Mineral School Artist Residency

Mineral School Artist Residency
Daydreamer's Journal – installation at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mother, more Time

I am having so much fun playing with my stencils. Here, the 28 around checkerboard is overlaid with an Islamic style cosmic mandala of 12 around. Because they share a divisor for four, some interesting alignments happen.

Here's the checkerboard in silver, Islamic mandala in gold, and a star pattern, fives and sixes, on top in black. The stars and the mandala patterns meet up nicely in places due to their common divisor of six.

I am trying to work out a design for a thirty day month. I thought I could use sixes and fives, and bring in the twelve for the twelve months of the year, but I think the 28 grid may have to go. So I am working out other ideas and colors.

More in a few days, hopefully success!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This is my ultimate favorite flower picture from our travels in June. It is a cactus flower and I just stuck my camera's nose into the middle and took this photo. It is totally unaltered.

Eternity - as in forever and ever and ever - has been on my mind a lot lately. I think flowers and plants inspire thoughts of the eternal, at least for me. I had a teacher who said that flowers symbolize fulfillment and seeds symbolize potential. While this is true, I also see the reverse: flowers are all about the potential fertilization of seeds in the ovary and their future dispersal, and seeds are all about the fulfillment of the flower in perpetuating its species. It's a chicken and egg kind of thing.

But besides that, flowers and plants cycle around seasonally, breaking up forever and ever into manageable circling chunks of time that we can take in without panicking. The seasonal changes assure that while time keeps going on, things stay the same, and plant cycles are part of that pattern.

Our recent travels took us to Arches National Park. It was an experience of stepping both backward and forward in time. As we drove near the park, via the lesser used highway, we drove along the Colorado River. Slowly we started a descent along red walls that got higher and higher. I thought it interesting that while what is at the bottom of the canyon walls would be the most recently revealed through erosion, it would also be the oldest layers thus far uncovered. In some odd way the present moment and the far past were connected and experiencing each other. And while the future kept unfolding forward, the past kept unraveling backward. For me this created a feeling of eternity. Like the ouroborous snake that circles around and swallows its tail. We were always at the beginning and ending of time.

In the actual boundary of Arches National Park it was different. Here it was just the past over and over and over. Grains of sand whipping around in 80 mph gusts scouring everything, including us. Water worn arches and formations now in dry desert wearing down so slow that I felt time would end when the world is flat.

Being at the coast also evokes timelessness. While the waves go in and out over and over a thousand times a day, the ocean beyond the white foam frills is steady and unchanging. It breathes like a sleeping giant so huge we can only see the heave of its chest going up and down. The changing tide is not marking time at all, just the result of the giant turning this way and that, pulling the covers away and then flinging them back. What would it mean if the giant wakes?

At the coast there are sand patterns whose geometries repeat over and over. To see how the wave patterns go up and down the beach carrying little pebbles that resist return can create such intricate patterning amazes me!

Patterns are all about eternity to me. Patterns have arbitrary boundaries created by humans or nature, but if they were not bounded, they would have no limit. They would just repeat on and on. Fractals are an example of eternity patterning as well.

I make efforts to step back as far as I can in hopes of seeing the larger pattern of which I am just a grain of sand.

The sand, sea, the plants and us are all made of the same stuff in different combinations. Today I am "me" but I may turn into all kinds of things after I die. Not in a reincarnated sort of way, but in the way that all matter decays and transforms as energy into something else. If you believe science, everything that exists has always existed.

I can believe science for now, but after I die and become something else or many something else's or just compost for a long long time, I may not believe in science anymore. I probably won't believe in anything. I think eternity has a way of eroding all beliefs, because if you observe long enough, I think all beliefs are proved false.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shooting Flowers at Yellowstone

Bill and I just returned from a 2 1/2 week 4,000 mile road trip. The timing was planned around the spring bloom just north of Yellowstone at our friend's Mary and Peter's. Unfortunately there was a blizzard when we first went through, so after two weeks of travelling south, we came back and captured as many flowers as we could in two half days. Here we are in Yellowstone.

This is Mary. Mary and Peter have been studying and shooting pictures in Yellowstone for some years.

Of course, most people come to Yellowstone for the wildlife, and there was plenty of that, too. These are bison, and there were hundreds, if not more, down along the river.

But my favorite shot of them all was this raven, trickster that she is, she got me to shoot myself at the same time.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ms. Potato Head

After I made my last post, an amazing thing happened -- a few days later I received this image and comment via email from my artist friend Shu-Ju Wang.

"I was inspired that you thought you'd be a potato, so here's my
drawing of what you'd be like as a potato."
- Shu-Ju.
To see more of Shu-Ju's marvelous artworks: http://www.fingerstothebone.com/

It's amazing what we look like to ourselves compared to how other people see us. What do we look like truly and how can we ever really know? I am happy with my potato thoughts. I love potatoes! But of course, now I will forever think of Shu-Ju's potato and see myself a little differently.

We never truly see ourselves, even in a mirror. Our experience of everything, including our reflection in the mirror, is the result of our organs of perception being sensitive to the wave frequency patterns in our field of awareness. We can only experience our perception of a thing. There is no "objective" view, as our perception is our only possible viewpoint. And we all experience a change of our viewpoint as we grow, mature, acquire beliefs, have new experiences, step into another person's shoes, or just have change in the light. "Reality" is fluid and changing.

Hiking the other day I saw many salmonberry bushes. I love these bushes because their flowers are such a vibrant red-violet and their fruits are such a bright light orange. They seem very tropical and exotic here in the Pacific NW. And the hummingbirds love them.

However the other day I saw something I had never seen before - this spectacular transition between flower and fruit. Of course I have seen this before, but never where the stamens were still there like exotic pink eyelashes; and notice the little pistil threads dangling, one from each green fruitball of the soon to be ripe berry. Maybe they have always looked this way to you, and it is just now my perception that has changed!

I saw this and thought immediately of Shu-Ju's potato painting. This image of transition from flower to fruit reminds me of Shu-Ju's potato eyes. It also made me think of my accompanying text to my potato post and my efforts to define my feelings of transformation.

While hiking the other day Bill and I moved through a bubble of solitude on the trail. But as soon as we stopped for rest or snacks a plethora of people passed us by. When we got up to walk again the experience of solitude returned -- we stepped into our place, our pace, that gave us back our sense of intimacy, but our sense of unique-ness had diminished.

What I am left with is the idea that no matter how I see myself, no matter how many potato eyes I may have, my viewpoint is not fixed and yet still forever limited. The perception of myself is the change, but only a change of perception.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

It Was Last Night's Rain

It was last night's rain that made these daffodils fall splat.

and brought the slug that ate into the heart

while the others were turned away.

It was last night's rain that kissed this hellebore's faces

beat on the backs of this hellebore's heads

and left these hellebore leaves cuddled

while these ones huddled.

It was last night's rain that made this trillium lose her pollen

and this trillium keep her hat.

It was last night's rain that made this violet so shy

and this sedum sparkle

though this red currant cried

to see fungi town crumble.

Here's what remains of last night's rain.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No Turning Back

I just finished this book two days ago. I started it book before Christmas. It was a bad time to start a new book. I usually swallow them whole, reading them in a few days at most, but these months have been too busy to immerse myself in a book. I bought this book from the sale table at the UW bookstore. It followed on a conversation I had just had with my niece, only hours at the most before I saw this book. My 18 year old niece had been talking about wanting to backpack India. This niece has some things in common with me, some of them being a writer and also a curiosity and desire to explore the unknown.

So when I saw this book, I thought of my niece, and thought that maybe she would like it for her birthday, but I would read it first! In the end I bought her a David Sedaris collection of stories, and I did read a little of that book first too.

I had read some of the books written by "The Beats" over the years, but I think I was too young to put their lives in much context from their writing. I discarded a lot of writing that was misogynist or exempted women in any real way. This was the bar which every male author had to pass for me to take them to heart. Still true. But the fly-leaf really captured me, as well as that this book was written by a woman. And, not the least of it, having just talked to my niece about backpacking India.

In A Blue Hand Deborah Baker quotes Kafka, "From a certain point onward there is no turning back. That is the point that must be reached." I think her entire biography leads up to this quote, which is near the end. And, as it is perhaps meant to, sums up what she is saying about the Beats.

I came to resonate with Allen Ginsberg in this bio and respect Baker's writing. Baker made me like them all and be disgusted by them all, back and forth. She made them so vulnerable, that my judgments of their choices would be overcome by my understanding of what they craved. I often felt I walked hand in hand with Ginsberg from the early pages where Baker relates Ginsberg vision of God that begins to drive him and then through his journey through India, which Ginsberg began the year I was born.

Thirty years ago I had a dream of no turning back. In the dream I was sitting on my bed with my ex-boyfriend and a woman shaman I had just met, a friend of one of my roommates. I dreamed we were all holding hands. Just a bit off I saw a silver cloud moving toward us and I knew I would be swallowed by this cloud and transformed. I said to the others, "I am going to let go and not come back!" The cloud moved over us and I lost awareness of their hands in mine and then the cloud was gone and we three were sitting there holding hands. It may seem in retrospect that nothing had happened. But clear to me was that the most important thing, the only important thing, had happened: I had let go. I had let go with no expectation or desire for return. That this was a dream did not lessen its impact on me. For me, these sorts of moments have brought the greatest healing and transformation.

I have come to the conclusion (for now) that we all live in different realities of what's reality. We can search for people or communities that support our beliefs or simply accept what we think to be true without a need for outside acceptance. Or we can go forward with the thought that maybe nothing is true in a fixed way. In A Blue Hand Baker paraphrases Gregory Corso saying "The problem with Truth is that once you say something is true, you cannot move forward: The way is blocked. If you merely say, 'This is true,' where do you go from there?"