I’m thinking about fantasy. Fantasy and reality and death. Not dragons and fairies but adolescent mental concoctions of what life would be. What love would be. What sex was. That is what this work is about. This sliding around in the space between my realities.
The conceptual undercurrent of my work is the clashing duality of self-healing and self-deprecating behaviors. This apparent hypocrisy manifests itself in many ways. It is wet and dry. It is traditional and digital. It is sensation and silence.
I consume the world through the lens of contemporary femininity and these pieces are my mode of digestion. As a millennial maker, I witnessed and partook in the digital revolution as a child. Intuitively, digital media and tools have become a primary part of my creative vernacular. In order to produce work that is of the time, one must exploit contemporary implements while having an understanding of what has come before.
I want there to be a tension in this work, where it vibrates in the grey space between beautiful and disturbing. Through process and material, I give myself permission to explore multiple syntheses. Rhythmically rubbing industrial chalk and pooling wells of watercolor, this work invites
the viewer to indulge in the senses of my methodology. Seduction through tactility and scale. Although this work is autobiographical in its roots, there is a human commonality in the struggle that lies in the depths of each piece.
(transcribed from sketch book)
....maybe its beauty in a more abstract way, in a more design way. Perhaps the balance of an images, not formally per-say, but not anti-formally either, just balance. Perhaps the rightness, the “ugh”, is the point.
Don’t you ever look at something and just understand it? Not a one-liner, lets not belittle this thought to the lowest denominator. Just that there is an inherent rightness to it. It is primal. It is chemistry.
As artists, do we need permission to make decisions based on aesthetics?
Decoration and nostalgia - people are scared of these words because despite the fact that it is counter intuitive, they are taught to be. Taught to dismiss them. Everything is so immediate. Culture is at our finger tip. internet > buzzfeed>facebook>instagram>friends
How in a time that is so connected, so saturated / smothered with beauty can we deny its value?
Here is where I get confused. It is easy to claim something is beautiful. Perhaps due to this impossibility of claiming and understanding an emotion, beauty is similar to a stomach ache. One can sympathize, but cannot understand if they are not experiencing the sensation themselves. Either way, people connect beauty with significance.
Beauty does not mean significant. People associate the two through a long standing history of pack mentality. Because as you love somebody, take your mother or partner as an example, as you love them, they become more beautiful. There sociological of visual ‘flaws’ become part of their character or charm. These differences only enhance their unique ‘beauty’. It is their emotional significance that induces their growing beauty. Thus the tie between beauty and significance.
In the past 10 years since facebook went live, the word ‘friend’ is constantly scrutinized, and/or ubiquitously misused. That significance in the terminology via technology of how we consider each other must too then shift our understanding of beauty.
We communicate in boxes, pixelated, beautiful, little boxes. Are they beautiful because they (machines) are significant? Or because they “hold” significant tools i.e. files, images, records etc. I suppose there are too many rabbit holes to drown in on this topic. The point is, I am swollen with this instamatic image driven technologically handed world and it makes the justification of beauty difficult. Some snap shots are beautiful. Many posts are beautiful. And when emotional significance is taken under consideration, many things are beautiful.
The question I am wondering is what is so wrong with beauty in the visual arts? All arts really... Beach House is beautiful. The Ballet is beautiful. Is it that we are so inundated with it that it seems unnecessary? or trite? Is it the speed at which it can now be obtained that makes it seem unworthy? Or is this whole idea of anti beauty just the distasteful residue from the last 100 years of post impressionist, post craft movement backlash? Maybe this disgruntled stain is just the leftovers of modernism. Maybe its time to cleanse the palette.
Stars, K Cars, and the Steel Bridge.
I was lying in bed at my parents house in my (old) room. It was the middle of the night, and it was silent, yet I had woken up. Looking through the skylight, I saw a shooting star, and then another. I sat up, and looking out the window towards the river, I saw the crisp silhouette of the Steel Bridge and a great meteor shower moving mostly from right to left.
I glanced down at the thin dirt driveway and saw a traffic jam. Again, going right to left. My (old) car was in it. The K Car, which I had painted like flowers. It was moving into the jam, and was seemingly going to get rear ended. But it didn’t. All of the other cars were muted colors. They moved like toys. As I watched the car behind the K slowly not hit it, I thought of death. I will die tonight. But I was not scared.
I looked down at the scene of the cars and out at the meteor shower and un-rolled the bed room window. As the glass slid down, the mirage did as well, and I saw only a calm night with the bridge and the skyline over the river.
(taking it way back)...
Looking back on my work now and where it has been, I can see that I was originally drawn to the urban landscape because the structure of the architecture offered a graphic language in terms of bold, contrasting colors and lines striking against each other. I leaned towards the degraded or worn buildings because there was a story, or a history there. But it was never the same history, or wear as in evident in the human face, or the figure. What it did have, however, was a contrasting geometry provided for me that was not otherwise possible in the figure. The face was always a blurred gradience of lights and darks. It was hues and shadows blending smoothing in out and of one another; and aside from the eyes, and perhaps the hairy spots, there was no apparent room for play with lines without teetering on the edge of illustration. Which is a fine way of working, but is not my m.o.
This new work, and I think what I have been slowly trudging towards, has the ability to embrace both the ego and the energy of the figure while providing the structural geometry or patterning that I once embraced in the urban landscape. It can have that crisp, graphic feel while still embracing the organic nature of the medium. By utilizing the patterning or repetition already embedded in the source image, and pushing it to its edge of perception, I am providing my self with the rules and structure that I need in order to be truly free - to play and explore - within a piece.
color symbolism in the paper doll self portrait (not yet created)
part one. the black:
In the simplest terms, I wear a lot of black. When I was a child my Mom had what she called her uniform. Her daily pallet was as follows; black, tan, gold. That was it. Those were the colors she wore.
I suppose that always stuck with me. That idea that you find your colors, i.e. jewel tones, earth tones, or ‘I don't wear orange' etc. and you stick with them. I also believe that (generally speaking) one's pallet shifts with age. Children wear brighter colors, those tones mature into hues such as jewel/earth, and grow muted with age. This is also a truth that we see in nature, such as fruits, plants, and anything born, growing, and eventually dying.
Black is a standard. It is a bold color. It is a color of confidence. It is also a color used for times of mourning when one may want to shroud themselves in the calming darkness of the night.
Black is all colors combined, and yet at the same time it is the lack of all color.
part two. black’s symbolism in the piece:
This piece, as I picture it, is multiples of me, standing arms out, legs shoulders width apart. In a way spread eagle, in a way vitruvian. I am wearing black pants, and a black top, hair down and showing the curls as part of my self identity, and red lipstick. I am barefoot. My multiples are connected or close near the hands. If only connected visually in the repetitive nature of the layout, like the folded and cut paper dolls. The background is the white of the paper.
In this piece, I am expressing an unconscious state of self. The nowhere void where thoughts and inner conflicts occur. The white background, which is just the raw white of the paper, is that unreachable space. The black of my clothes, formally creates a visual contrast (perhaps a sister white piece to come). But more than that, the black represents me. The ‘black’ of my hair and eyes, become an open space color field with the clothes. The clothes, become me, as much as my dark physical features. This dressing of the body represents an armor, a representation of the self, in the minds eye, as one may see it in the world. When I picture myself, out in the world, or even in a dream, I am clothed. That is the reality of the world I live in, and thus the fabrication of how I see myself is as such, clothed. Yet, the black, as it blends and morphs with my only other features, hair and eyes, does suggest a nudity or an unrealistic dreamlike unity of clothing and self.
part three. the red lips:
The red lips signify an awareness of this unconscious self. Red is empowering. It is the strongest color (pigment wise) and in terms of light it is the closest to black. Red is blood. It is a wound and it is a threat. Bright red lipstick, is a feminine cosmetic habit that can be reduced to a desire to be sexually desirable. Bright red in nature is a warning sign of viscous or poisonous creatures. For me, and in this piece, red equals strength. Sometimes of the alpha, some times of the omega. Red is is worn both by the victor and the defeated.
The awareness of the unconscious self is an awareness of many selves. It is a knowing of both the internal and external. And knowing does not necessarily mean understanding, it can simply be an acknowledgment of the existence of conflict.
I just got a cab ride home from a man from Sudan. He was very nice, warm in fact.
To put this writing into context (which I always feel compelled to do but often edit out) I am having a root canal tomorrow morning at 8 AM. I am not a morning person. I am writing this currently at 12:43 am and I am about to take a shower. I have just gotten off of work form the Moon and Hugo is prancing around me for attention.
anyways...I was tired after work. Weak from a scholastic years worth of work and stressing paired with a bar job and random third gigs of illustrating, painting, and designing. So I took a cab. Treated myself. and the man that picked me up was lovely. He was middle aged, maybe younger, in his late 40’s. He helped to lift my heavy metal (kids) bike into his large (accessible) minivan cab and we took off. His cab smelled sweet of familiar spices and his skin was a warm brown. When he spoke his accent was noticeable enough, in combination with the drinks I had had, for me to ask where he was from.
He told me he was from Sudan, in northern Africa. He had lived in Oregon for 13 years and had two children. I told him something about him was comforting. (I was nostalgic thinking about my day before me and my fear of pain, death, and ultimately my longing for family to be near by). He told me of his last trip to Africa, two years ago, and how his youngest, at 7 (or 9 I can’t remember) said it was too hot. She preferred the Pacific Northwest. I had told him about our (me/sister/mother/father/grandparents) trip to the Azores (homeland) which was cancelled due to my grandfathers pre-mature death, and my hopes to go with my sister this coming year. If she doesn’t get married and have other trip plans. He said he noticed my looks, thought I ma have been Spanish, very pretty he said.
We had a connection this cab driver and I. Perhaps it was just my need for a family figure and the familiar smells, like maja powder the my dad uses. Or it was his slow, Monday night working as a cab driver seeking company.
I think it was me though. Looking for companionship and finding it in him, a kind and gentle Saudi cab driver.
What is most unbelievable to my is the fact of death.
I had a day, three years ago I think, after I left everyone I know to move to a place I have really never been. It was a move for myself, for my work. I remember the day with a warm regard. It was light out, I think it was late afternoon. I was lying on my bed, noticing the warm white light cast across my creamy bedroom wall and I had the realization that myself, everyone I knew, and had ever met, everyone in the world will die. On that day, at that moment, I understood the true temporal quality of life. I knew it the way I knew I was lying on my bad. It was a fact as much as any other fact has ever been, clear, transparent, pure. I understood simply and fully.
I have never felt that way before or since that afternoon.
Wave Dream (one of many)
I was riding in a bus. I was in the back. The bartender, Brian, from work was the driver. We are on the West Coast driving south. (presumably on 101) First we drive through swampy area, looks surreal almost like the meditation gardens of the Japanese gardens in the West hills. Then we are on a road, highway, almost a causeway...but not.
I was riding in the back of the bus, the small bus back door was open/off. I looked out the gaping hole, or perhaps the back door, and saw it... the wave. It was far away, light teal blue with wisps of white foam. It was tall and looming, it was very far away from the coast line but as it stretched the entire horizon, my entire visual scope, there was no confusing that it was a massive tidal wave. The shallow waters drew back. No body really panicked. I shouted out something along the lines of head to higher land.
A pedestrian, looking like one of my ex-boyfriend's friends, started running on the bus to get on on it. I reached out my hand, but as the bus sped up he could not reach me in time. He fell behind.
I called my mother on my cell phone. Knowing this was goodbye. I told her calmly there was a tidal wave on the west coast, and I was on the ocean side. I told her that I loved her. I never heard her voice, but I was in conversation with her. I woke up then, and in that space between the conscious and subconscious, knowing that next I was going to call my dad, and sister.
*fear is never felt deeply in the dream. It is more of an understanding of the inevitability of the situation.
The pleasure of making is first understood through the experience of the hand. Like a group of women huddled around in a quilting circle, or a greek sculptor chiseling away at a hunk of marble, it is with the hand that I first experience creation. As I work in my large studio, in my small nook, I am nestled deeply in my process, under a trance, enveloped in my work.
Making is a harvested balance of control and chance. While I work, carefully planting a line of stitches, or spreading out a layer of thick wax, the smell and sight of my my hand’s action spreads through out my senses. A rhythm develops and it is with this cadence that I am able to progress and move forward with a piece. In this way, working becomes a womb, a place of shelter where I can explore form and reason with my materials. It is not that I am working in a secluded space, non collaboratively, or try to separate my self from others. In fact, this buzzing isolation of self happens without choice. It is an inherent mental or physical reactive feeling that occurs even in the most public of spaces.
Pleasure is a feeling that can tingle your skin or fill your spirits. It can evoke happiness or satisfaction and can come from a variety of sources. I find pleasure in the methodical actions of making. It is like a game, or a challenge, where every step resists and must be overcome. Anyone who has tried to thread a small needle, or stitch through very dense fabric can understand this. With my work, I find excitement in the confrontation of my materials. The cautionary heat of the melted wax, the crunching grind of taking damar crystals to the lava stone mortar, the thirsty pores of old textiles, all of these materials require action and integration, as do my hands. Just writing about it makes my hands rub in anticipation and understanding.
The pleasure of making is a driving factor in my studio work. I can remember as a little girl there was a textured wallpaper in my house. When attacked at the right angle, I could use my fingernails to scrape away the top layer of the pattern. I would find a spot, behind a chair, or under a table where I could squirrel away picking at the wallpaper, leaving patches of blank white walls. Much to the dismay of my mother, I would partake in this activity a lot...and why? It was the pleasure of the activity. It is this same itch that necessitates my process now as I make and create.