Do You “See”?

DIE GOLDENE MEDINA-WASH DAY“Photography helps people to see.” – Berenice Abbott

Do you “see”? Do you mindfully take time to appreciate the glorious sights that surround you? Do you find similarities in beliefs and dreams reflected where you least expect them?

The incredible photographic work of Berenice Abbott is without a doubt thought-provoking. And while I agree that photography helps you to see, I also think music, literature, painting, printmaking, drawing, and in my case collage, also encourages introspection.

My passion for New York runs deep. While many people find rejuvenation rambling through the countryside, the sound of my heels clicking a staccato rhythm on the sidewalk sets my soul on fire. And if I can’t physically be in New York, Berenice Abbott’s dramatic black and white photos are a passport not only to my hometown, but to another time.

Looking at Abbott’s catalogue housed at New York Public Library, I decided to work with a photo of a Manhattan courtyard on laundry day taken in the 1930’s. The realist in me knows doing laundry in the tenements was a back-breaking job at best. But the romantic in me yearns for the days of seeing clothes strung on a line, the patterns and colours enhanced by the sun and wind.

I knew I needed a background as dramatic as the photo. I chose a handmade scarf completed at a workshop I attended at the Carlisle Arts Learning Center. The silk chiffon was accordion folded, secured with wooden blocks, drizzled with reactive dyes and steamed in the microwave to set the colour. It was the first time I tried this technique and I was extremely pleased with the results.

The warm tones of coral, orange and yellow were the perfect framework for the cool palette I chose when using Artistcellar’s Seafoam stencil. The foamy look of the stencil merged perfectly with my wash day theme. And that’s what I love about the Artistcellar products. The only limit to their use is your imagination. With a swash of watercolour, a splash of acrylics and Artistcellar Halftone Dots, my background was nearly complete.

But something was missing. Looking at the patterns formed by the laundry I wondered what stories they had to tell. Life was challenging, but still there was hope. I wondered about the letters sent home to family and friends…some who would be making the journey soon and others would only experience Die Goldene Medina through their eyes. So I added the text in Chinese, Italian, and French.

The Arts are a mirror by which we see a reflection of ourselves and each other. A photo, a painting, a bit of prose they all help us to truly see that hopes and dreams are passions we all share.



What is Essential to You?

Hans Richter's Dada XYZ

Hans Richter’s  Dada XYZ 1948

As a creative person, what is essential to you?  “XYZ”, an Artist Trading Card call from the Carlisle Arts Learning Center in Carlisle, PA. had me thinking. My Muse was on hiatus. I felt stranded when I opened my book on the Dada Movement, and received inspiration from Hugo Ball’s Sound Poems.

It was what I needed to kick-start me into action. So it felt natural to explore the world of Dada through the eyes of other members. And what could be more appropriate than to read Hans Richter’s “Dada XYZ”.  The piece opens with “I never understood Hugo Ball very well.”

I photocopied the photo of Hans Richter and attached it to illustration board. The text in the background is Richter’s thoughts written in 1948. It is published in Robert Motherwell’s anthology of Dada writings, The Dada Painters and Poets. I finished the card with sponged metallic acrylic paint. At the end of the exhibit this card will also be traded.

Inspired by the Dadaists, not understanding is the essential quality I look for in Art and in Life. Not understanding keeps me thinking…keeps me investigating…keeps my lines to my Muse open. And when I do finally understand, even if not fully, it can lead me to some very interesting, unexpected and inspiring places.

My question to you is…what is Essential to You?

Finding My Way Through X…Y…Z!

Hugo Sound Poem

Hugo’s Sound Poem ATC

A call for art from The Carlisle Arts Learning Center in Carlisle Pennsylvania intrigued me. “XYZ” was the unconventional theme for an Artist Trading Card exhibit sponsored by the Gallery.

XYZ..XYZ… The letters rolled around my mind…What do those final three letters of the alphabet mean to me?

I admit, I have been struggling lately. Feeling uninspired,  I know my Muse hasn’t abandoned me, at least not completely, but we just don’t seem to be connecting. Projects started are in my studio, half completed, if they had the good fortune to even get that far.

And it saddens me. I miss the rush, the passionate excitement of new ideas, of experiments successful…and not quite so. I miss the joy of creating. But how can I get on track and open the lines of communication fully with my Muse?

Waiting for an appointment I pulled a small book on Dada from my handbag. The book fell open to a page with a photo of Hugo Ball dressed in costume and ready to recite a poem. A Sound Poem. My Muse reaching out? Synchronicity? It was perfect. I could feel the spark of excitement starting again.

Dadaism as an art movement was founded in Zürich Switzerland on February 5, 1916. Artists are poets rejected the conventional methods of Art and started something new. The Cabaret Voltaire hosted performance art and sound poetry. Hugo Ball wanted to return to “the most intimate alchemy of the word, and even to go beyond it in order to preserve for poetry its most sacred domain”.

XYZ…over and over…with a rhythm going to the source not only of the poem I could hear, but the uninspired place in my soul.

The substrate for the ATC is illustration board. I photocopied the photo of Hugo in his shaman’s hat and Cubist costume. Finding the letters X, Y, and Z seemed to just fall into place, gleaned from various magazines. I finished with metallic acrylic paint sponged on to the card. At the end of the exhibit the cards will be traded.

Although I’m still finding my way through, returning to Art History certainly has started opening up the lines of communication for me. How do you rekindle your relationship with your Muse?