Excellent turnout last month in Stafford 201 to hear student presentations on engagement with the MSU Entrepreneurial Center. Art students Mark Slawson, Paul Prudhomme, and Lorrin Webb described the process of presenting to the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board and hiring a Business major to structure a business model for a creative arts company.
The small sheep farm that supplies my wool is
in Henry County, Kentucky, the home of the agricultural essayist Wendell Berry. Berry’s focus on our “specific and tangible” relationship to nature is a key
component of my classroom discussions, as are Anna Zilboorg’s definition of
anarchy as gentle and John Berger’s recognition that folk art signals the human
imperative to create.
While I teach from an interdisciplinary
perspective in which concept leads craft, I incorporate fiber arts to model a
holistic approach to sculptural production and to address the sourcing of raw materials.
In Kentucky and Indiana, I focused on wool and developed working
relationships with local sheep farmers and mills.
In Mississippi, I focus on
cotton and wood and the people and processes involved in its cultivation.
to these producers develops student understanding that artistic production is part of a continuum of labor.
Familiarity with modes of production outside the classroom strengthens
students’ ability to conduct independent research regardless of the media they
employ or the conceptual framework they inhabit.
Last week, Dr. David Jones, Associate Professor in MSU's Department of Sustainable Bioproducts - and the Forest Products Extension Service specialist - took both sections of Sculpture Survey to the Barge sawmill in Macon. MSU alumnus and company president, Mr. David Barge, was on hand to explain the value his third-generation company places on sustainable tree farming. We learned that if a stand grows tall, lower branches are shed because they are unable to access the sunlight above the canopy. The absence of lower branches allows for a greater percentage of "clear" wood, that is, wood without knots. Part of the Barge farming practice entails identification of trees that increase the genetic strength of the stand; these are left in place. CoC (Chain-of-Custody) certified, Barge Forest Products meets high environmental standards set by many European and Scandinavian countries and therefore maintains a healthy export aspect to their business.
Mr. Barge spoke to us at length about environmental stewardship. I imagine he and Mr. Berry would have much to discuss.
We first moved through the mill to see how the logs are cut into 6 x 6 boards and clear planks:
Art students on the catwalk:
Controlling the machine that cuts the logs is a coveted job.
Here the saw cuts away the outer (clear) wood.
You can see a 6 x 6 on the lower left side of the conveyor.
Enormous band saws in the tool shed:
The wood kilns are steam powered by recycled wood chips:
Drying time is each mill's secret recipe.
The broad answer to how hot does it get in there is 180-200 degrees.
Ask no further.
The green stamped wood is heading overseas.
Students listened to Mr. Barge as he speaks about his company's mission statement: