Saturday, December 14, 2013

Nearly Done

Whether I will be able to hang all twelve panels in the spiral formation as envisioned or not, the piece is nearly ready for primetime.  There is a bittersweet feeling to this project--to have realized it in its current form is cathartic for me, but a feeling remains that I have left much unrealized.  Does it fully embody all that I wish to express about place?  Does it bring poetic sensibilities to the subjects of heterotopic spaces and spatial implacement? Have I honored the indigenous culture to whom I am so indebted?  Have I gained a clearer understanding of my own place in the world? More questions but not answers occupy my thoughts these days as I head to Boston to defend my thesis.  As someone who has not identified with any formal cultural tradition, finding place is finding self.  Identity and place seem intimately connected, but changes over time.  I see place as the intermediary between self and nature, and it is at this point experience takes place. What is a range of convergence between these entities?  Ken-dai-a is only the beginning of the journey.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winding Down/Winding Up

Graduation is within sight! As this last semester is winding down, I am so grateful to have spent two long years deepening and expanding my visual practice.  The LUCAD faculty, my colleagues, my friends, and my family have helped so much.  I feel enriched.

My investigations have led me in many directions, but are linked to the notion of finding place-- finding my place in the world.  The land is the foundation of my experience, and my feet touch the earth with every step.  The indigenous culture of the Haudenosaunee has informed every part of this project, and connects historic events of the past, present, and indeed the future.  The complexities about the place of Ken-dai-a have opened up new possibilities for me to explore.  Engagement with the world begins in place.  The wampum, as pictured here, represents the 6 Nations of the Haudenosaunee, and the Two Row Wampum is the treaty that was signed between the 6 Nations and the US government 400 years ago.  I hope to learn more from these First Peoples, and find ways to share the bounties of the wampum, a form of exchange that goes beyond monetary values.

The Seneca White Deer Foundation is an organization that is seeking support for protecting the deer population of Seneca Army Depot after 2015 when the government will have completed the clean-up of the site.  I intend to stay involved in making sure this land is returned to its natural state, and perhaps returned to its native inhabitants.  I hope to create another Ken-dai-a book to highlight its rich history, and to generally address the notions of place and the archive in broad terms. The spatialization of being within place addresses many important issues of our day--affordable housing, social media, economic equality, energy industries' extraction, sustainability, and building community. 

The Ink Shop Printmaking Center will also continue to be an important place for me to continue the work of building connections between educational institutions and the regional community, between printmakers and other artists of other media, and between personal and public forums for meaningful interaction. Teaching at Ithaca College provides wonderful opportunity for me to connect with students' creativity and hopes. As an educator, I derive deep satisfaction from being part of their development as artists.

I met with my mentor Kanishka Raja last weekend for the last time.  We talked at length about the Longhouse Spiral, particularly its installation in Boston. I hope that the installation shows the full scope of this piece, as an experiential embodiment of place deeply complex with contradiction, odd juxtapositions, and historic inconveniences. All the investigations of the past two years -- in charcoal drawing, investigating heterotopic spaces, exploring the idea of implacement and phenomenological experience, understanding the dialectic of site and non-site, developing a way to combine text and image to reflect a dialectic of representation,  and finally developing a hybrid multi-media visual practice combining wax, printmaking, drawing, and sculptural form--have led to my final project.  The Longhouse Spiral incorporates all of this in some way. 

Also in NYC I made a quick trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the video installation Refusal of Time by William Kentridge.  His multi-media presentation wove together video, sculpture, and sound.  Three screens wrap the space in a three-part panorama of movement, image and text as it circles the viewers.  His creative processes infuse the projections, in ink drawings, figure silhouettes, torn paper, or staged repetition of filmed actions.  Its unpolished aesthetic adds immediacy and experiential quality to our experience of it.  The world he presents is a theatric staging of historic events, a way to frame the historic monstrosity of apartheid.  The heavy burden of this legacy still affects every part of this installation.  Amazing. 

So as I wind down this two year adventure, I am winding up for the next stage of my career.  Grants are in the works, new portfolio exchanges, new students to teach drawing and printmaking to, new public art projects at major bus stations in Ithaca, and travel. We might be buying a church too, the space where I have set up as a second studio during the last two years.  Lots to think about, lots to do. More images of the completed Longhouse Spiral will be forthcoming soon.  I will post them here as soon as possible!