The last two weeks of class where the final critiques for the last two projects. Students really waited until today to finish everything so there was more work to look at today than last week. But everyone seemed unenthusiastic and barely said anything. I think everyone just wants to be finished, myself included. There are several seniors in the class that seem to be thinking only of graduating. There were a few students who shined, learned all the process, put forth a great amount of time and effort, and made great prints. The rest were very mediocre and I am not sure how a few are passing. We also graded the screens they built the first week of class. It makes since to grade them at the end, to see how well they held up using them throughout the semester. They all did a nice job making them, a few were warped. Kathy and I will be discussing the grading later tonight. It seems like a balanced class, a few A's lots of B's some C-D's and one student is going to fail for missing the last half of the semester and not dropping the class. I am also slightly confused by another student that didn't really do any of the assignments, but made some prints. Kathy said she has taken the advanced class so she is giving her more lee way, I still fell like she should be doing the assignments that everyone else is doing. I am interested to see how that works. She also skipped class today to turn things in. I am also interested to see how not having work for critiques will impact students grades, since this was a major problem with this class. Overall this experience has been wonderful, Kathy has been a great mentor. I am looking forward to teaching this class in a similar manner next fall!!!
The past two weeks have been working weeks in the print lab. Unfortunately no one has really been working on anything too productive for me to help them. Lots of tinkering with computers and a little bit of drawing. I am not sure when it became cool to procrastinate until the absolute end, but this is definitely the case with this class. We have critique next week, it will be interesting to see the quality of work they produce.....I did however have a pleasant one on one teaching experience with a student. It was good practice at giving instructions/explanations and also rewarding to help him begin the project and get him the tiniest bit excited about what he was doing.
Our second critique happened this week. Even though students were given an extra week at least three didn't have anything to show and one student didn't come at all. The students seem so blase about not having their work as well, no excuse made or anything...just, "oh I haven't done it." Wow things are easy for students these days, these are seniors too!!! Good luck in the real world telling your boss Oh I didn't do it. I have a hard time relating to this because I was never that kind of student. The class has a good balance of those who care, those who try, and those who are wasting their money and energy...making it a great learning curve for me. The critique went well for the most part. Kathy wanted me to run it...which she told me right before class. I was a little mentally unprepared for that. It worked out for the best with her leading it and me interjecting a bit more and asking the students some questions as well. Maybe for the next one I will be ready to lead it. The forum for critique is excellent, I think. It feels relaxed, leads to good discussion, commenting, with criticism that isn't too harsh.
Things were interesting this week in the lab. We were suppose to have a crit and only two students had finished their projects! I guess people took all of Spring Break off!!! The students must be way behind since they were suppose to have completed project 3 and be half way done with the 4th. We moved the crit to next week....It is understandable to have done this, since there are many technical difficulties involved with the process. Still...I didn't see too many of them around the lab working, hummmm. typical undergrad slacking. they better have some amazing prints next week! Instead we did a health and safety presentation, which could have been dry but Kathy's speed reading was entertaining!
Losing count of the weeks! Today was actually our first critique of the semester. The first project was building the screens and the second project was doing the reduction method of screenprinting. I was impressed with the flow of the critique. It did not seem too long, which is amazing because they always seem too long. There was interesting input from almost the entire class, another amazing plus. Kathy has the students decide which piece to talk about first, her rule is that the artist waits to speak about the work until students have had time to comment and wonder about the piece. She also asks questions relative to the work for people to respond and to keep the conversation flowing. Then the student puts in their opinion/explanation and then that student picks the next piece to discuss. I have done critiques set up in this way where the students pick what to discuss. I think it is successful because if you are at the bottom at some point, the next project you will work much harder for success and a completed piece. It is kind of passive aggressive competition. I also had a great discussion after class about grading, her attendance policies, ect. I think Kathy is a wonderful mentor for me, I really enjoy her style of teaching and would want to have a similar approach and classroom atmosphere.
This week was another demo, this time reviewing the photo process...which is what every student can't wait to do. We also reviewed tons of prints from past students and discussed methods of mixing the photo process with reduction methods. I enjoyed looking at the examples and seeing the variety of imagery and expression screen printing offers. I am eager to see the students finished projects and their critique in two weeks. I will be doing the next demo in a few weeks, which will be great practice, I am not the best at speaking in front of lots of people.
Today was a work day in class and it was pretty quite around the studio. I am trying to learn everyones name and get to know them more. The print shop is a fun place to hang out, I have always loved the social part of it. I am building confidence in answering questions, sometimes I have a slight panic feeling that I told them the wrong answer. I have already learned SO many little details this semester from monitoring the lab and interning in Kathy's class.
We continued preparing the screens this week which included applying water tape to cover the stapled areas and coating the wooden frame with polyurethane to keep water from absorbing into the wood so they will dry quicker and not warp. Kathy also did the first printing demo of the semester. Everyone had one chance to practice with the squeegee. This demo seemed fast to me, but most of learning is through trial and error. I was thinking about how repetition is a large part of teaching, Kathy has this class back to back so I could see how doing a demo and the explanation can be sooo redundant, maybe this could be the reason for breezing through the demo. She said some days are worse than others, which is like anything you have to do. Also she mentioned changing the classes you teach every few years keeps things fresh and on your toes in certain disciplines, especially something so technical like printmaking. This class is quite different than my undergrad experience with screen printing, mainly because we started printing in the first week and made temporary "quick" stencils out of tape, paper, ect. just to get the feel for it. I find it strange that the first assignment isn't due until midterm. I am also unsure of the value of having students build these silkscreens, it takes up so much time in a class that is already only 1.5 credit hours. It is of course nice that students get to take the screen they make with them, but how many ever use it again?
I am interning with Kathy McGhee, my advisor from last semester, in the silkscreening class. The first week was an average first day of class where we introduced ourselves, read the syllabus, looked at slides, and assigned students screens. It is funny how most classes, no matter what they are about, begin at the same slow pace and follow these same guidelines. Students sometimes intentionally skip the first class, knowing it is kind of a wasted day. However reading through the syllabus and discussing materials with students is a must because the majority will lose the syllabus right away and be confused.
This week's class was the polar opposite, expanding energy that is. We jumped right into the first project, building a silkscreen in the woodshop. This seemed chaotic at first, especially because Kathy was rushing, everyone seemed to be rushing. It is a huge task to get twelve students cutting wood on one machine at a time, so the rush was necessary. I had never made a screen myself, so I was making one as well. I was in the role of a student, half guessing I was doing things correctly and trying to answer all the questions I was asked. I stayed calm, took my time, and helped the students before working on my own screen. Even though it was hectic the class managed to finish half of the project. Kathy has done this assignment so many times she has the timing, tools, and teaching, down perfectly...what a good mentor to have! I was amazed at the success of the students putting together a tedious project in three hours.