Friday, July 31, 2020

Pi

ART ON 45 has turned five, and the auction event was supposed to be on March 14th. Yes, that's right, on Pi Day.

I loved the idea of having the anniversary event on Pi Day. It seemed so perfect to celebrate a project that is all about the circular dimension of a song in both a mathematical and in an artful way. I had various things planned to make the event memorable. And then it didn't happen after all because of the coronavirus situation.

I postponed the event just two days before its scheduled date. It was the right thing to do, but disappointing nonetheless. Each auction event is the culmination of one year's work (and delight) for me, and right after it's over I am already planning for the next round.

A couple of weeks before the original date I had hung up the 42 pieces of the 2020 edition.

I had also installed the exhibit of reproductions showing the 150 art pieces which were created during the first four years of the project. I wanted to showcase, once again, these many amazing works that are such a joy to look at and be inspired by. I wanted people to see the many innovative and diverse ways of how these wonderful artists have approached the vinyl to make it into something new and unexpected. At the same time I wanted to honor the artists who have supported ART ON 45 so generously.


Hanging up all these prints in neat rows took me all day and most of the night plus the help of a close friend and fellow artist. It was an impressive wall of art indeed.

I was wonderful to have all that nice wall space of this year's event venue, a beautiful downtown store named Fine Line Supply, which is all about fine art, from selling supplies to reproducing and displaying original art. I love that store and all the friendly and knowledgeable people working there. Moreover, the kind-hearted owner of this small business has done so much for the growing art scene in our town and for our community in general - including ART ON 45.

A number of people went to see the ART ON 45 show before the shut-down came.

Back then, I expected a few weeks of sheltering in place and then slowly getting back to life. Well, obviously it didn't happen like that at all, unfortunately.

Things continue to be on hold or they are falling apart.

Meanwhile it has become clear that in-person events like the ART ON 45 auction are not going to be possible in the foreseeable future.

Tomorrow is the first day of August. The ART ON 45 exhibit has been up since March - but for the longest time behind locked doors. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" George Berkeley once asked. Good question. Time to rethink this whole affair.

Meanwhile, the retrospective part of the ART ON 45 show has come down. And the auction event is going to be held in a virtual space this year, August 12-15. It's okay, really.

Now that it is round the corner, I am getting quite excited about the online event. I am trusting that the outcome of the auction itself will be just as successful as in the previous years, and I want to believe that the community feel will come in spirit, infinitely and easy as Pi.


2020 ART ON 45
Please visit the facebook event page for details and link to the auction site.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

How We Connect


Another good thing in my life has been the virtual residency that I was invited to by the local arts council NCLAC and the regional non-profit Ross Lynn Foundation. It was the very first residency for me, and I felt honored and excited about it - but also instantly overwhelmed when I received the invite. More pressure, I thought, more schedules, more stress.

But then it turned out that this residency was exactly what I needed. 19 artists mostly from the area but also from other states came together for eight weeks of zoom meetings in May and June. We shared our works, our processes, our thoughts, our blockages and inspirations. It was good and helpful and enriching.

For the residency, I decided not to make a 2-D collage. I put my "Earth" series on hold for a while too. Instead, I started working on an interactive 3-D object about human connections.

I love making 3-D projects in general but other than as school projects I don't really do them a lot. The last sculpture I made is "Undo" (2016) which is about my relationship to my biological father.

When I think about it, I only work in 3-D when I go through deep painful emotions. When I am finding myself in a deep valley I have the strong urge to work on something that I can not only touch and hold but physically embrace.

In addition to the 3-D aspect, I felt that my residency project should respond to my need to have a work process with lots of repetition. I often use repetitive elements in my work. They seem to make a message louder and shriller. And, according to the common (German) saying, repetition produces truth. I want the project to give me time to reflect. And I hope I will find myself in it.


I had the vague vision of this project when I picked up this large wooden salad bowl from a thrift store years ago. It's a beautiful bowl despite and because of its many imperfections: It has a large crack that obviously someone tried to fix with glue (didn't work), the bottom is uneven, and there are many tiny cracks, chips, scratches, and stains at the rim and on the inside.
 To me, this bowl was an image of a society, and I immediately felt that I wanted to fill it with people.

The bowl has been sitting untouched in my studio ever since I bought it. I was glad to finally use it now. With "How We Connect" I am indeed making a reference to the metaphoric "salad bowls" versus "melting pots" that have been used to describe diverse societies. Obviously there can't be such thing as a melting pot when social and systemic dynamics of a society don't allow or encourage any blending of groups. The image of a salad bowl society seems to fit much better, where all the ingredients are in the same container but stay alongside each other. Some are on top, some in the middle, some at the bottom. Some are at the margin, some are hidden, some are exposed. Some are so small that they will always fall through, no matter where they are. Not all are touching each other, and even if they do, those connections are scant, unstable, temporary. 


However, my project is not about making a specific model of a diverse society. It's about how people connect in general, the groups they form, and about the dynamics of these groups within a changing society. An interactive sculpture about how we are functioning (or not) as a society.

I am making the groups of people using wooden balls which I am covering with names cut from many different paper sources to have a wide variety of old and new names from as many cultures as possible. I have 350 spheres in different sizes, 1/4" to 5", to go into the bowl.

I want to make the bowl very full so that it is difficult to stir in it. Some balls will fall out when you do, while the ones left in the bowl will be getting closer to each other. As I said, the bowl has a wobbly bottom and a crack on the side. Altogether it's a fragile construction.

Work In Progress.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Windows Should Be Able to Dance

Yes, indeed, they should!

Friedensreich Hundertwasser said that. He is one of my very favorite artists. His work is not only beautiful, inspiring, timeless and timely but it contains every little piece of his soul and his longing for a wholesome peaceful world. His works make me feel the things he was feeling, the pain about people losing touch with nature and with themselves. His paintings are vibrant and playful. Though he got most recognition for his not-straightlined architecture, and for the boring buildings that he transformed into fairytalish treasures.

Because of all that, I have done a lot of Hundertwasser inspired projects with students of all ages, and it is always wonderful to see how well everyone responds to his art.

Anyways. Summertime usually is the time when I teach art camps at my studio. I love working with children and I love seeing their excitement and joy while they are working on a challenging yet captivating project. I am not teaching in-person this summer and who knows what next summer will be like. And the school year. I don't trust that I will be teaching face-to-face any time soon.

So I have been thinking about guided projects that children (and adults!) can do on their own. Projects which combine many different techniques and materials to make the project a fun experience. At the same time I want to create projects that makes the maker contemplate during the process. This is a difficult time for everyone. Diversion is good but reflection is necessary.

This is the first project that I am offering: a Hundertwasser Birdhouse. All ingredients that are needed to make one are included in the kit, except everyday tools like scissors, and craft paints and brushes. I have prepared detailed instructions with lots of photos and examples. However, there is plenty of room for individual expression. Contact me, if you would like to purchase a kit or two.
More projects to come.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Appetizers

Number 14 of my "Earth" series.

"Appetizers"
Mixed media: clippings from vintage cookbooks and storybooks, yellowed edges of old book pages, ink, on the hardcover back of a 1960's LIFE World Library book, 8" x 11"


I finished this one a while ago and meant to blog about it but I have been procrastinating. Life here in this country is weird and difficult and depressing these days, but in between are good moments, and I am trying to find them and to hold on to them as long as I can.

Good moments I find with my children and my husband, and with my true friends when we talk on the phone or see each other from far. I am missing my family in Germany, I haven't seen them since last fall, and it's painful to know that I will not be able to hug them for a long time.

Because of the climate in this country, I have virtually connected with a few people in various online groups who I haven't met physically yet but who seem to be sharing the same spirit and the same desires and hopes. At the same time I am letting go of those people in my life who have been holding on to questionable realities and who have been trying to convince me of their absurd belief systems.

Regarding my art life, some very good things have been happening in that department, too. For example, the regional arts council, NCLAC, invited me to make an artist video. And so my husband Markus and I spent a few weeks making a film about my studio and my work during which I created the "Appetizers" piece. We make a good team; my strength is creating storylines, while Markus is amazing with his artistic and technical movie-making skills.

Besides the fact that it is nice to have this video, it has helped me reflecting about my work and to articulate what drives me to do what I do.






Saturday, April 18, 2020

Hands of Time

#13 of my "Earth" series.

A piece about time.

Time feels so different these days. Quarantine. More than ever before I'm spending significant time in the backyard, especially because the weather has been quite nice and inviting, and also because there always is something to cut or weed or rake anyways. For example, every day I pick up those hundreds of sweetgum balls that keep falling onto the lawn. They look a lot like coronaviruses, by the way. Looking up the trees, I can expect many more weeks of daily collecting those sweetgum balls, and that's just fine with me. I like doing repetitive things like these. It's calming and has a cleansing quality to it.

Yes, the days seem to have extra hours. Strangely, I'm feeling that these extra hours are not my own time but that I am spending other people's lifetime. In a way, that's actually true. Our family is privileged, we are in a safe place still, we have a home, income, health. We are functioning still. I am grateful for that, and I am heartbroken for those who are not as fortunate. How can we save their time?



This piece is a combination of some lucky finds: The plague doctor comes from a 1940s "Building America" magazine, a special issue about the nation's health situation, and the rainbowish window is cut from a 70s elementary schoolbook. For the numbers I used old Bingo cards, and the aluminum hands I took from an owl-shaped clock that I had bought at a garage sale a few years ago because I loved its charm but then it wasn't working and ended up in my special box labeled "wooden things."

I started out with a completely different concept where I wanted the plague doctor to hold a fly swatter to fight an Earth that was looking like a huge coronavirus. I still like the concept a lot but it didn't work out compositionwise, at least not for this particular series. I like the final result much better than my original idea, and also find its message to be more on point: The doctor is putting the clock together - or maybe he is taking it apart. In both ways I find the clock hands to be quite perfect, as they look like swords. But still, the doctor is not really fighting with these unfit tools that he's got, not visibly. He seems to be figuring out how things work, a bit puzzled, the feet barely on the ground. Altogether I wanted to present the life-or-death scenario like a game show with some magical unicornish rainbow vibe. I think, it works.

"Hands of Time"
Mixed media: clippings from various vintage book sources and bingo cards, fly leaves, ink, aluminum clock hands, on the hardcover back of a 1980's LIFE World Library book, 8" x 11"

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mother

#12 of my "Earth" series.

The barefooted woman has been living in my studio for quite some time. I love her, the way how she's smiling with such content, and then the head scarf which indicates various possible origins.

I cut her out a few years ago when I had intended to place her into a huge gardening scenery along with other people where I thought they would water rows and rows of root vegetables. But that very piece actually became something completely different at the end: an ocean with lots of fish competing with each other to get those tiny drops of water coming from a little red watering can tied to the sky ("Whatever It Takes," 2018).


Anyways, this woman had to stay in my drawer for a while. Now she's come out, she's here, taking care of business as "Mother."

"Mother"
Mixed media: clippings from a storybook and a Space collector's album, yellowed edges from book pages, ink, on the hardcover back of a LIFE World Library book, 8" x 11"

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Six Feet Apart

#11 of my "Earth" series.

For this one, I have used  an old copy of Goodnight Moon. I love this book, I didn't know it as a child because I grew up in Germany. But my children did, and it was one of their favorite bedtime stories. The words and storyline are simple and yet they deliver the message of peace in the most perfect way.

You may remember the framed picture of the three little bears that was hanging in the bunny's bedroom. Here I placed them six feet apart for obvious reasons. The mouse seems confused.


"Six Feet Apart"
Storybook clippings, scraps from fly leaves and softcovers, ink, on the hardcover back of a LIFE World Library book, 8" x 11"