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.

 

 

 

 

Oh, The Places You'll Go . . . for Inspiration! Part I

InSPiRaTioN
1
a : a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation b : the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions c : the act of influencing or suggesting opinions
2
: the act of drawing in; specifically : the drawing of air into the lungs
3
a : the quality or state of being inspired b : something that is inspired <a scheme that was pure inspiration>
Inspiration can be found in some very unexpected places.   Some of the more inexplicable locations I have found items:

IN THE GRAVEL PARKING LOT OF A SOCCER FIELD

Sept. 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, ITALY

After 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???
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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.
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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

 

 
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A Spirit of Restoration

res·to·ra·tion