Full Circle in 2010

So, it is happening!  Can you hear it?  Kind of a buzzing fly that you can't swat away, or perhaps a vibration you can feel in the floorboards?  Impending, non-stoppable, inevitable . . .

2011

It is a mystery to me how EXACTLY this happened, it seems as if it was only yesterday that I was lying prone on my back with slipped discs and a numb leg!  I am so happy that the June laminectomy and discography went so well - not so happy about the pain after the surgery, though!  Honestly, why don't humans just lose their minds from excruciating pain?  Regardless - I am now at 1/2 way recovery and just need to work on my strength so that I can begin  a fuller work schedule.

What I was able to accomplish (mostly from the couch) in 2010: 

a) continuation of handicapped mothering,

b) lots of Mario Cart tournaments

c) after-school chat fests with my crazy, individual children and their numerous friends,

d) teaching piano to the girls, playing from my childhood music books,

e) watching and rating Netflix movies,

f) re-designing my closet,

g) marketing some traveling exhibitions,

h) exhibiting new work in April, and

i) ending the year with a great show in Miami, simultaneously having a great vacation with my hubby.

When I begin to envision 2011 - these are my hopes and dreams:

I would love to make some type of money, I am truly worn out from the hand-to-mouth (really, empty art accounts and charging art supplies to credit cards); I am considering doing some legal transcription or some other type of work-from-home set up . . . but something that pays!  This would still enable me to be accessible to my children as they need me . . . help Dylan get settled into his 1st year of college (woot!) . . .

Artistically things appear to be building steadily, but it costs money to maintain that - thus, the money needs above . . . I am really excited about TAKE CARE's group show in January at The Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN . . . and later in the year at Vanderbilt University. 

I have been designing a new piece for the Custom House Museum's Women's History Month (March), again.  The idea has been brewing in my mind for years and it will be exciting to see it come into fruition.

Also in March I will be travelling with the hubby and newly graduated son, Dylan, to the Keys for his Graduation Trip, his Graduation in May . . . and the Fall will bring my 20th wedding anniversary (I hope I will be skinnier for that)!

I don't have any specific 'New Year's Goals', but I am aiming my focus on a better balance of spirit, work, and family.

2010 started with me being broken physically and I am happy to be feeling on the mend as another year has come FULL CIRCLE.

 

So, enough about me!

What are you planning to do with your life this year? 

Your 365 days?? 

What will you fill your hourglass with, before time runs out????

 

 

The Beautiful View of Perspective

It is unbelievable to me that I have not posted since September 8th!!!! What a naughty blogger I am!  Since that time I have: -  celebrated my 19th anniversary with my hunky hubby -  celebrated my 1st born and only son's 18th birthday -  celebrated my youngest daughter's 8th birthday (including redecorating her room from Princess to Zebra Stripe) and we had a blast making her Zebra Birthday Cake, memory we will keep in our hearts FOREVER Claire Designed her own Zebra Cake -  hosted a friend weekend with 5 overnight guests and a party for 20+
Singer/Songwriter, Larry Winslow, entertains our guests
www.larrywinslow.com  -  traveled to Indiana for the annual Covered Bridge Festival and spent 4 days with my sisters and extended family -  instigated the renovation of my website (to launch VERY SOON!) -  had several full studio days that are reaping many fantastic assemblage pieces (hoping to finish and photograph the new work tomorrow) So, WOW, I think I am not accomplishing, but then I look at the above check list of accomplishments (which doesn't even include daily things like hours of chats with my teens, or the hours of assisting the 3rd grader with homework and 'projects', or finally spending some quality time with my husband and friends . . . I can see, with that beautiful view of PERSPECTIVE . . . that my life is so FULL. It is not only FULL of activity, but with: LOVE, SACREDNESS, fulFILLMENT, BEAUTY and the richness of DISCOVERY. Once in a while I might feel sad, that maybe because of back pain, or general 'rushedness' - I might not have fully paid attention to a daughter's drawing or school story, or that I didn't take care of myself by taking my daily walks - but, all in all, I find that the choices I made several years ago - to quit work and stay home with the kids, to work from a home studio, to be available to them every hour they are not in school - I truly did the right thing - not just for them, but for me! I am not saying there aren't days I wish I could be in New York City hanging out with the other artists and networking, or attending EVERY SINGLE art opening in Middle Tennessee . . . but, really, I don't think  I miss much, and I for sure have gained A LOT.
Read More

In The Meantime . . .

I had every intention of posting weekly . . . especially chapters from the <i>Coping Skills</i>book as a 'tester' - but, as usual, life happens when your busy making other plans. My estranged Grandfather died and it took him weeks to be interred in his self-aggrandized mausoleum; I spiralled into an emotional whirlpool (i.e., emotionally flushed down the toilet); I had an exciting 2 days of working in the studio for a whopping total of 3 hours; and, whammy . . . back to one year ago with pain and general malaise.  Perhaps the surgeon did know what he was talking about - 1 year until I am as recovered as I will ever be. In the meantime . . . I'll just keep stitching my percocet bottles and putting them on display . . . In theory - this is progress.  Right?  I mean, it is something.  Not much, but something. This means that in 1 year I have finished, maybe (if we stretch it) 10 pieces???  So much for my legendary productivity and self-discipline. In the MEAN time . . . I am working on my PATIENCE.  My LIGHT & LOVE. I am reading books, playing on a DS Light, playing Beatles on the digital piano, watching every documentary available on Netflix Instant Watch, compiling my Good Reads Library (I am near 900 hundred 'read' books), and being the best mother that I can be from my couch.  For example, I now know that: I can say a few things about the artmaking and parenthood . . .  taking care of your own needs - that is just putting the oxygen mask on yourself (as they instruct you in life and death situations in an airplane) before connecting the child . . . if you go out - then no one is there to save the kid.   I am working on some new series (slowly) about how the woman is the womb of the family - even for her husband.  All the umbilical cords go from her - and thus connect the man to the child, but through her.  She is the keystone, if her foundation isn't strong - it all goes to hell.  If she doesn't feed herself - all connected to her will suffer.   A child is born . . . and then we train them to crawl, stand, walk, run . .. away.   There are days I want to run away to a job . . . because the multi-tasking of parenting is crazy.  But even as disabled as I am right now - - - I know that me being here - on the couch - allows them to have a center - they revolve around me . . . they boomerang out and then come back home.  It feels good to give them what they really need - an ear to hear and an eye to SEE them . . . every second that I can give that undivided and exultant attention - it is more than most mothers give in a lifetime.  My kids probably think I am a terrible mother, but I hope - that in the future - as they look back, that they will realize that I SAW them and HEARD them.   This year has taught me so much about myself and life in general - I guess it was necessary, and it is still hanging with me.  I don't know if I will ever be back 100 percent physically.  But emotionally and spiritually, I feel like I have grown 'backbone' . . . and that, even from my couch "Yes I Can, Have My Cake & Eat It, Too". So, In the MEAN time - What I have learned is that: "Yes You Can - Have Your Cake & Eat It, Too" Sher Fick, 2010 1 -   I am more than just my title of 'artist' 2 -   I still define myself as an artist, even though I cannot artMAKE right now 3 -   There is something, somewhere in the near future, that I will find - that 'ah ha' moment when I fully understand the benefit from this STATIC physical state. Hello, peanut gallery, what PRAY TELL, could that be???
Read More

He Did Not Go Gently . . .

My Paternal Grandfather, Emery Wilson Creekbaum, Nov. 1918 - Aug. 17, 2010 written the evening of August 17, 2010 Today my paternal Grandfather passed away.  This has been a long time coming, as I began mourning him 10 years ago when he hung up on me during our last telephone conversation.  Maybe I should have allowed him to continue enacting his blue-ribbon worthy 'guilt trips'.  However, as I had moments before opened his last letter and read the hurtful words his pen had applied on that singular ivory linen stationery, and knowing he did it purpose-filled and with the wrath of his holier than thou narcissism . . . well, my wounds just ran too deep.  The barely scabbed over injuries ripped open and my emotional sanguine gushed forth . . . and I made a fatal decision to pick up the phone - and he made the equally fateful decision to hang up on me as I cried. My sister and I are already the 'red headed stepchildren' of that clan anyway [because we are the children of his first son by his first wife, who divorced when my father was only 1 year old; both of my paternal grandparents immediately remarried and had children of their own with their new spouses - my father was shuffled back and forth and argued over for 50 years].   We have never fit completely or comfortably into either side of our paternal grandparents. But my sister and my birth father can go to the funeral as they were still in Emery's 'good graces' when he died.  I am barred from it.  I was his artistic prodigy and spent many hours sketching pictures to send for his approval (which was always disapproval even when my illustrations were used on the cover of our family's Heritage magazine).  Ironically, my talents far surpassed his awkward pastel drawings and poorly executed illustrations - he cut off communication with me just when I was reaching a level of maturity and development creatively.  I know the day I took him, back in 1997, to meet some of my art professors at OWCC, he was proud of me and even reveled in the small glories I had in art classes, exhibitions, and art advocacy endeavours.  And I know that when, on that same day I applied my own makeup to my blind step-grandmother's wrinkled 78-year old face, and fixed her wiry salt-and-pepper hair with my curling iron - I know that that day I was loved, maybe even for who I was and not just for bragging rights. I have heard from other family members that he bragged about me [once he acknowledged me as a descendant/note: apparently he questioned that fact as my father left when I was a tiny baby] - he has apparently said that he thought I had made a good match with Don and that my homes were beautiful and that my children, his great-grandchildren, were the prettiest babies he had ever seen.  He never told me any of that to my face, though.  He did not live gently.  His 92 years were successful if you look at his homes, his vacations, his many grand and great-grandchildren, his more than 50 year marriage to my step-grandmother - but to me, he was always poor in spirit.  Cantankerous and self-absorbed, an avid and mythical storyteller - he claimed to have hidden John Dillinger's gang in his barn, he claimed royal ancestry, he acted like a Mafia Godfather.  We had so many passions in common: our ancestry/genealogy, art, travel, history, and books.  I have mourned the inevitable loss of my Grandfather, my 'dream' of that Grandfather - for 10 years and counting . . . I knew this day would come, but I never expected the soul-stopping sorrow - I thought I had "been there, done that".  My journey as his grand-daughter started as I sat on his knee while he sang "Trot-Trot-To-Town-We-Go",and sat at his feet while he spun stories of little girls with my name wondering the forest in a Little Red Riding Hood, and later still - I stood at his elbow gazing up 6 ft. high into his blue-Creekbaum eyes - desperate for approval and love.  Desperate to be included with that magical and economically rich family that belonged to my birth father. Regardless of the 10 years to prepare myself for this day, I am sad.  I am confused.  I hope I did the right thing by standing up for my family members in that climactic telephone call, even though he couldn't hear ill of himself or others.  He did not dwell in truth, but in fantasy and a utopia that he built within his solipsistic world.  I am the dirt he tried to sweep under the rug.  As seen above, when I visited 

The Topock Maze, [as it was named, covers 18 acres and is made up of windrows five feet apart from each other.[2]

A late 19th century unpublished ethnographic report said that Mojave people put men into the center of the maze and left them to find their way out without crossing the windrows. Edward Curtis wrote in 1908 that, "It is believed that by running in and out through one of these immense labyrinths, one haunted with a dread [ghost] may bewilder the spirit occasioning it, and thus elude them."]

I did my first ritual of ridding myself of the hurtfulness of our estrangement.  As I carefully chose a fragment of desert-varnished stone, as I wrote his name in watercolor pencil, and as I slowly placed it name-side-down back on a windrow  - I prayed that all the pain would wash away with his name during the next rain shower.  In 2006 I created an installation based on this day - aMazed - which includes handmade paper, penned with your objects to be cleansed of wrapped around a piece of slate and tied with sinew.  This interactive performance is healing and seeks closure. aMaze, slate, handmade paper, sinew - indoor or outdoor - interactive, 2006   As he is laid to rest in the majestic mausoleum he built for himself in the 70's . . . (he was a renowned stone mason and memorial designer) . . . I will continue to cause him to roll over in his grave, er - I mean mausoleum.  I do have the distinct and rare knowledge that I believe I am the only person to have stood up to him and not to have been thrown against a wall (note: I realize he couldn't do that over the phone, but he did the next best thing).  I think he thinks he had the last word.  Not really.  I am still here; and, he - he will soon be rotting in his mausoleum I get the last word by teaching my children that kindness is a better way - that love does not go hand in hand with guilt.  That I am proud of my husband and my children for their intrinsic creativity and vivacious personalities - and not only because of their  jobs/salaries/accomplishments or for what makes me more WORTHY.   Also - I get the last word - because my work has been hung and been displayed in international exhibitions and high end museums.  And -  I have another 40 - 50 years to take it even further. So, thanks, Emery, for the backbone you trained me to have while you emotionally beat me to the ground again and again.  I am still standing . . . the line of life . . . and you are horizontal . . . the line of death.  Now that you are gone, I can possibly find some peace.   There is a completeness in those lines, when they intersected like we did with our lives - they created on the most universal symbols of time . . . the cross, literally the intersection of LIFE and DEATH.  Now I can stand alone.  I can reach as high as I endeavour. And, dude, never once in my entire f#$*)$ 42 years did you EVER spell my name correctly!  There was never a 'c' nor a second 'e'!!!!
Read More

I was born in a small town . . .

If you know me - you know this fact - I WAS BORN IN A SMALL TOWN!!! I believe there were less than 300 people in Olivet, IL when I arrived at the age of 4 with my Mom, a new Stepdad and various step and half siblings, with more to arrive . . . The Carter Clan: r & back)Mom; Lisa; Joe; Janetta; Janice; Daddy Jim; middle) Me; bottom row: Johnnie; Troy; Susan If I had to choose an anthem for my teen years - it would be this song.  So many of the lines screamed out from my soul . . . there were a few lines that I 'wished' were true . . .  here are some random thoughts and memories which bubble up every time I hear John crooning . . . Lyrics are copyrighted by Mellencamp   www.johnmellencamp.com "Small Town" Written by John Mellencamp Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town Probably die in a small town Oh those small communities
All my friends are so small town My parents live in the same small town
 
 
  My job is so small town          my first job was at Burger Chef, Danville, IL Provides little opportunity   perhaps one of the reasons I ran away at 18? Image of a similar Burger Chef from the '70's Educated in a small town     attended Pine Crest Elementary (Georgetown), First Baptist Christian School (Danville), Hope Christian School (Danville); but where I really learned the MOST and glimpsed the wider world was in the boundless walls and bookshelves of the Carnegie Library just down Route 1 in Ridge Farm, IL.  But I've seen it all in a small town
Had myself a ball in a small town   Married an L.A. doll this would be married a Jersey boy and brought him to this small town now my kids  are small town,  just like me  
Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy - across the highway from my Mom's house, Olivet/Georgetown, IL Used to daydream in that small town   reading about worlds far away Another boring romantic that's me       how many Barbara Cartland's can one girl read?? . . . then my brother's threw one of those paperbacks out the back window of the Olive Green/Panel Country Squire Station Wagon on vacation . . . "Bye, Bye Bawbwa Cawtlan!" No I cannot forget from where it is that I come from
 
 
 
I cannot forget the people who love me from the Sunday gatherings at Grandpa's farm . . . to the church families . . . and the immediate family of siblings and nieces and nephews . . .  
Yeah I can be myself here in this small town  well, I didn't feel I could be myself
And people let me be just what I want to be    and I always felt I was expected to conform to Fundamental Baptist rules - I couldn't be what I wanted to be - but I figured that out later on . . .
 
 
Got nothing against a big town  I feel just as comfortable in NYC, in fact! Still hayseed enough to say Look who's in the big town But my bed is in a small town Oh, and that's good enough for me
Well I was born in a small town And I can breathe in a small town Gonna die in this small town Oh that's probably where they'll bury me  well, I will be cremated and submerged in Copper Canyon, along the Colorado River, near Lake Havasu . . . but you get the idea.  I love to visit the graveyards where my Grandpa and step-dad lay . . . those graveyards are some of the places where my heart has been completely broken, and yet I felt close to those of us left behind.
 
Torpedo as Mailbox? - Olivet, IL 2009 My daughter Lauren, age 15, at Forest Glen Park, Georgetown IL, May 2009   Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town   what I loved were the people in the church and the hymn worship services.  My favorite hymn is "It Is Well With My Soul" . . . my Daddy Jim's funeral was in this very auditorium which occurred just before the interior was burned in a fire . . . from ages 4 to 18, I attended with my family and we filled an entire pew . . .
Read More

Sher Fick: Worshiping at the Altar of Biomedicine by Chen Tamir

Sher Fick:  Worshiping at the Altar of Biomedicine By Chen Tamir Coping Skills (2008-9) A Paxil A Day… (2008-9)  Viewer experiencing "Coping Skills" at seedSpace If there were a thing that consistently made me happy – that allowed me to be well, feel good about myself, do the things I value, and be loved by those around me– I would worship it. I would create rituals, even daily ones, and give thanks to the higher powers who have made me its beneficiary. However, my dependency on this hallowed thing would also stir anxiety caused by being at its mercy, hoping it will always be available, and resenting its power over me. Such complexity is evident in Sher Fick’s work. This all-American wife and mother works around issues of bioethics, gender, and discrimination. Fick has suffered from clinical depression and anxiety, along with chronic insomnia, pregnancy complications, and migraines. Her cure is a daily cocktail of prescribed drugs, which she uses as inspiration and defies the taboo of being a mother on anti-depressants. Fick’s interest in bioethics melds with her strong socialization as a Southern woman and her exploration of gender borrows from artists who deal specifically with materiality, symbols and even craft, such as Kiki Smith and Louise Bourgeois. Coping Skills is a sculpture comprised of 45 pill bottles ensconced in girlish fabrics and stitched shut. The bottles are arranged in three long rows over a horizontal mirror with a wooden frame, erected on wooden legs. The scraps of fabric stitched over the bottles are comprised of vividly colored, irregular patterns, often scraps of hospital receiving blankets inspired by cloying pop culture imagery. Some of the patterns have bits of texts on them, such as “please stay with…,” “Our Wedding,” “Viva Frida” (over an image of Frida Kahlo), and “Brassier.” The wide variety of bottle shapes and sizes suggests Fick takes a plethora of drugs, or has experimented greatly to find the right ones. In fact, the 45 bottles total her yearly consumption. The simple structure of Coping Skills amounts to what looks like a strange altar. It is also reminiscent of a lady’s vanity table, with dainty bottles of cosmetics that, like drugs, augment us to perform the functions of womanhood as society prescribes (pun intended!). When approaching the work, I glimpse myself over the mirror, and think instantly of Narcissus admiring his reflection. The mirror is one of our culture’s most ubiquitous symbols whose meaning runs the gamut of narcissism to introspection to doubling. All of these interpretations are valid here: The doubled person who enjoys two versions, the given one, and the one improved by drugs; the introspection and lonely battle of coping with mental illness; and the love for oneself at triumphing over it. In Coping Skills the mirror also fulfills an aesthetic function: doubling the bottles turns them into short tubes that resemble candles, bringing us back to the notion of a devotional altar. The shadow cast by the pill boxes above the mirror creates light reflected onto the back wall which adds a beautiful touch. The cast shadows resemble the gates of a baby crib, alluding to the post-partum anxiety and depression amplified in Fick’s work, and the bottles themselves resemble toys. The colorful bottles are stitched shut, ornamented with the care that comes from valuing precious heirlooms. However, a double entendre complicates the imagery here too. Damien Hirst's "Lullaby Series"  The bottles, lovingly covered, are also sewn shut, mummified and ensconced forever. Fick’s exploration of modern medicine and its social stigmas falls in line with work by artists such as Damien Hirst, whose Lullaby General Idea's "One Day of AZT" series (2002) are giant mirrored cabinets filled with rows of colorful pills, and Canadian collective General Idea, whose One Day of AZT and One Year of AZT (1991) are clear predecessors to Fick. Fick's work, A Paxil A Day…, Fick's "A Paxil A Day"
is  a more personal and modest piece consisting simply of various pills in clear bags pinned to the wall in a small grid formation. The pills’ numbing repetition of daily doses creates a calendar that counts down the passing months. Neither chalk marks on a prison wall nor happy celebrations of life - this work creates a foreboding tension between a Minimalist aesthetic and its loaded content.
Read More

Forgiveness Begs The Question

This FB entry is by my uncle, Jimi Barlow,  writer for the Univeristy of Oregon (formerly  journalism at U of Ill - urbana/champaign) Jimi - 1975      Early Career  Left -Jimi in 1975, Rebel with a Cause. Right photo - Jimi in 1955 - already predestined for a writing career The following Facebook Entry is just one example of why I love this man - my Uncle Jimi - endowed with integrity, wisdom, and the curiosity of Michelangelo and a pen of wisdom . . . he is the one I can thank for my love of reading!  Spending time with him in the summers, I read The Odyssey and Illiad at age 12, The Pearl, listened to the Beatles, saw that the world was bigger than the crumbling 'abode' I was growing up in . . . saw that education can make a difference.       http://uonews.uoregon.edu/staff/jim-barlow His travel blog:  http://www.barlowtravelerblog.com/?page_id=4 In front of some overstuffed bookshelves -  ..  he passed this love of the written to me, a most pecious heirloom.   He is the definition of what an uncle (my biological father's brother) should be (as opposed to the white trash uncle -married to my maternal aunt - that raped me). And always, he was the doppelganger of John Lennon . . . if John Lennon were still alive, he would look like my Uncle Jimi! Facebook does provide some intelligent conversation, such as this topic: Jim E Barlow I answered our main line today, something I don't normally do. An older, well spoken woman with a European accent said that she was needing to say something about an on-going situation we're having on campus. As background, we have a retired professor who years ago began hosting a free-speech forum in which he invited people with rather oddball opinions to speak on their causes. The events were off campus, but he got ousted from one or two places, then realized as a professor with emeritus status he could, under university policy, use some meeting rooms without charge. Recent events have included those who deny the Holocaust. The forum has been labeled by a national oversight group as a hate organization. Things heated up this academic year with a series of talks by those who pledge allegiance to the Nazis and who openly use swastikas. Students have become outraged, marching, holding protests and prompting their student-government association to approve a resolution calling on the university administration to close the campus to this forum. At face value, what the students are asking could be applauded. Their stand is stop such blatant hatred away, but they are making this stand on a campus long known to be open to counter opinions and cultural choices. The administration is wrestling with repealing a policy that allows long-time professors who retire in good standing from having access to campus. To refuse the forum's use of meeting space would be acting in opposition to the very stance that allows free speech.... See More Back to the woman caller. After saying she had something to say, she literally continued talking for some 10 solid minutes, without me uttering so much as a uh, huh. She said she was very upset over the current dispute and the hatred that underlies it. She said that in World War II she lived in Europe. Her family was continually in hiding and/or on the run, and the appearance of swastikas always led to oppression and brutality. Her family fled to England, and nearly died together amid the onslaught of German bombing runs on London. As she wound down, I was sure she was going to urge me to tell the president to close the doors on the forum and forever silence the voices of these hate-spreaders. Then she blew me away. She said that she struggled for years to understand what happened to her family, and why. That she, over many years, had come to find peace and forgive the Germans but not the underlying hatred. She said that our students need to listen to these purveyors of swastikas and what they stand for. The students need to be told and understand the history of the Nazis and learn, probably for the first time, that such hatred really happened. Do not oust the forum, she said, but encourage students to listen and absorb, and then study the context from which these people emerged. Don't silence them. Learn from them. Reject them, peacefully. Finally, she stopped. I simply said, "That is the most intelligent, compassionate and most-educated comments I have heard since this issue came up." Our conversation continued for another 10 minutes. An hour later she called back and asked to talk to me again. She thanked me for listening and told me about her family. She has three grown children, each living in another country, including deep in China. That someone can survive the most hideous oppression and then speak up on behalf of freedom of expression is awe-inspiring. And it makes you think. Yesterday at 11:16pm The comments following were as heartfelt and as brilliant as he is, if you FB - you can friend him!!!
Read More

Unconfined Perspective

Obviously I have been lost for a month or so - at least to my blog.  It is the never-ending struggle of balancing my 'daily' life with my 'art' life, which somehow doesn't seem to co-exist very well during certain times of my life.  As you know, I don't have a 'day' job or a salary.  So, what, EXACTLY, do I do with my time??? I've been trying to figure that out myself.  When I do get down into my beloved, treasured studio - I am extremely productive.  In fact, I am amazed sometimes at the amount of work I can get accomplished overnight.  It is the 'getting down there' that is the problem at hand. Studio Image from Fall 2009 Studio Image from Fall 2009 Unbeknownst to some, the work of an exhibiting artists entails caboodles of paperwork.  Some days it feels like I have made work (let's say 1 day that week), but the rest of the time is spent marketing, proposing, begging for grant money, all in an effort to have that work get out to the public.  I've been struggling with this, too.  Is my work created just for me?  Would it be enough to make it and keep it hiding here in my house?  If I do keep it here, what does that make it?  A hobby? Finished Encaustic Assemblage Work - on studio shelf Finished Encaustic Assemblage Work - on studio shelf I think intent is so important here - my intent when I make objects or alter them is to make commentary on social issues.  Therefore, I have a calling to do social interpretation . . . which, therefore, requires a society to interact with them.  Would it not be so much easier if I just wanted to quilt something to keep myself and my loved ones warm?  Here is my stick - that isn't enough for me. So there.  It isn't enough for me.  So my calling is to make and my duty is to get it out there.   Towards that end I had the 2 trips to Grand Rapids for Artprize in Sept/October.  I still had my broken ankle and that made things more difficult - but the installations were great and it was seen by more than 10,000 viewers.  I found out during that trip there is still much gender-bias in the art world.  I am disappointed, but more determined than ever to move forward. Coping Skills, as lit at ARTPRIZE 2009 Coping Skills, as lit at ARTPRIZE 2009 Also during October were 2 of my kids' birthday parties (Claire's 7th was a happening in and of itself) . . . more company and then in November I had the honor of being chosen as the first ever seed SPACE artist in Nashville, TN.  [NOTE: seed SPACE is a lab for site-specific installation, sculpture, and performance-based art that brings attention to the excellence, diversity, and interest in contemporary art in Tennessee.  seed SPACE brings in nationally recognized art critics to write exhibition essays.]  My art reviewer was Chen Tamir the Director of Flux Factory, Queens, NY.  seed SPACE is currently developing their website - I will provide their link when it becomes available. Having an interview with a critic is not an easy thing.  I am a very open person (obviously) - but I find that each time I have had a one-on-one with an art critic (including Linda Weintraub) the experience has cracked my art spirit wide open - even further than it was prior to the interview.  I have likened it to having a living autopsy performed on oneself.  I maintain that opinion.  The benefit of going through this process is that the critic/reviewer, from their UNCONFINED PERSPECTIVE, can see all the connections and scars and various conditions of your lifework.  Talk about insightful.  Revelatory.  Cathartic.  I could go on and on. Thomas Eakins' THE GROSS CLINIC Thomas Eakins' THE GROSS CLINIC This all brings me to the following  responses about the experience:  the first draft review is incredibly astute and I appreciated the seriousness with which Chen viewed the work and our interview.  It  is invaluable to me, as a developing artist, to have such direct and unconfined perspective on my works to date.  Interestingly enough, these interviews always spur in me an even greater understanding of who I am becoming and my place in the world - let alone the deeper investigations with the works themselves. There are many other things which have occurred, including the beginnings of several new series, but November seemed to focus on investigating previous works as they are being exhibited.  Additionally, I have 3 years worth of blogs to re-load all the images for due to my Typepad/Wordpress transfer - total debacle! As I move into December, it begins another year of my life - my 43rd.  Although some have mistakenly dismissed me as a bored housewife, I can tell you - there is little that would be more difficult for me to attempt than to nurture my art at the same time I try to raise a family.  If I only needed to be entertained, i can think of much funner, cheaper, and immediately gratifying than being an artist.  It is not the easiest route.  Forging a new path never is.
Read More

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses!

So I want to blame the dog for eating my homework . . . but that would be me lacking verisimilitude.  What really happened?  Well, it was animal related - my MIA status.  Snappy, The Evildoer! Snappy, The Evildoer! It was the cat's fault.  All Her Royal Tailless Snappyness was doing was sleeping . . . possibly purring.  This is normal - but where she chose to slumber was unexpected.  SO unexpected that I fell down (possible threw myself down) five garage steps until I splayed onto the concrete floor.  Somehow, I managed to levitate myself over the cat slumbering on the stairs. Similar to my garage stairs . . . Similar to my garage stairs . . . Having birthed three children, busted my head and arm open in an all-terrain vehicle accident, several failed childhood suicide attempts . . . I have never felt such searing pain.  Mainly in the ankle regions of my appendages.  The Controversial General Hood The Controversial General Hood We have to put this in chronological perspective as well, because THE VERY DAY BEFORE this a friend and I went to three Civil War Battlefield sights in Franklin, TN and the theme of the day was appendages -  the loss thereof, in particular.  In fact this friend and I had stayed up all night (again) ruminating over the severity of the war, the injuries, and the deplorable decisions by Hood that lead to the carnage.
The bad timing was that I was loading the car to head into Nashville to crate the  TAKE CARE exhibition to prepare for its shipment to Grand Rapids, MI.  Needless to say, I didn't make it to that appointment!
banner8inch So, I and my apparently disconnected legs lay tangled on the concrete.  I couldn't breathe, it hurt so much. "It" meaning - everything.  My back, my shoulders, my hands and wrists where I had tried to catch myself, but worst of all - below the knees just seared and sang with so much pain they were almost numb.  I did some lamaze breathing.  I shed tears.  I collapsed when I tried to push myself up with my arms. After about 10 minutes of writhing and gasping, I managed to sit up somewhat and although I couldn't feel how the feet were connected to my legs, I visually assured myself that they were, indeed, there.  So - this is good, no?  Because: 1) I don't have to wave goodbye to my own leg from the window (as did some of the Confederate and Union soldiers in the war); 2) Well, at this point I couldn't think of a 2nd good thing! When I felt I could talk I scouted to the van on my bruised behind and retrieved the already packed cell phone.  Who to call?  My friend was in the house, but she was sleeping 3 levels away with the very loud, highly coveted hurricane fan on . . . in the the cave sleeping chamber . . . no way would she hear my screaming.  Humm, also her cell phone was on the charger in the basement so it would do no good to call that phone. So, I decide to call my husband.  He is a PT, if nothing else he can come home and scrape me off the cement.  I was so shaky I had a hard time calling the number . . . and, of course, he didn't answer the cell, which meant he was with a patient.  I decide this qualifies as an emergency and call the front office - I squeak out that I need Don and that it is an emergency . . . so he leads me through a few toe moving tests and we determine that the right ankle/foot is not broken, but the left probably is.  He advises ice.  So I crawl back up the steps, get icepacks and lay on the couch.  I figure my friend will wake up and can take me to the doctor or when my son gets home he can drive me.ankle clip art Before that can happen my son calls from school saying he is sick with a fever.  So.  I can drive with my right foot so I go get him at school . . . he drives home and drops me at the doctor and I get xrays . . . and diagnosed, 1 sprain, another bad sprain and a crushed outer ankle bone (that triangle thingy that sticks out), do the air cast/boot, get painkillers . . . home.  My son goes back to the dr. on his own.  He has mono.  Lauren comes home, sick.  Dylan takes her to the doctor.  My friend wakes up in this chaos - we laugh as I giggle on my painkillers and we imitate General Hood waving his shoulder stump as he tries to say good bye to his own arm.  We are, obviously, evil beings.  We have never laughed so hard.

Dylan's Mono

So that was all about 4 weeks ago.  I am off the crutches and am down to braces and wraps for the ankle and can hobble almost anywhere.  The worst part is trying to walk down stairs.  (remember, my studio is down a very steep flight of stairs, I didn't see it for a whole week).  If I have been on my feet too long I am exhausted . . . but, you know - it could have been so much worse.  For a few days I had the perfect excuse to sit and talk and get giddy on painkillers.  Not a bad way for the universe to inform me I better slow down OR ELSE!  I found out what OR ELSE meant . . . just like the Fairygod Mother that swoops down and wacks Little Bunny Foo Foo on the head. Little Bunny Foo Foo LITTLE BUNNY FOO FOO . . .

So that gives you a bit of the story of where I have been . . . not to mention the fact that I lost the information on how to access my very own blog for several weeks . . . I am back on track, back on my feet and there are NO MORE EXCUSES!

You can expect more updates, and the saga of how I am making it to Grand Rapids, MI in the near future!

Signature LINE sher

 

Read More

On Reading - Gillian Flynn's "DARK PLACES"

Ok - so I bought a new book [not true: I bought about 8 new books and 5 art journals] for vacation (which doesn't start until Friday).  dark places Here is the thing - I stayed up all night READING one of them (DarkPlaces by Gillian Flynn).  It qualifies as one of those, 'perhaps someone else had a worser (I know this is bad grammar) childhood than I (I know this should say 'me').  The point is, if you can forget my bad grammar, is that it has been a long time since I have been gripped by a book in this manner.  I have 'enjoyed' some and actually 'loved' others.  But this one - it is like the first time I read Augusten Burrough's A WOLF AT THE TABLE or Haven Kimmel's IODINE.  I was rocking, reading, and closing the book, turning off the light, turning the light back on, until 6:15 a.m.
PLEASE TELL ME I AM NOT THE ONLY PSYCHO NIGHT READER!           Hence - being in an altered state of stunned stupidity (or perhaps just otherworldness), I appeared at a 10:30 a.m. meeting with my web designer, which isn't until tomorrow.  um.  ding dang.  I blame this fugue on my altered literary reality. That is what I consider a good read.  To be so altered that I don't know, or really give a taco, what day it is.  Another sign - when you feel that you have only 2 toes on your right foot, like the main character.  Check - GOOD BOOK.  Sitting up rocking yourself - CHECK, good book - thanks Augusten and Haven!!   Kudos to Gillian Flynn for having the balls to write about a flawed, but -therefore- believable character.   This girl woman - Libby - is someone with twisted thinking, but is loveable at the same time.  Which, as you know - is my goal in life - to be the twisted soul that I am, but to be loveable (and, loving, of course). So, dear readers, who are all readers yourself - tell me, what is the last book that kept you up all night???  I'm just dying to know!   Other 'wee hours' of the morning books from my literary past: IT, THE STAND, INSOMNIA (how Ironic) - Stephen King I Know This Much is True - Wally Lamb  . . . . just to name a few!
Read More

New Work from the Studio - July 7, 2009

After weeks and weeks of very stressful paperwork, I spent Monday with my favorite art buddy, Aletha Carr (www.alethacarr.com).  We had a nostalgic lunch at Long John Silver's then spent about 2 hours roaming the aisles of Hobby Lobby.  We just love walking the rows and imagining different ways to use their products . . . and the sales are phenomenal. As usual, Aletha left with one bag and I left with my cart full and Aletha using her cart for the rest of my bounty . . . One of the great items we re-imagined was the use of these model acrylic displays:  First Comes Love First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jane pushing a baby carriage . . .   "FIRST COMES LOVE", July 2009   (Note: top fabric includes one of my children's hospital, flannel receiving blankets).     "SOCKMONKEY LOVE",Sock Monkey Love July 2009   Overall these new pieces are extensions of "Coping Skills" and will be collector items of smaller size.                          "VANITY TABLE I - RUBBER DUCKY, YOU'RE THE ONE" July, 2009 (detail below) 72yourtheone   I have tons of encaustic paintings started, but am saving those for days when I won't be distracted by children, the phone, etc.  I definitely feel the embers heating up - ready for a major production of work to result. Yippee!
Read More

Dream in Color - in Honor of Shanna, Carrie, Maureen & Haven

In honor of Carrie’s Studio, Shanna's New Abode for Writing, Maureen's New Cottage for Writing, and after visiting Haven's Writing Barn, I am offering up this Dream I had: Background Information: I always loved art as a child and would study on my own, but I went to a tiny church school with no art class. At this time in my family/community no one mentioned even the possibility of college . . . I thought when you graduated and/or turned 18, you were on your own. So, after high School  I worked full-time, moved in with an aunt in Texas, and then ran off and got married at 19. I kept painting, mostly watercolor and some acrylic, but not really knowing what I was doing. Got into the New Age movement . . . began to believe in my ‘gift’ and that it was part of my tautology. After a divorce I enrolled in an Art Institute while still working full time. One week before classes started I was in an accident and badly injured my back. I met Donny (he was my physical therapist). We married and planned and started our family.  The deal was, I would have art as a hobby and go to school when the kids reached pre-school age.   Above, 30 second gesture drawings from Drawing 101. This dream (of returning to school) came true when I was 27/28. I started with a night drawing class . . . then before I started Painting 101 - I went shopping for art supplies. choosing every tube of Galleria acrylic paint and each paintbrush with exceeding care and love . . .     I then had this dream while being part of a dream interpretation group. FLOWER TRAIN.   I am on a swiftly moving SILVER BULLET train . . . we are flashing through landscapes and the train slows as we come around a bend. I peer out the window and see breathing, pulsing BRIGHT FLESH and CREAMY flowers of an unidentified species. They are singing and throbbing with color and life.   I reach down and pat the baby car seat which is sitting next to me on the train-bench. The 'baby' is wrapped in a beautiful crocheted (which I made) cobweb of rainbow beams . . . I lift the blanket to reveal -   the new glorious tubes of paint and carefully arranged paintbrushes. I cry in recognition. THE END   Above, "Unveiled Sorrow" created in Painting 101 with Professor D. Anne Waters. So - the point being that this dream is when I came to the realization that I needed to nurture and foster my ‘gift’ of creativity to the same extent that I nurtured and fostered my own children.   Our family, around the time of this dream . . . Art is a part of me. I cannot give it away or neglect it. I cannot tell you the all encompassing effect this realization/dream has had on my life. It was my license to be who I was born to be.  . . . and then came Claire.
Read More

May Day - Happy Beltane, to Dylan

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, but then . . . I put away childish things. One of the 'childish things' I put away was the making of, and delivering of. May Baskets.
  • May Day, holiday of ancient origin, observed on the first day of May, especially in Europe. It has traditionally been celebrated with merrymaking and festivities. May Day has been set aside to commemorate the labor movement in many countries around the world.
  • Beltane (a/k/a MayDay) http://www.mythinglinks.org/Beltane.html
 
...Other names for May Day include: Cetsamhain ('opposite Samhain'), Walpurgisnacht (in Germany), and Roodmas (the medieval Church's name). This last came from Church Fathers who were hoping to shift the common people's allegiance from the Maypole (Pagan lingham - symbol of life) to the Holy Rood (the Cross - Roman instrument of death)....
On the date itself:
...This date has long been considered a 'power point' of the Zodiac, and is symbolized by the Bull, one of the 'tetramorph' figures featured on the Tarot cards, the World and the Wheel of Fortune. (The other three symbols are the Lion, the Eagle, and the Spirit.) Astrologers know these four figures as the symbols of the four 'fixed' signs of the Zodiac (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius), and these naturally align with the four Great Sabbats of Witchcraft.  Christians have adopted the same iconography to represent the four gospel-writers.... In Ireland, the Fire-Eye organization hopes to light Beltane bonfires on the ancient hills to invoke larger protection and healing for all the animals.  They ask the rest of us, worldwide, to join in this vigil with candles:
...*Light a Bealtine Candle. From April 27 through May 1, place a light in your window to signify your solidarity with the animals and those who tend them. The soft flame of a candle is a tiny echo of those ancient blazes (for safety reasons you may wish to use an electric light).... In a recent interview cosmologist Brian Swimme gave a short version of the whole story of evolution: he said: “You take hydrogen gas, and you leave it alone, and it turns into rosebushes, giraffes, and humans.” If possible, celebrate Beltane in a forest or near a living tree. If this is impossible, bring a small tree within the circle, preferably potted; it can be of any type. Create a small token or charm in honour of the wedding of the Goddess and God to hang upon the tree.  You can make several if you desire. These tokens can be bags filled with fragrant flowers, strings of beads, carvings, flower garlands - whatever your talents an imagination can conjure....
If you were a child in the mid-70's in the Midwest, you, too, would have woven baskets out of pastel-colored construction paper.  You would have stapled on a construction paper handle and then filled the basket with flowers from your yard, or your neighbors yard ;), and then hung them on doors, knocked (or rung the doorbell), and then RAN REALLY FAST to hide in the bushes and watch the housewives exclaim in wonder as they buried their faces in their posies.   "A tisket, a tasket, a blue and yellow basket . . . " I'm hoping to have time later today (um, it is 1:30 a.m. and I have yet to go to bed) to make some May Baskets and enjoy this lost tradition with my son Dylan, who is turning 17, but this is one of the days he celebrates, and with my daughter, Claire, age 6. My wish to all my friends, near and far, the ones that have supported me in the rough spots and held me high to the spirit of love, to those far who have celebrated with me through the joys of life, career, and family.   I send you this day a virtual posie: may this feed your spirit and renew you in rebirth of energy and joy for the coming season of growth. My heart is always with you, even if my body is not. For Dylan, my son, who is struggling through the tempest of teenage angst and anxious for his real life to begin - please remember to smell the roses, to enjoy each day as it comes for what it is - I am so proud of you - your courage each day as you face life's challenges.  How you not only rise to the occasion, but surpass all I could ever dream for you to be and to become. You are my heart. Dylan, you and I, we share so many good and 'bad' qualities: 1. Curiosity 2. Strong Work Ethic 3. Inbred/inborn moral code. 4. Strength to stand and think on OUR OWN . . . if only this didn't get us in so much trouble. But I can promise you two things, my firstborn, my only son: 1.  You are a miracle and you will one day be able to choose your environment, friends, and family to nurture your soul and mind in the way you deserve. 2.  You are worthy and deserve goodness from life.  I believe in YOU and your soul and I am so looking forward to seeing you blossom into the wonderful, senstive man I know you will become.  As a husband you will be gentle and understanding.  As a father you will be nurturing and guide gently.  As a teacher/explorer - you will show the world things they have never conceived before. Just give it a few years - I promise, your life is unfolding, just as this spring does.  In Hope of Re-Birth, In Celebration of a Blooming World, For Art's Sake, Sher
Read More

Part II - Durham Journal - Augusten Burroughs/Haven Kimmel

So Thursday everyone visited different things.
 
Kate, Baby Alice and I did a Thrift Store Bingo ride, led by the Tom-Tom. I found a few great things . . . in one store they didn’t even speak English . . .
 
Here are a few of the treasures I found in the Durham Thrift Stores:
 
 
 
Above you can see the great hat and dollhouse/shelf I found for Claire at "Everything Except Granny's Panties" - which had to be my favorite location of all.
 
 How could I possibly pass up these vintage copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books?  Garth Williams, the illustrator, really inspired me as a child and I spent endless hours drawing women and girls in old-fashioned clothing and sunbonnets.  I can barely wait to use the aged pages in some collage encaustic paintings.
 
 
Also at 'Granny's Panties', I found these bizarre Lucite balls.  When placed on the fabrics (those were given to me by fellow blog baby, Carrie) they create bizarre distortions which I find greatly intriguing.  I also found and purchased Lucite cones:
 
I am very intrigued by these Lucite objects as I will be able to create some amazing sculptures, their characteristics also remind me of my 2006 series "Collected Works" were I suspended obje cts in resin and candle gel within toy capsules.  If they still have any left in July when we re-visit NC, I plan on buying them all.  Sometimes it is hard to know until you get home, how 'valuable' the items will be to your artistic production.
 
"Collected Works I" with detail.  2006. 2" toy capsules with found objects.
 
Around 2 pm, we made our way to GEORGE’S GARAGE (which was sadly George-less). The decor was unique and so was the set up . . . Mediterranean food  . . . purchased by the pound . . . so we all loaded up our plates and gathered together (hosted by Caryl) . . . unfortunately Linda and her gorgeous son SAM were held up at Chapel Hill and didn’t make it to the dinner.
 
Towards the end Caryl and I explained DEAR CARRIE’s “Fugly Bead” game . . . which brought her presence right in the room with us . . . Molly won the ‘ugliest bead’ so will receive a masterpiece from Carrie. Each bead was wrapped in lime green handmade paper tied with tiny twine - so I kept the remnants to use in future artwork.
 
Here is a view of two of Carrie's masterpieces, which I call my "Molten Sky-Drops"
 
 
As we left many pictures were taken, but not by me, because I was just STUPID . . . I think GiGi has the most pictures . . .
 
We then all visited the Regulator Bookstore (fabulous independent, they hosted the reading) which is just across the street. I already have every Augusten/Haven book, but I loaded up on some others (including one of Suzanne’s and lots of art journals).
We also went to a store called “Vaguely Reminiscent” nearby and Amber and I (we realized later) bought the same lovely handbags! Kate found some smashing vintage earrings . . .
 
We headed back to the Inn to freshen and dress up for the Reading . . . As we arrived at the Carolina Theatre around 6 pm we were greeted by Kimbits (a fellow blogger) who came up to us and explained “ARE YOU KATE AND SHER?” - we had our own ‘fans’ and had been ‘recognized’ on the street. It was thrilling and sweet. It was fun getting know them better and then we finally got to meet Linda and darling SAM . . . and on into the theatre we went.
 
We were all held like cattle waiting for the official seating. The Carolina theatre is GORGEOUS . . . even the vintage ticket box was evoking of the old, glory days. We were not worried because, thanks to Nora Barnacles a/k/a Sherrill, we had reserved rows of seats right up front. I had made some tags just like the t-shirts, so we were set!
 
 
Kate's daughter, Alice, waits for the seating . . .
 
I totally embarrassed myself by acting like a dork when I saw Kat (Haven's adult daughter) and her Gorgeous Boyfriend Tyson . . . I was like “Can I say HI???”  . . . but they were gracious and chatted like normal human beings, of course!
 
 
Here is a row of Official Blog Babies, holding our seat reservation signs.  From Left: Sam (Linda's son), Linda Carter, Molly, Amber, Kathleen, Maureen, ME, and Sherrill a/k/a Norabarnacles.
 
Here we see GiGi waiting with her collection of Augusten/Kimmel books.
 
Maureen and I had already agreed to sit together because we had not had a chance to ‘hang’ much. You could even get soda/wine/beer and popcorn to consume during the reading . . . wow!!!! I was driving and in pain so chose Root Beer and Milkduds as a lift me up.
 
Awaiting Haven and Augusten was fun in itself because you could see the family hanging around the entry door . . . the introductions were touching and then Haven did a beautiful introduction of Augusten. They then took their directors seats and began on a riff . . .
it was obvious we were attending the Haven/Augusten Show and not a typical reading. It was HysteriCAL. All the sudden they asked for questions and we all sat there enthralled and stunned.
 
They really need their own radio show!
 
Then the signing . . . which was standing in line for what seemed like hours and probably was . . . as we were in the end of the line!
 
They and WE prevailed and stuck there as they signed every book proffered. I had Haven sign a “Klattermaster” book for Claire and she made sure to say it was MADE IN AMERICA. I also had my much marked up, highlighted, flagged IODINE and she talked about the notes and symbols she used when she wrote the book. I told her I was working on my own index and she gave her blessings on that endeavor. For Augusten I had him sign a specific page in my Wolf At The Table Book - which made me cry as I stood in line choosing which page . . . I finally chose the one with “my mother couldn’t protect me”.
 
 I blathered at him as I am rather amazed that he is alive, that he never tried to commit suicide as a child. I am just so glad he survived with such resilience of spirit - that is something that is impossible to figure out - how some of us ‘dark place’ survivors actually blossom and others fall into an eternal abyss.
 
So now, at 10ish, we finally make our way back to the Inn, Linda and Sam joined us there . . . and we are trying to figure out where to eat in the lounge . . . I go to the bathroom and everybody disappeared except for Sam and Linda. We wait and wait . . . and wait . . . then we finally leave out of exhaustion as well.  Now, instead of ordering room service and taking a long hot bath and going to bed early as most sentient beings would do, I chose to  . . . follow this scenario:
 
I was painfully exhausted and all I wanted was my 2 bottles of Italian wine. I was determined. Kate was visiting with her brother, his wife, and newborn niece in our room so I went knocking on doors . .. Shanna wasn’t next door so I went on down the row until Molly and Amber answered - yippee!!!! - I petulantly refused to eat any of their chicken they had smuggled in from TGI Fridays . . . and Molly went downstairs to have the bartender open the bottle of wine . . . and, low and behold, everybody had re-gathered down there! But we decided to have our bottle of wine (which was already paid for!) in their room. We talked about breathing the wine, the bouquet, and the legs . . . they enjoyed the imported wine and we had a hoot. Talked about the reading, the barn, the whole experience and even went into relationships and surviving abuse. It was a great talk with much depth and moments of pure joy. I love me some Amber and Molly and I am encouraged that we have such intelligent, hopeful young adults to help us, as humankind, move forward into a bright future.
 
Before we made our way downstairs Maureen and Kathleen returned upstairs and Kate called begging for the party to convene to our room . . . so we all marched or 'ballet-ed’ over there.
 
I did a hysterical search for a corkscrew again, called the front desk in sheer desperation while Maureen suddenly appeared with one. Ooops, we ended up with 3 corkscrews. So we had the 2nd import and Amber and Molly offered up their White Zin . . . Alice slept through the entire 4 hour slumber party.
 
All I know is this: we are an amazing group and I want to know all of you the rest of my life.
 
I didn’t get to hang with Caryl or Shanna or GiGi 1/2 as much as I really wanted to . . . so I am thinking another get together is in order . . . to include all the missing Blog Babies this time . . .
 
After a quick goodbye to Shanna and Caryl in the lobby after Kate loaded up earlier and went to breakfast with her brother . . . we headed out of Durham with one last stop at the SCRAP EXCHANGE. What a glory that was.
 
Here is an Ode to Durham and our Blog Babies Retreat . . .
 
 
Read More

Off the Hotplate . . .

  New work, just to prove that all those sleepless hours are bringing forth something! Above is a studio image of "My Vintage Soul", still on the easel.  Here are some detail views:       I really enjoyed adding this vintage puppy's broken tail nearby . . . This series took a surprising amount of time and a surprising amount of beeswax.  Measuring 24" x 24" and approximately 7" deep, it weighs at least 50 lbs! As I was forming the rosettes from the wax infused textiles, I though of the roses my mother creates for decorating wedding cakes. As I was working on this large, focal piece, I also experimented with smaller assemblages.   This diptych of boxes includes a guardian angel and other vintage figurines. After a rather bizarre dream of GIANT "little people' peering at me sleeping (thru a window), I had this idea.  These are the oldest versions of little people I could find . . . I hope to do many more works with Little People in them.
Read More

Another Art Review for TAKE CARE!!!

Art Review by Ellen Wright Clayton, MD, JD

Rosaline E. Franklin Professor of Genetics and Health Policy, Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Law, Director of The Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center

 

Motherhood is about caring and connection. Recent developments present new challenges to this fundamental institution. Some of the developments are social. Women have always cared for other women’s children, especially since women until recently frequently died in childbirth.  Women historically confronted pregnancy, labor, and delivery with no small amount of fear.  Literature is full is stories about stepmothers, some of whom were wonderful, and a hopefully exaggerated proportion who were not. In today’s society, with divorce and remarriage, children often have two or more mothers at the same time, which can stress notions of the unitary family that characterize our society’s dominant discourse. Other developments are scientific. New technologies can enable pregnancies that otherwise would not occur.  Conception can be separated from carrying and birthing. The fetus can be visualized during pregnancy. Baby’s first picture is often a sonogram. And while blood ties have always had particular social salience, increased understanding of genetics has t ended to make them even more important. Not so long ago, efforts to establish paternity depended on whether the child looked like the father. Now the relationship can be established with certainty, using a blood sample or a simple swab of the inside of the cheek.

The artists in TAKE CARE explore the ways that social and scientific developments influence our understanding of motherhood, of connection and caring.  Sometimes, new knowledge of connection is beneficial. Take the case of mitochondrial DNA, the focus of Annette Gates’ work.  Unlike most of our DNA which comes from both parents, the DNA in mitochondria, the energy sources of our cells, comes entirely from our mothers. As a result, we are connected directly with our mothers, and their mothers, through generations. Maternal inheritance became important after hundreds of young professionals and dissidents were “disappeared” by the military regime in Argentina in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their children were confiscated and placed in new homes, seemingly without a trace. But the grandmothers, the abuelas, enlisted the aid of Mary-Claire King who used the mitochondrial DNA to identify and return their grandchildren.

But the supremacy of genetic connection is not always so benign. New reproductive technologies allow many to overcome infertility, but often at a steep price. Some women experience the process of hyper ovulation, egg retrieval, and pharmacologic support of gestation as alienating, as transforming them into the objects of the medical gaze.  Jeanette May’s at times almost comical images of eggs serve as a counterpoint to quotidian pictures of women and sonograms. And yet women pursue these procedures specifically to create a family with children to whom they are biologically connected. Notably, while some women use donated eggs so that they can have the experience of gestation, it is far more common for women to implant and carry to term embryos created with their own eggs, evidencing the importance of genetic connectedness.

 

Our laws often enact the primacy of genetic connections. A number of courts have ruled that gestational surrogates, women who carry embryos created using the egg of another woman, usually the woman in the couple who commissioned the surrogacy, are not “mothers” of the resulting children and so have no basis on which to seek custody or contact. In these cases, the experience of pregnancy, with its risks,

discomforts, and obviousness, simply disappears as a matter of law.  Monica Bock’s inclusion of bits of umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, and the amniotic sac into dustpans perhaps symbolizes gestation as waste, of women as fetal containers. In our legal system, children are permitted to have only two parents no matter how many adults play a role in their lives, and those two parents have supremacy over all the others. In blended families, where the genetic parents separate from each other and then form new relationships, the new adults – the stepparents – can struggle to define their roles as parents, particularly as against the genetic parents whose claims once cemented by a modicum of nurture persist unless severed by abandonment or abuse. It is rage against the iconification of the genetic link that Kristina Arnold explores in her work. In her Drip installation, red glass pieces encased in hastily stitched plastic covers, protrude from the wall.

 

While behavior is almost surely the product of complex gene environment interactions, much effort has been devoted recently to dissecting the genetic contributions. Several years ago, for example, Caspi and his collaborators demonstrated that children with a particular genetic variant who were seriously abused during childhood were more likely to have serious behavior problems as adults. Such findings can be used in a variety of ways – to identify children who need special protection (although all children deserve a safe home), to identify druggable targets for treatment, to undermine the inadequate mothering explanation for children’s problems. Each of these uses raises its own ethical and policy challenges. As light dancing on Obermeyer’s beadwork shifts one’s perception of the work, so might new findings shift our understanding of behavior.

 

For millennia, women have worried that their children would be born with something visibly wrong. The ability to visualize the fetus using techniques such as ultrasonography and MRI has transformed pregnancy, providing the potential to make these fears concrete. These technologies can and often do provide reassurance, which is one reason ultrasound has become routine. At times, however, they reveal variations, some of which resolve but many of which are serious problems, leaving women with decisions about whether to continue the pregnancy, whether to undergo fetal therapy where possible, or whether simply to prepare for what may lie ahead. These concerns are represented in very different ways by Sadie Ruben and Libby Rowe.  Ruben represents the fetus as alien, strange, frightening, floating in liquid evoking amniotic fluid within the womb, taking over the woman’s body. Rowe’s malformed sock monkeys, by contrast, suggest that we are meant to accept and love children no matter what their challenges.

 

Finally, some of the artists comment on the technology itself. Sher Fick celebrates pharmaceuticals, which allow her to live. Her pill bottles are covered with fabrics, many of which show story book characters from our childhood.

 

Adrienne Outlaw intersperses colorful scientific videos of the embryonic heart and blood flow using such techniques as confocal microscopy with pictures of the dailyness of mothering and taking care – breastfeeding, snuggling, nurturing. The science is spectacular, but which is the more wonderful?

 

Read More

TAKE CARE? Take Care!

 
 
 

Take Care? Take Care!

 
 
by Linda Weintraub www.lindaweintraub.com
  Motherhood is on trial. It is being tested by a dedicated and well-meaning corps of inventors, engineers, scientists, and doctors. Their technological achievements are designed to create and prolong life, but they are weighing upon "mother love," challenging "mother wit," and surpassing "mother instincts." Mutually loving relationships between mother and child are relegated to the background of the works of art in this exhibition. The emotional tenor that occupies their foregrounds is trepidation, anxiety, effort, and frustration. The triple meaning of the phrase that serves as this exhibition?s title reveals the nature of today?s disputed definitions of motherhood. Spoken softly, "take care" is an affectionate parting expression that conveys the desire to protect a loved one from harm. Uttered sternly, "take care" conveys the foreboding of danger. To actually "take care" of something or someone can either be burdensome or gratifying. The nine female artists in this exhibition apply the unresolved implications of this phrase to their personal experiences. Together they catalog a plethora of contemporary concerns.    
 
Annette Gates, Adrienne Outlaw, Sadie Ruben, and Jeanette May acknowledge the medical breakthroughs that offer women unprecedented options for fertility, prenatal screening, diagnostic testing, and extend fetal and infant survival. But they concentrate on the inadvertent and inevitable opportunities for anguish these technological advancements introduce. The ethical dilemmas they express in their works of art were unknown to previous generations of mothers.
Annette Gates returns to the instant of conception that has been occurring since the first multi-celled organisms arose on planet Earth. But her installation is a riveting reminder that unleashing this generative force may not be an occasion for celebration. Such concerns can be products of sophisticated technologies that make improbable outcomes appear like looming certainties. The harmless crocheting and knitting techniques that Gates employs to form her porcelain molecular sculptures are jarring contrasts to the dangers of tampering with life on the microscopic scale. Each component in her wall relief suggests irregularities in cell differentiation and unchecked multiplication during fetal development.   Adrienne Outlaw?s "Fecund Videos" require that the viewer peer into breast-like conical forms arranged across the wall in order to discover what fecund processes are referred to by the title. Alternative answers are presented in the form of tiny videos installed within each form. Some videos capture intimate scenes of babies suckling, fetal kicking, fingers fluttering, and a nursing mother?s breast draining. Others apply the word „fecund? to state-of-the-art microscopic imaging that probes the miniscule realms where new life stirs and takes form. The videos convey the complexity of reconciling advanced technological discoveries with the traditional role of mother as incubator, feeder, and nurturer of infants.   Sadie Ruben?s "Alien Fetus Series" presents a line-up of specimen jars containing in-uteri forms that resist objective scrutiny despite their sterile laboratory appearance. These curiosities elicit the squeamish apprehension that might accompany a collection of extraterrestrial creatures, not the research of an Earth-bound scientist. None of the sculptured fetus forms appear normal. They are either humanoid, mammaloid, reptile-oid, fungoid, or some other bizarre deviation from norms of life on Earth. The work confronts views with the strange and unsettling frontier of contemporary genetic manipulations.   Jeanette May practices art, however she introduces an alternative meaning for the letters „a?, „r?, and „t?. In her work "Fertility in the Age of A.R.T.," these letters stand for Assisted Reproductive Technology. May explores this theme by creating complex assemblages of found images paired with borrowed texts. The visual world she constructs is shiny, colorful, but disturbingly engineered. While viewers observe a pregnant woman proudly displaying her protruding torso, a healthy cow, and infant toys, they also observe eggs that have been forced to assume the shapes of squares. The accompanying quotations track evidence of such intrusive procreative manipulations to health books, government reports, and advertisements. Kristina Arnold, Sher Fick, Lindsay Obermeyer, Monica Bock, and Libby Rowe present full disclosure of the emotional toll of high-tech, commercially-supported, media-sponsored motherhood. They articulate the dread of bearing a malformed or malfunctioning infant, the concern of adopting a child damaged by a harsh life experience, and the anxiety of being loved by a child that is not a biological offspring. They present these forms of adversity as opportunities to honor motherly courage, resolve and achievement.   Kristina Arnold?s "Fragile" series includes a relief comprised of individual dark red droplets of molten glass that appear to have cooled so abruptly that they congealed mid-way as they fell. Dozens of these hardened glass drips protrude precariously from the wall. Protection is feeble. It takes the form of clear plastic coverlets hastily stitched around their bases. The drips that cluster into units seem no less fragile. A brittle material presented in a threatened position is a poignant manifestation of motherhood at the breaking point. Arnold places her work within the context of the guilt associated with a mother?s yearning to reclaim her independence, the destructive effects of custody battles, the futility of providing protection, but also the persistent hope for resolution.   Sher Fick?s "Coping Skills" discloses the dismantling of her pre and post partum psyche. The focus, however, is not on mental unraveling. Fick?s work celebrates the success of her determined efforts to stitch the fractured parts of her personality into a coherent persona. This internal struggle is conveyed through the use of prescription drug bottles that are encased in soft flannel fabrics, the kind that are used for baby clothes. Idealized and sentimentalized images of childhood are printed on these tiny swatches of fabric. Hastily stitched together, they suggest the disorderly spontaneity of crazy quilts and the emergency suturing of emotional ruptures. One means of overcoming such mental anguish comes packaged in pill bottles. In this work, Fick defies the stigma against the use of prescription drugs to assist women in becoming responsible and loving mothers.   Lindsay Obermeyer chooses a sumptuous medium associated with wealth and celebration. She uses it to address the challenge of bonding with a child whose short life was devoid of opportunities to develop trust in others and confidence in self. Obermeyer portrays her daughter?s silhouette as an impenetrable barricade dividing flat empty fields of color from dense patterns that are meticulously stitched with beads, sequence, and embroidery. The care and patience required of mothers is embodied in the stitching process that formed this artwork. In "Blues," the surrounding swirls and stars appear to assault the figure. In "Red Hot," searing flames surge within the figure. Both works evoke the psychological blockade built of scars from a child?s damaging upbringing, and the adoptive mother?s determination to breach this divide.   Monica Bock removes procreation from the two contexts where it is usually situated. On the one hand she reclaims procreation from advanced technologies that probe the development of a fetus from its single-cell, microscopic origins. By preserving bits of the umbilical cord, the amniotic sac, and the amniotic fluid that her body created to give life to her daughter, she reaffirms the body?s primacy over technology. At the same time, she removes these relics of birth from the sacred context that shrouds them in mystery. By inserting these visceral remnants into the handles of dust pans, the birth of a child is joined to mundane tasks of cleaning. Bock cast the dust pans in glycerin, a sweet-tasting fat that conveys the twin sides of mothering: as an ointment it soothes; as a solvent it bonds.   Libby Rowe?s "Womb Worries" takes the form of stuffed monkeys that cannot be purchased. They are only available for adoption. In this manner Rowe teases out the difference between three forms of money exchange - purchasing a commodity, paying to induce fertility, and adopting a child. She then intensifies the emotional stress of deciding among these alternatives by rejecting the cherub-like perfection of Gerber and Gap babies. Rowe?s handmade dolls are afflicted with abnormal quantities of limbs, misaligned backbones, and distorted faces. Yet they are endearing, not grotesque. An official decree of adoption accompanies each adoptee. The temptation to sign a certificate is instructive. It reveals that opportunities to delight in mother love can be attained by caring for a mal-formed child.   The artists participating in "Take Care" confirm a distressing truth – today?s mothers do not appear to be bolstered by the collective wisdom of our species. Despite the fact that Homo sapiens have been bearing and raising children for over 100,000 years, motherhood in the 21st century remains a lonely experiment racing to keep up with procreative advances at the outposts of human accomplishment.    
Read More

Biology vs. Biography - Epiphany 1 of 2009

It hasn't taken me long to experience my first epiphany of 2009. During a recent interview I was asked several questions which I answered separately and honestly.  Afterward I was re-thinking my answers and realized what I multiple-personality-disorder I must sound like.  My life, and therefore my past, has been so bifurcated! On one side I have the genealogy of being a descendant of James Cahill who was on the boat with George Washington - that family declined through the years but made a comeback in the 1900's with entrepreneurial spirit, that was my paternal grandfather's paternal side.  All of my birth father's half brothers went to college or an official trade school and had careers.  One of them is a multi-millionaire.  So I was the 2nd generation of college graduates on that particular branch of the family.   Above: Here is a photo of my father (Walter Hugh Creekbaum, born 1941) with his parents: Mabel (Wiatt) (Creekbaum) Barlow and Emery Wilson Creekbaum, born 1917.  Mabel and Emery divorced before Walter's 1st birthday.  They both married again and had many half-siblings for Walter.  He was shuttled back and forth his entire childhood.  This impacted his life to this day. Flip this to my maternal grandparents, my maternal aunts and uncles, and you have a completely different story.  Also, my own parents divorced before I was a year-old and I was only sporadically exposed to this educated branch (although I saw my paternal grandfather and his wife once in a while, my father's half-siblings on that side never went out of their way to maintain contact with my sister and me while we were children).  Anyway, on the maternal side I do not know of one of the previous generations' college education.  I have one uncle that was brave enough to leave Indiana and have a great career in the Navy and I am sure he received lots of training there.  However, to my knowledge it was the generation of children born in the '60's and 70's (my generation) who first attended, and graduated, college.  Many of us attended only as adults after starting our families.   Yet, I have this far reaching experience from my Unce Jimi Barlow and (the late) Aunt Karen Barlow Alexander, my birth father's half-siblings on his mother's side.  They were both educated right out of high school and showed my sister and I the greater world.  From an early age I can remember staying with them and reading great classics.  My birth father, though he did not attend college, is extremely intelligent and is a voracious reader.  I spent many Summers of my late youth and teenagers years living with them and experiencing the lives of educated, career-paced individuals. To the left is a photo of a typical Sunday afternoon at the farm of maternal GRANDFATHER, Stephen E. Abernathy.  Many cousins frolicked and wreaked havoc on the 52 acre farm in rural, west-central Indiana.  This is about half the Abernathy siblings and half the offspring.  Center is Grandpa, in his 'bibs' - a WWII hero how took custody of my mother and her three siblings when he returned from Germany.  As a toddler to early teen, my mother was raised by a stepmother who died when she was was a teen.  Soon after, her birth mother died and she had never been allowed a private visit.  After Grandpa's last marriage, adding in a few more siblings - the total was 13.  Mother moved out upon her 18th birthday.  Married at 19.  Had my sister at 20.  Since then she has worked non-stop.     I don't know exactly where this leads me, but recognizing the vastly opposing history of my familial branches really struck a chord with me.  I feel I may be a good example of the balance of the auto-didactic and the formally educated.  Each approach enhances the other.  While I deeply regret my adult $20,000 student loans, I would never trade that mere piece of paper for my mountain of knowledge that I learned through the curiosity of a creative mind. Above right, is the photograph taken in 1981 during my sister and my visit to Texas, where all of Mabel's family and offspring had relocated at that time.  From left to right: Uncle Jimi Barlow, an award winning journalist (Walter's half-brother), my sister Lisa (before her Sr. Year of High School), Aunt Karen (Barlow) Alexander, a speech therapist and author who died of breast cancer five years ago (Walter's half-sister), me at age 12 (I am hiding a cast and had 50 plus stitches in my head from a three wheeler accident that morning, I think I was high on Tylenol 3!), my birth father, Walter Hugh Creekbaum - he lived in TX for several years before relocating to Bradenton, FL.   I pay homage to both sides of my genealogy.  These ancestors and recent life mentors have made me who I am today.  I appreciate my education, possibly more than those who felt they were 'owed' it, because I longed for and sacrificed to receive it. And I humbly thank the relatives that took the time and money to expose me to the wider world.  Perhaps they saw in that child, some potential for a better life.  Who I am - is equal parts biology and biography.  I continue reaching for balance in both areas and to pass along the beneficial lessons, while hoping the inheritance of broken families will not adversely effect my children. On the right - a photo of my sister, Lisa and me, probably taken Feb/March of 1968.  Right before our father left. Although I had a brief marriage in in the late 90's (1987-1990), I was lucky enough to get out of that situation and have now been with my husband, Don, for 18 years.  We have three children who are almost alone in their status of being raised by both their biological parents.   To the left is a beautiful picture of my mother - the resemblance is uncanny.  Here smile is still just as wide and warm and her eyes still sparkle. After a long life of working endless days she will be retiring in just a few weeks.  I am looking forward to seeing her for more fun times - hoping to take her to see Loretta Lynn's Museum and also go on an antiquing/quilt viewing trip to Paducah, KY. ---- I feel that I am amazingly OK given the broken branches of my family.  I hope I am reastablishing some nurturing roots for my children - understanding our histories is one step along the way to evolving and preventing damage. As I continue to untangle my roots, I do know that IT IS WELL, WITH MY SOUL - EVEN SO, IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL.
Read More

Too Many Thoughts To Think

I have so many thoughts to think (which I feel I should write down) that I couldn't even relax in a Bubble Bath.  Bubble-baths used to be my refuge.  Friends would call anytime between 4 pm - 6 pm and I would inevitably be in the bath . . . it was my 'me' time. Now my 'me' time consists of activities:  blogging (either here or on various sites, see: Creative Friends link), making art, marketing art, reading (to study for making art)memoirs and poetry or really GREAT fiction, prayer walking, playing Wii Fit, cooking, playing with and/or talking to my children, sometimes spending time with my husband and family. In essence, my life has been so great lately that I don't even feel the need for 'refuge.'   I guess the key is that I now have learned to do activities which also refuel my spirit and that keeps my cup full - and it is, literally, running over in activities of creativity. Yippee for 2009!
Read More

Altered Books (Gift From The Sea & Wollitzer's Abstract Art)

Here are some images of the altered books I have been working on.  I am practicing up for teaching a workshop in February/March for Teens and Adults. I began with a book I treasure, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's GIFT FROM THE SEA.  I had a portion of this book read (by my gifted public speaker sister, Lisa Frazeur) at my 1991 wedding to hubby, Don Fick. Here you see the altered cover - I have bleached and sanded a sepia toned photograph I took of our daughter, Lauren, when she was 3 - she is wearing an antique family heirloom of a muslin slip/petticoat and a floppy white sun hat . . . I caught her in a moment of discovery as she let sand sprinkle through her open fingers at Crystal Beach, FL. Here is an opening page from the altered book - I have added my husband's and my initials from antique oak-tag and doodled on and around them, then inserted our wedding date.  One of the main goals in altered books is to collaborate with what is already there - by eliminating words, you enhance the ones that are left . . . by altering and joining any illustrations with your own theme/artwork - you make them become your own, without stepping on any 'copyright' issues.   Here I have altered an image of a shell.  By adding a glint to the eye (using watercolor pencils) and creating an eye (using gray tone prismacolor markers) I transformed the literal image into a surreal visual. Other aspects of altered books include: use of old photographs, collage from illustrations, distressing with inks and paints, aging with an emery board or sandpaper, gluing, tearing, sewing . . .      These following images are from a drawing book "Abstract Art" by Bernard Gollwitzer from the 50's - his illustrations are on the right hand side, on the left page I painted out the printed images with gesso, then cut out a female dress template from card stock, painted with acrylic then wiped off with a paper towel, using an embroidery needle/thread I stitched around the pattern, glued on a button with YES glue and voila, a finished page!         Altering books for me has become a very meditative event - I get to reminisce, create, journal, paste and glue, sew, a little bit of all all favorite things - and I get to use text and visual imagery together - I can be as sentimental as I want to be. Hope you can pick up a discarded book and transform it with some of these techniques - even if you only are a few pages at a time . . . you will enjoy the process as much as the resulting artwork!
Read More