in which witness is borne: birds, politics, fiction and critical art theory

Rejection Collection

Monday, June 27, 2005
Hi All,
I'm publishing my call for submissions here, in case anyone reading would like to participate. Writers and visual artists are all welcome!

To My Artist Sisters,

I am putting together a poster, working title The Rejection Collection, consisting of a collage of scanned and photocopied rejection letters, starting with my own recent job and residency rejections. I am humbly asking for your contributions to this project!

If you have any rejection notices from institutions, companies or individuals which are connected in some way to your being an artist—job rejections, fellowship or residencies, grants, publications, universities, foundations or corporations—I want them! Please email me at the address below--you can either send me the text of your rejection, or I'll give you my address in my reply email and you can mail it to me on the original letterhead--I'll scan it and send it back to you. NO ONE’S REJECTION WILL BE TURNED AWAY!

Respond to:

I will not be using anyone’s name or contact information —they will be blacked out for the final display.

Thanks and I look forward to seeing your rejections!

Forward freely, friends.


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never ever ever finished

Friday, June 24, 2005
So, my friend Y-N came over for dinner the other night. She's from Taiwan, and is a graduate of the same degree program as me, Designed Objects. We come out of very different art backgrounds: she's a traditionally-trained industrial and package designer who used to be a CAD jockey at a big tech design firm, whereas i've got this pieced-together Frankenstein monster of studio, social science and art history coursework on my resume. Basically I'm a forklift driver who can recite Baudrillard.
I have no ambition for design, and few prospects.
Y-N got into it with me. She has a nasty habit of pulling rank with regard to her experience in the design world, even though she knows I don't long to succeed there. I showed her my new drawings, which share a little in common with topographical map markings, a little with thumbprints, and a little with seashell forms--a series of spirals that i Sharpied onto some index cards, a form of doodling that i've been doing for years and only just noticed in a more formal way. Y-N looked at them.

"These are fingerprints," she announced.

"OK, yes, i can see the connection there. That's cool," I said.

"What are they for?"

"For? Oh, I don't know yet. They feel like a model for something, an object maybe."

"ALL your work is model for something else. All your work. You never finish."

We stared at each other. Y-N weighs in at about 85 pounds, soaking wet. I clock in at around 150. We squared off.

"What are you saying?" I asked. "That I can never finish anything?"

"You never WANT to finish," she replied. "You only make model. That's you."

Mikhail Bakhtin, Russian art theorist from early last century, talks about an element he calls "unfinalizability," that quality of a work which makes it impossible to nail down or fix, which keeps it alive in the mind and eye of the audience or viewer, but which often results in the artist failing to achieve recognition. Bakhtin used to write that he was only interested in work that was unfinalizable, which you could never quite get to the end of, which niggled at your brain like an unresolved ending to a novel. In fact I think he was, specifically, talking about novels.

In any case, I thought about Bakhtin when she said that. I thought about the places I went in my mind when I was making the drawings, and why they needed to be so plain and unadorned and on index cards instead of Arches paper. i thought about presenting them as doodles, as art that we make when we are supposed to have our minds on other things. How the doodle represents a kind of line of flight of the brain (you thought I wasn't going to mention birds in this posting, didn't you?) and often helps us concentrate even more on the lecture or phone conversation or whatever we are doing for real at the moment.

I am interested in others' thoughts on this.
12:12 PM :: 1 comments ::

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Goodbye, Stanley Marie

Tuesday, June 21, 2005
As in, the kitty belonging to R. who i took care of 2 weeks ago. R. called me yesterday to let me know the sad news. Stanley was a loving kitty, a grouchy arthritic grandma who would lethargically lay about the couch on a Sunday afternoon while the person in her life read the paper. She will be missed.

Worldly concerns press in on my fragile sense of artistic identity. A baseball game, the blaring lights of grocery stores, birth, death, car break-ins, visits from friends, and the need for making money have conspired to derail my best creative intentions. The most i could muster this weekend was gazpacho (thank you TDog for the tip about blanching the tomatoes first!).

But new acquaintances deepen into friendship, the migrants have almost all gone and I am left looking at my hands and wondering, what next? Sunim, the Buddhist spiritual teacher at the Zen temple, said this week that failing to cultivate one's mind after attaining human life is like coming home broke from the treasure island. I also have this opportunity to cultivate awareness--inquiry-- which is all I ever felt the need for intuitively anyway! Inquiry can seem masturbatory at times--except when I manage to see my own prejudices and learn to background my own ego and see what is actually there, instead of what I want to see. Birding is perfect for this. And yet I haven't birded in ages.

can i revisit, re-integrate artwork into my days, my life? this blog posting feels like a first step.

Happy Summer Solstice to everyone reading this.
2:29 PM :: 0 comments ::

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procrastibation; or, That's not OK

Thursday, June 16, 2005
(small, self-pitying sigh)
i guess i'm overcommitted. And what is the first thing to go? My poor blog, neglected and waiting hopefully in the dusty corner of the Internet for me to pay it some much-needed attention.

And now that I need a way to distract myself from the pressing concerns of my very last classroom assignment in grad school, where shall i turn, but to my trusty, abused blog? Part of the reason for my radio silence recently is this blasted 3 week intensive class which has been kicking my booty, what with forced creativity in terms of writing and revising my artist's statement and grant proposals. Makes me not want to make art anymore, that's for sure.

Excuse #2, the Big One: My new nephew, Noah, was born on April 7 at 4:54 Eastern time, in Bethesda, Maryland. Suddenly I seem to have been replaced by an auntier, head scarf-wearing version of myself who never uses swear words and who buys secondhand childrens books at every corner bookshop.

Oh, and i received an amazing gift today from R. R.'s dad, Neal. Thank you so much for the wildflower ID book, Neal! I've been wondering more and more about the ground from which the figure emerges in the field of birding!
8:25 PM :: 1 comments ::

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