Blog . Yale Summer School here I come
2 AM, May 24th, I left my humble suburban home to travel to Norfolk, Connecticut, where Yale University hosts their annual six-week studio intensive program. I drove nine long hours through neighboring states, experiencing the silent and slightly abysmal Ohio Turnpike in early morning to the tranquil, secluded estate in Norfolk. Upon my arrival, I immediately moved into my studio alongside fellow students in half of a building known to us as the Art Barn. The Art Barn, and the rest of the estate, was established for Yale’s use around 1954. Yale at Norfolk has hosted some of the most renowned artists as students to the program such as Richard Serra, Chuck Close, Eva Hesse, Vija Celmins, etc. Upon my arrival I was quite overwhelmed with the fact that I was stepping through and around a building that has seen much failure and growth that all young artists experience. I am now following in the footsteps of many artists I had grown to deeply admire.
There are 26 students from around the entire country that are participating in Yale Norfolk. My fellow housemate and I are the only students attending from Ohio. I have witnessed already, through an introductory meeting, the breadth of talent that has been selected to experience the program. Most students attending come from a background of painting. I, as a printmaker and drawing student, was one of the few to show a portfolio that did not show any talent whatsoever for painting. This made me quite nervous. How am I to learn to ‘paint’? What does “painting” mean to me? Questions as such were addressed by Sam Messer, our director of Yale Norfolk. He stated we were all chosen to attend for some undisclosed reason, that we were here to make mistakes, to make bad art, and most of all, to grow into the art that we choose to create.
My schedule at Norfolk consists of classes within the photography and printmaking labs for the first half of the week, followed by lectures I am required to attend a few times a week, to a few group activities involving the entire body of students. I have been quite challenged in the areas I am unfamiliar with, but being so uncomfortable has only intrigued me to further pursue such assignments/projects. I was uncomfortable by my lack of knowledge of certain processes and matters of making. It was within this first week at Norfolk that I came to the realization that when I am uncomfortable, the decisions I make are the most honest. I am intrigued to challenge myself, and I have taken many opportunities to meet with the faculty to speak about my decisions. I have even tried to “paint” (I’m still learning what this means to me).
The first week here has blended into the second and my sense of time has slowly dwindled into nothing. I only understand the transition from day to night with the sun. I know that may sound a little melodramatic but I haven’t left the studio so stepping outside from the sunny morning to darker evening can feel very abrupt. I am losing track of my days; I have barely attended to my social media accounts except for casual updates on work I have made. Norfolk is quite an enlightening experience thus far. I am looking forward for the weeks to come.
Over the next five weeks I will be writing about my experience at Yale Norfolk. Stay tuned!