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) 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. 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 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.Read More
This FB entry is by my uncle, Jimi Barlow, writer for the Univeristy of Oregon (formerly journalism at U of Ill - urbana/champaign) Left -Jimi in 1975, Rebel with a Cause. Right photo - Jimi in 1955 - already predestined for a writing career The following Facebook Entry is just one example of why I love this man - my Uncle Jimi - endowed with integrity, wisdom, and the curiosity of Michelangelo and a pen of wisdom . . . he is the one I can thank for my love of reading! Spending time with him in the summers, I read The Odyssey and Illiad at age 12, The Pearl, listened to the Beatles, saw that the world was bigger than the crumbling 'abode' I was growing up in . . . saw that education can make a difference. http://uonews.uoregon.edu/staff/jim-barlow His travel blog: http://www.barlowtravelerblog.com/?page_id=4 In front of some overstuffed bookshelves - .. he passed this love of the written to me, a most pecious heirloom. He is the definition of what an uncle (my biological father's brother) should be (as opposed to the white trash uncle -married to my maternal aunt - that raped me). And always, he was the doppelganger of John Lennon . . . if John Lennon were still alive, he would look like my Uncle Jimi! Facebook does provide some intelligent conversation, such as this topic: Jim E Barlow I answered our main line today, something I don't normally do. An older, well spoken woman with a European accent said that she was needing to say something about an on-going situation we're having on campus. As background, we have a retired professor who years ago began hosting a free-speech forum in which he invited people with rather oddball opinions to speak on their causes. The events were off campus, but he got ousted from one or two places, then realized as a professor with emeritus status he could, under university policy, use some meeting rooms without charge. Recent events have included those who deny the Holocaust. The forum has been labeled by a national oversight group as a hate organization. Things heated up this academic year with a series of talks by those who pledge allegiance to the Nazis and who openly use swastikas. Students have become outraged, marching, holding protests and prompting their student-government association to approve a resolution calling on the university administration to close the campus to this forum. At face value, what the students are asking could be applauded. Their stand is stop such blatant hatred away, but they are making this stand on a campus long known to be open to counter opinions and cultural choices. The administration is wrestling with repealing a policy that allows long-time professors who retire in good standing from having access to campus. To refuse the forum's use of meeting space would be acting in opposition to the very stance that allows free speech.... See More Back to the woman caller. After saying she had something to say, she literally continued talking for some 10 solid minutes, without me uttering so much as a uh, huh. She said she was very upset over the current dispute and the hatred that underlies it. She said that in World War II she lived in Europe. Her family was continually in hiding and/or on the run, and the appearance of swastikas always led to oppression and brutality. Her family fled to England, and nearly died together amid the onslaught of German bombing runs on London. As she wound down, I was sure she was going to urge me to tell the president to close the doors on the forum and forever silence the voices of these hate-spreaders. Then she blew me away. She said that she struggled for years to understand what happened to her family, and why. That she, over many years, had come to find peace and forgive the Germans but not the underlying hatred. She said that our students need to listen to these purveyors of swastikas and what they stand for. The students need to be told and understand the history of the Nazis and learn, probably for the first time, that such hatred really happened. Do not oust the forum, she said, but encourage students to listen and absorb, and then study the context from which these people emerged. Don't silence them. Learn from them. Reject them, peacefully. Finally, she stopped. I simply said, "That is the most intelligent, compassionate and most-educated comments I have heard since this issue came up." Our conversation continued for another 10 minutes. An hour later she called back and asked to talk to me again. She thanked me for listening and told me about her family. She has three grown children, each living in another country, including deep in China. That someone can survive the most hideous oppression and then speak up on behalf of freedom of expression is awe-inspiring. And it makes you think. Yesterday at 11:16pm The comments following were as heartfelt and as brilliant as he is, if you FB - you can friend him!!!Read More
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, SherRead More
New work, just to prove that all those sleepless hours are bringing forth something! Above is a studio image of "My Vintage Soul", still on the easel. Here are some detail views: I really enjoyed adding this vintage puppy's broken tail nearby . . . This series took a surprising amount of time and a surprising amount of beeswax. Measuring 24" x 24" and approximately 7" deep, it weighs at least 50 lbs! As I was forming the rosettes from the wax infused textiles, I though of the roses my mother creates for decorating wedding cakes. As I was working on this large, focal piece, I also experimented with smaller assemblages. This diptych of boxes includes a guardian angel and other vintage figurines. After a rather bizarre dream of GIANT "little people' peering at me sleeping (thru a window), I had this idea. These are the oldest versions of little people I could find . . . I hope to do many more works with Little People in them.Read More
So I keep hearing all these esoteric artists, writers, and musicians say "I am blocked, I don't have any inspiration, I'm waiting".Well, that just chaps my ass because it is such a cop-out. Of all the successful artists I know (whether they be writers, musicians, etc.), they all work and they find the inspiration from that action. Art is really about preparation - cleaning off that table, having your tools and techniques on hand, carving out the time, and then STARTING - something. STARTing anything . . . lift the brush, touch the pen to the paper, or the fingers to the keyboard . . . make a mark, a word, a sound . . . then react to that item . . . by continuing in this manner, the actions become problem solving. Keep the end result OUT OF YOUR MIND - it doesn't matter yet - react to the first layer, then react to the second . . . and so forth, and if you have prepared yourself enough, if you have emptied your mind of all the static from the day, if you have kept your techniques honed, if you have chipped the rust off - - you. might. reveal. inspiration. This miracle happened to me just a few nights ago and the feeling is indescribable - it is the moment when all the sounds come together, when the colors pop, when the prose flows . . . and you just be there and let it happen. I hope you get to experience it again and again in your life.