Sunday, June 19, 2011

New artist book and musing on papercutting...

A preview of my most recent work - which I finished editioning this weekend! Only an edition of five, but considering I made the paper, printed each sheet individually (twice!), bound the structure, hand-cut the pages, and built a clamshell for each book, I'd say that's still a fair amount of work. 

The book is called Chacaltaya, and is about the Bolivian glacier that disappeared in 2009 (read more about it here.) It also contains a poem written in Spanish (with translation provided) about the idea of the loss of a glacier, and the loss of the water it represents.

I've been thinking a great deal about my interest in the human-nature interrelationship, and how it is explored in my work. As I've stated before, I see paper, particular plant-made paper, as representative of nature. Whatever I do to it - cutting, shaping, casting, printing, sewing - as the mark of the hand, and therefore the mark of the human. As I was cutting, I started thinking about some of my "human marks" involving piercing or cutting the paper in some way - a means of destroying or altering the paper to get my desired result.

I also started thinking about how piercing the paper, with its pretty obvious sexual connotations, is seen as essentially a "male" action. Which led me to think - is the mark of the human synonymous in our greater society with the mark of the man? If so, what is the mark of the woman? Or is woman the antithesis of this idea, and leaves no mark, therefore invisible? Could I make woman-marks in my work that do not evoke men at all? Or is this all hogwash, and my works are gender neutral?  (According to the Battle of the Sexes tally, I was more male than female, so maybe not). Is the mark of the human gender neutral? We certainly are all, men and women, to blame for the damage we've done to the planet.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Life Voyages, my 2010 New Courtland Fellowship

Last year, before my move to California, I was awarded a New Courtland Fellowship from the Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia. This involved orchestrating a project with residents of New Courtland, Inc., and kids from a local school.  

Boats are carriers of human beings as they transition from one point to another. Because of this, the boat—or vessels—becomes symbolic of the journey that is life itself.  This project, Life Voyages, began with interviews of New Courtland residents by school-age children. 
  These interviews focused on ideas of movement, important objects that must be carried when on an excursion, and the concept of life as travel. These interviews were the basis of stencils that were later applied with pulp paint to wet sheets of handmade paper by both children and New Courtland residents.  
Upon completion, the handmade paper was stretched over reed armatures, to form a series of handmade paper boats. Through the processes of handmade paper and collaboration, the final result is a visual narrative exploring the metaphor of life as a journey, installed here in the lobby space of New Courtland Education building.
 Many of the New Courtland residents were dealing with challenges such as dementia or were recovering from strokes. Several had lost the ability to speak, and were now communicating through a series of grunts. What was surprising to me what how sophisticated these grunts could become, and how much, and on how many levels, they could convey information.
 This display was only a temporary one, however, many residents and workers at New Courtland seemed to have fallen in love with it, and there was talk of moving it to a permanent location. Fingers crossed...
It was an amazing experience, and I want to thank the folks at New Courtland who made it possible, as well as Genevieve Coutroubis of CFEVA, for all her work and organization.