Thursday, December 18, 2008

New Camera!!!

My new Holga came in the mail today! I am so excited, I am definitely taking it to Maryland on my trip next week!!

I can't believe it came so quickly. I think I ordered it on Sunday.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Miss Summer

I took this picture in July in Chicago in Grant Park ... it was such a nice day ... I miss summer.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Professional Progress Reviews: Resolution

I didn't write about what happened at the progress review.

Actually, it went really well.  Talking about it beforehand made me realize that what I was most worried about was Judaism coming up in the review like it did in the initial advising session I had back in the beginning of September.  I met with my advisor like everyone else but also to talk about the absences I was going to have because of Jewish holidays.  I think the meeting did not go very well and I left feeling like I had to prove myself and defend my religious observances.

So... I was nervous that was going to happen again.  But instead, they said that the way I dealt with my absences was admirable and professional and it ended up being really great.  What a relief.  I almost cried, I was so nervous and to hear them be so nice almost made me cry.  They said a lot of nice things about me and said I was doing a great job and doing well in the program and to keep it up, basically.


Also, my psychopathology teacher mentioned how we have a common love for The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and classic SciFi.  AHHH.  We are going to be best friends.  (Our class is basically his fan club, he is leaving the school this year to go with his wife and start a new medical school so we bought him a bottle of scotch and decorated the box and the bottle and gave him a ton of cards)

So... I'm glad that's over with.  Now that the progress review is done, I'm finding it hard to really get nervous about anything else.  I used up all of my stress on it.  I have the psychopathology final, the gallery opening (and closing) for my materials and media class, and my final critique in my studio class, and I'm just like, whatever!

Shadows: Landscape

This one happened because I printed the blue onto another piece that I had been struggling with.  Lately my solution to pieces I've been struggling with is to simply print over them.  It's been working out, though!  Again, this piece turned out like it did because of my bad printmaking skills.  I hope that as I get better I can still make things like this on purpose!

When I look at this one it feels like a landscape, maybe even reminiscent of Japanese landscape prints.  It has a similar color palette.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shadows: Mysterious Blue Woman

This is still in progress.  I am printing like crazy before the end of the semester because I am really inspired by this shadows stuff.  The green underneath was printed with one screen that was a semi-successful shadow capture, and was printed over with a blue globby screen that came out differently every time I printed it (a completely unsuccessful shadow capture but the results are interesting).

I see a woman appearing in a few of the globs and also a few of my other shadow prints.  In this one, the woman is sad but determined, bracing herself against the wind and the rain.  She is alone in a strange forest.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Professional Progress Reviews

I haven't had mine yet.  It's later this afternoon.  I am SO NERVOUS.  Last night I was sitting at dinner and my stomach felt weird and my palms were sweaty and clammy.  I said, "I feel weird."  JewishGuy asked what did I mean weird.  And I said, "Give me a minute, I will think of the word."  And after a little bit of contemplation I said, "Anxious?"  At which point he reminded me that I had my progress review coming up tomorrow (today).

Every time I think of it I get really nervous, my heart races and my palms sweat.

The weird thing is, I think I am doing pretty well in the program.  My exams come back with good grades, my papers are not returned for revision, my presentations seem to go over well, I participate in every class, I am on time and my assignments are on time, and so on.  But the idea of 6 faculty members sitting around me and talking about me TO/WITH me makes me EXTREMELY nervous.  Also, they have all prepared packets with their feedback that I am supposed to read before I go in front of them.

I am more nervous than I was at my interview.

Everyone is really nervous.  I'm trying not to talk about it too much with everyone because I don't want to feed other people's nerves.  So here I am, writing about it on my art blog, even though it's not necessarily the right place for it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reporting on the AATA Conference

I feel like I should do a post about the American Art Therapy Association conference, because it was the first time I was involved in art therapy on a professional level.

First, I do want to mention that the field is very new and it shows in many ways.  Art therapy has only been around as an organized "profession" for about 50- or 60-ish years, so we still don't know exactly what we want to "be."  Are we artists with training in therapy, or therapists who use art as a major part of their therapy?  Although the continuum is important, it's still telling to see some of the research that was presented at the conference.  Not only that, but it was interesting to see the way research and findings were presented.

For example, many of the presenters that I went to were showing the results of some research in the field.  One that I was particularly interested in was doing art with adolescent patients in a children's hospital.  I was interested in this because I had spent some time volunteering at Texas Children's Hospital and noticed that the teenagers were relatively uninvolved in their surroundings (even though Texas Children's does a good job of not infantalizing the surroundings for the most part, in my opinion).  The presentation was interesting, but focused more on the case studies than on practical applications of the findings.  This was similar to pretty much every other presenter I saw.  I went to one presentation on art books as a transitional object for patients with eating disorders, and the entire presentation was case studies.  Fascinating, yes!  Applicable ... not really, well, at least not for me as a student with no experience with people with eating disorders.  I wished that we had learned more about HOW TO USE art books as a transitional object, or HOW TO GET adolescents involved in art making in a children's hospital, but I didn't leave those presentations feeling like I had learned those concepts.

Also, many presentations felt the need to justify using art therapy - in general - with that particular population.  I think that this was simply preaching to the choir.  Yes, art therapy allows the client to feel more in control and have choices over their lives, builds self-esteem through skill acquisition, etc etc.  How about you skip over that and get to the good stuff?

One more less-than-positive ... this was just one presentation, but it makes me wonder about the quality of some of the research.  Someone presented a digital poster (not sure what that means, anyway) about an experiment that she ran, and the experiment was full of holes.  Way too many variables.  She didn't run it herself, as she only has a BA, she ran the experiment with the help of a working art therapist with all kinds of licensure and blahdieblah, and there were just so many variables she got no results at all.  It makes me wonder because a lot of people feel the need to justify art therapy to the mental health community (which was kind of what this experiment was about, in my opinion), but how can you justify us with bad experiments?


I went to Shaun McNiff's student session.  HOW AWESOME.  Basically, McNiff is quoted in all of the research I am doing for a presentation on the importance of art therapists participating in the art community.  I was so excited that I was able to sit in his session, and not only that, (I am telling everyone about this) I asked a question and he said GREAT QUESTION, THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT.  He talked about negative view so many people have of art therapists, ie: "Anything you paint can and will be used against you," (this was not the first time someone has said this but it is still funny).  I asked him how do we make people NOT feel that way when we are with them.  It was great.  I took a lot of notes.  I will be using this in my paper and presentation on Tuesday.

The keynote speaker was of course hilarious and great.  He showed us a video of two neurons making a synaptic connection - like when you pair the visual image of a cow with the word "cow," how does that connection get made but through repetition.  He did a funny little "performance piece" about it, with his two hands wiggling fingers towards each other and finally connecting while repeating COW COW COW.

Also, there was this "open studio" available to everyone at the conference - at any time, you could go to the studio room and make art using the materials provided.  It was really great.  I managed to squeeze in there before Shabbat and made some monoprints.  I also talked to a lady who says she founded City ArtWorks in Houston, which was really interesting, I am glad that I met her!  I think I applied for a job there back in the day, if only I had known her then.

The open studio was especially great because I think it really sets the art therapy conference apart from other psychology/therapy conferences.  Yes, there were the art workshops that people could sign up for (for extra money, ahh), but there was also this studio space that anyone could go to at any time.  I don't know what the participation was like, as there were about a thousand people at the conference I highly doubt that even half that many went to the studio - but you never know!  I would be interested to find out if anyone had been keeping track.

Another great aspect of the conference was the bonding in our program.  So many people from our class went to the conference this year and I think it was a really great experience for us to have together.  I especially bonded with the five people who shared the hotel room with me, with our late night conversations sharing embarrassing stories, tarot readings, and group therapy.  It was really great and even though I got no sleep I felt really inspired by everyone.

So much happened last weekend and it is really hard to process!  Good thing there are pictures, hilarious pictures, like the ones of our department head and assistant department head boogeying on the dance floor.  AWESOME.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving and Chag (a non-art post)

This was last year's Thanksgiving dinner.  Last year I didn't make it to New York to have dinner with my family, so JewishGuy and I hosted a dinner for our friends.  This was it!  How pretty and colorful and full of turkey leg!

I just wanted to write a note concerning Thanksgiving now that I am observing Jewish holidays.  It feels WEIRD not to have to be on "chag" (holiday) tomorrow, like tonight I can still watch TV, and I can still watch TV tomorrow and in fact I am going to the Thanksgiving parade.  How bizarre for me, now that I've gone through the High Holidays, where every other day (it feels) is "chag," where there is an immense amount of preparation to make sure you can not work or cook or drive tomorrow or the next day.  Now everyone is gearing up for chag, and we are making arrangements for dinner (since we aren't going to make it to New York this year, either), and the idea that we can drive to a friend's house for dinner is really weird to me.

I was having dinner at a rabbi's house recently and we were going around the table introducing ourselves (it was a big group) and the question was, what is your favorite holiday.  Not, what is your favorite Jewish holiday, just what holiday in general.  The rabbi's wife said, "I know my kids hate it when I say this, but they are in the other room - if they were here, I would say Passover, but since they aren't... Christmas!  I know, I know, my kids say, it's not a holiday we celebrate, it can't be your favorite - but it is!  The rest of the country is gearing up for chag, and I just get to relax!  It's great!"

So that's how it is!  Weird.

Of course, I do celebrate Christmas - by going out for Chinese food and a movie, as is tradition.  This year I will actually be with my family for Christmas so my brother and I will party together.  But I wonder, if this is how I feel on Thanksgiving - which is a holiday I celebrate - I wonder how it will feel on Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AATA Conference

Wow!  I just got back from the American Art Therapy Association 39th Annual Conference and I had SO much fun!  Will write more about it later... one day I will actually write about art therapy on this blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Product of my School?

My presentation in two weeks is about art therapists in the art community, and how it is important as art therapists to keep making art for real and not just superficially, and how important it is not to "clinify" artwork, etc.  Its going to be an exciting paper for me because I think I really agree with it.

Funny thing, all of my sources are from people who teach or have taught at my school (or grad students' theses from the school).  It's no surprise, since this school - of all of the schools I applied to - puts the most emphasis on creating art as a student and an art therapist (one of the reasons why I liked this program so much).  Other schools, students are not required to take studios, they are recommended but not required - at least that was my opinion.  Taking the art classes was important to me, as was making art in class.

Also, my internship is in an organization where my job will be to help members make art, and maybe I will meet individually but it's not a clinical setting.  It's basically exactly what I want, at least from what I know of my options now!

I do tend to clinify the art we make in my role play sessions in classes, because that's all I can think of to do.  It's hard in the role play to just make art together and allow the therapy to happen the way these authors propose it should happen in art therapy, because the role plays really are only 20 minutes long or less.  These processes seem to take a lot longer, require more contact with the clients than twenty minutes, and also require the art therapist to make art as a model.

I will write more about this as I think of it ... this was a perfect research topic, I think!  Also, I am getting ideas relating to the Jewish art summer program for teens I was an intern at a year and a half ago, if not things they would be directly interested in doing then something to consider for the future for myself...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Capturing Shadows

Today I went to the studio to try to get a better image of the shadow I have been working with all week.  The sun was out and bright, I thought, today I am finally going to get my shadow!

Alas....  when it was time to make the screen, the sun had gone behind some clouds, and was close to going behind the buildings, lost forever until tomorrow.  I tried anyway, but nothing came out.  A total loss.

This is how Peter Pan must have felt. :(

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Me + Art Therapy + Blog

Here's the deal: I love to share.  Share, share, share.  I talk a LOT.  I like to blog about things that happen in my life.

Starting next semester I will be working with clients and I can't share those stories.  It's confidential so I can't even share it with JewishGuy.  How frustrating!  I mean, today in our Counseling Techniques class we had a role-play with our on-going clients (classmates who we are partnered with for the semester-long video project) and I thought I did a good job, but I can't even talk about it as a kind of practice for me not being able to talk about working with clients.

But I WANNA share...

Of course, I could always share what happens in MY therapy sessions, but I wouldn't do that in public.  So just like I wouldn't share what happens in my therapy sessions in public, I won't share what happens in others' sessions in public.  But it's so hard!  Already, it's so hard!

4 Nov 2008


For my Materials and Media in Art Therapy class, I am doing a body of work on shadows and shadow puppets.  I had to do a research paper about it that I just finished last Thursday (hopefully, unless I have revisions to make), a presentation about puppets, and now I am working on my body of work that will be due at the end of the semester.  I have been wracking my brain all semester to come up with a way to combine my studio class and this body of work.  I have written about it before, how it's so hard to work on so many disconnected projects, so it has in a way been a semester-long goal to find a way to integrate at least two aspects of the program.

Well!  Last week we had a demo in the printmaking class where we were shown how to burn a screen using shadows!


So this week I cut out a figure and burned the screen using the shadow.  There were complications with each one I did today.  It was a pretty exhausting day, because I was burning the screens and printing and washing and burning and printing and washing ...  PHEW!

The figure I cut out was based on the image below, not that it matters, the shadows are pretty unrecognizable!  But this is from my sketchbook.

And now for the prints from today...

This is the first attempt.  You can kind of see some of the lines (it is a mirror image), but I didn't expose it long enough.  It still looks kind of cool, your brain wants to make images of a large floating face and a small person's body in there, which is interesting.  Also, maybe a hand.  So this one was done in ideal conditions, ie it was done inside under a window in direct sunlight, other than it was only exposed for 1 minute.

This was made in less-than-ideal conditions.  After cleaning off the screen and putting new emulsion on, ready to make another exposure, I realized I had run out of sunlight.  It was getting close to 4pm and the sun was disappearing behind the buildings.  Luckily there was some sun outside on the sidewalk, so my teacher and I ran out there to expose the screen.  We had not accounted for wind.  The shadow was all over the screen, and not much exposed, as you can see!  Duh - we are in Chicago, mere blocks from the lake!  It's late Fall!  Of course there is a lot of wind... Also, I messed up and accidentally blew out some of the emulsion when I was cleaning it after it had been exposed.  I still like it, it kind of embodies the feeling of a shadow, I think (?).

Today I felt truly lucky to be at this school and in this city.  There are always tours going through the building during classes.  Today, they saw my teacher and I running into the hallway to sit under the perfect light for 1 minute and then race back into the studio.  It was very exciting.  I can only imagine what they thought.  I can only imagine what the people thought who saw us huddling around my little screen on the sidewalk, desperately trying to protect it from the wind!

But in essence this goes along with what I was writing in my research paper.  Shadows are inherently transient and ephemeral.  You can't really "catch" them, but they will come back when conditions are right.  Maybe next time I will be able to get a good exposure on the screen and I will have really caught a cool shadow.  Also, after this, I think I am going to get bring my glass casserole dish and fill it with water and agitate it over the photo emulsion and see what happens with those shadows, I bet that will be cool.

I walked home from class just feeling good.  I looked up at the skyline as I turned the corner from the building and couldn't believe this was my life!  Okay, it's a little colder than I like, but there is something delicious in the sharp cold air - I definitely remember liking Fall, even though I hate winter.  Something feels so good about it.  And today was great day, besides!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Species #330: Work in Progress 2

How did this mess happen?

I am not a clean printmaker.  I left my blank papers in a stack on the table where I was also printing (MISTAKE).  My spatula fell onto a piece of paper, making a huge indelible brown splotch.  I decided to go with it, made lots of brown splotches and smears, and then printed over it.  It was impossible to see the print over the splotches since the ink was exactly the same, so I painted into the print to make it stand out from the mess.

I think it looks pretty neat.  I am kind of stuck at this point, however.

Altered Book Project

In the Materials and Media in Art Therapy class, we have split up into groups.  Each group has to do a workshop and presentation on a type of medium ... well, medium isn't the right work, I guess.  This group's "medium" was books, so for our workshop we altered books.

I dug out of my book and re-glued the pages I cut out onto the cover (which I also cut).  I kind of made a poem out of the words but I won't post that here because it doesn't make much sense.

Hooray for in-class workshops!  I will post more as we go on.  The workshop my group is leading is about puppetry, so that will be interesting...

Species #330: Work in Progress 1

This is Species #330.  I have sewn onto it and then painted it so far.  The close up shows the detail of the negative brush strokes I'm making in this one, as well as the thread that I've sewn on and glued down.

I really like the way paper looks when it's been sewn.  Something about it is so raw and awesome.

Species #1039: Work in Progress 2

I started sewing onto my images.  This was not the first one I sewed onto, but I discovered in this image that gel medium can reactivate watercolor (it seems only if there is a thick coating of water color, because I have tried this out in other species and it hasn't worked).  You can see this in the lips.

I don't know where to go from here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shabbat Feelings

Today was the first day I've ever had a negative feeling about Shabbat.  After all of the holidays, I am basically "holiday-ed out," I just want to be "normal," and I feel frustrated (a little).  Today is also a friend's birthday, and after class everyone was going to the bar.  But I hadn't pre-cleaned for Shabbat in anticipation of going to the bar after class, and I felt bad about leaving that to JewishGuy without warning, and I had promised JewishGuy that I would pick things up from Walgreens on the way home (which he doesn't have time to do), so I went home.

I usually read text books on the train ride home, but I didn't feel like it.  Instead, I took out my sketchbook, the one I keep with me at all times.  I first drew the chain as a response to the activity we did in class where I learned how to make an embroidery chain stitch.  Then I drew the candles.  At first I saw it as an expression of feeling trapped by the holidays, keeping me from being a normal classmate, keeping me from doing things with my friends.

But then I realized it also looks like a special place surrounded by flames, flames from the candles which symbolize divine light.  Shabbat is a special place.  "An Island in Time," as they say.  And this is kind of like that.

So I wrote above it, "entering, not trapped by," because this little sketch is really about my transitioning into Shabbat and into the observant lifestyle.  At first, it feels like I'm trapped.  But if I change my perspective, I am in a holy place.

There's a little bit of art therapy right there.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"I Hate This."

My teacher took one look at Species #1039 with the purple and green swirls and said, "I hate this."  He then went on to elaborate, how he hates crafty things, how the tissue paper reminds him of 5th grade crafts and things his mom might make.  He pointed at the print in the middle and said, This is Fine Art, but then pointed at the tissue paper and said, This is not Fine Art.


Afterwards, in my attempt to console myself, I pretended to be his art therapist instead of his student and asked, "Why does the association with your mother make it not Fine Art?"

I mean, of course I didn't say that.  But it made me feel better to think about saying it.

He gave me suggestions on how to use my crafty influences in a way that is Fine Art.  He did this while we were standing back-to-back in the screen washing room and he happened to look at my screen.  It turns out he likes the species, just not what I've done to them.  I was glad he gave me suggestions because when he just flat out said he hated it, without any suggestions on fixing it, I was pretty much flabbergasted.

Also, I tried to explain that #1039 with the purple and green swirls was like an experimenting ground for other works on #1039, for example, the one with the brown spots.  He liked the one with the brown spots.  

Also, also, what IS Fine Art?  Why is something made with expensive materials Fine Art, but something made out of magazines not?  And who says I want to make that, anyway?

I don't know.

I'm all about the art as a human behavior movement in art therapy.  And having to think about materials to use with potential clients influences my choices in materials for class.  And having the experience of leaving art school, realizing almost 100% of what I've learned is irrelevant to real life due to lack of funding (ie: no fun huge printing presses or things like that) and having to adapt my art making to what is available, I am not so excited about spending too much time and effort learning how to do things that I won't do outside the scope of the class.  I want to use the class to enhance my own art making skills in a realistic way.

Anyway ... I am trying to integrate his suggestions into my own ways of working.  Let's see how it goes.  Hopefully I will pass the class.

Oh yeah, and I'm going to slap some tissue paper on some of them, too!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Species #1039: Work in progress 1

Today I went to the studio to print another species.  I printed four copies of Species #1039.  While I was waiting for the screen to dry, I started painting on it.  The hot pink is nail polish!  How fun!  I think I am going to buy more neon nail polish because it's way cheaper than buying neon paint or ink, the only problem is the fumes.  The colors are brighter in person, it was hard to adjust the image in iPhoto to show the real colors and I took a bad picture.  Maybe a better picture to come later.

Species #845: Work in progress 4

Yet another work on a print of Species #845.  I don't know what to do, so I started by collaging magazine pieces.  Maybe I will do some painting on it later.  The species was printed over a monotype ghost print I made.

Species #845: Work in progress 3

Here is another print/painting of Species #845.  I am using the negative brushstroke thing I discovered.  The paper was pre-printed on with the corn cob that I used for one of my 10-day projects, and then I printed the species over it, and then painted with water color and gel medium.  I don't know if I'm finished.

Corn Cob Pipe!!!


How awesome is this???

Three of my friends in my program happened to be out to dinner at a restaurant that for some reason sells folky stuff, like corn cob pipes!  So they bought one for me!  Because of my corn project!!! And how sad I was because I didn't get to make a pipe!!!!

A huge THANK YOU to them of course!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Year Ago...

A year ago, before Rosh Hashanah, HillelLady and I were not friends.  We were working together and not getting along very well at all.  It was pretty passive-aggressive, and it turns out most of it was because our boss was pitting us against each other.  After a big bad conversation on Rosh Hashanah, that basically could have been the end of our friendship potential forever, we decided, eff this, we are going to be friends, we are going to make this work.  We made a weekly date night where we decided we would not do work, but instead bond and hang out.  We weren't going to schedule any programs for that night so that we could have some time as friends.

To be honest, I think our boss was freaked out when we told him about our plan to be friends.

The first date night we had was right around this time, and we went to a paint-your-own-pottery studio.

Well, I just so happen to be in Boston, where HillelLady now resides, and I just so happen to have a few hours free before Sukkot tomorrow.  SO.  We are going to a paint-your-own-pottery studio to make commemorative mugs.  JewishGal & HillelLady: First Year Friend Anniversary.

We aren't friends by accident.  We decided to be friends.  And then we became friends.  And now she is one of my bridesmaids!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Species #845: Work in progress 2

Here is another print of Species #845 that I am working on.  This isn't the same as the other one (as you can guess).  There are four of these that are currently "in progress."

I discovered a cool way to make what I call negative brushstrokes.  I know someone else has discovered this before me, but it was an accident when I saw it, SO I was quite excited.

It's funny how creepy this image is in black and white, but once I add color it seems to be kind of happy!

I <3 Louise Bourgeois

This evening I saw "Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and the Tangerine."  It was ... amazing ... weird ... and, yeah. weird.   Watch the trailer here.

I have always been fascinated by Louise Bourgeois' work.  I love her biomorphic forms, beautiful, sensual, and at the same time graphic and vulgar.  Much of her work is creepy or horrifying to me, and her giant spiders evoke a visceral response.  I am not afraid of spiders, but I am afraid of those spiders!

A few things stood out to me in this movie.  For one, she explains that the spiders represent her mother, and she has a favorable view of her mother.  These giant, menacing spiders, creatures who are practically the symbol of phobia, to her are in a way comforting.  They are reliable, she says, without emotional outbursts, not burdened by their passions.  She says this is like her mother, which is the type of person she strives to be - yet she admits to being what she considers too passionate.  We hear stories of her "passion," such as the story told by her son, Jean-Louis, of a time when she was so angry at their response to her cooking that she threw a leg of lamb out of the window.  The children went and retrieved the meat from outside, washed it off, and ate it, I suppose as a way to appease her anger.

It truly is difficult for me to imagine any kind of positive relationship with a mother represented by a giant spider whose legs envelope a cage that holds a chair (and perhaps allows the viewers to imagine themselves in that chair)!  It is terrifying!  Her spiders can be seen all over the world, outside, where people walk under and rollerblade around their legs.

Another work that had a powerful impact on me was her Arch of Hysteria.

In the movie, we see this arch in a different way - lying on a table in a room that seems to be a shock-treatment room or some kind of room in an old psychiatric facility.  The way they presented this piece in the movie was particularly startling - it took a while for them to show the whole thing, it was halfway hidden, it was unclear as to whether there was a head or arms, it was brought upon us, the viewers, suddenly.

Bourgeois uses her art to work through painful memories of her childhood that she still has not fully come to terms with.  The title, "The Spider, The Mistress and the Tangerine," refer to three major concepts in her work and life.  The spider, as I mentioned, is her mother.  The mistress is dealt with more than once in many ways, one of the most profound (to me) is her interpretation of a recreation of the sewing room in which the mistress worked.

The tangerine story is particularly poignant.  It is here that we have a window into the pain that Bourgeois is still dealing with, even at 96 years old, from her abusive and troubled past.

Her art is haunting, thought-provoking and, often, creepy.  Louise Bourgeois taps into something that is hard for me to describe.  When I look at this work, I imagine that she is not much concerned with the physical appearance of things, but instead uses the manipulation of surfaces and environments that allow the viewers (or should I say participants?) to understand what she is feeling and to perhaps commiserate with her to a degree.  Despite the obvious high level of craftsmanship, I might say that Bourgeois' work is a type of Art in the Raw.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Failed NaBloPoMo again - by 1 entry!

September was a bust!  I was supposed to do 30 posts in 30 days, and I did 29.  FAIL.  Just kidding, it was close, I'm going to say it counts.

This month's theme is voting.  I'm going to stay out of the political arena.  I don't think I want to promise 31 posts this month because of all the holidays and I'm going out of town, but I like the theme.  How about I will STRIVE for 31 posts this month, many of which will be progress pictures of artwork and the like.  I seem to be getting more visitors recently, so maybe some of you want to participate in a poll or two or thirty-one.

What is your favorite cutting tool?
x-acto knife
car keys free polls

Monday, September 29, 2008

Species #845: Work in progress

My studio class has a critique coming up where we're supposed to each bring in three works, each work containing elements of printmaking, painting and collage.  I've mentioned before that I am doing a series of woodland creatures.  Today, I printed Species #845 four times and I'm currently working back into the pieces individually.  This is the work I have done today, but it's not finished (I have to stop because it's time for final prep before Rosh Hashana).

So today was my first time printing on a screen, other than the monotype I printed earlier (which I'll post eventually, as I'm working into that one, too).  It was really exciting, and probably the easiest printmaking process I've ever encountered.  Just a voop-voop of the squeegee across the screen and then, magically, there's a print on the paper! I mean, I know how it works, but it's SO EASY - so much easier than even relief printing - that it's hard to believe it works.

Shana Tova!

l'Shana Tova everyone!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 Day Project: Day 10

Perhaps someone reading this has been wondering what I’ve done with the silks from these ears of corn I’ve been using. So far, I’ve used the husks, cobs and kernels in various ways to make the 9 current projects, but the silks have been completely ignored. Or have they?

I have been collecting and saving the silks. I didn’t know what I would use them for. They sat in a plastic bag, and eventually began to mold. After yesterday’s experiment with preserving kernels in wax, I thought of doing a similar thing with the silks. This time, I would simply drop them in water in a jar, as if they were a specimen floating in a jar of formaldehyde.

The effect was beautiful and at the same time disgusting. The strings float gently on the top of the water, with some stragglers drifting towards the bottom. There are large black pieces, which is how the silks came on the cob - I assume it’s dirt and after a while it will dissolve into the water and settle at the bottom. As it looks now, it reminds me of the heartworm-infested dog heart that my veterinarian used to keep in his office to scare pet owners into giving their pets heartworm prevention medication. It looks like something that was alive and is now dead.

I am keeping the jar in an area of the apartment that gets a good amount of sunlight throughout the day. I wonder if anything will grow in there.

I like that this is the final piece of the 10 day project. This piece is a culmination of all those that came before it: the silks in this jar are from every ear of corn that I used.

10 Day Project: Day 9

Since most of my projects are either drying out or becoming moldy, I thought I would experiment with the idea of preservation. Today, I took a glass jar and half filled it with corn kernels, the other half I filled with cold wax, and then I poured hot wax to seal it off. I then tried a second time, this time I filled the bottle with kernels and then poured hot wax over them inside the bottle.

The hot wax was very difficult to work with. I think it may have been easier if I had a microwave or something handy to melt it in. I was probably using the most unsafe method, of melting it in a bag and then pouring it that way. I wish there had been clearer instructions on the box as to how to use the wax. I didn’t burn myself or ruin the pot or the wax, but I think there was definitely the potential for disaster.

I like the idea of the wax as a preservative agent. Wax can be used for candles or sealing jars, and has been used for thousands of years in similar ways. I’ve never worked with wax before, aside from one craft class at camp many years ago, so I was excited to try it out. It was simply paraffin wax from the grocery store.

10 Day Project: Day 8

I am returning to the more conceptual art mode of working with corn. This day’s project is about corn as a food. I boiled the corn with sugar, then had my fiance take a bite out of it, and documented this process. Also, my cat was interested in the corn, so I took a picture of her inspection as well.

I know there are other people doing similar things with their food-based media for the 10-day project, so it’s not quite so original, but nobody else has corn! And most people won’t have a cat in their project, so that’s originality!

I love the smell of the cooked corn. Also, it has this beautiful yellow color that supposedly comes from adding sugar to the water it is boiled in. I wanted to be the one to taste it, but it was hard to explain the shots I wanted to my fiance so I ended up taking the shots and only smelling the delicious corn. I took video of it boiling in the water, because the sound and site of the boiling was a part of the experience, I thought.

Being hyper-aware of the cooking and eating process of corn is an interesting experience. Usually, when I make corn, I just pop it in the oven (after cleaning it up) and wait a while and then eat it. I don’t usually think too much about it, other than how much I love to eat corn. But watching someone else eat it, taking close pictures, was kind of a way of analyzing the act of eating as well as eating corn.

10 Day Project: Day 7

I was kind of at a loss for today’s project. Now that I’m getting to the final days, I am seriously running out of ideas. I took the cob that I used yesterday to print from, broke it in half, and started popping out whole kernels. Then I tried to recreate the cob from the kernels only, which failed. Out of frustration, I started counting the rest to try to figure out what I could do with them, and decided it might look cool if I put numbers on the kernels (think: “Your name in a grain of rice”).

Today’s project played off of the idea of corn as a whole containing multiple pieces. Numbering the kernels was a relaxing, repetitive activity. There is a sense of accomplishment upon finishing: now I know exactly how many kernels there are in the pile. It is reminiscent of winning the “count the jelly bean” contest at a fair. For the record, there are 87 kernels glued to the paper in no particular pattern.

I don’t know if I have much to say about today’s project. I truly am feeling a mental block right now. Also, some of my older pieces - especially Day 3 - and saved materials are beginning to get very moldy and gross, which means I probably will throw them out soon. Luckily I have good photos of everything I’ve made, so even if I can’t bring them in people will be able to see what I’ve done.

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