Sunday, March 27, 2011

return from Brigadoon

I CAME......
(an empty, clean studio, full of possibilities and potential)
I SAW......

(soon pink and red was popping up EVERYWHERE)

(an empty, clean studio ~ ready for the next lucky artist)

I am back from my few days in paradise, Vermont!! As I am transitioning back to reality I am powerfully aware of how fortunate I was to be able to have this experience and that I will be living and learning the lessons that i got in Vermont for days, weeks, months and years! There is so much I want to share and to explore about my time that it can be a bit paralyzing ~ so I am going to take the advice from one of my favorite books by Anne Lamott, "Bird by Bird", translation one step at a time.

So along with a quick peek at the stages of my studio space, here are the most wonderful artists that were in the firehouse studio building with me. We had a unique experience because our walls did not go all the way to the ceiling so we had more of a communal feeling with much cross pollination ..... click on their names to see their websites ~

and lastly,
my signature on the door frame of my studio ~ a tradition for all departing artists.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

carbon footprint series

the idea:
having the public create the contrast needed to make the image.
I tape off a dress form on paper then remove the tape after a certain period during which the paper has been walked on.
Speaks to the accumulative effects of human presence on Mother Earth,
as well as the feelings that some people may experience in certain situations and/or relationships.*
* thanks to my dear friend and awesome illustrator/artist Jeffrey Decoster for some of the above verbiage

The first carbon footprint dress was set up at Fountain Street Fine Art, and was walked on for the duration of my two person show with Lisa Barthelson ~ March 4th - March 27th.
Today I unmasked the dress and hung it in the gallery. There is a short video at the bottom of this post.

At Vermont Studio Center I set-up two carbon footprint dresses ~ one small one outside my studio door. The other one I set up for a very short period & put it right inside the studio building's door. I set it up for the 'open studio' evening when all the artists tramp around the VSC campus to see what everyone else has been doing. So although it was a brief time for the dress to be exposed, there was intense traffic. My studio building buddies were happy to be the first to put on their prints.

...after a few hours of being walked on by shoes and boots tramping through the Vermont snow and mud!!

I am very excited about this series. i am trying out different things each time - different tapes, different papers (I want to find one that will REALLY pick up the dirt!!!!! any suggestions???) and I like experimenting with the dress ~ with the VSC open studio dress I put in some 'pleats' in the dress's skirt. So here are the first two, hopefully to be joined by many more!!!

video of the final unmasking of the Fountain Street Fine Art Carbon Footprint dress


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

update from the SNOWY hinterlands

Ok it is officially Spring here and today it snowed ALL day!! Really snowed ~ big fat beautiful flakes!! & I couldn't believe how happy I was to see it!! One would think that I have had enough of this white stuff this year, but no. But charm of this place seems to work on everything!

So the roller coaster ride continues, although I think I have gotten through the extreme ups and downs, now the ups and downs are not so drastic, thank goodness!!. I have been on a productive high for the past few days!! I started a 8ft x 15 ft painting (why not?? I am only here for about 8 days) and it has been an exhilarating experience but also exhausting ~ physically and emotionally. This 'wall' is similar to the walls I painted for my installation 'this comes from within' ( I LOVED those walls!!) So when I was thinking how was I going to spend this nugget of creative time I realized I wanted to paint another 'wall'. But I didn't want to paint it over
again - that was the hardest part of 'this comes from within', having my walls painted over!! So I was perplexed ~ wanting to do a big mural like painting that i could take home. But since I am surrounded by creative, innovative folks, someone suggested painting on Tyvek!! So I headed out to the hardware store, stapled the tyvek to the wall and primed it!! Voila, a moveable wall. I did end up running the panel through my sewing machine so that the pieces are really connected (that was a experience in itself).So my wall has been my obsession here in Vermont; literally ~ paint, eat, paint, eat, paint, sleep, paint (u get to idea) however, i am not ready to show it, just yet!!

But I have been doing some other creative endeavors ~ first after YEARS of trying
to figure out how I was going to work with my pink foam .... dress or installation or ??? Well, here, with a lovely blank, white wall i realized that some of these pieces are pieces in their own right!! I put them on the wall and I love them! How they sit off the wall, how they curve and the shadows that they cast!! So that is exciting for me!! And I have some much of this foam that there still maybe a foam sponge dress, but not with these pieces!!

Also I have been working in my daily dress journal ~ it has gotten so thick that I can hardly close it!!! And then, before the snow, I took a walk up to see the mountains and finally took the time to make this little dress out of these small white pebbles that have been begging for my attention ever since I got here!! So the journey continues and I am soaking it all in!! (there is definitely a sponge dress in my future!!!)

Also THANK YOU to all of you wonderful folks who commented, email, contacted me about my last post!!! I now totally realized why I posted that post ~ moral support!!! it is PRICELESS!!!! so I thank you and thank you again & peace!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

notes from the front......

"when does carpe diem become a death march??" this was the thought running through my head as I stumbled out of bed this morning. Being here at Vermont Studio Center is one of the most exciting experiences of my life and i don't want to squander a second of it!!!! I have a beautiful studio space, inspiring people around me & nary a responsibility: they are even feeding me here, and it's great food!!! This is a spectacular experience and I want to take FULL advantage of ~ carpe diem!! but I also must sleep & not return home a wreck...which is the direction I have been heading. And also I know the good stuff does not come from a exhausted, harried and manic place. So I am trying to make peace with this time that I have been given and release myself from this self imposed, suffocating emotion called guilt!!!

If you follow my blog you might get the sense that this time here has been an exhilarating and terrifying roller coaster ~ wildly, inspiring highs and intense, self-doubting lows .... all part of the process i figure. Last night as I felt myself slipping into the abyss I called a friend, a wonderfully wise friend. She posed the question to me ~ "what if one goal for this trip was to come back refreshed?!?" WOW, what a concept!! I am coming off an intense couple of months ~ starting a teaching job, negotiating what it is like to be a working mom with a schedule that is not my own, trying to help the household adjust to this situation, preparing and installing gallery shows, so I arrived here a bit depleted (to say the least). I arrived here in a manic state of exhaustion, determined to create magic to warrant the sacrifices that I have asked of my loved ones, not a good set-up. When I heard my friend's question my work ethic brain was protesting yet my core was saying a resounding YES!!. So today I am trying to walk this new path, a path of self preservation. It is an interesting path... I took a nap today!!! and I am thinking that I am not going to work until 3AM tonight (even though I took the nap).

Now why am I sharing this? I have wondered that myself... one reason could be to assuage my work crazy internal critic; another could be a sort of 'get out of jail free' card ( let everyone know that I am struggling up here:). Or maybe because this is a HUGE lesson for me ~ and one that I think many artists/moms & moms struggle with, taking care of ourselves. An idea that I have been kicking around for many years is a 'dress' using the oxygen masks from airplanes. These masks embody a life lesson that i am trying to learn:put your mask on FIRST before assisting others, such as children. Translation ~ take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others (if you so choose:).

Another reason I maybe writing this blog post could be for support, like the AA model, putting my intention to take better care of myself out into the cosmos so that I can have support in this endeavor ~ who knows, I am sure it is a little of all the reasons. But it did seem important for me to share. But now to the other things going on here ~the wonders!!

Here are shots from my studio - as one can see I am making myself at home!!! Also I had my first studio visit from one of the visiting artists ~ Xenobia Bailey. I wanted to come this week so that I could be here while she was here. She is an amazing fiber artist, a master crocheter!! She came to my studio this morning and we had a wonderful talk!! She is also friends with another artist that I so admire, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. I saw her show Symphonic Poem at the Brooklyn Museum of Art and it blew my mind!! I saw it right before I start the Dress Project and I know that her work was a powerful influence. The show moved me so that I bought the show's book and I brought it with me to VSC, as a talisman. When Xenobia saw the book she ask me if I would like to talk to Aminah!! OMG, of course!! So not only did I have an awe-inspiring conversation with Xenobia Bailey today I got to speak with Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. Have I mentioned that this is an amazing experience?!?!?
So there is a little from my life up here in the north!! Thank you to all who read this entire post ~ I know it got a little long; hope it was worth the read & peace from the green mountains!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

finding a groove

After all my anticipation and excitement about being at Vermont Studio Center, my first day here was difficult!! I felt sooooo out of sorts, out of my chair as a good friend says. Besides arriving a day late!! (my bad, had written the arrival day down wrong on a few of my calendars?!?!?), and coming in the middle of a longer session (most of the folks here are here for at least 4 weeks) I really doubted if I belonged here. But luckily that mental state or 'head trash' has past and I am feeling a little more like myself & LOVING being in my studio!!

Although I was doubting myself, I did set up a carbon footprint dress yesterday. I put it outside my studio door and my studio mates are being great about adding their Vermont dirt. The interesting thing is that since I was feeling pretty sheepish yesterday, the dress is a little
dress (note boots), a bit demure. But it is getting dirty fast!! but it is mud season here!!!!

Then today things got sensationally better ~ I went into a beautiful local bookstore, Ebenezer Books, to see if they sold blank CDs and they didn't; but I saw this amazing book about one of my utmost favorite artists, Niki de Saint Phalle. I could not believe it ~ I have unsuccessfully looked for books about her & here was one, in a small bookstore in Johnson, VT!!! I took it as a sign - that I am supposed to be here and that I belong here. So I bought the book and brought it back to my studio where it now is smiling at me as I set up a new project, that I wildly crazy about ... but more about that later.

so I found my groove & it feels good!!! (maybe someday I will learn this life lesson; that when I am consumed with self doubt & feel as though I have lost all my ideas and talent, that this too will pass. Every time this happens I panic & then I am so relieved!... maybe some day)
Peace & be well!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

IF:stir & OMG: im @ VSC

Translation :
Illustration Friday: stir & Oh My Goddess, I'm at Vermont Studio Center (pinch me now!!!!)
(warning: writing after little sleep and a long drive :)
now where to many wonderful things to share!!

First ~ yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and have a sublime conversation with a kindred spirit, artist Lisa Barthelson. We did this at Fountain Street Fine Art in conjunction with our show. It was an inspiring time and the gallery taped it so those who could not be there can catch it on YouTube!! I'll post the link when i get it. It was quite a thrill for me and an amazing way to head for to an artist's retreat.

Yes this is another wonderful thing!! I am presently at Vermont Studio Center to do art for two weeks!!! I really can't believe that i am here but here are photos of my studio!!! This is an opportunity that I have wanted to do for DECADES!!! Just arrived a few hours ago but already I feel like i am in heaven!! One thing that i am looking forward to is being in the company of other people who just want to make art ALL the TIME. I met the other folks in my studio building and besides being very nice, they said, 'if you need us, you will find us here, in our studios, at any hour!!' I have found my peeps!!! I am already feeling the affects of this place - I have had very little sleep (packing, sick child...), loaded a car and then drove 4+ hours, and one would think that I would sleep but no, I just wanted to set up my studio!!! :)

It was hard to figure out what from my studio in Natick to bring, so many different materials.... But I picked a few 'projects' and we will see where the muses lead. Here is my wonderful and dependable van packed with my stuff and want-a-be stowaway!!

Lastly, whenever i can, I like to participate in Illustration Friday. So when i saw the theme for this week, stir, I thought of this illustration. So voila ~ gotta to love cooking pigs!!!
good night for now & peace for heaven!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

artist's talk, participatory dress project & awesome show...

Last Sunday was the opening reception for the show at Fountain Street Fine Art, Framingham, MA. I am part of a two person show with Lisa Barthelson, who is exhibiting her family debris series: a print installation. The way that the work compliments each other is incredible ~ both inspired by unique and often discarded material.
For the show, I exhibited three dress sculptures, one for the first time, as well as presented my first of a series (I hope) of a 'viewer~participation' dress : the carbon footprint dress. For this dress, i taped a piece of printing paper on to the floor and then with painter's tape I constructed a dress 'stencil'. During the opening, and for the duration of the show, I am encouraging people to walk on the dress. By walking on the dress with their shoes that have residual dirt from the day, the exposed paper will get blackened and when i remove the tape there will be a dress!!
I mentioned that i hope this is one of a series because I would love to have these at all of my gallery shows and see how the different locations and timing/seasons change how the dress turns out. I also hope to construct a carbon footprint dress when I am at the Vermont Studio Center. Wonder what that dress would look like after being trodden on by shoes coming in from Vermont country side in March!?!?

The opening was great fun and the carbon footprint dress has a good start. But there is still lot of room for more footprints. So come on by and add your print and see this wonderful show!!

Also this Saturday, March 12th, at 2:30 PM Lisa and I are going to have a gallery talk, come "hear the artists have a conversation about their process, materials and vision .... It's bound to be fascinating ~ and fun! " as the gallery website says!!! hope to see you there!!