Conversations at Pilchuck

Had a great day again yesterday. Spent the morning in conversation rather than glasswork. I sat with Bruce Mau and Bisi Williams and was once again amazed and inspired by their work.

“How do we break through the noise, and make the best of human culture the most visible?”

Bruce talked about the Facebook and the double-edged sword of all that information being collected. How will it be analyzed? Who will use it and for what purpose? He mentioned that so far, it’s really just sitting there, basically unused.

Bisi spoke of their children — they help classmates do homework via Facebook so again, it’s this multifunction tool she wouldn’t want to take away from them. There were only a few people at our table, but one fellow suggested that homework via Facebook was basically copying/cheating. This got me into my “if the assignment is so linear that copying is possible, then it’s the wrong assignment. But an assignment that gets kids talking about issues before they produce their work is a good learning opportunity, and why not let that talk by via Facebook or any other tool that allows extra people into the conversation.” I was delighted that Bruce and Bisi agreed with this.

Bisi talked about how their children went through the process of learning different interpretations of sharing. She also shared a story of a conversation she had with her daughter about why people (like Bisi and Bruce) would chose to volunteer. That level of giving is not completely intuitive and it does require explanation. There are cultural differences and it can be learned.

I am so thrilled that they bought a copy of my book at the auction. They had bid on Kalissa’s CD as well but didn’t get it. It went to Susan (a Pilchuck board member) so it too will have a good home.

Then my afternoon was more work on glass polishing and testing animations.

The evening presentations (staff members) were wonderful as always. These sessions really allow everyone to get to know about what motivates and inspires our teachers and helpers. And of course that motivates and inspires us. The cold shop guys (Kerrick and Alex) showed work that involved an amazing amount of patience and time. Edison from the casting shop brought tears to my eyes with his shadows, rolling prints of language translations ( see http://www.edisonzapata.com/contents/1171517659/index_html?show_image=ball ). A translucent glass ball with languages etched on to it so that only by rolling it over ink and onto paper — letting it go where it will — reveals what it has to say. To me it looked like planet earth, perhaps a bit like the Wikipedia logo (and I LOVE the idea of Wikipedia so I mean this in the best possible way). It just felt very connecting and beautiful to me.

Victoria’s love of llamas made me smile and Shannon, who I’ve chatted with on a daily basis in the studio, revealed her need to return to childhood objects to understand her current life. I feel I know her much better now through her bicycles and wagons with glass components and her desire to crack the glass thus breaking a convention of glassmaking. She wants to make art that happens to involve glass, not be a glass artist.

And my own work yesterday — seeing some of my more finalized video projected onto the glass I’ve built, is leading me to ideas for storytelling with different layers of clarity, translucency, opaqueness via glass. Dream qualities, sparkle, shadows…. what a powerful medium this can be. Lienors asked me about the reasons behind my work and I know that part of it is, as I have been saying, to give discarded objects a new life. To keep it going in spite of all odds. To find joy and inspiration in a thrift store. And to let the items tell me what to do as much as possible, rather than imposing myself on them. The artists here at Pilchuck are showing me that my choices come from somewhere. Are perhaps about healing. Finding acceptance. I have loved every minute of Pilchuck!

And today is open house. Karolyn and Chris will be visiting and that’s an absolutely delightful thought!

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