The tradition of craft is material. Material awareness which stems from our interaction with the substances of the earth. Hence the completed craft object is but a moment, but can never be considered finial. It is our ego which claims the craft object as complete. To remove the craft object from it’s function, preserved for speculation – encased behind glass is to necessitate the need for deeper understanding. Our hands work too fast. They know not what they make. This pause, is a moment to consider our selves as recorded in our work. A moment – a space to consider the value of our labor.
The Gestures of Resistance exhibition has been many things. Within the space of the Museum of Contemporary Craft the activities of each visiting artist in residence has defined that space while that individual was themselves present. For some, it was a home base. For others, a personal studio. During the down times, between resident guests, the space was once agin defined by the quiet object; the residue of the acts of the artists. As the months have progressed, so did the residue left behind, each complied onto the previous, made for an odd thing. An awkward hulk of a collage object. The viewer has had to work hard to understand it. Clearly, something had happened here. Some activity took place, but only with generous help from the Study Center located above, could the viewer begin to understand the awkward object’s history located below. It was by no means an unpleasant thing. The initial structure was designed with the utmost human ergonomic awareness, as is a requirement of the craftsman carpenter. The wooden foundation served as familiar function like that of furniture. It was inviting as well as intriguing. The structure had dual services which welcomed the viewer through it’s familiar form, as well as provided a functional role for the future artists of which they might work upon. Over the months since it’s construction, the wooded structure changed relatively little. In the quiet space of the museum the object became a pedestal, a pin board, a shelving unit. A strange utilitarian piece of furniture serving as best as possible to the needs of the succession of artists to come and work and go.
For me, the Gestures of Resistance object residing on the bottom floor of the Museum, although personal, due to my interaction over 5 months with it, was an awkward thing to grasp. Ironic that it was meant to be just that though. By the very same tactile components which produced the amalgamation, visually I had a hard time understanding it. Although, they were all items of craft, there lacked a certain unity of the object especially when at rest. I did have the privilege of knowing that the creation of the object was not complete till the last artist had arrived and made his presence.
The sound of oral tradition, emulated through the use of slip, filled and coated not only the space of the awkward object, but the entire Museum. It was moving. It was not rest though, yet it was calming. The craft items left behind by the former residences, became activated in new ways. Like a fresh paint job in an old house, the new surface application awakened new potentials in the residual forms of the artists previous labors. Through a performance involving liquid surface, the individual craft components became once again material. The completed craft object has returned as material by reinterpretation of it’s qualities. Ceramic breaks and can sound beautiful when done with awareness. Cups echo like thumping speakers, amplifying their use. Use and function for the craft ware is limitless, as long as we are mindful of it’s material origin. The craft object, because it is made of earth substances, is always craft material. A completed form by human hands is just one moment in it’s circular existence. The pause of display is always temporary. The awkward object in the Museum has now been unified through surface as well as material re-interaction. The craft object, like tradition, can not rest for too long. Unity is achieved through constant awareness of craft material’s potential.
Coming into this internship as an MFA student I did not know entirely what to expect, and at the same time I had high expectations of what I would learn. Internships are about training, and learning. Especially at a master’s level, internships should benefit both the employer and the intern through a fruitful pedagogical experience. In the Applied Craft and Design program our schedules are packed so tightly. Between four Master’s level classes, homework and presentations, mentor meetings, an internship, a studio practice, and occasional sleep, every commitment I have has to be of value.
The idea behind the Gestures of Resistance show is directly related to the Applied Craft and Design mentality, both in the studio and in the class room setting. Stressing and understanding the importance of the gesture of making and process is fundamental to art, craft, and design, especially in these highly digital and removed times. In the 21st Century there is a lack of material awareness. There is this innate rush and push to be faster. Thus we become more and more detached from nature and the actions of work. We strive to make everything easy, digital, and small. In this move we have lost our ability and understanding of making, as well as the importance and value in a gesture. This internship has helped me to tap into that connection and awareness. The gesture is a small act. As I have learned, it can even be a step, a distilled moment in the process. In taking the time to acknowledge work at this more micro or honest level in the museum I have been able to translate that awareness into my work at the studio.
The days when I had museum specific interactions were the most valuable as were the days spent meeting and talking to the visiting artists. Another successful aspect of the internship was being able to plan events and connect the artists with the PNCA community. This kind of networking helped me to learn about event planning, out of office communications, and ways to get students involved with and interested in an artist. These sorts of experiences helped me to feel valuable and successful in my ventures.
Taking on an internship during the first year of a program has many difficulties for all parties involved. It has been challenging mentally and undoubtedly in terms of time management. As the school year is rounding to an end, I hope to continue learning as I absorb and filter through these highly intense times.
Thank you for this opportunity.
The most interesting and fundamental part of this exhibition (in my eyes) is the performative act. The artists interactions with the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s space, along with the artists interactions with their materials, and of course with their surrounding audience. These happenings bring a rich liveliness to a museum space. It takes the museum out of its stereotype of a ‘don’t touch white cube’ and give it a more organic, studio ambience. It becomes a characteristically welcoming place for artistic and mindful interactions.
Now that the ball is really rolling with the Gestures of Resistance show, I would like to take a moment to post a couple of links that touch back with some of our previous artists. Their work is still breathing in our gallery spaces, and in fact will undergo even more interactions in the months to come. However, the artists themselves are gone…for now.
So, you may be wondering where are they? Below is the link to our first artists Sara Black and John Preus’s website. Below that is a link to Anthea Black, Canadian Postering Artist’s Podcast. If you enjoy seeing and interacting with the artists while they are here, follow them and take a look at where they are now.
Sara and John :
If nothing new exists, then nothing old exists. Then there is just nothing. No thing. What thrives then is the act, as well as it’s reciprocal, the exchange.
I had the pleasure of talking with Mung Lar while she was installing last friday for a few hours. I was supposed to help iron and hang, but we just seemed to have an easier time talking. I did move the ladder around a bit. Ironing is really about the conversation. It is a slow and pondering profession. Pastoral in a way. Our conversation was spoke softly as not to disrupt the steam being crisped into militant folds. Mung Lar’s words and work are clear, simple, and heavy. Seemingly subtle at first, yet with constant gravity I wonder if the line will be lost in the fabric crease. Our conversation purposefully and directly wandered, neither forcing a conclusion or statement. It was intentional work in full awareness that there will always be more to do. Melancholy almost. Like craft sometimes. Repetitious work. Slow, yet conscience. Meandering with intent without a goal, but fully aware of the outside. Craft, like a chore, becomes accepted the more one does it. It becomes a necessity. No longer for the purpose of the task, but more for the purpose of contemplation. Chores create space in thought. As does the act of craft, not loud, showy, or intrusive. It is a subtle measure of time for one person to exist in. Time for the maker.
The importance of Critical Dialogue in the art world is perhaps immeasurable. It is the way that people communicate on an intensive level. The phrase ‘Critical Dialogue’ is one that I hear almost every day. I hear it in the Museum, during lectures, and in class. It is a buzz word that appears to be humming around Portland.
I tend to have a hard time receiving or understanding some of the jargon that can occur during these discussions. In fact, for a while I was completely immersed in the idea that I had to alter my way of communicating in order to be able to be accepted or respected in the art world. It is odd the ways that one can get bogged down with such obsessions. Yet, nevertheless it is very possible, especially as a graduate student, to do so.
Through discussions with visiting artists at the Museum, as well as with different PNCA and OCAC instructors I have come to realize that it is not the jargon that matters. Again, titles, labels etc. become mute, and the importance lies in the act of making. It is like the popular Rene Descartes quote, “I think therefore I am”…I make therefore something exists, that is all that matters. This is a simple and perhaps obvious fact which only through critical dialogue, with these people, I have come to truly understand.
That being said I am including a couple of links to this blog. These links can be a means of extending and/or getting involved with some Critical Dialogue. Although Facebook and Twitter do tend to hold certain stigmas in society in terms of what they are used for, the networking provided is vast. There is a potential here for influential conversations, so please check these links out.
FACEBOOK – Gestures of Resistance
FACEBOOK – Museum of Contemporary Crafts
TWITTER – Museum of Contemporary Crafts
Check out these other links to the Gestures of Resistance Exhibition.
MUSEUM – Gestures page
GESTURES Performing Craft page
We, I, as maker(s) create as a means to expel creative energy. It is an urge, an itch that needs to be addressed. Making is the most appropriate way of communicating our interests, histories, and desires. It is a means of problem solving. Most importantly, it is a way to scratch that itch.
Everyone makes differently. This is very apparent in the Gesture’s of Resistance show. Some people build, while others iron, some sew and some perform. The thing that ties it all together is the act, the gesture. In working as an intern for the Museum of Contemporary Craft I am reminded that it is the process that holds the most value. With each new artist I meet I am able to engage in a piece of their process. See how they work and how they are able to find footing in their next steps. This is why I am here. To learn about the way that other makers make. How they create their work.
I am using the word ‘work’ to establish that I am not distinguishing between art (or Art) or craft (Craft) or design (Design). On the contrary, I am taking this conversation out of the realm of capitol letters and discussing making: making from a maker’s standpoint. At this point in history, after thousands of years of creating we no longer have to try to separate, label, and create hierarchies in work. In terms of making, hierarchies are a thing of the past. They are a 20th Century notion of how to catalogue.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t make a difference what you call something. Levels of separation do not hold weight when it comes to making. I make, I create and thus something exists that did not before. This outcome can be a thing, or an experience. The physical subsistence is mute; the importance lies in that through the act of making knowledge, experience, and a path on which to move forward exists.
It is this path that we are searching for, something to aid and guide us in our next steps. This is how we survive; this is how we scratch that itch.
The problem with craft is that it produces stuff. The products of a craft process are prolific and lifeless. The act of creating with a craft approach is compelling and exciting only when in the process of making. Within the act. This is a common notion of the crafts person. Making is procreation. Making is life. After the act, all that is left is the same unanswerable question, of which to pursue again and again. The ambiguous question for the crafts person ranges in material exploration from process too possibilities. In the end, though, the craft object is but residue, ghost, or cast way shell of the real experience. Hopefully, through haptic memory, one can imagine with clarity the experience that the crafts person had with the material. I don’t believe one has to be trained as a crafts person in order to distinguish this sensitivity. Just and awareness of the stuff surrounding us.
In order to do this, one has to know touch. Touch being the defining interpretation of the craft object as either tactile intelligence or conceptual intelligence. If one relies on the conceptual interpretation of the craft object too heavily, that of the not-touching experience, i.e. intelligence based on the memory of touch, understanding of the craft object becomes less so over time. Touch of the craft object is important to its meaning. It’s the very reason why craft persons make.
Witnessing creation is completely different than actually creating. Through glass walls, the act of creation becomes strange observation of the act of creating. A slip stream of awareness is present between the intentional act and the subsequent artifice. Interpretation of what the craft object is, is set in an awkward environment. It is in this moment that compels a want in understanding the crafts person more than the object being created. Still, with heightened inquiry, the viewer may still not understand the object being made with out actually engaging in the act of touch and material.
This is a dorky picture of me, but I wanted to include it in the blog to point out the uniforms that Carole made for while she is working in the field. As you can see both outfits are made of upcycled plastic bags. Carole has a dress with a collar, centered zipper, and utility pockets on each side. The biker, me in this case, has a matching vest. The vest is similar in style to the safety vests worn by cautious bikers. Its a gentle commentary on the warnings of human waste, not to mention it is always fun to dress up.
It is an interesting dynamic when a person is powering your machine. In our modern digital age, we are so used to electricity and switches. The luxury of being able to simply turn something on or off without having to communicate beyond a swift physical movement i.e. the flick of a finger, or the twist of a knob is commonplace. But consider how you would approach power control if it was a person suppling the energy. The phrases “stop” and “go” can seem forceful and hierarchal. “Red light” and “green light” is a little too juvenile. Carole’s solution was a simple one: “Power on” and its counterpart “power off”. These phrases are efficient. They are quick to say, they do not seem demanding, and most importantly they bring attention to the action of human power.
It may seem like a simple phrase, but because of the action it is connected to, not a switch or control, but an interaction, it becomes so much more. By using these phrases Carole is repeatedly calling attention to the fact that this is a human power device. That we, as a modern society, can not only seek but also succeed in alternative, waste-less means of creating energy.
Over the past couple of weeks Carole Lung has hit the streets of Portland. She and her trusty helper Austin have been sewing up a storm and engaging in some critical conversations with the Portland public.
It is great to to watch Carole work, she sews with focused eyes and busy hands. Her intent as a hard worker is apparent. So is her openness to discuss the her current and past projects as well as the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s Gestures of Resistance show. Through out the day conversations will stir up with a number of passer-byes, some of whom partake in the days activities and help to Portland-People-Power her machine. If you have not had a chance to check out Carole’s work, track her down ASAP! She has limited time left in the city and is definitely worth checking out. I would also suggest hopping on the bike, it is mobile innovation.
Got up early today and picked up Carole from the coffee shop below the hotel she is staying at. We took off for the bike welding shop again to see how those dudes had done over the weekend on the cycle-stitcher. It’s rad. I got to ride it. Johnnie Olivan (Rejuiced Bike Concepts) knows his stuff. The shop is great. It’s filled with a tangle of bike parts that he hacks up and reconfigures into better bike things. I like his aesthetic. He is interested in using as many parts from original bikes as possible. Inner tubes as shock absorbers, spokes as wire ties, etc. Carole and Johnnie rode the thing from north Portland down to the Museum and are now getting ready to hit the public spaces of Downtown. Exciting!
I went in to the Museum today to help Carole cut up some plastic bags that she and Austin heat fussed with an iron in order to make some textile fabric. The fabric will be used to make columbia knock off jackets. The jackets will be sewn via bike pedal power.
We talked about craft for a few hours in the museum and later that night over dinner out on Alberta. We run up there to check out the progress of said sewing machine bike. It’s a gonna be a job for those dudes, but what an opportunity. I’d be stoked if I were them.
Craft, Art Design. I’m getting a little tired of this conversation. It’s interesting for only so long, and then I just want to make some stuff. Get in the studio and turn up the music. This frustration comes from a few different reasons. My mind is full. Full. And we are on break and i’m trying to enjoy it, but it’s been hard to rest because I’m used to working all the time. Trying to wrap my head around all three notions of making at the same time in order to make a thing or a concept is overwhelming. Any combination of the three, has enough to offer insightfully, but trying to utilize all three is cause for an episode of some sort. Possibly, that is why they have been separated in the first place. Considering all three, seems to cause doubt or insecurity at times. Having said that, electronic musicians have studied rock and roll who have studied jazz and blues… I am more interested art and craft. Design, as a perspective is interesting for about a few sentences of dialog for me. Here’s one, when compared to craft – design and craft share within the object, a haptic sense of the human relationship. Design though, has a broad sense and craft has more an intimate one. The difference is between groups of people and pairs of people. I’m not sure what art does for the notion of the tactile relationship. Possibly nothing. Speaking about objects in particular here, as I am a maker of objects. I think making is rather important right now, that is why I do it. Making is about relationships through material for others to experience physically. In the advent of the all encompassing immaterial world, i.e. the virtual; reenforcing making into our social conscience is of the utmost importance today. We must sustain the haptic memory as preservation of our species. Unfortunately, commodity gets what commodity wants, to paraphrase a Fugazi song, and the immaterial will encompass all our valued and known environment. Crafts resurgence today could be seen as a conditioning notion in understanding and accepting ambiguity through the process of making. Craft materials are inherently amorphous. They never answer the question (like design strives to); they create more intriguing questions. Awareness of this thought in craft process is the main condition in craft making. This same condition of the ambiguous, never ending limit to possibility, is also the main intrigue and condition of the immaterial environment. The virtual world is not set upon the laws of our reality based world; it is endless. Just as craft is endless. What we assume is a counter revolution to the immaterial un-haptic value system of the future, by making with our hands with craft materials, is actually a mental conditioning process for our future understanding of the improbable world.
These are my thoughts, not Carole’s. But I did share them with her. So, what’s the point of discussing art craft and design today. It’s old. If this future scenario is even the slightest bit true, then we need to get into the studio and make with awareness and meaning. And lots of it. The work made in the present will be our symbols for the future of no-thing. Carole reminded me through out the day yesterday to be honest with myself. Which I thought I knew, but I believe she was referring to an ever present awareness coupled with honesty of self. There is no time for insecurity or doubt. Own up to what you own, your back ground, and who you are all the time. Meaningfulness starts with self.
Today I spent the day researching local veterans organizations and contacting them for Ehren Tool’s two week performance in June. While he is here working in the Museum, Ehren would like to engage other veterans “who have been touched by war” in a conversation. Ehren served in the first Gulf War and is also a potter. I contacted the Oregon War Veterans Association and The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. Hope fully they will put the event on their websites and newsletters. Very exciting!
Craft over the years, has been used time and again as a tool to question society’s engagement with the world. For many, the constraints inherent in a slow and often community based Craft practice speak towards the desire for an alternative way of organizing production and consumption. Undermining economic imperatives of capitalism such as efficiency and surplus, Craft can put the modes of production in the hands of individuals and circumvent standard channels of distribution, creating direct producer to consumer relationships. In most cases it is the gesture within a craft practice that endows that practice with a radical or resistant nature. But do radical gestures of resistance have the same gravity when sanctioned by the systems they seek to resist? When these tactical gestures are condensed, cataloged, and summarized do they retain their potency? I had the opportunity to pose this question to the Curators of Gestures of Resistance, Shannon Stratton and Judith Leemann the night of the Museum’s Craft conversation with the two. They were very frank in their answers and stated that the question had definitely been on there minds. With this they expressed that through each Artists residency, a space and potential would be created that could intervene on the process of codification and allow for broader conversations. They went on to acknowledge the shifting role of institutions as they more actively engage visitors and emphasized the importance of utilizing such platforms. As an exhibition attendant at the Museum I look forward to seeing the accumulation and interaction of each Artist in the space. As the exhibition unfolds I’m curious to see how visitors interpret the work and whether or not repeat visitors have their thoughts and ideas change as the exhibition evolves. I appreciate the way Namita curates around questions as opposed to definitive statements, her lean towards encouraging dialogue not only makes for a richer experience, it also makes my job a lot more interesting.
There I was writing emails to folks for the majority of the day to people I had never met, but will one day soon…
Leg work for up coming Gestures artists requires many an email and a fair amount of research. All is well and coming along.
Last night Anthea invited folks over for a cocktail party at the CYAN building. Which was a nice social engagement. There was wine and a cast fist of a famous lesbian woman in a limited edition box resting on the coffee table. From a symbol of empowerment too an objectified inter-relational experience, the fist remain powerful. As all objects are communicative devices between peoples. Craft objects especially, hold people united through the ubiquitous and fundamental understanding of skill and making involving all peoples. This generationally attuned understanding engrained in our psyche establishes the Craft object as connector; wether through concept or spirit – powerful.
It was pretty cool.
Today I have spent my afternoon in a very entertaining fashion. My mission was to run around Portland picking up supplies for our up coming artist Carole Lung.
Carole and I evidently have pretty similar interests, so going out today was quite a treat! It included going to Fred Meyers (who was evidently a philosopher), Safeway (I rescued a ton of plastic bags), the Goodwill (where I found a great shirt) AND...dum dum dum RCT also known as Rose City Textiles. Its a fabulous store in an industrial park in NorthWest portland. My supply list here included: 35 plastic brown buttons, 1/2 yd of 1’‘ velcro, 5 six inch zippers, 10 plastic parts (what are those things called?), 5 plastic toggles, 5 plastic keepers, 10 yds of one inch elastic band, and of course 2 spools of white thread. Are you intrigued? ALL ITEMS WERE SUCCESSFULLY LOCATED in a very timely manner, with the tremendous help of a quirky RCT worker.
So, my lessons for the day are, shopping is great (material culture victim) and Rose City Textiles is amazing. Seriously, if you need findings of fabric go there!
Hello Dear Reader,
As you may know tomorrow is another ever famous FIRST THURSDAY here in Portland. Lucky for you… the Museum of Contemporary Craft will be open from 6pm-8pm for a Performance featuring Anthea Black.
Anthea, has been working with PNCA Printmaking instructor Christy Wyckoff and his troop of students to create a subversive silkscreen that will act as a catalyst for social conversation.
Tomorrow night, at the museum, Anthea will be postering, wheat pasting, and adding to the down stairs gallery space. Come witness this gesture in craft, art, and politics!
Anthea Black and Nicole Burish introduced this word / idea in the making and presentation of craft work during the lecture that we (Leslie) set up for the PNCA luncheon hour. (Monday the 22nd). I had never heard it before, yet found it intriguing. (as with so many compound words as of late in my daily understanding of contemporary making within what I call the three disciplines of making, art, craft and design.)
Some after lecture thoughts…
In the context of Craftivism, Craft and Activism conjoined encourage subtle changes in understanding the individual aspects of these multi-faceted words / ideas.
Craft is slow. It takes time. Craft is a constant, everyday awareness. Craft is acceptance through methodological work. Craft slows down Activism. Instead of the typical one off, Craft gifts Activism with the continuous conversation. It integrates the purpose of Activism with the everyday. Undoubtedly, the introductory forceful voice of Activism is necessary. One must announce their arrival. Sustaining that purpose for arrival after the main event, requires another tactic. This is the integration of the everyday. Craftivism is conscience communication through collaboration between the members within the group of activists as well as the people who they wish to interact and engage awareness. The slow collaborative effort in making required by the craft activists piece creates a model of understanding by which society can feel more integral and even forthcoming with diplomatic questioning and concerns.
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9 AM…where is my coffee right now?
While being involved with this internship there have been several things I have learned. In terms of setting up a show, I have just skimmed the tip of the ice berg. There were a few quirks involving setting up the work, much polishing of vitrines, and impeccable folding of a 15 foot quilt. Patience as I keep learning over and over again, is a virtue in this process. And as I, and Jason my fellow intern and blogger buddy, have sent out several emails to various groups, artists, and businesses now…with patience…we wait.
Many emails have been sent out to the next few artists concerning their needs/requirements for the future projects in Gestures of Resistance. From legal issues concerning “postering the city” too the necessities pertaining to throwing 100 cups a day in the exhibition space. It’s all about communication.
1:10 Things have been cleared away and now Sara and John’s next step is to secure the table/platform structures to each other before removing the inner drywall. A little stability never hurt anyone.
1:35 Just about half the wall is down. While Sara and John are planing I will take a minute to note the passer-byes. Since the two outer walls of the lower gallery are made entirely of large windows there have been a number a pedestrians that will pause in wonderment watching the days activities. Just to name a few, two students sat up watching the artists at work from the second floor, a man and his baby came in to join the collecting inside crowd, and a family of four stopped and admired through the glass for several minutes. Performance and Art…the act of creating is very intriguing.
FYI -I created a montage of snapshots of some of the various (unknowing) viewers, but decided not to post it for legal issues. But just know that people were perched through out the museum and outside observing the artists at work.
2:08 The Third Panel is finally down. Sara and John are half way home. It took a while to separate the wall from the table/platform structures. There was some tricky cutting and several minor secures to be made. It is also worth noting that during this section of the removal process much of the work had to be done under their table. Two adults were squished in a three foot space with power tools and a shop-vac. It was pretty tight.
But alas the task was achieved and the sweeping and planing will resume along with more of the trusty vacuum. One has to wonder at this point how full that thing is getting.
3:26 The fourth section is off and still no coffee break!!! I am impressed.
4:01 Unfortunately at this point…In the height of the last panel, during the culmination of the final removal, at the very pinnacle of the days events, (could I build this up any more?) ...I had to leave to go to work.
Lame, yes, anti-climactic, yes. But what can I say, a woman has to pay her bills.
So, my fateful reader…I can only offer you this: you have to go see it for yourself. The entire inner structure is gone, the wood structure is standing tall, Mayfield has been Rebuilt, and this is just the beginning. Round One if you will. Its all very exciting.
Stay tuned for updates on our next adventures: Anthea Black and the preparation of legal guerrilla style ‘eff-ing with public decency”.
12:38 After a lull of vacuuming and planing Sara and John dive into the next panel. Drills and saws roar in the space.
12:51 Panel two is down…That was pretty quick. Next step is the dispose of the evidence and take down the inner frame that was supporting the dry wall.
Although they are taking down both the face and the inner skeleton of the center wall, traces of dry wall are left behind lining the inner parts of the wooden structure. I am happy to have this small reminder of their work and more importantly their process.
It is the last day of the project know Rebuilding Mayfield…
12:00PM and the museum is filled with the sounds of jig saws and vacuums. It is with great pleasure that I am spending my afternoon watching Sara Black and John Preus perform a systematic dissection of the wall they created only eleven days ago.
The two artist work like surgeons as they carefully make incisions with the saw, and tediously clean up the evidence with the constant humming of the vacuum.
Here is an example of how closely they are working: Sara and John’s hands are performing as if they are getting directions from the same brain. Similar to a dentist who uses one hand to drill your teeth and the other to suck up your saliva. Sara and John are functioning as the two hands of the same skilled practitioner. With few words said, they work together comfortably and calmly to achieve their goal.
This past saturday 2/6 was Sara and John’s last day at the museum. Much to the amusement of myself and fellows watchers their final performance in the space was to take down the dividing wall that stood solid in the middle of their two sided structure.
This was a laborious process in which Sara and John meticulously cut out each section of the double sided wall without interfering with the intertwined wooden structure.
Once each section of the wall was cut out and removed, a follow up procedure of vacuuming and planing would take place. They went on like this for hours…
Today I did some research for the next artist coming in a few weeks. Anthea Black will be creating many posters and part of her proposal is to put them up all over the city. I’m familiar with this type of presentation of work. Wheat pasting is a common way to display posters for advertising etc. in designated city areas. Street artist’s usually do this illegally in order to challenge the notion of property and ownership. It is also an effective way to get a mass message out to the public. Since this show is affiliated with the Museum, we are trying to go a more legal route. Which makes sense. So i spent some time researching the public records of the city’s notion of sign and banner regulations. Which is pretty cool really. I have dabbled in some street art proliferation, but have always been more interested in getting out the message as apposed to challenging public property issues. So, i could use this information myself possibly one day.
I have not been in the performance space since last week and was eager to see how John and Sara were doing. Remarkably well. The game of telephone – a game played with strangers for the most part is based on miscommunication. The wall that divides the two makers is that catalyst for intentional interpretation. To purposely employ the chance – as a way of creative freedom. A fun game as John explained to me last week – similar to the Surrealist game of the Exquisite Corpse.
The space has changed considerably, and equally propositional – nearly symmetrical. These are some professional players here.
As I describe one side imagine it’s mirror image. The wood has been cleaned, stacked and on the ready. In the middle of the wall centered is a small arrangement of holes for the purpose of speaking and listening only. In design it resembles that of a telephone hand held receiver. Very diligently written around the “speaker” are copious notes taken describing the organization required for cutting similar boards of wood. The stage is bi-leveled, there is a trellis of sorts on the west side of the space rising from the stage. There are some, what appear to be random boards affixed to the wall itself – no doubt for future building in the days to come.
As the two sides are nearly identical – I am left wondering where the chance of the game has been recorded. These players are no strangers as in the game of telephone. And the information is told more than once. Not in speech perhaps, but in pace, sound, feeling of the lumber being moved. The echo of the saw stopping. Also to be noted is the experience of the materials learned before the game was initiated. As with the verbal game, the language of building with wood is a constant. Yet more real. As the language of the maker is based in reality. The language of the tangible is more certain. More true. With experience in making the tangible language becomes universal – what people assume is intuitive. Is the game of purposeful miscommunication within the culture of making more easily understandable because the players can rely on more than first impressions?
Craft as communication with out words. Our visual language held in our hands.
I have some gallery experience – setting up shows etc. The museum perspective is quite a bit different. We set up Cat Mazza’s piece, the Nike Blanket Petition today as an example of her work. I learned about the professional handling and care in describing the works as one unpacks them and sets them up for display for a museum environment. It is a very diligent and laborious process. From an artists perspective, as one who makes things, it seemed a little over the top, but a very high level of respect for the object and the person who made it is initiated through this process and it’s nice to know that people care about preserving the meaning of that object being displayed.
This is the work of Anthea Black, who will be working in Portland, at the Museum of Contemporary Craft from February 19 to March 10. Her witty work will soon be plastered across our fine city with the help of local queer youth.
Today was the first time I have seen her posters (which got held up in Canadian customs for a couple of days). This piece, among others, is on display in the upper gallery posted guerrilla style on a partition. Anthea’s work is funny and bold with a youthful comic book/graphic/pop art style. Although I don’t know her yet, I am certainly looking forward to working with her.
Anthea…you amuse me.
So, as it turns out putting together a show takes more effort then one might assume. This picture is a detailed shot of one of the MANY signs hanging in the show. PLEASE NOTE that it is not your everyday ink-jet print out of a sign, but it has been painstakingly colored in with pencils… That is craft, slowness, and a fine gesture all wrapped into one!
This morning I helped Sara and John move some wood around. Well, not so much around as “into”. Within the center of the tall display walls usually conceals smaller display walls when not in use. I was asked to relocate two wood piles into this narrow space. I obliged to the challenge, eager to practice my masterful skills in dot-matrix video gaming in real world application.
The day before the opening. There is a fury of energy here and it’s rather exciting. I cut birch wood backing for the signage that will be used in the presentation of textual information concerning the show. I also made two sandwich boards.
I briefly met Sara and John who seemed eager to get started building. But, first they had to acquire material which required large coffees and automobiles. It will be interesting to see how the void will get filled in the days to come. I had to leave a little earlier than I wanted, but Baudrillard, Heidegger, and McLuhan had been patiently waiting…