Inside the Studio

Inside the Studio

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Postcard Poets

I have joined a long list of poets - 424 - who are writing a poem a day on the back of a postcard and sending it off to a new person each day for 31 days. (That means I should also get 31 poems on postcards!) Each day's poem is supposed to be written that day and we are to write the first original draft on the back of the postcard and mail it out right away. It is an exercise in being fresh and fast — no do-overs! I am excited to write my 31 postcards for August.

If you are reading this and want to get a postcard poem - send me your name and snail mail address to wherever you live in the world, and I will send you one from me! Send it to the gmail account attached to this blog or find me on Facebook (Catherine Alice) and send me a personal message. You will put me over the 31 mark - but I will still send it during August, doubling up on an extra inspirational day.

Thanks! I need the nudge. Later I will post some of the postcards poems here.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Databending

Taking handfuls of plant material, wrapping it in paper, and submerging it into a dye pot is not unlike taking digital images and importing them into software meant for audio files and then exporting them out as image files once again.
As with paper transformed by dyes, the image is transformed by audio effects.
The way metals and plants will react and mark the paper is like the way digital image files are transformed by echos, decay, noise removal and equalization.

Until you unwrap the paper you don't know what you've got. Until you export the image file and open it, you don't what you've got.

Learning this process has been fun. It's been out there for a while, but as with all things digital, I am behind the cultural curve.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lessons in Dyeing

Thank you Velma for telling me about the bedstraw–the red lines are exquisite. I owe you!

It seems ironic that when my mother died in December I suddenly was ready to bulldoze forward to experiment with dyeing paper–nearly 3 years since Velma taught me what to do! It's just two words that sound the same, but a funny coincidence none the less.

I am finding the contact plant dyeing process extremely rewarding. It is one more expression of lessons learned from the plant world. My life long passion for plants is largely due to my grandmother Alice - my mother's mother. When my grandmother died, through a last act of my grandmother, my slight interest in plants was suddenly transformed into something meaningful and vitally important. 

I don't mean to imply that now plant dyes are connected to my mother–just interesting timing with the words dying and dyeing. If anything, my connection to plants feels much more directly experiential and not sentimentalized. Some years back, when I wasn't paying attention, a great transformation happened. I no longer needed the plants to keep me close to my grandmother. Rather, I can be close to the plants for the the simple appreciation of the plants. And I can feel my grandmother without the plants to help me.

And when it come to people, I see these papers and think of Mary, Velma, and many other friends. I especially think of, and give thanks to, my sweetie Billy who works along side me in the creative process.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Learning from Velma

Right before I went back to school (a few years ago now), Velma Bolyard (Wake Robin) made a visit out West and we did some paper making and dyeing with plants. Finally, I have put her teaching into practice.

I will admit that I can be a slow learner, or at least slow on the action. When I buy or am given new clothes to wear they often sit in my closet a few months and then suddenly they are my favorite thing to wear till it falls apart.The same with a new dish or some beautiful piece of paper. It takes time for me to integrate something new into who I am.

Recently I made small pieces, just testing out different plant material.
But already, a moon book in the making. On the right - dandelion, a small violet, and grape hyacinths. Thank you Velma!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Following



 
My mother died in December, but from somewhere she still seems to follow my blog.

When I first started my blog, I thought I would—could—say anything. But being honest and vulnerable was harder than I expected when my mother became a follower. It was far easier to have strangers read my words than my mother. The irony was that I always wanted to be close to my mother. I wanted a mother who asked about my thoughts and my love life. But this was not how my mother was, at least with me.

My mother death was sudden, though her health had been poor for a while. I am still feeling the raw edges of her passing. And I still keep her number in my cell phone, not that I expect her to call, but how can I remove her from the most important list of names I carry? And now, seeing she is still following my blog, how can I not keep posting? How can I give up hope that the words I am afraid my mother will read, she will somehow read anyway, and that in spite of her need to keep a distance and my fear of being seen by her, something good will come of it?



My mom had a really big secret! It shocked us all, though our aunt and uncle both knew, all the older generations knew. Like most secrets, the longer she avoided telling us the harder it seemed to be to tell us. I understand so much more about my mother that I couldn’t comprehend before and I am still hoping my mother and I will move toward a relationship with more intimacy. I would like to be following her and hearing her thoughts and feelings. I don’t expect her death to stop us from a having a growing understanding or closeness.

One setback may be that since she died, the ringing phone just doesn’t have that same insistent tone that forced me to answer, no matter what I was doing. Quite possibly, Mom and I are going to have to find another way to communicate.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Video Poems

It's been a long time since I posted. I appreciate you all for hanging around. Check out my work from spring quarter last year - I made three poetry videos - one in collaboration with another student. It was an exciting time. I know some of you have seen these already, but I wanted to make sure I posted news of them here.


First up - "Come the Apocalypse" I wrote this poem about a high school friend who committed suicide when we were about 39 or 40. I didn't know this friend that well in high school and never saw him again after graduation. High school was a hard time that I know many of us thought we would not survive. Having survived, it was easy to think it would all get easier, but not for Rod.


I made another poetry video that I never found a title for. I should have just named it for its first line, but I thought it was too long. It's a true story from when I was 20 years old and lived in Seattle. "I Think I Met The Green River Killer" I have to thank Morgan Pappas for starring in my video. She was great.


The last poetry video, or cinépoem, as we actually called them, is titled "Here." This was an inspiring project where my collaborator and I made a list of words and shot some random video clips, and then put the two together. We aren't trying to tell a story, but rather allow the viewer to do the meaning making. Our projects all needed to fall under the themes of social justice and sustainability, so that and length were the only constraints we brought to this piece.

I'm working on more video poems. You can see them here when I do. Let me know what you think! Leave a comment here or on Vimeo. I would love to hear from you.