Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another countdown

[These boys make me sad that I am not as active as I used to be. Brenda Ueland said in a footnote: "...I think that women to be complete should be physically strong and agile too." - not just "learned and beautiful."] I only just realized about a day ago, or maybe just this morning, that I am flying to Miami in a week to promote my show during Art Basel. Ack!!

Because in between now and then, I have a long drive to Boston and back for the holiday w/Ben's family, a big app, and recovering from whatever this illness is.

I try to think about it in baby steps, but it's like baby steps going at warp speed. But I did finish Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write today, and loved this: "... if you have a million dollars in the bank and don't know it, it doesn't do you any good." So here's to feeling grateful for what I have and spending it wisely.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I hung the show just fine (it's good to feel like I learn each time, and keep learning, to make my installs easier. Today I got to use a laser level, which I've never done before) and the opening was just fine and there were no incidents on the road and that is that! Here are the pictures.

I had noticed this building on my last trip to Syracuse, but I was driving so I couldn't photograph it. I'm totally beat and sad I can't get all my work done tonight but I should turn in before it's way too late so that we get a decent start on the 6-hour drive to Philly tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I saw fun animals today on my walk along the tracks and also realized that the nearest gate and gas station are walkable, if necessary. And also random small bales of hay on the edges of wooded areas. So weird.

Tomorrow I head to Syracuse to install and open my last solo show of the season! I will be really happy and relieved when it's all over. If you are in the area, it opens at 5pm at the downtown Y. And if I wasn't driving, I'd definitely be drinking. Wohoo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More Mary Oliver

[I got up super early from stress and dealt with it by watching trashy TV, prepping Thursday's show, and weaving.] I read Marianne Moore's "The Fish" in Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook, and started to wonder if I had read this book before. Then I read Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish" and was convinced. When I read this passage, I knew for sure that I had read part of the book, and that it was likely in 12th-grade English (taught by the bestest, most exuberant, and forward-thinking teacher a girl could dream for):
Early in my life I determined not to teach because I like teaching very much. I thought if I was going to be a real poet--that is, write the best poetry I possibly could--I would have to guard my time and energy for its production, and thus I should not, as a daily occupation, do anything else that was interesting. Of necessity I worked for many years at many occupations. None of them, in keeping with my promise, was interesting.

Among the things I learned in those years were two of special interest to poets. First, that one can rise early in the morning and have time to write (or, even, to take a walk and then write) before the world's work schedule begins. Also, that one can live simply and honorably on just about enough money to keep a chicken alive. And do so cheerfully.

This I have always known--that if I did not live my life immersed in the one activity which suits me, and which also, to tell the truth, keeps me utterly happy and intrigued, I would come someday to bitter and mortal regret.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recover to run again

[Late lunch on Sunday at Log Jam.] I'm taking today as a lazy morning before getting started on the work for hanging and opening my show in Syracuse this Thursday. I got pics online of the weekend opening in Lake George (I know; I should have set the camera for the lights before handing it over to Ben so they're not so yellow. But there's only so many brain cells left after road tripping). I wanted also to share the work of Laura Von Rosk, who is the gallery director and a great painter. Even just this morning I was having dreams w/eerie landscapes reminiscent of her work.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Almost hung!

This is the building where the Lake George gallery lives - in the back of it. Which is the front of this photo. My rental car is parked on the side, and it was SO great to just get up early and get a head start and work alone in the gallery for about 3 hours yesterday morning. I had arrived in the afternoon totally demoralized by the drive, and spent the whole evening in bed, stressing in very active but unhealthy ways.

So even though I got very little sleep, yesterday's install went well. Plus the morning light comes right into the gallery and it was a gorgeous day, so I was totally on it, and had all the work off the floor or table by the time Laura arrived to help hang some more and light. I marked the rest of the work, and left it in her able hands to finish the install as I hit the road for an uneventful drive back. I had considered taking the highway back, but decided to try and overcome the misery of the day before by taking the same route back through the mountains to get over my distress. It was prettier this time around, maybe b/c traffic was less stressful, the time of day, and the fact that the show was pretty much taken care of.

I forgot to shoot three of the pieces b/c I was in such a rush, but I have a basic sketch of the show up here. It's a really airy show - Laura said it makes you feel like you're floating. That's good, b/c that was the sense I wanted of this: everything OFF the floor. Off of most anything, really (walls, floors, surfaces...though there are a couple pedestals in there). I returned the car and had a funny convo w/the owner of the rental place while I waited for Ben, who arrived to sing me endless songs about how I'm a speeder, to try and help me not feel badly about it (not sure that was the best tactic, but it was levity, at least). We went to an Indian place for dinner, which totally hit the spot. We had to run errands afterwards, which did not, but I slept really hard last night and today has been a decent day of recovery.

I've been noting how self-destructive my stress and anxiety habits are, but also observing how exacerbated they are by my isolation. Usually, I would have had the traumatic experience (being pulled over and ticketed) and then hashed it out a billion times w/friends and family, which would have helped dissipate the initial awfulness. But this time I was essentially eaten up by myself for the next three hours in the car alone w/no phone reception, and then met strangers. It's really interesting, seeing how I do in longer periods of isolation. It's a weird thing, where I simultaneously feel totally fine and disturbingly off. But what helped a LOT w/perspective was kicking back and watching "The Business of Being Born," where I cried every single time a baby popped out. It was intense. But great info. Disturbing, of course, but not surprising if you consider anything that relates to women, babies, and their health. Now I'm going to veg even more and watch "Street Fight." I love having a sister who can recommend good documentaries!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bummer! But a feature, too

Only half the show is hung, so tomorrow morning I hope to hit the gallery early and get most of the hard stuff done before Laura, the gallery director, and her intern arrive to help out. In my nervousness on one-lane county routes and not being used to the rental car, I ended up getting pulled over and ticketed. I've lost my speeding violation virginity! And it felt dreadful. The cop was perfectly neutral and not rude (this is always my fear) and a woman wearing silver wedding bands. It happened only about an hour into a 4-hour ride w/o no phone reception, so I had to drive the rest of the way feeling upset and then was punished by being trapped smack in the middle of a military convoy on a mountain route for an hour, going 30-40 mph. AGH!!

But at least the cars in Lake George actually stop for pedestrians at crosswalks with no lights! I was SO SHOCKED that I started to wave the car that stopped for me by, but then all the other ones stopped, too. It was like life on another planet.

The good news: the feature article on me came out in the local paper and it looks faboo in print. Plus, the editor was so kind as to leave out most of my TMI. I'm staying at a super wonderful board member's home for the evening and hope to just sleep off the difficult day in hopes that tomorrow will be 100% positive: a well-hung show done on time, a safe drive back, and more time to snap pics - the gallery is right on the water.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Weekend itches + it takes a village

I haven't been able to work on any of my stuff since Friday during the daytime, but at least the apt is clean. Yesterday, Ben took me to the arts and craft center so that we could both get trained and cleared to use the wood shop and ceramics studio. The latter was not as exciting, since none of what I would find interesting (glazes, firing, throwing, and hand building) are part of it, but the wood shop was an interesting social experience. Five men, one male teacher (all military), and me. Luckily the teacher only made a couple references to me being weaker than everyone else. He could tell I was terrified at times - either from my hanging back or likely the look on my face - and set the pushing guide next to the table saw even though I was the only one who used it. Or he'd say, "don't be afraid of the machines; just respect them." I enjoyed the DANGER signs with bloody hands with severed fingers. He also liked to say often, "don't but the Bluebeard lock on it!" I only understood this reference since reading the wolves book a few months back.

It made me appreciate the time and place I grew up, b/c I was in a public school system that still saw fit and had the budget to have mandatory wood and metal shop starting in 7th grade. That was the most shop experience I've ever had. Everywhere since, in schools and residencies, I mostly steered clear of the equipment. But yesterday felt like middle school again. Except that the boys were a lot better behaved and polite!

Also, an interview I did with Wura Ogunji is up on the Diaspora Vibe blog. After having read Outliers recently, I wanted to add shout-outs, in the order that they are mentioned:

Thanks to Helena Meyer-Knapp, who has been a great supporter of my work and working life from the first time we met in Seoul over a big group Fulbright dinner.

Thanks to Younghui Kim in Andong, who was a grounding inspiration and guide to me on two visits there, where she made exquisite tea in her hanji-covered home, and told me the story about her mother using a woven hanji chamber pot on her journey to her husband's home for marriage.

Thanks to Rosie Gordon-Wallace, for having the faith in me and my vision to invite me to show in Miami, with work sight unseen.

Thanks to the artist residency program run by the Weir Farm Arts Center at the Weir Farm National Historic Site, for the perfect place and time to be alone, and work.

Thanks to Mi-Kyoung Lee, an artist and fiber arts professor at UArts in Philly, for being such a pivotal teacher for me at Haystack for two weeks right before I left for Korea. And thanks to Haystack for the scholarship making it possible to be there!

Thanks to all the women in my life. And all the men in my life.

Thanks to my family. All of it.

Thanks to Oberlin College's Allen Art Museum for having such a great collection, open to its students, and Robert Harrist for bringing our class to the museum to see Chinese paintings on hanji.

Thanks to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for hiring me to run its education programs, where I met a headhunter who was the best friend of the woman who founded and chaired the department (thanks, Suzanne!) where I eventually went to grad school.

Thanks to Nanette Yannuzzi-Macias for introducing me to book arts in the most expansive way possible.

Thanks for all of my teachers and mentors in Chicago, especially Melissa Jay Craig, my graduate advisor and the one who could tell from my app that I wanted to do this and later was the one who kept me from dropping out of school.

Thanks to Andrea Peterson for nurturing my initial venture into papermaking.

Thanks to Jami Attenberg, who wrote Instant Love.

Big up to my hometown public library!!!

Thanks to Joan Dickinson, a performance teacher who helped me get a much clearer framework for thinking about and performance art.

Thanks to Daniel Gardner for teaching me about service learning, and the study abroad program that made it possible for me to do it overseas.

The obvious one but maybe not directly mentioned: thanks to the U.S. Fulbright program for making it possible for me to spend that year in Korea!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

And a shirt

Apparently, I also inked the shirt I was wearing yesterday. More studio clothes! But I did start inventory for next week's install, so things are moving along, albeit slowly. The weaving is what kills me. Since I am not convinced it is what is necessary for this show, but to find that out takes HOURS, and then I have a sore back, wake up feeling like I have whiplash, and nothing to write into the inventory.

I started reading Mary Oliver's A Poetry Handbook and loved this:
The part of the psyche that works in concert with consciousness and supplies a necessary part of the poem--the heat of a star as opposed to the shape of a star, let us say--exists in a mysterious, unmapped zone: not unconscious, not subconscious, but cautious. It learns quickly what sort of courtship it is going to be. Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings, from seven to nine. It waits, it watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself--soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly, or it will not appear at all.

Why should it? It can wait. It can stay silent a lifetime. Who knows anyway what it is, that wild, silky part of ourselves without which no poem can live? But we do know this: if it is going to enter into a passionate relationship and speak what is in its own portion of your mind, the other responsible and purposeful part of you had better be a Romeo. It doesn't matter if risk is somewhere close by--risk is always hovering somewhere. But it won't involve itself with anything less than a perfect seriousness.

Monday, November 02, 2009

There go another pair of pants

[Susan's 3rd piece in class.] After Ben very gracefully exited his comfort zone to do Potsdam and the arts community with me on Saturday, we had a Sunday morning fight where I refused to work out at the gym down the road. He tried to explain to me that just as we had talked in class on Saturday about kids who are told that they can/not do or be certain things (our convo focused on kids whose creativity is negated and stifled by teachers who think it has to look a certain way), I had gotten the Wrong Idea early in life about my athletic ability.

[The demo piece I made in Miami during my artist talk; Ben liked it so much he insisted that he get to keep it so I hung it over the TV.] I survived the gym and the sweaty boys doing their weight training yesterday (and even shot hoops!), which prepared me for another round today. An unexpected crew of men arrived this morning to rip out and replace a countertop. Lots of grunting and complaining about liquid nails, the wrong size of x and y, who ordered this piece, etc. LOTS of loud noises. I got two pieces done and started unsatisfying and weird pieces, but then realized I had to get out early for my walk b/c of the time change. I walked along the tracks and on the way back saw three teenaged boys approaching, which always freaks me out. Once I got close enough to see their matching sneakers with different colored laces (white, red, and cyan), one of them said hi and smiled. That SO made my day, since it already tipped the scales of how many live people I run into on a daily basis around here. Then, I saw a kid running after his very unruly and unleashed dog, who zipped across the street whenever he saw a vehicle approaching (cars, vans, school buses). Though if that dog lives here and stays home most of the day, I don't blame him for bolting and hurling himself into danger the moment he gets a chance at freedom.

[I made this as a demo in class this weekend.] I got back and tried to fix up the piece I started earlier today, but I don't like how the iron mordant smells when the hanji is wet again; it makes me paranoid about it seeping into my skin, too. But it's coming along. And, of course, I ruined another pair of perfectly fine pants inking it. I knew I should have worn the apron!!