When I was living in Roswell, I became interested in drawing iris. I’ve long appreciated these flowers for their dramatic, ruffled petals and rich colors, but southeast New Mexico, as it turns out, is replete with them. I could find them growing all around Roswell in the spring, and the Roswell Museum collection itself boasted several lovely paintings of them, most notably the hauntingly lovely Iris from Henriette Wyeth.
There was also the Hondo Iris Farm up the road in San Patricio, a small village about 50 miles west of Roswell (and home to artists Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd).
In short, there was no shortage of flowers to draw, and each spring I made large sketches of blooming iris. Every year I thought about making a large print with them, only to put it off for another spring.
Once I found out I was heading back to graduate school, however, I decided it was time to make good on my intentions. I knew once I moved I was unlikely to revisit my New Mexico drawings, so it was now or never.
Stay tuned to see what I made.
After weeks of planning, copying, and pasting, my new website is live and ready for viewing.
Yet why bother with a new website at all? After all, wasn’t the site I built over the summer serviceable? The answer is yes and no, so today I’d like to explain why I made a new site.
When I created my previous site, I wasn’t enrolled in any classes yet, let alone digital humanities. My primary focus was documenting my previous work, museum and otherwise, so working with a single platform like Wix was fine. With the digital humanities class, however, I needed a hosting site where I could work with multiple web-building apps like Scalar or WordPress. So I went to Reclaim Hosting, a host geared toward academics, and bought myself a domain. The website you’re looking at here was made with WordPress, but the DH project I’m working on now will be a Scalar piece, which allows you to publish interactive online books. In the long term, I’m looking into building an archive for the Roswell Museum’s historical documents using Omeka, a platform that specialized in archives and online exhibitions.
Speaking of domains, that’s another reason why I wanted to build a new site. When it comes to searching, you want a domain that’s easy to remember but still reflects your work. I was planning on changing my less than memorable domain on my previous site, but since I was already building a new one, I focused my attention on Reclaim Hosting.
But why call my website Sara Woodbury in Transit? Isn’t it enough to have my name? As it turns out, there’s another writer out there named Sarah Woodbury with her own website, so I didn’t want to get the two sites confused. I added the tagline “in transit” because it playfully references my interest in travel infrastructures and their role in the production and reception of art, not to mention my own habit of moving around the country in search of new opportunities.
That’s the story behind my new site. The other one was fine, but rather than simply document my old work, this one will allow me to share what I’m working on now. After all, I’m here to move forward, not rest on my laurels, so I’m excited to continue building my web presence.
So now that you know why I’m in graduate school, what does my actual schedule look like? This semester I’m taking three seminars: Intro to American Studies, American Capitalisms, and Digital Humanities.
Intro to American Studies is well, just that: an introduction to American Studies as a discipline. You learn about the history of the field, what the dominant methodological approaches tend to be, and where it’s heading in the near future. I took similar courses for art history, but the biggest difference I’ve noticed so far is the openness. There isn’t really a singular, canonical American Studies; rather it’s more about your own interests, and the interdisciplinary approaches you can take to turn your interests into research. Some folks might be more focused on history, others gender or queer theory, still others postcolonialism. It can be exciting or frightening depending on how much structure you prefer to have. Personally I like the open-endedness of it, otherwise I’d be in a more traditional field like history, or art history.
American Capitalisms looks at the historical and theoretical frameworks behind our capitalist society. Each week we read a book, a couple of articles, and discuss them. So far the main thing I’ve gotten is that capitalism is a lot more than an economic system. It’s a cultural framework that influences just about every aspect of our society, from gender relations to racialization. I’ve also learned that capitalism isn’t really the monolith we imagine it to be, but a variety of systems that reflect different social needs and cultural values. Given my research interests in transportation, infrasturcture, and art accessbility, I thought this would be an appropriate course for getting a better sense of the broader trends in American economic and cultural history.
Digital Humanities is a foundational course for what’s still a relatively new field. Digital Humanities essentially applies digital tools and techniques to history, anthropology, the Internet itself, and more. It’s most commonly associated with archive or exhibition-driven websites (an outstanding one is the Colored Conventions from the University of Delaware), but it also encompasses data organization techniques and other less visible forms. I don’t have a background in Digital Humanities myself, but I’ve been an observer on the periphery for a while, and as a scholar in the 21st century I believe I should at least be familiar with it. I also thought it would be a useful way to help me organize the data I’ve collected from the Roswell Museum, and possibly future data from other archives.
Greetings! Thank you for checking my website, and for reading my blog. This online journal is all abut my ongoing adventures as a graduate student at the College of William and Mary. For readers who are already familiar with my work, this is a continuation of my old blog, The Fanciful Lobster. For new readers, welcome!