My current (gorgeous, updated) website has super nice blogging options — I've been successfully lured over there. So for now there's no new stuff here.
Tuesday, January 31
Saturday, January 21
"My secret lentil bag is my go bag to take to the women's March in DC. It will carry my phone charger, chapstick, MetroCard, some Band-Aids and other things that will make this trip possible, safer, more comfortable. I am wearing a fishing vest, and cargo pants. We cannot carry backpacks. So I'm packing my pockets full of things I will need, this secret little bag will be up close and personal the whole time. We all do what we can. Hold the line."
This is from artist Amy Bartell who is in Washington as we speak. I'm not there but my zipper pouch is. And it's being helpful! I'm so proud. You can see Amy's inspirational work here.
Wednesday, January 4
“My knives are like a tongue - I love, I do not love, I hate. If you don’t love me, I am ready to attack. I am a double-edged knife.” ― Louise Bourgeois
"I am not what I am, I am what I do with my hands." — Louise Bourgeois
"Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented - which is what fear and anxiety do to a person - into something whole." — Louise Bourgeois
As I grew up mostly mom-less and with a love for all bugs I was extra thrilled that she interprets spiders as mother figures. I mean: Charlotte's Web, right? Right.
I will also say, I had to wonder if she wasn't the reason for a lot of terrible confessional performance art and embroidered text on things that came after her. Not that it's all terrible, blah blah blah, but you know some of it is. There was no reason for any art student to still be pouring honey on their boobs in 1993, and yet. I did love that the Guerrilla Girls interviewed got that she would probably not want to be embraced by them. And I love that it didn't stop them.
Sunday, January 1
This is the artifacted piece I just finished: I've Seen Things. I think a lot about what I'm doing with these pieces — okay yes, possibly too much — but what it comes down to is this: I like to look at old stuff. It satisfies my soul. I am not about new and shiny and precision and maiden voyages, with all the false purity and myths about perfection those imply. I'm about time, wear, mistakes and damage and repair and continuing to forgive ourselves for forgetting to put the bins out on garbage night, and for the big stuff too: for digging deep into unspoken shames and setting those out into the sunlight then moving forward with our imperfect bodies leading truly messy sweet caring wonderful lives. It extra satisfies my soul to make this work. Sometimes I want those holes and repairs to be visible. It helps us know we're all in this together. It makes space for us to show up every day, damaged but still whole, repaired (and possible stronger for it), to do the good work of caring for each other.
I've also written about artifacting here if you'd like to see what I think I'm doing.
You can see more photos and check availability of "I've Seen Things" here.
Sunday, October 30
I'm fortunate to work in a building full of artists. Yesterday I grabbed one of my new pieces and went down the hall to ask A Real Painter: "What color is this?" I was betting on Payne's Grey but did not lead the witness. He look perplexed for a moment then said "Payne's Grey." Then he explained that at his other job he has to guess ahead and gauge if the person wants to know if it is merely black, blue, gray, or something more subtle, so he was assessing his audience. Everybody got what they wanted. Plus I got to borrow a tube of paint for a real-live sample.
But. Yuck. Right now my building is mostly a source of consternation for me — for reasons too inflammatory/distracting to detail here. It's the standard stuff: life is unfair, people are complicated, organizations with more clout/money do what they want while other people are denied. But it has me feeling like I've been punched in the gut. I'm taken aback by just how strong this sensation is.
Here's the thing: I need to like my building. The building is where I connect with other people who know what Payne's Grey is. Within that my studio is the dedicated, sacred space where I make things. I need some baseline agreement that this place is, for the most part, set aside for making art, and will be amenable to the peculiarities that come with that. Heck, it might even be supportive. At the very least I need to not feel sabotaged. And right now I feel sabotaged. It feels bad.
In my head, where all the trouble starts, I am trying to tell myself that I moved into this place eight years ago with no expectations. Can't I just dial that back? Can't this just be a room I pay for by the square foot and nothing more? *pats silly head on the head* Poor head. My head still thinks logic can rule the day. Even when talking about making art.
If I'm adding meaning to things as an artist, summoning objects into the physical world that have meaning, then meaning matters, right? That's the deal, right? Meaning matters. Intention matters. Relationships matter. Support matters. It's what I've chosen. More specifically: it's what I've chosen over other things that are probably no longer available as options. It's — and yes this gets a bit dramatic — literally what I have staked my life on. I have cut off other paths that now cannot be walked down. I have forged myself into this person who makes things that matter — even with all its inherent paradoxes — so if I don't double down on that, what am I left with? Frankly, logic isn't even making any helpful offers.
Younger Helen would have already fired up A Righteous Anger and stomped off to Elsewhere feeling great about Being Right but sacrificing lots of other good stuff for that feeling. (Honestly I have no regrets in that regard.) But Older Helen doesn't want that to be the only choice, wants to choose battles wisely, and wants to hope it can still be okay here. Because for one thing, I've got Important Owl Shit to do and would like to just keep doing that.
Okay. About that. This batch of clothes is almost black. It's deep and saturated and in some lighting looks just like black, or charcoal gray, but then if you pair it with black you'll see there's more blue to it as well. It's deep Payne's Grey. I think it should be "gray" not "grey" — it's just a better looking word — but I appear to be outnumbered on that front. But look at me choosing my battles! I can do it, I think.