15, February 2012 § Leave a comment
10, February 2012 § 4 Comments
From my Calendar Daybook
The previous few Chronicle entries from Jun and Jane were hailing the wonderful art seen during our winter break. I am here now to extol the art of the almond tree in my front garden.
We have been blessed with more rain and the landscape continues to green on Paros. The barley fields are full of tender green shoots that will grow hip deep to further saturate the landscape with a mix of terra verte and cadmium green. Pink Campion and deep golden-orange Calendula are beginning to carpet the terraced fields and soon the wild Gladiolas will appear along the stone terrace walls. The wildflowers cometh.
The almond trees are also blooming! Like a great ball of exploding white confetti; constellations of bright stars descending upon their branches; they dazzle.
This vision calls to mind the wild Dogwoods I remember from the Ozark Mountain forests in the early spring. One stands at the edge of the thick deciduous woodland and there floating in the complex thicket and tangle of the understorey are bright points of white light, hovering and ever so slightly quaking with any breeze that can penetrate the wood as deeply as your vision. Etherial and fine, almost fairy like, butterflies fluttering, Dogwood blossoms in the leafless forest, the myth of the Dark Wood and the promise of Light..the first affirmation of spring.
Under the hardwood canopy of the Ozarks the floating blossoms were subtle; mysterious. On Paros, the almond trees explode…they erupt. They are not merely a promise of Spring but an insistence; a command…
9, May 2011 § Leave a comment
Have you ever heard of the snowball effect? Imagine yourself standing at the top of a hill in a blizzard. The snow is perfect, heavy packing snow. You decide to construct a tiny snowball in the palm of your cold hands and roll it down the hill. As it rolls, more and more snow collects onto the snowball. It gets bigger and bigger and bigger right before your very eyes. You are shocked at what it has turned into, remembering the tiny white ball that was in your hand only moments ago. You can’t help but marvel at the outcome.
I have experienced this effect before in my life, but not quite like the one from our most recent Friday hike. The snowball effect, when involving twenty artists, is much more effective and wonderful.
After hours of hiking under our fearless director, John Pack, we finally arrived at a beach. This was our resting point for about an hour. Some students had pow wows in the sand, while others sprinted into the sea. The less daring ones slowly and nervously waded themselves into the water, which was incredibly amusing to watch.
I was giggling at the swimmers from the shore, when suddenly, a sirocco of inspiration led me to start making sand portraits.
Let the snowballing begin!
Artists tend to do unusual things sometimes. I decided to play into that stereotype and grabbed a long, wooden stick and plunged it into the sand, dragging it in a circular motion. I was making the outline of a face. Chris’s face, to be exact. He seemed a bit melancholy when he realized he forgot his bathing suit to go swimming. In an effort to cheer him up, we started building.
Jun Pierre ran right over and began building up the facial features like an olympic gold medalist, and Gabriel quickly busted out his low relief sculpture expertise. Before I knew it, there were more and more students helping to sculpt the face, contributing their priceless sand portrait ideas, and running to find beach trinkets in order to portray Chris’s accessories and facial hair.
Note: Chris is a below average model, because right as we were making progress on our masterpiece, he conveniently decided to ignore the fact that he was bathingsuit-less, and jumped into the sea with his boxers on. Impeccable timing, Chris.
The snowballing continues.
“LOOK AT THIS FOLKS!! ITS AN ART INSTALLATION!! YOU GUYS ARE DEFINITELY GETTING CREDIT FOR THIS!!” yelled John Pack, from a short distance away. He asked us how many credits we wanted. I didn’t tell him yet, but I want one million. For each of us.
The artists constructed the face. The writers discussed how a blog post should be written. The photographers (or digi-heads, as John Pack calls them) documented the whole thing on their cameras. And let’s not forget that our school director granted us as much “credit” as we could ever hope for, for our hard work. This snowballed from one wooden stick, into a memory that brought a tear to my eye as I was remembering it when I arrived back home. This experience made me realize what a team we have here. Although it was just a silly sand portrait of Chris, the amount of help, compromise, strategy, and support that went on throughout this whole process was truly moving. I could not believe the outcome, and it would not have been successful if we hadn’t all done it together. As a team. As a family.
4, May 2011 § Leave a comment
A while ago, in Creative Writing, Jeffrey explained to us that in Greek there are three words for love, each of them denoting a distinct emotion, a different phenomenon. The first two made enough sense to me: eros, romantic love, and philos, the love you feel for your family and very close friends. But then we got to the third, agape, what Jeffrey described as the love you feel for mankind in general. Now, I’m no misanthrope– of course I’ve felt a certain fondness for the human race at times– but at that moment, it struck me as odd that the Greeks would have come up with a completely different word for it. That, however, was before I really got involved in life here on Paros and at the Aegean Center.
This past Friday, the hike cut short by the Independence Day parade in the morning, we went to a place called Kolympithres. The bus dropped us off near a bay with water that I, someone who comes from a city where they dye the river ever St. Patrick’s Day, can hardly believe is naturally that ridiculous, perfect shade of cerulean. We walked along the beach until we got to a small mountain, and began scrambling, some more elegantly than others, up the boulders to the top. I was motivated by something John had mentioned earlier: there were ancient ruins at the top. And ruins there were– A Mycenaen citadel, with 5,000-year-old walls still standing waist-high and an incredible view of the bay. Eventually, we climbed back down the other slope over enormous, wind-carved boulders and began heading back along the beach, this time stopping to wade in. By the time we made it back to the bus stop, I don’t think I was alone in feeling like my heart was swelling; at the end of that hike, I just wanted to hug someone.
By this point, three weeks into the semester, I feel like I’ve begun really getting to know the other students. Before I came here, I have to say that I was anxious about that prospect, especially given some of the stereotypes about art school students. But now that I’m here, I am continually struck by how well our group gets along, and, frankly, by how much I just plain like everyone. Then there are the teachers, who are not only great at what they do, but who honestly care about the students and our work. I get the feeling that I’m surrounded by an incredible group of people, and that I am unbelievably lucky to be. In this place, and more specifically, in this group of people, I have come to understand why the Greeks need that third word for love. I think it’s safe to say that I have fallen head over heels in agape.
2, April 2011 § Leave a comment
30, November 2010 § 1 Comment
A Friday Hike with John Pack is a photographer’s paradise. Around every bend there is a more beautiful view of the mountains, a spiderweb catching the sunlight, or an ancient olive tree. However, at times it can also feel like a photographer’s nightmare. I thought the hardest part of bringing a large film camera on the hikes would be lugging it up the mountains around my neck. I was wrong. Try wandering around paradise with only twelve shots left on your camera and you’ll see what I mean.
15, May 2010 § Leave a comment
The Aegean Center has been featured in the Summer Issue of Creo Magazine. The author, Silvia Viñas, wanted to highlight a student’s firsthand experience at the Center and chose Shanoor Seervai, a student fall 2009 Italy-Greece Session, to interview. (Shanoor, we miss you!)
30, March 2010 § Leave a comment
On Friday, John led a group of students on a four hour journey from Lefkes to Aliki (towns on the island of Paros). Believe me when I say that this was truly stunning, and possibly my favorite hike with John ever.
Imagine walking on a sunny day over the flower-rich mountains of Paros, with occasional powerful yet refreshing gusts of cool wind, and no villages in sight. It was so awesome that I often found myself imagining what a bird’s-eye view of us would look like, trekking through donkey paths and stopping to drink water from a spring (I often came up with an image somewhat like “The Sound of Music”). Some images that have stuck with me are of wind whipping through fields of tall grass, fellow students far ahead of me winding up a steep and flower speckled mountain side, and drinking from a spring that John showed us. Needless to say after the four hours of hiking, most of us went to bed early.
Below is a poem that Charlie, another student here, has written about the hike.
Soles wore thin,
On the undulating trail,
Of where my feet led me,
Among the pristine pebbles I met metal.
My face neared earth,
My hands grasped nettle,
And I wondered who was right,
Nature or civilization?
Until next time, and wishing everyone a great day,
Sarah Ransohoff is a painting student here at the Aegean Center. This is her second semester.
21, December 2009 § Leave a comment