Visiting Artist Wapke Feenstra

This semester as a special opportunity for my sculpture class, I was able to participate in a group welcoming of artist Wapke Feenstra from the Netherlands. Her work primarily deals with relationships that exist in community building and culture. I loved the thought in her lecture that animal and crop domestication existed in the place she grew up for over 26,000 years. This rich history and culture of her past and human past is fascinating. In addition to hearing Ms. Feenstra’s lecture I was privileged to have her host a critique in my advanced sculpture class.

My class was preparing to make a group show to exhibit our pieces in a collaborative effort. We began by introducing Wapke to the space and right away she had wonderful advice to make us think. “Why did you choose this space?'” she asked. She wanted us to think beyond boundaries and expectations. Did we have to use the space because it was easy and available? How could we change the space and the architecture to change the meaning of the space and the concept of the white wall? All of these questions she asked within moments of meeting our class which was exciting. Art is all about seeing something through new, fresh eyes.

I’m so grateful that I had finished my submission to the group show early, because there was no guess work involved for explaining how my piece would look. I received the same response from Wapke that I get from most people seeing my work for the first time. She was quite for a bit then said, “What if you hung this on the wall instead of leaving it free-standing?” which was a question I hadn’t considered, but it greatly enhanced the presence of my sculpture.

Wapke helped us think beyond our own limitations and prompted us to work as a team. The best way to get started on a new project is to ask questions and break the rules. This experience of working one-on-one with a professional artist truly enhanced my senior year experience. I wish we could talk to a professional artist for every project. It was an excellent chance to see my sculptural artwork on a whole new level. Also, I was able to learn through the advice she offered to my classmates. Even though the rest of the class hadn’t finish making their work she was able to give feedback and provide direction. In the final hours of making artwork, decisions made at the last minute can make or break a piece. Therefore, to have guidance from a working artist like Wapke Feenstra is an invaluable experience for student artists. My classmate made a comment that he didn’t want to made work that looked like student work and she said, “What’s the difference?” This comment pushes us to see our art outside of the institutional context. I told her I graduate from art school this fall to which she responded, “And then you leave the building”. This simple comment helped me realize that I am an artist, no matter what building I am occupying.

2 Responses

  1. That is so amazing that you got to personally learn from a professional artist! Not everyone in the art program has a chance to do that. I can honestly, and respectfully, say that I envy you. Especially with it being your senior year, how rad! I believe that it’s one thing from learning from a professor, but when it’s learning from a real artist, the messages given are so much more organic and meaningful. Very cool!

    • Hey thanks so much for reading this:)! If you have time I highly recommend taking the Visiting Artist program class… You get to have dinner and workshops with the artists the school brings in. Good luck on finals :)

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