Thursday, December 23, 2010
It is a cause that demands we all perform gestures in the face of it. So for David Wojnarowicz, Peter Hujur and my own well-loved Michael ... I offer my own thoughts ...
There is nothing which makes us so human as our awareness of the coming of death. There is nothing which binds us to our fellows so fully as the longing and desire that is grief. When one is so honest as to reveal the substance of this unspeakable, un-writable condition - when one has the courage to forego the affectation of coolness and aplomb and to take the risk of revealing this most fragile, telling internal dialogue that is the knowing of the coming of death and the insatiable longing of grief – we’d best do well and offer our hearts to it. It is only in this profound generosity, this hospitality of the soul, that there can be any relief from the infinite solitude which is the awake human mind. If we are so mean, so limited in our hearts as to not make room for the grief of an-other – then we risk the oblivion of a failed humanity.
further reading and writing ...
" The 'Fire' man, Essay by Philip Kennicott in The Washington Post
CBC News Article on artist AA Bronson's response to Censorship of the Smithsonian Exhibit
Website for Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture
Contact for United States House of Representatives
Contact info for the Senators of the 11th Congress
Contact the White House
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Worth reading. anyway all fleeing those people should check out Newark.
Crain's: Artists Fleeing the City
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
During the term of this residency the project that I am currently pursuing involves an investigation into the varied marks left on the sidewalks in front of the gallery and around the surrounding blocks by chewing gum. My interest here stems from the collective history that each of these marks represent. I’ve approached documenting them as individual compositions whose original authorship is unknown.
Back in the studio.
Although I liked the idea and process of creating a record of the chewing gum patterns through mold making. When I made castings from these silicone patterns I wasn’t at all interested in the results. The difference in texture between the gum and the concrete was too subtle, to the point of being undistinguishable. I tried adding color and tonal changes in a number of ways to the castings but it always felt like something artificial and disconnected was being added to the surface.
Currently I have begun using photography as a way to document the chewing gum marks on concrete that I was initially interested in. This approach has allowed me to document the random and varied patterns while preserving the high contrast graphic quality of the black chewing gum on near-white concrete.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
This is the list right now. I have typed it in order of response, with any repeats from person to person retained.
I was overwhelmed by the thoughtful and opinionated writing, stories and commentary I got back. I do not have permission as of right now to print it all, but it was inspiring and will not go unused in the universe.
Thank you to you all for your time in sending names, links and stories! At the bottom is my original email, please continue to add to this list.
Lynne Hershman Leeson
Niki de Saint-Phalle
Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Paula Modersohn Becker
julia margaret cameron
Lili St. Cyr
Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Alluquere Rosanne Stone
Ursula von Rydingsvard
Regina José Galindo
The nameless women that have created the "artifacts" displayed today in museums, especially those that have created the intricate and beautiful textiles, jewelry, and pottery of the Pacific Northwest Native American tribes. African women artists' textile and pottery skills-- some of the most beautiful pottery pieces in the world have come from Africa and derive from women artists, who receive little credit for their inspired works.
Julia Margaret Cameron
Emily Kame Kngwarreye
I'm writing female artists and curators that I know to ask for a quick
"hit reply" with a name or names of notable female artists in any media, era or
continent whose work and/or lives mean something to you. We are
developing materials to share with the junior/senior female high
school students participating in Identity Blueprint, our pilot
I am hoping to have our cool flyer and trifold online soon, but if you
would like this info I can share it with you via email more quickly!
We aren't aiming to develop an entire curriculum
per se but simply to have some interesting info about a diverse
selection of artists. Think about how you might have found out about
an artist who matters to you. It might have been in a bookstore or
from a friend. The point is you found out about them and it did
something for you.
The entire program is very much inspired by and shaped around the
activities of working female artists that we have been lucky enough to
get to know through Gallery Aferro. We therefore want to continue this
approach by asking you to contribute names. My personal contributions
include Carrie Mae Weems and Marjane Satrapi, but I think it will be
much, much better list if everyone joins in.
Thank you so much for being who you are, and for contributing to this
project! If you would like to share this call for names with friends,
please do so.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Hello out there. I'm preparing for a show at the Providence Natural History Museum. The museum collection is made up of a lot of things collected by amateurs, and pretty much anyone who wanted to donate to the museum could do so. So they have enormous archives of bugs, butterflies, nests, eggs, rocks, etc, some of which are rotting away, or unlabeled, or stored in cigar boxes. I am soliciting donations from people, and am creating a vitrine that inserts my new donations into the museum's collection. Also, there is a large collection of disassociated labels (lovely phrase!) which are labels- some of which are over a hundred years old- that have been separated from their objects. I am classifying them according to handwriting/label type and installing them in a display case in typical insect-display format. They are so pretty! Anyone who wants to send me an object for the museum collection (your favorite shell or rock, pressed plant, vial of sand or dust, etc) please contact me and I will let you know where to mail things. Or studio residents, you can put things on my desk in my studio. Please include your name, what you know about the item, and where it was found. I'll start installing in about three weeks.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Notes On Derrida, l cooper
We had open studios as part of the Open Doors 2010 event ... alas I didn't take pictures as it was happening. I did make Pen Poems featuring clips of Derrida. It was funny when I gave them out, people often expected my name to be in them. I never thought of that actually. I'll have to consider it.
I understand my life and my work as a crocheted crazy quilt. The thread changes, stitches vary in size and spacing, ripples form throughout the fabric even as it grows. The end of each thread is tied to its predecessor, each stitch dependant on its confederates. After a while and with practice it begins to even out, growing into substance. Beautiful here, failed there. My work in every way is a series of minute tasks, deeply linked, one end to another.
In the studio there is the neuroticism of being alone with what one has made and trying to divine its merit. To see what one has done.
And then there is comfort in the comings and goings of others invested in this same way.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
In other news …
Residencies often feel like graduate school … the energy of other artists in close proximity, even when they’re absent, contributes to the work and the thinking.
I’m finally settling in here and beginning to make progress. Today, this morning, as I was preparing to head to New Jersey I think I solved my “book problem.” I have a mental image now of the two books I’m planning. I also have a lead on some music/sound folks to work with for the video project.
In the meantime painting is as painting … and I expect it to move closer to what I need.
So by the end of this residency I should have some success with my “ghost hunting” … video evidence, written documents and some surplus paintings. We will see.
until tonight then...
Saturday, August 21, 2010
to wash it down
My first short post on the Aferro Blog … and of course you all know me … lol … so you know you’re likely to hear from me again.
I must begin by singing the praises of the most excellent Emma and Evonne, warm, wonderful and smart women. Hopefully in the future this blog will find me more poetic and maybe more thoughtful … but for today we sing praises …
And speaking of today at Aferro -- today I met two of my fellow residents, Steve and Blyth, as well as the people who will be working “in the lab”. The Lab is a project curated by Nancy Mahl and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it. It looks like it has an angle on getting to work that is really fresh. In fact that’s something that’s attractive about Aferro, it’s programming is so open and truly willing to take some risks. I suspect that’s one of the benefits of their location and being a non-profit with very few strings. The place was humming with everyone working on things for the September 11 opening.
Got a look at what will be my art home for the next few months and ate an amazing cheeseburger. Those who know me well know that burgers aren’t my typical fare but today it was right on.
I went with Emma, Evonne, Dahlia, and Leigh Ann (I’m sure I’m misspelling her name) to Tops Diner in East Newark as the great Cheeseburger quest got underway. Initiated by Dahlia with encouragement from all quarters, the quest represents the search for the perfect artist’s cheeseburger and Tops has made a stellar first salvo in the battle. It will be a fight to the death I’m pretty sure as well as providing substance for some of this blog’s contributors. Stay tuned to see whose cheeseburger comes out on top … (tops..)
And just so you don’t think we were just self-indulging, the dialogue was all very erudite as the lunch conversation swirled around such topics as theoretical physics, boat rides, lasers, art and the perils and joys of facebook with a side of drooling appreciation for the proofs of Dahlia Elsayed’s forthcoming show catalog. It's going be beautiful.
All in all … this was not a bad day.
Monday, August 16, 2010
It is difficult to get to what happens here in the studios. It believe that it is illusive, that it is very real but resists being branded...ie "The New Newark."
Artists come and go at different times. Walls change color, power tools sound, lights burn at odd hours. Things happen. See Bruce Nauman's spy-cam video, with footage of a cat chasing flies in his studio.
Alternate theory, one that I believe in sometimes: I just think that many artists are already so busy managing the necessary output of self promotional material for their own sites, blog, social media, that the burden of creating yet more digestible little bits of content is too much. Syndicate! Syndicate! Syndicate! Feed! Feed! Feed!
I guess I'm withholding?
I don't take many snapshots of my own life, which might be odd for a photographer. Like anyone else I sometimes wish I had, of people, places and situations that no longer exist, or exist for me. These snapshots that I don't have might even sometimes be appropriate for this blog: light coming into studio enviroments, cute handwritten communication between neighbors, atmospheric closeups of materials. You know, that sort sort of thing. Ambiance. And again, in my more cynical moments, raw material for the secondary market of lifestyle purveyors. There are even Taschen books!
But I do so sincerely enjoy taking snapshots of the studio detritus of artist colleagues. So here are some, in text tag format:
Buddha Statue/Big Elmers Glue/Air Freshener Spray
Ashtray/Video Editing Deck with big piece of tape saying don't unplug me
Rope/Panties/50 lbs Clay
Rolls of multi colored vinyl/copy of Huck Finn from Aferro free book room
Gold Paint Markers/Plywood/Course Schedule
Bleach/uplifting note to troubled youth being mentored/American Flag
Legal Books circa 1910/Razors/Hammers/Blue Paint
Thursday, June 3, 2010
While I don't wear these earrings, nor do I intend to, I like how they function as a marker of my weekly traipse down Market Street.
Below are a few images:
Monday, May 24, 2010
"What's it like having a career as an artist? Michael Zeng posted this question to his former classmates from San Francisco Art Institute as they approached the 5 year mark since graduating with MFA's."
I think it's always helpful to hear from artists about their real lives, beyond just the successes we hear about at artist talks. It's good for me to hear about how people are continuing to make work day to day and managing the balance between studio and outside world issues.
I am curious as to the "inner voice" that artists hear when doing all the non media-specific things that allow their practice to go on. I don't mean things like painting or casting or video editing, but rather things like pacing, looking, thinking. "Inner voice" is an awful phrase, suggesting low grade self help lit or the limitations of film, even well made film, that necessitate things like voiceovers.
It might not be a voice, of course. It might be pictures, or anything really. In the interest of getting this discussion going, I'm going to be completely honest and admit that I talk to myself when photographing. A lot. And it isn't anything interesting either. The most commonly used phrase is "c'mon, shit for brains."
I don't know where it came from, and I now have said it so many times in my life that it just comes out of my mouth when I'm alone.
There are various other minor, unremarkable verbal tics such as counting incorrectly habitually when timing exposures and film development, and singing tuneless rounds of choruses from various 30's jazz standards when nervous or timing night exposures, but really I want to know where the shit for brains came from. Why is this comforting?
Reminds me of this a bit, and also of the trope of thrillers where the repititon of a loved one's habitual phrase or personally significant word serves to confirm foul play, such as in LA Confidential.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Gravity Connundrum, (Jen Poueymirou and myself) will also be debuting a new video object at the melee. (exciting!Exciting!)
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Friday, 4:30pm in the Adler Theater at Ramapo College
Saturday, April 17, 2010
We loaded up on supplies and Mariam learned to prime canvas. I learned, or was reminded, that the Airport Express can't wirelessly boost an existing wireless network. (Fail!).
But with a few pie tins and a pringles can we could really have something here.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
How much can a ritual be altered/borrowed cross-culture before it is "broken?" Is fidelity necessary for belief? (I'm a syncretic dilettante) But my fear of misfortune was and is sincere, so I really did want a hex against trouble. No posturing there. If you're familiar with the story of the gallery's origins, you will understand my paranoia and lack of faith in the, ahem, Goodness of Civic Planning.
Thanks again for coming up with such as great response to my odd request, Vandana!
She also has "Prayer Flags for Health Care" in Art Shop, the gallery's gift shop.
I can't match the text curation coming out of Reborn, but I find the following weirdly soothing:
from Bohemians: A Hate Song (1918)
"I hate Bohemians;
they shatter my morale
There are the Artists;
The Inventors of the Nude,
They are always gesticulating with their thumbs,
And sketching, with forks, on table cloths;
They point out all the different colors in a sunset
As if they were trying to sell it to you;
They are forever messing around with batik;
And hanging yellow tassels on things;
And stenciling everything within reach...
And then there are the Radicals;
...They are always in revolt about something.
Nothing has been done yet that they can wholly approve of...
They are forever starting magazines
And letting the Postal Authorities put the finish to them...
Always longing to loose the trivial fetters of Convention,
and go far away- back to the Real-
I wish they'd get started!"
Monday, March 22, 2010
by Peter Schjeldahl (1972)
The artist does not want to deal with the world.
He wants the world to deal with him.
He realizes that, to this end, he needs the help of others.
Gaining this help involves him in a series of accommodations for
which he despises himself and those who help him.
That one day he is a success, and it seems to be exactly what he
had imagined it would be
Money, of course, but also the sense that an unlimited number of
possibilities for experience await his leisure.
His former friends and supporters now hate him, but even among
themselves they pay tribute to his talent.
His work proceeds satisfactorily.
He cultivates what he regards as a rich gamut of eccentricities.
At some parties he is taciturn, at others garrulous.
He finds it increasingly easy to satisfy his limited, if mildly
irregular, sexual appetites.
He collects Art Deco one year, Navajo blankets the next – or,
rather, he has assistants collect for him.
He is appalled to realize that he has a drinking problem.
He is bothered by a feeling that his progress in life has somehow
fallen behind schedule.
He becomes obsessed with the thought that he must create a
monumental, devastatingly original work.
After a period of intense application, he does so.
The public reaction is favorable, but no one seems devastated.
This throws him into a lengthy depression.
He is surprised by the thought that his reputation has gotten out of
Every month or two he reads a new article by some idiot, praising
The occasional intelligent article – which he often has trouble
understanding – fills him with a vague uneasiness.
Surrounded by assistants and dealers and involved in endless
projects, he feels like an industry.
He finds that he can do without parties.
He manages to quit drinking for weeks at a time.
He worries about his health, which is perfect.
He reminds himself continually that he can do whatever he wants.
But all he can think to do is work.
I bought seeds on 3/8, am starting seedling indoors for what will hopefully be a full-sun urban gardening effort for a new art project. (More on that when I have something to show for it.) It was the first decent day of weather, and "Detroit Dark Red" beets were already sold out when I got them. (Yes, I bought instead of going to a seed exchange. You can throw things at me when you next see me.) I bought lots of Craft Gourd- "suitable for arts and craft projects." I sure hope they grow.
While this may seem like an atrocious tangent, my entire practice has been and remains influenced by ideas of failure and expectations.
I am always interested in what is considered reasonable to expect, and who gets to decide what is reasonable for who? What is it ok to want?
I will be exhibiting a photograph titled "Father's Day" in the Print Center's 84th annual print competition for photography from May 1 - July 24th, 2010. The image was taken in the spring, and features rabbits. It is one of my more accessible and thus popular images, but is based on several separate stories that I have been told that involve accidents, animals, disappointment, mishap and guilt.
I hope the seeds grow.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The photos at left are from the project "Temporary Vitals" that includes temporary tattoos that viewers can take and apply to their own necks.
These are drawings of Ribs that Eve did in preparation for a mural at Local Project in LIC, which will be up from April 10 (check out the gallery here: http://www.localproject.org/) through June.
This is our reference wall and chaotic desk which is now in our new studio in Wassaic, NY...
This is where we're working now! Beautiful photo thanks to Jeff (http://www.jeffbarnettwinsby.com/), one of our co-directors at The Wassaic Project.
Want to come visit? check out: www.wassaicproject.com
We miss you, Aferro Studios!!