Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mission accomplished!

FINALLY. I bit the bullet today and printed on my huge knit piece, and it turned out okay! Whew. It was the perfect day to do it: the studio was nearly empty so I could hog a press and engage in all sorts of activity normally not seen in an etching studio. Sally, the head of the scholarship committee, was there, which was great b/c she's been incredibly supportive from the very beginning, and I really like working there when she's in. Today she taught me a tip about getting ink off my hands: rub down with veggie oil! Gross, but it does the trick AND moisturizes. I know this is something that probably every printmaker and person w/common sense in the world knows, but it was my "you learn something new every day" item.

Other items of note:
1. In the studio, I heard someone ask Sally, "do you know about paper grain?" and I jumped into action: "I DO!!" I ran to wash my hands (the wrong way, w/soap and a nailbrush - this was before I learned the oil trick) and then helped Lou figure out the grain on his paper. I bet that's how doctors feel when someone yells, "is there a doctor in the house?!" It's the first time I felt like I had specialized knowledge that was really useful to someone else in a time of need. Wohoo!

2. I had another amaza-yoga class w/Naz. Love her.

3. While killing time between the print studio and yoga studio, I pored thru travel books on Korea. On my way out, I walked past a card display and suddenly halted and turned around, b/c I had glimpsed "BITTER WITH BAGGAGE SEEKS SAME" out of the corner of my eye. LO! Sloane Tanen's chicks on notecards. I had to buy them. Why? B/c they're hilarious and smart, and b/c Stefan, my photog extraordinaire, is the photog for the chicks! I remember when they were in the subway cars years ago. I hadn't realized the breadth and depth of Sloane's oeuvre so I was joyful to finally start browsing.

4. I am slated to give an artist talk on Saturday, May 17 at 6pm at the Manhattan Graphics Center. Come! Ellie, the other scholarship student, and I will be talking about our work and there will be refreshments. More info on that once I figure out what I'll be showing (I'll be bringing work that I've printed over the last three months).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"I never understood at all"

Jens Lekman has been on the brain a lot lately. Today was a surprisingly positive and productive day at work. I will hopefully get to work a day in the papermill soon on a project for identidades.04. And I finished sewing up the big book tonight! So I'll deliver it tomorrow. Then, just one wedding poster, one big long knit print, and I will feel really good once May rolls around. And, I got my new passport today in the mail already! How speedy.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zoning out

This is something I didn't do today: hit the studio and print. I am definitely cycling out of this pocket of time and space, pretty much done with etching. I have one major project to finish (which I've been avoiding now for a month b/c it's too scary to contemplate what its failure could look like) and that's it! Good timing, too, since I am getting weird wrist pain from all the repetitive motions of printmaking. I'm really looking forward to working at my little sewing table at home and working around my schedule.

Today was all self-care, including yoga with Naz and acupuncture with Isobeau. Good news: Angelo finally got a website! And here is another poem from the Language for a New Century anthology:

by Bimbal Nibha

It's been a few days since
my bicycle has vanished
Do you know where I might find it?

It's true that my cycle is small
its tires are bald
they have too little air
the color is faded
the stand is broken
the kinetic light is faulty
the bell trills softly
the pedal move slowly
the chain is old
the handlebars are askew
the wheel is bent and
it has no carrier or lock

Yet no matter what
even if it's flawed and defective
even if it's shabby
no matter what, that cycle is mine
The weight of my body lies on its seat
The measure of my feet fills its pedals
The print of my hands marks its handlebars
My breath rests in each part of that cycle
I am there
That cycle is my life

(What kind of place is this
not unknown to me, my own village
where in the bright light of midday
a whole life can vanish?
Do you know where I might find it?)

It's been a few days since
my bicycle has vanished
Do you know where I might find it?

Translated from the Nepali by Manjushree Thapa

Monday, April 21, 2008

Poetry for a new century

I just finished Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar. Not in any way that does it justice, but I had been looking forward to reading it ever since Tina sent out the info about it last year. [The book party is this Friday!] It's a remarkable anthology, with SO much great poetry. The editors wrote really beautiful introductions to each of the nine sections, too, which in turn are given names pulled from poetry in each section. In the last section, called "The Quivering World," Tina Chang begins with a simple sentence: "Once, in New York, I fell in love." Ah! So devastating. For the section called "This House, My Bones," Ravi Shankar writes:
Actually, let me recant that statement. There is a spot in my parent's yard in Virginia, not within the house itself but on the margins of our lawn, where wild honeysuckle and hydrangea bloomed. There was an alder bush the size of a small shed under the overhanging trees and I found a hollow space within it where I could burrow. This became my safe haven in the summertime, when I was seething with anger, unable to stand the sight of a classmate or to communicate with my father; when I was contemplative and wanted to look out at the world but not be seen; or when I sought a simple shade from the afternoon in which to nap. That patch of dirt, with its astringent odor and scrim of green where I could hide, became the place I felt most comfortable. Because it was shorn of history, except for a personal one, because it was simultaneously safe and uncultivated, a vast cosmos with just enough space to breathe. I was freest under this bush.
It reminds me of bushes once outside of our apartment building, big enough to create spaces for my sister and me to crawl into during the winter, and create shelters in the snow. The branches were covered with enough snow to protect us from the outside world, and inside was white spaciousness. We'd tamp down the snow and lay down, all quiet and content. Sadly, the management decided to tear out these bushes to make the lawn just one big expanse of grass, and then our lairs disappeared.

To close is a poem by Shankar:


There's nowhere else I'd rather not be than here,
But here I am nonetheless, dispossessed,
Though not quite, because I never owned
What's been taken from me, never have belonged
In and to a place, a people, a common history.
Even as a child when I was slurred in school--
Towel head, dot boy, camel jockey--
None of the abuse was precise: only Sikhs
Wear turbans, widows and young girls bindis,
Not one species of camel is indigenous to India . . .
If, as Simone Weil writes, to be rooted
Is the most important and least recognized need
Of the human soul, behold: I am an epiphyte.
I conjure sustenance from thin air and the smell
Of both camphor and meatloaf equally repel me.
I've worn a lungi pulled between my legs,
Done designer drugs while subwoofers throbbed,
Sipped masala chai steaming from a tin cup,
Driven a Dodge across the Verrazano in rush hour,
And always to some degree felt extraneous,
Like a meteorite happened upon bingo night.
This alien feeling, honed in aloneness to an edge,
Uses me to carve an appropriate mask each morning.
I'm still unsure what effect it has on my soul.

Learning to be a normal person

First - look at how great the gas station looks!! This is an image from Jennifer Marsh's installation of a zillion squares of handmade fiber panels sent by people all over the world, to cover an abandoned gas station, to focus on our extreme oil dependency. This year’s project is called the World Reclamation Art Project (W.R.A.P.) and the opening reception is on May 3 in Syracuse, NY. I sent a square a while back made of knitted plastic bags and I am SO happy that she was able to really make this happen! Seeing the images of installation reminded me of my own process with my brick wall, and it's nice to be part of something this big but not have to install it. Hahaa!

This weekend, I tried really hard to just have a weekend - the kind that I hear normal people have, where you don't work and you do fun things to relax. We had a family dinner out in Chinatown for my dad's birthday this week, and I spent a lot of time with my sister and her husband just vegging out, doing spring cleaning, and watching "2 Days in Paris." I put in about three hours in the studio yesterday, but did my best to be laid back about it, not pushing myself to do too much, and stopping once I got good results at the press.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Theeeeey're home.

After a few postponements, the delivery of bricks finally happened today. I can't believe that the museum wanted to save money by having the crates just dumped outside. I mean, I can, but I'm glad that Dennis of Craters and Freighters was kind enough to call and ask if that's really want I wanted to do. There were three crates, and he just opened them up and I ran the bricks inside. Now they're in a massive pile next to my bed and I really can't be bothered right now as to what the next step is. But I'll do it soon.

In the meantime, my wedding gigs have been stressing me like mad. As well as passport renewal stuff. I finally just took the car and drove over to a CVS and got my picture taken. I don't look all puffy like the photo I've had for the last ten years, but for the next ten years, I'm going to look like an ax murderer. I hope Korea doesn't reject me for a visa based on these photos. But the good news: I made an acupuncture appointment for Friday to address my TMJ, thanks to Jami! And hopefully I'll get myself to Feldenkrais class tomorrow.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Papanicolaou = ??!

Whoa! I had forgotten the way that the medical system works, being so long out of the loop. The fasting allowed more time to do work since I couldn't eat or drink, and the shipper decided not to come today w/the bricks, but next week. But I had no idea that I had to get certain things done. I was hoping that a rectal exam could be skipped (turned into a "we'll skip it, no, we won't skip it!" decision) and then what was up with "Papanicolaou required over age 21" - I totally didn't recognize that as a Pap smear. I got blood taken and also a PPD and ALSO a lesson about tetanus shots: they're made in horses! Or something like that. He asked if I was allergic to horse serum. I said I'm allergic to horses but their serum, who knows! So we skipped a booster b/c he didn't want me to go into anaphylactic shock. But is that really the only way to manufacture a tetanus shot?

Anyhow. I was supposed to hit the studio tonight but that whole experience knocked me out cold - I took a to-the-dead-and-back nap and will be lucky if I am able to review an app for Elizabeth before the night is up. Good news - last night, I finally finished knitting my second panel for printing!!! It took a month (and with some fast and furious knitting, too. I underestimated how huge that skein was - I had no idea the final piece would be as tall as me but that is actually a blessing). But as much as I enjoy life w/o doctor visits, I appreciate this one making the time for uninsured little me on such short notice. Fulbright really puts the heat on, b/c the medical forms - with all required are due within three weeks of acceptance. Three weeks?! Doesn't it usually take at least four to just schedule an appointment?!