the pelvic bowl

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It looks like a bowl, my husband says as my neighbor Tara, a Pelvic Floor Specialist, hands him a pelvis anatomy model. She’s lending it to me for the weekend.

I say to him In fact,  it is called the pelvic bowlEddie. He watches on as Tara pulls it all apart and puts it’s all back together, identifying anatomy as she reconstructs the model.

Aren’t we perfectly designed? I say as I watch them.

My recent drawing begins with an outline of the bones of a pelvis (on the front side).  I place into it uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Only then do I decide to bring in the lower spine, the psoas muscles, and eventually the diaphragm.

This weekend I work the back of the drawing ↓ and complete the composition. Highlighting the reproductive system – I’m right back where I started.  The two-sided mixed-media drawing  basically depicts the core of the female body.

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completed back side of drawing 24 x 18″ mixed media

Do you need the model again?, Tara asks. Thanks, I’m complete, I respond.

With this study I learn more about menstruation, conception, pregnancy and menopause. With Tara’s help I learn about hormones, muscles, nerves and the value of breath work.

We are so perfectly designed. You are so perfectly designed. Embody this.

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More about Tara and her practice (btw – she offers lots of practical information) →  pelvicfloorspecialist.com.


Side note:
Contacted by Carmencita from California who’ll be using an early stage of this drawing (front side) to promote a staging of That Takes Ovaries! Bold Females and their Brazen Acts. The performance will raise funds for Myalgic Encephelomyolitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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the wandering nerve, the vagus nerve, the pneumogastric nerve

I have come to the conclusion trust your gut means trust your vagus nerve.  And having  butterflies in the stomach may in fact be saying something about our vagus nerve too.

Otto Loewi, a German physiologist, discovered stimulating the vagus nerve caused a reduction in heart-rate. He suspected a trigger or release of something he called vagusstoff (German for vagus substance). I note Loewi was led to this insights and eventual experiment via a dream, maybe 2 dreams actually (did he trust his gut? his vagus nerve?).  Scientists eventually identify acetylcholine (vagusstoff), a neurotransmitter.

Deep, slow breaths – in through the nose – calms (releases acetylcholine?) the vagus nerve.  I don’t know, I’m an artist….

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I revisit the Vagus Nerve these last few weeks.  I refer to it in an earlier work, now I focus and map it out life-size. I hope to detail and know its route through the organs. This is harder than I can know and it’s a good thing I don’t give it much thought before I outline the general area. General area is short for (all) organs of (entire) torso. I begin the work more realistic than usual, knowing I will loosen up and play with shapes as I move along.

The vagus nerve is one of two long (long, long) cranial nerves also called the wandering nerve. It wanders through many of our organs.  It’s also known as Cranial Nerve X (CNX). I learn it’s also called the pneumogastric nerve (less romantic).

It emerges at the back of the skull and moves down the down the body where it makes its way through the abdomen. On its journey it comes in contact with the ears, voice box, heart, lungs, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, the large and especially the small intestine.

The vagus nerve helps regulate heartbeat, control muscle movement, keep a person breathing, as well as transmit chemicals through the body. It also keeps the digestive tract working by contracting the muscles of the stomach and the intestines. Without this crucial nerve we would find it hard to speak, breath, eat and our heartbeat would become irregular.

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I think I read the vagus nerve is the one that makes us throw up….hmmm. And it can cause one to faint. I don’t know. I also don’t know if my drawing is complete. I have more to double-check. This nerve meanders and so does my mind.

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between earth and sky: contemporary art from the american southwest

Curator Peter Held contacts me in the Fall of 2014. He is organizing an exhibition that will travel to four Chinese colleges and universities in the Spring and Summer of 2015. The plan includes work from a dozen Southwest artists focusing on contemporary art from the region. He explains it will include works on paper only: photography, prints and drawings.

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We hope this exhibition will give the Chinese audience a sense of what the Southwest is: place, landscape, people and culture.  We would love to consider including 1-2 of your works that are smaller in scale.

I meet with Peter and based on our discussion I decide on animal studies. My main focus is human anatomy but I have an interest in anatomy in general. After a bit of thought, I come up with the idea to paint a creature to represent the states I’ve resided in. I’ve lived in the Southwest all my life. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas – I spend five years in Las Cruces, New Mexico before moving to Phoenix, AZ.  I plan to research each state and find an exotic creature, preferably one I’ve crossed paths with.

Each artist has 1-2 or 3 works, all in China now, in their second venue.

Peter sends a note saying the exhibit is well received. I was pleasantly surprised how engaged and interested the students were, he says, spending an hour or more to look at the art closely. It was a great opportunity to converse on a wide range of topics which the subject matter in the art provided.

Last week I receive the catalogue. In this post I share one work from each artist and include the front and back cover. I am so pleased to see the quality and variety of the artwork. All the artist live and work in the Southwestern United States and each one brings a unique sensibility to the exhibit.

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Alice Leora Briggs, The Listener falls to sleep, Woodcut

 

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Binh Danh, #2 Saguaro National Park, digital print of daguerreotype

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Claudio Dichocea, de Amore Prohibido y el Anarquista, el Emsee 2.0, photolithograph

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Jason Garcia, Tewa Tales of Suspense #4 Behold…Po’pay!, serigraph

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Mark Klett, Slight Track and Red Clouds, Copper Mountains, digital photograph from gelatin silver print

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Michael Lundgren, Parasitic Weight, archival pigment print

Carrie Marill, Nature-T:Monument Valley, gouache on paper

Carrie Marill, Nature-T:Monument Valley, gouache on paper

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Monica Aissa Martinez, Armadillo: Texas, mixed media on paper

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Leigh Merrill, Denizens, pigment print

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Matthew Moore, Rotations: Moore Estates-Sorghum (homes) Wheat (roads), 35 acres, digital photogra

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Rose Bean Simpson, Know Thyself, ink on paper

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Will Wilson, Edward S Curtis, The Northern American Indian, Norwood, MA, The Plimpton Press

Between Earth and Sky, Contemporary Art from the American Southwest will travel to 4 locations:

Sichuan University 四川大学
March 11, 2015 – March 31, 2015: Exhibit at Sichuan University

Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications 南京邮电大学
April 6, 2015 – April 26, 2015: Exhibit at Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications

University of Shanghai Science and Technology 上海理工大学
May 11, 2015 to May 29, 2015: Exhibit at USST

Xi’an International University 西安外事学院
June 8, 2015 – June 22 , 2015: Exhibit at Xi’an International University

between earth and sky catalogue

Cover: Mark Klett, Contemplating the View at Muley Point, Utah, digital photograph from gelatin silver print
Backcover: Michael Lundgren, New Form, archival pigment print

The exhibition is a partnership between ACCEX – American Centers for Cultural Exchange and Arizona State University Art Museum.

studying structure and texture


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The assignment: to study and identify complex structure and complex texture, create a composition and balance the positive and negative space. The subject-matter for the majority of the student’s are shells. They can make other choices with homework.

IMG_7283I consider this assignment to be a turning point. The commitment is big and the work is intense.  Students must work slow and careful using a magnifying glass to see, and see more.

Take a look at some of the finished drawings.  Note the advanced students work on scratchboard.

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detail shot of one of Anne’s shells

 

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Julio’s shells.

 

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Ali’s dry leaf

 

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Trenary’s shell

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Cory’s shell’s.

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Terry’s hand and seed pod.

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Heather’s starfish shell.

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Hyeokwoo’s shells


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Andrea’s shell’s

Drawing 2 students use scratchboard and work off of photos. Clearly they have more freedom but the assignment requires steady patience.

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Charles’ bird on scratch board.

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Susan’s work on scratchboard

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Cassidy’s Cat

 

negative space

Ma is a Japanese word which roughly translates to gap, space, pause or the space between two structural parts. 


IMG_7247This assignment asks the student to focus on the negative space, the space that surrounds an object (or the subject), the space in between things. I point out, in the still life, the area which they will be focusing on. It’s sort of the opposite of how we normally see, I explain. In the process, should you find yourself drawing the positive space (the foliage, in this case) simply stop, refocus and continue. We are training the brain to work a little differently.

Once they understand what they are doing, they have so much more to see and respond to. Negative space helps to define the boundaries of positive space and brings balance to a composition.  It also gives the eye a place to rest.

All of the drawings are strong graphic compositions. The contrast allows for a particularly type of delicacy and boldness to take place at the same time. In general the class enjoys the study. In some cases students are so immersed in the work, I have to remind them to take a break.

There is something great about teaching this particular assignment because as soon as the students grasp the concept, they quickly begin to use it and consequently experience things around them very differently.

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Anne’s Cactus Skeleton

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Trenary’s Weeds and Clover

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Terry’s Poinsettia

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Adam’s Flowers

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Clay’s Leaves and Berries

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Heather’s Plants

Drawing 2 students work with color and have a little bit more freedom with how they approach the study.

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Susan’s Ironed Weed

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Cassidy’s Fall Leaves

 

no woman is an island

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Gluttony, MM on BFK, 18 1/2 x 12 1/2″

After a photo of my studio appeared on the cover of the NYT – and the State of the Art exhibition was first announced – I received emails from across the country. Coast to coast. It was exciting.

I had well wishers from different walks of life, including working artists all over the United States. I also received emails from people interested in purchasing art. I tried to respond to everyone but frankly it was so much work that it would have meant not making art for a good while.

It was at that time that I received an email from Anthony.  He sent well wishes and was considering buying  a work. I sent a link to my website, suggested he look through it and let me know if there was something he wanted more information about. This is basically what I said to most everyone. Anthony mentioned he lived in Arkansas and was a member of the Crystal Bridges Museum.

He quickly narrowed things down to 2 prints. And by the time the final list of artists came out he’d decided on this ↑ mixed media drawing (instead of the print) titled Gluttony.

Gluttony is the original drawing from a 2008 commissioned assignment by the University of Notre Dame. They (University Program for Latino Research and the Institute for Latino Studies) were organizing a health campaign targeting Latino communities. While a series of brightly colored posters were designed, my drawing was printed separately as a limited edition archival ink jet print. I signed and numbered them, and was given some.

I met Anthony at a lecture the weekend State of the Art opened. You can imagine how surprised I was to know he was sitting directly in front of me in the large audience gathered to hear curators Bacigalupi and Aligood lecture about the exhibit.  I took the opportunity to thank Anthony in person. He noted the real thing looked better than the photo – talking about the drawing. Yes, I agreed, it always does.

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State of the Art brought many opportunities. So good to meet you Anthony. Thanks again!


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

raw @ the tempe library

Christy Brown organizes the Tempe Community Galleries exhibitions. She explains that in conjunction with the Tempe Center for the Arts Gallery’s Smithsonian “Green Revolution” exhibition (which opened last January), all the community gallery shows will have “going green” themes this year.


Raw opens today. The exhibition focuses on the work of three artists  who are choosing to move away from the use of harsh chemicals and synthetic materials in their work, and are instead working with raw, recycled or organic materials. I am one of those artists, as are Joe Willie Smith and Aimee León.

Artists
Aimee León
An artist and certified sheep shearer, uses natural raw wool along with recycled industrial materials. The show includes a number of her small and soft – object forms . Most are beautiful tactile vessels. I want to touch them all.

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Joe Willie Smith
A multi-media artist and musician includes works in metal.  He works with found objects and repurposed material. He talks in general about finding just the right piece and then in particular about the white form below – how he scratched/drew on it one early morning to catch both the light and shadow of the sunrise.

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I have several posts about Joe Willie’s work and our collaborative effort at sound making – which I’ve used as background for all the Nothing In Stasis videos.

Raw includes a number of my paintings and one small drawing. I work with organic material, primarily egg tempera and casein.  I like to refer to my mediums as egg and milk. This work below uses casein as underpainting, and egg tempera as the surface color.

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Vital Commotion #4

Delivery and Install
I plan to drop off work and head back to the studio to paint, but when I learn Joe Willie is in the exhibit and he’ll be dropping work off, I wait for him. And as it all plays out we spend the morning working with installer, James Sulac.  Before Christy leaves for the morning she mentions how the work might hang. She asks which side of the wall I want my work on and I tell her. But after Joe Willie arrives and we begin seeing how interestingly things connect, we suggest the work hang in the space mixing together. Below are a few install shots.

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I understand we connect in terms of the raw materials theme, but as I look at everything I appreciate Christy’s eye more and more. The organic forms of León’s soft sculpture connects to the light forms and color in my paintings and to [the appearance] of softness in 2 of Willie’s larger pieces.

And you probably can’t tell from these photos (below) but the colors and lines in Joe’s work connect to my use of the same design elements. The acid green of his sculpture (below) runs right through the mid-section of my painting to the left, and is high-lighted by reddish pink points in both works. Joe Willie decides grouping his smaller pieces salon style will enhance the grouping of shapes in my compositions, and vice versa.

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I regret not getting shots of another wall where León’s wall pieces hang along side Joe’s and my work, a similar soft glow of lavender and blue shows up. Somehow all the work organizes between fragility and strength.

It’s Raw and you’ll just have to go see for yourself.

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WHAT: Raw
WHERE: Tempe Public Library
(Lower Level Youth Library)
WHEN: Now to Dec 4th

The Tempe Public Library is located at
3500 S Rural Rd
Tempe, AZ 85282.

As you arrive watch for the Museum marker below, on the corner of Southern and Rural.
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For more info on show and for artists’ statements click on  → Raw