Monday my only objective was to allow myself to play in my studio. I was in need of some soul-settling and spark. I let myself relax, paint, and listen to my book.
There’s something so liberating about entering into a process without a preconceived outcome in mind.
I was listening to Magnificence by Lydia Millett. I would want to know, so I thought you might too. I also read her book, A Children’s Bible, a remarkable story. I love her writing style.
I’ve noticed when play is my only stated goal, in many areas of my life, not just painting—something unexpected, and often delightful is given the space to emerge.
The next day I played more by creating mirror images with my photos. They took on a whole other life—an iconic quality, even an odd sort of sacredness.
Perhaps they somehow they reflected their origin story? I looked at them and instantly thought…ancient totems of play.
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson
Colder temps are arriving tonight, so when I woke up I thought I better take off on one of my predawn rambles. I stepped out into the cold, my only agenda to get some exercise and enjoy the quiet before the relative hustle of COVID life in Burlington, Vermont begins.
I got much so more…
I started thinking about how many people in the world are facing some of the same challenges as me right now. I felt an instant expansive kinship with them all. I imagined a middle-aged mom in Tibet taking a walk, coming in from the cold, making a cup of tea, and wondering what her next chapter will bring.
Perhaps she too is struggling to find some grace and acceptance in that endlessly tricky space betwixt & between her intentions, words, & actions.
Next, I thought about my sister-in-law and all of the school administrators/teachers struggling to keep the world’s children engaged and healthy. Then I imagined our planet’s exhausted nurses and doctors working to heal the sick, and be present with folks in their last moments when visitors are no longer allowed. I went down the line thinking about the professions and circumstances of all of the people I know and their cohorts around the world.
As I walked back home thinking about the web of our shared humanity—I felt lighter, less burdened, and more a part of a team.
Funny, just last night my husband said, “You really like being part of a team, don’t you?”.
“Yes, I really do”, I replied.
Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.
Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. —Coco Chanel
Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.
You can’t use up creativity.
The more you use, the more you have. —Maya Angelou
It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.
―Henry David Thoreau
fetch the bolt cutters,
I’ve been in here too long
- cardboard layers missing South Dakota
- fashion magazine paintings
- your voice counts-Harvard Review I believe
- Oakledge Park early morning with a friend after snow
- I recreated this poster for Jeff’s Christmas gift. He was at this show on his birthday, 1981 I believe. I couldn’t find an original.
- winter light with lights, the field behind my childhood home
- fetch the bolt cutters, a Fiona Apple song I love-applicable for COVID life
Yesterday morning I wondered what would happen if every time I was told something negative about my choices, behaviors, or words I reflexively answered, THAT’S FAKE NEWS or ALL A HOAX. Even if there were videos, tweets, or recorded phone calls of what I said, I continued to falsely proclaim these are lies fabricated to damage me personally. No accountability ever required.
I have a hunch if I behaved that way my marriage would be over. My children wouldn’t bother talking to me anymore. My friends would distance themselves and likely drop off entirely. My community involvement would be quite unwelcome.
My husband and children might schedule a full psychological evaluation and begin an investigation into the hopeful possibility that an underlying health concern may be at the root of it all…or coronavirus perhaps?
Unable to sleep, I slipped out of bed in predawn America trying to understand the emotions I felt while watching yesterday’s events unfold in Washington DC, our nation’s capital, and also the city where my daughter attends college. I have to admit, I was and am currently all over the place.
FEAR. SHAME. SORROW. RELIEF. EMBARRASSMENT. FRUSTRATION. GRATITUDE. ANGER. RESOLVE. PRIDE. GRIEF. LOVE?
While I edited yesterday’s post, I suddenly started thinking about Democracy as a woman who finally summoned her courage and decided enough is enough.
She chose to honor her beloved constitution after years of suffering. Democracy began the long process of leaving her abusive relationship by finally asking her parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends in Congress, The Press, and Law Enforcement for help to get her to a place she feels safe and valued once again.
My hope for Democracy and anyone else suffering to come out of the fog (fear, obligation & guilt) of abuse and begin the much-needed healing process.
Examples of Emotional Abuse
Alienation – The act of cutting off or interfering with an individual’s relationships with others.
Belittling – Condescending and Patronizing – This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.
Baiting – A provocative act used to solicit an angry, aggressive or emotional response from another individual.
Blaming – The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Bullying – Any systematic action of hurting a person from a position of relative physical, social, economic or emotional strength.
created nor destroyed…the total amount of mass and energy in the universe is constant. —Law of Conservation of Mass, discovered by Antoine Lavoisier in 1785
matter: the formless substratum of all things which exists only potentially and upon which form acts to produce realities —Merriam Webster
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of matter and how I spend my time, resources, and energy. I’m not a first responder, teacher, food producer, or any of the many admirable front line workers that kept us going during this remarkably challenging COVID19 year.
I’m an artist and making things and thinking about making things takes up a lot of my time…most actually. I think in potential constantly to produce other realities.
So, does making art in my basement studio matter in any way right now?
I just don’t know.
Here’s what I do know. I was unsettled the other day. I cleaned my studio. There was a lot of cardboard. I rescued it from the recycling. I created the work below. I felt much more settled.
Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
“It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it.”
― Roger Ebert
I woke up thinking about recreating movie posters. I didn’t want to have to shoot any difficult images to make them work. I’m sure these won’t be the last.
Happy Sunday, wherever your day takes you.
I recently picked up my great-great-uncle, Will Lillibridge’s book, Ben Blair and landed on a few passages that seemed to fit what i was pondering in the moment.
“Ten miles out on the prairies,—not lands plane as a table, as they are usually pictured, but rolling like the sea with waves of tremendous amplitude—stood a rough shack, called by courtesy a house.”—Will Lillibridge—Ben Blair—Chapter II Desolation
Usually in January I make an annual pilgrimage to my hometown of Burke, South Dakota. This year, because of COVID19, I won’t be traveling. So, on this Winter Solstice 2020, I’m reflecting on the prairie, my ancestors and revisiting my photographs.
I’ve always assumed that my love of stark landscapes was simply due to where I grew up. However, as I age I’m increasingly aware that it’s far more complex than that alone. I’m drawn to spaciousness in any form. In paintings, film, photographs, literature it’s what’s NOT there that I love and am so drawn to. Oh, and when there’s a well-placed pause in a song—damn, I swoon.
There’s a duality of growing up in rural America that I understand now at fifty-four and having lived out east for thirty years. There’s on one hand, a fiercely independent streak born out of generations of hardscrabble pioneer and homestead life, but there’s also what’s in the negative space everywhere that I’m more curious about lately.
For that pioneer spirit to survive on such isolated terrain, there’s often a high need for conformity. To me there can be a false sense of security that comes from conformity. When we conform too much, we might be leaving some of the best parts of ourselves hidden in the negative space.
INDEPENDENCE + CONFORMITY = ?
While being around the like-minded often puts folks at ease, the opposite can be quite true as well. When people are different, or deemed outsiders, it might be natural to fear that they might upset the social order in some way. Is this really true,or does it just FEEL true?
The psychology of geography, interesting enough in the year of a world-wide pandemic, is rooted in outsiders potentially bringing disease to a region. Of course illness was greatly feared when folks were trying to populate a new territory…all lives certainly mattered back then just as they do now.
To honor that fierce independence it seems to me that different skills, ideas, and perspectives should be exceptionally valued, hell, even celebrated—now more than ever regardless of one’s geography.
We really need all types of thinkers and doers to face the world’s many challenges. Perhaps this first day of winter is well-timed for some quiet contemplation on what seems likely to be an isolated, and potentially sorrow-filled season before the light returns.
“To-night, for the first time, and with a wonder we all feel when the obvious but long unseen suddenly becomes apparent, the primary fact of human brotherhood, irrespective of caste, came home to him.”—Will Lillibridge—Ben Blair, Chapter XXII Two Friends Have it Out
This morning my coffee-fueled internet meanderings landed me a famous mugshots site. They’re quite remarkable, raw, and they all seem to just dare you to learn more about the arrests. I’m a true crime junkie.
David Bowie was arrested in Rochester, NY for marijuana possession on March 21st, 1976. He was held for three hours and released on bail. He pleaded guilty and the grand jury later decided to pass on his case. Even his mugshot is classy, of course.
With some regret, I’ve never been arrested. So, with the help of my daughter, Willa Govoni’s photography and highly intuitive stylist skills I now have my very own menopausal mugshots. Perhaps a protest arrest is in my future? #2021goals #resist #goodtrouble
I thought about my characteristics that feel like crimes sometimes. They came to mind quite quickly…judgment, regret, and procrastination.
Willa, you’ve got a good eye kid. Let’s do lunch and discuss more projects.
Happy Thanksgiving from my neighborhood to yours!
Purple haze all in my brain
Lately things don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky
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Be well. Stay safe.