Musings after Cracked Pots show

Why is it that people are hesitant to take something from the free pile? Is it dirty? clean? If its free there must be something wrong it. I ‘gleaned’ two skeins of lovely yarn still in its package. It had sat there for 2 days. Even teenagers were afraid to take the free stuff.
I wish we could make a permanent free glean pile for people. It seems like such a great concept. There must be someone out there who could come up with the logistics for it. There is a free site on Craigslist, but that requires traveling to various places, looking for specific things. A central area glean pile would be like a special building at the transfer station where ‘stuff” would be available for free. I guess Scrap and Rebuilding Center are closest in concept, but even there you have to pay. And they only take certain things. Or sell permits for people to come in and glean from the transfer station- only one or two per day, week, whatever. And who cares what they do with it later–the stuff was literally thrown away. So if someone wants to resell it- more power to them. Anyway, something to think about.

Sneak Previews

Re-appropriated angels

For some reason my images didn’t post yesterday. Trying again.

I found the angel plaques on Easter! I added the little squares of wallpaper samples almost completely concealing the reproduced Rennaisance angels that were decoupaged to the gold panels. A take-off on Byzantine/early Christian mosaics.


I found this beautiful piece of…what? mattress wire frame….? I reinforced the frame by wire wrapping it, leaving the wavy lines and broken parts. I am adding glass lenses also using wirewrapping techniques. (I knew that class would come in handy someday)


Sneak Previews

As the end date is coming closer, I am feeling panicky about getting back to gleaning before I no longer can! EEK! What will I do when I can’t go there anymore? I find myself thinking, “I need such and such – Oh, I can look for that at the dump.”  But I also need to just be working in the studio and not getting sidetracked by new stuff. I realize now that I will continue to work with this crazy stuff after my residency is up.

Chugging Along

Tools and suchIt’s been a busy summer, inside and outside the shop. But I’ve amassed a fun collection of funky, junky art, that I think it will make for a good show. I’m looking forward to, dreading, and also lamenting to coming due date – pencils up!
The creative process has been fairly easy coming and going since I started. Even so, I feel like I’m only just getting into a good groove and almost wish the program lasted longer, even though I am admittedly a little tired of the oftentimes lengthy pre-creation process unique to working with purely gleaned material.
Go Big Now!
Vicki’s post had a ring of truth for me, I’m not all that keen on sharing something(art) before (and even after) it’s finished. It does add some disturbance to the process and it’s certainly interesting to hear how others interpret it. I’m not sure it’s art, but that’s what everyone keeps telling me it is, so here’s a tiny peek into a piece that I have struggled to get going on since April, but that has turned out pretty darn cool. You’ll have to come to the show to see the finished product.

Dead robot

I have a few more things I’m working on, that I sure hope I can finish in time. The pieces keep getting bigger and better! Also, I found a dead robot. Poor fella. No I’m not making junk robots.

Reflections Upon Returning

After a regrettable, but necessary absence, I am back in the studio. No pictures yet, but I promise they are coming. It is interesting how a break can sometimes provide a much needed perspective on my art. I returned and looked at 2 pieces with fresh eyes. I really like them! I am excited to get back to work!

A rant and then some pictures

Blogging about my work is weird for me. You can see this by my personal art blog (which has an inch of dust on it), and my community garden blog (which I frequently post to because it’s not about my work). These processes are internal and when they are written and broadcast, they become real in a way that is scary for me. The same is true of the “in process” photo and the studio visit. I jealously guard my studio time and place. It is a place where I can fail with reckless abandon, make mistakes and decide for myself whether or not I have even made a mistake. I can leave my work on the floor, trip over it and break it without anyone acting as though I’ve dropped a Fabergé egg. As soon as another person comes in, that un-precious decision making process is interrupted. The visitor registers their opinion. That opinion floats around the room for days or weeks and I am unable to catch it and set it free outside of the studio door. It affects everything I do with that piece from then on.  A comment as simple as “the arms look long” stings for weeks because I hadn’t decided if that was a mistake or not before the opinion was registered.

This rant is not directed at the GLEAN visitors! I have had this feeling since Grad school and I feel like voicing it releases my tension a bit. I used to be so gracious about studio visits and it may seem to visitors that I still am. I am, at heart, a people pleaser and I am not being disingenuous to my visitors. But when the studio is mine alone, I don’t have to please anyone but myself.  When the visitors come, work has to stop, footpaths have to be cleared and I have to make some sense of something that is still insensible. I have waited all my professional life to feel like I don’t want input. It’s uncomfortable to admit that, but it feels like a milestone for me. I think the impetus for wanting to talk about this is more related to having an assistant in my studio. I’ve brought in an assistant for a few weeks to help with some of the more tedious tasks. I’ve had assistants before and it has been uncomfortable for me. When I was a studio assistant I never gave my opinion unless asked, but since my assistants are usually students, and they feel inclined to share as if we are in class and my work is up for critique. This time, however, I made the law of my studio clear and I feel liberated. It’s going quite well.

The thing that is even stranger than my reclusive feelings is that I always take a ton of process photos. For who, right? Well, I guess for you:

First there were two clay models. I recycle my clay so this was a zero waste process. Then there were the molds. I did some tests with gleaned supplies but was unable to glean the entire mold material. This is a mold I can use for years to come and it will not be in the show. There is a flexible silicone interior mold (some of the silicone is gleaned silicone caulk and I did learn a new technique which allows the use of different types of silicone together) and a cement exterior mold or mother mold. The cement was gleaned but there is a good reason mother molds are not usually made of cement. When there is a piece inside the mold, it’s too heavy for me to lift by myself. The cement is also very brittle and often times the shell will crack when I am removing a piece but that is probably just user error.

                          I just love pictures like this last one. Then there was the casting… brick and cement, broken auto glass and epoxy (not gleaned but used very sparingly)

Below is mosaic tiles and grout backed with spray foam sealant and a steel rod armature If the spray foam were more reliable, I’d like to try making a cast figure out of just the foam squiggles. There seems to be good reasons that I am finding so much discarded spray foam. 2 out of 6 cans have worked. It is, however, possible to use that stuff more than once. Most people discard it once the tip becomes clogged with set foam. Just pulling the clog out with a thin piece of wire (or a bicycle spoke) will often get it flowing again.

Then there are the hand built pieces: chicken wire and aluminum rod armatures, carved Styrofoam, canceled check papier mache, multilingual textbook papier mache, and the pattern drafting process to create flat patterns for sewing and building with planar materials like cardboard, felt, Velour and plastic. These pieces are flowing a little more smoothly because I am more at ease with the materials. It may even come across in their personalities.

I feel at this point, that I could continue working on this project for years to come, with gleaned material and in the same spirit of reuse. There could be a hundred of these figures.


Some notes about what I’m doing

There are some things I can say about my concept. I began with two figures, male and female, but the work is not about gender. It appeared to me that the figures were being made in couples so I am working to uncouple them. The work is only about humanity and beings. All of the figures are posed in the Mountain Pose (tadasana). For a few years I have been working with half scale figures, using a simple pose to tell a story. I appreciate the metaphorical narrative found in yoga and tai chi poses. Having practiced these poses, I recall my favorite ways of being. I wanted this body of work to feel like strength, power and connected to the earth and to all others. I envision that I am the mountain and that the earth’s energy flows up into my feet and through my body. The same energy flows up into the feet of all others. The uplifted shape of the body is an upward conduit for the energy. In my case, the energy flows out the top of the head, like a volcano. For some, I image, the energy may become stuck, and their posture may be blocking the energy transmission. Some of those figures are represented, too.

1 ton

I’ve had some good gleaning days. Over two days in June I removed nearly a ton of material (as my little Toyota pick-up groaned and panted). Among the haul were some excellent wooden planter boxes. The wood was in great condition and I could see the longing looks of the transfer station customers as I pulled them from the pile. I know I took pictures of my truck laden with wood red pickets and rails but I can’t find the pictures now. I’m pretty sure they were captured on video as well.

SFO Recology Retrospective

I had an opportunity to go through the San Francisco airport-SFO recently (before the plane crash), and I got to see the retrospective show of the Recology  project which inspires and mentors (I hope that is the right word) our Portland based GLEAN project. I really enjoyed seeing the work in person. I think my favorite piece was the full sized Styrofoam SUV but I was also very attracted to Beau Buck’s jackrabbits. Hares have always been a part of my artistic language and the way he was working with the same form and different materials reminded me of my own process. All of the work was of such high quality. It really made my perfection gland tingle. Here are some of my pics: … adored this work. Very inspiring.