TOAE 2013

At every Toronto show that I attend, I can't help but feel that the art and craft communities seem to be shrinking. However after this weekend, I have come to realise that the communities are not small, rather I am starting to know more and more of the members. Take this year's Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE 2013) for example. A former classmate and I went down to the show yesterday morning at 10am, planning to be home by the time the sun was highest in the sky. Instead, it was nearly 6pm when I finally arrived home - sporting a wicked sunburn and blistered feet. I've been lucky to make it through a (large) art show in under 3 hours only once before. This is a feat that was relatively impossible, especially when it seemed that every other booth had somebody that I knew, and stopped to chat with (not to mention all of the enticing artwork that one could spend hours feasting their eyes on). IMG_3587

The technician at Sheridan jokes that TOAE should be called the SAAE - Sheridan's Annual Alumni Exhibition, as there are so many former grads who participate in the show. My classmate and I stopped at one of our colleague's booth and within ten minutes, there were 7 Sheridan students (current and alumni) all crammed in, catching up and admiring the work. We joked that it was as if a fog horn had gone off, alerting Sheridan alumni everywhere to congregate at Yellow Booth 259.

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It was hot and humid, but a delightful day for a show. Nathan Phillips Square was packed with a sea of white tents, and a larger sea of moving bodies. The range of work at the show was enticing - installation, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, glass, jewellery, painting, photography, and more! Much more! After spending seven hours looking at prices, checking out booth designs, networking and catching up with friends, I feel strongly encouraged by this venue. Maybe TOAE 2014 will be in the cards for me next year.

Until then, I'll just keep making pots.

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These are some juice cups fresh from the wood-soda kiln. Looking forward to more of these.

Farewell Sheridan

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The last couple of weeks at school were a blur of packing and openings. As graduates, we were allowed a couple extra weeks to vacate our studios and find somewhere to take all our craps. We quickly found out that we needed those extra weeks. Not only did we need to take several trips to and from the school with our stuff, but the buffer was important for our mental health. We needed to be removed slowly, at our own pace and take our time to decompress. After such a stimulating year, the studio was quiet and often empty. The time was needed to adjust to this change and prepare for a new beginning. Our final show was rightfully hosted in the Craft and Design gallery at Sheridan. The opening took place after the annual Tulip Ceremony, where the graduates are each presented a tulip and awards are given out to students in all years of the program.

I was asked to give the Valedictory address for the ceramics graduates at this year's Tulip Ceremony. When asked, I didn't know what to say. What can you say to eight people who have not only been your classmates, but your family? What wisdom did I have for the eight people who I have learned so much from and so much with? How could I begin to describe my love for these people, this program?

So I was sitting at my booth at the year-end Open House, and I was thinking about all of the shit I still had to move out of my studio. The stacks of books and papers, the pounds and pounds of clay, the buckets of reclaim and glazes. And while I was thinking, I started to think of everything else I was taking with me. And so I wrote my speech:

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"We're moving out. I've moved out of the ceramics studio before, but it wasn't nearly as hard. In fact, it was a joyous occasion. The school year was over. We could take a four month break before returning in September. This time is different. We're not returning, and much to my parent's dismay, I have dozens of boxes that need more than a temporary home. They will be needing a permanent place, because their previous home is no longer.

There's a feeling of homelessness while we pack up our shards of broken experiments and try to organize all our glazes and materials. We collected boxes from the garbage outside Annie Smith because we didn't realise just how much stuff we have. The mass accumulates, we had the space and we filled it. We have finished pieces, half finished pieces and pieces we wished were finished but aren't yet. Some of us still have wet work that needs to be wrapped up like a baby in order to survive the car ride home. To wherever home is, because, at least for me, when I think of home, I think of my studio in the loft. I hear the drone of the clay mixer and the pounding of the glass studio's music. I feel the anxiety of deadlines in the air, like a layer of dust settling on us all. I can hear the laughter, the cursing, the crying and the consoling. For the past year, Sheridan has been our home. Our families and friends have seen little of us, but we've seen a lot of each other. I've spent more time in this building, with these people, than I have any other.

We are taking a lot with us when we leave. Boxes of clay, buckets of glaze and lots of dirty clothing are only the beginning. We are also taking learned techniques and practised experiences. We are taking souls full of wonder and curiosity, anticipation and dread. We are taking more than just what we have been taught and more than we have made. We are taking what we have lived and what we have learned. We have learned to hold THE BEST potlucks, and to enjoy eating the leftovers the next day. We have learned to use the kilns to heat up said leftovers, and keep them cold overnight. We learned that communal coffee breaks are the best medicine. We have learned that sleep is important, but by no means necessary. We are leaving with the knowledge that this job is hard, but it is rewarding. And above all, we have learned that you must always, always compress your clay.

We wouldn't be where we are today without such an amazing group of people supporting us the whole way. On behalf of the ceramic graduates I would like to thank Linda, our fearless leader, for pushing us to near exhaustion and teaching us that you can never work too hard. Thank you to Hugh, our fantastic technician, for making the impossible possible, for being the handiest of handy men and for gently reminding us when we are making stupid mistakes. Gord, your wisdom has been invaluable and your tenderness always appreciated. Thank you for it all. To our amazing faculty, Tony, Marc, Bruce, Win, Janet, Lindsay, Steve, we would not be here without your dedication, encouragement and reflections.

Some of us know what we're going to do when we stop coming to this place, but the majority of us don't. But whether it be further education, attending a residency, setting up a studio or decide "screw it, I'm going to be a fire-fighter", we will all be okay. We will make it, and we'll learn and grow along the way. There are many more shards of experiments in our future, in fact, I hope there will be. Because the most fulfilling part of this experience has been the acceptance of our vulnerability. We have learned to laugh at our own embarrassment, begin to conquer our insecurity and channel our pride. We have taken risks, we have set ourselves up for failure, we have lost and we have won. It has been one hell of a ride."

Farewell Sheridan, you will be missed.

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Sheridan Furniture Show

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One of the lovely benefits to working in the Crafts and Design department is our constant exposure to other makers and their craft. We not only have four other studios to peek into on our way to the cafeteria, but a gallery that highlights the talents of our department throughout the year. Back in January I wrote about Trans-Form/Function, the annual ceramic show in the gallery. It is now time for the furniture students to show off their work, and they do not disappoint. A wide range of beautiful pieces including side tables, lounge chairs and bar stools  showcase the work of over 25 makers. This show collects individual and collaborative projects, new makers and those who will be graduating this fall. Contemporary and traditional practices are highlighted, using a variety of materials.

As a lover of all things "home", I was delighted to spend part of my afternoon on Thursday at this show, weaving between the walnut tables and staring up at a beautifully crafted light piece. My mind couldn't help but wander to living room settings where comfy lounge chairs might help me relax after a long day's work. I plan on seeing work by some of these talented designers in my home one day.

To see the show, come by the Crafts & Design department and pop into the gallery. You won't regret it!

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Coverage of Trans-Form Function

IMG_0885I was interviewed by two journalists at the "Trans-Form Function" opening back on January 10th. Back at the studio, I was mid glazing when another journalist asked if they could talk to me for a moment about the program.  I never got around to seeing what they wrote about our studio, the work we created, and our exhibition. So today I did some digging. Here are a few links to videos, photo collections and articles about the ceramics program at Sheridan. I'm featured in the article "Extending your thoughts through art" by Cole Ritchie - along with an unflattering photograph. So, if you didn't make it out to the show - live vicariously through these links.

Oh, and all of the journalists are fellow Sheridan students!

Extending your thoughts through art

Sheridan Ceramic Exhibition

Trans-Form/Function in AA Gallery

Happy snow day.

SHED and SEAT at Design Republic

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With Toronto Design Week off to a great start, there are exceptional design objects all over the city.  Over the next week, there are multiple gallery openings each night, showcasing works by design artists from all over North America. One of the openings that everybody in the Toronto area should attend is happening TONIGHT from 7-10pm. Eight of the sixteen light fixtures that were developed at Sheridan during *SHED will be showcased at Design Republic along with stools and chairs created by students of the Sheridan Furniture Department. SHED and SEAT will be open from this evening until January 27th.

The other eight lighting projects from SHED are currently on display at the Sheridan Gallery in the Craft and Design wing. Here are some of the photos I snapped at the opening last Friday.

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On a side note, cottage cheese and fruit makes for a delicious lunch. Especially out of my salt fired dish.

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*For more information see the SHED 2013 page under the SHERIDAN drop down menu.