A blog about my journey to the next performance & installation, slated for Summer 2021
Reading 25 June 2020
I'm one day late announcing my summer reading. Forgive and join me on August 18, 2020 at 7PM for one hour. I will stay behind to answer questions or to hear your praise or condemnation. To register, click here. Stay tuned for better marketing. I look forward to seeing you.
Homes 23 June 2020
I'm working on a dialogue between my mother and The Universe / Stage Manager. My mom strove to be a good mom. Like it was her duty. I think she wanted to make a nice home, and she did, but perhaps work got in the way of her enjoying it. She had to work a full day, then cook a full dinner, and then clean the full house. It must have been exhausting. It makes me consider these often safe containers we call homes. I wonder if material possessions and trying to outdo others hinders us from creating a home full of heart instead of a home full of stuff. I don't know what I want to say about this yet, but this scene with Sylvia Rivera pretty much sums up the feeling I want to convey.
Tomorrow I hit the studio full time through Saturday. Very excited to be inside this new home of mine.
Wombs 16 June 2020
What is is like to be inside a womb, to be surrounded by female energy? Healing, insightful, nourishing. To have muffled voices come through the walls and your dreams are truth. I want to create this kind of energy inside these spaces I'm creating. See below some inspiration images, and next time I'll talk about the spaces we occupy and label: home, studio, office, etc. As I moved into a new studio space this past weekend, I thought of trans and queer leader Sylvia Rivera and the time when she was homeless. How heartbreaking it must have been for her to have this home on the river that was being swept away by the police and city officials. Then to be given a home at Transy House -- how welcoming and re-affirming (healing, insightful, nourishing) that must have been.
Windows 10 June 2020
I just got hit in the head with a connection. I've been wanting to make these private spaces for a very long time--the pyramid, the hemisphere, the closet. I used to go into my closet which had wooden slats on its door. Light would pour in just enough to provide a glow. I felt safe there, and played with Barbies there because I wasn't supposed to play with Barbies. I would wet their hair and braid it and wait for a few days and then un-braid the plastic hairs. It created this glorious mess of curls. And that's all I would do. Then I'd do it again some other time when inspired. But it was that space. As long as I was there I could be anything I wanted to be. What advice would I give that boy if I could?
In the beginning I thought these three cave wombs will be made out of paper mostly, mounted on wood. And each piece of paper would contain a drawing inside or outside, creating a collage on and inside the structure. But as I was looking at what I've been up to for the last three months I've been creating these building blocks already. The materials that form the walls could be different shapes. Different colors, Different materials. I could even embed objects. I definitely want to include little windows made of slides in various places on the structures like in my sculpture above. I made this so long ago. From Becoming Unfinished:
"This was the first visual art experiment Tony Michale completed circa 2004. He found this window in Harlem. Took it all the way home to the East Village. And it sat untouched for two years before he had this idea of what to do with it. It originally had a light behind it creating a colorful array with the slides. But Tony decided to take away the lights. He liked it better as just a piece where people would have to get closer to see what was actually contained on it, and ask, what is it? They are images of plant cells. And then they would ask, What does it mean, instead of trying to figure out an answer for themselves, which the artist generally wanted—he would say, Why do I have to do all the work? Why can’t the audience do some of the work? But we offer an explanation for those lacking the initiative to think for themselves. He wanted us to realize how small we are, how insignificant we are as humans. That we are just a bundle of cells, and that no matter what we do on the insides of our safe containers we call homes, always watching us are billions of years of knowledge, observing us without judgment."
A digital collage from 2012 featuring my fascination with slides, plant cells and the preponderance of meat
A wall sculpture circa 2004
Finally, I leave you with this clip from Season 3, Episode 9 of one of my favorite dramatic series ever, Six Feet Under: The Opening. This pyramid has been on my mind for so long. My pyramid will be similar but for one person and with my flair. Plus it will have some media inside, a television playing a looped video, and a way to record a message that would be sent to the cloud to be played on a loop inside the main gallery space.
As an aside, I always thought him touching her hair like that was so condescending.
The Skin of Our Teeth 8 June 2020
As I'm editing my script, some things are coming to me. First, the universe doesn't care about what happens to humans. So I need a way for the character of Natural Selection to present its ideas. Maybe it needs approval from the universal committee to help evolve the species. They are special because we've never seen anything like it, and we could help guide them to new powers of humanity toward a new humanity. I'm not sure yet.
The second aspect that came to me: Thornton Wilder. It was the perfect collision of seeing Our Town at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, my father's death, and the need to create a monologue that I made Becoming Unfinished. As I wrote the first draft of Allegory of the Womb I thought, Should I get inspired again by Thornton Wilder? Could it be The Skin of Our Teeth (a play
Vivien Leigh in the televised version of Skin of Our Teeth, directed by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1945
that I was in during college)? No, I didn't really like that show I told myself. And I started reading The Bridge of San Luis Rey--didn't really seem to fit. So I tossed out the idea of sending a nod to Mr. Wilder. But this week something urged me to explore The Skin of Our Teeth, so I re-read the script, and it's so in line with what I want to do with this new exhibition. It's like Thornton Wilder shouldn't be read until we're adults. The themes are so clear now. Plus it seemed so much shorter than it was when I was a child (much like Our Town). The play resonates with the cycles of humanity, creation to destruction, to creation again. How can I make this theme stronger in my show? More research on Thornton Wilder to come.
Allegory of the Womb 4 June 2020
"The labyrinth is an ancient symbol, found even in the cave paintings of prehistoric peoples. It signifies a movement from what is outside and visible to what is inside and invisible, and of course, the possibility of return. This journey may be regarded as a return to the womb . . . ."* The installation I am building will be like an experiential labyrinth. Instead of a path on the ground, a participant will be guided to the center by a series of instructions. And each step along the way is either inside, or outside. In the middle of the journey they are invited to witness a performance. My hope is by the end of the journey they have reached the center of themselves, a center that is aligned with our ancestors, and our true selves, all the way back to the beginning.
The labyrinth at Chartres.
The Labyrinth 6 June 2020
*Moon, Beverly, Editor. "Christian Labyrinth." An Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism. p 68.
After the success of Becoming Unfinished--and I'm not counting success as awards or accolades but how I felt about the journey and how viewers engaged with the content--I'm compelled to create a new show in 2021 while also looking for spaces and opportunities to present Becoming Unfinished. As I'm forming the content of this next work, I'm keeping in mind what's going on with my black brothers and sisters, and how this show might help in any way possible forge ahead a transformed world we so desperately need.
I'll be posting here progress, inspiration, research, etc. I once heard an artist say, "We don't need to see your whole process. Just show us the finished piece." But I'm more inclined to want to peek behind the curtain and see an artist's process. So I will be