Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mission accomplished!

FINALLY. I bit the bullet today and printed on my huge knit piece, and it turned out okay! Whew. It was the perfect day to do it: the studio was nearly empty so I could hog a press and engage in all sorts of activity normally not seen in an etching studio. Sally, the head of the scholarship committee, was there, which was great b/c she's been incredibly supportive from the very beginning, and I really like working there when she's in. Today she taught me a tip about getting ink off my hands: rub down with veggie oil! Gross, but it does the trick AND moisturizes. I know this is something that probably every printmaker and person w/common sense in the world knows, but it was my "you learn something new every day" item.

Other items of note:
1. In the studio, I heard someone ask Sally, "do you know about paper grain?" and I jumped into action: "I DO!!" I ran to wash my hands (the wrong way, w/soap and a nailbrush - this was before I learned the oil trick) and then helped Lou figure out the grain on his paper. I bet that's how doctors feel when someone yells, "is there a doctor in the house?!" It's the first time I felt like I had specialized knowledge that was really useful to someone else in a time of need. Wohoo!

2. I had another amaza-yoga class w/Naz. Love her.

3. While killing time between the print studio and yoga studio, I pored thru travel books on Korea. On my way out, I walked past a card display and suddenly halted and turned around, b/c I had glimpsed "BITTER WITH BAGGAGE SEEKS SAME" out of the corner of my eye. LO! Sloane Tanen's chicks on notecards. I had to buy them. Why? B/c they're hilarious and smart, and b/c Stefan, my photog extraordinaire, is the photog for the chicks! I remember when they were in the subway cars years ago. I hadn't realized the breadth and depth of Sloane's oeuvre so I was joyful to finally start browsing.

4. I am slated to give an artist talk on Saturday, May 17 at 6pm at the Manhattan Graphics Center. Come! Ellie, the other scholarship student, and I will be talking about our work and there will be refreshments. More info on that once I figure out what I'll be showing (I'll be bringing work that I've printed over the last three months).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"I never understood at all"

Jens Lekman has been on the brain a lot lately. Today was a surprisingly positive and productive day at work. I will hopefully get to work a day in the papermill soon on a project for identidades.04. And I finished sewing up the big book tonight! So I'll deliver it tomorrow. Then, just one wedding poster, one big long knit print, and I will feel really good once May rolls around. And, I got my new passport today in the mail already! How speedy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zoning out

This is something I didn't do today: hit the studio and print. I am definitely cycling out of this pocket of time and space, pretty much done with etching. I have one major project to finish (which I've been avoiding now for a month b/c it's too scary to contemplate what its failure could look like) and that's it! Good timing, too, since I am getting weird wrist pain from all the repetitive motions of printmaking. I'm really looking forward to working at my little sewing table at home and working around my schedule.

Today was all self-care, including yoga with Naz and acupuncture with Isobeau. Good news: Angelo finally got a website! And here is another poem from the Language for a New Century anthology:

Cycle
by Bimbal Nibha

It's been a few days since
my bicycle has vanished
Do you know where I might find it?

It's true that my cycle is small
its tires are bald
they have too little air
the color is faded
the stand is broken
the kinetic light is faulty
the bell trills softly
the pedal move slowly
the chain is old
the handlebars are askew
the wheel is bent and
it has no carrier or lock

Yet no matter what
even if it's flawed and defective
even if it's shabby
no matter what, that cycle is mine
The weight of my body lies on its seat
The measure of my feet fills its pedals
The print of my hands marks its handlebars
My breath rests in each part of that cycle
I am there
That cycle is my life

(What kind of place is this
not unknown to me, my own village
where in the bright light of midday
a whole life can vanish?
Do you know where I might find it?)

It's been a few days since
my bicycle has vanished
Do you know where I might find it?

Translated from the Nepali by Manjushree Thapa

Monday, April 21, 2008

Poetry for a new century

I just finished Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar. Not in any way that does it justice, but I had been looking forward to reading it ever since Tina sent out the info about it last year. [The book party is this Friday!] It's a remarkable anthology, with SO much great poetry. The editors wrote really beautiful introductions to each of the nine sections, too, which in turn are given names pulled from poetry in each section. In the last section, called "The Quivering World," Tina Chang begins with a simple sentence: "Once, in New York, I fell in love." Ah! So devastating. For the section called "This House, My Bones," Ravi Shankar writes:
Actually, let me recant that statement. There is a spot in my parent's yard in Virginia, not within the house itself but on the margins of our lawn, where wild honeysuckle and hydrangea bloomed. There was an alder bush the size of a small shed under the overhanging trees and I found a hollow space within it where I could burrow. This became my safe haven in the summertime, when I was seething with anger, unable to stand the sight of a classmate or to communicate with my father; when I was contemplative and wanted to look out at the world but not be seen; or when I sought a simple shade from the afternoon in which to nap. That patch of dirt, with its astringent odor and scrim of green where I could hide, became the place I felt most comfortable. Because it was shorn of history, except for a personal one, because it was simultaneously safe and uncultivated, a vast cosmos with just enough space to breathe. I was freest under this bush.
It reminds me of bushes once outside of our apartment building, big enough to create spaces for my sister and me to crawl into during the winter, and create shelters in the snow. The branches were covered with enough snow to protect us from the outside world, and inside was white spaciousness. We'd tamp down the snow and lay down, all quiet and content. Sadly, the management decided to tear out these bushes to make the lawn just one big expanse of grass, and then our lairs disappeared.

To close is a poem by Shankar:

Exile

There's nowhere else I'd rather not be than here,
But here I am nonetheless, dispossessed,
Though not quite, because I never owned
What's been taken from me, never have belonged
In and to a place, a people, a common history.
Even as a child when I was slurred in school--
Towel head, dot boy, camel jockey--
None of the abuse was precise: only Sikhs
Wear turbans, widows and young girls bindis,
Not one species of camel is indigenous to India . . .
If, as Simone Weil writes, to be rooted
Is the most important and least recognized need
Of the human soul, behold: I am an epiphyte.
I conjure sustenance from thin air and the smell
Of both camphor and meatloaf equally repel me.
I've worn a lungi pulled between my legs,
Done designer drugs while subwoofers throbbed,
Sipped masala chai steaming from a tin cup,
Driven a Dodge across the Verrazano in rush hour,
And always to some degree felt extraneous,
Like a meteorite happened upon bingo night.
This alien feeling, honed in aloneness to an edge,
Uses me to carve an appropriate mask each morning.
I'm still unsure what effect it has on my soul.

Learning to be a normal person

First - look at how great the gas station looks!! This is an image from Jennifer Marsh's installation of a zillion squares of handmade fiber panels sent by people all over the world, to cover an abandoned gas station, to focus on our extreme oil dependency. This year’s project is called the World Reclamation Art Project (W.R.A.P.) and the opening reception is on May 3 in Syracuse, NY. I sent a square a while back made of knitted plastic bags and I am SO happy that she was able to really make this happen! Seeing the images of installation reminded me of my own process with my brick wall, and it's nice to be part of something this big but not have to install it. Hahaa!

This weekend, I tried really hard to just have a weekend - the kind that I hear normal people have, where you don't work and you do fun things to relax. We had a family dinner out in Chinatown for my dad's birthday this week, and I spent a lot of time with my sister and her husband just vegging out, doing spring cleaning, and watching "2 Days in Paris." I put in about three hours in the studio yesterday, but did my best to be laid back about it, not pushing myself to do too much, and stopping once I got good results at the press.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I lurve acupuncture

[I've been very bad about using my own photos lately, but I just keep forgetting to take my camera to the studio and generally don't have much to share that's photoworthy.] Thank goodness for Jami and her discoveries! I went to Isobeau today and renewed my appreciation for Chinese medicine. It was so easy for her to know what was up w/me - it's stuff I already know, but always forget. My liver! My poor, overtaxed liver. Plus all of the fire raging. Anyhow, I'm going back as often as I can. She was sweet and funny, and asked what was up w/my fibula, b/c they stick out so much.

I took Benadryl last night and today the allergies were a little better. I'm hoping I can work a little more this weekend and not be like a girl in a bubble, hiding indoors and trying not to move around so that I don't start sneezing. I worked really hard today and want to get some of MY own work done this weekend. Yesterday, in the midst of massive allergy attacks, I trashed a good huge portion of my bricks. It felt good (well, I felt horrible the whole time, which made it easier to trash - they were so dusty from hanging in a museum for 6+ months that they triggered more allergies. This stirred some major rage and impatience so I made a rule: cut at least one brick out of a wall piece, and then you're free to trash).

I saved one tiny piece as a memento, one multicolored rectangular chunk that has been my favorite and a travel companion, and a few colored chunks to install in Paulette's home and office. I had hoped to recycle, and smash them to use for printmaking, but once I was handling them again, I realized it wouldn't work - they're tough! I had wanted to run them over w/a car, but have no time/energy for it. I obviously fail on the GREEN scale in terms of how I dealt with this piece, but in terms of emotional self care, I scored high.

This morning, still drugged, I rode the train to work and stared at the river and thought, "I am so glad that I'll be in Maine for two weeks in June." This is the first day that I've honestly felt happy about going to Haystack. Living and working on the water will be worth all the hassle.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Histamine response

I have been almost incapacitated by allergies and am trying to figure out how to bind a book that's going to be half a foot tall. But apparently the passport show opened well in Japan, with 254 participants; this is an installation shot.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Overwhelmed land

I've been avoiding this even more than my bricks: allergy season. Not avoiding it, but in total denial. But it hit me HARD today. I'm in a lot of pain and discomfort and unhappy about how spring to me is hell, while to non-allergic folks it's joy. I keep forgetting to say, try to see "Water Flowing Together," a lovely doc about Jock Soto, former principal dancer at the NYC Ballet. Crazy beautiful man and artist. My favorite part of the film is when he's alone on the floor of a rehearsal room, crying from exhaustion and pain. ALSO, the score is great: tons of Arvo Part's Fratres, a gorgeous violin piece that I heard one summer in a San Diego coffeeshop and immediately purchased (my copy is w/Gil Shaham as soloist).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Theeeeey're home.

After a few postponements, the delivery of bricks finally happened today. I can't believe that the museum wanted to save money by having the crates just dumped outside. I mean, I can, but I'm glad that Dennis of Craters and Freighters was kind enough to call and ask if that's really want I wanted to do. There were three crates, and he just opened them up and I ran the bricks inside. Now they're in a massive pile next to my bed and I really can't be bothered right now as to what the next step is. But I'll do it soon.

In the meantime, my wedding gigs have been stressing me like mad. As well as passport renewal stuff. I finally just took the car and drove over to a CVS and got my picture taken. I don't look all puffy like the photo I've had for the last ten years, but for the next ten years, I'm going to look like an ax murderer. I hope Korea doesn't reject me for a visa based on these photos. But the good news: I made an acupuncture appointment for Friday to address my TMJ, thanks to Jami! And hopefully I'll get myself to Feldenkrais class tomorrow.

Friday, April 04, 2008

TGIF, kind of

[Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Mouth to Mouth, 1975] I took a mental health day today. Well, kind of - I left work early to see the WACK! show at P.S.1 - it was soooo worth it. It made me think so much, it made me uncomfortable and angry and hot and awed, it surprised and challenged me...So many women laid groundwork for my own work; I've unwittingly done pieces that are almost identical to what was done in the 70s. I saw work by old faves that I've never seen, like Adrian Piper and Ana Mendieta, and by women I've never heard of, and so on. While looking at a piece, I heard noises and thought, "that sounds like Korean." I looked at a canvas and thought I heard French, and thought, "oh, I'm just mixing up Korean and French again" (I did this a lot when studying French in middle/high school). I tuned in carefully and turned around to see three video monitors. I got closer and thought, "it IS Korean!" Later, "it IS French!" Then I saw the tag: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Passages Paysages. It was beautiful, haunting. French, Korean, and English.

Then I headed to the studio to do more sanding and beveling but was mostly upset by the subway walk over - some fool said "ching chong" as I passed him and got onto a moving walkway. It didn't even register until a couple seconds later, and by then it was too late to respond. SO infuriating. At the studio, I talked with two other people who still don't know that "oriental" refers to objects, not people.

Anyhow. Once I got that all off of my chest, I had a really nice dinner at Angelica Kitchen w/my sister. The rice pudding with figs and toasted almonds was heavenly.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Papanicolaou = ??!

Whoa! I had forgotten the way that the medical system works, being so long out of the loop. The fasting allowed more time to do work since I couldn't eat or drink, and the shipper decided not to come today w/the bricks, but next week. But I had no idea that I had to get certain things done. I was hoping that a rectal exam could be skipped (turned into a "we'll skip it, no, we won't skip it!" decision) and then what was up with "Papanicolaou required over age 21" - I totally didn't recognize that as a Pap smear. I got blood taken and also a PPD and ALSO a lesson about tetanus shots: they're made in horses! Or something like that. He asked if I was allergic to horse serum. I said I'm allergic to horses but their serum, who knows! So we skipped a booster b/c he didn't want me to go into anaphylactic shock. But is that really the only way to manufacture a tetanus shot?

Anyhow. I was supposed to hit the studio tonight but that whole experience knocked me out cold - I took a to-the-dead-and-back nap and will be lucky if I am able to review an app for Elizabeth before the night is up. Good news - last night, I finally finished knitting my second panel for printing!!! It took a month (and with some fast and furious knitting, too. I underestimated how huge that skein was - I had no idea the final piece would be as tall as me but that is actually a blessing). But as much as I enjoy life w/o doctor visits, I appreciate this one making the time for uninsured little me on such short notice. Fulbright really puts the heat on, b/c the medical forms - with all required are due within three weeks of acceptance. Three weeks?! Doesn't it usually take at least four to just schedule an appointment?!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What other people are up to

I'm feeling all funky today again, but I think it's b/c I haven't had a moment to PARTY and my nose is tired from being at the grindstone. I've decided that the things that I really want now are: a massage from Diana, weekly yoga classes, a new digital SLR, and more RAM for my computer. Oh, and aloe vera juice. The only thing that I'll get anytime soon is the aloe vera. This postcard is for Jacklyn's show, opening at the Arlington Arts Center in Virginia next week. She's a total pro w/plexi, from what I can see from her images and also a plexi postcard she sent to me last week!

I'm also going to try and see this show that Marcie is in. Tomorrow I go to the doctor for a full checkup and bloodwork. I haven't been in about five years. No joke. I'm filling out the form, and am feeling insulted by it. Item 22 looks like this: "RACE (Check one): White ___ Black ___ Other ________". Uhhhh, when the hell was this form updated??! The good part is that I had wanted to fast for a day (Monday, but clearly that didn't happen) - tomorrow will be it. Well, for the whole morning and early afternoon at least.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Word

WOW. I have been bowled over by support and love and congrats for the past 24+ hours and it's pretty overwhelming. It's great, though. Makes me feel like I never need to bear children or get married b/c this kind of news seems WAY more fun to send and receive. Yesterday was pretty crazy - funny mail delivery, where the mail carrier forgot stuff and came back thru the rain to redeliver. I then opened the mailbox and got all pissed off b/c she had shoved my new Hand Papermaking newsletter into the top and ruined it. So I came back inside and threw all the mail on the floor to sort. Good thing I was ON the floor, b/c I was pretty much shaking and hyperventilating as I opened the envelope from IIE. I re-read the letter a lot for the next hour b/c I was worried I had misread it (it was a dense letter, so don't make fun).

The process of notifying people was hilarious. Totally Confucian/Korean style - family first, then "elders" (that would be everyone who wrote letters for me, helped me edit, and advised me on the application process), then friends, and then the big mass email. I then spent the rest of the day shipping books off to five collections, sending a bunch of mail art, and running more errands. I seriously believed yesterday morning that my biggest accomplishment of the day was going to be finishing and mailing my taxes. Imagine that! But the US Department of State trumped the Internal Revenue Service this year.

How psyched am I that I get to research hand papermaking in Korea on the government's bill??!? Last night, I walked to the store close to midnight to pick up whipped cream - I made strawberry shortcake for my mom's bday today. On the way, I was really sad to see that the local book store had gone out of business. It was called Good Yarns, and they really used to sell books AND yarn. So sad. The whole process of getting a letter yesterday, and holding it in my hands, reinforced my hardcore belief in the postal system (in general, not the USPS specifically, but just the idea of being able to put something in a mail box here and have it arrive there to someone else). And I will always have a hardcore belief in books. [Here, I will plug the Center for Book Arts mail art exhibit opening next Friday, April 11: Mapping Correspondence.]

Today, I just needed some hugs. So I saw Pauly for impromptu yoga pants shopping, Ivan for lunch in - you guessed it - Koreatown!, and Lystra and Marina at NYFA. I've been really touched by all of the breathless phone calls and messages I've been getting. I got a really fun one from Kat, who was a housemate in Vermont last year, and then another from my old jazz/improv violin teacher, Julie:
Congratulations! Every time I read your announcements, I think back about that ripe moment when you voted in favor of supporting your own path, no matter what the family expectations. I'm so proud of you!
I just re-read my proposal for the Fulbright, and was kind of scared by it. It's really really really ambitious. I was tempted to post it but am afraid it will put everyone to sleep or scare you all away. I thought, "what the hell was I smoking when I did this??" SO MUCH work lies ahead. But I'm up for it. I was explaning today to someone that it takes a certain kind of person to be a papermaker - someone with drive, commitment to the craft, stamina, and serious physical strength. I've been slacking on my situps/pushups, but I hope I can still fit the bill.