I’m writing now from the more familiar kind of January; the wood-stove hugging, reluctant car, frosty dog kind. Though it’s been a very mild winter in Fairbanks we did dip into the freezer this week with a more typical January spell of -40. The cold days are the prettiest, and after a couple of weeks in Kodiak I think I’ll still take the cold over the rain.
I’ve been working on a number of projects lately and though there’s little to show, I have been busy. I’m a finalist for a 1% project in Kenai and that process has been taking up quite a bit of my time. For once I began work on the proposal as soon as I learned I was in the running – doesn’t sound like much of a revelation, but it sure has made things easier. I’ve been through this enough to know that thinking my submission is strong is no promise of success, but I feel good about what I’m handing in. Once the deadline passes I’ll post some images of what I’m working on. It’s been nice to have the time to think and revise. Remind me of this.
I recently returned from a two week visit to Kodiak to work with the high school art classes there. I helped with logistics around a really large sculptural project they have taken on (though my help was largely of the “hmm, I think we’d better wait and think this through”) type. It will all work out fine; they have set an ambitious task for themselves and just need to get the piece set on site before it gets heavy and complicated. In a nutshell, this large armature (obscured by cardboard templates at the moment)
will get covered with cement and concrete board, and then the mosaic work they started last school year will be applied. KHS art teacher Bonnie Dillard and her students have done a huge amount of work. It’ll all come together, but it’s better done outside, on site, where the finished product doesn’t have to move again. This bench will be huge and beautiful.
The high school had just moved the bulk of their academic classes into a section of the remodeled high school the day before I arrived. It was fun to see the new facility, and nice to see the art room moved from the windowless basement into a bright airy space. Bonnie is an inspiring artist and teacher. I always learn from watching people who are effective at communicating with students. I spent some time working on some pieces of my own while I was there,and it was particularly enjoyable to see students I’d met last year and look at the ways their art and ideas had developed over time.
detail of one of three pieces I worked on while at KHS
Kodiak was, for the most part, very warm and very wet. Most of the days were well into the 40’s, gardeners were still harvesting kale and cabbages from their gardens, and I limited my nighttime runs to town as the warm temperatures did not convince me that the bears were asleep. Needless to say, green grass and light jackets do not fit my usual idea of January in Alaska. I had to keep reminding myself that yes, I was in the same state. What a difference two hours by air makes.
I had some time on the weekends to explore, and to my great delight the skies cleared up the second weekend I was there. In addition to the intrepid boogie boarder pictured above
I followed a herd of hairy cattle along the road,
saw the infamous Kodiak Launch Complex for myself (seemed VERY quiet, read more here: http://www.adn.com/article/20140826/failed-rocket-launch-setback-us-hypersonic-weapon-program-kodiak-launch-complex)
and generally enjoyed exploring, photographing, and drawing from this very different landscape.
Kodiak has become one of my favorite places in the state, and I’m already scheming how to get back there.
Next week I head to Delta Junction, a community about a hundred miles from Fairbanks. I’ll be spending two weeks working with their k-3 students on mosaic murals, and then I’m done with teaching for this school year. I’ve learned so much from the Artist in the Schools program about the different communities and regions within this state. In addition, every time I spend time in a school I come away with increased respect for the hard work and often unacknowledged dedication of our public school teachers, staff, and administrators.
More from the students of Delta Junction! And then more from my studio. I find January a difficult month to get much done, but summer shows and the Pathways High School project demand attention. Productivity returns with the sun, I think.