My sketches are always like this- rough, scribbly, and somehow they work the best for me- loose enough for me to imagine different details. But until the other even the loosest sketch of the physical part of my Endangered Languages piece weren’t jelling enough for any sketch to make me happy.
I had been hitting a major wall with the work and it was keeping me up at night for weeks as I tossed image after image and idea after idea in my head. Two days ago I had a great conversation with a friend that helped me break through. He has helped me document my work in video and photography but more importantly he is always a great person to brainstorm with (there are two pieces we’ve thought out together that I think need to be made as collaborative works).
The thing is the process is so often in the mind. I visualize and discard so much before I start making these days. Now without having physically built anything, I suddenly have a pretty clear picture of the finished piece. Now that it’s there I can sketch and mock up and I can start building like a maniac. I’m going to build a mock-up for size and relationship to the body before I build the main object. I want to get the height and tilt angle that way. It should recall natural history museum displays… but with some unexpected twists in action.
Another thing hidden (besides things in my brain) is the thoughts and concepts behind the work. You will notice I don’t tend to explain my concepts here. I have them, usually intensely thought out (what some people would consider over-thought out), but I want the concept to be experienced and seen and heard, not just explained before people see the actual work. I want them to walk up and discover it, not come in with a thesis on it. There is also a sort of delicacy in certain stages of creation, where if you explain too much (especially to the wrong people at the wrong time) it leeches the life out of it in your mind, or it kills your drive to make it.
At the same time, I love revealing the physical process. I like to show the beauty and madness of the actual objects-in-progress and the physical experience of making the thing rather than explain everything up front.
You’ll notice the Academy of Sciences sticker in my sketchbook. I went with my daughter after school to get a look at the display cases, both old and new. When I go into a museums or place with the intent to take notes I always put the ticket or sticker or write the place at the top. Sometimes the page is otherwise blank.
I am gathering endangered words for an artwork and I need speakers of endangered languages to participate in my project.
I have been invited to be part of an exhibition on Endangered Languages curated by Hanna Regev which will begin at Root Division in San Francisco.
I need to collect audio samples of certain words in endangered languages for the piece I will include in the show. There is a physical element to the work, but the text and the sound of each language are essential to it.
I am looking for words that say something that isn’t easily translatable into more commonly spoken languages, possibly words that hints at the culture. For example: “tattybogle” is a lovely Scotts word (a language on the endangered list) but it directly translates into the English “scarecrow” so I would not count it. The word “tingo” (Pascuense , Easter Island) is better. On Altalang.com it is translated as “the act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.” This is a word which gives you a window into a culture that would produce such a word and takes a clever sentence to translate into a more commonly spoken language.
What I need for my work is words like that from Endangered languages, spoken and explained on audio by speakers of those languages. Amazingly I’m already finding a fair few… on the internet. Mostly at this point it is friends of friends, but I hope to expand. If you speak an endangered language and would like to be part of the piece, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “endangered languages”.
One component of the show is the effect of technology on languages. Are dominant Languages like English, Mandarin and Spanish just taking over because of media and the internet or does the internet create opportunities to connect and encourage speakers of endangered languages? My thought is probably both, but I am finding that the internet is fantastic for connecting with people who speak endangered languages- something that may itself become part of the piece.
I will be collecting Audio samples through the end of November. Please contact me if you can contribute. You may remain anonymous in the public project information if you like.
To see if a language you speak is on the endangered list see Wikipedia’s Lists of Endangered Languages by area.
The United Nations has an interactive map of endangered languages here.
Another great interactive map is here on the Endangered Languages Project site.
For more information on me and my work as an artist, see my website at www.marymarch.com (I suggest the installation and “About the Artist sections in this case).
Last night I got back from installing my latest piece Living Guestbook in a private collector’s summer home in Vermont. It was wonderful to get a little moment of New England fall. While the travel itself won some kind of prize for horrific in both directions (lost baggage, 6 hour delay) the install itself went smoothly and all people involved were incredibly sweet and hospitable.
Here is the finished weave. The weft is spaced to make room for the dyed silk cards which guests will write on in response to one of three questions. I lost count how many, but more than 200, possibly 300 of them.
The first order of business was working with the carpenter to put up the custom cherry brackets he made for the piece. Together we worked out a design via email so that we could tightened the tension if needed. It worked beautifully. When he saw my 5-minute hack at making a shuttle out of layers of thin cardboard sandwiched with wood glue (I couldn’t find my shuttles while packing) he quickly ran back to his workshop and made me 6 lovely oak ones!
I had the warp (the up and down threads) and half the weft up by the time I went to bed that day. The warp is a linen-wrapped steel and is nearly invisible, but strong. The weft is a rough Japanese silk thread. Together they are very delicate with an organic quality. The finished empty weave reminds me a little of an Agnes Martin painting, and I love the shadows.
The following day was for finishing the weft creating a good display and storage for the silk cards.
Physically I planned the piece as being done over years and fitting seamlessly into the rural settling and her craftsman-style home. This meant the silks would have to be tucked away, but ready to display, so inside existing furniture made sense. We agreed on this drawer.
I found a handmade paper was happy with and made display sections for the chosen drawer, which turned out like this:
I can’t wait to see the piece as the responses fill the weave!
The hard part with this kind of thing is knowing when to stop. At this point I’m happy with the materials. I could keep going forever, but right now there is enough material to fill the space I am using twice. The idea is to provide the variety and let the participants determine the color balance of the piece in their selections. This does make me think I want to do some themed work with dyes that do focus on a specific color range, but the project hasn’t presented itself yet.
The rest of the parts for the installation are coming along… but this is the fun part.
*note* There are more blues in the final set than are showing- arrangement of the curve was a little off so they are hiding under each other while the greens/teals are spread thin… but I am prioritizing making the piece over documenting the process perfectly.
Here’s a peek into my dyeing in progress for the Living Guestbook installation.
When I’m dyeing for an installation I find it helpful to lay out the spectrum of color as I go. In cases like this one where I want a fairly balanced spectrum this is especially helpful. So far this is the spectrum the dyeing I’ve done yields. Looking at this the holes become more obvious. Also, different from dyeing for Identity Tapestry is that need to keep the spectrum lighter and not go too far into darks or the writing won’t show as well.
This prompted a return to the fabric store for a few lighter bases to start from. They really look easter-egg to me all together like this, but I’m using them for their potential for over-dyeing and the way they fit into the whole.
Yes, I could do everything starting at a base of white, but I find over-dyeing yields much richer colors. Also in the case of many of these fabrics, the weave already had two different colors (the warp might be blue and the weft gold, giving it a color-change look).Tthat’s something I can’t do dyeing over plain white fabric, but if I over-dye it, changes in both colors come through. That again adds a layer of depth to the colors I’m working with. I can also always go back and over-dye again as many times as I like, giving me even more layers of color coming through, especially when I use techniques that dye unevenly.
You can really see the depth in the colors when you look closely at a given strip of fabric.
***Update*** spectrum after today’s work:
It’s time for Open Studios! In August I moved back to the Art Explosion, this time with a shiny new private studio space. I’ve been keeping so busy I’ve barely settled in, but I would love to see you all at the Opening Reception on Friday Sept 26th between 7-11. While I am not available Saturday and Sunday for the rest of the Art Explosion’s open studios, I am open to studio visits by appointment.
I hope to see you at Open Studios there! I am in studio 2A near the front.
Fri Sept 26th 7pm-11pm
2425 17th St, SF, CA
These are some of the materials for my next installation. The swatches at the bottom are some dye, starch and ink tests. Each of these base colors (including the white) will be over-dyed in small strips for the piece. If I don’t get the color variety I want with these base colors in the first few rounds of dyeing, I’ll go back into the process with more fabric.
The physical format will be similar to Dream Blanket and Transparency: a weaving with the empty warp, structured with a grid of weft, with the main weft made out of strips of this fabric. Visitors to this collector’s home will be invited to respond to questions about memory, impressions and experience. They will then get to write these on a strip of dyed dupioni silk that has been starched for structure and to better take the ink.
Visually I made the piece to fit the rustic quality of their vacation home in Vermont. It will even include existing objects from the house and grounds. I really love work like this. Working to specific spaces like the theater and this home is wonderful. I like making a piece in a way I might not have thought of without the constraints or benefits of a certain goal and space, or without the interaction of other people involved. I enjoy collaborative work, and I consider working with a curator, institution or collector to be another form of collaboration.
I’m looking forward to this piece!