Perpich Center for Arts Education - Pat Benincasa - 5 hours

Back to Perpich! I wasn't there last week because they had Monday and Tuesday off for President's Day and staff planning. It felt like it had been such a long time since I had seen the students! The sculpture class has been working on a 2D-into-3D project, where they have to incorporate a 2D image into sculpture, I saw Pat assign this project at the end of critique last time I was here, so it was interesting to see how far the students came! They were due very soon so most of the students were already done.

The painting class was assigned a painting that had to focus on negative space last time I was there. And again, most of them were almost done with them completely. When walking around, talking with students I found two that live in my neighborhood! And one of them went to my same high school before coming to Perpich. Another student went to Anoka High School, which is right around where I grew up and right by Coon Rapids High School, where I had just finished my other placement. So it was really nice to connect with those students in that more relatable, and personal way.

As I came around giving feedback, I got to one student in particular who was struggling. She wasn't even working on anything that I could see, and since she was an advanced painter, she makes her own assignments and has having issues with a big "creative block". She said that she had been experiencing this "creative block" for quite some time now, she wasn't feeling inspired, and wasn't liking anything she was making. 

Side note - last semester I went through John Gaunt's Operative Drawing course at MCAD, which was possibly the most helpful course I have ever taken in my life, as far as my art is concerned. The class was extremely processes based and experimental, and at the beginning of the course I was experiencing my own sort of "creative block," I was hating everything I was making, I wasn't having good critiques, my pieces didn't make anyone stop and look, or inspire good conversation. And I felt like I was just going through the motions, and making things for the sake of making things and I didn't care about any of it. 

So basically my heart went out to this poor student who wasn't liking anything she was making and getting discouraged. I sat her down and talked her through what I went through last semester and just talked to her about my work. As well as some other things I had done that inspired me to make whole series of works, trying to get her to see all these different avenues there really is to art making and what can inspire us, as artists, and that if she likes to draw and paint, thats awesome, but maybe she needs to go take 400 photographs before she can get inspired to make a beautiful series of paintings, or maybe she has to forget about image and focus on materials and really find out what different materials can DO. I had a process book of all the work I did in Operative Drawing, starting with a abstract charcoal drawing that I did because I had to - for the grade, and going through all these steps, each one feeding into the other, eventually leading me to a completely self-driven, very resolved solution. I would argue it lead me to make the best work I have ever done. 

The following day I brought that in and showed her all the work I made in that course and what steps it took to get me there, and the risks and experiments I took part in while making the work. I also showed her another process book that simply shows a process of turning some night photographs into abstract monotype prints, and what the process of abstracting something is like (she said she had never really done anything abstract before).

It was a great two-day long conversation, at the end of day two she seemed very genuinely thankful and said that it was very inspiring and that she had some ideas she wanted to try out… so it was a successful week at Perpich, I think. :)