Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bird Woman

I was recently asked about the inspiration for the piece bird woman (see is the first image):

I had been sketching birds in my studio, as a way to begin the day. The connection to birds is spiritual in the sense that i have found bird feathers (owls, blue jays, flicker--it's like a woodpecker) for many years. This has also been possible because of my deep connection to land and the forest-- i spend a lot of time hiking and listening. I am also fascinated with the way birds seem to be both physical and spiritual--flying and singing--how incredible, that really is the ultimate. The bird sketches are also ways for me to look at gestures, significant gestures and then to translate those onto figures. So, for example, dancing/fighting birds and rituals of courtship. Or the shape of flying--towards the sky or towards the sea. With this piece I wanted the woman to more directly embody the gesture/the bird. She becomes, the bird becomes. And they are both divine.

...this was a really hard piece for me. When I made it I had such a hard studio day, nothing was flowing and I was actually going to put it away in a pile of mistakes that i have. But then a friend entered my studio and really loved it and that gave me new eyes. And then, as you know, I thought I would sew the entire piece, but the white of the sketch really grew on me. And I began to really understand the importance of the sketch, and the partly-stitched image, the way that it allowed for movements and openings in the work. The piece became very significant to me--it is a legend of sorts for other work. I still feel I have a lot to learn from it. Oh, and it is also about vulnerability, being open to being a vessel, to change, to being physically embodied, to being divine. All that is about vulnerability I think.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

birds, women, conversations with elegua, and a list of the impossible

These are my winter to spring stitches, along with a short film of me sewing:

And a favorite question from my sketch journal this time around: what
is impossible? what would it look and sound like? write about it,
then do it.

The question makes me think of Elegua, the orisa of the
crossroads—choices and destinies, and also equinoxes and eclipses.
Rules and their breaking. I keep having this conversation with the
road about the impossibility of drawing. So I am following this
instruction from my drawing teacher. When you draw a face, or a body,
or anything really, try not to name it or think about it in words,
instead think about shapes, curves, shadows, lines, movement. So you
can get to know it without saying what it is, without limiting what it
will become. It's amazing to be able to engage in something so
difficult, to feel the near impossibility of that translation from eye
to body to pencil to page—and then, says my teacher, eventually you
become fluent in drawing the way YOU draw. Words of the divine
trickster I think.

so here is my short list:
running five miles a day
enemies loving each other (i am thinking a lot about laylah ali's work here)
me, a dj
and sometimes drawing