Recently I have been thinking about how to get ahead. Not "ahead" financially - but emotionally and in my art practice. I frequently look to nature for inspiration . . . usually that would mean the trees, the ocean, the clouds and, always, earth's rocks.
But today my inspiration is the lowly and 'slow-LY' TURTLE.
According to www.animaltotem.com, having a turtle totem has the following inclinations: "Turtle teaches us to be careful in new situations and to be patient in reaching our goals. Turtle also teaches us to take things slow, for it gives us time to figure out if we need to protect our self or forge ahead. Turtle shows up in our lives when we need to go into [our] shell and wait until our thoughts & ideas are ready to be expressed. He also teaches us to be adaptable to our environment so we can find the harmony within it."
I think the most important attribute I am working on right now is patience. I want to run down the studio stairs and immerse myself in making art - I guess that art space is my shell in a sense. I can truly block out the entire world while I am lost down there. Yes, it is a true protection . . . but I also might miss something important or meaningful.
So we come full circle (woot, there is a turtle analogy), to audacity. That turtle needs a whole hunk of it to stick his neck out (this is the most dangerous time for the turtle) to get anywhere. Can you imagine not only having to risk your very LIFE if you headed out on a journey/goal, but that you had to drag your entire shell/house/studio/life WITH you!!!??????
Today TURTLE has taught me many things . . . the importance of patience, the need for risk taking, and the acceptance of life's baggage (home, children, extended families, work, etc). I am so encouraged that if nature has given TURTLE such a divine purpose and way to accomplish against all odds - I, too, have received the same potential and ways of progress.
I hope to live long, just like the wise old TURTLE . . . learning to work with and within my environment and balance the risk-taking with the necessary time of self-protection.
If you are interested in more meanings of turtles, please check here . One last item I found, which I am going to print out and use for inspiration:
Turtle is the oldest symbol for the Earth.
If you have a Turtle totem,
If a Turtle totem shows up in your life,
Turtle is a fine teacher of the art of grounding.
(excerpt from LinsDomain
The last few months have been emotionally unstable for me . . . preparing for my first-born's high school graduation, along with the the entire 'visiting colleges', vacations, and children's end-of-year activities, I feel like there is no me left.
I have managed to squeeze in a few art related activities - finishing 5 new art works for an application for an exhibition in London (which I didn't get into, but which was a great motivator).
Choosing to continue with the CONSTRAINT series, I created:
Initially, first reactions seem to be shock, and then, either horror or hilarity.
I mean them to be visual jesters which have an underlying message about role models and institutions. As a bride, I refused to say "obey" and as bride and groom, my husband and I attempted to have a garden wedding with a non-denominational vow exchange. Unfortunately, after the family friend (minister) had agreed in July to the vows we had chosen, he decided the NIGHT BEFORE OUR WEDDING to announce to us that he would be using his King James/Fundamental Baptist wording. We were NOT happy to say the least. We felt TRAPPED by the trickery . . . yet we had 75 invites out, the Civil War era home we had rented was decorated . . . what to do? We got married anyway and I cried through the entire ceremony because it was not what we wanted. Comments which were relayed to me after the wedding caused me to not speak to certain family members for 3 months. It was awful. I shudder at the memories of my own wedding.
Regarding "Post-Partum", I was thinking about the shock of bringing home a newborn and the emotional upheaval, not to mention the hormonal, changes. It is difficult even if you are not dealing with depression, gestational diabetes, breast-feeding, etc. This work also correlates with the "A PAXIL A DAY" and "COPING SKILLS" series, in that I had issues with pregnancy difficulties and depression. On a broader scale, it simply visualizes the constraints parenthood puts on the family and couplehood dynamics.
One concern I have with marriage, as seen in "Rat Trap", is that once married, the couple tends to lose their 'romance' and 'infatuations' with one another. Having been divorced, I was terrified that our marriage might END our love. I am happy to say, 20 years later, that, for us, that was not the case.
What are the reactions you have to these works? I would love to hear YOUR impressions and thoughts on marriage and parenthood!
Having had a particularly difficult day today, emotionally, speaking - I want to turn the page back to last week when I had some fantastic epiphanies.
Since December and the Miami-Pool Art Fair trip, I have been trying to answer a question I received during my flight wait to Miami. I was approached by a retired Military officer and asked "Where am I going? And "What do I do?" One would think that I have a snap answer to that question, but I never have. Maybe because I really work at breaking down my motivations and analyze my own psyche, I tend to answer in paragraphs or essays, NOT one sentence wonders.
So, I decided I needed to have that one-sentence answer ready the next time I am asked.
If you know me at all, and some of you do, I don't keep anything hidden, I am what I am, for better for worse . . . you know I am NOT a morning person! I think better at night, I work better at night, and the mornings (i.e., anything prior to NOON) are not me at my best. Last week, after realizing we would have ANOTHER SNOWDAY and that I could TURN OFF THE ALARM (woot!), I was given the great opportunity to slowly wake up and tiptoe through that twilight of sleep/dream and awake/reality. What I realized, was that, in one sentence,:
I am the most broken item I have ever put back together. It is a daily process, just like today, when I was literally ripped apart in a public forum for speaking my own truth about my rape. I am stitching myself back together - I am a one-armed Raggedy Ann, restitching my dismembered arm back to myself.
The 2nd epiphany I experienced last week was the solution to an installation problem with "YOU MADE YOUR BED", a new series I will be installing in March at the "Ladies First", Top 10 Women Artists of Tennessee Exhibition at The Customs House Museum (in honor of women's history month). Literally, laying 'abed' I visualized the installation solution and got it planned in my brain before I stepped onto the floor. Here is 1/2 of the installation:
So, what I have learned this month?
1) I realized what I do is, metaphorically and, literally, "I Put Back Together Broken Things", and
2) Just as I am responsible for what my truth is, so are others, and there are deep and lasting crevices that are created from speaking one's truth.
Dickson, TN, January 7, 2011 – n-cap.org, along with The Renaissance Center, is proud to announce the opening of TAKE CARE, BIOMEDICAL ETHICS IN THE 21st CENTURY. The artists of TAKE CARE began organizing the concept and exhibition in 2006-2007, and we are proud to bring the show near its birthplace, Nashville, TN. Conceived by Nashville artist, Adrienne Outlaw, and organized with the assistance of fellow artist, Sher Fick, of Spring Hill, TN, the exhibition has traveled from Grand Rapids, MI, all the way to Miami, FL for the recent Pool Art Fair.
Description: The TAKE CARE show highlights biomedical and ethical dilemmas, including: genetic engineering, pharmaceutical therapy, human reproduction/fertility therapies, mitochondrial DNA, familial connections, fetal annomalies, unregulated scientific testing, and the psychological/emotional impact of confronting these decisions, with the hope that viewers will take the opportunity to better appreciate the complexity of these personal decisions in a rapidly changing world. Works include: ceramic sculpture, video art, mixed media, glass sculpture, embroidered paintings, and photography.
The Renaissance Center is located 35 minutes West of Downtown Nashville in Dickson, TN (855 Hwy 46 S). The opening artist's reception will be Friday, January 14, 2011, from 6 -8 pm, and the exhibition will be viewable through Feb. 5, 2011. Reception is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and is FREE.
To read more about TAKE CARE, visit www.n-cap.org/take_care.html
TAKE CARE is a group exhibition including the following artists: Annette Gates (GA), Kristina Arnold (Bowling Green, KY), Adrienne Outlaw (Nashville TN), Sher Fick (Spring Hill, TN), Lindsay Obermeyer (Chicago, IL), Monica Bock (NE USA), Sadie Ruben (Copenhagen, Denmark), Jeanette May (NYC), and Libby Rowe (TX, formerly a Photography Professor at Vanderbilt University).
Excerpts taken from Art Reviews by Internationally-known critics, include the following:
“[T]he nine artists participating in TAKE CARE reveal that there is no definitive right answer to the question of biotechnological advancement. It is the informed dialogue that is paramount.”
“Through their artwork these artists explore the crucial social, economic, and ethical implications of biotechnological advancements and create a space for important dialogue.”
“As Dr. Sirine Shebaya, Greenwall, Fellow in Bioethics and Health Policy at the John Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, writes, ‘The best way to avoid slippery slopes . . . is to have . . . a voice in arriving at decisions with such important ramifications.’ These artists are that voice.”
- Tonya Vernooy, Art Critic/Writer
“The artists in this exhibition apply the unresolved implications of this phrase “TAKE CARE” to their personal experiences. Together they catalog a plethora of contemporary concerns.”
“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. Motherhood in the 21st century remains a lonely experiment racing to keep up with procreative advances at the outposts of human accomplishment.”
- Excerpts from Linda Weintraub, International Contemporary Art Critic/Author/Lecturer
“TAKE CARE is an art show about the challenges of new life and especially those problems inherent in an increasingly technological world.”
“TAKE CARE addresses an issue which is at the heart of art practices, that is the nurturing and understanding of intentional and unintentional creation and it provides a range of aesthetic reactions to this crucial issue.”
“TAKE CARE is considered a “bioethical show” because it points at the departure from one era of motherhood and traces the outline of a new one.”
- Veronica Kavass, New York Based Artist/Art Critic
“The artists in TAKE CARE explore the ways that social and scientific developments influence our understanding of . . . connection and caring.”
- 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
Full Reviews of TAKE CARE (or reviews of works included in the exhibition), may be found on Artist Sher Fick's blog: Linda Weintraub, Chen Tamir, Rachel Bubis, Ellen Wright Clayton, MD, JD, and Tonya Vernooy.
For detailed directions, fill in a departure address at this link:
The opening Reception, to be held Friday, January 14, 2011, 6-8pm, is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, and includes additional exhibitions (see invitation, above).
Contact Information: Jason Driskill, Curator & Gallery Director, The Renaissance Center, 615-446-4450
or Sher Fick, representing TAKE CARE Artists, Cell 615-975-1025. All artist can be made available for interviews, (please contact Sher Fick at email@example.com for high-res, print ready images of TAKE CARE.
5, 4, 3, 2,
1 - Yes, I am on the LAST day of the Miami countdown.
Upon reflection this countdown started approximately 4.5 years ago when Adrienne Outlaw first conceived the idea of the TAKE CARE exhibition. It has been a 'long and winding road', but definitely one that provided tons of learning experiences.
It is amazing how well you can get to know an artist that you have never met face-to-face! Although our work has obvious correlations, 'clicking' with personalities and life experiences is not a given. We are all so blessed to have made friends and 'comrades' along the way.
Besides the countless 'unpaid' hours artists devote to their work and exhibitions, there is an emotional expense. All we can hope for is that when the works are ultimately unveiled to the public that we reach a few people (well, to be honest, I have higher hopes for Miami as it is a 'contemporary' art fair!), people who 'get' us and our work - who might on some level appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that create the work and bring it to the public.
So, I head off to Miami with a few things in my mental pocket:
a) excitement to meet some of my 'new' artist friends
b) anticipation about watching the public viewing our exhibition
c) hope that our work will be well-received by the knowledgeable International Art Community (including collectors, curators, and art enthusiasts)
d) but, more than ANYTHING, I am looking forward to a sense of accomplishment, which is something that is beyond monetary value.
The anticipation kind of feels like waiting for a baby to be born - we are all ready - now we are just anticipating "the day"! We have high hopes for our impending creation: TAKE CARE: Biomedical Ethics in the 21st Century!
IN THE GRAVEL PARKING LOT OF A SOCCER FIELDSept. 11, 2001 During 911 I was an art teacher at Bluewater Elementary School teaching K - 5. I wasn't working on that Tuesday morning, but instead watched it all unfurl in front of my eyes on the TV screen. I had on the Morning Show with Katie Courac (low volume) as I talked on the phone to both my mother-and-father-in-law in New Jersey. As I hung up the phone, I turned up the volume, just in time to see the 1st plane hit the 1st Tower! I gasped, and immediately picked up the phone to call my in-laws back. The phone lines to the NE were jammed and I was unable to get through to them. My husband's older brother, Peter, worked in the Millennium tower, just adjacent to the World Trade Center. I couldn't get a hold of anybody . . . finally, I heard from my other brother-in-law that Peter had been able to send out an email AFTER the first tower collapsed and his building was being evacuated. We all watched in continued horror as the 2nd tower collapsed. As of the following morning, no one had heard from Peter and he had not returned to his home in suburban New Jersey (the ferries and subways off Manhattan island had been closed down). That afternoon I had to continue as if NOTHING WAS WRONG . . . the kids still had soccer practice. At the time we lived in Niceville, FL (just across the bridge from Destin, FL, and very near Eglin Air Force Base). We always knew when something was urgent with American security because the practice bombing and low fly-bys dramatically increased. On that day, it felt like we were in the midst of war - the windows shook and the china tinkled in the cabinet, and you could feel the bombs low vibration from your heels to your head. On the way to the soccer field I remember thinking/praying "please not here", "please not here" - my fearful thinking assumed that the No. 1 Air Force Base in the U.S. might just be the next target? We pulled into the play fields and parked. The kids were frantic and just as chatty as usual, but the adults were somber and kept looking up into the sky and down on the ground. Sometimes we would catch one another's eyes and just stare in understanding and shared agony. Many of the parents worked at the Air Force base or had spouses already deployed. We all knew - this was going to be something that would cause a huge change in the life of our Community, our Country, and our World. As I walked back to the van after delivering the kids to their coaches, I began quietly crying again . . . looking down at the gravel under my feet I saw an olive green toy soldier - it was broken. I picked it up and worried it in my hand the entire hour I waited for the children to finish practice. It later sat on my nightstand, then made its way into a box of treasures - and finally into an artwork - encapsulated in resin inside a toy capsule. The next day we finally heard that Peter had been evacuated between the collapses and he was one of the suited office workers dashing through the streets, ducking into doorways, trying to stay ahead of the raining debris. He finally caught a ride on the back of a firetruck heading away from GroundZero, but couldn't leave the island due to the shut down of the subway andferries. He spent several nights on Manhattan Island before being able to return home to Lawrenceville, NJ. To say the least, the experience LITERALLY changed his life forever. This is one example of my life being marked by items - reclaimed, found, manipulated - a visual timeline tracing backward and moving forward. Here is one more example:
WASHED UP ON A SANDY BEACH IN ATRANI, ITALYAfter a long 10 days of site seeing andtraveling in Sunny Italy in June of 2007, my husband and I retreated to a 5 day RELAXation in Amalfi, Italy. We took the days leisurely, sleeping in, eating, walking through the town, hiking along the Mediterranean and basically doing very little . . . one of our days included a kayak trip along the coastline . . . on our trip back we decided to rest on a beach just South of Amalfibefore we turned in the kayak. As we pulled it up onto the beach (which consisted of pebbly-gravel) of Atrani, we glanced at our feet andrealized we were walking on dozens of pottery shards. Picking them up, we saw they had been tumbled to smooth edges by the sea - just like the sea glass we would find on the Jersey Shores in the States. Upon further inspection we realized the shards were being dumped into the sea from the drainage of Atrani and washing back to shore, refined by the Sea. There were shards of true Majolica and pieces I could only imagine were decades and perhaps, in my romantic inclinations, centuries old. Many people never look up, nor down . . . if you take the extra time to embrace the moment of NOW, you never know what you will find - what meaning it will have, or, how special the items can be to you. Just as literature uses symbols, so does visual art. To the left is a box of items I have collected over time - as I work on pieces, I rummage through and find just the right EMOTION/item to include in assemblage work, collages, and sculptures. I feel using these found items evoke a remembrance of what the item may have been imbued with on its long journey into my possession - that just like myself, it may have been abandoned, abused, and discarded. What joy to be given the opportunity, as we each as human beings have, to reclaim and redefine our lives, our purposes, and - ultimately - our futures! What in your life do you treasure???