Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh, drat

I just examined this proof of a print I made last night and realized that I drew it wrong. One of those branches should be BEHIND the treehouse and not in front. Not quite sure how I'm going to fix that now, but I'll worry about it tomorrow in the studio.

I was so zonked last night that I forgot to share the little blurb about my work that Steven Daiber wrote in Ampersand last year: "Aimee Lee's accordion books speak of a life of aches and pains strengthened through laughter. Reading the poems one expects the material to be hard, strong, perhaps abrasive only to find a soft flexible support made of handmade paper spun into shifted and knitted panels."

The word shifu obviously doesn't translate well, but I thought it was a nice review. And apt for right now, since I'm having major papermaker's aches and pains - today was another hardcore day on the wet floor. Actually, I'm starting to get weird wrist pains so GOOD NIGHT, computer.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I am sad

And that is that. No getting around it. I had hoped it would pass and today would be a glorious new day, a bright Monday, the beginning of a new consciousness. But not so much. I did some taxes, went into a panic about my brick wall, and sewed two zines. I got this stack of books from the library, a good indicator of how I am feeling right now. But Elizabeth just sent a good email about changing your life or changing how you see it, to get out of depression.

And here is a poem from Nikki Giovanni, from Blues: For All the Changes --
The Poem for Frances Brown
(My First Warm Hearth Friend)

There are things you know . . . Clouds rise . . . Stars twinkle . . . Snow
melts . . . Rain makes thins grow . . . Sunshine warms . . . Trees cool . . .

If you love something . . . You will lose it

But the memory of motion . . . The wonder of the enchantment . . . The
blue of the glacier . . . The blue of the sky . . . The blue in your heart . . .
The reality of conclusion . . .

Through transforming . . . Stays

Delayed obit

I got this from a papermaking online group, and even though I never knew Kiichi Sakurai, I think he is worth remembering:

Obituary from Japan

Shiroishi shifu weaver Sadako Sakurai's husband Kiichi Sakurai died at his hometown hospital in Mito Ibaraki prefecture Feburary 16, 2008. He was 83 years old.

Kiichi and Sadako had always worked very closely together and were responsible for reviving Shifu successfully, as it had once disappeared from the Shiroishi area where it had been a family art and craft industry. When first Kiichi and Sadako saw and touched shifu fabric they immediately fell in love with it. Reviving this process wasn't so easy, using many expensive handmade papers to weave yardage of fabric, even failing many times and becoming almost bankrupt. Sadako cried, was discouraged, and tried to quit each difficult time, but Kiichi was always beside her encouraging her, and gave her enthusiastic support, no matter what the situation was.

They eventually successfully followed the traditional shiroishi shifu technique. It took them four years to accomplish this.

Sadako has been preparing for an Exhibition coming up on April 19-26 next month in her town of Mito. Anyone who wishes to send her remembrance greetings can send them to her address:

Sadako Sakurai
838-4 Horimachi
Mito City, Ibaraki pref.
310-0903 Japan

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Spring fever is no joke

Wow. It's been rough lately; lots of internal and external drama that has wrung me out. I love that as far as humans get from nature, in the end, we are no match for it. The seasonal changes are just too strong to ignore. This is from my final project for my poetry class with Myung Mi Kim. I feel like that now: when you're done with a semester and are about to be severed from a teacher and a classroom and then what do you do with all that you've been doing for the last few months?

Maybe that's not how I feel at all. I'm shut out of the printshop this weekend for the holiday - good and bad. Good b/c a break is handy. Bad b/c I was just getting ready to produce my zine in an etched format. Yesterday in the studio, I got horrible headaches from the bad ventilation. But I worked on seven plates, and had fun playing w/a new technique: sugar lift. I haven't been documenting my printmaking learning curve, so here is a good video on both the aquatint and sugar lift techniques, by Crown Point Press in SF.

I'm also in the bereft state of mind. I miss Ching-In - she's in Singapore on spring break. Before she left, she said that I read like a writer. My boss today showed me self-portraits she did when she was 10 and 20 years old, and I thought about what it might be like to know that you were an artist from an early age. I used to envy my musician friends who knew exactly what they wanted at age five. Or even fifteen.

Today was another exhausting studio day at work, but exciting: I began the very first production run at the resurrected papermill!! There are still lots of kinks to work out in the new space, but I managed to pull two sets of sheets, about 70 in all, while looking out the windows at the garden-in-progress. It was funny being back at the vat, after such a long absence. But I guess it's like what they say about riding bikes, or having sex (maybe they only say it about riding bikes...) - once you learn, you never forget. [Though I kind of protest this point b/c I learned how to ride a bike when I was a kid, and then had to re-learn it in college.]

Monday, March 17, 2008

I like the beginning of this one

Lee, Li-Young. Book of My Nights. Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd., 2001.


There's nothing I can't find under there.
Voices in the trees, the missing pages
of the sea.

Everything but sleep


In the meantime, I was sleepy all day. Have no idea why.
Ching-In reminded me last night that the cycles of anger I go through are easily attributed to oppression.
Today, I trimmed and signed an edition of 10 prints - the word ruler.
Today, I completed an edition of six books - the word ruler.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More wondrous words than my own

Self-Help for Fellow Refugees
by Li-Young Lee
from his new book of poetry, Behind My Eyes

If your name suggests a country where bells
might have been used for entertainment

or to announce the entrances and exits of the seasons
or the birthdays of gods and demons,

it's probably best to dress in plain clothes
when you arrive in the United States,
and try not to talk too loud.

If you happen to have watched armed men
beat and drag your father
out the front door of your house
and into the back of an idling truck

before your mother jerked you from the threshold
and buried your face in her skirt folds,
try not to judge your mother too harshly.

Don't ask her what she thought she was doing
turning a child's eyes
away from history
and toward that place all human aching starts.

And if you meet someone
in your adopted country,
and think you see in the other's face
an open sky, some promise of a new beginning,
it probably means you're standing too far.

. .

Or if you think you read in the other, as in a book
whose first and last pages are missing,
the story of your own birthplace,
a country twice erased,
once by fire, once by forgetfulness,
it probably means you're standing too close.

In any case, try not to let another carry
the burden of your own nostalgia or hope.

And if you're one of those
whose left side of the face doesn't match
the right, it might be a clue

looking the other way was a habit
your predecessors found useful for survival.
Don't lament not being beautiful.

Get used to seeing while not seeing.
Get busy remembering while forgetting
Dying to live while not wanting to go on.

Very likely, your ancestors decorated
their bells of every shape and size
with elaborate calendars
and diagrams of distance star systems,
but with no maps for scattered descendants.

. .

And I bet you can't say what language
your father spoke when he shouted to your mother
from the back of the truck, "Let the boy see!"

Maybe it wasn't the language you used at home.
Maybe it was a forbidden language.
Or maybe there was too much screaming
and weeping and the noise of guns in the streets.

It doesn't matter. What matters is this:
The kingdom of heaven is good.
But heaven on earth is better.

Thinking is good.
But living is better.

Alone in your favorite chair
with a book you enjoy
is fine. But spooning
is even better.

[In that spirit, I announce Elizabeth et al's new blog/project about female nomads: nĂ³mada.]

Monday, March 10, 2008

My word ruler!

More like, my shot memory. I knew I was forgetting something today! I forgot to shoot this in daylight. Oh well. I'll pull more prints tomorrow; this piece is way too fun not to print constantly. It's in alpha order but within letters, not alphabetical. And, yes, the word "asshole" is at both ends of the ruler. That's the only anomaly. See? I'm getting a lot better at writing backwards (you have to scratch out the words in reverse if you want them to print properly).

I already tangled this yarn

Too bad, b/c I had successfully wound the skein when I first got it. But I tried to re-wind it on the train, and got two huge snarls. Must have been b/c I was frustrated with the three men talking really loudly, being one-upping know-it-alls. Oh, the train stories. But hopefully I'll get lots of knitting time (and untangling time) on the way to Yale this week - I'm going to a book conference on Thurs/Fri. I raced through two Jorge Luis Borges books last night and tonight, completed my work for Clover (mostly violin work), did all my situps and pushups and jacks, and zipped in and out of town to meet w/an artist friend Rory (we met in Nebraska two years ago!). Now, I just feel like eating lots of pastries or something.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This Sunday was NOT a sabbath

Daylight savings really came and kicked my ass today. But I still managed to haul myself through massive wind tunnels to the studio and make two new plates. They were FUN. Today's especially - it's like a word ruler. A ruler to measure the distance between words. I'll take pics tomorrow b/c I can't explain it very well. Paulette came to see the show and buy a zine, and it was really nice to have someone who was genuinely interested in what I was doing. I kept thinking she wanted to leave, but then remembered, "this is the woman who flew to Chicago from NY and back in a day just to see my brick wall!!!" She says that this blog does my work and process no justice. But I try. I just don't have the patience to set up a tripod in a communal studio to document my printmaking process. I'd probably be kicked out! Hahaa.

We dined in Chinatown afterwards, and marveled at the unraveling of the current social fabric. I rode home on a crowded train, w/an overly perfumed woman right next to me, yammering the ENTIRE RIDE on her phone (after loud texting) about some black dress she found on sale, and three loud teenage girls talking in front of me, in Korean. I am heavily nostalgic for the days when all you could do on a train was sleep, read, and other non-digital/electronic activities. People have always talked loudly, but I'm convinced that noise pollution has reached an all time high. It makes me want to re-read Alberto Manguel again, how he talks about the fact that we all inhabit a world together, and we canNOT have it otherwise. So, how do we negotiate how we share this space, knowing that we can't live without each other?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I forgot to say that yesterday's (and today's) images are of the latest knit book, w/intaglio. I also feel very scattered and behind, but apparently the feeling of always catching up is endemic to workaholics. Though I'm trying to pause in the studio for a moment b/c 1. I want to do all the work for the project w/Clover, which is going to be all performance / sound / video / audio based and 2. I have no good ideas for a new copper plate. Tomorrow I might go and fool around w/long skinny scraps that I beveled last night.

I am still recovering from my movie intake this weekend: "Blood Diamond" (shudder) and "The Italian" (I loooove the shots of little Vanya sitting on the windowsill, looking outside). I think in general that anything referring directly or indirectly to chopping off hands will upset me for a while. But I tempered it by reading Susan Howe's Souls of the Labadie Tract, and finally finishing Alberto Manguel's The City of Words on a park bench yesterday. Park bench reading has been destroyed by cell phones. But I still managed to finish it! I liked best his quote from Anthony Burgess: "Editors never emend orchestra scores or panoramic paintings; why should the novelist be singled out as the one artist who doesn't understand his art?"

I'm skimming Howe's The Midnight, and my favorite from that so far is "It is fun to be hidden but horrible not to be found--the question is how to be isolated without being insulated."

Monday, March 03, 2008

Zine #2, but #1 to be posted online

In case you were curious, here are the contents of the zine I made this weekend. I'm now going to make pockets to display them in the show at Manhattan Graphics Center. Enjoy! [Ignore the weird color; I'm a notoriously poor color corrector.]

Video of my latest engineering feat

I'm going to be in a group show that opens next month in Japan. I made a piece that has a pull tab, which the curators are afraid will get damaged by use. So they made a video!