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.

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My Love Letter

I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, at least not on this blog, but here goes:

I FUCKING LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY!

My first love.  A FILM camera.  🙂

There, I said it.  And I even dropped the F bomb…

Sorry if that offended anybody.

But really.  I mean it.  If I could, I would divorce Husband and marry Photography….

Only, somehow I forgot that I love it.  I didn’t even think such a thing was possible, let alone suddenly remembering that you’d forgotten you loved something…  And then I walked back into a darkroom after a year long absence. So how did it even happen that I forgot I loved Photography? Well… Let me share with you the epic tale of my journey.  Sit back, relax.  Maybe pop some popcorn?

Once upon a time there was an artist named Courtney.  She had already received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in what was so fancily called New Media, but really, it was Photography.  She loved everything about photography…except maybe all this digital craziness that everyone was starting to rely a bit to heavily on.  But even that was still cool… It was just a different way of doing things.  Ultimately, to Courtney, photography was this magical mix of science, art, and expression.  It was like alchemy.  It was addicting.  Everything in her world was based on, in, or around Photography.

As her work progressed beyond her undergraduate degree, she started trying to push the boundaries of photography, twisting it’s building blocks to suit her own purposes.  Experimenting using the processes she knew like the back of her hand.  Everything was going smoothly, until she decided it was time to go back to school and get her Masters of Fine Arts, to help her push her experiments further.

Suddenly nothing about Photography or her art work made any sense to Courtney.  She fought the thing that she had so dearly loved, eventually deserting it… Abandoning her beloved equipment in a corner of her studio to collect dust.  This frustration was compounded by an enforced leave of absence from the Photography Department itself.  Courtney had some how found herself assigned to work in the Printmaking Department, so she wasn’t even around other people working with photography.  It was all very sad.  It was a grey, desolate time for the kingdom…

OK.  I’m done being melodramatic.  But essentially, it’s what happened to me.  I spent a year away from photo.  Unthinkable!  I am partly to blame, I got frustrated with photography and decided to take a break.  That’s OK.  I explored (with varying successes) other media and outlets for my work.  I discovered Performance.  I challenged myself and grew as an artist.  However, I had NO grounding in what can be considered my comfort zone of photography.  I either let go of, or was forced away from what I knew.  I spent the year working in the Printmaking Department, I was told not to fall back on what I did best.  Between GA hours, studio time, and classes, I didn’t even have time to hang out in the photo lab, or spend time with photo faculty.  It had a profoundly negative effect on me, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  Then I, for lack of a better term, fought my way out of Printmaking and into Photo.  And oh what joys it has brought to me.  I am excited to the point of giddiness about just being in the photo lab and sitting in on a photo class taught by one of my classmates.  I makes me beyond happy.  I didn’t even know it could make me this happy.  I didn’t even realize I’d missed it.

I absolutely geek out hearing about reciprocal relationships, f-stops, shutter speeds, depth of field!  I adore discussing cameras and advances in photography with co-workers.  I find myself grinning as I watch Keynote presentations of the historically relevant photographic works (or really any photos) that first drew me into photography.  I delight in the smells of the darkroom and enjoy mixing all the chemicals up to make fresh prints, like some crazy old mad scientist-artist.  I plain old love it.

All it took for me to see how much I missed and loved photo was walking back into a darkroom.  And of course the point was driven further home when I sat in the back of an intermediate photography class to hear what, to others, might have been a mindless rehashing of basic knowledge relating to photography, but to me recalled the alchemy that is photography in my mind.

So kids, the moral of this story is don’t forget.  Don’t forget what you love, what drives you, what defines you.  Don’t lose sight of these things, even if your priorities change, or you face challenges beyond your control.  Always remember what you love.  And if you can’t figure out why your life is sucking at a particular moment, or you don’t understand why things just aren’t the same anymore, chances are you’ve left something important behind in the dust you kicked up while you so thoughtlessly moved ahead.

🙂

Serendipity and Delicious Morsels of Chocolately Wisdom

After my intense ponderings on Ubu Roi, I present some fluff to fill the empty spaces in your head.

Last week was my first of fall classes.  The preceding week was all that fun orientation/bureaucracy junk that the university likes to put us through.  You know what I’m talking about.  Tedious, brain numbing activities and events that really bear no relevance on the education itself.  It seemed that after a very chill and productive summer, FSU clearly wanted to take my life over again as soon as possible, with paperwork, computer glitches, and financial aid nonsense.  It wasn’t all painful… though a lot of it was.  Like a teaching orientation I wasn’t supposed to be at, but was told I needed to attend.  Or the absolute longest, most difficult LGA meeting EVER.  There were definite moments of enjoyment though.  Getting to meet all the new grads entering the program and seeing their work/hearing them talk about it was a high point for me.  As were all of the food-centric events.  I gained 5 pound during orientation week.  No joke.  I do so love to eat.

But I think the best part about my return to school this year was the absolute pure serendipity of EVERYTHING.  And it all started with this:

It’s shocking how clean my nails look right now.

I came across this beautiful little hug from fate at a potluck toward the end of my week of orientation nonsense.  If you’ve been following me here for any amount of time, you’ll know about my struggle with and against the concept of Flawlessness and Imperfection.  At the moment I found this delicious morsel of chocolatey wisdom, I was poised on the verge of a full blown anxiety attack about my art and returning to school to deal with faculty and fellow students.  I wanted to have complete control of how everything would go down, and obviously couldn’t.  I wanted to hide from all my fellow MFA-ers and live in a hermetically sealed studio this year… And then I found this, as I was having a conversation with my major professor ABOUT my Flawless II installation at my last show.  Clearly I had to smile, and realize everything was going to be OK.  It was like this tiny, tasty omen.   I honestly cannot describe it any better.  It was as if puzzle pieces magically fell into place.  I was told that my GA hours would be spent doing what I love most… Helping students in the darkroom with printing and processing.  Every time I had a conversation with someone, the knowledge or information attained fortuitously linked into a conversation I had either just had, or a conversation that took place later that same day.  (I’m not even joking.  EVERY conversation.  It actually got a little eerie.)  I was easily able to get meetings with everyone I wanted to meet with, and in those meetings, more serendipitous occurrences took place.  For instance, I was out lining an idea I have for an ongoing piece about stopping to acknowledge my obsessive behaviors to a professor, and she had just read a book relating to this idea.  Another professor, while discussing my feminist leanings, had just heard a report relating to a concept I had brought up.  Finally, while discussing an idea I have for a performance, my husband pointed me in the perfect direction for research, where I found amazing material to not only use as support for many of the ideas I’ve been pursuing in the last few months, but that is helping me to extend and define my thoughts.

Ah-mazing.  All from a Dove chocolate.  Maybe I should invest in Dove?  No, I can’t do that.  I don’t have any money to invest.
I hope serendipity makes a visit to all of you imaginary readers soon!  Until then, just because I haven’t mentioned it in awhile (and I’m hoping my serendipity kick will help me out on this front):

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT!

Not my pic…Taken from a random Google search of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

 

If this doesn’t make any sense to you… Go here.

If Three Trains of Thought are Running on the Same Track…

I have to be up in three hours.  Yeah, you heard me.  Up and going in three hours, at work in 4ish… But I can’t sleep, my brain has been churning non-stop since about 6 pm, and I can’t seem to shut it off, even with my normal routine of reading myself to sleep.  (Currently I’m reading Jasper Fforde’s The Well of Lost Plots, which you should totally, immediately check out…but not until you’ve finished reading my blog.)Bear with me here, this is another one of my random thought tangents that magically tie all of my unconnected thoughts together at the end.  Yay non-linear thinking!

What got my ceaseless thinking going, was that as I was laying down to read and go to sleep, I was, um, checking…something… on my, uh, cell phone…  Oh alright, I confess, I was playing a silly game. The game, while not particularly thought provoking, did suddenly give me a huge rush of deja vu (it was in fact a game I had never played before).  Now, you may be asking yourselves why this matters, and more to the point, why you should continue reading about my already been there moment.  Well…because I said it did, and because I said you should.  So there.  Also I promise if you keep reading there will be a surprise for you down at the bottom of the page. But only if you keep reading!

The way I look at deja vu is that when you experience those moments in life, it means that you are on the right path, that you have made good decisions and things are headed in a positive direction.  This way of interpreting deja vu was introduced to me by Christine D’Onofrio a few years back, and it’s really awesome.  It’s like a tiny wave from the future/past every time.  It is actually quite comforting to think of it in this way.  Try it, you’ll like it.

My moment of deja vu got me excited because I haven’t had one in a really long time.  Which, after having uprooted myself and my husband, taken on even more student loan debt, and struggled through my first year of grad school, did not exactly have me feel so great.  And, as I am wont to do, I was starting to question myself and build myself up into an anxious wreck in anticipation of the start of the school year.  In the past few days, I had, in all seriousness, been asking myself if I should really be in grad school, if I really had what it takes, etc…  I think I was (am?) starting to dread the school year (something that may very well be a first for me), because I don’t want it to become a repeat of last year where nothing was accomplished.  If you missed the finer points, I think the 2011-2012 school year went something like this for me:

Chaos of moving, anxiety, avoiding the studio, making bad art, crying, making some more bad art, drinking A LOT, anxiety, crying some more, avoiding the studio, making even more bad art, making pumpkin cookies, drinking again, crying yet again, kind of getting my shit together, anxiety, making ok art, making terrible art, hiding under a table, getting drunk and watching the Twilight movies (yes, that was a low, even for me), crying once more, drinking a little bit more, baking cup cakes, and making some decent art.  

Yeah…that about sums it up.  No really…That’s pretty much how it went.  Who would want a repeat of that?  It was spectacularly disastrous (So much for being the Best At All The Things).  So it was partly reassuring to have a small moment of peace, in which I was shown that I was, and have been, going in the right direction.  It made me smile, quietly to myself, which is perhaps the best kind of smile.

But my deja vu train of thought got me thinking about something else…  Earlier in the evening, I had been proofreading/critiquing an admissions essay that one of the Husband’s cousins had written.  Long story short, I was harping on him to make his final goals (beyond education and the specific university he was applying to) crystal clear.  I must have told him in five different ways… Good thing it was via a word doc and email…other wise I may have gotten punched in the face.  In doing this, however, I thought back to what my ultimate goals were and why exactly I was working toward my MFA.  Once upon a time, I had hoped to teach at a college or university, and if I was really lucky, as a tenured faculty member.  But tonight I realized that may not be the case anymore…

While that line of thought was running, I had a third, but parallel line going, about how much I really love what I do.  I love being an artist, I honestly do.  For me though, making art has never been about making money, or having an audience.  In fact, I’ve never sold a damned thing (and I’ve been working as an artist in some capacity for 10 years now), and I make art pretty much for myself.  It’s a cathartic and expressive experience to me, it is how I make sense of the world around me, and how I make sense of myself.  Yes I do show my work, but if people respond, react, or even like my work, its just an added bonus for me.  I know many other artists and many of my colleagues out there are cringing at this attitude right now.  But it is the truth of how I operate.  It is as much a part of my art work as it is a part of me.  Do I want to be successful and be able to support myself solely on my art?  Well of course, but statistically speaking that’s highly unlikely, so why be untrue to myself? And it is for this reason that I’ve always planned to teach in addition to making art.  I also happen to really love teaching.

When I teach older kids and adults, it’s so amazing to me to watch them when they finally grasp and truly understand a concept, to see them get excited about an idea or a project, and then witness the results that your guidance has help to supply.  Several times when I’ve taught workshops, my students have been so fired up to try the techniques out for themselves because they had never thought of it, never seen it before, or didn’t think that they could do it themselves.  And have come up to tell me as much.  They ask questions that really push me to my limits, causing me to think, re-examine my assumptions and perceptions, and of course learn even more so that I can answer those questions!

Teaching little kids, it’s just so fantastic to me seeing them create in such an uninhibited manner.  And to see them work out how exactly to do something, or solve some kind of creative problem is just mind blowing.  In fact, yesterday at work, I gave my class some free time to do what ever they wanted, and one of the younger boys asked to make a book again.  At the beginning of each two week camp session, I have been having the kids make simple little sketch books out of printer paper, card stock and yarn.  This little boy liked the activity so much, he has made one of these books nearly every day for the last week and a half!  I asked him if he would like me to show him how to make another kind of book, and he was so excited that he dropped the book he had just started working on.  I walked him through the 4 or 5 simple steps it takes to make a folded book (that’s a random youtube link giving the gist of folded books if you’re unfamiliar), and then let him go at it.  He then proceeded to make 3 of them, trouble shooting little mishaps along the way, and then telling me how cool they were.  Wow, what a really awesome moment for me, because it really reinforces the fact that I have all of this knowledge for a reason, and even if I may not use it in my own work, I can share it with others to help them learn about art!

So in sum, I love what I do, both the art making and the teaching aspect.  That’s why I was so crushed when I found out I wouldn’t be teaching at FSU in the fall.  The opportunity to teach is a HUGE reason why I chose to come to school here.  But it’s OK,  because even if, when I finish my master’s degree, I don’t wind up finding one of the rare full time university gigs, I can still teach.  There are always community colleges, community centers, art camps, museums, schools… Again, I know some of my colleagues might go apoplectic at this idea, but to me, it’s still teaching, I’m still sharing art and art making with the world.

And that, my long suffering, ever patient imaginary readers, brings me around to my moment of deja vu.  Despite my anxieties and self doubt, I have some how found myself in the right place in my life once again.  Graduate school, while terrifyingly daunting, is providing me not only with better critical/theoretical thinking and challenging me in my art making (so that I can hopefully make a career out of it), but stronger teaching skills and a better resume as well.  I lucked into the best summer job ever, making art projects with a group of really great kids.  It helped me to remember why I fell in love with art in the first place and reminded me that I love what I do, whether its making or teaching.  Even if I have a rough patch… I can survive it, learn from it, and find my self in the right place once more.  Now if I get really lucky, Lafayette Arts and Crafts Center will not close, and I will be given the amazing opportunity to teach photography classes there this fall!

Hope you all enjoyed another random tangent brought to you by me and my crazy brain.  Keep making some art, even if it is bad.  Eventually you’ll get through it and make some OK art, and then in turn you’ll get through to the good art.  🙂  It happens to us all.  Or maybe just me.  I can’t prove anything either way.

PS, I now I have to be up in 1 hour.  So maybe I just won’t even go to sleep.  Thank the art gods that tomorrow (today?) is International Dance Day at camp and I don’t actually have to teach anything….  Oh!  And I lied about the something cool down at the bottom.  Well, not really lied, as I did have something to post for your amusement and gratification for sticking with me through the tangent, but my internet connection is being uncooperative…I’ll save it for the next time.

Now I think I’m just getting punchy.  Have a lovely one!
 
 
 

Tangents, Daydreams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I’m not even going to apologize for not posting for two weeks again… I think maybe we should all just accept that I’m terrible at keeping up a regular blog.  Don’t let that stop you from reading on though!  Prepare yourselves for a first class tangent!
So this past week I have been in a really strange frame of mind.  I’ve been totally spacy, restless, and unable to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.  I have been daydreaming like there is no tomorrow, and having incredibly vivid dreams.  This is very much unlike me. I don’t think I’ve daydreamed or let my mind wander so much since I was in high school.  I typically don’t have time to be unfocused…adulthood and responsibility have sucked that luxury from me.  In fact, if my mind does wander these days, it goes to the  list of things I need to accomplish during the day, and then the ever increasing things piling up that are waiting to be taken care of when I have a free moment.

Needless to say, this past week was an interesting one for me.  I kept forgetting things everywhere, calling the kids at work by the complete wrong name, leaving the house with out my lunch, losing track of time on my lunch break walks and coming back late… I sat down twice to try to write a blog post, and couldn’t get past the first sentence, and forget trying to finish reading Why Art Cannot Be Taught.  In fact, right now as I’m typing, I have to keep stopping because I am unsure if my words are spelled correctly, and then I get distracted by something else.  It’s been a long week.

On Thursday or Friday, the husband said something mean to me, but in a teasing manner of course.  As a joke, I told him I was just going to leave him for Joseph Gordon-Levitt (We had just seen The Dark Knight Rises, and I have long harbored an innocent crush on said gent..and who wouldn’t?  He’s handsome and incredibly talented.  hitRECord anyone?).  The husband’s retort caused me to pause for a moment.  His reply was something along the lines of:  “He is so far out of your league you have no idea…”  Obviously that’s a very negative thing to say, and really, if Mr. Gordon-Levitt is out of my league, what does that say about Hubsley?  But, what really made me stop and think, was the implication that even if realistically speaking I am unlikely to ever meet this person, I should not even be thinking about it.  The thought should not cross my mind.

Now, in conjunction with my daydreamy self, I began to wonder exactly why and how it had come about that I had ever stopped daydreaming to begin with, and then I started pondering why it was so unacceptable to daydream, or have dreams that were perhaps beyond reality.  I have spent all summer teaching art to kids who so absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming unrealistically, so I can hardly say that its a bad thing.

I’m not going to lie… A huge part of why I became an artist is because I got to exist in a world in which my ideas could be bigger than life, and where whimsical, unlikely things are encouraged.  But somewhere along the lines I have completely lost that.  Instead of having daydreams unlikely hopes, and dare I say, fantasies?…I have goals, targets and intents.  I have concrete, realistic, mature markers by which to gauge my success and progress in life.  I spend next to no time in that imaginary world that belongs solely to myself, where I can think (or rather dream) about life’s possibilities, outside the realm of reality.

Of course leaving this world behind is part of growing up, entering the “real” world, and accepting responsibilities.  But that doesn’t mean that our own personal imaginary worlds are gone for good, and there are some people who continue to enter into them as adults. But I think in my case, my chosen path into academia, was the final poison arrow to my ability to day dream.  I don’t know what it is, but academia really jades you.  You lose your sense of possibility, and it becomes about quantifying, recording, and proving exactly what you can achieve.  It becomes less about the process and more about the end result.  You may begin with an out of this world idea, but if you can’t conceivably achieve it by the next review or the end of the semester, you lower your sights and the idea morphs into something more realistic. You don’t get points for being daring or risky, or really for failing.  Professors will deny this, but I really think it’s true.   As a result of this, I think I stopped entering into that world of daydreams and non-realities, because I became so utterly focused on what I could realistically achieve.  Subsequently, because I became so absolutely terrified of failure, I didn’t dare to dream.  Does that make sense?  Maybe it’s just me that’s lost this ability in life, I haven’t done a scientific double blind test in order to prove my theories.  I’ll get right on that…

When I brought all of this up to the husband (I opened the conversation with:  “Remember the other day when you told me Joseph Gordon-Levitt was out of my league?”  using my best serious face.  Ahhh, the look on his face was great!), he offered the characteristically stodgy academic response:  “Well I remember in one of Orloff’s classes, we discussed the idea that analysis decreases pleasure.” (Orloff is Deborah Orloff, a professor we both took classes with in undergrad.)  He then launched into a lecture about whether as artists we should forgo that analysis and understanding for the pure pleasure of creation.  *Buzzer Sound*  He totally missed the point of what I had to say.  It is not only about being an artist, its about being human, and also about reclaiming that part of yourself that you frequently deny.  I’m not advocating a complete return to our imaginary worlds, but maybe just a visit every once in awhile to brighten our days and put life into perspective.

So, until the day that I die, I will make it a point to re-incorporate daydreams and unrealistic hopes (as opposed to the unrealistic goals and expectations I frequently struggle with) into my daily life.  As such, I will continue to hold out on the hope that I will get to go on a date with Joesph Gordon-Levitt.  So Mr. Gordon-Levitt, if you are out there and by some freak chance read this blog… Pretty, pretty please?  Don’t worry, I have a permission slip from the husband!  Marital discord will not be sowed.  Don’t make me start an internet campaign…hahaha.  I’m certain that came off as creepy, but it is meant in the most harmless, funny way possible.

Hope all of you imaginary readers enjoyed another random tangent brought to you by me.

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.