Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm on a Roll

This is a piece I've had in the hopper for quite awhile, made with the metal foil (previously lead, but now mostly some other kind of metal) on top of wine bottles -- working on it mostly at home (where I consume wine). I fear the good old Parisian days of wine in the studio (except at receptions, when I am the lone server of wine in the SPA building) are not a part of the Vermont scene, in my experience. I finally brought the figures I'd been working on into the studio last week, along with a load of wine tops that Dorigen Keeney had saved for me, and finished it over the last several days. I still need to figure out how to frame and/or present it. I think it needs to be covered with plexi or glass to keep the pieces in place (though they are affixed with double-sided tape to the 48" high backing board, which is covered with silver metal foil).

It's an homage to the late Roy Levin (who, among other things, made constructions and collages out of wine tops) called Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. I love the idea that we are able to have a broad and expansive view of the world only because the way has been paved for us by those who went before us (such as Roy). Even a tiny person standing on the shoulders of a giant can see farther than the giant him (or her) self. And I like this Perilous Pile of People, dangerously leaning, but not falling!

And that's something to think about, and take heart from, in this time when the problems of the world seem to be getting more intransigent, and political life more rancorous, more nasty, more depressing (well, maybe not as depressing as when George W. Bush was president, but still...). Hope is again hard to come by, but from up here at the top of the pile we can look back and see that not too long ago in this country there was slavery, lynching, and no vote for women. There were giants who helped put those evils behind us, and maybe we smaller people can continue to move the ball forward now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Work With Squares, Not Circles!

When I got back from Japan, my husband asked me what influence I thought the experience would have on my artmaking practice. I really didn't think it was going to have any kind of direct influence; what I took away from my time there was more about social and personal insights, and less about aesthetics.

But recently, when I was visiting Emiko Sawaragi Gilbert at her house in Plainfield, I saw a very compelling work on the wall that she told me was made by her daughter Hannah when she was in grade school. The piece was made with origami paper, and I was enchanted with the material.

Emiko gave me two packs of paper, and I was off. This was the first sign that my trip to Japan might influence my own artwork. Here are the first (and perhaps only) pieces using this origami paper. I call it FIVE EASY PIECES, as there are five pieces, and each work uses only five (whole, uncut) pieces of origami paper. Parts of the paper disappear beneath the mat.

I also got a gift of six glass-clip frames and mats a few months ago from Nick Santoro, that I used to mount these origami pieces. Thank you to all who have gifted me with art materials!

I find this minimal, geometric work very strange coming from my hand, but there it is! I love the delicate transparency of the paper that lets you see the layer beneath and the subtle changes it makes on overlying layers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heretics Panel at the Green Mountain Film Festival

One of the films at the Green Mountain Film Festival in Montpelier this year was The Heretics, a film by Joan Braderman about some of the women in a feminist art collective in New York who put out Heresies magazine, published irregularly from 1997-1993.

Jane Pincus, Lois Eby and I were on a panel afterwards. Jane actually had back issues of the magazine, which are displayed on the floor, and I brought two bags of books about women artists.

Unfortunately there wasn't enough time for a really good discussion, as the next film needed to be screened to keep everything on schedule.

I'm the one without the scarf. Gender is such a central consideration. Another film in the festival that I just saw today was XXY, a drama about a young hermaphrodite in South America whose parents have refused to have her operated on. Her father says he felt when she was born that she was perfect. It becomes clear, seeing this young person who possesses both sexual parts, that we are all human and lucky to enjoy the pleasures life affords us of our minds and bodies. It kind of makes you wonder what the big deal about gender is. It is a mystery, but then so is racism and religious fundamentalism -- all those other ways that cast others as scary or disgusting monsters, somehow so different from us that we cannot empathize with them.

Some Images From ON THE PLANET in Nagoya, Japan

I had a wonderful trip to Japan, and wrote about it on our Nagoya-Vermont Blog

Here is an overview of my part of the installation and some closeups.

I was pleased to be doing work that was both beautiful and also connected with the issue of Biodiversity. During the course of the exhibition I was on a panel, and as we prepared beforehand, I was asked why the United States was not a party to the International Convention on Biodiversity. I did not know why (but guessed it might have something to do with biotechnology and bioengineering corporations). When I got back, I wrote to our congressional delegation and heard back from Senator Leahy that he, at least, thought we should sign the convention. When I wrote back to ask if he would spearhead such an effort in the senate, I didn't hear back. There is a lot going on in Washington now, and I guess preserving the other species on the planet isn't on the top of the pile.