I got an invitation to apply to a juried art competition for American women artists, art that “exemplifies the utmost in excellence in terms of composition, technique, mastery of medium and quality of design.” Then they listed “acceptable” and “not accepted” media. Um. So first of all, those aren’t antonyms really. It should be “accepted” and “not accepted” OR “acceptable” and “unacceptable.” Yes, I’m pedantic about language…but here’s the thing…acceptable means something very different here than accepted…also because what I do, fiber art, is not in the “acceptable” range. Painting is (of course), as is sculpture and drawing. Textile and fiber art are listed in the “not accepted” (unacceptable?) range.
But fiber art is almost exclusively a female art. Now they knocked photography out too, so they are obviously clinically deranged, but whatever. Also not accepted are “craft, jewelry…any work containing computer-generated elements, prints”…so basically all the art forms I have used over the years are unacceptable. My subject matter is on the fringe, and so is my medium.
I’m reading a book about art called Making Art: Form and Meaning, by Terry Barrett, and he talks about choosing your medium to fit your message. I don’t know how much I chose fabric, or whether it chose me. I don’t know when I made the decision to fully move away from screenprinting to quilt art. I know I was never a great painter…or sculptor…or photographer. I could draw though. I did all of it in school and quite a bit of it afterwards…but pen on paper and then translating that into fabric has been my preferred artistic form of communication for an awfully long time, like since 1991? OK, I probably got serious about fabric only in about 1996 or so.
Anyway, the picture I spent a lot of time staring at in that book, like for the last three days, was Frida Kahlo’s What the Water Gave Me…
an amazing painting. I think I have a bathtub drawing coming…it has to be better than George W’s version…
Yup. Our former president apparently has nothing in the water. Totally. Anyway, I think of the bathtub as this introspective place, and I think Kahlo expresses that well…that time in your head when you are floating in warm water, and you can see your toes, but all the trials and tribulations of the day are floating there in front of you (please note again the emptiness of Bush’s bathtub…a metaphor for the empty mind?). Anyway. It’s an image that has stuck with me, and then because of the title, this song has been in my head for days as well…
Sigh. The weird connections of art and emotions. And yes, Florence admits to looking at Kahlo’s painting when she wrote the song…she spoke of the ocean being “nature’s great overwhelmer.” I think kids are the great overwhelmer personally, but I don’t think Florence has had any of those yet.
The next email that came through? “Create instant happiness by injecting color into your house.” Really? Oh…so THAT’S how it works. Damn. These people have obviously never seen my house…lack of color is not the issue…and if only it were so simple to just paint a few walls and add some colorful cushions and BAM! You’re fucking happy. I mean, the wall facing my kitchen is bright red. I don’t think it’s an issue.
So I had a day. And sometimes I just pick up science journals in between classes and make the kids line up outside so I have a whole 48 seconds of silence…of breathing calmly…of preparing my head for the next onslaught. I play music. I sing to myself. Apparently today I was in Roast Mode. I don’t roast on purpose. I just state the obvious. Apparently that’s roasting. We are nearing the end of the light unit (the unit on light…not the unit that is light in content…in fact, trying to explain the difference between reflection and refraction to 7th-grade brains more interested in candy and farting…yes…farting…is remarkably difficult and not light at all). It doesn’t actually get better or easier, but talking about DNA and genetics is a bit more engaging than light…even with 400 optical illusions to show them. I think I just need a change of topic…because if one more kid tells me that the CAUSE of rainbows is ROY G. BIV? That might be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.
I got an email from the girlchild’s English teacher today (fun stuff, let me tell you), and it was RIFE with typos and grammatical errors. I refrained from marking it up and sending it back with a grade on it. Really. I did REFRAIN.
Teaching is not easy. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done…not as hard as being a single/divorced parent…but close. You are parent, disciplinarian, hard-ass, therapist, content-expert, maid, actor, feeder of the mind (sometimes of the body as well)…and somehow you have to find sanity in all that. Sometimes that is very hard to do. I’m better at it now. I’m better at it while depressed. I don’t know what that means.
So it’s important that I find some balance…this school year more than any other has been about that balance…especially with the depression throwing me completely OFF balance, destroying motivation, fucking with my mood, messing with my ability to deal with the simplest things. I’ve dropped so many balls this year. I thought I would be in a better place by now, but I’m stuck in a sad swamp. I made myself exercise tonight, then finished a book…and treated myself with Mexican food. I don’t hardly ever eat out any more, but after the gym, my blood sugar was crashing, and the thought of having to come home and cook something that I really didn’t want to eat was SO depressing that I stopped at the local good Mexican food place. It was worth it. Calories? Yup. But I don’t think you can live like a monk all the time and not have the joy of guacamole in a burrito.
Then I came home and meditated and drew…I drew very very slowly, because (1) I’m really tired and (2) I’m not sure what’s coming next…I have to let my brain work it through. I know I want a wolf in there somewhere, but haven’t figured out how to fit it in…I thought originally that she (the chick at the bottom) was under water…
But maybe she’s not…maybe all that is behind her and she’s sitting on the ground. I don’t know.
It’s not like I’m portraying reality here. I’m pretty sure Kahlo didn’t worry about shit like that. And my stuff certainly has surrealistic tendencies. I can decide that’s the bottom of the ocean and wolves live down there…SEA WOLVES. Or not. Maybe there’s an aquarium behind her. Yeah. That’s it. She’s at the fucking aquarium. NAKED. Insert hysterical laughter here. I think I need to go hang out with some artists for a while…not sure where I will find them. It’s really alienating to never have other artists to talk to in person. I love book club, but I think I need art club. Then again, so many artists drive me bonkers with artspeak and pretentiousness. Sigh.
Oh who cares. I’m just drawing. Insight into the artist’s mind. Wish I could have read Frida’s blog. We could have gone out for a glass of wine and complained about how big of an ass Diego was. Could have been good.