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!!


  1. hi, virginia, i enjoyed this post, and i hope you sleep as many hrs as you need. mothers take care of everyone until no is left but themselves, then they look for someone new to take care of. then maybe we start to think of ourselves. be selfish. sleep. draw. sleep. the wall sized drawings look so interesting, i hope you sleep and then explore the new things opened to you there.

  2. The 'oxygen mask instruction' you talk about has been haunting me for years as I try to put on my mask and everyone else's all at the same time- it doesn't work, but I keep repeating the pattern. These two weeks arent going to end- they're just stage one, the beginning...Refresh, renew, recharge!

  3. I heard this once somewhere. If you were to die, your children and your husband would survive. You are not responsible for their survival. You are, however, the only one responsible for your own survival. ... You connected with two wonderful artists as a result of this trip. Reason enough for the experience. :o)


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