Liz Mohler's blog for Seeing Sideways class

A secret


Recycling thoughts

I thought this was an interesting idea, but wish I had more time to come up with a more creative solution or idea.  We had a lot of the same type of materials to work with, which I expected.  Maybe all of one kind of material would have been more interesting, or a very wide variety.  A lot of the more boring materials (plastic grocery sacks, plastic cups) got left behind.  If one of those was the only material we had to work with, it would have made us think more creatively.

Again, my usual problem with group projects arose–too many ideas and too many people’s input leads to a pretty simple idea just because it’s A) the diplomatic thing to include everyone’s input and B) it’s the only thing people can agree on.  Given the materials that our group had to work with, we just went with something rather easy and not very creative.  I wish we had come up with something else, but again, time was a big constraint.

How will I apply this to my own creative works?

  1. Revisiting what I once saw as a failed idea might yield some interesting results if I’m willing to abandon the original intent.
  2. Literally using trash to create something new (already done with handmade paper from recycled copy paper, envelopes, bills, etc.)
  3. Working with what you think is a shit idea might spark something else entirely, inspired by one little bit of another idea.

Fear part 2

Wow, almost a month since my last blog post.  Usual for me I guess–if I don’t have to do it, I won’t.


The project that made the most impact for me–well, there was a couple.

The first, the guy who was so terrified of the girl from The Exorcist (god I’m terrible with names).  I mean, his fear was so palpable that everyone in the room felt it, and could feel empathetic towards him.   It wasn’t so much that he inspired fear in others, it was that we could all experience his fear.  That was one of the few projects (of the ones that I experienced) that actually got a reaction from most of the class.

The second being Sarah’s presentation of how she became deaf.  I’m not sure what she said her fear was exactly, but to me it screamed “I don’t want to be alone”, a fear of isolation.  That really resonated with me–how many times have I felt the same way, sitting in a group or in a classroom feeling awkward and alone? I would say we’ve all been there at one time or another.  It was really kind of heartbreaking when she said that people would come up to talk to her, realize they would have to go to some extra effort to communicate with her, then walk away as if she wasn’t important.  That’s cruel.  This has actually inspired me to take action–I’m going to sit by Sarah in her little corner tomorrow during class. Not a big thing, but it’s the little things that matter more.

How does this affect how I see my own project? It tells me that even though we feel alone, we don’t have to be.  Even if we are the only one experiencing that particular event or emotion, as long as we have good people around us it doesn’t matter so much.  It just takes one other person saying, It’s okay, I don’t know how you feel but I’ll be here for you.  That’s what I strive to do for my friends, and what I need most from them.



3 Things That Have Stuck With Me

1) I quite liked the video we watched last week–it was an affirmation of what I’ve learned–that you can’t do something expected in the art world and expect to be a star.  It’s the new and innovative artists that get the top bill.  Everyone else just fades to the background.  Another lesson to be had from it, and from class–Why not? Just because it’s never been done before isn’t an excuse not to do it.  In fact, I’d say it’s a very good reason to go ahead and try it.

2)  The totemic bliss was one of the projects that I liked the most, and the experience of the whole class sharing their experiences was really interesting to me.  Each project was so personal, it made me feel like I was getting to know my classmates.  I can see why you like a smaller class for this–it would be a lot more personal, a few personalities wouldn’t dominate the room, and people would be more willing to speak up.  In contrast, in my 100-level speech class, there’s about 20 students (14-16 regular attendance).  That class feels really personal to me because I’ve gotten to know my classmates.  Partly that’s because of the nature of the class–everyone is speaking on topics that are near and dear to their hearts.  I wish I had gotten to know my classmates better by now.

3)  This is more of a general observation about the class than one specific thing, but I wish I had taken this class two or three years ago, when I was really starting to stretch my artistic muscles and breaking out of the mindset that art has to be done a certain way.  I think this class would have really helped me define what I wanted to do with my art, instead of me figuring it out slowly over a period of a couple years.  I mean, figuring out where you’re going with your art is a lifelong process, but I wish I could have gotten started a lot sooner.  I think I’d be a lot more satisfied with my artwork as a whole, and with my school career thus far.  Having said that, I still think this is one of the best classes I’ve taken, and would recommend it to anyone and everyone I know.  It’s that good, because it’s more of a prep class for the real world rather than an academic study.


How has your experience in this class been different from your experiences in other classes? If it has not been different, explain what is similar to your other classes.

See #2 for a bit about this.  The goals and objectives you have for this class are so different from any other class I’ve taken.  It’s refreshing to not have to worry about every single little point or project.  It’s definitely a contrast to my Speech class (which is ironically right after Seeing Sideways) where the only thing that matters is the points–it doesn’t matter how good or bad your delivery is, because it’s just a checklist of points.  Very different from a studio art class where there are no points and the only thing that matters is the delivery (for the most part).  Well, sometimes the journey matters, especially in an independent study.  One class that I feel has a kinship with Seeing Sideways is an intro to bookbinding class that I took at Herron.  The teacher counted the construction and craftsmanship of the book structures much more than the final aesthetic.  Granted, she liked the more creative books a lot more, but it wasn’t a requirement.  That class really challenges students to stretch their definition of what ___ has to be. I think it’s similar to the way you are encouraging students to think about the process, and not worry if the outcome is going to be “good enough”.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just my love for both of these classes that links them in my mind.  Maybe it’s that the bookbinding class was where I really started to feel like I loved the process of stretching what art can be.


From the Rest of the Class

Right now I’m hoping for some healing.  I’m not in a good place concerning creativity.  I have felt burnt out and erratic in my art-making, and questioning whether it would be healthy for me to pursue an art career.  That doesn’t really line up with the goals of this class though.  So honestly I really don’t know what I want from the rest of the class.  Teachers always love to ask this question, and I never seem to have a good answer.

Strange title, I know.  As usual, part of a stream of consciousness-writing.

Fear isn’t always a bad thing.  Sometimes fear is good, like the fear that keeps you from running towards a large angry bear.  Sometimes  you can use fear to fuel yourself (see previous example and running away) but other times it just wears on you and saps all your energy.  Fear of failure, fear of losing something (or someone), fear of being judged. There’s lots of different kinds of fear.  People deal with it in different ways. Sometimes they don’t deal with it at all. Sometimes it defines their actions. Sometimes it defines their inactions.

Right now, I’m mostly dealing with one kind of fear. Fear of failure.  Fear of not being able to do what I love/what I need.  I can’t seem to make things any more.  I’m an artist–I’m supposed to make art. Why can’t I get my ass off the couch and create something beautiful? I want to, but I just can’t seem to get it done. What scares me is that I’m not going to be able to any more.  And that would be a terrible, terrible thing.  It makes me so scared to pick up a pencil or a brush, because I’m afraid I won’t finish it.  In fact, I’ve got a pretty good track record of not finishing things lately (last 2 years or so).  And maybe it’s not that I’m scared of failing, it’s that I’m scared of never finishing.  That I don’t have the drive and determination to see a single project through to the end.  There’s a lot of unfinished projects sitting around my house.  Feels like that’s all I’ve got right now.

So what I’m going to do is share that fear of mine with my classmates.  I don’t think I’ll get much of a reaction from most of the class–frankly, they’re too young.  (Ha, that makes me feel so self-righteous.  Or conceited. I’m not sure of the word I’m looking for.)  The older students, the ones who have been here a while (and Beth) will get where I’m coming from, or at least have a little bit of an idea of what I’m talking about.  The ones who have burned out at one time or another, or who have felt like they can’t do it.  Or the ones who are at the edge of that mountain looking up at the huge thing in front of them.  There’s really two parts to my experiment: the first part will be for me alone, and the second will be the labors of that first part.  Hopefully the time and effort that I put into the first part will show through in what I bring to class.

Frankly, I don’t care what their reaction is going to be, because this is for me, not them.  Maybe they’ll learn something from my experience, but overall….it doesn’t matter to me.


EDIT: Post-experiment

Well, that was about as hard as I thought it would be.  I kept putting it off and putting it off…I think I ended up taking pictures of every unfinished thing the night before I presented it.  I was pretty closed down while I was gathering bits of projects and taking pictures.  Maybe I was helped along a little bit by discovering a couple of pieces that I really like and really felt proud of.  I pulled out four or five to hang on my walls.  Frankly I expected to find more unfinished/unsatisfied pieces than I did.  There must be several at Mom and Dad’s house.  Or, more likely, it’s just the ones that I remember and are so present in my mind that they overshadow everything else.


How People Reacted

Frankly I couldn’t really tell you how the class reacted.  I was more focused on not sobbing at the time.  I knew I was going to cry; getting a decent amount of sleep the night before my presentation may have helped a bit.  I think the class was really quiet–it’s kind of unsettling when someone bares themselves before people like I did, I think.  I was rather grateful when somebody passed me a tissue–I knew there was a little bit of empathy in that gesture.  I guess that’s what I was looking for in this presentation–some empathy.  I definitely felt it from Beth–a “It’s okay, you’ll get over it some day.  And if not, that’s okay too” kind of attitude, which is really what I need right now.  Telling myself that all day is fine, but it means more when somebody else says it, especially another creative folk that I respect.



Originally I wrote that I didn’t care how the class reacted.  But when I started my presentation, I really appreciated the bit of empathy that I got.  Maybe there was more that I didn’t feel (I was quite wrapped up in myself at the time), and maybe that’s a reaction of having a large class basically full of strangers.  I think classmates were overwhelmed…it was a big thing for me to share, and a lot for them to take in, especially if they haven’t been through anything like it.  I’m assuming that was mostly the case since I feel like it’s a pretty young class overall.


Let’s have some changes

What I would really have liked to do is set up my presentation at a kiosk where people are walking through, perhaps at a gallery or an art event or something.  People would be able to flip through the slides themselves and interact more with my unfinished art.  After they were done with the images, then I would have a little flyer or card or something explaining more about the project.  Yes, the order is important, but I really don’t want to analyze why that is so at this moment.

3/5 class thoughts

From the video–work that you know the outcome to before you begin is purely academic.


That’s what stuck with me from today.  It’s what I’ve been doing for years now, and it’s hard to get away from.  It’s what I was taught in art school, and have had trouble with in my independent studies.  Always focused on that grade or that project or that outcome and felt like I haven’t had the encouragement to explore like I should have.  Mostly that’s an internal thing, but a lot of it feels like it comes from time restrictions.  I’d love to explore some things, but it’s too late, I’ve gotta go to work now, and work on this project for another class, and and and.


I’m hoping my independent study in watercolor (making my own paper and seeing how the paint reacts, building imagery from that) will loosen me up some.   That’s maybe been a little easier because that teacher has been incredibly restrictive to me in the past, and doing this project this semester is like a big “fuck you” to her. Rebellion is a good thing for me, I’ve spent my whole life being the good girl.

Today’s Reflection

What did I take away from today’s class?

That’s a bit of a tough one for me.  This class didn’t hit me as hard as some others have.  Maybe it’s because I felt like it was focused on sound and music, which are not terribly important things to me.

Well, sound is, in a way, as in the lack of it.  I have rather sensitive hearing–my mom and grandma were always telling me to speak up when I was a kid.  I thought I was loud enough, but apparently the world didn’t think so.  I require silence in my life, and today’s class was an exercise in me not leaving.  The singing bowl and bell made beautiful noises, but not for an hour straight.  I can appreciate them, but there’s no way in hell I could ever meditate to one.  Maybe if it was smaller and much much quieter.

I would have loved to explore Sarah’s experience with some of class today.  Her experience with music is so different from all of ours.


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