The Van is under  full renovation. I want to take this moment to thank everyone for their generosity. I do not feel like I am undertaking this project alone.  I have so many wonderful people helping me as I go. this week I would like to give a special thanks to Boulter Plywood in Somerville Mass for donating all the plywood for the van transformation. I have shopped there for years and they have always been helpful and dependable. Last week I got the Van for my trip, and this week I sold my old Van (Vanny) to a wonderful couple in Randolph. For some reason I had a difficult emotional time around the vans. I have been very attached to my caravan. It was the focus of many a Mass art Grad School project. I had my first small living space -travel- experiment last summer when I went to North Carolina demoing for two weeks, living in the back of the van. It was on that trip that I really thought about the act of traveling, and the real possibility of Turning Around America. It is important for all those who do not know me to understand that I am a bit of a work -aholic. Because of this I do not leave my shop as much as I should . Let me pick up my thread from the last entry and tie it together with my current thought thread. While I was working on the staircase project I got a job for one semester teaching Projects in Wood at Mass College Of Art and Design. I had taught many woodworking classes in my life but not at an art school. It was life altering. Teaching woodworking to furniture makers, the students always want to know how you make something, but do not focus right away on what you could make. These art students had wonderful creative ideas firs,t and then came to me to find out how to make the object. It made me aware of the difference of those approaches. I realized I thrived with that dialogue going on around me.  I decided I wanted to immerse myself in that atmosphere for two years of grad school. I figured out all I would have to do with my business and house -saved some money- and jumped in head first on September 5th 2008. My life will never be the same! I brought my craft work with me to school. I soon realized the difference between making something beautiful, and something with content. I love beautiful things without an attached message, but found that all my favorite art pieces were packed with the creators questions. One visiting artist came to my studio the first semester and looked at my work thoughtfully. After a few minutes she looked me in the eye and said, “Clearly you can make things well, but where is the magic?” The magic is the secret ingredient. The magic is the artist personal unique questions and experience. These are some of the things I made at Mass Art.

Rolling Tool Box

Rolling Tool Box interrior

Beth in Rolling Tool box

I was frustrated my first semester transitioning from what I thought I wanted to make ,to what I really wanted to make.  I love archeological objects so I just started carving big versions of objects I was researching. The critic was -what did that have to do with me. I made a recreation of a tool box I was imagining an ancient culture might make and my archeology  teacher Peg Turner said ,”what would your tool box look like?” I pondered this and realized I had always loved the idea of trailers. My tool box wood have a place to work-a place to draw-a place to rest and read and it would be mobile. I built the rolling tool box and then displayed it in an installation space with all the carved artifacts buried in 3000 pounds of sand. I faced the door of the tool Box toward the sand and had foot prints that lead up to the edge. I realized what I had loved about the archeological artifacts was the who, what ,when and where. I would look at the objects as I researched them and think who originally touched this object? What was it like to find this object etc.. My installation was about the dream like quality of laying in the tool box dreaming about what would be in that pile of sand. It did not matter that the observer could not see the artifacts I had made ,it was more about the possibility that they could be found and then all those questions would come into play.

About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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