Monday, July 22, 2013
Sunday, July 21, 2013
ben franklining it on an eight foot chalkboard...
phd tt [melding of making, writing and research]
mfa creative nonfiction [essayist]
ma art history with emphasis on writing and criticism
ma art therapy
local position at md anderson pediatric cancer center [?]
one, two, and three bare/bear (really..when stripped naked) little purpose. two might lend itself to some deeper practice if i could figure out how to tame its unruliness. i've always struggled with the idea that art for the sake of art is purposeful or has much value. i find it, yes to be a cultural barometer of some kind with historical significance, there is potential to for impact at the human micro and macro level, yet simultaneously in a trinket economy i also find it to be a meaningless gesture of feeding the consumption machine, the consumption habit cultivated in each of us. the bulk of art, surely not all, falls into this trinket category for me. i struggle in it and around it. perhaps it is why the scale of my work reduces it as a consumptive item. in the same way, this might even speak to why my works is so overtly human, gnarled, sensuous and non-archival. it lives; it is held; it dies.
as i have taught, it has always been to facilitate an opening, an internal access point into deeper things--whether i was teaching science, faith or art. but in the most recent arena, again not for the sake of art, but instead for the sake of the ravenous unruly depth of being human not just in the making but in the manner of living, i have found a closedness, dead spaces. in collegiate academia this faculty of helping students open to their own humanity is not enough, i have sought my habit and attempted to facilitate this opening, to teach access points and how to translate experience into real space, into narrative, into moment, in ways that can be felt by others. i have been quite successful at facilitating initiation into these practices with my students. in this collegiate academic setting however practices at a cohort level become much more about pecking order, gaming, winning, manipulation, taking. survival in this environment requires a closing, a hoarding, a pecking, a stepping, an aggression. this is counter to what i believe, to my nature, to what and how i teach. the specific world i witnessed from its underbelly is not for me. is it always like this? of course not. does everyone in that system function that way? of course not? though the female population leans this way; perhaps an adaption at entering this realm. I have worked my entire adult life and never run into an even remotely similar work space. perhaps i have been extremely fortunate. yet that environment was reshaping me in ways against who i am. that was and is unacceptable. i seek a deeply human space were we help one another open to and explore the deeper spaces of meaning, reflecting, and being truly human and to becoming more than what we are at this very moment. not art for the sake of art; not craft for the sake of craft; not control for the sake of control. it is interesting that as i get further away from a space of supposed cohorting, the teeth that fill my lopsided smile have finally begun shifting back of their own accord, already now the line of my smile is less craggily. i find this to bare an amazing witness to the ramifications of a hostile work environment and the way a body bends under it. i've always believed our body holds worlds of knowledge that we often don't know how to access, or refuse to look at. we, i, can only read its shifting form. clearly the retraction has had a bodily impact that is positive. eventually my mind, feelings and social interaction will recover and catch back up to were i was heading before things got so peckish two and a half years ago.
so now in a nonrushing, nonfrenetic way, i ben franklin my way through my talents, gifts, and where they might take me in a meaningful way, in a way that i am the asset that i am. though a phd would sooth something in me and i love the thought of pursuing the role of writing in the process of those who visually manifest their lives work in real space (whose sketchbooks are filled with the scratching of language), and i will apply. unfortunately it would still put me back into systems dominated by pecking vs depth. but i might be willing to see what is on the other side. writing, nonfiction essay, still is on the table, art writing less so, and i am becoming a tad wary of my belly button gazing. still the risk of systems dominated by peck, peck. art therapy? it sounds a bit mambi-pambi, yet the ideas of opening and accessing inner things through vehicle of making, of art...isn't that what i sought and taught my college students. yes. it is. and my who life i've been a watcher, fascinated with what makes us tick, hunting the whys and hows of human behavior. so fascinating. and haven't i spent the bulk of my living reading bodies in their languages that ripple across our surfaces with a truer voice of their own. is this what art therapy practices? an exploration of our inner worlds as they surface and become manifested in real space through play of body, mind, and stored memory. and then the art teaching position at md anderson knocked on my emails door to announce itself so that i might apply? it would be a big shift...it would certainly link together my lived passages through the sciences, faith, and art. on paper, i am a fit. it would certainly give me a sense of truly being purposeful in the act of art. frankly i don't care about the larger culture as a whole, but instead have always cared about its sub units, people, individuals. so whether md anderson or not, my heart says leave ideas of art therapy on my soul table, leave writing on the table, and of course the Dopty will weigh in :)
i will knock on all these doors. a way that is right for who i am will open.
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Friday, July 19, 2013
The threshold is a place of transition; as such, it is a place of enormous vitality and activity as well as danger…poets are drawn to and write from their thresholds, either inner or outer. In order to write well, a poet needs to go to that place where energy and intensity concentrate, that place just beyond which chaos and randomness reign.
-- Poetry As Survival, Greg Orr
the translation of experience into space, experience into story. just snippets not trying to be whole, simply one frame, one moment, most probably even a single view point, how it feels, where it moves me or holds me still, and then on to the next. no attempt to be sequential, no attempt to translate your truth...oh that isn't right. i spend a huge portion of my head and heart time in trying to perceive from shoes not my own. it would be best if i really learned how to wear my own foot stink or focus on a good scrubbing of my own with a touch of pink applied. actually i am highly in tune with the finest of nuances of my own stink, where it emanates from, how it envelops and alters my small truth end realities, how it impedes, drives away. i get it. i also know the internal strength, competence and odd grace booted up in my gait and my crooked smile. i suck at arm candy, i am no trinket, i am a bit goober, and seek an uncovering. skimming the surface holds no allure. i need purpose and depth even if it is an illusion. I need to muck around in growing, in changing, an odd balance thresholded between being and becoming.
translating experience into space, experience into story, these seem to hold the depthy purposeful need i crave. i think relationships should have this too. i struggle with the surface of the friendlies. i have had a lot of friendlies. they come; they go with a click of an email. i realize i should hold the time with the friendlies in a way that might burgeon into something else. i tend to shut down in those initial phases. somehow friends are quite different than friendlies, a tethering not easily out grown.
two topics. one the need to translate my lived experience into real space, into written story and how it relates to purpose, to calling, to vocation; two, my struggle with the untethered slowness of the friendlies. all this boils down to direction. i am ok spinning my wheels but i'd like the resistance of traction and forward motion. i get to it, but it slips away. i am getting to it.
and then there is the idea of dream and future casting. how does one cast an untethered line?
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I am pretty sure this is why she lives in the woods. work, work, sweat, bask under the trees, lay back and eeek, yuk! blog as the thunder rumbled and the mist begins.
probably not what the bandsaw is designed for...based on the heated rubber stench, I wear a respirator.
kick back even more break....eeeeeeeek.
it is one thing to think and another to exist in what is thought. -- Søren Kierkegaard
in the greatest painting, the painter communes with himeslf. painting is his thought's medium...painting i a medium in which the mind can actualize itself -- Robert Motherwell
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
It will be almost a month since you wrote to me and you have possibly forgotten your state of mind (I doubt it though). You seem the same as always, and being you, hate every minute of it. Don’t! Learn to say “Fuck You” to the world once in a while. You have every right to. Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itchin, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rumbling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just DO!
From your description, and from what I know of your previous work and you [sic] ability; the work you are doing sounds very good “Drawing-clean-clear but crazy like machines, larger and bolder… real nonsense.” That sounds fine, wonderful – real nonsense. Do more. More nonsensical, more crazy, more machines, more breasts, penises, cunts, whatever – make them abound with nonsense. Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw and paint your fear and anxiety. And stop worrying about big, deep things such as “to decide on a purpose and way of life, a consistant [sic] approach to even some impossible end or even an imagined end” You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!
I have much confidence in you and even though you are tormenting yourself, the work you do is very good. Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be. But if life would be easier for you if you stopped working – then stop. Don’t punish yourself. However, I think that it is so deeply engrained in you that it would be easier to DO!
It seems I do understand your attitude somewhat, anyway, because I go through a similar process every so often. I have an “Agonizing Reappraisal” of my work and change everything as much as possible = and hate everything I’ve done, and try to do something entirely different and better. Maybe that kind of process is necessary to me, pushing me on and on. The feeling that I can do better than that shit I just did. Maybe you need your agony to accomplish what you do. And maybe it goads you on to do better. But it is very painful I know. It would be better if you had the confidence just to do the stuff and not even think about it. Can’t you leave the “world” and “ART” alone and also quit fondling your ego. I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself. Well, you know I admire your work greatly and can’t understand why you are so bothered by it. But you can see the next ones and I can’t. You also must believe in your ability. I think you do. So try the most outrageous things you can – shock yourself. You have at your power the ability to do anything.
I would like to see your work and will have to be content to wait until Aug or Sept. I have seen photos of some of Tom’s new things at Lucy’s. They are impressive – especially the ones with the more rigorous form: the simpler ones. I guess he’ll send some more later on. Let me know how the shows are going and that kind of stuff.
My work had changed since you left and it is much better. I will be having a show May 4 -9 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64yh St (where Emmerich was), I wish you could be there. Much love to you both.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
home | even the chair
because it is human because i would like to hold
my small truths more loosely and love more deeply
Of course I do, I judge even the chair.
Every chair I might remotely consider dropping my fanny in will be judged and even those I do not intend to test. I judge on structural integrity, forecasting potential degrees of comfort, back and butt angles, distances to the floor. You can be certain I will appraise for cleanliness and the yuck factor. I will determine the aesthetic pleasure, uniqueness, cool factor, and evidence of age with its wear and tear or dated treatments. The evaluation, the judgmental calculations, run in the background with each pushing through the memory and sensory grid of my lived experiences that emanate from my gender, sensory aptitudes, personality disposition, affluent appetites, educational expertise, cultural enmeshment, pleasure seeking propensities, aesthetic potential for mind stimulation or remediation, chaotic capacities, family of origin systemic histories, etc. I will have done all this in less than the blink of an eye, zero prefrontal cortex activity. This screening will determine my potential staying power within the space housing the sitting device, the chair.
I laughed when telling someone this chair judgment ideation. As they indicate that they do not partake in this system, I mention a dining room we had just passed and they were like, "oh with the leather red chairs." Then we proceeded to discuss their hipness and the design would actually be great in a noisy room because the chairs would cradle the occupant, catching the tablemates voice easing the immediate conversation in a crowded room. Hmmm. Yup. A room simply passed by in a moment, no intent to enter or sit, yet we both had noted the color, design, surfaces, hipness and potential sound harvesting of the...chairs.
I am not an interior designer, fabric developer, furniture maker. I am simply a human user of these butt cradling, pampering, gravity, relieving devices. It is part of of my hardwiring. This sensory and social judgment system is sophisticated, useful and fast. It is what it is.
This same hardwiring judgment system routes my staying potential for entering and maintaining relationships in real space. I am a judging machine whether I am categorizing and pigeon holing a chair, person, thought, lived or archived experience, I cannot help it; it is my very nature, perhaps human nature. However, what I may do is hold these judged instances more loosely understanding the reality that this lens, this grid, these biases are affixed to my functioning, I cannot not see except through this lens, grid, judging system of hardwiring. The act of holding my judgment loosely as small truths and not absolute, allows me to emphasize, drop down into an understanding of another's lived experience, riding in that space with them, and coming out again, expanding my own grid system. The more I attempt to empathize beyond my own grid, to see beyond my instantaneous judgment system, the more I am exposed to the smallness of my own truths, to faulty assumptions and misinterpretations. So what? I'd like to believe the expansion of my grid, through empathy, through perspective checking, through holding my judgments loosely, could actually allow me to do some rewiring. I’ve no compulsion to be perfect, not even almost, but I’d like to expand my lived experience in a more whole way.
This expanding grid and empathy is also the source that pushes my work [object/image/language] peeling back small truths to uncover assumptive patterns that aren't useful for myself.
Hmmm. Then there is the way in which I judge and pigeon hole a chair without running it through my primary grid, but instead have my perspective shaped directly by another's judgment and the language they've wrap around their interpretations. There is much research that clearly examines and shows that the way another uses language to discuss an experience, a judgment, will shape my small truths, shape my memory. Even just simply altering a single word such as smashed to crashed in regard to a car accident will shape a direct witness's recall. For example in one study, the group in which the word smashed was used recalled broken glass at the scene, whereas, the group in which the word crashed was used predominantly remembered the incident with no broken windows, which was accurate. Ah. So if you speak to me of a chair, in general, I will bypass my own data collection and filtering and run with your perspective. If I can reduce my calculating requirements, I will. This is supported by research. Even if my own data collection and filtering is not bypassed, my interpretation will be skewed and recalculated by your language of interpretation and emotional slant. I will embed your small truth about a chair even if it is far from reality. This is human nature. It is mine.
So, chair or human, if someone speaks to me weekly even in small ways about the chair-human for two and a half years, I cannot actually see the chair human as is based solely on my filter but instead see what you have told me to see, I judge as you have judged. You have shaped my small truths about the chair-human; you have reformed any future data acquisition on this chair-human.
People are chairs. Coworkers are chairs. Neighbors are chairs. I will perceive them through my judgment system or I will shortcut that and reinterpret them through your judgments. It is human. I see it every day. Arrogance or denial might indicate to you that you do not partake that you are immune. Perhaps.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
tell me. please. WITH -- not an isolated independent event. what is it that i plan? i've thought about this a lot. it is not a new question i ask myself, though the acknowledgement that i've only got one and it is wild and precious, that it is of infinite value, is a new thought in the past five years. though it has gotten seriously clouded over the past two and a one half. but the clouds dissipate.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver [The summer day]
this will be a year of direct experimentation, not only will i be pushing my making and my writing to see where it wants to go, i will be pushing and plying who i am and what will and should [should?] come of that. i say i am going to push to see where it wants to go because i don't have a clear vision of "go this way" or "that." i have clues, cues. i know i must sense purpose in a portion of what i do--a purpose beyond self. i don't devine a significant purpose from the making. in fact, i struggle with art as being anything more than a kind of propagation of trinkets, as a form of entertainment. i need it to be something more if i am to run after it whole heartedly. i need the act of making. yes, but i lack a clear vision of it being purposeful. i do see a role necessary in society that a portion of the population be makers, rubbing up against current thinking and stretching it. so i struggle back and forth as to the function and purpose of art. i get an inkling that it is very important, but then in a trinket based economic system, it gets lost again. sometimes we make some art more than it is and negate other forms. i might be a bit junging in how i see the practice of art vs the product. making is critical but not key [or is it? i suppose that is part of this year's experimentation in terms of pushing it to see where it will take me]. in writing, i can see a more substantial purposefulness that resides beyond the self serving. yet my writing is unruly, not yet tamed or directed with accessible intent. teaching, definitely purposeful beyond my self and though a field i excel directly within and propel...it is off the table, no matter giftedness/aptitudes or purposefulness. i've never believed that pecking order systems are truly in our cultural benefit, they typically loose sight of what is really important and become artificially oppressive. peck for the sake of peck ranking. i need to unpack more deeply the elements of excel and propel so as to redirect it in an environment conducive to who i am. i will test that this fall. below the teaching i know lies an intuitive ability to bond groups in a way that intimately knits them. this doesn't mean i become a part of that group, but instead set groups on a course that keeps them interlinking for years, even decades. i have had an inherent ability to encourage and accelerate a group's bonding through transparency, authenticity, vulnerability and, actually, not having the answers, instead having facilitated them in finding their own way. i've done this successfully even within the clouded environment of the past two and a half years. i refined and used the same methods from previous unrelated systems in developing a program within the collegiate setting that instilled these patterns and habits among designated groups. the first semester or two it didn't catch hold, but then again i was in the midst of a messy divorce [perhaps all are like that], and could hardly focus. anyhow, i consider teaching definitely off the table at this point even if considered my primary gift. all this makes a specific direction less than clear and frankly i am too old to run after things in which i am a cog but not a specific asset. placeholding, cogging, is not a path that interests me. perhaps that is a spoiled mentality, yet everything i have read supports the idea of pursuing the dream based on the hardwiring. ha and my hardwiring has always moved me to work but never for money. much of what i do well is highly valued by culture yet highly underpaid. i am attempting to kick maslow's hierarchy to the wind in some kind of screw you-life is far better than a system inherently locked in an attitude of not enough.
so what is the dream? as i snap my wings open, what is the path upon which i will float before the too soon arrives? so tell me, what is it that i should do with this one wild and precious life i've been gifted?
how do i weave the making, writing, mentoring into something new? something different? what do i refine to move me into that snapped wing float?
for now i shall wonder the hillside of my friend's and pick wild blackberries--that is prayer, it is a paying attention, a form of kneeling down, a way to get back to the task of what it is i do with this one wild and precious life.
Saturday, July 06, 2013
but returning isn't an option. back, yes. return, no. life is nonreturnable, nonrefundable. there are simply zero redos. the route only moves in the now with a constant drifting forward no matter whether one's mind fixes at various points in the past or the future. the preference would be for mentality stabalizing 80% in the now, i'll save 10% for reflection so as to learn and not repeat and 10% projecting into the later so i can at least sketch out a rough pencil version of the future to move toward.
perhaps today's take away, which i think i would like to embrace for this year, is one William James latched onto for a one year experiment. i am a watcher and at a very base level as i watch others i long ago came to believe that change is not actually possible, that the free will we believe rarely emerges from the forces of systemic histories that propel us into our own futures. i find this core undergirding belief unproductive, true or not. it inhibits me. no, in fact, it paralyzes me into an Eeyore mind set--"oh bother." This translates into WHY BOTHER?
'"All our life," William Janes told us in the prologue, "so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits--practical, emotional, and intellectual--systematically organized for our weal or woe, and bearing us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the later may be...
...James mad a decision...he would conduct a yearlong experiment. he would spend twelve months believing that he had control over himself and his destiny, that he could become better, that he had the free will to change. There was no proof that it was true. But he would free himself to believe, all evidence to the contrary, that change was possible. "i think that yesterday was a criss in my life," he wrote in his diary. Regarding his ability to change, "I will assume for the present--until next year--that it is no illusion. My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will." Over the next year, he practiced everyday. In his diary, he wrote as if his control over himself and his choices was never in question...Later he would famously write that the will to believe is the most important ingredient in creating belief in change. And that one of the most important methods for creating that belief was habits. Habits are what allow us to "do a thing with difficulty the first time, but soon do it more and more easily, and finally with sufficient practice, do it semi-mchanically, or with hardly any consciousness at all." Once we choose who we want to be, people grow "to the way in which that have been exercised, ..If you believe you can change--if you make it a habit--the change becomes real. This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be. Once that choice occur--and becomes automatic--it is not only real, it starts to seem inevitable (ha so much for free will), the thing, as James wrote, that bears "us irresistibly toward our destiny, whatever the latter may be."
it may not be that simple, i wouldn't really even call it an attitude adjustment, but a test that i will run for one year, an experiment--acting on the belief (whether or not i believe) that i can change, direct my course, have free will, alter habits of mind and action. this does not negate the belief in a higher power, but falls under the concept that the best part of me that dreams, will do so in alignment with the way in which i was built. Anyhow, i will use writing to get there, to navigate, put into practice--work through the mundane unthinking daily rituals and invisible decisions of mind and body by unpacking them in real space [exercises] and through the space of the mind evidenced in writing, testing habit cue/ritual/reward loops, believing i can alter them, making it so and writing as though i am in control of all this, that i am asserting my will into creating a specific destiny. as an experiment i will function with belief that i have purpose, that what i do matters.
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
so funny...i am never too far along to not be able to make bad art. i've made some this month. so this morning as i walked into the studio, i just started draping a tube from the shelved egg nose blob foam plaster piece...though i don't care for the eggishness of the white part, i was very pleased with the draping.
8'h x 2'w x 4'd, rubber, foam/plaster, wooden shelf, tie wire and clips.
so i sat back and popped on to facebook posting pics and status update about the work...
"looky. looky. I made a discrete object that doesn't have to be mounted into the wall studs. it's just a shelve with standard wall anchors.
it's a painting! hang it on the wall and go! oh yes. oh yes. snoopy foot dance atop a red doghouse."
...then i pressed post. within thirty to fifty seconds, the whole piece pulled free of the wall and crashed to the floor with the nose blob egg foam plaster monstrosity rolling to a stop at my feet. bahahaaaa. i just bragged about how i hung it. well weight wasn't the issue, instead it was a total torque job as evidenced by the way the screws and anchors pulled free...need to use the winged anchors next time. i check the other shelves and they too were starting to pull free in the same fashion from the wall...
after the crashing hoop la la i check the other shelve cleats (all have weight at front = torque) ...
anyhow, i picked the piled mess up off the floor and just kept right on draping the tubes this morning, just more floor bound...and am pretty sure i made the rock alien from one of the original star trek episodes. i think spock mind melded with it...
one is never too far along not to still make some bad art. fortunately i can say i was just goofing around.
though i am pleased with all the work generated around the process of memory, the way it holds, releases, distorts things, i was especially pleased with the suspended ball set.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
then i fidget or move something. there simply is no cmd-z in real space with tubes each having their own own inclinations. pin here, clip there, move it a smidgen and the entire piece is simply different. snip here, cut there, bam different. once the clip, snip, pin, position is shifted, there is no going back. my preference for exhibition will always be toward a space i can install directly within. moving the work forever changes the bulk of it. a few works never change perceptually...ie incessant thinking and incessant thinking [again].
there is immense joy when my first impulse, even if uncomfortable in its connotations, is the right one and much gnashing of teeth when i tweak it into something other and past it's function. grrr. so today i road the currents of my blobby nose to my girl parts and finally to ooooh i need to cut a new tube because i lost the depth and form when tweaking with attempts to abstract a form that made me emotionally uncomfortable. so i sit here and pout a tad and will begin again in the morning. ok well not really pout because there is something inherently predictable in my process and going a step or two too far.
admittedly even though posting process images to facebook, i don't know why, i was pretty dang uncomfortable with the initial forms that held their own. back to the girl parts discussion.
tomorrow--get to work [fidget one new tube onto right cleat shelf to replace the current blah blah one and sew up at least one more ball to suspend], write thank you letter, tidy space, organize truck, then open studios. thursday, load large tube form on the flex conduit with Patrick's help [plus one], load all art materials, clean studio, laundry, pack, pay for shop consumables....prep for friday's meander.
Monday, July 01, 2013
“asking unanswerable questions in a non-existent language.” -- Bo Berkman
excerpt from Tom Butter's essay, Some Thoughts on Eva Hesse