I am taking an advanced art history class. A week ago we read about Black Mountain and Joseph Albers. We then wrote a response paper. This paper gives a good description of a big step in my artistic journey, finding my artistic voice and one of my favorite pieces "heritage".
MY BLACK MOUNTAIN
Joseph Albers wanted his students to find their own voice. In order for the students to define their own thoughts he taught them how to be conscious of what they saw. He wanted them to be aware of what influenced their interpretations of what they saw, and experienced and what influenced how they expressed their art.
Three years ago I enrolled in the foundry class at Glassell. The foundry department is very much a community. The same people take the class year after year in order to have access to the foundry facilities. My goal was to learn to cast small pieces in bronze to add to the concrete faux bois furniture I was crafting. In addition to achieving this goal I began my journey to find and define my voice as an artist. This happened in much the same way Black Mountain students learned from Albers. I found my voice by sharing with my classmates from all corners of the world and backgrounds and my instructor my ideas for projects. It was during these discussions that I first recognized how my unique visions were shaped by my life experiences: spending my early years on an isolated cotton farm in windy west Texas, living in a poor Hispanic border town, working in my family’s business as a teenager (I shaped hats), my love for animals especially dogs, my experience raising smart kids with learning differences, my career in a male dominated field as a commercial real estate broker, my interest in construction remodeling homes and antiques, my work ethic, and my sense of humor. For example one of my first pieces was a burnout of an object. To my eye this was not an object this was an impression of a human spirit. With this object I tell the story of the pain and challenges the harsh west Texas weathers imprints on a soul through tears, rips and holes in a satin lining. I see evidence of daily habits necessary to survive alcoholism, and diabetes through the creases still living in the felt. I see a love between two people committed for life in the tattered remnants of a gross grain ribbon. I see financial hardship that shapes character in the frayed and moth eaten edges of the brim. Many of my classmates saw - a cowboy hat. Through my sculpture “heritage” I see, as Albers wanted his students to see how my unique journey in life could be told through my artistic expression.
The diverse community in my Glassell classes, in the BLOCK XVI group, and the diverse mentorship provided in the BLOCK program, along with the amazing facilities available I believe will help me further define what is unique about my background, how I see the world and how I want to express my thoughts and experiences through art. Seeing how others see and do is why I am in the BLOCK and at Glassell. I think Albers would approve.
One of my favorite treasures is the Stetson Open Road hat I inherited from my grandfather Bob-pa, Robert Fleming Travis. This well-worn hat quietly mirrors my grandfather’s life and character. Shaped by growing up in the Depression, he knew hard times as he later farmed cotton and raised cattle in the harsh West Texas desert near El Paso.
Bob-pa married Imogene Young while they were still in high school. Two years later during their senior year my father was born. Family lore has it that they never spent a night apart during their 70-year marriage.
As a teen I shaped hats in my father's western wear store, and I began to understand that old hats are reflections of their owners, that they keep a bit of the spirit of the person who wore them. Bob-pa's hat still resonates with his determination, his strong work ethic, and his fidelity. These are the very treasures that I work hard to ensure that my own children will inherit.