Sustain Design Conference 2014

I had a blast recently participating in St. Ambrose’s first-ever Sustain Design Conference last week. It was great hearing so many different creatives, from all kinds of different paths commune in one place and share what they’re passionate about. 1.5 days packed with lectures, demos, vast amounts of information, performance art, workshops, goodies, and new friends, I’ll include a few snapshots of the event.

Field Books: Drawing and Land Stewardship with Katie Ries

Field Books: Drawing and Land Stewardship with Katie Ries

 

Crazy notes.

Crazy notes.

Printmaking Flair. <3

Printmaking Flair. <3

Seed Ball Exchange. I was pretty thrilled to see some guerrilla gardening action.

Seed Ball Exchange. I was pretty thrilled to see some guerrilla gardening action.

More printmaking flair. <3

More printmaking flair. <3

 

 

Some things I took away from this event:

The reminder of the full life-cycle of our work as creatives. To not only consider the beginning of a product, but the end, as well as every step in between. How can I make the work that I do, not only affect the planet we live on less, but inspire and teach others to do so as well?

“Skillful and sensitive design”

The science behind camouflage. :D

and a myriad of other fun things!

 

Do see the dryer, more boring version of this article feel free to check out my small business page.

Coming soon:

Vendor Shows!

Plant things!

New projects!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Terrarium Workshops

I’ve been teaching a series of terrarium workshops at The QC Co-Lab, where I rent out studio space. Here are a few photos of the fun:

springfeverMar22 (2)

springfeverMar22 (1)

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If you’re interested in participating in the last workshop of the month of March, feel free to pre-register here.

 

Peripheral Shifts: A Group Book Art Exhibition (and how my latest body of work is still untitled)

I recently had work displaying as part of a group Book Arts Exhibition through Quad City Arts. Now that the work is complete and I’ve managed to miss every other major exhibition deadline, I felt like this would be a good time to post the finished work *laughs*.

For hi-resolution imagery (and an effort to save on WordPress storage space) please feel free to check these out on my Behance Portfolio.

This work is for sale currently on my small business website.

Peripheral shiftLOres (1 of 26)

‘Seek’ 23×30 inch mixed media shadowbox

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Seek" detail It is quite difficult to capture the laser-etched plexliglass... le sigh.

“Seek” detail It is quite difficult to capture the laser-etched plexliglass… le sigh.

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Seek" detail. Custom-created frame built and etched on the laser-cutter available within my studio space.

“Seek” detail. Custom-created frame built and etched on the laser-cutter available within my studio space.

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Seek" detail

“Seek” detail

"Take Us Away From Here" 23x30 inch mixed media shadowbox.

“Take Us Away From Here” 23×30 inch mixed media shadowbox.

"Take Us Away From Here" detail

“Take Us Away From Here” detail

"Take Us Away From Here" detail

“Take Us Away From Here” detail

"Take Us Away From Here" detail

“Take Us Away From Here” detail

"Take Us Away From Here" detail

“Take Us Away From Here” detail

"Take Us Away From Here" detail

“Take Us Away From Here” detail

"Take Us Away From Here" detail

“Take Us Away From Here” detail

On the horizon:

My new baby: otherwise known as the project I’m gearing towards possible graduate study.

How I just obtained my (volunteer) dream job.

Vendor events! :D

7 Days Off From the Day-Job: From Nail-Biting to Leaps and Bounds in the Studio

Recently, my day-job as a waitress has been temporarily suspended for 7 days while my employer has been renovating.Almost immediately, I think, “How great! So much extra studio time! So much time to start new projects! Yes!” and then quickly, upon realizing that I would be experiencing a zero flow in income, I started to get a little anxious.

Taking the “I’ll be damned if I’m not productive during this time” attitude towards this time off, I’ve forced myself to swallow my naturally occurring anxieties and push through burying myself in research and information that I feel like I need for my next move in this creative crazy world we call life.

I’ve been thinking a lot about combining all of my passions into one conclusive study, project, or ambition. How can I combine my passions for design, technology, and sustainability, all at once? They seem to me, to go hand in hand, and my recent projects have made me hungry for all of it. In undergraduate, I originally intended on studying computer programming, as that’s the family environment I was raised in, and a strong interest in tech was definitely present throughout my childhood. When I finally did attend college, I opted for Fine Arts, which was also another very present practice and passion throughout my life. After my undergraduate studies, within my personal projects, I find myself exploring ways to combine both, and just can’t seem to let go of it. I’ll go down the path of exploring one concept, be pleased with the results, but it just didn’t seem to be enough.

As a result of all of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about graduate school. Adding this to my list of research, I went ahead and lost myself in graduate school reading. What I found couldn’t be more exciting- there are several programs available that fit my passions perfectly.

A few programs really struck me:

The University of the Pacific Northwest’s MFA program in Collaborative Design.

MIT’s Media Design Lab.

Portland State University’s MFA in Contemporary Art Practice.

Parson’s MFA program in Transdisciplinary Design.

Applying for graduate school is a little overwhelming. I mean, I haven’t even applied, I’m just narrowing down the research of where I want to apply, and figure out the steps it’s going to take to make a killer graduate application. But you know how it goes when you have an idea that won’t quit. A little bugger-worm of an idea, that’s always in the back of your head, that you can’t quite verbalize, but you know you’re onto something exciting. This is what I want to do. I just want to do it in the best way possible. So, being an avid type-A list-maker I began to hit the sketchbook (or list-book, haha)

  • What do I need to do to fill in the gaps of my creative arsenal?

  • How can I use the resources available to me to accomplish this?

  • What kind of “Self-cirricula” can I establish for myself to accomplish these goals?

  • What is going to make me a more well rounded art/tech/permaculture nerd?

  • How can I, through my dreams and ideas, make design and sustainability more readily available for everyone?

And then came more serious string of lists, researches, and rambles. I found myself scribbling crazily in my journal these past few weeks. And then I found myself feeling corny for jotting own the following:

  • How can these ideas make a difference on a large scale?

But really. That’s what I want.

Some of you may or may not know that I am a hobbyist gardener or sorts. My entire childhood was spent in a garden with my grandfather, and parents following. I’ve always been interested in how we can produce great food for ourselves, and the far-reaching positive effects of such: personally, and on a larger environmental scale. I started my first kitchen garden about 3 years ago in my crappy rental-frontyard, and as a result of minor planning, lots of love, and a whole mess of trial and error, by the end of the season my roommate and I had produce for weeks! (I also learned that when you plant Peas and Radishes too close together you get Pradishes, and no, they don’t taste good.) The next year it evolved into a patio garden- though the space was half the size, last year’s experience netted almost double the harvest. Similarly to practicing art in my studio, there’s a special kind of craftsmanship, introspect, and observation that occurs here that I really enjoy.

Using the University of The Pacific Northwest’s Grad Application as a model, there is one question that continually beckons to me:

What is an emerging ‘wicked’ problem that are you interested in today?

As I began to attack these questions, the answers became a little more concrete. I’m interested in using design and technology to bring people’s personal relationship with the natural world closer. I’m interested in using design to present information that lowers the barrier to learning, and self-teaching in the realms of permaculture.

This is where I go off on a tangent about how much I love the the availability of free information and knowledge. I’ve made TED talks a constant go-to of downtime. I purchased The Arduino Starter Kit, and Basic Arduino Programming Book through some colleagues at The QC Co-Lab, and am beginning to teach myself the basics of circuit design. I’ve been pouring through Arduino Playground, a huge resource and community for learning the basics and beyond in Arduino Programming. I have this bugger-idea for a mobile, solar-powered outdoor garden sculpture-monitor…thing. *laughs* Miss Sarah Wurst, a lovely partner in artistic and environmental design, shared The Regenerative Leadership Institute’s massive, 72-hour lecture course on Permaculture, available free to the public. Word on the street says that A Sustainable Design Conference is being hosted by St. Ambrose University. And I’ve just contacted a family friend who one-man runs a local organic farm, and something tells me he could use a hand.

My creative-cirriculum-arsenal is starting to come together, and boy is it exciting. I’m really excited, (and a little nervous) for what’s to come ahead, but hope you enjoy being along for the ride. :)

Peripheral Shifts: A Book Arts Exhibit

I’ve been on social hibernation mode, hiding away for the past few months in my studio, working on my latest body of work.

I was so distracted, that I completely forgot to document it. Or tell anyone about the opening event. Or do any of the media-esque type things PR things that I usually enjoy doing. If my work is that distracting, I suppose that’s a good thing…?

I’ve been working out of The QC Co-Lab, a local Makerspace and general hub of creative-collaborative energy that has been quietly building steam within the confines of the Hamilton Tech building in Davenport, Iowa.

This body of work (I don’t want to title it damnit.) is a continuation of my exploration in paper and mixed media- to the best possible extent that I could have imagined. I increased my vintage book collection. I learned how to use a laser-cutter. I collaborated with some awesome minds, and the opening is THIS FRIDAY (ohmygod!) at Quad City Arts.

The particulars:

WHERE: Quad City Arts Gallery, Rock Island

EXHIBITION DATES: January 17-February 21, 2014

RECEPTION: Friday, January 17th, 7-9 pm

Cost: Free!

The University of Iowa Center for the Book presents an exhibition of works by faculty, staff and artists involved the book arts program, and practicing professionally within the greater midwest regional area.

There is an expressive power of the book form, united through word, image, and media. Peripheral Shifts will feature diverse pieces ranging from paper sculpture, prints, decorative bindings, calligraphic scrolls, artist’s books, and installations, all united by the prominent role of paper in their creation.

The public is invited to attend the opening reception on January 17 from 7-9 pm. This exhibit runs through February 21st.

Check their website for the workshop and demonstration schedule related to this exhibit.

The Quad City Arts Center Gallery is located at 1715 Second Avenue in the Arts and Entertainment District of Rock Island. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. All Quad City Arts programs are funded in part by Festival of Trees; Quad City Arts Partners; and operating grants from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; and the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Quad City Arts is a nonprofit local arts agency dedicated to the growth and vitality of the Quad City region through the presentation, development and celebration of the arts and humanities. For more information, contact Dawn Wohlford-Metallo 309-793-1213 X10

Add yourself to the guest list on Facebook here.

Anyhow, very exciting! I’d love to see you there! I’ll leave you with a few sneak peeks of the almost-finished pieces, and save the nice photos for later.

Custom Oak laser-etched frame being held together while the wood glue dries.

Custom Oak laser-etched frame being held together while the wood glue dries.

Wet Caulk! Getting ready for framing.

Wet Caulk! Getting ready for framing.

Detail Shot

Detail Shot

Detail Shot

Detail Shot

Save for a few minor touch-ups, one finished piece complete with it's etched plexi shadowbox cover. "Take Us Away From Here" with a final size of 22x30 inches

Save for a few minor touch-ups, one finished piece complete with it’s etched plexi shadowbox cover. “Take Us Away From Here” with a final size of 22×30 inches

 

Up and Coming: Pretty art opening photos. Meg prepares to apply for grad school. Farmer’s Market Vending. Other things.

<3

Meg The Sporadic Blogger

I’ve been writing a lot lately- although hidden within the confines of my duct-taped sketchbook, I’ve forgotten how much I’ve missed it. The writing i Which brought me back to this blog- and how long it’s been since I’ve updated, and just how old it is.

Not old as in physically ancient, perhaps old in the eyes of a young adult growing up in the Social Media Generation, where information comes and goes, pictures fly through news feeds and new news becomes old news in the blink of an eye, or archived with the press of a thumbs up button. ADHD doesn’t exist anymore.

I flip through all of these links and archived are my experiences- and it’s sort of curious, once you’ve stepped away from it for awhile. For a moment when I decided to update the beloved and neglected blog, I’m thinking ‘should I just shut this website down, because it’s too old??‘ What if it doesn’t flow together the right way? How am I going to fill in the blanks?

And then I thought, get real. That’s half of my entire website. Ramblings, stories, documentations, adventures, insecurities, observations…in no particular order.

With that being the general spirit of things, I think I’d like to continue with it :)

Since I feel some sot of obligation to continue the narrative flow of the last post, but really don’t feel like it, but still feel committed to, so here it goes.

Since opening Zola in February, my business partner and I made the decision to go our separate ways, and pursue our business ventures separately. And since doing that, I honestly couldn’t feel more relived. I now operate under my own freelance label Studio No. 2, ad it feels so right. I’m doing everything that I love to do, and it finally feels like a snug fit. I’m working on opening up an online storefront in the near future- and working/selling out of my home. For the time being I have the good old BookFace page and Word of Mouth, which is actually going pretty well…but I still have goals that I want to reach.

 

I’ve been collaborating with several lovely businesswomen that I just vibe with and work well together with. We have similar go-get it attitude with a genuine desire to see each other succeed. This has me more recently doing graphic design and photography on a freelance level more often, which has me pretty excited, and mildly overwhelmed.

I have a long term goal that’s been sitting in the back of my brain for some time- but I want to develop my freelance business to the point where I can move wherever I want to, and relatively soon, say… on the 2 year max plan. Lofty…but obtainable. I like it here in the Quads, but I crave a more stimulating environment, something that’s a little differently paced than the melancholy midwest. I crave a place that’s culturally sound, with the wilderness not to far within reach. This was and still is a wonderful place to live. But my heart wants to go. I just need to get within a stable place within my finances- and then it’s time to leave. Who knows where I’ll end up. :)

I’ll be taking another trip out to the West Coast at the end of the month, and for that…I absolutely can’t wait. I have some pretty big, festering ideas for my next personal art series which I’m getting continually excited and anxious about. (Another reason for joining the Co-Lab) I’ll be staying with my mom’s side of the family, and going with two, really good friends. We’re going to Bumbershoot, an arts and culture fest right in the heart of downtown Seattle. Just writing about it is getting me excited!! Music, comedy, arts and music lectures, and a whole week in the pacific northwest, my favorite place ever Ever EVER. :D I can’t wait to bring my camera and get new reference material for artsy weirdness. I can;t wait to show my friends a place that that makes me so happy!

I feel like once I make this trip, it’ll be the breath of fresh air I need to get my ass kickstarted into another productive creative mad studio phase. Moving and lack of studio space has thrown me off-kilter- I’ve still been doing things, but not as much or as well as I would like to. I need to see and experience new things, and get out of my comfort zone a little bit, or I just feel like things get a little stale.

My next blog update may or may not be from the Puget Sound :-P

 

Until next time.

Life Update, and Plant-Type Things.

A moment to breathe. Time for a life update.

It has been approximately one month since I opened my first gallery with my business partner in crime, and boy, has it been a ride.

zola

I feel like I’m in college again, with a maddening schedule, planning out every hour of my day trying to figure out when I have time to do….everything. As much as I hate to admit it, it is definitely an adjustment to have to manage my time so strictly again- it’s been almost two years since I was a college student doing just that. Put your game face on, Meg.

Since starting my new business, I’ve also picked up semi-steady work as a traveling art educator, mainly working with students with disabilities. My little brother has Asberger’s syndrome, and having a hand in fostering creativity in all students, especially one’s with unique life challenges, is close to my heart. I recently spent the majority of the last week helping students create their own comic books, and make paintings. Possibly my two most favorite things in the world. It was a blast, but I am reminded of the respect I’ll always have for teachers- they do SO much more work than you think they do. I had to be to my job site by 7am. With a one hour commute, that means I’m on the road by 6am. If I want to prep for my day, perform dog duties, eat breakfast, and look presentable for my night job- which I leave straight for, I’m getting up at 4:30am. I thought I would hate it. And the first day I certainly did.

Painting workshop in Clinton, Iowa

Painting workshop in Clinton, Iowa

However…dare I say it? I think…that I like mornings. (Don’t tell anyone!) After caffeinated assistance in pulling out of my morning haze, there’s something really enjoyable about having a period of quiet, unaltered peace to get my mind right for the day. I make breakfast, walk my dog, work out,  straighten up, knock out annoying duties that would normally distract me all day (did I check my email? Did I submit that invoice? Did I call person XYZ back? Did I book that event?), set some minor goals, and then am free to crush my day with nothing but productivity, and creativity. It feels damn good. I’ve also learned to sleep less. That also feels damn good. Don’t get me wrong, I love sleep, but there are so many things to do in a day, and sleep just takes up valuable time as far as I’m concerned. Thank god for Yerba Mate, and Soy Lattes. :)

The business is going well, all things considered. I can safely say that I’m breaking even on expenses, which is more than a blessing. There is definitely still a sharp learning curve, and lessons that are still going to be learned. But, for the first time- I have a semi-steady creative income, and you can see its radiating positive effect on my mood, and general vibe. Since I’ve gone from working the service industry from 65 hours a week to about 30. That’s roughly 3 or 4 days a week. As a result of that, I am a much more joyous person to be around at either job- service or otherwise. I’ve seen this positive effect radiate through all of my coworkers and good friends, which also makes me extremely happy. To engage people in an active and positive way- brings me joy.

Every time I come into my night job, I have coworkers and customers genuinely interested in what new thing is happening.  My lady friends have started their own craft night. Regular customers and friends are pulling me aside to show me the newest obscure thing that might interest me- a funky container for my terrariums, a vintage bottle, a painting by an unknown artist. I had a coplete stranger walk up to me and tell me how happy she was that I was playing TEDtalks as a casual gallery event. Me? Absolutely flattered. My art life, job life, and night life are all starting to overlap, and it’s an interesting and fulfilling dynamic.

Second day loading book donations for Zola's first waste diversion project. I wonder where those book planters came from? :)

Second day loading book donations for Zola’s first waste diversion project. I wonder where those book planters came from? :)

I’ve also been going through a plant phase. I just can’t let it go. I went from bookshelf herb-growing, to starting seeds in aquariums, to small recycled, container terrariums, to…plants and containers covering every surface in my home, and a small, slightly obsessive habit of converting books into plant vessels. They seem to be going over really well- cost of materials are low so I can price them accordingly and reasonably. And, there’s really just nothing better than adding a living, breathing, growing environment to your environment. I’ve been asked to bring the to a few artsy crafty events in Iowa City…maybe bulk orders are in the future? One can hope! :P

Desktop Companion Globe Terrarium. $20 Available at Zola Gallery, or on my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/listing/126168795/desktop-companion-globe-terrarium?ref=shop_home_active

Desktop Companion Globe Terrarium. $20 Available at Zola Gallery, or on my Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/listing/126168795/desktop-companion-globe-terrarium?ref=shop_home_active

My favorite book planter. Custom and bulk orders available upon request.

My favorite book planter. Custom and bulk orders available upon request.

With all of the craziness of work going on, it’s time to start planning for play. Plans for summer vacation are in development with the final running destinations being Sedona, Denver, or Portland. Possibly more than one. We shall see. But it’s time for a road trip. It has been entirely too long. :D

Everything being said, that is all that is happening in the crazy life of Meg.

Well, not really.

But that may be a blog post for another time.

Time for lunch. :D