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Stoking the Fire 2


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 Teresa Lind in her element

Q & A with Teresa Lind

1. What attracted you to sculpting? When did you realize that this is what you wanted to do?

When I was in undergrad, I was a painting major and thought that I had no interest in or inclination toward 3D media, however, when I took a class with TC Farley, the sculpture professor at UW Oshkosh at the time, my skepticism quickly turned into passion. We had a live model, which is what I was interested in for my painting endeavor, and I realized that space as canvas was incredibly compelling for me. That was 1997.

2. What misconceptions do people (non-artists) have about sculpture?

I can tell you what my misconceptions were.  I thought that sculpture was intimidating.  I had no idea what to do with material and space.  You pick up a crayon or a pencil as a toddler and you draw all your life. The physical act of writing is essentially's so familiar.  The idea of working spatially was totally foreign.  I see that apprehension in many of my students as well and I know exactly where they are coming from so I try to present sculpture in the friendliest light possible. 

3. As a teacher of sculpture, what do want your students to take away?

Sculpture 1 is my favorite class to teach because I get to watch the students learn.  It's so rewarding to see them understand how to translate information.  I tell them all right from day one that this class should affect any other art class they take.  I really want it to be relevant no matter what their major is.  So, since we work with a live model and are sculpting academically, we are trying to translate information as accurately as possible.  I'm trying to help them "train their eyes."  They are also learning anatomy and proportion. So the application is clear for a class like figure drawing or painting, but for graphic designers, I tell them that Sculpture 1 should help their eyes to be sharper for when they are analyzing their compositions.  We talk about pleasing proportion and how the Greeks viewed the body and its proportions and how they translate that information to their graphic compositions.  For art education students, I'm teaching them a variety of media that they can use in their classes later when they start to teach.  They learn basic mold-making, stone-carving, and casting.  So I really try to get them to see that sculpture can inform the other work they are pursuing.

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Guiding the Pour: Kelley Gierach, the pour master, carefully aims for the clay vessels. photo by Shawn Mcafee/UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies.

4. At the December metal pour, right after the metal had been poured,  you turned off the lights and the glow from the burning metal filled the room. The atmosphere had an almost spiritual feel to it. Was that intentional? What did you want your students to get out of that moment?

After we pour metal, we turn out the lights to look at the integrity of the molds. The metal is still hot enough that it glows and we can see where there were any thin areas or whether a mold was too thick.  It's important that they see how what they've done is working.  My predecessor, TC Farley, always made the bronze pours a very spiritual experience.  He is a performer and an enigma so the students would always be in awe of the process somewhat.  I inherited some of that and its something of a tribute to TC.  However, I use that spiritual aspect of the process to get the students in the right mindset, to keep everyone quiet while the pour is going on, and to respect the fact that we have 2000+ degree metal here and that we need to be serious about it.

5. How do you balance the artist and the teacher in you?

Balancing the artist and the teacher is one of the most challenging things that I face.  I am an artist first, which is the reason that I CAN be a teacher.  Not that all artists can or want to be teachers, but for me, the love of my craft and my excitement about materials and processes compels me to want to share my knowledge and discoveries.  However, my commitment to my students and the strength of my sense of responsibility to my job makes the teaching the priority.  It's my belief that there is a tremendous gravity that comes with teaching.  There is the possibility of doing harm when you are in this position and so I take it very seriously.  It is my aim to only do good so I'm always weighing whether any given situation is appropriate for tough love, for encouragement, for reprimand, for distance, for allowing failure, for praise, etc.  Often I will work on my own projects in the lab after hours so that I can be doing both things.  Students can see me working and that it's important and they can still ask questions about process, concept, and so on.  It is an intense and rewarding life.



EDITOR'S NOTE: The sizzling hot (literally) women (and men) are in Teresa Lind's Advanced Sculpture class at UW Oshkosh, where they learn to pour metal and make beautiful 3-D pieces. For journalists, immersed in 2-D mediums, metal pouring was an awesome sight to behold. The melted bronze in the crucible, the container that holds the metal, gets upwards of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Students Kristen Manders and Mai Yeng Xiong and I were about 10 feet away from the heat, but we still felt its fiery glory. Can't imagine what the sculpture students who were handling the crucible were feeling.

We used two Kodak Zi8 video cameras to film the pouring. By the end of the shoot, the plastic casing on the little cameras were smoking hot. Shawn McAfee of UW Oshkosh Learning Technologies came along to take still photos. The original music by iamatlas, a band made up of mostly UW Oshkosh students, is used with permission. - Grace Lim


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