i have had a ton of thoughts swirling in my head these last few months, and especially these last few weeks since george floyd was murdered. while 2020 is an emperor year, it has felt much more like a tower year. everything we know or thought we knew is crumbling around us, and that is both scary and exciting. the real structures are revealing themselves and the wool that has been covering our eyes is now threadbare and moth eaten. i can’t help but think back to 2010, my own personal tower year, when i stepped away from the life that so deeply wasn’t working for me and began to purposefully rebuild it. it was painful; it was terrifying; it was necessary; it was exhilarating; it was a beautiful mess.
my hope is that humanity takes the chance we have now to tear down the systems designed to serve a select few, that wantonly exploit and abuse people and natural resources, and in its place rebuild our world so that it aligns with our values of equity, equality, justice, kindness, mutual benefit. that means an end to capitalism as we know it, the police force as we know it, the education system as we know it, the healthcare system as we know it, and so on. it’s time for radical change because people are suffering, the planet is suffering, and ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
i donated all of my stimulus money and then some to groups working with black, brown, and indigenous folks, but i want to raise additional funds by auctioning off some ceramics – because the black community and their efforts to create real and lasting change have been sorely underfunded. the auction will run on sunday (6/14) through monday (6/15), with 100% of proceeds going to organizations working to defend black lives. winning bidders can pick the organizations (i’m happy to make recommendations). i am in winter park, florida, and we will figure out shipping/delivery to wherever you are. feel free to request additional photos or ask questions. place your bids in the comments with the item number and your bid amount. i will keep this post updated with the highest bid amounts so folks don’t have to hunt through the comments.
i was having difficulty sleeping. i was researching things at night that i shouldn’t, and the result was that i was still up at 1 (which is very late and very unusual for me) and unable to settle my mind. i think this is a common problem now. on the third evening after two bad nights, i was nibbling on a piece of chocolate and casually picked up the january edition of ‘poetry’. the shift i felt in perspective was immediate. the poems realigned time in the way a chiropractor realigns spines. reading poetry aloud is my most grounding ritual. give it a try! here’s my recommendation for today, on the occasion of the new moon in aries:
Sometimes the Moon Sat in the Well at Night by Marie Howe (from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time)
Sometimes the moon sat in the well at night. And when I stirred it with a stick it broke. If I kept stirring it swirled like white water, as if water were light, and the stick a wand that made the light follow, then slow into water again, un-wobbling, until the wind moved it.
And I thought of all the moons
floating in the wells and rivers, spilling over rocks where the water broke: moons in the sheep water, the chicken water, Or here or there an oar bent it, or a woman spread out her skirt and let it pool there — the light I mean, not the moon in a circle, not the moon itself, but the light that fell from it.
Today is the opening of my show, Un/necessary Objects. It’s an exhibition about memory, objects, the connection between those two, and loss/value/impermanence.
When Pat Greene asked me to be the artist for March 2020, I immediately said yes. I had never been to the space before, but I am grateful for all opportunities that come my way. After visiting the space, I wasn’t sure what I would do. Credo Conduit is a co-working space, and the shows are installed in the lobby/entrance. Because it is a quasi-commercial space, I didn’t feel comfortable just displaying my work. That seemed too prescribed, especially because the display shelves are built-in (plus, most of my work is 3D and wouldn’t fit comfortably on the narrow shelves).
I hope it doesn’t seem like I am complaining, because my best work results from limitations and I like the challenge of figuring out how to work in different spaces. It took me two weeks to decide what I wanted to do. I had a lot of ideas (as did my partner Jonas) and a lot of doubts about those ideas… until the right idea came along. Or rather, it resurfaced. I had taken a series of photos about a year ago of my favorite objects, with the idea of writing about each one. It was an interplay between object and memory, and the impermanence of both. But then I dropped the project because a purely digital project is not satisfying to me and I had no other outlet at the time.
I’ve put a lot of work into this show in the last month and a bit. I edited photos, took some new photos, had them all printed, wrote about each object, edited (both the text and what I chose to include in the show), designed, edited some more, printed, trimmed, assembled, and installed. I ended up including 38 objects, some of which are my small artworks and most of which are things I collected or was gifted over the years. I hope that when people view the work, they will think about their own objects, memory, the value and worth of things, and impermanence (due to environmental threats and human frailty). I hope the personal becomes universal.
If you are unable to see it in person, I have created a digital version of the exhibition booklet (which is part of the exhibition, not a supplement). You can view it below or click here to download the pdf.
I love pussy willows. The bareness of the long branches, the otherworldly softness of the catkin tufts, the contrast between the dark branches and the light, almost iridescent catkins, and that they signal (and perfectly embody) the end of winter and the beginning of spring. They are, in some way, sensual and erotic. I had some hanging out in a vase from last spring and well into summer. By fall, I had popped all the catkins off and placed them in one of my small ceramic bowls on my alter. There they sat for a few more months. I knew they would work their way into my art, but I wasn’t sure how.
And then one day (in December) I knew. I found the roll of metal mesh my mother had given me and got to work. I draped a piece of cloth along the bottom edge to protect my arms from scrapes, with my left hand supporting the work underneath while my right hand worked above with the small needle-nose pliers and catkins. The work reminded me of embroidery, and what Ann Hamilton has said time and again about her own work:
“My first hand is a sewing hand. A line of thread drawn up and down through cloth influences how I think about the confluence and rhythms of space and time. . . . Drawn, sewn or written, a line contains all the attention present in its moment of making, the rhythms of breath and body, the weather of hesitations and the stutter of the hand orbiting in the body’s immediate periphery. Folded, cut or accreted, the line’s incessant horizontality returns to itself and takes a circular form. It is simple work; it requires the body to be slow.”
Remembering that led me to listen to these lectures by Ann Hamilton about the process of making and her body of work:
Sometimes I work in silence, sometimes I watch/listen to movies or shows while working, but most often I will listen to lectures by or about artists. I don’t remember everything I listened to in the course of making this particular sculpture, but here are a few others:
I listened to Audre Lorde‘s “Uses of the Erotic” three times so far. I highly recommend it. So many powerful and still very relevant ideas.
The erotic is a measure between the beginnings of our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.
About three quarters of the way through this sculpture, I realized it would be a good idea to more carefully choose the catkins, so I emptied the bowl to spread the catkins out in front of me. That’s when I saw it. The interior of the bowl (which I made several years ago) had the same color and pattern as the catkins in the mesh, and I felt something that can only be described as a full-body gasp. It was a visceral reaction, and to be honest I started crying. Just a little. But I didn’t dwell on it for too long and finished the work last night, the end of the first day of the new year.
When I first started making visual art, I was surprised to see that my work across mediums (ceramic, wire, textile, drawing, sculpture) was coherent and of a piece. At this point, it’s kind of freaking me out. The same patterns keep showing up, and it’s not intentional or done on a conscious level. I’m processing something, but I don’t know what.
And I love this work, this sculpture. I don’t just like it or really like it; I love it. I want to hug it, but I can’t. I want to understand it, but so far I don’t. This is a new opportunity for self-awareness, and I’m excited by it. I can’t really name all of these feelings, but I think they might be touching on joy, on the erotic that Lorde speaks of.
For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. Once we know the extent to which we are capable of feeling that sense of satisfaction and completion, we can then observe which of our various life endeavors bring us closest to that fullness. The aim of each thing which we do is to make our lives and the lives of our children richer and more possible. Within the celebration of the erotic in all our endeavours, my work becomes a conscious decision — a longed-for bed which I enter gratefully and from which I rise up empowered.
I can’t really name all of these feelings I have about this new sculpture, but I think they might be touching on joy, on the erotic that Lorde speaks of. So here’s my wish for 2020: May it be a year of erotic exploration, of little leaps of the heart, of making and doing, of understanding and self-awareness, of poetry in all its forms.