Are you thinking of applying to graduate school?

Whether you’re hoping to gain new skills or just need a break from the “real world,” we’re all equal on the application playing field. (Except when it comes to financial barriers, support structures, and your overall social and cultural capital. Lol. But what is this, a social justice piece?) We all owe our share of blood, sweat, and tears.

That’s where I come in. As a person who applied to graduate school just last year, I am now a certified expert. You’ll find that I am uniquely qualified to guide you through the process and can 1000% guarantee AT LEAST a 0% acceptance rate. You can’t get numbers like that anywhere.

So kick back while I reveal the inner workings of the graduate school application system: Sociology Ph.D. edition. This guide was created from real world data AND is mostly pictures. You can’t get that from GradCafe, can you?

The Art

When you embark on your grad app journey, you might think your goal is to get accepted somewhere. But don’t put that pressure on yourself. All you need to do right now is GET IT!

The following is a list of 10 easy steps to help you GET IT!

 

Step 1. Get pumped.

You’ve decided what you want to do with your life, to a certain extent. You’ll be going to school for the next few (or several) years. It’s going to be everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

applying to grad school comics: excited woman in a pink sweater imagining what graduate school will be like

 

Step 2. Get overwhelmed.

Okay, this is harder than you thought. Realize you have no real criteria. You just want to go somewhere good. And you know there should be faculty you want to work with. That seems clear enough until you start looking. How do you define “good” exactly? And do you really need to look through every single faculty member’s web page?

applying to grad school comics: woman at a table in front of a laptop looking frustrated

 

Step 3. Get help.

Connections are a thing. Your former professors know a lot of things. Conversations are good. Apparently you’re lucky that you can use websites and not microfiche. After some pointers, it’s back into the trenches for you.

applying to grad school comics: illustration of two women talking at a table. Woman facing us has two thought bubbles showing her true emotions

 

Step 4. Get choices.

You’re now a master at navigating sociology department websites. Except NYU. Theirs is confusing every single time. You have your top choices. Your list of schools is starting to mean something.  But let’s be honest, there are multiple lists, and Word docs, and excel spreadsheets. Organization is a farce.

applying to grad school comics: three simplified figures with a placards that represent different schools. The first school is a yes, the second a no, and the third simply has a question mark.

 

Step 5. Get worried.

That deadline is sooner than you thought. Did you ask for rec letters yet? You’d better hope that last professor says yes.

applying to grad school comics: woman sitting in front of a laptop looks stressed. Papers, notes and writing utensils litter the desk. The upper right corner reads "Dec 1" in green dripping font.

 

Step 6. Get to work.

Your letter writers want a draft of your personal statement? Let them know it’s going to messy af. Write that in a hurry. Then agonize over your CV. And statements. And the difference between a personal statement and a statement of purpose. And the arbitrary (lack of) standards between programs. Couldn’t they all have agreed on a standard definition, for your sake?

And that program asking for two statements? Who do they think they are? (A top school, that’s who.)

applying to grad school comics: woman in the center of an illustration mimics pose from the painting "the scream". Background is a green swirl with objects like papers and coffee in it.

 

Step 7. Get those first applications submitted!

Triumph at last! You feel a swelling sense of accomplishment followed by a creeping …concern. Its name is The Next Deadline. How much do you really need to tailor your statements to each school?

applying to grad school comics: happy woman in a silver gown occupies the center of the illustration surrounded by yellow sparkles. The background shows a "Submit" button being clicked with a computer mouse.

 

Step 8. Get to work overachiever.

You tell yourself this next round of applications will look even better than the first. You turn into an editing monster. But you really can’t tell if there’s a difference.

applying to grad school comics: woman sits in front of a laptop with fire for eyes and medusa-like hair flying in every direction

 

Step 9. Get over it.

The other deadlines rush up in no time. You submit your work rather uneventfully and suddenly the whole process is DONE. You feel a little empty. Grad school applications have drained you of everything. Promptly forget about them and move on with your new, application-free life.

applying to grad school comics: woman in a red sweater, glasses, and dark brown hair pulled back in a bun walks through a background resembling a child's illustration with grass, flowers, and an apple tree

 

Step 10: Get…Accepted?

React with shock when a school gets back to you far earlier than expected. Exclaim out loud that you’re not ready to find out yet! Then mash your finger against that screen immediately while holding your breath.

applying to grad school comics: the top of a smart phone screen shows that the user has received an email from "A University" regarding her admissions decision. In the foreground, a woman closes her eyes while reaching out to open the email on her phone.

 

Note from the Real Author

Hello everyone, Monica here.

Hope you enjoyed these illustrations. This was my real life at the end of last year. This is also my way of announcing that I’ll be heading to graduate school this fall. For the next 5 to 7 years, I’ll be attending a Sociology PhD program at Indiana University Bloomington.

I’m excited to finally be taking this next step, but don’t worry, you’ll still hear from me on this blog. Figuring out how much time I can dedicate to art and blogging in my first year of grad school will be an adventure. But nothing new.

Fitting art into the cracks is just part of any non-full-time artist‘s life. I’ve made my peace with it.

See you again next week,

Monica

Productivity Hacks To-Do Lists title image with background image of hand writing in a notebook

Productivity Hacks: Make Lists that Don’t Suck

I’m a pro at making lists that suck. You know when the number of things you have to do is so overwhelming that you just have to write them down? Or those daily lists you make with all the things you want to get done, but inside, you know is completely unrealistic?

Yeah, those were my kind of lists.

The thing is to-do lists are great for productivity. But that’s if and only if they’re done well. Just scribbling down everything you need to do in list format and hoping you’ll be able to cross out most of them by the end of the day won’t cut it.

So how do you make lists that don’t suck? I’m glad you asked.

 

Use Separate Lists

You might have wildly varying items on your list, from work tasks like uploading a new blog post to personal goals like working out or studying Korean.

But we approach these goals differently, as we should. The work tasks on my list almost always get done on time, because they’re work. Someone’s counting on me to do them. The personal tasks not so much.

In school, we’re able to get away with putting everything on a to-do list – or those free school planners – because they were all work tasks. You might have listed homework and projects in your planner, but many of these were finished in the same day too (or they weren’t supposed to be, but you were a master of procrastination).

Personal goals are all on you. You might need to create systems to keep yourself accountable, like taking a class or finding a language partner. So keep work and personal tasks in separate lists, and be prepared to do a lot more work defining your personal lists.

 

Break Down Anything Too Vague or Large

Another reason we have difficulty accomplishing personal goals is that most of them are too vague. Or worse, they’re listed as a vague task with no ultimate goal in mind.

“Study Korean” has been on many, many lists of mine. But this list item sucks because:

  • It leaves too many possibilities.
  • It doesn’t actually tell me what to do.
  • It doesn’t refer to a goal.

“Study” is an incredibly vague task. What is studying anyway? Is it using a textbook? Memorizing vocab? Watching Korean dramas and hoping you absorb the language?

Unless there are more details you’ve laid out behind the scenes in your brain, you’ll have a hard time motivating yourself to tackle this amorphous command to study.

On the other hand, if you use a textbook or website and plan to get through one module a week, your goals are suddenly much clearer. You can take your weekly goal and break it down into daily tasks. You can keep a list of long-term goals, but your daily to-do lists should only have small tasks.

 

Pro-Tip: Capture everything.

Originally I had a few more tips for this post, but then I started reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. It sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, this book IS GOOD. And much of Allen’s system is focused on lists.

One of the first principles is to capture everything. Allen’s reasoning goes like this:

Most of the time, we waste mental energy trying to remember what we need to do. Instead of relying on our memory, we should everything out of our heads and onto paper. Or an app. Or your organizing system of choice. He includes personal and professional tasks alike, from planning a family trip to setting up client calls. The more comprehensive and reliable your capturing system is, the more your brain can rely on it and stop worrying.

I’m not even halfway through the book, but this seemed like a pretty good gem.

 

Other Productivity Hack posts:

#1. Productivity Hacks: Do Your Laundry

#2. Productivity Hacks: Eat Treats. All the Treats.

 

Instead of Resolutions, I Have a New Year’s Theme

The New Year is almost here and the time for resolution-making is already underway. Confession: for several years in a row I didn’t remember to make resolutions until after New Year’s. Starting off by procrastinating like a pro. But this year, enough of the bloggers I follow are posting about resolutions so I can’t feign ignorance or say I just forgot.

One blogger/entrepreneur I follow is Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach. She’s fabulous. And apparently, for the last several years she’s chosen a word of the year. For example, last year was “Be” and this year’s “Compassion.” She then structures her resolutions and orients goals around that one word.

I don’t have a single word for the next year – although this sounds fun and maybe I will end up choosing one – but I do have an overarching idea I’d like to use to guide me through 2018.

In 2018, I am going to claim my dreams.

Hey, it might sound cheesy, but it’s the best wording I got right now.

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of things you’d like to do or hope will happen in the future. But recently, I came to a moment of clarity about waiting. Waiting sucks. I wouldn’t voluntarily wait for anything if I didn’t have to. Waiting for a video to load, waiting at a traffic light, waiting at the DMV — no one wants to do any of that.

So why should my dreams – the things I want to do with my life – have to wait? Like every guru ever says, there’s never a perfect time to start [fill in dream here].

And in my mild epiphany, two examples of pointless waiting immediately came to mind.

New Years Theme Title Image with sunrise in background and text that reads "Instead of Resolutions, I Have a New Year's Theme"

Waiting for Permission

The last few months I’ve been applying to Sociology Ph.D. programs. In the process, I repeatedly found myself saying and writing things like “I hope to incorporate my interest in art” or “It’d be wonderful if I could apply my Fulbright experience and study topics related to Korea.” At first, these statements might sound fine. Nice even. Oh, how good for you, wanting to combine other interests into your degree.

But it’s been months and I’m still just “hoping.” I started to sound like a broken record to myself. Is there a moment when I’ll magically gain the ability to pursue all my interests? Is there a god of Ph.D. research hovering over me, deciding whether they’ll grant me permission to study what I want?

Waiting on the “Impossible”

I’ve been waiting on my art dreams for even longer.

You can’t make a living off of art.

You’ll be a starving artist.

Art is just a hobby.

I never tried to do anything big with art because from the beginning (read: my whole life), I thought it was impossible. But just as a good artist friend pointed out to me, there are more ways for artists to support themselves than ever. The internet is a unicorn. Artists can now gain exposure from a global audience, sell their work, and even receive regular funding from sites like Patreon. It’s pretty incredible.

New Years Theme Sunrise over the ocean in 2016

Time to Start Moving

Sitting around and hoping isn’t actually getting me anywhere. Either I commit and take the steps to get there, or I just keep hoping.

Like my desire to pursue multiple interests in a Sociology Ph.D., no one is going to tell me when and how I can start more seriously pursuing art.

So in 2018, I’m going to claim my dreams. Here’s how I’ll start.

Hit Some Textbooks

With sociology, all I can do is wait to hear from schools–NOT! I may not have secured a place in any program yet, but I want to study Korea, so I’ll be hitting the Korean textbooks again this year. My goal is an hour of Korean language study or practice a day.

I had a language-learning fire lit under me while reading an interview with sociologist Fatma Müge Göçek. She wants to study Kurds in Turkey, so she’s learning Kurdish. Let me repeat that. She’s learning an entirely new language to be able to study what she wants. Mind blown.

Well, wait, I thought, maybe Kurdish is similar to Turkish, Dr. Göçek’s native language. A quick Google search confirmed that nope, they’re from different language families. Mind blown again.

Build Business #2

As for art, there are so many possibilities, it’s overwhelming. But at some point, I thought, how am I running a business as a freelance digital marketing writer, but not an art business? So in 2018.you can expect to hear some news on an art shop. Keep your eyes on Etsy or Storenvy.

 

 

The Controversy around Dana Schutz and Open Casket

In last week’s post, I mentioned painter Dana Schutz. I have a special spot in my heart for Dana. She visited my university to give a series of talks and specifically came to my Intro to Oil Painting class as a sort of guest professor. She gave us an assignment – paint a self-portrait as a dog – and then returned a few weeks later to do a critique with us.

That assignment was actually my first oil painting.

Dana Schutz and Open Casket; Self portrait as a dog oil painting assignment from Dana showing a dog in pink artist's smock painting on the floor with paint and trash
Self Portrait as a Dog, Oil on Canvas, 2012

It was a fun, quirky assignment that seems fairly representative of Dana Schutz and her art. In short, I like her work and associate her with positive feelings.

So imagine my surprise when a Google search on Dana Schutz turned up article after article on a controversial painting. On race.

Rather than devouring articles in a way that feels like Internet gossip, I decided to devour these articles and report back to you. This race painting controversy is now a few months old now, but here’s what happened:

 

Background

Race has become a popular topic in America again, brought back into the public consciousness during the Michael Brown/Ferguson case. I was in South Korea at the time but was still deeply affected – social media keeps you in the loop like that.

The string of black men murdered by black police only continued, but now they were made very public. Philando Castile. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. And then the Emanuel AME church shooting. If you weren’t thinking about race before, you certainly were now, after a self-professed white supremacist was welcomed into an African-American church’s Wednesday night Bible study and proceeded to shoot the church members down.

It’s safe to say Dana Schutz was thinking about race then too. Actually, I know she was, since New Yorker writer Calvin Tomkins conducted a series of interviews with Schutz, who expressed her desire to create a painting about race but was struggling with how to execute it.

 

The Painting

In 2016, Dana Schutz created the painting she’d been struggling to conceptualize. Open Casket is based on a real-life photo of Emmett Till’s mutilated face in an open casket. The photo is a significant image in American history, and Schutz’s decision to choose Emmett as her subject isn’t a surprise since many were comparing Michael Brown’s 2014 death to Emmett Till’s in 1955.

Although the painting is based on a real-life photo, it is abstracted and the subject matter isn’t immediately clear. Emmett Till’s mutilated face is a mass of unrecognizable shapes and shades, which, upon recognizing the suit, casket lining, and finally entire subject, is grotesque. It’s easy to understand the source of offense. But more on that later.

Schutz showed Open Casket at an art show in Berlin. Her work was well-received and no one said a word about this particular painting. She sold all of the pieces at that show except for Open Casket and one other.

Dana Schutz and Open Casket (2016). Oil on canvas. 99 x 135 cm. Collection of the artist. Courtesy Petzel, New York.
Dana Schutz, Open Casket (2016). Oil on canvas. 99 x 135 cm. Collection of the artist. Courtesy Petzel, New York.

 

Where the Controversy Began

The next place Schutz showed Open Casket was at this year’s Whitney Biennial, which opened on March 17. This painting was shown along with two others, Elevator and Shame. Elevator is the only painting that remains on the Whitney Biennial website.

Here’s where the Open Casket controversy began. During the biennial’s opening, attendee and artist Parker Bright stood in front of the painting for hours, blocking others from clearly viewing it. Bright wore a T-shirt that read “Black Death Spectacle” and “Lynch Mob” with line drawn through it. Silent protesters joined him for varying amounts of time.

You can see a bit of Parker Bright ‘s protest in his Facebook Live video. Later that day, artist Hannah Black took the lead in voicing her concerns.

 

An Open Letter

In an open letter to curators Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, Hannah Black called for the removal, destruction, and exclusion of Open Casket from any other museums or art markets. Initially, 30 people signed the letter before it was posted on Facebook to a wider audience.

Here are some highlights from Black’s letter:

  • “…it is not acceptable for a white person to transmute Black suffering into profit and fun.”
  • ” those non-Black artists who sincerely wish to highlight the shameful nature of white violence should first of all stop treating Black pain as raw material. The subject matter is not Schutz’s.”
  • “Even if Schutz has not been gifted with any real sensitivity to history, if Black people are telling her that the painting has caused unnecessary hurt, she and you must accept the truth of this.”
  • “We all make terrible mistakes sometimes, but through effort the more important thing could be how we move to make amends for them and what we learn in the process.”

Dana Schutz later had a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston which began this past July. Protesters wrote another letter to the Boston curators. But I’ll stick to a discussion of the original letter in this post. You can read more on the Boston letter in this New York Times article.

 

Responses to Hannah Black’s Letter

Hannah Black’s letter is angry and raw. It speaks a lot of truths, but not in a way that sounds friendly to the mainstream white reader. I see easily how it can seem alienating, raising the defensive hackles of I’m-not-racist whites. But I also see why Hannah Black couldn’t be bothered to make the topic more palatable to a white audience. White guilt isn’t the issue here. Black death and pain and suffering are.

The painting and open letter sparked fierce debate on both sides. While some agreed with Black, many took issue with her call to destroy the painting, equating it to book burning. Others spoke out against the letter as encouraging censorship. Yet others locked onto the idea of topic ownership, in Hannah Black’s phrase “The subject matter is not Schutz’s.”

Then there was Dana’s response:

“I did not know if I could make this painting, ethically or emotionally,” she said. “I don’t know what it is like to be black in America. But I do know what it is like to be a mother. Emmett was Mamie Till’s only son. I thought about the possibility of painting it only after listening to interviews with her. In her sorrow and rage she wanted her son’s death not just to be her pain but America’s pain.”

To me, Dana just adds more fuel to the fire. To reduce Emmett Till’s murder to a mother’s pain at losing her son misses the point entirely.

A Note on Author Identity

Before we go any further it seems important to note where I’m coming from. I am not black, as you can see with a quick click to my about page. Nor am I quite white. My light skin and Korean-white racial identity grant me a certain level of white privilege, naturally. I am also frequently asked “What are you?”, called exotic, and occasionally had things like “ching chang chong!” shouted in my direction. So the commentary to follow comes from the view of a non-black POC (person of color).

 

Main Takeaways

This issue is a little more complex than most race controversies. I too question the idea of topic ownership – can we really say Emmett Till’s photo belongs only to Black Americans? What’s certain is that the photo of a dead child should be treated carefully and with respect. It’s too easy to view the photo as history, to forget that this was a member of a real family, lost too soon. I’m guilty of forgetting.

I also take issue with Hannah Black’s call to destroy the painting. I can’t get behind a call to destroy artwork. It feels like an extremist point of view. But that’s where my disagreement ends. I think many dissenters made the mistake of becoming fixated on ownership and censorship, at the expense of the rest of Hannah Black’s critical message.

There’s so much to address on this topic, but I’ve settled on three main points:

 

Hannah Black’s response is legitimate.

I realize that to pass judgment on another person’s emotions is pretentious. I’m not needed to say Hannah Black’s emotions are legitimate. But apparently, not everyone believes this. Sometimes as a POC, an event or remark makes you deeply uncomfortable, sick to your stomach even, before you’ve even recognized that it was the racist intent behind the remark that caused your unease. And then there’s the matter of articulating it so others understand.

Hannah Black didn’t have this problem. She points out a clear legacy of black pain used for entertainment. And if you don’t think public lynching was really considered entertainment, ask yourself why so many people gathered to watch them. Or read up on the grotesque carnival game of African Dodger, guaranteed to make you sick.

 

White people should think carefully about how they’re portraying black people, black lives, and especially black trauma.

For Dana, the practice of really considering Emmett Till might be new. Really looking at the photo and really thinking about the implications of this event. But for black people, it’s not new. It’s overdone. Overcapitalized. Bringing up Till’s dead body brings up unnecessary pain and historical trauma. I’m not saying anything new here, just what protesters have already pointed out.

What I did is this exercise: Think of a deeply painful event. Now imagine that someone who never experienced this event decides to bring it up. This person shoves the event in your face without any regard for your distress. Then that person is celebrated for doing so. How do you feel now?

Of course, none of this hurt was Dana’s intention. But her response is what I feel becomes problematic.

 

Dana didn’t apologize. And that’s not okay.

Dana Schutz responded to the open letter and controversy around Open Casket. But she didn’t do it well. She defended her work and said she was trying to relate as a mother. That’s nice, but Schutz really missed the mark here.

This topic is NOT about a mother and son bond. It’s not about loss of life. This is about race. And in this rare moment, everyone knows and agrees it’s about race. That doesn’t happen often.

For Dana Schutz to explain her rationale is fine. If she was interacting with the topic primarily as a mother, good for her. But not to acknowledge her mistake, or at the very least the hurt she caused, doesn’t make sense.

In an interview with Artnet, Dana says, “It’s a problematic painting and I knew that getting into it. I do think that it is better to try to engage something extremely uncomfortable, maybe impossible, and fail, than to not respond at all.”

What this says to me is that even knowing that her work is problematic, she choose to do nothing. To say something along the lines of, “I knew that would happen, but I did it anyway” just sounds bad. Didn’t she think that a response like that might make people even angrier?

Schutz has said that the painting is not and will never be up for sale, addressing protesters’ concerns about profiting from the image. But why doesn’t she acknowledge their hurt? Perhaps she’s not sorry for creating the painting. Perhaps she would do it all over again. Even still, a misstep on this level requires a response.

 

Conclusion

We’re living in a time when people’s sensibilities about race have been heightened, and they no longer feel the need to suppress or suffer racial mistreatment silently. It’s not that people are more sensitive today, as conservative white Americans bemoan, but that POC no longer stand for the injustices they’ve experienced since the founding of this country. We have the vocabulary and we have the community.

I’m not going to denounce Dana Schutz as a terrible racist or boycott all her work.

She made a mistake and I’m sure she’s learned something from the experience. But I am disappointed in her response. Of course, I can’t see behind the scenes and know what Dana Schutz is really thinking, feeling, or doing. Maybe she’s making real efforts to learn; maybe she’s been scared off from making art about race ever again.

But I hope not.

I hope she has compassionate friends to talk with about this whole incident who also understand why the painting is hurtful. And while it’s easier for me to say this than it is for her to do it, I hope Dana Schutz continues to try, fail, and succeed.

 

 

Further Reading on Dana Schutz and Open Casket:

New Yorker Profile of Dana Schutz (Interviews)

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/10/why-dana-schutz-painted-emmett-till

Open Letter from Hannah Black

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/dana-schutz-painting-emmett-till-whitney-biennial-protest-897929

Dana Schutz Responds to the Controversy (Interview)

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/dana-schutz-responds-to-the-uproar-over-her-emmett-till-painting-900674

The Case Against Dana Schutz

https://newrepublic.com/article/141506/case-dana-schutz

Opposing Viewpoint by Artist Coco Fusco

https://hyperallergic.com/368290/censorship-not-the-painting-must-go-on-dana-schutzs-image-of-emmett-till/

The Aftermath

fractured-america

Maybe “aftermath” isn’t entirely accurate. The forces that resulted in this nightmare – beliefs, values, inherently-flawed institutions – were in place long before this past election season.

But it’s the aftermath that has brought our most harmful differences to light and leaves me with the sinking feeling that our country is truly broken.

white-house-lowered

 

Sketches by Phone: Colorado Springs

Originally the title of this post was going to be Sketches of Home, but I liked the rhyming alternative better.

Home life is pretty dull compared to travel, but art can help you see a place through new eyes. This is a glimpse into the surroundings of my current, strangely-domestic stage of life.

Sketches of dogs asleep on my bed; my neighborhood street

pikes-peak-mountains

Pikes Peak from the Grand Overlook in Palmer Park.

starsmore-trees_001

Trees at a trail behind the Starsmore Discovery Center

Backyard view; Colorado Springs in the distance

There’s no ocean, but I guess it is pretty beautiful out here.

Art Abroad: The Year of the Art Drought

Okay, so my “I’m back” post was a little premature. I was in still in Korea at the time and once I returned to the US I took my sweet time adjusting. Aka being overwhelmed by grocery store trips, having a crisis about being unemployed, and rereading the Harry Potter series – actually I’m still doing the last two things.

But I’m happy to start blogging regularly again too. Before we delve into my art-during-unemployment adventures, we have a lot of ground to cover. Ground that’s more than 6,000 miles away from here. Ground known as my grant years in SOUTH KOREA!

korea-gyeongju-anapji

Reflecting on the start of my grant gets me all excited and smiley again, because that’s exactly how I felt. I woke up every morning hardly able to believe I was living in South Korea, thrilled and more than ready to go to my job each day.

Ahh, the early stages of culture shock.

But as for my art life, well, my thoughts about it could be summed up as:

Artless in Korea

artless

Well, not really. But my first year abroad did feel like an art drought. For the first time, I was teaching my own English classes, living in a new country, trying to navigate daily life in a foreign language, and living with a homestay (and trying to get them to like me). (Don’t worry, later on there was mutual liking.) But I really didn’t touch my sketchbook for the first few months.

My artless months came in part from my stubbornness.

 

I Don’t Want to Draw Landscapes!

I’d taken a figure drawing class shortly before graduating college and fallen in love with it. So in Korea I really wanted to find figure drawing classes. Preferably using nude models. But how in the world would I find such a class, let alone ask around in a non-creepy way? A coteacher at my school shared my reservations and recommended I paint Korea’s beautiful landscapes instead. My response was “Oh yeah, maybe!” (Nah.) So for a while the only art I did were lesson-relevant doodles on the board to amuse my students.

But then there were two ways I ended my art drought, one intentional, the other set off by current events.

 

Angry Art

fergusonpolicetroll_0blankunclesamtroll_0blank

I am no stranger to angry art. Just take a look at some of my pieces. In times of great distress and helplessness, I turn to express my emotions through art. This time what spurred my bout of angry art was the non-indictment in the case of Michael Brown.

While I knew of the case, I’d hadn’t been following closely until a few days before the trial. Keeping up on social media, I was tense on the edge of my seat…and felt my stomach drop as the decision came out, while I was in the office, just before the school day ended. But I’ve written a whole piece just on that decision and my response – no doubt another form of catharsis for me.

Before the writing, however, came the drawing. Given that I’d been following the case on social media, I sought out a medium suitable to post – memes. I grabbed my favorite pen and produced some blatantly angry pieces.

ferguson_police_memesferguson_uncle_memes

 

Start-Art Strategy

gamcheon

The other strategy I use to get myself to do art is by seeking out deadlines to impose upon myself. While in college – before I added my art major –  I jumped at opportunities like residence hall art contests and exhibits put on for a cause. In Korea, I found opportunities in the form of Infusion.

Infusion is Fulbright Korea’s literary magazine, where my Michael Brown article was published. If you follow my Korea blog, you’ve probably heard a lot about Infusion, since I wrote about it quite a bit. The magazine also features photos and – somewhat rarely – artwork. So I quenched my art drought by doing art that I hoped to get published. Having a deadline was good for me, but I wasn’t satisfied with most of what I’d done, and it wasn’t accepted either.

But the Gamcheon village drawing to the left was later featured in a “Patterns of Korea” collection online.

 

To finish the year, I imposed another project on myself, which was accepted and published in the spring issue. But let’s be real, it would’ve been pretty sad to go through the effort of drawing 117 faces and not have it be published.

Next time I’ll write about year two in Korea, with an all-new living situation, lots of public transit wait time, using technology wisely, and more art! Read it here!

The Revival of a Blog

I’m back!

After two years – during which I’ve been teaching English in Korea – I’m back at this blog again. As of this writing, I’m preparing to leave South Korea – finishing up my last few classes, planning a bit more travel around the country, and saying my goodbyes.

I have plenty to say on doing art while abroad, including some pieces I’d like to share too. Those will start trickling in once I’m settled – perhaps it’ll be a good pastime when I find myself up late recovering from jet-lag.

For now I’ll leave with a quote from Chuck Close (partly for you, but mostly for myself):

 

“Sitting around waiting for an idea is the worst thing you can do. All ideas come out of the work itself.”

The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Chuck Close by Wil S. Hylton

 

Writing a Blog is Difficult

And since this isn’t Twitter, I guess I’ll expand.

I’ve been trying to write about my recent interest in collage – these posts should be art-related, right? – but it’s turning out to be pretty dull. Even with pictures.

Shoot.

So the obvious solution is to write about something completely unrelated. And besides, I seem to be good at writing about not knowing what to write about, or how to write. Probably otherwise known as complaining.

Let’s get started. Ahem.

Writing a Blog is Difficult because…

1.)   I’m a perfectionist. (Am I supposed to say things like that here?)

2.)   I like anonymity on the internet. I don’t know why- it’s liberating, okay? And fun.

At certain points in your life – starting college, moving to a new city – you get to reinvent yourself, but no matter what your intentions, it’s not so easy to change. Plus, there are probably all those human beings from your “old life”, the ones who know aaaall about your secrets.

But on the internet, you can be as many people as you have usernames. Or just be Ms. Anonymous. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Even if you don’t want to be someone new, you can display your best possible self – from that ducky selfie (not endorsing this in any way) to framing your eccentricities as cute and endearing. And you’ll never get caught in your white lies or exaggerations if you never even have to meet these people! Pretty great, right?

So, are you wondering about my secret lives yet?

3.)   I don’t want to get into the technical stuff

…so I won’t. Bye!