PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
About this blog--As a recent graduate and currently in a one-year residency the question of what’s next and how to get there is always on my mind. For this blog I will be interviewing artists who have taken varying paths and pursued different careers in or out of the arts to see what they are doing now and the steps they took to get there.
Special Note--I want this to be a way to share how we are all trying to figure out the paths to what’s next and where to go, not answers or things to do, but a look into how others are making it and what has helped along the way. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for questions to ask or artists to interview.
About me--First time blogger, long time internet user. My name is Melissa Walter. In 2005 I received a BFA in Metal Design from East Carolina University. I was introduced to Metal Design in college, loved it, and chose metals as what I would pursue a degree in. Since high school I knew I would go to college seeking a degree in art, but never thought much about what would happen after college-let’s be honest, who does. Although, occasionally I would develop a “plan” to tell others who were constantly asking the question “what’s next?”
I finished undergrad in December of 2005, from there I continued my drive-thru coffee shop job, did a short stint of babysitting/nannying, and worked for six months at a bench jewelers/repair shop. After that time I realized two and a half things I did not want to do for the rest of my life—nannying, repair work, and drive-thru coffee shop (I could do a regular coffee shop again).
Connect, steel, handmade abaca paper, thread, 6.5 x 7 x 11”, 2011.
During this time I began looking for a full-time job. Because I had great recommendations from some friends who knew the owner of a communications billing company (aka-knew some people), I was able to get a job in the administration/accounting department of a communications billing company in Greenville, North Carolina. This really was a great job, with a wonderful boss, and co-workers. Unfortunately, during these two and a half years I wasn’t able to afford to have a studio to work in nor did a full-time job leave much energy for studio work. This time was valuable in many ways, one of them being that I was able to again realize something that I did not want to do for the rest of my life and through that realization applied to graduate school. In 2008 I began the MFA program in Jewelry and Metals at the University of Georgia. I approached graduate school differently than undergrad in my making and also in how I used my time. I had an assistantship, but no additional employment and took opportunities as they came such as going to Penland and studying abroad in Italy. Both of which I wouldn’t have been able to spend the money or time away from work to do during undergrad.
Crochet Brooch 04, steel, handmade abaca paper, thread, 3 x 2.5 x 1", 2011.
I made it through grad school finishing in May of 2011, spent some time on applications (which are possibly harder and worse than grad school) and was awarded a one-year artist residency at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, which began in September of 2011 and comes to a close at the end of August of 2012. I have spent my time in Houston in an amazing studio, teaching adjunct Art Appreciation at Houston Community College, doing a little dog-walking, a couple months at a retail cleaning company, and will finish up my residency spending the summer in the studio, working at a local grocery store, teaching a week long kid's art camp, and hopefully a few single day workshops at the Art League of Houston (what’s next, I don’t know, but I have come up with a few “plans” to tell those “people” who must ask).
That's enough about me for now, please come back to read the first interview. Until then feel free to check out my website http://melissawalter.us or post comments for questions you have for artists.