Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It keeps unraveling

This morning, ALL of us were wrecked from staying up too late working. Though I wish I was in the studio working like all of my students, rather than fighting with Powerpoint. This morning, everyone had to bring in two books telling the same story. One with text, one without. This version of the former is by Emily, who did a fantastic job not only with this book but with the story, an updated version of Red Riding Hood.

I couldn't help but include the punchline of Derek's. He told me over lunch about the school where he teaches and I was fascinated by how the curriculum and policies work. I always forget that education is a constantly evolving animal.

Beth's flag book was excellent and timely. Her other book was grand, solid, and so well crafted. It's such a treat to have students who already have book arts experience under their belt. I always worry I have nothing to offer, but I was the one who told her that the great thing in this field is that because it is still so young, most people teaching it have cobbled together their understanding and experience of it in completely different ways.

Ann tackled one of the hardest structures, a choose-your-own-adventure one. She literally can now fold it with her eyes closed. You can tell also the influence of her recent paper cutting class with Beatrice. Though I assigned the next book today, everyone gets a respite of a day b/c it's not due for two days. I know it's a lot to ask for three books in the first 36 hours of class, but I guess I like to break people in early. However, I did feel for all the tired faces at crit this morning. But everyone is doing great. There has been drama, of course: one student out, another leaving b/c of an emergency, and yet another stung by a bee in the middle of my lecture tonight! The last one upsets me most viscerally because her dominant hand was stung so what will her books look like? I ran back to get her some of my Benadryl stash. I really hope that tomorrow morning when I get to the classroom, things will all have calmed down.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day One, like three days smushed into one

One of the other teachers mentioned tonight that this morning felt like three days ago. It's true! We go into total warp speed here, a strange twilight zone, but a wonderful place of creativity. My students had their first books ready 12 hours after I assigned it to them. This one is by Beth, a super accomplished teacher and artist who has already taken other book classes.
I won't provide the punchline on this, but I love having Ann back in class (she took the first iteration of this class last year). The way she looks at the world and life is so amazing because it's positive without being cheesy or preachy.
Susan told the class last night about our lunch last year when she was in another class and had thought we would be making paper this year. We're not, but she is still having fun!
Another Susan and I had a great convo at dinner last night about her journey back to art after practicing medicine for 17 years; we all loved this beginning to her book.
I had shown everyone Velma's milkweed zine and how she had an image of fiber on the inside of the book. I missed this on Derek's book until I saw another student unfold it. I heard him joking with another student about how much ink he is going to go through this week.
Corinna has been a HUGE help in and out of the classroom, and gave this to me today, from a goose's rib cage. She made this bone folder but didn't know if it would work. I will try it out this week! Today was packed with more structures and techniques than I can count on my fingers, as well as the reminders of how much I learn every time I walk into a classroom (no matter if I am a student, teacher, or fly on the wall). That full day of endless learning continued into the evening with fantastic slide talks by Susan and Craig, who each teach painting this session. I hope that gives me the energy to do all of my follow-up classroom work, prep for tomorrow, and last-minute sculpting of my own lecture for tomorrow. I like knowing that my students will also be working late into the night, in the studio.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rolling to the next

[My view from the latest dorm room I am occupying. It's even lovelier moments after I snapped, with the sun lighting the fog above the far trees. The corner of the adjacent dorm is visible to the right.] I'm in Bennington! Last night, I finally gave up on packing and went to bed early, hoping I could finish in the morning. It's amazing what a good night of sleep will do. Everything that seemed impossible yesterday was done in an hour or so, well before 9am. It rained allll day on the road and after I arrived, so it's a super apparent awakening to the humidity in this corner of the country.
I've met all of the teachers for this session save two (and we taught in the same week last year) and had a chill orientation and dinner. I like them all and like that I'm on this corner of the dorm; my classroom will be in the same fishbowl as last summer. Except with almost double the students. Tomorrow's supply and classroom setup will be a bit of a bear but it will feel good once everything is ready to go. Some of the most welcome news: the chef is great and the food has been the best it has been in years. I am SO excited for a week of no cooking and no dishes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Somehow, home

[In El Farolito, El Rito.] My bones are drenched with exhaustion. I made it through my third and final open studios, packing, spackling (thanks to Sunghee!), packing, checking out, and getting everything into Cobi's truck for the night ride to Albuquerque. Before that, I was happy to have wrap-up visits with Kumi and John and their puppy at a cafe, Tom and James from the Palace Press in my studio, and Laura in my studio. Plus, Diane made the most amazing green chile stew for dinner, which I ate and ate and even took some to eat at 4:30am today (I am not joking. I ate that gladly in my hotel before catching the shuttle to the airport). Flights were uneventful and miraculously on time, and even early. I have finally gotten some good Korean food into my system, though I'm overwhelmed by the packing/unpacking business. I'm going to risk it and go to bed now so I can rise early to pack before heading up to Vermont!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another end, this time for me

[Facade in El Rito. This is how I feel after three months in Santa Fe.] Today was my last free day before the final day, and I got up at 6:15am so that I could land in the ER at 7am. I saw a doctor 3.5 hours later, a young, pretty, ponytailed blonde, who was very kind. She kept my feet on her knees (I was sitting higher than her) the whole time, which moved me. Usually, I feel like doctors try to touch you as little as possible and then push their chairs away. Basically, I'm fine. It's just a sloooow process of healing, partly because I never really rested it that much.
[Chimney Rock, Ghost Ranch. I wish I could have made it up but didn't have the time on my first visit and didn't have my full foot strength on my second.] I left the hospital a free woman, and then proceeded to do laundry, clean my studio, pack up one box to ship, and make a huge pot of noodles. I took my manuscript copies to the library to shred and my box to the post office and my heart to the place where it could breathe a little bit. I am very happy to be heading home soon. Not necessarily a HOME, but a geographic home (the east), and the home I have been building for the last few years: being a teacher. It takes more energy than almost anything else I have done in my life, but it feels good like the endorphin high after a sweaty workout (except it's my brain doing most of the sweating).
The shoe (or just even a sole) never got done this month, but I let that go. Lots of things happened that I wasn't able to predict, and those things would have derailed any normal human. Which is what I happen to be. But I finally decided to graduate to being a grown-up and booked an airport hotel room for tomorrow night--Santa Fe is not the kind of town that takes well to airport transportation outside of a limited time frame. So tomorrow will be my last day, open studios and all.


[Bark thread, something I finished last night during my 4-hour residency. It's already in the mail to a friend.] I decided that tomorrow I will go to the hospital for a second opinion on my foot. It will be a long wait, since it doesn't look like an emergency, but it's the only way my insurance will cover me out of state. So there goes my last "free" day on residency! Today I sent my final okay for my book text to head to the copy editor, shipped things, looked at the WPA murals at the courthouse, met with Tom and James at the Palace Press and chatted until a storm came in and dumped rain outside, started to pack up my studio, hosted Alison for a studio visit, was treated to a tuna melt by Cobi and ate together with Dianne outside, and then went out with Dianne to look for something to do in town. The music was bad and nothing seemed very exciting so we ended up back at the compound and she looked through my book photos and coached me about book design and photo software. I keep thinking I'll have a quiet moment to relax but none so far!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The shortest AIR ever

Back from my 4-hour artist residency! But first, a recap of the last few days. My sister came to take a long-weekend vacation here with me. We started at Ojo Caliente, which was a wonderful way to spend her first evening. We slept until checkout the next day and then headed to El Rito. At El Farolito, we had some Northern NM food.
Then we promptly got lost and did ridiculous turning around over and over and over until I finally called to get proper directions to Julie Wagner's studio. This was one delight from the being lost part.
Julie went to Oberlin a while before me, but we had fun catching up about our respective experiences regardless. Her work was incredible and I was so glad that I got to visit her studio and meet her before I left town. She showed me this flexagon that she taught herself how to make after seeing a discarded Viagra ad in the post office. CAN YOU BELIEVE?! I had only seen Emily Martin's version of this structure before. I mean, we all know that Viagra is where the money is, but that their designers and marketers even get to play with things like this!
I wanted very badly to buy a book but I couldn't afford her work. I'm so glad we were able to connect, though, given our respective schedules these days.
Then we were off to Ghost Ranch. Yay. The drive there is my favorite, mostly the RED rocks. When we left, we saw a storm moving and moving.
The next day, I took my sister to the folk art museum. I still love these Sri Lankan amulets.
I wanted her to see the remarkable exhibit of art made by the Japanese Americans forced to live in internment camps. I wanted to see it again, too. This is twisted paper, a tiny basket. The show makes you want to cry over and over again, for a million different reasons. We then visited Alison Keogh's studio, which was another treasure. She started working with handmade paper maybe a year or more ago, and it makes sense if you take a look at all of her other work. Beautiful. She loaned me a book on Japanese textile artists, and then we left the damp smells of rain and apricot trees to visit the Plaza. Gross. It was high tourist time, and my fave place to eat was closed, so we grabbed a quick meal and then drove up to Hyde Park. The view was not as nice as when Marci and I went in May, but it was okay since we knew it would end in another spa visit, this time to Ten Thousand Waves. We splurged on a private tub, totally worth it, and then a head/neck treatment, which was a complete scam. The end of the night was at Backroad Pizza.
Once I rushed back through storms to pack up my studio and bring it to the hotel to set up and sit down, my concern was mostly with catching up with friends instead of weaving my shoe. It was a slow night (no surprise, Monday night!) but I did meet two lovely women from Chicago. As soon as I got back and unloaded the car, I got Cobi to come over for a beer and catch-up time. It felt like I hadn't seen him in so long, even though it was just Friday. Time continues to travel in strange warp speeds, and now I only have three days left.

Monday, July 23, 2012

In 30 min or less

I'll be at the Loretto Inn as an artist-in-residence of sorts, in their lobby, working amidst my artwork. Can you tell this was a last-minute thing? More once my head returns to my body; four days or less left in Santa Fe!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A dance of steps

I have come to the end of any decent productivity, anything I recognize as the pace and product of quality residency time. Part of that comes from being so close to the end (in exactly a week I will be in the air, heading east). Part of that stems from the weirdness of this place (strangers come and go as if this is their home, or community center, computer lab, library, hang-out spot, workplace. Every day brings new commotion: shrieking children, kids in my face demanding attention as I cook in the kitchen, visiting artists, courting couples, a fire alarm that goes off every day at 3:30am, 6:30am, or 8:30am, and so on)--I've never been to a residency that has more distractions, and no dedicated private space for residents only. Partly, I am mourning. My foot is not really better, I have had crippling stomach pain for a month, and I am confounded by the changes in my body. And the last bit is, I hope, some kind of growing-up awareness: I never get much done at the end, so why kill myself to eke out another piece or two? Better to accept fully that I am leaving soon, which entails very real logistics that work best when done NOT at the last minute. I've been enjoying my time with Cobi and Dianne (she cooked us a wonderful dinner last night and got us away from the compound for a starry evening), and not hating myself for being in the studio so little. My little sister is in the air now, coming west, and once she touches down and finds her way here, we will be off on a weekend adventure!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The same old thing

I may give up on the paint-ridden top layer of the big hanji. It's just so gross (I hate the smell of dried gouache and watercolor pigments) that I left it outside on my patio chair after attempting to knit more of it in the evening. I lost my good morning energy to housekeeping: laundry, errands, treating myself to a delicious Indian lunch. This is my attempt to learn from the past and not leave all of this to the last minute, as if I would actually keep working up until then. Studio stuff will get wrapped up, in terms of equipment and materials, though I'm not sure what to do about how and when I will ship all of the artwork.
Cobi and I spent a bunch of time staring at baby bunnies today. I thought of how strange it is to live here, essentially in the middle of strip malls, where people don't usually live. You might work in one or shop in one but not live there. So it's a miracle I've gotten done what I have. It helps to have the little bits of wildlife here, though the bird situation in the courtyard is distressing (another baby died, probably fell out of its nest and then somehow ended up in the sewer).
I keep trying to tell myself that it is not the end of the world if I don't finish this shoe sole before I leave. But I do try to show up every day, and have to remember that even just a couple of hours is better than nothing. On that note, back to the manuscript! [I found a couple of sources that require some additions and changes.] And index, when I truly muster the strength.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Working through, slowly

I finished this last night and am very happy with it. I think it's one of the best scarves of the bunch.
I saw this baby while I was weaving the shoe sole. That has been going very slowly but I'm trying not to push myself.
After staring at four sheets of paper for days, I finally combined them all to make this.
I wish I could say that I will make a pair but more likely it will be solo.
I did this days ago but Cobi saw it for the first time today and enjoyed it. Just two more huge sheets of hanji and a bunch of paper yarn left to transform into ... something.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Just posing

[Diane took this and many other lovely photos in my studio when we thought that I was going to be participating in the ill-fated art fair. I'm pretending to work on my shoe sole, which I had hoped to finish this month, but after unexpected schedule changes, I doubt it will happen.] Today is the first of four work days I have left before my sister arrives and I have to start wrapping things up. I sent my manuscript and other pieces of it back to my publisher, but have yet to select cover and frontispiece photos. And am still far from finishing my index list. Eeks! But I have to still hope it will all come together.

All over the place

I believe that the stress of the last several days has caused me to choose to drink every night since Wednesday. The fair finally ended today, and I went almost every day either to drive Cobi, pick him up, or visit him at the booth.

On one of those trips, I visited the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. These two signs come from an outdoor installation (that reminds me of an installation I saw in Jamaica in 1998).
I also revisited the history museum and FINALLY got to meet Tom Leech in person, albeit briefly, and take a nice long time perusing the beautiful broadsides that he printed and marbled and made paper for. This one was my favorite.
I did my best to be the bigger person at the fair when visiting, and reintroduced myself to Professor Lee Yu-ra, who was visiting from Korea. I had interviewed her in Jeonju at the very end of 2008 during my research year and it was good to reconnect.
Cobi next to one of his sold pieces! He is brilliant and so is his art. If I didn't like and respect him so much, this whole experience would have been a million times harder to take.
Yesterday, I tried to paint all over a HUGE sheet of hanji, and failed miserably, as I always do with paint. Then I realized that it was three sheets laminated together. So good and bad means I have two more sheets to deal with (problematic because that wasn't what I thought I was dealing with so that means extra work) and the other two sheets don't have as much paint on them. I started knitting this at 10pm tonight while hanging out with Cobi and John.
Dianne took me to the Folk Market and WOW. What a spectacle! But I found almost immediately what I wanted and got this enormous shawl, silk, hand stitched. I wanted everything in the booth but obviously could not afford to do so. It's for a wonderful cause (women in India) and I already napped with it today. We stopped at Tune Up Cafe for food before seeing Cobi and his work at the fair.
I got very, very little studio work done this weekend, and very little work done in general, but I've had some really great quality time with Cobi and John and did my best to make a little homecoming for the former to celebrate his sales and end of fair: peanut butter cups, potato chips, and cottage cheese. This week, I have exactly four days to get everything done that I want to get done (manuscript, using up my hanji, maybe even weaving a shoe sole). This was my last weekend working/on the compound: the next brings my sister for a little trip. Hoping for very focused, undistracted work time until then!

Friday, July 13, 2012


[Steve's piece, installed here until the end of the month. I finally voted last night, and I bet you can guess which button I pushed.] I wasn't able to properly sleep last night, only about three or four hours, but managed to get to chapter 9 (of 11 total) in my edits before I went with Cobi to the fair opening. I was concerned about how I'd end up behaving but it all turned out fine. I expressed my dissatisfaction clearly to the organizer, received her apologies, talked with the professor from Korea that I had interviewed back in 2008 (she appears briefly in my book), saw a lovely local couple and got very good professional advice, drank champagne, met the mayor, and was so happy for Cobi b/c he sold a piece! We were all super proud and excited.

I'm exhausted but hoping everything is in the simmering down process. I have just about exactly two weeks remaining here, and so much to do! But I'm hoping the rest is ALL GOOD.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gorilla wrenches

I painted pedestals last night in anticipation of installing my work today at the art fair. I had no idea how bad things were going to get. Cobi and arrived early (as instructed very firmly) to register at the convention center at 10am. We were told we were too early and walked around a little, and then sat down to wait. When a woman came up to us to ask who were were, I introduced myself and she said, "We have a problem." She sat down to tell me that because our booth was directly next to the booth of a Korean gallery and a hanji demo booth, that I would not be allowed to exhibit. Apparently, she felt that my being Korean American and working with hanji would conflict with this gallery that exhibits hanji work and with female Korean artists who use hanji (throughout the day, it was emphasized to me that they were women). She asked the very tired, jet-lagged Korean person in charge of the group how they would feel about me being next to them and they supposedly felt very uncomfortable and unhappy. Because they paid 10K for their booth, it then was important to make me feel very uncomfortable and unhappy by removing me from the fair entirely. The organizer said she felt awful and would make it up to me (I can't remember if she actually said she was sorry), but refused to give me her contact information, instead saying I should get it from someone else to send her images of my work.

I was shocked. Cobi was, too. I drove us to the art store and hardware store and back home, and went to the office, where the staff was very upset. They had gotten the news but were told that my work might be exhibited in a different booth by the organizer's gallery, but I had to email my images to ensure that my work was not too close to the Korean artists' work. I had already bought packing materials, packed some work, and removed and mounted all the wall pieces. All I could do was wait in limbo to hear word. When I heard nothing for hours and was sick to my stomach all day, I decided to go back to the convention center to find the organizer and speak to her. A staff member accompanied me and when we arrived, we were told the organizer was not available but instead we could speak to her brother, who was producing the event. Though the staffer insisted over and over that he look me in the eye and speak to me directly, he kept turning and addressing her. The arguments ranged from, "We'd never have two glass blowers" to "It would be like hosting two galleries that both represented Robert Rauschenberg" to "These women paid their own way to fly here all the way from Korea" to "Well, you only found out three days ago so what's the big deal." He begrudgingly said, "I can't do anything about this; I'm sorry about that," several minutes after the staffer told him it would be a great start if he could just say, "I'm sorry." He said they weren't going to do anything for me at all beyond excluding me.

I was sickened by the unbelievable layers of discrimination leveled against me. The outright racism, the sexism, the You're Not From Far Enoughism, the media-ism, the income bracket-ism. I was disgusted by how clear they made it that they did not value me as an artist or a person nor did they respect my work or time. I lost days of work on a manuscript for a book that is on deadline. The ironic thing is that all I have been doing for the past five years is working to help artists like these by bringing more attention and awareness to hanji and its myriad manifestations. That they see my body and my work as a threat (of course, when I saw their booths, it was confirmed that their work is completely different from mine) amazes me. When I tried to explain to my family what had happened and I said to my father that I was not allowed in because I was Korean, he said, "But you're NOT Korean." It made me laugh, because it's true. I'm too Korean, yet I'm not Korean enough. In the end, what it boils down to is that I am not RICH enough. If I had plunked down 10K, I'm sure there would be no object. [Or if I was a man, or if I was white, or if my name did not sound so Asian.]

What else happened today? Laundry, cleaning my room, crying, calling Marci while crying, talking to almost all of the residents here (who have been incredibly supportive) and the staff (ditto), beer, pizza, and unpacking and restoring my studio. It looks beautiful.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Gear change

Cobi and I had been told at the end of last week that there was a chance that we would represent SFAI at a booth at ART Santa Fe this week, and that we wouldn't know until the last minute. We found out today that it's happening! Exciting, but it throws my entire schedule out the window. I had started the day with visits to the gym, library, and grocery store, and then finally descended upon my manuscript. I felt good about my energy and ability to get through this round and broke for lunch after 30 pages were done, including captions. Then I got the art fair news! It's funny because I was using studio work to keep myself from MS work. But now that the artwork takes priority, I am using the MS to procrastinate.

Enough of that for now. Time to type up my inventory and price it. That bunch of cords up there will eventually become a paper shoe.