FACULTY GUEST BLOGGER: Cassie Rose Kobeski
Cassie Rose Kobeski: Whenever I mention where I went to graduate school, someone inevitably says, “Oh, the Project Runway school?” While I was in the MFA department at Parsons School of Design, the fashion students were reveling in the glory of the design show’s new success. I remember seeing the show’s fashion guru, Mr. Tim Gunn, suavely walking the streets of New York City near campus. His motivational motto to the aspiring designers was used in every episode where someone was fumbling, struggling, or just in the middle of their creative process with an idea not yet realized. Gunn would give a sassy, “Make it work!” and through the magic of television editing, we would see the arch of that designer’s triumph or defeat.
Unquestionably, this phrase can be applied to anyone, anywhere, working in any field, but it aptly fits creative types very well. During my time in grad school, I was able to solely focus and completely engulf myself in the creative process. I put aside much of my beliefs of traditional easel painting that I practiced here at Marywood University and began experimenting, with materials, concepts, and my own pre-conceived notions of what art-making should and could be. Years later, I would return to easel painting, but with a new perspective.
One of the final large-scale installation works I made was part of our thesis exhibit at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Center, blocks from where the twin towers fell. The space was raw and industrial and immense, so the entire class was left to “make it work.” I created a funerary installation with various sewn sculptures. The sculptures were made from fabric, with faces cast in wax from my clay sculptures. I hammered out wooden church benches, a poor man’s sarcophagus emblazoned with Egyptian images from the Book of the Dead, and it all laid upon a blanket of faux grass and endless pounds of dirt. This was a very personal and autobiographical piece, as most of my work tends to be, inspired partly by the stuffed animal works of Mike Kelley.
Fast forward to present day, and my work has changed and grown many times since. I find a natural response that my work is often affected by my current circumstances and surroundings. Still trying to “make it work,” I don’t have the luxury of time on my hands to have limitless studio hours as I once did. I am now a teacher, a wife, and my busiest role, a mother. My most recent work reflects those changing circumstances by selecting a medium that can be more accessible to me at this present moment. I have been working with watercolors, Photoshop, photography, and found photos to compose into transfer prints. Three of these prints were selected and exhibited during the Northeast Biennial and I am in the process of expanding these works for future projects. While it doesn’t have the same tactility as sculpture or oil painting, I do love and appreciate the variety and multiplicity of printmaking.
At the end of summer, my studio-mate (my four year old daughter) will begin Kindergarten. While I am deeply saddened by this approaching bittersweet milestone, I am energized to have my personal studio time back and the limitless possibilities that will come from that experience.
So, dear students, if you have made it thus far, in my long-winded blog, remember to “make it work” this summer after your last final exam is completed. Set goals and projects for yourself that pushes you out of your comfort zone. Try your hand at a new medium. Take a class you never thought you would. But most of all, don’t let the summer slip away, having not fully immersed yourself in your creativity.