Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Missing Bone"

Reposting by permission a particularly intense piece by Laura C. Hewitt: "Missing Bone" is loosely a part of a series "inspired by the Victorian mourning practice of framing and displaying a lock of the deceased's hair."
"Hand formed, molded and modeled stoneware wall plaque. Imagery includes two mosquito hawk cocoons, three bones that appear to be tacked to plaque with upholstery tacks and trim, one bone imprint where bone itself is missing. Framed in elaborate stoneware frame with fencepost, spigot and screw head details, all modeled in stoneware. Hangs securely from leather cord. Height 10.5"/27cm, width 9"/23cm, depth 1"/2.5cm. Hand applied gloss and satin glazes in black, cream and a wide variety of gray."
Incidentally, Hewitt is also one of the featured artists in the first issue of Libre Graphics Magazine - congrats are in order!

More mullings after the fold...
I thought "Missing Bone" was an entirely appropriate accompaniment to the current state of disheveled upheaval my cabin and my concurrent frame of mind. It also brings up an interesting point on art: despite the many lengthy floggings explorations on classroom critiquing covered many times here already, there's still one aspect that is a valid perspective, even if it's one that is frowned upon in artsy-fartsy, the "I like it" syndrome. Here's what's at the heart of many such  observations: not an intellectually lazy bail-out by any means, but a visceral, emotional reaction that legitimately defies words. Dissecting the aesthetic balloon might reveal the underlying reasons for pleasurable grunts of appreciation from a knuckle-dragging plebeian, but doesn't diminish the gut-level impact the occasional piece can have on a viewer. Much less a mere image of said work, which in its 3-dimensional actuality would doubtless provoke even more of palatable impression. 

Case in point: my reaction to this image takes place within the context of a thematic convergence hinging on an individual creator's intent, and the individual viewer's framework of experience which shapes their interpretation, both relative to personal situations. When one has been spending hours wallowing around the evidence of a messy life, and a gestalt melancholia builds up in the background, seeing a symbol of said slow waltz is powerful and poignant.

“Morning sun reminds us of the time we spent,
Stretching stories, sharing songs, and forget the rest
You know and I know this dance might never end
Life is strange, life is good, and life is all that it should be.”

- Donna the Buffalo

Been taking frequent breaks from packing in advance of the upcoming move, which has turned into an almost equal amount of purging crap: divesting myself of the accumulated ephemera, jettisoning baggage, triaging memorabilia, like a self-imposed fire sale without any flame... "everything must go." A goal is to unload at least half of everything that I can see swaddled within this cocoon of a cabin, all the stuff that envelopes and defines who you are, where you come from, and what is important, or at least was at one time or another. 95% of what remains will go into storage - setting the stage for the next phase of accumulating even more junk to replace it all unencumbered exploration.
The innumerable diversions such an opportunity presents is overwhelming in itself: so much time idly spent turning over items in my hands and in my mind, resurrecting the associations behind bits of bone, shell, feather and stone: the letters, cards, poems and photographs each mulled in turn. How much of this all only serves to remind one of what isn't there anymore anyways (hence the signature image above), and if that's the only reason to remember, then why hold on any longer with such a literal death grip?
The morbidity doesn't escape me either, the "what do you leave behind" when you die Big Question (my answer: a Dumb Joke), and how many things are saved from the dead to keep them temporally "alive." Mentally and physically, as far as the spaces we inhabit, are they a gallery with occasional exhibits culled from the archives, or a museum, a repository of the faded or forgotten? 
It's revealing how long I'll stubbornly cling to worn-out eraser nibs, pencil stubs and scraps of paper that's blank on the back side. Several sacks of art supplies later I find out what I really use, and maybe what I only need, in more ways than one. Several 39-gallon bags of useless artwork is trashed in commiseration with the biographies of classical composers I've been reading as of late, who summarily discarded works better left abandoned from posterity. Ever artist should relish the experience of using their own work for packing material, perversely enough for wrapping their other works in turn. This by no means alleviates the cases of sketchbooks and files of projects I haven't gotten around to (yet): suffice it to say I'll never run out of ideas.
Punching holes in the nest adds to the encroaching unease, as the artwork is off the walls, kinda like working in a room without any soul, stripped of familiar talismans and totemic presences. Blowing out the dust-bunnies and wiping away the cobwebs is a sure sign some pruning is in order, and at least as long overdue as the last spring cleaning (yeah, oopsie). Thinking about those who don't have any of all these supposedly important leftovers, like victims of fire, poverty or even war, is humbling and puts it all into perspective. That's a big part of American Exceptionalism: we sure are privileged to hang on to all our shit, storing it or dragging it along behind us wherever we go. So much for my shining cabin on a hill.

This is all dovetails quite nicely with the recent "One Room" panel, and also a great counterpoint to Steve's parallel musings on clutter accumulation over at What Do I Know.
Much as it's paradoxically refreshing to purge, it's stressful and depressing to pull out the snail of so many years out of the multi-chambered shell, a nautilus of nostalgia. I've recently had several blasts-from-the-past come outta left field with regards to old friends who've discovered this website and reconnected: it adds to the surreal archaeological backdrop of these antique excavations and eviscerations. The looping of Springsteen's 1980 opus "Stolen Car" in the background as a soundtrack "helps" too.

"And I'm driving a stolen car
On a pitch black night
And I'm telling myself I'm gonna be alright
But I ride by night and I travel in fear
That in this darkness I will disappear"

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