Friday, February 11, 2011

Art School Part III: And Now The Fun Begins

If you can make it past the first year of art school without cracking under all the pressure or losing your mind entirely from sleep deprivation, there are actually some extremely good times to be had – the problem lies in finding time to actually experience and enjoy them. But at this point, your body is already accustomed to functioning on little to no sleep, so you find your days are much longer than most other people’s. You still have tons of work to do – arguably more now than you did in foundations – but if you’ve stuck it out this long you’re now taking survey and studio classes in your choice program areas, which makes the work feel less like work. As I mentioned before, art school pretty much destroys any sort of social life you may have had, but your old friends have been replaced by, well, everyone else in the art department.

When you work and live in the same building with the same people for so long, you undoubtedly befriend a lot of them, and at the very least you know the majority of them on a first name basis. You find ways to break the monotony of working on a piece for endless hours by engaging in impromptu activities with your studio mates – from 4 am rolly chair races down the ramps to huge building-wide hide and seek matches. Most of you have all pretty much lost your minds from sleep deprivation at this point anyway, so you can’t help but find enjoyment in the simplest of distractions.
Extreme bathroom biking - a sport only witnessed in art school.

One of the fondest memories I have of art school is one such occurrence. A fellow sculpture major and I were tasked with watching a plaster investment kiln overnight – checking it every hour to make sure that it was reaching a high enough temperature and staying there long enough to burn out the molds without getting too hot that it cooked them to death and destroyed them. A certain wood design major chose to stick it out with us. When you’ve got 12 hours to stand around in the cold on a Friday night and make sure something doesn’t catch on fire, what else is there to do but start a fire? So that’s what we did. In an old rusted steel barrel, bum style.  You learn a lot while standing around a bum fire. I learned that when you douse a sculpture in linseed oil and toss it in a fire, you can actually get a pretty nice patina. I learned that a wood fire CAN actually get hot enough to melt aluminum. I learned that, after an extremely long-winded monologue about the fleeting nature of love (and after what may or may not have been several adult sodas), two grown men will simultaneously step away from the fire and call their ex-girlfriends that they haven’t spoken to in years. At 6 o’clock in the morning. Those voicemails must have been priceless. And at the end of it all, I learned there’s nothing better than waking up sprawled out on the hard, cold concrete floor of your studio, putting on your leathers, and pouring molten metal on a Saturday morning with your sculpture professor. That was the smoothest pour I ever participated in, and a lasting memory I will look back on with fondness for years to come.

You see, being cooped up in the same building slaving over your artwork for hours at a time might make you go insane, but the bond created with the people that are right there beside you the entire way is something that can never be reproduced. They become more than friends – they become family.

Check back next week for Art School Part IV: Walls, and How Best to Climb Them.

No comments: