Click on the title of this post to see the pictures more up-close. I’m using the 2nd-to-last image as a desktop picture this week.
While I was time traveling back to 2000 (see 3 posts ago), I thought about who really shined the light on “installation art” for me. Only two influences really stand out:
First, Yayoi Kusama, whose art I had the immense pleasure of experiencing at MoMA in 1998 (“Love Forever” retrospective exhibit). This piece, as well as the boat covered in squishy things and wall-sized infinity net paintings, really impressed me. She communicated immensity of vision, absurd humor, and powerful focused energy.
After the show, I bought a book about her and learned that in addition to her dot-covered sculptures, paintings and installations, she also staged Happenings, designed clothes, and wrote novels!
Another absolutely astounding artist whom I met while in Western Mass is Karen Dolmanisth. I don’t even know how my-boyfriend-at-the-time became acquainted with her, but he took me to her studio one evening for some occasion, and I felt like I had entered another world, where everything mundane was made magically beautiful. Nails, corn, dresses, glass, sticks… everything was collected and seemed to wear an air of “play”. Later we got to see those materials installed in an old spice warehouse in the big city, where she performed a ritual/dance in collaboration with live music.
Her material choices and way of evoking the spiritual felt so natural to me (in resonance) that only in hindsight could I see them distinctly for what they are, a unique artistic voice. She has continued to produce great work since then, which you can see more of on her website.
Since that time I have encountered many more artists working in this medium, for whom I will save a future post. Oh, but how will I find the words to convey that electric jolt, the body-brain experience of synaesthetic fusion that comes from a space inspirationally transformed? I guess the word is “thrill”.
Thank you, artists!
__ W – O – R – K – – P – A – R – T – Y __
8/16 Sunday (and/or) 8/17 Monday, after 6pm!<>
<> <> Puppet studio+theater will SOON be open to the public.
<> HELP NEEDED: trouble-shooting for safety, minor carpentry, materials organizing, and decorating.
<> ADDITIONALLY: Green-thumbs invited to offer advice on wild plant management and herb gardening.
<> <> Compensation: Time Exchange currency
<> <> Location = 2608 Rogers Ave. (in the back) 78722
In the spring semester of 2000, I was enrolled at Hampshire College in the first class that REALLY got me excited– It was “Inter-Arts 101: Working Across the Arts” team-taught by Paul Jenkins (poetry), Thom Haxo (sculpture), and Ellen Donkin (theater).
It was the first time that this experimental class was taught, and the professors were all charged up and giddy, bubbling over with anticipation of the creative cross-fertilization that was to occur.
The structure of the class was one week all together just discussing this concept of inter-arts, and then the class split into 3 groups. In our smaller groups, we spent 3 weeks with each different professor in the team, and in the final weeks, we worked on and presented a final project, which could be done individually or in groups.
Our final projects had to try to create a new art form that was a hybrid of the different forms we had used during the semester. The challenge was motivating, and the result was a lot of amazing work.
The piece I produced for my final project has been returning to my mind a lot lately. The only evidence I have is some water-damaged photos.
My inspirations at that time were:
- Working in the school cafeteria on weekends, I got to prepare the brunch buffet, which included fresh fruit. I was pleasantly astonished to discover that the pears came individually wrapped each in a piece of colored tissue paper! Who knew! I saved a bunch of the green and purple wraps.
- The rest of my academic attention was mainly focused around social issues spanning from the local (unionizing work study students, fighting standardized tests in the schools, getting our school to divest from companies that supported private prisons) to global (IMF and World Bank policies, the history of imperialism, etc.). It was getting really heavy, trying to work with various groups who were doing different things for social change, yet inevitably getting tangled and divided by various personal, socio-economic, or ideological differences. A certain phrase that my dad used to say, that I think my mom reminded me of, was: “We’re all looking at the same ballgame through different holes in the fence.” I wanted there to be more understanding between people, and compassion. I thought a literal interpretation of (part of) this adage would make a very interesting structure for a sculpture-poetry-theater hybrid…
[Photos by Ernest Chapman, 2000.]
So, why am I posting about a class project from more than 9 years ago?
Partly, it’s just as I said: it has crossed my mind lately.
And the piece still excites me to think about, in the way that a lot of things excite me now. Excite=inspire. I had a vision, after I finished the performance, of improving it, making a “road” version, and taking it to some traffic median in New York– or Hartford. Just for the hell of it! Boy, that was a romantic idea.
Anyway, I didn’t; I “struck the set” that day, and saved but a single pear wrapper as a memento.
Beyond that, now I’m finding that writing and thinking about that class really gives me some good clues about what kind of teacher I want to be, and what kind of education is alive and vivid.
- The “mini-session” format – 3 weeks per subject (with assignments every day!) in rotation – was wild. And by wild, I mean memorable! Interesting, almost frightening, like a fast horse. (See, I learned that in my 3 weeks of poetry. haha.)
Maybe it worked better for the teachers, too, because they seemed very much more alert and engaged than any of my other teachers! Perhaps because they were experimenting, collaborating, enjoying a challenge?
- Something I’ve been enjoying looking at lately is a textbook from 1978, called Television Studio [written by Judy Lever and published by Macdonald Educational Ltd.]. It details the entire process of making a TV show, featuring “close-up” looks at all the careers that exist in the field, and what their work is like. Set designer! Make-up artist! Producer, director, writer, researcher! The production team. I like this book because even while the process is explained, it still seems magical. It’s like that moment when a quiet looking lump of earth gets disturbed, revealing a massive city of ants who are all working desperately fast.
There was this similar quality in that class that I took, only we were the ants, and there was no hierarchy but the unspoken Edict – -> Create Great Art.
I’m out of words. What do you think?
The studio works; I tried it out.