Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Uncomfortable with my skin

(left) Emily Orling's portrait, Gift Exchange, South Africa oil on board, 2004, (right) carved soap installed in public restrooms, 2014

I know this is not my war and I want to be mindful of speaking for others. (But the work questions the notion of the 'other'.) A child is dead, a boy of 18. Murdered, by the people given guns to protect. Left to die on the street, bleeding on pavement. I'm washing George off tonight, washing my skin.

Truth and Reconciliation must come to America. A great interview I heard on the subject:

(I just noticed my hands on the right of our blog. New meaning in light of Ferguson.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

My MET Debut

I installed one Good Bar's amount of soaps in the Classical section of the Met yesterday.

I must paint the image on right in oil onto soaps, and re-install in every public restroom of the museum. Do you think they would accept this gift?


George as popsicle

Ali embodyment

Monday, August 18, 2014


George in pink, baby-food
strawberries, coconut milk and a touch of maple syrup

Sunday, August 17, 2014

blue, white and money green of George (possibly rainbow through other forms)

Fra Angelico blue (without the touch of yellow, the aqua)

context: US 2014
217 years after George's presidency, founding father of the US
Erasing him in order to cleanse one's hands from personal soiling
Not him as a human, but him as a symbol
him as a value of money
him as a symbol that can buy a commodity, in Nigerian context, a woman
in US context, keep women in slavery through child-rearing/home-keeping
him as not a representation of her

Soap is the color of marble
Painting of soap, the color of paper money, dark green
Silicone mold, food grade, (soap is not the only possibility)
it can be ice (clear)
fruit popsicle (for the kids consumption)

In another form, like food, there is a possibility for new meaning
Like licking and embodying George

Friday, August 15, 2014

meaning and context

What do these sculptures mean?
What are the implications?
What is the context?

There is something solemn about this piece for me. The phrase 'bearing witness' comes to mind. It is interesting to have such a sense of doubt and such a sense of curiosity at the same time.

Claire asked me questions about context when I was doing rubouts on the studio floor, in 2006-ish. She suggested that the title of each rubout refer to an event to give the image context.

As I write this, her recommendations can also be applied to this piece.

What comes to mind, now:

  • Ferguson 
  • Los Angeles 
  • Nigeria
  • Anitra
However, I'm sensitive about speaking for others, and feel like the above titles speak to something a bit outside of myself. What pertains to my own position, so I can speak from here?
Thinking of doing a mind map about this

Thursday, August 14, 2014

studio sketches, August

Last summer I sat across the studio from a huge, white painted square on the wall. It was almost the same color as the wall in general, but fresher, more crisp. It was where slides and videos were shown, and also reflected everything that passed by it: sound, light, dark, and shadows.
I slowly became obsessed with it: everything existed in that huge square for me.
I wanted to recreate it somehow in my own work, work with that amazing expanse of a form.

But I've never done that before...so how could I start ... at all?

Today in studio, while working on a sculpture sketch using discarded wood from a house project, I caught these glimpses of perhaps what I could work with rather than the Big White Square. Similar to what I have already been working on - two aspect of the same thing in the same space - but only using the white surface to reflect what is around each piece: shadow, light, etc.

Then I thought: wow, big leap for me, but am I reinventing the telephone thinking I'm the first person to invent the telephone? I'm not sure if these are direct rip offs from Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, or if these are translated enough into my own language to make them mine. It feels like a bit of both. And art belongs to everyone. I can make hundreds of these - they're made from wood we used to make our kitchen shelves. All the leftovers are right outside my studio door.



Site, after Robert Morris (and missing Blinky Palermo)
Oil on Canvas
5' x 6'
Detail of Morse code translation of
Ingrid DeKok's poem The Transcriber Speaks


There was a woman, whose work should have been in every pocket today. In 1932 she won the contest for the new quarter, which would be issued to commemorate the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. However, Andrew Mellon, then Secretary of the Treasury, selected a design by competitor John Flanagan, largely due sexism.

George Washington Gold Coin
Laura Gardin Fraser’s design was not lost forever. In 1999 the United States Mint issued a gold $5 commemorative featuring Laura Gardin Fraser’s original design for the 1932 Washington Quarter. She however died in 1966 and never saw this achievement.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

This is how I read

this is how I read.

I carry a dictionary and sketchbook with me whenever I read anything.
The dictionary is to look up words I don't know, and the sketchbook is to record, to draw, to visually understand what I am reading. It's also been a way to unconsciously deal with anger and loss. 

I have always kept these sketches private, hidden them in flat files, judged them for not being something else, and judged myself for not being smarter, more intellectual, etc. However, at the workshop last summer, I understood them in a very different way. And since then I've tried to understand more deeply what they have revealed to me:  placing two aspects of the same thing in the same space.  basta.

nagae shigekazu: forms in succession

“this new series is comprised of various shapes, whether they be triangular, rectangular or hexagonal, that are assorted as sets, then hung within a kiln and fired accordingly. through kiln firing, the various curves and surfaces coalesce and unite in succession, thereby creating changing forms. such is my intent.

glaze is applied to each connecting part before firing. then the pieces are suspended in mid-air within the kiln. as the glaze melts through the kiln fires, it crystalizes into glass. thus what is left are “ceramic forms in succession.’”nagae shigekazu

nagae’s latest works, his first since 2005, test the limits of his ingenious porcelain casting techniques, and are the culmination of his extensive experiments and research into the qualities of both clay and fire. called tsuranari no katachi (forms in succession), they are essentially porcelain objects that contain individually casted porcelain shapes that are attached together. after each separate shape is slip-casted through a bisque-firing, they are combined by glazing the joints and suspending the work in mid-air within nagae’s kiln. as the glaze melts and crystalises in the kiln fires, the pieces are successfully attached. yet at the same time, the luscious draping and tapering of his organic curves are borne through “chance” natural kiln effects.
excerpted from ceramics now

photos via ceramics nowbarry snelson, and alberto andres

Friday, August 8, 2014

maybe this is the meat of it

Color- as oasis
Reflection - mirror as something one is used to using, but distorting reality, or re-presencing reality
Light and heat - materials of transformation: corrosive, preservative
pink and gold - chakra points



With red, blue, pink, gold

Fra Angelico Blue

I signed up for updates from Master Pigments years ago, thinking I would make my own paint using ancient formulas and techniques. Although I didn't, and still don't, make my own paint, I'm still fascinated by the process of mineral extraction, and transformation of one material into another.

Recently, they sent a video link on how they extract Lapis Lazuli to make Fra Angelico Blue.

I want.

red square

The Mirror House inspires me to think about this in a greater way.
Why does the square have to be red, on a mirrored ground?
What would it be like to have the materials reversed?

Mirror House

Artist Ekkehard Alteburger produced ‘Mirror House’ in 1996 during his student days at Edinburgh College of Art. At the time, he was studying sculpture and he was invited to take part in an exhibition on the Isle of Tyree, which is a flat, wind swept island on the southern Hebrides, Scotland. What looks more like a Photoshop exercise is actually a construction of large mirror sheets on a steel frame. The work sits in a shallow lake, and the house is reflecting the Atlantic Ocean. The project influenced and guided Altenburgers artistic career ever since. He is currently living and working in London.
All images © Ekkehard Alteburger

...and now, getting out of the cycle of self-pity

Wabi-Sabi Spiritual Values

What are the lessons of the universe?
Truth comes from the observation of nature. The Japanese have tried to control nature where they could, as best they could, within the limits of available technology. But there was little they could do about the weather—hot and humid summers, cold and dry winters and rain on the average of one out of every three days throughout the year, except during the rainy season in early summer when everything is engulfed in a fine, wet mist for six to eight weeks. And there was little they could do about the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, floods, fires and tidal waves that periodically and unpredictably visited their land. The Japanese didn’t particularly trust nature, but they learned from it. Three of the most obvious lessons gleaned from millennia of contact with nature (and leavened with Taoist thought) were incorporated into the wisdom of wabi-sabi:
1. All things are impermanent. The inclination toward nothingness is unrelenting and universal. Even things that have all the earmarks of substance—things that are hard, inert, solid—present nothing more than the illusion of permanence. We may wear blinders, use ruses to forget, ignore, or pretend otherwise—but all comes to nothing in the end. Everything wears down. The planets and stars, and even intangible things like reputation, family heritage, historical memory, scientific theorems, mathematical proofs, great art and literature (even in digital form)—all eventually fade into oblivion and nonexistence.
2. All things are imperfect. Nothing that exists is without imperfections. When we look really closely at things we see the flaws. The sharp edge of a razor blade, when magnified, reveals microscopic pits, chips and variegations. Every craftsman knows the limits of perfection: the imperfections glare back. And as things begin to break down and approach the primordial state, they become even less perfect, more irregular.
3. All things are incomplete. All things, including the universe itself, are in a constant, never-ending state of becoming or dissolving. Often we arbitrarily designate moments, points along the way, as “finished” or “complete.” But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost? The notion of completion has no basis in wabi-sabi.
“Greatness” exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked details. Wabi-sabi represents the exact opposite of the Western ideal of great beauty as something monumental, spectacular, and enduring. Wabi-sabi is not found in nature at moments of bloom and lushness, but at moments of inception or subsiding. Wabi-sabi is not about gorgeous flowers, majestic trees or bold landscapes. Wabi-sabi is about the minor and the hidden, the tentative and the ephemeral: things so subtle and evanescent they are invisible to vulgar eyes.
Like homeopathic medicine, the essence of wabi-sabi is apportioned in small doses. As the dose decreases, the effect becomes more potent, more profound. The closer things get to nonexistence, the more exquisite and evocative they become. Consequently to experience wabi-sabi means you have to slow way down, be patient and look very closely.
Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness. Wabi-sabi is ambivalent about separating beauty from non-beauty or ugliness. The beauty of wabi-sabi is, in one respect, the condition of coming to terms with what you consider ugly. Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.
To the wealthy merchants, samurai and aristocrats who practiced tea, a medieval Japanese farmer’s hut, which the wabi-sabi tea room was modeled on, was a quite lowly and miserable environment. Yet, in the proper context, with some perceptual guidance, it took on exceptional beauty. Similarly, early wabi-sabi tea utensils were rough, flawed and of undistinguished muddy colors. To tea people accustomed to the Chinese standards of refined, gorgeous and perfect beauty, they were initially perceived as ugly. It is almost as if the pioneers of wabi-sabi intentionally looked for such examples of the conventionally not-beautiful—homely but not excessively grotesque—and created challenging situations where they would be transformed into their opposite.
(Source: mindful.org)

...but this is encouraging

"I have done a lot of work which presents a visual disorder that is actually the representation of a mental order. It’s just a question of knowing the rules of the game. Someone who doesn’t know them will never see the order that reigns in things. It’s like looking at a starry sky. Someone who does not know the order of the stars will only see confusion, whereas an astronomer will have a very clear vision of things.”
— Alighiero Boetti

Thanks Hayley


Up again, 10:21pm. Not tired at all.
Nurse called back: "nothing's wrong", except why do I still feel so weak, so exhausted, unable to catch my breath, and unable to sleep? The Lyme panel came back negative, except Lyme can take 6 - 8 weeks to show up on a test. Great. Now what?

When I'm awake, I don't feel awake, and when I'm supposed to be sleeping, I don't feel tired. I wake up almost every night between 3AM - 5AM. I'm almost always short of breath. I stopped drinking coffee a week ago, I stopped eating gluten again, also a week ago, I started taking Vitamin D, B, and Omega 3, 6, 9.

They didn't check thyroid function or vitamin deficiency..so why or how is a CBC considered complete? They said to come back next week for another blood test.

In the meanwhile, what should I do?
Treat something that doesn't show up on a test?
Trust my intuition that something is still wrong even though nothing is coming up?
Acupuncture? For what main complaint: exhaustion everywhere and diffuse pain in most joints?
Massage? Energy work? Why?
I'm at a loss. It feels like I'll never get better.

The only energy I had was to rip up my drawings and tape them back together again. I don't even think I was truly following a chance game, if I'm the one who chose the drawings to be cut up. Oy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

...and also a big painting

(in process)

Chance Cuts

A chance game (thanks John Cage!)
Cut up drawings into four equal parts.
Place them in two separate piles (in this case, next to each other). They can be shuffled, or left as is.
Turn the images face down
Take the top sheets of paper, combine them. In this case, I taped them as I found them.
Repeat until two piles become one.