Friday, November 30, 2007

For Gail

Jami says to email her at jamiattenberg[at]!! With your photos, I mean.

Tonight: Josh and Lynn, the poets I met this week in Brooklyn, are reading at 7pm at Pete's Candy Store.

This weekend: Tonight and tomorrow, at Danspace Project, Rebecca will be performing for Movement Research's FALL Festival.

In the meantime, I'm working on a new press kit (to encompass all of my work, not just my books) and drawing comics. And have a surprisingly pleasant social load in town over the next two days. Happy almost December!

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.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Halfway there

Half of today's to do list is done. Two proposals out in the mail: one to teach, one to exhibit. Three more books from the library. Done w/Jami's contest. Loving all the Kanye skits. Tonight is a business meeting re: showing in Mexico. Bookmarked a new blog to stay motivated - the great thing is that I already designed a super hero of myself years ago!

To accompany this crop from an old photo of mom, "Hey Mama" is on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

All over the place

I made these before the eating fest holiday. I'm not sure why but it was a great way to use scraps.

Though it wasn't the best thing I've read on a Sunday, I appreciated Julia Alvarez's Once Upon a Quinceanera. It made me think that I could have used a good ritual for my birthday.

Check out Jami's fun contest for a free copy of her new book, The Kept Man. I'll do my part once the sun comes up.

I was going over my notes from prepping my Oberlin lecture, and found things that I never said in the lecture: "as soon as you figure it out, it will shift/change." And on my "to do" list for being an artist, the bottom of it said, "Read; Sleep; Eat well; Have fun."

The most exciting tidbit: recently, I've wanted to have my diploma. I did graduate over a year and a half ago, so it's not an unreasonable desire. I emailed someone at Columbia, who forwarded it to someone else, who then emailed me and tried to make me out to be the culprit, saying that they had no current address and phone number for me. This person gets emails from me regularly. Apparently, it has been sitting in that office since July 2006. I didn't say, "I filled out at least five change of address forms!!" or, "Do you know me?? I'm AIMEE. Aimee always fills out the forms, and ahead of time." And believe you me, this person knows me.

I'm sad to say I don't hold the record, since a friend who went through the program years ago waited three years for his diploma. But maybe when I finally get it, I'll feel like I've accomplished something! Maybe this is what my advisor meant when she said that it takes at least two years to feel like you're really out of grad school! [Hahahaa. Just kidding, Melissa. I don't think you're part of this ridiculousness at all. But it would be a good way to really drive that point home.]

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's next

I finished these last week, blank books that I was planning to fill with more comics and cut outs. But of course, I'm terrified (as I usually am before I start drawing). I don't know why I still haven't gotten over the fear of just doing things. I had it even before I went to grad school, thinking that the more I did a thing (like drawing comics), the worse I would get at it. Not sure where that comes from. I wasn't very good at practicing violin since I never got very good at some things. That, I chalk up to not knowing how to practice. But I'm pretty sure I know how to draw comics, so what's with choking every time I start? Maybe I need to never stop so it doesn't become this huge task I can't do anymore.

Anyhow, I'm back to yucky nitty gritty work (as in, the computer is turned on again), and got a lecture from little sis today about how I seem to just be waiting for things and marking time. She says that I have to be more proactive and make investments in things even if they seem to not yield a whole lot, which to her means 1. rent a studio space and 2. send stuff to galleries. The first thing makes a lot of sense. The second thing rates up there with eating insects. I understand it, but I am still not convinced that I would thrive in the gallery system.

Right now, I'm going to just work on teaching proposals. It's always nice to evade work with other work.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


DONE!!! Yay.

I've been working, really, I have

And trying my hardest to stay offline while I work. Cindy and Ivan donated more plastic bags (I'm not so sure that handling plastic bags all day is good for my health, but I'm already kind of sick so, oh well). Also, you can do interesting studies on people by examining their accumulated plastic bags, as you may have already imagined.

I like cutting them up in the middle the best. Cutting the handles comes in second (wait, or maybe first). Last is cutting the bottom. I hate that part - the way it's folded in to expand when goods are put inside.

Knitting makes me feel like my hands are going to fall off. At least, after four hours it does. Makes me realize why people probably have a lot more fun knitting w/soft, not unruly yarn. I wanted to stay up and finish last night, but my head was pounding. In a few hours, I'll be done w/the whole thing and then ready to draw a few comics.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not keeping up

It's amazing how working a couple days a week completely throws off my entire life. This is from the last batch of mail I sent out from WY - I have an entire secret photo set on flickr of all the mail I put into the mailbox, every day. But I have to keep it private b/c there are addresses all over it and of course I don't want to encourage stalkers to stalk my friends. I was going to send these to Gili first b/c of the horses but then didn't. I saw her yesterday for lunch w/Breda, who is in town for a bit. It was such a treat! I was on my feet for hours, then met up w/Gi to shop, then took the Q to meet Barbara for an Edward Albee play ("Peter and Jerry" - the 2-act version of "Zoo Story"). Thank goodness I was making blue boxes for books at work today instead of serious gluing, b/c I was a wreck.

My knee went into horrible pain in the afternoon, and continued today. Then Gili had a horrible back pull/spasm today and is all jacked up. I feel awful that I can't go over and take care of her. Somehow I'd like to blame globalism for this, but really it's b/c I watched "Children of Men" and its special features a few days ago. I'm reading even more depressing stuff: The Frailty Myth. It's always great fun to read about how I'm destined for osteoporosis and bone fractures b/c I was never physically inclined and quit sports for violin. Argh, classical music! I had a friend at Oberlin who swore that when he had a violin studio, he would make all of his students go running w/him b/c physical fitness is crucial to playing an instrument. Too bad I didn't have a teacher like that.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I made three books and a few popups yesterday, and want to read Hand Job. In the meantime, I'm making and packaging more random paper things and wondering what I'm going to do w/these books. And trying to finish more apps. It doesn't help that it's grey and Monday, there's no heat, and I'm panicking b/c I swallowed a bone by accident at lunch and I'm worried it's going to perforate my organs.

Post-posting: I was so spastic that I forgot to mention that my designer added an updates/news section to my website, so I finally have an official space to toot my horn!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So far

I might have finally recovered from my work week. Whew! The good news is that I found out that I have a lot to offer, and by virtue of learning book arts things recently, I know lots of recent developments. Like rolling out your glue with 3" paint rollers. Gili gave me great advice, about how even if I'm tired on my days away from work, I have to work on my own stuff. So I finally got cracking on this project.

The plan is to cover an abandoned gas station with panels (with any fiber method: knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, etc.) from people all over the world. I have been planning to make mine out of plastic bags. Cindy and Ivan were really excited about this b/c they have way too many. So this is what I have after a day, about 30-40 bags. Clearly, they shop at places with white bags. Colored ones are more fun. I still have more than half the panel to do.

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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Wohooo!!! Terttu sent me my slides and her faboo scans of them. They look so nice. This was my costume from a performance I made in 2004 and then kept restaging in 2005. Kanye's "Stronger" has been on repeat and I am really annoyed w/my iPod b/c it keeps crashing whenever I plug it in, and the hard disk just spins but there's nothing I can do but just let it wear itself out and die. I visited Marianne today very briefly in Dumbo and had a quick lunch and found out that my sister actually works in the same building as her studio! Hilarious. So they got to meet - Marianne was one of the three residents in WY who drove to town to see "No End In Sight," and really appreciated it. I had my farewell eating session w/Paulette, too, at Angelica, where I insisted on each of us getting dessert. That might have been a little overboard, but she's the best person to engage in such behavior.

The best part of dinner was when I showed Pauly the popup from Oberlin, and the server was so distracted looking at it that she had a hard time counting out our change. Then, the woman next to me asked for titles of good instructional pop-up instructional books. Sweet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Geek training & call for NYC housing

I've been reading like a student under deadlines. It's kind of hilarious, but it also makes me feel really good b/c these are things that have been piling up on me. I finished Alberto Manguel's Reading Pictures today and am now considering Kanye West as my next study subject (this would fall into the ongoing "cultural literacy" project). I keep thinking that there are apps I need to do, but now I'm getting to the point where I can't mindlessly apply for things b/c I actually have to propose some content. I'm tempted to ask some artists to collaborate...good grief! Am I really ready for that?

Anyhow, this is Rebecca in Mexico, making a beautiful handmade paper cased binding out of a cereal box! She is looking for places to stay in NYC for her "first real trip to NY," Nov 23 - Dec 2. She's going to be here to teach and perform with Lower Left, a dance collective, as part of Movement Research's Fall Festival focusing on improvisation. Three of them are crashing at one place here and just want to take the burden off their host and roommates. So if anyone knows of other options, please let me know or contact Rebecca (info[at] Someday, when I open my own hostel for artists where I don't feed them SPAM, I'll take all of them in. For now, just spread the word!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Things to read/do that I am reading and not doing

I recently got an unbound copy of Dorothy Field's Paper and Threshold. I bound it before my trip to Oberlin and finally finished reading it yesterday. It's a great text on the spiritual uses of paper in various (mostly Asian) cultures. Lots of pictures and information I was thankful to receive. A Canada-based artist and scholar, she helped me a lot during my Fulbright research since she had studied intensively w/a Korean papermaker in the past. [I was going to do a limited edition binding of this but got all flustered and just did a longstitch.]

Here is more of the pop-up from Lizzie (I am probably spelling her name wrong and don't know how to spell her nickname so I won't butcher both) from Oberlin. There is an exhibit back at Columbia College on Mexican paper; someone go and tell me how it is! Oh, and also in Chicago: this Tuesday night will be the fourth year of Site Unseen, an annual festival of live art. My first year that I will not be present in body, very sad. But maybe some of you will! I have so many friends and colleagues in the show that I won't list them. Just go out and support!

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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hand cramps

I've been very negligent blogging. I am just going to pretend like it's fine since I don't know anyone else who keeps it up daily, forever. And I'll blame it on work! I'm doing a p/t temp gig in Brooklyn for an artist I met almost two years ago now. It's hard work, editioning her artists' books, but it's good to work, right? It makes me realllllly appreciate the time I have left to my own work. I feel like I'm in a strange mire of trying to navigate my career and what I want it to be. I'm still in the safe zone: not noticed by anyone, so I can fall on my face and it can't hurt me.
It's a good time to figure out what works and what doesn't.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Look at them go!

I got home late last night (but had the same flight attendant as when I flew into Cleveland) and am still in recovery. I really took no photos. Just a tiny bit. I am so sad that I didn't snap any on the second day, but it was Monday morning, and I think it's a little unkind to do photos on Monday mornings. But the popups were so great that day! It was such a treat having Oberlin students: respectful, open to learning, inquisitive, and full of ideas. I am usually paranoid about losing tools in workshops but still bring them to lend out. But I didn't even lose a needle! Or a pencil! Incredible. Pencils always walk. Apparently not here.

Anyhow. It was a jam-packed trip and I had a great time. I loved teaching, and was so grateful to Nanette for bringing me out and taking good care of me. I didn't run around campus that much; I didn't want to b/c I thought it would spoil all the good memories. You'd think there'd be more to say but I am bone tired so that's all for now.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Shhh...I'm in the library

at Oberlin College. What a trip. It's really strange being back - I almost felt like everything was smaller, the way you feel when you go back to your elementary school. But I'm not any bigger than I was then. Again, I realize that life goes on, and nothing stays the same. I was walking to the library to nap (the house I'm staying in is full of tours right now so I can't sleep there) and realized that Breda wouldn't be downstairs studying or Ellie in the dance studio or anyone I knew anywhere.

I teach in a few hours. It has been amazingly wonderful to see my old art teachers and see how much I learned from them. Time to get something to eat and get back to the studio to prep books!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The good old days

I've been consumed by class prep, but have spent a morning and two nights reading Jonathan Kozol's Letters to a Young Teacher. It made me really, really sad about what has been happening to public education in this country. Just like last night's sadness: no children came by at all to trick-or-treat!! When I grew up in this same tiny village, we ransacked these buildings, and there were tons of small groups of kids in rotation. People who weren't home would leave baskets of candy out, and some people bought those tiny goody bags and prepared individual bags full of candy for each child. I have no idea what has happened since then.

But anyhow, back to work. In honor of Jami's birthday today, I want to share a funny quote from the Kozol book:
The children had been told I was a writer and, like many children who quite often make this flattering mistake, they thought this was incredibly exciting and had carefully prepared a bunch of questions that they fired at me energetically, like just so many eight-year-old reporters. The questions they asked were really interesting to me and were, in fact, a whole lot more original than the questions grown-up interviewers generally pose.

"Is it lonesome to write?"

"How do you write so many words?"

"How do you feel if people criticize your books?"

"Does it make you sad when people know your books but can't pronounce your name?"

"Do you feel sad because you're old?"

One of the children also asked, "Do you write little books or chapter books?"

I had forgotten that distinction between books that are, essentially, extended stories and books long enough to be divided into chapters. Although I'd never thought of it this way before, I told the children, "I write chapter books," which led one of them to ask me why I didn't also write what she called "easy books" for younger children.

I'd answered that I'd never done that yet because I think it takes a special gift that I don't have but that I would like to try to write a book like that someday.

"Do it!" the child said, dispensing briskly with my effort to be self-effacing.