Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Keep art alive so it keeps us alive


Whenever I introduce myself in an online art class, I say that I'm a writer and that I don't really know anything about art. Both these things are true, but I spend more time making things than writing these days. I don't know why. A craving for the visual? A weariness of words?

The book above is a riff on  the exquisite corps game. I made it a few weeks ago. Now there could be even more pages, I suppose, since the world grows worse.  It's a flip book. The pages are divided into three sections, no matter what part you flip all the sections of the body line up.

 You can have a person of color whose legs are standing in a pool of blood, a pregnant belly, and a child's head, for example.

Mostly I've been making blank books. The filling will come later. I have a drawer of handmade books.

And my desk is stacked with my next projects. A different style that I will be practicing. It's called drum-leaf, I think. I don't know why. They're real hard cover little books like the one standing on edge in the photo below. Sometimes I use my own hand marbled or hand made paper for the covers. 

I like turning their small pages.

I think my deepest passion is collage. I took a mail art class several weeks ago from an artist I met in 2009 at the Vermont Studio Center. I keep trying to remember a significant conversation we had--all I can recall is that he grew up in Iowa. Mostly we were in the meditation chapel together every morning before breakfast. So far, I've made over 40 collage postcards that I've sent to friends and family.

I can't wait to make more.

Now I'm taking a collage class from the same artist. We're studying a different artist each week and making bigger collages inspired by the works of that week's artist. Today was Hanna Höch, and I made this. It's 12x12 so I can't mail it to anyone. I love Dada. I love the surrealists. But you can't hang that stuff on your walls or no one will come to dinner.........oh.......wait......

I've now given myself permission to age ungracefully.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Hospital Socks

Several million years ago in an ancient age, still unforgotten, I had a basket of hospital socks in basket near my back door. My household accumulated these socks while I cared for my mom and the man who loved me. Red, blue, green, beige--a guest could choose a color that pleased them while keeping their feet cozy and safe on my slippery floors. 

They went somewhere, those socks. Goodwill. The homeless people in a Ventura park. The auction I had before I moved to Minneapolis. I don't quite remember. 

I have a pair of hospital socks now. Last week I had a lithotripsy of my right kidney. It was not as uncomplicated as I expected. Our bodies, and our Earth, are complex beyond our imagining. One thing tips into another. This causes that. That causes another thing, and another. A kidney stone might take 67 years to amass before it renders its agony. A planet rotates, tilts on its axis, while one era groans its hard birth to the next. Creatures who once ambled through ferns move toward the water, their legs and feet morphing into flippers. But when we look inside those flippers today, the fingers and toes are still there.

Everything we do to our bodies (and the things that are done to them) and our Earth have interconnected consequences. 

Remember the hanging chads? Remember that Al Gore could have been our president? Every vote we cast might have immense consequences beyond our imaginings. One thing leads to another. People jumping from burning towers, decades of war, unspeakable destruction of our planet. We got there one step at a time. 

I didn't especially want to go to my doctor's appointments or to the hospital during Covid-19. I wanted to walk through the pandemic the way I was taught to backpack in the Sierra. Leave no trace. But once I was in the hospital, I found that every single nurse, doctor, anesthesiologist was doing their own kind of leave-no-trace foray into the wilderness that is health care right now. Of course there were Covid screenings every step of the way, and of course everyone was masked and shielded to the max, but not one healthcare professional was even an iota less than kind, caring, cheerful, and patient. Once the mandatory screening was done, they behaved as if there was no extra risk for them that could get in the way of caring for me. I am grateful.

And I am afraid of the people who are none of those things. They are responsible for this moment where everyone has someone in harm's way. 

Dear friends and family do everything you can to help one another. I promise to do the same. I love you with all of my heart--and with my kidneys (sans their tiny blasted-to-bits asteroids.)

Friday, August 14, 2020

Watching paint dry

 That's what I'm doing. What are you up to?

Hand-painted paper to use for collage. My new favorite version of collage is mail art. I've been sending out cards like this:

I've been using hand-made paper from my paper-making internship, my hand-marbled paper, junk mail, and a lot of images and cuttings from magazines and catalogs. And today I unearthed all the pretty stamps my mom saved over the years.

I also painted swatches to try out on an accent wall in the guest room. Guests. When will there ever be guests? Maybe never. Maybe years from now. Do you find yourself thinking in years? Weeks and months seem irrelevant. Though a day is still something to get through.

And my tiny balcony garden is thriving.

You can't see the jalapeños. They're hiding.
Blossoms on the lemon tree that will live inside this terrible winter. 

I never thought I'd eat so much basil, but there it is right outside my door, fresh and delicious.

I never in a million years would have predicted how my life is going right now. How about you? Are you doing stuff you never thought you would do? Tell me what.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

And here we are.

old dishes that belonged to my mom

I'm well. Are you well?
I'm not really okay, though. I suppose you're not either.

I have candy dishes now. And I walk by and eat a piece 10 million times a day.
I hope my teeth don't fall out. How are your teeth?

French peach cake from Joy of Cooking
I bake things. I could bake ten million things and eat them all.

New shelf/bench in my dining room

This is my addition to my dining room. I frequently have 10 million guests at my 10 million dinner parties. So now there's extra seating.

This is orizomegami--the Japanese art of dying paper.

I have 10 million sheets of paper in this condo--handmade, dyed, marbled--suminagshi and Turkish. I think in another life I was a wasp and made my house out of paper.

What were you in your other life?