Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Top Ten for Twenty Fifteen

This is my chipmunk drying out after class - adds new meaning to the term nip and tuck.
10  Taxidermy - What can I say, I'm still a biology nerd at heart. This has been a curiosity of mine since I was young. The process gives you an increased respect for life and there's something powerful about taking a being apart and putting it back together. It was always so mysterious and I never thought I'd have the opportunity to do it, but thanks to the fact that taxidermy has become so popular, there are many chances to try it out. Thanks to my friends Bonnie and Melissa for being partners in this adventure.

9  Art 21 Conference - Attended a 2-day conference in NYC, Creative Chemistries: Radical Practices for Art + Education, with my good friend Merill Comeau. We listened to talks and participated in activities facilitated by Mark BradfordMary MattinglyOliver HerringLatoya Ruby FrazierMark Dion and many more. It opened my eyes to many facets of teaching and social justice.

One of my uncles, Lonnie Charles Isbell, who is never too far from his garden.
Granny with her mother and half sisters. I learned about many of the twists and turns in our lineage.
8  Family Tree - I travelled with my father to his childhood home of Birmingham Alabama where we walked down the ancestry trail together. I haven't been south for over 25 years but it felt like home to revisit old family and friends. Interviewing cousins answered many questions about my family origins and established a new sense of place.

First two reading group meetings were up on my deck where everything seems possible.
7  Artist Reading Group - On a midsummer night an artist reading group was launched with an erudite bunch. While sipping beverages and munching on goodies we review writings about art theory, practice and literature. It has become a highlight of my month.

 Mentoring - I've had the rewarding experience of working with several artists most notably an MFA candidate from Lesley University. My student is an ambitious, smart, engaged and talented painter who is exploring data based work and transforming it into sculpture and installation. It's been an inspiration, privilege and gift to work with and learn from her with lively discussions about material, process and art history.

We are having too much fun.
5  FiberLAB - Fulfilled a long-time goal and launched a new open studio workshop series. These classes foster independent study and experimentation. They take place in two locations: First Parish Church in Weston on Thursdays; and my Miller Street Studio on Saturdays. Our first session completed in December and we're already filling up for January. Click here to read more!

Many meaningful conversations were had around this very busy and productive work table
Free time spent socializing out on the porch while learning about felting and other handwork techniques. 
 Governors Institute on the Arts Vermont - I experienced the intensity of GIA as a faculty member, but I felt like one of the students. Each day was a new, unexpected and sometimes confusing string of events and activities on the subject of art. My classes included Installation Art and Power Figures. The students were engaged, intelligent and inspiring. In two short weeks of focused instruction I grew as a teacher and a person, and left with a bundle of experiences to carry forward in my practice. Click here to read more.

Adria and me at our pop-up exhibition. WHACK!. Photograph by Will Howcroft.
 WHACK! - Pop-up exhibit with my cohort Adria Arch in an unused storefront in Beacon Hill. Adria and I had completed a body of work inspired by our trips to Asia, Adria to India and me to China. We were ready to exhibit and without a venue so we took the opportunity to create our own spontaneous, energetic and very short exhibit. It was only up for 3 days in September. Click here to read more.

Just another beautiful October morning in my studio at Weir Farm Art Center.
 Weir Farm Artist in Residence - I spent October living by myself in a caretaker cottage and working in a state-of-the-art studio in the woods. It was a productive time in a heavenly setting during one of the best foliage seasons we've had in years. A generous gift of the Weir Farm Art Center at Weir Farm National Historic SiteWilton CT. Read my interview in the Norwalk Hour.

Floating Reed Village on Lake Titicaca. Inhabitants have been following this way of life continuously
since the time of the Inca as a defense against attack. The rafts used to be mobile but now are anchored to the reed islands. The foundations and shelters require continual maintenance against erosion from the moisture.
I learned how to create the figures for the traditional retablos of Ayacucho, Peru
as taught by the nationally certified artist Julio Urbano.
 Peru - Wayne and I travelled to Peru for a whirlwind 17-day tour where I had the privilege of working with many artisans in their studios - all while catching my breath at altitude. The discomfort of the environment combined with the language barriers was insignificant in the face of the generosity and inspiration of the Peruvian people we worked with. Similar to what we observed in China, there's a strong sense of national pride. Unlike China, however, Peruvians express a very determined sense of the individual. The color, culture, history, scenery and environment were overwhelmingly impressive and unforgettable. 

.   .   .   .

I wish for us all to make it to the new year with sound heart and sound mind though the current atmosphere in the world says otherwise. I take solace in my family, friends and extended communities who are all working hard and thriving in their lives and careers. I am proud of, and grateful for, all their love and support without which nothing would be possible.

Happy New Year to All!

We lost our beloved Sancho last year, the year of the snow.
He was a crazy guy and will be forever in our hearts.


  1. What an amazing year you've had!Love reading about it!

  2. Wow! Congratulations Jodi, a banner year, diverse, adventurous, rewarding and fun! A fine example to all to reach for the stars. Thanks for the inspiration, and I look forward to reading about and seeing your work in 2016!

  3. Wow! Congratulations Jodi, a banner year, diverse, adventurous, rewarding and fun! A fine example to all to reach for the stars. Thanks for the inspiration, and I look forward to reading about and seeing your work in 2016!