Thursday, March 31, 2016

Life is a circle

 I have been walking through the basement and surprised with the inclusion of my work from a sculpture class included in my daughter's room/studio.
   These boots were the highlight of my Senior year.  When you create something in college, it is not only the finished product, but the reaction of others who see it.  My sculpture teacher loved this and everything about them.  Which, coming from an accomplished Artist came as a complete surprise to me.   The idea came so easy to me.  It was a time my husband was working very hard as a union carpenter.  I would just stare at his shoes at night and think about how hard he worked.  I wanted him to know how much I appreciated it and they became what I wanted to make a sculpture of and when it came time to finish them the decision to make them bronze, like people would bronze baby shoes....that came quite easy to me too.  It really was my crowning glory of my college days and I loved how it made Glen happy too.
This was a sculpture project of making a sculpture from a painting.  It was Matisse's Green Woman.  I didn't know how to paint it.  But, now 25 years later I want to paint it like it is in the painting, so it would be recognized for who she is.

 The name of my sculpture teacher was Michael Malpass.  He would bring his children in to model.  This is his youngest son.  I never sculpted before, but I really enjoyed the process.  The longest part is hollowing out the center just enough, so it doesn't explode in the kiln.  Very challenging, everything was made with terra cotta clay.

All of the sculptures were in the basement windows.  When I walked away I had to take a picture, because of what my daughter had put on the wall.  The work on the left was my weaving project of the ocean.  The middle was a textile design based on Western America which she shared on Instagram.  After I saw the likes and reactions it motivated me to paint again.  On the right is a lino print of a panda.  This was carved into a linoleum block and printed with black ink for printmaking class.  This was called Patient Panda.  I was going through intensive fertility treatments at the time and was totally relating to the panda bears, who only have the chance of getting pregnant once a year.  The one on top my mom did which is the holy family made as a relief she had made with one of our neighbors who owned a craft store after they were empty nesters.  Art for me has been the greatest healer and form of getting through anything life has presented me.  It is challenging yet fulfilling.  It allowed me to express myself when words failed.    When you are a student you may not even realize this unless you have the right teacher.  Michael Malpass was that teacher for me.  I remember his first class was really an open discussion of why each student was in college majoring in Art, and it was fascinating to hear each student.  Then we were able to hear his story and see slides of his work and why he created each one.  So, by the time we met his children we knew that family was a big part of his work.  He never actually said it, but I myself felt like his work took on a life themselves and represent the circle of life.  
I, myself, said last year when I had lunch with classmates from elementary school had this feeling of my life being a circle and my circle is closed now.  All the things I wondered about myself have come true and the circle is closed.  But, opportunities like feeling like a kid again and sharing a meal and conversation with people I haven't seen for forty plus years was so pleasant and hugely fulfilling.  It was like filling up the circle and I actually verbalized that in conversation.  This was a big deal for me as I was a very quiet child, not usually very much of a small talker and really quite nervous in social situations.  
When, Michael Malpass talked about his life, his family always was part of the lesson.  They meant the world to him.  He had moved them from the city down to Brick Township for a slower pace of life.  He gave up teaching at Pratt to slow down and have more time with his family and he was working a lot on his spheres in his big backyard.  He would talk about it a lot.  He liked to fish and my husband at the time was fishing a lot also.  His class was always a pleasure, because he shared so much of himself with us.  I would have loved to have continued to pursue something in Art after college, but really there aren't too many opportunities in the arts and ended up in retail to have a career.  I did get pregnant finally in 1991 and at the same time found out that Michael Malpass had died of a heart attack at the age of 44.  I can't remember if I was pregnant or had the twins yet, but it didn't matter.  All I could think of was his family and what a huge loss this must have been for them.
So, back to 2015......opening my mail after the lunch with my friends from elementary school there is a mailer for events at Monmouth University and I flip through it and there is a great photo of Bruce Springsteen with a movie showing and then I turn the page to see a retrospective of Michael Malpass with a picture of one of his spheres.  It's been a long wait, but tomorrow is the opening at Monmouth University, the students have also made a documentary of his life.  You can find more information here  I am really looking forward to filling up the circle of my life again.  Life is good, especially when you are lucky enough to have memories of people who have enriched your life so much.

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