Saturday, November 3, 2012


Again, just a bit swamped with work at school and busy making more art, but finally here are some pictures if the install as it happened two weeks ago. My students from the Department of Art and Design did a tremendous job doing so much of the work. USM students really are amazing!

We are still working on the catalog for the whole sculpture show and on the signage for each piece in the show, so not completely done yet!

And thanks again to the College of Arts and Letters and USM for understanding the importance of faculty research grants. The work that comes from these monies is so important for our University. My students were a big part of this work and much conversation was generated from the work going on inside our shops on West 4th Street. It has been a learning experience for all!

More pictures soon!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Progress and Lots of It

Ha, that goes with out saying. Obviously I have been too busy to even update my blogs. It has been a crazy semester so far! Very busy with many projects and all is going well.

First, Homes for Everyone is finally finished. The 16' square pad will be poured next week and hopefully by the 18th or 19th of October they will be up and bolted in place. Right now they sit all shiny and finished just waiting to go.
Homes for Everyone, 2012 copywrite, Jennifer Torres

Homes for Everyone, 2012 copywrite, Jennifer Torres

Next, I have been working on a few other works, including one for the annual Train Depot Show. The theme for this year was Toy. It stumped me at first, I don't have kids and really didn't want to do anything related to childhood or anyone's standard expectation for a toy. I wanted to do a toy for me, something I could play with. After much consideration the idea came rather naturally. I have been doing mostly commissions recently and with that type of work it is pretty prescribed. You make a proposal, it's approved, you make a model, get your funding and do what you said you would do. Not much room for playing. For me I was needing something that would enable me to let go, break loose of all the restrictions, so I made a piece that had slot connections and could be endlessly reconfigured to play with. At the show opening last night, it most certainly was being played with. It's kind of cool (and annoying) to see folks playing with the work and changing it up.
Toy- Storm Configuration, detail, copywrite Jennifer Torres 2012

Toy- Storm Configuration, detail, copywrite Jennifer Torres 2012

Toy- Storm Configuration, 2012, aluminum, copywrite Jennifer Torres 2012
Also, earlier in the semester we had Christo come to campus to do a talk. It was huge fun and he ended up at the 3D Arts building with us just hanging out for about an hour before the lecture was to begin. He was fun to talk to, had lots of questions about our program and the students and generally was laid back and cool. He talked about a couple of his current monumental artworks in progress and all the issues associated with such giant works of art. The big lecture hall on campus was full and for days after everyone was still talking about it. I am so honored to have been a part of it all and that the College of Arts and Letters at USM was able to fund the lecture.

I have plenty more I could talk about but that's all for now, I still have two more blogs to update...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Back to Work

Not that I ever left. But I needed to focus on my furniture class for a few weeks and the weather was ass-kickin' hot so I took a break from the hot shop for a bit too. Two more of the village homes mostly tack welded together. Still have bases to make and plenty more to do. Here are a few images from the past week. Probably will get much more work done at the end of the month when classes are over and I can get in real early to work. It's so hot here in the afternoons.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Village Comes Together

Another week of good work punctuated by a morning off installing artwork in the lobby of the Liberal Arts Building on Southern Miss campus in town here. The installation went perfect thanks in no small part to the physical plant guys who worked hard to make sure it all went smooth. I also want to thank Dean Steve Moser and the College of Arts and Letters as the project was mainly his idea. Here's pictures of the final install. I really love how it looks and this is by far the best location for this installation, I am calling it Life is But a Dream.
Image by Matthis Piel

Image by Matthis Piel

Work continues on Homes for Everyone and now a small village is beginning to take shape. Lots more work to do as I build additional structures and do all the finishing work.Since I am teaching a morning ceramics class and an on-line Art Appreciation class my studio time to work on this sculpture can be very tight. Of course on Friday evening when working on the piece I sprained my ankle real bad and was on crutches for a day. Bummer. Shit happens and you just have to deal with it. It forced me to slow down an bit and in the end I had an excellent Sunday in the studio and got more done than anticipated even though I was limping around a bit. The ankle is getting better, so no worries!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Things Are Coming Along.

I have been very busy and seems things will get even busier every soon. On Wednesday I will be installing one of my Red Boat installations in the lobby of the Liberal Arts Building on the USM campus. Dean Moser has been asking for some time now about having an art installation and now is the time. Folks are welcome to come by anytime on Wednesday to see what is going on.

The Homes for Everyone project comes along well too. Anyone who builds anything knows that there is always some anxiety until the first one is fabricated and standing. Until that time I am always hoping my engineering and design work is on track, but it's not until after the first one is done that I can feel some relief knowing now that the rest of the process will happen a bit easier. Now, if I could only get a good period of undisturbed time to work!

Here are more images from the last week.

House parts, plasma cut and edges ground

A better way to cut windows and doors

The house all welded up

Building the base that goes under the house

The house on its base, one of my students K.W., demonstrating how you can get in and look out the windows. In some of the smaller homes this will not be possible.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Getting Into the Real Work

This has been my first week of actual fabrication work on Homes for Everyone. Of course it has also been the first heat wave of the season. Yesterday it was 104F in the shop. It was an interesting day! The truth is when you are deep into a creative journey you hardly notice any of the uncomfortable issues that come hand-in-hand with metal fabrication. 

Right now I am working out my fabrication system. I have one full house plasma cut from the .25" aluminum plate. It took a few tries to get the plasma set up just right and the same with the new Spoolmatic welding gun, an essential tool to mig weld aluminum. At first I just melted my test pieces. It was pretty comical, but after a day of practice everything is fined tuned. Changing from steel and stainless steel, two very hard substances, to working with super soft aluminum is a challenge, but one I am loving.

Even though the work is hard I am very excited and finding that I really like aluminum. Here are some images from the first week of fab work.
Ahh, pretty. Aluminum plate just waiting to get cut up.

More raw materials.

Layout and cutting with the plasma torch.

The Miller Spoolmatic mig gun, a dream to work with.

Me, plasma cutting.

Test cuts for the windows, pretty crappy, I'll be using a template to make them cleaner.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homes for Everyone

Homes for Everyone is a new sculpture installation that I am working on this spring and into summer. This outdoor sculpture work is generously funded by a faculty research grant from the College of Arts and Letters at The University of Southern Mississippi. In brief the grant will supply all materials, tools, hardware and installation needs for the work. I plan on having the sculpture installed on campus for one year starting in September 2012, and then hope to exhibit the work at other outdoor venues around the country after that.

Here are a few sketches of some of the "homes".

The homes will be made of aluminum plate and tubing and there will be 6 to 7 of them in a range of sizes and shapes, they will be bunched together in a make-shift village. This work is a part of a series I have been working that addresses my own personal experiences of the inadequacies in affordable housing and issues of lack of safe homes and the number of foreclosed homes in today's negative housing market and poor economy.

Viewers will be able to interact with the works by getting up under and in some of the homes to read statistics about the current housing crisis.

I will be fabricating the works myself at the USM sculpture studios over the 2012 summer.
One of the fabrication layouts for the larger of the "homes".

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Idaho Reception and Final Install

The trip to Idaho and the Prichard Art Gallery went well. Transcontinental flights are not for the faint of heart and it takes almost a day to get from home to where I was finally headed in Moscow, Id. Once there, and completely exhaused, I meet artist Christine Destrempes and her assistant Will Broussard. We would all be house mates for the next few days and thankfully they were some of the coolest folks I have meet and we all got along really well.

Gallery director Roger Rowley had done an excellent job installing most of my pieces and we had a few last things to install before the reception two nights later. During the next couple of days I got to talk to three classes in sculpture and ceramics from the University of Idaho, which this gallery is affiliated with. I really like the fact that the gallery was downtown and not on campus. It gave the gallery a more professional appeal and visibility in the community. 

The reception, which correlated with the opening of the local jazz festival, was well attended and I met lots a great people and had many interesting conversations about my work. The gallery staff was very accommodating and professional. All in all I had a super experience and would like to thank them, especially Roger, for all their hospitality and for providing transportation and a nice place to stay. I also want to thank The University of Southern Mississippi for understanding the importance of such an event and helping me with the airfare.
The opening reception
Final installation. Photo C. Destrempes

Final installation. Photo C. Destrempes

Final installation. Photo C. Destrempes

The beautiful landscape of the Palouse, in western Washington and eastern Idaho.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Busy in the Studio

Working in a university Art and Design department has many, many perks. So I really can't complain. But one thing we do have to deal with is lots of office work, for me that translates into position search committees, six for me this year, designing a new course for on-line, and a bunch of normal stuff like annual evaluations and never mind teaching, and I am also the library liaison, responsible for making sure we spend all of our library allocations. 

In additional to all the above stuff I also must (it's part of my contract) continue to be creatively active, have shows, make work, etc. I wanted to make this a bit easier for me this year, I knew it was going to be a mind numbing semester and decided during the Christmas break I would clean out my office and carve out some space for working in clay. I normally do this at my home studio but getting green-ware into my truck and over to the studio to fire is a nightmare (especially since I got rid of my electric kiln). My office isn't big, but I manage pretty well. Classes started on January 17 and I have spent every spare hour working on my sculpture. Some of these pieces will act as models for larger stuff, some of them are for an exhibition, but all of them are working out ideas I have had rattling around in my head for some time now. Eight of them are bisque fired, two of three I did this weekend are still wet and I have a bit of cleaning up to do before they can dry completly. There are both "ships" and "homes". The smallest ones are about 6 inches tall/wide with the largest boat coming in at over 24" long. I will be testing some glazes and other finishes soon, so hopefully in a month or so I'll have finished works to show you. Here are some images of the work in progress.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Packing it All Up

Oh what fun! Not! But I did get some help for the day, one of my more enthusiastic students, Grace K. came and worked with me packing up all the artwork. So much easier when you have extra hands, especially since some of the works are awkward to handle. We got everything done and now I will finish up with a few pages of installation instructions. USArt will be here with their truck on Wednesday to pick up the work. It will be nice to get my living room back.

My flight reservations are confirmed and I will be in Moscow, Idaho on Monday, February 20th afternoon until late morning on Thursday, February 23. I am very excited, it's always fun to visit new places and be a part of local art communities.

Lots of Boats, mostly wood, some steel

Cast iron Greenland style paddles, very heavy


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Shipping Work

Next week USArt will be here to pick up my sculptures heading out to Idaho. This is the first time I am dealing with pro art shippers. Usually I am the one responsible for shipping and I build a crate and send it off via my FedEx account. So far I have never had any issues with them. But this time the gallery decided to pay for all shipping. Good thing as the works they wanted are to big and heavy and there is no way I could have afforded that expenditure.

 It's pretty exciting when a gallery really wants specific works and is willing to spend thousands to ship it. It is a bit of an ego booster I will admit. The pieces going include eight 96" long boats and eight cast iron paddles weighing some 45 pounds a piece as well as a few other steel pieces and a cast iron house. Apparently the shippers have what is called a courier service that allows for work to be soft packed, so no crates. Phew, that is a relief. However I do need to soft pack very carefully. After a search of local businesses I was able to find Newell Paper and can get a 4' x 250' roll of corrugated cardboard and 4' x 250' roll of bubble wrap for decent prices. I never use packing tape as it totally destroys plastic and bubble wrap. I use that shrink wrap stuff that comes on a roll ready to use. I will make sure I include some with the art works so the gallery has no excuse to use tape when shipping back.
Fresh painted "boats" ready for packing and shipping to Idaho.

Packaging materials are a big expense that many artists just swallow when doing shows, No one realizes that it can cost hundreds of dollars to get work ready to ship. Nothing is worse than getting your work back only to find that every square inch of it is covered in packing tape. Evil stuff! This happened with my last show. I had to throw away almost all of my bubble wrap. This time I will make a special note and even speak personally with the gallery staff about not using tape. I don't think this will be a problem though, so far Roger Rowley, the Pritchard Art Gallery director has been super professional and very helpful. It has been an excellent experience working with them so far.

Next week will be packing week and then the expected pick-up date will be Feb 7-8. All the work has been freshly painted and oiled and is ready to go. As it turns out I probably will be able to go to the opening on February 22 and even get there a few days early to do some grad studio visits and see the area. I am very excited as I hear that part of Idaho is extremely beautiful.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Exhibition Up-Date

It's been a busy few months! I can't believe I have not posted in so long but alas the life of a busy artist and teacher can get in the way!

Right now I am getting ready for an exhibition at the Prichard Gallery at the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID. Here is an early gallery announcement-
February 22 – April 7, 2012Reception: Wednesday February 22, 5-8pm
Uncommon Rivers
Gail Seigel Exhibit Curator
Gail Seigel is the Prichard’s immediate past director and curator of “Uncommon River.” Work by artists Christine Destrempes, Christo & Jeane-Claude, Raymond Ghirardo & Megan Roberts, Philip Govedare, and Jen Torres are included. They explore the concept of rivers from a variety of perspectives. Rivers touch all lives directly or indirectly, but particularly so in the Pacific Northwest and Idaho where agriculture, industry, commerce, energy, recreation, tourism, transportation and countless jobs depend on rivers and where rivers are central to public policy debates on water rights, endangered species and wilderness preservation.
Honestly I did not know I was in a show with Cristo and his late wife Jeane-Claude until I read the announcement, very exciting! We are still working out what sculptures will be in the show and the gallery will ship the works in February. I still don't know if I can make it for the opening, it would be nice but it is a very busy time of the year for me and funds are tight.

I'll keep you all up-dated on how things go with the show.