Friday, December 30, 2011

UICA show- PROVIDENCE- two weeks left!

The Modern Quilt Guild of Ann Arbor has been assisting me to sew 350 nautical flags for the UICA. It has been really amazing to see how fast these women sew, sew, sew! In the history of polar exploration (1800's & early 1900's) it was tradition for the various ladies guilds and women's christian organizations in the UK to make sledge flags and other sewn items for crewmembers to take with them. They created dolls to give the Inuit in the high north and handkerchiefs.

This show follows in the same vein. We have sewn 7 phrases from Shackleton's autobiography South, in particular the chapter where he and 2 others cross South Georgia Island. Phrases such as 'our minds were set on reaching the haunts of man' and 'pain and ache, boat journeys, marches, hunger and fatigue seemed to belong to the limbo of forgotten things' and 'That was all of tangible things but in memories we were rich'. Shackleton and his men trekked for 36 hours straight, reaching the whaling station on the other side of the island. No one had ever breached the inner reaches of this mountainous island. Along with the flags, there will be 4 sound pieces evoking the various stages of this trek: hunger, resonance, fatigue and providence.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kansas City Show Review

The Kansas City Star did a nice review of the Re:Search show, which is up now through January at the Paragraph/Project galleries via the Charlotte Street Foundation. If you happen to be around Kansas City, check out the show! I'm super pleased to be showing with two great artists, Erika Hanson and Hillary Wiedemann.

What you see is 600 ft of 3-strand cotton rope that will be used in my new installation at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids MI. Their new gallery is beautiful, totally LEED certified with a fantastic blackbox theatre, film theatre, roof top garden and many gallery spaces in which to show work. I'll be showing in their Vertical Project Space= 50" high.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November show: Charlotte Street Foundation

My show in November is at the Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, MO called Re-Search. Curated by fiber/sculpture artist Erika Lynne Hansen, it features video artist Hillary Wiedemann, Erika Lynne Hansen and myself. I will be showing some older work, the It Is Never Tomorrow photographic series. The show revolves around artists who use historical research to motivate their artistic endeavors. The show will be up through December. The artist talks are on Saturday at noon.

Also, I will be showing at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids in January- mid March. Stay tuned for some images. Flags, lots of flags. And hopefully some ham radio.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The show is up! 'April 24' at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

After our last night on solid ground:

It is the movement of a goodbye,
(the severing of a mooring line, two ships together tied)
and the swell causes difficulty.
It is the great heave of the sea.

An island full of pausing,
(a white handkerchief, too much by five hundred weight)
as an oar, held out,
separates men from boats.

The final gift is brief words,
(in the event of our failures, towards northeast gaze)
anchored as mindful patterns,
while the tide returns again.

Soon clear of the breakers,
(sails set against grim heights, a line of figures dark)
all is blanketed by delay.
Look out, and linger.

So look out, and wait.

To hear the sound component:

Mary Thomas from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote a preview of the biennial in last Wednesday newspaper:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pittsburgh Biennial: June - October 2011

The Pittsburgh Biennial's website is now up and links all the artists + locations participating this year. I will be showing at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, curated by Adam Welch. The opening is June 10, and the other locations open at various points throughout the summer & fall. The PGH Center's show is up until October.

I will be creating a new installation including a new video + I am back at the piano creating a new sound piece for it.

Right now my website is in maintenance. It will be back up by this weekend.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cutting the painter

In Gretel Ehrlich’s book, A Match to the Heart, in which the author recounts and reflects upon being struck by lightning (for the second time), she brings up the Bardo Thodal, or Tibetan Book of the Dead. ‘I wander in the bardo state alone’ (Ehrlich, page 41). ‘Bar’ means between and ‘do’ means a landmark that stands between two things. As she explains it, when placed together, this word becomes ‘gap’, or, ‘the wandering state between life and death’, ‘confusion and enlightenment’, ‘the past just occurred and the future has not yet happened’, ‘a gray ocean with no reference points, no lighthouse’, and ‘uncertainty and groundlessness’.

Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 5 men cut the painter between the James Caird and the Stancomb Wills and from the remaining 22 men, waving from the shore of Elephant Island on April 24, 1916. The men stand between the grays of tall cliffs and a vast ocean. They stand in the pregnant pause, with the past 6 hours of exertion sent away with the gusting wind: the launch of the 22 foot James Caird into the water, the caddying of provisions and a ton of ballast into it, while resisting the unruly waves spitting them back into the tiny island.

The 22 men bellow three cheers as Shackleton + the five others dip into the trough of a wave and vanish. No reference points, no rescue boat, no lighthouse. Each man alone in their physical ache for England, for loves so distant, and for dry clothing. Only persistent, steady, horizon line.

The body as landmark. A body with groundlessness and steady tide.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Unbound: to hope till Hope creates

Unbound: to hope till Hope creates

New sculpture, sound and photography based on two scenes from Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition


“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.”
Excerpt from Prometheus Unbound, by Percy Byssche Shelly

The sound piece is arranged from British composer Ralph Vaughn Williams’ (1872-1958) Sinfonia Antarctica No. 7. The loudest sections, the crescendos and torrential occurrences, and the quietest solos, the rests and repetitions, have been lifted and rearranged to create a new piece filled with either moments of chaos or of orderliness. Moments where there is hesitation, un-surety and fear and moments of calm and reassurance and possible trust. The piece begins with a drum roll, which is Endurance’s entrance into the Antarctic ice pack, the beginning of its end. There are three temperamental segments that reference the crushing of the ship’s timbers and planks, and then its final death scene. The end is quiet and features a violin echoing back onto itself: the 6 men pulling away from Elephant Island in the James Caird in order to save the entire crew. The piece ends neither sadly nor exuding hope: it is more a feeling of distance and an internal voice of a man’s weary thoughts.

Jupiter finds meaning from the title of the exhibition and Percy Byssche Shelley’s play, Prometheus Unbound. It is the story of Prometheus’ captivity and subsequent release from Jupiter’s grips (Greek: Zeus). Jupiter, now overthrown, no longer determines Prometheus’ fate. There is no reconciliation between the god and human. There is no acceptance or forgiveness. Jupiter possesses no compass for compassion or remorse: it is the Antarctic in all its non-humanness.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reading fortunes

What does it mean to become unbound?

British Victorian society had a fascination with predicting futures, beckoning ghosts, and other unworldly and heavenly conjuring. There are documented reports and books discussing séances held to draw lost sailors and captains out from their watery tombs. Did these obsessions carry into the next era, as British explorers still became lost at the poles?

Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition (Imperial TransAntarctic Expedition) marked the end of this particular Age of Exploration. From Robert Falcon Scott's final death march to this Antarctic expedition, the era of grand voyages in the terms laid out by the technology of the day and nationalistic pride of white men journeying forth into the 'unknown' came to a known end. The gruesome reality of WW1 shook those British exploratory foundations to the bone.

The second photograph in my upcoming exhibition shows tea leaves left at the bottom of a teacup that is caught up in the undulation of a sea, tumultuous and hungry. When the fortune teller attempts to read the leaves, what message reveals itself? Is it hope or despair? Will this tiny boat be capsized and crushed or be released and infinite in its wandering? Unbound from Edwardian cast systems, unleashed from the ice, and able to set its sails and make it to land.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stormy Seas: Classical compositions distilled to clashes and clangs

One of the sound pieces I am working on for my next show features symphonies inspired by the sea/antarctica/ships sinking. This includes Vaughn Williams' Sinfonia Antarctica and Bridge's The Sea: 4. Storm from the early 1900's. Extracting the clashes, blasting horns along with some quieter sections of bass lines and soprano soloists' fluttering voices, I am hoping that the outcome and mixing will mimic Shackleton's ship being crushed by the ice. Bangs! Crashes! And not necessarily in rhythm at times. The Endurance did not get crushed all at once, but rather over a series of days. It was caught on moving film using a kinematograph-camera by the expedition's documenter: F. Hurley, who had gone on previous Antarctic expeditions and was no slouch to danger.

The show will feature a few photographs as well: A cup, a flag, a cliff, a gray. I am trying to utilize some recent Pittsburgh snowy ledges and cliffs that I often see on my commute to work. And the blueness of the winter mornings cast certain shadows and colorations that cannot be captured at other times of the year.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year: New Show: And still lots of work in progress

Welcome 2011. Lots of articles, news, books to catch up on! Lots of work still in progress!

I woke up this morning to find that my show at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts last April has been included into the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Art & Cultures writer Mary Thomas's 'Best of 2010'. A nice thing to see first thing in the morning!

On another note, I will be showing new work at the Earlville Opera House in Earlville NY from February 26- April 2. The show will feature Chapter 2 in the 5 part installation series I am creating based on Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition in the Antarctic. The work culls from two scenes: when 8 Emperor penguins mysteriously appeared as the ship, the Endurance, was sinking into the icy depths leaving the men finally truly abandoned. The penguins dirge-like calls were ones that the men had never heard before. The second scene is when Shackleton and his five chosen men set sail on their 800+ mile open-water journey, leaving the remainder of the crew to fend for themselves on Elephant Island. The drastic view from both the stranded and the journeying-forth is humming with energy: That moment when both are staring at the other, recognizing the other.

I see these two scenes as tipping points for hope + loss. Both scenes possess a deep intimacy with the possibility of forthcoming death. They radiate with the notion of a polar environment swallowing whole and leaving no trace. The moment when the human recognizes an intimacy with Emptiness. And I love how the Emperor penguins with their strange instincts play a part in that for the humans.