Monday, December 31, 2007

New books for 2008!!

I was SO excited about Ching-In's gift to me yesterday for my third decade: this perfect journal. Apparently, Bon Bon is a "Japanese-French girl who's ultra-mad about Vespas, Pop Art, space-age lounge, and 60's sounds!" The pictures are hilarious, and ones I like best of her on a corded phone in a womb chair, and of her breakdancing in white boots. Mostly, I am entranced by the moire-pattern volvelle on the cover (the spinning wheel!!).

So that will be my new 2008 planner; I just finished writing in all the dates, birthdays, full moons, and dates for the new mail art project that Ching-In and I will collaborate on for the entire year. I have one more box to make before I make some new books, and got my contracts back from a new collection in Portland. Cindy flies back from Sweden today! She should be landing in about 20 minutes. So, time to get a move on that box...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"Cold heart"

I had this brilliant idea during my morning commute that I should take apart my very first version of one of my artists' books, to make a portfolio for a different set of work. Scavenge for parts. I've done it before with other pieces, and maybe it's not good to get attached to things that stay wrapped in double layers and stashed at the bottom of a pile in a closet that's hard to access. So I pulled it out tonight, unwrapped it, and turned each page. I was surprised by how it struck me anew, all the attention I put into the cyanotypes, the binding, the paper...I worked out a lot of stuff in this version and I can see it now, after making this book three times (2 books the 2nd round, 10 books the 3rd round, setting type TWICE for each version because there weren't enough letters to do the whole book at once). I thought of it as "no big deal" b/c of how cool I wanted to keep it, a book about what was "wrong" with my body and what my mother did to it over the years to make it "perfect." In my mind and files, I often call it the "white book." Terttu calls it the "baby book." The full title is "PROJECT: AIMEE / MISSION: PERFECTION" but I only ever list it as the last two words.

When I first designed it, I knew what text and images I would be using, and its size (big). I was unsure about adding a third layer, to sound an emotive voice, something less clinical. In the end, I left the page blank, since that was part of the emotion. In Wyoming, one of the artists talked to me after my first slide lecture and said she thought that I was too distant, too removed, and recommended giving more to push my work closer to the audience. That I talk about such serious events but give people no way in.

I think this is a symptom of cold heart, which Ching-In and I discussed a week. I never thought I'd end up this way, but I think I have it. I mean, it's not totally frozen over, but I am well on my way if that's my goal. She was funny, b/c she said, "I want it! Then you can't get hurt!" Oh, no. This has been my project for the past how many years? You still get hurt, but usually by your own hand. I made all those freaking bricks to explain that and now they're still haunting me b/c soon they will be arriving on my doorstep with no place to go.

Anyhow, all that to say: I think I'm keeping the first version of this book for a little while longer. For all its perceived flaws, it works (and so the cycle refreshes: the book as me, me as my mom).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another VT sighting!!!

I have NO IDEA what is going on lately, but this is my second Friday in a row where I've randomly reunited with VT female residents from Jan, in Greenpoint. This time, I was waiting on the subway platform, eating my peeled apples, with Terttu's bday mix on my iPod, thinking about the Beastie Boys' lyric, "NYC is a city I feel at home in." I look across the platform, and Susan Peebles is on the other side!! It was EXACTLY like w/Marcie: 1. What the hell are we both doing here? 2. That's her! 3. Wait, is that her? I'm sure it is but maybe I'm just freaking out some random New Yorker by staring and smiling. 4. Oh, look, she's responding to me!

So I yelled across to Susan and we chatted as well as we could with two train tracks between us. Hilarious. Hopefully I'll see her once we get a hold of each other like normal people via email or phone.

This is from my VT sketchbook. Feels like five thousand years ago. Ching-in, the other night, said, "can you believe it's been almost a year since we met, and that soon it will be January and we won't be in Vermont??" I'm feel overwhelmed by everything I have to do, and just want a studio. I need a studio so badly. I feel crazy not being able to do anything while cutting things on the floor and making tiny wisps of papery things b/c there is no space for anything more.

I've been reading Robert Coles' The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination, after finishing Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty. I've been thinking about the ways that I choose to participate in the world, and how being an artist is one of them, but wondering how much responsibility I am taking or not taking, and how do people grow up with a sense of caring about other people? Kids seem kind of concerned about endangered species or littering or other socially responsible things, but adults seem to tune out everything but what they want to care about. How does that shift? Why don't we care anymore about working together to make the world a better place? Why are we so selfish and small minded? Why can't I get myself to write a new artist statement?

Likely, I just feel crazy b/c I trimmed 58 books w/an xacto knife, and then folded and cut 116 endsheets (some by hand, some on the board shears), and then cut down 125 pieces of board. Or b/c I am staring at 80 responses from a performance I did three years ago and wondering what I'm supposed to do with them. Or b/c it is the darkest night of the year.

Who knows! So I'm ending with someone else's words, through Ann Patchett's book. It's about her friendship w/Lucy Grealy, and there are lots of Lucy's letters interspersed throughout. This is part of one of them:
I have been musing some more about what I've said in this letter. My whole concept of art has taken a serious shaking, and I am beginning to see what I can get from this, which has something to do with a better understanding of. . . .christ, I don't know. I did know for a minute there but then I had a coughing fit and now I've forgotten. That is one thing I've learned, that it is possible to really understand things at certain points, and not be able to retain them, to be in utter confusion just a short while later. I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine on forever. Now it's pretty obvious to me that more often than not the batteries fade, and sometimes what you knew even goes out with a bang when you try and call on it, just like a lightbulb cracking off when you throw the switch.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Delayed reaction

Last night was great. It was so funny to come in and see the photos I had taken in Mexico of Jill up on the wall. Like another lifetime ago. I stayed for the first two hours of the four hour show, and was so happy to see everyone from the residency: Jill, Kristin, Elizabeth, Gustavo, Gaelyn, and Alicia. Though it was also strange to be coming in from the cold in Brooklyn instead of huddled around the kitchen preparing breakfast or whatnot.

It made me realize how great that residency was b/c it really did take me completely out of all of my comfort zones, into a place I probably will never be again.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I forgot to say that this came last week: I've graduated! Hahaa. Tonight's big event is seeing Jill and Kristin and Gustavo from the Mexico residency perform for Jill's company and seeing Elizabeth, who is in town from Mexico!!

A Live Art Installation by jill sigman/thinkdance
PARADISE AND ITS DIS-EASE is a durational performance ritual using movement, sound, objects, and fluorescent junk foods. For 4 hours, Sigman will be "in the ring", as object, icon, mover, and substance; each hour will begin a new phase of the installation, addressing the decadence, deterioration, and dis-ease of our time in a different way. She will be accompanied alternately by DJ Joro Boro and composer/musicians Kristin Norderval (voice and electronics) and Gustavo Aguilar (percussion), and assisted by performative helpers Donna Costello and Jennifer Sydor. A live art installation, PARADISE AND ITS DIS-EASE is a hybrid gallery/performance/club environment. Join us for this experiment.

Saturday, DECEMBER 8, 8pm - 12am
1 Grattan Street (corner of Bogart Street), #221
Bushwick, Brooklyn
Complimentary Wine: Courtesy of Dance NYC

PLEASE NOTE: This is an ONGOING LIVE EVENT that changes slowly over time. Come any time. Stay as long as you like. Have a drink and hang out. Better yet, leave and come back again to witness it at different points during the evening. You can go across the street to The ARCHIVE Coffee Bar for a snack, or wander down the hall to Studio #215 to see PERMANENT PRESENT, a group show of visual art works by artists Gina Beavers, Marilyn Dizikes, Christopher Hines, James Reynolds, Justin Rymer, and Stephanie Rivers. Then come back and visit again.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Recent inspiration

Starting Friday (6-9pm) and running thru Sunday (both Sa/Su, 11-6pm), Marianne from Wyoming will be selling paintings at the Style Market Holiday Sale at FIT's Great Hall (7th Ave/28th St). This is one of her paintings in progress from Jentel.

Clover sent along this AMAZING article about our mutual friend, Julie Laffin. I was astounded by how well someone with no experience of chemical injury could write about Julie's experience. It's a great read, eye opening and compassionate and wonderfully articulate.

Something from Kimsooja that I found while cleaning out bookmarks (I'm switching browsers and trying out Camino):

Although the nomadic lifestyle is a characteristic phenomena of this era, I could also be one's choice we can still live without moving around much and be rooted in one's own place. Human curiosity and the desire for communication expands its physical dimension and happen to control human relationships and the desire of possessions, and pursuing the establishment of a global community, which includes the virtual world. But a true nomadic life wouldn’t need many possessions, or control and it doesn't need to conquer any territory it's rather an opposite way of living from a contemporary lifestyle, with the least amount of possessions, no fear of disconnection, and being free from the desire of establishment. It is a lifestyle that is a witness of nature and life, as a kind of a process of a pilgrim. Nomadism in contemporary society seems to be motivated from the restless desire of human beings and it's follies, rather than pursuing true meaning from nomadic life.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Open seams

A ripped out page from my newest book. Last night was super; I had a great time w/Josh and Lynn. I'm still unclear about what will happen show-wise in Mexico but it was a fun evening and there was plenty of wine and we talked about how sad it is that we don't play our instruments anymore (and about a million other things). I have been particularly sad lately b/c my biggest violin callus on my index finger has been peeling away. It's amazing that you can work for 20 years, but then in less than one, all that hard work disappears. I always thought my calluses would be forever. It was hard enough for me to lose my violin hickey, but my finger calluses! Devastating. Not to mention that I have less protection for when I accidentally cut my fingers when chopping veggies: those calluses have saved me time and time again from painful and bloody finger injuries.

It makes me (almost) want to pick up my fiddle again just to build up the skin. But that takes a long time. In the meantime, I still have violinist friends that I can live through vicariously. When I saw Kiwon this week, she talked about how she had to go to Philly because she had five open seams. For a moment, I was stumped. And then I realized we were talking about her instrument. When temperature/humidity shifts, wood instruments expand/contract, and often parts will pull away from each other, causing gaps at the seams. You can hear open seams if you hold the neck of the violin and knock lightly all along the perimeter of the instrument. Wherever you get a different sound, you know you have an opening. So you have to go to the shop and get it glued and clamped back together since it affects the sound of the instrument when you play. I haven't taken mine in for a tune up for years, not since halfway through living in Chicago.

Hopefully I get to take care of my own seams in December, figuring out what will happen in the spring, seeing more art, and getting into shape. Or maybe I'll sit around like my violin in the closet. Here's to the first option. Oh, and Jennifer in upstate NY got my knit plastic bag panel; an image is up on her website (scroll all the way down). And, I finally read for colored girls... on the train late last night. I still remember helping my painting teacher prep sets for that production at Oberlin almost 10 years ago. Someday, I'll do sets, too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gerbil brain

These are my favorite pieces from the Frank Lloyd Wright house at Oberlin.

I'm spinning. I might have a show abroad and one in the Great Plains next year but not sure yet. Really annoying news: my res site won't be ready for me in January. "How about May?" How about May?? Are you joking? I decided not to take a job b/c of that res! I really hope a few others work out in the interim, b/c I am ITCHING to make new work. Oh, and the hilarious news: apparently, I have been assigned the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for five. Super.

Work has been killer, but I'm surviving. Today, I was delighted to be back on a board shears (it's been over 6 months!) and was SO happy that I still had my chops. Plus, the construction people were playing hilarious Polish music outdoors, which made up for being soaked by the morning downpour. I got new striped socks and a fun pair of leggings (w/only the legs) from Cindy last night, so now I'm set for colder weather.

What else?

1. I am considering a last minute photo shoot for my knit halter
2. I am considering sending DV tapes to my Chicago editor to cut a January performance, w/o even viewing the tapes myself
3. I am considering knitting lots of plastic bags
4. I am considering NOT sending xmas cards this year
5. I discovered how to survive rush hour (hint: let everyone else do the work for you)
6. My iPod died on me this morning but never fear! Kanye will rock my Friday. I insist.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Back on track

This was the sweetest gift from one of the Oberlin students - she had taken notes from my lecture on one of her popup practice sheets and gave it to me. Once I get better shots of the whole thing, I'll post them.

Things to do:

Read poetry
See art

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Negligence! No, paranoia.

Somehow, I felt like I hadn't blogged in a long time. But I only missed a day. Which is good; my new mission for my life is to calm down. Impossible, you'd think, I'd think, for me! But after evaluating my health and well-being in Wyoming, where my biggest scheduling stress was when and where I would walk (the road? or the hills?), and comparing it to my state of being everywhere else, I realize that overscheduling is not doing me any favors. It exhausts me and makes casualities of everyone else around me. In the obsessive quest to create really long TO DO lists and then cross everything off the list in record time, I've sacrificed a whole lot of the good life.

This is the view from the grave of my very good friend who died of leukemia in 2003. I had never visited it before, and my trip to Cali was spurred by the sudden desire to visit. It was pretty uneventful on the outside, except that the weather shifted suddenly and was rainy, windy, and cloudy, to the shock of my Californian host. But big things shifted inside, and I realized that

1. dead people's bodies don't go anywhere if they're buried in the ground
2. your life goes on even if someone you really love is buried in the ground
3. I don't have to live in California! [This is huge, for anyone who knows of my long-standing desire to live there.]
4. if I don't have to live in California, then I can be HERE, NOW! Hey, what a concept! I can just be happy with where I am now and not freak out about not being somewhere else!

and so on. I am happily shedding all the useless things, people, ideas, and dreams that I have been holding onto for a loooong time. I don't want anything that doesn't serve me anymore. What I do want: to read this, prep a really good class for Oberlin, and renew my commitment to a daily meditation and yoga practice. That's the short list. Wait, no more lists! Haha. Clearly, I'll need to recruit more help on this road.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Caving in

I'm back in New York and utterly overwhelmed. I am so confused by the flood of mail that was waiting for me (all these slides and I don't know where they're all from). I've logged all my receipts but can't reconcile my bank statements b/c the site is being overhauled. I'm unpacked and have piles like, "take to next residency," "hide for a while," "take to Oberlin in two weeks as teaching samples," and so on. I am really tired of flying, but leave in two weeks to teach a book workshop and give a lecture at my favorite alma mater, Oberlin College. On one of those propeller jets, too.

I'm going to put that out of my mind for now as I stare at the piles. This is an image from Chela's studio, and even though it was Thursday, it feels like forever ago now that I'm back home. It's so tricky, this time, b/c I feel all the things I've learned and the subtle shifts that have happened from all the traveling. But that time goes up in smoke so quickly! But for now, I'm back in the same place, but at a different point in the spiral. I'm thankful for everything, mostly the over-the-top amazing friends that I have, like Anju, who saved my ass in a major logistical glitch at the end of my trip.

I have black ink all over my hands (it exploded in my blender; no surprise. I should have just left the ink in Wyoming) and realize I didn't avoid re-entry by going to California; I just delayed it! Tomorrow will be a huge work day, but how excited am I about tonight: sleeping in my own bed after five weeks! Yeeehaw!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Not quite over, but over

I'm totally thrown off by Joana leaving a day early (tomorrow) and everyone else being all packed up (or so it seems). I've tried to pack my studio bag, and had a hard time figuring out why it was so easy for me to shove the blender in the bag on the way here. It was really hard this time. This is the comic I drew today to leave for future residents.

Chris, Joana, Marianne, and I all took a great hike up to the highest peak that is closest to the property. The view was stunning. And hilarious, b/c a herd of cows was grazing in our front "lawn" (like vast expanses of grassland). On our way to town today, we saw real cowboys!!! At least four of them, and at least two herding dogs, and one guy was even swinging a lasso in the air! What they were doing was very sad, separating the calves from their mothers. But then again, the bumper sticker I saw in town before I pigged out on an amazing Mexican lunch was also depressing: "vote Republican." Ew.

Back to packing!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Show and tell

Today we had open studios, and visited each of the six studios to hear about work and see what we've done in our almost month here. It was great to see everyone's spaces and progress, and share my own things. Jami sent a beautiful package today, which made me happy, and then I ate three lunches and passed out in my studio. After a walk with Joana, I overate at dinner and now am trying to sort myself out in the studio. What to leave? What to mail? What to donate back to the thrift store? Should I pack now? Later? The yoga mat is in the washing machine!

These are tags from Marianne's studio. I love her little notes, and her paintings.

Monday, October 08, 2007

This is it

This is our last week! It passed too quickly. These are the vend ready pieces I made this weekend for Art-o-mat.

Snow in the far mountains melted today since it warmed up. I took an hour-long walk at high noon with Chris, and then an almost two-hour hike up to 1,000 Acres with Joana close to sundown. I tried running up a hill and then almost fell over trying to catch my breath.

I'll miss crunching around everywhere. And seeing pregnant cows, deers with white tails that look like huge waving flags, and rabbits.

But it's not over yet! This is one of my gazillion sample books. I'm paper sample book queen. I like doing the small ones that look like books but have no pages. I'm just trying to stay happy my last week, not beat up on myself for how much/little work I've done, and get my business into order as best I can before flying off to California (Ellen says we can go to Santa Cruz when I get there! Wohoo!).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

One degree of separation

Wow. I've just returned from "Jentel Presents," a monthly event in Sheridan, where Jentel showcases its current resident artists. Before we started, the executive director came up to me (I was in my customary position at the food table) and asked, "Aimee, do you like surprises?" I turned and seventh grade English teacher and his wife!!! I almost fell over. During my talk, I felt like I was going through puberty all over again. It was completely surreal. I haven't seen him in probably 15 years. They both look wonderful, like they haven't aged. She saw my name in the local paper, and emailed Jentel and asked if there would be a piano for me to play - her daughter took piano lessons from our teacher. The office decided to keep it a secret.

Afterwards, we all went out to dinner, and I was able to catch up more. I was so touched b/c he said I was a really good writer, and that I should put my writing on my website as well as my artwork (the prime example being the sestina I had in my slide show). He was impressed with everything I've been up to, and said my work was really unique. I told him that the Pulp Function show (where my brick wall is) is traveling eventually to Casper, WY! He grew up in Wyoming, and ended up east for grad school, and then landed in my hometown. She grew up in Sheridan, and they spend summer months here now that they are both retired from teaching.

I remember his classroom, how Farewell to Manzanar was bound, his handwriting, and learning grammar. This last thing is something I've been thinking about for years, since grad school. When I found out that most Americans don't learn or value grammar, I felt grateful that I didn't miss out.

Imagine being at the Pony in north central Wyoming, having a beer and bacon cheeseburger, flanked by a middle school teacher and his wife!! At the end of dinner, we talked about the talks in North Korea, and about how my great uncle Kim Dae-jung, the past South Korean president, was committed to reunification. Then I gifted them with the paper sample book I had brought to the presentation, and watched them drive away in their car with New York plates.

That makes up for all the cattail I lost by inadvertently unplugging my sink vat and having it all pour out on the floor. I also came back to the news that my artwork has been accepted for Art-o-mat! Yay.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Current inspiration

From Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita;" costume design by Piero Gherardi. Still recovering from a bumpy bike ride with Chris. We walked towards the storm and rain clouds, and biked back, saying hello to the cows and horses. Joy arrives tomorrow!

Friday, September 28, 2007

All ends are burning

I finally caught on fire today. This was my brilliant idea of pressing long sheets. They slid to the bottom when I was setting up the tripod. But they survived.

I carved these out of potatoes. Good god, did I do that TODAY?? See? I can't even remember doing it today but I'm pretty sure I did. If I think really hard...I've lost all sense of time. It's a temporary alphabet for a very specific text. You'll see the answers tomorrow.

Jacklyn's snake got a hat courtesy of Chris. Isn't it swell? I did crazy amounts of potato stamping after making paper. Which I did after going to town. Where I got a few more things to start my fast this weekend.

I had to run after flyaway paper today. Belinda watched as I ran across the lot whenever I saw something that looked like paper in the distance. Tonight, I made keepsakes: a set of paper samples, personalized with names and icons I made for each resident. I'll give them out next week when we do a presentation to the community in downtown Sheridan. Props to Jami for telling me last year that giving has a lot to do with my artwork and process. I still don't get it, but whatever works, right?

And, Terttu posted one of the portraits she took of me and little sis!

Monday, September 24, 2007

My favorite recipe in the Jentel cookbook

[I am here until October 12 at Jentel Artist Residency Program, 132 Lower Piney Creek Road, Banner, WY 82832, USA.]

Friday, September 21, 2007

No rest for the papermaker

Yesterday was our weekly trip to town for groceries and other tasks. I barely made it back in one piece from dehydration, lack of sleep, and sun. Lynn took us back on the scenic route so that we could see the town of Wyarno, which has two houses, a bar, and a post office. It looked like a few houses on the side of the road. Apparently it had been for sale for a little over a million. We also saw Ucross and lots of stunning topography. I kept wondering what it was like way back when this entire area was underwater. Then I did no studio work whatsoever except my daily mail art. I tried to strip the sagebrush stalks but after losing a few layers of skin on my fingers, I gave up and just cooked it.

I had to stay up late to cook, and couldn't be away from the pot for very long. Once I was tired of that, I went upstairs to watch "Rebecca" with Joanna and Chris, which was a riot. Today, I tried cooking the sagebrush leaves but the smell was getting to Marianne, so I took it outside on the grill, which has a separate burner. Go, propane tank! It was pretty exciting to do all that stuff outside. It's more fun that way (and protects residents from noxious fumes).

The trip threw off my momentum and I've just been laying around reading a lot. I stayed at the house in the morning to do laundry, fiber rinsing & cooking, yoga, and realizing that I've been eating vanilla yogurt (I thought it was too sweet to be plain!). I got back into the studio today to make the leaf paper. I keep forgetting to plug another show I'm in that opened last Saturday in Amherst: I have three knit books in the Fiber + Book exhibit at the Fiber Art Center. I hear that it looks great!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My first harvest in Wyoming

I harvested some sagebrush today! Chris and I hiked into the 1,000 Acres this afternoon and I clipped along the way. It's stunning, and I was grateful for her company. Otherwise, I wouldn't have gotten very far from fear. We talked a lot about the possible rattlesnakes that would strike and how we would do the sidestep dance to save ourselves. I'm modeling the glamorous orange vests we have to wear when we go out so that people can see us. We met some cows but they weren't interested in us. And that's a Jentel hat.

The studio smells amazing right now. I don't want to leave just to stay in the aroma. I stripped all the leaves off of the stalks and have to steam and strip the bast fiber next. I was afraid that there wouldn't be enough for me to harvest, but once we got well into the hills, there was SO MUCH out there. We also saw a big patch of cattails next to the first hill. I'm sorry I didn't bring my boots, but I definitely want to harvest some of that, too. I had just told Chris about how cattails had been in my path since Mexico, and then she pointed and said, "what's that??" Jackpot.

Thank goodness Chris is also well-versed in papermaking, and from plants. That helps a lot. I think I'll make one more batch of paper tonight to round out the one I made this morning. I did some ink drawings today and started to make postcards, which I taped up. I've sent something out now every day and hope to continue. But trying not to overwhelm myself with mail art this time around. In general, I'm taking it easy.

p.s. - here is a short video of the creek.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Courtesy of Rebecca: more botas!

[These are Jill's boots. I don't know how they survived all the rain and river and mud and so on. They are like her, seriously hardy.] I'm too far gone to do my own images so Rebecca's will ride me through until I get on the road. I am sitting in a food coma right now after a really good dinner at Angelica Kitchen w/Gili and Pauly. Oh, my. No blood is running to my brain after so much food. I am so happy they have that tangy basil dressing on the menu now. Yum. But it's quite hard to do anything except lay down or roll around in this state.

[These are Gaelyn's boots. She was in my dreams last week and was our resident anthropologist.] I tried really hard to do Fulbright essay revisions today at a coffeeshop, but all I could do was fall asleep on my computer. So I gave up and instead ran errands. And I spent a looong time looking for all my toiletries for my trip. Somehow, I thought that all I had to get was lip balm. But then I remembered about shampoo, and toothpaste, and other fun things like Emergen-C (so much more pleasant to drink vitamin C rather than take the capsules). I wanted to get a million more things, but had to restrain myself. If I can, I might try to get a stainless steel pot and meat tenderizers tomorrow, but that is not as glamorous or fun. Though it IS for papermaking, which can be fun.

[This is my favorite image: the roof tiles.] Gili told me that Duane Reade carries the goat milk lotion that I like best, so we searched two but they only carry the gross scented version. So I'll have to order the unscented kind and have it sent to the residency. Tomorrow I pick up stamps so I can mail lovely things to my lovelies. And if you want to mail anything fun to me, I will be here from Sept 15 to October 12:

Jentel Artist Residency Program
132 Lower Piney Creek Road
Banner, WY 82832

The goals for my last day: stop thinking/stressing/spinning over Fulbright entirely b/c clearly I need some time away from it. I'm choking under my own pressure. And pack generously! So that I have everything I need to stay warm.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Scraps of things

Tonight was the NY premiere of "No End In Sight." Pretty intense, totally proud of little sis. It has been getting a landslide of fantastic reviews. Go whenever/wherever you can so that it can eventually get wider distribution!

What I miss: cantaloupe, lime, hibiscus, and tamarind juices. Markus and I had lunch at Caravan of Dreams today so that he could sample raw food. I haven't been in years. After tea w/Tami, I went to see Gili. I felt like I haven't seen her forever, like we've been through major life changes.

What I miss: one late morning after papermaking, I laid up on the balcony and wove a five-strand gold cord off of my toe. I almost fell asleep doing it. Keeping my hands busy calms my mind. I eventually climbed down and went to lunch.

I picked up this book at the library today, b/c people at Ragdale had been talking about how great it is and how the movie is completely different. I'm having a hard time getting into it, but loved where I stopped before I got off the train:
But here there were shedding skins. They could imitate nothing but what they were. There was no defence but to look for the truth in others.

--Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why I love being a crafty artist

I used to be a big conceptual art snob, and looked down on all things related to craft. I was young and too ignorant to really understand that stance, even though it was always important to me that my craftsmanship was unassailable in critiques. I eventually shifted from all thinking to all making, and then understood why some people like to not ever think, b/c making brings so much pleasure.

Cut to the ranch.

I felt like everyone's mom. You know, the mom who has everything in her purse in case of emergency? It was fantastic.

Markus: rope for photo shoot
Gaelyn: knife, triangle, & awl for photo mats
Jill: knife for scraping bones
Andrew: sharpie & tape for tool labels, knife & glue for art labels
Don: thread for hanging horseshoe as an instrument
Don & Rebecca: clothespins for laundry (that they later sculpted into a message for me)
Laura: knife & straightedge for student presentations, sharpie for diplomas
Hope: pruning shears for flower arrangements, awl for something else, Anacin for headache and aches (oh, wait, I can't take credit for that one - dad packed the first aid paraphernalia).

I was dumbfounded, thinking, "No one brought a knife?? Doesn't EVERYONE travel with a utility knife?? And scissors?!" What I learned: not everyone travels with sharp tools and bone folders. To be fair, I did borrow needle-nose pliers from the new toolkit to snap off a couple blades (I left my pliers at home), and I borrowed a small needle from Markus to sew silver thread into an old slip (I only had large needles for binding, tapestry, and sewing sails and carpets). But it felt so good to be useful, and to have tools that made sense beyond bookbinding and papermaking. That must be why I do what I do - b/c it doesn't require super specialized tools, like robots or egg white separators, just basic things that translate into a million different uses.

I also had a fantastic time teaching bookbinding classes. My first was a beginning session with Gaelyn, Gustavo, Laura, and Don. We did a single-sheet folded book, an accordion, a pamphlet, a stab binding, and a non-adhesive tipped-in photograph. That last one got passed onto Gaelyn's and Gustavo's workshop students, who used it for their own work. My second was a private session with Elizabeth, covering all the same bindings. My last one was an advanced seminar with Don and Rebecca - I think they were binders in another life! We did a single-section cased pamphlet with paper I had made on the ranch and cereal box covers. They turned out great; I'm hoping they'll take pictures.

No wonder I didn't feel like performing this time around. I was perfectly content being a book and paper artist.

A plug for my sister's doc

Well, the one she co-edited. This one is a biggie! It has gotten a zillion good reviews and they just did a profile on the director today in the NYT. "No End In Sight" opens Friday. I'll be at the 8pm show at Film Forum in NY tomorrow and hope you get to see it wherever you may be.

Obviously, this isn't a feel good kind of film (is there anything that feels good about what the US has been up to in Iraq??), but it's worth seeing. I'm just proud of my sister for doing such a great job with soooo much footage and a difficult subject.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Singing on the way back from Juanitzio

I didn't do them justice; I have notoriously poor videography skills. I was sitting on the boat going back to the mainland, watching these musicians perform all along the length of the boat, thinking, "I've dated a bassist, a guitarist, and two percussionists, but no accordion players..." I thought about Tam, and later, Don and Rebecca said that they knew and accordion dude, but he's gay.

During our first week, we had a massage night - Rebecca led the first set, and Hope the second. Alicia asked if I was a professional, which was the best thing someone could say to me, and later, Rebecca asked if we could swap so that we could get really good massages. I worked on her first, and she was so easy! All tiny and soft. I love dancers. But then she put me to shame two nights later. TO SHAME. I'm getting on the bullhorn right now: If you are ever in Springfield, MO, or its vicinity, go visit Rebecca for a massage. She is ridiculously amazing. She did things that no one has ever done for me before. I even fell asleep. I think that my body is still doing better, a week after the session, b/c it was so thorough. My favorites: when she stepped on my feet with her feet, and when she did jaw work. I told her that if I had come to Mexico and had gotten nothing done, except her massage, then it was alllll worth it. No joke.

I think it would be nice to be the traveling residency massage therapist. Even though I'm not one. If I didn't have debt and other financial restraints, I would soooo sell myself to the cause. But only if I get to see Rebecca in between.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's 2am in Nueva York

Hey, look. I'm instantly back to my bad habits re: sleeping hours. I've been on my computer all day after sleeping in LATE and doing serious laundry and scrubbing. I have a huge fear that I've inadvertently brought microscopic and not so microscopic pests back from the ranch (I saw a big bug crawl out from under one of my bags today). I've already made a lunch date for tomorrow (or today, however you want to see it) and am feeling nervous about getting back on the Fulbright app track.

But I did get this done: pictures from Mexico!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Reentry sucks

You'd think I'd know better than to turn on the computer the night I get in. I got home past midnight and promptly took everything out of my suitcase and then went through all my mail and THEN showered my first shower since Thursday. We had run out of water in Mexico. Once it came back on Saturday, I figured I'd skip it b/c I hate traveling with wet towels (despite Andrew's assertion that "the good lord made towels so that they would get wet." Oh, and he also made the pockets in suitcases where you can put wet towels).

So, I am showered. And so sad to be back. I had a great time and now have a bunch more loved ones in my life and still have enough mosquito bites to keep me itchy for a while. I feel like a princess with clean running water, a toilet I am allowed to flush, and the option of putting all my dirty clothes in a machine that washes them. I miss the ranch, don't miss the mold. I miss the people like crazy. Half or more are still in Mexico as I return to my computer/Internet habit (more on that later). I'm going to itch myself to sleep now.

p.s. - this was the terrace outside my bedroom.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

If you're bored of this unchanging screen, follow these links!

I feel like a TV station that is suspending programming and leaving two weeks of fuzz for the world. Blogger can't auto post, and I'm not on top of it enough (and too much of a control freak) to have guest bloggers, so look here:

1. Clover, who I am lucky to call a dear friend, but who also is an incredible Chicago-based performance artist, has returned from her European trip! She did a great performance for Julie in Prague and then went to Venice. Click the cities for photos.

2. On July 10, Rachel's intelligent blog will auto post an entry that I wrote for her while she is away in Italy. She's currently based in Estonia, interested in all things bookish, worldly, and publishable.

WordPress is good, I know, and I'll eventually use it to start a blog directly on my website (a highly "professional" one) in the fall. But for now, this is it.

3. Ching-In recommended Cathy Park Hong's newest book of poems, Dance Dance Revolution. I read it today, and would also recommend it. I worked at NYFA when she got a Poetry Fellowship, and looking back at her artist statement from then (it's online if you search for her in NYFA Artists), I realized that I had edited that statement. I had forgotten! But since I was in charge of putting the Poetry panel together, I was also in charge of editing all the statements of the Poetry Fellowship winners. It's really satisfying to see how well people do after they're funded.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Haven't started packing yet

Instead, I'm tackling my to do list for when I get back from Mexico. I updated my website (new images under "Nebraska Sweat," "Papercuts," and "Shifu" in the Books and Paper sections), and am about to update my press kit now that Stefan sent the last three images from the shoot. I'm also doing Fulbright stuff and eating pickles. Last night I got sucked into Matt Ridley's Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters. Maybe after I print and mail letters to Korea, I'll distract myself some more with the book.

Good news: I was panicking for months about nothing. I forgot that domestic and international luggage limits were different. There was no way I'd clear the 50 lb domestic limit, but I can manage the international 70 lb. Come on in, blender and tripod and pruning shears!

Shopaholic friend saves the day

AM: Unexpectedly ride into Harlem with a Korean man visiting from Seattle. We speak both Korean and English and he never once makes fun of my Korean. Learn that I need to do physical and emotional self-care in Mexico. Learn new breathing exercise: inhale for 4, hold for 4, exhale for 6, hold for 2, repeat.

Noonish: Bank, buy a hat, look for boots. Lunch w/Marina over really good shrimp and vermicelli noodle salad.

Afternoon: Filene's w/Brian, DSW where I meet a pair of boots. Tea and muffin as we review wedding mania that has gripped our dear friends and what makes a good friend and a bad neighbor. He shows me a falafel place and touch base briefly about why I was so physically upset by Alan Johnston's kidnapping on the day he was freed.

Early evening: Pitter patter as I search for clothespins. For once, Gili's shopping mania comes to the rescue. She told me she got household goods at surprise! surprise! so I went to find...CLOTHESPINS!! I got a measuring cup, too. Almost got a meat tenderizer but feared it would overdo the job on plant fiber. Should have gotten an alarm clock. Had a moment of "I love being an artist [b/c it takes me to the most random places]" as I wandered the store. Finished a bag of cherries on the street.

Evening: Revisit the boots and try them on. Love. But the bulk and pricetag make me wonder, as I curse Gili's lack of minutes and Cindy's being in Macedonia. I was never meant to shop alone. Call Jennifer to ask for reinforcement. We decide against all boots and head to Souen, for a luxurious dinner and long overdue (5 years!) reunion.

Night: Not buying remorse about the boots. Nightmares about trekking through Mexico mud. Chuckle about Mexican man becoming the richest in the world.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The collywobbles

That's today's new vocabulary: A state of intestinal disorder, usually accompanied by a rumbling stomach. For example, 'butterflies in the stomach'. Rock on. I have a bottle of Imodium ready for the suitcase and have done lots of research on the water in Mexico, so I'm sufficiently warned. For now, I'm too tired and feel drugged after the pool party (well, no swimming b/c of rain) hosted by Clark and Becky. It was a chill afternoon/evening, good to meet new people and re-meet people from the past, and see Eric and Jenny in town from Chicago (Eric in the corner, and Becky's hands bouncing the beach ball on the left).

(There's a snake in that bottle: snake wine from Vietnam.) I'm surprised by how unwilling everything in my head has been this week. Tired eyes! Exhausted brain. I took time off yesterday to watch "Angels in America." Today, I got pruning shears, plastic sheeting, and nylon cord to make a clothesline. Now I just need clothespins. Why is that so hard to find nowadays? Apparently, we can blame it on clothes dryers. In the meantime, I've made three batches of paper, and four rainbow books. Tomorrow is my last day for errands in town. Hopefully I can find a good hat, rainboots (not so hopeful on that front), and clothespins. Then I can cram for two days at home before the adventure begins. For now, time to rehydrate so I can shake off the sangria. Maybe I'll try to learn Spanish for "where's the botanist?" and "is this a poisonous plant?" while I'm at it.

Monday, July 02, 2007


I got TONS of big work done today, but you'd never know it b/c I've been sitting on my ass nearly all day. I finally drafted my Fulbright proposal! It needs lots of work, but I'm relieved to get a down draft done. I also finished my press kit! Just two more images from Stefan and I'm golden. Well, at least regarding design and layout work. I still need to figure out where to print it, and then how to bind it (I decided that since I'm a book artist, I might as well have my press kit be a book). This is the postcard for the final presentation of our work in Mexico (I'm in the lower right corner), so if anyone is planning to be near Maravatio on July 21, you're welcome to come. The opening is 3-6pm and you can stay for dinner afterwards.

Other fun news: the paper show in Brockton got a nice review in the Providence Journal last Thursday. I hope this link works. They got a little confused about my piece, since I foolishly listed ALL the materials in the installation (I didn't want people to think it was just paper hanging out miraculously. I have learned my lesson. Better to let people think it's paper hanging out miraculously):
One of the show’s largest works, Aimee Lee’s Hunk & Dora, suggests a crumbling stone tower of the sort you might find in a Charlotte Bronte novel. (It turns out to be made from a combination of paper and Tyvek, a paper-like material used in home insulation.)
The bricks are made from paper ONLY, but reinforced by a tiny Tyvek square at each piercing to run monofilament. Still, the Bronte reference is fun.

I recommend getting a flight out of the country as a fantastic way to force deadlines. I can't believe how much work I'm getting done! I even rehydrated some bad sheets today and made more paper. I lost a few pellons. This morning, I noticed none of them hanging on the balcony where I left them last night. They flew away. I was able to find four, flung far, near a bush and under two separate garage doors. Who knows where the rest are. Such are the joys of suburban papermaking.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ow, there

Right in the home stretch of doing a massive budget for an app, I started getting bad headaches. Repetitive pangs, and now they're echoing in my left hip. Gah. But the good news is that I have grant and job apps done and ready to mail tomorrow. Which means that all I have left is the press kit (yikes) and Fulbright (triple yikes). But I'm still prioritizing finding good pruning shears first. Happy anniversary to Breda! [plus surviving the first week of her OB rotation.] And happy 30th to Emerson, pictured here! [the birthday was Monday but the party is Sunday. Which I will sadly miss.]

Any tips on good activated charcoal to buy before Mexico? I'm also in denial about having to buy rain boots for mud season there.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cold hands, heavy eyes

I'm really exhausted, for so many reasons. I found out that my flight is late enough in the afternoon for my mom to pick me up from the airport after work on Friday, which is SUCH good news. I can't wait to get home. Today and last night were traumatic. So much gossip and damage control. I can't get into it online, but really not okay things have been happening here very recently. Another energy suck. But after all the drama and an afternoon nap, more about my performance was revealed to me. I also got a bunch of things done in the studio tonight that make me feel good. AND I talked to my Chicago video editor, who put me at super wonderful ease. He's such good people, and such a pro. I have to get another big batch of applications out in the next few days, so that's an additional stressor. Laura's fiance sent her these gorgeous flowers today for her bday.

So, I've decided that I'm going to play violin behind a door that I've propped up in the corner of the installation room and trap myself sitting on trash bags w/my bare feet sticking out w/string tied to each foot, leading to words and a wood scrap covered in paper. I'm feeling good about the objects I'm placing and things are coming together slowly. I'm skipping the bday party tonight in the lounge b/c I'm tired and have to work, but like the people who are having bdays today (Laura, Cody, Gale). My eyes are giving out on me now.