Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Worry in Wax

"Kidney in Flight," mixed media collage with wax, 8" x 10"


"Heal," mixed media collage with wax, 4" x 6"


Tonight I did some art therapy. Words have been difficult to piece together to form coherent thoughts, so tonight I expressed my concern, sadness, worry, and hope with collage images, paint, and wax. Three days ago I learned that my dad has kidney cancer. It seems that is all I can say for now. Those words were tough enough to write. Perhaps creating art will lead to more words, for I know that I will need words through all of this. Language, like art, is healing for me, and it is essential.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Manifestation

mixed media collage, 6" x 8"

I seem to be writing a book.

I'm keeping all the details to myself mostly because I need that "internal pressure." In the past when I told the world all about my creations, I sometimes ended up feeling like I'd given too much away -- including my excited energy -- and I ended up losing interest in the project. Or, more commonly, I was so sensitive to other people's responses to my ideas that I felt crushed if someone didn't have the exact response I was looking for. Sigh.

So I'm keeping the juicy details of this book to myself, but I do feel that sharing my process is helpful -- and a bit therapeutic. I created the above piece tonight while reflecting on how I see this book coming to fruition. I am trying to keep my energy up, my goals in tact, and my stamina strong. I am also trying to remember why it is that I am writing this book so I don't get lost in this process of editing, submitting, etc.

Right now I am undertaking the most difficult task of writing the book proposal I will submit to publishers. I find that writing a book proposal is a not only challenging, but a bit disorienting. Writing the proposal feels a bit like writing a resume in that I have to justify, qualify, and quantify my existence. Okay, maybe not my existence, but my writerly life. A friend of mine gave me the sage advice to pretend that I am writing about someone else instead of myself. That has helped a bit. But I find it so challenging to present myself as, well, competent. I wish I had a big, fat ego for this project. Can anyone spare their ego for a few weeks? Send me an email if you're willing to let me borrow it.

In the meantime, I will continue to write and sigh and scream and laugh and wordsmith my way through this process. And I might, in little breakthrough moments along the way, dance a little jig.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sincerity

6" x 8" collage

Lately I've been noticing how much I value sincerity. I find myself valuing it in communication, in art, and even (dare I say!) in humor. This is not to say that I don't value a good bit of irony and cynicism now and again, but if I were involved in an irony vs. sincerity competition (yes I know, I dislike binaries, too) I would certainly find myself frequently dipping my toes in the world of sincere expressions of my feelings and thoughts. And truth to tell, ironic comments tend to fly by me so quickly that sometimes I feel I'm the last to "get it." So the above art piece is my attempt at honoring my qualities of sincerity. And don't worry, I am not going to start creating Hallmark greeting cards. No sirree. Expect challenging art and writing, and even some blatant irony thrown in.

During my little exploration on sincerity tonight, I stumbled upon a concept I hadn't heard of: "New Sincerity." Check this out from Wikipedia:

"The New Sincerity is a cultural re-emphasis on art as a harbinger for social change. It is a compromise between the tenets of modernism and postmodernism that returns an idea of progress, purpose and greater good. It brings an impetus of idealism, but with an inherent sense of healthy skepticism." [For the entire Wikipedia entry click
here.]

I'm fascinated. Where do you feel you live most of your days -- bent toward irony, immersed in sincerity, fluctuating constantly, or somewhere in between?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Girls are Always Running

8.5" x 11" collage painting

I created the above piece several years ago, and I feel drawn to it now because I have been thinking about the limits of my body lately. This morning, as I descended the stairs from the bedroom, my stiff quads and creaky knees reminded me just how limber and athletic I used to be.

The photographs in the collage above were taken in 1995 when I competed in the State Cross Country Championship in Pullman, WA. My father took pictures of the race, attempting to capture a shot of me in all my runnerly glory. These pictures remind me of my athlete days, when I used to compete (and frequently win) in cross-country races and track and field events such as long, triple, and high jump (high jump was my specialty). I remember being 14 years old and running three miles (on hilly trails) in 19 minutes. I ran 400 meters in 65 seconds. I high jumped 5'2". When I was fourteen, I hurled myself into my athletics, and honestly, I don't remember much discomfort or pain. I remember running to exhaustion and feeling exhilarated.

By age sixteen, however, I remember the distinct difference in how running and jumping felt on my body. My body changed at 16: breasts emerged full force, my hips and butt became more full, and my center of gravity shifted. I competed all through high school, working even harder, and still doing well, but I seemed to hit a ceiling. At the league and district track meets, I placed third and fourth place against the giraffe girls of Arlington and Lynden. I never felt so short at 5'6" in my life at those meets! Even then, though, I knew I had hit the limits of what my body could do for me. By the time I was 18, I had experienced three stress fractures in my right foot, an injured hamstring, and debilitating shin splints. My body did not appreciate all of my pounding and bounding. It makes me wonder if my creaky knees today come from all those years of jumping exercises.

What's also interesting about recalling my athletic days is how competitive I was. I was intensely competitive...with myself. Never very interested in team sports, I wanted to run my own race in my own internal universe. I acknowledged the presence of the others competing (and used this competition to my advantage), but mostly I wanted to see how far I could push myself. Even now, when taking a light run around Greenlake, my competitive edge sometimes emerges. I push myself to run a bit farther or faster. Sometimes this feels physically euphoric and psychologically invigorating, but other times I feel worn down and defeated by my aches and pains.

It's clear that the athlete-girl I used to be is still inside me. I wonder how I use her energy for non-athletic purposes. Might she surface when I'm about to quit something, encouraging me to keep on keepin' on? Does her quick-footed energy keep me focused on creating art? That's an interesting thought: an athletic artist or an "artlete." Interesting concept. Maybe that's what I am.

Thursday, January 03, 2008