Category Archives: Goddard College

All who wander are not lost

Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts speaks of Organic Spirituality, “where I listen for what is unfolding, what is the thread drawing me forward, rather than planning the next step.”

This is the faith I have practiced for many years. It is a flow of teachings from many faiths and poets that inspire my life. I learn from reading and discussing and listening to the path other people have travelled and over time, this informs my belief, my thinking and my creativity. I do not have a ready-made life map to consult, the elements I glean from others and the discoveries I make along the way inform my map and in turn, in talk or word, I share the twists and turns with others who may choose to venture onto parts of the road I have travelled or who are guided by my experience as I am guided by others. So I wrote some lines inspired by the poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939) which I share with you.

 “…wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Antonio Machado

I had some thoughts on this
line from a wise man
and modern technology
got me lost
by deleting my words
my wise thoughts
they were lost
I was lost
and I know they
were really good
gold nuggets
so I’m back on the path
abandoning the thought
searching for bread crumbs
to try and reconstruct
the way
it won’t be the same
not the same at all
full of frustration
win some lose some
there you have it

“…wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Antonio Machado

notice he says
that the way is made by walking
not running
not skipping
not jumping
not meandering
not moseying
the way is made by walking
not with direction
but with purpose
to make a way
that is strong and good
to make a way
that will sustain
that is serious stuff

have I given my way
the stern look it
has asked for
time and time again?

well… no
I have looked but
like a puppy chasing a butterfly
in the park
and suddenly seeing
a cat, a child, the hot dog vendor
I have looked away

“…wanderer there is no way, the way is made by walking.” Antonio Machado

and so it goes and so it goes
the way is bleak some days
and the thought
of taking one
more
step is really
more than I can bear

but then I close my eyes
and take a breath
and then another
and when my eyes open again
I am revived
to move along
again
perhaps a little slowly
but moving nonetheless

Image – Sacred Trees by Annis Karpenko

Time flies when you are working your butt off

It is hard to believe today is our last full day of Residency. It is true that on Wednesday you think it will never end and then on Thursday you might think of a few reasons you’d like to stay a little longer. But once your Study Plans are submitted and approved, you really just want to get home to soak in a hot tub and then get your work going. And for the next 16 weeks, that is what we’ll be doing. Squeezing our creative practice and study or practicum or portfolio into the rest of our day-to-day lives. Packets are due every three weeks and in between there will reading, reflection, analysis, art making and critical writing, oh my.

Getting a handle on the hows and whats of Study Plans took some doing but the amazing Gz all bonded together to share information we picked up from our separate groups and sat side-by-side supporting each other through the process. And that is the real beauty of this progressive education. We learn so much from each other, it is staggering and it will take the long rides or flights home and a few days to digest everything. We had some delicious meals to gather round and a few bottles of wine too. We have all pretty much shared the G1 Cold – true bonding! And the weather, while odd for February, has been terrific.

So for our last day, I’d just like to say THANK YOU to the wonderful and uberly-talented friends I have met. I am going home with photographs, music, laughter, memories, loads of paper and books, Goddard swag and anticipatory thoughts of our next meeting in July! I’ll keep posting my process and any new information I get from Goddard. Safe journey home all. xoxo

See our Interdisciplinary Art Work Links to the right.

Definitions

There is a lot of stuff going on in residency and if you are new to the campus you will hear a lot of academic speak being made. So I found some definitions online from NYU Steinhardt that might help you. Please feel free to comment and add your own definitions!

Contemporary art is the art of today, produced by artists who are living in the twenty-first century. Contemporary art provides an opportunity to reflect on contemporary society and the issues relevant to ourselves, and the world around us. Contemporary artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world. Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definition. Diverse and eclectic, contemporary art as a whole is distinguished by the very lack of a uniform, organizing principle, ideology, or ‘ism.’ Contemporary art is part of a cultural dialogue that concerns larger contextual frameworks such as personal and cultural identity, family, community, and nationality.

Critical pedagogy is a term that applies to a number of educational perspectives that address the issue of power in teaching and learning. Important contributors to these perspectives include Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Henry Giroux. Critical pedagogy is best understood not as a single theory, but as a range of possible educational responses to social structures and relations that are unequal or oppressive. The “critical” in critical pedagogy refers to the ability to analyze, expose and challenge the hidden social, cultural and political processes that are a part of knowledge production, including how one’s own views and assumptions come from a particular cultural and historical formation. Critical pedagogy encourages educators to not only be aware of injustices but to take action to transform the practices and structures that perpetuate them. Ultimately, critical pedagogy seeks to provide education that is democratic, emancipatory, and empowering to students.

Critical theory for us describes an interdisciplinary field of study. It provides a way of understanding institutions, such as the art world and education, in terms of the ideas and knowledge they produce and reproduce in our society, which is characterized by the unequal distribution of power. It involves looking at the ideas that shape cultural practices such as visual art, media, advertising and entertainment. Additionally, critical theory enables the examination of particular facets of these practices, such as the nature of representation, artistic authority and voice.

Pedagogy is the whole art of teaching. Our program looks at the ways in which pedagogy can include making decisions about curriculum, how and in whose interest knowledge is produced and passed on, and what instructional methods best serve both the educator’s teaching philosophy and the needs of diverse student populations.

Praxis is practice, or action, with the thoughtfulness of reflection. Praxis as an idea emerged from the work of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who described it as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” (1990, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, p.36). It embodies our belief that theory and practice are not binary opposites, but rather complements that work together to further one’s lifelong growth as an artist-educator.

Lions and Tigers and Study Plans – oh my

Each semester students must develop, in conjunction with their advisors, the Study Plan. This is a detailed outline of what you will be doing over the 15 weeks we are at home and how we will manifest your study and practice.

There is a link on the sidebar to Brigitte’s G1 Study Plan so you can get some idea of what is expected. I’ll post my study plan here once it gets signed off on by my advisor. We lucky G-onederfuls are also expected to have an Overall Study Plan for the next 2.5 years – the questions are similar. Each advisors’ requirement for this to be completely complete is a little different but from what I understand they would all agree that this document will change over time so we should just do the  best we can. I’ve been advised to work the study plan out on paper first in Word and even just write one long piece about your thoughts and ideas. Then you can cut and paste pieces into the Study Plan where they fit. Once you’ve got your pieces ready,  paste the responses into the Study Plan form on my student file (SIS) – gnet.goddard.edu and SAVE them there. Once you get the OK from your advisor, you can then hit the SUBMIT button to have them permanently in your file. With all Study Plans remember to check in with the Degree Criteria so you know they all fit in to that piece.

As I go through finding books for your semester plan, I also make sure to hit the button to send the citation over to RefWorks. This will compile all my resources in one spot, let me save them in MLA (Modern Language Association) format in a Word doc or html. This has already saved me tons of time from a bibliographic perspective although looking up all the books and articles I might use takes some doing.

Here are the questions, the italics below each question is to help clarify the questions:

1. What are your overall learning goals for the semester? Describe the areas of inquiry, central themes, concerns and/or questions that your learning activities will address. How do you envision your creative and intellectual work evolving? How do you anticipate this work will move your practice forward?

1. Overall learning goals:
 Areas of inquiry, themes, questions:
 How will the work evolve?:
 How will the work move the practice forward?:

2. What creative projects will you undertake and what products do you envision emerging from your creative work this semester? Describe how this work will be documented and how it may contribute to the development and rigorous exploration of your interdisciplinary practice.

2. Projects undertaken, products emerging from:
  Documented how:

3. What critical discourses and theoretical concepts will you engage with this semester? Identify the artists; theorists; movements; fields of study; cultural, social and political frameworks; or other areas of knowledge that you plan to explore and describe how you see this work in conversation with your creative projects and/or contributing to your overall creative development. How will you document this activity; what written or other products-such as critical writing, essays, annotations, etc.-will emerge?

3. Critical discourses, theoretical concepts:
 Areas explored (artists, theorists, social, political, etc.)?:
 How is this in conversation with your work?:
 How is this documented (essays, annotations, etc.)?:

4. What specific resources do you plan to use? Include a bibliography, as well as other resources you plan to use. In addition, please describe how you envision co-learning with peers this semester.

4. Resources used (bibliography):
  Co-learning with peers:

5. Practicum Proposal: (During Practicum Residency) NA to G1 Plan but be thinking about it for the Overall.

6. How will the work you are planning for this semester advance you toward fulfillment of the MFAIA degree criteria? How does this semester’s study plan build upon previously identified areas for growth? (For students in the G4 semester, specifically identify any areas you need to address this semester to prepare you to enter the portfolio semester.)

6. How will work advance toward degree fulfillment?:
  How does it build on previous work?:

Advisors

So yesterday was the day that advisors were assigned. And after the initial group meetings, there was more than one person a little anxious about the choice that had been made for them. G-onederfuls are assigned an advisor while the rest of the Gs make three choices and are assigned one of those. The advisor role is more like a Guide than a teacher. And the Guide is there to advise when necessary and for sure, they each have a wealth of personal and professional experience to share.

The challenging thing here at Goddard is that 1. Students create their own learning and 2. Students come to residency with a whole lot of baggage from previous learning environments. In a traditional model there is a TEACHER or a PROFESSOR and you are the student and they impart their vast knowledge onto or into you, depending how good they are. But it historically is a one-way relationship and in the case of many artists, a one-way, negative, critical, debilitating relationship too.

I am a self-taught artist so I avoided many of the creative-pounding circumstances in school. My undergrad was in theater and I got plenty of static in my acting classes, but I was a stage manager and I was only taking the courses because they were required. The jabs stung but I did not have to carry them onto every stage I stepped for the rest of my life. And as far as the teacher/student relationship went, I was the irreverent student and spent a fair share of time in detention or watching the principal’s mouth moving. I wasn’t a great student and I didn’t care. When I was 44 I returned to school to do an M.Ed. in holistic and aesthetic education – mind/body/spirit work and the courses were thoroughly encouraging and nurturing. I had lovely relationships with many of my professors and the whole experience was good, but again, my self-esteem was not on the line.

But it is hard not to cling to or reference the hierarchical education model in your thinking when you arrive at Goddard. It is a rigorous academic institution. There are still us/students and them/advisors and it is in that vein that we return to our young student selves even though we are all adults. We want to be told what to do and what is expected and even how to go about doing what is required. It is easier that way and we have less of a chance of failing if we are not left to our own devices. And fear of failure and fear of that fear of failure underscores much of any student’s effort. We judge our own work and we thrive on the judgement of others… but usually only when they LOVE what we do. If they don’t LOVE it, and even if they just Like it – we stop loving our creation and start berating ourselves for wasting so much time and material.

So Goddard’s program is also about us finding our learner’s voice and finding the confidence to use it. It is also about unpacking the old baggage we carry of school days past and burning it all up in the pit. These are new days and even if the road is bumpy or occasionally has a BIG pot hole in it, Goddard’s program is special and not like the others. If your relationship with your advisor really doesn’t work, you can ask to have a new placement. But Jackie Hayes, the Program Director has an uncanny knack of pairing us with the people we need. Even if we’re not sure of that in the beginning.

My advisor this semester is a talented artist and educator, Ruth Wallen. She listened to my hopes, dreams and vague outlines of my study plan. She offered great suggestions and pointed me in new directions. We will meet one or two more times to get my study plan approved and I have a presentation to give tomorrow to our group. I will remind myself throughout the semester to keep breathing, to be kind to myself, to keep an open heart and to TRUST THE PROCESS. It will be fun.

Progressive Pedagogy etc

We started our day Exploring Progressive Pedagogy which means a progressive practice of teaching. Erica acknowledged all our trepidation about academic language and process and kindly put it into a context we could understand… almost. She read passages from bell hooks, a progressive educator whose book Teaching to Transgress (1994) transformed many a classroom. bell hooks writes: “To educate as the practice of freedom is a way of teaching that anyone can learn. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who teach who also believe that there is an aspect of our vocation that is sacred; who believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students.” Wouldn’t it be great if more educators thought this way?

Our next session was the Study Planning workshop with Devora who gave us some of the first insight into what is expected from us this week. We discussed critical thinking, skills and strategies and how it relates to our study plans and practice. We have two plans due by Thursday. One is the overall plan for  all five semesters and the other is the plan for this spring semester. This means deciding and writing on our active inquiry, investigation and analysis of our practice and theory as it will pertain to the program structure and degree criteria. Here is where we begin to ask our big questions and plot out how we will search for answers.

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
Zora Neale Hurston

And after another amazing meal in the dining hall, we gathered around the bulletin board to find out who our spring semester advisor would be. This was reminiscent of crowding round for call-backs in the theater. No one knows who they will get. The air fills with glee and groans but as the postings go up only fifteen minutes before the first advisor meeting there is not much time for either. And advisors don’t know who they are getting as students  so there is shared glee and groan – sharing being a main element of progressive education.

Advisor relationships are tricky, especially for G1s who after three days are still not sure what the heck is going on or what is expected. We’re tired, confused and concerned and in the advisor groups, which mix students from each year together, sometimes the G1’s needs get overlooked. This is when it is especially important as a student to find the courage and energy to ask for help if you need it. If your advisor can not deliver assistance adequately, certainly Program Director Jackie Hayes can. The groups will meet every day over the next week and there will be at least one individual meeting with your advisor to discuss your study plan. So there is time and it is possible to create a good working relationship before you go off but it is not always easy.

In the evening, our Perpetual Learner, Bridgette Mongeon showcased her final graduate presentation and she did a fabulous job. She is an empathic and prolific artist, sculpture, blogger, and writer and her passion spills over into everything she does. She was inspiring and intimidating all at once but her work is awesome and she has spent the last six years in school challenging her self and her art. And she unselfishly shared it all with her fellow students. Congratulations Bridgette!

After the day’s activities G1s assembled down in the Music building with a few bottles of champagne to toast Stephanie’s birthday and to unpack the process and our feelings thus far. It is an amazing and eclectic group and Christine dubbed us the G-ONE-DERFULS. We had a lot of laughs and I feel blessed to be part of this amazing community.

Orientation

“Transactional, Transformative, Reconstructive, Consequential Education seems basic to persons who, as the Goddard Mission states, will ‘learn, think, and act with intelligence and responsibility in such a way that they will be increasingly active in improving the physical, social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual conditions of persons everywhere, and in restoring and creating a life-enhancing environment.’”

Yesterday was Registration (very easy) and multi-orientations. We received an abundance of information, insight and inspiration and finding time to process it all is tricky. Program Director, Jackie Hayes, a calm and nurturing spirit, talked us through the MFA IA program; the details, the intent, the expectations and the hoped outcomes. As my dear Aunt Mary might have said, “It was deep!” Our research will be inquiry-based, where curiosity plays out in shape and form to create context for community. We have gone around the room and introduced ourselves – our name, where we are from, our art practice, why we are at Goddard – three times now, and each time our responses change. The flow of ideas burble up from our depths as we listen to each other formulate new plans and acknowledge, “Before I thought <that>, but now I’m thinking <this>.”

We had an Introduction to Library & Computing Services – and Rob, Greg and Chip did a masterful job in explaining the nitty-gritty of all things technical at Goddard. They were patient as we unravelled and stumbled through log-ins and glitches. By the end of the day, we all had our email accounts activated, we had accessed Goddard Net;  we discussed Research Tools & Techniques, annotated bibliographies and MLA formatting. The Eliot Pratt Library at Goddard is a massively stocked library with the added challenge of assisting students who are studying all over North America. You can take up to 30 books/items away with you at the end of residency and they are not due back until the next one. They will also ship any books you might need during the term. And we got our Goddard College student cards making us official!

There was an Orientation to Community Life and Academic and Disabilities Support. To say that the Goddard model is refreshing is an understatement. It is transforming to be able to think and act and work as an artist in a place with like-minded and supported colleagues. Great effort and intention is placed on providing that opportunity and support to students always. As we were reminded, it is not always easy for adult learners to ask for help, but if we need any, it is available to us in myriad ways. Thanks Susan, Max and Dvora.

Opening Session – welcome to the Spring 2012 Goddard Residency was our evening event. This year’s residency theme is Occupy: Public space, artistic practice and social engagement and the questions posed are: How do we as artists locate ourselves publicly and politically? While the occupy movement started with an agenda of taking action on this country’s economic disparity and corporate greed, how might we work to deepen this agenda to get at the broader moral, socio-cultural, political and ecological issues that inform and underlie the current malaise? How might we bring our skills of social engagement to bear in these discussions? How might we re-examine our practices in framing, audience, and content in order to more effectively speak to personal and political concerns? Might we re-imagine what is understood as public space itself, engaging spaces that are hidden, privatized, ignored, or perhaps not even categorized as “space” at all? How might we go beyond critique of the present to offer new visions for the future?

Each faculty member rose to speak to the theme and questions in their own voice. This gave those of us new to Goddard, an opportunity to listen to and witness the style of each faculty member. This knowledge will inform our decision in choosing an advisor for the coming semesters. Semesters also include various Peer Seminars, where groups of Goddard students and faculty sign up to work together over the semester via telephone or Skype.

In between all of the INFORMATION of the day, we ate some pretty amazing meals in the dining room. The food is healthy, lovingly prepared and delicious. I overheard one student getting ready for a performance in the green room refer to her “Goddard belly”. Before dinner I walked the campus loop a few times to get some fresh air and to hopefully allay that outcome for myself!

There are 16 G1s from east and west, north and south. We are a genial, friendly and supportive group in a nurturing academic environment. As artists, many have come from academic backgrounds that diminished the spirit and creativity. I am tired and overflowing with details right now, but in the best possible way.

P.S. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. xoxoxox

What is an artist?

The secret of success is … to be fully awake to everything about you & the more you learn the more you can appreciate & get a full measure of joy & happiness out of life. – LeRoy Pollack

There is an interesting article in Canadian Art magazine by Sarah Thornton in which she asks the question, “What is an Artist?” This is a question I often ponder and suspect many of my classmates do as well. As with all philosophical discourse, the questions far out way the answers – but then again, it is not always necessary for answers to be the answer, sometimes the questions are enough. Some of my questions  include: How do thought and spirit effect art? How is art valued? How are artists valued? Where does creativity burble up from? How is an artistic response to social constructs received? And does a negative or positive reception matter? How can the Buddhist concept of grasping relate to art practice? My list grows each day and the unravelling and digging deep into the dirt and grit of these questions is what is so interesting and inspiring.

Things I have learned thus far: You do keep warmer if you wear a hat to bed and if at all possible, always pack a hot water bottle. It was chilly last night but my toes were toasty warm thanks to the hot water bottle and the hat trick worked. A dear classmate has arrived to the frigid Vermont air from Alabama. She shivered through yesterday but assures us her blood will thicken by Saturday. Also, if you think you are packing too much, you’re not.

Goddard College is a very special place and the air is humming with thought and creative energy. It is like everyone is percolating with possibility. Breakfast first then Registration and Orientation later on today.

I have arrived

I can’t say enough about the beautiful drive that one can experience through the state of Vermont. The Green Mountain range of the Northeast Kingdom is spectacular and mystical and filled with nature’s magic. I never get tired of it and have driven through the state hundreds of times. I took a new direction today and headed down Route 16. I cut off I91 at Glover and took a right onto 16 South. If I had happened to turn left, as I have been known to do, I might have stopped by Parker Pie for lunch. The Green Mountain Special with cheddar, baby spinach, red onion, Vermont smoke-cured bacon, apple and fresh garlic drizzled with maple syrup is to die for.

This time though I made a right onto 16 South and detoured over a little to 15 and 14 (don’t ask me how) meandering through Hardwick, Woodbury, Calais and East Montpelier. The roadside attractions are much the same throughout Vermont; barns, wooden houses with rambling porches and gorgeous, rich peeling paint, country stores with sign plastered windows and walls, and gas stations with retro-feeling pumps. In summer you can throw in a few fields of cows and of course the rolling hills and valleys. But today’s big surprise came as I rounded into a long curve in the road and suddenly, there before my eyes was a beautiful long, white barn and along the top of the barn was writ The Museum of Everyday Life. It was an unexpected and  magnificent sight and while I did not take the opportunity to stop today, my nose set on getting to Goddard, I will return. Check out the link – it looks to be a fascinating place.

Arriving at Goddard this time, even via a new road was familiar and happy making. I arrive as a student, a part of this artistic community, not just as an onlooker as I was in October. The campus is lovely and some of the dorms are set farther out on the property but I am housed in the same dorm as I was in October, Kilpatrick, where I am is close to the community center, dining room and Haybarn Gallery. Bridgette, the Perpetual Learner had prepared me well. While it might have appeared that two full suitcases, a hockey bag, computer bag, miscellaneous bits and a purse were excessive, it turns out I brought all the right things. I quickly transformed my room into a home away from home and know I will get lots of work done this week here. And I finally got to meet and thank Bridgette (that’s us) and her lovely daughter at the New Student Welcome reception.

We have a very interesting and eclectic mix of artists making up this year’s G1. There will be lots to learn from each other, but it’s been a long day and everyone is fatigued from travel. So as Scarlett O’Hara liked to say, “Tomorrow is another day.” Sweet dreams all.

We celebrate mundanity, and the mysterious delight embedded in
the banal but beloved objects we touch everyday.
from The Museum of Everyday Life

One more sleep…

Well, tomorrow is the day I will head down to Plainfield, Vermont to begin my new life adventure. For those of you interested, the MFAIA Schedule   for the 8-day residency is chock-a-block full of inspiration and creativity. Goddard College has a beautiful, idyllic Vermont campus. The grounds are beautiful and the town is lovely. You can see more photos on Bridgette’s site. I am looking forward to hiking over to her favourite spot in the summer time. I am almost all packed and I’m probably bringing too much stuff but I will know for the next time.

For anyone considering the program or who is an incoming new student (known as a G1), here’s the link to the Graduate Student Handbook, as well it has been recommended that we always keep in mind the Degree Criteria as we craft our study plans. I am glad I took the opportunity to visit the campus and attend the conference in October. I don’t feel like I am arriving for the first time to the geography, but I know this experience will be unique. This time I am not merely an observer but a participant as well, and I’m not even sure what that means! Sweet dreams all.

If your journey is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren’t trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn’t the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion.
Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage