Sunday, November 22, 2015

Collected thoughts

I have two solo shows coming up next summer, and I've slowly been gathering thoughts and trying to make connections between them as to how they will take form in my work. No resolutions yet, but what I'm considering, in no particular order:

1) Last month the school I teach at was on lockdown for almost two hours due to an active shooter threat. We were slowly evacuated room-by-room. As I was lying on the floor, staring at the ceiling tiles, the responsibility of keeping 35 lives from getting shot descended on me. Thankfully, no one was hurt, all students remained safe, threat was neutralized. But I can't shake that feeling.

2) Saw Sophie Calle speak last week. Her talk can be summed up in this statement she made towards the end, "Absence is motivation."

3) Refugee crisis in Syria, and how it is creating its own absence. Evidence suggests the crisis is directly related to global warming.

4) Does global warming cause other violence, albeit, possibly, indirectly? Is there a link between school violence and global warming? Perhaps in the form of anxiety and poverty?

5) Viewing art leads to an increase in empathy.

6) Shipwrecks, the economy, global exchange.

7) I think violence in any form indicates a lack of connection, to other people, to a community, to nature, to spirituality.

8) How can an artist create connection, or interconnection, between people?

9) One form of connection is stories, but does that build a deep enough connection? Could some form of social practice interaction build on stories to create connections?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

New Print and collaboration about Pluto!

As a usual gap in blogging indicates, a whirlwind of activities happened. I need to sit down and really do a couple of posts about the time at Banff, but because it was just SO MUCH I need to process a bit.

So to get back into the rhythm of blogging, I'm writing today about my recently finished print for the Pluto Print Exchange that Mandy organized. Robert and I ended up collaborating on our piece, and we didn't end up killing each other! (I find it odd that as frequently as I collaborate with others - Marie, Mary, Anne - this was my first time with my husband).

With all the new images of Pluto from New Horizons, I started looking at images of Pluto from mythology, particularly in printed matter. Robert and I both ended up being drawn to this image by Hendrick Goltzius.

Our original intent was to combine the historic and the most recent scientific, perhaps in a sort of like Vitruvian Man. However, the idea developed through our love and respect for papercutting to incorporate that technique. We were also inspired by Allison Smith's Pitcher Collection, and how isolating an image from context makes it both more playful and yet gives it a certain presence.

Using some of the leftover Sekishu from my Small Plates residency (thanks SFCB!) we digitally printed (with archival inks) some images of Pluto's surface. I carved a block based on Goltzius's Pluto (above, inked) which was then printed onto the Sekishu.

The prints were then cut out of the Sekishu.

(I have to confess, the whole time I was cutting these, I kept thinking about this post from The Toast, and the line, GET THIS ARSE.)

Finally, the cut out images were chine colle'd to Rives BFK.

Click on the images for larger views.

The print needs to be properly documented, still. Next spring, the entire portfolio will be exhibited at UArts in the Printmaking Gallery. Artists from Oakland (me), Seattle, Iowa, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia participated. I've yet to see the rest of the portfolio, but have heard good things about the other pieces - trying to be patient but very excited!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Paper in Nature

This past weekend I was part of the Art In Nature festival in Redwood Regional Park. Redwood Regional Park, which is about fifteen minutes away from where I live, is one of the places I go walking. Judy had mentioned something about being part of last year's festival and how much she enjoyed it, and so I applied and was accepted to make a piece, as a chance to honor a place that fulfills me so much. The work I exhibited was developed in the cast paper street art I did recently.

(For larger images, click on the pictures.)

The park is notable for Redwood Creek; its native rainbow trout have been cross-bred with other struggling trout populations throughout the US. Redwood Creek's trout are a genetically pure population that is under critical study in order to reveal new understandings about trout populations. With California's extreme drought the creek appears to be dried up completely; I'm not sure what this means for the population. This idea was the basis for this work I'm calling Upstream.

It was an insanely hot day, and yet they clocked around 5000 visitors to the event. For me, the best part was to sit (or lay) near my piece, and listen to the musicians play, and let their songs become a soundtrack of sorts. I didn't get to photograph many of the other works and performances, but here's a few!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Blue on the street

Last Sunday, I was part of the Sunday Streets festival in the Excelsior, which for non-San Francisco people is one of the last working-class neighborhoods in San Fran. I was invited by the Youth Art Exchange to do a short-term installation and activity.

I've had cast paper on the brain, since I'm building an installation with it for the Art and Nature Festival in September. So I decided to experiment, and ended up with cast paper street art.

The work is up for the next few weeks near the intersection of Mission and Russia. Click on the images for larger pictures.

For a street-based art-making activity, I proposed to do Gyotaku prints. I wanted something that connected to the installation. Since the street was closed, I originally started out in the street itself. For those unfamiliar with the Excelsior, typically it's one of San Francisco's foggy and chilly neighborhoods. Not last week - the sun was out in full force. In the street, ink was drying before we could print, and my crayons literally began to melt. So ended up moving onto the sidewalk, sharing shade with the Youth Art Exchange and their partner on another project, Green Art Workshops.

A gentleman by the name of Melxin Whartnaby came by during the event. He was documenting it for the Friends of the Excelsior Public Library, and shared his photos with me.

Due to the heat, the day was fairly low-key, compared to say, some of my past projects in which there was a constant stream of people. However, it reminded me of how energizing it is to make art on the street, with the public. More importantly, it affirms how much there is a need for such projects.

Green Art Workshops was also doing a participatory project. Using some silver mat board donated from SCRAP and the laser cutter from the Youth Art Exchange, they made a series of water droplets. The public was invited to write ways to save water on the drops, which were then hammered into the wall loosely. When the wind blew, the entire installation swayed. This piece will also be up for a few weeks, and is right next to mine.

Some of the suggestions were pretty intricate, as this drawing of a de-salination system.

Some tried for humor.

I owe a debt of gratitude for this experience to the Youth Art Exchange, particularly Reed Davaz McGowen.

The sun and heat took a lot out of me that day, but the event gave me a renewed energy for the studio. Since completing The Last Color, I'd been a little postpartum. That day I realized how much I've missed doing street art and public interventions. Now, with this renewed energy, I'm returning to the studio to try some experiments. As John Cage would say, I welcome what happens next.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Last Color, a new artist book

Finally some good documentation of my Small Plate book, The Last Color. This book was inspired by my interest in the history of color, particularly by listening to this. For larger pictures, just click on the images.

Due to the brevity of the residency, I didn't have time to make the paper. So I decided to pass on the good fortune, and support other papermakers. The book includes Sekishu Washi and Multi-dipped Indigo Cave Paper. The imagery was printed from two-color reduction woodblocks.

The book is a variation on the flag book structure invented by Hedi Kyle. In the front of the book is a short pamphlet with the text, printed in Garamond from hand-set type.

To purchase a copy, contact Malgosia Kostecka, Program Coordinator for the San Francisco Center for the Book, at (415)-565-0545, or visit the center. Copies are also available from Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore at 2904 College Avenue in Berkeley, or by calling them at 510-704-8222. And if those don't work, a small number are available from me directly, shoot me at email at michelle(at)michellewilsonprojects(dot)com to inquire.

My book, along with the other Small Plates editions, is currently on display at the Center in one of their beautiful new display cases!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Printmakers for the Ayotzinapa 43 at the Santa Cruz Public Library

The Printmakers for the Ayotzinapa 43 portfolio is currently on display at the downtown branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library. There will be reception with a poetry reading and performance on Friday, August 7.

My print is the first on the left in the middle row. You can see a earlier post about the making of it here.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Making of a Small Plate

I've been busy these past few weeks completing the edition for The Last Color, my book for the San Francisco Center for the Book's Small Plates Imprint. Above is a photo that Cheryl took of the Small Plates artists and Chad: me, Andy, Chad (SFCB Studio Manager), and Patricia. This Friday, June 26, is the release party for the event - and everyone is welcome! The Facebook page for the event is here.

Making this book at the Center has been such a thrill - some photos of the journey below.

Printing many shades of blue:

Folded accordions stacked neatly:

Assembling the accordions with the flags:

After casing, an interesting weight solution that accommodates the accordion:

The books:

I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge all the assistance, advice, and problem solving by Chad Johnson, as well as the binding help from Jillian Bruschera and Lynn Prather.

Hope to see you on Friday!