Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Gossip, the Bloomsbury Group and Facebook

Where I am is a gift: a community college and as such a place of learning and ideas. Sometimes. I work in an office in the library. Oh to go out of my office and face row upon row of books! The very area where I work is a perk of the job to my mind.

Last week I went to an English Lit class that is studying British literature. My first degree was in literature and they are studying one of my favorite periods, the modernists. It feels luxurious to spend time talking about 'A Room of One's Own'. The students in the class were insightful and wise, more so than we credit to twenty-somethings having. They drew parallels between the upheavals of the post WWI world with our world now.

'What would have Woolf thought about Facebook?' one student asked.

What a great question and one to which I have given great thought.  I think that there has to be two elements to consider. First, Woolf was part of the Bloomsbury group - a group of artists, thinkers, socialites from the middle to upper classes. They were sophisticated, but they were also gossips. So from that aspect, Woolf perhaps would be intrigued by Facebook both as a gossip and a writer who loved characters. However, Woolf's insistence that women carve out their own space is a little at odds with the nature of social networking. You may think that in this universe, you have autonomy but I don't think that is really true. I am surprised at how little control I have over space  online, especially within the realms of Twitter and Facebook. Words are turned against you, pictures become the subject of other people's conversations.

Social networking has a dark side, as we all know - or do we? The internet has become a god like thing, omniscient, indestructible. Like the Old Testament creator, it can be jealous, hateful and legion in its intolerance as well as an important vehicle for spreading love and change. I think that Woolf would be both intrigued and revolted.

Los Gatitos after Las Meninas

This was my submission for the penultimate assignment in the MOOC I am doing on art history. Our task was to rework the paint Las Meninas by Velazquez. I chose cats because I think they are beautiful and seem to be a favorite pet of artists. Cats have certainly found their place in the virtual world, millions of people watch videos of them online everyday. I like humor in art and I like to create humor in art.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Draw to Remember

A new class. This one on drawing from nature. Not an obvious choice based on my interests, though I am a gardener and find natural objects interesting. Drawing is my Achilles' heal which is why this was a good class to choose.

 The precision and detail was demanding but I am quite pleased with what I managed to accomplish. The technique my new teacher recommended had a great similarity with the way my other teacher showed us how to paint. Start by drawing a broad shape that resembles the subject, then fill in with detail. This worked well for me, so that when it came to drawing my second object I felt more confident.

Our teacher began by showing us some slides of drawings, sketches and water colors that revealed the variety of results using the media.  As he went through the slides, he talked about using sketching and drawing to fix moments in one's memory. In particular there was a slide of one of his own drawings that he had done at Kew Gardens in London. He told us that because of this little sketch he remembered everything about the day. This I think, is an important idea and makes me think of why I write poetry. I write poetry to remember a moment, and in so doing that moment is crystallized in a manner that is lacking in typical prose descriptions.  The act of creating embosses that memory and captures the essence. Everyday language can be clunky and frustrating. Art makes communication fluid and nuanced.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

{Re}Happening 2014

Attending the {Re}Happening was a little like slipping into a dream. Through the darkness people wandered in and out of vision and earshot. Every now and then a familiar face would float into my line of sight, but they didn’t recognize me and I let them pass without approaching them. Walking was hard, the ground uneven in the velvety night. If I am hungry at night I often dream about food, usually cakes or ice-cream. These dreams seem to always involve me not having enough money to buy all the things I want and I wake up ravenous. At the {Re}Happening ice cream and cake was free. If there is a heaven, I want it to be like this. Not only because of the free treats. I cannot think of anything more wonderful than going from place to place to experience art projects that were wild and wonderful, meditative and inquiring. Often flawed, but that is part of it. I cannot do justice to the evening merely through descriptive writing. Experience is everything. I will keep trying.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Black Mountain College of Arts

A quick post. The 2014 {Re}Happening was last Saturday. It was truly amazing. Here is a board about the Black Mountain College of Arts and the {Re}Happening

Friday, 4 April 2014

Doing Cubism

Here's some advice. If you're interested in trying Cubism, don't do what I did and use as one of your subjects a perfectly cylindrical biscuit (cookie) tube. One of the essential ideas about Cubism was painting a subject from different angles. Great. Except that cylinders are more or less the same from every angle. The picture I did is growing on me. I need to finish it. I think the little cowboy hats with the very British word 'Jubilee' are funny. The ties from different angles look like search lights, which could not have predicted being the result when I started. I may post the end result here.
Good times. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

In Mud

According to the teacher of my art class, 'mud' does not refer to a colour, rather a colour that you didn't intend.
It seems that most of my adult life has been spent in mud, doing things and making decisions that took me somewhere unintended. I suppose that is the advantage of not having clear ambitions. I can't recall ever having long-term goals. That doesn't mean I was unmotivated. Whatever I was doing at any time, I threw myself into - teaching, travelling, being in love. 
This art class is merely the most recent. I don't know whether this will be something that becomes a long-term activity, I know that I am enjoying it now.

There are definite advantages to living in mud. You don't get disappointed and there is always something new to discover. I recently read an article about Cindy Sherman in Vanity Fair and she said: "I had no idea I would really become an artist. I never would have thought I'd be doing this for 35 years." 35 years in mud has resulted in some amazing work.

I intend to stay in the mud. I hope that it spreads and more people see the beauty in it.