Thursday, September 29, 2011

Struts, Faucet set to welcome latest open studio artist-in-residence - Arts - The Sackville Tribune Post

In my Contemporary Art History class we had Allison Creba give a guest lecture regarding her City Mail project. It was a wonderful presentation.

Today, I had an opportunity to sit down and have a great face to face exchange with her about the importance of communication, language, linguistics and all of the issues surrounding these matters. We both agreed that without written language, culture is greatly threatened.

The work she is doing is very important and if she doesn't continue, I told her I hoped that she would write a book about her City Mail project.

Yesterday I heard Feminist/Activist Gloria Steinem say , "Without change makers there is no change ". Allison Creba, she's a change maker!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This Is Water - David Foster Wallace

During these first few weeks of my last year of University, our fourth year Fine Art class met with our professor and my studio advisor, Leah Garnett, She coordinates all the goings on of our final year responsibilities and activities. Last Wednesday, she gave us a copy of a commencement address, written by the late David Foster Wallace. I hadn't take the time to read it, until the unforeseen synchronicity of my day this past week. I love it when this happens! I'd spent over two and a half, very frustrating hours, trying to wade through the machinations of Bell Aliant's seemingly never ending phone messages, calling several times, repeating the same thing over and over to a different person every time, to request the reconnection of my phone service and being sent on a goose chase all over town. While standing at the phone in the hallway at Gardner Fine Art Building, I'd found a copy of David Foster Wallace's address, that one of my fellow Fine Art students had left by the telephone. I thought to myself while being left on hold, I'll divert my frustration and turn it into a learning experience to avoid being sucked down the Bell Aliant black hole of "your time is important to us" and muzak vortex. Here is part of the audio of David's address, and I have copied and posted the completed written commencement address. What made it all the more meaningful, was learning that he'd suffered from clinical depression and committed suicide. His death was not in vain, as his message is a very a poignant reminder of why education really is the job of a lifetime, finding the Truth about life before death, experiencing and knowing the freedom that comes with attention, awareness and discipline. God bless David Foster Wallace. Oh and by the way, I was given a twenty three dollar phone credit for my trouble. I love when this happens.
The world of letters has lost a giant. We have felt nourished by the mournful graspings of sites dedicated to his memory ("He was my favourite" ~ Zadie Smith), and we grieve for the books we will never see. But perhaps the best tribute is one he wrote himself ... Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE This is the comencement address he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005. It captures his electric mind, and also his humility--the way he elevated and made meaningful, beautiful, many of the lonely thoughts that rattle around in our heads. The way he put better thoughts in our heads, too. (Many thanks to for making this available.) (If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I'd advise you to go ahead, because I'm sure going to. In fact I'm gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon's graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?" This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you're worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don't be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning. Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I'm supposed to talk about your liberal arts education's meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let's talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about "teaching you how to think". If you're like me as a student, you've never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college this good seems like proof that you already know how to think. But I'm going to posit to you that the liberal arts cliché turns out not to be insulting at all, because the really significant education in thinking that we're supposed to get in a place like this isn't really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about. If your total freedom of choice regarding what to think about seems too obvious to waste time discussing, I'd ask you to think about fish and water, and to bracket for just a few minutes your skepticism about the value of the totally obvious. Here's another didactic little story. There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was 50 below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp." It's easy to run this story through kind of a standard liberal arts analysis: the exact same experience can mean two totally different things to two different people, given those people's two different belief templates and two different ways of constructing meaning from experience. Because we prize tolerance and diversity of belief, nowhere in our liberal arts analysis do we want to claim that one guy's interpretation is true and the other guy's is false or bad. Which is fine, except we also never end up talking about just where these individual templates and beliefs come from. Meaning, where they come from INSIDE the two guys. As if a person's most basic orientation toward the world, and the meaning of his experience were somehow just hard-wired, like height or shoe-size; or automatically absorbed from the culture, like language. As if how we construct meaning were not actually a matter of personal, intentional choice. Plus, there's the whole matter of arrogance. The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help. True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They're probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us. But religious dogmatists' problem is exactly the same as the story's unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn't even know he's locked up. The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties. Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded. I have learned this the hard way, as I predict you graduates will, too. Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real. Please don't worry that I'm getting ready to lecture you about compassion or other-directedness or all the so-called virtues. This is not a matter of virtue. It's a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self. People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being "well-adjusted", which I suggest to you is not an accidental term. Given the triumphant academic setting here, an obvious question is how much of this work of adjusting our default setting involves actual knowledge or intellect. This question gets very tricky. Probably the most dangerous thing about an academic education--least in my own case--is that it enables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstract argument inside my head, instead of simply paying attention to what is going on right in front of me, paying attention to what is going on inside me. DAVID FOSTER WALLACE in his own words As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliche about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliche about "the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master". This, like many cliches, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about. By way of example, let's say it's an average adult day, and you get up in the morning, go to your challenging, white-collar, college-graduate job, and you work hard for eight or ten hours, and at the end of the day you're tired and somewhat stressed and all you want is to go home and have a good supper and maybe unwind for an hour, and then hit the sack early because, of course, you have to get up the next day and do it all again. But then you remember there's no food at home. You haven't had time to shop this week because of your challenging job, and so now after work you have to get in your car and drive to the supermarket. It's the end of the work day and the traffic is apt to be: very bad. So getting to the store takes way longer than it should, and when you finally get there, the supermarket is very crowded, because of course it's the time of day when all the other people with jobs also try to squeeze in some grocery shopping. And the store is hideously lit and infused with soul-killing muzak or corporate pop and it's pretty much the last place you want to be but you can't just get in and quickly out; you have to wander all over the huge, over-lit store's confusing aisles to find the stuff you want and you have to man-oeuvre your junky cart through all these other tired, hurried people with carts (et cetera, et cetera, cutting stuff out because this is a long ceremony) and eventually you get all your supper supplies, except now it turns out there aren't enough check-out lanes open even though it's the end-of-the-day rush. So the checkout line is incredibly long, which is stupid and infuriating. But you can't take your frustration out on the frantic lady working the register, who is overworked at a job whose daily tedium and meaninglessness surpasses the imagination of any of us here at a prestigious college. But anyway, you finally get to the checkout line's front, and you pay for your food, and you get told to "Have a nice day" in a voice that is the absolute voice of death. Then you have to take your creepy, flimsy, plastic bags of groceries in your cart with the one crazy wheel that pulls maddeningly to the left, all the way out through the crowded, bumpy, littery parking lot, and then you have to drive all the way home through slow, heavy, SUV-intensive, rush-hour traffic, et cetera et cetera. Everyone here has done this, of course. But it hasn't yet been part of you graduates' actual life routine, day after week after month after year. But it will be. And many more dreary, annoying, seemingly meaningless routines besides. But that is not the point. The point is that petty, frustrating crap like this is exactly where the work of choosing is gonna come in. Because the traffic jams and crowded aisles and long checkout lines give me time to think, and if I don't make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to, I'm gonna be pissed and miserable every time I have to shop. Because my natural default setting is the certainty that situations like this are really all about me. About MY hungriness and MY fatigue and MY desire to just get home, and it's going to seem for all the world like everybody else is just in my way. And who are all these people in my way? And look at how repulsive most of them are, and how stupid and cow-like and dead-eyed and nonhuman they seem in the checkout line, or at how annoying and rude it is that people are talking loudly on cell phones in the middle of the line. And look at how deeply and personally unfair this is. Or, of course, if I'm in a more socially conscious liberal arts form of my default setting, I can spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas, and I can dwell on the fact that the patriotic or religious bumper-stickers always seem to be on the biggest, most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest [responding here to loud applause] (this is an example of how NOT to think, though) most disgustingly selfish vehicles, driven by the ugliest, most inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. And I can think about how our children's children will despise us for wasting all the future's fuel, and probably screwing up the climate, and how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on. You get the idea. If I choose to think this way in a store and on the freeway, fine. Lots of us do. Except thinking this way tends to be so easy and automatic that it doesn't have to be a choice. It is my natural default setting. It's the automatic way that I experience the boring, frustrating, crowded parts of adult life when I'm operating on the automatic, unconscious belief that I am the centre of the world, and that my immediate needs and feelings are what should determine the world's priorities. The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive. Or that the Hummer that just cut me off is maybe being driven by a father whose little child is hurt or sick in the seat next to him, and he's trying to get this kid to the hospital, and he's in a bigger, more legitimate hurry than I am: it is actually I who am in HIS way. Or I can choose to force myself to consider the likelihood that everyone else in the supermarket's checkout line is just as bored and frustrated as I am, and that some of these people probably have harder, more tedious and painful lives than I do. Again, please don't think that I'm giving you moral advice, or that I'm saying you are supposed to think this way, or that anyone expects you to just automatically do it. Because it's hard. It takes will and effort, and if you are like me, some days you won't be able to do it, or you just flat out won't want to. But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you want to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down. Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't. You get to decide what to worship. Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving.... The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing. I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or grandly inspirational the way a commencement speech is supposed to sound. What it is, as far as I can see, is the capital-T Truth, with a whole lot of rhetorical niceties stripped away. You are, of course, free to think of it whatever you wish. But please don't just dismiss it as just some finger-wagging Dr Laura sermon. None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: "This is water." "This is water." It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now. I wish you way more than luck.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Professional Development As An Artist/ Artist's Who Thrive

In our 4th year Art Seminar class we are going to be covering professional development as artists. I found posted today by a friend something, I thought it was worth  looking at and related to this very topic; a site called, Artist's Who Thrive. The name of it alone immediately caught my attention. I've always long held the belief in thriving, regardless of my life situation or circumstance and have drawn strength, hope and wisdom from others who have thrived, as opposed to survival, not in spite of their adversity, but thrived because of their challenging circumstances.

Here is the group's Manifesto. I like Manifestos. As Contemporary Artists, we need to write more of them.

The Artists Who THRIVE Manifesto The definition of Artists Who THRIVE: combining creative freedom with business savvy.
The mission of Artists Who THRIVE is to support artists, from all walks, to successfully combine their creative freedom and business savvy so that they may thrive.  And thriving means effectively marketing and selling their art.
This growing global community of artists includes painters, jewelers, photographers, videographers, designers, musicians, and more.
We explore business and marketing strategies that are particular to art.
That means articulating your work’s unique value and reaching a targeted market.  Translated, thriving in a creative enterprise means understanding your tribe, celebrating their culture, inspiring them, and building and owning your platform.
By sharing our successes, insights, energy, and resources we cultivate a positive and productive online global community.
Envision your creative enterprise and construct an action plan to manifest it!
* We proclaim proudly, “I’m an artist and an entrepreneur.”
* We realize that the traditional model of artist representation is permission and scarcity based and that it is limited and crumbling.
* We believe in getting our fair share, our piece of the art market pie.
* We believe that we have shaped our artistic voice and that we have the power to inspire.
* We understand that the market always has and always will pay for inspiration.
* We understand people are buying art and that there is plenty of market share to go around.
* We believe we offer creative expression that adds value to the world and therefore the marketplace.
* We know and can articulate our unique selling proposition to our defined market.
* We believe that we will not be discovered but our value can if we promote it effectively.
* We develop our own platforms and add unique value to a defined market space in order to grow sustainable creative businesses.
* We are confident and optimistic that we are in control of our destiny.
* We know that in this new conceptual economy “the right brainers rule the world.”*
* “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink
Welcome to this whining free zone. ;)

Bomb - Interview With The Artist

Oh this is a great discovery today! My Contemporary Art History Professor, Dr. Anne Koval suggested we check out this site, "Bomb", in order to get some ideas for a project called "Interview With the Artist". I will be interviewing a fellow art student at Mount Allison University in my fourth year studio class, who is a good friend and an artist I admire. One of the things I greatly appreciate and love about her work is it's fun, interactive and humourous. Art doesn't have to be serious all the time. If an artist is passionate about what they do and also has fun, it's a perfect creative balance.
In the mean time, I didn't glean many ideas for interview questions however found this wonderful sculptor/installation and performance artist Nick Cave.

Art 21 - Consumption and Contemporary Art Matters

Honestly, I have never thought of myself as having a great appreciation of contemporary art. I admit, I haven't had a lot of exposure to it, due to my own biases, and other factors. As a creative person, I need to keep an open mind. One of the many antecedents of this is, going to University at an experienced mature age, where you are exposed to the past, plunged into the present, and I dare to say, even getting glimpses into the future.

We can not know or envision our future without knowing and understanding our past.  Contemporary artists  that actualize this in their art practice I admire, and am always very drawn to the art they create, the way they think, and who they are as individuals.

Particularly, I appreciate what Mel Chin refers to when he talks about making art. To paraphrase him, he says, it's not about one method of making art , and the technique used, is minor. What is important about making art he says, is the "diversity of ideas" and how they are transmitted. 

What is compelling to me, is the trans-formative, and liberating power of what art making can and I believe, should be. I love what Mel Chin says about his art being "driven by poetry and pragmatism".

We cannot easily ignore our consumptive and contemporary society we live in, and thus our art at some point is bound to reflect it in one way or another. If not, I think we are trying to live an insular and isolated existence. 

Contemporary art must take into consideration what has gone before, needs a mindfulness of the present, reflects on how our past, considering the affects and effects of all these states in time, that can or will transform our vision for hopefully, a better world, in the future.

All of the artists included in this particular Art 21 video, take these matters seriously into account, in one way or another. They are encouraging us to shift our perceptions, are transforming, liberating, inventing, and expanding our imaginations and enable us to examine our values within our present  contemporary world. I love Art 21!

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Three Artist's Statements

 This week's Art Seminar assignment is a good one. Here it is.

Assignment .003 STATEMENTS

Compose a series of three artist statements. One should be written in a straightforward declarative manner, using strong confident language and clearly stating what it is that you do; you are the authority on your own work.
The next should be written from the third person perspective, as if it is written by an outsider looking in, responding to your artistic process; as if a total stranger is describing the work of another total stranger, (this might also be someone who also has no inherent knowledge of contemporary art).
The final statement should be constructed entirely from one or a combination of borrowed text(s); prose, poetry, lyrics, and/or any form of word or language authored by another, but somehow fittingly conveys the elements, if not the essence, of your artistic process; appropriate appropriation.

Artist Statement
As an artist I have come to accept and realize my first love in my drawing and painting practice is subject matter found within the world of the representational, figurative, and portrait. I've long had a great appreciation for this expression and interpretation of my subject matter. That said, it is no longer, such a rigid definition, as it had been for me in the past years. Over the past three years I have had let go of realistic rendering, in order to return with a renewed perception and ideology of what it means to involve myself with art, and in particular with painting. I give myself permission now to make " mistakes ", which results in me being enabled to greatly enjoy the creative process, while sustaining my interest and passion for realistic rendering, or not, without any preoccupation with the completed outcome.

I have found the medium of egg tempera to be extremely satisfying, in that I have discovered numerous exciting qualities I greatly appreciate about it, especially in how it resembles drawing, in the manner it is maneuvered through continuing line and mark making, around and on the surface of the panel. Drawing for me is what I consider to be essential and at the foundation of the kind of paintings I want to create.

The intensity and luminescence that occurs through the building up of layered applications of a variety of colour is visually powerful, in visceral way for me, giving a sense of light and a shimmering, sensual quality.

In egg tempera, I feel I have found the medium I am passionate about and this I have learned is absolutely essential to me, as well as it is necessary for me to be in love with my subject matter, in order to continue painting.

After working for many years in oil medium alone, egg tempera has given me a deeper vision and passion for painting. The practicality of the pigment being economic, more environmentally friendly, through the use of egg yolk, the fact that it goes along way, and it's extended life and sense of permanent quality of egg tempera paintings, are all reasons for my decision to use the medium. I had started out using masonite as a painting surface, but will choose wood surfaces in the future, as it is much more substantive.
 Currently I am involved with making a series of egg tempera paintings that depict images drawn from story telling and fairy tales, based on the book, Women That Run With The Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D, a Jungian Psychoanalyst.

Artist Statement in the Third Person

These paintings have a subject matter that is symbolic fantasy, myths, perhaps dream like or even nightmarish in nature. 

The paint used is not familiar and has an unusual luminescent quality and translucent appearance and many marks made on the surface look like the artist is drawing with the paint. The colour combination is basic and simple. The consistent use of the same colours helps to unify the series of work.

Final Statement
"We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of the Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

The Wolf's Eyelash by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin. 
"Don't go out in the woods, don't go out, "they said.
“Why not?  Why should I not go out in the woods tonight?” she asked.
“A big wolf lives there who eats humans such as you.  Don’t go out in the woods, don’t go out.  We mean it.”
Naturally, she went out.  She went out in the woods anyway, and of course she met the wolf, just as they had warned her.
“See, we told you,” they crowed.
“This is my life, not a fairy tale, you dolts,” she said.  ”I have to go to the woods, and I have to meet the wolf, or else my life will never begin.”
But, the wolf she encountered was in a trap, in a trap this wolf’s leg was in.
“Help me, oh help me! Aieeeee, aieeee, aieeee!” cried the wolf.  ”Help me, oh help me!” he cried, “and I shall reward you justly.” For this is the way of wolves in tales of this kind.
“How do I know you won’t harm me?” she asked – it was her job to ask questions.  ”How do I know you will not kill me and leave me lying in my bones?”
“Wrong question,” said this wolf.  ”You’ll just have to take my word for it.”  And the wolf began to cry and wail once again and more.  ”Oh, aieee!  Aieeee!  Aieeee!  There’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?”
“Oh you wolf, I will take a chance.  Alright, here!”  And she sprang the trap and the wolf drew out its paw and this she bound with herbs and grasses.
“Ah, thank you kind maiden, thank you,” sighed the wolf.  And because she had read too many of the wrong kind of tales, she cried, “Go ahead and kill me now, and let us get this over with.”
But no, this did not come to pass.  Instead this wolf put his paw upon her arm.  ”I’m a wolf from another time and place,”  said he.  And plucking a lash from his eye, gave it to her and said, “Use this, and be wise.  From now on you will know who is good and not so good; just look through my eyes and you will see clearly.  For letting me live, I bid you live in a manner as never before.  Remember, there’s only one question worth asking fair maiden, wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?”
And so she went back to her village, happy to still have her life.  And this time as they said, “Just stay here and be my bride,” or “Do as I tell you,”  or “Say as I want you to say, and remain as unwritten upon as the day you came,” she held up the wolf’s eyelash and peered through and saw their motives as she had not seen them before.  And the next time the butcher weighed the meat she looked through her wolf’s eyelash and saw that he weighed his thumb too.  And she looked at her suitor who said “I am so good for you,” and saw that her suitor was so good for exactly nothing.  And in this way and more, she was saved, from not all, but from many, misfortunes.
But more so, in this new seeing, not only did she see the sly and cruel, she began to grow immense in heart, for she looked at each person and weighed them anew through this gift from the wolf she had rescued.  And she saw those who were truly kind and went near to them, she found her mate and stayed all the days of her life, she discerned the brave and came close to them, she apprehended the faithful and joined with them, she saw bewilderment under anger and hastened to soothe it, she saw love in the eyes of the shy and reached out to them, she saw suffering in the stiff-lipped and courted their laughter, she saw need in the man with no words and spoke for him, she saw faith deep in the woman who said she had none, and rekindled hers from her own.  She saw all things with her lash of wolf, all things true, and all things false, all things turning against life and all things turning toward life, all things seen only through the eyes of that which weighs the heart with heart, and not with mind alone.
This is how she learned that it is true what they say, that the wolf is the wisest of all.  If you listen closely, the wolf in its howling is always asking the most important question – not where is the next food, not where is the next fight, not where is the next dance? – but the most important question in order to see into and behind, to weigh the value of all that lives, woooooooor aieeeee th’ sooooooool?  wooooooooor aieeeee th’ soooooooool?  Where is the soul?  Where is the soul?
Go out in the woods, go out.  If you don’t go out in the woods, nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.  Go out in the woods, go out.  Go out in the woods, go out.  Go out in the woods, go out.

Sisters of Gion, Japanese Film 1937

In my History of Film class, we have a research paper to do on Japanese film and culture. I want to do my paper on women and feminist issues. Here's a fascinating pre-war film made in 1937 by Kenji Mizoguchi, based on a novel by, Alexander Ivanovich Kurpin, which is ahead of it's time. The film addresses feminist issues, long before feminism.

I was captivated by it all the way through, and left wanting more at it's conclusion. Black and white film and photography leaves a lot to the imagination, creates a mysterious visual environment of shadow and light. The eye and attention is not distracted by special effects or colour, your focus is on the simple power of the image and the story.

I watched the complete film at University yesterday however you can access and watch this film in it's entirety on You Tube. I am going to watch it again today!

Gion no Shimai, 1936
[Sisters of the Gion]

Shiganoya/UmemuraSisters of the Gion recounts the story of two geisha sisters in the working class district of Gion. The elder sister, Umekichi (Yoko Umemura) is old-fashioned and traditional, and believes in the loyal duty of a geisha to her patron. Her younger sister named Omocha (Isuza Yamada), which literally means "plaything", is modern and unsentimental, and casually exploits her influence on men in order to improve her quality of life. Upon hearing that a young textile salesman has fallen in love with her, Omocha persuades the gullible Kimura (Taizo Fukami) to embezzle materials for a proper kimono so that Umekichi may attend an exclusive social event and network among wealthy potential patrons. Inevitably, the disparate ideologies of the two sisters collide when Umekichi's bankrupt patron, Shimbei Furusawa (Benkei Shiganoya) seeks refuge in their house after a quarrel with his wife. Umekichi believes that she is obligated to help the destitute Furusawa in return for his past patronage. Omocha, on the other hand, sees Furusawa as an intrusive burden to their modest life, and persuades an amenable curio dealer, Jurakuso (Fumio Okura), to invest money towards Furusawa's eviction in order to secure his arranged patronage with Umekichi. However, despite Umekichi's selfless devotion and Omocha's underhanded machinations, the sisters find that true love is an elusive concept in the life of a geisha.
From the opening composite long shot of the Furusawa household, as the camera traverses from a public auction, to a shot of Furusawa and his assistant, and finally to the image of Furusawa's wife packing, Kenji Mizoguchi creates a chaotic and disorienting portrait of love, duty, and opportunism in Sisters of the Gion. Using successive short takes, medium shots, and unusual camera angles, Mizoguchi visually isolates the characters from their environment. The recurrent imagery of fragmented space further reflects the impermanence and dynamic instability of the geisha trade: an inebriated Jurakuso passes through a series of seemingly discontinuous spaces before reaching the living room; Furusawa's relocation of a partition screen during Jurakuso's visit; the claustrophobic shot-reverse shot dialogue between Omocha and Kimura in a hired car. Inevitably, Sisters of the Gion demystifies the exoticism and romantic ideals of contemporary geisha life and exposes the imbalancing entropy and transience of an existence bound in the underlying artifice of mercantile love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Colman Barks and Rumi

It is the end of my school week today. My week may have come to an end but it is just getting started actually, and I am looking forward to it. I have lots of blogging to catch up on, reading, homework and painting to do. I got a drive all the way to school this morning, and all the way home this afternoon. I'm still hitch hiking but this is soon to come to an end I hope! My student loan came in today, just when it was suppose to, which means a whole lot of changes shortly! I had a good week. I got moved into my new studio space which is awesome, to be in 4th year studio space, with a real good bunch of folks. I think it is going to be a lot of fun. So exciting fourth year! I saved a friend this week from pending death, from an oncoming car. Wow was I ever thankful I was able to do that! I hate to think about the possible outcome. I started my History of Film class which should be very interesting, as it involves looking at Japanese Film and it's culture. It's going to be a lot of work culminating in a research paper. I'm ready to take it on! A friend shared this video with me today and I wanted to post it. It was just what I needed, to finish off my school week. I love Rumi and I love Coleman Barks. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Just a little treat for myself and I hope a treat for you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How To Talk to a Wolf Woman About Your Best Piece of Art Work

Art Seminar is a most interesting class, I must say. Our Professor Jerry Ropson has a vivid imagination and greatly encourages his students to use their own imagination in a creative and unlimited way. One such example of this is the written journal assignment he gave last class. We are to write an approximately 500 word description of what we would tell an alien, wolf man or some one else about a work of art we'd created that we consider to be one of our best expressions, why we liked it and how we made it. This was to be told to this being who knew absolutely nothing about art and had never actually seen art before.

Presently I am very involved in reading Women That Run With The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes and the myth of the Wolf Woman figures predominately in this book. So I thought it would be appropriate for me to attempt to describe my work to the Wolf Woman. I may very well be simply talking to myself, and I am uncertain as to how I will to go about this exercise, regardless here is my attempt.

I have to take into careful consideration that I am trying to communicate with a Wolf Woman.
I would have to make her feel both welcome and comfortable and immediately offer my couch to lay upon and something good for her to eat, perhaps some old leftovers that resembled a science project or several disgusting items like mice, moles, voles, and vermin that I would have prepared a head of time.

Wolf Woman is very intelligent but not the same as human intelligence. She has a inner sight that is other worldly and one that I am not completely able to understand or perceive yet, and so all I can do is attempt to explain my art to her in mostly a visual and non verbal manner, with a few verbal sounds as she does not speak with words.

Firstly I would show her my egg tempera painting. It is a portrait, one that is my interpretation of what I think she might look like. I have depicted her standing outside of her cave where she dwells, which will look familiar to her I hope. I could provide a mirror for her to see her own image  however I suspect this would  frighten and alarm her. I am not certain she will recognize the portrait I have painted of her.

Then I would show her an egg, which I would have to keep in my hands in case she decided to eat it. Next I would show her a blank piece of wood, much like the piece of wood,  the completed painting had been produced on, followed by brushes, powdered pigment, water and vinegar in small containers to mix the paint in. I would then proceed to crack open the egg discarding the white and keeping the yolk, placing the yolk on a paper towel, rolling it around some, getting rid of all the little egg white blobs left on the yolk. The sack of the yolk I then remove, placing it in a small glass container to be mixed with powdered  pigment, droplets of water and a few drops of vinegar for preservation. An equal amount of egg yolk is mixed with powered pigment. Egg tempera is rather like drawing with paint with much mark making. 

I then would begin to paint another portrait of  Wolf Woman.
After the painting is completed, I would make a pot of tea and offer Wolf Woman a bowl of milk, with honey,and also offer her the painting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fundy Art

As Summer is quickly coming to an end, with Fall in the air, in the second week of University, anticipating the approaching  reality of the work ahead of me. After seeing this video when I arrived home  today, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with the desire to be at the beach doing just what these kids are doing. As Summer comes closer to an end there is such an urge to want to hang on to the warm weather and having as much fun as possible outside under the sun delighting in the ocean beaches. The Bay of Fundy is truly a wondrous place and always was my Summer play ground as a kid, and still is as an adult. I will miss you Summer, and I'm not quite ready to let you go, but I will, because I know you will return again.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th, Sacred Ground, You Can Close Your Eyes

I've heard so much today on  CBC Radio about 911 and the deep heartbreak of the loss of lives on that day and how it has changed our world. I wanted to post something in memorial. I couldn't find anything, until I heard Tapestry today, which I have posted a link to the podcast. It is so poignant to listen to.  Sacred Ground it is called. 

I searched for some kind of video to post and couldn't find anything either until I heard that James Taylor had sung today in NYC at the Memorial, and so I downloaded the You Tube version of the song he sang. His voice and song are balm to the soul I think. I don't think it necessary to revisit seeing those brutal images so many of these You Tube videos emphasis.

I hope you find these two items I have posted are worth while spending some time to remember September 11th and those who left this earthly cord and those they've left behind. God bless them all.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

David Sedaris and Mosquitoes

Excerpt from David Sedaris’ "Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist"

After a few months in my parents’ basement, I took an apartment near the state university where I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these is dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations. The moment I took my first burning snootful, I understood that this was the drug for me. Speed eliminates all doubt. Am I smart enough? Will people like me? Do I really look all right in this plastic jumpsuit? These are questions for insecure potheads. A speed enthusiast knows that everything he says or does is brilliant. The upswing is that, having eliminated the need for both eating and sleeping, you have a full twenty-four hours a day to spread your charm and wit.

We were asked to read this essay given to us in our Art Seminar class and we were going to discuss it today. I didn't make it to class. I got out there at 5am until 7 a.m., when I'd had enough of waiting while the mosquitoes chewed at my head, and feeling soggy from the rain.  So I wrote my professor telling him I wouldn't be in class and why. 

What really added insult to injury, was at around 5:30 a.m., a car came by and I am 99.9%  certain it was someone I knew, who didn't stop. I know they saw me. I think it was the same person who did the same thing on another occasion during the Spring one morning, when I was again hitch hiking, trying to get to school. Very mean spirited I have to say. 

Regardless, it made me happy to contemplate  and write about David Sedaris' s essay. What struck me most about Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist, was not only how funny David Sedaris is, but there is are elements of serious truths, that underline his personal stories from his life. The excerpt above spoke volumes to me, because I grew up in the 60s and went to a kind of wild conceptual art school, all through the 70s . I relate to what he says about how that combination of conceptual art and altered states of reality, could potentially destroy civilizations. 

I certainly experienced first hand how substance and alcohol abuse can do a complete and thorough job in destroying individuals and families. I have no doubt I might have been able to experience my first University go round, in a much more positive and productive way, had I'd been clean and sober with a clear mind. It truly makes me so grateful to know my Fine Art University education is now the best it could possibly be, and David Sedaris helped to add clarity to my perspective. 

And so, in spite of not having wheels, being left to head chewing mosquitoes, hitch hiking along the side of the road, in the rain, at 5:30 in the dark morning, my not so great day still looks a hundred times better than any good day I'd ever had in altered states of reality. I thank God I found a 12 Step Fellowship of Recovery , second to none, that changed my life, saved my life, and gave me a good life.

It has been said, that David Sedaris is Garrison Keillor's evil twin.  I think he is brilliant. I'd heard him some time ago on CBC Radio Q, with Jian Ghomeshi. I was crazy about him then and I hadn't read any of his books. I was anxious to get online to know more about him today. I was surprised to learn he attended the University of Chicago, where he graduated with his BFA, in spite of how he states he seemed to grow up without an "artistic temperment". 

He got his start on radio, where he read his writings on air. I love the fact he is so self effacing with his humour and wit. A very real guy and he could almost pass as a Canadian, because he struck me as being very humble, down to earth and soft spoken. I am looking forward to getting back to school on Monday so I can sign some of his work out from the library. Here's hoping and praying I get there with out the head chewing mean spirited creatures!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Second Day of School

I am not planning on writing about each and everyday at school but I wanted document and share what my new classes  are about, that I am scheduled for this year.

I am extremely tired as I was awake at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m., much earlier than I expected as four was when I need to get up if I am going to gt a ride first thing in the morning with the only ride that will get me to Amherst at 5:10 a.m. to connect with the Fine Art Department Administrative Assistant, who picks me up in town and we head to Sackville. I am aiming to get into the habit of daily journaling and to get my homework done before I get horizontal.

Hopefully I am going to get a much needed second hand vehicle within the next few weeks as soon as my student loan dough arrives. I've been without a car for over six months now. Needless to say it makes for very long days having to dig out of bed shortly after I get into it! It's hard on the head not to mention my 58 year old body! I know how the Zombies feel and by the end of the next two weeks before I get that car, I am also going to know what they look like, when I look in the mirror.

So today we had Contemporary Art from 1970  up to present day. Anne Koval is our most excellent Professor and it is going to be a dynamite class, involving journaling, miniature art, a review of an art exhibit of our choice, and "Conversation With The Artist" interview of our own choice and lots of visiting and guest artists. Finally, last but not least, no exams, no tests, no essays, which is miraculous in my estimation.

When I was a student, back in the day, at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, it was all about the exam, the tests, the essays, the memorization. 

I have to say, I love change, change is good, and I am so grateful I got to experience those changes! It makes learning so much fun, just the way it should be. I would say that if you aren't having fun while you are learning, chances are you aren't learning much. If nothing else at least you should be enjoying yourself!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School

Wow, I don't know how the Summer has slipped by so fast but here it is September and this was my first day back to classes. This should be a very stimulating final year for me, intellectually and creatively, a defining year I'd say. My courses are, I think, going to be highly engaging and a great challenge.

Today my first class Advanced Art Seminar, taught by Professor Ropson ( Jerry ), who is a great teacher, artist, is informative, knowledgeable and fun. He encourages active participation and he has a wonderful rapore with his students. I would say he motivates students to participate, not just because he brings candy to class, but because he is the salt of the earth, which enables his students to connect easily with him as a person and as an artist. Jerry is a Newfoundlander and I'm certain he does all of Newfoundland very proud.

I was very excited when he emphasized the importance of keeping a class journal and wanting us to talk and discuss in class, both elements he considers to be key in our participation and successful completion of Art Seminar.

I am really looking forward to this course, as Jerry's approach to Art Seminar is practical relying on the student's own self motivation, interests and concerns to shape the direction of the seminar. He does have a specific vision, he shared today with the class, and has made it clear that he wants us, his students to share our vision as well. I believe Jerry is another one of those heuristic teachers I spoke of in one of my previous posts, and I have provided a link to that post highlighted above.

I dropped by his office today and there were lots of fascinating things to see; collections of miniature animals, many of Jerry's sneakers, a great poster that says, "What Would Neil Young Do?", and a collection of axe handles, that double as rulers, that Jerry has made, and some of Jerry's paintings that hang on the wall of his office. All that was missing was a cup of tea or a drink and piece of fruitcake, which is very much a Newfoundland tradition when folks come to visit.

I am so fortunate and blessed to be a student at Mount Allison University, having such great teachers like Professor Jerry Ropson.

And now as I begin my fourth and final year the only regret I think I will have when it comes to an end is going to be that, it will come to an end. 


[hyoo-ris-tik or, often, yoo-] 
serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation.
encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method.
of, pertaining to, or based on experimentation, evaluation, or trial-and-error methods.
Computers, Mathematics . pertaining to a trial-and-error method of problem solving used when an algorithmic approach is impractical.