HI! I figured its about time I show you all what I have been making and looking at for inspiration for the last 2 months! To start...think back to my first post with that shot of my studio in the B.A. Era ( before Annie). LOOK AT IT NOW:
Whoa! Looks like my child hood bedroom right Mom?...But alas, there's no Memas, Bipas or Mimis here to surreptitiously slip me $5 for cleaning it!
I have been working through some new ideas so this is going to be a bit of a mish-mash tedious art ramble so get your cup of tea now! I'm still figuring things out and welcome your feed back and thoughts. This will be the first time I've attempted to articulate these ideas "on paper" so I think this will be helpful at this 2/3-of-the-way-through-point. But might also be quite confusing!
The first decision I had to make upon arrival was: do I disregard any possibility of shipping the work back and make my typical fragile and spindly forms that would just live here, or do I keep shipping in mind and make more compact pieces, like smaller pieces that would make up a larger installation, for instance.
So, I decided to disregard shipping so as not to limit my self and formulated an idea while traveling around central Europe before coming to Lumsden. The plan included three pieces that were an evolution from the last trio of pieces I made in the states.... Here they are: Tip
(these aren't even on my website yet...I'm so bad!)
(they're 24"-45" tall)
They were going to be similar shapes and sizes to Tip
but with more movement ( like the huge ones from my thesis show) and have cast metal "spines" coming out of their centers with tree slices (pic below) positioned as if they were vertebrae. The spines would have been cast of iron from whittled down tree branches. While getting the ceramics studio in order (I'm the first resident since a major renovation) and waiting for the clay order, I formulated the idea into a detailed plan drawing, and spent a lot of time whittling, really! look:
I was interested in the light-colored fleshiness under the bark and how this black and orange fungus made patterns under the bark. (see it in the pics?)
...And I did some "drawings" on the wall with bendy twigs:
..And made some tree "disks":
But really...honestly, I had NO
idea what I was doing or why I was doing these things! Then the clay came at the end of week 2. We ordered all different colors and textures and my wheels started turning a little more easily but I still
didn't start the stumps, and I didn't know what was stopping me.
Two weeks after arriving we went to Edinburgh for the weekend and on the bus, looking out at the landscape, it became so
clear: other than the cast metal aspect of this idea, I was 95% sure that I would be making the same
pieces if I were at home! They were, for the most part, in no way related to where
I am, the new landscape I'm in, and new experiences I'm having...so what was the point
!? Why come all the way across the damn ocean to make what I would make at home? Furthermore, I realized the idea of never being able to ship them home really did
bother me and needed to be taken into consideration. So, it was a relief to see the obstacle so clearly and know that that's what was holding me back. That feeling lasted about 5 minutes till I thought "Shit! What AM
I going to make then?!" But, we were on our way to Ed for the weekend, and for once
in my freakin' life I told myself that it was fine that I didn't have a plan right now
and to just open my eyes and look around more and pay even
more attention to the things I was looking at and taking pictures of with the set intention of discovering a new idea...but also not try to force it.
By the time we returned, I had a seed
of an idea. And again, contrary to my usual ways, I began making with just
that seed of an idea...no plan (!) and decided to just see where it went and that that
was the only way I could truly let the influence of my surroundings have an effect. Wowie Zowie! This is the complete
opposite of my working methods in grad school, but that's the wonderful thing about a (long term) residency: there is no fear or anxiety in not having a detailed plan. But one must keep working of course.
So! What was
it that got me going on a "new" exciting track? STUMPS
! Ha! But wait...a completely
of stumps! Really
! There were two sets of images that were piquing my interest. First, these two stumps from a public park in Edinburgh:
It occurred to me that I was so drawn to these stumps because of the shape of their out lines. Its not very common to see this kind of thing in the states. If a tree needs to be removed from a park or yard, it's chopped up by a stump grinder and removed. But not here, they just left it and didn't replace it. So, still not knowing exactly where I was going with this, I made a couple stumps emphasizing the shapes and was interested enough to keep going:
There's also this one, which I think was inspired by my recent experience of being finger printed (grrrrr...).
The other main aspect influencing this work is logging forests. You may have picked up from previous pictures that all the pine woods in this region are for logging. We can walk just a 1/4 mile here and see them. I can see one out the window right now. Aesthetically, I'm interested in the whorls of the tree rings, each different like a finger print, with the contrast of the straight diagonal lines made by the saw:
My interest in these logging areas caused a conundrum for me for two reasons. Part of the concept behind the work I make at home involves condemning destruction of the environment, but I didn't want to come to this country as a guest saying "You shouldn't be logging! Logging bad! Naughty Scotland!"...And it's not that I was suppressing these feelings, I honestly don't feel that way. The deforestation of Scotland happened so many centuries ago (mostly 1300-1600) that it does not fit into my usual miasma of negative feelings about environmental destruction. Also, due to prevalent high winds, a lot of the higher hills in Northern Scotland are naturally bald to begin with! Additionally, the sight of these pine logging areas being harvested does not bother me because, if they didn't plant pines for harvest, there would hardly be any forests at all! So it's a whole different experience than say, the sadness I felt upon seeing the logging forests in Washington near and in the Olympic national park, where huge stands of old-growth trees used to be and you see pictures from as late as 1900 of proud men standing at the base of a 500 year old felled tree. Anyway, I digress.
So, to sum up: I'm interested in the stump's shapes, patters and their interiors...but where to I go with this if I'm not relating them to my two usual references (the human body and environmental destruction)? I made those stump forms directly from the images above and wanted to keep using direct references from my surroundings for the shapes. Due to that aforementioned scarcity of old trees, there is also a lack of old stumps, and the shapes I tried to invent myself were not nearly as unusual or interesting as the real thing. Then, I was walking past the table of one of the other residents who is creating maps of her experiences while walking outdoors. She had a huge map of just this region unfolded on her table. I noticed that there were green blob shapes denoting the forested areas...and they looked like the stump shapes! I borrowed the map and traced the green areas and came up with these forms:
I made a few more single stumps, and for some reason, the notion struck me to cut the middle out. I think I was tempted to cut all the way through while carving tree rings... It was interesting how I now had a negative and possitive of the shape derived from the map form:
Plus I like how much the shape changes from paper to stump form, to negative shape, to removed core...without me intending to change the shape at all! Still not quite sure why I'm cutting the middle out! It is interesting looking at least, no? But again, I'm just following whims and letting the ideas build off of and on top of each other. At first, I was afraid to work this way because I was worried the work would be too different to from my existing body of work... (unfortunately, at this stage of my "emerging artists" career, I must be concerned with potential university employers/curators wanting to see a cohesive body of work). But it still looks like mine....right? What do you think?
Anyway, I decided that with the remaining month left, I wanted to make a grouping of theses forms that "fit" together. Now the ideas are starting coalesce a bit more...these are map forms, it makes sense for them to go on the wall, and have profiles that some what puzzle together, like our own continents... So I simplified the map tracings, slightly altered them so they would match up a bit and made this arrangement
|Installation plan. (ended up adding an 8th cause they didn't fit together so well once they were made of clay!)|
Another interesting note: the space between looks like rivers! But the individual pieces still look like stumps. So now some semblance of a concept is starting to develop....instead of condemning/commenting on the lack of trees...I'm exploring the prominence of the land...
using a form that represents the former presence of trees. The Appalachian mountains of the American East and the Cairngorm Mountains in the North of Scotland are very similar in age and geography ( at least from my observations). But when you look at the Appalachians, you notice the thick blanket of trees, but here you notice the shape, color and texture of the land. And both are beautiful and intriguing in their own right.
Here is a progress shot of the installation:
|Wall installation progress 1, middle stump removed.|
|Wall installation progress 2. middle stump off to the left, walls on 3 out of 8.|
They will all have walls of varying heights, and as you can see, the middles are already cut out.
I'm not sure how the cores will be re-attached, probably mounted a couple inches above their corresponding openings. The clay colors vary from black to tan/gray mixed in all manner of combinations!
So! There you have it! The first batch of the 4 individual stumps is in the kiln now, and these progress shots of the installation are from yesterday. CLICK HERE
to see the full visual inspiration/art album (about 80 images). Again, I'm interested in all manner of comments from anyone, not just my artsyfartsy friends...especially if you've read this far! ( I know at least
Virginia has read this far! Hi Virginny!...and probably Chris too...and Mom and dad...).
Post Script 1: Sadly, even though these stumps are definitely sturdy enough to ship, there will be no money left over at the end of our stay for crates and shipping costs...they'll live in Scotland for while after the exhibition until I can save enough to get them back, I guess!
Post script 2: I wrote most of this last night...and I woke up (earlier than usual) with the clearest head I've had in a loooong time! I had no idea these unorganized-and-unspoken-until-now thoughts we clouding my whole mind so much! Whew!
Coming soon....All of October (whoa!) and Isle of Skye!
Thanks for reading! Byebye!