In the past semester I have had a spectacular time interning at the Master Craftsman Studio. I was extremely fortunate to come into contact with them when looking for help with a sculpture assignment, and later when I applied and received the James T. Gary Foundation award for an intern scholarship with their guidance. The Master Craftsman Studio is a professional artist workshop where a team of creators is hired to design, make, reproduce, and restore an assortment of commissions. They receive jobs both through the University and the community. My experience with them has been one of the most exciting parts of my college education so far. I could write an entire essay just listing what I have learned about new tools and materials, to distinct abilities, to networking and professional artistic experience.
The work is hands on and side by side with experts. I honestly feel like the Studio is some sort of artist’s “Candyland.” There are all types of tools and gadgets that I didn’t know how to use before and I now greet like old friends (or sworn enemies). The closets are filled with big, beautiful sheets of glass all organized in rainbows and there is always something exciting being created. There is a magical machine that sucks the air out of rubber and sounds like something from Willy Wonka, and best of all a mold graveyard of all the past presidents that were cast in bronze and installed on campus. In what other place could you find a kiln the size of a car? I am lucky to work in a place that never fails to give me a sense of awe. In my time at the studio I have done everything from kiln casting, organizing materials, testing samples, restoring sculptures, making handmade paper, and making molds to send to the foundry. Every single task I have worked on was involving materials/skills new to me and I can now apply that knowledge to my own art.
My experience with Master Craftsman is not limited to studio time; I have also been exposed to the business aspect of the art world. There are particular etiquettes I never even knew about that Sarah has enlightened me about. I now feel significantly more aware of how to write, present myself, and create professionally.
In addition to this education I am spoiled to work with people who are not only great artists but great people. I have hilarious co-workers who genuinely blow my mind with how talented they are. Their assortments of skills and knowledge seems endlessly vast and their personal artwork is fantastic. They are patient when teaching me techniques and extremely competent in their explanations. They have given me advice, they have given me instruments, they have helped me assemble objects for an exhibition, and they are always willing to answer the kooky curious questions only an art student can come up with. There are a couple occasions when they completely saved the day helping me with my own personal artwork. Sarah, John, Phil, Karen, Juan, and Chris are generous not only with their time but also their stories. They have artistic experience and inside information that I could ask about for days. It is heartwarming to go there and feel at home and I feel so lucky to be interacting with such multi talented people.
Above everything I feel honored to have interned with the Master Craftsman Studio. All I want to do is learn and they are always teaching me. I know without a doubt it is a place I can and will come back to.