Friday, December 5, 2008

meca lekka high

meca hiny ho!

Does anybody remember Giambi, from Pee Wee's playhouse? Whenever I get raving (often ranting) about Maine College of Art, my significant other chimes in with that catchy spell from that blue-faced, turbaned genie.

Classes are over, whew. What a whirlwind semester it was. I had the largest class I've ever had, and was hustling to get to everybody. Some really great work came out of it, although there were classes that left me feeling completely defeated and ready to crawl into the nearest hole. You'd think that being in art school would be a fabulous picnic, spinning newness out of your fingers, but often it is a knarly ball of frayed egos, deviant self-doubt, financial stress, relational aggression, uh, what else? Oh, yeah, institutional dysfunction and fried faculty. On the upside, it is a colorful hive of unexpected beauty, a constant cross-pollination of talent and promise to see the world in a new way. My students think when I hand out an assignment that they are supposed to do a certain thing, when in fact I am DYING to be surprised. Some of them ask permission to do what they want, and others just go ahead and do it. Bravo.

One day I brought in sumi ink and brushes and a huge roll of paper. They were working on illustrating an endangered animal. It was a happy chance to draw big, and freely. Too often illustration is a belabored beast. Here they could just let their brushes dance.

This is the result. It's about 3 feet by 8 feet.

And another upside: my colleagues. MECA faculty are the hardest-working drones in the art education business. Truly! This shows the dotty simpatico shared with fellow adjunct, Mary Anne Lloyd.

Along with intrepid department chair, Alex Rheault, we brought the senior illustration students to the Amy Curtis exhibit at Bowdoin. It was a much-needed out-of-classroom experience for everybody, and I got to ride with four former students, yay!

Ninjas unite!

Students often go through periods of slump, crisis, enlightenment. It's all out there in the BFA exhibit, hanging in every nook and cranny. This is Megan's Music Box Girl, part of a project in a Surrealism and Accidents class. It's a departure from the traditional 2D nature of illustration, but it begs many of the same questions of narrative and meaning.

Another example of performance/installation work intrigued me, mainly the animal masks, as my illustration 1 class was in the midst of their animal pieces when I spotted this.

My students were drawing each other wearing masks. All part of inventing personas, questioning the self and one's hidden nature.

And I am always intrigued by anything involving umbrellas. Are they not a surreal device, symbol of magical transport, a buffer from weather, tears, pain?

On the whimsical side, somebody else has a thing for umbrellas. I just LOVE these little tropical urchins climbing up the stairwell in Porteous.

Watch out, they are poisonous. Especially if you find one next to several empty rum drinks. The tactile factor was very present in this year's show. I loved this piece by former student, Val Couch. She had knit and woven patriotic colors into large paintings and these hung alongside, like cozy keepers of an American psyche.

And who doesn't love a fuzzy yeti? This creature was featured in Dani Evan's display.

This was one piece of many of the works of former students that I used to inspire my current class. They worked developing and fabricating a 3D character in their final project. The last one has to be fun, or everybody just flames out.

Here Oliver Percival created a cast efficiently made with magnets, so each head can be easily interchanged. Mulitple personalities! How very handy.

Stay tuned for the release of the Illustration One Demon/Deity Deluxe Trading Cards.
There will be something for everyone!


Dani Lee Evans said...

Haha, Love the picture with Leonora riding the lion! Sooo fun.

Isn't it nice that the semester is over? I slept till noon today! :)

Anonymous said...

Look at those four pretty ladies!

Anonymous said...

sweet pictures jamie! Dani and I made it in there twice. us illo kids are made of the awesome! I know we owe alot of our expiraments to you. Quincidentally my mother sad, just walked out of the laundry room with a shirt that was attacked by bleach. it made a really cool pattern and my first thought was...OMG i can put a screen print over that and make it even COOLER. I owe that to you.

LaChinchilla said...

We all look so happy in that picture! I was feeling like a slave to the MECA who hadn't been let out in the sunlight in a while haha. It was nice.

Whoo hoo! We survived the semester!