Monday, February 24, 2014

phase 2 redux - observe the laws of equivalent exchange

So happy for it to be 45 degrees! I enjoyed the break in the weather walking around outside and made a visit to "the Lady of Hudson" (fun and studying the sword as a potential object to appear in the hands of one of my allegories).

carved linoleum
The rest of the time I was inside making tiny pen patterns with a red .005 micron. This started as one of those black velvet color the pattern posters from the grocery store. I worked on this for a few days early in the week, and, at first, it seemed like a kind of random thing to do. But then I made the bunny.

The bunny is carved into my new linoleum with lots, and lots, and lots of tiny little cuts. I realized making the poster was just a warm up to practice mark-making and hand control.

the dark grey comes from graphite - I rub a pencil over the surface to see
which cuts show up and get an idea of how the print might look.

with my index finger for scale
A funny thing - I didn't cut myself once making all those cuts - I cut myself getting the safety top off the new tool. (No worries - it wasn't serious and every good block gets a little blood on it at some point, right?)

I also kept working on the mini-hopes (though I think they may be fati more than hopes.) I'm happy with how these are turning out - the different metals in the joints, the gold thread at the hands and wrists and the ornament, and all the different shades of black in the figure and the frame and the ornament - it's subtle, but (hopefully!) striking. I also like that even though they'll hold a pose, they're articulated. The wings and joints all move, so they always have the potential for change. I haven't made a decision yet about the backgrounds, so I tried a few things in the photos (ah, the joys of collage!) Next up will be the implements for the hands and putting them all together...

Monday, February 17, 2014

Phase 2 redux - observe the laws of equivalent exchange

Current state of  Hope and Unhope
Unhope doesn't quite fit, but I'm going ahead with it (maybe someday, it will be installed on a bigger wall? ;))
new this week - feet!

 As soon as I saw the weather report, I knew I'd be spending a few days within a 2-3 foot radius of the central heat vent, so I decided to carve the blocks, print, cut out and start to assemble these - mini hopes.  The idea is that the image radiates like a fractal (it self-repeats on a smaller scale). By carving blocks I can repeat elements while also changing factors like the color or pattern of the paper (repetition with variation). The print on toned paper acts like the mid-tones, and then I added white and black by hand so that each piece is related, but unique. For the body, I'm thinking I'll do something similar to my avatar puppet, and the hands will be holding a variety of things from playing cards (flowers, feathers, swords, axes). In a sense, these do relate to exchange, because I'm trading some of the individuality for multiplicity - I took the energy that would have gone into manually producing a single large piece and dispersed it among the 4.

In terms of phase 2 and exchange, I feel like this week was more about accepting things for which there is no exchange. Just before the storm hit - I got a box. In the box, were more specialized carving tools, linoleum, and books (Medieval Woodcut Illustrations extracted from the Nuremberg Chronicles and the Complete Etchings, Engravings, and Drypoints of Albrecht Durer). As much as I've been thinking about these mini hopes for a little while, I don't think it would have been possible to make them without the new materials, and I had so much fun during the storm looking at the books (waves the "I'm a big nerd" flag :)).

fragments of hope in a plastic baggie

 I also spent some time working on storage.  I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about how best to store some of the parts from Eros et Thanatos, and finally, I think I may have come up with a good solution (at least as a starting point). I velcroed the pieces to a sheet of cardboard. (It's not acid free, but the drawings are mounted to acid free foam core and then there's the layer of velcro between the foamcore and the cardboard, so the drawings are not in contact with the board). Then I stapled a layer of mesh fabric around the board so keep everything flat and protected, but still visible. I put grommets in the cardboard so that the whole thing can be suspended from my storage shelving unit - voila!

Where did the sidewalk and the road go?
(That dot is a side mirror (!?!))
Since I was inside, I did a little home
 improvement - I put a shelf over the door
to keep my terrariums and faux-taxidermy
out of  paw's reach. I couldn't resist adding
a little decoration.

My clever feline assistants both decided that the best
place to wait out the storm was on my pillow.
Mini wonders: "Ummm, Mom,is this normal?"

Sunday, February 9, 2014

phase 2 redux - observe the laws of equivalent exchange

      ...doing fine, thank you, I would say,
      never knowing how to talk about what I do. 
      If I could talk about it, I would not have to do it. 
      I make art, sometimes I make true art, and sometimes 
      it fills the empty places in my life. 
      Some of them. 
      Not all.
                         ― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane [Audible audio edition]

"Unhope," charcoal, graphite and ink collage on paper 

gold ink in the eyes

Hypnos (Sleep) Roman, 1st - 2nd century AD,
copy of a Hellenistic original, from Perugia,
in the British Museum:

It started out as a poppy, the flower of Hypnos
(and the design on Hope's blindfold) but it turned into
a pink rose (subliminal Valentine's leakage?)
I'm proud of the way the transparent layering of the
hand and the bowl turned out :)
With Hope's wing - this will become part of the same scene
Francisco de Zurbaran, Saint Apollonia,
oil on canvas, 1636, Louvre,

Testing out a new technique for this relief sculpture, 24 x 24," engraved polystyrene, then spray painted,
 then stained with the new Golden
high flow acrylic, 
then marker. 
The texture in the owl reminds me a little of decalcomania
like in  the cloak and headdress in Max Ernst's 
The Robing of the Bride (detail), 
Peggy Guggenheim Collection,Venice
The funny thing is -
I photographed this after 
making the sculpture

and fish
little snow leopards and an optical illusions at the Central Park Zoo
and parrots - more parrots
I went to the Met to see pieces by William Kentridge,
William Morris, and Antonio Canova (all wonderful!),
but I just couldn't walk by these without stopping -
read the label - Faberge - Mmmmmm

side ornament on a clock - I see more wings every time I visit the museum

It started off as sort of a dark week. When I heard that there would be another foot of snow, I did the mature thing and sat on my floor and cried (Thank goodness Feline Assistant and Feline Assistant Junior are here to keep me company!) Then there was the rejection packet - I get these frequently,but maybe it was the snow or the darkness that made this one seem especially brutal. There was no postcard, no note, no "....more qualified applicants than places; we're delighted and overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response; wish you the best in your future endeavors..." - just the return of my materials in a self-addressed and self-stamped envelope. Then I read about this incident of online bullying of an artist  - :(. Shortly after, I discovered that musicians don't get paid for performing at the superbowl. (?!? - Can you imagine the athletes getting told by their teams: "You'll get lots of PR, which will lead to endorsement deals, so we're not going to pay you..."). At one point, I even felt like the president, a former college professor, was making fun of me (for studying art history.) I couldn't listen to the radio news from Geneva anymore. 

I unplugged for a few days and spent a wonderful day in New York, photographing at the zoo, visiting the Met, and spending time with lovely friends. 

How does this relate to the project? I've had some time to think about what's been bothering me about the Hope. Even though I'm happy with it on a technical level, I feel like it's missing something content-wise. Maybe it's too straightforward - there's not enough between-ness yet, and that's why I'm reluctant to consider it finished and take it down. 

I was thinking that one way to bring more "between" would be to add a second figure - the inverse of Hope. I've been thinking about "Hope" vs. "UnHope" vs. "Hopeless" (...bear with me here...) going back to the Alexander Pope quote from a few weeks ago, from the Essay on Man: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blessed: The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come." 

One of the things about Pope's description of hope that bothers me is that he seems to looks at hope exclusively in terms of time, as the projection of a positive future. I think this leaves out a spacial dimension of hope. For example, who hasn't hoped that a loved one far away is safe and well, in the present, in some other place

I decided that the thing the time and space aspects of hope have in common is the element of absence. I came up with a definition of "hope" as "a positive attitude toward something that is absent."
 I love color-coded charts, so I made this picture to illustrate :) 

By this definition, there are at least two inverses of "hope," because each of the defining aspects, "positive," and "absent," can be changed independently. 

So, the goal for the Hope piece will be to bring more between-ness by adding the figure of "Unhope" (instead of "Hopeless" - phase 2 redux - exchange!). Unhope's main qualities are "present" (represented in time by the goldfish, and I'll use a map as a cloak to show space), and "positive" (the rose).

Stay tuned... :)

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Self-portrait as a gold-fish, smothered by neon orange in a field of gray.
block with hand for scale

close-up of block