“Change…….It’s Inevitable” I returned to Michigan, after living in Vermont for 13 years. I thought I would return to a thriving economy and begin a new, but familiar life. What I found is a state that is struggling to survive. Michigan had an enormous presence during the Industrial Revolution of the 1700 and 1800’s. We were known for our innovation using tool and die, presses, and in building the furniture industry. We have wonderful fresh water lakes (instead of salt water oceans) that provide hours of entertainment and enjoyment throughout the year. My family has lived here for several generations. We have been plumbers, tool and die makers, teachers, fisherman, grocers, pharmacists, engineers, bankers, community leaders, gas station and motel owners. One of my grandfathers was a grocer with several stores and the other a plumber who became a charter fishing boat captain. Currently, Michigan is struggling. Our residents are struggling. We have enormous physical plants that stand empty. Products made in Michigan are now made overseas. Our businesses need to reinvent themselves. I realize that change is a part of life, but…… It’s inevitable. Whether we like it or not, subtle changes happen each day of our lives, whether it is our aging, the change of seasons, a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. As residents, business owners, and employees, we must struggle with this nagging question, “How can I survive in a changing landscape and sustain my way of life?” Yes, we can change. We will adapt, move forward, and do more than survive. We will grow and learn. This is a conceptual sculpture. I have used the resources of West Michigan to build this work. Pyramids were chosen to reflect their symbolism of life moving forward, the next life. For myself, I feel as though I have lived many lives. I can’t be alone in this belief. I have used life circles throughout this structure to depict life moving forward, never stagnant. I walk the beaches in sunshine, rain, and snow. The changes can be, both, stark and beautiful. You just have to look. I have taken hundreds of digital images and contacted several local companies to research their image archives. I needed to narrow the focus. I portray manufacturing from the 1920’s through today. We have evolved from using our hands and assembly lines to computerized machines that make parts with little human contact. I began thinking about our lives as infants, teens, young adults, parenthood, aging, and senior years. In doing this, I remembered moments in my own life: being at the beach, swinging on a metal swing set, prom, a wedding, the Vietnam war, having children and watching them grow. I have narrowed it down to one man, my grandfather. He loved life. He lived 85 years. He saw many changes in our world, lived through the horrors of war, death of a child, earned money in many ways to support his family, raised children and grandchildren. At the end of his life, I remember his laughter. He and my grandmother could still laugh after a very full life together. So, at the end of the day, isn’t this what matters. So, yes, we can adapt. “Change…..It’s Inevitable.”
I got up at 5am to fire the gas kiln, today. I am hoping to head to the beach for one more dose of Vitamin D. We have to enjoy these wonderful days while we can. It will be winter before we know it. I have my corner and end pieces in the gas kiln. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they fire as I envision. The co-op that I am in, Washington Square Gallery in Holland, has sold several of my tray sets. I made three more for this firing with matching bowl sets. One of the pyramid sides are completed but I think I can do better. So, I am remaking them. The clock is ticking. 25 more days until Art Prize begins. Go to ArtPrize.org for more information on the many, many events.
I got to see my tripod last week and the sign base for the project. Brian helped with several tests in "aging" the steel. We tried battery acid poured directly onto the steel. We left part of the steel alone. I should say, he, took the protective finish off part of it, and then torched it. We also took the finish off, poured muriatic acid on this area, and then torched it. One final test was using WD-40 on each of those tests. I have a plan and Brian is game to help with it. I am not going to tell you which test we liked the best. :) One thing that Brian and I did decide was that the battery acid is too caustic and we will be using salt water, instead. The WD-40 made a neat pattern on the bottom of the base. You can see it here.
Today, I am meeting to hang the prototype and see what height is appropriate for the hanging pyramid. This will be the texture on the bottom edge. Of course this is unglazed. I met with the owner of Headliners and he is donating the sign that will tell my story. I have the "yes" from Huntington Bank for the sign. Everything is coming together.
I met with the Dake Corporation today. I was apprehensive because they were but when I got to the plant and saw the structure. I was more than happy. I was excited. This project is coming to fruition and as of right now, I am very happy with where I am. So, very amazing. Tomorrow, we will come with a ladder and hang the prototype pyramid to see where cabling should be connected and talk about other issues. Oh, plus I got to see Dake's sandblasting room. It was very cool. I took home a baggy of metal filings to be used in a glaze. It will be an interesting chemistry test.
I just received an email telling me how to vote for different work during ArtPrize.My codes will be: An up vote is code: 42441 and a down vote is: 42440.The "up" votes are what determine your ranking in the over all contest. However up and down votes mean that your work is causing conversations, which are good. So, please register and vote September 22 - October 9. Go to ArtPrize.org for more information.
Last March or April, my daughter was out at the lake taking pictures. This is what she found. It was a beautiful day, most of the snow and icebergs had melted BUT.......these old pile-ons had snow and ice stuck to them glistening in the sunshine. I have never seen anything like it. Our lake changes daily and can be so amazing, if we just take the time to look and enjoy it.
I am putting up a couple more images that represent the ideas that I am working into my project.
A very good friend of mine arrived last Thursday. She came to visit Grand Haven for the very first time and she chose Coast Guard Week. Our town is Coast Guard USA and a town of 20k becomes a humming community of 250,000 for one week. I was very nervous about whether she would like the area or not. Bottom line the concerns were wasted energy. She just wanted to spend time with me and see where I was living. I was able to see Lake Michigan through her eyes and enjoy it immensely. Polly is an awesome potter who is no longer making pots. After two days, she quietly said, "hey, do you think I could throw a few things?" Of course! Let's get into the studio. It is like riding a bike for her and within an hour she had six large bowls and several tumblers. I will trim them, glaze, and fire them. It will be nice to ship them to Vermont and think about her enjoying them on a daily basis.ArtPrize - I got the third side of my pyramid rolled out, cut and drying some. I know how I will finish it. I made the corners last night. I think everything is looking good. One more test firing for some glaze ideas and we are ready to do the final firing. Lots of ideas whirling in my head. I continue to refine them. Time to get moving.
I am doing my second test glaze firing. I altered the transparent glaze, altered the reticulation glaze. I have finished one side of the internal pyramid. It is drying slowly and I will bisque it later this week. I hope to make three more screens for screen printing tomorrow and then on Wednesday, finish the second side of the pyramid. I have been thinking about how to capture aging of people in a 30 inch space. It is interesting to think about how do I stay on track with the title of my piece (Change....Its Inevitable.) I am working on using decals instead of just screen printing for this side of the pyramid. I have images of my grandfather from the early 1900's until his death in the 1980's. Thinking about how to use these images in an interesting manner. I believe I have come up with the idea and you will have to wait to see what it is. :)