For my Kin(d)

Below is the proposal which started this body of work. I tend to romanticize the masculine and deem objects associated with the feminine as frivolous. But recently I’ve decided to put an effort into understanding my own femininity instead of believing that part of me is just where tears come from.

Through my proposed body of work I will look into the ways women give (to grant and to bend). Asking myself, how does a woman give within a family and how does she negotiate giving vs over-giving, within herself. I will make art objects to act as literal depictions of the ideas I explore. The project works to spark conversation about each example of giving. I’ve noticed that some of the women in my life have a hard time giving while others lean towards over-giving. Each of these women have gifts which they contribute to their families and communities, I would like to pay an homage to these women, but also discuss the potential harm they cause themselves without a healthy balance i.e. the light and shadow sides of giving.

It is important that I do not take shortcuts when making these art objects. I would like to do as much of the labour as I can manage (i.e. weaving handkerchiefs and hemming them by hand instead of buying cloth handkerchiefs and adding to them) and (creating each bead of the necklace in project 2 out of thread by wrapping it tightly). By doing the work with my own hands I think I might be able to feel a connection to the women in my family from before my time, the great grandmothers and aunts who spent hours sewing clothes and tablecloths and mending what needed mending. These projects will also be a test. I will get to see how much of my time and energy I am happy to give to this project and how I start feeling if I disrupt my “giving balance”.

Project 1: Wood dentures

practicality, bravely stepping into the roll of wife vs sacrifice, not wanting to be a burden

Wedding Teeth

Wedding Teeth

Project 3:Necklace and earrings of thread beads (hand wound)

adornment, creating beauty from very little vs vanity and impracticality

(Complete)

176 Wound Pearls

176 Wound Pearls

Project 3: seven 10” x 10” handkerchiefs . Woven from cotton.

listening ear, nurturing vs neglecting oneself, silent suffering

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Project 4: Illustrated round table cloth printed place for each item

community, creating a home vs frivolous chatter/gossip

Materials: Fibre I have spun myself, simple cloth, printed shapes where each object will lie. Everything with a place and everything in its place.

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Sewing on the Train

Like I've mentioned before in previous blog posts, I continue creating work (artwork) while on vacation in Europe. 

The main way I get around here is via train. (Preferably the NS train because Arriva has given us so much trouble!)  The first time we took Arriva we got stranded at Mook molenhoek train station at 11:30 pm on a Monday night. The second time we were on our way to Germany and our train broke down on the way to Venlo and we had to transfer trains at Cuijk and arrived at Venlo an hour late and missed our transfer... we ended up catching the next train we saw and made up almost an hour and a half because we had unknowingly jumped onto a high speed train. We were lucky no one kicked us off. The third time we took Arriva was on our way back from Germany... we got stranded in Venray on the very same Arriva line that we took to Germany the previous week!

Don't take this the wrong way! Arriva is a fine train company, I am not discouraging you from riding with them. They are especially good if you want to test your relationship. I think that if you can handle multiple delays and breakdowns without squabbling too much, that’s a pretty good indication of how sustainable your relationship is!

Usually when I am on a train I pull out my embroidery while Caleb reads or writes. We were on our way to Amsterdam Centraal Station. We were seated across from two ladies, they were speaking Spanish and when I pulled out my embroidery they smiled and started to point and speak to each other excitedly. I wasn’t another youngster on a cellphone, I was a youngster with an embroidery hoop! I started to explain nervously that I was experimenting with embroidery and didn’t know very much about it, but they couldn’t understand me and even after seeing my erratic stitches and experimental materials they were still interested, phewwww! I threaded my needle and passed the hoop to the lady across from me. She took it and sat there for a moment just looking at the stretched silk. She adjusted the needle between her fingers and took the plunge. The needle parted the weave easily as it slid through, the tail of the floss followed. It made a quiet tugging sound as it pulled taut and she plunged again. Her stitches were exact and I knew she must have many hours of practice. After she handed the hoop back to me I tried to mimic her stitches. She was patient with me and we passed the hoop back and forth as she showed me step by step until I got it. We talked to each other, all four of us! but neither Caleb or I speak any Spanish and they didn’t speak any English or Dutch. But that didn’t matter much, it just took a little more work. We used our hands and spoke louder than normal, somehow thinking that louder would make the words make sense. They asked us our ages and we showed them with our fingers. We even explained successfully that we were a couple and not siblings when they inquired, I knew the word “Hermano”. Most strangers assume Caleb is my brother!

Before we parted ways the ladies wrote down their mailing address for us so we could keep in touch! It was one of the most satisfying interactions because we all wanted to communicate so earnestly that we didn’t mind making fools of ourselves when we had to employ charades in the middle of a commuter train to get our points across!

The lovely ladies from Argentina! 

The lovely ladies from Argentina! 

Now whenever I embroider I think about that meet cute. I hope to decifer their handwriting and send them a letter some day! 

  

Mini and Mat

Some of us, when we hear the word minimalism don't think of the 1960s male-dominated art movement but instead think of the current movement to reduce our stuff. The unofficial name is something like: get rid of all your stuff and live-out-of-a-van movement. Just kidding, the movement’s scope is a bit broader than that. Though, I think some people feel a sting when someone mentions minimalism to them, like it's a slap in the face, a judgment like “You own too much stuff! Downsize already!”

Minimalism is not about passing judgment, then prescribing a dumpster to toss all your stuff into, because neither will solve your problems. Imagine if it was that easy, as if by decreasing your stuff by 50% you can increase your happiness by 50%, totalling 100% success. And then you call yourself a minimalist and brag to your friends, in-laws, grocery-store clerks about your so-called “success”! 

Minimalism is not a formula, it is being conscious of what you own, what material items you bring into your life, and parring down if necessary so that you only own the things that bring you joy. What is so threatening about that? You get to be the one to assess what adds value and joy to your life, and nobody else. 

Maybe you think you are too old for minimalism and don't want to be associated with those “I’m 30, I’m hot, I own 30 things that all fit in a backpack and I make my living traveling and writing a blog” because no offence to them but that lifestyle is not for everybody! Especially if you have three kids and a dog.

What I’ve taken away from minimalism is simply “you are what you buy”. You remember that old saying “You are what you eat”? Well both are true to a degree. If you buy a lot of junk, junk that is poorly made or of one-time-use, then you are contributing to the overwhelming amount of garbage on this planet and I know you are a nice person and don’t mean to do anyone harm!

Mini and Mat are Hooped

Mini and Mat are Hooped

There are so many small things that you can do to be a less harmful consumer. It's not all or nothing! You don’t need to be a vegan minimalist who cycles everywhere to make a difference. But even though you are just one person, you influence people around you, consciously or not and if your habits are good, that rubs off.

1) Next time you are going to buy something ask yourself, “will this add value to my life?” and really think about it before you walk to the check out.

2) Do a little research before you buy a product and choose to buy from companies that care about the environment and source their products sustainably and if possible avoid products that are individually packed in plastic. 

For example: 

Use a bamboo toothbrush instead of a plastic one! Bamboo is biodegradable.  

OR 

Buy a shampoo bar instead of liquid shampoo from a plastic bottle, because the bars have no wrapping and are often organic. 

OR 

Buy non-perishables in bulk, so there will again be less waste from packaging.

3) For the ladies, consider getting Thinx underwear (www.shethinx.com) and a menstrual cup. I have both and though it was expensive up front, I have no more costs for paper/plastic menstrual products. That means there is zero waste being added to the landfill.

Do you know how many pounds of menstrual waste the average woman sends to the dump in her lifetime?!?! Read the article below and find out…(it's good for a laugh too).

https://www.shethinx.com/blogs/womens-health/how-to-reduce-period-waste-reusable-products

4) Buy local produce and only buy the things you like instead of the things you buy because they are “healthy”. Those purchases usually remain in your fridge, in your vegetable compartment, uneaten and lonely where they turn mouldy and slimy.

Ditch Minimalism 

If you really can’t stand reducing what you own drastically, but still want to help the planet I have a solution for you… Kick up your materialism game a couple of notches! Become so utterly over attached to your material things, so that you will treat them so well that they will last longer than even the manufacturer wanted them too. And if they eventually break or rip, you might take the time and care to repair them instead of buying a replacement. Doing such handwork is a free exercise in mindfulness.

Mini(mise) waste because Mat(erialism) buries us! 

 

 

 

Loom Construction

A few weeks ago I found a book in my Universities' library on loom construction (how to build your own weaving loom). Since I began my first weaving course this semester I've been hooked. Now when I see interesting colour combinations or even the way a garment drapes across figure of a passerby I think about weaving. There is so much to learn and I am only just beginning. 

I love the idea that I am able to make cloth. CLOTH!!! The stuff that clothes, blankets, rugs, upholstery etc is made of. It is one more process that I can add to my repertoire.    

Caleb and I planned to start the construction right away, but the semester has been so busy that it looks like we will have to start in June instead when we get back from the Netherlands! 

I will post pictures when we start building!

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Television and Tables

Technology is continuously being developed smaller and flatter. Its nice that it can serve its purpose and at the same time take up less room, but what about tables? Too often you see thick tables with gaudy legs and ornate carvings. A table's purpose is to eat at or to put stuff on. So is the ornament really necessary? Or is it an excellent excuse to bring back to tube tv? 

I've been searching for one of those small televisions with the built in VHS player. I was going to buy one at a thrift store but a lady who saw me looking at it walked up and snatched it before I had made my mind up!

ZOMER

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Zomer is the Dutch word for Summer and was the name of the art show that Caleb (my partner) and I curated out of our appartment this September. 

 Since we curated the show and used our home as the venue most people in the art world would not deem our show a show at all. Instead they would call it just a "Party". I am not making an assumption here, an instructor at my college made sure to tell me that the event Caleb an I hosted had been a party and not a show, period.  However according to Wikipedia: "An art exhibition is traditionally the space in which art objects (in the most general sense) meet an audience." Even though Wikipedia is a source which students are told never to use lets just go with it. 

At our "party" we showed "art objects" and we had an "audience" of about 40 people so calling it just a "party" would be incorrect yes? 

Though if my landlord had asked what us what we were doing in the apartment with 40 other people I would have told him that we were just having a "party". 

I think people worry about legitimacy and quality of work when people self publish or curate their own art shows. Maybe the assumption is that the only reason one curates a show out of their home is because they can't get a show anywhere else. Same with self publishing. 

Though empowering yourself through organizing an event within your means could be a sign of eagerness and ambition, not lack of ability. 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil Engineers 1963-1989

Word Count: 181

Dated November 2017

Outside my building I found a box of photo negatives, kodak slides and 35mm film. I did not know who they belonged to. They were in the trash, they needed rescuing, I was there. I took them and started snooping. I found parts of names and handwritten notes. Photos spanning more than of 25 years.

They sat in my closet and sometimes I pulled them out to look. I started a painting using one photo of two strangers as reference. 

But the photos did not belong to me, not even if I had been their rescuer. 

I googled and I found one, Mr. ___ , a civil engineer, a retirement notice. White pages, I called and got another number, I call and find Carol. Carol is married to Mr. ___ . They don’t know who the box belongs to either, but they recall all the other scrawled names I found. I will return the photos and meet the civil engineers I saw in front of tri-folds at conferences and posed in front of engineering landmarks with styrofoam cups of coffee.

 

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I wrote this story a few months ago and since then I have met Mr.___ and Carol. They came over for tea and went through dozens of slides using a kodak slide projector I borrowed from my college. They were lovely!