Kitchen

Sundays in our house are days of cooking. Sundays, all the food for the upcoming week is prepped and prepared. This is a task that is mainly my responsibility, but Matthew helps when and if I ask, and of course the Noodle “helps” whenever he feels like standing in his Learning Tower long enough to make a mess.

This Sunday practice (tradition?) comes from long before I had a kid though. And from before I met Matthew even. Back during my first year of grad school I fell into doing meal prep, because I couldn’t afford to eat out much (if at all), and if I wasn’t doing the cooking, no one else was. Eventually it developed into full on meal planning, grocery shopping, batch cooking, weekly event. It’s been 6 or 7 years running now.

Understandably, this practice has become more challenging after the arrival of the kiddo, but it has been my health that has impacted the ritual the most. Whereas in the past I found this tradition really refreshing and invigorating, I found myself completely exhausted and overwhelmed by the prospect. I started to hate it. Not only did it take the obvious physical toll, but believe it or not, the mental strain was also pretty intense. So things had to change. Grocery shopping was moved to Saturday mornings, simpler recipes were selected, fewer “extras” were made, naps were added in to the mix, everything else was removed. A leaner, meaner version of Sundays evolved.

It would obviously be very easy to just give this practice of mine up. To either do carry-out, prepared foods, or prepackaged meals the majority of the time. To attempt to do “30-Minute Meals” each evening when we got home. Sure. I could. Might my life be a teeny tiny bit easier? Possibly. Would my stubborn little heart rebel at that level of privilege (and waste), when I can still very much recall times in the recent past when I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my next meal? For certain.

My stubborness aside though, this ritual is important enough to me to continue because it is a routine. I can count on it. Every. Single. Sunday. With my health and it’s associated cognitive problems, routines are important. Predictability is crucial, and the rest of my life? Not so routine. My work schedule changes every day, as do my duties and efforts there. The way that I feel can wildly vary from day to day. Also, Toddler. Doing this one thing (albeit a big thing) gives me one definite check point in my week. It gives me some security and sanity, when I often feel as though I am juuuuuust barely keeping my head above water.

And so, The Kitchen and The Kid finds it’s way back to it’s point of origin, the kitchen. Which is undoubtably the center of my home. AGES ago I brought home the large canvas test prints I made. They wound up thrown on the floor of my studio, right in front of my desk, when I cleaned the apartment about a month ago. Matthew asked me if that didn’t worry me… My knee jerk reaction was neatly roll them up and tuck them away somewhere, to protect them. But then I thought about it, and I actually didn’t care that they were on the floor and that I might step on them. And more to the point, hadn’t I brought these prints home so that I could live with them, and look at them, for awhile? Yes, that’s why I brought them home. Why ignore them? Then a few weeks ago as I was gearing up for Sunday cooking, the idea struck me to put one of them down on the floor of the kitchen where I would be spending the day. Where everyone will walk over, spill on, and generally fuck up, the print. And there it has stayed. How long, I don’t know, but I like seeing it every day, and I’m curious to see what affect life will have on the work.

Advertisements

Rediscovery…and the Illogical Process of Keeping Versus Destroying

Yikes!  It’s been two weeks since I’ve posted.  I’m sorry!

As usual, my excuse is that I’ve been busy outside of the cyber realm, in the real world.  I had to install my show, then I had to recover from my show, then I had to clean up after my show (I drilled about a hundred holes in the ceiling of the gallery that had to be spackled, sanded, and painted… Oh, the joys of being an artist.), and then I had to clean and move my studio.  Also in the meantime, I played Cowboys and Indians.  I was a Cowboy.

Anyway…to the point of my post.  A lot of this summer has been about rediscovery for me.  For instance, I have, in the past few days, rediscovered how disgustingly hot the MFA warehouse is during the summer.  No, seriously…I’m currently sitting in my studio literally sweating buckets as I SIT typing.  I, in fact, have a paper towel laid under my arms where they touch my laptop so that I don’t create pools of sweat on my computer.  I’m certain that would void the warranty.  I can’t wait til the MFA studios move to our new facility…we get air conditioning!

Wow.  That turned into a way longer, not funny digression than I expected.

Again, to the point.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading and thinking this summer, trying to get a new perspective on my work, and to find a solid direction or theme to follow.  In the process, I’ve really rediscovered what I love about making art, and what is important to me as an artist.  This, in and of itself, is very comforting to me, because it means that I do know what I’m doing, and that I am still passionate about it.  There was a point in the last year where I was really questioning this.  I’m very thankful for the time I’ve had for this reflection over the summer.  Away from school assignments, special projects, visiting artist duties, and people in general.  It’s been incredibly refreshing.  I haz rediscovered my art groove.  Yay.

Another refreshing aspect of my summer has been “teaching” at Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center Summer Camp.  (I put teaching in quotation marks, because while I do teach the kids stuff, its really just about letting them be creative and enjoy themselves.)  Since the first week of June, I’ve been working there Monday through Friday, essentially 9-5.  It’s been so amazing to watch a group of 6-12 year olds engaged in the artistic process.  What is most refreshing about it though, is that they are so uninhibited by the “rules” of art making and they are so unafraid of just doing something to do it.  It’s really fantastic.  Through them I’ve rediscovered the simple pleasure of just doing, not worrying about how, or why, or what it means…just making art because you want to make something.  Worrying about fixing the problems later, and using whatever they have on hand to create.  Watching them turn the most banal, basic stuff, into the most amazingly creative things.  They turned the cores of giant paper tubes into cannons, and then into megaphones…construction paper into entire  houses, complete with furniture.  These kids and some of the other instructors have also helped me rediscover the joys of being silly about creativity.  We had a Cowboys and Indian day last week, and I spent the day with a mustache and beard painted on my face by another instructor… I’ve also had the joy of using my camera to document their projects and adventures.  I had forgotten how fulfilling and enjoyable the simple act of taking photographs is.  It is so second nature to me, and yet I deny that part of myself so often.  It’s been an incredibly instructive summer job for me.  I just hope that I can come back next summer… I’m technically not allowed to say anything about it but, suffice to say, I may not have the opportunity next year.  And wouldn’t it be a shame if no one got to see this again?:

 

 

 

 

I hope that made you laugh and rediscover the Cowboy inside yourself.  🙂  I’d post more pictures of the amazing costumes, weapons, and forts the kids made, but I’m not allowed to without the permission of the parents.  Oh well.  Where was I?  Oh yeah…

The most recent moment of rediscovery I’ve had, was while moving my studio a whole 50 yards down the hall way in the warehouse.

I decided that since I was going to move my studio (I wanted a little bit bigger space that was less centrally located from traffic and noise), I was going to clean and get rid of any bad juju that I was hanging on to.  I realize that sounds crazy, but sometimes we create associations with certain objects or pieces we’ve created, and that can affect you subconsciously.  I think that physical spaces can also have bad juju associated with them.  I sort of feel like my old studio space had some negative vibes floating around…In any event, I did a purge. It’s hard for me to explain my rationale behind what I choose to keep, and what I choose to get rid of, except that I just know when I need to get rid of something…Stick with me here.  I’m sure all of you other artists out there have a similar process.

Now, I  burned a lot of stuff back in February.  Things that just held bad memories and negative thoughts, or just plain old bad art, but in moving I wanted to make a clean sweep.  So sweep I did.  But in the process, I rediscovered some really old art that I’d forgotten I was even carting around with me.  Seriously.  Things I made at UT, bits and pieces of works I made while living in Erie.  For the most part, I hang onto old work for a few years, and then, unless its very meaningful or significant to me or my career, I dump it.  The things I throw away, are work that typically never grew beyond that single piece or idea.  For instance, yesterday I threw away a set of photographic paper dolls and a photo tile puzzle I made several years ago.  When I do this, I pretty much feel no compunction about throwing away my art work.  I hate keeping pointless stuff around.  It just becomes distracting, meaningless clutter.  (I get very overwhelmed if I am physically surrounded by too much clutter.  I find it…distracting and irritating.)  I’m actually seriously considering doing this to all but a select few of the boxes and boxes of negatives I have…But the photographer in me cringes at this, so clearly the time is not ripe for a negative purge (Whoa…did I just rediscover my inner photographer?!), so the boxes went into a cupboard in my studio, out of sight, out of mind, for now.

I also found some little pieces that, while unfinished, unrelated to other works, or otherwise deemed random, I can’t seem to let go of yet.  These are things that I just feel a connection to, or that speak to me on some level.  I keep thinking that maybe these little bits of ephemera just aren’t done with me yet (or vice versa)…that they’re time is yet to come.  Perhaps they will eventually influence new work, or I will be able to successfully complete them.  Whatever my psychological reasoning, I just can’t let them go.  Which is strange, because I can be pretty merciless about getting rid of things (just ask my husband).  The super strange thing, is that its not all art work.  There are things, like a set of famous TV mother paper dolls my dad gave me a couple of years ago, that I just gravitate to.  Or maybe, in another year, I will find these things again and decide it’s time to throw them out, that they have served their purpose.  Who knows.  But for now, they all reside in the top drawer of the flat files in my studio, easily accessible from my work table…Just in case.