TBT: Metal Roses

Most of the time when I think of "throwbacks" my mind goes to my junior summer of art exploration. It was a time when I was told I wouldn't graduate on time unless I took summer classes, but my college didn't offer any classes I needed. Instead I found myself frantically fighting for a chance to take classes at UGA, the arch enemy of my husband's college, GA Tech.

Waking up crazy early to make the hour long drive to the school, I took sculpture, art history, dance, and photography. It was one of my best semesters in school. In between classes, I would go to the gigantic library and just roam, occasionally finding a book but rarely checking it out. If I wasn't doing that, I was going to get a drink on the square in Athens … more specifically an Italian soda, sometimes with cream and sometimes without. :) And then there were days where I would just sit in the shade of the trees reading a book or chatting on the phone with a friend. Looking back, I'm not sure how I survived the heat that summer, but I did.

I absolutely loved every class I took, but I think my favorite may have been sculpture. Granted, photography is the art I stuck with, but there was something truly magnificent about working and creating with your hands.

I had a very young teacher. It was his first year teaching at UGA, and you could tell. He was very easygoing and extremely helpful to his class of 12 girls learning to do woodworking, use clay, and pour metal. Our first project involved printing an image of a person with a very detailed face, preferably with lots of texture. Then, we had to carve the face into clay followed by a sand mold with metal being poured into the sand mold a week or two later. It was thrilling and time consuming. I'm pretty sure I got clay on everything! Needless to say that the exercise taught me a lot in a short amount of time about the creative process, how to effectively use dental tools with clay, and how to be a detail-oriented individual.

We did other projects in that particular class, but my favorite project came at the end of the semester when it was a "free-for-all". I sculpted a number of roses and a gun (as in Guns 'n' Roses, duh!). The roses came naturally to me as I was sculpting (not carving, like in the last exercise). It was almost like meditating. I had a method that I would attempt to improve on as I completed each rose. In the end, my gun and several of the roses died when the metal in my sand cast didn't reach into all of the crannies and crevices that my clay sculptures had created, so those pieces simply fell apart when they were removed.

Surprisingly, despite the criticism received while making them, everyone (even the teacher) wanted a rose from my collection. Justin got one, my friend got one for her birthday, my mom, my grandparents, and even my brother! Quickly I went from having more roses than I could handle to having just 3 that I tied together with a turquoise ribbon from my childhood. Three was the perfect number for me, and I was grateful to be able to share my artwork with so many others who wanted what I had made.

Many, many years later I still find myself proud and quite pleased with all that was accomplished during my summer at UGA. Not only did I create a beautiful (IMHO) piece of artwork to go on my bookshelf, I created memories, and I put in enough work to be able to graduate on time from college. That summer is what I would call successful.

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