From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Posts Tagged ‘art shows

Still Collecting words for Endangered Languages artwork. Participate!

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I am still collecting languages for my Endangered Languages Project!

What it involves:  if you speak an endangered language or dialect (list here) I would want to speak with you for 15-30 minutes over the phone, skype, google hangouts or facetime.  You would not need to turn on the video part if it is over the computer. Basically I would just record audio of the following:

-a word or phrase that you feel doesn’t quite translate and which may say something about the culture

-your translation of that word or phrase

-a personal thought or story about it.

Other information I’d collect is where you grew up and where you live now, and what sort of fabric you would suggest goes with the language.  For example: the Irish speaker suggested a brown tweed, the Lowland Scots suggested a Douglas Tartan wool, and the Estonian speaker suggested a natural linen embroidered in a traditional pattern (which I am embroidering).  Otherwise no information about you (name, etc.) would be included unless you would like me to include your name in a “thanks to” list.

I am making a sort of cabinet where the fabrics will be displayed.  When a person approaches, one of the languages will start to play and the corresponding fabric with move with air as if the breath of the speaker is moving it.  It will mimic a Natural History display in certain ways… except with an emphasis on these things still being very much alive.

If you would like to participate, please email me at

This piece is part of a an art exhibition on Endangered Languages curated by Hanna Regev at Root Division in San Francisco which is potentially traveling afterwards.  Previous post here.

Written by Mary Corey March

December 2, 2014 at 2:05 am

Endangered Languages Piece- participate!

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capture of UNESCO's interactive map of endangered languages from

capture of UNESCO’s interactive map of endangered languages from

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 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 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.

UPDATE (12/1):  I am still 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.  It’s basically a 15-30min Skype, Google Hangouts or Facetime call (which you can turn the video part of off) where I record the word or phrase, your translation and a personal thought or story about them. 


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 (I suggest the installation and “About the Artist sections in this case).

Flower installations multiply art?

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Bouquets to Art DeYoung 2009

Bouquets to Art at the DeYoung Museum did a wonderful thing to the museum space.  Each floral arrangement had the potential to rewrite the space and reinterpret the artwork.

Some arrangements  focused on mimicking representational elements of the artwork (floral pieces in the forms of dresses, or flowers arranged inside a bicycle for example).  Others took a tiny detail in the piece and called attention to it by expanding it far out of proportion (and in some cases adding color).

Many fit themselves into the pieces- capturing the color, style and movement in a piece.  Some brilliantly matched textures, and a very few were sculptures in their own right.  One or two floral pieces managed to work off of the entire room of art they were in so that they could be placed in the center and interact with the other pieces from every angle.

It was amazing.

And it put a new context on installation for me.  The floral show was in effect a collaborative installation piece which transformed not only the museum space but the art within it.  It was able to highlight, magnify, re-contextualize, frame, and comment on individual pieces and elements within them.

There is also something appealing about working with a material that is alive and yet already dying.  Transient, and yet so rich and vibrant and full of color.  I would not be surprised if living materials come into an installation piece of my own in time… as long as I don’t get seduced by the process and run off to be a florist.

The aspect of having an installation that so fully interacts with the museum around it is attractive as well.  …it invites a kind of camouflage piece.  That could be a series.  “Camouflaged Intruders”.  It follows the line of thinking I’ve had for some performance pieces I’ve had in mind for a while now.

Thoughts for later… for now, I have other work in process.  I will however go to see this year’s show when it returns next month.

Written by Mary Corey March

March 30, 2010 at 12:58 am

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