Saturday, March 7, 2015

Revisiting Genesis

I've been cleaning out my studio recently, and shifting things around, especially on the walls.

I've had a 1999 triptych based on the creation story in Genesis that's been on the back wall of the studio for many years, and I think it's time to take it down and try to find a new home for it.  Of note about this piece: there are two different stories in Genesis about the creation of humans -- one in which Adam and Eve are created at the same time, and one in which Adam is created first and Eve then created from one of Adam's ribs. I used the first version, and also scrupulously used non-gendered language about God.

Here are some detail shots of the piece

These are large pieces, about 4 1/2 feet high. The medium is oil on MDF board, and the text is incised into oil and wax sections that separate the pictorial elements.

I would be very happy for this piece to go to a progressive religious congregation, or another organization that has an interest in the cultural history this text represents.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I couldn't help commenting about the photographs in the 5x5 grid several posts down. I used a typewriter font to help coordinate the text with the period photographs. I am not sure how successful it is, and would love to have comments. This is all new for me, an excursion into new realms of photography, text, and a different kind of appropriation and artmaking.

I felt the images needed a voice -- not the voice of the photographed, or even of the photographer, but of the viewer (myself), who gathered these objects. I bought each of them at junk (or secondhand) stores in Vermont and New Orleans. They are intimate images, and I am accustomed to seeing such photographs in an album of my own family -- people I have known and loved. I know where they were taken, what was going on, who was about to get married or divorced, who has since died.

Though the settings (outside on the front porch or in the yard, on vacation, standing by the car...) and cultural settings are familiar, the dramatis personae are complete strangers. Still, there was something about each image that made me plunk down my 50 cents (the price of most of them). Not knowing what's going on (not that we ever can, really, know what's in someone else's head...) is like an itch you can't scratch. I have written what goes through my head as I handle and arrange these images.

Monday, March 2, 2015

1001 Nights

OK, I'm pretty happy with this piece:

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Many Iterations

Sometimes it takes a long time to get a piece I am satisfied with. I think this is particularly the case when I'm working on something that has to fit into a theme, or someone else's plan/exhibit/concept.

A case in point is an exhibit that I was invited to produce a piece for that will be part of a storytelling event in a space behind Gallery Six in Montpelier on March 21. The theme is the 1001 Nights, the classical Persian tale in which Scheherazade saves her life by telling stories to the king, stopping each dawn before the end of the story, and taking it up again the next night. The section I chose was the one describing the king's long practice of marrying a virgin one day and then having her killed the next.

I wanted to use scans of young women depicted in the cabinet cards I've been working with recently, and came up with the notion that these young women were discarded and thrown away like unwanted pieces of paper. I started with a lift-top angled box. I've been staining it, but haven't yet figured out how I want to employ it. I chose a variety of papers to ball up, referencing women of different complexions. I always try to represent different races and cultures when I do a piece and, frankly, it has been hard (where diversity is wanted) to work with the old photographs I've been using because they are all white women, collected in New England. I've asked friends who go abroad (like Japan and South America) and to different parts of the country to be on the lookout for cabinet cards of people representative of those places. I know they exist, because this new photographic technology was all the rage and spread across the world like wildfire at the end of the nineteenth century. So they are out there! But not in my possession...

It didn't work. Next time I tried installing the photographs in a more complex container:

But still the photos and the paper were not integrated. Finally I realized that the photos were paper and the paper was paper, and the photos should be on the paper. Ah! I printed them on a lighter paper (vs. glossy cardstock), and I think this will work, presented on standing mounts I used for my Museum Cases project in 2006. There are hatchmarks carved into the front of the container. I will try to get better images if I decide to keep this version.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five by Five Grid

I've just picked up a print of the 5x5 grid that uses found snapshots in five sequences of photos that begin with an image of one person (through 2, 3, and 4 people) to five people in the shot. Now I have to figure out how to present it for exhibition.

I've inserted a large image here, so that you can see what the photos are. Each of the light grey squares is 5" on a side, and each row has a different theme (top to bottom): female friends, parents and children, mixed genders, suggestive narratives, and males. You can look down the columns to see all of the images with 1,2,3,4, and 5 subjects.

If you can't see the whole grid, right click on the image and select "View Image"; then you can enlarge the image to see the entire grid.

These photographs are "found objects" -- images of anonymous people that I have bought in junk stores. They seem to me to be very evocative of a time in the middle of the 20th century from which our current moment in history has emerged, but populated by people who are probably all dead and whose experience of the world was very different from our own.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Photographs and Numbers

I've been a bit obsessed with pairs of things for some time now, and for the first time I've taken some photographs of my own, instead of just appropriating other people's! I bought a bunch of little things I intended to use in the constructions I've been making with cabinet cards, but then I began to play with them and pair them up, discovering the way the objects changed in feeling-tone, depending on the partner they were paired with.

Here they all are, lined up in the studio:

Last fall, when I began to collect anonymous 20th century snapshots, I made a piece with a sequence of five photographs, beginning with one woman and increasing the number of (all female) people depicted.

I find that five people in a photograph seems to be the limit of the number of people that I can look at and still see individuals. A larger group becomes like a class picture.

I bought some new snapshots when I was in New Orleans, and have begun to combine them with my New England snapshots in sequences of five. Here's the first sequence of photos that seem to have a narrative or story associated with them. I am planning to make five such sequences, and mount them in a 5x5 grid.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Orleans

We went down to New Orleans for the early parades of Mardi Gras, January 31. Our daughter Berrian was part of Krewe Delusion, the sub-krewe of the Chicken Flockers. She had made a fabulous paper mache head of a chicken called Petunia, that we put the finishing touches on while it was in the yard of Chris Lane. The idea was that Petunia had just hatched from a golden egg that was pulled through the streets in last year's parade. Here Berrian is doing some repairs to the head. Petunia was a fabulous chicken. Her mouth opened and closed!

I spent much of my time, after the parade got underway, in the back of the chicken, tossing out feathers from an old comforter, which the crowd seemed to love. Here you can see that her neck has been tidied up with ... duct tape!

We pulled her through the streets to the den, and then many of the folks in the krewe went to watch the Krewe du Vieux parade, after which Krewe Delusion fell in behind them. Krewe du Vieux is a very political parade, and this year's theme, Begging for Change, applied to all kinds of social and political change! Gay marriage, sexual abuse in schools, "genetically modified orgasms", Penetrating Cuba, and "Toke of the Town" at the New Yorker...

Both these parades refuse motorized floats. The floats in Krewe du Vieux are pulled by mules, and those in Delusion by human power.

We passed out the Krewe's faux newspaper, the  Times-Chickayune, as one of the "throws". Other throws were stickers, pendants (the "king throw" that Berrian had created), and jello shots. It WAS New Orleans... Here's the pendant/medallion:

And here are links to posts about how the float and the throws were made.

Berrian's other costume was a red arm-waving guy, such as you see being animated by a fan at auto dealerships. It was a huge hit.

Amazing and wonderful!