Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thesis Defense

Last Thursday was one of the most nerve racking days of my graduate experience: thesis defense day. This is the point in which one must stand up in front of their artwork, explain it and defend your decisions with historical and theoretical references.

This was also the day that my written thesis was due. I was fortunate to have a dear friend of mine, Nicolette Jackson Pownal, to act as editor. What I thought would be a 2-3 hour correction of sentence structure corrections and grammar turned into an 8 hour review of the text, word by word and line by line. This intense scrutiny of the written text helped to clarify my ideas to a non-artist, which meant I really had to explain what I was talking about. I believe this process flowed over into the next day as I presented to my faculty.

I showed up to the gallery with notes typed up outlining what I would discuss, a professional outfit on and was prepared to be the first one to present. The faculty lined up in front of me like a firing squad and for 30 minutes I explained the conceptualization of the project and historical significance. Finally I opened it up to questions and comments, and there were a few points of clarification. All in all, it couldn't have went better! Over the rest of the day my faculty said the presentation was really good and my paper much improved.

Six hours later after my 5 peers had presented there was the last test--the private conversation where the faculty decide if we should graduate. Some 10 minutes went by and then we were called back in and all given the thumbs up! I now had the green light to graduate, and what a relief that was. I had proven myself to my faculty and thus will become a colleague.

Feild Internship Presentation Today!

There is 4 more days to go until graduation! One of the last requirements I need to fulfill is a short 10 minute presentation about my experience during my internship. Using a short 4 slide Power Point I will talk about the the role I played in the project BEING PEDESTRIAN, a collaborative project with artists Sara Daleiden, Sara Wookey and Linda Pollack (http://habeaslounge.org/)--3 amazing artists and women.

Here is a link to the description of the project:

About the project:
BEING PEDESTRIAN is a cultural tourism agency focused on walking.
With its playful prompts, BEING PEDESTRIAN invites experience of the public space of sidewalks and crosswalks in consideration of the invisible decisions that form the streetscape. Produced in collaboration with CRA/LA

My position as an intern included a variety of tasks that included: community outreach, public relations, production of stencils, attending planning meetings, participating in walks, proof reading, organizing, and communicating with participants. Throughout the internship the tasks were varied, and I was very receptive to the range of experiences that this opportunity offered me.

In final reflection, working with BEING PEDESTRIAN was most important for me in understanding my own practice. The project functioned in different ways and was defined differently depending on the parties involved. When it needed to be part of public art it was; when it needed to be community building it was; when it needed to be a social service it was. The sort of shape shifting that I witnessed the project go through is something that I have not finished reflecting on. In one case this offers maximum accessibility, but in another seems to conceal the art. Moreover, the project seemed to function on the level of critical consciousness raising. The form that some of the strategies took were similar to those I work with, which was perhaps originally why I felt that this would be such a good partnership for my internship. It turned out that it was, and offered me a lot to reflect on, along with good times with these artists that I hope to stay in touch with throughout my career.