Arts in Ireland: That’s a Wrap

Sunday, July 1st

Bon Voyage

The shuttle to Shannon Airport arrives in thirty minutes. No one can believe that it’s been just three weeks in the Burren. So much has happened. I’ve fallen in love with this place and cannot wait to come back. The exhibition was a success. The work was very strong and was received with praise and on several occasions, genuine shock that the students accomplished so much in so little time. Please enjoy these last few pics. We’ve intentionally not attempted a comprehensive documentation of all the work that was done. Students will remount their exhibition and perform their compositions at Wheaton soon! We’ll share details when they are available but look for the exhibition reprisal in the Mars Arts student gallery near the beginning of the fall semester. We’ve also shot video clips throughout the trip including interviews with students and we’ll work on assembling an Arts in Ireland program video as soon as possible.

See you soon!


Saturday, June 30, 2018

 “Finish it and go…”

… was something said to me one hot Madras day by Ms. T. Muktha, a great singer who I studied with during my dissertation research in South India. It took a while for her words to sink in. She would always chafe when a group of people was taking forever trying to figure out which restaurant they were going to, which kind of card game they would play, or which concert to attend (there are a ton of concerts in South India). Muktha didn’t speak much English but the rolling of her eyes and the impatience in her body language said it all about people who for whatever reason just never seem to be able to come to a conclusion and be ok living with it. In the many years since I studied with Muktha, I’ve remembered her statement vividly and have used some version of it with dozens of my students. Thursday afternoon was the time for the “Arts in Ireland” students to let their work out to the public. Naturally it was not a final kind of finishing—we’re sure that there will be much revision, tweaking and further development of the students’ work—but it was definitely some kind of provisional finishing that was embodied in the 15 presentations we witnessed and supported through our attention, our applause, our laughter and sometimes tears. For me the bottom line that made the show such a success is that people moved off the mark of where they were comfortable and tried something new and challenging. Everyone started from radically different places and found their way forward to develop some new skill or new template.

After people had disassembled most of their work, and after several of us took a round of incredibly bracing and exciting dives off the Ballyvaughan pier into the Bay of Galway, most everyone reconvened at the Hylands Bar in downtown Ballyvaughan (using the word ‘downtown’ advisedly) to hear our class member and colleague Daniel entertain an enthusiastic audience. Bri and Maia and perhaps others took a turn at the mic, too and there was a formidable chorus of about 10 of our class who clearly knew the words to every song ever written and proved themselves very fine vocalists.

Today, Saturday, is perhaps the only ‘free time’ kind of day we’ve had. People seem to love lounging around the Burren College’s Lodge, which has lots of comfortable chairs, bookshelves stacked with reading possibilities, and quiet rooms with a great view of the college, its castle, and the limestone hills beyond. Maia and Nellie have tackled the big job of cooking for 20 plus, including our group plus the staff of the college who we wanted to thank for everything. For our students, today was a great breather from Kelly and me planning out their every waking hour from soup to nuts.

We’re letting go now, for the purposes of this summer class, of our focus on nudging and driving everyone towards the goal of presentation. Our students put their stuff out there for people to see, bravely so, to be loved and perhaps to not be. Always a risk is involved when artists show their work. Our group learned and took the lesson, ‘finish it and go.’ Safe travels to everyone and it will be great to meet again this fall or next spring or whenever schedules intersect.