A "Box Artist" Raised by Wolves & Dale Chihuly
I went to my first Artist Guild meeting last night. It was awesome. The room was full of kind, extremely sensitive, warm, uber observant people. It was about 50/50 male female. It was strange for me. All of it. The warmth, the skill of being highly observant AND sensitive. Everyone took great care in how they looked; what they were wearing was a calculated individual statement. People were not only in tune with emotions their emotions but also yours. Eeek. It was a little like the going to class naked dream. It was uncomfortable for me, like being dropped into a room of mind reading psychiatrists, or something. You see I was raised by wolves. Sort of. I have spend the majority of my life, including my formative teens in STEM (hard vs soft Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) classes or STEM work. It's very male (8-1in my experience) and many of us are also dyslexic and a higher than average portion on the autistic spectrum. Social style is learned. I am sure that my style is more masculine and probably sometimes a bit autistic. I'd rather shake hands. I don't know what to do if someone bursts into tears, which doesn't happen in STEM (your face is wet, data does not compute). But I've gotten a little better in that I don't want to run screaming from hugs but I will burst into flames over european style cheek kissing. I love STEM social style. It's honest, insensitive or disinterested in all but hard data, emotional in a very unaware way and it ignores glaring flaws, like wearing a 30 year old, thread bear, short sleeve shirt with a pocket protector un-ironically and waving around things from your desk and failing to make eye contact of any sort while having a technical conversation. No one cares what you are wearing and no one wears fashionable stuff because tyvec, nomex, hard hats, safety goggles, steel toed boots, or hours alone doing data analysis, calculations, etc. What's the point.
I did not know about the show and tell. I was invited to attend the Guild meeting as a guest. It was held at an art show of member's works at a local gallery and the speaker was going to give a demonstration. That's all I knew. I thought I had to be juried into the guild so I brought a cardboard box with a few bowls in it. The lovely woman at the front table helped me make a name tag and announced that I was certainly not shy, she could see that, so to go make rounds at the tables and introduce myself (see -mind reading psychologists). I never got beyond my first table, though. By luck I ended up at a table with a board member and the night's speaker (an amazing woman who does things with charcoal you have to see to believe - gave a great hands on talk and interestingly really likes cardboard...).
I showed them a bowl and they said no one needs to be juried to join but surely I'd like to participate in show and tell. I almost got out of it because the host didn't know I had a box of stuff but my table made sure I got a turn. I have the impression they don't have any glass artists in the guild yet. So the tables closest to me knew I had glass but most of the tables had no idea what I had and didn't hear that I was a glass artist. As I carried my box up to the stage, I held this tattered UPS box up, gently and lovingly caressed it and introduced myself as "Karen the Box Artist". Did I mention how kind and sensitive the room is? How no one has to be juried to belong? I said "I just loved boxes, their sculptural qualities... " The tables that were in on it roared with laughter, while the other side of the room looked kind, but alarmed and empathetic. One person at the in on it tables chimed in "every box is different", the room started to catch on- "each box has it's own story.." so we all had a great laugh together. The ice was broken and the nice lady with the name tags was right. I wasn't shy or rather I am experienced in overcoming it. Because that is how it feels to walk into a room with your art and everyones' amazing art on the show walls - like maybe you ARE a "Box Artist". I suspect at some level people got that. Mind reading psychologists... and I felt relieved to just pass out some bowls and get back to my seat but there were a lot of questions. Nice questions. Way more than I expected. At the end someone asked me if I had ever seen Dale Chihuly's work. I asked if he was local. The kind, concerned people who all knew who he was told the Box Artist Raised by Wolves, no; he was not local. I said I was a recovering Engineer and had much to learn about he art world, or something. It's all recorded because that's what millennial artists do and that's another thing I have yet to get over because in STEM we record the DATA. The pure, subjective, beautiful data.
Back at my seat, I found one of my bowls had made it's way around the room and back to our table. Inside were 2 awesome origami pterodactyls made a young lady at our table. The "Box Artist" is now one of the tribe. Yay. A man at the next table showed me on his phone Dale Chihuly's work and I realized I had of course seen it, it's gorgeous and I have been to Seattle but had not considered it important to remember who did it because Engineer. Had I recognized what folks were asking, I would have said: naturally his work is wonderful and cutting edge for the 20th century - highly consistent with what everyone does in near perpetuity in glass - subject to and constrained by gravity and flow in predictable ways. In short, your Grandfather's glass. But I am interested in a new direction: "untraditionally non-supported" plasto-solid low flow firing. As an engineer that very much interests me as new ground. A 21st century direction. See, Raised by Wolves...