We turned on some music and scribbled (6B water soluble graphite stick - basically a big fat pencil) to give some overexposed polaroids new life.
A week after my Aunt passed away, I found myself on Harstene Island with a heaviness. It felt like I was standing in a muddy hole. Not a deep one, but my body was so heavy that I couldn’t climb out. It was dark and damp. Moving was the only way out. It wasn’t easy, but I took a step and I picked up a rock, then a leaf, some grass. I looked up and saw roses. I reached for one, cut it, and put it in my pocket. I grabbed another. A thorn left a small scratch on my arm. Ouch. I started noticing more things. Bright green moss. Curly reddish brown - my favorite color - madrone bark. Things started to feel less dark. I dumped them out on a bench, organized them and then just… started moving things around.
How to make art with nature:
Step 1: Go for a walk. Gather some shit (not literally. leaves, rocks, sticks, dirt etc…)
Step 2: Move shit around while thinking of (choose one of the following or insert your own)
Someone you miss
Someone you love
Nothing at all
I used to look forward to smores when camping, but now it’s this. Intuition switches on and, like a magnet, the forest provides materials. They bend and shape as if it’s what they were made to do. Sometimes they snap, flip, fall. That’s part of the fun and challenge. This took me all day and I returned to it at different times of day to admire shifting light and shapes. Ahhhhhh. I can still feel the sense of accomplishment even though I left it behind weeks ago. This one reminds me of the gigantic spider sculptures by Louise Bourgeois and that makes me smile a lot.
Is now traveled….
I had passed the trailhead no less than 2,000 times and not gone up. Today was the day. The first day of Fall. I grabbed a gorgeous pal and headed up the trail with my camera. We found lots of treasures. A fort with an old chair and underwear in it (hhhhrrrrrrrmmmm), gems in the form of Rainier beer cans shining from dark crevices, glowing seed pods and much more. Beauty - even in trash - all around.
See that little black fuzz on the floor? My favorite pair of socks decided to disintegrate all over the house at a family photoshoot on Sunday. Somehow we decided it was "toe jam" and played with it for over an hour; jamming it in between toes, tossing it in the air, hiding it in pockets, in hair, giving it funny voices, making it jump around. We laughed so hard. This type of play is pretty much my favorite thing in the whole world. Not to mention, it made for some amazing photographs. It doesn't take much, folks!
“Mom, is this blood cause of when she got hurt?” Pretty stinking insightful for a 5-year-old. I honestly hadn't even thought of that. The deep pink initially jumped on the page on accident and I just went with it. Although the original photograph was in black and white - and I love black and white - I wanted to see it in color. My 2-year-old put down the first markings, which can be seen in the bottom-left and a circular motion across her chest. I took it from there.
When I saw the notice that Recy Taylor had passed away in late December just a few days shy of her 98th birthday, I froze. The world seemed to stop. (Note: If you don't who she is, read or watch her story, say her name ((pronounced Ree-cee)), share her story.)
Although I can't remember or find the exact quote, something she said really helped me cope with my own experience with assault. She said that even though law enforcement had failed her (understatement of the century), she believed speaking up at very least made her assailants think twice before committing further crimes. I immediately started sleeping a bit better at night.
My grandmother was born and died the same years as Recy (1919-2017). I needed to talk to them both. Some might turn to a ouija board to do that, I turned to art.
Simply painting wasn't enough. I needed something more sculptural, something with layers. I started melting wax and found some old airline tickets. I turned off the logical side of my brain, turned on Tupac, and talked to them as I melted, carved, pressed pigments with bare fingers, and cut tiny pieces of paper from my past.
As usual, I ducked into a store last-minute looking for holiday crackers (holiday table decoration thingies that pop and are filled with crappy trinkets). $38 bucks for a box? Are you fucking kidding me? No, no, no! Tradition or not, I decided from here on out we will not. The best part is the crown (tissue paper, mind you) and we can beat that, I decided. Before dinner, I grabbed a pile of paper, magazines, some bling, scissors and glue and spread it on the table. "Ok, peops! This year we're making our own crowns. Go!" Mikey jumped right in and cut, folded, and pasted himself a majestic beauty. The next person said they didn't know how to make a crown. I said there would be no instructions provided, just go for it. They did just fine. Everyone did. It was so fun to see everyone's creative expressions. I wish I had photographed each one, but I was too overwhelmed by how amazing the evening was to remember to pick up the camera:)
My niece picked up a hula hoop yesterday and rocked it with apparent ease, a big ol' satisfied smile across her face as it went round and round. Of course, it eventually wobbled its way down around her ankles, but she picked it back up - her grin never fading - and gave it another go. In my head I was thinking, "she's so talented." Outloud I said, "I don't have the hips for it."
Then, I remembered all the conversations with people I've had along the same vein about art and reminded myself I'd never given hula hoop more than a couple minutes before losing patience with myself.
With hula hoop, the apparatus has to be available. My niece has access to one, felt that spark, and practiced practiced practiced (also, I've seen her grandma rock a hoop too and grandmas are pretty much the greatest source of spark in the whole world).
The amazing thing about art is the apparatus is everywhere. You can draw in the dirt with a stick, dig through the garbage for sculpture or collage pieces (you don't even need scissors you can just tear!) and things to draw on, bend sticks into nests, stack rocks, paint with just about anything that leaves a stain or scrape and on and on. The only barrier to entry is a big dumb brain that says you must produce something breathtaking for Instagram or some other purpose. Shut that thing off and enjoy the process! That's what it's about.
Next time I'm around a hula hoop I will remind myself that.
I probably lingered backstage longer than I was supposed to (mostly frozen in awe at how fast my kid is growing - in so many amazing ways), but I'm so happy to have caught this moment. No adult prompted them, they just all put their hands in the middle and released with a cheer. It was the beginning of me melting into a huge pile of mush. I saw the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker on Friday and, beautiful as it was, these kids put on a better performance. Perfection just can't compete with imperfection.