The Light & Shadow assignment illuminates my path, however the treat is who joined me along the way

Hot glue guns, clay, foam core, barbecue skewers and wax paper…. In the Digital Modeling & Fabrication program?!

Surprising I know, however, it’s a pleasant break from the ephemeral software we are learning within this program.  Yes, I did enroll in the DMF program in order to learn to illustrate complex design ideas using sophisticated programs such as Rhino and Solidworks, yet, every good computer generated idea refreshingly stems from those analog foundational materials listed above.

Employing my past experience with a Masters of Fine Art in Video and Sculpture, I felt quite at home with this assignment called light and shadow.  Remembering back to October when it was assigned by our instructor, I still chuckle to myself when told to take a walk around Thames Street on a beautifully sunny day. Loving the outdoors, I was immediately motivated to leave the classroom and start working. A win-win! I mean, after all I am here to explore my intense interest of vessels on the water and sharpen my eye within the marine industry, all while under the New England sunshine.

Taking to foot in the heart of Newport, my classmates and I were instructed to take 30+ pictures of examples of light and shadow showing concepts such as light within, light without, distortion, and refection. Photo hunting on Thames St., by the water’s edge, gift shops, and marinas were particular places of interest. Some photos were taken with snap judgment and intuition, not exactly knowing what I liked about them, but to simply capture the bliss of what I was experiencing.  It was a nice practice in being present and experiencing the moment. That afternoon, I probably took upwards of 60 photos in a jiff.

Back in the class room, I whittled the photographic muses down to 3 photos to work from:



I now had the inspiration for the next part of the assignment: to illustrate, in our own way, these photos using foundational building materials.  Free for interpretation with a few constraints, I created these small sculptures depicting some of the favorite elements of light and shadow that stuck out to me. Aside from achieving the first part of this project, it felt great to reconnect with my inherent sculpting skills that led me to IYRS.

Below are the three small sculptures that I created for the first phase of this project during one evening of blissful studio time.




The first steps of this creative process for the light and shadow assignment were extremely fulfilling.  My workbench is an awesome, dynamic workspace encompassing analog media including clay and hot glue with the juxtaposition of my first 3-D print next to it.  I often catch myself wondering where this path in my education will take me while I am working.

Sometimes, I must admit, I would like to see the forest though the trees and know exactly where I am going within my studies.  The biggest coaching I can give myself as a Project Manager career changer is to immerse myself in the process which can be challenging at times. However, when I feel the steps become heavier and I crave to “see” what’s in front of me, I look over my shoulder to yet another guide on my path.  Once day walks in IYRS President Jay Coogan, making socially distanced rounds and checking on our class progress.  This academically trained artist now leading IYRS is a perfect guide and I immediately felt a rejuvenated kin to my creative process.  We spoke for a few minutes on each sculptural interpretation of the corresponding light and shadow picture taken. Launching into some very familiar concepts of art aesthetics, I found myself impressed that such a busy leader like President Coogan will find time to come see our work.

As a student here at a professional development school, it’s such a quality touch to have not only my instructors lead me on my path, but to also experience frequent visitors like the president of the school who stop by and offer input and engage in conversation. It’s this added touch that reminds me I’m exactly where I need to be on my life’s path and on this journey at IYRS.

Here’s to the next step and looking ahead to the next adventurous fork in the light and shadowy road, not to mention the next step in this foundational exercise.

Happy trails,                                   

Greg Slimko