t h r e e + materiality
i remember, clearly, when i was young and adults would come up and exclaim loudly: how did you get to be so big ?!? [or some other turn of that phrase]. there was often the proclaimed: the last time i saw you, you were only THIS high [with the necessary hand indication of height]. i would stare at them with the ticker tape in my head saying. what do you mean? i'm not very big yet. i want to get bigger faster! and why is my getting big such a big deal for you? [or some other turns of those phrases].
i was raised to be polite so usually i would just stare into said adults eyes and say. i dunno. or simply smile, or look away shyly if i didn't know them too well.
but now. now that i have my own child and she just turned THREE.... well. i'm firmly planted in those adult shoes of wonder at the speed of time. and i did indeed say to her - i remember when your whole body fit in the crook of my forearm - tiny baby that you were. [and then i sort of gasped in horor at myself for doing what i had hoped i would never do - THAT adult nostalgic size reference].
so time - indeed it does it's marching thing - fast and all - leaving in its wake a sea of memories and amazements, some regrets, but mostly a blur of just day to day stuff. stuff that you can't possibly fathom upon recollection. and as i've gotten older i've attempted to wrestle with it, i've begged it for mercy, i've cajoled and yet conclude that ultimately we are powerless. you always hear how children change your sense of time -- and yes - that is one of those cliche things that is just too true - what new perspective could i possibly have to offer? i don't.
so we mark the occasion. with small vanilla strawberry cakes [her request]. a happy birthday banner. and presents. and balloons [also her request]. and a party for friends and family next weekend. and we'll see if anyone says - how did you get to be so big? my little one is less shy than me - so i envision a very very funny answer coming out of her mouth at some point in time. she told her father the other day - dada i'm not BIG enough to do that yet... i fear that she will be sooner than we all think.
i have had a lot of people come through the studio lately. this is nerve wracking as it's always hard to show work in progress w/out feeling a bit awkward. i often hear myself saying - ignore the tape - these aren't finished yet - i'm still figuring out where and how many and if these are done. personally i love seeing work in progress in other people's spaces so that may be why i'm game to share before things are finalized. part of this is just curious folks. [and also my need for some input from other makers to help work through things]. part of this is that my solo show in april is quickly approaching.... shows always mean more visits. more explaining. more more more.
one of the things that keeps coming up is my use of materials. how i combine paper, pins, all manners of embroidery [hand and machine], felt, ink/acrylic, pencil, colored pencil, etc. etc. sydney remarked she was amazed that i could just USE all of them. and that it seemed so natural. she said there was no way she could get away with incorporating so many materials in her work. this made me pause for a moment. how does one acquire their visual vocabulary? what does material choice mean in a work? in contemporary art you can't pretend that your material choices don't have implications. and for a long long time i really thought about what the ramifications of thread/embroidery were. what it meant to use pins and other domestic accoutrements. when you use oil paint in essence you are conversing with THE HISTORY OF PAINTING. even if that isn't your intention that is what is happening. your choice of material can alter the meaning of a work in both subtle and incredibly powerful ways.
then a student came over and she said that she often felt frozen in regards to materials. that one of her professors [not me] had been grilling her so intensely on them that she felt that a mistake or wrong choice in that arena could have devastating ramifications in her work. she said that she noticed a freedom in my use of materials. it was interesting to me to hear this from 2 completely different people/perspectives and it made me think. while i agree that materiality is a choice and has meaning [intended or not] - i told her that i think in some ways it was just that i have been using these materials for so long. that for me it was no longer about if they were "different", or "trendy" [because embroidery is certainly trendy at the moment], but that they were what i knew. i know what they implicate. i like what they do. ultimately how they work and function and look and feel to me is comforting but in no way stale. and while work always has a conceptual component to it - the process of making it has to also be reflective of the maker. and these are my tools.
i liked that. the idea that anything, ANY material, is in the end a tool. something to be used. and how familiarity breeds comfort and then new discoveries to what said tool could do. and i thought about how we don't usually ask why someone uses a pencil. but why do you use thread [or any "crafty" material] is still a common question. i always say my work is rooted in drawing. i can simplify it even more now : for me thread has become a pencil.
phew. that was a lot of typing. if you are still with me... i wrote a post on poppytalk about tara donovan.
till next time....