Well now that my sculpture class is over and the grade assigned i think it is time to tell the way i really felt about this project. Plant was born via a class vote on the topic of group projects. After 1 round of voting it tied with a project which entailed making a bunch of scenery from Mario World and placing it around Calvin's campus. The impartiality of the vote was, in my opinion, skewed for a number of reasons. First of all, in a class where "art" is something vague and ambigous and just about every was considered art, Benner (the one who suggested plant) was pretty openly hostile to the other idea. It came off as kind of rude since no one really critisized anything in that class, ever. Second, the professor openly and gushingly gave his support to Plant. Finally, the final vote was made by a show of hands, meaning that (nearly) everyone seemed afraid to vote for plant, i feel that the main motivation was to not piss the prof off. I think the final vote was 2-everyone else (i was one of the 2).
Pretty much from the first time i heard plant presented i was highly critical of it. During benner's presentation i leaned over to the girl next to me and said, "I really hope this dosen't make it, anything but this." She nodded her assent. Anyway the votes were cast and Plant was chosen. I decided to try to give it a chance. I assigned myself to a group in the neighborhood closest to our campus. I was never really too hyped about the idea of leaving campus to go out to whatever neighborhood because 1) Gas prices were just starting to skyrocket and 2) I'm too lazy to bike or walk to a site every other day.
Anyway in an intra-group email it was decided by someone else that the group was too big and he split the group up into 2 different parts. I was skeptical at first but found that my partner and I got along on many different levels. Neither of us was very excited about plant or the course in general. Our main complaint was how heavily laden the course was with postmodernism. Neither of us really liked the concept but we, along with everyone else in the class whether they liked postmodernism or not, pretended to in front of the prof for brownie points.
The downside of my partner and i being so likeminded was that neither of us really wanted to work on the project ever. All in all we were both at the site working about 2 or 3 times. This was due to the fact that we had almost perfectly conflicting schedules. When i was free, he had sports practice. When he was free, I had class or a trip or whatever.
I tried pretty hard to figure out what making a bunch of gardens in different neighborhoods could possibly explain about "liberal arts and space" the theme of the project which was picked by the professor because the college recieved a grant to "explore" it. Basically I thought that Mario had much more potential in that regard (there are at least 8 worlds in any mario game, you cant beat that kind of space) and that planting gardens was an exploration into "space" only in that we were somewhere off campus doing something artsy. I never really did figure out how liberal arts factored in/was represented, let alone how anyone could have learned anything about the relationship of the two.
My opinion of the project changed drastically when i realized that we could do just about anything in our small plot of land. I thought it would be cool to kidnap/steal/appropriate something from everyother site the day before the project was "due" and combine them all into our plot. This did a much better job, in my mind, of uniting liberal arts. Everyone was doing something different with their spot and in the end they would all be united in ours, many different trains of thought brought together, the essence of liberal arts. However, in the end conflicting schedules and apathy won out and our garden ended up with only a thin coating of mulch.
there was also a forum discussion on "is plant political?" Benner, who was the creator of this project mind you, put the question out to everyone on the project. the professor made discussion on the forum "mandatory." First of all, i cant see any way how it could be construed as political. its planting gardens, not making statues out of george bush out of feces or something. second, if the creator of the project doesnt know whether or not it has to do with politics it only goes to show what i thought all along; namely that postmodernism only has to do with doing something weird and then thinking up of a meaning for it afterwards, or let someone else do it as they're "interpreting" it. actually, i think my all time favorite moment in sculpture class was during the vote between mario and plant when someone (probably benner) asked what mario had to do with liberal arts or space and someone else (probably joe post) said "well you can post conceptualize anything" aka, we should just do it then make up something about how it fits the theme later. i thought it was a glorious moment where one of the art majors finally admited to what i suspected happened all the time in art in general. Other art majors took it pretty hard i think, benner looked highly offended by the idea of postconceptualization, and the prof looked like he had been shot. it was pretty funny.
anyway, i bring this all up because i was looking for a shirt to stain a deck in (aka, one that i didnt mind getting all dirtied up) and found my Plant t-shirt. so as i was soiling it on the deck i started thinking about the project and how little it meant to me other than being a way for Calvin to justify getting some grant money and everyone else in the class finding a way to suck up to the prof who was for some reason in love with the idea. Overall, i'm not sure if anyone will ever read this again, but i guess what im trying to say that the optimism and positive attitude generally reflected in these blogs do not represent everyone. at least not me. i am still skeptical about plant and the postmodernism.
by the way, the thing that reminds me of Plant and this sculpture class in general is the chapter titled "12 Moments in the Life of an Artist" in a book called "Me Talk Pretty Some Day" by David Sedaris. the book is awesome and i think my opinion on postmodernism has been mainly shaped by the aforementioned chapter in the aforementioned book.