Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
For the time being, my stone carving studio is called Empyrean. I've a 1000 ft greenhouse on the complex of an overgrown orchid and rose farm - skeletal greenhouses with floors of broken glass and ferns, roofs of full-size trees and sky. Mine has a concrete floor and corrugated pvc for a roof and a secret door into the wild industrial decay right behind it. I love this place, and the property is up for sale. So for the moment, it is heavenly, ethereal, fleeting. After this I'll find something that gives me the dry space to get back into painting and metal and wood. Here I'll probably implement glass sometime soon. There's a kiln sitting in the corner that needs just a little love and money to get fired up. There's a lapidary and precious metal studio getting prepped nearby. On the property another stone carver, ceramicist, photographer, printer's press, puppeteer, painter, and so many dilapidated buildings. Behind my studio, in my secret little greenhouse space, is a book (Fig. 2 ). A green leather-bound book with a Veritas crest balanced on moss-covered 2x4s, ivy creeping up into the rafters, and mushrooms and lichen growing on the pages, three years into its decomposition. I sneak pictures of it from time to time, watching it begin to bow, cleaning it of leaves. I wonder how closely its fall will correspond with the descent from this heaven? Time will tell, I suppose, that's the only thing that ever does tell the truth. In the meantime, this current space in between, we will journey and conversate, the stones and I, here together. In this space we have embarked on some deep journeys of meditation and growth and a number of strange little characters have come to life. During their extraction, there are so many moments that catch my breath, moments that I am rushed in the headiest satisfaction dopamine flood, also moments where they nearly find themselves smashed on the ground. Moments of tenderness and excitement. Sometimes these moments are photogenic. Generally, I think it's really funny that with all these other media I work with well, I take terrible pictures. My poor friends and family that receive photos over text and email that are blurry, dark, with poor composition and banal subject matter. hee hee! I have managed, though, over the course of years, to take some photos of my studio process that turned out well enough. Unfortunately, a few years ago I had a computer crash with all of my collected photos over the years, so really the only progress shots I have are of stone carvings and a few things that surfaced here and there from other media and series. Some of these photos I did not take. The top two, the ones that look like professional shots, are professional shots by my friend EspressoBuzz. I let him wander around in my studio once last year while I was up on a mountain carving with some friends and he took the most beautiful shots! He's taken so many wonderful photos of my work over the years; I am incredibly grateful for that. The top photo here (Fig. 1a) on this page is what my work bench looked like when I left for the week. The two hands there are part of a work on the release of anger - a 100+ hour meditation on where anger lives inside the emotional landscape. You know what I found? I found that my anger is merely a guardian. It's guarding this well of compassion and love so deep that it could encompass the entire world. With a well that deep of feelings so strong, it seemed almost surprising to me that I would have such a hair trigger guardian keeping me from dipping into it. So I studied that; while working on those hands, I let that anger slip and found ways around it. Learned how to circumvent it. Basically, the entire kinesics series in stone has been a long meditation in becoming a better person. This sculpture is currently dismantled and I'm working on figuring out how to get it back together and have the little hands not look like they're flying, which is proving rather difficult. The roses are supposed to be flying, not the hands. Oh! I may have just figured that out. Thank you! I'm calling my friend with the welder now. A little further down on the page, or maybe right here next to this text, the aforementioned roses are held up. I had this gorgeous marble that was used for Thorns, so I made these little roses for Undercurrents (cover)(reactionary) to be thrown by the hands (Fig 1b). This marble has the most beautiful translucent quality and creamy consistency with little ribbons of iron and oxidized metals. The roses were little isolation mazes, come up with during an epically, epically sideways winter as a snowbird in Arizona in 2016. I've never been more isolated in my life, and every hour spent detailing these little corners and curves was an eternity of abject loneliness. Ugh. I love the pattern, but every time I try to carve another one I am sent back there, into those memories. So I don't. I've enough. Besides, I'm not much of a flower girl. I appreciate nature, for certain, but more like seastacks and cliffs and giant trees, and moss. Moss contains the secrets of mother nature. Beneath the roses here are the two guys from Undercurrents, polished and being plugged from their crude mount (Fig 1c). Poor little guys look like they're in a crime scene! I've taken to kissing them on the head whenever I pick them up. Working with lifesize hands like this provides for some strange studio interactions - they hold your hand right back when you pick them up, so sometimes we go for walk-abouts together around the studio while I'm looking for tools or that missing file. I find them far more fun loose like that and mean to make bronzes of each that are made to be carried and passed around. The chlorite used to carve them, while excellent for detail work, scratches easily and would break if dropped. I made a bronze of The Knife, including the open switchblade that is so very durable. I dropped it once and caught it knife point down, right above my foot. The next casting will be less dangerous. Kinesics, by the way, is the study of expression and gesture and began as a painting way back. The idea is that the hand in the wrist is the actual expression controlling the hand and not the face of whatever person it is attached to. I use this series as deep psychological meditation, as explained earlier with Undercurrents. There have been four: The Knife (study of emotional defenses), Doves: Parity Inversion (embrace of the self, centering), Undercurrents(cover)(reactionary) (the release of anger), and She Sleeps (disarmament of sexual weaponry). That last one seems to scare people (Fig 6), but it really shouldn't. It's partially a portrait of this witch who had it out for me, thinking I was her romantic rival when I wasn't. It's her specialty weaponry, and I decided that while I was capturing that in portraiture, I'd remove those things in myself as well, since I found them highly, well, traumatizing and frankly, well, unappealing. You can see that hand a little further down the page. But back in time to the Doves (Fig 4a and 4b). They're just angelic here. I love the look of chlorite when it's freshly filed, before sanding. That almost perfect surface, like buttery mint. With sanding it becomes dark pewter then black; same with oil. I'm starting to move over to harder stones that have an outdoor life, but I do have a few pieces of this left and some plans.
A departure from the kinesics, but using the same stone, was Something of a Shearing, a lighthouse picking itself up and walking up off to a new island. The little intact foot, the tiny foot, also my foot (Fig 3). The toes. That's the foot of Something of a Shearing, which is about five different pieces all fit together in a multi-media picture of the journey out to the island and the massive effort it took to become a sculptor and set up this studio. I worked on that sculpture in eight different studios: Pillow Studios where it began, then outside a quonset hut at the Greenhouses, at two outdoor carving symposium in Washington and Oregon, in a box truck in Arizona, at Studiostone in Vancouver, atop Cady Mountain, and then finally, finally, turning the light on in gold in my own studio. And then suddenly, this little shoulder lighthouse sheared off of me and now lives over there, always ready to jump up onto my arm and light the way. At one point, I was mixing up epoxy to glue down some of the brazed bronze that had popped off and decided it would be a great time to be efficient and adhere the main lighthouse to the legs as well. Well, I'd drilled far more holes than I had pegs and failed to mark them, so in my rush to get everything down before it set, I craned my neck and bent my head down to peer up under the lighthouse as I tested pegs... and put my head right into the pile of waiting glue. My hair was short to begin with, and the next day I had to get the rest chopped off. On recommendation I went to this little shop on Commercial Street run by a Jamaican matriarch. I said, Help! She asked what happened while shaving the side of my head and when I told her, she replied, "You should be smarter." She was right. By the time I got back to my own island and turned on the light, I had been traveling for five months and so homesick for my own space I could barely breathe. I haven't left since.
Every so often I come into the studio in the morning and find that it's been visited by a meandering beetle (Fig 5). The little bug drags its body in a wavy line through dust up to its thorax, leaving trails flanked by footprints that scribble the floors and sculptures. One morning last month I came in to find the beetle had taken a hike up to the top of one of my works in progress, a basalt Adam. Every time they visit, I have a surreal day and this one really set the tone as that day was utterly bizarre up to a flock of some bird that sounds like the cocoa puffs kookoo descending on my camper as I was trying to go to sleep that night, talking to each other in these weird voices for hours. Hours. It gave me plenty of time to wonder about the beetle, how long it spends in the dust before it realizes it's time to get out before it kills him. I've used stone dust to kill plenty of hornets and spiders; it dries them out and cuts up their wings. Or something like that.
Though the last few years I've been focused mainly on stone because that's all my studio can accommodate and I had to live out of my car for a year or so which can really put a damper on using things that mold or rust, I do work with many other materials. I particularly like the combination of silk and stone. Even the two stabbed and screaming kinesics guys are laying on a large swath of cream colored silk. The white shards (Fig 7) wrapped in cord are that gorgeous translucent marble, marked with ink and wrapped in black silk thread. I was just playing around, intensely processing the choice to devote myself to this life and of giving up my home - the rubble on the main page is also from the same day, as is the giant lighthouse painting in my studio - and there was something just so profoundly powerful about that silk thread and its juxtaposition with the stone, and the marks like time. I've adored this picture since and keep thinking I should get back to that... I really need some more marble. What I didn't take a picture of here is my growing pile of rocks. It's close to getting out of hand already. I don't need any more marble.
And so we arrive at the partially-filled sun (Fig 8), which is definitely not made of rocks. It's not the most striking picture, but I do think it's the only place on this site I'll have the chance to talk about the simulacra so there it is. This is a full shot of Foxes and Piece, which is also detail imaged on the main page. Foxes and Piece is a five-foot diameter, 17-point star woven from 4' length of split bird's eye maple veneer. It is the spitting image of a mental vortex - the star's edges are all the leading thoughts that suck you into the black pit; and you swim around there, searching for those moments of peace, the two heads cheek to cheek lined in 23-carat gold (oh, that aren't there yet). That rarely you get there; it follows. The simulacra are captures of the emotional structure of language. Rubble, on the front page, is a capture of my decision to give up security and the city to establish a studio and a life in tune with a creative force; each face a thought transcribed; thoughts of embracing the unknown, devoting myself to the pursuit of being a more pure being, uncompromisingly immersing in the experience of each sculpture, each work and be damned the hardships and consequences. The ink has since melted off into a mountain crevasse at my mentor's studio in the forest. It is something of magic; the piece and the place. The simulacra are something of magic, too. They are conversations dictated aloud while recorded in my natural, illegible handwriting in ink on the maple (or stone as it were). After a few days, the individual words are lost and all that is left is the impression and the skeletal structure of the language itself. The inital woven murals were all correspondence letters, with tangents and footnotes woven through, all to the creation of my third muse during a snowstorm in downtown Seattle; I left the house only to go tromp in Capitol Hill for a snowball fight with friends.
And then, and then there was Sen Kouros. (Fig 9). That company that I own sells small run and bespoke marble sex toys and massage cubes. I'm the designer/owner of a very small side business. Were I a good marketer than it would be more of a business than it is and I hope to join up with one soon, as I have all sorts of plans, especially as I develop more skills in lapidary and precious metal smithing, for some really high end products. Fuckable Art we called it. :) The decision to own this company was on that list of "What's the coolest fucking thing I could have on my resume?" Plus, well, stone is really sexy. The entire process of carving it is delicious, especially filing, which is the secret to marble anyway. These are the most gorgeous toys and I'm proud to have developed this line, even if it became very challenging for awhile to keep having people tell me all about their sex lives as though making these somehow also meant that I was a good listener and interested in their bedroom activities. I DO love creating a custom toy that will bring someone pleasure, I just don't so much care about the rest of it. I also have been disappointed to find out that solely based on being the woman who makes the Sen Kouros does not guarantee that I won't be lonely. That's an ironically unfortunate reality. I do have all sorts of plans for this business, as I mentioned, with inlays and precious metals. But not glass - glass sex toys are scary.
Glass in sculpture, though, is terribly exciting. The image (Fig 10a) here is from the first fitting of my first cast glass integration - it's uranium glass that they say is non-radioactive AND it glows under a blacklight. The marble is from Australia and features the fossils of algae ring colonies, some of the oldest life forms on earth. Polished (where it can be polished), the marble is this dark grey/green. Contained here is cyclical creation. The viscous offering, the ancient life, deep plant sex, the fossilization, the potential for destruction, the rise of the hands from the water, and the future. In working out a title, something like Isis or Nox or Volvox. It's very Eve, but I didn't want to name it Eve. I settled on "Foremother" - found after a few hours chasing fertility goddesses and thesauruses online. Freyja's story really got me and the title was nearly "Her Feathered Cloak" but I thought that drew too much attention to the pubic rough in the sculpture and away from the viscosity that is its core. The idea is of offering - My initial vision of this apparent set was of cupped hands holding burning embers and I will likely still make that one - I want to experiment with melding differing shades of blue and red glass in the kiln to make those embers - that idea also came out in a painting (Fig 10b) that I recently did as entertainment for a fancy dinner party. That was a trip. I included a picture of the fire detail from that painting because it's the first picture I've ever gotten of that series that has accurate color. The color in those paintings is absolutely stunning and the process somewhat magical to behold; but man, are they hard to photograph accurately. The pictures on the home page are by a paid professional and STILL aren't accurate. The gloss, I guess, has a lot to do with the difficulty in capturing the depth and richness. hmmm. I keep talking about this but I miss being able to make really big paintings. Soon.
From my years of making large paintings, though, I do have a backlog of imagery that can translate into sculpture. Betweeen being inspired, this is a great way to spend my time. Ascension on the front page is an 18' tall painting in the Fire Liken series. I took this to chlorite for Ascension II. (Fig 11), a really sexy masculine nude from Ascension II in progress. Turns out I really like to do musculature, and again with that buttery mint chlorite. this guy is bracing against the ground atop a cliff, holding onto the man who is forming from chaos and about to flip up on top the surface, too. This guy is helping him achieve personhood. Tomorrow I'm starting another piece of chlorite at the same scale of two bowing jesters that will mount on tall sandstone plinths to flank a doorway or otherwise denote entry and welcome.
Protection is something I've been really into the last few years as well. With how crazier and crazier our reality is becoming, it seems we need more and more protection. I'm working to push as much good energy as I can into the world right now, and the last image on this page (Fig 12), are one way that I'm doing that - the Guardians. In further meditational work as I've been de-isolating myself, I decided to start extracting these well-meaning guards and getting them spread out to go help other people. The stone is from a mountaintop quarry in the Cascade Mountains of Western Washington. Olivine/Dunnite it's called and the main deposits of the stone are green crystals - over thousands of years, the rind oxidizes in open air and becomes this vibrant orange - it's such a gorgeous contrast. I really enjoy making these little guardians, as the sketch style is satisfying like painting is - more instant gratification than most work in stone. Here in this picture are, in no particular order, the Revelry, the Introvert, the Priest, the North, the Wind, the Angel, and the Fire. ... and more to come; I visited the quarry on Friday and came home with about 500 lbs of this gorgeous stone...
Fig. 1a My worktable on an October afternoon.
Fig. 2 Veritas. 1.75 years.
Fig 1b Isolation Mazes. marble
Fig 1c Not a crime scene. Poor little guys are being fixed.
Fig 3 Tiny, tiny toes. Part of Something of a Shearing aka The Lighthouse
Fig 4a Doves, incomplete. So angelic.
Fig 4b Face detail on Doves: Parity Inversion
Fig 5 In progress piece covered in marble dust - and tiny little beetle tracks!
Fig 6 She Sleeps in progress.
Fig 7 Bound. Marble, Ink, Silk. It only existed here.
Fig 8 Building Foxes and Piece. Finished on right
Fig 9 Sen Kouros, a side business. yes, those are adult toys. yes, they are wonderful.
Fig 10a Glass casting uranium glass. current project.
Fig 10b Fire Liken painting detail - I'm into the idea of offerings right now.
Fig 11 Musculature. Ascension II in progress.
Fig 12 2016 run of Home Guardians in Olivine
Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.