Week 3 Introduction to Art:
For week three we looked at the Mail Art Movement, Van Gogh sketches to his brother Theo, Eleanor Antin and her one hundred boots traveling on postcards from coast to coast. I love the idea of collaborating with other artists through the mail. I’ve made postcard collages and envelopes for a while, but this is my first time using acrylics. The assignment was to create an envelope and an insert inspired by a memory.
(paper, acrylic paint, muslin, matte medium, glue)
My memory is of a bird watching trip to High Island on the gulf coast of south Texas. Birds migrating across the Gulf of Mexico sometimes fly into a storm. One of the first places they reach after battling strong head winds is High Island. In a phenomenon called a ‘fall-out,’ birds fall from the sky and perch in the trees so exhausted from their flight that they don’t fly away. It makes for incredible bird watching. There are so many brightly colored birds it’s as if the trees are filled with flowers, or candy, or Christmas bulbs.
For Fall Out, because the experience is a magical memory of colors and textures, I wanted to create an abstract artwork. I used carved potatoes to make block prints. Dabs of birds perch in the trees, fly through meadows painted with a grass paintbrush, and are indistinguishable from flowers.
- Dark-eyed Junco (Junco Hyemalis) from John James Audubon, The Watercolors for The Birds of America, p. 114
——Week 2 of the Coursera online art class:
Week 2 was a great week for me because we studied Fantastic Art, the Surrealists and Dadaist, Salvador Dali and Chagall, the subconscious and anti-art. Okay. I don’t know what I’m doing, still I love how when I make a collage objects manifest! I think about a “fallout,” exhausted birds falling from the sky, and avian images appear. A found diary comes to mind, turn the page, a bird poem. Wind tosses flower petals and suddenly birds are falling from the sky. But that’s week 3 nesting; week 2 a ping pong ball fell from the closet shelf and bounced across the floor.
Didn’t I hear the word ‘childlike’ mentioned in one of the artist features?
I didn’t intentionally set out to create artwork related to illness again, but below whimsy I discovered the recurring narrative of the cycles of life and death—a broken watch face, the numbers and circles on the selvage edge, the postmark. Deep corrugations in the cardboard become the hills and valleys one travels while recovering from an illness. The word Errata, the feeling that there’s been an error; rawness felt in the jagged and torn edges; organza that shrouds how the body ‘reads’ and how it should ‘read’. Stitching time, marking time in the blue fabric and the measuring tapes. Empty space conjures the unknown, or possibility. And finally, “Pleurer Pour La Lune,” “Cry for the Moon,” and a ping pong ball that fell from the closet shelf, illuminate the many moons, imploring the celestial body to bestow a healing.
I nurtured the Balsamroot for seven years,
keeping the dogs and gophers away,
and when yellow flowers first bloomed
among prayerful leaves, I took it as a sign.
Now the flowers are beginning to fade.
There’s a certain beauty in a their fleeting nature,
and this body, kneeling in the garden among yellow petals.
After the Balsamroot, the Cinquefoil will bloom,
then the Sunflower, then the Goldeneye.
Two signs, one cautionary, the other inclusive, and, strangely enough, healing; there are signs (a notice that is publicly displayed giving information or instructions in a written or symbolic form) and there are signs (something regarded as an indication or evidence of what is happening or going to happen), and sometimes a sign becomes a sign.