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.

Friday, April 21, 2006

How lovely you are

A beautiful morning, Coldplay on, sciatica running down my left side, sitting in bed after a nice conversation w/Ed at Art Farm. He told me about a former resident, Beili Liu, who built an adobe house that replicated the one that her parents lived in, in China. Amazing. These are the bricks she made.

I had an incredible meeting last night w/Joan about thesis. I'm going to scrap the entire comic/stand part of the interior and might possibly not perform at all. Who knows. We talked about honey, dogs, my recent dreams, people as empty containers, castles, and generally: am I up to this? I got affirmation on all the doubts and fears I've been having, and now understand WHERE it was all coming from. It's like I knew all along, but I just wasn't letting it be what it was.

She asked if I had any visualizations of the space inside that I might have self-censored. I said that every time I imagine the interior, it's empty, but I know that it can't be. And she said: that's it. So - am I up to it being empty? We'll see. For now, I have to finish up my artist statement, decide if I'm going to yoga (the sciatica is BAD!), hit Home Depot w/Yoonshin and Aerin, and then to the studio. I forgot that I have four feet of wall that I still need to pierce, reinforce, re-pierce, and thread with monofilament. Thank goodness I remembered that last night or I'd be pretty pissed off next week.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

TOO TIRED to function

I can't do/think/see/blaaaah right now. Here is the top three feet of the wall in a test hang in my studio. Send love. I'll send an official HELP! email in the a.m.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Nuff said

While I have a minute, I'll post this AMAZING comic that Lisa found in a Detroit paper and gave to me last night. It's perfect and amazing for thesis!! She said it should be my artist statement. I wish. [I'll post later w/more thesis/yoga/future news...busybusy hanging now.]

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Neruda story

Terttu got me more digital images from our Feb shoot! I love them. Even this one, which is funny since I usually hate headless women in art. She's on her way here to look at my Contact Sheets from Light Work. Today's crankiness from my futile errands is subsiding. Damn Home Depot and businesses that close on Easter!

Today's menu: steamed collards & red chard sauteed in olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, pepper, cayenne, and great northern beans. Quinoa. Tofu stir-fry w/yellow peppers, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, garlic/onion, a huge rainbow of spices, and Bragg's liquid aminos. Homemade ginger tea.

I just finished reading Lewis Hyde's The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property and loved the last story so much I had to share:

Playing in the lot behind the house one day when he was still a little boy, Neruda discovered a hole in a fence board. "I looked through the hole and saw a landscape like that behind our house, uncared for, and wild. I moved back a few steps, because I sensed vaguely that something was about to happen. All of a sudden a hand appeared - a tiny hand of a boy about my own age. By the time I came close again, the hand was gone, and in its place there was a marvellous white toy sheep.

"The sheep's wool was faded. Its wheels had escaped. All of this only made it more authentic. I had never seen such a wonderful sheep. I looked back through the hole but the boy had disappeared. I went into the house and brought out a treasure of my own: a pine cone, opened, full of odor and resin, which I adored. I set it down in the same spot and went off with the sheep.

"I never saw either the hand or the boy again. And I have never seen a sheep like that either. The toy I lost finally in a fire. But even now...whenever I pass a toyshop, I look furtively into the window. It's no use. They don't make sheep like that any more."

"I have been a lucky man. To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvellous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses - that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things.

"That exchange brought home to me for the first time a precious idea: that all humanity is somehow together...It won't surprise you then that I have attempted to give something resiny, earthlink, and fragrant in exchange for human brotherhood...

"This is the great lesson I learned in my childhood, in the backyard of a lonely house. Maybe it was nothing but a game two boys played who didn't know each other and wanted to pass to the other some good things of life. Yet maybe this small and mysterious exchange of gifts remained inside me also, deep and indestructible, giving my poetry light."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I might be a chocolate addict

Well, I've finally started building/hanging my wall. Never thought it would happen. I took Forrest class yesterday but now feel like I'm not as desperate for it as I used to be; like I think I'll be okay now if I just take Jim's classes, and they work much better w/my thesis schedule. Last night, I worked until 11pm and was still totally wired, which made no sense: it was a gross, hot day, I ran errands, went to yoga, and didn't get lots of sleep. I finally figured out at home, when I was still wide awake, that it was b/c I had some chocolate w/o giving it a second thought. I hadn't had any chocolate since Sunday afternoon!! Not only did the caffeine keep me up, but waking up today was hell (which is not usually the case). Maybe my insane crankiness last week was all about chocolate withdrawal! Today, I spent my whole day in the studio. I had a good meeting w/Mary but still didn't get as much done as I'd like to have. Terttu and I were silly, which explains why I am fishing w/bricks. But I have four feet of wall up from the ground, as well as four more feet suspended of small wall. Time for BED.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Two dinners, two postcards



I forgot I had rice and lentils in the chemical fridge today and instead got a prosciutto panini and a rocky road cookie. Then I went to see Oresteia @ Gallery 37's Storefront Theater w/Greg. We left after the first two plays and went to Margie's Candies and I had a grilled cheese sandwich and a brownie a la mode. Yesterday, I got a brownie and two whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from the baseball team bake sale. Geez. I'm balancing my laptop on my magically expanding stomach. So much for working on thesis!

But - I'm determined to start hanging tomorrow. Last night, in my occasional streak of genius, I reached the peak of my procrastination skills, and printed the most brilliant thing I've done in a while. I altered the postcard for our thesis, b/c it's truly awful. It's in a limited, initialed edition of 35 and a good deal are gone already. It took a little while to get the colors just right (I'm a renegade printer, so I mix directly onto the rollers. More like, I'm a lazy printer. It took purple, tulip blue, and burnt sienna), but registration [placing the type onto the postcard in the right place] was pretty easy.

I had another amazing cranio-sacral session today - apparently my psoas is all seized up and glomming together w/my iliacus muscle, so my pelvis was going right and my spine left, which explains a lot of the problems I've been having lately. Bob did some trigger point therapy to deal w/that. Afterwards, I received more meditation instruction. Now I have to up my morning practice to 15 min...we'll see how that goes. I totally had fantasies on the table of ditching my life and just going into healing arts.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monday frustrations

Losing that hour yesterday is still screwing w/my body clock. But even though I got very little sleep last night (I'm now suffering from slight insomnia due to stress - mostly "what's next?!" stress, not so much thesis stress. That one's just a given), I spent a while doing extra pranayama and was very present for my sun salutations before meditation. I still sucked at cutting a corrugated cardboard template to hang today. I thought the whole time that I was being so smart to not cut myself in the thigh (most of the cutting happened on the floor as I sat on the cardboard), and then of COURSE, my arrogance got me in the ass: tonight, as I was trimming a brick, I cut right into my thumb. No big deal, but enough to remind me to return to earth.

In honor of Joseph learning more about Che Guevara, I wore him today on my head (a gift from Penny when she came back from Cuba a few years ago). I thought he had said Lady Godiva, but I was wrong. I'm thinking of wearing the jumpsuit as I reinforce the wall, cutting pieces off the legs until the costume disappears.

This is hard to see, but I fought to hang the template today, and then was so dehydrated that I threw in the towel, got water, and went to therapy. We talked about my insane dreams a bunch, and that made me miss my analyst in NYC, who was the best dream interpreter I have ever met. I built a foot of a shorter wall today but stopped b/c I'm feeling frustrated.

So today's goals are shifted to tomorrow: velcro dots, binder clips, stronger monofilament, fishing weights, and calling the lumber place about longer-than-normal dowels. Other things to stress me: soaking another two batches of brick trimmings, getting doll needles, and figuring out what kind of paper/what size to make for people's feedback during the show.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

March assessment

[This is the sign that I made for our completely unfunctional G5.] Last night was one of those occasional awful but not unbearably awful strange nights: I got that pang of stuff that kept me awake even though I was fried from working all night on the concrete floor, building more wall. Alone, stranded, soon uprooted, no clue as to what comes after May 31, and YES! It really is hard to keep making art. At least once the school support structure is taken away. [right now, A Tribe Called Quest's "Stressed Out" is on]

I managed to get some sleep with the usual awful dreams, and then called mom for her bday. We talked about how it's probably best for me to let my lease run out in May and then just move in w/Anne until I figure out the next step. Most likely, I'll be going to Ox-Bow in July to be Andrea's assistant for her papermaking class. Everything else is up to the juries all over the place deciding if I get a residency or not. I keep having fantasies of getting a comfy salaried job and just paying my student loans, and THEN starting my life. Except that would take me about fifty years.

Hm. I thought I was going to say something positive. [WHOA. Major derail - poor Ashleigh just came in w/a bleeding thumb - she almost cut the whole tip off while working on her installation for thesis. Ay...she insisted on driving herself home and to the hospital. At least the bleeding seemed to have stopped when I bandaged her up to go, but she was really upset. And who wouldn't be?]

Positive: I realized last night, on the last day of March, that I had managed to finish making over 2,000 bricks, date and then not date a guy, go to California, take a bunch of yoga classes, start meditation, build over six feet of brick wall, and apply for at least ten things. Not so bad. I shouldn't be too hard on myself about the wall going slowly. Maybe I'm just having April Anxiety.