rushing toward stimuli

Preparing chicken soup today I was chopping onions with the inevitable result of teary eyes. I mentioned this to my grandsons and they both rushed over, one with the scientific explanation of why that was happening and the other eager to chop onions so that he could cry too. We all ended up with wet cheeks and sniffling noses.


Rushing toward stimuli.

It's a trait that is tempered with age. Caution sets in. Doubt and preconceived ideas define our comfort map. We stop, look and listen. We teach our kids about the incautious moments of our lives so that they won't have to sustain the shock, hurt or disappointments that we did. We put up fences, set up passwords and require more IDs. We box in the acceptable and fence out the challenging.

I'm glad that kids often dismiss what adults say, preferring to experience the thrill of discovery themselves. I once read that to stay young you must remain curious. You must let the onions make you cry.

I will learn from these boys. Oh yes, I will. Pass me some tissue.

It's about the inside coming out

Ladders, clouds, arrows and eyes. Especially eyes. These are common motifs that show up in my work regardless of the subject. The thread is trying to tell me something.

Reach for higher meaning.
Float above it.
Find a new direction.
Look within.

While preparing for a couple of studio visits by local curators I looked for a consistent, underlying message in the work. Something that tells me that I have a point of view -- a recognizable voice that makes sense to me. And it came down to these: ladders, clouds, arrows and eyes. Pathways to understanding, swirling confusion, angular edginess, underlying monsters provoked by overwhelming current events and an inner dialog.  Its' the inside coming out. They are about the edges as defined by line. The layered, ripped, cut, and sandwiched together. Some are more successful than others, but all share a common bond: The work reaches for elusive target.


I've been thinking about edges today — how they define differences and beginnings and decisions and boundaries. How the term edgy feels comfortable in my skin. How edginess often helps me to push on but at the same time reels me in with fear.

Standing above this pool of wetland gives me the feeling that I could dive into a separate reality. The edges here are about perception versus reality.

I'm one of those people who, when confronted with the edge of a cliff, cling to the nearest tree. I am not one to join others at the edge peering into the unknown. No, not me. Edges are too scary. I know that I will be tumbled into the abyss by the slightest breeze. 

But art is all about the edges. And sometimes I am, in fact, tumbling.

The edges of this hole in a sycamore tree beckon curious creatures. There is darkness within.

It's not so much that I don't want to navigate that journey. I think it has something to do with trusting myself to navigate well. Inner dialog is easily obscured by outer pretense. Bare naked exposure can make my skin crawl and my thoughts scrambled. Am I really showing my truth? Or is this an exercise in mending?

Edges of thoughts can be raw, jagged and tongue-tied. Beast (detail) Paula Kovarik.

Sitting down with needle ready can make the silence roar. The edge is near. Sometimes I have to tie it down in neat and syncopated rhythm. It's a mending or bringing together that makes sense to my sense of order and calm.

Suture stitches mimic mending, holding together differing sides.

Other times I let the static in and the edges can feel like the needles. Hairs on end.

connections to the past

I've been thinking about time passing in a whirl, without a governor switch. Life in the fast lane — even though this is supposed to be the languid, restful stage of life. Contemplative, serene and insightful.

No doubt about it, I am an adult. Can't confuse that fringe of dark hair at the back of my head for youth and vigor. It's just a fringe of memory now. I used to be able to dance into the early morning hours, now I am tired at nine. I used to wear mini-skirts, now I focus on floaty body covering clothes. Some memories are questionable, some persistent, some are life-affirming.

The back of my head reminds me that today is bolstered by the memories of yesterday.

So all of a sudden I am over 60. Yesterday I was 35. Can these feelings of flight and avoidance be part of aging?

Trimming my memories to highlights gives the glitter of life a balance to the darkness.

Now I am more concerned about legacy. About mistakes. About environment. About authenticity. Pretty doesn't do it for me anymore. More stuff gives no solace. Nor does order or constraints. As a designer the constraints of budget, format and timing often dictated the solution. No longer. I can do whatever I want. And that can be a problem. (whining on mute for now). I must pursue this art with urgency. It is about connections. Plugging into the highlights while recognizing the base of the dark and mysterious.

Wired up for connections.

I didn't take notes

Traveling for a month dislodges old habits. I didn't bookmark articles to read later. I didn't create rough drafts of journal posts. I didn't balance my checkbook (with the disastrous result of forgetting to pay our mortgage). I didn't wake up with a to-do list. I didn't work in the garden. I didn't exercise. I didn't draw.

I did take pictures. A paltry record of abundant input.

And I wonder when some of these images will start to show up in my work.

And I found new (to me) artists to explore.

Mosaic from St. Peter's cathedral in Rome.

Images and ideas travelled through my mind with a flutter of recognition:

Trees planted too close stretch skyward and are turned to pulp.

Trees bent with the wind have deep roots.

We visited a churchyard where the 16th century cathedral was blown down by the wind. The bell tower remained reminding everyone how tenuous life can be.

Spires point to infinity.

Antennas reach to capture waves.

Sculptures of saints often have pillows of stone.

Time is both vertical and horizontal.

Does any of it make sense?