I was recently contacted by the Gynocentric Art Gallery (The GAG, "A gallery that values the brain and cuts the bias") to write a companion essay for the online exhibition of Diana Weymar's recent textile-based work. The GAG is the project of Danielle Hogan, the founding director, who is currently presenting a talk about this project in Barcelona, Spain. My thanks to her for asking me to respond to Diana's work.
I've collaborated with these two women before in the exhibition "Every Fiber of My Being" at the Paul Robeson Gallery at the Arts Council of Princeton, and while I've never met either of them, I connect with their work and writing. Collaborating again felt like a series of streams converging before splitting apart again -- natural, intense, a churn of minerals and distance traveled all melding to create a brand new moment.
Excerpts of the essay are below, and you can read the full essay plus see Diana's exhibition here. I am always considering landscape in my own work and what someone recently described as "insistent work." The idea that the two are connected has been brewing for some time and this essay was an opportunity to grow some flesh on those bones. Diana's thoughts on land and insistence are featured in italics. It's like we were having a conversation face to face, but if we had, we'd have interrupted one another too many times.
Then of course, there'd have been the wine.
The Pull of the Needle:
Diane and I last January after setting up the SAQA-Alaska regional show, "Art Cloth North," at the blue.hollomon gallery in Anchorage. I learned a lot from her and her husband, Rich, who arrived with nails, blue tape, levels, tape measurers and a plan. I also learned the importance of clearly labeling all of one's mounting bars, providing an inventory inside one's shipping box plus any special installation instructions. There were a few pieces we had to improvise with that afternoon, but Diane and Rich were so prepared it felt like a mere hiccup. All of this installation advice is probably a no-brainer, but to experience the importance was a great lesson.
Magic inside a Mystery.
For one of Carrie's sweet tutorials, click on the video below. Did I mention she's a really nice person?
The work is beautiful as is her sentiment: "I am glad they're going to a good home." And this has been a good lesson for me to consider, because while I've been hell bent on my intention to raise the awareness and value of women's work by pointing to the Unknown-Unknown-Unknown Makers, there is another value inherent in the creation of such things:
For someone, at some time, in some place -- it felt good to make them.
This is a beautiful energy that I hadn't yet placed alongside a feminist context. And of course, this is why I make things, too, and why I began 40 years ago in the first place. Thank you to JM and her mother, CF, from Chesterfield Missouri for reminding me of this.
If you've been following the Inheritance Project all this time...thank you. It's been an unexpected experience that has taught me much about myself and brought me closer to understanding the intention of the women in my own family--many of them now gone, some very recently so. I've already begun working with many of these items and will do so for the next 2 years, at least.
I believe I'm nearing the end of the call for crowdsourced materials -- I'm approaching 1 year, I'm approaching 20 posts, but don't know which will come first. If you have contacted me and I've responded with an invitation letter, plus you still feel compelled to send items -- please do. If you haven't contacted me, but feel compelled to send items, please do! I'm not going anywhere, but I am looking at how best to schedule the next 2 years.
Yo. It's tricky.
"Peaceful journeys, Whale. You fill us with awe, even in death."
I've lived in Alaska for 16 years, almost half that time with children. I know how this place has shaped me, but I have no life comparison for them. The North is all they've ever known.
"If I was younger, I'd probably be crying right now."
Astrid, age 7
Earlier this summer, I got it in my head that my daughter and I needed to slog through some workbooks to bolster her reading and writing skills. One of the first worksheets -- a "which-one-of-these-items-doesn't-belong-in-this-list" affair -- featured an illustration of a bear rolling out his sleeping bag at the top of the page. A wilderness theme, logically.
So, which item doesn't belong?
fire, candle, radio, flashlight.
She chose "candle."
According to the test creators, my daughter's answer to question #1 would've been wrong.
But her logic was this: "I'd need the fire to stay warm, the flashlight to see in the dark, and the radio so I could call for help."
Ah yes. That kind of radio.
Hers was the answer that would keep her -- maybe even us -- alive.
This morning we hiked a mile downhill to a beached humpback whale lodged at the edge of Kincaid Park in Anchorage. I've written about finding things on beaches before, mostly in Prince William Sound and sometimes elsewhere, but we didn't stumble upon this morning's find; we traveled to the whale with intention.
My son, age 10, had a theory as to why the whale's side had split open, spilling guts into the silt.
"It's probably all the gases expanding. Like that one time when you put the red lid on the sourdough batter and it blew right off."
Their filter for the world is connected to their sense of place.
You are probably wondering what kind of olfactory experience that whale was, and the four of us can say, for the rest of our lives, with authority: "Smells like a long dead whale." Now we know.
There are times when I ask myself why we would ever choose to live here. Why, as an architect and an artist, my husband and I aren't willing to return to an urban hub, to a different kind of exposure or set of opportunities in some other place, one not so remote.
I wonder, why at one time we turned our backs on just such a place and walked so far away.
Without the naivety of the first lesson -- the false assuredness, the bumbling, the sliding -- the second lessons are different. After you've learned from something, you'll never experience it the same way twice.
Maybe the deeper lesson is knowing you don't want to.
Artist in Anchorage, Alaska, sometimes blogging about the collision of history, family & art, with the understanding that none exists without the other.
Boxes Of Mystery
Find Your Teachers