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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Grad Show at the Ontario Crafts Council

The school year is officially over and I've moved all of my things out of the studio for the last time. Yesterday I moved up to Wiarton, ON (about 3 hours North of the GTA) to apprentice with a potter for the summer. I start tomorrow. Until today I have not had a moment free to update with all of the recent events, shows and day-to-day musings. I have been taking photographs and notes however, so please bear with me over the next few days while I catch up on all the latest. [gallery type="square" columns="5" ids="597,595,596,598,599"]

Back in April we fired Scarlet again for our last time. We won't be returning to Sheridan in the fall so our access to atmospheric kilns has been cut off (unless of course the students next year invite us to put a couple pieces in). We kicked it into high gear during the last two weeks of school and tried to produce as much work as possible so we could fully stack the wood kiln and soda kiln with our work.

This time firing Scarlet we were smarter. We loaded her up on the Saturday night, went home for a good night's sleep and returned early Sunday morning to get her going. I had the first shift and relaxed in my comfy chair by the tiny fire for hours drinking tea. No heavy duty stoking required in that early morning shift.

After the kiln fired off we had a day's break to prep for two shows that weekend - one at the Ontario Crafts Council in Toronto, the other at the gallery at Sheridan. I went over to the OCC Wednesday morning to set up for the second part of This Could Work. The first part was set up the week prior to our opening and presented the work of the graduates from the glass and textiles studios. Here's a collection of photos I took at that event:

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The second half of the show was the work of the furniture and ceramics students. I met with a couple fellow students, Linda Sormin (our studio head) and our amazing installer Carmen to set up for the show. At the end of a long day we had all the wall work installed, all the plinths for furniture painted and the space was set up, ready to place the work. A big thank you goes out to Carmen for returning the next day to finish set up and look after the final details!

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Part of my work for the OCC included a performance piece, where I invited two people to intimately serve desserts to the audience at the opening. These lovely ladies, decked out in theatrical outfits and high heels, drifted through the overflowing opening and invited the audience to experience my dessert stands, by snacking on the macarons, tarts and rum balls that were delicately placed on their lace doilies. A strong interest for me lies in the human condition and how society acts and reacts in certain situations. This activity brought back a breadth of information on the ways in which humans interact with each other intimately. Some people at the show accepted the offer gratefully, with unwavering delight. Others were sceptical, not only pausing to question the food itself, but the kind gesture of a complete stranger.

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Finally, THANK YOU to the Ontario Crafts Council for hosting the event and continually supporting Sheridan College's Craft and Design program. So many of the opportunities available to us are thanks to their efforts and encouragement. For more information visit the OCC's website.

Jam Packed Weekend Coming Up!

THIS COULD WORKWith the school year winding down, there are only two big events left before the "summer" begins, and they both take place this weekend. The annual graduate show at the Ontario Craft Council takes place this Friday, April 26 from 7-10pm. Entitled "This Could Work", the exhibition reflects the ongoing development within the making process of objects. With the first half of the show concluding this past Tuesday evening, the second half was installed on Wednesday in preparation for the opening on Friday night. The ceramic graduates from Sheridan will be showing alongside 14 graduates from the furniture department. I've been busy making all new work for this event! We fired the wood kiln again over the weekend and I pulled some "racers" (as one of my professors likes to call them) out just before we went to install. If the evening is anything like the Gardiner's, there is bound to be a lot of excitement, a lot of people and amazing work. You don't want to miss it! The OCC is located at 990 Queen st. West, Toronto.

Open House

Following the evening festivities on Friday, the fun doesn't stop! Saturday April 27 from 10am-4pm is the annual Arts Open House and Craft Sale at Sheridan. Not only will the arts and craft studios be open to the public, but there will also be a sale going on in the school's main building. There will be over 25 vendors selling textiles, glass, ceramics and more. In the Craft and Design building, the gallery will be hosting the final work of the Craft and Design graduates. Ceramics, Glass, Furniture and Textiles will be represented by the graduating class from this year - a plethora of new and exciting works to feast your eyes upon. Come visit me at my booth in the CAFETERIA. I will have all sorts of goodies for sale, including some brand new pieces out of Scarlet's belly. Looking forward to it!

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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Working Towards The End

The school term is winding down, and yet I feel busier than I have all year. The final semester for the graduating class means three shows and three show openings to plan, critiques to look forward to, and the beginning of our lives as entrepreneurs. Today was my last official college class, and it feels great. But unlike students in other departments and other years, we are not finished yet. Our next two shows are not until the end of April, and so we will be spending the coming weeks making work and coming to terms with the end of our student careers (at least for the time being). The past week has been a whirlwind of excitement and anxiety, a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Last Thursday was our opening at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. Over 150 people came to celebrate with us as we presented our work to the public for the first time. It was a lovely evening; moving speeches were made by the faculty and students and an overwhelming energy took hold of the building and all its occupants. We almost needed to kick people out, the building was full to the brim. I have rarely felt so high.

The days after an opening, however, are full of lows. All of the thought, energy, and suspense that surrounded the event came abruptly to a halt, and a disturbing silence followed. Thankfully, my weekend was still packed with many activities. The next two days I worked at PSH and spent hours in the studio, keeping myself busy. I even kept my hands busy once I was home, and made pinch pots while I watched some pottery videos. On Sunday I attended Craftstock, a new monthly pop-up shop in downtown Hamilton. Despite the raging winds, many Hamiltonians made it out to the event and helped support the growing local art scene. What a lovely group of people to spend a Sunday afternoon with.

My friend Ioni did a feature about my work on his blog - he attended the event at the Gardiner and took photographs (something I didn't have the time or mentality to do in such a busy environment). To check them out, visit his website . The photographs below highlight some of my pieces at the Gardiner Museum. (photo cred: Ionatan Waisgluss)[gallery type="square" ids="548,549,550"]