Thursday, May 31, 2012

This way or that

Here is Marci's painting hanging in the lobby. Recognize the green? I'm glad that little piece of her is here but I am greedy and would like all of her to still be here. I've met the two new visual artists who arrived today and there is still a writer to arrive tonight, maybe another soon.
I had a very short violin session in the morning and realize I think of it now like morning prayer. Except it was very painful in my back today b/c of the dang chamber pot, so I had to stop early. To do what? Of course, get back to the pot. I realized WAY too late in the first wall that I did the subtraction of spokes wrong--I needed to clip them before I twined past them but forgot because it has been so long. So the hope is that I dye it some dark color and it becomes hard to see those mistakes.
But I finally got to the top rim and then started to turn it back around after twining a round. I think it will be smaller than my first pot and squatter. Regardless of the mistakes, it has already been a very good lesson.
I just wish it didn't hurt my body so much.
I wanted to keep going and going and going but I need to pay heed to the pain signals so there is a sweet potato in the oven and maybe I'll get myself onto the bike this evening for a quick circle around campus for some air.

Loyal or dumb

I finished this in the morning with the scrap of Alabama kozo that Velma shared with me. The paint was mixed by Marci weeks ago and I laughed so much at the huge blob of it and insisted that I sit down in her studio and paint alongside her, just to use up some of it (and as an excuse to keep hanging out with her even while she was working).
Slowly but surely. Not exactly the way I imagined it, but still okay. I also corded a LOT more today while indulging in some TV and a movie. I practiced violin in my studio because no one was really here yet in terms of people who could be woken up. The acoustics are INSANE. A little over the top, the reverb, but good for a soaring feeling. I even visited the gym here for the first time. I am quite out of shape but now I know the landscape there and can plan accordingly.
We have one new artist in the house! Cobi came over and we talked for a good long time and laughed a lot and had a delicious and ridiculously filling El Salvadorian dinner. We hung out in the courtyard for a while after that and John talked about me being loyal (like not ditching my dentist after he threw a hissy fit about me getting dental work done in Korea by a different dentist) and how it can be good but also that I get taken advantage of. I always thought it meant that I was stupid. I never thought of myself as loyal but maybe I'll think about it some more. In the meantime, I'm testing out my studio at nighttime for the first time, with some tea. So far, so good.

p.s. - a poem I much needed to read in this moment by my friend Joana.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I was so excited to get to the post office today and mail away all the work that I have been doing for the past week, weeks, month, year. Then I came back and realized I wanted to get off campus and finally see some museums. We get free passes to a bunch, so I picked up a pass and went to Museum Hill. This was a drawing from the folk art of the Andes exhibit at the Museum of International Folk Art. It was the first thing I saw, and I was peering at the paper, so curious. Guess what it is? Pith paper made in Canton, China. The artwork was done in the mid-1800s by workshop artists in China but the drawings were by Francisco "Pancho" Fierro, a self-taught artist from Lima. His work was popular, so they would reproduce them in China and then ship them to Peru and sell them to tourists and seamen.
This was in the same museum's permanent collection. That's how I've felt this last week. Just that one gallery is PACKED with a ridiculous amount of work.
I loved this one but now that I am writing this close to dinnertime, it makes me even hungrier.
These amulets from Sri Lanka were out near the main entrance; I was entranced.
The lighting at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture was very dim but I was so pleased to walk into this gallery and see a show all about saddle blankets. My pics didn't come out but they had some blankets draped onto curved supports and they were all so beautiful. Of course, I saw the sign and all I could think of was Velma.
Back in the studio; I love milagros so I was very happy to see tons and tons of them today.
And indulged in some papel picado! Eight different colors and designs, all pertaining to spring. It brightens the studio. Strangely enough, I also am always curious to see how they fade. They will get LOTS of light so I'll get to observe the shift.
Of course, seeing all the baskets in the first two museums plus a few at the Wheelwright Museum got me all inspired to start working again on my chamber pot. The Indian Arts & Culture museum had an entire enormous gallery full of baskets and I was in heaven. I just wanted more lighting, and of course, no vitrines! It was good to get back to my practice violin/visit library weekday routine, but I failed at getting to the gym today. That's really the last place I wanted to go after the museum visits. The first place was my studio, and I'm staying here until I go to bed.

More endings

I like it better with light behind it. The studio is still outrageously cold and I tried to tape the floor vents, but the flow is SO strong that it blew everything away. I put pedestals on top of the paper on top of the cardboard on top of the vent but the air just comes out stronger through the cracks. I know that this is a terrible way of dealing with HVAC but I had to try. The staff will be in tomorrow to tell me that they can't do anything b/c they have no control over the temperature, which I've already heard. Whether that means I will have to get a space heater or down coat, I don't know.
I had to say goodbye this morning to Joe and Cheryl, which was horribly sad. My body felt ill as I drove away from them after taking them to meet their shuttle to the airport. Then I did a loop on campus with the bike before going to the studio to rearrange things, work on a bday card for Marci, and cry while listening to the latest This American Life broadcast about a massacre in Guatemala. It wasn't so much hearing the military atrocities and disregard for human life and dignity as the part where the man who survived but lost his entire family asks if he can name his nine children. I forget often that some fathers love their children and are invested in their families. The names, the act of naming the dead was very powerful.

It's eerie and lonely to be here with just a couple of other residents (and we are not friends, so that is no fun) BUT I managed to finally, finally, FINALLY finish my manuscript + everything else (captions, glossary, table of contents, photos, drawing scans, acknowledgments, decisions, decisions, decisions!) and am impatient for tomorrow to come. Because I get to send it all away in the mail, along with a bunch of apps, and re-enter the world! At least, start to pick up the pieces of my studio practice.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


The new studio setup! But the downside is that now that the A/C has kicked in, we are FREEZING in all common areas. That includes the studio. Ugh. Apparently, they have no control over the system. It's like being in a meat locker, so I've been camping out in my room since I still have lots of edits to do. Come tomorrow, my three favorite people will be gone (Marci already left yesterday) but I'm hoping that means I will have lots of time to work and get this manuscript out of my hair.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reluctant endings

The last glimpse of my studio before I took it apart. I'm moving into a smaller, strangely-shaped space, of my own volition because I wanted more natural light. Now I will be right next to a window and sinks! But I felt sad as I shifted everything tonight because the space I had was fine, neutral. I wanted a change because this first month has been so weird b/c of unfortunate drama that we May residents walked into. Also, I'll be moving into Marci's studio so I know it will have good vibes from her.
[Marci, Agn├Ęs, Cheryl, and Joe on our ice cream jaunt this afternoon, our final hurrah as a fivesome.] I said goodbye to Marci tonight since she will be driving away very early tomorrow morning. I will miss her a whole lot. Cheryl and Joe won't be leaving until Monday, but that's not really very far away. Open studios last night went fine and I was so happy to meet a couple that I had invited because they knew about jiseung and that is always gratifying. Also, they were SO nice and very engaged in the presentations. I've been trying to maintain a work schedule of morning violin and then 50 pages of edits a day on my manuscript, but Marci told me that it has made me grumpy. She's right! That edge she is feeling on me is from editing. I dislike the work and it goes slowly because I get sleepy every time I attempt it. I will be so happy when it's over but I still have about 100 pages to go. It's a fascinating process but I miss the rest of my process in the studio and out in the world.

The upside: I get to perform tomorrow night! Hopefully that will knock me out of the funkiness.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Work rest work rest

[This is the cave where I hid for a long time while I waited for the other two to climb up and back--I had to run away early to escape the sun. But I met very nice hikers in passing, including one Korean man who had worked for 30 years as an engineer in Cleveland and called it a "beauuuuuuuuuutiful city!"] Even though I was horribly exhausted yesterday, after finishing Silent Spring, I had a terrible night of sleep, waking every hour. I made myself a higher-protein breakfast and then headed to practice. I love my morning sessions with my violin now that I don't have a teacher to report to and I have limited my time to 30 min. Now it's fun and not onerous. The hilarious thing is that I have already been invited to perform this weekend at a late-night minimalist music concert on campus. No rehearsal, no formal concert dress, all so foreign to me as a classically-trained player! It will be in a performance space that opens to the outside (funny that the music program shares space with creative writing, but I can get on board with that), so it will be a free concert under the stars. I think I'll go on stage at about 11:30pm, for Terry Riley's In C.

Tomorrow is our open studios event at 5:30! I don't feel particularly like I have anything to show in my studio, since my work this month has been mostly on my computer and in my body, but it will be fun to see what everyone else has been up to before they depart. I managed two hours of edits at the library on my manuscript but got so sleepy in the comfy chairs that I had to stop after getting the intro and first chapter done. I forgot how long this whole process takes!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


TOO exhausted after a scorching hike at Tent Rocks with Marci and Agnes.
Fun, but hard on my wilted body (I do very badly in direct sunlight). Then, I came home and a mirror in my room fell and shattered. NO!!! I need some kind of voodoo to help reverse the superstitious bad luck.

Monday, May 21, 2012


That's on repeat (the Beyonce version) even though I missed seeing the eclipse yesterday. I could have if I wasn't on the phone with Minah. But I did feel some of the weirdness of the light and still remember being a kid outside at school on the playground with everyone else, watching. The call was worth it, since I so value her expertise and willingness to field my millions of tiny (and big) questions. I barely got any sleep but jumped out of bed this morning to shower, rush to the music building, practice, and work some more before I got very hungry. I socialized a bit and then went with Marci to run errands before shoving lunch in my face and trying to work some more. After a nap, I emerged for tea and found the most wonderful package: my manuscript edits from Melissa, along with a smorgasbord of gifts! I was awed, and touched, and lost all post-nap grogginess. I am done with her edits, and wonder what I should tackle now. There is SO much I could do, but this gift has somehow lifted that burden so that it doesn't feel as heavy, even if just for a moment.

Oh, and I keep forgetting to do PR:

1. The 1,000 Artists' Books book is out! A couple of my knitted books are in there but mostly I am so happy to have my work nestled in pages along with many, many friends and colleagues.

2. The pre-conference workshops at the Morgan are online and open for registration! I especially recommend Asao Shimura's (scroll all the way to the bottom) on kon'nyaku. The shame is that they are all great but will happen simultaneously, so you can only do one. The plug for Asao is that he is rarely in the States (he lives in a rural village in the Philippines), is a tireless and devoted researcher and practitioner of hand papermaking and allied crafts, and is a humble, generous teacher.

That endless game

[Marci got this for me last week!] I am probably worse than some dogs with all of my tail chasing. I worked so hard this weekend, barely went out, because I felt I had gotten so little done this past week that I had to make up for it by playing catch up. It never works because there is always more work; it's as bad as Medusa.
But I am grateful for everything I have been learning. Things like this:

1. I am getting older, so my body doesn't bounce back like it used to. I played maybe 20 min of violin on Thursday and woke up Friday unable to move my head since my neck was all jacked up. I figured I should only play 30 min a day, tops, to start, but even then my right hand (the bow hand) started acting up, which it never had done before. Clearly, my body has changed. Not only from age, but from the papermaking and other techniques I've been using. So that is frightening.

2. No wonder I was such an emotional mess when I used to play music. It truly tugs at the heart, and there's no way around it. I've tried for many years to reverse all of that by chilling my heart or at least building a big wall of ice around it but I start playing (especially Bach) and everything opens up again. I marvel at my ability to read music, to decipher numbers (and they are only numbers from zero to four), for all of these symbols to hold so much meaning that translate into very specific sound. I feel so lucky that I had this so early in my life.

3. Curling up in bed to read a book is always a good way to spend time. I wish I remembered that before I spent a day beating myself up for not "working" because I felt so scattered by my broken-feeling body.

4. No matter how hard I try, I will always get tired at night and have to close up the computer and the book and my eyes and go to sleep, leaving work unfinished. And it will go like that until the day I die.

Friday, May 18, 2012


I'm beat after a long but coming-together kind of day. This morning, I rushed to the library to find and devour My Stroke of Insight. Two people here had recommended it and discussed it over lunch the other day, and I realized I had, years ago, watched her TEDTalk. I was so happy to be on the top floor of the library, nearly alone, to simply read for the morning. She hit upon something I have been struggling with mightly, the not-so-nice aspects of our mental loops that get us snagged on negativity and nagging brain chatter. We can choose to stop thinking in those ways, though it takes plenty of training. The night before, Melissa had sent me comments on my manuscript that illuminated so much for me in her special knack for tying things together and making connections with razor-sharp precision. Her articulation is outstanding. Anyhow, I came back invigorated by the book and then took a walk with the residency director to the music building to check out the practice room situation. Because my violin was ready this afternoon after two weeks of maintenance. My violin!

I have been away from it for years and am so happy to be reunited. I played a little in Marci's studio (the acoustics here are so nice but I can't play all out here--it would completely disturb the other residents). One big reason that I put the violin away for so long was that I wanted to focus more fully on papermaking and hanji. While doing all of that, I was so grateful for my musical background and how it informed the way I learned how to make and manipulate paper. But now I realize that the reverse is also true, that the papermaking (and making of things) informs the violin playing! I have such a deeper understanding and appreciation for the beautifully-crafted wooden marvel under my chin and how it breathes and changes, just like paper. I am kicking myself for not bringing Bach with me (I left it at home, fearing it would be too heavy to carry), but it will all get sorted out.

Before lunch, I got an unexpected call from Ohio and did an impromptu consultation via phone and text with Mason at the Morgan to help prepare an eastern papermaking demo for this weekend's Cleveland Asian Festival. I also fielded more of the daily emails organizing a tour for Asao Shimura in the USA this fall in partnership with Tim Barrett and got more research responses back from national collections about a hanji book to fill in the minute details of my book. In the midst of my attempts to flesh out the back matter of my book, I finally stopped to break for socializing. Marci had family in town, so we drove downtown to see a staircase, walk around, indulge in ice cream, have a drink, banter with feisty dogs, and have a filling dinner. I don't usually get to hang out with Utahians, and it's always a treat to get off campus and relax.

Throughout the day, I marveled at how my life is turning out. A couple weeks ago, I had a long phone conversation with a printmaking professor in Wyoming who was doing research on hanji. He said that every road eventually led to my name, and I told him how eerie that was. When I had started my hanji research stateside, Tim told me to watch for the names that would come up repeatedly, since those would be the people I would need to meet or know about in Korea. Now, this. It feels like witnessing shifts in constellations, or something else that I can't articulate as well as the friends and mentors I admire so much. I think that means that it's time to lay down and rest, since tomorrow brings the first real reunion with my violin, playing all out, in a soundproofed practice room.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Still settling

Finally, they are all glued up. It's like a party, though I don't know exactly what will happen to them. But at least the first step is done. I am trying here to slow down, pace myself differently, and, hardest of all, not beat myself up for doing the first two things. It's a challenge since I still feel like a lazy slug. I am also itching for my violin; it's been in the shop now for two weeks and I really want it back.
I did some more weaving after finishing the party cones. I also did some reworking of my book's intro and other tiny details, so that was a good pocket of morning writing that made me feel good. Tonight, we got to go to a reading downtown by Lydia Davis, which I enjoyed. It's always nice to be introduced to someone new, to work I hadn't known before. I still feel very wandering about here, which will change in two weeks. I think that once my manuscript is out of my hands and in my publisher's hands, and my violin is back, and I am set up in the right studio, everything will shift. For now, I am trying to be at peace with this month being a calm, slow month where I spend time with people I have come to be quite fond of, since they will mostly all be gone in less than two weeks.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New acoustics

The pot is bigger than I'd like but it's too late for me to start over. I could, but I don't want to. Today I took a walk to the library and beyond with Marci, and then later in the afternoon we walked to the violin shop to see how bad my peg situation was. It's almost ready! And I am excited. Strangely enough, the one piece I brought to practice (Lalo's Symphonie espagnole) was the one that someone was practicing in the violin shop. What are the odds?


Drawing for my book is nerve wracking. It's strange to imagine something that I draw in print, being used as a reference or resource. I finally drew two more diagrams today at the library, and then had some dances with the scanner there and the scanner here at the residency. As you can see up here, I finally sat down after dinner to re-draw a very ruler-intensive drawing because the first rendition had one too-thick line. Agh. Tomorrow I will go back to make more copies at the library, and possibly tweak the third drawing. It's all a clever way for me to avoid editing my text. But I did enjoy going out this morning to find the right extra pen for the job. AND the best part of these dances: I found out that, indeed, there is a lightbox! This would have been handy for my map, but at least I know now for the future. Little things make all the difference.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fits and starts and cheese

I have been pretty okay with my caloric restrictions since I've arrived, but have fallen down all weekend. Partly because this is not a particularly fun or easy kitchen to cook in, partly due to my laziness in the cooking regard, and mostly because I have very much enjoyed the company of fellow artists while eating out. I have, over the course of less than a week, eaten probably an entire pizza pie and a half. But it's REALLY good pizza, so why not?
This is going to be the next "fun" project. It will take a while to prep and I had to stop today after messing up my hand again, but it will likely end up like pure candy. Which will be a good balance now that I'm moving back into serious edits of my manuscript and final drafting of more diagrams and figures and such.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I still feel hampered by myself in the studio. There's still a bunch of stuff to work through. But the chamber pot is going much faster than I remember it how many years ago. I had a few more stitches to go before I quit for the day and then I tweaked my thumb, which sealed the decision to quit for the day!


Marci drove Agnes and me to Taos today. We walked around downtown, visited galleries, walked through a park fair, and had a lovely lunch. Afterwards, we drove to Taos Pueblo, even though the weather changed drastically and we just barely got back into the car when the rain really started to come down.
We also stopped (rather perilously, since it was a dirt road w/o 4-wheel drive and no way of knowing really if we were even allowed to pull in) to see this small cemetery. I stayed in the car as I was nearly passed out from the antihistamines I took this morning once I realized that my rash was indeed an allergic reaction. To what, I'm not yet sure, but in the past it has happened b/c of food and sun poisoning.
This was outside of the church. I liked some of the views best from the car, but was too drowsy to shoot. It was soothing to nod in and out of the conversation that the painters were having up front. For a while, I'll stay away from chicken and most other animal proteins. Likely, it's a combo with stress, but I hope it clears up soon b/c I feel like my body is on fire. I did manage to make 56 more cords tonight, though, to make up for being away from the studio all day. It's nice to finally have the first rain of my stay here, too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Clear air

Marci took this pic for me. I am almost about ready to turn all the spokes around to finish the floor of the pot and bring up the walls.
But I delayed all that for an afternoon out to Hyde Park with Marci. How glad I am to have done that! She showed me eyes on her favorite trees, aspens.
Here are a few on the first trail we attempted, which was not really a trail at all. There were so many butterflies! Marci's aspens look like this.
Then we drove up and up and up and found bigger ones and a nice trail right along beautiful cold clear running water. I wanted to drink it all up.
SNOW! I haven't seen snow for too long. I don't think I saw any snow in New York this year, at least nothing substantial. Funny that I had to travel to New Mexico to see a bit.
This was everywhere along that last trail. We would have stopped for more but it started to rain a bit so we went back to town and I finally found my cow udder cream to deal with my crazy rash and we indulged in ice cream. Now, the question is: a nap, or the studio? This kind of luxury is precious.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

First week in

This is the second round of the chamber pot, not much done, but I am pacing myself. It feels good to feel like I know what I am doing this time around, even though it took over three years to get up the nerve (and time, and cords) to even attempt it again. In the meantime, I asked a question and was rewarded handsomely this morning: 100% cotton sheets! This is something I always took for granted, but after a week of not sleeping well and some dreadful rashes, I am relieved. I also worked on a few pieces to flush the bad out of my system and it's still there but at least flushing is in action rather than being thought about.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Laying low

Last night I ripped up a bunch of waxed bark hanji and made a piece. It wasn't very good but I always have a spot of time at residencies where I have to work thru lots of crappy work first. It felt good to DO something, though. Finally use this hanji I've been hoarding and storing and waiting to work with for years.
Today, I made two trips to the library to work diligently on my map. After lots of rounds of tracing and trying to place one big island that one atlas left off the Korean map entirely (similar to leaving off Hawaii in U.S. maps, only worse, since this island is maybe 50 miles or so away from the mainland), I finally have a version that I think is workable. There's so much freedom in making your own maps but then all this fear since it's in the service of a book, so it's not to be at my whim, but for some purpose. It's nice, though, to have people to show it to so I can tell if it works or not. After a nice late lunch/early dinner with Marci, we joined Joe and Cheryl for a movie on campus. Sad and sweet. Sets me up well for an early night in, full of books.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Windy and scattered

The wind is wild today, and my day has been all broken up, but all of my hanji arrived today! I thought I had been conservative in how much I shipped but I guess I took to heart what Velma told me while packing, to bring a LOT (these are just the ones that I wanted to pin up to help ease in unrolling; there's plenty more flat on tables. Too bad there is no humidity to help settle them).

I also started a tentative new chamber pot. My teacher had told me for years to make more and I really had no intention of ever doing so. I still may not; it all depends on how it goes since I have way too many projects and materials already for my three months here (and my violin is still in the shop, so I haven't even calculated practice time!).

This is the part I hate about starting to weave after not doing it for a while. This blister will eventually turn into a callus but until it does, it will be tender. I'm trying to take everything easy and slow, though. I may get less done but hopefully be more sane in the end. I also took a trip this morning to the library, which was the second best thing after the violin shop, in terms of Gains From Being In Santa Fe: they have a ton of atlases! So I finally found a map of Korea that has almost everything I want to include in my book. There's still a lot more work before it is all taken care of but at least I don't have to hunt for and overlay a billion different maps to get the cities and provinces that I need. Plus I got some books to read for inspiration, since I had fallen off the wagon and it's impossible to write well if you're not reading something that is already written well.