From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

mind alight

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First, I’ll write about the Scales project later.  The short of it is that by the time it happened I was so exhausted I couldn’t take it in.  It went well, but I’ve hardly registered it yet.   Reading, and photos and video will aid in that later.

I spent most of the last week in Troy, New York at the Russel Sage colleges where I got another look at the gorgeous Opalka Gallery and got to meet the artist Lina Puerta and speak with her as she directed the take-down of her recent solo exhibition there.

image from sketchbook 1994ish

from my sketchbook, 1994ish

Lina’s work is very strange for me.  Many of her icons- the anatomical heart, the hands, the vulva, the womb images, all intersecting with root and tree images… the icons themselves could have come out of my sketchbook from 1994-2002.  On the other hand they are treated so differently- much more color and more charged juxtapositions than I was doing in my high school to art school life.   She has gotten into them with a depth that comes from her using them at a more mature part of her career.  Most of my pieces from that time didn’t even get photographed properly.  In some cases this is lamentable, in many it is not.  Either way they are familiar to me and it was wonderful to see them worked with in ways (mostly) that I would never do them.

Either way, Lina’s pieces are intense, clever, provocative, and I was fascinated.  Better still, I like Lina. She would be an interesting artist to collaborate with.

So… after a year of much less than usual art activity, art stimulation and almost no bare space or time to think in (did I mention my daughter just turned one?) my brain started to catch fire again.  Seeing the Opalka bare was intensely helpful.  The need for artists to stare at bare walls and spaces to assess their possibilities should not be underestimated.

I came up with little seeds in the gallery.  On the way home a piece that has been germinating over the past two years sprang out of my head nearly fully formed, in all the glory of an ancient goddess.  It came from the idea that has been sitting with me for years, made intensely tangible since my daughter was born.  EVERYONE is somebody’s baby, as precious as my baby is to me, and if they never were they should have been. In the back of my mind has also been the homeless people I have known and see every day.  The old man who draws that I feed and give art supplies to sometimes, the crack-junkies I cannot fit into my mind, the kids who left home, too often to flee sexual abuse.

And this gels into a perfect painting in my mind.  I have details to srt out, but it will be the next art piece I do.  Classic Renaissance style, but with a contemporary twist.  You’ll see. This one isn’t going away.

The other came into my mind just now.  Visions of silk flowing in the Opalka gallery.  Recent forays into dying silk for an Edwardian gown I made for a wedding left me with a hunger for dying silk and a desire to work with it.  Realizing it feels like skin.  Skin which I keep coming back to.   And another piece forms.

And I receive an invitation to submit to a show I did last year- international, cross-cultural collaborative works.  Last year I created The Exquisite Corps Project.  This year those artists have let me know they want to be part of something I create again, and with deadline pressure, the concept arises.  I know I will include Annysa Ng again, and I would like to include LIna Puerta if she’s up for it.  I especially want artists who have experience with more than one culture and who use symbols and icons strongly as part of their visual and conceptual vocabulary.

In short, my mind is alight with ideas, and I’m full of energy and excitement again.  In a few weeks I’ll be in NYC and though I’ll miss a visit with Annysa because she has a London show I should have the chance to see Lina again.

It’s good to feel my sap rising.

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Written by marycoreymarch

October 28, 2009 at 10:57 am

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