no woman is an island

Maria sends an email… I will be back in town next week and was wondering if you have any of your work on exhibit right now. We have friends coming into town for a few days and I’m thinking of things for us to do. So if you were showing somewhere I would love to take our friends. One of them is an artist herself.

I invite Maria, Susan and Laura to come to my studio.

As you might expect  anatomy study surrounds us. We talk the body for a good while. Laura personally relates to the newest kidney drawing sitting on my table. Susan wants to know about materials – the paint and paper.  I understand she has worked in woodcut and now does linocut.

Do you have any prints, she wonders. This question always confuses me. Do people mean a reproduction like a giclée or poster? Or do they mean an original print? I’m a printmaker. I stumble with the words … I have real prints, I say.

Maria wants to know about one particular small print. I’ve only thought about anatomy lately so I have to stop, change focus and think … considering the content of the work, I find it amusing. I can tell Susan and Laura do too.

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Self-Sustaining Confusion, MM – Collage and hand-painted print, 12 x 10″

Here it is, in a nutshell:
The title – Self-Sustaining Confusion – I find in physicist David Bohm’s book On Creativity. I write the phrase on a piece of paper and leave it on my work table. Weeks pass and one day the rest of the composition formulates while I listen to NPR.  A scientist talks about the brain chemistry at various stages of awareness (or lack of) and I hear things like 69 unfolded proteins and limited real-estate in the brain. And that’s that, I pull out a piece of copper and start drawing.

We talk printmaking and intaglio. This is a dry point.  I use a sharp-pointed tool to  scratch the image directly on a copper-plate (I love copper!). Can you see it? ↓ The process of both printmaking and collage tend to free me up, work flows more stream of consciousness.

About this print in particular – If I recall correctly I pull 15 prints, only 7 of them are worth saving. In general the drypoint technique won’t allow for too many pulls, the marks are too irregular.

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copper plate with drawing on it

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a few pulls of the print

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Each image varies slightly. This one is the first image I collage and paint in the series of 7.

We talk about California (where they are from), the ocean, and the desert. We discuss raising chickens (I learn some things) and having fresh eggs (Susan does).  Of course I bring up making  egg tempera paint. They leave my home with plans to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s (Taliesin West).

Ladies, I appreciate our morning together. Thank you Susan for wanting to take home Self-Sustaining Confusion. It’s the last one of that series. Enjoy it!

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The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.

a cicada from kansas city

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“My mother is on vacation from Minnesota and texted me some of your images at ASU. I love them. I love bugs and bats and anatomy and maps and you have put them all together in the most beautiful way…”


“My husband and I are from Kansas City and are print makers…
…we dabble in collage as well so really appreciate what you are doing.
…Do you have any cicadas? …if you decide you would like some cicadas, I have quite the collection of them and would be happy to send some along for inspiration.”

A few weeks later a package arrives!

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This is the one I choose to study and paint. I find two used Missouri maps here in Phoenix – what are the odds of that! I plan on another composition soon.

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mixed media collage, 12 x 12″

Krystal shares more:
“….Aren’t they amazing. Right after they shed their husks they are completely white. I sit with them on my hand and watch them turn into their colors, their wings are tiny little clumps and then as they dry they uncurl and form into shape. It takes about 45 minutes and it’s the coolest thing to watch. Each group is a different size and marked differently.
…The orange wings came off small, all black cicadas from last summer. I didn’t keep their bodies because they weren’t particularly interesting, but I had never seen orange wings before. If I find them soon enough after they die and they are still flexible, I can pin the wings out and dry them that way. I am just fascinated with them. Glad you find them beautiful, enjoy.”

Krystal and her husband are artists and printmakers from Kansas City, Missouri.

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There’s magic and myth associated with Cicadas, worth looking up if you’re inclined. They symbolize carefree living, resurrection and immortality. They connect to the ideas of spiritual realization and spiritual ecstasy.

Thank you Krystal! Yes, they are amazing.

There’s more to this story, but I’ll save that for another time. I plan to show the Kansas Cicada, along with other studies, in the STEAM exhibition, opening next month at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

today i am a biologist

 

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Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping. –    Julia Margaret Cameron


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This is the second time I make a map. The first, a few years back, was a map of the city of Phoenix laid out as a living cell. I made it for an invitational exhibition called You Are Here. That summer I saw myself as a cartographer. With this new drawing the cell itself is primary, the city is secondary and I am a biologist mapping out the smallest unit of life.

In esoteric teaching it’s believed there exists a blueprint of the physical body. Changes in the body occur in the blueprint before they appear into its physical form. As I work I think there must be a blueprint for each and every individual cell. Imagine that!

I can probably still call this work You are Here. You think cells are inside you but in fact you are in each cell. Are you the life in each tiny cell? Could you in fact be the maker of each cell?

Am I the maker of the blueprint?  Am I the one who maps out each and every cell? I can only say for certain – today I am.

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Detail shot of the cell.

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The Nucleus controls activities and contains the cells genetic material (DNA). The And the Endoplasmic Reticulum is like a labrynth holding and moving molecules.

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The Golgi Body packages proteins and lipids before they get sent to their destination.


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The Mitochondria is the power plant of the cell and holds its own DNA

I didn’t plan to work this big but in the end it’s allowed for me to really think about the space I fill – the space I live in.

 

caballo del mar

Caballo del Mar is Spanish for Seahorse.

A student gives me this small seahorse that once belonged to her grandmother. She gives it to me because she says she knows I’ll paint it. Aimee is correct. I accept the precious object knowing I will complete an anatomy study.

10426783_10152851786292298_1382095722110227132_nThe seahorse is a marine fish in the genus Hippocampus. Hippocampus comes from the Ancient Greek, hippo meaning horse and kampos meaning sea monster.

A few facts:

  • These creatures have independently moving eyes.
  • Their body is covered with consecutive rings of bony plates.
  • Seahorses are fish. They use gills to breathe and have a swim bladder to help regulate their buoyancy. Note: they are not very good swimmers.
  • They have no teeth and no stomach. Food moves through their digestive system quickly; they eat almost constantly to stay alive.
  • The male gives birth, he carries the brood pouch.
  • I believe, when I begin the composition, seahorses mate for life (which is why I paint two), and though they do form a bond, I learn for most, it is usually only through breeding season.

Seahorses were given international protection on May 15, 2004 (under CITES). Millions are now being traded around the world for many reasons including for their use in traditional Chinese medicine. There is also deterioration occurring in the Coral reefs and seagrass were they make their home. Learning this, I have to say, I’d feel even more saddness for them if they did mate for life.

I wish we could be better caretakers of all of life.

Here is the finished anatomy study of a female (facing left) and male (at bottom) seahorse. I place them in the Pacific Ocean, because they are found in warmer waters.

Thanks Aimee.

Caballos del Mar, Mixed Media collage, 12 x 12″

Caballos del Mar, Mixed Media collage, 12 x 12″

Seahorse’s symbolize:

  • Patience
  • Friendliness
  • Protection
  • Inflexibility
  • Persistence
  • Contentment

el murciélago

Murciélago is Spanish for bat. I like the word, and I like the creature.

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Approximately 70 species of bats live in the Sonoran desert region, about 27 of those species live right here in the state of Arizona, more than in any other state. I live near a bat colony and note them as they occasionally fly about the neighborhood.

About bats:
Bats are from the order of Chiroptera (meaning hand-wing), which describes their most unusual anatomical feature and the reason why it’s the only mammal naturally capable of true and sustained flight. In the course of working on this study I learn more about this magnificent nocturnal creature.

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  • A bats body is hairy while a leathery membrane makes up its wonderful wings.
  • Bats are not blind though see best at night.
  • They use echo-location to maneuver through space, and to help find shelter and prey.
  • They have an acute sense of smell which helps in the rearing of their young in large maternity colonies. In fact, it’s the way they find their own young in the midst of hundreds of others. I find it particularly interesting that colonies include non-reproducing females that help with rearing duties.

In the lower elevations of Arizona bats mate in late Spring, maybe as early as March.  In Northern Arizona bats can hibernate 5 to 8 months. 

Bats are in serious decline. They are an important part of our ecosystem helping to keep populations of night-flying insects like mosquitos, in control. They disperse seeds and pollinate many plants. In the state of Arizona bats and bat colonies are protected by law.

Symbolism:
Because bats live in the belly of Mother Earth, they symbolize death and rebirth. They are  reborn every evening at dusk. The Native Americans observed them as highly social creatures with strong familial ties. While the bat is nurturing, verbal, enjoys touch, it is also shy, intelligent and gentle.

Bat medicine teaches us to release fear. Think new beginnings.

 

studying a tarantula hawk

10653809_10152734901582298_1046389924362837580_n My friend Patricia gives me this tarantula hawk for my insect anatomy series. She finds it dead inside her home. I learn it’s the official state insect of New Mexico. After what I read about the wasp I wonder why the Land of Enchantment would adopt such a creäture. Ironically there are a few animals that will eat a tarantula hawk wasp – the road runner, New Mexico’s state bird, is one of them.

The tarantula hawk is a spider wasp with a metallic blue body and rust colored wings. This one here has large, silvery graphite eyes (very New Mexico if you ask me). The striking appearance is aposematism  or warning coloration that benefits predator and prey – the wasp has a most painful sting. Despite these qualities it is relatively docile and attacks only when provoked.

The female wasp hunts tarantulas. When she captures one, she paralyzes and drags it to her nest where she lays a single egg in the spider’s abdomen. The larvae will feed on the live tarantula until it emerges as an adult to continue the life cycle.

The day Patricia gave me this bug, my husband saw one while on his bike ride in the Phoenix dessert. By his description, which included a newly caught tarantula, I knew what it was immediately. It lives in warm climates and here in the US is mostly found across the Southwest.

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