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recollections of an artist

Allow me to begin by saying a strong part of my initial draw to this song was the duo’s name, First Aid Kit.  I’m absolutely positive that music would be in my first aid kit, especially if it was one for my car.

While I’m fully aware that if I’m suffering from an allergic reaction or a sudden migraine music wouldn’t be very helpful, it does help to heal the injuries that are not visible.  What I’m describing is part of a emotional or spiritual toolbox.  The things that can be used to ease the pain of trauma, the heartache of loss or the fear of the unknown. Anything that can help us to keep on keeping on.

What would you put in your toolbox?  Your first aid kit?  Your life raft?

If we are given the option to travel a rough road, with the promise of freedom at the end, wouldn’t the security of having such a toolbox be a reassurance?   Just like I wouldn’t go on a long hike without a bottle of water and something to eat, I’ve learned that a journey through the soul shouldn’t be done without knowing I have what I need to take care of myself.  Of course, we can’t prepare ourselves for everything, but I can arm myself with things that serve multiple functions, have helped me in the past get through the impossible or can hold me over until I can get reinforcements.  Essentially, what are the things that show you the silver lining when the end seems an infinite number of miles away?

I’m still in the process of creating a kit for myself, but if you are anything like me, music and chocolate are up high on your list.

 

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about what it means to “remain close”.  We live in a world that has rapidly been creating and improving ways to communicate easily, faster and in more personal ways than ever.  With all of this new media, are any of us really feeling more in touch?  I’ve been told from friends and family that I am very good at long distance communication and remembering those I don’t see often, but I know I still have what I refer to as “communicators regret”; a feeling of sadness and disappointment in oneself because I didn’t spend enough time treasuring what I had until it was too late.

Just yesterday, I was informed that my father’s cousin, my “aunt” as I will refer to her from here on, passed away.  Her long battle with cancer was over, but a new pain has washed over the hearts of her family.  Of course I can say I am grateful she is no longer in pain, but as a good friend reminded me yesterday, that doesn’t negate the hurt of the loss.  In terms of physical closeness, I didn’t get to see her often or hear her voice, but she left a very permanent impression on my concept of “remaining close”.

For me, there is still nothing like a hand written letter.  I think it has something to do with knowing the person touched the letter I touch when I receive it and the imprint of a specific person’s handwriting that makes me feel like they are with me.  The barrier of a screen or typeface is removed and the physicality of each person remains.  It also seems like a more thoughtful act, rather than calling someone from the car or texting as we wait in line at the store.  My aunt knew the importance of a card as a reminder of her thoughts and love to those she couldn’t see as much as she wanted to.

Now that she has passed on, I immediately thought about how much I would miss hearing from her.  What I ended up realizing though is that she lives in me, in my commitment to continue writing cards to family and friends because her’s meant so much to me.  It seems that she did leave this world alive – alive in my heart, alive in my actions and alive in the love I want to continue sharing with the one’s I love.

A friend gave me the idea of making her one more card, to send off with her once she is cremated.  We are never too far away, too out of range, or without signal to say, “I love you and think of you all the time”.

Artworks that employ transformation usually strike me as the most interesting.  One of my favorite artists, Katharina Grosse, creates large scale installations filled with vibrant color against natural mediums, objects and outdoor spaces.

This piece below is one of the many works she has created over the years.

Pigmentos Para Plantas y Globos

Pigmentos Para Plantas y Globos / 2008 /acrylic on balloons, soil, wall, floor / 636x727x1450 cm / Vitoria-Gasteiz /installation

Pigmentos Para Plantas Detail

Pigmentos Para Plantas y Globos / 2008 /acrylic on balloons, soil, wall, floor / 636x727x1450 cm / Vitoria-Gasteiz /installation (Detail)

However, I am most excited about her latest work, Psychylustro, a piece for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.  

Psychylustro2 Psychylustro

The sharp contrast of the pink against the weathering building references common graffiti as well as the natural reclamation of the discarded earth by flora.

Psychylustro4 Psychylustro3

Psychylustro – The Drama Wall / 2014 /acrylic on wall, floor, and various objects / Philadelphia / exterior

Perhaps the most intriguing part of this piece is its temporariness.  The paint she used doesn’t bring harm to the environment and eventually will disappear after it is on display.  The most accessible way to see her piece is by train, which leaves you with a very short, temporary view, just like the piece itself.  So if you are in the area, be sure to catch a look at this piece, because once Katharina stops maintaining it, the piece will be gone.

 

I saw this show when I was still attending my undergrad institution, before I ever started working with clothing.  Below are photographs taken from an opening show at GMU circa 2010.

(Interior view of the blue sculpture in the above image)

 

(Detail of the interaction between the salt and ice)

In response to my return from the dead and back to the blogging world, I thought, what better way to introduce this week’s Song of the Week than using one that is featured in the deliciously dark vampire film, Only Lover’s Left Alive?  If you haven’t gotten around to seeing this Jim Jarmusch classic, it’s a must see.  Far from the usual Hollywood perspective, this Indie film depicts vampires living their lives in that ambiguous space between being alive or dead.

Just like this week’s song, different feelings, emotional states and chapters in our lives have a way of being intoxicating and all consuming.  These metaphorical funnels we often dig ourselves, but somehow also get lost in.  The spiraling journey can make us feel so alive until we realize that other parts of our lives have died on our watch.  Whether it is forsaking blogging time for making new artwork or two lovers becoming so entwined that they commit the cardinal sin of deserting their friends, I think we have all experienced this funneling effect one way or another.  So maybe this joined existence of life and death isn’t all that unfamiliar to us after all…

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