So, firstly, sincere apologies for my long absence. Believe me, you would not have wanted to hear what I had to say all this time, so it has proven, in classic Gabriella contradictory manner, both a selfless and selfish act keeping the full extent of my mediocrity and misery to myself. I’m back, for now, thanks to another artist in a creative funk, who, one week ago, on her birthday, set herself the task of creating a heart-themed artwork daily for as many days as years she’s been here. A wonderful idea, birthday or not, and just what this funk and fog-bound artist needed to get the creativity happening again.
The idea was to create something and then journal about the process and its progress and the things learned along the way, or just random thoughts associated with each piece. One week in and I’ve been really good about creating and posting my daily results on Instagram and Facebook. Not so good on the accompanying explanations and observations. What, you want an artist who hasn’t written more than a to-do list and has mostly been taking pictures of weather, food and her cat the last almost half year not only to create a thoughtful piece of art but write about it too?
So here’s my compromise. If I am going to stick with this for 54 consecutive days, there is no way I am going to write about what I’ve done every day too. So let’s try this: weekly updates. Already I have described the origin of this project and how I feel about it. As for the first 7 creations, I can say the following: the heart in the dish of rocks with unicorn rampant? Hey, it was a start. I love that unicorn. It is Vermont marble and has followed me for decades of apartment, relationship and other life changes, from NYC to Boston and now back home to Vermont, so I suppose it represents return, survival and revival, which is what this enterprise and my entire life seem to be all about. The red pepper was a matter of making use of what was available. Very difficult not to drain the color out of this and pay tribute to Edward Weston’s famous black and white pepper portraiture. Side note: my subject was later eaten sliced open and slathered with peanut butter. Because I need to feed more than just my soul. The defrosted strawberry was another bit of found (or lazy) art. Until I saw the results I had no idea how gory it looked, or that I had basically made an image of a broken heart forced back together and trying to look pretty, but basically still a mess. Once again, after artmaking, I ate my subject, the implications of which I tried not to think about too much as I feasted on my own bloody halved heart.
This traced window heart may seem gimmicky but it happened on a morning of sub-zero temperatures and a mood immeasurably low, and to me felt like a statement that no matter how obscured the view or hostile the conditions, or impenetrable the barrier between inside and outside, self and other, one can create a window that transforms. Through love. Which has always been the driving force of my art in all its forms, including the art of love, which lately has been a frosty distant affair at best.
Books have been on my mind a lot lately. I left behind 12 boxes of them in storage when I moved into a smaller apartment in 2013. Now that I am in expansion mode again and my new place has room for my old books, I have been dreaming of retrieving them. Most of them. This involved going to the place in which they now languish and sorting through them, getting those 12 boxes down to the 9 I can reasonably accommodate. Any book lover knows this process requires not one but hundreds of re-enactments of a crucial scene in Sophie’s Choice. Because it turns out, I already winnowed over a thousand books down by a few hundred when I came to Vermont in 2012. And then had to decide which 500 to leave in storage and which 200 to live with the past few years. One of the core 200 was The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke, not a hard volume to replace had I let it go, but my copy has been with me since college and now needs to be on hand always. I will never forget reading this poem for the first time and thinking damn I wish I had written that. When I posted it last week, someone thought I HAD written it. Just now. Not in 1980 when I fell in love with it, or in 1940 when HE wrote it. Think on that, my bookish friends. Talk about return, survival and revival! As for getting the 12 boxes down to 9? Stay tuned. I may just shelve what I can and store the rest in my now quite dangerously capacious on-site storage closet.
Part of my recent funk has involved physical challenges. I am very much a creature of the flesh. All that sparkly life of the intellect is great, but I need to have a strong fit body I can take places and do things with, outside my own head. Badass kickass outrageous places and things in fact. Been losing touch with that and missing it. Notice the lack of nude self portraiture in this space? I’ve lacked both energy and desire for the whole process, not to mention not being able to get my mind and my body in the same room together much less speaking amicably. So, yesterday, I took a photo of myself in my underwear, showing off my tattoos, one of which looks very much like a heart. The history of my tattoos is all about my mind and body on the very best terms. So, this image is, once again, about love, of the self variety, and how it can come back around, or never quite go away.
And on the seventh day, it snowed. A lot. Perfect day to stay home and write my first blog post in almost half a year. Plus, I am pretty much in love with my deck. Hope to see it again soon. And I will, because nothing that gets buried stays that way for long.