this is me...

"...but things are so complicated and tangled together. I can't seem to separate them out and do one thing at a time. I don't know how to untangle things."

"Start by thinking about the simplest things and go from there. You're are not in a hurry to decide anything. It may be tough but sometimes you've got to just stop and take time. You ought to train yourself to look at things until something becomes clear."

-extract from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami


Sculpture is like farming

image from www.ruthasawa.com

Yesterday I spent the day at the University art library, looking at a few books I want to purchase but haven't actually seen yet. I had forgotten how inspiring it is to sit in that library surrounded by stacks and stacks of art books and just eat up ideas. One of the books I was looking up was this one, about Ruth Asawa. She is an Japanese American who was sixteen during the Japanese internment in World War Two. After studying to be an art teacher and ultimately being denied her Bachelors Degree because they wouldn't risk sending out a Japanese student to intern, she studied under Josef Albers at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina. She later went on to raise six children while producing a large body of artwork, creating public commissions and co-founded the Alvarado School Arts Workshop in San Francisco to provide public art education for children. She is a woman I can respect. She managed it all.

Her matter-a-fact approach to materials, choosing accessible and economical wire, paper or flour and transforming it, is stunning. This resourcefulness begun in her early life on a farm, used in the internment camp and later honed by Albers’ teaching serves her well. The wire sculpture’s organic forms are informed by her experience on her parent’s farm, she says "[we] used to make patterns in the dirt, hanging our feet off the horse-drawn farm equipment. We made endless hourglass figures that I now see as the forms within forms in my crocheted wire sculptures." The technique developed from Mexican basket makers is well suited to her life as a mother. She says "My materials were simple and whenever there was a free moment, I would sit down and do some work. . . . Sculpture is like farming. If you just keep at it, you can get quite a lot done."

Paper Critters

Suzanne mentioned artist, Alain Douglas Park, last week, and it happens to be completely related to my activities this week. One of my jobs is teaching art classes at the local art museum. This week I've been teaching kids in a class "Capturing the Jackalope". We made mythological and hybrid creatures out of paper mache. I loved it, they loved it. Here are two seven-year old artists works.

This one is a dog headed-bee-bear-duck.

This one is a rare spotted unicorn bird. Notice the pink toes.

I am really enjoying working with kids, it is such a challenge for me to grasp where they are in their skill development and focus and try to alter the project to their needs, or assist them in problem solving. It's also really satisfying seeing their faces light up while working on a project that is their own. I am reading Mona Brookes' Drawing with Children and it has some insightful information on to how to talk to children about their work and creating a safe creative environment.


Drawing 'round

Erin Curry art- papermache bracelets
I am really enjoying drawing on these. I like the awkwardness, and playing with the idea of a round composition. Been thinking a lot about textiles and fabric prints that look like drawings.

Erin Curry art- papermache bracelets

Erin Curry art- papermache bracelets

I'm a little unsure of the lacquer coating here because it yellows the surface so much. I am going to try something a little more matte as well. Here is the before of the piece above.

Erin Curry art- papermache bracelets


Urban Living

Last night to the constant blasts of impotent fireworks, the echos of long ago wars and the wars across the sea, we walked the neighborhood, randomly following the clusters of screeches and pops, and quickly found ourselves in parts of the neighborhood we'd never explored, and so in the dark it was twice as foreign, who lives here? At the other end of the block, kids ran about under the street lights and played a game of their own device, their faces, clothes, even their color obscured. It is a strange novelty to me to walk about in a neighborhood and wonder about all the people that surround me. In the country, neighbors are screened from view by fields, swamp, and woods, or sometimes simply larger yards. . . the hints are harder to find. Here I can ask: are they lonely surrounded by blocks upon blocks of neighbors? A luminous man in his living room walks on his treadmill, his skin red, and white shirt drenched, is he content? In the next room red gladiolas burst open on his dining room table, an affirmation, but of what? There is a holiness to this moment, that man exercising his body in the protected, but not private space of his living room. A couple blocks ahead, a dozen or so people tumble out of a house and drift down the street, the two of us trail them winding through the streets to a city park. One soccer goal stands in the middle, its darkened field attended by a handful sitting on the bleachers, they shrouded in the darkness, watch in silence while a few groups of ten or so on the far side of the field shoot off red, green and yellow explosives, shouting in delight. Back among the houses which are mostly darkened and quiet, I can smell the sweet flowers of hedges and mimosas, things that during the day would disperse among the riot of color and car exhaust. Tonight they mingle with the sharpness of holiday gunpowder.

I feel as if I am always grasping at life's experiences, remember this, remember that. How does this moment fit me, my art? Where do my daily experiences fit in making?


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