How I became BRANDED

How artist, Sher Fick, found the inspiration for her new series, BRANDED. The series delves into the history and the psychological/physical effects of the dropping of the atomic bombs by the Americans onto the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan.
Read More

Been A Long Time Gone

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:

Post-Partum, 2011. Created from Hospital Receiving Blankets

 Love, Honor, & Obey(?), 2011; Altered Wedding Dresses

 

Rat Trap, 2011; Bridal Veil, Wooden Rat Trap 

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!

 

 

 

The One-Sentence Artist Statement

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.

 

 

 

 

Poetry Soothes My Soul

The last week has wrought many events that have upset my normally serene and content state-of-mind:

The Tucson shootings have left me even more convinced that the death penalty is a valid exchange for mass murder - I understand the idea of those against the death penalty, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that some souls are irredeemable in this life, that to restore universal balance, the scales need to be re-set.  Even though I understand that mistakes have been made and innocent humans have been executed, I still believe that execution is the final retribution due because of lives stolen away . . . not to mention the lives of survivors of the victims.

 

Other issues are again, not directly my issues, but as they orbit into my reality, they have upset my balance . . . secrets kept, once revealed - can be freeing.  Their revelations always bring about better understanding of the secret keeper . . . but if the information gets out, does that wreak more pain for those effected?  Only the secret keeper can weigh that issue and make that call.  Although I believe in full disclosure, I am happy to hold shared secrets until their time is come.  What is the psychological WEIGHT of a secret?????  That intrigues me . . . if I were to paint a picture, would they appear as a large burden carried upon one's shoulders?  I am reminded of Robert di Nero in THE MISSION, one of my all-time, favorite movies, the freedom he gained when he, literally, let his weight fall from his shoulders.

One of my dear friends and her family suffered a fire on their property.  Everyone is safe, but the loss of personal property, those treasured things . . . that is heavy, too.  What would I grab if I KNEW my room was about to burn?  My nook?  A Photo Album? My Laptop?   It is something to consider.

So, for all the heartache I feel in the world around me, for my dear friends and family that are dealing with these issues, I share this poem, which soothed my soul this morning.

 

THIS IS MY WISH FOR YOU by Charles Livingston Snell

This is my wish for you . . .

That the spirit of beauty may continually hover about you

and fold you close within the tendernesses of her wings.

That each beautiful and gracious thing in life may be unto

you as a symbol of good for your soul's delight.

That sun-glories and star-glories, leaf-glories and bark-glories,

glories of mountains and oceans of the little streams of running waters;

glories of song, of poesy, of all the arts may be to you as sweet, abiding

influences that will illumine your life and make you glad.

That your soul may be as an alabaster cup, filled to overflowing

with the mystical wine of beauty and love.

That happiness may put her arms around you, and wisdom

make your soul serene.

                                                                               This is my wish for you.

 

 

 

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

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

Another Sleepless Night

Here we go again. It is creeping towards 4 a.m. and I am more awake now than I have been all day (er, confession, since I got up at 10:30 a.m.) So we did our much anticipated vacation last week.  Good things about vacation:  no alarm clock.  Beautiful weather in the North Carolina Western Mountains for the first few days, it didn't top 80 degrees, which is HEAVEN to me!  Lazy days, listening to my daughter and her friend laughing . . . even enjoying the rain (although I was slightly worried about the camera when we got caught in a deluge). Nature's Cathedral - My True Spiritual Home Nature's Cathedral - My True Spiritual Home Iffy things about vacation . . . NO internet.  In theory, this is good, right?  No work.  However, lots of my 'joy' is on the internet . . . blogging, researching, looking at other artists' work . . . so I felt pretty cut off. In the end I did lots of reading.  Knitting.  Quiet time with the husband.   Marks the spot of my journey Marks the spot of my journey On our first day we hiked around the top of Whiteside Mountain.  This was glorious.  As I walked I began to notice true calmness creeping through my being.  Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.  It startled me when fellow hikers said 'hi" - I was so in my inner world with nature that I was surprised anyone else was there.  I found a bird on a limb overhanging a chasm and it was happily trilling . . ."helLO, here, here!" . .. seriously, and the way its' trills echoed and bounced off the rock walls - it was a chorus of heavenly proportions. I could have stayed there listening to my singing bird friend forever.  It felt great to share this with Don and the bird sang for him, too.  We were worshipping nature and all that it brings.   As we descended a toursit was smoking and I wanted to scream "Hey, a-hole, what makes you think you can smoke in my church!!!!?????" But, I didn't.  But that is how I felt.  It is confirmed - Nature is where I worship and find sanctuary.  It isn't in a particular building . . . all I have to do is open a window, step outside, or from my studio - look out upon the creek and hundreds year old tree . . . I dwell there, in my church . . . daily.  May nature continue to entwine me . . . all the days of my life.
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

What I Have Learned From Trees

I began this post several weeks ago, which now seems like years. Since then, many events have occurred in my life and the lives of my most beloved of souls.  The thoughts I was having seem even more timely now.  Perhaps my soul was preparing itself . . . in any event, I feel led to make these observations on TREES.   Right View: A view as seen along the Natchez Trace in Rural Tennessee.  Taken May, 2009. If I could choose to be any kind of tree, it would be a POPLAR.  Poplar trees have the added bonus of filtering toxins from the soil/ground water.  I would love to be considered a filter - to take in the poison and give out only cleansed energy. From my early days as a barefooted, country girl growing up in rural Illinois and Indiana, trees have framed my life.  From the giant, canopy of grandpa's oak tree on the Indiana farm to the Ginkgo Trees that grew across the street, I have been drawn to the strength and beauty they provide.        What intrigues me most about trees is that they internally and externally exhibit their key characteristic of RESILIENCE - which if you follow me at all, you will know is my eternal quest to grasp.
re·sil·ience [ ri zílly?nss ] or re·sil·ien·cy [ ri zílly?nssee ]
noun 
Definition:
 
1. speedy recovery from problems: the ability to recover quickly from setbacks
2. elasticity: the ability of matter to spring back quickly into shape after being bent, stretched, or deformed It is amazing to me that a view of the tree's internal rings reveal it's entire biography - the year it was born, the travail of injury, the years of abundance and nurture.  I am amazed at the individuality of each scar.  Not only the individuality, but the fact that these scars are the cause of so much beauty and the site of resilience and self-healing.  In a way, these trees are my 'heroes' and nature is where I can instantly receive the succor and peace from everyday challenges.  It is like an instant realignment of internal and external health.  See, echophsycology posting, http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/01/essay-eco-psych.html (Eco-psychology and Inner-World Balance) as well as a previous posting http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/10/natures-gifts.html (Nature's Gifts)   Along the Natchez Trace I became lost.  Lost, literally, but emotionally as well.  This sojourn provided time to dwell in the bucolic world.  I saw the way nature ate away at the attempted confinement of man.  The trees were devouring the very man-made structures used to tame them.  As time passed, the con-finements were devoured, but the fact of them was left behind - the trees had continued to grow about the chains of man and left behind the visualization of their conquering spirits.   I, too,  seek to be triumphant and to devour my oppression and create a beautiful outcome.  Just like these trees, I hope to heal and transform my internal and external scars into marks of strength.   So, once again, my ruminations return to WHAT REMAINS?  What we keep and why? What will my story say at the end?   To learn more about the Life of a Tree, visit

http://www.arborday.org

 

 
Read More

A Spirit of Restoration

res·to·ra·tion