November 20, 2013

SOLITUDE



Maybe this is something to address since it keeps popping up. It appears as a major theme in two books I'm currently reading, Rainer Marie Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet and Mary Oliver's Blue Pastures; and it has inadvertently become the topic of several recent phone conversations...

S O L I T U D E
Photos by French artist Maia Flore

The dictionary is really down in the dumps about this word, citing examples of losing loved ones, being put in isolation with infectious diseases, etc. How awful. As an artist I can tell you, solitude is not that bad, in fact it is a much sought after state of being.

You still feel alone when you're by yourself, but when that aloneness becomes a necessary factor to the type of concentration and self reflection that creativity demands, it becomes a very welcome occasion. The idea of being alone with one's thoughts seems absolutely divine to me, and being able to work on my artwork when I want without interruption is pure joy.

Maybe it's not even just artists who feel this way. My friend was just telling me how her kids are so busy all year her daughter recently told her she didn't know who she was anymore because she didn't have a minute to think about it... Obviously we all need those moments to reconnect with ourselves.

from the series Situations by Maia Flore

I think artists just require more of those moments because of the work we do. If we don't know who we are, where is our voice or our vision? And without a clear vision what would our artwork be..

This is what artwrestling is all about!

.....and I guess it comes at no better time because no sooner did I write it down than I spent the whole day today being distracted by phone calls and emails. My daughter read her homework OUT LOUD for half an hour, and my husband has been pacing the floors waiting for me to cook dinner extra early. It's only 3:30! I'm not even doing the type of artwork that I imagine requires that much concentration but every watery mark I make is followed by me having to get up for something. I'm telling myself this is what you get for thinking you could pull this off on the kitchen table...Tomorrow I'll start earlier, but....Hold on, the rice is ready~


Maia Flore











November 12, 2013

Laundry Meat Rope Project

the story of the laundry meat rope project starts with me wanting to create a very large knitted piece. I was imagining it like a large blanket covering an entire gallery floor where you'd have to walk around the edges of it. I began to make yarn out of the laundry meat but it was not holding up well to the demands of knitting.


 all the wrapping and twisting around both knitting needles kept tearing the yarn. so my first thought was to alter the yarn to work better



but I loved the way it looked all by itself; the variations of thickness and color from all the separate batches of laundry meat. I wanted to use the yarn as it was without having it have a specific purpose. I ended up looking at a bunch of youtube videos on how to make rope. using a freshly made batch of laundry meat that I purposely dried in thin strips I started the project.



today's rope making station

on the kitchen table


separate batches of laundry meat piled together. strips are made from this first and then twisted together to make the rope
so far I've made almost 35 feet

details of laundry meat rope



making the rope is an enjoyable process, although at the same time very tedious. it feels very primitive for the fact that there are no tools except my own two hands. and I love the fact that I am creating a potentially useful tool, and then the irony that there's nothing useful about it at all. this is the first time I've worked on a project of this nature and although I have no idea what will become of it, it is satisfying work. it can be very meditative but I find that after a long session of thinking that I'm getting so much done, I've only made a few feet of rope. in retrospect I may conclude that this is just another extension of my fascination with the body and perhaps one can see a correlation to umbilical cords and such, but right now I'm going with a flow that I only subconsciously know anything about!

more on laundry meat here


part of finished project




November 10, 2013

Letters to a Young Poet

My trip to San Francisco didn't yield that many surprises but did give me a lot to think about. 

At City Lights I purchased the book Letters to a Young Poet written by Rainer Maria Rilke to aspiring writer Franz Xaver Kappus between 1902 and 1908. 

Here is an excerpt from 1903 in which Rilke responds to the young writer's first letter asking him for advice:

"You ask whether your verses are good...Now...let me ask you to give up all that. You are looking to the outside, and that above all you should not be doing now. Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody. There is only one way. Go into yourself. Examine the reason that bids you to write; check whether it reaches its roots into the deepest region of your heart, admit to yourself whether you would die if it should be denied you to write. This above all: ask yourself in your night's quietest hour: must I write? Dig down into yourself for a deep answer. And if it should be affirmative, if it is given to you to respond to this serious question with a loud and simple 'I must,' then construct your life according to this necessity; your life right into its most inconsequential and slightest hour must become a sign and witness of this urge. Then approach nature. Then try, like the first human being to say what you see and experience and love and lose..." 



How does environment influence artistic choices?

It took a trip to San Francisco where I saw my good friend George to remind me of something about myself that I haven't thought about in a while.

Something I often wonder is how much your environment, esp. the one you grew up in, influences your artistic choices.

I remember when George came to my house in Staten Island and promptly exclaimed "Samantha you live in the suburbs!" Of course Staten Island is one of the 5 boroughs of New York City, but the long commute to Manhattan along with a good amount of greenery and blue collar workers is hard to ignore.  When I opened my first art gallery there my intention seemed careless and incidental to me because I had only been looking for studio space and ended up with a public space, but George reminded me how eager I was at the time to prove myself. My earnest mission was to free the uneducated suburbanites of the concept that art is merely a badly framed poster of a Monet flower garden. To spare them of the boredom of thinking every artist likes to eat paint and cut their ears off. It wasn't their fault that they didn't know any better.... Hey, look, I was 25 years old. You're supposed to think your noble ideas can change the world. That's fine, youth is a good excuse, but when George heard that I had opened up another art gallery 12 years later, in an even more isolated area, he said he knew it wasn't an accident. Why on earth would I do it again?

What bothers me is that in my thoughts all I want to do is make art for myself but I keep involuntarily following this inner voice that leads me elsewhere. Maybe this urge to educate the public has something to do with the public after all. A little thing called validation. Maybe the lack of acceptance is just more noticeable in suburbia land.

There's something very wrong with a system that doesn't even consider what I do a profession. We all acknowledge accountants, doctors and lawyers as professionals, but artists are not on that list. In fact the antonym for the word profession is entertainment or hobby which turns out to be the only available category my accountant could find for me on the IRS tax form. Currently there doesn't seem to be a slot that exactly describes me as a Fine Artist. Really?!

The noun profession is a 'declaration of acknowledgement, which is an act of recognizing authority or truth of something'. Let's all acknowledge that for a second...