This time of year, everyone is making plans and resolutions. We’ve reviewed the past year and are mapping out how to make 2009 the best ever. Fine.  These days, personally, I have been reviewing the past decade and a half or so. I have two little personal anecdotes that keep running through my head as I continue on my Studio 219 journey (the ones for my regular life will require a password protected blog 😉 ).

I now have a business selling my jewelry, some of you are reading this with a Studio 219 bracelet on your wrist or a pair of Studio 219 earrings dangling from your earlobes (and if not, well you need to fix that & I happen to know just the girl to hook you up!) I can’t pretend this was a life long goal of mine. I’ve never really been a life-long goal type of girl more like a let’s give this a try & see what happens. When I was at the University of North Texas, I decided I had to have a degree in Art History. Well, there were two degree plans back then for Art History majors: Bachelor of Arts & Bachelor of Fine Arts. Long story short, my decision hinged on this alone: BA=math & science courses, BFA=no math. I would do whatever it took to avoid the math classes, so art studio hours it was for me. I needed like 12 studio hours and at the dawn of my sophomore year, I figured I had *plenty* of time to get around to them. I took my 3 required drawing classes and nearly died. Taking a three-dimensional object (be it a plant, a building or some random nude person), lopping off a dimension and smashing it onto paper was not my forte.  I started to get a bit nervous about my options. I, clearly, was not going for anything related to painting or drawing or printmaking. The sculpture department was sort of testosterone fueled & since I run on estrogen, didn’t feel like waging that particular battle. Fiber arts, well, I was already getting an Art History degree & fielding lots of underwater basket weaving-type comments, so I skipped that, too. Which left me with ceramics & metalsmithing. Sign me up! So my last year in college I took beginning metalsmithing & beginning ceramics in the fall, the intermediate dose of those two in the spring and graduated on time (if you put a four-year degree on a five year calendar). I also wanted to change my degree and be a metalsmithing major. But my corporate sponsor (thanks again, Dad) didn’t think it made a whole lot of sense to start at least half-way over at that point.  So graduate & move back to Houston it was for me. But even as I sold tower packing and apparently adopted (some of) the vocabulary of a chemical engineer*, I still kept an interest in the arts. I visited museums, got a Master’s in Art Education and tried to figure out ways to make jewelry without a full studio. And eventually the sophomore that couldn’t imagine lighting a torch is now selling her jewelry and teaching herself fine silver fusing (which clearly cannot be done without the flame).

My point is that after almost 13 years I finally feel able to let myself recognize the value in my degree. I mean *I* always saw some value (though not the kind of value that comes with dollar signs) in it: I loved it, I’m not afraid of museums (don’t laugh, lots of people harbor anxiety about art), and I know some really cool tidbits that have enabled me to become a supreme repository of random information. But with the benefit of time and experience I  can now see how my decisions and choices lead me down to the path I’m on now. Basically, all I’m sayin’ is,  it’s just interesting to look back every now and then at the threads in your life that come together to make your tapestry. (I hear that’s how tapestries are made, since I skipped the weaving courses, I have no direct experience 😉 )

My intention here is not to distill out a life lesson, ’cause I’m not comfortable assuming my life has lessons for you. I could start with all the hindsight’s 20/20, never give up on a dream, live for the moment, find your passion business but other people have build their fortunes on selling you that. But this more along the lines of how fun/beneficial/therapeutic it can be to look back and see the threads that connect the past to the present  May I also add that perhaps my let’s just give this a shot and see where it ends up is not necessarily the worst philosophy on the planet…it just sometimes takes a while to be able to actually find out where you end up. Maybe I’m not as impatient as I thought. Trying to force the future doesn’t seem to work for me.

And the other anecdote is much shorter. In graduate school,once again browsing the class catalog trying to figure out some elective courses,  I came across a class offered through the art department called something like Writing for Artists. I remember asking my professor what on earth that was, she said it was to help artists learn to write about themselves (like for artist statements, bios,etc.) and about their art.  At the time, I conceded that well, I guess sometime those that express visually may not be as strong with verbal expression. My program focused pretty heavily on verbal expression, so at the time it didn’t apply to me at all. But over the past few months trying to write all that kind of stuff about myself and my work…well, it’d be nice to have that experience in my arsenal.

And here she is, the one & only drawing to survive my adventures in drawing at the University of North Texas. And she only exists because I figured out that I could only begin to approximate life on paper if I drew with my left hand (I’m right-handed) and in red. True story.

 

*True story, take 2: One day I was on the phone with a customer trying to explain how and why he need to be treating his water with sequestering agents to keep the minerals from precipitating out of the water and finally he says, well, since I’m not a chemical engineer like you are, could you run the data and let me know what I need to fix this problem.  I almost laughed out loud/fell out of my chair/fainted dead away. I could run the numbers (thanks again, Dad for the calculator program) but he was no more talking to a chemical engineer than, well, I was. He had an art history major that was working on a Master’s in art education that had *never* even set foot in a chemistry class room on the other end of the phone. Poor guy.

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