One should not be a blogger and be absent without leave for months at a time. What it means in my case is that personal projects too often get cast aside as other projects take precedence. There were some bright spots and hard work though. I was part of a team writing several grant proposals. Two out of three where I played a role were fully funded. One produced a yellow light and the granting body wanted us to come back to answer questions – which we can. In May I visited Harvard for the first time to celebrate a graduation in the family. Two inspirations came out of that. I posted an article on Medium about the Harvard visit that was picked up by others. And I was so inspired by higher learning that I looked at some Harvard/MIT MOOCs in the fall. In the interim I signed up for a course on Coursera on surrealist art out of the University of Pennsylvania – and as of today I have graduated with distinction.
Online courses are well worth a try. Most who sign up of course never finish them. The only real requirement is self discipline and determination to learn – and you are responsible solely to yourself. My course included readings, videos, quizzes and studio assignments. There were two of the last required to graduate with distinction. I did five. I have done art courses at an excellent school but there are advantages in the online process. In my local art school, one basically had to complete a project (usually a still life or portrait in pastels) in a three hour time frame. In this case I took as much time as I needed – and I was able to stretch the assignments over a week. Here is one example:
The studio assignments included mainly collages based on the historical aspect of the course. Assessment of one’s work was by peers. I was gratified both with the responses to my own work and the opportunity to assess the work of others. It was a chance to learn to be a good and fair critic. Mail art was fun too.
While the course was an introductory one, I now feel that I have a context for modern work that I didn’t have in the past. So now I’ll move on to song writing and jazz improvization. But I’ll try to write about the experience as I go.
And what about the media history – probably online is not the best place to do it – but it is still on the to-do list.