Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sojourn, we're only visiting for a short stay

Sojourn, Kiki Smith

I am sixty years old and each day I become more aware that there are less years ahead than behind me. It changes my attitude toward life. My mind leads me through each day with curiosity, reflection and self determination. I don't see this as a change although the activities have changed. I suppose I made a decision to 'become' an artist because why not. I'm told it takes more sweat than talent and I know how to sweat. I want to learn the craft and create with this new knowledge. So I am sweating every time I do a new painting and gradually I am learning the craft. I came into art class with no previous experience as a painter although I created in video so I wasn't completely foreign to the creative process. As an activist I never let not knowing to stop me from creating because I knew how to research and knew that practice was the key to better quality creations, as activist practice led to a better quality of life.

When I came across Kiki Smith's new exhibit, Sojourn, now at the Brooklyn Museum, it really struck me because it reflected my own life experience at this moment in my time here. The inevitability that life is impermanent. Yes I always knew that but now it is experientially different and I was in awe how simply Kiki Smith's pieces work to tell this human story.

For my final project in Narrative Painting, I knew I needed to go outside my comfort zone in order to make a leap to the next phase of my painting. I need practice doing human figures and also to vary perspective. Each painting represents a piece of human existence over a life span - Barefoot in the Grass, Human Scar, Old Hands Creating, Funeral Urn (oil on canvas) and large scale Self Portrait (ink and charcoal on brown paper). They are hanging from the ceiling staggered various distances in front of the self portrait.

The Human Scar I added the night before critique. It is a representation of a scar across my abdomen. It is a reminder of a close to death experience as a result of a burst appendix which literally poisoned my body into septic shock. It was an emotional decision to include it but I thought it added the element of the body's fragility emphasizing our stay is not forever.

The piece still needs work and I will continue working on it during the summer. On the scar piece I have begun to sand away at the ochre. My original intention was to use the antiseptic used for surgery and I will get some to splash on after I finish sanding but only covering the scar leaving the rest of the canvas raw. I think this will be closer to how I want it to look. I haven't finished the hands nor my self portrait so I will continue until I am satisfied. I will post updated versions of each and will assemble them again and document with another photo.

disjunctive narrative piece

Charcoal, ink drawing on brown paper and oil on canvas

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring 2010

It has been too long since my last entry. I have been very busy with art projects at Kwantlen. I just finished spring semester and was exhausted mentally. Three courses is more than enough. I really don't know how anyone manages more than two studio courses at a time. I also took an art history called Film and the City which was very interesting but also very demanding. I love writing a paper but I over function with the research. I'm always wanting to know more :P. My research paper was on Martin Scorsese looking at his film, Goodfellas.

I also took a job as Studio Manager and was responsible for Painting , Drawing and Print Media Studios as well as the Dark Room where I made sure the chemicals were fresh for the photography students. Every Saturday from 10 till 4. I worked my butt off LOL. It was worth it because it paid for one course per semester.

I'm starting to feel like an artist. Not all the time but sometimes. I imagine creating a body of work. Most of what I do now is preparation, practicing and developing a visual vocabulary. In addition to painting I was in Open Studio where I produced both conceptual art and video. It was exciting to get back to my roots, video art. The film history course
really influenced how I created the two video pieces. My second video piece was an installation.

The piece is called On Becoming. I used a poem taken from Wings of Desire, a German film from my film history course. I divided the poem so that one voice would follow another as though it was a conversation in a disjunctive style. I used two monitors semi facing each other so one voice came from one and the other voice from the second monitor. Each monitor showed the same visuals - sky and clouds, branches blowing in the wind and an extreme close-up of my eyes. The voices were disembodied. Behind the monitors on the wall was a large white board with text in white with shadow of the first line of the poem, "When a child was a child it walked with its arms swinging". We had three weeks to develop the concept and construct the piece. ready for critique.

The video installation came right after the wearable art project which was a collaborative piece working with another student. It is called Woman Journey. To begin our collaboration we started with discussions about what was important to us and what did we want to say about it. We both felt strongly about the female gender role's demands on a woman no matter what she was doing. It was always in the back of her mind, groceries, laundry, what's for dinner, housecleaning etc. It was always dragging on her physically and emotionally. There were never enough hours in a day.

In the end we made a 12 feet train (bride dress train) using sheets. We then added items and clothing onto it representing all the tasks that are predominantly assigned to women. There were baby clothes, dishwashing liquid containers, laundry soap, scouring pads, rubber gloves etc. You get the picture. My partner tied it to one leg and walked around campus doing things we'd normally do but instead of a mental list, it was a physical representation of it. It was interesting to watch her navigate up and down stairs, going through doors and just plain walking. It was my first time making a conceptual piece and altered how I saw my own practice. I am thinking more metaphorically and three dimensional. This can be seen in my last painting project which was a disjunctive narrative.