The first depicts an aerial view of New Orleans, after the flood. Collaged under the oil painting are black and white photographic images of the destruction. It is entitled Into the waters they go, the wise and the lovely, after an Edna St. Vincent Millay poem, Dirge Without Music. See NYTimes article that inspired this title.
The next two paintings are part of an ongoing series of large-scale works depicting historically/politically weighted cities, superimposed on one another on the same picture plane. I have cut into these canvases to stuff and sew sheer pockets of fabric with seeds and other organic forms, as a way of marking significant points on these maps where the course of history has changed. Locations I have marked within Seeds of Empire (Rome/D.C.) include the US Capitol Building, the White House, the Forum and the Coliseum. Locations in He turned their waters into blood (Tigris/Mississippi) include the Iraqi National Museum, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, the Superdome and the Lower Ninth Ward. See painting/map key here.
I am finishing up a body of 33 small paintings, done over the course of this past year, which taken altogether was a extraordinary one. From the land of the rising sun to the ninth ward, from a spiritual shipwreck to the conception of a new life, this year was good, so good, more than good, and I'm praying to hold onto the threads of it and to weave them like seeds of life and light, into the fabric of the next. The one that starts today.
And an excerpt from the story. . .
Three children are walking along the crumbling shoreline of Brooklyn and stumble upon a pile of detritus from what appears to be a shipwreck. Elements of a ship are interspersed in a pile in which a waterlogged violin in a weathered case, a barely-working music box in the form of a bird in its cage, a cracked magnifying glass, several ancient rusty keys, many water-damaged family photographs, and an old, crushed suitcase, are also strewn. . .
Inside Sophia’s drum is a tiny bird’s nest, which she tends to every few minutes. Anastasia carries a purse, inside of which are some stones and a folded up letter, discolored with age. Milo’s camera takes note of various unusual details--cracks in the ground and in buildings, plants growing from cracks, urban detritus strewn about, and the haunting specter of the post-industrial landscape around him. . .
Heaven tries the last rusty key in the lock and it finally opens, creaking. She and her friends step inside. They venture forth into a darkened room and follow the only light that emanates from a flickering film, projected into the back wall of a cabinet that has been propped open, the door unevenly teetering on falling off. . .
Once finished, Spirit Ship (working title) will function as Little Creatures' prototype/proof-of-concept, a piece that will appeal to potential investors. . . a tangible, beautiful, poetic, mysterious product that will win funders over to a vibrant new film company that produces a completely new kind of media by and for young children.
I created a Tree House Etsy Treasury in honor of human nesting and my desire to be in a home with branches that scratch the windows on windy nights and cast dappled shadows across the walls on winter mornings. Perhaps I thought of winter because today August in Brooklyn felt strangely balmy and breezy.
Some new work I made at my last residency (at VCCA), incorporating verses from the Bible (carefully taken out of context, and sewn into fabric collages, leaving room for questions), images of seeds, actual seeds sewn into fabric, bits of stained fabric and painted cloth, and xerox/gel medium transfers. As my time in Virginia was limited, I decided to limit my materials, in an attempt to see in a new way. . .
This last piece, Virginia in Winter, was my gift to the VCCA collection.
While in Lynchburg, Virginia, down the highway from VCCA, where I spent a two week residency in February, I stumbled into a labyrinthine antique shop with rows and rows of books from every era of this century. Not only that, but this shop had more than one location, and I only got to fully explore one of the two (or three). To make matters even more interesting, the shop was two doors down from one of my new favorite bookshops/cafés of all time: Inklings/The White Hart, named for C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and the "Inklings"...whose work I have loved for years, even making a pilgrimage to the Eagle and Child, the pub where they used to meet, in Oxford, on Elizabeth's and my trek through England in '97.
So here I stumbled upon such a charming bookshop named after this group of British literary giants, on the main street of old Lynchburg, which seems straight out of an old dusty photograph. The shop itself and its sister café has as their mission "to sell the good, the true and the beautiful," which also include an impressive selection of books on the "war between the states," another of my former obsessions. So I bought some books about Lewis' writings at the White Hart, then had a lovely conversation with Ed Hopkins, the owner, who invited me to look through his great collection of early editions, at Inklings. When I asked him about his most prized book, he retrieved a huge, beautiful fascimile of the Gutenberg Bible, and flipped through it with joy and care.
So getting back to the antique store. . .I have to say that it was an add-on, as I was so happy to have found Inklings and seen what a wonderful world Mr. Hopkins and his family are maintaining. But when I wandered back through the furniture I found a treasure trove of books, several of which had pages that offered themselves up to being source material or surfaces to paint on. Others of which I saw and immediately thought of the Reanimation Library, a treasure of a place, by the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
I knew that Andrew Beccone, the mastermind of the library, had an open call out to interested library users, for donations. . . so I picked up a few that I thought might pass muster:
Note the hilarious title Plant Parenthood (kindly passed over because its innards did not live up to its title) and some remarkable images from the great Kidney and Urinary Tract Infections book (happily accepted into the Library's collection). Such remarkable, unbelievable, over-the-top images are what the Reanimation Library is all about. Visitors are invited not only to peruse this treasure-trove of images we never thought possible or printable, but to scan them so as to use them in their projects, ah yes! What a wonderful place. . . I long for a long span of time to go and browse through the library for wonders unknown, but so far, I have only been able to spend a good long hour with the online image archive, which does not disappoint. Neither do either of these literary fellows, whose comprehensive and heartfelt book projects are there, in Lynchburg and in Brooklyn, to shower lost humans with life and hope.
Japan seems so long ago....and soon it will be. I'm trying to hold onto it as well as I can, with all the duties and schedules wasting away these hours two months later...I can't even manage to organize the memories, much less the images backlogged in my computer. Here is a still from the scene of Mysteries in the Woods we shot in Ome-shi with lovely Noah (7) and Akino (9), with kind help from Graham and Yasuko Fleming, by way of Paul Nethercott, to whom Mako Fujimura, the painter, and his International Arts Movement staff in Tokyo, referred me (in a true illustration of the ever-shrinking nature of the globe). Since we have returned, Sean has taken some time with the hundreds of photographs he shot (and I took several of these too, so if you see any close ups of unbelievably exquisite wedding reception food or unbelievably gorgeous brides....just think of me, snatching Sean's fancy camera away and re-living my high school yearbook staff memories). You can see his stunning collections, all three of them (click on "Japan Adventures" Part I, II and II in his June 1 and 6 posts), at the Problematic Outfit. I need to look at all three sets, over and over again...
This little dollie hasn't enough food to eat. She finds it around the town, the detritus of abandoned streets of the post-industrial wasteland that she inhabits. She never gives up looking for something yummy--seed pods, glass shards, rusty hardware, and sections of secret notes. She met all the dollies in Doll Neighborhood and became overwhelmed...there were so many! But there were many nice dollies there, especially the beautiful fairy who came from a forest and fed her a whole meal, into her hungry belly. She is building her very own home in the Doll Neighborhood and hopes to stay for many years.
We have one more meeting of the Doll Neighbors, and some video editing to do...and we'll be ready to host the opening of our multidisciplinary exhibition, at the Village @ Gureje, on April 4. Here's more info, and thanks to Brooklyn Arts Council, Jimi and Karen at Gureje, and those who have donated to this project, so that we could bring an amazing group of artists together to give life to a whole community of dolls!
A week in Virginia: the ice has crunched and melted, a calf has been born, the sliver of the moon has grown round and will soon eclipse, seeds have been sown+sewn, artifacts found, thoughts lost, art made, time reinvented, friendships begun, stories told, plans laid, stars shrouded, snow tempted, life remembered, horses considered, hope regained.
So now I go again, to leave the Broken Land for the rolling hills of Virginia, for two brief winter weeks, and I can only hope there are thousands of trees with millions of branches, and that the wind is crisp. I'm taking no oils for the journey, and only one necklace, The Moon, from my dear boy. Paring down for the winter when winter has already been here and gone. I will arrive to a blank slate, four walls, waiting for something to be created within them. New stories to map, new woods to explore, new spaces to breathe.
I could not be the true CartPixie I was meant to be because of my heartfelt commitment to the Infinite Line. Here are some images, and a video will be posted soon:
Sat January 26, 1 – 4pm
BRIC Rotunda Gallery
33 Clinton Street, Brooklyn Heights
Come make art that will become a part of the exhibition! Artist Kristin Brenneman Eno will lead people of all ages in experimenting with drawing techniques on large scrolls. Stop by throughout the afternoon to find your drawing talent. Children and adults are encouraged to attend.
Doll Neighborhood! Coming to a Brooklyn neighborhood near you, that is, to Prospect Heights/Clinton Hill, from this February through April. What is this all about? Well, it's a combination quilting bee-indie film-art show, with lots of socializing among crafty types, sprinkled throughout the experience. It's a prototype for possibly many more to come...to neighborhoods far and wide. Here is the call to artists. Here is our website and blog.
If you live in the City of New York, or somewhere within walking/driving/swimming distance, Ellie and I hope you can be our Doll Neighbor. It's going to get pretty spooky.