Friday, January 31, 2014

Guest Star #130…Sophie Calle

The Wedding Dress

A few years ago,  my friend Wes left a Sophie Calle book on a table in my Penland studio. We had been talking about art at lunch and he thought I would enjoy reading about her work…little did either of us know how important she would become to me. I spent days leafing through the book and didn't dive into the text for awhile. I think I was overwhelmed by what I was seeing and needed time to take it all in visually before reading about it. I have now read the book twice in its entirety and own my own copy which I keep by my bed to page through whenever I want.

Did You See Me?

Sophie Calle is a conceptual artist and uses photography, writing, installation and performance to create her work. I think she, herself, can be considered one of her materials as she plays a central role in many pieces. With a focus on the human experience, she takes a very close and often raw look at what humans do in public and private spaces. She crosses boundaries between what is acceptable and unacceptable, all in an effort to get to the bottom of something she may never get to: to understand humans better. Sophie questions identity, intimacy and vulnerability and does so in a sensitive manner that can also be quite disconcerting. She is cerebral and intuitive, deliberate and effortless, obsessive and subtle, all at the same time.

To See the Sea

There are many things I love about Sophie's work, but I think the one thing, maybe the most important thing I take away, is her power of observation, especially when it comes to the "everyday." Sophie takes notice of those little things that are often overlooked because they are so common it's like none of us notice them anymore. After I made "Observation/Translation" in 2012, I realized the influence she had on me. I have always been an observer but after reading about her work I think observation became even more important to me--I became more aware of the power and importance of observation and began to be more deliberate in my daily observations. It wash't until probably a year after I made that body of work that I realized Sophie was under my skin.

The Hotel

I also love that Sophie does things we all think about doing but most often do not react upon because we "shouldn't." She has followed strangers, called people in a found address book and watched people sleep. In "The Hotel" Sophie works as a housekeeper in a hotel and actually looks through the belongings of the guests whose rooms she is cleaning. Then she goes one step further by photographing what she finds and further still by forming stories about who the people are. I find this all very, very fascinating. It begins with curiosity, followed by the sharing of accumulated information in the form of tangible things like writing and photos. Her findings allow us to take an intimate look at the unseen in the everyday. I think they also cause us to think twice about our habits and to look closely at how we live our lives.

Take Care of Yourself, Installation view and detail

See more Sophie Calle here and see more of my favorite works on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pratt MWP Lecture Next Thursday

I will give a lecture next Thursday, February 6 at Pratt MWP College of Art and Design. I am very pleased to return to the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute as lecturer after taking a few classes there years ago. I'm looking forward to sharing the story of my work and process with my audience and especially excited because my parents will be in attendance.  They have never heard me speak about my work before.

The lecture will begin at 2:30pm and will happen in the Museum of Art Auditorium at 310 Genesee Street in Utica, NY. It is free and open to the public.

If you live in the area I hope you will attend and say hello.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hmm, Very Interesting Part 2…My Icelandic Favorites


I took in a lot of Icelandic culture in my short time there and I've continued to pay serious attention since I left. I know I've barely scratched the surface even now and the following list is just a small part of what I have discovered. Here are my favorites, so far…

Jewelry, Art and Design

STAKA, a collaboration between product designers Bylgja Svansdóttir and María Kristín Jónsdóttir, is a collection of sculptural, leather neckpieces inspired by the Icelandic Sagas. I also love Thread by María Kristín Jónsdóttir. (below image)

Ragnar Kjartansson is a perforation artist and I became interested in his work after learning about "A Lot of Sorrow," a collaborative project with The National. The National performed the song "Sorrow" repeatedly for six hours at Moma PS1. When I watched the video on the Louisiana Channel, I read the accompanying text and was captivated by this quote, "By stretching a single pop song into a day-long tour de force Kjartansson continues his explorations into the potential of repetitive performance to produce sculptural presence within sound." It's that part about giving a sculptural quality to sound that gave me pause and I can't stop thinking about it. Watching this performance led me to watch every video I could find of his work on the internet. 

Ragnheiður Harpa is also a performance artist, using music, video and installation in her thoughtful pieces. Her projects focus on identity, memory and moments, among others. There is a lightness and warmth to her work that I find very appealing.

Halldór Ragnarsson is a visual artist using text, collage, illustration, layering, and installation. I did not discover his work until after I had left, but hope to see it when I return this year. I am very interested in his how he mixes mainly 2D elements to create space. 

Thórunn Árnadóttir is doing all sorts of interesting projects including this dress,"QR U?" Graphic codes beaded onto the dress transmit information to an app that can then translate the data into visual information or text. I wrote about Thórunn's Sasa Clock a few months ago.

Sruli Recht is a clothing designer who uses some rather unconventional and perhaps controversial materials in his work. I am very interested in the sculptural aspect of his work, like the one I have pictured here. 

My favorite galleries in Reykjavík are Spark Design Space and i8. I got to see some great shows at both places, including a show of Ólafur Elíasson's at i8. Spark Design also introduced me to the work of Siggi Eggertsson and his astounding illustration. (above image). I also love visiting the Icelandic Design Center Blog for posts on current design and their fantastic guides to Icelandic design and designers.

Graffiti and Street Art

One of the first things I did when I arrived in Reykjavík was search for graffiti and street art. I saw the work of Sara Riel around the city and have a nice collection of images now. For more about graffiti in
Reykjavík, you can visit Graffiti Reykjavík on Facebook.


Samaris - Góða Tungl

Samaris, an electronic band with beautiful vocals, is my favorite music discovery, and the bands' singer, Jófríður Ákadóttir, is most definitely my new favorite singer. Her ethereal voice is just incredible and she's only 19 or 20. She's also a part of Pascal Pinon, another Icelandic band I love. 

I've been a Sigur Rós  fan for awhile and my trip to Iceland made me love them more. Over the summer I rewatched Heima, a documentary about a tour from a few years ago. It includes great performances and beautiful views of the landscape. You can watch the whole thing on Vimeo.

Iceland Airwaves is a huge music festival that happens in Reykjavík in November and I hope to go one day... in the meantime, I will continue to visit the website and follow the coverage on the internet. You can download the "Fancy Iceland Airwaves Compilation 2013," a mix of music from Airwaves 2013 on the Grapevine website. It takes awhile to download because it's 49 songs long, but it's totally worth it. And, while you're there, be sure to check out the Grapevine itself for all kinds of good stuff about Iceland. I really love that paper.


Finally, you must know by now how much I love looking at maps…This hand drawn map of Reykjavík by Borgarmynd was my true companion while I lived there.

What a pleasure it is to share these with you. Please take a look! And as always, thanks for reading.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hmm, Very Interesting…My Favorites 2013

David Choi

Here it is: my list of 2013 favorites! This year it's exclusive to the internet and it's a long list. I must say, 2013 was the year I completely fell in love with the internet. I liked it a whole, whole lot before, but this year, wow, I saw and read so many interesting things every single day. This post covers only a fraction...


David Choi's work (top image) is my absolute favorite jewelry of the year. Those fabricated forms are pretty wonderful. I also love the work of Begoña Prats and Helena Lehtinen.


The Topography of Tears by Rose-Lynn Fisher, a collection of photographs that examine different kinds of tears, took my breath away.

Berndnaut Smilde creates cloud installations in beautiful spaces…while Share Your Suna project by Ólafur Elíasson, gives everyone a chance to participate by posting images of the sun where they live. Light Echoes (video below) by Aaron Koblin and Ben Tricklebank is a fantastic video of digital imagery projected by a moving train on the ground below. After watching the video I became very interested in the work of Aaron Koblin, too.

I also love this video of the first encounter after years of separation of once partners/artistic collaborators, Marina Abramovic and Ulay. It happens at her MOMA retrospective and it moves me every time I see it.

Street Art and Graffiti

Ian Strange (above image) has roots in street art and graffiti and also creates incredible installations, photography and video.  I am especially drawn to his "Suburban" project. I also discovered the graphic, large-scale installations and paintings of L'Atlas (below image) and the graphic yet fluid illustration and wall work of Cannon Dill.

Abandoned Spaces

I became interested in ghost buildings when I was living in Antwerp, Belgium and since then have been collecting images of them. I was really happy to see this post on Hyperallergic that features the phenomena that "remain as an unintentional texture of memory..."

I saw two posts on abandoned buildings that I revisited throughout the year...haunting images from "Creedmoor State Hospital," (above image) and others that focus on "Family Life Frozen in Time" by Niki Feijen


Zola Jesus, whose music is intelligent and emotional, has an incredible voice and really knows how to use it. (I was also lucky to see her live this past fall and it was a thrilling show.) And, I'm always happy to read about my absolute favorite musician ever, Björk. This post in particular describes a concise "History and Style of a Music Maverick." 

Maps and Information

"Where You Are" is a collection of maps by a variety of artists, writers and thinkers, each inspired by personal experience. I've not seen the book in person but I've spent lots of time on the website where you can examine each map. 

I became a little obsessed with the US Wind Map (above image) which shows live wind patterns. I was also a little obsessed with all the wonderful diagrams and charts on Information is Beautiful, a website that features information in all sorts of beautiful ways. Finally, I was impressed with "The Beauty of Mathematicswhich shows lovely depictions of math as found in our every day lives. 


How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More is an inspiring article about process and creation from different writers' points of view, but the information can be applied to any discipline, in my opinion. I've been taking notice of poetry recently and really enjoyed "What is Poem?", an article that explains poetry and how to appreciate it better in simple terms. My favorite part comes right at the end and centers on a one-word poem

I can't remember if I've shared this on the blog before because I've talked about it with so many feels like maybe I wrote about it here, too. I read Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (above image) when I was in Iceland. I spent a lovely morning in the library in Skagaströnd reading these letters and as soon as I was done, I read them again. Then I read them a few more times over the course of my residency and since returning to the US. They don't take long to read and are simply beautiful and inspiring.

Interesting Articles

"When the Conscious Listens to the Unconscious" and "Haruki Murakami: Talent is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance" are two articles that got me excited about what I do while also giving me a tremendous sense of calm, an "I'm-on-the-right-path feeling." The first one is all about intuition and theory, while the second one talks about the importance of working hard and being tenacious. 

Podcasts and Videos

The above video is a mesmerizing time-lapse of a container ship delivering cargo in Rotterdam. I saw it on NOTCOT at the beginning of the year and was transfixed. The accompanying music is also really good.

I don't remember how I found Brene Brown's "The Power of Vulnerability" TED talk, but I am so happy I did. I've listened to it several times and find it inspiring every time. Vulnerability is always the right choice… "You Are Here", "The Soul Patch" and "Letting Go" are all Radiolab podcasts I listened to while I was embroidering my "Island." They are fascinating and brought tears to my eyes. 


Last, but certainly not least, I really hope to see total cloud inversion one day as shown in "A Sea of Clouds Fills the Grand Cayon." (above image)

That's a long list and I see I've used the word "inspiring" a lot. These links were truly inspiring for me and continue to be. I hope you visit each one and enjoy them as much as I do. Tomorrow I will post my Icelandic favorites!

...and here are the lists for 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2012 Belgium.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Guest Star #129…Filippo Minelli


Today's Guest Star is Filippo Minelli and I'm pretty much in love with everything he creates, from ephemeral clouds of colorful smoke to macro-style, site-specific pieces to gallery installations. I like the simplicity of his work and how each piece is bold and subtle at the same time. I like his use of text in either singular words or short sentences. I like the unusual spaces and places he chooses to create these works in, some urban, some rural. I like that he uses a variety of methods and materials: spray paint, fire, smoke, stickers, light, neon, video...The impermanence and vulnerability to the elements and their environments is fascinating as well. I have always been interested in the moment-marking aspect of street art and graffiti, how the presence of the artist is captured right there and how that moment can last for a long time or be covered up or removed almost immediately. Filippo's pieces resonate in this way with me, and in many other ways...


Art is the new television go back to your life


NonPlace Branding-NoWhere Forever

See more of my favorite pieces by Filippo Minelli on Pinterest.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mining My Sketchbooks

A few years ago I went to an artist talk at Penland and I heard something that has stayed with me. The details are hazy, including the identity of the artist himself, but I do remember he was a photographer and he was talking about things he tells his students. He said something about "mining your sketchbook," basically looking through old sketchbooks for thoughts and ideas for new work. I have a big stack of sketchbooks and I look through them occasionally to do just this. There are so many ideas in them, ideas I will never get to, especially if I don't remind myself. I've been writing about my new work today and as I sat here I remembered a list I wrote in 2010 that includes all of my moves in the US. I found the list and will use it somehow in my new work. It's interesting to be reminded where and when I lived somewhere…and this is helpful information when making work about "home."

Now if I could just find that line about mining your sketchbooks... I know it's in one of these!

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Thinking About White (Addendum)

About a month ago I posted about the color white as an observation and as used in my work. I've been thinking about that post a lot and other themes or patterns in my work. I've been studying my photographs, too, something else I do often. Looking closely at my pictures shows me what I am interested in--sometimes it's a general theme, sometimes it's more about details or small parts, some patterns have been around for awhile, some are new. (I also imagine there are patterns that I don't see yet and maybe won't for awhile to come.) Here is a small collection of white photographs to complement my white post from December. It's also a way to kick-off a new series about my photos and these patterns...I will post another theme or pattern I'm thinking about soon.

If you are interested in my photos, please visit my Flickr or find me on Instagram. I've also posted some of my favorite pictures on my website.

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Alone/Together and All Done

I completed the final necklace in my "Alone/Together" series over the weekend. I really loved every second with this piece. Embroidery is so meditative--it's almost like I don't have to think at all and my hands know just what to do. Here are a few process pictures…

These pieces along with "I Can Only Stay Away for So Long," "Lost and Found," and "The Island of 14,264 Days" will travel to Seattle to be photographed by my ever-amazing photographer, Hank Drew.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Looking In

a hidden space 

I'm still walking around town as much as I can and I'm spending a lot of time thinking. I'm remembering things I did here, places I liked to visit, how I felt… I often have these flashes of memory: a vision of a moment or a feeling, appearing suddenly in my mind, one that could only happen because I am physically in this place. As I walk and look, I see things that trigger memories, some clear and some rather hazy. I notice things I've seen a million times and other things I have never seen before. I recall sounds and smells and music I listened to. On one of my first walks I simultaneously felt as though I knew the whole town perfectly and like I had never been here before. It was a strange feeling. I realize now just how little I actually know of individual streets and where they lead. This is interesting to me. I feel as if I am an outsider looking in on a place I have only read about.

my parents lived here when they first moved to town…I was not born yet

the dime store where my brother and I used to buy candy

the facade of a metal building on a street I walked down for the first time recently

...and I never noticed these until last winter. They are on Main Street. 

A field down a road that leads to a lake. This road seemed magical to me as a child. 

I've added lots of photos to Flickr and to Facebook.

Thanks for reading.