Tuesday, November 11, 2008

AD 303: Individual Art Review

A huge part of the art school here at Northern Michigan University is AD 303 -- Individual Art Review -- a pass-or-fail class that determines whether or not you can continue being an art major. It's serious, scary business and you are required not only to build a portfolio, but develop a statement of intent that clearly explains the social purpose behind your artwork. Leading up to the final review, you develop this statement of intent (presenting it to your advisor several times), create a resume, and make digital documentation of your portfolio. For the final review, you hand out your statement of intent and present your portfolio to a panel of six art professors, one of which is your advisor. You are then questioned for twenty-five minutes, and you have no prior knowledge of the crazy things these professors might ask you. And then -- you pass, or you fail.


I went through this process yesterday, and I'm pleased to report that I passed with a satisfactory grade. It's a whole lot of stress off my shoulders, and now I can focus more on other classes that I've been neglecting. The scariest part of yesterday's review was when I was asked if I considered myself to be of the modern or post-modern thought process. I froze up and admitted I really didn't know what these two schools of thought were -- oops. Yeah, pretty embarrassing, and it didn't help that the review had just started and I was still really freaking out at this point.


Anyway, besides the photography aspect, how does this relate to this Michigan Architecture Blog? My portfolio consists of twelve photographs, all fragments of buildings from the northern portion of the state of Michigan. I don't want to get into my whole statement of intent (I'm incredibly sick of reading and retyping it at this point, believe me) -- but part of it was focusing on the gradual transformation that these buildings are going through, and how their current use and appearance is often far different than how they were originally imagined, five, seven, ten decades ago.

Negaunee
Negaunee

Cross Village
Cross Village


Negaunee
Negaunee

Hancock
Hancock

Chassell
Chassell

Houghton
Houghton

Negaunee
Negaunee

Germfask
Germfask

Negaunee
Negaunee

Hancock
Hancock

Republic
Republic

Germfask
Germfask

With the exception of the photograph of the mural taken in Cross Village (just south of the Mackinac Bridge), this portfolio was compiled entirely in the Upper Peninsula, where the buildings on Main Street have a very unique look and feel.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Long time, no post!

A year's gone by since I've last updated this blog, and after some (fortunate) persuasion by several people, I've finally convinced myself that it's high time to continue posting here. I don't want to include too much personal stuff on this blog, but life's been a little crazy for the past eleven months, and certainly quite busy. College, friends, and internet culture kind of takes over, and all of a sudden, you find you aren't updating things like you used to! Anyway, hopefully that's over, and I can continue to post photographs and information here, celebrating Michigan's architecture.



After a long, eventful summer of working with the photographs at the U of M Clements Library, I'm back in Marquette, for my junior year at Northern Michigan University. I'm taking four art classes this semester, including the dreaded AD 303 Individual Art Review -- wait, I suppose I should backtrack a little, back to my work over the summer. Working at the Clements was, to put it simply, amazing. The project was financed by the Michigan Photographic Historical Society and it was one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. My job was to reorganize the photography collection -- and it was a huge, but rewarding project.

The Clements Library's photograph collection is primarily comprised of American vernacular photography -- that is, photographs showing everyday life, family pictures, and city scenes -- as opposed to fine art photography. I had the opportunity to view all kinds of cartes de visite, matted photographs, cabinet cards, and, most interesting of all, photograph albums. Thanks to MiPHS member David Tinder, there are hundreds -- thousands -- of photographs of Michigan alone, and seeing those was particularly fascinating.

For example, I had no idea that Marquette suffered a major fire back in the mid-1800s. There were several views of the city, dating from, if I remember correctly, the 1870s, where the buildings downtown were built from wood -- and I learned soonafter that Marquette had burned. Replacing the destroyed wooden structures were stone buildings, many of which remain today.

In any case, the job was fascinating, rewarding, and very educational. If you're in the Ann Arbor area and interested in what the Clements Library does, I highly recommend stopping by. It's one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture on the University of Michigan's campus -- designed by Albert Kahn in 1922 in the Italian Renaissance style, it is a very graceful, ornate structure, inside and out.



So, here I am, now, in Marquette, living off-campus with my best friend Ashlee, in an apartment right across the street from Lake Superior. It's amazing -- no, incredibly awesome to be away from the dorms and away from all the hubbub and noise that is NMU. We're minutes away from downtown, seconds away from the lake, and a twenty-minute walk from campus.

I mentioned earlier AD 303 -- Individual Art Review -- the pass-or-fail class that determines whether or not you can continue being an art major. It's a serious-business course, and at the end of it all, you must have a prepared statement of intent and extensive portfolio that you show to various members of the Art and Design staff. It's a big deal. As far as that portfolio goes, I've got a general idea of what I want to do (and I'd better, because the first draft of that statement of intent is due next week!) -- unsurprisingly, it involves theaters, from both an artistic and preservationist standpoint.

I'll go into more detail in later posts, as my idea is developed and refined, but look for updates as the semester continues, and as I stress myself out into an unintelligible pile of goo!

Until then, enjoy a few views of our great state's architecture.



How about a Great Lakes lighthouse? Eagle Harbor's lighthouse, taken the first week of May, right after the Winter '08 semester had ended. It was still snowing in the Keweenaw Peninsula, much to the chagrin of my father and myself.



A pair of bad architectural additions on display in Cheboygan, back from April of this year. I'd like to have a word with whoever approved these designs...



Working our way downstate and earlier into the year, here's an abstract view of some clashing architecture: the white columns of the Jiffy Mix factory rise up above the brick fa├žades of downtown Chelsea.



I'll leave you with a night view of Houghton's Lode Theatre, taken during Michigan Tech's Winter Festival in February. As many people have told me, the interior of the theater building has been torn up and divided into several screens -- an unfortunate fate that many theaters have suffered. I'm motivating myself to finish my theater project and hopefully it will be completed soon. I've done the photography... and now it's time for the real work!

Over and out.