Category: About Me

Affordable Houses.ca

This weekend, I am participating in an art market in Uptown Waterloo, run by the City of Waterloo.  The plan was to use it as the launch of my new website, AffordableHouses.ca.  Unfortunately, I had something unplanned happen this week that has caused me not to have enough time and energy to do this properly- I had my last two wisdom teeth removed, as they were bothering me.  All is well now, but I have to compromise a bit with my plans for the new website.

So, for now, affordable houses.ca directs to this site, JenniferAkkermans.com.  When I feel I am recovered, I will put the energy into fulfilling the original plan- to make AffordableHouses.ca a place where you can get *ahem* affordable houses!  Affordable Houses that you can take home and hang in your apartment.  (Hee hee.)

Anyway, see you at the art market tomorrow!

Home

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It’s been a while.

It’s not that I’m not interested in writing, or wanting to neglect you, dear Blog, but did I tell you I’m working on my MFA?  My apologies, dear Blog, but I’ve had a hard time fitting you into my schedule.  Anyway, I think I’ve found a free few hours in which to write.

It’s been wild, dear Blog. Wild.  Crazy busy and intense.  I’m learning a lot, not only in my schoolwork, but in my life as well.  This year has been incredibly challenging, but also incredibly wonderful.  I’ve learned a few hard lessons, but I have a new appreciation for the simple things, and have learned to have faith that everything will come together.  I know how lucky I am. I know that it’s okay to let things go that aren’t serving me as well as they could without knowing what’s coming, in order to make room for possibility. You can’t stop change from happening, try your best to enjoy the current moment. You can never go back.

Which leads me to my theme.  Home.  I am currently visiting my parents, in Hanna, Alberta, after having lived two semesters in Waterloo, Ontario.  It is strange to be back here, a place I’ve missed and longed for since I left last July.  I thought my longing would finally be appeased, even if only temporarily.  The funny thing is that now I miss Waterloo.

The idea of home is something that sneaks up on you.  Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have called Waterloo home, now I call it that almost every day.  When did Waterloo become home?  Will I always long for the place I cannot be?

What exactly is “home”? Is it really even tied to location?  Is it where your family is, your friends, your boyfriend?  Is it a place that only exists within your heart, or (worse), your memory?  Can you ever go home? Can you ever BE home? I’m starting to think that only those who have never left home really have a home. (But even that is problematic.  What about the passing of time?)  Do you only know what home is once you are away?  Do you have to leave for home to even exist?

I’m also preparing for my Shantz Internship, which is coming up VERY soon here, May 15th.  I am going to Cologne, Germany, to work with Alexandra Bircken for six weeks. (Very exciting!) I will have a little more than a week once I get back to Waterloo to get everything ready to go to Germany.  The funny thing, (and I really feel terrible admitting this) is that while I am very excited and really want to go on my internship, I kind of don’t want to leave Waterloo. Go figure.

I am using this summer to study this idea, as it applies to myself.  I have four places I will be this summer, and four ways they relate to home:

  • Waterloo, Ontario, Canada – This is my physical home, where I currently reside. (Although there are things going on here- I just found out that my landlord is selling the house, so I’m evicted- won’t have an apartment to return to when I get back from Europe. But I’ll deal with that later. “Have faith that everything will come together.”)
  • Hanna, Alberta, Canada – My where-I’m-from home, where I grew up and where my parents still live.
  • Cologne, Germany – A completely new place for me. This is a temporary place for me, may never be described as home.
  • the Netherlands – A mythical home for me.  My father’s side of the family is from the Netherlands.  I have roots there, and so have had a mythical idea of this place in my head for all of my life.  I’ve never been there.

I am curious to hear what others think the concept of “Home” is.  Is it a physical location? A country?  A town? A house? A state of mind?  Family? Friends? A lover? Is home familiarity? Routine? Comfort? Longing? Is the word “home” only a way of approaching how we treat a place? Is home in your blood? Can home be a place you’ve never been? Is home your past? Does it only exist within yourself?  Does home even exist at all?

All I know is that you can never really go home (but I will always want to).

Talisman (A Lightbox)

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Talisman

This object is a collection of trinkets from my life, a talisman of sorts.  It has no real value, other than sentimentally, even to me.  It exists as a catalogue of memories- happy, sad, humourous, bittersweet, naïve, distant and ongoing.  The objects are cheap, simply stand-ins for people I’ve known, places I’ve been, lessons learned, moments in time.  They are connected in the chain, making up small parts of the larger whole, my life. They are intertwined, unable to be separated, non linear, like the memories within my brain.  They are things I’ve made, things I’ve earned, things I’ve picked up, and things I’ve stolen.  Everything has a story, a bit of significance in my life. Not a large significance, however- the real significance is the way the moments add up, to make me who I am today.  Through these objects, I remember my Oma, my first boyfriend, my childhood best friends, our Japanese exchange students, the kids I used to babysit.  I remember the summer I learned to whittle, getting my ears pierced, my first day of college, how lonely I was in Montreal, a trip to Santa Fe. It’s a map of where I’ve been.

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A project from my elective, Hybrid Digital Media.  See my HDM blog here.

Two Weeks In.

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Grad school is going to kick my butt.

It’s only been two weeks, and already it feels like the end of semester crunch time.  I have done a bunch of short answer responses for various classes, a bunch of readings (for both my classes and my TAship), made a bunch of GIFs (and more on the way), written and revised (and re-revised) my syllabus I am designing for my pedagogy elective, attended classes as a Teaching Assistant, gone to the library about 8 times, had a personal meeting with the librarian, done my WHMIS module, done my Academic Integrity Module (“Don’t plagiarize!”), argued with the student loan people, gone for a beer with my classmates on a whim, gone to 3 openings and a birthday party, cried rather memorably because of the smoke at said birthday party, went to about 15 welcome events, all of which served pizza, attended sholarship information sessions, and found my way through “Needless Hell” (Needles Hall), and had my first studio visit.  Phew.

I’m also planning a research paper (that’s going to be interesting, if I can pull it off), and thinking about potential artists to intern with.  We (the MFA’s) are going on a field trip in the beginning of October to New York (EEEK!) and then the department is holding it’s Sculpture Symposium, which will include visiting artist lectures from 7 artists, studio visits for the MFA’s, and a few other events.  We will also be mentoring some of the senior level undergraduates, and have an exhibition coming up in October.

I haven’t even mentioned my studio work.  In addition to my serious studio work (which I am totally shaking up in order to start something new), I am taking an elective, Hybrid Digital Media, for which I am required to keep another blog as a digital sketchbook.

On top of it all, I am re-adjusting back to life as a student, and not just a student, but a grad student.  I have moved from Calgary, where I have spent the last 8 years of my life.  I sold/gave away/got rid of everything I owned that I didn’t bring with me in my car.  Not only am I adjusting to a city where I know no one except my classmates, all of my friends and family are still back home.  And I recently split up with my longterm boyfriend, on top of everything else.  I’ve given up a lot to be here and I’m not going back.

I’m really not trying to complain – I want to be here, and I want to make the best of it – but the experience is really going to push me, as it should.  I’ve gotta find a way to manage it, get into my new groove, and see where it takes me.  I hope that this is the toughest part of the transition.  Hopefully by the end of it, I’ve learned a lot, developed some new work, and built something of a new life for myself here.  I guess now I get down to work and see what happens.  Stay tuned.

On the bright side, I’ve been sleeping really well, probably because I’m so completely exhausted when I get to bed.

(The GIF is a quick little sample that I, Neda and Ryan made in my elective, Hybrid Digital Media. I’m not quite sure how they conned me into it.)

Liminal Space

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Liminal: “threshold.”

“…a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing.”
– Richard Rohr

I am in the in-between space- having left behind my life in Calgary, and not yet really started this chapter here in Waterloo.  I am here to do my MFA, and have come early to get settled in, so that the inevitable business of September will hopefully not be too much of a shock.  There was a minor crisis when my living arrangement fell through, but now I have a room rented in a place which I think may actually be a pretty good fit (fingers crossed), possibly a blessing in disguise.  I don’t move in there until month’s end, however, just before classes start, so for now, I’m in the liminal space. The in-between.

I’m trying to relax, slow down, explore the new city (cities, actually, Kitchener AND Waterloo), rest and calm down.  I’ve been doing okay with that, I think, although it’s not easy.  If you know me at all, you know that I usually have a few different things on the go at any point in time, so this kind of unstructured time is a little tough for me to wrap my head around.  I’m anxious and nervous, and have a million things I need to do and get, hardly any of which I can or should do before my funding comes in or I move into the place I’ll actually be staying at.  Such as getting a few pieces of furniture, a dresser, for instance, or a new computer, which I am really starting to need.  (This one is starting to pull some serious attitude.)

So, I’ve been hanging out in the studio, getting settled in there, starting to make some little things and write lists of things I think I’ll need.  I’ve also been walking around quite a bit, checking out Uptown Waterloo, as well as some other fun things, such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG), and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

my Waterloo.

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– A bad cell phone picture of me and my new studio. –

So I’ve arrived, safe and sound, after driving for a whole week, with everything I own in my car. Actually, I quite enjoyed the drive- got to see my family and a few old friends along the way, and listen to my music and see the country.  The car wasn’t so full that it was uncomfortable, and I packed it well- what I needed was where I needed and I used the space well. Anyway.

I’ve been here a few days now.  To be honest, this part has been the hardest part of the transition so far.  Saying goodbye wasn’t easy, but I could feel all the love from my family and friends, all the good wishes and support.  Now that I’m here, I feel really alone, and soooo far away from home.  I hardly know which way is north.  And I had a fiasco (and subsequent freak out) with my living arrangement, but don’t worry, I’ve got that sorted out now.

On a happier note, I moved into my studio today, and met a few people who I will be working with, including the graduate advisor, department administrator and one of my new studio mates.  It’s pretty quiet around the Fine Arts section of campus right now (although there is a surprising number of students around the rest of campus).  I spent some time moving into the studio today, sweeping up and getting things set up for myself, which I think is helping me feel more normal.  I can’t wait to start doing some work in there (although, with having to find an apartment at the last minute, I have less money than I anticipated, which means I have to wait for supply shopping).  In the meantime, I will spend some time working in my sketchbook, and using supplies I already have, and maybe even finish some things I’ve already been working on.  Because of the whole moving thing and everything else, I feel like I haven’t really been able to put in any decent studio time in the last few months at all, so I want to spend some time feeling out the space and getting settled in, both into the physical space and the right headspace.

Anyway.  Right now, I’m just trying to get used to a completely new place (not to mention the crazy muggy-ness – I now understand why people complain about Calgary being dry) and settle in.  I knew it would be a big change, but I don’t think I realized how BIG. It’s not a vacation where I can just go back home when I feel like it.  Home as I knew it is not there anymore. Right now, I’m really reminding myself why I’m here, why it is the right thing, and I need to do it, uncomfortable as it is right now, and telling myself that I will get used to it, and eventually, it will feel like home too.  Change sure as hell is not easy.

Goodbye, Calgary!

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Even though I am excited about what’s coming up in my life (MFA at the University of Waterloo), it is tough to say goodbye.  I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life in Calgary, and it’s become my home.  I grew up only a couple of hours from here, so my family is close by (but not too close by).  I did my undergrad here, and most of my friends live here (or lived here).  I cut my teeth as an artist here, and learned a lot of lessons here.

It’s tough leaving, saying goodbye to all my wonderful friends, B, and my life here.  I think the thing that’s making it most real right now is my empty studio- a far cry from what it was even a few months ago.  I’ve thrown out, given away or sold a lot, packed up what I want to keep into my car, and come Saturday, will be on my way.  I’m driving all the way to Waterloo.  (Crazy, my neighbour says.)  It will take me a week to get there, but I’ve done the distance on the bus, so am aware of how long of a trip it is.  I’ll be fine.  (Actually, I think it will be a crucial part of the transition.)

I think the trip out there scares me more than school, although maybe that’s only because I haven’t gotten there yet.  Maybe.  In addition to my classes, I will be TA’ing an undergraduate course.  There is also a fall field trip planned for the MFA’s, but more on that later.  (And then the internship!  Who knows where I will be next summer!)

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The studio now has nothing in it, even the table and chair is gone. All that remains are Brad’s things (the tv, the couch, and the DVD’s he’s moved downstairs) and the curtains.  Sad.

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