I just finished a piece that has been percolating for a while. When I finally began to make it, it appeared in three days. I love projects that take such little manufacturing but mean so much to me personally.
The impetus for this piece was seeing pictures of war torn cities and villages around the world. It doesn’t really matter what century, what country or what religion you choose, the destruction looks remarkably similar.Mankind can build some awesome stuff and then in moments, it can be transformed into a pile of rubble and lost lives.
I am also intrigued by the similar destruction caused by natural disasters. Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes…the instantaneous metamorphosis is mind-blowing. A town that I used to live near and work in recently suffered a flash flood of biblical proportions. Watching the videos of the flood by people trapped on upper floors of the town stunned me into stillness, punctuated by an intermittent Oh. My. God. and Holy S*%t. I then was swamped with sadness for the owners, renters and families that were immediately homeless for an unknown amount of time.
Along with all of these thoughts (and forgive me if this seems like a downer of a post) were the empathic thoughts of knowing what it feels like to have the bottom drop out of your life. To wake up and go to school and by the time you get home, your mother is in the hospital in a coma after having suffered a severe stroke. Or to answer the phone to hear that your best friend died in a bicycle accident. Or to go through a life-changing bout with mental illness. Life has this way of literally crumbling so fast that your head is still spinning days and months later.
So when I began to play with handmade paper, rust and the forming of three-dimensional shapes, the following piece appeared. I call it “When the Bottom Dropped Out”. It is about my feelings of shock and helplessness when either personal or community/world events have changed my life in an instant. The size of it is somewhat misleading in these pictures, the “buildings” are only two to three inches high and the whole thing is 25″ wide. It was made from steel, handmade paper, pages from an art history book, rust and Japanese ink.
I have had thoughts floating through my brain this week. Thoughts on everything from my dad to politics to what is going on in the studio. Here’s a sample.
- My dad turns 95 on the 17th of this month. That is really old. He’s been old ever since I can remember (he was 41 when I was born) but now he’s REALLY old. And he is so excited about his birthday. He is planning a little party for lunch. I will be there with my brother. Some times in the last few years I have grumbled and complained about my dad and having to deal with him. But for this moment, I am grateful that I will have one more fun memory of him.
- Speaking of my dad, (not to totally take away the good feelings of the previous thought) but a certain presidential candidate reminds me of him a bit. My dad would have made a terrible president.
- Speaking of a presidential candidate, it may be true that he has a personality disorder. But mental illness is NOT a reason for not being president. Look at Lincoln. I will leave it up to you to determine what the differences are between them.
- Why do I feel the need to dress up and look my best when I go buy a car today?
- Making paper is fun, messy and time consuming.
- Rust and hand made paper…an interesting combination. The jury is still out as to whether I will continue this interesting idea or put it aside for the moment. Stay tuned.
- Curving a 15 foot 1 1/2″ diameter pipe into a circle requires two people. Thank you husband-o’-mine…
- Previously mentioned pipe is the start of a new piece. If all goes according to plan (and I don’t expect that it will) there will be a very large bowl on the property in the future.
- I am feeling really sad about the devastation of a local town here in Maryland due to a flash flood. I spent seven years working and playing in Historic Ellicott City. It breaks my heart to see how many buildings and lives were ruined in the course of a short amount of time. Disasters like this happen everyday but it is different when you know some of the main players.
- Young, male car salesmen should not tell middle-aged women “You’ll get used to it” when explaining the new safety technology of a car.
- And finally, I think I will not start autumn squashes indoors next year. This year I will be harvesting pumpkins in August. Guess I will have to buy pumpkins at Halloween. Sigh.
Okay folks, I have racked up another bunch of minutes on my 15 minutes of fame clock. As you may know, I am hosting an open studio and sculpture garden on my property this weekend. The local paper found out about it and asked to do an article. Of course I said yes! It came out online yesterday and it is really a lovely article. Many thanks to the writer, Lois Zymanski, the photographer, Dylan Slagle, and Jim and Susan who said such nice things about me.
To read the article, click here.
In the meantime, I am aware that, like many previous days this spring, it is probably going to rain on Saturday. Ugh. I really wish that the weather were working out differently, but there’s nothing I can do.
So here are ten reasons why you should come out even if it is raining:
- You can pretend you live in Seattle. Seattle is a nice city. People there do things in the rain all the time. If they didn’t, nothing would get done.
- It’s a good chance to see if your rain gear is weather proof. Wouldn’t you like to know this before you go on that camping/hiking trip?
- You will get to meet all sorts of interesting people…including me! You have to figure that anyone who comes out in the rain to see steel animals is going to be interesting.
- I will have binoculars so you will be able to see some of the sculptures from the dry, warm studio.
- Wine. I will have wine.
- This is the only time I will open the gardens to the public for free this year. (Unless I change my mind. I have been known to do that before. I am fickle that way.)
- I will be bored if you don’t come. Boredom is bad for your health. Keep me healthy.
- Photographing the sculptures is better when it’s cloudy.
- I have extra umbrellas.
- It will give you great joy.
So see, there is no excuse for not coming to see me this weekend. Don’t forget…10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday (May 21/22, 2016). 415 Heath Dr., Eldersburg. I will be waiting.
I am busy trying to forge my way through each day in the best way I can. I am busy watching spring come…slowly. I am busy digging in the dirt outside and planting seeds inside and putting grow lights on top and watering them and watching them sprout and grow and thinking of the beans and peas and tomatoes and flowers that will be adorning my garden in just a few weeks.
I am busy handing out rack cards for my Open Studio and finding creative ways of getting the word out so that it will be a busy weekend on May 21 and 22.
I am busy making sure that my intern has plenty of work to do in the studio. This means I am busy working on two new pieces that are both pods of some sort and will have interesting seeds inside. Here is what one of them looks like. I’m too busy to explain it. You will just have to come back and see it when it is finished. See all those pieces that have been cut and sanded? That is what my intern has been busy preparing so that I can be busy welding them on to the form.
I am busy applying for shows. Busy applying with work that is really still just in my head so I have to find ways to describe it, draw it and explain my meaning, my raison d’être. I am grateful for the ease of applying online, yet I know that it really doesn’t cut down the time because every application has different criteria (72 dpi with file size no larger than…) and each gallery or art center uses a different application program. I am busy making usernames and passwords and signing up for all these programs that are supposed to make my life faster, speedier, less busy.
I am busy with the animals; cats who get into fights with the barn cat next door who wander onto our property with alarming frequency. Busy with cleaning wounds and monitoring abscesses and trying to run off the neighbor cats before there is a fight. Busy with dogs who don’t seem to understand the invisible fence anymore and whose passion for goat by-products entice them to go visiting the neighbor’s barns. (Yes, the same neighbors that send their cats over here.)
Yes, spring is a busy time. I’m okay with that.
Wow, the studio has been humming lately. I am full swing into experimentation, creation and mentoring.
First, I brought out some old cotton napkins that were slightly stained from all of the abuse they received over the years. Experimenting with the rust as paint and adding some ink as “writing” I started to go in yet another direction with my work. It is still not fully developed, but I am super excited about it. I have a feeling that all these ways of working with the rust are going to come together some day and make a FABULOUS piece…I just need more time…
In addition, the work on the garlic is coming along nicely, in fact I am almost done with it. I am not quite sure how I will finish it, there has to be some element of surprise at the end…creation gets so boring when I always know exactly what I am doing. If you don’t remember why I am making a garlic, it is to cover an ugly well head in my front yard. It will make more sense when I install it…once the snow goes away.
And finally, I am currently mentoring an intern from the Maryland Institute College of Art! Julia is a second year student at MICA and is interested in fiber art and metal art. A couple of weeks ago, her aunt brought her to see my studio and by the end of her time here, I asked if she wanted to be my intern…it seems like a perfect fit. Of course it is a responsibility to have an intern. In some ways I have to work harder in order to come up with things that she can do for me. And since I am so used to doing everything myself, I have to revise my thinking big time. However, I see the potential for a lot of work to be done during this semester…stay tuned…