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Obsess Over Everything

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This summer I am participating in a research program at my university.  Each week, we hear 4 presenters go up and tell us what exactly they’re researching and why we should care etc etc

The other day, the Dean gave us a little talk on how this whole program seemed to him so far.  He said this was a room of “unusual students” and I must say that we are.  No one here has overlapping projects, and that’s the most refreshing thing ever. 

At the beginning of this experience, I said that my research was different from everyone’s.  I was wrong.  Yeah, it’s different.  But that’s not what I said.  I said only I was different.  Turns out, each person has the most interesting way of figuring out whatever it is they want to learn about.  I’m not the only one doing some crazy form of “research” that’s set apart from the typical scientific method.


A few weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and draw each person while they’re presenting.  As if there isn’t pressure enough.  I guess that puts more pressure on me actually since I better get your face drawn right.

Here they are:

Callum

Dean Stricker

Samuel

Alex

Tom

Colleen

Simon

Andrew

Emmeline

Maria

Luke

For those fellows who do read this and presented before I started this little project, we are going on a retreat together soon.  That sounds like an opportunity to get a little portrait drawn if you’d like.

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The day has come and gone.  Yesterday was …. Our First Meeting!  Yes, that deserves all caps.  It’s a big deal.  I should really explain what I’m talking about here.  At noon, I went to my first meeting for the Brackenridge Summer Fellowship.  Pretty exciting.  This is the first time I have ever received anything like this.  Over the summer, I will be part of a community of 55 other fellows and basically get compensated for doing research.  More excited now?

I expected to know someone there, but I was in a sea of unfamiliar faces.  That doesn’t happen so often in Pittsburgh.  Small town feeling where you know everyone at every shop you go to.  Apparently I have not been as social as I thought I was.  Before the meeting, I was desperately trying to finish my spreadsheet containing lists upon lists of what I plan to buy with all of the money.  ALL of it, just so you are aware, is going towards supplies.  Mainly photography.  B&H Photo is going to make a whole lot of money from me.

Everything started out fine and interesting.  We were given a lecture on what was in store for us the following months of summer.  For each meeting, four of the fellows are going to present their topics during a 30 minute presentation.  Easy enough, right?  I guess I underestimated how amazing my major is: Studio Arts.

I’m going to go off on a little rant here.  The Dean told us that by the end of the program we should, “be able to learn to communicate and listen so that they [we] can come to an understanding.”  Ok, that’s fine.  I’m totally fine with that goal, are you?  Then he took it a step further and began to dive into a discussion concerning questions.  As an audience member, you should be able to listen and ask questions that spark further conversation.  No problem.  But wait- isn’t this built in to my topic of study?  My work as an artist usually concentrates and rides upon its interaction with the viewer.  This is a particular quality to my recent work, but I am still very reliant on the viewer and the conversations that the pieces spark in them.   So here’s the final thought:  Studio Arts is usually knocked down for now being a “real major” by some students (not all) and is not the first major that comes to mind when one hears the word “research.”  Why is this occurring if our work is geared to communicate and lead to a universal understanding or wide conversation?

 

And that’s that’.

 

Rest of the meeting went fine.  I learned that we would not be getting half of the research money until later in the summer.  From then on, my dreams of wide angle lenses and Tenba backpacks fluttered away.  Well, only temporarily.  It stopped when we were given a lecture that was largely based on neuroscience.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love the sciences.  But I felt as though there was something missing in this.  Not just with my field of study, but others as well.

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The main point to be taken from this, well at least I think, is that you must continue to ask questions and to keep digging into matters.  Sad to say, I have terrible hearing and was a bit too shy to speak up and request that he talked louder.  But my ears picked up on everything that they needed to hear.  I liked the lecture- there was a lot to be taken from it.  But again, there was something missing.  He told us that just because no one else cares about what you’re trying to figure out doesn’t mean that you don’t.  We are going to give up our summer time to find out something that we care about.  That statement was wonderful to me.  Then, he took a turn.  And that turn led into the objective.  He said many of the easy questions have been answered already, and we must go to figure out the hard ones.  For science, that’s pretty true.  I guess for art, too.  This lecture did not have any reference to the arts but focused solely on the scientific method.  Other fields, including mine, have answers to these questions that are opinion based.  I thrive on opinion.  I’m writing this blog to keep track of my opinions and feelings on certain matters.  I map out what I dislike, what I like, or what I want to move towards.  When you are working with opinion instead of data, things get a little bit more difficult.  And a little bit more fun.

 

Today feels like a planning kind of day.  I leave for Wyoming to do more research and I’ve got to get myself and my ideas ready!  I’m going to the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.  No I’m serious!  According to an old folklore, when you go to pick up the phone to call someone at home you can’t because…… THERE’S NO CELLPHONE SERVICE ANYWHERE.  So this is where I’ll be: