Squirrel Drama

As much as the current pandemic has gripped the country and a lot of the planet, ongoing tragedies add to the anxiety. Friends and family members whose physical health was already shaky and in an even more perilous state. Oh my God, you’re on the planet, you know all this.

Planet Squirrel has just improved.

My spouse put up a bird feeder. I am grateful. So are squirrels.

It is called a bird feeder and some birds attend. We have sparrows, cardinals, juncos and woodpeckers.

But mostly squirrels.

The reddish fox squirrels are the bosses. If the birds are feeding, the seeds spill down and roll of the fur of the squirrel dining below. They test the pole. My spouse rushes them and they scatter, but not too far. They are well aware of our limitations.

The gray squirrels are more in number, and if they could organize they could secure their place beneath the feeder. The fox squirrel strikes a pose. The grays back off. They keep a distance of 3-4 feet from the squirrel-in-charge.

Drama #1 Hawk

Like an enemy plane, the  shadow of a hawk makes in way down the driveway. With a speed he has never demonstrated with us, that fat fox squirrel tears into the brush. The shadow continues past.

Drama #2 It is all Too Much

Grey squirrels whirl round the tree, are they fighting, are they mating, are they celebrating the momentary absence of the red squirrel?

Returning from my walk, I begin my path down the driveway.

The squirrels let go.

They fall 9 feet from the branch flailing and hit the ground with a thud.

They run away.

Expectations

Squirrels expect hawks from the sky.

I expect squirrels to fall from the sky.

I expect more to happen that I did not expect.

I do not know who to quote here. Mary Oliver provides comfort but I do not feel the same sense of oneness with nature. We live in our house as a protection against the dangers of nature. We separate ourselves from our fellow family members to protect them and ourselves from this naturally developed virus.

I will instead, be grateful. It is beautiful.

Always “beautiful” is the wrong word, the lazy word, but I need to stop critiquing oh my dark self. I was making the move to be grateful. But my beauty response comes from the gut. Exhale.

I will be grateful and cautious.

 

 

Standard

Bio Knots and Nodes

Many years ago, as a second grader, I took 3rd place in the Monroe, Connecticut town art contest. I drew a circus scene: elephants, horses and dogs.

Years after that, a BFA from Notre Dame. After graduation, I kept a sketchbook, but my art from that time were few sketches with my 3 children in the western suburbs of Chicago.

After some years and in between, I became a high school art teacher. It has been a joy and an honor. I showed occasionally in local shows, some juried, some not.

37 years after ND, an MFA from SAIC. My drawings, installations, mixed-media overtly and obliquely reference family, youth, depression, hope and maturation. Some drawings look somewhat like the animal drawings of my 8-yr-old self. I have cultivated my animal vocabulary for years.

At this age, I am fearful of the times, I am working on safety garments, aprons printed on security envelopes for Mother Art: Revisited. I am also working on photographs of dolls, dinosaurs, rabbits and furniture to show at the Paramount in Aurora. They will sparkle. Because they have to.

 

Standard

Knots and Nodes Statement Working

My practice is interdisciplinary in ways of making and working. With drawings, paintings, photography, and installations, I investigate themes of family, youth, depression, maturation and hope.

I often use an image-based language that includes rabbits, dinosaurs, dolls, lab coats, and living room furniture.

I rewrite Rabbit personal histories in slightly different ways then the real-life humans whose lives inspired them. I imagine a more positive outcome.

Sometimes the setting is the focus. Furniture as well as figures contribute to a story. A living room or playroom are often my locales. The sofa is the center. Once one is home from work, one may find themselves in the grasp of the sofa. With the help of a TV (or computer) screen, one is trapped for hours. It is difficult to escape.

In recent works with garments, I consider the uniforms for navigating personal universes. Lab coats are appropriate wear for all who risk. Aprons act as protection. They are worn in studio and kitchen. A grandma apron trope reflects a desire to nurture and sustain those in my care.  I print these images on security paper of used envelopes. I consider safety for the mother-figure as well as those in the mother’s care. Yet, safety isn’t the sole concern. Conceptual artist Joseph Beuys directed students and public to the idea that all are artists. All of us have a creative agency. In my role as parent and artist, it is my hope to safely nurture my charges while awakening them to this superpower.

 

 

Standard

Why Use Bunnies?

Why use bunnies?

 

I could not use people. They had already been people.

 

Bunnies are relatable.

 

Bunnies are fearful.

 

Bunnies are at the bottom of the food chain.

 

Bunnies develop strategies. Zig-zag running pattern. Erratic movement. Oh. Maybe that is only one strategy.

 

Bunnies hide.

 

Bunnies are vegetarians. I do not have to kill anything to feed them.

 

I don’t have to feed them. (But do I have to take care of them? I think so yes)

 

Beuys.

 

I don’t make real bunnies. Everything is a stand-in. Some sort of re-write to right.

 

Bunnies are smaller than me. I can mentally move them around.

 

Standard

In Between Everything….working

I have been listening to Particle Physics for Beginners: A Tour of the Microcosmos by Stephen Pollock https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/particle-physics-for-non-physicists-a-tour-of-the-microcosmos.html  When I began the book, I was applying for artist in residence in Fermilab and I needed more background. I had been addressing this subject matter previously for my freshmen classes.

It is an exhilarating experience envisioning all that makes up all that is.

 

Problems with Particle Physics

The visual depictions. The particles in the diagrams are incredibly ordered. Is this not just wishful thinking? As human, I cannot even order my hair. And bodily functions? Oh please. I am part of the universe and I am messy.

What is with these perfect shapes anyway?

https://philosophynow.org/podcasts/The_Mental_Universe_Debate

I pretty much just loved the title. It does not bear the weight of the length of the recording. This does have the feel of high school Dungeons and Dragons players and gendered in that high school boy way. (I know everyone can play but all the conversations I’ve had about the game are with high school boys. Well, I teach at a boys’ school. What should I expect?) However, visions of Madonna came to mind, musing on the Kabbalah.

I thought this article would have a bit more science. Some is addressed. It is mostlyt worth listening to.

“Postmodernism” by Kevin Hart https://books.google.com/books?id=Sv2hIXcT8qUC&source=gbs_book_other_versionsThe author is not the comedian, rather he is a poet-philosopher-theologian. Not much art is discussed but this was useful in considering structuralism and post structuralism and about where the world falls now.

Extrapolating into particle physics, and everywhere else there is the space between. Gosh darn Foucault keeps coming back to mind. What is with these French philosophers? Structuralism gives us the idea of perfection, perfect shapes, equilibrium, does time stand still? Post structuralism allows for waves of light (they can bend!) at the same time particles of light (they don’t bend!) Wonderful and not at the same time. How very relatable.

This much shorter article is probably where I needed to go. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-a-mental-universe-is-_b_8682048

Fermilab art show: Cosmic Design featuring work of Shanthi Chandrasekar

Prints, paper cut-outs, paintings, and relief work make up this very rewarding display. https://events.fnal.gov/art-gallery/events/event/cosmic-design-shanthi-chandraskar/

Even though the first line of her statement on the site brings to mind so many high school artist statements (ever since I can remember……) the mental synapses are all on fire and mapped so you can follow. There were a couple prints that still had the perfect-ish corcle but the translation between print to paper allowed for some satisfying unevenness. (Maybe all my ramblings are a rationale about my housekeeping and the state of my art room?) While visiting the show, I appreciated the openness of the artist as she spoke of her work. She spoke about her process, managing work and family and art. All of it is enmeshed, entangled.

 

 

Standard