Saturday, August 27, 2011

Come on Irene
The hurricane is expected to pass through New York City tonight. I've been loosely following the news and so far it's made it's way into North Carolina

This morning appears ordinary. Like any Saturday morning, there are random people walking on the streets performing their weekend routines, some are jogging, some sifting for bottle empties through recycling bags, and some milling on sidewalks, talking to friends and neighbours. The garbage truck passes by on its daily route, and the city workers push plastic garbage containers down the street in their blue uniforms. Looking towards the city, the sky is over cast - a soft grey with patches of lighter grey mottled together; I can hardly see the Manhattan buildings across the East River.
A mild breeze cuts through the humid air, cooling my sticky skin.
It's dim outside, but not unusual.

As for me, I just filled two glass jugs with water, and boiled another huge pot of one. I cooked a box of rice pilaf with raisins, parsely and orzo, and have pulled out the matches from the dark armpits of my kitchen cupboards. My headlamps and flashlights are in check from our trip to Costa Rica, my laptop and iPhone charged, and our green Jennifer Lopez LED lights are lined up along the tops of our black lacquered IKEA side unit.

...waiting for tonight...

This is by no means extreme preparation for an impending natural disaster, but it's preparation nonetheless. We have a few canned food items laying around in our kitchen, but not too many. In the age of urban farming, and farmer's markets, organic this-and-that sans pesticides and preservatives, our kitchen is packed mostly with stuff that will go bad in a few days if the power goes out. Still we do have some peanut butter, rice cakes, nuts and seeds, and canned salmon, if necessary. Oh, and of course lots of filtered water, lemonade, and rice pilaf.

Emergency provisions at a supermodel concentration camp.

I laughed for a moment while I was mentally preparing a check list of the things that we would possibly need this weekend, but then acquiesced in my decision to do so.
I can feel my parents' protective instincts kicking in.
I wonder if the feelings and struggles that came from us having to flee Mozambique during the war trickled its way into my being. Not that I anticipate this hurricane to have the magnitude of any kind of revolution, but there's nothing wrong with having insurance, especially when it doesn't cost you anything, or much money for that matter. Some canned food, toilet paper, water, flashlights and batteries are not that big of deal to have in anyone's home. Fortunately I haven't grown into any kind of Chicken Little. Yeah, I'm uptight, and yeah I've been called names about being this way, but I know that I'm no chicken.
But, I am probably an ant.
And doesn't the grasshopper end up rooming with the ant near the end of that story?
Or does he eat the ant?
In any event, I'm by no means as prepared as I could be for a three day power outage, but two days?

*The illustration above was done for American Lawyer Magazine, "

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fail, Fail, and Fail Again

The past four months have been kind of an awakening for me. I've spent much of my summer thinking about what it is that I want to do beginning this fall; I've been playing and experimenting within my studio, and writing a lot too. Most of my time in Costa Rica was spent writing and just observing my environment. I purposely chose not to draw during my trip there, but did bring some supplies in case I changed my mind. I'm not certain about my intentions for doing this -- not drawing, that is, except that maybe my interest in keeping such a sketchbook has begun to wan. Years ago, I found it strange when I met illustrators who did not keep sketchbooks at all. For years, I kept one with me always; filling my moments with the act of drawing. Nowadays, I no longer do this regularly. I still carry a notebook, however, it's become filled mostly with words, scribbles and scrawls, glued-in photo collages and bits of other things that I find interesting during my daily gadabout either in, or outside of my studio.

I'm currently working on a few self-initiated projects, ones which I hope will have life further down the road. These projects are written, and drawn, and sculpted. I'm also enrolled in two computing classes where I hope to learn how to create interfaces which are activated by not only touch, but via sound, and movement. Obviously my investigations blur the boundaries of the label of the discipline within which I currently operate, and have built my studio practice around, but I do it because it's kind of happening on its own.
And so I allow it
to happen.

I applied to graduate school for Fine Arts over 2 years ago, and did not get accepted; I was rejected by three, and then wait-listed by a fourth. Friends of mine said to me that I should've applied to around ten schools, but I didn't want to. Not only because it would be more expensive, in reference to the application fee, but also I couldn't think of any other schools that I would have wanted to attend other than those four to which I applied. Coming close to failure is something that I am very familiar with, as I'm sure many people are. And perusing the internet, reading and listening to artists and designers and actors and writers speak about their efforts moving through the industry trying to get recognized, or to sell an idea, I find one commonality amongst many of the individuals, which is that they have tried and failed.
But then have tried again.

To sit next to failure can be an important seat because it forces you to stare at that thing which you hope can be one day achievable. The idiom "hindsight is twenty twenty" is used for a variety of purposes to explain the importance of gaining distance from a particular experience in order to see it more clearly and honestly. I use this in illustration as well, not metaphorically, but in a literal means, by which I stand away from the image that I have drawn in order to evaluate the entire composition as a whole, and then determine whether or not my intentions have been visually met through the arrangement of the subject matter within my work. Standing too close to an image means that the entire image is blurred, and even if I choose to focus on one part, I still cannot see the rest of the image clearly. However, positioning myself this close to failure is about making those mistakes, those blemishes more obvious, not because I want to exaggerate the negative, but rather it helps me to inspire honesty about what I have created. I love the Sunday Times "Openers: Corner Office" in the Business Section because they feature the CEO of various companies who describe how and why their company is so successful; I take it as pieces of advice.
The kindness of strangers.

Dominic Orr, who is the CEO of Aruba Networks, a wireless network company, describes the importance of failing through a lesson he learned from his mentor, Wim Roelandts,

"[he...] would give you as much as you could handle until you started failing.
He would encourage you to not be afraid of failing - because when you start
failing, that's when you know where your limit is, and then you can improve
around that... once you figure out a way to overcome it... you don't feel that
inhibition." (1)

I have taken the first steps in submitting a book idea to my dream publisher. It was rejected at the rough stage recently, but it's given me more time to fully flesh out my vision. To not view this as failure would be denial on my part because it is just that; however, failure for me is not a singular term, rather it's binary. Like other terms and concepts it can be coupled with its opposite,


try again.

(1) Bryant, Adam. 2011. "Corner Office: Dominic Orr." The New York Times. May 8, 2011.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Costa Rica Journal Entry
A friend of mine told me that if you see a hummingbird, then it's a sign of good luck. Part of me wonders if I take a photo of one that I'll hold onto this good fortune forever. We arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica late yesterday afternoon. Leaving the airport, the sky was black and swollen as if it was about to tear open.
This morning is beautiful. The sky is clear blue with tufts of clouds scattered along the top edges of the trees like white mountains on top of mountains. We slept beneath a mosquito net last night that wrapped around the perimeter of our bed like a lace turret canopy.
The sacred in the mundane.
Beautiful ordinary objects.
But really, how ordinary is this situation?
I hear what I believe are cicadas in the near distance, but I wonder if it's my mind trying to make sense of unknown sounds. It's a kind of electronic buzz that gets louder and then softer and then abruptly fades away into silence. I'm staring into the greenery trying to see what type of animal is making this sound, a bird?
There's a high whistling screech coming from somewhere behind me, and when I turn around it's as if the sound has been thrown the opposite way.
Something responds.
It's like a bird song.
Unfamiliar notes and new tones play through the air that I find myself gazing into space trying to connect these sound-dots that I hear. There is no direction here, no north, south, east nor west. Everything looks the same because its all so different, and densely arranged next to each other. Over sized bamboo stand beside palm, which have grown next to banana trees. Our cabin stares out onto a canyon that stretches into forever. There are mountains in the distance which become a soft wall fencing in this paradise, but i know that there is even more beauty beyond.
I find that I'm trying to capture every new creature and plant around me with my camera.
Every time I take a photo of something I feel as though my collector instinct shows himself. Maybe I've become a collector of experiences?
Feed my eyes.
Feed my memory.
There are so many flying creatures and insects that I have never seen before. At first look they appear anonymous--generic bugs-- but as I focus my stare, and scrutinize them, I see new flecks of colors on their wings, and new shapes that turn into bodies.

Condition X Photos

Here are some photos from the group exhibition, "Condition X" at the School of Visual Arts' Westside Gallery. It was a collaboration of artwork from past participants of SVA's Fine Art Summer Residency Program, which I enrolled in about four years ago. The piece that I contributed was a sculpture that was a combination of various materials such as paper mâché, clay, plaster, chicken wire, and liquid glass. As mentioned, I continue to work on self-initiated projects alongside my commercial work; it can be incredibly daunting at times, but it's what I feel that I must do in order to continue to move forward in the industry as an illustrator/artist. Each time I walk into the studio, I remind myself that whatever it is that I do that day will become valid. In the past, I've trapped myself several times into the mindset that in order for my work to have any kind of relevant meaning that it must have an audience - ideally yes, I do want people to see my work, to participate with it, to ruminate over it, and to form some kind of opinion of it, for better or for worse - however, to have that pressure on the outset, that I should create for this end goal in mind is more of a hindrance than help. I've read and spoken to some artists who describe losing themselves in their work, that the concentration, focus and intention that is established near the beginning stages of a project spreads out into moments where the artists' processes become very much cathartic, such as in Yayoi Kusama's infinity net paintings (whose work inspired the piece that appeared in this particular exhibition).
Entering the studio and then leaving after twelve hours, but feeling that only a fraction of that time has passed is an irreplaceable feeling. I learned a long time ago that even though I chose to work in the creative arts that I could not rely on inspiration as a catalyst and motivator to start and finish projects; what we do requires a kind of work ethic that is similar to other professions, success can be determined by talent, sure, but the preening of longevity is decided by the willingness to seriously accept and practice the business alongside of the art, which doesn't only mean sending out self-promotions, and postcards to potential clients, but to consider what our next moves will be... and in my case, it's creating my dream projects even when no clients are asking for me to do so.

* The sixth photo from the top is fellow exhibitor George Towne alongside his gorgeous paintings.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

CONDITION X Group Exhibition at SVA,
August 6, 2011

This Saturday I'll be participating in a group exhibition at the School of Visual Arts, in New York. entitled, "Condition X" featuring work by past participants in the Summer Residency Program that focuses on human frailty as expressed through love, death, sex, vulnerability, and connection. I'll be exhibiting a piece that I began several months ago, one that had been previously exhibited at the Christopher Henry Gallery, but it has now evolved into something different (and hopefully new). I sound vague, I know, and although I thought about posting photographs of my process and the finished piece, I decided to wait until after the opening to do so.
I'm continuing to explore different media alongside illustration in order to express myself, and in this particular exhibition, it will be in the form of sculpture. It's been a challenging process, to say the least, because I have actually not sculpted anything since last winter, which was the first time in 11 years. I encountered a tremendous number of problems, and threw my hands up in the air yesterday morning when I arrived to studio and realized that I had made a terrible error during my construction of the sculpture (and left the cap off of my turpenoid - doh!) which caused me to think for a moment whether or not I should throw the entire thing away, but fortunately I was able to calm down and focus on a way to rescue the piece.
Sometimes a task isn't worth doing, if it's done easily (so says my boyfriend).
So again, if you're in town and want to swing by the opening please feel free.
Here's the addy:
Westside Gallery, School of Visual Arts
141 West 21 St
Ground Floor
(between 6th and 7th avenues)
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Reception: 5-8pm