Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008


I have now made it possible for anyone to post a comment on my blog, not just other bloggers or "google users".  So I'm looking forward to hearing from you, whoever you are....

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Self-Portrait as Lot's Wife, 2007

44"w x 66"h x 18"d

salt, polyurethane foam, polyurethane resin, mirror

This is a self portrait of me as Lot's wife - the character in the Bible who turned around to look back on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God punished her for by turning her into a pillar of salt.  Supposedly the moral of the story is to learn how to let go of your past and move on.  Salt is a preservative, so it represents what can happen if you don't heed this advice... you will never change, or be stuck in the same situation until you do.  

To make the sculpture, I first had to make a mold of my entire body with plaster gauze (which took two attempts... the first time I passed out).  I then cast into these molds (front half, back half, and head) with liquid expandable foam.  Next, I had to piece the different foam body parts together, carve them down, and spackle and sand the seams.  I coated the foam body with about a 1/4" of table salt in layers using spray glue.  The finished sculpture was positioned with one hand on the wall, looking back at itself in a small mirror.

As you can see, the sculpture self-destructed during the night before my review. It fell over, due to the fact that I didn't secure it to the wall.  A very stupid mistake on my part. But less unfortunately, it fell apart in a really amazing way.  

I put it back together for a solo show I had in Rochester in June, titled Self-ish. And then just a few days ago I threw it in the dumpster. I am so happy to have finally let go of my past.

pictures of Lot's Wife in progress

Before all the pieces were put together...

Attaching the head...

The finished figure of foam without the salt...

Looking into the mirror...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

smell jars

The next big project I am working on is a collection of smells.  I carry little glass jars around with me in my purse, and whenever I encounter a new aroma I "capture" it in a jar (in other words, I wave the jar around in the air while sniffing and then cork it up).  I label each smell with a small paper jewelry label tied around the neck of the jar with a string.  

(I am just now noticing the trend of attempting to "capture" things that can't be captured in these different projects... first thoughts, now smells... hmmm.)

At first the collection was random - random smells from random places - but recently I decided to collect all the smells from one "place".  I have decided that the "place" will be a one hundred square mile radius around Alfred University, which I will label with its geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude). 

The resulting installation is still in the brainstorming phase, but I am considering hanging all the little jars from the ceiling (another trend) with fishing wire in the shape of a cloud.  A silver-leafed wooden ladder would be positioned under the cloud for people to climb up into an opening in the center of the dangling glass jars and read their labels - the ladder being a portal to this ethereal otherworld.

Memory Machines

Recently I had a show at the Portland Art Center.  I installed a piece called Memory Machines that involved sound and a site-specific installation of a huge flock of Post-it note birds.  The idea behind it was based on the visual incarnation of the process of thought and a minds attempt to capture thoughts and memories. I "captured" all of my thoughts on Post-it notes for over a year and a half.  The notes were then stuck together to form little yellow birds, 2,000 of which were suspended from the ceiling with thin, straight wire. This "flock of thought" soared above three birdcages that represented the three areas of the brain (fore, mid and hindbrain) and their functions.  My voice streamed out of small speakers sitting in the cages, each one reciting different bits of information found on the notes floating overhead.

For opening night, the installation also had a kinetic component. I had five Post-it note birds moving up and down on rods that came up through the surface of a table (and were driven by a motor and pulleys below). Each bird's movement (speed and altitude) correlated to one of the five brainwaves that occur in our brains when we're thinking, sleeping, dreaming, etc. Unfortunately (and ironically), the sculpture started smoking and self-destructed in just a few hours, and the gallery asked me to remove it.

The show was reviewed on a blog called ultrapdx, which you can read here.

Memory Machines, 2007

dimensions variable

approximately 4,000 Post-it notes, stainless steel wire, foam core, 3 birdcages and aluminum stands, speakers, surround sound system, 300 feet of electrical wire

It's Nice to Meet You!

78"w x 83"h x 20"d

inflatable self-portrait, 2 blower fans, industrial fan, motion sensor, Arduino microprocessor, electrical components

The inflatable is activated by motion sensors when they detect the presence of another person. It then turns off and falls to the floor after 30 seconds, or the approximate amount of time it would take for a person to lose interest and walk away.

Self Portrait with Jazz Hands

This is a movie I made from the video documentation I took of the inflatable.  I was filming it and filming myself turning it on and off, and in one of the takes I went berserk and beat it up just for fun.  I had fun playing around with the songs and sound effects in i-movie.  I also put it on youtube, and someone posted a comment about it that I think sums it up perfectly:

"Oh my God.  How intensely satisfying it must have been to make a giant fan-inflated version of yourself and then beat the living crap out of it.  Brilliant."

It's Nice to Meet You!

The inflatable I eventually had made was my exact height (5'-7" tall) and proportions (36" chest, 29" waist and 41" hips). I hired a caricature artist I found on the internet to draw my face, and asked the manufacturer to make my "clothes" match the ones that I was wearing the day I took the pictures that I sent to them for reference. It was just a normal outfit of t-shirt and jeans that I happened to wear to my studio that day. Other than that, I really had no idea what this thing would look like until it arrived in the mail. The experience was overall AMAZING, because it turns out it's a lot of fun to get strangers to show you what you look like to the rest of the world... as an inflatable! The best part is how big they decided to make my head!

I think the next step for the project is going to involve motion sensors.  I would like to have the inflatable turn on only when people are close to it.  So when a viewer walks up it jumps up and acts excited, and when the viewer walks away it deflates and fall back to the floor.  I think it will be an interesting comment on human interaction and closeness.  I would call the installation "It's nice to meet you".

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

inflatable self portrait

The idea behind this project came from my love for those inflatable "tube men" that you see at car dealerships and other such establishments, usually advertising for a grand opening of some kind.  Those things make me laugh so much...the way they's hysterical.  I imagined making one that looked like me, and how that object would interact with people - essentially I would be advertising myself in one sense, and in another sense turning myself into a ridiculous spectacle.  One thing led to another, I googled "wacky arm flailing tube man" (it turns out that they are known in the business as "sky dancers"), and eventually emailed a few companies to find out how much it would cost to get one made in my image.  The first company that I dealt with sent me these ridiculous drawings.  Obviously I did not hire them, but got a good laugh out of it.