Jensen – titled,  More Questions than Answers: Thinking through Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) in Library Instruction. Again, this is classroom instruction (not relevant to my job/duties), but I’m always going to jump on anything art or museum related (I was also interested in hearing Jensen speak since her job title sounds amazing).  I knew nothing beforehand about VTS, but I realized it was a warm-up exercise used every so often in my art history classes years ago. The instructor would display an image with no context and ask the class three questions in the following order:  1. “What’s going on in this picture?” (once), 2. “What do you see that makes you say that?” (if a claim is made without supporting evidence), and 3. “What more can we find?” (continuously). This process is meant to build upon student curiosity and have the class actually slow down to engage with the ambiguous, rather than having immediate answers.  VTS began in art museums and art history classes over 20 years ago, but Jensen is interested in how it can be further integrated into a non-art setting within secondary, medical education and so on.

Afterwards I went over to one of the presentations, Reading and Metacognition in Library Instruction from Pam Kessinger of Portland Community College (PCC). Kessinger’s slideshow focused on how important reading apprenticeship is for students to be able to perform source evaluation, bias identification, and self-analysis (Metacognition: “thinking about thinking”). It may seem like the ability to read clearly in order to research/understand information is a no brainer, but there are some students leaving high school or entering community college that still struggle with reading comprehension. The takeaway (for me) from this is to slow down (either in reference or instruction) – talk through your search/thought process when demonstrating a database to a student. Print out the library homepage and draw arrows and circle menu items if a student needs a hard-copy of a research plan. Have the student verbalize their assignment/interests or (if instructing a class) have the students discuss their topics amongst themselves.

After lunch I signed up for the afternoon work session – Metacognitive Information Literacy Assessment hosted by Sara Robertson (PCC), Kim Olsen-Charles (my coworker at Concordia University), and Michele Burke (Chemeketa Community College). The workshop was part of developing an open source, statewide self-assessment tool. The participants were divided into groups – myself and Gabriela (a former fellow MLS student I hadn’t seen in ages) were one – and we had to take short statements which referenced any point of the research process (printed out on adhesive labels) and stick them under one of the three categories that we deemed applicable: Conditional Knowledge, Procedural Knowledge, and Declarative Knowledge. The stickers also had to be placed in descending order of relevancy. My head almost exploded but it was a good challenge and Gabriela was a champ. It was also a reminder that the subject of metacognition goes deeper than I had previously expected (which of course makes sense).

The main lesson I came way with from the ILAGO Summit is a reminder to (again) slow down. I still catch myself at the reference desk rushing through, trying to get an article for a student, trying to make things simple – to get them what they want without having them dig a little deeper. This could be chalked up to performance-anxiety under pressure, or the left over food-service industry instant gratification training. Showing a student how to research can also reveal how they can best process information – and there’s an overwhelming amount.

Phrases from the presentations that I wrote down in my notes because I liked how they sound (or look?):

  • habits of mind
  • permission to wonder
  • metacognition
  • constructionist pedagogues
  • why I did what I did
  • building identities
  • foundational to the frames
  • thinking about thinking

making room

blog2018

The show at Backstory Books finished up earlier this month and I managed to get 7 paintings off my hands and received the first checks for art in a very, very long time. When you price your smaller pieces low – it tends to sell (who knew!).   This gives me a little more room to grow and keep working without expecting to always burrow things away forever.

Influences of the month:

Pierre Bonnard – Painting Arcadia : I borrowed a book on Bonnard from work, which is a beautiful catalog from a retrospective show at SF’s Legion of Honor a few years back.  Bonnard has always had a special place in my little consortium of favorites. It started about 12 years ago when my color theory teacher, Donna Larsen, assigned him to me for a project (I vaguely recall having to replicate a sample of his painting along with color swatches).  At the time, I knew nothing about Bonnard’s work and had initially written him off as boring.  But of course his work won me over – his color use and brush work made his paintings have a glow, and it’s a glow I’ve been subconsciously trying to replicate in my own work during the past few years.

The Eva Hesse documentary : I finally watched the film on Eva Hesse that was released last year – once it was over I immediately played it again while I was painting. Hesse died very young from a brain tumor, but she found so much success and recognition as an artist within a short span of time.  The part of her timeline that stuck out to me the most was when she returned to Deutschland for the first time since she and her sister escaped the Nazis through Kindertransports as a toddler (her extended family was murdered). Although her parents managed to escape, her mother later committed suicide when Hesse was only nine. Hesse reluctantly returned with her then-husband Tom Doyle after he was offered an all-paid artist’s residency at a former textile factory on the Ruhr River near Essen. Although the residency was offered to Doyle, the 14 months spent between 1964 and 1965 at the abandoned factory served as a launching point for Hesse. She began to transition from painting flat to incorporating sculptural elements into her surfaces like wire and metal scraps she found lying around the old factory space. She returned to NYC after finding her voice, and her work only expanded from there (latex/fiberglass sculptures and works on paper). Over the next five years she produced enough work to fill the entire Guggenheim during her memorial exhibition shortly after her passing.

Making noise: I’m honestly terrified of being loud – I can draw attention to my work (which leads to myself) visually, but using sound/noise was never something I felt fully comfortable with.  It may have to do with taking up space (even my paintings have usually been small up until recently) or worrying disturbing the neighbors (actually, that’s exactly the reason).  Although I still don’t plan on playing an amp turned high up in my apartment, my friend invited me to play with her in a warehouse practice space near SE Lincoln. I’m reluctant to say I’m “playing” guitar at this point, but I’m happy to report that I’m making loud noise.

News:

My superior at work offered me an opportunity to exhibit some of my paintings and pinhole photographs at the Concordia University’s George R. White Library and Learning Center during the months of July and August. More details to come when summer begins.

 

 

Hydra at the beach

Hydra at the beach

20 x 30 inches

mixed media (thread, wax, acrylic, hair, print, ink, plastic, rubber, sawdust and graphite) on panel

catalog cards

Fotoram.iomnemonic whale catalog example

I think need a break from the Mnemonic Whale for a while. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made on it, but I am ready to work on bigger paintings and make videos. Although the whale is a vessel that is never complete (more side drawers need to be added someday in the future), it is currently fulfilling its duty at Backstory Books. For some of the books chosen from Amanda’s shop (and subsequently placed behind each door), there is a corresponding catalog card in the right side drawer.

I took inspiration from the book The Card Catalog by The Library of Congress published last year. Actual visual examples win me over every time and it was more proof for me that art and library science can be combined. My handwriting has always been the worst. Attempting to fit my bulbous and kinked scrawl onto a 3 inch index card is a little personal challenge of mine (“library hand” penmanship this is not). But practice will eventually make perfect (or close enough) and I hope to learn “library hand” someday. For now, making these little cards are actually helping me with recognizing categories more easily at work. They are free for the taking of course ~

The updated Mnemonic Whale page can be seen here: https://sylviedakotahuhn.com/others/mnemonicwhale/