Sunday, December 4, 2011

Five months and counting!

The Pilot Program at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts is going into its final few weeks, and I couldn't be more excited. It's gone well, for the most part. Any time you start something from scratch there are bound to be unexpected kinks and uphill battles. Thankfully, I've had just as many rewarding moments!

Over the course of this new beginning, I've had the priveledge of providing time and space to some amazing and talented residents (visual artists, writers, composers and musicians). I am constantly reminded how important the creative process is, and in return, their unexpected gifts are reflected back to me. Gerri Sayler and Keeril Makan reminded me to continue my sitting practice (although I still haven't been very good at it!). Randall Shinn reminded me to balance work with play-- he started work at 4:30 or 5:30 am so he could fly fish in the afternoon and enjoy laughter-filled dinners with new friends. Oh, AND he finished his opera while in residence! So many other lessons have been learned...

Nearly fifty artists-in-residence have been given this gift of time and space during our trial run. With that many amazing people, you can imagine the stories, paintings, songs and laughs that have graced the walls and halls of Brush Creek Ranch. I feel pretty lucky to be a part of it! (You can probably also imagine that doesn't leave much time for me and my own artistic practice.) And guess what? There's more to come. In January we start welcoming the next group of residents to the ranch.

Between now and then, I get a little bit of a lighter schedule and some focused 'me' time. Translation: ART TIME! The holidays make that a little tricky with scheduling and shopping and family and what not. I'm a little nervous that I will waste this precious time doing silly, unproductive things. So I've started making lists and am scheming my plan of attack.

Reorganization of space will be high on the list. I've finally got my little space separated into three somewhat distinct units-- "work space/office," "studio/art space," and "living" (and with less than 300sq ft, this is tricky to do!). Of course right now the work/office space gets the most use and consequently spills over in studio/art space. For the next few weeks it will be my goal to focus my activity in studio/art and NOT let receipts-to-file or pre-arrival forms stack up on my studio table. I will be hanging homosote board so I can easily view works in progress and focus my eye upwards to art.

I can honestly say giving so much energy to this program has been a delight, but perhaps I have forgotten how to give back to myself. Uh-oh! Maybe it's time to read a few chapters of Art and Fear, and dive head first into my own work again.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ready and waiting

Sitting down to blog feels absolutely foreign. I think picking up a brayer or can of ink would feel even more strange. It's been awhile, to say the least, since I've thought about making anything art-related. I finished up this print right before I left Ohio. (The only large vertical piece I made)

Submerge : Emerge, Collagraph Monoprint

The whirlwind move from Ohio to Wyoming was just that and I feel like I never stopped moving. There was not a lot of time to get resettled before I hit the ground running at my new job. Things are going really well with the residency program. The Pilot Program that I designed is at capacity with some really amazing talent coming to visit Wyoming this fall.

I've been working 60-80 hours a week on the project but I'm ready for a break. It's time to start setting up a spot for myself to make some art. It will be strange not having a press, but I know I will manage. Perhaps collage, drawing and collecting will come back into play.

Having not made work for over two months or so, it's funny when you realize that the act of making is not a want, but a need. It is the balance I crave in a busy, busy world. Becoming more of a spiritual practice, the act of creating can transcend just the decorative.

I truly believe all the arts are valuable to society. Art and Humanities have the power to change, slow a person down to think, tap into emotions and soak up the world that we too often take for granted. Which makes what I am doing here at Brush Creek even more valuable. I think there will be a good chunk of education that I didn't realize I would have to do. But it will all be worth it!

(After typing a few paragraphs, I also realized the intense connection between word and image for me. Writing plays a crucial role in the image that unfolds. They are not always one in the same, but compliment each other in an inextricable way.)

It is exciting to think how many other makers I will come in contact with in the coming months. Johntimothy and Patti have been phenomenal first residents-- both making leaps and bounds in their work but more important, reminding me why I need to carve time away for my own creation. It feeds the soul. And I am ready and waiting to feed my soul a little bit more.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Things I'll Miss About Ohio

Two nights ago it officially became summer-- I saw the first fireflies of season! These glowing little bugs will never grow old to me, never cease to amaze me. I'll admit, when I see them I get a bit giggly with wonder. Fluttering neon as they flit by my head, dusk turns into an enchanted, dark night. What's not to love?

This weekend is Father's Day, another marker of summer, and I find myself doing a lot of thinking. Missing my dad and the West brings a lot of reflection. As I listened to the radio this morning I was not surprised how many "dad" stories aired, but was surprised how many other people found themselves missing their fathers. And then it hit me (again), this experience is not unique to me. It sent me down memory lane a little.

Each year at this time in my hometown is Woodchopper's Jamboree and Rodeo. It is almost always on Father's Day weekend. My dad was a sometimes-member of the Lion's Club, the folks who sponsored this annual raucous weekend. He used to sell beer during the woodchopping events and ride his horse around later in the afternoon, looking official in his yellow vest. In a small town this is a big to-do.

As a kid it was candy at the parade; in high school it was acting (with my dad on occasion) in the ribald yet hilarious melodramas and trying to sneak into the dances; during and after college it was staying up all night, dancing and drinking to good old fashioned live music... in the street! Now it means catching up with old friends and family (and still dancing in the street 'til the wee hours of the morning). All of these events included my dad. That was until a two years ago when we squeezed his funeral in right before the festivities. That year the weekend took on an entirely different feel. I haven't been able to go to Jamboree since that summer because I moved for graduate school.

Here in Ohio there are other markers of summer. When I moved here I didn't really care for the town, the humidity, the heat, the flatness.... and on and on it went. I just didn't like it! But I was enchanted by the magical lightning bugs my first night here. Maybe there were my gateway to Ohio and the Midwest.

It's incredible that two short years have gone by. Over the course of my MFA, I've grown to love a lot of things because of Ohio. This little town. Mixed hardwood forests and all the great plants. That calm and wide river. Cardinals! Amazing new friends. Bermuda shorts (I never wore shorts in Wyoming; Thanks, heat and humidity). And there are many other things I will miss about this place.

Just three weeks from now I will be departing, mid-summer, to head back West. *insert hoorays!* So on this weekend of reflection, amidst a little bit of sadness and a few tears, a smile comes to my face. It comes because of fireflies. Thanks, Ohio!

(P.S. Make sure to hug all the dads tomorrow, and don't forget to say, "I love you.")

Friday, May 27, 2011

Artists Foundation at Brush Creek Ranch

I am so pleased to say I returned from Chicago recently from an amazing trip. It was brief but I finally feel like the ball is rolling on my future endeavors. Saturday morning five women sat around a table in a beautiful apartment overlooking Lake Michigan. Decisions were made by this fledgling board on the future the Artists Foundation at Brush Creek Ranch.

Oh, did I mention on got my dream job?! Yup, the new Director of the Artists Foundation at Brush Creek Ranch, yours truly. This unique residency program will be opening this fall with select residents. The first application deadline is September 15th, 2011 for the Winter/Spring of 2012. Length of stay from January to May are two weeks long; June, July and August will be four weeks long; and September through mid November two weeks long. Residents are responsible for airfare to Laramie Regional Airport (LAR). The Artists Foundation will provide transportation to and from Laramie, private living space/bathroom, individual work spaces, and all meals while in residence. We will have room for 8 artists at any given time-- 4 visual artists, 2 writers and 2 musician/composers. All are welcome!

This amazing location is near and dear to my heart-- situated between the Sierra Madre and Snowy Mountain ranges on the high plains of South Central Wyoming in the North Platte River Valley. It is my home, my axis mundi, and where my roots have always been.

It is my great pleasure to be part of this developing project, hopefully for years to come. While we are in the development stages I wanted to informally keep you posted on things in the near future. Come back soon for more information. Please spread the word about this unique opportunity!

Best wishes,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Precious Time... No more wasting it!

I've been having really whacked out dreams as of late. Last night I dreamt about old high school friends whom I haven't spoken with in years. One of them was getting remarried and wouldn't let Joel come to the wedding because he was mean to her. In real life, they've never actually met. In the same dream, I was watching a basketball game in the mountains with log trucks zooming past the court made of grass. Because I don't really watch sports, I decided to help out the plants. On the edge of the court were little delicate green shoots forcing their way up from the detritus of the forest floor. I started pulling away dead brown organic material to reveal the bright lovely green of new plants, when all of a sudden, I looked down at my hand. It was covered with little black beetles that were boring into my skin. I was peeling away the skin on my hand to get the creepy crawlies out.... and that’s when I woke up!

What is the moon doing right now, I wonder? And then I think to myself, "I spend way too much time online!"

As someone who seeks little visual culture through moving pictures (i.e. TV), the internet is a dangerous thing and I have gotten sucked in. Lately I've found myself with little to no studio time because of end of the semester cleaning, painting and general re-arranging. So what have I been doing? Digging deeper into the soul sucking world wide web. AAaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! This is not very mindful behavior and it has got to stop.

So this is what I do to stop wasting my precious time on the internets:

1. Go on daily walks
2. Ride my bike more instead of driving my car
3. Get back into morning yogacizing
4. Do something art related when I go to the studio (duh!)
5. Start a calendar of deadlines for exhibitions to enter
6. Attend a birding class on the 14th of May
7. Set a timer for Facebook and other social media
8. Draw in my sketchbook and write more often.

Any other bright ideas for not wasting time on the web are greatly appreciated! Let me know what you do to engage in the outside world.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Compassion for others

Last night, as I was sleeping, my friend sent me a text message. This was nothing out of the ordinary. They stay up late; I often go to bed early. And not I'm-an-old-lady-and-get-up-at-5am-early, but it was sometime before midnight. The text read,

" The US military just killed Bin Laden. Obama is about to speak."

As I read the words in my dreamy sleep, I really only hoped it was Joel saying he made it to his campsite and was also hunkering down for the night. Slightly confused by what I read, I closed my phone, put it back by my bedside and quickly fell back asleep.

Checking email and the non-essential social media this morning, my heart has been a little sad all day by the number of rejoiceful and yet hateful things I have read. I can't shake the overwhelming feeling either. Yes, the news of Osama Bin Laden's death brings joy and comfort to many people, especially in the US. Perhaps they feel like they don't have to live in fear anymore. Perhaps their loved ones are one step closer to coming home. I do not fully understand the consequences of this news. And quite frankly I am not sure anyone who celebrates this news can fully grasp the situation either.

Does it mean that we can stop fighting?
Does it mean these wars will be over and people will suddenly decide to be peaceful?

Ten years ago, I did not (and still do not) own a television. I remember walking through a common space in the art building and there were small groups of students, ghost-faced and staring up at the events unfolding on the screens above. At the time, I was horrified by what I saw and heard. "Did you see the bodies jumping from the towers?" fingers pointing, videos played over and over as ovals highlighted the falling figures. After the first morning, I chose to not look at images if I could help it. Sheltered from images of 9/11 tragedies, it was only years later that I was struck with the emotional drama that most people could not rip themselves from watching on their TV sets. Perhaps it was my chosen shelter that makes it more difficult for me to understand the hateful things I hear now about Bin Laden's death. Maybe I don't have the same emotional attachment and vindictive sense of relief.

One thing that strikes me during all of this is the need for compassion. I am thankful for our president with his somber response and respect to Bin Laden's death. We need more leaders leading with compassion and thoughtfulness for all parties involved. Put yourself in someone else's shoes and try on their life for just a moment. You might not like what you see when you look in the mirror wearing another person's shoes. I cannot imagine what it has been like living under Taliban strong holds. I cannot images what it has been like living in a family who risks losing their home. Whether in the Middle East, or right here at home, there are people struggling with life and with death and with money and with love and with fear and...

It is moments like this I am thankful for everything that I have been given and worked hard to achieve, for all the people who have come in and out of my life and all the sacrifices others have made for me. I am not defiantly patriotic, nor extremely religious but I read something today that seemed quite fitting (minus the jesus part at the end):

"Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble."

So, now I do what I know best. Dive into my work, inspired by readings and try to create a more balanced world. I think there is a place for beauty in this world. I think there is a place for empathy and compassion. We can make change, even if it's quiet. Sit and meditate on that for awhile.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Artist Statement

Passages & Interludes

Writer and ecologist Terry Tempest Williams wrote in her book Refuge,“If the natural world was assigned spiritual value, then those days spent in wildness were sacred.” This is how I spent my childhood. I did not grow up in a church-going household; there was no religion of which to speak; our attachment to the land was our attachment to each other. In my house there was a spirituality of space and place.

Cultural geographer and scholar Yi-Fu Tuan defines space as something we move through, understanding its breadth and depth through our sensory perception. We do not understand the scale with only our eyes, but how it feels to the touch and how it sounds. A place, on the other hand, is defined as a space imbued with value.

I did not understand it growing up, but nature and the out of doors became my sanctuary. Communing with rocks and birds, plants and wind taught me about death and life, the sound of silence and the balance between needing each other and needing space.

Poets like Wordsworth and Thoreau crept into my reading list. Upon discovering English Romantic artists like Constable, I looked to the sky and found my spirituality reflected in the ether. Ever shifting, each moment became precious, never the same as the one before or the next one to come. This awareness and the attention called to it have become significant to my work. Going on silent meditation retreat provided a foundation and grounding to understand the devotion and discipline it takes to live a balanced life in our hectic world.

Passages & Interludes is the depiction of being. Moving through the world, we use each of our senses to understand space and how we fit into and upon the earth. The journey of life is full of emotional ups and downs and personal experience. The interludes become necessary for the occasional pause - a moment of reflection and contemplation.

Spring Board

This two year adventure is coming to a close but it hasn't quite set in yet. On Sunday, for the first time in two years, I am having people over to my house. Not just any people, but some of the best people in my life right now. It's funny, Joel and I used to have dinner parties or potlucks almost once per month. Now I don't even know if I have plates enough for everyone! But I don't really care. I'm excited to share the end of my time in Ohio with some really great folks.

And to that end, this is not really the end of anything; but, the beautiful beginning of my art career-- a spring board into the future. I feel amazing (that massage I had today probably doesn't hurt either!). Over the course of two years, the work coming from my studio completely transformed. I never could have imagined I would be making such abstract work, let alone prints that are so large. But it all makes perfect sense to me know. I'm proud to have grown as an artist who stayed true to herself. This work is really me. And it's something I am really proud to show. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible!

Here are some images from MFA exhibition, Passages & Interludes:

Installation view

Song of Birds, Collagraph Monotprint with wax, 32" x 79", 2011

Winter's Movements, Collagraph Monotprint with wax, 32" x 79", 2011

Walking and Weaving Sound, Collagraph Monotprint, 32" x 79", 2011

Sumac, Collagraph Monotprint with Wax, 8" x 8", 2011

Compliment: Sky; Atma: Soul; Sycamore: Earth; Flow: Water
All Collagraph Monoprints with Wax, 6" x 6", 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Distance between things

It's been awhile. My life since the last post has been full steam ahead and then some!

Having time to reflect on my sojourn in Ohio, I realized I will miss all the wonderful people here. The kind of people I never expected found me. Or maybe we found each other. Perhaps it's because we've all been brought together in this college town and many, like me, are transient in nature. The faculty who have guided and mentored me are here to stay. It is their choice to be in this place, and live a quiet(er) life. And I very much respect that decision. They still have access to contemporary art; within four hours drive are at least 6 major museums, not to mention a plethora of galleries and art centers. Of course, being a university, visiting artists come and go each semester inserting bits of the contemporary artworld as they pass through.

I will also miss the time and space to make my work. It has truly been a gift. An opportunity recently fell into my lap and it's really got me thinking. All my adult life, I have wanted to open an art center with a residency program-- the gift of time and space for making, given to myself and others. Suddenly, this amazing opportunity is staring me in the face. I had imagined taking my time with growing and building my vision. Start-up money and a building, equipment and a great team would take time to develop. At this moment, I stare back comparing this new opportunity with my original vision; it looks like what I had imagined only many years into the endeavor. As I type, buildings are already built, money is available and the role of director is open, waiting for me.

Though no formal offer has been made-- we're trying each other on like a new sweater, checking to be sure the color and fit match-- I have high hopes for making this work. What their vision is, is not exactly clear. The start-up nature of these projects is often nebulous and vague, especially with no prior art experience on their part. An incredible amount of research has already gone into the project on their part, and of course on mine. Understanding the needs of the artists and the needs of the program will be a balancing act. Most likely, this will change and grow, evolving with each group-- visual artists, musicians and writers.

There are so many reasons I know I'm cut out for this job. And it's a big job! I stare back in the face of opportunity and smile. There will be moments of fear and uncertainty; in fact, there already have been. I will make mistakes, but learn and grow from them. But knowing how to succeed is something I'm good at. Taking risks is part of it. Balance is another. Trust in myself, trust in my comrades. Gratefulness and thanks to my teachers who have encouraged and mentored me; many thanks to their teachers too.

Even if I don't land this dream job, I won't be sad. It's given me time for great reflection on how far I've come. How lucky I am, that I'm doing what I love. ...and someday soon I might make a decent wage doing it! That being said, think those good hippie vibes and help me land this job! I'd love to be the one who welcome you as the next artist-in-residence at Brush Creek Ranch.