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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Part II - Durham Journal - Augusten Burroughs/Haven Kimmel

So Thursday everyone visited different things.
 
Kate, Baby Alice and I did a Thrift Store Bingo ride, led by the Tom-Tom. I found a few great things . . . in one store they didn’t even speak English . . .
 
Here are a few of the treasures I found in the Durham Thrift Stores:
 
 
 
Above you can see the great hat and dollhouse/shelf I found for Claire at "Everything Except Granny's Panties" - which had to be my favorite location of all.
 
 How could I possibly pass up these vintage copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books?  Garth Williams, the illustrator, really inspired me as a child and I spent endless hours drawing women and girls in old-fashioned clothing and sunbonnets.  I can barely wait to use the aged pages in some collage encaustic paintings.
 
 
Also at 'Granny's Panties', I found these bizarre Lucite balls.  When placed on the fabrics (those were given to me by fellow blog baby, Carrie) they create bizarre distortions which I find greatly intriguing.  I also found and purchased Lucite cones:
 
I am very intrigued by these Lucite objects as I will be able to create some amazing sculptures, their characteristics also remind me of my 2006 series "Collected Works" were I suspended obje cts in resin and candle gel within toy capsules.  If they still have any left in July when we re-visit NC, I plan on buying them all.  Sometimes it is hard to know until you get home, how 'valuable' the items will be to your artistic production.
 
"Collected Works I" with detail.  2006. 2" toy capsules with found objects.
 
Around 2 pm, we made our way to GEORGE’S GARAGE (which was sadly George-less). The decor was unique and so was the set up . . . Mediterranean food  . . . purchased by the pound . . . so we all loaded up our plates and gathered together (hosted by Caryl) . . . unfortunately Linda and her gorgeous son SAM were held up at Chapel Hill and didn’t make it to the dinner.
 
Towards the end Caryl and I explained DEAR CARRIE’s “Fugly Bead” game . . . which brought her presence right in the room with us . . . Molly won the ‘ugliest bead’ so will receive a masterpiece from Carrie. Each bead was wrapped in lime green handmade paper tied with tiny twine - so I kept the remnants to use in future artwork.
 
Here is a view of two of Carrie's masterpieces, which I call my "Molten Sky-Drops"
 
 
As we left many pictures were taken, but not by me, because I was just STUPID . . . I think GiGi has the most pictures . . .
 
We then all visited the Regulator Bookstore (fabulous independent, they hosted the reading) which is just across the street. I already have every Augusten/Haven book, but I loaded up on some others (including one of Suzanne’s and lots of art journals).
We also went to a store called “Vaguely Reminiscent” nearby and Amber and I (we realized later) bought the same lovely handbags! Kate found some smashing vintage earrings . . .
 
We headed back to the Inn to freshen and dress up for the Reading . . . As we arrived at the Carolina Theatre around 6 pm we were greeted by Kimbits (a fellow blogger) who came up to us and explained “ARE YOU KATE AND SHER?” - we had our own ‘fans’ and had been ‘recognized’ on the street. It was thrilling and sweet. It was fun getting know them better and then we finally got to meet Linda and darling SAM . . . and on into the theatre we went.
 
We were all held like cattle waiting for the official seating. The Carolina theatre is GORGEOUS . . . even the vintage ticket box was evoking of the old, glory days. We were not worried because, thanks to Nora Barnacles a/k/a Sherrill, we had reserved rows of seats right up front. I had made some tags just like the t-shirts, so we were set!
 
 
Kate's daughter, Alice, waits for the seating . . .
 
I totally embarrassed myself by acting like a dork when I saw Kat (Haven's adult daughter) and her Gorgeous Boyfriend Tyson . . . I was like “Can I say HI???”  . . . but they were gracious and chatted like normal human beings, of course!
 
 
Here is a row of Official Blog Babies, holding our seat reservation signs.  From Left: Sam (Linda's son), Linda Carter, Molly, Amber, Kathleen, Maureen, ME, and Sherrill a/k/a Norabarnacles.
 
Here we see GiGi waiting with her collection of Augusten/Kimmel books.
 
Maureen and I had already agreed to sit together because we had not had a chance to ‘hang’ much. You could even get soda/wine/beer and popcorn to consume during the reading . . . wow!!!! I was driving and in pain so chose Root Beer and Milkduds as a lift me up.
 
Awaiting Haven and Augusten was fun in itself because you could see the family hanging around the entry door . . . the introductions were touching and then Haven did a beautiful introduction of Augusten. They then took their directors seats and began on a riff . . .
it was obvious we were attending the Haven/Augusten Show and not a typical reading. It was HysteriCAL. All the sudden they asked for questions and we all sat there enthralled and stunned.
 
They really need their own radio show!
 
Then the signing . . . which was standing in line for what seemed like hours and probably was . . . as we were in the end of the line!
 
They and WE prevailed and stuck there as they signed every book proffered. I had Haven sign a “Klattermaster” book for Claire and she made sure to say it was MADE IN AMERICA. I also had my much marked up, highlighted, flagged IODINE and she talked about the notes and symbols she used when she wrote the book. I told her I was working on my own index and she gave her blessings on that endeavor. For Augusten I had him sign a specific page in my Wolf At The Table Book - which made me cry as I stood in line choosing which page . . . I finally chose the one with “my mother couldn’t protect me”.
 
 I blathered at him as I am rather amazed that he is alive, that he never tried to commit suicide as a child. I am just so glad he survived with such resilience of spirit - that is something that is impossible to figure out - how some of us ‘dark place’ survivors actually blossom and others fall into an eternal abyss.
 
So now, at 10ish, we finally make our way back to the Inn, Linda and Sam joined us there . . . and we are trying to figure out where to eat in the lounge . . . I go to the bathroom and everybody disappeared except for Sam and Linda. We wait and wait . . . and wait . . . then we finally leave out of exhaustion as well.  Now, instead of ordering room service and taking a long hot bath and going to bed early as most sentient beings would do, I chose to  . . . follow this scenario:
 
I was painfully exhausted and all I wanted was my 2 bottles of Italian wine. I was determined. Kate was visiting with her brother, his wife, and newborn niece in our room so I went knocking on doors . .. Shanna wasn’t next door so I went on down the row until Molly and Amber answered - yippee!!!! - I petulantly refused to eat any of their chicken they had smuggled in from TGI Fridays . . . and Molly went downstairs to have the bartender open the bottle of wine . . . and, low and behold, everybody had re-gathered down there! But we decided to have our bottle of wine (which was already paid for!) in their room. We talked about breathing the wine, the bouquet, and the legs . . . they enjoyed the imported wine and we had a hoot. Talked about the reading, the barn, the whole experience and even went into relationships and surviving abuse. It was a great talk with much depth and moments of pure joy. I love me some Amber and Molly and I am encouraged that we have such intelligent, hopeful young adults to help us, as humankind, move forward into a bright future.
 
Before we made our way downstairs Maureen and Kathleen returned upstairs and Kate called begging for the party to convene to our room . . . so we all marched or 'ballet-ed’ over there.
 
I did a hysterical search for a corkscrew again, called the front desk in sheer desperation while Maureen suddenly appeared with one. Ooops, we ended up with 3 corkscrews. So we had the 2nd import and Amber and Molly offered up their White Zin . . . Alice slept through the entire 4 hour slumber party.
 
All I know is this: we are an amazing group and I want to know all of you the rest of my life.
 
I didn’t get to hang with Caryl or Shanna or GiGi 1/2 as much as I really wanted to . . . so I am thinking another get together is in order . . . to include all the missing Blog Babies this time . . .
 
After a quick goodbye to Shanna and Caryl in the lobby after Kate loaded up earlier and went to breakfast with her brother . . . we headed out of Durham with one last stop at the SCRAP EXCHANGE. What a glory that was.
 
Here is an Ode to Durham and our Blog Babies Retreat . . .
 
 
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Post Pilgrimage - Haven Kimmel & Augusten Burroughs - Part 1

So, for those of you who didn't know - I have spent the last 9 months completely immersing myself in a writer's blog.  I first read A Girl Named Zippy many years ago, and have periodically looked up and read the author, Haven Kimmel's work.  Last August I did an on-line search to see if she had any new novels out and, low and behold, she not only had a NEW NOVEL (Iodine) but also hosted a blog on which she frequently posted and interacted.  I immediately jumped headfirst and have been trying to keep my head above water ever since. www.havenkimmel.com/blog Other illustrious writers frequent the blog, as well as general fans which are many English teachers, writers, and general AMAZING people.  By September, October of '08 we were officially referred to as "Blog Babies"  . . . in celebration of ourselves, Haven, and her best friend and fellow writer, Augusten Burroughs (www.augusten.com , author of: Running With Scissors, Sellivision, Dry, Magical Thinking, and the recent The Wolf At The Table) and their joint appearance in Haven's hometown of Durham, NC - we all decided to go on a pilgrimage to meet this denizen of peace. I know this sounds rather 'stalkerish', right?  But you would have to be on the blog to realize how close we have all become.  We know each others souls inside and out, we are our chosen families.  We have been through good and bad together . . . we NEEDED to meet each other and, hopefully, Haven. So - here is my Durham Journal: I've heard tell that you shouldn't build up an event too much because you might set yourself up for disappointment.  So it is with great THRILL that I can report the opposite - somethings and some people are so much better and greater and kinder and brighter than you imagined them to be. I am speaking, of course, of Haven Kimmel's LEGS   I will give you the benefit of a time line because I know that everyone is breathless for all the details, right? So, last weekend I spent 4 days creating 18 paintings based on Haven Kimmel's She Got Up Off The Couch memoir.  Here are a few peeks:   "George" for George Stuteville (http://georgestuteville.wordpress.com/2009/) Also, George didn't come to the Pilgrimage because he was wearing his orange crocs while gardening and did some heinous thing to his toe which involved xrays and crutches, but really he might have been scared off by the estrogen-laden atmosphere . . .   "It's Elementary" - Fellow blog baby Sarah ended up with this painting and it was delivered in person by Fellow Blogger Maureen and her sister Kathleen.   My actual journey began Tuesday night when I drove to North Nashville to pick up Kate Cake (fellow Kimmel Blog Baby from Evansville IN) and her almost 2 year old daughter, Alice.  They spent the night in my vintage bed complete with vintage Holly Hobbie Sheets and Claire (my six year-old daughter) really enjoyed having a 'little' around   Kate Cake (along with two huge Tupperware containers of sinful Oreo Bon-bons), Alice and I left our house around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday after some waffles and coffee (for Kate, not me - I was already loading up on DIET COKE).  We made it exactly .25 miles before we had our first stop (Walgreen's for anti-nausea medicine for Alice) . . . another stop for a 'maybe Alice is sick' and another 'oh yes, she is sick!"  This is all par-for-the-course in our family as both my older kids promptly vomited on ANY trip . . . Dylan's most famous was a green fruit roll-up projectile vomiting which hit the windshield and splashed both me and my sister, Susan, in the front seat.  He.  Has. Never.  Consumed. Another. Fruit.  Roll-up. But, I digress . . . we had a lovely lunch in Knoxville with my artist friend, Alicia Beach (see my posting, http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/beauty-by-produ.html to read about Alicia's art and for photos) - we ate at PF Chang's which was LOVELY and Alice was PERFECT, both Kate and Alicia had Sesame Chicken and I had Honey Chicken . . . yum! We then pressed on towards Durham . . . and we drove  . . . and drove . . . and drove.  At one point I had to potty (like a LLAMA, as my soon-to-be 15 year old daughter, Lauren, would say) so badly (I was trying not to stop . . . to save the 5 minutes).  By the time I finally found a rest area I was in such horrible pain that I couldn't stand up straight or RUN . . . I hobbled like an old lady, which greatly entertained Kate as she watched from the car. We finally blew into The Washington Duke Inn (www.washingtondukeinn.com) at 6:30 pm . . . many blog  babies greeted me in the lobby - the first was Maureen and Kathleen, followed by the most gorgeous and generous Caryl, with Amber, Molly, Kittery and Shanna close-behind. Kate and I did the quickest 'freshen up' and joined the gang in the lounge for casual fireside fare and beverages.  Here is a gathering of the gifts I received from Caryl, the greatest and most hospitable Blog Baby -   Caryl actually created a book out of our blog postings, titled: "Blog Babies, What We Read", she included an original painting by Cathy DeleRee (www.siestalane.com), and two books as well as purchasing a glass boot cup for me from ebay (this is a famous item I am constantly searching for). Haven and her GORGEOUS husband/potter/singer John Svara http://johnsvara.com/ joined us at 7:30 and as she rounded the corner into the lounge this was my thought: "she is my childhood hero grown up, she is Pippi Longstocking as an adult"   Here is, from the left: Shanna, Haven, Kittery and Molly - we are doing a blog baby pose - photos which capture our bottoms (or lack thereof).     another picture shows Kate Cake on the far left . . . This Pippi Longstocking reference is a great compliment as I thought she was the BEES-KNEES when I was a kid.  She had it ALL: a wonky-creative house all to herself, fabulous wardrobe, and all those talking animals (not to mention she knew how to clean - strapping brushes onto her feet and DANCING!).  As you will see, Haven embodies all these tributes.  A gracious, generous and unexpected invitation occurred when Haven invited the group to return to her home to meet the dogs and see her writing barn.  Of course we all agreed and piled into cars for this added adventure.  Haven was amused to watch the blog babies spill forth from my van - it was like a clown car, they just kept pouring out.    Here is a vision of Haven's inner sanctum - focusing on her writing desk.  It was a great honor for her to invite us over . . . I can barely share this image because it feels a lot intrusive (which is rather how I felt as well).  Due to my general 'bizarreness' I LOVED all the taxidermy, bones, spiritual items with which she surrounds herself as she creates her chamber . . . simply entering it gives one the feeling of intellect and wry humor, as well as a deep and pervasive spirituality.  I was honored that quite a few my pieces were displayed in this sanctuary:     Can you name which piece of art is a "Sher" original? Haven displays many miniatures and these broken ladies almost broke my heart, they were so vulnerable and precious. Wednesday evening closed with a nice lobby chat with Kittery and Caryl, both of whom I hope to know better and for a lifetime!  When Kittery needed to return a phone charger to Kathleen (in Maureen and Molly's room) I moo'd at the door for many minutes before a perplexed Molly opened it up . . . apparently I shouldn't moo after midnight . . . right, Mooooooreen (note: Maureen and her asperger husband, Andy, run a dairy farm in NY state, so this is an homage to her Laura Ingalls Wilder lifestyle)! Catch up with Maureen and her fabulous blog http://lovingthetasmaniandevil.wordpress.com/ . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Footnote~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Post feelings about Wednesday Night's Visit to the Writing Barn:  Thursday I started off feeling very awkward about visiting the barn the night before. We were invited, but it felt a little bizarre . . . about 12 of us sat in the dark on the deck in the back yard as Haven lured Cubby out . . . it was a gorgeous thing to see her kneeling with her arms around Iorek (her massive Italian Mastiff and Cubby (80 plus percent wolf cub) and Pupa (sp?, smaller dog) prancing around. Amazingly, I was not afraid . . . even less afraid of Cubby . . . to me dogs are terrifying because they have been domesticated/humanized and knowing the completely heinous heart of some humans who then train their dogs in this manner . . . it is the human influence I fear in the dogs . . . so Cubby, 86 percent wild wolf- I am not afraid at all. Any...
Any encounter in nature, rattlesnakes or whatever, those don’t frighten me nearly as much as a barking dog. go figure.
Entering the barn was amazing. Going through the double barn doors you walk through a storage area where Haven has extra taxidermy (including the chow-chow) . . . she has the most amazing bicycle . . . then into the inner sanctum. It actually reminded me of many of the convent/monastery chambers in Italy. It has been modernized with the exception of the preserved original window . . . drywalled and whitewashed it is a blank canvas . . . in which you can see the heart and soul of Haven Kimmel. Her beloved friends (her animals/taxidermy) are gathered to keep her company in her solitude. The pervasive feeling is of spirituality and self-determination. It is the epitome of “A Room of One’s Own” - what she has been able to create in this physically small space is monumental. Every item has been chosen for its imbued meaning and this evokes such a spirit of readiness to creativity - I am enthralled. We were in a tour figuration, but it still felt intimate. Unfortunately, I felt like the people that used to go view the Dion Quintuplets. We were invited . . . and i LOVE to share my space with people, but it still seemed a bit voyeuristic. Probably because we were in a group . . . that was Wednesday night. In this image to the left you see a full grown wolf and leaning in the corner behind him is an altered Tibetan style prayer flag I created for Haven last Fall during an illness. Seriously, knowing that IODINE was written there. I am speechless.
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Another Art Review for TAKE CARE!!!

Art Review by 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

 

Motherhood is about caring and connection. Recent developments present new challenges to this fundamental institution. Some of the developments are social. Women have always cared for other women’s children, especially since women until recently frequently died in childbirth.  Women historically confronted pregnancy, labor, and delivery with no small amount of fear.  Literature is full is stories about stepmothers, some of whom were wonderful, and a hopefully exaggerated proportion who were not. In today’s society, with divorce and remarriage, children often have two or more mothers at the same time, which can stress notions of the unitary family that characterize our society’s dominant discourse. Other developments are scientific. New technologies can enable pregnancies that otherwise would not occur.  Conception can be separated from carrying and birthing. The fetus can be visualized during pregnancy. Baby’s first picture is often a sonogram. And while blood ties have always had particular social salience, increased understanding of genetics has t ended to make them even more important. Not so long ago, efforts to establish paternity depended on whether the child looked like the father. Now the relationship can be established with certainty, using a blood sample or a simple swab of the inside of the cheek.

The artists in TAKE CARE explore the ways that social and scientific developments influence our understanding of motherhood, of connection and caring.  Sometimes, new knowledge of connection is beneficial. Take the case of mitochondrial DNA, the focus of Annette Gates’ work.  Unlike most of our DNA which comes from both parents, the DNA in mitochondria, the energy sources of our cells, comes entirely from our mothers. As a result, we are connected directly with our mothers, and their mothers, through generations. Maternal inheritance became important after hundreds of young professionals and dissidents were “disappeared” by the military regime in Argentina in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their children were confiscated and placed in new homes, seemingly without a trace. But the grandmothers, the abuelas, enlisted the aid of Mary-Claire King who used the mitochondrial DNA to identify and return their grandchildren.

But the supremacy of genetic connection is not always so benign. New reproductive technologies allow many to overcome infertility, but often at a steep price. Some women experience the process of hyper ovulation, egg retrieval, and pharmacologic support of gestation as alienating, as transforming them into the objects of the medical gaze.  Jeanette May’s at times almost comical images of eggs serve as a counterpoint to quotidian pictures of women and sonograms. And yet women pursue these procedures specifically to create a family with children to whom they are biologically connected. Notably, while some women use donated eggs so that they can have the experience of gestation, it is far more common for women to implant and carry to term embryos created with their own eggs, evidencing the importance of genetic connectedness.

 

Our laws often enact the primacy of genetic connections. A number of courts have ruled that gestational surrogates, women who carry embryos created using the egg of another woman, usually the woman in the couple who commissioned the surrogacy, are not “mothers” of the resulting children and so have no basis on which to seek custody or contact. In these cases, the experience of pregnancy, with its risks,

discomforts, and obviousness, simply disappears as a matter of law.  Monica Bock’s inclusion of bits of umbilical cord, amniotic fluid, and the amniotic sac into dustpans perhaps symbolizes gestation as waste, of women as fetal containers. In our legal system, children are permitted to have only two parents no matter how many adults play a role in their lives, and those two parents have supremacy over all the others. In blended families, where the genetic parents separate from each other and then form new relationships, the new adults – the stepparents – can struggle to define their roles as parents, particularly as against the genetic parents whose claims once cemented by a modicum of nurture persist unless severed by abandonment or abuse. It is rage against the iconification of the genetic link that Kristina Arnold explores in her work. In her Drip installation, red glass pieces encased in hastily stitched plastic covers, protrude from the wall.

 

While behavior is almost surely the product of complex gene environment interactions, much effort has been devoted recently to dissecting the genetic contributions. Several years ago, for example, Caspi and his collaborators demonstrated that children with a particular genetic variant who were seriously abused during childhood were more likely to have serious behavior problems as adults. Such findings can be used in a variety of ways – to identify children who need special protection (although all children deserve a safe home), to identify druggable targets for treatment, to undermine the inadequate mothering explanation for children’s problems. Each of these uses raises its own ethical and policy challenges. As light dancing on Obermeyer’s beadwork shifts one’s perception of the work, so might new findings shift our understanding of behavior.

 

For millennia, women have worried that their children would be born with something visibly wrong. The ability to visualize the fetus using techniques such as ultrasonography and MRI has transformed pregnancy, providing the potential to make these fears concrete. These technologies can and often do provide reassurance, which is one reason ultrasound has become routine. At times, however, they reveal variations, some of which resolve but many of which are serious problems, leaving women with decisions about whether to continue the pregnancy, whether to undergo fetal therapy where possible, or whether simply to prepare for what may lie ahead. These concerns are represented in very different ways by Sadie Ruben and Libby Rowe.  Ruben represents the fetus as alien, strange, frightening, floating in liquid evoking amniotic fluid within the womb, taking over the woman’s body. Rowe’s malformed sock monkeys, by contrast, suggest that we are meant to accept and love children no matter what their challenges.

 

Finally, some of the artists comment on the technology itself. Sher Fick celebrates pharmaceuticals, which allow her to live. Her pill bottles are covered with fabrics, many of which show story book characters from our childhood.

 

Adrienne Outlaw intersperses colorful scientific videos of the embryonic heart and blood flow using such techniques as confocal microscopy with pictures of the dailyness of mothering and taking care – breastfeeding, snuggling, nurturing. The science is spectacular, but which is the more wonderful?

 

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TAKE CARE? Take Care!

 
 
 

Take Care? Take Care!

 
 
by Linda Weintraub www.lindaweintraub.com
  Motherhood is on trial. It is being tested by a dedicated and well-meaning corps of inventors, engineers, scientists, and doctors. Their technological achievements are designed to create and prolong life, but they are weighing upon "mother love," challenging "mother wit," and surpassing "mother instincts." Mutually loving relationships between mother and child are relegated to the background of the works of art in this exhibition. The emotional tenor that occupies their foregrounds is trepidation, anxiety, effort, and frustration. The triple meaning of the phrase that serves as this exhibition?s title reveals the nature of today?s disputed definitions of motherhood. Spoken softly, "take care" is an affectionate parting expression that conveys the desire to protect a loved one from harm. Uttered sternly, "take care" conveys the foreboding of danger. To actually "take care" of something or someone can either be burdensome or gratifying. The nine female artists in this exhibition apply the unresolved implications of this phrase to their personal experiences. Together they catalog a plethora of contemporary concerns.    
 
Annette Gates, Adrienne Outlaw, Sadie Ruben, and Jeanette May acknowledge the medical breakthroughs that offer women unprecedented options for fertility, prenatal screening, diagnostic testing, and extend fetal and infant survival. But they concentrate on the inadvertent and inevitable opportunities for anguish these technological advancements introduce. The ethical dilemmas they express in their works of art were unknown to previous generations of mothers.
Annette Gates returns to the instant of conception that has been occurring since the first multi-celled organisms arose on planet Earth. But her installation is a riveting reminder that unleashing this generative force may not be an occasion for celebration. Such concerns can be products of sophisticated technologies that make improbable outcomes appear like looming certainties. The harmless crocheting and knitting techniques that Gates employs to form her porcelain molecular sculptures are jarring contrasts to the dangers of tampering with life on the microscopic scale. Each component in her wall relief suggests irregularities in cell differentiation and unchecked multiplication during fetal development.   Adrienne Outlaw?s "Fecund Videos" require that the viewer peer into breast-like conical forms arranged across the wall in order to discover what fecund processes are referred to by the title. Alternative answers are presented in the form of tiny videos installed within each form. Some videos capture intimate scenes of babies suckling, fetal kicking, fingers fluttering, and a nursing mother?s breast draining. Others apply the word „fecund? to state-of-the-art microscopic imaging that probes the miniscule realms where new life stirs and takes form. The videos convey the complexity of reconciling advanced technological discoveries with the traditional role of mother as incubator, feeder, and nurturer of infants.   Sadie Ruben?s "Alien Fetus Series" presents a line-up of specimen jars containing in-uteri forms that resist objective scrutiny despite their sterile laboratory appearance. These curiosities elicit the squeamish apprehension that might accompany a collection of extraterrestrial creatures, not the research of an Earth-bound scientist. None of the sculptured fetus forms appear normal. They are either humanoid, mammaloid, reptile-oid, fungoid, or some other bizarre deviation from norms of life on Earth. The work confronts views with the strange and unsettling frontier of contemporary genetic manipulations.   Jeanette May practices art, however she introduces an alternative meaning for the letters „a?, „r?, and „t?. In her work "Fertility in the Age of A.R.T.," these letters stand for Assisted Reproductive Technology. May explores this theme by creating complex assemblages of found images paired with borrowed texts. The visual world she constructs is shiny, colorful, but disturbingly engineered. While viewers observe a pregnant woman proudly displaying her protruding torso, a healthy cow, and infant toys, they also observe eggs that have been forced to assume the shapes of squares. The accompanying quotations track evidence of such intrusive procreative manipulations to health books, government reports, and advertisements. Kristina Arnold, Sher Fick, Lindsay Obermeyer, Monica Bock, and Libby Rowe present full disclosure of the emotional toll of high-tech, commercially-supported, media-sponsored motherhood. They articulate the dread of bearing a malformed or malfunctioning infant, the concern of adopting a child damaged by a harsh life experience, and the anxiety of being loved by a child that is not a biological offspring. They present these forms of adversity as opportunities to honor motherly courage, resolve and achievement.   Kristina Arnold?s "Fragile" series includes a relief comprised of individual dark red droplets of molten glass that appear to have cooled so abruptly that they congealed mid-way as they fell. Dozens of these hardened glass drips protrude precariously from the wall. Protection is feeble. It takes the form of clear plastic coverlets hastily stitched around their bases. The drips that cluster into units seem no less fragile. A brittle material presented in a threatened position is a poignant manifestation of motherhood at the breaking point. Arnold places her work within the context of the guilt associated with a mother?s yearning to reclaim her independence, the destructive effects of custody battles, the futility of providing protection, but also the persistent hope for resolution.   Sher Fick?s "Coping Skills" discloses the dismantling of her pre and post partum psyche. The focus, however, is not on mental unraveling. Fick?s work celebrates the success of her determined efforts to stitch the fractured parts of her personality into a coherent persona. This internal struggle is conveyed through the use of prescription drug bottles that are encased in soft flannel fabrics, the kind that are used for baby clothes. Idealized and sentimentalized images of childhood are printed on these tiny swatches of fabric. Hastily stitched together, they suggest the disorderly spontaneity of crazy quilts and the emergency suturing of emotional ruptures. One means of overcoming such mental anguish comes packaged in pill bottles. In this work, Fick defies the stigma against the use of prescription drugs to assist women in becoming responsible and loving mothers.   Lindsay Obermeyer chooses a sumptuous medium associated with wealth and celebration. She uses it to address the challenge of bonding with a child whose short life was devoid of opportunities to develop trust in others and confidence in self. Obermeyer portrays her daughter?s silhouette as an impenetrable barricade dividing flat empty fields of color from dense patterns that are meticulously stitched with beads, sequence, and embroidery. The care and patience required of mothers is embodied in the stitching process that formed this artwork. In "Blues," the surrounding swirls and stars appear to assault the figure. In "Red Hot," searing flames surge within the figure. Both works evoke the psychological blockade built of scars from a child?s damaging upbringing, and the adoptive mother?s determination to breach this divide.   Monica Bock removes procreation from the two contexts where it is usually situated. On the one hand she reclaims procreation from advanced technologies that probe the development of a fetus from its single-cell, microscopic origins. By preserving bits of the umbilical cord, the amniotic sac, and the amniotic fluid that her body created to give life to her daughter, she reaffirms the body?s primacy over technology. At the same time, she removes these relics of birth from the sacred context that shrouds them in mystery. By inserting these visceral remnants into the handles of dust pans, the birth of a child is joined to mundane tasks of cleaning. Bock cast the dust pans in glycerin, a sweet-tasting fat that conveys the twin sides of mothering: as an ointment it soothes; as a solvent it bonds.   Libby Rowe?s "Womb Worries" takes the form of stuffed monkeys that cannot be purchased. They are only available for adoption. In this manner Rowe teases out the difference between three forms of money exchange - purchasing a commodity, paying to induce fertility, and adopting a child. She then intensifies the emotional stress of deciding among these alternatives by rejecting the cherub-like perfection of Gerber and Gap babies. Rowe?s handmade dolls are afflicted with abnormal quantities of limbs, misaligned backbones, and distorted faces. Yet they are endearing, not grotesque. An official decree of adoption accompanies each adoptee. The temptation to sign a certificate is instructive. It reveals that opportunities to delight in mother love can be attained by caring for a mal-formed child.   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. Despite the fact that Homo sapiens have been bearing and raising children for over 100,000 years, motherhood in the 21st century remains a lonely experiment racing to keep up with procreative advances at the outposts of human accomplishment.    
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First Review of TAKE CARE: The Art, Science, & Bioethics of Motherhood

 

Written by Tonya Vernooy, Art Critic/Writer, 2009 for TAKE CARE: The Art, Science, & Bioethics of Motherhood Exhibition.

  

Scientific progress makes moral progress a necessity; for if man's power is increased, the checks that restrain him from abusing it must be strengthened.                                                                                                     -- Madame de Stael, 1835[1]

 

 

As molecular medicine, genetic manipulation, cloning, and stem cell research their rapid progress so too must the morality and ethics that assist in governing their boundaries. Through an examination of the gray area between enhancement and therapy, necessity and desire, parent and child, the nine artists participating in Take Care: The Art, Science, and Bioethics of Motherhoodreveal that there is no definitive right answer to the question of biotechnological advancement. It is the informed dialogue that is paramount. The political philosopher Michael J. Sandel writes, "Breakthroughs in genetics present us with a promise and a predicament. The promise is that we may soon be able to treat and prevent a host of debilitating diseases. The predicament is that our new-found genetic knowledge may also enable us to manipulate our own nature...to make ourselves 'better than well.'"[2] Caught in the middle of this is the mother whose fundamental need to create, protect, and support her offspring to the best of her ability has to contend with biotechnology's possible repercussions While scientists are driven by the aspirations of discovery and improvement, the artists serve as the cultural conscience, helping to explicate the complex and question the ramifications of a science that will pervade social, political, cultural, and self beliefs.

  

 

Both Sher Fickand Lindsay Obermeyer examine normality and the question of enhancement versus therapy. But what is normal? In May 2008 USA Today reported that 51% of Americans were taking at least one prescription drug for a chronic condition, a 50% increase since 2001. In 7 years time, maintaining a certain standard of health by taking daily medication had become the norm.  In Coping SkillsSher Fick constructed a table to hold all of the medication she has consumed in her "pursuit of physical and mental health;"[3]prescriptions that enable Fick to become, and remain, an attentive, present mother. The structure exists as both an altar and a vanity. The mirrored shelf implies a dressing table that might hold cosmetic goods. Yet, the artist challenges this notion by carefully encasing each medication in a finely made quilt with suture seams. The preciousness or fragility implied by these colorful coverings can be attributed to either the medication itself or, more likely, the medicine taker. The coverings themselves contain varied images of skulls, religious imagery, monetary symbols, band-aids, plant life, 1950s children playing, and Frida Kahlo, who suffered a tragic miscarriage.  The vibrancy and symbolism along with the altar itself suggest Dia de Los Muertos, a celebration that honors lost loved ones. Could it be that the artist is commemorating her past self and simultaneously rejoicing in the person these pharmaceuticals have allowed her to become?

  

 

Lindsay Obermeyer also deals with the pain and stigma of someone who requires medical and pharmaceutical intervention. Her fastidious beadwork enables the viewer to visualize the complexities of emotional and mental health care. All three portraits show her daughter in profile. In Shadow – Blues the internal silhouette is made up of clear crystals while contrasting shades of blue fly and swirl around her. She is completely still, unable to move, amidst a sea of activity; she feels empty, cold and alone. In the other portrait, Shadow – Red Hot, the pattern and complex beadwork take place within her profile; as if her mind and body are on fire. The world around her seems to melt away, again she is alone. In Voidthere is only her faint profile leaving the viewer asking: will her daughter ever emerge? Obermeyer's work calls out to the audience for help. The artist desperately wants to know if mood and mind altering medications will help or hurt. Are the trials and side-effects worth the possible outcome? Currently, geneticists are working on  prescriptions tailored to a patient's genetics, eliminating most trials and tribulations while opening up the door to enhancement possibilities. Nicolas Agar suggests this may become a slippery slope. "Some think that we should pass different moral judgments on enhancement from those we pass on therapy. They say that while therapy is justifiable, enhancement is not. The problem is that it is difficult to make the therapy–enhancement distinction principled. It is hard to find definitions of disease suitable to serve as a moral guideline for genetic technologies."[4]

 

 

The idea that our genetics will one day define our medical treatment is at once promising and scary. Everyone wants to be seen as an individual yet that individuality should not be an uncontrollable deciding factor in receiving health care and insurance or in becoming someone's companion, lover, parent, or child. In Kristina Arnold's Drip installation, the artist seems to be questioning how blood defines a person. The "drips" are dark red projections in clear plastic pouches with sutured edges, each unique in size and form, like individuals in a family.  The plastic pouches resemble microscope slides while each blood drip casts a long shadow on the white wall. These silhouettes of bloodlines are altered by light changes in the room, implying the coming changes in how a person is perceived as genetics becomes interchangeable with the definition of self. The self then becomes a commodity as Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, predicted in 1998, "It’s likely that within less than ten years, all one hundred thousand or so genes that comprise the genetic legacy of our species will be patented, making them the exclusive intellectual property of global  pharmaceutical, chemical, agribusiness, and biotech companies."[5]While Rifkin's forecast proved over-eager, it certainly seems to be progressing. Stefan Lovgren of National Geographic wrote in October 2005, "A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States, primarily by private firms and universities." If one-fifth of our genetic material is owned by companies and colleges what does that leave for the individual? 

 

 

 

Focusing on the definition of self, Annette Gates creates porcelain organisms that are casts of originals; they are the structures left behind once the fabric shells have been destroyed in a firing process. The end result is an archetype, similar yet distinct from its mother. Within current cloning practices, where one de-nucleated donor egg is injected with another donor's genetic material, the end result is a clone with replicated DNA but this does not mean an exact duplicate. First, the genetic material from the donor egg does become a part of the clone, and second, as the clone matures the environment that created the original can never be the exact same thus its gene expression will vary. Gates' organisms tell tales of a fragile future where they cannot meet the expectations of the original; they are new conglomerations of old material. As the British philosopher, Jonathan Glover, points out, "There is the objection that a child created as a replica is treated, not as an end in himself or herself, but merely as a means."[6]Those means, he goes on to explain, can be the wish of a parent to live on after death or the desire to recreate a passed loved one. In the end the clones, like Gates' organisms, will always be fragile reproductions.   

 

Libby Rowe's Womb Worries series addresses the anxieties all mothers-to-be have when they prepare for a new life. Currently, genetic testing is still in its early stages, generally for upwards of only 14 genetic abnormalities. However, a laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine has begun trials for genetic testing that looks for 200 different genetic diseases. Its chair of molecular and human genetics, Arthur Beaudet, believes that this screening process will become routine in five years time. The Houston Chronicle reported, in December 2008, the issues surrounding such a test include potential false positives, which could lead parents to abort a healthy fetus, the implication that a life with a disability is not worth living and disparity between those who can and cannot afford such a test (it is currently $1600).[7]  It is interesting then that Rowe has chosen to use the sock monkey to convey her worries. The sock monkey was historically a working class child’s toy, made from red-heeled knit socks used by factory and farm workers. The artist has taken this toy and remade it for adults as either a cautionary tale or to highlight the possible horrors that await us if we don’t get tested. Although each monkey is still smiling, unaware of their abnormalities, ready for love, how is a parent supposed to care for a child that has two heads, one genital, and no legs? Like Paul McCarthy's Tomato Heads of 1994, whose "novelty item appearance hints at the manic consumerism of our theme-park utopias," Rowe makes us aware of the capitalistic culture behind these natural maternal anxieties.[8]There is no right answer, it is an individual choice, but one that is made for a price. As Richard Hayes, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society, states, "We support the use of that [genetic screening] to allow couples at risk to have healthy children. But for non-medical, cosmetic purposes, we believe this would undermine humanity and create a techno-eugenic rat race."[9]

 

Whether through cloning or genetic manipulation, Sadie Ruben's Alien Fetuses ask if the aberrations that originate from gene expression errors are worth potential desired results. Her creatures' destinies are unknown as they sit, brewing – growing – within glass jars that seem to resemble pasta containers used in the kitchen rather than scientific vessels of experimentation. Ruben's fetuses are commenting on the commoditization of lab created embryos. The gold flecks adhering to their opaque, amorphous bodies indicate their precious worth. But we are left to wonder what happens to them if Ruben is unable to care for them? They are helpless and completely dependent upon human ministering. These beings can be seen as a critique of trendy hobbyists trying to genetically engineer life in their garage. With visions of becoming the Steve Jobs of biotechnology, laypersons are beginning to experiment with new life forms at home. A group known as DIYbio has begun a community laboratory where amateurs can explore their scientific ideas. Co-founder Mackenzie Cowell suggests that this type of unrestrained environment could lead to some very important discoveries. He added, "We should try to make science more sexy and more fun and more like a game."[10]But Ruben's fetuses tell a different story, one of a nebulous future where their lives are not entertaining rather they exist in a lonely laboratory.

 

This laboratory lifestyle could become a reality if Dr. Davor Solter, developmental biologist at the Institute of Medical Biology, is correct in his prediction of the future use of artificial wombs. He says, "In essence, it would eliminate all the limitations we have now: you could have as many or as few progeny as you want...I can visualize a fetus floating freely in fluid and the umbilical cord attached to a machine."[11]The work of Monica Bock questions the current and evolving value of the mother in our society as biotechnology advances. Bock's Afterbirth (Sac, Fluid, Cord) focuses on the importance of a mother's body in keeping her fetus alive and growing. Yet it is the placenta – whose sole function is to provide nutrients and oxygen from mother to child – that is so quickly discarded after the child is born. The three dustpans reference this quick disposal and hint at the possibility of life as a commodity. That they are three in number indicates birth, life, and death or mother, father, and child; all are easily swept away in the world of biotechnological progress if they do not meet decided standards.

 

 Embryo selection and enhancement is key to Jeanette May's investigation of a mother's role within these new biotechnological advancements. The artist's initial question seems to be: Is it not the mother's responsibility, nay, purpose, to want the absolute best for her children? The use of slick photography and poster-size imagery draw the viewer into a bright environment surrounded by happy, beautiful people, colorful plant life, and a consumer-happy lifestyle. Upon closer inspection, we realize that all is not right with this world. Eggs are forced into square molds, growing fetuses are compared to plants bred for certain characteristics and mommies-to-be are perusing magazines imagining their lives as Michael Kors advertisements. May's posters seem to ask: once society has screened for all possible defects, how long until we manipulate those genes to acquire certain traits under the auspices of having a "happier" life and the duress of "keeping up with Joneses"? The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Fertility Institutes of Los Angeles will soon offer its clients the ability to pre-select their "choice of gender, eye color, hair color and complexion, along with screening for potentially lethal diseases."[12]Is it the duty of the future mother to provide the best that technology has to offer for her children? Or is she turning her children into accoutrements?

 

Adrienne Outlaw continues this examination of maternal responsibility within the realm of advancing technology. The artist posits: How far should a mother go to protect her young? Does technology offer the best outcome for a child born today or tomorrow? In Outlaw's Fecund video series, electrified, metal breasts protrude militaristically from a white wall, each containing a unique video. The recorded imagery shows either the latest in biophysics research, such as green florescent proteins tracking tumor growth, or the natural tenderness that exists between a mother and her child, like a newborn baby breastfeeding.[13]As the viewer's get up close to the metal nipples to peer inside, similar to a breastfeeding infant, they become aware that the hard material of the bosom creates a distance between mother and offspring; technology seems to be getting in the way.    At the same time, however, the viewer is given a chance to see the amount of knowledge possible at the cellular level, thus parents may be given the opportunity to make sure their progeny's cell division is developmentally on target. The question then becomes one of what happens when a cell goes awry.  Is it a mother's duty to make sure that her embryos, her fetuses, have everything they will need to survive and succeed in the 21st century, even if that means genetic interference? Professor Ronald M. Green of Dartmouth College suggests that with gene manipulation we could live in a disease-free world, he asks, "Why not improve our genome?"[14]

 

While Sher Fick and Lindsey Obermeyer investigate the growing pharmaceutical role with advancing medicine, Annette Gates concentrates on the idea of the self within the world of cloning, Libby Rowe   and Sadie Ruben   examine the rights of the fetuses within genetic progress, and finally Monica Bock, Adrienne Outlaw, and Jeanette May explore the function of the mother within the biotechnological age. 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 to bad outcomes is to have an informed, democratic discussion that takes into account both expert opinions and social values. We need regulations because scientists and the general public need clarity about what they can and cannot do, a convincing rationale for permissions and restrictions, and a voice in arriving at decisions with such important ramifications."[15]These artists are that voice.

[1]

De Stael-Holstein, Madame Influence of Literature Upon Society (
New York : William Pearson & Co., 1835)  

[2]   Sandel, Michael J. The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering. (

Cambridge , Mass: Harvard
University Press, 2007) p 5-6.
University Press, 2007) p 5-6.

[3]See Sher Fick's artist statement

[4] Agar, Nicolas, "Designer Babies: Ethical Considerations," ActionBioscience.org, American Institute of Biological Sciences, 2006.

[5]Rifkin, Jeremy. The Biotech Century (London: Phoenix, 1998), p.63.

[6]

Glover, Jonathan. Choosing Children: Genes, Disability, and Design (
Oxford : Clarendon Press, 2006) p. 65.  

[7] "

Houston
Chronicle Examines Prenatal Genetic Test That Can Detect More Than 200 Conditions," The
Houston Chronicle, December 24, 2008.  

[8]Rugoff,  Ralph, "Deviations on a Theme – works by Paul McCarthy," Artforum, October 1994.

[9]Steere, Mike, "Designer babies: Creating the perfect child," Cnn.com/technology, October 30, 2008.

[10]Wohlsen, Marcus, ""Hobbyists try genetic engineering at home: Critics worry amateurs could unleash an environmental or medical disaster," MSNBC.com. December 26, 2008.

[11]Pearson, Helen, "Making Babies: The Next 30 Years," Nature, Vol. 454, July 17, 2008, p. 260.

[12] Gautam Naik, "A Baby, Please. Blond, Freckles -- Hold the Colic:  Laboratory Techniques That Screen for Diseases in Embryos Are Now Being Offered to Create Designer Children," The Wall Street Journal, February 12, 2009, page A10

[13] Created in

collaboration with biophysicist Dr. David W. Piston of
Vanderbilt
University .
 

[14]Britt, Robert Roy, "Designer Babies: Ethical? Inevitable?" www.livescience.com, January 11, 2009.

[15]Shebaya, Sirine, PhD, "Are 'Designer Babies, on the Horizon?" www.scienceprogress.org, May 15, 2008.

 

 

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Inspiration Comes From Working, Not Waiting

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.
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Open Studio - Get Ready, Get Set, Go!!!

    This is my 'before' view of the studio space in July 0f 2008.  I was blessed to find a house with a walk-out Daylight Basement, including one wall of windows looking out over trees, a creek, and an empty field.   Over the months I have added massive amounts of lighting, covered the insulated walls with a patchwork of mattboard, old paintings on canvas, and tyvek.  This view is of the North end of the studio - you can see my lighting which is actually outdoor lighting with movable cans - - windows all along the right-hand side provide addition light during the day and a beautiful view of nature.  Along the left/back side of the studio I have multiple shelving units for supplies, storage of completed work. This image shows the double-sided counter-height workbench with storage that I purchased from Goody's going-out-of-business sale, they are also on casters and anchor the north central section of the studio . . . you can so the great windows on this end of the studio, as well.   My favorite spot in the studio: the wicker porch swing were I can meditate on nature right outside my window, read, research, enjoy some of my friend's artwork (see CASSIE, the shoe sculpture on the left of the window by artist John MacMullen) . . . all I need is a lampshade! Below is the South End of the Studio - future office/bedroom . . .   Side of the office/future bedroom end of the studio . . . 16'x22'  (above) Below, my last stop before art is shipped, any hanging devices, polishing, wrapping and packaging, love having a space set aside for this task . . .   Left view is of the workbench area - the central section of the studio - with lots of open space to move around . . . and storage for wood and boxes . . . of course, I have my refrigerator stocked with ice-cold Diet Cokes!     So I hope you have enjoyed the tour of my studio - - - it has been a long journey of waiting patiently, focusing on my specific needs (custom lighting and electrical outlets) and scrounging to find the perfect furniture and units for my needs - - - I have already created some new encaustic paintings and am working on several installation pieces and the space is very conducive to my creative process. I'm looking forward to continuing the improvements and organization - I can't tell you how fantastic it is after years of working in corners, garages, and dining rooms to have MY space, MY studio - exclusively FOR ART'S SAKE!
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What Defines Art?

Question posed:  Is Margaret 's Oppenheim's Fur Cup (actually titled "Object", 1936, created in Paris by the Swiss Artist) art?   My response: Any type of expression is art. A fun game to play is “Is this Art?” on http://www.ovationtv.com link for Robert Rauschenberg http://www.ovationtv.com/programs/14 the documentary they just did on him is phenomenal (I am so sad he died, I’ve never met him, but I was in his presence in 2004 at the Whitney Biennial opening) and he actually tells the story (in this documentary) of finding the goat in a thrift store in NYC, he was supposed to pay $50 but the guy went out of business before he finished paying . . .   and, he did many versions before the tire was the “one” . . . titled "Monogram", and referred to as combines.  1958-1959, Robert Rauschenberg, American Artist. What is important about this type of art (altering ready-mades or found objects) is that the focal object is transformed - just as in Oppenheim’s “fur cup” (a Dada creation) the utility of the object is negated and the artist (manipulator), [think of Marcel Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel   , third version shown, circa 1951 and Man Ray's "La Cadeau" - (image provided by www.MOMO.orgimage of right, 1958 copy of 1921 original) these can also be referred to as ready mades] . . . creates a reincarnation. To me this is almost a bigger talent than creating something from thin air, because you have to KNOW the essence of the item, deconstruct its tautology and change it enough so that the alteration stands up equally to the original inference. There is a syndrome that is a strong, fervent reaction to art: Stendhal syndrome, Stendhal’s syndrome or Florence syndrome, is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world. [wikipedia definition] So I have had 2 episodes of Stendhal - one was at the OLD (my preferred) MOMA in NYC, standing in the DADA room, I thought they would need to call an ambulance. After studying art for years, I expected (and thought they deserved) for each piece to be in an altar or alcove all its own. I was stunned that the pieces were just squished together and grouped in vitrines . . . happy to see them, but felt that they were diminished by their placement. Note: The new MOMA is a thousand times worse. It is beyond bad. The architecture itself is great, but the way it is dis-organized and crammed, paintings grouped behind vitrines and propped on shelves - I am desultory.  Although the statement is that they designers followed the 'meandering' path of contemporary/modern art - I personally feel it sucks as an art viewing experience.  Guess I will never get a job or show there, huh????  But Andy Warhol was rejected for years, so who knows?! 2nd episode - 2007 standing inside the Romanesque cathedral at Ravenna, Italy. Victorians would have said I got the vapors (but I think that means gas, and that was NOT the case) - Donny took a photo of me with my mouth hanging open and tears streaming down my face, I looked like that all day. I am getting chills just thinking about it. Note: there is no way to photograph the entire visual of standing within Ravenna, because it is as if you are INSIDE a snow globe and glittering glass and metallic mosaics are flickering in the filtered light - above, below, and on all sides.  It was truly a sacred, transforming, spiritual event for me. Post script: I have used fur in some art work - it is very effective.
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Eat Your Words - Museum Installation 2010

oh, speaking of “donating for art” - I am making this constant, never-ending sculpture of crazy-quilted prescription bottles - and I received hundreds (of bottles) from everywhere - you put out a call and the people will deliver!!! To the right you see the first stage of the prescription bottle installation - I sent our requests and I received envelopes and boxes from the following: Nancy Hayes, Julie Anderson, Lydia Weaver, Lydia Weaver's Whole Water Aerobics class, Dr. Nancy Kelker, Andrienne Outlaw, Alicia Beach, Lloyd and Shirley Curry.  I hope I haven't forgotton anyone! The point being is that we are RE-USING an item prior to its location in landfills, thus clogging up nature for hundreds of years.  We are not even melting them and reshaping them - we have found something useful to do with them in their current  discarded stated!!!!!  Pre-Cycling!!!   This is how the prescription bottle piece turned-  COPING SKILLS, 48"h x 53"w x14"d, wood, mirror-floored shelf, crazy quilted attached prescription bottles.  Honors the help that myself and others receive from altered mood and anti-anxiety pharmaceutical assistant.  I am thankful for the joy I can now have in my life because I am not a raging lunatic anymore! BE PART OF 'EAT YOUR WORDS'  My next “community” piece is going to be “Eat Your Words” - it will be an acrylic-suspended table, with all clear acrylic dishes/silverware/bowls, etc. and the “food” will be colored paper printed with hurtfully email messages which have been sent and/or received. This idea came about when I had a dream that I was cooking fried chicken breaded with shredded words (one of my personal icons in my work) . . . so if anybody wants that nasty email from Uncle Fester to be part of the piece, email me a copy of said emails (you can edit names or addresses, but the papers will be shredded/cut) to: sherfickart@gmail.com with “Eat Your Words” in the subject line If you prefer snail mail:  Sher Fick, 1023 St. Hubbins Drive (Studio), Spring Hill, TN 37174   Such as:  an entry might look like this: To: sherfickart@gmail.com From: joejones@jonesy.com    (provide real name and address if you want to be listed in the exhibition catalogue - your name won't be with your words submitted, and REMEMBER the worlds will be shredded! Re:  Eat Your Words Installation "Well, I hope you feel good about yourself now that you made Granny cry on HER birthday.  Who do you think you are.  What gives you the right to take the attention away from Granny just to say you are pregnant with another brat.  You are getting too big for your britches, Girl!  You better watch yourself.  You gonna steal all Granny's money cause she feel sorry for you.  Over my dead body". I will also give credit to all donators in the exhibition catalogue, so send your name, address, with email along with it, so I can keep you posted and give credit where credit is due! Feel free to pass this information along - the more the merrier - and this series might take on a life of its own and last as long as the prescription bottle one - i.e. - my whole life! When Adrienne did her last piece (Shelter, see http://www.adrienneoutlaw.com ) we had hundreds of volunteers . . . it is amazing to do community projects. I believe that with eat piece of paper that is donated, that we can erase those negative words from our minds as they will be ritualistically shredded and then used as a piece to great a fantastic social-interactive event.
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Altered Books (Gift From The Sea & Wollitzer's Abstract Art)

Here are some images of the altered books I have been working on.  I am practicing up for teaching a workshop in February/March for Teens and Adults. I began with a book I treasure, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's GIFT FROM THE SEA.  I had a portion of this book read (by my gifted public speaker sister, Lisa Frazeur) at my 1991 wedding to hubby, Don Fick. Here you see the altered cover - I have bleached and sanded a sepia toned photograph I took of our daughter, Lauren, when she was 3 - she is wearing an antique family heirloom of a muslin slip/petticoat and a floppy white sun hat . . . I caught her in a moment of discovery as she let sand sprinkle through her open fingers at Crystal Beach, FL. Here is an opening page from the altered book - I have added my husband's and my initials from antique oak-tag and doodled on and around them, then inserted our wedding date.  One of the main goals in altered books is to collaborate with what is already there - by eliminating words, you enhance the ones that are left . . . by altering and joining any illustrations with your own theme/artwork - you make them become your own, without stepping on any 'copyright' issues.   Here I have altered an image of a shell.  By adding a glint to the eye (using watercolor pencils) and creating an eye (using gray tone prismacolor markers) I transformed the literal image into a surreal visual. Other aspects of altered books include: use of old photographs, collage from illustrations, distressing with inks and paints, aging with an emery board or sandpaper, gluing, tearing, sewing . . .      These following images are from a drawing book "Abstract Art" by Bernard Gollwitzer from the 50's - his illustrations are on the right hand side, on the left page I painted out the printed images with gesso, then cut out a female dress template from card stock, painted with acrylic then wiped off with a paper towel, using an embroidery needle/thread I stitched around the pattern, glued on a button with YES glue and voila, a finished page!         Altering books for me has become a very meditative event - I get to reminisce, create, journal, paste and glue, sew, a little bit of all all favorite things - and I get to use text and visual imagery together - I can be as sentimental as I want to be. Hope you can pick up a discarded book and transform it with some of these techniques - even if you only are a few pages at a time . . . you will enjoy the process as much as the resulting artwork!
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To Resolution, or Not To resolution?

  "The Call" by Remedios Varo To me the real question about whether or not to make New Year's Resolutions is simple:  No.  I don't do that. What I do is review the prior year and project what I wish to accomplish in the coming year. Many divergent areas of my life are considered.  Have I been the Mother I need to be in 2008 and what can I do better in 2009?  Not just say "I will be a better Mother" - but, specifically, what are the actions I can do to make that occur.  I can turn off the music in the car and actually have a conversation with the children while we are enduring the endless pick-up/drop-off phase of our lives.  I can instigate conversations and ask what their opinions are and why.  I can NOT turn every conversation into a lecture.  I can listen.  I can color more with my 6 year old.  In my marriage I could make dinner a few more times a week and I can turn off my computer and sit and hold his hand while he watches TV.  I can play some Wii golf WITH him instead of reading on the couch.  I could go work in the yard with him instead of holing up in the studio on the weekend.  We could start doing some of the things we both love to do: hiking, nature photography, playing cards, and Scrabble. As a sister I could call my siblings more frequently.  As a daughter I could take some time to mail my mom cards and hand-written notes as she does not do e-mail.  I can collect things I know she will love and always have a gift bag ready for any time I see her.   If 2009 is this cabinet - I get to fill it with all the dreams I have and hope to accomplish: 1.  Better actions as a mother and wife 2.  More completed artworks/applying for grants/fellowships and to VISIT real art again - a major trip for art viewing 3.  More shows to share my artwork 4.  I could finish posting my Etsy shop so people don't have to beg me to sell things. 5.  Start my series about my Italian experiences 6.  Get more active on my own blog ;) - pursue my writing with a more defined goal, write some of those memoir stories for myself and then decide if I want to share with others 7.  Nurture and maintain my new and old friendships 8.  Take time to reflect on my own life and the balance of my selfs: physical, spiritual, creative, and dreaming 9.  Become more fully who I am intended to be 10. Make sure I am following MY CALLING
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The Excavation UNEARTH Series - Encaustic Paintings & Assemblages

    UNEARTH Encaustic on Watercolor Paper on Wood, Mica, River Rocks 15.25”h x 19”w 2006 - Private Collection of John Svara/Haven Kimmel Statement on Series, of which UNEARTH was the 'focal' piece . . . This body of work, titled Excavations, is an ongoing exploration of archaeological content begun in 2004.  It includes 3 sub-categories: but I will focus on Identification of Personal Archeology for this posting. These works explore and integrate both my personal and cultural iconography.  Repeated media includes encaustic (molten wax with pigment) and found objects on wood.  I choose to work in encaustic for its properties of luminosity and layering, as well as its flexibility with mixed media.  The found objects represent personal associations of childhood [in UNEARTH the river rocks are like the ones on my Grandfather's Indiana Farm and the mica was actually found, in its natural rock state, while hiking in North Georgia, as I peeled the layers apart, it metaphorically revealed the translucency of my life/humanity], as well as the broadened idea of cultural experiences.  By exploring contemporary interpretations and pushing the limits of idea, material, and presentation, I celebrate the sacredness as well as the irony of the objects. Here is a link to an Essay regarding my theories on Eco-psychology, which was the impetus for the Diptych UNEARTH. http://www.typepad.com/site/blogs/6a00e54eea3ea0883400e54eea3ea38834/post/6a00e54eea3ea0883400e550033d268833/edit More specifically, what I do is question what sparks my childhood interests and then delve into that from every direction . . . archaeology blows my mind - not just the history but the literal physical act of searching, digging, failing, revealing.  The organic lines UNEARTH are actual topographic lines and the grid is created from real archaeological screening material (my kids took a Summer Archaeological class at the college I taught at in FLORIDA) . . . that sifting can reveal many things - trash, organic manner, man-made relics, etc. - - by overlaying the translucent theories of virtual psychological archaeology with the empirical science of archaeology, using personal icons from my childhood & beyond, this came up. The blue squares contained in the grid represent the metaphorical "treasures" found (and is the same way that found items are recorded by archaeologist's). Other works in the EXCAVATION series include:   Reliquary, 7"h x 18"w x 11"d.  Encaustic on Watercolor Paper on Pine Wine Box, Sliding Box Top, Interior contains black river rocks.  Floor Installation. AVAILABLE.     Open view of SLICE OF LIFE, altered Wine Storage Box, Private Collection: John W. & Sarah MacMullen.   Closed view of SLICE OF LIFE. 14"h x 8"w x 3"d  

  

  

  

  

  

 

 

INCENDIARY (above, right)

Souvenier Matchbox, Matches, Mica, Encaustic in Found Box

Opened size: 10” x 5”

2006 - AVAILABLE

 

 

SAFETY ISSUES (left)

Box, Safety Pins (personal icon of artist), Encaustic, Rusted Mesh, Iron Tacks

4" x 8.25" open

2006 - AVAILABLE

 

 

Remnants of Truth (left)

Encaustic, Box, Wire, Rice Paper, Oil Pastel, Found Wire from East Green (Central Park)

2006

Available 6"x 8.25" (open)

 

 

 

Hope you enjoy!

 

 

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Mother Delonda's Cherry Red Pants Certificate

Created as a Thank You in honor of Mother Delonda "Spirit of the Cherry Red Pants" Encaustic collage, with attachments, finished size, 8h x 10w, created December 14-16, 2008.  Your unstoppable spirit has inspired all who read of your heroics adventures.  Your willingness to face life headfirst (ehem, even if over the bars of an unbraked 10 speed) kept me driving to and from college (a 70 mile trip) three days a week while still being a somewhat attentive mother of 3 and wife of 1. Your ingenuity (and adaptation of the cherry red pants) is appreciated by all resourceful fellow pursuers of knowledge. As an icon of 70's feminine liberation, I honor your accomplishments and your mincing steps. Your life has touched me to my very core and I am a better person for having persevered and have been known to exclaim, in an hour of despair that "If Delonda can do it, so CAN I".     May you have many more days of love and laughter, as you have provided the same for me and countless others.  "Congratulate yourselves if you have done something strange and extravagant and broken the monotony of a decorous age." - Ralph Waldo Emerson   The original is on its way.  Wait, you ARE the original, this facsimile of your indomnitable spirit is on its way! For Art's Sake, & With Great Appreciation, Sher
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Tooting My Own Horn

It's my birthday, so I am giving myself a present -   The Right To Toot My Own Horn. Here are a few quotes from messages I have received in recent months about my artwork . . . as I deeply respect both of these authors, I am stunned and humbled to be lauded by their beauteous words!

I.

"You are an art magician.  What you do is spiritual alchemy made manifest"      - Suzanne Finnamore, Best-selling author of Split, Zygote Chronicles, Old Maid and others. www.finnablog.blogspot.com Sher's Response to Suzanne:  You are a goddess among women - you have the wicked tongue and cool bangs of a true lioness.  I would love to have you in my pack of wandering four-leggeds - after we have all reincarnated from our current, sharp-as-a-tack selves.  We can howl at the moon from all corners of our earth - ye from the west, self from the south, and blade from the easterly region, I'm not sure if Kate Cake qualifies as northerly (we might need to subsitute Jim Shue as our northern sister kin as he is closer to the North Pole). . . or maybe Brandon, I need help on the 4th! Your Prayer Flag is blowing crimson in the fluffy falling snow (calling you home to North Carolina, I hope).  If I can FIND my camera amongst my boughs of holly, I will take a shot and send it forth . . . (um, I might need a week for that).

II.

" . . . this is what I want to say: you are not merely gifted technically, you have endowed those pieces with such heart-sweetnessI wanted to cry. My daughter and sister will see what I meant them to see: a touch beyond dimensionality, as fragile and sublime as the butterfly wings and the words of grief behind them. Your heart is there, and as a person who tries to never shy away from putting my own heart in my work, I see it and I offer you my deepest respect and gratitude. I know I am a loony as a religious person, but I do believe we are here to enrich the space we’re given, and you have done that; I thank you. Thank you sincerely".     - Haven Kimmel, Best-selling author of A Girl Named Zippy (as well as She Got Up Off the Couch [sher's favorite memoir], Something Rising Light & Swift, The Solace of Leaving Early, the Used World, and Iodine, and several children's books). www.havenkimmel.com Sher Responds to Haven: I can barely respond to your comments because they mean so much to me.  From the moment I read the first sentence of Zippy I felt you KNEW ME, that we had lived parallel lives of some sort, not only with the back story/region, but especially with your lighthearted SENSE of HUMOR which slays me - and then to discover the deep spiritual truths and depths of your writing - which reveals your soul in all its glory. Thank YOU.  I hope to continue to live up to your authenticity.  I can't think of anything adequate to say . . . so . . . Appreciatively to BLADE from LANCE, May we slay all the beasts in the nether-worlds,
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Abide With Me

  We are not alone.  We exist in a beautiful community of souls.  This post is dedicated to Haven Kimmel and to her beautiful community of souls which have enriched my life since I stumbled (it was fate) upon them in August.  [  www.havenkimmel.com , click blog]. The above work (entitled CATCH ME IF I FALL) is a perfect visualization of my experience in Havenland.  [begun with this bizarre altar niche I found in a thrift store in Fort Walton Beach, FL, it costed me only $6.00, which is a perfect example of where I get my main inspirations (junking or dumpster diving).  The doll face was cast from my original Krissy doll (the one that you pulled on the string and her red hair went shortor long).  One of my more prominent motifs are the wide-spreading oak trees (as it dominated the 'house yard' of my grandfather's Veedersburg, IN farm) and the handmade wooden rope swing that I spent many hours dreaming on as I strove to walk the sky].  Although this work can be disturbing as you notice the barbed wire which entwines the rope, and you realize that to stay balanced you would have to grip that barbed wire (what is supposed to keep you safe might BITE you), to me it is all about the hands that reach up under the swing to . . . catch me if I fall. As a child, due to many mitigating circumstances, most out of my or my 'guardian's' control, I rarely felt safe or that I had a soft place to fall.  Now that I am grown I am allowing myself to rely and trust in and on others . . . these are souls that have become guardians of my creativity and celebrants of my soul. I hope you can see the resilience of this peace and celebrate with me, the beauty I have found not only in Haven's blogland, but in the world that seems to shine brighter with hope.   Barbed  Guardian, 2006.  (Porcelain Doll Head, Rusted Wires, Encaustic, Gold-leaf) As the child's eyes reveal in Catch Me, we, as adults, are reflections of our childhood experiences.  I want to celebrate those that have been able to nurture 'little sher', she will always be a part of me. In Barbed Guardian, a friend of a friend heard about my search for rusted barbed wire/other objects and she shipped me objects from her farm in Sevierville, TN.  That is love.  To the left is WINGED GUARDIAN.  She is a perfect example of my friend's and family's support of my work.  My sister, Lisa, collected the remnants of a cardinal on a nature walk and carefully saved the skull (with its carmine beak) and the wings . . . this forethought and support is what, I believe, imbues the pieces with the ethereal essence I constantly seek to capture.   Lastly in the guardian trio is DOMED Guardian, she is veiled and unknowable.  She is the hidden spark of resilience I believe we can all find in our own souls if we protect it and treasure what is sacred and pure in our hearts.  She IS BROKEN, yes - but she remains. 'find a sanctuary inside oneself, no matter how small' - Lemony Snickets, A Series of Unfortunate Events
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Nature's Gifts

 This is the glorious view I woke up to this morning in our little corner of Tennessee.  We don't have real acreage, but we are blessed enough, and have worked hard enough to be backed up to this undeveloped and protected lowland.  Within about 10 minutes it went from a complete blanket of fog to this softly-filtered divine light. I can't express how beautiful it was and how grateful I feel to live in such a beautiful spot on our planet earth.  It holds up to all the beauty I have seen in Italy, or anywhere else in the United States - all in my backyard!! Here is a view of what remains of the Tibetan-style Prayer Flag I created for the health of my favorite author, Haven Kimmel.  If you haven't read "A Girl Named Zippy," yet - buy it tomorrow.  It will bring a smile to your heart and a laugh to your soul. May Nature Shine Her Light Upon You, For Art's Sake,

Sher

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7 Before 7 Feature Artist - Sher Fick & Writing/Marking Workshop = ART

I was so lucky to be invited as a Feature Artist in Jules Sterp's 7 Before 7 Blog Review http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1461#comment-61390 It was quite an honor and the page turned out beautifully - thanks so much!  MY ART WEEK: This has been a busy "art" week with last Friday's opening at the Renaissance Center in Dickson, TN for their Regional Exhibition, plus electrician in the studio working on the new lighting and expanded outlets (encaustic work uses A LOT of electricity), and to cap off the week, I attended a great workshop with my art buddy, Aletha Carr (www.alethacarr.com) at the Nashville Public Library.  It was co-taught by Ellen Rust (a poet/educator www.awakeningthewriter.com ) and visual artist Sue Mulcahy (whose work/series "Open To The Night" is now on exhibit at the library gallery).  We began with responsive mark making using graphite.  We learned to express, through marks, the sound of music and the smell of ginger, lemon, banana.  It was enlightening to view the similarities of another artist's expression of the same sense.  At left is my exercise, directions were: beginning with graphite mark, create a lifeline without lifting the graphite from the surface.  I began in the lower right hand corner, dragging and twisting the graphite to create "blooms" which represent my children and other major relationships, as I near the end at the upper left, my line becomes stronger and more focused - a direct correlation to my life. Following a lovely lunch from the Provence Cafe, we began the writing responses, writing free-style about objects provided (roots/pine cone/antler, of which we chose one) and a word ticket drawn from an envelope (I used root and the word "good"). Here is my response to the visual image of the ROOT and my word ticket/GOOD: Roots can be good. Roots can be bad. Fed from the well where I am found. Layers upon layers, filtered through time. Good for cleansing or poisoning the vine. Good for growth - spreading wide, Infiltration, rooted in time. Knotted and twisted, grasping for air - held in the hands of earth's mellow fair. Tangled and battered, growing and spreading - tripping me up, trials above. Roots condescend and fed with bile, cutting them out can take quite a while. Pulling and digging, Cutting, then mending, Roots can be good, but mine are offending. Offending the nurture needed and expected, tainting the cord of mother to child. Uprooting the past to discard in time. Toxic.  Burning.  Poisonous vine. Uprooted now, seeking new earth, re-birthed and replanted - unrooted divine Free now to spread, to grow and to grasp. Now unencumbered of poisonous past. Growing inward and outward, Good has been summoned, sweetness of new water erasing the past. Antidote found. Time will allow, roots will hold onto good things that last. Roots will refine, no longer confine. After several responses we adjourned to the gallery and wrote responses to various of Sue Mulcahy's Exhibit http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080921/ENTERTAINMENT0507/809210326/1069/ENTERTAINMENT05 and then shared with one another. Here is my response to Sue Mulcahy's "Close Is Not Enough" drawing: Internal scapes Chasms divide Peering at memories Revealing and reveling Veering forward Pulled from the past Grasping transcendence Clasping remnants. Traversing Dissolving Signposts and markers misleading, benign. Sequence chaotic Silhouetted and open deluge divine Unbalanced, then broken Sutured and knifed Evoking wholeness bound by time. I attempted another response to "Open To The Night": Veiled in the darkness Formless and thick. Coating the earth Clinging and clawing. Queries are spoken Descending and dim Near far remembrance echo and utterance Filtering bright sky meets earth horizon enlighten breaking the dearth the spirits soaring and sighing Upward and outward absorbing moments cradling time unseen, unspoken protected from site needless emotions bound and unbroken +++++++++++++++++++++++++ It was an amazing day shared by all.
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Scarecrow Installation - Vincent Van "Cr"ogh's "S(c)a(r)y Night"

Here are a few views of the scarecrow I created for Cheekwood Art and Garden's Fall Celebration (www.cheekwood.org): Van "Crogh's" face was created over a hard floral Styrofoam ball, covered with crazy quilted burlap and then embroidered.  His "hair" was attached via a rug hooking technique.   I just love creating art that will amuse and entertainment the children, as well as their parents and other family members. If anyone is in the Nashville area, stop by Cheekwood and enjoy its beautiful 50 acre botanical garden, award winning restaurant, and, of course, the art museum! Fall is my favorite time of year - I was so happy to be a part of such a creative event.  I can't wait to see all the other scarecrows!!! For Art's Sake, sher
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