Monday, September 28, 2009


We pulled up to this building, and of the four complexes, of course I get to live here. My life felt like pure comedy. Not Aspen, or Vail, or Pico Peak, but Whiteface. But the place is clean and fine (not ideal for my work, but I'll manage) and the views are of trees, which are red right now. This weekend was a flurry of unpacking and organizing. Strange to me that Ben is even bothering to do a full unpack since he deploys in just a few months, but it will be nice to have a real home base for that time instead of a makeshift, living out of boxes existence. Yesterday, we hit four huge retail outlets and then got groceries on base. After having lunch at a chain restaurant. A pretty intense welcome to the area. I called Velma while at Lowe's for refuge and a familiar voice.

I am now snacking like a fiend while adjusting to this strange setting (but not for long, b/c I fly to Miami in a week. Terrified but still avoiding the prep). To counter that, I tried to take a walk this afternoon during a deceptive patch of sun. It had been rainy and windy all morning but the sun appeared after lunch, so I ventured out, got not very far down the road before stopping to make a phone call, and then turned to see monster storm clouds and booked it back home in the rain. So much for getting my bearings today! This was the second and last pic I got to snap, with the grass laying flat from wind.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Signing off for now

My mother is being the best lately; I haven't talked a lot about how my relationship w/my family has changed since my year in Korea. Not w/my extended family in Korea, but also w/my parents and sister back home. Overall, it's good. It's kind of weird to grow through this life phase for the first time where most parties are all growing and changing, and things are on the whole improving, AND I am fully aware of it all. Usually I can't see it until later but it's kind of amazing. You never think your parents will change, and then they do, and sometimes you have no idea how to deal with that, either. The whole becoming an adult child is also interesting to live through. I know that they still think of me as the tiny baby or small girl or whatever, but we've gotten to a good stage in the adult relationship - I'm sure that owes a lot to being able to communicate better b/c of language, life experience, and acceptance of each other.

Today, my mom took me to a Korean sauna and b/c I'll be out of town for my bday next month, she got me a scrub and massage as an early gift. It was soooo nice. I had tons of yummy steam sauna time and cold tanking and am not sure how I survived it all on so little sleep, but there are much worse things to have to survive. Ha! I esp loved having the woman working on me stand up on the table w/her feet on my feet. That's my fave, but no one ever does that.

We checked out the new Korean supermarket nearby and got goodies and staples for my move upstate since I will be in the land of nothing very Asian at all. And then browsed for clothes - I got a ridiculously cute green dress for Miami, and am horrified by the fattening of America. Since when am I a size 2?! Size altering has gotten out of control. We stopped for noodles at the Korean Chinese place near the GWB and then headed home. I'm now about 1/10th into the packing routine but keep getting distracted. I'm nervous b/c Ben hasn't gotten internet installed at the new place so I won't be reliably online until next Wed or Thurs. This hopefully will not destroy me, since I still have at least one outstanding app that has to be submitted online. I'm pretending that I have a 3-month residency on an army base, so I'll just see this as one of those "it's too windy so the connection is down" or "there was a blizzard" or "an animal ate the cables" reasons for being disconnected from the world.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hoorays and such

Tim Barrett, everyone's hero in papermaking, got the MacArthur!! We knew it was coming and I am psyched. He was a huge help to me when I was formulating my Fulbright project and my best reader b/c he pushed me to the next level when I thought I was done with it. He's been the example I always talk about re: setting up eastern papermaking with integrity back in the US.

Also, Regin Igloria is doing a big hike in Finland (as art)! He runs the res program at Ragdale and seriously works hard. I loved being able to peek at his sketchbooks (gorgeous) when I was a resident there a couple years back.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The itch

Last night after reading a very dense obligatory book, I laid in bed and started to get really itchy. Not the poison ivy - that's finally subsiding a bit. It's the "I have to soak that load of scrap hanji and pulp it" itch. It's exactly how Terttu gets when she doesn't shoot for a long time: "I start to twitch."

So, today I pulled out all the bits of hanji that were cut off of weaving pieces and whatnot and laid them out to soak. I also finally uncapped my bin of papermaking supplies and was so grateful to my self of 2 years ago for ordering and storing formation aid!! Since I was laying in bed last night worrying that I didn't have any goo to make decent homemade sheets. Then I put my apron on and inked up another sheet and made a new piece. I'd do more right away if I had the floor space but have to wait for it to dry before I can move it. If everything goes well, I'll have another piece done today and pulp ready for a few tiny sheets tomorrow!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sheer brilliance

Tam just gave me the link to her friend Lainie's new website, and I had to slap myself to stop reading every single comic this morning; otherwise, I would still be reading now and have gotten nothing done whatsoever. All of her work is great, and I love the site itself. Especially how the little girl appears and disappears - the line drawing, then her shadow, and then her silhouette in another color! It took a little while for me to figure out how to navigate the comics, but they are SO good.

Oh, and we got press in Time Out New York for the comics show opening next week!

Still, Lainie's stuff totally takes the cake. This one made me laugh aloud. And I was looking for the one w/a huge cake on the right side of the page (see, my only partially photographic memory is useless), and just got sucked into looking at more for the last few minutes. Go and see for yourself. They are the bomb.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hard vs not hard

Jami noted yesterday that I like to put myself in hard situations. I'm not sure why I am always surprised when I hear this, but asked my sister today and she confirmed it. Her theory is that I got bad information in college from a ridiculous boy about how I haven't "suffered" enough in my life so I fell into the trap and made life harder for myself on purpose.

But I can't conceive of how I could make my life less hard, without major sacrifices to my personal fulfillment. Today was a big admin day, which is always gross, but then I finally rolled up work and made floor space and laid down the plastic sheeting and inked up. I realized as I ground ink why it's good for me to do this kind of labor: it's the only thing that reduces drama. Inner drama, that is.

So now that about eight big sheets of hanji are inked and six are glued together, it's time to curl up w/a book before I get back at it.

They're turning off the WATER tomorrow from 8am to 5pm (I still am baffled by why this is even allowed), so I've been thinking all day about fasting and collecting water in the bathtub. I keep thinking about the 5-gallon condensed milk buckets from Rebecca in grad school from the bakery she worked at years ago that I had to give up in one of many moves. I would love to have them now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jami Tuesday

I had all these brilliant things to report but then got caught up in the usual admin BS and now I am barely awake. But the short version is that I had lunch with Jami and then we hung out at her place and swapped stories and she gave me sage advice on everything that matters. She talked about forcing herself to interact with people b/c it's a good thing to do for all those involved and I kind of felt like, why bother if you don't feel like it? But then I left and thought about everything she had said and realized that it IS really important to do that (at least in my case) since otherwise I end up thinking in irrational and paranoid circles. Even when I think I don't feel like it and would be perfectly happy to be alone for long stretches of time with no meaningful human contact - as in, in-person contact. This is key.

So today was totally worth it even though I aggravated my poison ivy by wearing shoes and walking. It's probably my last solid girl date this year. I could be wrong, but I really have to do admin work that acts like Medusa and rest the foot and finish up some art.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Take easy

I had a profound desire for a chunk of the afternoon to be horizontal and reading. So I read this for a bit. Eventually I righted myself and have found some fantastic notes from a performance class in grad school:

People get real upset about real estate

People are confident jerks

American dream = OWNERSHIP

Waiting/patience/commitment creates anxiety

Our large ego (developed for survival, superpredators) is a specific insanity, and it is a challenge to overcome that ego

No sense anymore of gratitude and sacrifice

The weather is perfectly balanced in terms of light, temperature, and wind. I patched some hanji that came unglued. I sent a proposal and printed floor plans. I browsed this. I ran for 20 minutes. I unrolled a piece from three years ago and rolled it up again. Same with a piece from nine years ago. I ate an apple. It's that kind of Monday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Women, friends, yay

Today was gorgeous! I met Helena near her NYC digs and we got lunch to eat on the park along the Hudson River. I had been telling her about Barbara, my friend and teacher from 7th-12th grade. On our way to tea at Helena's place, waiting to cross the street, you guessed it: Barbara pulls up to the stop sign! I flagged her down and introduced them in the middle of the road. It was really quite amazing. Tea and company were wonderfully nourishing and it was a trip to see each other in NY after having only spent time together in Korea. She's going back soon, and I'm jealous. But I am also thrilled that she is spending more time there. Her insights and perspective are different from most everyone I know, so I love having her in my life and being able to connect in person when our paths cross.

Then, I rushed downtown (going from UWS to LES was less painful than I feared; I think the good mood helped. I'm also getting better at letting go of anxiety about being late once it's fully out of my control since trains don't fly) to go to Ching-In's reading. It was a sweet crowd and the best part was seeing Maria at the end! We went to a bar around the corner and got simultaneously acquainted and caught up - we've been in touch thru email for probably over a year now, and tonight was our first in-person meeting. She was the one I turned to when I got to Korea last year and was mercilessly thrown into the "you're not married?!" culture. We shared our grief and I was able to provide her with fresh material for her work, which she describes succinctly.

I do have to say, though, that coming home to that awful news about the woman at Yale was a buzzkill. Unspeakably sad.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Eee! I just found out that I've been giving out the wrong info for months about perilla. It's NOT wild sesame, it's just called that for no reason. Thank goodness my food science-trained dad clued me in: it's actually part of the mint family and not related to sesame at all. I want to clear that up since I hate spreading misinformation. Oil extracted from perilla seeds is what my hanji teacher uses to oil his paper, and it goes from a light yellow to a deep orange over time. And smells SO good.

The other major misconception is worse, but harder to counter: the whole "rice paper" confusion. I go crazy when people refer to hanji (or any thin sheets with long fibers formed w/eastern techniques) as "rice paper" and then lecture them about how there's no such thing. Rice makes crappy paper, and the best you can get is rice straw paper. At that point, you might as well eat newsprint. I won't continue on this rant b/c I've already done it before.

The good news: I mailed off three apps today and was invited to do another show upstate! Yes, crazy, but it will be work from the first show and some older work that would be just right, so I'm going for it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Vertigo, again!

I woke up this morning with vertigo. Not too intense, but coupled with the tiny bit of poison ivy on my foot, I had a bit of a rough night and morning. This is the third bout of vertigo I've had in four years and I suspect it's from last night's painting of five of my fingernails. I seem to suffer in odd years: 2005, 2007, 2009. So I took it easy today, sewing up two books, napping, watching "Persepolis," and mailing lots of art. Some of you will have gifts landing in your mailbox in a few days (others will have them placed in your hands this weekend in NYC when I emerge from hiding). Today is a special day: Melissa's bday!

[When Stefan shot this, I thought, "man, they look weird. Like things marching off a UFO."] I finally did some website updates. I put up info on where to buy things here, and finally made public the mail art story that is hanging in my current show (they had been private b/c they are dreadful snapshots). If you start here, you can click thru the latest images of the latest work from last month. The big 2D ones are hidden until my next show gets hashed out.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor day sloth

[The final piece in the show: hand-ground ink on perilla seed oiled hanji - perilla is in the mint family and commonly used in lots of Korean cuisine, especially the leaves. The oiled paper goes from a light yellow to deep yellow to deep orange over time and UV/air exposure.] I still could use way more sleep but it didn't happen today.

Yesterday morning before the opening, I walked around the town, which truly is a hamlet. Tiny, quiet, one general store, and that is it.

This was the old school, I think. There is a much more contemporary one built behind the main road with huge fields for a playground, baseball field, and rolling hills.

I barely took pictures of the show and forgot to take a huge stack of postcards to blanket anyone I meet in the next month. But Bright Hill will have readings that will bring more local people into the space, and that's really who the show is for.

Susan gave me this print as a gift, which I loved instantly. It's already above my bed. In her words,
the three women in the print represent the Three Sisters of Haudenosaunee tradition ... Three Sacred Sisters: Corn, Beans & Squash, primary food staples of the People of the Longhouse. Of course, in many cultures three women show up in one way or another ... this is how they show up in our tradition. They also go back to our Sky Woman Creation Story, because when Sky Woman fell through a hole in the Sky World she grabbed at the Celestial Tree up there ... one thing she pulled off the Tree were seeds to grow Corn, Beans & Squash ... she also pulled off Tobacco and so when we make Tobacco offerings and pray in that way, it goes back to our first home.

I chose the Sisters because we are women friends and because over the years you have sent me photographs of you and women friends .... very important among Haudenosaunee people for women to be support each other and be of strong and brave heart and give to their community. I see you as doing this.
No need for me to add to the poetry of a poet.

This was on a trail that I walked with my sister and her husband today at Wave Hill, our little outing before having family time.

This was my absolute favorite drawing of my visit upstate. I had done the loop from the gallery to the church and up to the main drag, leading down the hill past the new school, and back, but had to do it again just to shoot this.

The library lives in the same building as the gallery. It's non-circulating and not catalogued yet, and covers only humanities, but it's a wonderful space for the community. I spent a good deal of my weekend in the children's loft on the floor working on my laptop.

I assume that this church is why it's named Church Street. The parishioners just came and went for the 9:15 service, no fuss, no muss.

My parents were really shocked by the back-country nature of this area, but it felt totally familiar and normal to me. It made me realize how much traveling I've done on my own path and how it leads me to places that all feel familiar, or come to be that way. Of course, a comfortable home is a wonderful thing to return to, but I find nothing weird or out of the ordinary about me ending up in green, quiet, sparsely-populated places with no cell phone reception.

This made me recognize that showing here is exactly what I was meant to do. The people who come are attentive and actually read the work, so it was ideal that there was such a heavy text component (makes sense, this being a word and image gallery). Everything fit. I had panicked in CT, thinking I didn't have enough work for the space, but it was just fine, especially since I recognized the great value of breathing space for work. I feel lucky to have a place where I was encouraged to show old work b/c it felt like a short retrospective, giving continuity to work that seemed all over the place when considered separately.

In my artist talk, I went through the two galleries, talking about the journey that started with the dying of a longtime friend, to losing her and my search alone, to constant traveling and traversing various media in the wandering. In the story that serves as the anchor to the exhibit, the wandering girl finally decides to return home and that is when the hanji kicks in (as in, literally, becomes part of the artwork). As my statement said, "This is the country that holds many of the stories that complete my own."

The audience was wonderful, invested, and followed my wandering right onto the path of last year, even when I did the show-and-tell portion of my talk with hanji objects and pieces. Someone asked what was next, and I realized that I will be at this forever: I like beating at the messy paths too much to go mainstream. And I've been on its fringes for so long that it feels perfectly normal to me. So, after today's lack of exercise, tomorrow is back to work: full force into Show #2.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

There and back, hooray

I'm home after a long day of waiting for the opening, then doing it and the talk, and then making the trip back. It went well - a respectable crowd given holiday timing and location - and the heart of it being that the people who gave birth to the people who made this show possible were all there. I figure, if I can give an artist talk in front of my parents and the parents of my friend whose dying and death inspired the bulk of the show, I can do anything. And I'm not talking about giving a lecture to a darkened auditorium; these people were all nearly in my lap.

There were some special surprise visits, too. Lavinia and Susan both made trips to cap the start and end of the opening, and I got a good grilling on my artist statement, which proved that people actually read them! I didn't put explanatory text up as I thought that I would, but am still okay with how it turned out. More on why this was the ideal spot for me to show, and show this particular work, after I get some rest.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The calm before

Lunch and a walk today w/Barbara was lovely, though I feel like all I do anymore in conversations is monopolize them. Pictures of my artwork in CT, and of my studio work.

Time to nap before I cram tonight for this weekend's trip, install, and opening.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Avoiding the underground

Ah, the wondrous booklet that lists the artist-in-residence programs (I still wish there was a site w/good hyperlinks directly to the program sites) was uploaded in PDF form. I read the hard copy a few nights ago in bed. I highly recommend such activity. Click here, then scroll down and click the rainbow-y swatched cover.

I heard some horrible rumor about the national parks being collateral to China for mortgaging our national debt. And a story from a friend who went solo to Zion National Park, and through a valley saw a Walmart. He went to his room afterwards, threw a fit, and cried. I'm glad that I have friends who are moved this way but wish more people in the world were. I finally got a few pics from my month on Connecticut's only national park land uploaded.

Today was quite a day. A heavy morning load of work, writing, show prep, exercise, family time, catching up barely w/Ching-In back from China, and then dashing down for a long shoot. I don't know how Stefan does it, but he's such a pro. I always have too much to carry to bring my own camera, but if you saw the rigging for these shoots ... they're often more impressive than the art itself!! Also, traveling with a 4.5-foot roll of paper that can't be jostled on either end is quite a challenge. I have managed to make it into town and not ride the subway, which is something I've been dreading. Let's see how long I can keep it up.

Meeting family and a friend for dinner in Koreatown was a nice way to cap the day. Hopefully tomorrow won't be as intense, and I'll have enough down time to get everything packed for the trip and install on Saturday for my show.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Almost ready

[I keep forgetting: I'm in this super cool show at the Center for Book Arts in NY that opens on Sept 23.] My fingers were covered in too much glue today to shoot. I prepped almost all of the big hanji pieces so that they are rigged to hang so that Stefan doesn't go insane when I bring them tomorrow for a photo shoot.

Also, I was going to say that it is so hard to find all the NPS residency programs, but there is a list (info is kind of outdated, but better than nothing).