progress plunge – encouraging students to embrace action

knots and mazes

knots and mazes

Detail from multimedia sculpture progress plunge.

Because I teach expression and engagement with technology, there can be a high level of frustration and fear of failure that the students feel. So much of this is brand new and things can go wrong that are unseen or misunderstood and out of the control of the student and the instructor. We joke about having tissues on hand in front of the computer because we take these problems personally.

I often remind students that I reward effort. They need to just do something! We learn by participating, not sitting on our hands at the edge of the education abyss with our eyes closed and ears plugged. I encourage my students to take the plunge because they might find out they know how to fly and soar higher than they ever expected. And, it is okay to fall and fail once and a while to be grounded, gain perspective, and take the hand of another to help launch someone else who is ready to fly.

About the artwork progress plunge:

How do we embrace ideals of action, adventure and change with the safety of contentment? Take on a decisive manner with faith in creating change on your own. Not much happens unless you toss a metaphorical stone into a pond to cause it to ripple. Create waves. At the same time, navigate predicaments with the hopeful view that there are no dead ends, only U-turns. Hurdles are placed before us to create opportunities to show how high we can strive. Energetically select paths that challenge to reach humble gratification. Find comfort in choice.

The square spiral is an ancient symbol of homecoming. The maze means movement, decisions and the path of life. Knots intertwine to illustrate continuous connections and your part of an infinite legacy. Woven structures express collaboration of many single parts bound together stronger than alone. The ripple demonstrates the reward of action.

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Celebrating Presents

holiday-gifts2012

This past week my high school friend, Reed, had a birthday and we chatted on Facebook after giving him birthday wishes. There he gave me permission to pester him to get off his butt and do art again. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and gave him an assignment right then and there! If you know me, I love to give homework! I suggested that he do a photo essay about presents. I didn’t just mean gifts, but a sense of time, production, and your portrayal.

I am sure Reed is busy working on this assignment. I gave him a week, my students will vouch I am very forgiving for tardiness if there is good reason. So, that made me think about what I got for Christmas gifts and how it would relate to my presents challenge.

I received a box of chocolate toffee from my Uncle Paul along with many other treats and sweets from relatives. Food has always brought my family together, as well as, made us late for many other things. We are known for lollygagging standing around while eating cookies or candy. Those are quality moments with family while someone is waiting in the car to get a move on.

My parents got me red gloves I can use with my phone, a white sweater, and pearls. All quite special and bring out the best in me. I adore learning and teaching technology to help people express themselves, promote their superpowers, and stay connected with family, friends, and the future.

Because I value customization so much, most of my supplies to create apparel are white so I can dye them. I am terribly fussy about the hues I wear, so the gift of a white sweater assures I can dye it just the right shade of orange or yellow or red I need. My colorful appearance is my art and a way to encourage others to be their best selves.

Lastly the pearls, not only are the lovely to look at and wear, but they are a symbol I use often in my artwork. Pearls are an icon of wisdom, education, life lessons, and making something wonderful out of a mistake or disappointment.

Lessons learned, I think back to that Commercial Art class Reed and I had together with several dear friends our senior year. I know I didn’t make it easy on myself when I challenged the instructor publicly as an editorial in school newspaper on her disrespect of my classmates’ intellectual property rights and mine. Her conduct just helped push me to be a better educator and arts advocate. That was a present too.

We all have gifts, receive gifts, and give gifts. Having each other in our lives is also a special present we are fortunate to acquire and that I am grateful for.

What presents do you celebrate?

Aware without fear. Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Gift Set now on my Christmas Wish List!

“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.” – Roy Batty


My parents took me to see Blade Runner in the theater in 1982. I was thankful that my folks did because the artistry and message influenced my life. That is what art does. I believe that creative expression is a means to communicate on a higher, deeper level. I encourage and challenge my students to use art and media to define an ideal of a world they want to positively inspire and execute it in an esthetically pleasing way. To imagine this ideal world, that it already exists and to live in it as a responsible citizen while sharing what that exceptional life can be. While at the same time to define themselves as unique contributors who have the freedom to be themselves and express individual perspectives. Is this delusional behavior? No, your ideas and actions can create a better world. Aware without fear.

FAQ to Renne: Why do you wear red eye shadow?

Question: Why do you wear red eye shadow?

Answer: Why not? I have been wearing red eye shadow for over 25 years. And, it isn’t easy to stay in stock. Back in 1988, I was so excited when I had a custom set of eye shadows made for me that were yellow, orange, and red with mica sparkles. Of course, I have newer shadows and sometimes blushes to don on my lids.  They are the same set of colors that I wear today, sometimes magenta, pink, or coral instead of red to match my outfit.

But, why red? It could be the Japanese geisha look. It could be my war paint. It could because am a fiery Aries. It could be I love bright colors that inspire bees to seek out imperative pollen from radiant blooms. It could be that looking somewhat like a clown confuses people when I am so serious. It could be how the red makes my hazel eyes pop. It could be I delight in the double takes and smiles I get from people who find the world is full of wonder, variety, and unique forms of expression.