On Saturday, March 9th, the hearts will be available at the front desk in the main gallery on the 1st floor, during business hours– 10am to 2pm. Front and back entrances are available.
Phase 5: Hearts on Fire… Into the Kiln
1830° is too hot to cook James and Shirley’s peanut butter cookies, but it is the perfect temperature for firing our glazed hearts.
It takes an entire day of carefully orchestrated adjustments to bring the kiln up to that temperature. By the end, a view through a peephole reveals an orange glow reminiscent of the surface of the sun. It then takes another two days to cool so the pieces inside can be removed. Kristine, our Clay/Ceramic Arts instructor says, “It’s like Christmas!” We practically hover around the kiln, checking to see if the temperature has cooled enough to open the lid by another glorious few inches. If we open it too quickly, the fired glaze, which is like glass fused to the clay, may crack and chip. If we open it too slowly… we may die of anticipation.
We know that the pieces will be fantastic, but because the glaze is so chalky looking, the final image is like a secret.
Before going into the kiln, each heart is covered with a clear glaze, which goes on blue. This makes the hearts almost completely anonymous. It’s terrifying, really. After watching everyone who participated in the workshops put such time and attention into their hearts, to then cover them up with 2 layers of BLUE was sometimes difficult. Though it’s the same clear glaze we always use, I repeatedly checked the label on the jug to make sure it said “clear.”
The hearts have gone into the kiln. When it cools, we’ll remove them to see the vibrant color of the formerly chalky glaze, and awesome art of the artists who glazed them.
Phase 3: “Glazing” is painting…
Technically, you’re painting a coating of silica-based fluid (glaze), which, when fired in the kiln, will fuse to the surface of the clay heart… now you know why we just refer to it as glazing.
When you spend as many hours as we do surrounded by art, making art, promoting art, talking about art, art becomes such a natural part of your speech and action, that you may forget the large number of people who may perceive art as being slightly foreign– a special skill, unique only to those gifted with a sense of creative genius. Not so!!
When you ask people who feel that way to engage in artmaking, many of them may imagine that you are asking them to do something they aren’t qualified to do… like auto repair, networking the office computers, catering a wedding, or teaching high school math.
For this project, especially given the short time we have before it concludes, convincing people that they are fully qualified to participate has been important, and involved making a few assurances:
1. You don’t have to worry about your skills. We will introduce you to the materials, how to use them, and be there to provide assistance and answer questions.
2. We’ve set it up so that it is only as complex as you want it to be.
3. It doesn’t matter how you paint the heart, as long as you paint the heart– whether you spend 2 hours perfecting every detail, or 2 minutes applying slapdash one-color coverage.
Answers to other questions people have had are:
- The funds we collect will be going to the Mercy Foundation to be used in the Cardiac Rehab department, to help people with heart disease who do not have a way to pay for their rehab.
- You should give yourself about 1 hour to select and glaze your heart. Those who have come in expecting to do it in 30-45 minutes tend to run out of time.
- The glaze goes on looking very chalky, but firing reveals the vibrant color and glossy texture.
- Drop-ins are acceptable, but reservations are a good idea. If you drop in, and there is no more space, you may have to wait.
- We do not have a credit card machine. We accept cash and checks.
- The cost is a $10 donation per heart. We also have a few small hearts, which were designed to be glazed as a pair for $10, but which may be glazed individually for $5.
Fortunately, except in rare circumstances (usually involving a professional artist who is trying to become rich and famous, or doesn’t learn from his/her mistakes), there is no failure in art. It is what it is. Most artists will tell you that mistakes are gifts you give to yourself. Making a mistake, you will either learn a valuable lesson—how not to do something, or you will learn something new—how to do something you didn’t intend to do… but will totally try again.
Saturday, January 19th 10am – 1pm
Saturday, January 19th 5 – 8pm (ART HOP!)
Tuesday, January 22nd 4 – 6pm
Saturday, January 26th 10am – 1pm
Wednesday, January 30th 5 – 6pm
Saturday, February 2nd 10am – 1pm
All workshops are at the Enrichment Center in Room 1, on the 3rd floor of the Multicultural Arts Center– 645 W. Main St. Merced
PHASE 2: COLLABORATE!
Putting the pieces together is difficult when your partnership doesn’t yet have partners. We knew we wanted to work with Mercy Medical Center, but we didn’t have any contacts there. Our good friends Monika Modest and Melissa Kelly-Ortega came to our rescue, providing awesome contacts. Now we’re collaborating!
We wanted to work with American Heart Association, but they no longer have a local chapter. It was important to keep the funds we raise local, so we’re working with our new partner– Mercy Medical Center– to identify a great organization to use our funds– promoting and advocating for healthy hearts, and supporting people making heart-healthy changes. Now, on to the workshops!
This is a link to the poster, if you’d like to print or share it: Art for the Heart 2013 poster 02
PHASE 1: Preparing Clay Hearts…
Pounding, rolling, slabbing. Cutting, smoothing, drying. In late November 2012, the artists of the Enrichment Center began preparing clay hearts for a project to promote health and wellness in the New Year.
Sadly, most of us have lost someone we care about to a heart-related illness. The New Year is the natural time for reflection and making changes for a better year. Health and wellness generally top the list of areas where we focus those changes. The artists and staff of the Enrichment Center, like everyone else, recognize the changes we could make to promote our own heart health. We also recognize the therapeutic qualities of the arts, and thought it was about time to make our own collaboration with the local health community.
The artists worked throughout December to make hundreds of clay hearts for the Art for the Heart project. People are invited to glaze a heart for a $10 donation, with proceeds going to a local organization which promotes heart-health, and assists people with making healthy changes. As part of glazing their heart, participants will be encouraged to dedicate their heart to something meaningful– a loved one lost to heart disease, a personal commitment to change unhealthy habits, or some other goal that will improve their health and well-being.
The first batch of over 300 dried clay hearts was fired to bisque in the kiln this week, and are now ready for glazing. Though clients used a general size template, each heart is different. Since we have sooooo many, there should be no lack of choices– a heart for everyone.
Contact the Enrichment Center for more information, and to sign up for a glazing workshop. Art for the Heart!
The Enrichment Center occupies a healthy section of the 3rd floor of the Merced Multicultural Arts Center. As the resident arts program, we manage the “gallery” space on the 3rd floor. We try to change the exhibited artists to coincide with the changing exhibits in the actual public galleries on the 1st and 2nd floors. This season, we are featuring the work of Carolina Mendez, who just recently left the program, Denise Saelee, Koi Saechao, and a multi-artist tribute to Vincent Van Gogh in reproduction. These are short video tours of the featured work:
Koi Saechao has been an artist with the Enrichment Center for 8 years. When teachers ask her what color she wants to begin her palette, Koi always begins with “green”. Each additional color she asks for is also “green”. This might seem like a limitation– a one color palette, but it is not. Everything can be green with some color adjustment.
When Koi is beginning a new canvas, the visual arts teachers mix various shades of green in acrylic. Koi gets a brush, a cup of water, an apron, and she paints. She does not look at her canvas while she works, instead chatting with and making observations of the people around her.
Koi’s explorations in green paint are being featured on the 3rd floor landing of the Multicultural Arts Center.
In the case below, the clay/ceramics’ class is displaying “Birds & Nests”.