How I got my Horror-On: Exploring my inner Hitchcock with Blue Light web series

An empty swing dangles in the park under a cloud ridden sky.  Inside the dusty clay studio, the potter's wheel spins with no master.  The Starbucks barista asks "Where you been?" 


"Getting my horror on!" I proudly say. 

"Uh, ok." she replies and hurriedly refills the sugars.

It's true that I've been absent from my favorite haunts for weeks.  I've been engaged in a far more engrossing activity: exploring my inner Hitchcock with Blue Light web series.

The series tells the story of Millie, a 1950s housewife, who comes home to find people from the future talking to her through her tv.  One reviewer thus far has called the series "an excursion into Hitchcockian horror."  Yours truly plays Millie, and, since this is an independent sci-fi/ thriller, I also take care of the cinematography, production design, craft services, and anything else my writer/ director husband is too busy to do.

It's been a terrifyingly fun experience thus far. Because I normally work behind the camera, I had to take an acting class to get my skills up to speed.  (talk about facing your inner demons!)  The jitters one may experience say, presenting their sculpture at an exhibition, are nothing compared to having to inhabit a character.  Because my character, Millie, is in the middle of an emotional and mental collapse, I had to practice "breaking down" myself.  It all started with me having to stand up in front of the class and scream to the top of my lungs at an ashtray.  An ashtray. 

"You're a stupid ashtray!" I screamed, at which point I passed along the ashtray to the next apprentice yeller.  "S," the newest student in the class, shook the ashtray violently and bellowed "YOU SUCK!" Then, each student in the class took turns emitting what I can only describe as soul rending, ear shattering screams from the the depths of hell- all at this little ashtray.  Afterwards, each smiled and chuckled a bit like they had just been told there'd be chocolate pudding for dessert. 

 How is yelling at an ashtray supposed to prepare one for portraying a character? I wondered.  After class, as I watched the other students laughing and gathering up their scripts, "S" put her hand on my shoulder.  

"Don't worry, " she said, "I'ts all part of the process."

"Process of what?" I asked.

"Of becoming less self-conscious. So you can be the person you're trying to be, you know, without worrying about what you think...or, like, what other people think."  

I looked at her incredulously.

"It's all about being truthful, you know?"

At this point, I began to understand what "S" was talking about.  In order to do a good job being "Millie,"  I had to to cast my own judgements aside.  I can't accurately portray Millie, a woman unraveling to the brink of insanity,  if I am too frightened to scream in public.  

"What's next week? I asked.

"Blue Light" is currently available to be viewed on Youtube.  (I'll put the link to the playlist below) Check back here for occasional updates about the project, news on the actors, production notes, and the inevitable blooper reel.  You can watch and see the ashtray exercise at work!


Blue Light - web series - Episode One. "Blue Light" is a science fiction web series, which takes place in 1957, Baltimore County. Milly comes home to find people from the future trying to communicate with her through her television.

Here are some links to reviews...

Tubefilter article -  click here

The 7th Matrix article: click here

Moore College of Art and Design article : click here



Ceramic Sculpture Culture

Last Thursday I attended a presentation by Ceramic Sculpture Culture, an artists' collective which works to promote the art of emerging sculptors creating narrative and figurative work in clay.  The collective's founders, Taylor Robenalt, Kevin Rhode, and Travis Winters, spoke to a full lecture hall of students, community members and faculty in the Arts Center of Towson University.  Mary Cloonan, exhibitions director at the Baltimore Clayworks, moderated the discussion following the presentation of the artists' work.   

"Can't Knock Me Down" by Travis Winters

"Can't Knock Me Down" by Travis Winters

Robenalt, Rhode, and Winters founded Ceramic Sculpture Culture in response to the challenges they faced building their artistic careers and selling their work after graduate school.   Each found the market for figurative ceramic work to be slim.  For marketing purposes, "ceramic" and "sculpture" have been two separate categories, and the idea of "ceramic sculpture" is a somehow unmarketable mix of each.  This points right to the "fine art" vs. "craft" distinction.   How is a gallerist to approach selling a work that, in content, is "fine art,"  but is made with a "craft" material such as clay?   To further complicate matters, many ceramic sculptors (myself included) reference traditional pottery forms in their work.  How are these pieces to be categorized for sale?  

Taylor Robenalt, from wallhangings series

Taylor Robenalt, from wallhangings series

After discussing their predicaments at last year's National Council on Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA)  Robenalt, Rhode and Winters decided to invite seven other ceramic sculptors to be part of a group to help promote each other's work.   Using social media and their shared contacts, the collective hopes to bring about a greater awareness and appreciation of ceramic sculpture to the art world and beyond. 

Presentation topics also included the challenges of continuing an artistic practice after graduation, artists' residencies, and approaching galleries to show your work.  Robenalt, Rhode and Winters took turns discussing their experiences and sharing advice.  

Kevin Rhode, "Realeyes"

Kevin Rhode, "Realeyes"

The Ceramic Sculpture Culture collective has big plans for the future- including a website, juried shows, and even a book.  For now, check out their instagram page to see examples of their work.   Also, check back here in a few days for another post I will be sharing about some insights I had after the lecture.  

Links to check out:

Ceramic Sculpture Culture on Instagram

Taylor Robenalt

Travis Winters

Kevin Rhode

Mary Cloonan

Towson University


Made it!!

Whew! Just made the deadline on that travel grant offered by the Municipal Arts Society of Baltimore!  If accepted, I would be able to spend a week in Mexico City, researching the world class collection of pre-columbian art at the National Museum of Anthropology.  Also included in the plan is a one day trip to the nearby ancient city of Teotihuacan, and filming and vlogging at the Day of the Dead festivities... wish this Irish gal some luck, friends!

Writing a Travel Grant

Goal this week is to complete a travel grant to view Maya ceramics in Mexico City.  While the competition will be daunting, it will still be a good exercise for me to refresh my resume, portfolio, and such.  Can't win if you don't play!

P.S. Would love to talk to anyone who has been...will send out a message on fb:)