Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Encaustic Workshop at Bennington-A Peak Experience

 Why is this woman smiling?
I awoke at home Monday morning with one of those satisfied grins after my week at Bennington College, teaching for North Country Studio Workshops. Of all my teaching and traveling experiences, this was right up there at the tippy-top. I curtsey and bow to the women who run this marvelous enterprise. It was picture-perfect and flawless in its execution. You wanna talk about attention to detail? Holy-moly and great balls of fire, do these women have it all figured out!
 Arthur Ganson's Simple wire Machines Sculpture Class
This was a magical experience. Everything was way above average. Everything was in tune. The faculty was extraordinary, and so were the students. The majority of the students are accomplished artists, and many took classes completely out of their own discipline, a brave and exciting choice! They were not only talented and inspired-they were on fire, working in the zone, motivated and ravenous for knowledge, especially of the waxy kind.
 My classroom-Equipment and paint provided by R and F Paints
The Bennington campus has architectural gems, beautiful landscapes and vistas. The VAPA building is one of those architectural achievements that function well and lift you up. The space is so thrilling and right, with gracious scale, and light-filled space. Viewing classrooms from the second floor balcony gave a sense of being in a bee-hive, with all the workers simultaneously engaged. Good architecture has a profound impact on ones' inspiration.
 Beautiful landscapes and vistas surround the campus

My students were inventive and courageous, and tried everything. 
Here is Jane Davies who invented the "Bennington Burn."
 Jane Davies work
Lisa Saether's work-imbedding tiny sketches.  I love that one says Oh, no!

I saw the lights go on in their eyes. They experimented and let it all fly. They were kind and generous and had terrific synergy. Some found their new life's work, until they get seduced by the next new thing. 
 Here we are, all together with our "Make Like This, Becky" collage wall scroll for auction.
A few of the students have posted blogs about their experiences:
Jane Davies' Blog
Dona Mara Friedman's Blog
Wen Redmon's Blog
 I was honored to be with such distinguished faculty. Their talks were not only inspiring in terms of the work and their practice, but they were funnier than hell, and totally entertaining. And we had hilarious talks in the common area of our dorm.
I bought some awesome “mudtools” designed by Michael Sherrill which are perfect for encaustic. What a wonderful guy.
Hilarious Robert Dancik gave me sample boards of his Faux Bone and some jewelry sawblades that do not break. I watched with my eyes while he pounded them like a hammer and they did not break. Usually you look at them cross eyed and they break. Ah, we love technology.
The final topper was trading artwork with my dear friend and former teacher in jewelry, Nancy Megan Corwin. I received a gorgeous broach with a carved citrine set in the middle. I am walking on cloud 9!
The icing on the cake was access to a movement studio with superb dancer and yoga instructor Tracy, who guided us every morning from 7-8 and in the afternoon from 5-6 pm in stretches, yoga, and other wonderful things for our bodies, minds and spirits. Many of us did yoga together twice every day with Tracy, and danced our behinds off on the last evening.
Finally there was a moving closing ceremony, thanks to Tracy to putting an exclamation point at the end of this marvelous experience. 

Since NCSW does not repeat their instructors, I have recommended some teachers I think are of the caliber for this venue. I would love to return as a student. There were so many classes that I wanted to take, and one in particular was Charissa Brock’s Bamboo class!

The planning committee of North Country did a superb job. I heard absolutely no complaints, just kudos and praise all around.  It was a heady few days. Kudos to NCSW for a peak experience. If you ever have a chance to take a class here, grab it. It happens every two years. Sign up as soon as you can.


Wen said...

Magic happens when you least expect it! I was lit on fire by this experience. It will really inform my mixed media work! I feel, in a way, I've come full circle as in the late 70's I used to do batik!
Wax onward! Moon Walk!

Jane Davies said...

Thanks, Daniella, for posting about this fabulous experience, including the other faculty and students, the yoga, all of it. I'd forgotten that you videotaped the Bennington Burn! I linked to this post from my blog, as I know my readers will want more info on all aspects. That would be fabulous to see you at NCSW again, as a student. What FUN!

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