Saturday, June 23, 2012

Learning and creating without boundaries....

In my last post I gave the link for JCCFS' Student Host Program. In this post I'll be talking a little bit more about what that is and why I'm inspired to do it.

Unlike the full-time staff, I'll be on campus and on call 24/7. Once the office staff goes home for the night, I'll be the one answering the phone and responding to the needs of the students and instructors. Unlike the work study students, I won't be trading a week of work for a week of class.

My specific duties will include the following:
• Welcoming students and instructors/orientation
• Leading blessings & announcements at meals
• Leading morning walks
• Setting up Morningsong each day
• Leading afternoon activities/tours
• Leading evening activities/tours
• Setting up and taking down student exhibits each week
• Setting up chairs for weekly concerts and other school activities
• Attending to student departure at the end of the week
• Setting up equipment for each class prior to start & returning
equipment from previous week

In exchange for my hard work I receive the following compensation. A class every week on a "space available" basis. They try to fill each class with as many paying students as possible before opening it up to hosts. Three "silver bullet" classes that I'm guaranteed a space in. The cost of my room and board plus meals are included. Plus, I'll get a wee stipend for times when the dining hall is closed and for making long distance phone calls.

For my "silver bullet" classes I'll be taking: White-Line Printmaking with Sandy Webster, Kente Cloth Weaving with Linda Weghorst, and Beginning Mountain Dulcimer with Rosy DeVane. I'm also hoping to take classes in blacksmithing, book making, mushroom foraging, Danish folk dance, and felting.

Some of you are most likely asking, how can you give up a stable job with insurance and spend four months 2000 miles away from your partner and pets? I mean really who does this sort of thing? Well the answer to this is, I do and I do it because at the core of my being its exactly what I set out into the world to do.

I always felt out of place in the art department at EIU. I quickly discovered that what I craved in an arts education was the chance to explore without being graded and measured. Unfortunately, this is an overarching problem faced by all art programs that are set in traditional four year college formats. They're forced to grade you and thus most grade you on technique far more than on creativity. I longed to go to a private arts school where I could more freely create. Yet the money just wasn't available and frankly my parents weren't thrilled with the idea of me not getting a "well-rounded education". Which by the way doesn't really exist. I mean honestly how many of you remember anything from that required upper-level chem class or math class or history class you had to take that had jack all to do with your major?

I digress, my time spent at John C. Campbell Folk School as the Student Host is the opportunity for me to embark on the arts education that I have always wanted. It will give me the chance to unlock the parts of my brain that have been left to languish due to far too much time working in the "real world". It will also, hopefully allow me to continue upon a path of working in the arts and allowing others the chance to learn and create without boundaries.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How this all started...

A few of you have asked me what exactly it is that I'm traveling across the country to a tiny town in the Appalachian Mountains to do. Let's start at the beginning of how this adventure came to be shall we.

Roughly 3 1/2 years ago, I applied to John C. Campbell's Student Host program. It's a 4 month work exchange that they offer. They hire out for it any where from 1 1/2 to 2 years in advance and its not exactly the easiest thing to get selected for. Its also not the easiest thing for most people to uproot their life for. Back when I first applied, I was nearing 30 and realizing that I wasn't living the life I wanted to lead. Sure I had a job with people I loved, a tiny studio that was cozy and homey, and a great town to live in. But when it came down to it, I felt stagnated. I wanted to be living as an artist, spending my days working towards a career in the arts. I decided it was time to take some risks and see what happened.

I don't really remember how it was that I came to know about John C. Campbell Folk School, but I suspect my time spent at the SOFA expo in Chicago could be how. I figured what the hell. It couldn't hurt to fill out the application and see what happens. I mailed it in and waited, and waited, and waited. Nothing, not a word. I never really gave up hope though. I think somewhere deep in the corner of my mind I knew that some day I'd make it there. Maybe not as the SH, but perhaps as a student. So I didn't fret or worry and merely went on with other adventures.

Those adventures of course took me to Rapid City, SD. To live with the love of my life, our dog, our cat, and now our new roommate. I had told Carl, before moving that if the chance arose for me to go the JCCFS, that I wouldn't be able to pass it up. He being an understanding, loving, supportive partner, who just happens to also be a free spirit and an artist, completely understood. Fast forward to May of 2011 when my phone rings, two years after applying.

I didn't recognize the NC phone number and let it go to voicemail. It then took me 2 1/2 weeks to get a hold of the woman in charge of the program to let her know I was still interested and would die for the chance to interview for the spot.  I set up a phone interview for a few days later. It went so well that about 1/2 way through, she stopped me and said, "You know what, you've got this. I think you'll be a perfect fit. I'll email you the available dates and you let me know which time frame suits you best."

I decided the best time for me to go would be this coming Fall/Winter. Mainly so I could pay down my debt, get my ducks in a row out here, and save a little money before taking off. My other reasons were that I didn't want to deal with my spring time allergies while trying to work outside, or deal with the extreme heat and humidity of the summer. Plus, I'll be able to spend my week off for Christmas with my family.

And so here I am 64 days from the beginning of my adventure and 99 days from starting at JCCFS. So exciting!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The beginning...

In 65 days I will be embarking on a journey that will take me from my current home of Rapid City, SD to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. I plan to use this blog to document my trip across the country as well as my time spent at JCCFS. Here is the tentative schedule for my departure:

8/24/12- Last day at my current job.

8/30/12- Drive to Sioux Falls, SD for Ted and Savannah's wedding weekend.

9/3/12- Back to Rapid City, SD to finish packing.

9/7/12- Drive to Omaha, NE and hopefully couch surf (If I can find a host) for the weekend. Explore a little more of downtown Omaha.

9/9/12- Drive to Decatur, IL and stay with Robin for a couple of days.

9/11/12- Drive to CU, IL and stay with whoever will have me. Visit all my favorite places and people. Stock up on tasty bits from the Common Ground Food Co-op.

9/15/12- Drive to Naperville, IL to spend the weekend with my niece and nephew who have birthdays this weekend. I can't wait to see them!

9/18/12- Drive to Carmi, IL to stay with my folks for ten days. Visit all my friends in my home town. Spend some time in Evansville and New Harmony, IN.

9/28/12- Drive to Brasstown, NC and couch surf over night.

9/29/12- Start my job as the Student Host at JCCFS.

1/26/13- Last day as Student Host at JCCFS.

Most of this isn't set in stone and could very easily change. Prior to leaving I'll be posting pics of my favorite places and spaces here in RC as well as blogging about the process of uprooting my life to have an adventure.