The Fam all went to EIU this weekend as I was in an invitational exhibition put on by my Sculpture professor from EIU, Jeffery Boshart. It was good to attend the closing reception at Tarble Arts Center and to see several familiar faces; people I went school with and professors I had for various courses. It was super good to connect with David Griffin, my Jewelry and Metals professor for my BA and MA. I've posted about Dave before, but it's worth noting again that he had the single largest influence on me becoming a teacher and for following my dreams of being a Metalsmith. It was so good to be able to thank him in person after all these years.
Dave was kind enough to walk us around the new Dounda Fine Arts Center building (built by Architect Antoine Preduck). The building is simply stunning. I don't think I could imagine coming to work everyday and working in a space like this. It's just magnificent! I am so thrilled that EIU/Charleston has a building such as this and that my mentor gets to call this place home. He deserves it, that's for sure. During our tour, I was a complete idiot as I forgot my camera in the car and I was so shocked by the metals facility that I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket. I was simply in awe at the studio space Dave has built. He also walked us through the rest of the building and I have to say that each studio is of the same caliber as the Metals studio. Dwain's ceramic studio is superb and Jeff's Sculpture studio is ridiculously awesome (complete with overhead chain hoist and extremely tall ceilings)! I have attached some pics of Dave in the Metals studio and some pics of the Sculpture studio that I found online. The spaces are amazing.
I also got to talk to Dwain, Jeff, Mike Watts (Tarble Arts Director), Susan Braun (my fibers instructor), and Glenn Hild (my drawing instructor). In talking with everyone, I was reminded of how incredible kind most of my interactions were with these people and how encouraging most of them were. In talking with Glenn I told him how much I appreciated his guidance and the effect that he had in motivating me to do my best. His response struck me. He told me that my accomplishments were my own and that he had very little, if anything to do with how my life unfolded. He followed up by saying that we're all "replaceable" in the positions that we have and we need not worry about our future legacy. I think for the first time I realized the difference between my education at EIU and that of the U of I. The humbleness of the people at EIU is their greatest asset along with their perspective on what matters in life. Perspective is everything.
EIU's teaching strengths remind me of what it takes to be a good parent: it's the day to day interaction and ability to show love that creates a good child. It takes being there all the time, even on the bad days: only being present on the good days or when there is something exciting or special happening is pointless. The people at EIU encouraged you to do your best for your own well-being as a person; not for acclaim, not for wealth, not for ego, not to belong, and certainly not to continue their own legacy. Staying true to why we do what we do is important; it becomes our internal compass that guides us in the right direction and leads us into new territory.
I so much appreciating Dave spending some time with us. It's so good to connect with the people that made a difference. It reminded me of why I'm interested and passionate about teaching, making, being a good husband, a good father, and contributing to society in a positive way.