Wednesday, March 31, 2010

About Myself

I have been asked by several people at various times how I got into doing more subverted art, so I will try to take you on that journey here.

Art for me has always been primarily a means of catharsis, of letting go of things that bother me. (Even more so in my journal poetry - I don't seek to publish or promote those, but that's where I voice those things that aggravate me too much or that I take too personally to even make art about.) At Webster University, this took the form of two large scale installations in the art hallway and art office porch dealing with my feelings that, as a university student, I was just another number in a turnstyle and wouldn't be remembered later. (This sentiment has also informed several institutional critique pieces about the constantly changing nature of gallery exhibitions that I have yet to find a gallery to take on.)

I suppose a big change happened for me when I created Reflections because I had to learn to detach and not take things so personally. Having to follow through on creating that piece, which I had thought was a can of worms Art Saint Louis wouldn't want to open, was a trial by fire of sorts because I needed to be able to converse with people who were insulted by what I was doing and not get defensive, as I have always been prone to doing. (Surprisingly, I didn't find myself in the position of having to defend my work, though I've since come to realize that many people who feel insulted by something don't take that up with the person they feel insulted them but rather talk about it to everyone else they see instead.) After Reflections, I began further exploring institutional critique (at least until this blog provided another outlet). I have also been more willing to speak my mind publicly in my art and to take more risks, but I often find it hard to make/exhibit more personal work so it's not entirely good.

Sometime (I don't recall exactly when or if there was a definite start), I started submitting proposals for projects that I thought would never be accepted by those whom they were submitted to as a means of testing whether or not places would follow through on what they supposedly endorse. It's a self-indulgent practice, I know. But it has acted as the most efficient means for me to test the waters and to get a sense for an organization without calling them out on anything or being more outwardly manipulative. It comes down more to a personal issue of integrity, and I realize that the responses I get really aren't indicative of anything, I just like to rock the boat is all. This is how my menstrual pieces came about, as a means of testing Venus Envy, and the response to those works when they were finally included (I submitted for 3 years with those pieces before I finally got in) is what fueled the Life Blood Exhibit now finally coming to fruition.

In regards to the street art, I am primarily concerned with accessibility and want to connect with a greater public outside of just the art scene. Essentially it boils down to the fact that a lot of the general population doesn't willingly expose itself to art, so I take my art to them. Though I make art as a means of catharsis in order to purge things that I feel weigh me down, I show my art because I need for others to share in that - to convey a sense of any wrongs and misgivings I perceive in the world and to draw attention to double standards, stereotypes and inequalities I have personally felt so I can find comfort in knowing that others have felt them too and that I've started people talking about things they otherwise wouldn't discuss openly. To me, showing what I do is an important part of the catharsis itself because just making it and not showing it feels like I'm still keeping all of my frustrations bottled up inside.

It's not necessarily the prettiest approach, I know, but I do try to make light of all of it and poke fun at myself and my process by incorporating my offbeat sense of humor. We can't all be serious all the time - it's important to be able to laugh at ourselves and our circumstances, especially when we're feeling out of control because it puts everything in a new perspective. And I do make some art just for the joy of creating something beautiful - it's not all brooding or deeply conceptual. My jewelry and plein air works have developed mostly out of that need for all that they can be conceptual sometimes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Week

I kind of have a break this week, which is a welcome surprise with as much as I've been doing lately. Especially with the Life Blood Exhibit preview party next week. (I'll go into more details later this week, as this is my biggest project to date.) However, I did donate a painting to a benefit for Habitat for Humanity at Third Degree Glass Factory, and though I cannot attend the event I hope it goes well.

Women Squared: Women Helping Women Step Up
benefit for Habitat for Humanity St. Louis
Third Degree Glass Factory
5200 Delmar
St. Louis, MO
April 1, 2010

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Provisions show

Here's a photo of my current solo show of plein air paintings at Provisions Gourmet Market. There won't be a formal reception, but please check it out sometime. The show runs through Mother's Day, Sunday, May 9, 2010.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Art of the Week: Potholders

This week I made several kids' camp craft potholders to start on a quilting project installation & performance that I want to do for Innovations in Textiles 2010. I remember making these as a child with the square plastic loom and loops, and am now using strictly the nylon loops. I never read the disclaimer before though, and now it saddens me to think that there are children out there are making gifts that those they love cannot use. The loops contain nylon to be stretchy, which melts very easily. I guess they'd still make good coasters to absorb condensation from pitchers and things, though, so at least the kids could see them used in some fashion.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recycling Art

I have mixed feelings about recycling existing art into new art. I will admit that I often reappropriate existing objects into my work and that I will sometimes steal frames from other pieces, especially if said frames didn't enhance or worked against whatever they were framing. And I sometimes disassemble older jewelry, clean it thoroughly and refashion it into new pieces. But I have issues with artists completely painting over existing original artworks as if they were nothing more than blank canvases.

I do understand the desire to reappropriate existing canvases, boards and frames as it can be friendlier on both the environment and the artist's pocketbook. And I am not at all opposed to completely repainting over one's own artwork (though I highly recommend documenting the various stages of that process in some way so that you can reference those phases later on to come to a better understanding of yourself and your artistic development). But there is just something about the practice of painting over other artists' works that bothers me, even if those works are "outdated" or "primitive" or whatnot. (Note: I am not referring to mass-produced things but original one-of-a-kind artworks.)

Essentially, I think it amounts to a matter of respect. If an artwork is older (showing wear) or in desperate need of repair, I can better understand why one would want to just start over (this is often the case with the jewelry I reappropriate). Some things just aren't worth fixing up or are simply not repairable. But when it solely comes down to matters of personal tastes and convenience, I find it a pity that so many artists are so willing to assert their own importance over those who came before. It just seems very self-indulgent to me.

I hate thinking that any artist would so nonchalantly judge what is worthy of keeping versus being painted over. Few artists realize that the canvases they are painting over could someday be their own work in the hands of another. And a lot of "outdated" works are an important part of art history and exemplify the breadth of what has come before, not just what was deemed worthy of appearance in coffee table books and intellectual & educational circuits. Some pieces are genuinely worth something as collectibles unto themselves, including several things that one may not expect, so one may be painting over an invaluable masterpiece that is alone worth more than enough to buy several blank canvases and frames of similar size and quality.

But rather than just bemoaning the practice, I want to point out an even more important factor in this. Not all materials are compatible. A lot of materials will react badly to one another and to various finishes. Some can be applied to the same surface but only in the correct order while others are completely incompatible and sometimes even dangerous when they come in contact with one another, potentially leaching carcinogenic or toxic chemicals and compounds into the air and surrounding environment.

Also, if media are improperly handled or combined, a huge array of horrific things can go wrong within the artwork itself, including large chunks of media falling off of the surface or chemical reactions that cause things to be tacky or cloud up. Some of these reactions are immediate while others develop and build up over the course of time and aren't noticeable at first. And, while some reactions may go away over time, others may be recurring problems exacerbated by sunlight, darkness, heat, cold, humidity & so on, and still others may never seem to go away. So it's hard to say exactly what the long-term effects will be.

So if you're considering reworking over something that someone else did before, you may want to reassess, out of respect for the previous artist, to avoid reworking something that you later come to learn was itself worth a lot of money or was a priceless bit of art history, and/or to avoid the frustration of creating a masterpiece or major work that is unstable and falls apart.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Week

I have a couple of things happening this week. Friday, I will be hanging my work at Provisions Gourmet Market on Olive. There's no formal reception, but please feel free to stop by and check it out. And Friday is the opening for the We All Relate show that I am doing with my mother with our works featured as last week's Art of the Week.

En Plein Air
solo show of plein air paintings
Provisions Gourmet Market
11615 Olive Blvd.
St. Louis, MO
Apr. - Mother's Day, May 9, 2010

We All Relate: Celebrating Local and Global Connections
St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art
Northern Arts Council
27 S. Florissant
Ferguson, MO
March - April 2010
reception: Friday, March 26, 6:30 - 8:30 PM

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Art of the Week: We All Relate

I'm sorry I haven't been very active lately but I've been swamped. This week, I have a special treat for Art of the Week because I'm posting the art that my mom and I made for the WCA show. My mom has gotten into drawing and has just started working in pastels.

We both worked on this still life of items representing ourselves and family heirlooms in our respective media and I wanted to post our different takes on it and tout what my mom is doing, since her drawing is wonderful. (My painting, incorporating text, is pictured above while her close-up drawing is pictured below.)

Please feel free to check out our works in person at the show, which opens a week from tomorrow.

We All Relate: Celebrating Local and Global Connections
St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art
Northern Arts Council
27 S. Florissant
Ferguson, MO
March - April 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Week

This week I am participating in the Cranky Yellow variety show with my presentation of Surprise! and also have some work included in the Grape Arts auction benefit for Art Saint Louis.

It's Too Late for Fun Time
Cranky Yellow Publishing
2847 Cherokee
St. Louis, MO
March 19, 2010, 9 PM - ?
$5 at the door

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This Week

I am fairly busy this week. I am especially excited to be part of Women Artists: Diverse Views with several sculptural pieces and jewelry on display. I am also honored to have a piece included in the 13 Squared benefit at the Regional Arts Commission.

Celebrate Again with 13 Squared
Regional Arts Commission
6128 Delmar
St. Louis, MO
Friday, March 12, 2010, 6 - 8 PM

Women Artists: Diverse Views, invitational show
St. Charles County Arts Council
Lillian Yahn Gallery
7443 Village Center Dr., Winghaven
O' Fallon, MO
March - April 2010
reception: Sunday, March 14, 1 - 4 PM

Saturday, March 6, 2010


This isn't a true review, but I have to encourage all of you to see Laura Greenfield's Thin at UMSL Gallery 210 before it ends. I finally made it by there Friday when I stopped by Gallery Visio on business. (The Art of Labor show which just opened there is excellent as well, by the way, so stop and check that out too.)

The subject matter of Thin is hard to bear witness to, but it is a must-see exhibit that encourages the viewer to reassess cultural values, stereotypes, beauty, emotion, perseverance and the human experience while directly addressing a social issue. The show runs through March 20.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This Week

I have work in a couple of shows opening this week.

Contemporary Women Artists XV: Art as Activism

St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art
Foundry Arts Centre
520 N. Main Center
St. Charles, MO
Feb. - March 2010
reception: Friday, March 5, 7 - 9 PM (juror's presentation, 6 - 7 PM)
My Coming of Age piece is included in this exhibition.

Altered Esthetics
1224 Quincy St. NE
Minneapolis, MN
March 2010
reception: Friday, March 5, 7 - 10 PM
I am excited to be included in this group show and wish I could attend the reception.