Thursday, July 09, 2020

A certain kind of homesickness

Yesterday I made a long drive to run errands to prepare for a residency (more on that later) and on the way home decided to detour. I visited Koko Bakery for treats, one of the first places I visited and frequented when I started my adventures in Cleveland 10 years ago. Then I realized I should visit the Chinese supermarket down the street rather than the one close to home. Though it was disheartening to see the state of the produce, I was still able to get goodies and today spent all morning cooking my version of Korean food, invariably a hybrid because I only have access to some ingredients. Others that I'd like I can't get fresh enough.
I do this when I really miss my parents' cooking and when I think about how much amazing food is in Korea that I can't get here, and to distract myself further from my overloaded tasks. I started a teapot so these are the latest cords (I went from making 24 cords a sheet to 32 for a narrower weaver and because these are the last six sheets of hanji I brought home from my teacher over 10 years ago. Can you believe I stretched those sheets out this long?? This was one batch I used years ago but kept scrimping until I finally last week tore all the rest up into strips).
I don't know if this pot will turn out well given the difficulty of shaping a good spout (also, I decided way after the juncture at which a spout would normally be placed that it would be a teapot, so it's going to be a weird high spout). But today I saw a video of basket weaver Annemarie O'Sullivan, which made me really miss harvesting plants for studio work. It's such a good feeling to work with the outdoors to get ready for the indoors.
My latest massive time suck has been a new computer, which always demands more than I'd like. It is already acting up but I think I've gotten it under control for now. I may have to try one more restart to make sure I won't have to visit the repair shop before the residency. It's always a trip to see what the new machine can't do that the old machine has no problem doing. I wish I could make my own computer or have an option like the Fairphone. I know it wasn't an easy time, but I wonder what people who could make everything they needed (or some of what they needed while knowing the people who could make the rest) would think of our helplessness now.
Still very behind on essay revisions and book writing has ground to a halt but on the upside, the studio roof is done and drywall hung! Fingers crossed than when I'm back from residency I can move in and start making again. The fundraiser by Korean American Artist Collective for BLM begins tomorrow. I'd tell you more but am the only dinosaur in the group not on instagram, visit and read guidelines before bidding!

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Entering middle age

I've been slowly working on a project since late last year with a colleague to exhibit papermakers of color and am slowly making this idea public, to hold my feet to the fire. It will be a massive investment of all that I have, over at least four years, layered on top of what is already ongoing and delayed (my toolmaker book, more jiseung manuals, a studio to open, shows upcoming, research in Korea, and I don't even want to think about what else). I hope I have the fortitude to manage it.

In the meantime, a friend shared this excellent article about anti-Asian racism in the US and ties it to the Hmong officer who let his partner murder George Floyd. I was deeply distressed but moved by Disclosure, a necessary look at how horribly and unfairly trans people have been portrayed in media from the beginning of media. I've donated art to a fundraiser by a new Korean American Artist Collective, in support of Black Lives Matter—the auction will run Fri July 10, 9am PDT to Sun July 12, 6pm PDT.

Of course, my computer is whining that I'll need an upgrade soon, with new systems for tracking my art and catching up to many years of tech changes. Every day I feel totally overwhelmed by what is ahead and make almost no progress. But I also think, if not me, then who? I was supposed to be super focused on my own career and success but missed the window for a certain type of arrival, so now it's time to work on raising all the boats, even if it means I can't run as fast as I used to. I did finally start a new piece last night, so at least I can turn away from

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Miracles

I have been worried about my yucca plants because I think they are in spots that are too wet. Plus, we're on 100% clay here so there's no drainage. But the other day I was outside taking a look at my border and was shocked to see that the yucca that still has leaves is growing a flower stalk! Very slowly, but it's there. All the other neighborhood yucca already have tall stalks but they weren't transplanted a few months ago. I was worried this one was dying, one leaf at a time, and was trimming back all of the outer leaves as they shriveled and turned brown.
Even more miraculously, the very unhappy yucca might be growing back as well! I checked and saw a tiny bit of green in the center. My friend Shawn had said it's impossible to kill a yucca and recommended as all of these leaves started to die that I cut back the entire crown to rest the plant and see how it goes next year. I had also put in this inherited plastic bird to watch over it.

So, we all start where we are. I am still sorting out how to do the work on top of my work, and I think it involves combining them—which is something I've always done but now want to consider more consciously. How can I combat racism in my field, which has always been there? It's something I have known and noticed and felt from entering it but no one was really willing to talk about it or hear it. I'm already underway on certain direct action but it all goes so much slower than I'd like. If you were to read this interview about my rhododendron drawings during lockdown, you'd feel like I was in another world then, which I was! Grateful for this new attention to the plants right around me as they give me a lifeline of sorts to continue my work.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Losses and riches

I didn't post when it happened because I couldn't handle any deaths during pandemic but did want to acknowledge that the hand papermaking world lost Richard Flavin last month. I only met him twice in my week in Japan in late 2014 but had wonderful visits and you can revisit those photos here. I wrote about Richard as well but the best remembrance for now is by Paul Denhoed, who created a space to honor Richard on his site.

I'm re-engaging in the active work of supporting POC in hand papermaking and grateful for Akua, my partner in crime on that project, who has been fundraising for a new wheelchair. I was eager to help her in this regard as she has always been incredibly generous to all kinds of people both inexperienced and experienced in the hand papermaking field. She is the only person I know who makes paper even after paralysis, with a kitchen studio. I learned so much from her early work in botanical papermaking that she has re-compiled on a new website. Now that I am in middle age, I feel even more thankful for all of our elders, too many of whom we have already lost since the pandemic began, and more committed to documenting their wisdom.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

"Poets as cultural workers"

In his preface to A Field Guide to Eastern Trees, George A. Petrides wrote, "Like all other creatures, we depend totally on green plants, which convert inorganic chemicals into organic foods and also help to maintain essential atmospheric gases in a healthful balance." We truly depend totally on these plants, not only for keeping us alive in the scientific definition but for providing beauty, abundant renewable materials, joy, and a sense of connection to the world, among a zillion other things. On Sunday night, I harvested three bags of yucca leaves for a future papermaking bonanza.
I continue to cook and cook and eat and overeat, and was grateful to a friend for letting me know that Samin Nosrat recommends always keeping pickled red onions on hand. It coincided with listening to her speak generously about her trajectory and her twin loves for food and writing, and what it was like to grow up always looking and feeling like she didn't belong.
This is the second garment from a tablecloth, also a practice run—not only for how the pattern works/doesn't work but for how to piece together a billion scraps. I thought that sewing would save my eyes from the computer, but sewing is really quite hard on my eyes. Regardless, I am always eager to read what Herb has to write and his post on how we label policing is very good and his link to Officer Patrick Skinner's first-hand account of how to be a good neighbor as a police officer is also something I needed to read coming from someone in uniform.
I finished this yesterday and though it didn't come out exactly as I wanted, and I made many more mistakes, I am relieved to be done—it's already in the mail to its owner. I am diving back into more sewing and look forward to the latest episode of Books & Boba, about Asian American literature. I want to leave you with a little about my colleague Akua Lezli Hope, a creator who among many other things writes poetry, makes paper, and is a glass artist. Over the course of months, I slowly read her book, Them Gone. Slowly because I've learned over the years that poetry is not meant to be speed read. Slowly because it's intense and masterful as it weaves through many narratives of the American Black experience. This week, Akua was a featured artist on an episode about Finger Lakes arts—go to 35:09 of this video to see her speak and be sure to listen to her latest powerful poem. The title of this post comes from her interview and she walks her talk.

Friday, June 12, 2020

A few more notes in the stumbling through shadow

Because I've been consuming monster amounts, I left off a few other things I wanted to share:

Terrence Wilson will be performing piano via Open Space (a new way to experience music at home by contemporary performers. 97% of ticket sales go to the artists). He originally was going to do a different program but given these times, created a program that looks at hope and despair. Tickets are only $12! I participated in the first event for this series and found it to be a warm and curious space, where we were able after the concert to interact with the performers and even during it to pipe in (via chat, of course) with comments.

BIPOC theatre makers have come together to call out white American theatre. Their litany sounds familiar to many other fields, including my own, and they are looking to gather a few thousand more signatures for their petition to reach 75K. It's a tiny gesture, almost a token, simply to sign and yet it's so easy to do. They ask for any donations to go directly to Black Lives Matter.

Finally, This Jungian Life is a podcast by three Jungian analysts. Their latest episode, 115 (We Can't Breathe), invites back fellow Jungian analyst Fanny Brewster. She had been on episode 87 talking about the racial complex. She is one of only four black Jungian analysts in their field, and is incredibly measured in both episodes but generous with her knowledge. There were moments where I was put off by some of the white lady energy from the regular hosts, but it's worth listening to the current episode because they recognize that the horrible things that have been happening since the beginning of time are all shadow and impulse that lay in each one of us, so we can't sit around pointing fingers without serious self examination.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

"Race is a pigment of the imagination"


[Youngmin took this picture of Ellie sniffing my wedding ducks on the beautiful bojagi she made to wrap and gift them.] I just heard that quote about race on episode #10 of an incredible podcast, All My Relations. Two Native women created an impeccably produced, insightful, and necessary space to talk about issues important to Native peoples. Early on, it made me question the colonial thinking of humans being more important than any other animals or organisms, which is only one of many backward colonial tenets. Matika Wilbur is an artist who has been traveling the world to photograph Native people because the images we have of them all exist in the historical past (she said, if you search online for "African American" you see a family of smiling black people, a family of smiling Asians for "Asian American," and so on. But a search for "Native American" only pulls up outdated and usually false images from early colonization). Adrienne Keene is a scholar and professor who runs the site Native Appropriations for years and says it is a place where she is "consenting to learn in public," which I found poetic and courageous. We worry so much about doing and saying (or not doing and not saying) the wrong thing when we could all consent to learn in public, correct our mistakes in public, and grow.
Their voices are strong and informed, willing to disagree without hostility or apology, and wise enough to bring many other Native voices to the table. I especially appreciate that their theme music includes their laughter. When I first started to listen to the Bruce Lee Podcast, I was surprised by all the laughter between two women who were friends and co-workers. Now I hear it as a gift, and hope we can get used to that sound because it is a healthy and real thing. I listen more regularly to They Call Us Bruce and in the latest episode learned about an excellent W. Kamau Bell article about how it's possible for him to hold many different "mads" in his head at once: mad at Chinese discrimination against blacks, while also mad at white discrimination against Chinese, and so on.
While my friendship structures during pandemic became very clear in terms of who I could count on to support me as we all limped through an experience that all of us had never had before, I feel bereft now. I knew that the choice to live in a white suburb in Northeast Ohio meant I would lose proximity to the closest city while gaining proximity to a future studio (whose roof is being replaced right now). It has been a painful transition because living amidst all white people feels unsafe and unnerving, and hammers home the fact that most of my friends here are white. While I would love to live in an enclave and see my face reflected in the streets amidst many other faces, I can't afford to do that and have the things I want (e.g., a papermaking studio). But I miss those communities, and understand why my other friends make the sacrifices to live in those places.
A friend on the west coast responded to my recent email by saying, "as white-lady-mcwhiterson, I have NO authority on anything here," which made me laugh as her self awareness was refreshing. The opposite is distressing, from random and frantic calls or emails from (white) people who never usually contact me, to statements like, "We can't get rid of the police, I want to be able to call them if my house gets robbed," without recognizing the privilege in saying that, as well as its racism. Years ago, I saw Ta-Nehisi Coates at an event for his Between the World and Me. Unsurprisingly yet still disappointingly, a white woman during the Q&A asked, "I read your book, but now what am I supposed to do?" His response: don't ask me. His example was to imagine a white person with their boot on a black person's neck, asking the black person, "What am I supposed to do??"

I certainly have my own work to do as a light-skinned POC who comes from cultures that actively engage in anti-blackness. I am doing it, and it is painful, but that's the process. Sitting with the pain and working through it without getting reactive is really important, even if it's lonely.

Back to listening to Matika and Adrienne!

Sunday, June 07, 2020

A book for now

I forgot to add yesterday that the bright spot in my week, month, months since lockdown was the news that the public library drive-thru window opened. I was able to get a book I've wanted to read for months and it was worth the wait, Gene Luen Yang's Dragon Hoops.

About the book.

A great interview with the author.

It is exactly what we need now, and appropriate for younger readers as well. Gene spoke to a history teacher, Tony Green, from the high school where he used to teach, and where this book takes place, and created these panels about their conversation about today.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Darkness

[Last night's Strawberry Moon.] I've been amazed by how well people are thinking, writing, organizing, and putting their bodies on the line while the world is on fire. I don't have that kind of fortitude. I've been walking and thinking.
Yesterday I needed to get away from the neighborhood and into the woods. The previous day I had listened three times to an important and excellent interview with Resmaa Menakem, a therapist who helps people grapple with the effects of racism in their very bodies, over generations, and in every body (white people forget how much they are harmed by oppressing others, and their own history of being subjugated in the "old world" that continues to this day). He is moving away from "people of color" as a term to "bodies of culture," to affirm that we are human beings. POC is a story for another day, a term that came up after the older ones I learned, still inadequate for these times. Many POC feel it means only black people, and there is still so much work to be done under that umbrella to recognize the ways we share experiences yet also have different ones that can make our lives easier or take our lives away. Menakem says also that we must start the healing while in our like groups, not glommed together in "diversity" training because throwing bodies in a room like that is dangerous.
While walking, I thought about how I rush here to feel held and protected, away from the world, but more melanated people cannot. I heard it years ago on Code Switch, about the dangers of being a black or brown body in nature, and people who are working to change that. Because of Chris Cooper's recent experience, I read about birding while black and highly recommend this article plus the video and links to J. Drew Lanham's initial essay about being a black birder. I rarely see black bodies in the woods; the last time I did, I heard the woman speaking passionately to the man about social justice. When I pass the many white bodies in the woods, they are on the phone, jogging, gossiping, with their dogs and children, able to do whatever they like.

Lanham's comment about black birds being his birds made me think about how I feel about the grackles all over my home. They have been nesting in an evergreen tree out front, right next to the rhododendron bush I've been drawing since March. Probably also in the maple on the side of my garage. I watch them terrorize squirrels and one grackle made a deer run faster than I've ever seen. I don't care for their squacks, but do I get as upset about the fighting pigeons and robins, the woodpecker that woke me up at 6am this morning as it drummed into my gutter? It's true that we don't feel kindly towards black birds (though I definitely get angrier at the woodpeckers when they wake me). The baby that died on my lawn was a grackle, and another one died on my friend's porch. We both hated to witness that part of nature but could not do anything.

However, we can do a lot when it comes to how we think about and treat black people. All the worry we have about a tiny black bird in danger of dying should pale in comparison to our feelings about black humans in the same danger—we shouldn't even have to make the comparison. It starts at home and continues every day to ripple out into the world. I won't live to see the day when black and brown bodies can feel safe in the world but that doesn't mean we can't work tirelessly towards it.

Friday, May 29, 2020

"Blursday"

I heard that on a Jungian podcast the other day and since then, my sense of days has only deteriorated! I woke up today fully convinced it was Saturday (it's Friday). I dreaded doing laundry, wondered why people's schedules were the way they were, and couldn't remember how my mom's day at the hospital was (because she hadn't yet worked it). As you can see here, I also can't see very well and probably it's because I haven't had my eyes checked in years. Healthcare in this country means no vision is covered. I can't wait to get to Korea next year so I can take care of all kinds of medical appointments.
I tested my slippery elm papers (the brown ones) after using up all of Velma's little flax papers. Truly at this time, the smaller the better.
I was finally able to see a dear friend yesterday while distancing at other ends of her porch. She had a stash of dyed silk fabric that she let me sort through and take home, and last night I promptly started to sew a pincushion design by Youngmin that I had been wanting to make for well over a month.
Sewing with silk on silk was a big treat, so much easier than paper and paper. I didn't have any batting to stuff it, nor many of the other materials people use to stuff pincushions. But I noted one thing on the list I happened to have in my basement for wood projects: steel wool! I didn't do a good job stuffing it and closing the bottom evenly, so it's lopsided, but I still love it.
I almost stopped drawing my rhododendron once I hit the two-month mark, but then I started to notice the buds at top of each set of leaves getting bigger and bigger. Or even extra buds. From my table, I couldn't see, but when I got close I saw that they may indeed be getting ready to actually blossom! They've never done that since I've moved here but if I can witness and document it, that would be awesome. I feel like I'm recording a pregnancy.
Also in my listlessness, I branched out to a few other plants. After doing the same one for months, it's interesting to see how different it feels to draw something new. I see these plants all the time but I haven't developed the same kind of relationship. This is about all I've been able to do, so completely stymied by any work that requires the computer (remember when most work didn't require one?). Hoping to get one last big manual project done this weekend, but I'm not making any promises.

An interview I did for a couple of book arts students in California went live. I think I wrote all of that in March, but most of it is still pertinent even if it's messy.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Still no head

Still very low but I finally managed to take a bunch of scrap hanji cords to make another one of these. I didn't even have the energy to go outside to pick weeds to stick into it. The day before I had taken bark thread from various demos over many workshops and wove a tiny button.

But grateful for other people's words. Michelle wrote about her walks in Maine. I've been attempting daily walks in the face of my seasonal allergies and even got enough energy yesterday after eating two donuts to plant flower seeds all over my border and in pots and planters. This morning, I dipped into the wonderful words of Pema Chödrön, where she talks about Milarepa (I had read about him at the end of grad school when my bodyworker told me stories and taught me to meditate in this particular tradition):
Milarepa, who lived in the eleventh century, is one of the heroes of Tibetan Buddhism, one of the brave ones. He was also a rather unusual fellow. He was a loner who lived in caves by himself and meditated wholeheartedly for years. He was extremely stubborn and determined. If he couldn't find anything to eat for a couple of years, he just ate nettles and turned green, but he would never stop practicing.
The rest of the story is the lesson, but I was struck by the idea of eating nettles for years and turning green! I ordered more nettle tea because that's what I do for my allergies. It's a lovely fiber for textiles and paper, but I've never been fortunate enough to work with it. The tiny book where I read this story is a treasure; I dip in daily because it's set up so that you can open it to any page and each morsel is so helpful. I recommend getting for yourself and people who could use it—the gift wrap alone is incredibly sweet.

Now, back to writing, because I've told myself that if I write today, I can walk to the shop later and get another donut.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

What is or not going on up there


I made this last week I think (my sense of time is eluding me, it already feels like at least a month ago but it wasn't). This is definitely how I feel these days, my head is not right / not present / has been replaced with something else entirely.
But I am grateful to have received a few relief grants. One in particular is related to a residency I had been looking forward to but of course can't attend this summer. Oak Spring Garden Foundation has been particularly generous in providing our stipend to us even though we can't attend this year. The contract asks for a presentation and new work, so I made a book, my first during quarantine.
The covers and straps are made from two different types of milkweed paper, and the pages of harakeke. I had made the milkweed paper at home and the harakeke paper in Australia a couple years back at Barb Adams' beautiful paper studio. The structure is from the wonderful Interlocking and Woven Book Structures, one of my favorites because it allows single sheets to lay flat and requires no glue, only paper straps.
I had made the book a while back when I was re-practicing the structure and it turned out to be exactly right for rhododendron drawings. Lots of plant life in here.
This is the sketchbook I've been drawing in since about late Feb or early March. I use both sides of each page and weight the book every day after doing wet drawings (with interleaving glassine) to try and keep it as flat as possible over time.

On the other side of the circular drawing is a quick pencil sketch of a little bird I saw sitting in the middle of my front lawn this past weekend. It was big enough to be out of the nest maybe but still shedding its down and not ready to really fly, only travel a few low feet at a time. I noticed it because mom was feeding it and then flew away. Baby started to look around and later I saw it had moved, still searching and cheeping. It didn't look like a good situation. The next day I saw it behind my house, hopping around and not looking any further along in figuring out how to fly or eat or survive.

Yesterday on the way back from the garage I looked down to see it torn to pieces on the border of the back lawn. I don't want to move it but am not sure if scavengers will clear the rest. During a walk I was thinking about how long humans now live, a less short and brutish existence, but maybe we're fooling ourselves. I'm still not able to work as I used to, but grateful to be doing anything at all.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Grounding

Last night I prepped Velma's lovely papers for today's drawings. I tested both sides, the uncoated and the acrylic painted backgrounds. I also painted the page backgrounds for a book I'll hopefully get done this week. Scaling down took out a lot of the stress, and yesterday I thought about how so many people all the time see my work in person and say, "I thought it was bigger." Scaling up is ALWAYS the feedback art students get from their professors. Sure, in some instances, but right now I'm in a big scaling down mode because that's all I can manage.

On Thursday I was in a bad mood and intended to sit down in a chair at my table, and tried to flip my seat cushion up against the back of the chair to sit on the wooden seat. In the process, I pushed the entire chair back and then sat/fell down hard, on the floor. I was stunned, amazed that I had managed to pull out my chair from underneath myself, and indignant. Immediately I called Velma to whine about my butt's landing and she reminded me about teaching kids during her special ed days. When they acted out, they went low to the floor and even took off their shoes. Her friend, a therapist who works with traumatized children, said this is a wholly natural response because the kids were trying to get grounded. I guess I needed that, too. That day it was falling on my ass, today it was drawing, and both are effective.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Beans, bags, babies

I did a real Sunday where I stayed offline, napped, had some outside time, had an indoor picnic, and tried to relax. But Monday came and I was still in a very bad mood rather than feeling refreshed. I did get edits back from one of my essay subjects and he approved of the general tone of my draft even if there were plenty of factual corrections (which I knew I needed help on. I wasn't able to keep that many generations back to the Civil War straight—too many nameless ancestors! Glad to have the family tree sorted out now). That was a huge relief. I also soaked the tiny bit of butter beans I had left and kept swapping out the soaking water, feeding it to the outside plants. Of course, because we all know how I'm to die, I put them on the stove to cook and promptly forgot about them for a few hours. Fortunately, it was the lowest flame possible and I remembered before they burned.
I threw this one together from leftover upholstery cover material because I wanted to send pictures to my mom about how to do the bottom corners of a bag. I had insisted when I saw her in March that we take her old sewing machine to get fixed, but then the lockdown began and she couldn't get it for six weeks. It came back with a big scratch but otherwise seems to be running well. On that visit, I had also left her lots of fabric scraps and mailed her even more later. I thought it would be a nice break or new hobby but apparently sending her pictures of my bags made her jealous and frustrated so she stopped to eat snacks instead. I am 100% her daughter because I also eat when I get upset.
Lavender seedlings!! I hate the idea that I'll have to choose the strongest later but for now, I am delighted. My one audible yelp from last week was when I saw the first one poking up from the south-facing bathroom window. There is barely any room in there for the upside down boxes stacked to reach the windowsill sunlight but I'm happy to cede that space for a while.
I've switched to all brush and gouache lately for my rhododendron drawings and that has been a lot of fun. Some days I don't make it but mostly every day for at least a minute or three, I get to not be in the crappiest mood ever. It's a low-grade crappiness but cumulative, so I was relieved for a slight break today in it because I found out I got another small relief grant. They are extremely aptly named.
I probably shared this last year but wanted to share again. A year ago (in April 2019), I worked with four 4th grade classes in Oberlin for Allen Memorial Art Museum programming. It was fantastic, well-supported, well-received work. I miss teaching, being close to human beans, sharing paper joy. I hope it won't be years before I can return to this work and know that my crappy moods stem from an inability to fully grieve and grasp these losses. It's nothing like the families who could not be with their dying loved ones, and different from the anxiety I feel as each day I hear from more friends about their recovery from illness, or sickness and deaths of their loved ones. But it's all related. Trying to to stay nourished, make space for it all even if my containers are insufficient, and encourage new life.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Giving to artists survey results

I promised to share the results of a survey that I made earlier this month with zero expertise in making surveys. I wanted to know how people felt about being asked for money from artists and what incentives would help them donate. I was considering reactivating fiscal sponsorship, but because that requires that I pay a set amount each month/year to a 501(c)(3) and give them a percentage of any funds raised through them, I wanted to know: how important is that tax deduction? I built this survey in a matter of minutes and only after I made it public did I see its many flaws. But everyone has to start somewhere!

The above graphic shows responses to the first question, and overwhelmingly most people are open to being asked to support artists financially (my assumption is that they are okay with the ask, not that they all donate—but this is a framing flaw. Also, there are many other reactions to being asked for money besides yes and no). I first asked people who are invested enough to receive an email from me each month. Unsurprisingly, they answered 100% of the time that they are happy to support artists if they are able. After a few days, I opened the survey to a book arts listserv and that is when the 5 out of 115 responses arrived saying that artists should not ask for money.
The second question gets hairy because I made up reasons that people might donate money, and allowed people to choose as many as they liked. Many people chose more than one incentive. Where I offered "none," I meant, "I don't need an incentive to donate money to artists, I just do it." But that may not be how people read it—another flaw. What I found interesting is that tax deductions are NOT the most important incentive, which aligns with my own personal donation philosophy. When I was younger I wanted the deduction, but as I learned who gets to write off what and why, it became much less important to me. Guess what people want the most? Rewards! After that, the option to pay by credit card. Then, exclusive donor access to the artist in some fashion.
 
The most responses after exclusive access was "Other," which I left wide open, and these are the typed-in responses. I won't even try to analyze them but you can see a big range of ideas from respect for the artist's work, donating to artists you know or only to those in visible financial need, subscriptions, and so on. After "Other," tax deductions came into play, then anonymity, and way down on the list were not needing incentives and public acknowledgement of donations.

I'll show the breakdown first of my smaller network (28 people) and then the total blob after it was opened to a larger group (87 additional people) in the order of most to least clicked incentive (# of clicks in parentheses). Yes, I'm aware that the second list contains the first, so that's also a flaw. The question was, "What incentives help you donate to individual artists? [You may choose more than one.]"

People who are subscribed to my monthly updates responded:

67.86% (19) Rewards (artwork, prints, merch, etc.)
46.43% (13) Credit card payment options 
39.29% (11) Tax deduction
31.58% (36) Other (please specify)
25% (7) Access to updates, pictures, videos, etc. exclusively for donors
25% (7) Anonymity
14.29% (4) None
10.71% (3) Public acknowledgement of my donation

The entire cohort, which now includes people who are subscribed to a book arts listserv, responded:

65.79% (75) Rewards (artwork, prints, merch, etc.)
49.12% (56) Credit card payment options 
34.21% (39) Access to updates, pictures, videos, etc. exclusively for donors
31.58% (36) Other (please specify)
28.07% (32) Tax deduction
25.44% (29) Anonymity
7.02% (8) None
5.26% (6) Public acknowledgement of my donation

I regretted the survey's shortcomings from the moment it went public, but I am still glad I tried. It opened insightful and meaningful conversations with people I might not otherwise have connected with. Also, I am not a scientist, and approached this idea the way I approach my art. I'm sorry for my mistakes but am grateful to the 115 of you who indulged me. For years, my work and thoughts have been interested in notions of what is official and not, who has authority and what that looks like, and many gradations of impostor syndrome. For sure, I am an artist. All the other identities I inhabit fall on a scale of perfectly tailored fits to Yikes Who Let Me In Here.

Special thanks to Maureen Cummins for pointing me towards Why Are Artists Poor?
Also, if you want the pdfs rather than the jpgs here, let me know!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Up or down

Yay: This was the one thing I knew was a good idea even if it meant moving a couple of doors. There was no way I wanted to move things in and out of a studio that had 2.5 steps from the back door. This is the start of the ramp I requested.
Boo: these deer... Yay: my foil is thwarting the robin that was pooping on my ledge and slamming into the window.
Yay: ANOTHER yucca! Boo: my lawn guy today took the liberty of cutting down the seed pods. I didn't know until after he left and I was confused by what was missing. The season is over for them, but all I needed was a mow. Losing this upright changes the entire feeling of the plant. Also, I had wanted to see if there were any viable seeds left in the pods to plant myself but I'll never get that opportunity. The sad yucca is in the background. I hope it comes back to life.
Yay: a new plant to draw.
Boo: cooped up inside. Yay: Velma's sweet papers. Also, a long drive yesterday to see a friend couple and get some herbs. We took a hike to the waterfall and the river and Diane pointed out all kinds of wildflowers so I learned a TON. And I love walking on slate, seeing the way it crumbles in its special way. Lots of mud and a wild dog (he's a herding mix so very intense, high energy, grabbing every stick and branch possible and running full speed with them only to knock into us or other vegetation), but a gift to get out for a bit. Driving home in snow was not so fun but cooking an omelette full of fresh chives was.