Once-lers Anonymous

“It's not about what it is, it's about what it can become.” ― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Students Travel for Competition, Experience

When the University of Arkansas’s third-year architecture students found out their fall trip would be to Boston, Mass., their excitement was evident.

“I’ve been wanting to go for a while,” said Amanda Neely, 21. At 11:20 on a Thursday night, it is just another night spent with half of the other third year students in Field House, the temporary home of the architecture studio while Vol Walker Hall is under construction.

Grace Smith, 20, perked up from her desk across from Neely’s at the mention of Boston. They had been discussing and planning what to pack since they found out, she said.

The trip, though exciting, comes with a daunting price tag for many students of around $800.

“It’s going to be legit, but that’s a lot of money,” said Michael Clark, 20. “If I really wanted to, I could go there for three or four days and come back for $300 to $400.”

“It’s kind of a lot of money, but it’s worth the opportunity to go,” Smith said.

Students are informed of the large financial requirements of the program when they join. The Fay Jones School of Architecture’s website encourages students to set aside at least $500 a semester for project materials.

The students were given an estimated price range for the fall trip during the spring semester, said Russell Rudzinski, an adjunct assistant professor since 2000. “Once the (site for the upcoming Lyceum Fellowship competition) was revealed, Boston really became the only option…. You could get some cursory sense for a building or a city from images on your screen or in a book, but being there is a full immersion experience.”

The students of the University of Arkansas’s Fay Jones School of Architecture  was invited were among those selected to compete in the Lyceum Fellowship for the fifth year in a row. Fifteen schools, including Boston Architectural College, University of Miami and University of Nebraska at Lincoln, were selected to compete for the travel fellowships, according to theLyceum Fellowship’s website.

Each year students from the selected universities work individually to create structures that meet specifications developed by leading architects to “advance the development of the next generation of talent by…stimulating perceptive reasoning and inspiring creative thought in our field,” according to the Fellowship’s website.

The first prize entry is awarded a $12,000 for six months travel abroad, the second prize entry is awarded a $7,500 for three months travel abroad, and the third prize entry is awarded a $1,500 grant, according to the Fellowship’s website.

Joseph Weishaar, received second place last year, the first time a UA student has placed, according to the Fellowship’s website.

The 2012 program, written by Peter Bohlin and co-authored by Ray Calabro and Denis Schofield, asks students to design a complex designed for artists that is integrated with and reflective of the site, Wells Lamson Quarry in East Barre, Vt. The structure must have an educational pavilion, artists’ studios and residences as well as a memorial for quarry workers who lost their lives in the name of the industry, according to the Fellowship’s website.

The U of A’s first fall break will provide third year architecture students the chance to visit Boston the site at Wells Lamson Quarry, as well as other architectural sites in the area.

“We probably would have taken (the trip) at the same time, but maybe not for as long,” Rudsinksi said.

After flying to Massachusetts, the group of 40 students will spend two nights in Lowell, Mass. Their first full day will be spent almost three hours away in Vermont, exploring the competition site on the edge of an abandoned granite quarry, he said.

The next day they will visit the famous Phillips Exeter Academy Library, designed by Lou Kahn in the ‘60s, according to the Phillips Exeter Academy website. The building was recognized in 1997 with the American Institute of Architects’ Twenty-Five Year Award for being artistically ahead of its time.

The remaining two days will be spent in Boston, Rudsinksi said, touring fabrication labs at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as other sites around the city.

The trip should be easier than last year’s trip to Chicago, Smith said, because there are only 40 students, rather than 60.

Even if other options had been presented, Clark would probably still have chosen Boston, he said. “These trips are valuable….Boston is a really unique city.”

Advertisements
1 Comment »

A Painter at No Loss for Words

Megan Chapman walked confidently through the groups of people in her gallery. She smiled warmly as family friends stepped up to congratulate her on the new collection, “Sometimes I Love You and Other Stories.”

Small groups attending First Thursday, a monthly art event in the Fayetteville Square, slowly worked their way through the 22 paintings adorning the white walls of the Fayetteville Underground, a nonprofit art gallery in an old bank building. Women teetered on high heels as they crossed the unfinished concrete floors.

An older man stepped up to Chapman as she finished talking to a group. “Did you make these paintings?” he asked.

He grabbed her hand, and pulled her across the gallery. The man pointed his hand at one of the paintings. Tears welled up in his eyes. He shook his hand at the painting. He tried to speak.

The words nestled on a small-yellowed page on the right side of the canvas, underscored by graphite lines and floating in streaks of grays and whites.

Not of the past but of the future

You sing in my ear

I am alone and you are asleep

But

Still your voice is so close

And I am no longer alone.

“That’s my wife,” he said softly. She had recently died.

“It’s like a curse,” Chapman said in her tiny studio in the Fayetteville Underground. “I don’t have a choice in this. I can’t stop making art.”

Chapman has become a staple of the local art community. She had considered leaving Fayetteville for artistic opportunities in other cities when the Fayetteville Underground opened in April 2009. Within the first month, Chapman rented a studio and has remained there ever since.

“I wanted to do (this) because as artists our work is done so completely alone and you can get really wrapped up in your own head,” Chapman said.

Chapman’s passion for promoting her own art also extends to the work of other artists. “I like selling everyone’s work,” Chapman said. “If it’s something I truly believe in, and I believe in the person doing it, then I want to help them succeed.”

Having consistent artists at the Underground allows the community to stay connected follow an artist’s work, said Greg Mack, treasurer of the Fayetteville Underground board.

Chapman operates a studio blog to encourage and inform other artists and help them in their careers, and to help them reach out through their art.

“Her work has turned to a mature direction,” said Cindy Wiseman, an art instructor at the University of Arkansas and an abstract painter. When Wiseman began observing Chapman’s work in 2008, it was more decorative and focused on the division of spaces and decorative forms. Now it is more organic and minimalist, Wiseman said.

 

“I knew from the moment you’re old enough to know something like that, that I wanted to do something in the arts,” Chapman said. “I was really lucky, and I was encouraged by my family.”

Growing up in Fayetteville, Chapman was not always exposed to a large variety of art.  Her mother, an art and English teacher, always had art in their home, even if the Van Gogh or Modigliani prints came from yard sales, Chapman said. Music played a large role in Megan’s life as well. Her father always had music playing, and he understood Chapman’s need to create.

Chapman tried studying art at the University of Arkansas, but it took her some time to find her way. “I left in 1993, because I felt kind of aimless,” Chapman said. “(I) just headed out west.”

She ended up in Eugene, Ore., and after six years spent in and out of art classes, Chapmen earned her bachelor of fine arts in painting and drawing from the University of Oregon. She experimented with different forms of art, including “heart pods.” The organic shapes were painted with strange dark-oil backgrounds, to represent the part of a person that holds their deepest emotions, she said.

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get a mentor who ties it all together,” she said, and for her that was Professor Ron Graff. “I am not sure if I would have stayed the course and continued through school without him.”

“Megan was a terrific student,” Graff said via e-mail. “She was innovative, constantly pushing the boundaries, had a tremendous amount of energy, never settled for what she could do, and continues to push herself as always.”

Chapman’s final project at Oregon was called “Books.” She created a living room setting with a couch and coffee table, festooned with small books. In each book, she glued and taped the pages, covering them in white paint and filling them with her own stories and small abstract paintings.

Then she returned to Fayetteville to get her bearings after. Her work has since been displayed in galleries across the country, with more than 20 individual shows from Oregon to Washington, D.C., to Liverpool.

However, while all these stories were going on, another larger story was developing in Chapman’s life.

She first came into contact with Scottish artist Stewart Bremner through the website BlipFoto.com, a “daily photo journal for everyone,” according to their website.

“It was…an innocent ‘I really admire your work,’” Chapman said.  “We were just really good friends.”

Chapman found the nerve to comment on photos with Bremner, and their similarities began to emerge.

More than a year of friendship and conversations slowly began to evolve into a relationship, and in April 2011 Bremner made the trip from Edinburgh, Scotland to northwest Arkansas to meet Chapman in person for the first time.

During Bremner’s visit, they decided to collaborate on a large canvas painting together. Ten-minute turns would be long enough, they decided, and the other person could observe in the mean time. Watching the other artist destroy each cherished brush stroke as their turns slowly wore on caused them to work on the canvas simultaneously, Bremner said.

“At first I thought, ‘This sucks. Who is this person?’” Chapman said. “And then we went away for a day or two, and then we came back to the work and noticed what we managed to do….We could see something of value in it.”

It was difficult and vulnerable at times, Chapman said. “There are going to be times when I say, ‘Really? That orange is hideous.’ And he’ll say, ‘Really? I think your olive green is horribly depressing.’”

The pair made a few last adjustments to the painting, hung it, and their jaws dropped. The large canvas had Chapman’s characteristic graphite lines and olive green, forming bars across the canvas, but Bremner’s rusty orange splashed across them, yielding somewhat to Chapman’s structure.

“We said, ‘We are victorious!’” Chapman said, her voice rising with childlike excitement and glee while an uncontrollable grin spreads across her face.

They have their differences, Chapman said. “The way he approaches art is very different from the (organic) way I approach art. He can’t even stand it when I use the word organic.” However, she felt that the experience tested them, and brought them closer together as a couple.

Art is a private experience for Chapman.  “I don’t want to bore (anyone) with all the mistakes that are underneath every single one of my paintings. I don’t want to be watched when I making that really bad move, when I (suddenly) grab brown, when brown is ugly.” Painting with someone else leaves the artist vulnerable, and exposes all of your mistakes, she said.

“I Thought I Would Find You Here” became the first of nine pieces they collaborated on during Bremner’s visit. Now it hangs in the back of the vault opening out of Chapman’s gallery, and appropriately framed by her new collection, because the words, in all but six of the new paintings that have no words, were inspired by Chapman’s long distance relationship with Bremner.

“They’re about him, or they’re about us,” Chapman said. “And it was really nerve-racking, because basically we’re in the beginning of this relationship.”

“Normally, I would have shown him works in progress, or sent him snapshots, told him the words,” Chapman said. However, she kept the details of the new collection closely guarded until Bremner returned to Fayetteville the week of the show.

“I felt kind of…uncomfortable,” Bremner said. “Then you here the stories of the patrons and the viewers and how they see it….It becomes less about what we have and more about what everyone else sees in it….That discomfort is gone.…It becomes their story.”

The title of the collection, “Sometimes I Love You and Other Stories” came to Chapman long before the concepts for any of the paintings. “There’s always more to love, and there is always more to relationships, and no one really knows what is going on in people’s lives and relationships,” she said of the other stories. “There’s no one set kind of love.”

The paintings each happened spontaneously. Chapman sat at an old borrowed typewriter, and created the pages she would later embed in her canvases. A few typos add to the raw emotion of the paintings. Words run together where there was no time for spaces.

“If you can find someone you can sometimes love,” Chapman said, “you’re actually doing really good in this world.”

“Being who I am and how I was raised, that emotive stuff, (that’s not) an attractive quality to me,” Chapman said. “I was able to break past the way I was raised….I had written words that other people wanted to write themselves, but they too had told themselves that you’re not supposed to say these things. You’re not supposed to take these risks.”

“It may go horribly wrong, but I’m not gonna regret these 22 paintings. There is nothing wrong with that. It’s a liberating kind of thing,” Chapman said.

1 Comment »

A Painter At No Loss For Words

Megan Chapman walked confidently through the groups of people in her gallery. She smiles warmly as family friends step up to her to congratulate her on her new collection, “Sometimes I Love You and Other Stories.”

Couples and groups of friends attending the city of Fayetteville’s First Thursday slowly work their way through the 22 paintings adorning the white walls of the Fayetteville Underground. Women teeter on their high heels as they cross the concrete floors, left unfinished after the bank that inhabited the building before left.

An older man stepped up to Chapman as she finished talking to a group of women. “Did you make these paintings?” he asked.

He grabbed her hand, and pulled her across the gallery. The man pointed his hand at one of the paintings. Tears welled up in his eyes. He shook his hand at the painting. He tried to speak.

The words nestle on a small yellowed page in the upper right corner of the white canvas:

Not of the past but of the future
You sing in my ear
I am alone and you are asleep
But
Still your voice is so close
And I am no longer alone.

“That’s my wife,” he said softly, the wife who had just passed away.

 

“It’s like a curse,” Chapman said in her tiny studio in the Fayetteville Underground. Paintings cover the walls, and dark paint splatters outline a blank space of wall where a canvas no longer hangs. “I don’t have a choice in this. I can’t stop making art.”

“I knew from the moment you’re old enough to know something like that, that I wanted to do something in the arts,” Chapman said. “I was really lucky, and I was encouraged by my family.”

Her mother, an art and English teacher in Fayetteville, always had art in their home, even if the Van Gogh or Modigliani prints came from yard sales, Chapman said.

Chapman tried studying art at the University of Arkansas, but it still took her some time to find her way. “I left in 1993, because I felt kind of aimless,” Chapman said. “(My boyfriend of the time and I) just headed out west.”

They ended up in Eugene, Ore., and after six years spent in and out of art classes, Chapmen earned her bachelor of fine arts in painting and drawing from the University of Oregon.

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get a mentor who ties it all together,” she said, and for her that was Professor Ron Graff.

“Megan was a terrific student,” Graff said. “She was innovative, constantly pushing the boundaries, had a tremendous amount of energy, never settled for what she could do, and continues to push herself as always.”

Chapman’s final project at Oregon was called “Books.” She created a living room setting with a couch and coffee table, festooned with small books. In each book, she glued and taped the pages away, covering them in white paint and then filling them with her own stories and small abstract paintings.

Chapman’s work has been displayed in galleries across the country since then, with more than 20 individual shows from Oregon to Washington, D.C.. She even had a piece show in the Liverpool Independents Biennial that she collaborated on with artist Steven Heaton.

However, while all these stories were going on, another larger story was developing in Chapman’s life.

She first came into contact with Scottish artist Stewart Bremner through the website BlipFoto.com, the Scottish based “daily photo journal for everyone,” according to their website.

“It was totally an innocent ‘I really admire your work,’ and he found out I was a painter, and I found out he was a painter,” Chapman said. “We were just really good friends for two years, or something.”

Two years of friendship slowly began to evolve, and in April 2011 Bremner made the trip from Edinburgh, Scotland to northwest Arkansas to visit Chapman before his photography exhibit went up in the Fayetteville Underground in May.

During Bremner’s visit, they decided to collaborate on a large canvas painting together. Ten-minute turns would be long enough, they decided, and the other person could observe in the mean time. Watching the other artist destroy each cherished brush stroke as their turns slowly wore on caused them to work on the canvas simultaneously, Bremner said.

“At first I thought, ‘This sucks. Who is this person?’” Chapman said. “And then we went away for a day or two, and then we came back to the work and noticed what we managed to do. … We could see something of value in it.”

The pair made a few last adjustments to the painting, hung it, and their jaws dropped. “We said, ‘We are victorious!’” Chapman said, her voice rising with childlike excitement and glee while an uncontrollable grin spreads across her face.

It was difficult and vulnerable at times, Chapman said. “There are going to be times when I say, ‘Really? That orange is hideous.’ And he’ll say, ‘Really? I think your olive green is horribly depressing.’”

Art is a private experience for Chapman. “I don’t want to bore you with all the mistakes that are underneath every single one of my paintings. I don’t want to be watched when I making that really bad move, when I (suddenly) grab brown, when brown is ugly.” Painting with someone else leaves you vulnerable, and exposes all of your mistakes, she said.

“I Thought I Would Find You Here” became the first of nine pieces they collaborated on during Brmener’s visit. Now it hangs in the back of the vault opening out of Chapman’s gallery, and appropriately framed by her new collection, because the words, in all but six of the new paintings that have no words, were inspired by Chapman’s long distance relationship with Bremner.

“They’re about him, or they’re about us,” Chapman said. “And it was really nerve-racking, because basically we’re in the beginning of this relationship.”

“Normally, I would have shown him works in progress, or sent him snapshots, told him the words,” Chapman said. However, she kept the details of the new collection closely guarded until Bremner returned to Fayetteville the week of the show.

“I felt kind of…uncomfortable,” Bremner said. “Then you here the stories of the patrons and the viewers and how they see it….It becomes less about what we have and more about what everyone else sees in it. … That discomfort is gone. … It becomes their story.”

The title of the collection, “Sometimes I Love You and Other Stories” came to Chapman long before the concepts for any of the paintings. “There’s always more to love, and there is always more to relationships, and no one really knows what is going on in people’s lives and relationships,” she said of the other stories. “There’s no one set kind of love.”

The paintings each happened spontaneously. Chapman sat at an old borrowed typewriter, and created the pages she would later embed in her canvases. A few typos add to the raw emotion of the paintings. Words run together where there was no time for spaces.

“If you can find someone you can sometimes love,” Chapman said, “you’re actually doing really good in this world.”

“Being who I am and how I was raised, that emotive stuff, (that’s not) an attractive quality to me,” Chapman said. “I was able to break past the way I was raised. … I had written words that other people wanted to write themselves, but they too had told themselves that you’re not supposed to say these things. You’re not supposed to take these risks.”

“It may go horribly wrong, but I’m not gonna regret these 22 paintings. There is nothing wrong with that.”

2 Comments »

Benvenuto

Welcome to my blog for Feature Writing!

Hailey

The soundtrack playing in my mind a good portion of the time:

 

Leave a comment »