Friday, September 22, 2006

One Answer vs. A Multitude of Answers

I've been thinking about this post for a long time (since I came back to school actually) but am just getting around to writing it now... I really started thinking about it the first Tuesday of classes because that was the day that I had my first 3D Design class and my first Accounting I class.

The two seem like they shouldn't be in the same semester, but to my way of thinking, they compliment each other perfectly. And this is why: each class requires such a different way of thinking from the other.

In my first 3D class, my professor talked about visual problem solving: the problems that I face in that class cannot by taught with words. To learn in that class, I must learn a different way of seeing and make visual decisions based on what I see; can I make this space more interesting, can I improve the overall shape of my piece, can I make the space inside the piece twist more? These are problems that I can solve only with my eyes and with my hands, by doing and not by thinking analytically.

However, I am faced with very different challenges in Accounting I. My professor in that class confessed the first day that in accounting he always feels as though he is teaching a language course, a new vocabulary by which the students can understand the language of numbers and accounts. This way of learning is not new to me at all.

Words have been my life for such a long time: books, poems, papers. But this brings me to my point: words are specific and have their own agendas. One of the first things they teach you in grade school English is the difference between denotation (the dictionary definition of a word) and connotation (the feeling that a word implies). To be right, you must find the right word. And this is the main difference between accounting and design for me: an accounting problem has one answer (one word, one sum, one balance) but a design problem can have an infinite number of solutions and finding the right solution (or at least solution that satisfies) is a matter of trial and error, no way around that fact.

And this is why I like having both problem sets in my semester: words are my life, but I am a visual/spacial thinker. This truth is one of the reasons I think I can't write a short story to save my life but I'm a decent poet; when I sit down to write, I see scenes in my head, I don't feel words, they come later, but I see images and feel feelings. The challenge of poetry for me is finding the right words to accompany the images in my head. This challenge is why I'm so excited about being an artist and why I think I probably would have failed as a writer (though I would still love to be published one day). Creating as an artist takes on less step, one less move for corruption: what I see in my head, I can try to create without having to describe it. From my head to reality, all I need now is time and experience.

2D: Shape Based Assignments

Okay, the second round of art-related posts. These are three designs that I did for my 2D Design class that were shape-based, but that's only half the assignment: the challenge of these pieces was to have a complex figure-ground relationship between the black and white shapes so that it looked like there was no figure and no ground, meaning that your eyes would shift back and forth equally between seeing the black shapes and the white shapes. Does that make any sense the way I've described it?

The whole point of these drawings is that the white does not overwhelm the black and the black does not overwhelm the white. Any combination of the white shapes in the composition should be equally as intersting and engaging as any combination of the black shapes. If that doesn't help, then I'm not sure how else to tell you about the assignment... I didn't really understand it in writing myself, but I think I got the hang of it once I started working.

This assignment included three versions of the same principle: a curviliniar design, an angular design, and an organic design.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mutti

The top five most important things that my mother has ever taught me:

5. Sharing is important, especially when there is ice cream involved.

4. What's better than one gobb? Two gobbs! (that's just good math)

3. Hugs are the best medicine, even if they must be sent through the phone.

2. Save a 'Lif'

1. Real men wear band-aids... and eat quiche.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Adventures in Social Awkwardness

Well, I went to eat dinner by myself again this evening... and I was asked to join a group of kids: one guy and two girls. Things were going well enough except that I was being a little quiet. I had been working on art in my room for like 3 hours, and then I went to the dining hall expecting to eat alone, so lets just say the "social charm" switch was not in the "on" position.

Anyway, the three students I joined were doing most of the talking. I chimed in periodically, but mostly I was just chewing and listening, chewing and nodding, etc. And then the guy goes, "So, do you talk or what?" (verbatim) And all I could think was, "Crap, is it that obvious that I'm socially inept?"

But on the flip side, all the guy could talk about was how is mother was a crack-whore and his grandmother was a stripper (kind of jokingly, kind of not), while the girls passed around perfume samples from Teen Vogue and commented on the scents... I didn't have much conversation to contribute.

I haven't been able to decide if having company was worth the discomfort. At first, I was angry at myself for not having tried a little harder, I mean it's not like I'm in a position to turn down the offer of friendship right now, but on the other hand, did I want these people as my friends. I was sitting at their table, but I still felt like an outsider. I've always told myself that if awkwardness is the price that has to be paid to make friends, then it should be paid. But the truth is that if I'm awkward as myself instead of being graceful as "someone else" and still come out friendless, that's a price I'm also willing to pay.

2D: line based assignments

These ink drawings are the first round of assignments I completed for my Two-dimensional Design class: turned them in on Monday, hope the teacher likes them becuase I do.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Casa de Jenny

Okay, so here's this year's shoebox. All right, to be fair, it's more like a boot box. This room is by far the largest single I've ever lived in... and my brother would be mad if he knew I was sharing this, but my single is almost as big at his double at Penn State.

I'm standing in the door, so let me tell you that I have a corner desk on right side of the room and a bookcase on the left... they just wouldn't fit into the picture, and I'm too lazy right now to provide other views.

So, instead let me elaborate on what's shown. My curtain is of the shower variety, but I think it looks slick. Over my bed is a poster of Athena, Goddess Extraordinaire, the poster is a reproduction of a painting by one of my favorite artists, Susan Seddon Boulet. And my other poster is Babar, courtesy of my lovely friend, Dabney. It's quaint but cozy... a small slice of home.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Chimera= the student-run, faculty-sponsored literature and art journal at Edinboro. I've joined the staff on the literary end of things.

Now, I must premise this post by saying that Kenyon had not just 1 but 3 literary journals, and none of them were of Chimera's caliber. HIKA (the journal that I helped staff for about a year and a half) was a little full of itself; the staff was arrogant, which is mainly why I left, and it didn't pool a lot of good work from the student body. Persimmons was too quaint, a cute little mag, but most of the published works were from the staff. And the Horn Gallery Magazine (in my opinion the best of Kenyon's student-run publications) was representative of some of the better creative writing and art going on at Kenyon but was rarely much over 75 pages long.

The 2006 Edition of Chimera is 183 pages long, printed on heavy stock paper in full color. In terms of art, I think Chimera might actually rival the Kenyon Review, which is a nationally recognized college publication. Of course, Kenyon being a huge English institution, the Kenyon review leaves Chimera in the dust in terms of literature (the Kenyon Review has published many well-loved and well-known authors, Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell among them). BUT, the point is that Chimera has a whole team of Graphics Design majors designing logos and layouts for the finished book. Sharp. As far as I know, graphic design does not exist as a major or even a department at Kenyon.

So, Chimera fields works of art and literature from Edinboro students and publishes said works in an annual magazine. Last year, over 200 works of art were submitted and juried: only 30 were represented in the magazine. I don't have any fancy statistics to share about Chimera's literature because I haven't learned any yet, but suffice it to say that I'm sure the works of creative writing are juried just as stringently.

Am I in over my head? I sure hope so.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Ode to Andre

It is the end of an era. After a 21 year career, and playing in 20 consecutive U.S. Opens, Andre has said good-bye. He was ousted in the 3rd round of the Open by Benjamin Becker, no relation to Boris Becker.

I've thought about quoting you statistics (and there are many: winner of 8 Grand Slams and has won each of the four slams at least once), but that felt too cold. Statistics do not a man make.

Over and over on the TV coverage last week, I kept seeing fans hold up signs in Ashe Stadium saying, "Andre's House." The men's singles draw in the U.S. Open consists of 128 players, but the center court belongs to only one man. He lived at the top, an exemplar of passion and drive, one of the best at a game that is a battle of wills, skills, and wits, and when a record crowd of over 23,000 people came out to Ashe Stadium to say good-bye and thank you, all I could think was, "I'll miss him too."

AND P.S. I have been watching the Open pretty much non-stop since Monday, Aug 28 (Day 1), and I swear if John MacEnroe describes Roger Federer as the best men's player to ever live again, he and I are going to have words. Pete is the best.