My summers are always hectic; I teach 5 days a week at RISD Pre-College program, a schedule that is far more intense than my schedule during the school year. Even when I have a full load (as a part-timer) at RISD, the maximum I could be on campus would be 3 days a week. The only reason I can keep up in the summers is because the program only last 6 weeks, so I work like a maniac for that period and then collapse in August.
I’m a glutton for punishment, so naturally, I decided to switch up all of my 3 Design Foundations assignments to new projects. I’ve been teaching the 3D foamboard staircase project for so long that the thought of running it again this year felt tiresome, so instead I elected to do this balsa wood carving project. Doing a new project is always 3x the work a project you’ve done before is. There are always factors that you cannot prepare yourself for, and you have to be okay with everything not running perfectly smoothly. (and also to admit on several occasions that you messed up)
The second project was for students to create a visual representation of a New York Times mini crossword puzzle, the challenge of which was to take a bunch of random images and get them to work cohesively in the context of an artist’s book. Not an easy assignment to do; there’s the challenge of constructing a lotus or meandering book, the gouache painting technique, and the brainstorming involved to create an image that read fluidly.
I was however, so excited about the lotus and meandering fold (which my TA Caffrey Fielding taught me!) that we ended up shooting a tutorial on the book folds. Which of course I just had to edit and produce this summer. It was perfect because Caffrey and I really ended up teaching each other in the tutorial which was a nice balance and contrast against our other courses on Artprof.org which are more about having concretely defined roles where one person is the teacher, and the other is the student.
New projects are hard, and there are about a million things I will do differently if I run this project again next summer. But, there’s also that adrenaline rush of not quite knowing exactly what you’re doing, and the morning of the critique of the finished books is always exhilarating. There’s a surprise factor which just won’t happen with a project you’ve run dozens of times!