Everyday everywhere

It is important to know that you don’t have to be painting the frescoes on a cathedral ceiling or sculpting massive public installations to recognize yourself as an artist.  Art can and does happen everywhere and everyday in countless small ways.

These past few months of school and grant work have swallowed most of my personal creative time.  I usually get two long days a week of stitching, piecing, drawing, and making, but as I look back across the recent months, I only worked in the studio for little 2-3 hour chunks.  I was not operating in a creative vacuum.  I was making plenty of music, podcasts, and artwork with my students, but that work is not my own.  

With school out and the aftershocks receding, I am feeling that familiar gathering of energy.  Like rising water, an expanding balloon, a ringing in my ears, I feel it and ‘wonder of wonders’ I have time to respond.  

I started small yesterday, by painting a blue wall in my bathroom, then framing and rehanging old work.  The taproot of my creative self is about making something I want to look at.  There is great calming, healing medicine in aesthetically beautiful spaces.  After painting and hanging I sat on the edge of my bathtub and drank in the vivid color and curious forms of this old work in a new light.  My effort was no magnum opus, but it was aimed at beauty.  I felt the same bath-like flood of brain juice I get after hours of studio work.  I am still peeking into my bathroom as I pass down the hall, getting a rush of satisfaction at the new beautiful space I created.  We can be artists everday and everywhere!

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Loosing Things

This month’s issue of National Geographic has an article about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which the federal government recently reopened to oil drilling.  What the f?$$?... The images of sweeping tundra, blue ice worlds, and the rare and regal species that inhabit that fragile landscape leave me feeling sick and defeated.  Why am I not there, flinging myself beneath the treads of digging machines?  Why am I not out chanting and waving my protest sign on Pennsylvania Avenue?  Why am I still driving a car to and from work?  I have no good answer to these questions.  I can only say that I feel so small and the problems seem so large.  I know that so many others feel this impending sense of loss.  The radio tells another disheartening story of environmental protections dismantled as we shuttle ourselves to work in the morning.  We relay the troubling news to a coworker.  We carry it like a wound.  We are bearing this collective burden.  It is heavy and overwhelming, and I wonder, when the unraveling gets to a place where it begins to tangle our daily lives on more than just an emotional level, when we are breathing polluted air and drinking polluted water, will we all collectively sigh and say “we should have done more”....?

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moon over porta-potty

As the political and social climate in this country grows increasingly volatile, I find myself frequently brooding over what, as an artist, I can and should be doing.  I lay awake at night scheming elaborate, frightening art installations involving icebergs, skeletons, semi-automatic weapons, and live rabbits.  (Those ideas never pass muster in the light of day.)  I write songs about thoughtlessness and rivers on fire.  (You can listen to those songs on soundcloud.com/thankyou-einstein).  I take odd photos like this one of a porta-potty in the moonlight, that somehow seem to me like messages or metaphors.  Is the porta-potty our humanity?  Is it a different, rarely documented angle of the white house?  Is the moon representing hope? Does it symbolize ambivalence?  I really can’t say.  I only know that my typical urge to build lush bright images of thriving root formations and curious creatures has been replaced by something morbid and unsettling.

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Got to be starting something...

It is time for me to start a new body of work.  I feel it.  I know it.  I need it.  The thing is, the looming, vacuous, terrible thing is, I can’t find an idea.  I’ve tried long walks on the river, sketching pages and pages of rough awkward drawings in my sketch book, scouring the web, lying awake late, but I am not receiving insight.  Blahhh!  Merrr!  Fleckgh!  This is a sloggish murky feeling.  SO, to all you shimmering, hovering, luscious ideas out there,  I am available and interested!

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A different angle

I completed all the stitching on this work before I happened to glance at it upside down and realize it might hang the other direction.  Now I am torn.  It feels to me like it says different things depending on it’s orientation.  With the earth below, rabbit is climbing up and out, into the great beyond full of unknown potentials.  With the earth above, rabbit might be climbing away from the formidable chaos of earthly life toward some intimate safety where the viewer resides.  Ok, I may be over analyzing, but I am excited by how much the feeling shifts for me when I simply flip the quilt around.  Such a literal reminder to routinely check how my emotional positioning  affects my perspective of a given situation.  

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up up and away! 

 get me outa here! 

get me outa here! 

In terms of scale

If scale was a more fluid/shifting variable than it is, I would sew a fabulous dress from a rose petal, and roll my giant penny down to the car dealership where I’d purchase an ultra efficient 10 seater in robin egg blue and small enough to fit in my pocket.  Scale does matter though, and the way artist Ron Mueck plays with it is arresting!  I got to see this giant, naked, stunningly realistic sculpture at the Hirshorne Gallery in DC last week.  I want to see more of Mueck’s work in person.  I googled him and was transported to a world of achingly life like, profoundly intimate visions of imperfect humanity.   Mueck exaggerates or diminishes his figures, leaving me reeling a bit with a sense of a throbbing (expanding and contracting universe).  It is now on my bucket list to go see a body of his work in person! (pun intended)

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...and there was life!

I feel a bit like doctor frankenstein (except in slippers and sitting at a sewing machine) when I am making the bodies for these odd little heads.  I used some of the doll eyes I found recently and they give the clay forms an eerie realism that I am mesmerized by.  I keep swapping heads and bodies and giggling to myself in a gently maniacal way.  

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