Friday, September 30, 2011

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then

Today I have weaving, which I love. I'm starting my Bob Dylan bracelets, which I also love. And after class, Debbie, Josh, Adam & I are going to Columbus to see a live performance of Brent Green's stop motion feature Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then. Which I love more than a lot of things, including salted caramel mochas, which are currently draining my bank account.

About a year ago exactly almost, Brent came to CIA, and I was lucky enough to have a studio visit with him. Some of the things he told me are ideas I still think about and reference when working on my own art. He's an amazing storyteller, and his animations are so unique and beautiful. And this one even has an animated car crash. So cool.

Tonight is one of his live performances, where he shows the film, but plays the soundtrack and narration LIVE. I'm so excited. Last year he showed a DVD of Gravity at CIA's Cinematheque, but I'm sure it's even more interesting live.

I'm sure I could gush about how fantastic his work is and how he's one of my favorite artists for longer than you care to read. But instead I would rather watch his entire Vimeo account before weaving.

I'm so excited. I hope your weekend is just as fantastic as mine will be.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How To Prevent People From Stealing Your Stuff (100% Effective)

We have a running joke in our family. My grandpa (not the one with the bear, the other one) was known for writing his name on EVERYTHING, often accompanied by his address. This was always in black or silver Sharpie. Always. And everything. I'm talking, his camera bag, tools, notebooks, tv set, and everything else. When he died, when I was in 6th grade, my dad took us over to his house a lot to clean things up, and I was allowed to keep any pens that I found. I ended up with several quality Uniball pens of various colors, and some silver Sharpies as well. Which is treasure to a 12 year old artist. I still have that green Uniball pen, and I'm afraid of using it up one day.

Anyway. Tangent over.

So in our family, if we write our name excessively on our belongings or on things that don't really need our names, or include our address or supplementary information, we call it "pulling a Ron" after my grandpa. So on occasion, I label something ridiculous in block letters in silver Sharpie. Just for fun. But I'm a little more specific with art supplies. Sometimes because things are overly large, or because I'm just running to get coffee around the corner and don't feel like locking everything up, I have to leave them in a classroom studio where anyone could take them. And let's be honest: art students are pretty much always broke. Between art supplies and caffeine addictions, our bank accounts have no hope. So having something out in the open can be pretty tempting. Here's how I have successfully avoided things being stolen (besides one umbrella freshman year, which was not labeled).

1. Be nice to people. If they know you and like you, they are less likely to steal your things without feeling guilty. Unless they're just really bad people. And I don't really know too many of those.

2. Label things with your first & last name (even if you're the only Michaela in your school) in an easy to find, obvious place.

3. Include a note. This is the important part. Here are some examples.

Michaela will bite you if you try to swap studio spaces. Fo realz, though.

The sheep whose wool this yarn was made from is one Michaela rescued. It is very important that only she uses this wool and makes art about this extraordinary experience.

If you take this harddrive, Michaela will cry magnetic tears that will only follow you around so you will be treading water for the rest of your life.

Don't even think about breathing on this computer or else velociraptors will hunt you down and bite off your pinky fingers.

This is Michaela's ruler and you shouldn't steal it because stealing is mean and that would make you a mean person, and you don't want that, do you?

This is not your paper! This is Michaela's paper, and she will make wonderful things with it. If you steal it, she will not be able to make wonderful things, and humanity will suffer due to this deficit in art. All because you're a thief.

So last year I had this handy dandy 36" roll of tracing paper (ahhh, repeat pattern silkscreen projects) that I frequently left in the fiber studio. But I labeled it with my name and "This is not your paper." (Oh, in capital letters, of course. That's key in making sure people know you're serious.) And sometimes I let Debbie use some. So in the summer when I realized I never took it hope, I figured Debbie might have it. But I kept forgetting to ask her. And I thought about it again a few days ago, and once again it slipped my mind. Until today, when I ran into someone else from that silkscreen class who said they needed to apologize! Why? Because she realized she had taken 2 rolls of tracing paper home without realizing it, and she read my note ("This is not your paper.") and realized it was mine! She's returning it, obviously, and she felt really bad. But it was an easy mistake, and I wasn't mad at all. And, this just proves that my labeling method is absolutely effective because the only time something was stolen, it was (well, will be) returned!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Bob Dylan Dilemma

I graduate this Spring. Which means I'll spend the next several months of my life not sleeping/making art. Basically, your BFA (as we refer to our Bachelor of Fine Arts thesis project) is a year's worth of freak outs and artwork. Sort of. Maybe. I've always looked forward to it, because a whole year to work on one body of work is amazing. A lot of my projects have felt hindered by deadlines. But in a year, I know I can make something wonderful. And that's a lot of pressure.

Today was our first in-progress presentation. Basically, we were supposed to get up in front of the other seniors in Digital Arts (how strange is it that I LOVE analog, and yet I'm in the digital arts area?), open our Power Points, and show our current thesis statement, and what we've been researching. In a time limit. Thinking about ideas as a "thesis" was super stressing me out, so I decided I would present "Things I've Been Thinking About Lately." Also, I decided I wanted to do an analog presentation because I hate how we distance ourselves through a digital interface, which is relevant to my "thesis." And this analog presentation turned into me dressing up like Bob Dylan (jeans, button-down shirt, vest, messy hair) and holding up small poster boards. Basically, I copied this video.
I made sure that my posters weren't always exactly what I was saying. And I made sure I spelled success as "suckcess." And I ended with "WHAT??" And I made sure to reference some songs of his. The thing is, last year, when I first started thinking about my thesis, Bob Dylan kept popping up on my Pandora. And I loved that he always sang about people and told these beautiful and terrible stories. But there was something genuine about them. And I liked that. And I liked that he was called a chronicler. And I realized I wanted to be a chronicler, too. So when I run out of ideas, I make sure to listen to some of his ballads, and then I remember why I'm doing this.

So I made a list of what I wanted to do. What I wanted to be. What role I wanted to play in my thesis besides the artist. What approach I wanted to take. And this is what I said (which I memorized, because I happen to be graced with a fantastic memory, and I try to take advantage of it when I can):

I want to be Bob Dylan. I want to be a chronicler. I want to travel around the country and meet interesting people and tell their stories. I want to play the harmonica and drink coffee and say what needs to be said. I want to listen when no one else will and value personal stories, even if I’m the only one. But I don’t want to be the only one. I want to encourage people to consider more than selfish concerns and immediate answers. I want people to appreciate sentimental value more than material wealth. I want people to think about their ideas of success and its effect on their communities. But Bob Dylan and I never quite agreed. He measured lives in mornings and miles, but I measure mine in mournings and smiles. He sang about the days passing but I think about the passing days. Bob Dylan was born in 1941 and I should have been born in 1936. He sings songs that will last forever, but I want our memories to last forever. I want to collect these memories from individuals throughout the land. I want to show their importance, and the importance of sharing our stories with others. I want to elevate these accounts to the level of historic documents. I want them to be valuable. I don’t want to be just a chronicler. I want to be a curator, in the 14th century sense of the word. I want to be a guardian of souls.

And my thesis, as it currently stands, in its simplest, most basic state, is that the Sentimental Archive aims to inspire people to take an interest in the personal stories of others, because the sharing of experiences evokes empathy between individuals, which helps strengthen a community.

Maybe. That's what I'm thinking about right now. The presentation went over really well and sparked a really helpful dialogue. Unfortunately (to me, anyway), I was really encouraged to consider performance art as an aspect. But I am not at all interested in labeling anything I do as a performance. I don't want to imply false fronts or spectacles. I want to have honest, sincere, and engaging interactions with my audience. But I don't want that to be the piece. I want that to inspire the piece. I think.

Art makes you think a lot. So for now I'm going to make things and try not to think. Maybe my ideas will sort themselves out. Maybe I will end up listening to Bob Dylan in a bit.

PS. My blog re-design is almost done. But I have other priorities before I call it finished.
PPS. I'm hoping to update more, with shorter posts. But in case you were really curious as to where I disappeared to, now you know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stop. Hammertime.

But seriously though. Don't read my blog until I say you can. I'm in the process of changing the design because I'm an indecisive flaky artist who is never happy with anything and can't function in less than beautiful settings.

But seriously though, I'm super hard working and a total perfectionist with changing aesthetics who wants to make beautiful spaces.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I write best when I write on my skin.

I've had writer's block all week. I've been in a bit of a creative funk all week. Not the idea-hindering, everything-I-think-is-pointless, my-art-has-no-value kind of funk. Just an overwhelming, frustrating, can't-find-the-write-words-for-my-thesis, wish-I-was-Bob-Dylan funk.

I've tried writing on scrap paper and sketchbooks, on tracing paper and graph paper, on Moleskine and Post-Its. I've tried making lists and bullet points and venn diagrams and brain maps. But my words didn't match up and sentences couldn't be found.

I started writing down my arm until I hit my elbow. My ideas finally began to make sense. I've been told they made sense all along, but not to me. They were tangled up in knots. But I feel better now.

I have my first BFA in-progress presentation on Wednesday. Before then, I need to read more books, write more words, buy lots of poster board, re-sew a button on a vest, and watch this video on repeat.

Fact: I have ideas.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

She made herself stronger by fighting with the wind.

I've been busy working on my BFA thesis, enameled dioramas, jackelope marionettes, recreating the Pony Express, and redoing my blog design while also working on a design for my sister, Ciara's blog.
Needless to say, I live in my studio. More or less. I love Fiber for giving me this spacious studio with plenty of room to make marvelous things. So while I have ink and tracing paper on my desk, I have an in-progress word map on my wall, paper doll pieces on my floor, and a thermos of broccoli soup by my side. And it's still neat and tidy. Or so I think.
Today I finalized Ciara's blog design. Well, finalized for now. Unfortunately I am very busy. And it's difficult to design when she hasn't posted anything yet. It's ok, though. She promised she'd update tonight.

I went into this knowing that it would be mostly original writing, mixed with personal entries and some posts about inspiration elsewhere. And knowing that Ciara is a bookworm. Her title she picked was from The Secret Garden. I still think of her as Mary Lennox, and she still thinks of me as Sara Crewe. Mary Lennox wore a red hat and Sara Crewe wore a green dress. So while working on our designs, I wanted them to correlate, and to at least mean something to us as sisters. So her color scheme features this rich autumn red, and mine is a lovely clover green. The links on the side (which, when you hover, reveal that they are pages titled About, Original Writing, Inspiration, Personal, and Links), are quotes taken from the novel as well.
Everything is animated a little bit, including this photo on her About page. Which I so graciously filled in. Ha. Ciara started college this year. She's studying creative writing. So her blog will be filled with beautiful words and wonderful thoughts. She also writes music. So maybe she'll post some of that as well. I sure hope so. She did the music for this animation of mine, after all.

So go take a look. And be sure to comment and tell her that her stories changed your life. Because I'm sure they will.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.

Or so said one of my favorite directors of all time.

Here's how my brain works. September means Autumn and Autumn means Halloween and Halloween means scary movies and scary movies mean Alfred Hitchcock.
In the Lynch family, you grow up watching classics like Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and Psycho before you're old enough to cross the street without holding hands. It's how we do. Sure, Double Double Toil & Trouble and Tower of Terror will always be favorites for me and my sisters, but we like to really be scared. Like, convinced your house is haunted, afraid to look in mirrors, need to watch Hannah Montana stat, kind of scared. And maybe that's not a good sign if we were to be evaluated by a shrink. We try to keep it to a minimum throughout the year. Well, nothing outrageous anyway. But once October rolls around (and, let's face it, September pretty much is an extension of October, as is November), it's horror season.

One of my earliest memories of my aunt is watching the classic 30s horror flicks on VHS during thunderstorms. My dad was the one who made me start reading Stephen King  when we started reading chapter books in school (only after watching Pet Semetary at my grandma's house). In 6th grade, I dressed up like a princess with glass sticking out of my neck and face and stuff for a Halloween party. It was awesome. I even have this sweet vinyl record in my collection
Hitchcock has always held a special place in my heart. I haven't seen all of them (Dear Mom, you know that beautiful DVD collection of his films? My birthday is in 3 months, 1 week, and 2 days.), but I love what I've seen. Psycho will always be amazing, but I think The Birds is my favorite. We read the short story that inspired the film in high school, and I also did a comparison in another class of the story vs. the movie. And once I came to CIA, I learned that art kids don't mess around when it comes to Halloween parties. So I dressed up as Melanie Daniels, Tippi Hendren's famous character.
(Note: better pictures exist, showing that there are more than 2 birds attacking me. But to be honest, I didn't feel like searching through external harddrives.)

Last year, Psycho came to the Cinematheque in all it's 35mm goodness. That one's a classic, but to see it on the big screen, on film makes it even better. And, if possible, Mr. Norman Bates was even more terrifying. Highlight of my life. One of them, anyway.

So while doing so research for a series of embroideries I wanted to make, I came across this portfolio of images shown in the 2008 Hollywood Edition of Vanity Fair magazine. I don't know why I didn't see this sooner, because it's BRILLIANT. They took some of Hitchcock's most iconic scenes (which are even more amazing to think that they don't even last that long, but everyone remembers them), and recreated them with contemporary Hollywood actors. So I've compiled all of the 11 images here and, for your convenience, set it so that when you hover over an image, it shows you the original still the photograph was based on. So without further ado, the Hitchcock Hollywood Portfolio!
Dial M for Murder
Rear Window
Strangers on a Train
To Catch a Thief
The Birds

See the Vanity Fair photos here, and read a behind the scenes article here.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hey Girl.

My life is changed.

Now, if I can ever get my act together, I think I might start a feature on this little blog o' mine, called Videos That Are Changing My Life This Week. I think it's brilliant. Especially since I have a whole bookmark folder titled just that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living.

(Another brilliant line from my favorite book ever.)
I've mentioned it before, and I continually go back to this book. No matter how many times I read it and re-read it, I learn something, and life makes more sense. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close tells the story of 9 year old Oskar Schell who loses his father and sense of place in this world on September 11th. Told from Oskar's point of view, with interspersed segments written by other key characters, Oskar travels throughout New York City, trying to make sense of things, and hoping to find the origin of a key that belonged to his father. 
It seems so strange to me that the attacks happened 10 years ago. I have a strong memory, but I can remember exact conversations from that day. I was in sixth grade. I remember my teacher strangely putting down all the shades. I remember they needed a volunteer to take envelopes to all the classrooms. I had no idea what those envelopes contained, but I was excited to have been picked. I told my neighbor, who picked us up that day, how excited I was to get out of class to deliver envelopes to classrooms. She told me that a lot had happened that day. Being the nosy kid I've always been, I fished for an explanation. And on the ride home, pointed out every strange thing I saw. The flag half-staff at the fire department. Businesses unexpectedly closed for the day. People hugging absolutely everywhere. My sisters and I went inside our house and threw our backpacks down. Ciara and McKenna, in 3rd grade and kindergarten at the time, went to the kitchen to get their after school snack. I called my mom and demanded an explanation. I remember her sigh. I can still count the seconds between that sigh and the sentence. She told me to turn on the news. Ciara came in. We were 11 and 8 years old. And we watched the footage and listened to reporters inform us that people hated our country so much that they attacked us. McKenna came in and asked what was going on. Ciara is quick on her feet and told her it was an old movie. With the footage at the time being in black and white, she didn't question it.
We were fortunate enough to not have any family or friends that were in New York City then. But that wasn't true for everyone at my school. I remember people telling their stories, and the discussions that followed year after year as we held candle-lit services. And I guess that's the good that came from all of this. People were so open and honest. We could all admit to being scared. We could all share our stories, because so many of us, even though we were just kids, remember the seconds of hesitation just as I do.
I like Oskar's stories. I like his grandmother's stories. I like that I can relate to them, even though I wasn't there. And even though they are fictional. Because I know that there's an Oskar out there somewhere, with a grandma who contacts him on his walkie talkie. And they'll have their own stories, and I'll probably be interested in them. I like stories. I like open and honest and sincere stories. I like stories so much that my year-long BFA thesis project deals directly with stories and memories and sharing experiences.
I like silly stories and sincere stories. I like ones that don't make sense at all and ones that make sense of everything. I like ones with perfect endings and those that are perfect without endings. And I like hearing these stories from the people who experienced them. I like that level of empathy that comes from these personal exchanges. And I like the respect generated for the people sharing their wisdom and experiences.
They're turning this book into a movie. And I don't know how I feel about it. Tom Hanks is in it, which is promising, but the book is so, so perfect. And it's visual literature. Will it translate as well on film if you can't see the layers of text printed over each other, or the corrected newspaper articles, or the picture of the apes, or the pages that are completely blank save for one thought, or the flip book at the end?
It took me a long time to finish this book the first time. Because I never wanted it to end. I wanted Oskar's ramblings to continue. I wanted to learn about his daily adventures. I wanted to save all his memories. But that's what I'm doing now, with my BFA, and for all the Oskars out there. I want to save your memories. I want to hear your stories. And if it counts for anything, this book really does have an absolutely fitting ending. It's perfect.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday Picnics

This year, we decided to enjoy a picnic every Thursday. And until Cleveland decides it's winter, we find some lovely patches of grass and bring food to share with good friends. And once the weather begins to disagree, we'll move our picnics to Megastudio, but more about that later when I can give you a proper tour (probably after our astroturf is ready).
With all this time sitting in the grass, I've become pretty fast at creating clover crowns of all kinds. This Thursday, I even made this out of some of the leaves that started falling. 
It was so fun, and turned out pretty well, considering my leaf choices were limited. Once they start falling full swing, I need to collect a bunch to embroider on. I love Autumn!
I think Debbie totally pulls it off.
Thursdays I also have an enameling class. Right now we're just doing samples and playing with the material and the different marks you can make. This is actually the firescale that came off of one of mine, and not the enamel itself. But it looks like a galaxy. I love it.
Plus the firescale (showing the opposite side of which here) leaves really interesting organic patterns on the copper. I really can't wait to start making wonderful things. It's a bummer this is the first time the class has fit into my schedule.
I'm also working on a rotoscope test. Hopefully, it will turn into a finished animation, but more importantly, it's fun & relaxing and helps to develop a style before I move onto rotoscoping something more important this year...
I need to find a forest somewhere within walking distance (ha!) so I can look at trees and figure out how I want to draw them. I'm not completely satisfied yet.
And, in case you couldn't tell, my library patronage has only increased with it being just down the hall from Megastudio. But it's so handy having all these resources right there. I love Megastudio.

Also, I hope you don't mind this cheesy action I used to distract you from the phone/Photo Booth quality of these pictures. Haha. But this is a few of the cool things I've been working on.

Now back to my Friday night of writing things for my BFA. Woohoo!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

There are no four-leaf clovers left in Cleveland.

No wonder the city's been down on it's luck.
I spent this entire summer determined to find one of these beauties, making plenty of clover crowns in the process, but anything I thought might be one turned out to be 2 three-leaf clovers tangled together. I almost feel obligated to find one, as someone of Irish heritage, in order to prove I'm worthy, or something. Worthy of what, I don't know. Perhaps the luck of the Irish we supposedly all have. I don't consider myself lucky, by any means, but I do consider myself fortunate. Maybe that's why I'll never find one, because of my vocabulary. Or because I'm grateful, and I don't need luck. But I still would like to find one. Debbie thinks I'll find one on a really important day, like my wedding day or something. Which makes me not want to look for them until then. That's silly, though.

I spent my years in Detroit searching for them, too, and after growing up with no success in my search, there seemed to be a reason for the state of Detroit's economy. Maybe one day I'll find a patch of four leaf clovers and relocate them to Detroit, where they'll grow and spread. Maybe it'll fix the economy. Maybe I'll call it art.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Beach Barbeque

Today, we celebrated autumn weather, good friends, our last day to relax before BFA craziness ensues, and Labor Day.
 So we all headed down to the beach for a barbeque.
 Adam & I both took lots of pictures with our twin cameras.
 Josh used Debbie as a wind barrier. What a gentleman!
 We all ended up huddled around the grill for warmth.
 Adam did the grilling for awhile. At least while Mike & Josh were at Walmart.
 Judy judged Adam's attempt at grilling what became "beef chunks."
 Adam preferred watching, anyway.
 Mike took over, and Adam used a towel for warmth.
 We wore stripes, plaid, and 101 Dalmatians.
 We had no idea how you were supposed to grill corn, but it was 4/$1, so we tried it!
 Josh & Adam huddled for warmth with their towel blankets.
And Mike was left eating his corn while cooking for the rest of us.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

92% of the time...

I hate when people say "fine art photography." Not that there isn't such thing as fine art photography, just that the people who usually describe their work as such have no idea what "fine art" means. They just happen to have a camera.

Then again, who am I do define "fine art." (Or to define anything, for that matter. This is when I begin questioning everything and talk myself out of every potentially good idea I've ever had.) Ok, end rant.

Back to thinking about BFA, researching artists, working on a surprise, watching CSI, and making dreamcatchers. No class tomorrow, just good friends and good food and a good blog update. I promise.