Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Wheat

In the Bowels of Hamlet's Mill

note to self: When a tree falls in the forest, all covered with ice and snow while you are standing nearly under it, it DOES make a sound.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A brief statement about Wickerson Studios


Wickerson Studios is a 'state' created from the clay of the earth and the timber of the fallen trees. Three structures have emerged from their foundations: a collier pit, a foundry, and an anagama kiln.
Hamlet's Mill digs deep into the earth and boils rainwater into the air. It is a place for the mind and soul and constantly resists the term, dwelling. Gardens grow both inside and out and animals nest in its branches and twigs. No work will be done in this place. It is a place for well-deserved rest, relaxation and healing.
The Grieve Foundry is the laboratory. Raised and rammed from the dead trees and surrounding mud. This building houses the equipment required to cast liquid iron and bronze and the machines capable of manipulating and transforming cold steel. Traditional lost wax castings find their forms within this earthwork and the artist's endurance and strength are tested within its walls.
Moby Dick, the thirty foot cave kiln is designed to fire the earth into bricks that will then be used to pavestone, wall, and build additional structures in and around the expanding studio.  Ceramic artworks will find their way in and around the, much needed, bricks and inspire the utilitarian structure to achieving new creative heights.
Sunlight is the only light that is ever provided. The winds and rains penetrate the privacy of these three special places. Everything is seasonal. The summer sun exhausts and the winter chill bites. It is easy to feel alive in this place.
I wish to further develop the private studio and sculptural landscape of Wickerson Studios by facilitating it with additional equipment, supplies and materials in order to serve a growing community of artists.
My efforts and ambitions seem to be moving beyond the my personal development and exhibition of sculptures and ideas.  I feel the need to expand my efforts in the arts.  My American arts community has grown from 12 students in 2001, when I moved here from Canada, into an international exchange of ideas spanning the globe.  Beginning to develop my private studios on an institutional level will allow me to continue to serve the alumni and artists that I have come to know.  I look forward to creating new artworks, all the while, serving other artists with the same enthusiasm and drive that has inspired me to make a life for myself in America that develops personally and professionally with creative individuals.
Meanwhile, I wish to pursue a series of artworks, Cupola/Cupola, and events focused on bronze casting, iron casting, and clay kiln firing.  Cupola/Cupola is a collection of new fangled drawings, bronze sculptures and outdoor public works that have been inspired by the time I have spent traveling, working and living in the Netherlands, specifically Friesland. It is the northern Klokkenstoelen that captured my imagination and later melded with my iron cupola designs. These bell towers and furnace wagons are the subject of my past artworks and the basis of all of my current projects.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ashley Anders - Feather, Never Waste a Trip

Ashley Anders - http://ashleymarieanders.com/

Feather, Never Waste a Trip

Michael Wickerson’s sabbatical year of 2010 is a year of great accomplishment, growth and inspiration. After forming a strong student to professor relationship my junior year in the Sculpture department at the Kansas City Art Institute, I decided to continue working with Michael Wickerson throughout his sabbatical. The summer of 2010 was the most life inspiring and character forming summer of my artistic life. Secluding himself on his eleven acres of land in Kansas City, Kansas Michael Wickerson invited me to be his assistant in creating a unique self-run and self-sustaining studio. Our first project was forming a 30ft diameter adobe structure within three months as well as laying out the foundation of Wickerson Studios.

To understand what this man has been up to I will give you a glimpse of the starting stages of Wickerson Studios. Being a part of Wickerson’s day is no easy task. By sunrise Wickerson is up and working outside. I would be on the clock at nine a.m. sharp. To start, Wickerson, his wife Beth, his son Oscar and I sat at the “thought table” to express our thoughts, ideas, dreams and wishes. This was where we planned for the most efficient, satisfying day. I was taught to be smart with my time. Time is the most precious gift we have as living beings. Once outside, we would get to work. Wickerson dug his earth as I helped gather for the mixing process that would eventually result in mud bricks. He tweaked his recipe for the perfect mixture as I watched and took mental notes for the ratio of portland cement: earth: water: and straw. Once the perfect ratio was found, the next fifteen minutes would be filling in the gang molds that held the form of the mud bricks. This process repeated itself over and over until all of the gang molds were filled with the adobe mixture.

One of my main work tasks was keeping the water jugs filled with water. To fill them with water one had to use the hose by the house to fill the jugs. Each time the jugs had to be filled, time was taken out of our workday. To make sure we were working efficiently, if anything had to be picked up from the house or in the garage it was done all in one trip. “Never waste a trip!” was one phrase that stuck in my mind while working with Wickerson. Even outside of Wickerson Studios I was able to incorporate this lesson into my daily routine. Time is arguably the most important possession for an artist. What sets artists apart is the ability to organize their time and follow personal deadlines. To never waste a trip will continue to be an important motto I live by.

Once a good stopping point was reached, a lunch was prepared and long discussions would take place. Conversations ranged from social patterns, interesting artists, politics and religion. Wickerson is a smart man with a lot to say and share with anyone willing to listen. He even made friends with the local Jehovah’s Witnesses who love to come and share knowledge and philosophy with him.

One memory that demonstrated Michael Wickerson’s excellence in teaching was the day we attempted to have an iron pour with only the two of us working together. We had made a relief imprint of my body in sand that we wanted to pour iron into. As the sun went down we were finished setting up for the pour. It was a beautiful sight seeing the roaring cupola’s fire blowing out the top and spitting out molten iron from its mouth. He and I spent countless hours preparing for this experiment and it all came down to one factor. If the iron melted and filled the body-sized mold it would have been a successful pour. Instead, the worst outcome happened. The metal froze within the homemade cupola and barely any iron came out. We felt exhausted and defeated but even though the pour was not successful, it was not a waste of time. Valuable lessons were learned that night. Patience, process, precision, communication, experimentation, and creativity were some things Wickerson revealed to me that night. He has proved to me to be a great mentor and partner in creation.

Outside of the tremendous amount of work he has done on his property, Wickerson has also remained involved with his community of choice. Wickerson has spent time strengthening his standing within the community by hosting demonstrations for Shawnee Mission West HS, Kansas City, KS. His focus was showing the students his most current art projects and getting them involved in sculpture processes. Voicing his reason to look further then the Art Institute for showing support, he explained that a sabbatical could be the perfect excuse to travel and get involved in other communities around the world. A trip to Utrecht, Holland was planned. This trip took a tremendous amount of effort creating a schedule so that all time was utilized wisely. Once again the motto, “never waste a trip” was important in his preparation. Holland was where he made his connections with friends and local artists to continue his research of casting. It was in Holland where he was coined with the nickname, “Feather”. Once he came back, he was full of new knowledge and experience that was very exciting to hear about. While there, he was offered to be a part of several exhibitions, private collections and even a long-term commission. Michael Wickerson showed that he is able to put himself out of his element and still portray professional characteristics. Michael Wickerson’s positive experiences of his sabbatical allowed him to breathe and grow as an artist as well as a mentor.

It is a humble, honest and peaceful place he has made for himself and his family. Wickerson and his abode are always welcoming to new and interested visitors. He has used his time wisely to continue his professional standing as an artist, mentor and professor in Kansas City. I feel blessed and honored to have been invited to be Michael Wickerson’s first assistant for Wickerson Studios. He is a hard working man that deserved this time to reflect and recharge himself as an artist and a professor.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Brick Kiln - Anagama

The clay is free, the wood fuel is free, the kiln is free, tke brick press is free. If building with your own fired bricks is authentic enough for your nature, come and join us. www.wickersonstudios.com

Art Gallery @ Wickerson Studios

Wickerson Studios has recently opened an art gallery and Beth and Michael are committed to representing the artists and their artworks that have assisted with the studios since the conception and birth of both the studio, and more importantly, the birth of their son, Oscar,  in 2009.