Valley College art workshop focuses on introspection

Io Palmer creates a reflective space for her students to construct three-dimensional art.

By Angela Thompson, Staff Writer


A three-dimensional art piece by student Daisy Carranza as part a Valley College art workshop. (Photo Courtesy of Jenene Nagy)

Io Palmer leads Valley College’s “Art is Good For You” series’ second workshop, creating art and introspection.


Continuing on the journey the series has set, the tone was a positive one in the Zoom space. All the teachers greeted each other with a smile and thanked each other for the hard work they had put in to create this series. Jenene Nagy, Holly Batty and Sherri Rodriguez who personally put together the art supplies for many of the students with supplies paid for by the EOPS program, were in good spirits as Io Palmer joined them.


Io Palmer is a professor of art at Washington State University and an artist with her work shown across the country at museums and airports. Continuing to set the tone for the whole workshop, her first words were that she wanted the students to try and get into a headspace that everyone was in one room together, despite being on a Zoom call. She asked everyone to “pretend to all be in a wonderful light filled classroom.”


Palmer then continued to talk to the 30 participants about her own work and how she views and creates her own art. The first thing she discussed was the importance of symbolism, which came back up many times throughout her workshop.


“I’m much more interested in the openness and the subtlety of abstraction,” said Palmer. “I'm not interested in telling the viewer what the work is about.”


She shared that she was currently very interested in flower boxes, and began showing pictures of different flower boxes she had come across. She later mentioned the symbolism of the borders of those flower boxes and the meaning behind it. What that could mean to one person might not mean the same thing to someone else, according to Palmer.


Palmer also talked about meeting with Kori Newkirk, another Black artist and quoted him as saying “if they come for the beauty and stay for the content that’s fine,” which really resonated with her because, as she put it, “it’s not just a pretty chandelier, it’s my struggle as a black woman in this country.”


The art began and Palmer showed a short 10 minute video of her process and what the students would eventually be doing. She made the video special for the workshop, then she let the students work. They were given 10 minutes to find something meaningful to them, three pictures that they could draw and cut out to create three-dimensional art. The art gallery is hoping to add some of the works into their magazine later in the semester. Everyone had a unique piece of art that Palmer inspected and, at one point, was distracted by someone's adorable kitty jumping into a frame.


Many of the students at the end seemed more interested in asking about her thoughts on art rather than her craft, although those questions came up as well. One student even asked to keep the workshop going when it was about to end, keeping it running for another 30 minutes. Palmer talked about how the pandemic changed her way of thinking and living, and how she found ways to make herself better from this change in her life.


Palmer also spoke about perfectionism, and that she does not believe in it.


“I subscribe to the imperfect, like the misregistered-or something not making sense, that’s more where my heart lies,” said Palmer.


A student spoke to the group of Palmer’s comments on perfectionism, and spoke highly of the series ending her speech with a giggle but asked not to be named.


“I was so glad she said that. I felt like my art looked like a third grader made it, you know,” said the student. “But now I look at it and I think it looks really great.”


In the coming weeks there will be one more workshop. Edgar Fabián Frías will be hosting an image-making and collage workshop on May 5 from 1-2:30 p.m. The Zoom link to the free workshop can be found on the Valley Art Gallery page.

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