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A Look Back at Semester 2…

Well, it turns out that grad school pushes everything else to the side (surprise!) and I have’t updated this baby in umpteen months. Here’s a look at what I’ve been doing for the past 5 months…

When last the internet saw me, I was flailing about with dye and a red cape, I believe. After that, I really had the spark of interest for learning about dye, so I did a few experimental pieces, just playing with color, stitching, form… seeing what I can do with the dye; how it’s like paint and how it isn’t. I was also expanding my range of surface design techniques so I embroidered some sacred geometry-based designs into them, thinking I might take this into actual quilting at some point.

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Originally these were conceived of as straight yardage, no pre-conceived functional end-goal, but once they were complete and I was living with them, manipulating them and draping them, I realized that there is really something about clothes that resonates with me. When I hung one on the wall–meh. When I wrapped it around my shoulders, instant shift. Suddenly the piece had a life, purpose, character.

I didn’t want to cut them up, so I worked the pleats in to make the fabric bend around the body as a wrap. I left off any closure or distinctly garment-related findings to let them keep living in this space between garment, wall hanging, pure textile…

I was completely stumped in how to display these for the final show, and I think that ultimately failed. I tried both hanging them on the wall and on a form, and I felt that they fell pretty flat. Which brought me to this semester. This semester I was focused on both honing the concept and narrative behind the work, as well as examining presentation possibilities.

I thought that I’d stick with garments, but let myself go a bit mad with the surface design work. I really wanted to try more dye techniques. I decided to keep the cape as my control garment, to create some parameters/boundaries. Plus, as I’ve been working with concepts of fantasy worlds and transformation, what better garment to use? Capes have such an inherent fantasy feel, and really engulf you into an experience in a way few other types of garment will. This first one is the Seeker cloak: I’ve been reading a lot of Jung, Campbell, and YA fantasy, okay? The visual inspiration for it is Hubble photos of galaxies; I wasn’t trying to say anything particularly spacey, but I am moved by the idea of a type of warrior/seeker/mage character who is wrapped in the fabric of worlds. Also, creating a galaxy with dye sounded hard, thus, something I had to try.

I drafted the pattern and sewed the first one together. It started as pure black velveteen:

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…aaaand then threw bleach all over it.

Before anyone gets shirty about it, I did use bleach-stop, so it won’t just eat the fabric away.

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Next, to begin adding color:

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Then more dye:

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Then stars:

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It’s lined in purple poly satin that is dip-dyed into an ombre effect; dark at the hem, light at the neck. There are long-slit arm vents on either side of the double-breasted facings, for ease of movement and utility of the hands and arms.  It’s also got multiple pockets on the inside facings, as well as two inset pockets in the arm-vents, because adventurers need lots of pockets.

After the Seeker was complete, I simultaneously began work on a second cloak and an installation for them to live in. Being as I had so much dissatisfaction with presentation of last semester’s work, and at the urging of my awesome mentor, I began studying installation art and set design. Fascinating and amazing stuff! With the final show approaching, I realized that I could either keep the installation part somewhat toned down to make sure the capes were front-and-center, OR I could let myself really run with the set install, realizing that it might, for this iteration, take away from the capes as centerpiece. For this go-round, I said fuck it, let’s go crazy. I can always come back more towards the middle to privilege the capes later; let’s build something weird. I’ve been very interested in the blending of worlds, the dichotomies of inside/outside, not to mention the mythology and language of references in well-known stories, so I wanted to build a bit of a forest moment indoors. I also thought, in terms of a forest scene, that perhaps a tree opens, almost as a wardrobe (yes, intentionally). Quickly this came together in my mind as a piece speaking to Campbell’s Call to Adventure and Crossing of the Threshold, a concept that seems particularly resonant these days…

So I began building it:

This was a particularly fun, but also nail-biting, adventure. I’ve never done anything with building, much less installation before, and that, combine with having maybe 3 weeks to do it, equalled, in hind-sight, pure foolishness. But I am nothing if not a fool! I decided to go for it, with the knowledge that some of this would be an exercise in cobbling things together; it didn’t need to be perfectly polished on this go-round.

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First I built a closet-form out of MDF board

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…and painted it gold. And realized I’d made the damn thing too tall for the spray booth. Oops.

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Here’s the door. I found a banged-up piece of mirrored plexi in the studio and cut it into that shape on the band saw.

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More on this later, as I have to run out the door now. Tomorrow: Tree-Armoire part TWO!

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grad school

…Am I flailing hard enough?

They make it pretty clear to us that this year, and particularly this semester, is a time for exploration, experimentation, and other “ex” words that are generally designed to both stimulate you and keep you a bit off-balance. As a respected professor put it, “this is the time to flail about and fail big.”

Am I flailing hard enough yet? Have I failed grandly enough? Would you like some more irony on your toast?

Kids, don’t be artists. Do something easy, like brain surgery.

I kid, I kid.

Lots of questions as to process, meaning, intention, audience, concept, formal material decisions. I decided to make a cape as a large-scale material exploration. Plus, it’s still working in my conceptual brain– it’s still a piece of outerwear, which y’all know I love– plus it’s a simple enough design as to be fairly easy construction. I don’t have time for no 34 pattern pieces right know–knowwhaddimean?

I wanted to try overdyeing, so I started messing with applique over a white fabric I had in my stash. Apologies for the crap pictures– apparently my iphone and the studio lighting are NOT friends.

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I’m also starting to study a lot of surface design techniques, and I love incorporating hand stitching into the work. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to hand-stitch this whole mess, but I love to see the evidence of the hand– it makes it so much more personal and storied.

Sampler!

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Hand-stitching and reverse-applique with velvet as the underneath fabric. Very inspired by Alabama Chanin, who I loooove.

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I did some color samples, foraying into the world of dye!

73616324113820670166018575b124f7And then overdyed the whole damn thing. 1ea8ecf3aa5558082ad2c04f7fff2c66 3cb50e90db6f714c07f54a18574de39a

Detail:

f75badd6b4f5a19ea7bd5f40f187b4d1I’m really interested in beginning to work with more reclaimed textiles and less new fabrics, so for the lining I took apart two vintage velvet dresses and made franken-lining.

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There were some holes in the velvet, that I decided to highlight in mending rather than hiding them. It’s part of the fabric’s story, after all.

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Here is is inside-out. I think I might like it best that way actually. 
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I inked some secret things in the lining in my coded alphabet. I’m not loving how it looks but it’s a foray into how to incorporate language into the garment.

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13ccf8e19c58dbf226092fb281c19d7eI’ll have to get some nicer pictures at some point. I still need to figure out what sort of closure I want and finish the hem, but since I don’t think I’ll show this piece in the spring show/last crit it doesn’t seem as important at the moment. There’s a lot I like about this piece and some things I don’t, lots of ideas have been brought up. I think I may step back from garments for a bit (flailing, right?) and just focus on textile and surface design and what I can discover and convey through that medium. There are a few too many variables in the air with a garment, and I’m not sure, in my next crit, that I’m ready to answer questions about who this is for, who wears this, etc. Everyone wants to wear this, right?

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grad school

The processing of process….

Notes on November

…thus far.

Nothing dries here. Mom bought me a box of sun, which seems to be helping the doomy gloomies a bit.

I think too much about what I could be doing, and berate myself for not living the life I think I want, or am supposed to want, but if I want to be the sort of person who goes to bars alone and practices karate, why don’t I ever actually want to do those things? Perhaps the new coolness is someone who goes from home to school and back again and eats mac and cheese. This is a thing, right?

I think too much, I think. Oh wait. Crap.

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School is different the second time around. Better and deeper in many ways, but I can no longer summon that wild, vicious sense of youthful self-import that undergrad held. There is less of a sense of inevitable greatness, though it is replaced with a stronger sense of what I do and why. But I miss feeling like a ball of greatness waiting to explode. Maybe it’s a slow detonation. Also, I drink much less in this iteration, which is probably for the best. I seem to recall a lot of drinking alone and baking cookies while crying at “Friends” the last time.

So, basically, I’m awesome.

I am continuing to work with letterforms. I did the whole alphabet in large, 18″x24″ form:Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 12.05.47 PM

…and hung the whole shebang up for crit. I kind of want it up forever.

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I’m trying to learn to use it, which is trickier than I thought. Learning to write in it is going alright, but reading it is a whole other matter. Makes you realize that we don’t see the individual characters when we read; we just grab the whole word. I can READ the code-language, but I still have to parse it letter by letter. I’m going to try to get some friends to be secret code pen-pals with me to help me learn– I need stuff to read that I did not write, that’s cheating, and really doesn’t work. It’s, in the wise words of my father, like a three-year-old memorizing Go Dog Go and then pronouncing that they can read. I suspect he may be speaking from experience on that one.

I’m not quite sure where the language/code thing is going yet, but I find it compelling. I think, at the core, I’m trying to create the world I want to live in, all magical and shit, and this is perhaps how language looks in that world. It seems very important for me to be able to use it, not just have created it and let it sit there. I have lots of little seeds of ideas of how this might fit into other work later…

I also started to get back into makeup a bit, at the urging of my mentor. Again, not sure where that leads but hey, we’re all about experimenting right now. Can you tell that “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” is a common theme recently?

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This one was mostly practice with a white base makeup I got for Halloween. There was no character theme; just play.

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My mentor suggested I remove variables to make the focus really on the face and makeup, so going forward I’m going to try a few set poses, same outfit, no wig, no face expression, just really focus on the makeup.

Oh, and speaking of Halloween, here’s how THAT turned out:

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We were pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. Dancing at the Lovecraft ensued and a good time was had by all.

Right. Off to make some capes and write some letters. Huzzah!

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grad school

…And then it rained forever.

This is our forecast. I am trying to think of this positively. We get so much green! Things grow! It’s not a flaming ball of fire like the other places I consider home!

But still. I don’t know about this at all.

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This week has been a lot of ups and downs, focus and weird floaty feelings. Sleep comes hard. Insecurity abounds. I am trying to speak kindly to myself, noticing how much of my inner dialogue is negative: you’re not good enough, you’re too old, if you were going to “make it” you would have done it by now, everyone else is more together than you, what are you doing still mucking about like a teenager get a goddamn career path already, why can’t you get up early, why can’t you keep a schedule, your work is a joke hahahahaahaaaaaaaa…

Yeah so that’s there. I know this is a common human condition and I am not alone in this vat of bullshit, but GODDAMN it’s annoying. How much could I have achieved if I just blithely thought I was awesome? Why does it seem so hard to be nice to ourselves? What the fuck is that all about?

Did I mention it’s raining forever?

ANYWAY.

Entrepreneurial, history, and the other “classes” we take come in an out of focus. It’s an odd setup because you are basically doing YOUR WORK, whatever that is, and most things are in service of that in one way or another. Very different from undergrad, where you have a range of classes giving you a set of skills and you are applying yourself to all of them and seeing what comes of that. Now we have a PRACTICE. My history professor related it as undergrad being about starting broad and narrowing to a point, and grad school being about starting at a point and opening out again. This is such an exciting prospect, but also a massive undertaking, and this week I feel like it has dragged me under a little. Being as my husband, family, best friends and dogs are all far away, it’s so easy to get lost in all this philosophy and questioning and there’s no one to make me come out. It can get very surreal and eventually pretty unpleasant; I’m pretty lousy at making myself stop working, and I forget where the line is between work and everything else. Maybe there is no line.

I’m sorry, I’m only supposed to blog about happy things like how meaningful life is, and, like, cookies and craft fairs. I am remiss🙂

I did a fair amount of work this week. Still exploring the concepts of object, symbol, language. I’m continuing work on the ponies. I’m planning to finish at least the 5 large ones and possibly the other 2 small ones I have primed before I let myself move on from this exploration, however long that takes. We are meant to be doing more iterations and experimentation than finished work, but I am partial to the big ponies and I at least want to do right by them.

I found this one at goodwill this week. Serious pony bath time!

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Primed Ponies

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IMG_3906Spring Pony Process. Same model unicorn, different colors.
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Pony progress lineupIMG_3894It’s amazing how long these suckers are taking me. I have a crit next week– I will admit I am nervous.

I also worked more on the letterform stuff. Originally I was looking at symbols and thinking I would make my own syllabary, but then I sat down to consider what concepts or words would need to be represented, and it got real big real fast. Seriously, guys, it’s like ooh ok, “love” “hope” “dream” and then you realize you’re just listing off those inspirational etched rocks. And that there are A LOT of important concepts, and nuances to those, and then it got too big and my brain exploded, so I scaled it back for now, and thought I’d try making an alternate alphabet. Nothing groundbreaking, I’m not going all Tolkien and making a new language, I just want to make my own version of the alphabet and try to learn it. Which is harder than you think! I have pretty much all the letterforms and their correspondences memorized, but it’s the input that gets you: I can write a word in it fairly fast now but I can’t look at a word and instantly see/translate it. So more practice.

Here’s the alphabet. It took me quite a while to decide on the letterforms, and I still have some I feel like perhaps I should change, but I’ve already started memorizing it so I think they will just stay. It’s visually influenced by Sanskrit, Arabic and Elvish (of course).

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Practice pages:

IMG_3862 IMG_3908I began making large, ornate versions of some of the letters, just because I wanted to. They are so beautiful and it’s like getting to know them better. These are 18″x24″

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IMG_3874Sooooo that’s the week. Now it’s off to make mac and cheese for a class project. That’s right, I have to. Hah.

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grad school

The story so far…

Right, so… I moved here:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.00.25 PMWhere they have doughnuts that watch you…

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And I finally decided to learn to be a sort-of bike commuter. Behold: Shadowfax the Magnificent!

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…And now my legs look like this:

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My program takes a mentor-based approach, and my mentor has told me to stop working the way I’ve been working for a while– to open up, explore, and nurture the creative practice. Part of this practice has included creating a collection of inspiration and resonant items– lots of pictures, etc. It’s sort of like making a visual representation of my head.  A psychological mood board.

Another part has involved poking around in vinvtage stores, where I found PONIES!

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Ponies of all sizes!

I can’t exactly explain the allure– it’s surely at least partially nostalgia-based, as I had a LOT of ponies as a kid, but there’s also something just aesthetically pleasing to me about some of them. They are a nicely-shaped object, and certainly cute. We are doing a lot of reading and discussion about objects and our relation to them, what gives an object value, the nature of craft vs. art or design, the psychological resonance of everyday objects, etc. and all this was rattling about in my head. When I saw the pony on the left, something just struck me about it. I felt the need to rescue and resuscitate it; I also felt as if it was a totem object– something of potentially profound significance or spirituality waiting to be found. This is what art school will do to you…

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So I took it home and took it’s face off.

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Our process here is big on iterations– you don’t do just one of something– so I got myself a mini-herd to play with. Originally I thought I’d plan each one out– have a concept and design plan, but then I remembered I’m supposed to be playing and experimenting, and definitely not overthinking, so I just went for it.

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Primed Ponies.Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.03.50 PM

Pony workstation.
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In-progress poniesScreen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.04.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.05.24 PM


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.05.37 PMPonies set up for first critique session
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Part of my visual mind-mapping. This took up a whole wall. I had more pictures but my phone has eaten them in a dramatic fit of pique. Have I mentioned that electronics seem to commit suicide around me?

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Crit went pretty well. I really need to practice speaking about my work; I tend to get so nervous that I am not able to pay as much attention as I would like because I am busy calming the fight-or-flight stuff that is happening. It is also so hard to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to questioning, as opposed to coming at it from a defensive position. This experience of changing my working patterns has been both hard and freeing, but it did put me slightly in a place of feeling like I needed to defend what I’d been spending my time on, that I’d been doing enough. I think a lot of us felt that way… Anyway I survived and the exploration continues.

I’m adding in new things this week but I’m still working on the ponies. I am still enjoying them and they also seem to serve as a tool to think with my hands. None of them are exactly done but this one is close. I discovered there was a run of large, 9″ tall ponies in 2006 and I have managed to snag a few of them. The large size is so nice to work on and feels very compelling; my theory is because it’s the proper pony-to-person ratio for an adult.

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Through the mind-mapping, I began to recognize (or remember) how much language and visual communication and codes are resonant with me. This has me starting to play with letter forms… 
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So that’s that. More to come.

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Uncategorized

wow… shit got real.

Awright, so it’s been an age and things keep piling up to blog about. I have several art hunt-related things to, um, relate, and i made a bunch of stuff, and there’s all sorts of things I need to report on, and it’s gotten to that point where it’s gotten to big to tackle so screw it I’m starting here.

Short version: I went to Portland to check out a potential school to apply to for fall 2015 (remember all the coat stuff for portfolio work? That’s why). And I really liked it. Then I went to LA with the lovely Emma and did and art hunt down there (someday I will properly post about it but LA you were VERY CRAP in terms of responding to the art hunt so you are in my doghouse) and while I was there I got an email from the head of the program I was interested in inviting me to apply for THIS year, as in rightthefucknow. I said no no I couldn’t possibly no and then my darling husband said YOU HAVE TO DO THIS (did I marry a catch or what?) so I pulled together an application, transcripts and 3 letters of recommendation in ONE DAY (eternal gratitude to my former professors and good friends who came through there). I got accepted the very NEXT day, which was about August 1. Christ on a biscuit.

So I had to move to Portland. OH! and my school (MFA of Applied Craft and Design, a joint program offered through PNCA and OCAC, for those of you curious or just particularly fond of acronyms) has a design-build project they do with the first years every year. No way I was going to miss that and be the weird kid coming in late, so I flew to Portland on the 10th, built the most badass chicken coop ever for 10 days, flew back to CA, and had one week to pack, say goodbye, and, well, leave.

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I spend a lot of time in this building now.

I lucked out majorly with housing in Portland, as an old roomie and friend from SF just HAPPENED to have a housemate moving out on September 1st. And the house just HAPPENS to be awesome. And in a sweet neighborhood and only 2 miles from school. So that’s that. Jason’s holding down the Crockett fort and the dogs and the site/store is down for now because I have not EVEN been able to think in a retail-minded way. I need to open it up again soon… I planned to do it before now but grad school has taken over my whole brain like some well-educated parasite that uses words like “process” and “intimacy of the object.”

So that’s that. Prepare for this to become a log of grad school stuff for a while. I’m sorry. So far, my mentor (my school id very mentor-based) has told me to let go of my product-driven, a-to-be process for a while, to nurture my creative practice, to let things in and gather influences and see what comes up. Sound wonderful? It is but goddamn somehow it is still so hard! I am very stuck in the concerns of making a dollar RIGHT NOW and thinking of audience, market value, salability. I’m sure all that will come back, but I’ve been given this time to stretch and grow and hopefully become a more realized (and balanced) creator, but it is hard to shift that way. Grad school is immensely open-ended and almost entirely self-driven, so deciding if you are doing the right thing or not is tricky. I have been getting very elemental and a bit new-agey in simply trying to trust my impulses. Currently my impulses have me painting on My Little Ponies, but more about that later. I promise to have some pretty pictures soon; this post is quite wordy. Should you want to be inundated with pictures, go follow my instagram. I have taken to posting pictures of strange things I find in vintage shops here, so be warned.

xo

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Space Koyote

Space Koyote Art Hunt, Endless Series: Despair

Despair gets a pretty raw deal in the Sandman, as you might imagine. It’s hard to be the anthropomorphic personification of the loss of all hope.

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I felt a strange, Winnie-the-Pooh-esque desire to cheer her up, ironic as that may be. And while we’re being ironic, I thought it might also be fun to make her a pinup girl. Because why not?

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In keeping with the theme, I put her sigil in the word balloon, and of course had to put in her rats.

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I left the first one at Therapy in Berkeley. The setting was too rife with irony to pass up– I mean come ON!

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…and it was quickly snapped up by @ass666beater, who definitely wins the instagram handle award for the day.

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The second one I left at Dr. Comics and Mr. Games in Oakland. Comic books stores just seem like the right venue for these guys.

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This one was nabbed by Jazz Tigan, who has the perfect home for her all set up. IMG_2966

The last one I was going to hide a bit better… but I didn’t. It’s a tricky balance between hiding and plain sight. Eventually I’d like to hide them more, make this harder/more fun, but I’m concerned that I don’t have enough followers yet and I don’t want them to be hidden and never found. So they’ve been more on the plain-sight side, but I promise I will start hiding some more sneakily, for you intrepid followers out there.

My friend Ryan came along with me on this drop and we drank tea while scoping the area like polite British spies. I think I may have gotten him hooked on the art-hunt– you feel so clandestine, despite not actually doing anything illegal.

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Matt snagged the last one, and we were 3 for 3 this time with none disappearing into the ether… which makes me SO happy.

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Thanks for playing, everyone. Next up, DESTRUCTION (dun dun dunnnnnn)!

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