Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Still nearly alone in the studio

We had open studios tonight, and I had my installation open from the performance, and then ran to the other open studios, and then ran to my Firehouse studio to do hot dog portraits. It was SO FUN. I think it was a really healthy way for me to work w/closure on being here. James gave me that hot dog on the 13th, I think, and I took pictures of it every day, and then I took pictures of people with it tonight. I think the images are hilarious. Buzz took the ones of me. Angelo took this image of me getting behind the door to perform yesterday.

Ching-In did this one of me this morning. But I think I still need to get back tomorrow to get a few more that aren't blurry. She and James helped me do more footage, and he was like, what is the logic in asking two poets to do this kind of work? He had never touched a digital camera ("you know I was born in the 1960s, right?") but I think they both did a fine job. I did a bunch of studio cleaning and putting things away to prepare for mailing (this time, just packages to friends of art and such). I think everyone else is partying, but I wanted to email everyone their individual hot dog portrait and work some more on this application.

Tomorrow: print and mail apps, mail packages, back up computer, call home, clean two studios (that's a LOT of wood chips), and pack. I hope I'm not forgetting anything.

A gift of D.H. Lawrence


Are you willing to be sponged out, erased, cancelled,
made nothing?
Are you willing to be made nothing?
dipped into oblivion?

If not, you will never really change.

The phoenix renews her youth
only when she is burnt, burnt alive, burnt down
to hot and flocculent ash.
Then the small stirring of a new small bub in the nest
with strands of down like floating ash
shows that she is renewing her youth like the eagle,
immortal bird.

Ching-In and James worked on making me a gift of this poem on paper folded into the game you play on your fingers. The performance went well. I'm glad it's over. More once I edit photos.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just about showtime

I didn't have many positive things to say yesterday, so I waited until today to post. I'm performing in about an hour and 20 minutes. I did a couple dry runs and it cracks me up, though it's not a funny performance. I mean, it's not supposed to be. But it's hilarious to me. This is the dusty bulb w/text rubbed out of the dust sitting in the corner of the room. There's a lot of stuff going on in this, but I'm too tired to detail. But think! In a couple hours, the stress of this will be all over. I'll still do some extra documenting tomorrow morning w/daylight, but the song and dance will be over. People are really excited about leaving, and have already started packing and cleaning. I still have a ton of tasks left for before I leave, but am putting everything aside until this show is over tonight.

I decided for open studios tomorrow night that I'm going to set up a portrait station, like Chela at the farm: I'm going to offer digital portraits w/the hot dog.

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.

Highs and lows

Crap. I just lost this post so I have to reconstruct it. Which means it will be shorter and leave lots of things out b/c I'm tired and am going to head home soon for some popcorn. This is from Thursday's bday salon (l-r): Hugh, Nicole (who just got engaged today! Her bf flew from DC to surprise her), Dave, James, Roko, and Ching-In. I set my alarm for the first time here, did a little meditation, and had a good crit w/Terry Adkins. Then I went to the thrift shop behind the church, which is only open Saturday mornings, and then got more popcorn from the Grand Union. The rest of the day was kind of shot b/c I was too tired but kept trying to do work in the studio. I tried to nap here and at home, but to no avail. I did finish These Happy Golden Years and marveled at how detailed Laura Ingalls Wilder is about dresses. Terry's presentation tonight was pretty ridiculous. I mean, the q&a part. I won't go into it b/c I'm tired, but it's really an eye opener to have all these artists come, show their work, crit us, and go on their way. This is my last crit for the month. I think it was a good closing one, though I think my first one w/David Humphrey was the best. Okay. Time for popcorn.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sixteen below

And the temperature keeps dropping. Someone just came to the studio to tell us there's a dance party in the lounge, and then promptly left and left the door to the outside open. Again, for the second time today, I felt a horrible freezing draft, wondered why it felt like I was outside, screamed, ran over to the back door, and slammed it shut. I'm quite cranky today.

Gili got the brunt of my nastiness, but I had a good talk w/Kendal tonight before dinner in the studio about what has been going on for me here, which gave me good perspective. I still want to get a psychic reading from him. Anyhow, I ran and got my violin after dinner to read some music w/Buzz downstairs on the out-of-tune Kawai, which made him happy (Faure, Tchaikovsky, and Gershwin). I was mortified b/c I was out of tune and could barely read the music over his shoulder, but it was good for me. As people played ping pong behind us.

Then we had a really short slide lecture upstairs. I ran my violin back to the sculpture barn and then headed to the studio. I drew and drew and drew and then realized that I am a drawer (not a draughtsman). I love drawing. That's what I do. So then I cut up a bunch of paper and glued it together and colored and that made me pretty tired. Terry Adkins finally got into town after missing his flight yesterday. I think we crit w/him tomorrow a.m., so it's bedtime for me. Exactly this time next week, I'll be home in New York. Yay.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Scattered thoughts, quick day

I'm concerned about lighting for my performance. Though, after talking w/people over a very rich dinner tonight, I think what I'll do is just make whatever performance I want, and then fudge the documentation of it - like, shoot the video during the day. Even though it's a nighttime performance. I talked to Kendal today about borrowing his videocamera, and he said, cameras are dumb and they need light to see, so you have to have light or it will just be a dark and blurry picture. But I hate the idea of lighting the installation brighter just for the camera. You know?

I knitted this little piece last night along w/sewing and making its envelope. It IS a letter from Donna, on kozo, that I cut and spun and knitted. It's like a little caterpillar or amoeba now. I like it. I lately love using soft lead pencils on my handmade paper. I was really frustrated today w/how I am not even halfway through this huge sketchbook I made for this month, so I drew a long comic about how "this place blows." Then I went to lunch. Ching-In and I went up the hill for some free reiki (the woman used crystals for grounding and my heart chakra), which was very nice. And then we walked up the rest of the hill to see Peter Schumann of Bread & Puppet Theater talk about his recent trip to work with Palestinian youth on a play about what is going on for them right now. Horribly depressing.

Ching-In had to leave a little early to make her birthday massage appt, so we left and walked down the hill. I went home for a nap on the sofa and finished The Real Me by Betty Miles (I can't decide whether or not to send it first to Ellen or to Gili. Please help me decide). I think it's HILARIOUS that the first two YA books I read here were about race and gender issues. Laura came home and opened some wine and we had a good talk about what I've been going thru and then went to dinner. Terry Adkins, who was supposed to come and lecture tonight, apparently wasn't on his flight here, so no lecture. We're having a bday salon for Ching-In instead, though I'd rather work on my installation since I've basically done no artwork today. It smells good in there now, like wood and not paint. I just want to be there.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kicking into high gear

Well, it's finally happening. Roko helped me drag in most of the huge garbage bag full of wood chips and shavings from her sculpting (she is carving from four butternut logs). I stayed up way too late at a private party in my bedroom, adjacent to the painters' party in the living room. James, Aidan, Ching-In, and I talked until 2am-ish and I think Ching-In exorcised the can't sleep demons from my bed. I didn't get enough sleep, but dragged myself to breakfast for the first time in days, and then got James, Laura, Chrissy, and Sang Gyun to help me drag all the bags from the shop to the studio upstairs.

This is what happened after I unbagged all of the wood scraps. I'm trying not to think about what hell it will be to clean up this stuff, bag it up again, and bring it downstairs so that the office can burn it all in their wood stove. I found an old typewriter in the studio, which rocks, since I want to call this piece "retire" or something like that. Retiring from the typewriter/violin thing. A last hurrah. I tried to air the room out b/c it smells like paint. I'm hoping the wood will scent it some. It's really fragrant in Roko's studio, and I love that smell. I love that the typewriter is an Underwood.

So, my morning work felt really gratifying and I just felt so much at home and in my skin preparing an installation and performance. At lunch, James asked if I have a big plan in my mind or if I just go w/whatever moves me in the space. I said, both. It was really hard, in a way, to work there, b/c I kept thinking, "what will so-and-so think, and this other person, and him, and her, and and and..." Then I'd have to stop myself and remind myself that this is for ME. That I want to make a space that I feel good in, that honors myself as I really know that person, and that creates positive energy so that I can have some kind of closure on my time here. So it's all about trusting myself, and knowing which parts of myself to trust (like, not trusting the mean voices in my head).

I broke out my leather gloves for the first time since I got here, and as I was all up in the wood, pushing it w/my hands and kicking w/my feet (shovels and rakes are overrated). Then, I saw what I had written on them when I first got them in Nebraska, and I laughed. I'm glad I wrote those things, b/c I really need to read them now, and remember. OH! I got a great package from Gili today that Nicole brought to me, w/vitamins and tea and emergen-c. Office work was hell (data entry) and my nap wouldn't take, but I got microwave popcorn to replace Laura's that I burned and ate last night, and soon it will be dark enough for me to go back and see how the space looks/feels at night. Since this will be a nighttime performance.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Almost time to go, it seems

I feel like we're leaving already. But we have about a week and a half. I couldn't sleep last night until very late, and ran all sorts of terrible things through my head, and then had nightmares of my parents' home being flooded by the river, which was acting like a huge ocean. I love that I just want a stable home and then I dream of the only one I have left being destroyed. I missed breakfast again and then packed up a bag of laundry, met Ching-In on the way, and did laundry w/her. Roko came in to pick hers up and shared cookies w/me. I didn't get any art done before lunch, and then worked in the office and the library, and then went back to the studio for a power nap and a few small breakthroughs. I knitted two rows. Of what, I don't know.

I had a really good talk w/James at dinner about what I've been going through, and also had a nice lunch w/Hugh and Susan and Chloe, and brief tea w/Greg. So today is better, though I didn't get much done in the studio. I have to brave the night and cold to drag in the woodchips tonight b/c the next several days will all be below zero. It's now or never. My dessert resolve is breaking down: cookies for breakfast, key lime tart in the afternoon, yellow cake and white frosting during the poetry thing, you'll see me hunting for a bacon cheesburger.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Somewhat frustrated.

I was trying really hard to be more positive. Today started out fine, kind of. I had horrible nightmares about missing my flight to Japan, and then realizing once I got on the plane that I also forgot to buy maple syrup for my hosts. Then I woke up at 9:50am, tore out of my room to get washed up, tore out of the house, ran to my studio, and caught my breath to have a 10am crit. That was nice. Susan was super chill and she already had heard about my thesis, so I showed that to her, and then we talked about websites and technology and then we looked some at my work. I realize the crits are really just chances for me to talk my shit out, and then I get a better sense of what my process is. This is Roko's studio. She's AMAZING. I wish I had a car, and I'd sooooo buy her sculptures and take them home. She does these fantastical creatures out of wood, painted in oils, and installed in all sorts of environments. She brought that chainsaw in the back from Japan. These are all butternut logs that she's carving. The shavings are like styrofoam.

Turns out that Laura's birthday is this Sunday, and she was born in the year of the monkey. So I looked up some monkey images and then did this sketch, on which I based a papercut (next image). We might have a little party. I think a day trip to Montreal would be nice, too. Talking to Ching-In today, I found out that HER bday is this Thursday. So I have to get on that. She's on the cusp of snake/horse. After crit, I went to get some fruit and found mail for me! YAY!! Gili, Elizabeth, and Kiwon sent stuff and I was so, so happy. I spent my post-lunch time on return mail and making mobiles. When I got sleepy, I went out to visit Roko's studio to pick up some postcards, and then went upstairs to say hi to Chih-Fen and look at the space I want to build out for a performance. I suddenly want to run over and ask Roko to save all of her wood shavings so I can pour them all over the floor. I realized while watching Art:21 that I have to use light to deal with that space. I don't have time/ patience/ funds to paint that room or cover it in fabric. So I'll just use low, directed lighting. Do you like how I'm pretending to be a lighting designer?

I also stopped again at Roo's to get some snacks, and had a long talk w/the owner again b/c he had looked at my website and was also quite impressed by my thesis. It's so funny to me, b/c I still feel so removed from the whole thing. I came back and made Laura's bday papercut, and a papercut for Roko, all while Chrissy talked about how nice I was to do things for other people. I realized that it just makes me really happy, and that I miss it. I wish I could do a little bit of that every day. It helps a lot. I also wonder if I should try and market myself as someone who does space solutions. Like, feng shui but not really. Just go into a space, move around furniture, and make some art that works. That's how I felt as I made more mobiles.

Then I had a yucky dinner b/c somehow I got into a conversation w/two writers about why I'm not having a good time here and it led to them asking me very specifically why, and exactly what forms of discrimination I claim to have experienced, and so on. I just got so tired of it and finally just stopped explaining, saying that I was tired of being in the position of always explaining to people what my experience as a woman of color in America is like, when it's pointless b/c I'm talking to white people who will never, ever understand. I felt a little bad about having to go there, but I just was so, so tired of it. I got the usual, "just don't let it get to you, have it roll off your back" comments, which make me crazy, b/c I can't do that when I am directly confronted w/accusations. The best part was that the person who told me to not let it bother me was someone who accused me of being burqa person.

So, now my hands are all cold and I am bummed out again. I'm not sure if I'll keep working or what. Oh, but this is for Ellie: images of snow and scenery around here. I miss you! I can't wait to get back to a phone to connect to you and all my other good friends who GET me.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Winding down the week

This is the kiln getting loaded up w/Chrissy's figure and chopped off head (since it can't all fit in there in one piece). It was nice to hang out while she was loading up b/c it was toasty. I talked to my parents today and they freaked out about me being so cold in the studio and said I should go get my money back. Hahahaa. I'm feeling a little better after ranting about how it's been, and I think I paced myself pretty well today. I've discovered that I just cannot count on having a good night's sleep here, ever (unless I take drugs, and even then, it's not guaranteed). So, I have to work around that by doing what everyone else is doing here: napping. I usually don't like to walk outside much b/c of the cold, but I think I'll try to brave a walk home every afternoon for a catnap on the couch.

This is Chrissy and her hands, which also got loaded into the kiln. I got up early b/c my bed is so uncomfortable, and laid on the couch to fast forward through season one of Art:21, and then went to brunch w/Kat (my really pretty and no-BS housemate). Of course, I ended up eating too much and feeling very uncomfortable in the studio for an hour. I made a few little books, and then gave in when I got the sleepy feeling. Instead of the usual fighting myself and working thru it but not getting good work done. I went home and laid out on the sofa for a delicious nap. Then I read a bunch more of Laura's silly book about a labrador retriever and went to dinner w/her (another housemate, who is so sweet and pretty and says things like, "pants!" and "dag!" which are so novel and hilarious to me).

I let myself have key lime pie after dinner at the opening in the gallery, and then felt like I overate again. I've been in the studio ever since (skipping the presentation by the artist I'm having a crit w/tomorrow b/c I was in a good work zone), and finished this book, which was supposed to be a blank journal. First, I thought I'd do a 70-page comic. Then, I decided to do it in paper cuts. BAD IDEA. I went through three xacto blades and got really tired. I'm going to title it and treat the cover tomorrow since I'm tired now and don't want to screw it up. But I'm feeling all hungry again...anyhow, here is what I'm learning about being here:

1. I feel crazy b/c I don't really feel I can be myself.
2. I feel crazy b/c I'm not doing yoga/meditation regularly.
3. I feel crazy b/c there's no time/place where I can get true alone down time.
4. I feel crazy b/c my bed is incredibly uncomfortable and I can't sleep well.
4. These things all make it hard for me to make art.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Piles and full disclosure (burqa story)

My windowsill (clearly) has become my repository of work I've been doing here. Which, in any other instance, would upset me greatly, b/c it's not a terribly big windowsill. Which means that there isn't a whole lot of work getting done here. But I'm starting to wonder if I'm supposed to NOT get a lot of work done here to learn something. About me, my process, and what kind of environment is conducive for the first two things. I start to wonder if no phone exile is even necessary in this situation b/c it's so...not even helpful to start with. This place is really, really weird.

Before I start the big rant, I wanted to give a short recap of today so far: 7am, wake up and feel like crap. Sleep in, visit sculpture barn for installation site scoping, meditate, lunch, shop w/Chrissy at the church sweater sale: fill a big plastic garbage bag for $1! These are the books I got. We went to Roo's (health food store) and I got ginger ale and fig snacks, and then met Jack the owner. We talked about my art, and then he showed me his thumb piano (I forget the real name of this African instrument) and played me a song. It was soooo nice. I felt really ill all day and the snow and wind have not let up, so it's a lot of hot/cold/cold/hot/sweating/cold/hot business. I came back and tried on sweaters in my studio, downloaded all the sheet music for Bach solo partitas/sonatas, played a bit, moved my furniture w/Angelo, and pissed about. It's almost dinnertime and I think I might give up on studio work and just go home and ask Kat if I can watch her Art 21 DVDs.

Okay, here is one big story about why I don't like it here (AKA why being here is no different from being in the real world):

I came here and identified as a performance artist, among many other disciplines that I practice. My studiomate K also does performance, but identifies here more as a sculptor. Last week, he dressed up in black fabric like a burqa and walked out on the streets very slowly. He passed one of the painting studio buildings, and three young white male American painters saw him and got really scared. They even talked to the director of grounds and maintenance b/c they were so scared. That night in the dinner line, one of them (who said once to me, "I'm not white, I'm Italian") asked me if I was running around outside acting crazy in a burqa as a performance. I said, NO, of course not, I don't even know what you're talking about. They filled me in, and I was pissed off that they assumed it was me, and he said they figured b/c I was a performance artist, it was me. Even though that person wasn't even the same height as me.

That night at dinner, another woman (white) came up to my table and asked me if it was me. I got upset again, and said, NO! A couple days later, K repeated this performance while I was working in the office, and all the office people saw him, saying things like, "hey, is that a performance or a real person?" Immediately, one of the staff artists, who didn't even see the person outside, called out, "It's Aimee!" And since I'm loud and defensive, I yelled out, "IT'S NOT ME! I'M RIGHT HERE!!" That night in the dinner line, a writer said, "hey, I really enjoyed your performance today," and I immediately lept all over him and yelled again that it wasn't me (poor guy was getting the worst of my temper). Again, the assumption that was told to me was that I was the only one there who identified as a performance artist, so it must have been me.

This is what upset me: if I was a tall, white man who identified as a performance artist, would I have been implicated? My answer: NO. People see a person costumed in a burqa and acting strangely, and assume it's a woman, and assume it's a woman of color. I had a discussion w/K (who is the only black artist here) about the unforseen consequences of his piece, and he said that people also thought it was a Japanese artist or a black staff artist, who both have completely different builds than K. People only implicated women of color, and two of them don't even DO performance. And even after I said many times that it wasn't me, the assumption stuck. I was mad b/c when I called people on it, they all said it had nothing to do with color or gender, which is just an outright lie. Fine, maybe it's not conscious. But it's not that far into the subconscious.

Anyhow, I've gotten some really out of line comments, and there's someone here who has been verbally harassing almost all the women here. It's amazing to me, but I guess there's really no getting away from it, even in an artist community. B/c artists are just humans. But it's sapped my energy. I feel lucky to have some good allies here who I can commiserate with, but wish I didn't have to deal w/all of this. The goal for the last two weeks (already!) here: get better health-wise, and focus on my art.

Friday, January 19, 2007

It's late for a sick person

But I just got really excited practicing violin tonight so I think I pushed myself too hard. What ELSE is new??? Ag. Anyhow, tonight we had open studios, which was fun, and I found a printmaker who is also using lots of houses in his work. I'm going to attack him at the next meal, though he is insanely quiet and shy. As you can see, I've been going to town making lots more houses. My crit this afternoon was eh. I won't go into detail, but I was kind of told to just stop doing what I'm doing (in all ways - art-wise, life-wise, violin-wise) and go look at Laurie Anderson. Okay, that's SUCH an exaggeration, but it was about as helpful as if that was really what happened. I got some fun ideas pop up like crazy, though, when I practiced tonight. Some really ambitious things, but not impossible. Some involve real composing (of music).

This was an old g-string that Joy got me that was too big so I cut it up and turned it inside out and stuffed it w/tea. Fun, fun. Though no one smelled it except Jess and Todd when I made them do it. Oh, and I got an email from my editor in Chicago that kind of made me laugh but also made me worry. Please translate this for me:

I hate you and decided to blow up all your footage. You have no other choice, but to kill your artistic self and find a job as an insurance salesman.

This was after I sent him an email telling him what I wanted done w/my footage. Is he just joking or do you think he really does kind of hate me a little for sending him a slew of tapes and DVDs?

Updates: we got a ton more snow today. I went to a painter's slide lecture tonight and will have a crit w/her Saturday. I am still sicky and not sleeping well. I am considering taking sleeping pills for the next two weeks but am afraid I will develop a habit.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Can you tell I want a home?

I cut these little houses out today before lunch. With a brand-new exacto blade. I love new blades, but I always make myself suffer through old ones way too long before shedding them. Anyhow, now I don't have to worry about what to do w/this nice Fabriano scrap, since it's covered with little houses. Meanwhile, I'm still hacking here in the studio, trying to keep my hands warm by periodically sandwiching the corner of my iBook in them since that's where the hard drive is and heats up.

I just went to open studios tonight and then a talk by the visiting sculptor, Marsha Pels. Man, am I freaked out for my crit tomorrow. I'm #1, and fear she will tear me apart. She's the real deal and I'm frightened. Like, the kind of sculptor who makes me never say I'm a sculptor, b/c she welds and casts in bronze and glass and anything else. Today I spun a little more shifu, but it's hard in this cold and w/such dry skin. I am a little freaked out by how much artwork and art business work I have to do, and how half my time is already over!! But hopefully once I kick all the phlegm, I'll get to spend more time in my studio.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Things I miss

I've been feeling a little crazy lately w/my floating life. I miss security (even though I know that it usually came w/bitterness and discontent) and really comfortable big beds. I made this paper cut today while also wrapping lots of pieces of wood. I'm finally done w/the ones I found a few days ago and will hopefully spin some shifu tomorrow and work in my sketchbook. It's hard working in this kind of cold. The thermostat in the studio is set to 70 degrees, but it definitely does not feel close to that. I moved my work table away from the window to avoid the draft. Last night's Theraflu helped, though, and I got some decent sleep and woke up feeling much better, like the sickness is moving quickly (I'm already hacking up green phlegm! Wohooo!). But I crashed after breakfast and haven't felt so good since then. But I put in some studio time in the morning and late afternoon, so I'll be okay w/another night away from the studio. Time for dinner. I think I'm going to skip lectures tonight; I don't have the stamina or health for 13 of them.

I feel like something big is missing from me right now. Some strange emptiness, or that I'm not tapping into something b/c it's hiding or I'm not on target.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Running to readings

But a quick post: I still feel totally sick. This is my studio; the "office" section.

-breakfast, roll into the studio late.
-run errands at the health food store (throat drops & multivitamins), fabric store (thread), and public library.
-practice and have my hand cramp up, mend a book.
-lunch and work in the office.
-mail two more apps at the PO and get some Theraflu.
-go home and take two naps, courtesy of Theraflu and a comfy sofa.
-I'm now late for the writers' readings. It's REALLY COLD today.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bad news / attitude

I have a tickle in my throat again. This is completely ridiculous, and unacceptable in my world view. It makes me so angry. Take antibiotics, and constantly come down w/colds and yeast infections. I despise it. Besides the fact that I still feel sensation in that tooth. Can you tell I didn't get much sleep last night? My mistake: green tea at dinner. But I got caught in the vicious cycle of thinking about all the things that make me feel taken advantage of, but in situations where I had some agency and either didn't exercise it or didn't stand up properly for myself. 1. Ongoing saga w/Columbia about paying my medical bills for getting hurt on their clock & property; 2. Dissatisfaction w/video editor in NYC - still no DV tape; and 3. Root canal. I even knew what I was doing to myself, but the mind fuck is so hard to escape. I'm still petty enough to imagine scenarios of horrible destruction befalling those who have crossed me.

On the positive side, I had a crit today w/David Humphrey and b/c of a schedule glitch, I got an hour w/him rather than just 30 min. It was great. He was trying to understand my world, which was so nice, b/c I'd expect that artists who have "made it" in the art world don't need to try and get ones who haven't. I imagine he's a great teacher. He said lots of things, but what I liked best was "fearless" and "voracious." I did a pocket performance today at lunch by playing violin at the "silent table" where you can eat and not have to socialize. Also, before I spiraled into anxiety last night in bed, I came up w/a performance idea. This black string is part of the idea. I'll go tomorrow to see if I can get a bunch of string. Not sure what color yet, but I do know the thickness. David suggested going much bigger w/my IN & OUT piece, so I also hung up all of my paper that would work for that piece on my wall. I wish I had more paper.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

One week in

This is the book I did last night. I woke up still a little upset about it. But it's not the end of the world. I'll just move on from it. Everyone else who has seen it wasn't as upset as me (obviously), so I'll just put it aside and know how to do it right next time. Not that I think I'll try it again w/o all the tools and equipment. Here is the link to what I've been up to in the studio.

I'm glad I tried, though, and love that Dave asked if the covers were leather. Maybe I should go into business making paper that looks like leather. I like smelling all that paper b/c it smells all sweet and baked. Since it WAS baked. He asked how much time it took to make, and I started to say something like, "well, not including the time it takes to make the paper," and he asked, "why would you not include that?" Good question.

This is the book I made today after brunch to try and recover from last night's disaster. There were a few kinks in this one (which is pretty much inevitable in bookbinding), but it was a lot more satisfying and went faster. I had a good talk at brunch today w/Yoon Soo about getting older and realizing we're not 20 (she has about 13 years on me) and how being an overachiever is not good for the body. I realized that sometimes I'm a recovering overachiever. But mostly I'm still in the throes of it. Maybe I should do a new batch of business cards that say "recovering overachiever" rather than just "overachiever."

I made a little shifu today from a letter (pretty! The ink makes nice patterns when spun) and also from some extra kozo thank you cards I had. I'm trying to measure how much shifu I get from a sheet, and then knit it to see how many rows I can get from the shifu. The things I have to do for budgets (another application). We got lots of snow today and I ate too much at dinner. The mashed potatoes we really good.

Hot dog, day two

It's totally shriveling up. Taylor freaked me out tonight in the dinner line telling me that William Pope L. did a piece w/100s of hot dogs, and they went bad, and then people had to go in w/protective gear similar to hazmat suits to clean it up b/c they emitted toxins into the air that were incredibly dangerous. I don't want my hot dog to kill me.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Studio day

I mailed out those apps this morning and then did a little yoga and showered. After lunch, Kat (one of my housemates upstairs, a painter) drove us down the main drag to Forget-me-not, where we got some clothes to stay warm. I know, no buying clothes unless it's thrifting, but this was close enough (it was some kind of resale shop and things were totally affordable AND there's no sales tax! What a TREAT). I got striped leg warmers and two long-sleeved tops. I had a hard time getting decent work done in the afternoon, but managed to cut down and sew a new book onto g-string straps (b/c I have no bookbinding tapes). I then was gifted w/a hot dog that Jim made for me, which is so grotesque, but I hung it in my window (he said it was disingenuous to advertise that my window is a hot dog stand and not have hot dogs [I put a sign in my window that says "HOT DOG stand."]). It's already starting to shrivel up and it hasn't even been a day!

I'm torn now about knitting this shifu costume from the summer. I love how it hangs so I'm loathe to knit it. So funny, b/c I assumed I'd be knitting a whole lot here. Maybe that's what I'll do w/all my kozo thank you cards: cut them into strips and spin some more shifu. Tonight, I let myself have the first dessert since I've arrived: a cookie. Then I hit the studio again to finish that book. It was going to be SO GORGEOUS, and I used all the techniques I learned from Gavin, but I screwed it up: the case joints are too small and the whole book now sucks. And the top headcap is ugly. So sad. It's drying now so I'll post pics tomorrow. We get to sleep in b/c brunch is at 10am! Thank goodness. I need some more shuteye.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Two down, four to go

I'm getting there. I skipped the artist talk tonight and had a little breakthrough on my proposals for more residencies. So I can go ahead and print/mail two more tomorrow. After that, I have three more residencies to apply for, and then one grant. I'm so tired. I'll be glad when I can just work on my artwork. I've been rewarding myself in small increments and taking breaks to make art. This is a little something I did w/the remnants of an old costume. I have so many ideas but don't quite have the tools I'd like, or the time or space or materials...tricky, this constant negotiating w/myself.

I can't decide if I should cover the back of this piece or not. I was going to, but am going to sleep on it before I glue down w/the minty glue I have that I hope won't go dry too soon. It should last a month w/o getting too unwieldy. I just signed up for a crit w/the visiting painter for Monday, so that should motivate me to work all weekend in the studio. I drew a little from the model this a.m., but he wasn't very good and kept moving around. AND he was reading a Stephen King book the whole time. Since when did models read when working??? Unless specifically instructed? I was bored and left to practice violin, and broke two horse hairs on my bow for the first time in YEARS. I think that's a good sign.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Water's not frozen yet

I'm weaving more paper. I think, "I should experiment more w/irregularity in weaving, but I just really like weaving the way I learned when I was in 1st grade." I love using up my paper scraps that are all offcuts from when I make books. I've become ultra-conscious about reusing scraps and things I used to just throw away. Just more conscious in general about the amount of waste I generate. With these pieces, I also am using the waxed paper, which I can't recycle in the beater b/c of the wax content. People keep talking about it being like leather. Which makes me think about all the skins I used in the bindery; I remember Shawn asking about where the skin I was cutting came from, and Gavin said, a small goat in northern Africa. I think that's what he said.

I was never a big fan of using animal skins, but mostly b/c I didn't get enough contact with or access to them. They're really amazing to work with, b/c in a way, they are much more forgiving than paper. I was thinking about binding a book using traditional methods I learned last month, but I'm torn about what paper to use for the pages. I'm also completely spoiled now tool-wise; after using so many precision tools, now I feel like everything I have is like a big stick. Nothing is delicate enough to get into the tiny spaces.

I slept in today b/c I couldn't sleep from cold, and then did yoga in the living room. That was nice. I also took a shower and skipped breakfast (which is fine except I didn't have yogurt, which is where I get my calcium. Does anyone know if cottage cheese has any calcium?), and took my time getting to the studio. It was kind of cold, so violin practicing was slow, but I actually like how I sound when my fingers are cold and less mobile.

I also got to run errands today: public library, post office, health food store, and Grand Union. I loved the first three. I tried to resist the health food store, but I really wanted some dried fruit, and lo! There was a sign on the front door saying they had the best dried mangoes in town. So I got a bag and ate the whole thing in my studio before dinner. Where I also overate. Then I did a little slide talk. I was at the end, but it was good b/c then I could end w/the brick wall, which is always a huge hit. Now I'm exhausted, still digesting, and still working on a few more applications.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I can't believe I believed Gili for even a moment when she said, "Aimee, I don't think it's going to snow in Vermont." I think I'm definitely underdressed in general and will take to wearing the entire content of my suitcase in layers, every day, over and over.

Fun trivia so far:

--Tonight's low: 8 degrees.
--I started working in the office yesterday and now my inner thighs are sore from filing. I am embarrassed by how incredibly out of shape I am. Filing = exercise??
--I have not touched dessert so far, and only slipped once today and had a few fancy chocolates that Greenwind brought back from her trip to Switzerland.
--I have gone through three "keychains" thus far: a black ribbon, a white shoelace, and now a 5-strand silk friendship chain I just made today. Gili is right: I'm very DIY.
--There are four other people in the Firehouse studios w/me. One is Angela and one is Angelo.
--The development director's 11 yo son is a violin prodigy and he wants me to play w/his son while I'm here. Yet another motivation to practice more regularly.
--I've had to sew the top button on my coat back on twice already.
--I'm having horrible nightmares. Maybe it's all the fresh bread and cheese. Or all the applications I'm doing that keep me from any substantial studio work.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Quick studio views

I've been not working almost all day, so I should get off the computer soon. But here is the view from the big window in my studio. You can't see it, but where the hay-like stuff ends on the ground, there's a big rushing river. I've never been so close to such active water!! We'll see how it affects me. It was slushy this morning, then raining almost all day, and then the sun peeked out in the afternoon. The people here are so insanely nice and the food is just as good as I was warned. I took a little nap today after finally getting a couple of blankets.

I've been repeating the same thing to everyone I meet, about how I want to work on my relationship w/my violin and our relationship w/my audience. I thought it would take the entire month, but I picked up my violin today for the first time since Nebraska, and I have already figured out a big piece of it: I just have to practice more. Duh. In other words, I have to practice enough to be able to translate what is in my head to my fingers. Otherwise, I'm just groping around and then making do w/my mistakes. Which I'm fine at. But I want to be clearer.