February 19, 2018

Movement in the Studio

Over morning coffee, still half-asleep, bleary-eyed and muddle-headed from the latest head cold, this is what I wrote in my notebook:
So many ideas for experimental pieces - want to jump in. But continued reluctance / inability to organize studio. Strange. Don't feel fear about new ideas / work. Not afraid to fail. Approaching as play & tinkering, engineering, trying, trial & error. So why the reluctance to set studio to rights?
Yes, I was about to go down the endless, twisting, switchbacking road of WHY and self-admonishment. I was right there, on the brink, about to write out pages of postulations and suppositions, and then, thank goodness, I remembered being here before.  But this time, I noticed my ingrained delay tactics trying to keep me out of the studio - the very place I WANT to be! The trickster is wily, yes indeed.
Take lesson / heed lesson from self: the ego asks why. The trickster is stalling. Forget about why & just do.
An afternoon in the studio; moving, shifting, unpacking, cleaning. There's a lot more to be done, but the improvement is heartening. And, with a few minutes more of tidying, the work table will be ready for action.

February 15, 2018


I give up. I've tried and tried to write a cohesive post. I just can't do it today. Here's what's swirling and marinating in the brain pot:
  • Unexpected colors. Aren't those sickly leaves, removed from this potted plant (finally identified as Plectranthus ciliatus) gorgeous? The yellow tops and eggplant undersides of the leaves make a fantastic color combo.
  • Power misused and misconceived as dominance vs. innate, energetic, creative power.
  • Chairs / thrones as signifier and symbol of domineering power. Recasting the throne as a symbol of creative power.
  • Making 3-D pieces. Chairs, passages, goddess / spirit totem / mythical figurines.
  • Chrysalis time.
  • Non-monetary valuation and non-monetary measures of success. Non-competition. Contentment and fulfillment without consumption.
  • Bell jars.
  • Mending and making. Joyfully making do with materials in the dwindling stash. Restriction, fewer choices = creativity, invention. 
  • Beginning. No preconceived end goal. Working to see what happens. Serendipity. No rules. Working to get the work out.
  • Patience. Illness. Healing. Allowing my body to take the rest it demands. Regaining energy. Conserving energy. Sleepiness.
  • Getting over feeling like reading is idleness. Put reading on the to do list.

February 12, 2018

Year of Yoni: Week 41

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

February 1, 2018

Make Your Own World

Image source: https://www.evahessedoc.com/
I highly recommend the documentary Eva Hesse. I watched it a couple days ago and it remains very much on my mind. Beyond Hesse's work, what stood out was her work ethic, struggles with her work, pushing through, breakthroughs, and discovery through play. Her short career (she died in 1970 at age 34 from a brain tumor) offers extraordinary advice on how to live and work (by which I mean make art).

The film includes voice overs dramatizing written material from Eva Hessse's archives as well as her correspondence with family and friends. One letter, from her dear friend Sol LeWitt, knocked my socks off. It is a wonderful, inspirational pep-talk to get out of your own way and just do the work. The entire transcript is copied below. I encourage you to take a look at the handwritten original at Art21. (Or do a search for "Sol LeWitt letter to Eva Hesse 1965." Benedict Cumberbatch's reading of the letter, part of the Letters Live series, is pretty good, too.)

April 14
Dear Eva,

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, itching, 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 & 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 & 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 you 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 very 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 - 29 at the Daniels Gallery 17 E 64th St (where Emmerich was), I wish you could be there.
Much love to you both.

January 29, 2018

Year of Yoni: Week 40

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.

January 25, 2018

Rug Results

Off the needles, in all it's loose ended and curled edge wantonness, the above handknit went for a hot wash spin the machine with a filthy pair of jeans. Our old top-load washer with the center agitator beat the snot out of the knit. Because the machine is old, it lacks (or it no longer functions) the safety mechanism that stops the washer when the lid is open. I watched agog as the rug got pummeled, my heart giving a lurch at its mistreatment. Never mind that that was the point. It still hurt to watch the process.
After the wash cycle, I dried the rug on high heat with the jeans and 4 dryer balls. And then put it through the process twice more. The amount of wool fuzz that came off in both the washer and the dryer was alarming. I'd guess about 8 to 10 squished down handfuls, like pictured above. (I have a plan for all the fuzz. An idea that's been tickling at the back of my mind for a while.)
In the end, mixed success. Overall, the rug shrunk to the dimensions I calculated, but the two colors of wool felted at different rates. I didn't swatch the lighter colored brown. It didn't figure into the planning until it became clear that I needed to order additional skeins of wool, at which point, on a whim, I decided to add stripes. The lighter brown felted much more densely than the dark brown, hence the puckered ends. I plan to felt the left and right bands of dark brown by hand this weekend, see if I can coax them to felt a bit more. 
In the meantime, I've got studio plans beyond the weekly yoni. I can't tell you how good it feels to follow an idea, to experiment, to ride the flow. Once that rust dyed twine is dry, we have a date.

The rug:
8 skeins Halcyon yarn rug wool (6 dark, 2 light)
size 17 needles
unfelted gauge: 8.5 Sts x 11.5 R = 4x4 inches
CO 65
work 128 Rows in stockinette
after felting = 24 x 34 inches

January 22, 2018

Year of Yoni: Week 39

Year of Yoni is a self-assigned studio practice with which I have committed to make a new yoni once a week for at least one year. A broad explanation of yoni and this project can be found here.