Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Taking pictures of your kids

I just downloaded my movies from Oriana's baptism from Sunday, and remembered the funny conversation Shawn and Chela had at the Chicken Coop at our last dinner together. I was talking about artists who have kids and then use their kids to make their art, and how I didn't really like that. Chela said, I'm going to document everything when I have kids, etc. and then Shawn said, "Chela, taking pictures of your kids when they're little is called taking pictures of your kids when they're little, NOT documentation." HAHAAAA. Good times over salty burgers, ribs, and pale ale.

I got to Omaha yesterday just fine except that Bemis was closed. I walked around a little w/half my luggage (the other half I left on the access ramp) to try and see if there were other entrances, and then luckily a man walked up and I asked if he worked there and if he could let me in. He took my biggest bag and then I asked what he did there, and it turned out he was the executive director. HILarious. He took me up to Rory's room, told me to apply for the residency, and said, "how often does the executive director meet you at the door?" Rory has been another incredibly talented host. We had good talks, I got to see how his projects have progressed since September when I met him, and we had pears and tea and drew a lot last night. AND we did bunny shadow head night at an undisclosed location in Omaha, courtesy of Rory.

I had strange dreams about my family, dusk, diversity training, and climbing in tight but dangerous barn rafter spaces (only this time the timber was all new instead of old). But I slept well, showered, and had blueberry pancakes. The flight is delayed. The weather here is glorious. We'll hit thrift stores before I get to the airport. I hear Chicago is gloom and doom, but here I come!

Monday, May 08, 2006

"you know I love you so"

Big smiles, big heart tonight. I will try very hard not to say anything bad in this post. First, I got an email yesterday or the day before from Ernie, who was putting together a slide show for his upcoming wedding. He found these old photos from one of Githa's bday parties before she was diagnosed w/leukemia, and sent them to me. Now, I don't know much about etiquette and superstition around the dead (I know about how to deal w/it in the immediacy of the actual death, but not years afterward), but I wanted to post this anyhow. I was amazed to see how I've changed (I don't own any of this clothing anymore, hopefully don't have such unkempt hair anymore [well, at least it's shorter so it's harder to tell], wear different glasses, etcetc.), and to feel like it was so long ago! I remember this party, too. Githa's holding a painting I did for her, a copy of an Egon Schiele drawing. She still had it up in her SF apt when I visited her a few months before her death. Love. I think a lot about how witnessing her death, not just the actual moment, but the whole process, affected my artwork so subtly but so profoundly.

Second, I got an AMAZING tag team conference call tonight from Ellen and Paulette. After rambling about them having a child together, and breeding/cloning puppies from their dogs, and me getting really worried that they were about to do something very dangerous and foolish, they told me in a slow Beastie Boys version (alternating a word between them) that they are coming to see my thesis next weekend!!!!!!!! AAAAHAHHHHHHHH!!!! Love. I was floored. They've been secretly planning it, and Paulette even tried to contact a friend of mine thru my blog to try and make sure I didn't have plans for Saturday. I can't believe it. Ellen was talking about how she wants to see this final product after seeing all of my work up until now - starting from my E&Z story back a couple years ago. Which all came out of losing Githa.

Today was a big phone day: Joy, Julie, Ellie, Ellen/Pauly, my sister, Terttu...I worked hard even though I'm super tired, in front of the computer. I wanted to fix my wall - some velcro came loose and w/the whole swelling thing, there's some tension that needs to be relieved on the sides - but I was too tired to get up on a ladder. So I got chocolate tofutti cuties instead, ate four of them, and lay in bed for a couple hours w/an eye pillow on the phone before cooking up two eggs. I was talking to Terttu about my wall and criticizing it for pulling on itself and shifting and moving and not behaving the way I wanted it to, and she said, "it IS a self-portrait!! You are hard on yourself, and you are hard on your wall!" I am constantly blown away by how insightful she is; she's always setting me straight. Makes me remember that chronological age means nothing.

Love. Tomorrow's big plan: yoga, fixing my wall, cleaning the floor inside, therapy, bookmaking (now that I'm allowed to make books since the thesis is up).

p.s. - I did NOT skip yoga on Friday, and thankfully so: no one else came, so I had an incredible private w/Ann Marie!!! We did lots of stuff for my sciatica, I did great handstands, and went into king pigeon. Gorgeous.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Epiphany. Crying.

OMG. Things are quickly becoming clear about my thesis opening. My mom said to my sister that my structure reminded her of this ancient Korean observatory. When they asked if I did that on purpose, I was like, not consciously. But it IS a structure I used before, in a book I made when I was 21 about my parents - one image of my dad and his school buddies, one of my mom alone in school uniform, and one of our family when I was 13 or so. The first two are before my parents ever met, since they met in the States after leaving Korea.

I just looked up the images online, and started to cry. This is the caption: "Cheomseongdae is one of the oldest structures in Korea. This unique bottle-shaped building was built in 647 during the reign of Queen Seondeok of the Old Silla kingdom and was used as an astronomical observatory. The base is 5.7 meters wide (17 ft) and stands 9.4 meters (31 ft) tall. Twenty-seven layers of granite cut like brick support the upper bars of stone that form the top platform. The granite-brick construction is similar to the method used at Bunhwangsa temple, which developed from contact with Tang dynasty China. Cheomseongdae is one of the oldest scientific installations on earth."

This is what I realized: Joan was right. I didn't need to be inside of my installation. I didn't need to perform, and if I did, I certainly did NOT need to draw comics for other people, or do anything for other people. I had felt such relief after that meeting, but after getting so much pressure over installation week about how I "had to" perform (as the resident performer) and being such a people pleaser, I caved and went back to the old idea. Even though my heart wasn't in it. I just knew I had to perform but couldn't come up w/something different in the time I had left.

The opening made me feel awful, and after therapy today, I understand why: b/c I took all the mistreatment of my piece as mistreatment of myself. And b/c I wasn't taking care of myself at all, and letting my space be disrespected. Yet I was still so desperate to render a service, to make people happy and comfortable, to be a good smiling hostess. Meanwhile, my family was stranded, ignored, and then left. I have gotten the most pathetic excuses about why no one approached them, and have been so angry about it. I used to always want to hide my family, so I was surprised by how devastated I was that no one met them. But after talking to Ellie tonight, it all came together. She said that where I needed to be that night was with my mother. But I wasn't. And that failure to be true to my deeper self, to really listen to what I needed, is extremely painful and hard to live with.

I talked w/my sister tonight, too, and she mentioned how lonely and sad I looked in the beginning, before anyone came inside. She has images of it, which she'll send to me after getting them off her camera. She said it's funny how I have to exist in only these extremes: totally alone, or inundated by people. It's definitely solid now: I'm not doing that "performance" anymore. I'm ripping down my sign about getting free comics, and just leaving the installation as is unless I come up with something in the next three weeks that is true. Otherwise, that is that. I've done more than enough.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

OVER, and my back is jacked

Ay. Internet was down for a while and my family was in town (sis is still downstairs @ 3rd Coast having bfast w/a Wellesley friend who goes to U of C now). The opening went well, I think. Hard to say, since I was inside of my structure the ENTIRE four hours, drawing comics for an enormous line of people that didn't end until 9pm. My mom and sis got there around 5:15 or 5:30, and stayed about 45 min. I was horrified b/c even though I told people to introduce themselves to my family (since I'd obviously be unable to do intros as I'd be trapped inside, performing all night), NO ONE did. So they didn't get to meet anyone, and ended up leaving after asking the security guard where to go shopping. They walked up to the top of the loop and stopped at Starbucks and were cold from the wind, and then WAITED for me until 9pm!! Then I met them at Oysy for a late, late, sushi dinner. I felt badly that I couldn't equip them w/better shoes, clothes, and a tour guide.

So these pictures are from BEFORE I had my big accident (this one is w/Oscar peeking in)--near the end of my shift, one of the ceiling beams fell down. YES, AGAIN! omg. The best part was that it f***ing fell on my back, hit the wall, and then the floor. After that, I was like, someone cut the line off b/c I am SO done. I had to draw for almost ten more people before I could jump out and have everything else cave in on me. I was really pissed off the whole night b/c everyone and their aunt thought it would be a good idea to 1. touch my wall 2. bump into my wall 3. throw themselves against my wall 4. step on/into my wall 5. kick my wall ... and the list goes on. Even though I told people specifically not to do that, for their own safety. Of course, all that jiggling only causes the wall to put more stress on the beams, which are only held up w/shims, which then fall down on the artist.

Sorry for ranting so much. I'm just unbearably exhausted, stressed about all the other things on my plate (getting a job, figuring my loan repayments, getting my already late for delivery website going, using the studio before I graduate, moving....), and: last night, I started getting awful sharp pains in my back. I had hoped it was from lifting my mom's bag of my stuff to bring back to NY, but after inspecting where the paint marks on my dress from Friday were, it looks like the 55" 2x2 falling 14' down onto my back probably hurt me. I couldn't sleep b/c of the pain and now am afraid I'll have to skip yoga tomorrow so I can go to student health. OW. And I was hoping the wall would hurt the audience, not ME! Cranky cranky.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Install: end of Day 4

I need a face mask, pronto. Ew. Feeling gross from rolling around on the floor getting more photos taken of my piece. Everything installation-wise is pretty much taken care of. Lighting for the rest of the show is done, so no more dark gallery (too bad, since it makes my stuff look better). I was so used to working in a cave. haha! Now I have to figure out my costume and performance exactly. Oh, and directions for everyone. It'll be confusing. I seem to always require a lot from my poor audience. I had moments installing where I felt like crying. I think from just feeling like I'm doing exactly what I should be doing, even though it's really hard. And I am REALLY glad that my family is flying in tomorrow to see it. I wish I could get my dad to come, but oh well. Time to head home and hopefully get good sleep sans nightmares.

Install: Day 4

Oh, drama drama. Yesterday was more drama. They left out the comma in my title and I went into fits of rage. So bad that I had dreams of fighting w/people. It scares me, how my anger is a poison that burns away at me. I decided I had to do a full meditation this a.m. and I accessed overwhelming sadness. Not sure what it's about, but maybe the anger is a cover for that. Not enough sleep. Clif said I look REALLY tired today. I'm posting pics of the work-in-progress - the ladders obviously will be gone.

I thought it might be helpful for people to understand the piece better by posting my artist statement:

Aimee Lee
Hunk, & Dora

Nothing in the entire universe is hidden
--Zen Master Dogen

I grew up hating self-portraits. They seemed to condemn my physical flaws and defects in my creative process. I didn’t understand why it was so hard to draw my face, but so easy to draw a bottle opener. As an overachiever, I was frustrated by how long it took to complete self-portraits; I fell behind for the first time in art class while struggling with one.

This is a self-portrait.

I grew up in brick structures: my home, my schools, places I don’t even recall anymore. I still draw brick walls the way I did as a child, in a running bond. After using covered bricks as weights in bookbinding and reading George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comics about a mouse who throws a brick at a cat’s head, I knew that the brick would be the ideal unit for constructing a physical wall that represented my internal defenses.

To display an interior landscape and mythology, I turned to paper versions of original bricks. They resemble each other: ubiquitous and unassuming, yet extremely labor intensive to lay. Those similarities coupled with their obvious differences help me sit with the fact that what I try to hide is often exactly what I want to expose.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Install: Days 2 & 3

I lost my connection last night so I couldn't post. Plus I had gone out for a drink (oh, and crispy potatoes [that would be w/cheese, bacon, ranch, and scallions] and an amazing AMAZING brownie sundae [where the brownie is heated up!! I LOVE seeing the steam rise off of it in the sea of ice cream.] so I was tired. To bed at about 2:30am, up at 8am w/a call from Anne. Yesterday's install was DRAMA. I was screaming up on the high ladder, yo. Cursing and very loud and requiring a lot of attention. Why? well, the goddamn thing was falling down. My ceiling supports are just 2x2s (sorry, not 1x1s...I'm a lumber idiot) wedged in and one fell down. I saw it in the a.m. and almost binged on a mountain of chocolate but the stores weren't open. Instead, I had to get two more 2x2s (of course, Ace had only one, but Aaron saved me w/his one in his studio pile) and wedge them up. Zeke was my amazing studio bitch yesterday and helped w/all that, plus calming me down from all my freak outs.

AJ and Nathalie have been crazy amazing troopers for me, too. Insane! I can't believe they've been so good to me (I generally can't believe when anyone is any kind of good to me). I should be installing now but wanted to post quickly before I started. Yesterday, I shored up the ceiling supports, the wall lost another foot off the ground b/c it fell down that much, I sewed up and velcroed a bunch of holes, eased tension on bricks that were being smashed or ripped open, and anchored both sides to the wall. Today: the door, plugging up the top, and deciding if I should pave the interior w/bricks. I had an idea in the shower this a.m. for the performance, so I'm feeling fresh and ready to go even though I'm wearing the same overalls three days in a row.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Install: Day 1

So the way it works is that I'm hanging this whole sucker, so this is me tweaking it as I hang more and more pieces. They're glued in sections of a foot tall and 4-6 bricks wide, and then interlock sideways w/velcro and attach top and bottom w/velcro. Then there's monofilament running through each section, usually two lines, where I've had to pierce as straight as possible, glue tyvek onto to reinforce, re-pierce, and thread through and anchor on both ends w/buttons.

Then there's me being a HUGE ladder hog. I had the 14' one in the morning but had to move it out after we got six canisters in the track, b/c otherwise we'd never get it out once I kept building down. I kept that outside of the wall so I could work on it from outside, and then dragged the 12' one inside. Then the tiny 6' one just for shorter things and for balancing against things. And Melissa got me her 8' gold-painted one that is hanging out in the space but not in the photo.

Okay, I was going to post more but now I'm so tired I could die. My feet are killing me from so much ladder work. I put in almost a 14-hr day. Thank god for my helpers: Robert, AJ, and Nathalie. They were really good about me being really bad at delegating. The whole thing is up (except the part I took down and will re-do) and now I'm tweaking. Much more to do...stay tuned!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Not a moment of peace

I can't stop thinking about thesis. It's awful. Before I sleep, when I wake up, when I meditate, all the time. I don't WANT to, and thinking about how I'm going to rig things when I'm not physically even able to BE on site is useless. I'll be so glad when this one-tracked thinking ends. This is me measuring the space between concrete beams in the ceiling so I can chop appropriately-sized 1x1s.

This would be me having my second lunch break of the day yesterday (thank GOD the building happened to be open for an extra film event, so we got to stay until 9pm instead of getting booted at 6pm. SAVED my life. Also caused me to procrastinate longer). I got Italian seasoned chicken breast sandwiches, baked potato chips, celery, and fig newtons for Ami and me. I was full for the rest of the day.

This is blurry b/c the lighting in the gallery was for shit, but I think it's HILARIOUS b/c it looks more like martial arts training than installing an art piece. I was stirring paint and then using the gook on the end of the stick to paint the rest of it - this is for the 2nd coat. Thanks to Elizabeth for donating her leftover lumber to us and to Bill for earmarking them for me.

And you never thought you'd see me w/a DeWalt miter saw! I'm chopping down more shingles (again, thanks to Elizabeth!) that I've painted white that then get wedged up next to the 1x1s up in the ceiling. The theory is that they get stuck up in between the beams, and the long pieces don't fall down b/c the wedges keep them from doing so. I had one fall down as I was installing, but tested all of them w/my body weight (well, as much as I would give up w/o falling off the 14' ladder), and Bill thinks they'll be fine and I'm just paranoid.

This is as much as I got done yesterday. Which is decent for working solo. Everyone asked where my helpers were and I was like, none today! B/c I wanted to make sure the ceiling beams worked first. And the tricky thing w/this install, is that no one can really be helpful (except when I forget crap on the floor and I'm 14' up w/o a hammer...but even then, I have to climb down to be able to reach them) if they're not at the same height as me. And getting the 12' ladder up next to the 14' one seems kinda silly. Scaffolding would be ideal.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Big eyes, big belly

So, this is how much I got done by last night around 5:30pm. Not as much as I would have liked, but I was too busy eating, procrastinating w/classmates, eating, procrastinating w/classmates' siblings, eating, and eating.

I managed to fall asleep last night at 8:30pm, wake up to noisy neighbors, fall back asleep quickly - unheard of! - have bad dreams about having unanesthetized surgery while leaning over a table in some weird conference/office/random building where the "surgeon" cut open part of my back and then sewed it shut again, and still wake up at 8:30am. Feeling drugged from the noodles and dumplings, I decided that staying in last night and cooking Korean food was just as bad as if I indulged my desire to have pizza or Persian food.

I managed to walk to and from Whole Foods (and actually not buy a single sweet item!), and cook like a fiend. I did a very satisfying stir-fry and then had to get myself ready for the big dish: veggie maki. I made 19 rolls (what you see are 17, b/c I ate two along the way). Black beans are cooling on the stove; I think I'll do a salad w/dandelion greens. Now I am very tired, scared about varicose veins, and ready to indulge in a nap.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

1,378 bricks. 1 week left.

Okay, so according to my "timeline" for thesis, I should be at a thousand bricks by the end of this month. No, I should be at however many that I need. So. I'm feeling pretty unhappy w/the days I lost this month from class and dating, so I've decided that I need to max out for the next seven days: no LESS than 79 a day (today I did 111). The good news is that I decided to move my corner in the gallery for the show. Instead of the 9' x 8' corner w/a big pillar obstruction, I'm going one back to the 7' x 7' corner, where I'll have a power outlet as well as no visual distraction (the big corner has an air vent. And see the pillar on the left side of the photo? That would have been in the way if I kept the big corner).

I laid out some of my bricks to get a better idea of how many I will need, and then spent the entirety of our graduate studio meeting doing calculations. I figured I would need 861 bricks to do a 10-foot wall. So that means 1,293 bricks to go all the way to the ceiling (14 feet). Clif and Joseph insisted that I go all the way. EVERYONE loved the new colored bricks. Which is sad, b/c I have more white ones than colored. And they haven't even seen the ridiculous colored ones that I have (today I did purple, red, yellow, and dark grey).

I also think that I need to retire from dating. I can't believe how much it cramps my style, and my studio routine. Back to the dog idea. But I did have the BEST feedback last night from Shawn about my DVD - he said tears came to his eyes watching the last clip of my Nov performance. So, despite all of the drama, I think I finally kind of got the hang of what I needed: a good cameraman and a good editor or two. And! Andrea (my paper teacher) wants me to give her images of my work to do a lecture in Vienna this summer about people using paper conceptually. Wohoo.