Nov 10, 2014

midway

one of my studio mates is listening to Fleetwood Mac.  every now and then, he sings along as he paints.  every now and then, we all do.  it's monday night.  i'm sipping beer from a wine glass and we've all got our doors flung wide.  we walk in and out of each other's spaces whenever we want.  i can hear the music as clearly as if i were playing it in my own studio.  it's like art school but without papers to write.  it's like science camp but without bedtimes.

this is all such a big damn beautiful gift.

























Nov 7, 2014

returning/reconsidering

outside the big window, it is snowing.  it's the first time in years i've seen snowfall and i don't ever remember having seen it during daylight hours.  a part of me somehow believed, like a child,  it was impossible for the world to make snow at any other time but night.  :)

i'm in Johnson, Vermont as an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center.  i've been here for two weeks already and, prior to coming here, i thought i'd be back to blogging every day the way i used to, the way i did the last time i lived in a forest.  i planned to, actually, and was really looking forward to some time behind the keys, but i haven't had a studio in 6 years and i've never had a studio as large as what i was given here.  not nearly.  it's enormous.  the sound of my fingers clicking across the black keys send a loud echo bouncing back from the high ceiling overhead.  a moment ago, it was the sound of my pencil scratching against paper that reverberated against the walls - such a sweet sound.  a sound i have long missed.

i didn't realize i missed drawing so much.  i thought i would spend my entire stay here working on lace curtains but i've been drawing almost non-stop.  it's all i want to do.  the idea to write a blog post has found me every few days but evaporates as soon as i realize that would require me turning on my computer. it's been wonderful to check out from the digital realm for a bit, to be totally logged off.  it's been wonderful to think only about my work, the scratch of the pencil and the paper below my hand.

the work i've been doing is largely just me clearing my throat, remembering how to wield a pencil again, remembering how to speak this language.  and of all the signs and symbols that might have found me, my beloved fences are what came flooding back.  i worked with the image of the fence for a few years and i felt as if i'd reached the end of that road about 4 years ago when i stopped making the Territories series.  but here it is, suddenly scratching at my heart.  this time, the meaning is totally changed, much more overtly autobiographical, much more of an obvious telling of my fears and dreams.  the first time around, i was using the fence to try to stake some sort of claim- to my Self, to my life, to my dreams and goals, and to the life i wanted to build for myself.  this time around, the fences are very much in reference to what i feel barred from, exiled from, the expanse i cannot cross, the territory i feel ejected from.

the first drawing i made here was a cameo of my mother holding me as a small child. the fence motif across the bottom of the paper was printed about 5 or so years ago when i was first working with this image.  i came across this piece of paper shortly before leaving oakland and decided to bring it along.

i've been playing with the idea of drawing a picture of my mother for awhile now but, honestly, it's not the most attractive proposition.  i think it helped that i had had a bit to drink the night her image found me here.  still, i had to stop drawing every 2 or 3 minutes.  staring at the old photograph of her as a young mother was a lot to take.   at one point, i had to walk away from the drawing entirely.  i was on the verge of tears and i didn't want to cry.




it isn't only my mother's death that is so painful but the death of an ideal-  my entire perception and notion of what a family is (or could be) was obliterated when she died.  i felt such a deep lonliness...  a spiritual kind of homelessness.  when she died, i stopped believing in God, i stoped believing in Family.  i thought it was all a cruel, sick joke.  i thought it was an unforgivable lie.

it's normal to feel this way, i suppose.  it's normal to see oneself as so painfully singular when you wake up one day and realize you haven't (for one reason or another) got any parents.  it's scary to stare at the world and know you've only got yourself to rely on.  it's hard to look toward the future and accept the fact that you've got to build a life for yourself BY YOURSELF.  it's hard to turn the blankets down at the end of a long day and believe that someone should be there with you once you finally get used to these ideas.  it's hard to not percieve the facts as cold and malicious.   the picture is not only of my mother, it's a picture of the type of life i feel barred from.  it's a picture of the safety i no longer have and feel i may never have.  it's a picture of my belief that i am without family, alone in the world, isolated, as island.  it's a picture of a land that i once inhabited and can never walk across again...  i can only make pictures from the other side of the fence.



but maybe it's being in love again.  maybe it's the beautiful occasion of sleeping next to someone, of  knowing and feeling that this other person trusts me to be careful with their body and their heart.  maybe it's the beautiful occasion of finally beginning to trust someone else.  it's not an easy thing for me to do. 

i'm trying to come to terms with the fact that i am wrong about the notions i've held in regard to Family.  it's normal, i think, to have felt so alone in light of all that's happened and it's normal to feel afraid about becoming close to people again... but it's scarier to think that i might end up robbing myself of the opportunity to truly know another human being, and to be known as well.  and not just romantically.  i think of my sweetheart constantly since leaving oakland but i've also been thinking of my grandmother.  i want to be near her.  i think of her sweet southern drawl and it makes me smile.  maybe she would like to have this drawing.  maybe it would only make her sad.  but it's definitely a piece that should stay in the family.

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Oct 5, 2014

trying not to count the days

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i am awake and alone inside a silent house.  the light is beautiful and i had no bad dreams.

i booked a room at The Jane in new york for a few days in mid october before heading up to Montreal and then back down to Vermont for the residency.  less than 2 weeks now until i board my plane.  last week, i was full of excited anxiety and it was incredibly hard to go to work. this week, i'm calm.  i'm trying not to think about it much, only in terms of what needs to be handled before i leave my life here in Oakland for 6 weeks-  the packages that need to be shipped, the day i'll need to spend at the DMV replacing my lost driver's license, bill payments that need to be scheduled, etc etc.  when i start thinking about anything beyond these types of regular responsibilities, my blood runs too hot too quickly and i return to that semi-afraid state of elation that finds me so easily at the mere mention of travel.

but this is more than travel.  this is Time.  it's been years since i've had the time to just curl up with a book for three days straight if i want to.  it's been years since i've had the time to curl up with a drawing for three days straight if i want to.  it's been years since i've been surrounded by other artists on a daily basis.  not since art school.  and i'll tell ya, hanging out with other artists is what i miss most about that experience.  it's one of the things i'm looking forward to most about going to this residency.  i'll be one of 50 artists and writers.  i'm so excited for the conversations that we're going to have. 

i've been reading Keith Haring's journals the last few days and his descriptions of art school, going to painting class and poetry readings, putting together shows, and his own ideas about his practice are so intoxicating.  i revel in it.  i turn the pages hungrily, grateful for each word and insight.  i'm comforted by his texts, so full of casual language.  that's how i write in my diary.  i am no Anais Nin.  my eloquence finds me after a flood of slang and swear words.  i've always sort of felt bad that my diary is not a place of eloquence.  until now.  perhaps the eloquence is simply of a different variety?  perhaps my aims are totally different, totally my own.  i'm looking forward to traveling with Keith Haring's diary pressed against mine, two of the best travel companions i can think of.  i'm looking forward to walking around new york city and seeing the places he describes in these pages.  those that are still there.  i'm looking forward to going to the Guggenheim for the first time and central park.  funny i've yet to do such quintessentially new york things on past visits. 

but there i go dreaming. :) 

it's important to me to stay put in The Present the next 13 days.  i don't want to slide off into reverie just yet.  i want the realities that surround me.  i want to enjoy the peace and quiet of a slow morning at home before work.  i want to enjoy the sounds of the street and the screech of the train.  i want to enjoy walking in to a neighborhood bar at midnight after a long day at work and seeing my lover sitting on a bar stool waiting for me.  i want to see him turn and smile at me.  i want to hold his face in my hands and kiss it.  and i want to stay in that moment.  i want to laugh with him.  i want to laugh with my friends and fellow waiters and roommates.  i want to enjoy every single thing about the simple goodness of my life right this second and not slip off in to dreams.  the future will find me.  i am creating it.  there is no need today to loll inside such images. there is a need, instead, to be gratefully happy for the day i'm standing in. 

i am a very lucky girl. 

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Sep 25, 2014

simple

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today, i bought myself flowers.  big, red daisies.  i don't know their actual name.  i cut their stems and put them in a mason jar.  i put the mason jar on the dresser by the bed.  i listen to patti smith.  i twist thin, soft, black yarn around my crochet hook and sink into a revery about how life once was.  not all my reveries are sad but i allow myself even those that are -  the freedom to mourn, the freedom to be upset, the freedom to feel lonely and singular.  the light was beautiful today and the food i'd bought for myself tasted good.  i walked in the sun, bought myself a new notebook, let my deep scars shine inside of me.  i tried to listen to them.  today, they want to cry.  sometimes, the old aches wake up.  sometimes, the best thing to do is to let them...  to give them their due, to allow for a reckoning, to give them their say.  and so i twist yarn around a hook and listen to car alarms, listen to my laundry tumbling in the dryer, listen to patti smith.  i pour myself a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling and salivate all over a tiny hunk of Saint Auger blue cheese. i allow myself these pleasures, these luxuries, so distant incongruous to the life i once lived.  i allow myself this moment.  i allow myself to be silent, to stop the performance of so many things, to free myself from the cage of constant smiling.  i lay on my bed in front of the small electric fan and twirl my hair.  today, i am grateful for it all, everything that has happened even though my spirit lowers its feathers to hide its diamonds. despite the anvil of memory, today was new.  and tomorrow so shall be.  

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i just love her. :)