Monday, September 23, 2013

installation in progress: koti pizza

This blog took a back seat to my Finnish endeavors this summer. But now I'm back! It's nearly the end of September, and I've been in graduate school for a month now already.  It's been truly overwhelming. It was one thing to imagine what it would be like, and quite another thing to be living it.  {It's kinda my fault for auditing an extra class, but hey, when else will I get to learn Português Brasileiro with enthusiastic college freshmen and sophomores?}

Lyndon with my Koti Pizza installation somewhere around midnight yesterday.

I decided to sign up for one of the two installation spaces we have over at the grad studios for a little self-imposed deadline. They are available in one week slots, and I stayed up quite late last night to get it up (with Lyndon's help). I didn't want to fall into the trap of spending weeks hemming and hawing about ideas. I'd much rather see them physically manifested, reflect on what was successful or not, and move on.

This work is based on what I found when I went to the address where my great-grandmother used to live in Tampere, Finland. The building has been replaced by a strip of shops. On the corner is a Koti Pizza, which is a chain in Finland. Ironically, Koti means "home" in Finnish. So the house is now a Home Pizza, which is not at all a home pizza. The video on the right shows an actual home pizza being made in a home, while the video on the left shows Koti Pizza at closing time one night in August.

The pizza that is being made is an "Americana", which is topped with pineapple, ham, and blue cheese as well as mozzarella. It's close to what Americans would call a Hawaiian Pizza. The tape "drawing" on the wall is derived from architectural drawings from the early 20th century, when my ancestors lived there. The plans at that time were drawn up for a stove replacement. The videos are projected into the spaces where the two stoves were located in the drawing.

There are many layers that come to mind with this project:
  • the replacement of a home with a commercial space that uses the word "home"
  • the contrast between the cold commercial space and the warmth and sensuality of making something at home with your hands (and with someone else)
  • the misinterpretation of cultural icons 
  • the transformation of traditional worker's housing architecture in Tampereella to a more generic and bland type
  • the disappointment of looking for "home" and never quite finding it, and the idea of making home wherever one is

I'll take better photos soon and probably put them on my website. The finished installation includes a recipe viewers can take away from the right side, as well as a stripped down "menu" page on the left showing Koti Pizza's "Americana" pizza.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

new video: marjatta

Lyndon Barrois Jr and I collaborated to make this video at Arteles, in Haukijärvi,, Finland:

This video will be projected at the Hirvitalo Gallery at Center of Contemporary Art Pispala  in Tampere, Finland, at the end of the month as part of the World of Tango festival.

Monday, July 29, 2013

an exhibition in hämeenkyrö

Saturday, July 27, was our exhibition at Heiska. It was a pretty hot day. There was a giant pig roasting, the squawking, tweeting, and chirping of Emilie's birds (from a CD of 100 Finnish birds used for her performance) and the loudspeaker here and here as a soundtrack. We had free soup inside the main Heiska house and ate lots of ice cream. There wasn't much else to do. There was a sahti brewing competition, a tractor parade, a smoke sauna, an exhibit of old bikes by a pretty interesting local sculptor, and more. 

my video, being projected on mosquito netting at Heiska

Here are the links to watch the videos that I projected:

The Restless


Failure to Communicate

We drank some leftover competition sahti before leaving. There is some loophole...something like because the sahti legally can't be purchased unless it's sold with food, we got it for free (since we didn't want the food (roasted pig)).

Here are some more photos:

part of Lyndon's installation based on part of the Kalevala

part of Laura's bread installation. It means "road to home"

It felt like a long day. I helped Emilie document her performance. She was untangling fishing line while sitting between two buildings and two windows while 100 birds were taking turns chirping (or squawking). She was wearing a life vest. The idea was to continue until she had untangled it all. Quite an exhausting task requiring lots of endurance.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

mosquito test

The forests are so beautiful (and look so peaceful) here in Finland. However, every time I step inside one, I'm surrounded by flies, mosquitoes, spiders... How maddening that the time of year when it's warm and sunny, and one would want to have skin exposed, is also the time when you're most likely to be attacked by little, annoying creatures.

Yesterday, after such an adventure into the forest (to pick bilberries), I came back to my desk and made a big, ugly mosquito using newspaper and a torn up book, along with some black cord I found, feathers my friend Ais gave me, and a few BBQ skewers.

I'm trying to figure out how to move the mosquito in a way that mimics the creepy way that they buzz around with their nasty dangling legs. He's a little test I did today:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

airport animation

One of the animations I made in the Miami airport while waiting for the next flight


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

on the road

I'm writing from DFW airport as I wait for a connecting flight to New Orleans. Lyndon and I left St Louis today, with nearly everything tucked away in storage, for our summer adventures. It's been an entire week of packing and moving slowly using a WeCar and eventually a UHaul van, and I'm glad to be able to relax and stop looking for nails to remove from random walls and dust bunnies to sweep.

nearly packed to the gills

It's been almost 8 years since I first went to New Orleans, and I didn't get to see much that time as we left the night Hurricane Katrina was landing. I'm excited to see the city, but sad that I didn't have a chance to and will never know it for what it used to be.

On this trip, I get to see my former roommate from a semester I spent in Italy almost 10 years ago (time flies!), as well as spend quality time with plenty of in-laws. :)

On the flight here, I had a fresh wave of excitement about the upcoming residency and all the new things I'll get to see and do and make. Most of my posts about that will be on the Finland blog once I get there.

Thank you friends, family, and supporters for helping to make this upcoming Nordic adventure possible!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

incognito 2013

Incognito was on Saturday, May 11, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Now that it is over, I can post the pieces I donated:

second skin
10" x 8"
leather sewn on burlap mounted on illustration board

Second Skin is sort of a "sketch" of Genuine and Bonded, which uses cut up leather belts to reference personal childhood memories. I'd prefer to shy away from over-explaining, but I'm sure (unfortunately) that many others have had close encounters with belts in their formative years. 

The striking (no pun intended) contrast between the different textures and colors serves to draw attention to the material, while the choice of material, arrangement and shape of the pieces is meant to suggest a something more aggressive and sinister.

a piece of heaven
10" x 8"
corrugated cardboard on illustration board

A Piece of Heaven draws back to another memory. In middle school, I found a bird that had fallen from a tree. I put it in a cardboard box and planned to nurse it back to health (or at least keep it safe) in our screened-in patio. After its life was threatened, not by cats or weather, but by a human presence, I was forced to find the safest possible spot I could think of for the box. I hid it downhill near a bridge that went over the canal near my bus stop. When I got back from school, I ran to see how the bird had fared and found only feathers scattered about.

Both of these "sketches" touch on a child learning cruelty not only from the outer world, but also from inside the home. I think of our capacity to reach out or to hold back, depending on the situation, and how those choices change us and define our character.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

kickstarter launch!

Today I launched a KickStarter campaign for the artist residency I will be attending this summer in Haukijärvi, Finland at the Arteles Creative Center. After many weeks of work on the video, it's a relief to finally be able to share all the fun little animations I made with you.

The project is:  Ephemeral Past --> Material Present

Check out the Video

I will keep a Finland blog that will be open to the public until June 9, 2013. After that date,  the Ephemeral Past --> Material Present blog will be private and dedicated to all $25+ backers of my KickStarter campaign, who will be added to the "readers" access list.

I'm grateful to all backers and supporters of me and the project ... Backers below $25 will still receive official project updates via the KickStarter site, and will be able to view this blog as always, but those updates will not be as frequent or as detailed as the ones on the Finland blog and won't include extra insights and fun details about food and travel.

I have never kept a blog during my travels, so this is a very special case where I have decided to do so as an extra special part for most of the rewards. 

While the campaign is active, I still have the ability to add rewards. If you think of something I may have overlooked that would make a great reward, please feel free to leave a comment and I will consider it!

Thanks to all for your support! Remember, KickStarter is all-or-nothing, so please spread the word. :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

sneak peek: kickstarter video

I've been having a lot of fun making these little animations. So far, I have taken photos for probably 10 clips out of a possible 20+. Some are long and required hundreds of photos, and others are like this one above: quick and easy. I hope to finish the video and launch the KickStarter in the first week of May. I backed two projects that are currently going on at the Arteles Residency and received a postcard from one artist and a letter (and photo) from the other this! I don't know either of them, but have enjoyed hearing about the snow, the art making, and a trip on a ferry to Tallinn.

This afternoon, I spent a good amount of time cutting out little paper objects (tiny undies, a tube of toothpaste, and an umbrella among them) and will photograph them for a "vessel" clip that I'm really excited about tomorrow. I also cut out leaves for a plant and spelled out the word "project" using sticky letters. I stopped cutting when I realized the sun had set and it was too dark to see in the room. Most people would have just turned on a light, but I took it as a cue to make cinnamon popcorn and write this blog entry. 

Scary...the middle finger on my right hand has actually gone tingly from overuse of scissors...and it's been two days since then. So now I'm using an x-acto knife to cut. It's great to be semi-ambidextrous at times like these. Scissors go in the right hand and most other tools in the left.

More announcements coming soon!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

lifelong learner: jewelry class

Around this time last year, I took a wheel throwing class at the Craft Alliance location near where I live. This year, I'm taking a jewelry/metals class. With something new, it's always a little frustrating the first few classes to be the bumbling newbie who barely knows a thing, but I'm very pleased with what I was able to do in only three hours:

It's a tiny copper cylinder with a matching domed lid that will be hinged (during next week's class). We're all making different iterations of the same thing. Some students are using brass, some made a square or petaled base, others are using combinations of copper and brass.  What they all have in common is...well...the woman sitting next to me asked, "Is it just me, or do they look like little...?" and then we both laughed. There's a reason I didn't perch the lid on the cylinder for this photo! I can't help but wonder if the instructor realized this when designing the project.

I have a project idea in the research stage that may require the kinds of skills and knowledge I'll be getting from this class...and, let's be honest, I just like making stuff. All kinds of new words for me: flux, the pickle, annealing, etc.

The location for this class requires a ~4 mile bike ride. I took my time on the way there, when the sun was shining and the birds were still singing. But at one point, someone in a car intentionally tried to scare me by speeding up and stopping just short of me, rather than waiting at their stop sign. They did it twice! Awful. The ride home was incredibly fast. I raced through dark alleys and got home in about 24 minutes. A nice bike ride or walk is great for thinking.


My weird tube thing melted while I was trying to solder a few weeks ago! My teacher recommended I start working on a locket instead. Here it is so far.  Next week is the last class, so I'll use that time to clean up the solder mess and polish this little beaut.

I  need to cut and hammer the brass hinge pin as well as make a silver clasp to keep it closed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

winging it

Here's a peek at what I've been working on lately using those cardboard boxes. I managed to watch two films while making these parts: 1) The End of the Line (a documentary on over-fishing) and 2) The Flaw (a documentary on income inequality and the financial crash).

Now I'm off to get started on my KickStarter video! If you have any suggestions for great rewards for me to offer to backers for my project in Finland, feel free to leave a comment.

Until next time....

Saturday, February 9, 2013

process: corrugated

... taking apart boxes for my next project ...

february 2013

Thursday, January 24, 2013

new year announcements

The holidays, lovely visitors, and various bureaucratic processes have kept me away from my blog and studio. In the hiatus, I have made things to eat and wear and use around the house, as I'm prone to do. But now I'm back!

Great news: Lyndon and I have both been accepted to an artist residency in Finland this upcoming summer. More info to come soon. We're both excited and glad to have something to look forward to...

photo by Stephanie Chambers

photo by Delilah Jones

Currently, I'm working on one of the two pieces I plan to submit for this year's Incognito at The Santa Monica Museum of Art. I have yet to have been able to attend the actual event, but who knows, maybe this year will be the one. Maybe not.

Of course, I've chosen a very tedious and time-consuming process to make this piece, but luckily, its size is limited to 8" x 10". I can't post images of it until after the event (because the whole point is for patrons "to trust their instincts in selecting the works, as each work is signed on the back and the artists’ identities are revealed only after purchase")

For now, take a look at the two I submitted in 2011:

paint samples and ink on illustration board

paint sample collage

Here's to a Happy 2013!