All great art is a form of complaint. - John Cage

Most anarchists are gentle people.
-Anna Zilboorg

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Carin Rodenborn

Carin and Me

Adrienne Callander to Carin Rodenborn:

Tell me that you understand!  (My last five blogs have been somewhat confessional. . .)

Carin Rodenborn to Adrienne Callander:


adrienne, it would be easy for me to say don't be scared, but that doesn't mean it would be easy for you to not be scared.  at least among my close artist friends (mostly women), i have heard this fear of making and putting the work out in the world countless times.  and i definitely struggle with it.  it can be downright frightening!  it's not talked about much publicly though, because the field is full of competition and facade.  but, what are you scared of?  it can't be that your sculptures will hate you!  although they are very much like babies, then children, then teenagers, then older than us somehow.  my hope (and fear that it won't happen) is that they grow old gracefully.  but usually they end up in storage.  but, let me say, that's not a reason not to make them!

i sublet my studio in may, for financial reasons, and i thought i would be dying to get back in there by now, but i'm not.  the heat definitely has something to do with it, but i don't think that's the only reason.  and it's not that i'm lacking for ideas of things to make.  i have them, but i'm not quite ready to buckle down and realize them.  could it be this fear?  for me the fear is that they will have nowhere to go when they are birthed and ready to enter the world.  and then that fear turns into thinking that maybe the work is not good enough, interesting enough, smart enough.  (i hear an al franken saturday night live skit in my head!)  then i look at other work and know that mine can play alongside the art that is out there.

i've never been one to constantly be in the studio making.  i have long and short stretches of active making, and long and short stretches of unproductive time.  but of course it's not really unproductive.  i'm just not producing an object or an image.  i used to feel bad about the down time, but i've come to think of that time between as essential for research and relaxing.  much needed for me to sustain the next round of making.  that's where i'm at now.  though i did try to make some drawings yesterday at the kitchen table and that was nice.

what kind of sculptures do you have in mind?  i'm excited for you!

i haven't read anything by rebecca solnit yet.  but she's on my list now!  have you read Centering in Pottery, Poetry and the Person by m.c. richards?  sarah sent it to me and i'm reading it right now.  i think you might appreciate it.

i love kiki smith BECAUSE she just makes stuff.  i often think of her fearlessness in making and wish that i could hold some of it for my own making.  of course, you have inspired me in this way too, so i think you are already onto something.  :)

xoxox c.

Adrienne Callander to Carin Rodenborn:

Oh, Carin, thanks for REALLY writing back.  I have been trying to trust process, but it is so difficult.  When Kiki Smith led our printmaking workshop, she yelled at us for not making enough - she said our hands should always be moving.  And my hands HAVE been in constant motion the last four years, knitting, felting, now sewing and papermaking.  No problem.  No stress.  Now craft (noble craft, not decoupage) has run its course, and feels empty, not so relaxing anymore and this tells me that it is time again for IDEAS.  But, now that I want it all to serve some greater purpose (product vs. process), I am so discouraged. I cannot get the gallery space out of my head (the ideal of it - I do not have one in particular in mind); it oppresses me - so do finances.  I am carrying Alice Neel and Agnes Martin in my head - but neither were any good at family life.  Neel painted no matter what, right through the impoverishment and beatings of her children and Martin advocated against civic engagement.  Neel was selfish and Martin was a hermit, but they had a studio life because they rejected outside pressures.  I have a family and a demanding job, but the outside pressure is in my head.  My mother suggested that I am too considerate of authority.  True!  Authority in the form of art history.  How to leave it all behind. . .I take courage from the image of you at your kitchen table drawing.

So, to report, I have spent the last 48 hours building myself a wet press for my basement studio.  I had the best time talking to two old timers at Home Depot and Woodcraft - talking to guys in the trades, walking into a metal yard or a welder's shop always compels me.  Sam at Home Depot called his buddy, John, to discuss the construction of my press and they sent me to Jim at Woodcraft, who called John to further discuss.  I love that form of education. I also caught a tip that the public school system's adult education program is the place for me and I am totally going to take Basic Sewing, Carpentry I and Grant Writing (one at a time, I suppose).

(Fear creeps in that I have spent too much time outside the studio, prepping can turn into an endless activity.)

Back in my studio, I am prepping to make paper the wrong way - screen door mesh, quarter round, and staples for my deckle, no dry press.  My plan is to use papermaking to produce a raw material.

I had a babysitter when I was very little who quit culinary school the day that none of her 12 loaves rose; I think that the unrisen is as interesting as the risen.  I bet Kiki Smith thinks everything she does is worthwhile.

Ok, now writing to Carin is supplanting time in the studio, facing myself.

Love you lots.


Carin Rodenborn to Adrienne Callander:

your press and papermaking plans are exciting!  i totally want to take sewing and carpentry.  lack of skills in both of these areas has held me back from an idea on more than one occasion.  time to remedy that, i believe.

neel and martin are often in my head too.  it can be easy to romanticize their dedication, despite knowing of their abandonments.  elizabeth murray is a good mom/artist role model i think.  i love her on art 21 when she brings her daughters into the studio to critique a painting she is working on... she invites her kids to participate in the process!  i bet you do that already, even though finn is still a little guy. :)

the fear is the part of the process that lets me know that my ideas are worth making.  without it, i might not be interested enough to pursue them.  really, there is no way you can fail, adrienne.  like you said, "the unrisen is as interesting as the risen." !!!

can't wait to see what you make!
much love, c.

Manifesto for an Intimate Art

In lieu of the clever, I propose a return to the heartfelt (and maybe, also, the handheld).

Intimate Art

Xemme's addition to my wall gallery - I have loved this embroidered ladder for years.  I held her sneakers hostage for two months and finally negotiated a trade for this piece.  When you have no money, you have to be especially shrewd.

Kindergarten: First Day

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tiny Chairs

Maybe my problem is scale.

Attending to weather

Lee Bontecou makes capital "S" sculptures.  I am afraid to make my sculptures.  They are going to occupy space and stare back at me.  I yelled at my mother when I was in high school:  "Why did you have me?!  Why did you bother?  Why did you try so hard?  Look at me!  I'm hideous!  My clothes are disgusting.  I'm ugly.  I hate you."  This is what the sculptures will say to me.  They are going to HATE me.  And still, I am going to have them.  Idiot.

"There's an art of attending to weather, to the route you take, to the landmarks along the way, to how if you turn around you can see how different the journey back looks from the journey out, to reading the sun and moon and stars to orient yourself, to the direction of running water, to the thousand things that make the wild a text that can be read by the literate.  The lost are often illiterate in this language that is the language of the earth itself. . ." - Rebecca Solnit, A Field guide to Getting Lost.


"I was never lost in the woods in my whole life, though once I was confused for three days." 
- Daniel Boone

I can, I will, I will, I can.


Dear Studio, I am afraid of you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Domestic Scenery

In other news of art and domesticity, the wall to a secret hidden fort sprang up at breakfast and blocks me from my studio today.

Art of Domesticity

Kiki Smith has me wondering and wandering.  Speaking of wandering, have you read any Rebecca Solnit? "A Field Guide to Getting Lost" or "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"?  So lovely.  Required reading for my advanced studio classes.

So, back to Kiki Smith.  I am having difficulty as I re-enter studio life thinning the barrier between what I want to make (stuff) and what my over-educated brain tells me I should make (which is nothing, because what is there to SAY?!)  I think Kiki Smith makes stuff.  Ahhhh.