In my artistic career in high school, I often stuck within my limits and within my comfort zone. I generally produced artwork inthe realms of painting, drawing and perhaps some unconventional sculpting. At the SMFA, I’ve been taking a studio class called Remade, Recycled and Reconfigured. I chose this class as it looked interested and challenging - I also thought it would be cool to explore a different type of art: collaging.
On the first day of class, twelve of us sat around two large tables and our professor introduced herself and started talking about the class itself and what it entails. It was my first class at the SMFA (only the third time I had visited it at all) and I remember scanning the room; I was nervous. Everyone went around introducing themselves. The class was filled with only three freshmen, seven upperclassmen, and two MAT students (Master of Arts and Teaching); it was fair to say that by the time the introductions came around to me, I was terrified. Everyone in the class seemed so intelligent, accomplished and experienced and therefore I was slightly intimidated. I had only just started my undergrad, and I didn't know exactly what I wanted to study, and I didn't think I had anything exciting or interesting to say.
Now, the semester is almost over and I am genuinely upset. To anyone who is considering taking Artist Educator Jesseca Ferguson’s RRR class, I could not recommend it more.
The first main project that we worked on was called the ‘Altered Book’ project. Our class took a trip down to Brattle Book Store in Chinatown and spent hours sorting through and choosing books we wanted to work with (mostly from the dollar section). The task was to create something out of the book. We went back that same day and were told to work on our project. I had never seen book art before, nor had I even heard of it. Therefore, this project was one that I struggled significantly with but learnt a lot from.
I walked around the classroom that day looking over at other people’s work, trying to see what other students were doing in hopes of sparking some inspiration in me: nothing. Some people had taken apart the books, some had cut into the pages, and some had worked around the front cover. But still, nothing creative or imaginative popped up in my head. I bought three books from Brattle (I wanted to be able to start over if I messed up.) And I was right. I picked up the first book and opened it up midway; as I opened it, the seam down the middle split into two. Great start. I then spent the rest of the day looking online and researching different book artists and different ways artists have used and manipulated books to create artwork.
Later that night, I decided it was time to just start. I had seen some images on Pinterest of books that had been folded to create a sculpture and decided to give it a go. I drew out an outline and began folding away. I’m not quite sure what I was doing, because I wasn’t following anything specific; I was kind of making it up as I went along. As I started, I was discouraged and I spent approximately an hour folding away. I was very pessimistic and did not believe that it was going to work out, but since I had already invested over two hours into starting it out, I figured I might as well attempt to finish.
The design of what I was folding took the shape of an Om sign (sign symbolizing peace in Sanskrit). I ended up working on it all the time: in Dewick dining hall, on the shuttle to the SMFA, in Harleston Hall lounge, and basically anywhere I felt like it. I worked on it for hours and finally I had finished it.
We spent the next lesson presenting our books to the rest of the class, and this is what I found most amazing. Between the class itself, we all managed to create twelve different but beautiful masterpieces. No two were even remotely physically similar or were based on the same idea; I have learnt so much from that class. We are all an eclectic mix of differently minded individuals and it is from these individuals in this setting that I find myself flourishing the most. To any freshman, upperclassman, or someone trying to fulfill their arts requirement, I wholeheartedly cannot recommend this class more to anyone.