Sunday, November 12, 2006

Prelude to a day in Paradise

Years ago I saw my first Nana by Niki de Saint Phalle. It was 1972, I was thirteen and visinting the Centre Pompidou in Paris with my sister and my aunt Marie France. In the big open hall at the entry of the museum there was a colossal woman in a dress carrying a small purse. I posed in fromt of the statue -- an ant next to the voluptuous nana in clothing. I was hooked. In the coming years I watched for her work. There was a statue of hers in a show on the Champs Elysees. Marie France took me to see it. It was amazing, a distillation of womanhood, a woman clothed in bright colors and designs, her curves uncovered, not hidden by the folds of clothing.

The nanas were about celebrating woman, a feminist's argument that the beauty wasn't in the rail thin image of popular culture (though the artist was rail thin). I loved them -- they made me feel beautiful. I cannot visit Paris without making my personal pilgrimage to the Stravinsky Fountain -- filled with her sculptures alongside those of her husband and partner Jean Tinguely.

In the early nineties there was a show of her paintings in a small art gallery in New York. These paintings were her mechanical ones, inhabited by dolphions and cacti, set in deserts and oceans. They were strongly influenced by her experience of illness, her life in California. I went to the opening in the gallery and was blown away by these works on such a small scale compared to the work I knew -- but containing her same iconography, the same messages -- just on a much more intimate scale.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Visiting Paradise (sort of)

When I heard of this exhibit in the Botanical Gardens I could not wait to see it. Bruce and I went in July, but it was just too hot. So we returned to Atlanta in September. What a delight. The day was clear and bright, the sky a deep blue, the sculptures were so much fun. I found myself running from one to the next like a madwoman, searching out every crevasse of the gardens.

There was everything in this show. The Nana House, the reminder/celebration of death that was a huge skull, filled with light, mosaic inside and out, the bathing beauties, the amazing animals that looked like they belonged in a desert, the church of all religions, the thin man, the sports stars she created for her grandchildren, the totems and the guardian lions. This was a celebration of her work, her vision, her life.

It was the finest gift Bruce could have given me, to take me there.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Visiting Pardise (sort of) part two...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I should have knocked on wood.....

Recently I was reading about someone's problem with their kiln and thinking that I was lucky. After four years of firing the kiln regularly (probably on average 4x week) I have had no problems with relays or elements. Well I shouldn't have had that thought because now I have to amend the above to say that I had had no problems with relays or elements. Friday night, after taking almost a week to assemble a pair of panels on meditation, I put them in Old Faithful, set the schedule on the controller and turned her on. I expected the glass would be annealing when I got up in the morning. Saturday morning when I went downstairs to check on the firing I could hear the alarm going off and the controller was flashing some unfamiliar letters. The kiln was at 1175 and the elements appeared to be glowing. I had to find the controller handbook, which only took me three minutes (a miracle since I haven't needed it since 2002), to interpreted the message -- Failure to Heat. Argh. So when I take a second look at the kiln what I realise is that the top elements in the lid aren't glowing, only the side elements. I guess this means I have to replace the elements or the relays. And I guess that means I need to give a call to the JenKen on Tuesday (Monday is too busy a day for me unfortunately) to order whatever I need to replace in there. Time for me to draw on my engineer/tinker genes from my dad....

The panel is tack fused at 1175. Whoever thinks the process is all about the temperature is at least partly wrong. What I wonder is what is the lowest temperature at which you may be able to achieve a process. Now I just have to hope the panels don't crack because of lack of annealing until I get them back in the kiln and re-fired....

Monday, September 04, 2006

Yet Another Rejection

I didn't make it into Emerge again this year. Two years ago I thought there was some work in there that was not nearly as good as mine, but there was plenty that was good, and plenty of good work that didn't make it. I am guessing that I will feel the same way about this year's show. I am a bit on pins and needles about Pilchuck now. Will they accept my piece for the show? I have pretty much decided not to go, even if they do accept the piece.

Still don't know whether or not I will continue doing the figure work. I need to evaluate whether or not the figures are essential to the piece. Taking a design class this fall will be helpful, especially combined with some artist critiques I intend to participate in.

The disappointment of Emerge was not unexpected, but it was still there. Right after I learned that I was rejected, I felt like such a loser. I look at other people's work and ask myself if it is that I am not working hard enough or if I just don't get it? Maybe my work is meant to just pile up in the basement budled together like Emily's packets of poems. Some folks seem to get there so fast, others never do....

Within two days I was sketching the next piece, but I can't say I didn't feel down. I had hoped that this time.... I still feel a bit like a loser, deep down. It isn't helping that work is such a downer right now. One thing I am working on with someone else is so not going well and it makes me feel angry and frustrated and resentful and a bit like I have failed. And it's not my fault I know.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hoping yet not hoping...

Once again, I have submitted work to Emerge. I don't really believe I will get in, but I keep trying. For years I thought I had a chance, even when my work was not nearly as good as it is now. Now I try, without much hope. The images of my work are not as good as they could be, and that really holds me back. I am happy with where the work is going, but feel like if the outside (and not just from my friends) validation does not come soon, then I will be finding it too hard to continue trying. I'll just transform into Emilie Dickinson and when I die people will find a basement full of pieces. Poor Bruce. Now that would be a pain in the butt, trying to unload all that glass.

I feel like the figures on the abstract background are a risk, that people won't gravitate toward the mix of the abstraction and figurative. I sent a piece to Pilchuck that incorporates the two. Not overwhelmingly confident about it being accepted. On pins and needles. But the reality is that this is where I am right now and until I am done with it, it is where I will stay.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Roman Glass first century BC to first century AD

From an exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris, June 2006...

It was an adventure just trying to get to the exhibit. I saw it advertised in the metro and once we identified the location of the museum on the outskirts of the city, we were off via metro to see the ancient Roman glass. I think it was the hottest day of our stay in Paris, maybe that was the day it got up to 93 degrees Farenheit. (I hadn't expected such high temps -- unusual for Paris in June.) We had been running around the city already. Got off the metro, stopped and ate lunch, followed by ice cream (we were hot and wanted to stay in the AC!) and then trekked over to the museum. Every museum staff member we asked sent us in a different direction to get to the exhibit and none of them even got the floor right, much less the location on the floor. Finally we found it, a little oasis of quiet inside this big industrial warehouse museum filled with schoolchildren. The exhibit starts out with a quote from the fifth century (couldn't read the author's name in my photo of the quote):

Il n'y a rien de invraisemblable dans la métamorphose de la matière en un état supérieure. Ceux qui conaissent bien l'art de l'alchimie... transmutent le verre en une nouvelle substance brillante en combinant du sable divisible et du natron soluble.

There is nothing incredible about the metamorphosis of a material to a higher state. Those who know well the art of alchemy.. transmute glass into a new brilliant substance by combining divisible sand and soluble natron.

This set the stage for the walk through an exhibit of glass amazing in its state of unbrokenness and detail.... I tried to capture some images. Most failed, as photographing without flash through a glass barrier presented new challenges to my photographic (lack of) skill. Here are images of just a few of the pieces:

Roman Glass first century BC to first century AD (part 2)