Remembering without Reminders

Today is September 11 remembrance day, which is just fine. For some, the back-to-back reminders by media are just too much (the memories alone can be a lot to deal with).  I say to those people “It’s okay to take a mental break today too.”




Split Rock, Come Back

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When I came to the Split Rock Arts Program in St. Paul, MN, I was as surprised as the other participants to learn that the 2011 season was the last for the 90 year old program. At first I exhaled, relieved that I did not wait to go next year, but then I felt slight grief.  Many of my classmates decide to express our feelings about this through the program evaluations. However, I don’t think enough can be expressed on an simple scantron. If only this responsible understood what the program did for me:

Good Outreach
When searching for workshops, I seek the usual: google with the right selection of keywords, and workshop databases with links to other databases and so on. I collect whatever posting appealed to my qualifications. Split happened to be among those that appealed to my personal qualifications.  
Convenient Access 

I was able to apply online and pay online. If I had questions, I was able to call the appropriate parties who, if unavailable, returned my call within a day. 
Excellent Accommodations

Of the many workshops I collected, I found many that catered to their local community. Unfortunately that meant that these programs didn’t anticipate out of state participants and therefore did not accommodate them with housing or links to assistance. One workshop even scheduled one class a week for 6 weeks! Not worth the hotel bill or time.  When I saw that Split Rock was offering a week long workshop with equal stay in a dorm, I was estatic. Even my mother was allowed to stay with me and work at her job’s St. Paul branch, which was a better alternative to the St. Paul hotel 45 minutes away. But that surprise leads us to…
Unexpected Assistance
When this city girl arrived, she was prepared to learn her own way around two campuses by herself. Little did she expect to find a Split rock staff member waiting out the dorm building waiting to drive her to her class room. Later that day a second staff member escorted her and other participants along the commuter bus ride so they knew how to get back to their dorms and catch the bus the next day. This city girl was stuck for words. 
Unexpected Avenues
I learn new things everyday, but going to this workshop exposed me to venues that I could not have been able to find ( or trust ) through an online filter. For example, I did not know mini-comics existed before coming to this workshop. Nor did I know about the term “emanata” (i.e. those little things over cartoons heads, like exclamation points,  anger steam or Spiderman’s “spidey senses”). Even seemingly small details from where word balloons pointed to the directional layout of panels determined how coherent your story was. Most of all, I did not know that many of the largest Comic art communities ( many of whom were workshopping with me) resided west of the mississippi. Why should I be surprised, after all, Comi-Con’s in California. By now I’m pretty serious about pursuing this field, so if I have to move west, I will. But for the next person as lost as me, this was an excellent gateway. Don’t close it just yet.