art

“Doors,” a photograph series, 2014

Working in a series offers an artist a variety of outcomes: One may be to see a subject develop through a series of pictures like chapters in a novel, each one allowing a little greater insight into the subject. Another might be to allow a viewer to compare and contrast images to come to a unified conclusion that may differ from seeing a single image of that subject. Through the “Doors” series (pun unintended) I was interested in the latter.

"Doors," A photograph series, 2014

“Doors,” A photograph series, 2014

While photographing abandoned farmsteads I noticed the differences between all of the doors I was seeing. Now, when you think of it, why wouldn’t there be all kinds of different doors and why would this be significant? The first thing that made me think of this was the difference in standards. Most doors manufactured now are a standard size. If you do not believe me walk down the door isle in Home Depot and you will see what I mean. Now I am sure there are many different styles and colors, but they are all basically the same size with only a few exceptions. While looking for photographs on the farm sites I noticed just how much doors differed 50 or more years ago. In most cases they did not conform to the standard door sizes of today. In fact, they did not seem to conform to any standard and appeared to be almost unique in each case. How times change, I thought, and how different things are now as I’ve walked through so many doors all my life noticing very little difference in the dimensions for most. From this awareness came the “Doors” series photographed the summer of 2014.

Most of the doors chosen for the series have different applications. One would not expect to see a standard door size any more than one would expect a door on a house to be the same as the door on a car, but the similarity and differences in all of the doors pictured allow not only an analytical appreciation, but a metaphorical one as well. It isn’t too hard to think of these doors as people: Friends, and acquaintances all have similarities and differences, some quite radical at that, but they are all people just as these are all doors. When I began looking at my collection of photographed doors and thinking about it I noticed that they all hide something; they restrict access to what is inside of their respective buildings. From this I began to think about how the differences we see between people really is just the beginning, just like the differences between doors is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, when compared to the differences that may be in the spaces behind them.

“Why film?” You might ask.

Or maybe, “Why old doors?”

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The “Check-out” card.

20141020_081445Accommodating large class sizes along with their tool and supply use in the high school classroom is not easy! My classes have on average 36 students and are allowed to go as high as 38. That is a lot of students, a lot of questions, and a lot of stuff  to keep track of! One item I use to help try to keep track of some of this is a “check-out” card.

Students are all given a 3″x5″ card at the beginning of the year. They list their first and last name in the top left corner of the card with their period number below it. The right hand corner of the card contains their locker (drawer) number and combination so that, should an item go missing for some reason, I know the first place to look. Now having their locker number and combo on the card does run the same risks as leaving a key lying around, but I am able to reset combinations if it is a problem and the cards are so easily returned if left out.

After recording attendance and the usual introduction of the day’s work, students may bring their check-out cards up to my desk to get the tools they may need. For this it is a simple one-for-one exchange, tool (scissors, glue stick, colored pencil set, etc.) for card to be traded back at the end of the period. This allows me to ensure that I have a consistent inventory of tools available for student use.

Students often need to borrow tools and supplies from the classroom to complete work elsewhere. In a case like this the check-out cards become similar to library cards in which a student may check a supply or tool out by writing the name of the tool and the date on which it was checked out on the card and leaving it with me. they may then take a tool home with them to complete the work and return it at a later date. When that supply or tool is returned I cross it out and initial the card on the line. This card is then effectively taken out of use until the tool or supplies returned. Students also use this card to check out the restroom pass so becomes important to them to return tools and supplies in a timely manner.

20141020_083054I found it useful to purchase (or in my case, make) a card organizer in which the cards can be kept available for when the teacher or student needs it. I’ve also found it useful that my organizer can be arranged to support long-term checkouts (library cards) by dividing the cards according to period number. This way I can quickly return the cards as students return supplies.

I suppose it’s important to note that this is not without problems or drawbacks . I often end up with quite a lot of students at the end of the period waiting to turn supplies in. This can take some time given stack of cards I have to go through to make the exchange. In my classroom however, I’ve made the decision to sacrifice this time to save from the time and additional cost of replacing tools.

Although the check-out card may not be perfect and I’m sure other solutions exist, I find that it is an effective tool for managing some of the “stuff” that goes into the average art classroom with large class sizes. I hope you’ve found some of my ideas useful. If you have, or have other ideas on ways to manage tools and supplies in the classroom, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

Starting work on a small linocut project.

I’m working on a linocut with the family chruch, St. Andrew’s Lutheran, as the subject. It is a beautiful old church and a great example of those which used to cover the prairie. As farm sizes increase and the size of small towns decrease fewer and fewer of these chuches remain. In fact, this one depends on the decendants of parishioners for its repair and upkeep as regular services are no longer heald there.

I understand the sentiment and love behind hand written correspondence, but isn’t there something similar in the text from a mechanical typewriter? I mean, every mechanical typewriter has it’s own unique character, spacing, and imperfections not unlike that of the human hand (minus the character traits such as impulsively, reservation, etc.). If these variations exist but inference is removed, doesn’t the choice of words amplify while the intimacy is retained in a work of art that uses the mechanical typewriter in it’s expression? I believe it is so.

Victim, Linocut on Bristol Board, approx. 7”X9”

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Typically something I would work on at my North Dakota studio, Victim is a brief study in the media with some optimism for improvement in subsequent work. In this small series (3 as you see it) I juxtaposed a portrait of Little Warrior, a survivor of the battle at Little Bighorn, with a personal letter written by Michael Vetter, a soldier who did not. My intent is to portray the ambiguity between villain and victim given the historical (and arguably ongoing) dishonorable interaction with Native Americans by our government.

Layers

Photo: I often find myself working in layers, much like one would in photoshop. I think it has become a part of the way we see things and understand them. On many handheld devices, for example, we slide between screens as if removing layers. In this case, however, text becomes pattern and pattern bcomes layer,  one overlapping he other.

I often find myself working in layers, much like one would in Photoshop. I think it has become a part of the way we see things and understand them. On many handheld devices, for example, we slide between screens as if removing layers. In this case, however, text becomes pattern and pattern becomes layer, one overlapping the other.