Adventures in COPING SKILLS

Three years ago I was the inaugural artist for a new and innovative gallery, SeedSpace.  Seed Space is a lab for site-specific installation, sculpture, and performance-based art in Nashville.  The work I exhibited was COPING SKILLS and A PAXIL A DAY.

The COPING SKILLS altar was created in 2007 for the TAKE CARE: Biomedical Ethics in the 21st Century traveling exhibition (2009-2013).  Art reviews about this work, reviews, and images of the show in its entirety can be viewed in the exhibition catalogue.  Basically, the altar was created to honor the medication which allows me to be a successful human, artist, wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt, and friend.

 

The COPING SKILLS altarIn 2010, an additional benefit to my contacts at SeedSpace is when it began its own CSArt program. At the time, Nashville was only the 4th city to offer Community Supported Artist's shares.  I created 50 small-scale collector pieces of Coping Skills.  We eventually had an installation exhibit of all the CSArtist's work at Nashville International Airport, and they graciously purchased full crates for their permanent collection. One of the works included in the CSArt Crates

At the CSArt Party, where collectors personally interacted with the artists, I was approached by Lee Pepper, CMO at Foundations Recovery Network.  We had a lively conversation about therapy, pharmaceuticals, the stigma against those caring for their mental health issues, and much more.  He brought up an idea about exhibiting my work at a future FRN facility.  Fast forward 3 years and this seed sprouted into a solo exhibition/retrospective that took place April - May of 2013.  The works I exhibited at FRN's Nashville Facility included the following:  Coping Skills and its collector pieces, You Made Your Bed I & IIConstraint SeriesWhat I Really Mean To Say, Is . . . (created specifically for the exhibition), Eat Your Words (it had never been exhibited), and various works as examples of Art Therapy.

One of the best results, other than the amazing interaction with viewers at the opening, was the filming of a 20 minute Art Talk.  I don't have the professionally filmed version available yet , but here is a video shot by my 20 year old son during the talk.  It gives you an idea about my process and theories behind all of the work at the show and work that I am currently developing, such as the BRANDED series (see previous post for details)

So to all you discouraged artists out there, be patient!  The seeds you planted years ago just might grow into a great future opportunity. 

 

 

   

One Week Until The Renaissance Center Opening!

 


n-cap.org and THE RENAISSANCE CENTER announces TAKE CARE: BIOMEDICAL ETHICS IN THE 21st CENTURY, a group exhibition.


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:
http://www.rcenter2.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=20&Itemid=25

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 sherfickart@gmail.com for high-res, print ready images of TAKE CARE.

Miami Hangover - The Pool Art Fair

So, big happenings at Pool Art Fair - Miami 2010:

Our suite at the Carlton Arms Hotel was spectacular (it did look smaller upon arrival than the pictures), but our installation exhibit looked fantastic.  7 of the 9 artists of TAKE CARE participated:

The Opening was well-attended and included a live band - Pocket of Lollipops . . . and there were approximately 20 rooms and suites transformed into galleries, installations and group exhibitions.

Views of our TAKE CARE installation:

 

 

 Images:

  1. Adrienne Outlaw's FECUND SERIES
  2. Kristina Arnold's DRIP
  3. Sher Fick's  COPING SKILLS
  4. Libby Rowe's WOMB WORRIES
  5. Lindsay Obermeyer's SHADOW SERIES
  6. Jeanette May's - A.R.T. Series
  7. Sadie Ruben's ALIEN FETUSES

Every time this exhibition travels and installs we learn new things.  Miami taught us to consider non-gallery spaces and their lack of lighting.  What was required of us was a real collaboration, not of the artmaking this time around, but the actual logistics of the exhibition . . . we kind of all chose different hats and did the work that we were best at, including preparing literature, color correcting images, communication between artists and between the group and the exhibition organizers, printers, and graphic artists, the physical driving of the show in a van to Miami, installation, moving furniture, running errands, and then the glory part - attending the exhibition and 'manning' our suite during the 3 day event.

Luckily for us my husband, Don, was there and pitched in, too.  It is always nice to have someone taller, stronger, and cuter around!  We (Don and I) were lucky to stay on beautiful Sunny Isles Beach for the entire week and relied on the local buses for transportation - we really got the local flavor and saved so much money; for instance we took the 'Airport Flyer' from the airport for $2.35 each, vs. paying $54.00 for a cab - that really adds up when you are eating out every day.

The actual 'post-mortum' blog will immediately (within the week) follow this posting . . . where I will get into the deeper implications of Art Fairs, Grant Writing, Travel, and What Do Collectors Mean For The Artists????

Until Then,

Take Care

& For Art's Sake,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Miami Countdown

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!

 

 

 

 

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.
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"Wrapped" by Rachel Bubis, seedSpace Curator

Wrapped By Rachel Bubis Notorious artist duo Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude deny that their large scale environmental work such as Wrapped Pont Neuf (1995) Christo's "Pont Neuf"  contain no deeper meaning than their immediate aesthetic. Within their work, however, art critic David Bourdon sees “revelation through concealment,” an apt insight not only into the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude but also in the wrappings of artist Sher Fick at Seed Space (Bourdon, David: "Christo", Harry N. Abrams Publishers, Inc., New York City, 1970).  Through the process of wrapping/concealing prescription pill bottles, Fick reveals her means of coping with the physical and emotional battles that accompany a life-long illness.  Fick's Coping Skills (2009) and A Paxil a Day (2009) together make up the inaugural show at Seed Space, an 11 X 8 ft area that exudes a church-like feel due to the strong vertical emphasis of the high ceiling studio, stark white walls, and natural light spilling in from the clerestory above. In keeping with the religious atmosphere, Fick’s Coping Skills, a waist-waist-high wooden table flush against the back wall, resembles an altar. Atop the table’s mirrored surface sit dozens of prescription bottles all covered in stitched-together patterned fabrics that contain religious imagery.  Installation View of "Coping Skills" at seedSpace  Traditional church altars display holy relics, and for Fick, these relics take the form of old pill containers—the contents of which ironically not only bring her life but also debilitating pain and suffering. By wrapping these bottles, Fick covers the ugly reality of her pill bottle graveyard by sewing them shut with nostalgic vintage fabrics.  After looking at Coping Skills, the viewer suddenly spots A Paxil a Day on the opposite wall. Whereas in Coping Skills Fick carefully wraps and conceals her old bottles, in A Paxil a Day she strips the drugs down for all to see-- a grid of naked pills covered only by clear cellophane bags. In Coping Skills, the viewer walks up to the table and looks down on his/her own terms. A Paxil a Day however aggressively greets viewers as they leave—reminiscent, perhaps, of a warning Detail View of "A Paxil A Day"  memento mori at a church exit.  Memento mori remind people of their own inevitable death and the punishment they will receive if they transgress the rules of their religion. Rather than fearing the objects of her daily worship, Fick comes to terms with her mortality and reclaims control through the wrapping process. As a result, a new clarity and confidence appears in A Paxil a Day, where she reduces her struggles to the repetitive grid of pills--still wrapped, but this time in transparent plastic. Although Fick does not wrap an entire bridge traversing the river Seine, she brings revelation to one’s own capacity to cope through a concrete process of concealing.
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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.
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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!!!
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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.
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Afterthoughts - ArtPrize 2009 - Take Care

Entrance to Gallery 114, KCAD- Annette Gates "Colony" Series on Right Entrance to Gallery 114, KCAD- Annette Gates "Colony" Series on Right
Sadie Ruben's "Alien Fetus"; Sher Fick's "Coping Skills"; and Kristina Arnold's "Drip"
Sadie Ruben's "Alien Fetus"; Sher Fick's "Coping Skills"; and Kristina Arnold's "Drip"
  By Golly I am back . . . I lost a few posts due to the hacking of my blog and the subsequent confusion it caused. Eventually I had to delete EVERY SINGLE image from the transferred Typepad posts and delete several new Wordpress posts . . . Therefore, I have a huge hole to dig out of! It will take me some time, of course. Here are few quick images of the installation which took place at Kendall College of Art & Design, Gallery 114 during Artprize 2009. Obviously, we didn't win any of the money, but our exhibition was seen by more than 10,000 people!!! Coping Skills by Sher Fick Coping Skills by Sher Fick With the great assistance of the Curator, Sarah Joseph, and her brilliant gallery assistants - we were able to unpack and install the 9 artists exhibition in 2 short days. www.kcad.edu After 3 weary days in Grand Rapids, MI (I adore that city), I limped home by way of Indiana and was able to enjoy two visits my sister Lisa in Indianapolis and a large family get together as well. Once home, I prepared 2 birthday parties: Claire's 7th, an American Girl Tea Party, and Dylan's 17th - Gaming/Pizza Party.  Lots of help from my sister Susan and Mom & Don's Mom as well! Adrienne Outlaw's "Fecund Series" Video Installation Adrienne Outlaw's "Fecund Series" Video Installation What was amazing to me was that the many years of work that Adrienne (www.adrienneoutlaw.com) and I did - actually came to pass.  To see our work hung in a professional location, in a professional manner (kudos to myself) - it was astounding and very gratifying. It stood up admirably against every high-end, contemporary work I saw at ArtPrize.  Although the process was very costly (think: printing for brochures, travel to and from, hotels, gas, food, rental car . . .) - I believe it was worth the expense and time involved.  Note: no money has been made by anyone - in fact, all we have encountered is expense and unpaid work time . . . we are doing this in the hope that someone, somewhere, will find the social and economical value of our work and become either future venues and/or collectors.  What a shot in the dark!!!!  Does this make us stupid? Libby Rowe's "Womb Worries" Libby Rowe's "Womb Worries" The experience, after 3 years of research and hard work was satisfactory for the most part.  I feel I know this work inside and out and have a good feel for the importance of our viewpoint.  What seems to be disappointing is the gender bias we are still facing at the dawn of the 21st century.  One would think that males in 'art' would have evolved with technologoy - but that is not the case.  Those males in 'mid-power' postions were 'not interested in what we [women] had to say.'  They looked over the fact that we are a group of 9 highly talented artists.  That we cover the gamut of craftsmanship and technique.  All that was obliterated and ignored because they felt our message was 'not interesting' to their testosterone brains nor to their students - both male and female.  Well guess what - that really chaps my ass!  Our exhibition is not only about reproduction (which includes both MALE and FEMALE to get that going - apparently they didn't have sex education in high school), but the scientific and ethical issues which are now facing 21st century parents.  The very generation which is bringing forth ground breaking therapies, 'growing' their very own children - that subject is unworthy and below them!  Lindsay Obermeyer's "Shadow Series: The Blues & Red Hot" Lindsay Obermeyer's "Shadow Series: The Blues & Red Hot" with Monica Bock's "Fluid/Sac/Cord" in foreground So, eh hum, I lose major respect for any sculpture male professor who judges an incoming artist on their gender.  Grow up Neanderthals! Open your eyes - you are outnumbered according to the world census records and you will not be pro-creating with anybody if you continue your male chauvinist pig attitudes.  Plus - you suck! I am so proud of each and every one of our artists included in "TAKE CARE" - we prove the addage - those that can DO -  Do. . .. finish that phrase on your own if you have the brain power. Left: Jeanette Mays "A.R.T. series" with Annette Gates "Colony" Series on Right Left: Jeanette Mays "A.R.T. series" with Annette Gates "Colony" Series on Right This crap makes me so tired.  There seems to be very little respect in America for artists' time and expenses that they 'in good faith' enact with very SLIM chances of success.  There are a few good apples out there - but the way we are treated in the USA is vastly different from artists in Europe.  On my recent travels in Europe, when I replied that I was an artist - the people practically bowed to me.  Yes - what we do - when it is done well - is sacred and deeply deserving of respect. Yes - I will make art no matter the price.  But does that mean I should be a pauper and GIVE AWAY for free what I have spent money studying to do - I pay for supplies - etc? It is all so very confusing as I also have many dreams for my children and their educations, which also cost money.  So - I'm back - I did receive a $1,000 grant to reimburse part of my expenses . . . so all in all, I am only about $2,000 in the hole for being part of Art Prize.  I am hoping this ends up being a marketing expense and that someone out there sees the value of Art In America - and can free themselves from any bias to art created by women.
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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

 

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Yet Why Not Say What Happened? - Robert Lowell quote

Seriously, I am so sick of the oblique/obtuse comments on Facebook and elsewhere. WHY NOT SAY WHAT HAPPENED? I think obtuse people are just begging for attention like a whiny toddler. Conversely, you also hear and read people say TMI - too much information.  So I am walking that tightrope right now. Normally, I lean far to my right, almost falling off  from providing said TMI. This is me: 1) Open mouth; 2) Spill forth every synaptic thought that fires in my head; 3) Silence (from the requisite 'peanut gallery'). So then, if I hold a bit back, I hear this: 1) What's wrong? 2) Or You o.k.? The worst line I ever hear, because there are just too many ways to interpret it is:  HOW ARE YOU/YA? I get to choose between my normal - spill my guts mode or the very lame "I'm fine, how are you?" . . . which makes me want to just pass that 'hiya' person right by. I once had a former (not that I knew it at the time) friend ask me: "How are you - don't say anything about school or your art, how are the kids and Don?" That was the last time I had a conversation with her. I have another hysterical story about her, but I need to figure out how to do it anonymously because the story explains exactly the type of person I DON'T WANT FOR A FRIEND. So, get this - I decided that on MY BLOG, on MY WEBSITE, I get to . . . get ready - SPILL MY GUTS.  Because where else do people come directly to me wanting to hear exactly what I want to say!!!!????? This is amazingly freeing. I get to whine, or be insightful, or be obtuse (this is doubtful as I freaking hate OBTUSEness) . . . So . . . . I am coming out of my Manic Closet (note: I am 85 percent manic - which explains the sleeplessness and excess of creative energy - and only about 10-15 percent depressive). I can handle the depressive side most of the time (I am a self-declared CELEXA taker). I am a self-aware person, what really trips me up are a few triggers: - lack of funds to promote my art - having a serious 'discussion' with my husband about said funds (er, lack  thereof) - feeling like a failure as a mother - feeling like I just don't want to get out of bed -or,  if I get out of bed, feeling all day like I want to crawl back in there. So, one too many triggers last week sent me into an hysterical tailspin off the tightrope. I crashed with no safety net - I refused to let a few people give me a hand off the tarmac . . . I laid there a few days complaining about everything . . . then I woke this morning and decided I would do the 'fake it 'til you feel it' strategy. Be perky, put on makeup (I do this once a week if Don is lucky), take my little one for a Frosty, get dressed!!! and put on the pretty skirt Claire wanted me to wear, take my little one to see her new 2nd grade classroom (which, due to my depression I had conveniently 'forgot' last night), I EVEN smiled when I talked on the phone . . . Now, 14 hours later - I actually feel it. I faked my way back into a decent mood.

Looking back, what I realized is that ALL ALONG I had people underneath me, holding tightly to a trampoline hoping I would bounce back up.  Here is what some of you were screaming up at me while I fell and after I was lollygagging on the *what I thought was the sidewalk, but was really the* trampoline:

"I know it is hard to have a career and be a mom and wife.  It is a constant struggle.  But having a family is worth it.  I wouldn't want to not have a family.  Relationships are the most important thing about life!  That's what I believe anyway." - Aletha

And I even got my OWN WORDS quoted back to me from dear Carrie:

"I've been reading old blog posts lately, they make me so happy. You said this: Even When We Feel Static, Progress Is Occurring - our creativity is like unto the lunar tide - moments of fullness and moments of waning. The pull inward and the push outward. The unearthed debris visible one moment and submerged the next . . . So there you go. "

. . . Carrie goes on to say:   "Remember how you made everything else happen? I know you have it in you to make this happen, too . . . You know this is your Right Work. But our calling is our instructor, too. Don't be discouraged. You are an Artist. And SO few artists have the full package as you do. Allow a discouraging day, resistance is futile. Then put on your Invincible hat. Because you are, Sher, you ARE."

"You are wonderful, know that and be good to yourself." - Caryl

And here is Maureen (always Miss Sunshine to me), again, someone quoting me: Which, as you know – is my goal in life – to be the twisted soul that I am, but to be lovable (and, loving, of course).” That’s exactly why I love you, Sher!!!! and just a few days later this one from Maureen: "Oh Sher, beloved Sher . . . Hang on tight . . . Love ya, woman! We're behind you."

"You've been in my heart today, I can't explain why." - Amy R. (this was the day I melted down and BEFORE I had shared it with anybody)!  Amy R. also saved me a vintage advertisement and is sending it to me to alter - mailing it FOR FREE as a gift!

 Here is the MOST stunning which came the evening BEFORE my meltdown when I was 'holding on tight' to a modicum of 'sanity' -

from Kathleen:  "I have been on your pages many times and follow your blog.  One of these times, words will tumble to describe what gifts you give.  Here are a few...

About your vintage-ish pieces... You participate in acts of redemption with your art.  This is no small thing. You wrap, seam and embellish memory and truth in teal, pink, calico.  The result... reality comforted, nostalgia disturbed. And through it... your particular kind of shine persists. Your vision is shared (thus we join) yet singular (thus we marvel). Congratulations of the Grand Rapids Art Prize Show.  As a mother of three soul children, Nora, Morgan, Grace lost through miscarriage, I celebrate the all akimbo view of motherhood. So this night, know this... what you do matters and people notice.  Many people notice.   They do not all comment. Let my comments echo as many for you this night. Blessings for whatever in your life these days is pushing me to send this to you tonight." For God's Sake - Slay me NOW . . . as I said, ALL ALONG, you (all of you) were there holding onto the trampoline.  I may not have gotten it quickly this time, but I understand now.  That, for the first time in my life, I feel I have people/friends who will - CATCH ME IF I FALL -(altar niche creating in 2005-2006) Thanks - friends of my heart Thanks - friends of my heart  There are many more people, and here are some more short excerpts of love messages from my 'posse' - "Sher, your art is fabulous . . .  you are BEYOND fabulous . . . Hang in there!  It will all be okay.  I so love the little piece you made me.  It makes me smile."  - Mary Lou There are a few others that have the power to lighten my heart, even if I haven't quoted them here, I give a bow to:  George, Haven, Linda, GiGi, Vanessa, Kate and her Oreo Bon-Bon's and general pin-up girl fabulosity, Jim Shue, John M, Michael T., Brenda QuinkyDink (all the HK Talkers! and former BB's) basically, YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND SUE ME IF I FORGOT YOUR NAME . . . Marshall, who THANKED me for being HIS friend . . . I may actually sleep tonight.  I, too, wish Gigi could send me some Ambien, darn those rules and regulations!  

 

 

 

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If You Are Here, You Found ME!

Welcome to the 'new' blog . . . testing Wordpress . . . which I am determined will be easier than my technical challenges with Typepad. Amazingly, I am going on 2 years, this Fall being my 3rd year 'on-blog'. I hope I am getting better at entertaining or at least that you are enjoying the ride along with me as I fumble through my life and art career. A lot has changed for me in 2 years. I have surpassed many goals and am sad to say other goals were left behind in the dust. View of "Coping Skills" installation, from above View of "Coping Skills" installation, from above Seriously, even if inserting and labeling the images is easier, it is worth it to me! So, here we go, fasten your seatbelts - we are off!! Let me know if you are having any troubles with this format and I will try to work the kinks out.  I still have 1 week to finish setting my gallery on the website before I will really feel 'set' - but I promise to practice and keep you posted . . . so, bear (do you 'bear' with someone or do you 'bare' with someone?  English teachers???) with me while I get the hang of it . . . As always, each day, For Art's Sake, Sher
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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!
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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!
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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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Artist Turned Plumber

 So in my never-ending quest of studio improvements and to create a nice wall for photographing artwork, I decided to install a wall along the back end of the studio. Sounds so simple.  But remember who this is?  Debacle Queen?  After conferring with the wonderful handyman/contractor/friend, Marshall, I decided to go for bead-board which I could easily paint, but would also hide the future nail holes, etc. It was going SO well . . . I had all the panels cut to size at Lowe's, and began the install at 7:30 pm. Everything came to a screeching halt when I heard a hiss behind the wall. A snake?  A possum?  A demented cockroach?  This question was quickly solved when water began GUSHING . . . I yanked off the bead-board and Old Faithful came forth to shower me with - - freezing water. I began the WHAT THE HECK AM I GOING TO DO dance whilst PLUGGING THE GUSH LIKE THE LITTLE DUTCH BOY.  Not to mention the screaming which my children and husband chose to ignore (or possibly they just couldn't hear me).  Eventually Dylan replaced me as the Little Dutch Boy and I climbed into the dirt hole off the basement to shut off the water.  Whew! This is when I decide to research this disaster on-line and came across some amazing videos on how to fix it 'DIY' style.   I can't tell you how much easier it seemed after watching it vs. just reading instructions. So, I made my supply list, stayed up all night, and Don took me to Lowe's at 8:00 a.m.  We left with the following: close space pipe cutter; copper 1/2" coupler; solder (no lead); flux; Benzomatic self-igniting Torch; and we couldn't find any flame resistant towels, so I decided to use the cement board which we had surrounded the Kiln nook with.  As an afterthought, I could also have used the kiln shelving to protect the wall and boards surrounding the copper pipe.   Here is a view of the nail hole itself, and the small spaces pipe cutter . . . It is extremely SIMPLE.     Here is a view of the cut copper water-pipe and I have already cleaned it with the 2-way wire brush inside and out.  The cleaning is necessary so that the flux and subsequent solder will meld with the copper for the repair. The pipes were loose enough that I was easily able to jiggle the copper coupler over the lip of the bottom pipe (after the coupler was cleaned and flux applied) and then lifting the top pipe into the top of the coupler and wiggling them as tightly together as possible.       Here we are at the pre-TORCHING phase . . . I'm ready to fire up and get 'sweating' (which is what they call this procedure). Voila! It took about 10 minutes . . . now I am officially a plumber and will possibly take up copper sculpture!   I have to be honest and say that I am as proud of this fix as I have ever been of anything else in my life!  I had a bit of trouble with dripping solder from the bottom of the coupler, which means my seam isn't as pretty is I wanted and I was too scared to wipe the hot solder off . . . but, all in all, I am proud. I lost 2 days of studio time, but learned a new skill.  So, if you need your pipes 'sweated', you know who to call!
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Get Out Of Your Own Way

After a short mourning of "My Vintage Soul" (see previous post for details) I have gotten back on the proverbial horse/bicycle. Today I contemplated going back to bed at 8 a.m. (I went to sleep at 4:00 a.m. after playing Mahjong for 4 hours!), but instead I jerked myself directly from the front door as I waived good-bye to Claire and headed down the stairs. Into the studio. To look at the carcass:   After facing that . . . which felt very similar to viewing a newly dearly departed, I decided to work on some new techniques while I pondered what to do with the remains.  My instinct was to trash it, cremate it, send it on to its just rewards - but that is hurt and anger surfacing and some of my best works have been pieces that went 'wrong' and I had to re-work them to salvage them.  The only difference here is that it was finished to my great joy and I know any re-creation will be but a shadow of the original (such was my then state of mind). I decided to rummage through all my new supplies and chose to work with some new RF Paintsticks.  In the encaustic process I had been using, I would paint encaustic into the divots and distress marks and scrape the layers down.  It is back-breaking and time consuming work.  Can you imagine my delight when I was able to create this work within about 2 hours, start to finish, while simultaneously working on 4 others? Let me introduce you to "Traces of Time", 6"x6", Encaustic, Handwritten letter, Leather/silver watch band.   As I sit here typing this title, it occurs to me that I dealt with the very thing I was mourning - my loss of TIME.  Art is so amazing that way.  You do not even know what you are seeking, but it forms itself before your very eyes if you get your ego and brain out of the way.  Finally, after getting myself out of my own way, more works came forth.   "Run Away" 6"x6", Encaustsic, Vintage Fairy Tale pages, quickly followed the time-piece, and then came "Descent"   So, if I would only listen to my own advice I would save myself A LOT of heartache, right? I was excited to use some of the real butterfly wings Don and I had collected on our Lake Lure, NC 2006 vacation.  We came upon hundreds of butterflies hovering over puddles and upon closer inspection realized there were dozens of drowned butterflies.  Apparently some of their wings had become wet and weighed them down and they couldn't fly away.  The living butterflies appeared to hover in a mournfulness of collective spirit. Once again, my feelings are just bubbling up to be revealed in these new works . . . time, the need to 'run away', and mourning. One benefit to all the years of collecting is that I have an amazing resource of materials on hand.  To have them all, more or less, at my fingertips in the new studio is something I have never experienced before. I NEEDED those butterfly wings TODAY, and because I had taken time to unpack and sort - I knew EXACTLY where they were - safely encapsulated in U2's "All That We Can't Leave Behind" CD case. There are no coincidences.  There is only synergy.  The flow and flux as the energy transforms. Consequently (or not)!, what I ended up with today was three new completed works and the energy to begin or re-begin some other works. I now have all the butterfly wings dipped in encaustic and ready for the next 'calling', plus I infused multiple antique baby clothes for my textile version of "Ashes, Ashes", and, best of all, I found a technique that will increase my efficiency and save my body many aches and pains! Somehow, in less than one week, I have decided that this self-destruction of "My Vintage Soul" contained many valuable lessons.  I am looking forward to using these new techniques and insights to create new, and, hopefully, better work in the future. Don't forget: "I get knocked down, but I get up again - you're never gonna keep me down!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAM9diIDHqs      Chumbawamba- Tubthumping Here are a few images I took of the studio today  - I am, apparently, back in action!   Real butterfly wings (found) dipped in encaustic.     Vintage baby dresses, in the process of being infused with encaustic.   Vintage Baby Robe, infused with encaustic, hardened, standing on its own.   One shelf of collected figurines/vintage toys for future use in assemblages.   Mid-process of encaustic infusion, antique embroidered pinafore with safety pins in pocket.  
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Fear of the Studio

I have suffered the most devastating loss . . . my recently finished, yet to be acclaimed, masterpiece "My Vintage Soul" was destroyed last week.   Thursday night, as I dealt with my insomnia by blogging and shopping on eBay, at 1:00 a.m. an unearthly crash shook the house - and lying on the hardwood floor in front of the fireplace was the face-down remnants of "MY VINTAGE SOUL".  As my husband lifted and turned it face-up, we discovered that not only were all the ceramic, vintage figurines crushed, but many of the rolled fabric forms crushed.  Apparently the 150 lb (supposedly) picture hooks I used were inadequate.   I am thoroughly crushed and cannot even face going into the studio right now. This is a complete wash.  I can re-install some other figurines and re-work it - but this was the seminal piece of my new series and will never be able to re-capture the joy I felt as I created it - as it formed beneath my hands and revealed itself to me. It is a memory - a figment of my imagination. I am considering a burial or a cremation.  This was to be the highlight of my new exhibition. In deep mourning, For Art's Sake, Sher
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