Sunday, March 29, 2009

Trip of Enough

I'm back!  The jet lag wasn't as bad as I had worried and Mikel says I look healthier now than when I left.  I think I was just glowing to be back in Alfred.  It was heaven to be able to speak English and to speak to people who like art.  I talked to everyone I could: friends, teachers, people who I recognized from when I lived in Alfred but never knew their names, people at the airport, random people at the Galleria mall in Buffalo, anyone at all interested in chatting, really.   I never realized how much I have been trapped inside myself here due to language and cultural barriers.  Fascinating, really.  It's like I had taken a mini vow of silence and decided to take a week off.  I really feel like myself again.

My slide talk was really fun to give and totally inspired me to get back in my studio right away.  Above you can see some more bits I added onto my "Landscape of Enough."  I will be adding 2D/wall-based elements soon so I moved my entire studio across the room today to be able to utilize the wall space.  It doesn't make for the best room composition, but I have less than two months left here so it's more important that I finish this piece than worry about fen shui (I should really start packing soon anyway so I can figure out what to get rid of and how we are going to get the rest of it to Vermont.)  I have a few more days before the new school year starts.  I plan to go from eating to studio to movie watching to eating to studio to movie watching.  Sleep is in there somewhere too.   

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Toxic But Growing

One last photo from my Thailand trip.  
Tomorrow I'm off on another adventure to Alfred, NY for a week.  I will be chaperoning 13 teenagers (12/13/14-years-old) for their first trip to the USA.  I am putting the last touches on my powerpoint I will give to Alfred BFA seniors while I'm there.  
While putting it together I realized that I have officially ended a full body of work.  I would say the end was my summer of '07 in Vermont before moving to Japan and after living in Florida.  My old reasons for making work no longer seemed charged or important to me, like I had already figured it out (if it's all figured out, what's the point in making it, right?)  I guess my old reasons were wanting a spirituality in my work, not a purity, but an all encompassing, energetic, life of its own.  I spent so much time experimenting with materials, and filling my picture plane to the point of bursting.  Suddenly I wanted space.  After leaving Tampa, I felt like I had space in my life and I wanted that to enter into my painting.  
I floundered for a while here in Japan, seriously feeling lost and between (such a fertile time!) and slowly new things started showing up in my work: recognizable images and more specific color choices.  Suddenly I'm painting things outside myself, it seems.  
"Toxic But Growing"
Obviously I need to put these ideas into better words.  I only recently started thinking about it.  My talk this week in Alfred will help develop my ideas further, I'm sure.
Anyway, with the scheduling time crunch while I'm there I hope it all works out!  I will also get to see my buddies Ash and Jordan.  Yay!  It's been too long (as usual).  I am sort of dreading the jet lag (have I mentioned that already?  I feel like I've been telling everyone because it is such a dread in me.  Am I getting old already?  I'm only 25!  I can't believe how lousy I am at dealing with lack of sleep.)   Anyway, I am really excited to be back in Alfred briefly, if only to see a few friends, eat some non-Japanese food (except maybe Nana's...) and watch my students' reactions to our large, bold country.  
I'll post again when I'm back (in about a week).
Have a great week!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Lady's Room

Who's the lady?  Me?  Hrmm...  
Here's my studio this weekend (and my kitchen, living room and Mikel's studio).  In front of the white cupboard you can see (maybe) my current endeavor: Optimistic Landscape.  It's a bit hard to see as it is quite lacy due to it's toothpick bones.  I'm working more on the "skeleton" now so I can get to the flesh of it in April when I get back to Japan from Alfred.  
"Lady Leaves"
Oh! Here's the lady!
Happy Sunday.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spider Eggs and Powerpoints

This is a photo of a Dunkin' Donuts in Thailand.  
If you look closely at the names you might notice one called "Spider Eggs."  Yum!

It's the weekend once again and one week before I fly to the USA (Alfred) with 13 students for a home-stay trip.  I am already afraid of the jet lag.  I am very excited, though, to see what my students reactions are to the USA.  I'm also looking forward to giving a slide talk to painting seniors while I'm there (assuming my bosses don't change my schedule and I have to cancel my meeting... my fingers are crossed that it will all work out!  I'm too excited!)  I will talk to students about what I've done since graduation.  Has it really been 4 years?   Oh my!  So much to talk about.  Of course this means I have to make a powerpoint presentation.  I used to imagine this might be a fun endeavor.  I have only made about three, but that was a few too many.  Time to just sit and focus.  A little coffee and some Twilight on the ol' Ipod should do the trick.  I've already written a brainstorm about what I want to talk about.  Now to organize my ideas into pictures...

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red and Green

This is in a park in Bangkok.   The religious architecture in Thailand is evidence for me of the power of art.  Thailand is a really poor country.  So many houses look like they were bombed or too rotten to inhabit yet they are inhabited.  Many people build shacks out of whatever they can find and live between train tracks or under a highway permanently.  It's a way of life.  Not a chosen lifestyle, but not temporary.  Yet, amidst all this there is the most beautiful, bright complicated artwork I have ever seen; buildings covered inside and out with texture, color, imagery, patterns, plants and gold.  Transcendent.
This is the inside of the structure I'm standing by in the photo above.
Each tiny texture bit in this photo is a separate tile.  So many temples have roofs covered with these tiles in floral patterns that have an electricity to them, like they aren't cemented down, but about to fly off into the wind.  They are so colorful and intricate.  Like almost everything else in or on temples, it is tactile, like I can imagine people placing each piece, one by one.  I also want to touch it and make it myself.  It's inspiring.  Maybe inspiration is true transcendence.   Anyway, I took this photo because I like the contrast between the tiles and the white/gray wall.

I have a date with a glue gun (or a bed?...)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Where is my tropical island when I want it?

Oh, here it is!  Or was...  
We got back from Thailand yesterday and we've hit the ground running as if we never left (wait... weren't we supposed to relax more?)  
This pic was from the last part of our trip when we decided to just sit on the beach and drink out of coconuts.  The daytime was lovely on this island.  At night, it was like an extended frat-party meets american night club.  We just pulled our sun-tired travel-weary butts from beach to restaurant to beach to bungalo-with-free-nightclub-soundtrack.   It was rough.  haha.
Ok, I don't know if you noticed when I've posted a picture of a Buddhist temple in Japan, but here is one is Thailand to compare...  I think we chose the wrong country to live in order to study Buddhist art.  The inside of these places was a hundred timed more impressive.  We took lots of notes and photos so we can use many ideas in our future cob house.  I truly believe that in Thailand, art is meant to help people transcend their difficult lives to someplace beautiful, magical and peaceful.  It is powerful.
I'm not sure why I look pasty white in this photo.  Oh, right!  Because it's cold and wintery in Japan so I looked like a snow woman in Thailand.   Anyway, elephants don't discriminate (especially when they are chained to a tree and fed cucumbers which I'm pretty sure have little nutritional value and aren't a natural food for elephants, but then again we feed corn to cows...)  By the way, did you know that elephants have coarse black hairs on them?  Weird and cool.
Oh, lala!  Steps to a stupa (which I couldn't go up: "No Lady."  Only monks live here.)  Beautiful!
We took a cooking class for a day!  Delicious!  Come to our house and we will make you pad thai, spring rolls, papaya salad, coconut soup, etc!  (coconuts grow in Vermont, right?)
This is one tiny section of a wall painting in a temple.  Wow.
This is an egg pickled to be black.  I am ashamed to say that I didn't have the guts to try it. Mikel said it was OK...  but it smelled a little like cat pee.
Just ignore the fact that I look like the living dead and enjoy part of the royal palace (I had just spend 30 minutes in the ol' bathroom "wondering" what I could have eaten to make me feel this way... I swear I didn't drink the tap water!!)  
View from the train on the way to Chiang Mai.  Amazingly beautiful.

So here I go!  Back to the studio and back to life in Japan.  Mikel and I feel now more than ever that Japan may be the most proper country on the planet.  Restraint, manners, and tradition are the name of the game here.  We've really enjoyed it and have learned things about ourselves and about this part of the world we treasure.  Now we're ready for the beautiful cherry- blossom-filled spring and then for our Japan game to be over so we can start a new one!  We're trying to live each day to its fullest and make some freakin' blartwork in the process.