Made by Hand

We work

First quarter down. 2 more to go. This project, I’ve been doing it now for 4 years so I think 9 times now. Spreading a lot of cardboard and paper mache animal heads into the world. This project feels like a collaboration between my students and myself. I did not make those… adjectives please. Just look. They are stunning. I know though that it’s not just the cardboard, or the careful making, the glue mixed with water and painted paper. It is who they are and who they can be. It’s also the anonymity. And at the same time the insta-value, getting it our there. What I see is a future filling up with dreamers and dancers and lovers and writers and fixers and bikers and mothers, brothers and fathers and sisters, a getting together, collectivity.

This term we entered the library silently. Proceeded across the sky bridge and as we approached the separate stairs we split half taking left half right and gathered together on the landing in the rotunda. After some coded instruction we all took a deep breath and then began to hum. HUmmmm until students people came to gather to look over the railing down the stairs into the rotunda. We finished and inhaled just to hear applause… in the library. Breaking up the study session to say “Relax, we will get through this together….” and then we went away.

 WWU students taking it…..levels

WWU students taking it…..levels

Space Wind

I had strange dreams last night. Maybe I had dinner too late. My father was there, trying to get at me. I was flying above him but then I lost my powers and floated down to earth. I awoke at 3:20, a usual time for me, to hear the wind and watch the silhouettes of trees dance above the skylights in my roof. Branches swayed and swept the air, trunks bent like blades of grass under an invisible hand. The high moisture content in the Northern air saved us, lending the trees extra agility to respond to the restless wind as it filled the night sky with sound and fury. When I finally fell back to sleep I dreamt it was a full moon and as the clouds parted the moon drifted off center in some celestial orbit to reveal a familiar planet. It was earth. But then where was I? Suddenly I started shaking uncontrollably, and woke myself. It was a beautiful and fearsome sight. I was out in space, disconnected from this place. But I also had a strange sense like… don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid. We are all just floating out in space.

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Lost wax weekend results!

Last weekend, it was just last weekend, after arriving home from 5 days in Northern California, the Sierras and foothills, I made some life casts, transferred them to wax and then began the long I’ll say arduous process of bonze casting. Goodness. So much work and so much fun. We had a team so we all worked together. I held the dead end, Doug drove the live end, Ruby drove the winch and Carly oversaw. Here are some results. Still so much chasing to do but I am hooked. I like the rough edges. I let the gauze in the wax model remain. Amazing what survived the burnout. Plan to execute a few more molds this weekend. Perhaps cast into Quickcrete or paper pulp, looking for something I can do in studio that is sort of lightweight but not nasty to work with…. so many options.

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Teaching is the best. We never stop learning. Grading now that’s not the best but I learn so much through that too. How students are responding to my curriculum, the good, the bad, the ugh! That’s what is happening today. One week left of classes then Finals week. And my first quarter at Western Washington University is (nearly) fini! So far sooooo good.

(forest-time) a proposal for a performance

(forest-time) is new eco-feminist sci-fi that begins as a media presentation on fire ecology, past and future in the Pacific Northwest, and gradually devolves into a primal live-cinema performance about sticky entanglements across ecologies, economies and time-scales.

Based on research conducted in the western states of Washington, California, Nevada and British Columbia, Canada (forest-time) will feature human and Ai performances, video, field-recordings, soundscapes and song.

At the center of a layered performance, is an investigation into the idea of Time, how this concept or construct is rendered in a forest, a computer, in a human. How might nonlinear perspectives on time allow us to see beyond anthropocentric, existential hang ups to a less hierarchical and more equitable global society, economy and ecology? If we can see time in the trees more accurately than in a clock what is the point of all these alarms. Time is more material, less linear than we were led to believe. It’s in the sound, in the soil, the trees, the sea, the salmon, the whales, their bones, your bones. Whose time is it anyways? Or is it that time owns us or is there just no such thing? Only a multi-layered infinite now.

Trees can tell us with staggering accuracy what happened in the past by the number and quality of the rings found inside their heartwood and sapwood. It’s called dendrochronology. There’s also dendroclimatology, the study of tree rings to detect environmental patterns like drought and fire.

Now is place-based. It is “here and now” yet place is also the Past especially when we can see it in the earthy material around us. A sundial might come close to telling time but a material sense of time, like that expressed in a forest or a coastline can be more real than any digital or analog display. If you care to look, you can see the past, feel it, pick it up and hold it in your hands.

Fieldwork for this project is nomadic and takes place across time and space, tracing a road taken by many Now moving (myself included) north along the coastline to find work, affordable housing, water, clean air and a livable Future.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't always see the sun, so a sundial is less reliable. Trees can tell time.

 Tree bark after controlled burn, Bend, OR

Tree bark after controlled burn, Bend, OR

Bronze Pour Today!

Saw a wonderful show at the Henry Gallery in Seattle before Thanksgiving Break. It was particularly thrilling as it featured Cast-offs, an installation of life casts, the work of Martha Freidman. So inspiring. A few day slater I found myself sitting on a plastic sheet on the floor of my living room with bowls of blue alginate and white plaster, casting funny parts of my body. Then I poured wax into the molds and with much help built investment molds. Four days later after 3 nights of taking 10PM kiln check duty, I shut the ovens down last night and today in less than an hour we begin the pour!

 Solo Life Casting last Sunday!

Solo Life Casting last Sunday!

I’ll document as I can. Wish us luck!

Letter #3 (TimeBomb)

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Letter 3

December 19th, 1989

We will all wake up together. A piece of graffiti on the Berlin Wall. I’d seen it before, but in the future, as a photograph in a bar in California. The way it makes me feel to even hear my inner voice say those words. How could it feel for someone who was experiencing it for the first time. I watched it on TV. I remember feeling something, a kind of fullness in my chest and tightening of the throat as I realized what was happening. History was crumbling. Individual citizens,  students, teachers, merchants, people were responsible for the demise of seemingly untouchable rulers. The regime’s paranoia had been a potent distraction in the everyday lives of the regions’ inhabitants. Their political system was no longer tolerable.

Though at the time it felt like I’d just turned on the TV, switched the channel, this was not a sudden revolution. Hardly ever. Revolution is slow. It churns undetected, underground and at the edges, sometimes dormant, other times awake but frozen, thawing, warming, swelling. It takes so long for the heat to build. Then all it takes is a spark, one dreamer, one wild one, a dancer, a painter, a rock wall climber to initiate the first action. Against the bloody cold legacy of previous street battles between the occupiers and the artists, this time back in 89, despite, or more likely because of the the backwards power structure… the many overcame the ruling few.  

They moved through the streets like a velvet serpent, collective impossible, deep maroon dreamers. The many found a common love in their Rulers’ eviction. The commons shimmered through the television pulsating with exaggerated color. The crowds were a sea of winter caps, kept warm together. As I watched alone, on the 18 inch Zenith I saw their collective exhales form a mist rising up above their heads.  In the cold November night air, changing the atmosphere. Us. See what can we do if we’d only trust each other and see how we can be…. 

But it doesn’t all much matter. I know how this is going to end. 

Give it a few decades and the new class of Rulers will surface and this brilliant triumph will seem like a dream.  Give it a few more and it’s lost in a sea of cached data or long recycled printed matter. Books at the bottom of the sea. It ended like a dream, in an era of conscious unconscious, collective complacency, collective exhaustion… what do we have to love now that we’ve let our dreams end.

Love and risk are twins. One can’t exist without the other. 

Last night I I took this photo with a disposable camera. A friend processed the film. I made some copies. I thought you might appreciate the sentiment. 

To wake up, 

together.

Airport poem


Four hours or less of sleep. At the airport. Fogged in. All flights grounded. 6 hours wait.

Had to cry for a dead friend to get the airline to transfer my ticket. Thank you friend.

Sometimes it feels like there is such a thin layer separating us from the ones who’ve gone away. Maybe that’s just my heart brain thinking, trying to make it more tolerable. They are gone. We are here. Then we are gone away.

We are all earth slips. Slivers of the universe singing names. Trying to profess love for one another while we hate ourselves. And all we really hope to do is dance the night away, sleep hard and be good one day. Kindly animals, hopeful beasts muddling thru the mud that remains from years and years of subterranean tears.

It’s too sappy. yes, but it’s early winter and I’m still mourning the sun and warm salty skin. Streaks of red in my hair deepen to a brown like the earth under ground.

3 more hours left at the airport.

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Poems for a Sculpture #111380

 my mother and her loyal companion

my mother and her loyal companion

Many many years ago on this day our dog Rusty was hit by a car. I was watching the Flintstones. My mother came into the kitchen. I screamed. My father buried her under a field of black-eyed Susans (can we unpack this?) in the back yard in Michigan. I never saw her body. It might have been the same year the Challenger crashed. Sally Ride. A TV was rolled into the classroom, wait, no I was already in California. What happened? The memories slip and slide. It takes blurry grey scale mental images of architecture to remind me of time. Otherwise it all just happened.

Mind soup.

Rusty. Her coat was a true dark russet. Deep earthy red. I just started to love her. When she’d run and turn a corner across the waxy wet lawn, under the pines and bowing maples, sometimes she’d slip or more accurately flip in a twist, yet always land on her fast four propelled to her destination in a feat of extra-human agility.

Then she was gone. And then we had to go. Us, during that short time in our 4 lives when we lived together. We had an obligation. Hotels and indoor swimming pools. I recall feeling feelings way beyond my ears, thinking at 8 yrs old, this is all so absurd. We just lost one of our pack and now we’re at the Hilton swimming...

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We scream the names of those we loved before and lost. So many ways to lose a love, distance, schedules, death. Even the way it moves through your mouth, it sucks air back in. Death is a sonic event. I can feel it like a plugging in the ears when the plane veers abruptly upright into the heavens filling us up with silent screams. how many ways did I lose you? How many ways did you lose me? Before physically we separated. It’s a long peeling off. Then there’s nothing left but a hollow metallic body and the engines hanging in mid air. What holds us up? What holds us. To each other, apart. Gravity may it hold me down. I’d float off for sure without it’s sure weight on me now just to find you somewhere high up there and ask you for one last dance.

for Jubilee

 J + J

J + J

Learning growing

 just sampling of object that have been keeping my hands busy….

just sampling of object that have been keeping my hands busy….

It’s thrilling to be a beginner again! Lost wax casting, piezo mics, 3D printing and lasers. Something is cooking and it smells good.

Last week I played open mic here at a pub in my neighborhood. It was a release to sing outside again. My hands felt good and my voice felt smooth and strong. But it was a close one, as usual. The night before while I practiced ‘this love is over’ by Ray LaMontagne my bass Butter suddenly stopped playing. I wiggled the input and that was it. I grabbed a screwdriver, removed the plate and housing and saw the white wire was disconnected from the jack! Great. So the next morning on my way to school in the rainy morning I rode clear across town to the hardware store to pickup a soldering iron (another tool I left behind in my past life) and some electrical solder. That evening after classes and before the show I soldered for the first time in years! I had to make a pretty sizable solder bridge to connect the too short wire. Will need to get back in there soon to replace the wire. But I did it. And I enjoyed it. Which got me thinking about doing some more soldering, wiring, music oriented making….

And it’s not just for me. My students and I are starting a new project soon, making sound sculptures out of an old donated pipe organ. Love it when teaching and art and life meld into one. Then I saw this and I want one but not available in the states currently so I thought heck I will make one myself… or something like. How hard can it be?

 Leaf Audio Michrophonic Soundbox dreamy.

Leaf Audio Michrophonic Soundbox dreamy.

{zombie love}

I just finished watching the walking dead. yeah I know, that show, but remember when it first came out? We were all blown away by the zombie apocalypse and how it was already happening and all the killing was just a metaphor for what we did each day to survive in our capitalist reality. Good people fighting the zombies. We were still together then.

Hold up. Something I have to try to explain. In the last few weeks I became addicted to this show. The pointless violence. The constant carnage. Guts and brains for days. Good gone bad over and over but I stayed. Against all my better judgement. It had lost all it’s initial tenderness and clarity. The writing and acting was grinding downward. The blood and guts increased with each redundant episode, but I kept on watching. It was like a rerun I’d never actually seen before. I’d been there though, in a less bloody but no less meaningless way.

I’m still trying to unpack it now. There are boxes and boxes in the shed and big spiders nesting inside. Sometime maybe I’ll break those boxes down and make sculptures of animal heads and I’ll dance through the street as somebody else but more myself. Then I’ll throw all that’s left into a bonfire on the beach 25 miles from the Canadian border and let the wind and rain and silver sound pull it away back to the bottom of the ocean.

~a poem (possibly) soon to be deleted

Dream Log and Bruna Press

Last night I attended a gathering at Bruna Press a wonderful space/place, archive and community in Bellingham WA. The evenings teachings were about Coast Salish concepts of time and space. Lead by elder, teacher WILLIAM John, X'welwelat'se, the conversations and discussions ranged from street names to treaties, climate change to the future of nation-states and language. In the end I realize we made Time together.

Thinking so much about time and place/space. Time in western culture seems so bound to the idea of the individual self. Is time merely the metric by which we quantify our productivity? Measure our progress? Time seems to obscure the present by winnowing it down to a tic on a clock. Time is so much deeper and wider than that. I think a collective understanding of time, many many lines running parallel, perpendicular, crosswise and up against, under and over one another could be a more accurate image of the concept.

I had a dream last night and in it was some kind of time machine. It was like a harp but with strings so densely strung the space beyond it was obscured until when the strings began to move like they were being played by some invisible hand, we could see the past between the strings. The strings were mostly red and some yellow, orange, warm feels. This machine let us see what we lost and what we longed for. Loved. There’s a story around the harp-time machine that I won’t go into now. I needed to write this down before the day runs away with last nights dreams.

My dream and the discussion inspire me to continue to work on my current project, the Sagehen Residency, the Time-Bomb letters, the objects props, the time-pieces. We sculptors, we are material researchers. We investigate matter, and in that sense, relations with matter, each other, our world and beyond. I’m going to build a time machine.

Letter #1 (Time-Bomb)



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August 15, 2087

As I write this I’m dead already. It’s a crazy thing to think, to write down. I can’t think through it. It’s like a wall that runs off forever in either direction and rises too high to climb. All I can do is write this down and hope you’ll find it, like we planned. But these are strange times. Since the development of time travel what does dead really mean? Had we understood the liquid nature of time, that it was more like waves, currents undulating like water columns in the ocean, stratified but susceptible to sudden and violent disturbance, and how it’s all really just a matter of scale. Was that not enough to keep us fascinated forever? It’s never enough with us. First it was the expeditions and conquests, genocide and oppression of the survivors, more land, more industry, more technology, more extraction, more war, more money, more death, more money, more and more until even the earth had nothing left. We’d taken from her all she ever had to give, all that ever was or would be... Okay, so I might exaggerate. There was something left, for those who could afford it, but the peak times had passed decades ago, oil, water and people. All earthly resources were in a post peak. The population, human and nonhuman had begun to drop precipitously. A curse or a gift depending on who you ask. Some of us knew the truth. The Future was disappearing.

It’s been determined that homo sapiens cannot time-travel to the future beyond 2087.  There’s some insurmountable wall that the routers can’t penetrate. I’ve been here, this year, this time, for a month. I think. I keep a pile of pebbles to track the days. 28, 4 weeks, one month, right? There is more and more slippage. Sometimes it feels like we are going backwards or the sun seems to stay in one place in the sky for hours. If I had my phone, a watch, maybe I could tell for certain, but we have none of that here. No power. Even when you find someone Outside with an s-panel, there is no way to set a clock. There are sun dials in the clearings and deserts. They are all relative to the sun. Some people say we are slowing down, the earth, it’s orbit has slowed. Winding down now. The sunsets are longer. Each color rushes across the sky as I breathe in and blood pulses through my veins blue like the darkening sky. That sudden shot of green we used to try to see just when the sun drops below the horizon, it lasts a good 5-10 breaths now. I’ve started measuring time with my body. It’s all just relative to the sun, to our bodies, this planet. Fuck clocks. They can have there fucking clocks.

The Complex is enormous here. As far as my eyes can see. It curves around and blocks out the horizon to the east. The channel separating it from the Outside is so wide some mornings the mist rising from the runoff makes it all disappear, like fog over the bay. But it’s there. You can feel it’s hum in your chest. You can feel the heat coming off the routers when the wind blows onshore. Others say all the best minds from the last 100 years are in there, taken from their time to work on cracking the Future. What’s that like? How strange it must feel to be suddenly taken out of your time?  It was strange for us too, but it came on more gradually over decades after the Mars cataclysm. Like the planet itself shook them off. Tragic really. Kids were among the 10,000. The workers too and their families. The animals and cyborgs that had no choice. And the Elites, I have to believe not all are bad. We come from the same place. We are one. How different we are now.

It was a definite blow to their numbers. There are so many more of us Outside. Like it’s always been. They have power. But we have the numbers.

letting go/going north!

Looks like all those self help books might just work! After years or trying, heartbreak and all but giving up on a future in academia I side stepped my ego, my fears and gave it one, two more tries and who would have imagined it would feel so natural and nearly (a relative term) effortless. The doors open and they say welcome, we are so happy you came. In less cryptic terms, I am moving to Bellingham, WA for a one year appointment as Visiting Professor of Sculpture and Foundations! As I share this news with friends it's amazing how many connections I already have there. Oh and my two oldest friends live in WA! SO thrilled.

 I did not take this gorgeous photo of the forest in Bellingham but I will be there in September!

I did not take this gorgeous photo of the forest in Bellingham but I will be there in September!

It is however bittersweet because I am so much enjoying my life unfolding here in South Santa Cruz County. I will miss the fields of kale, tractors at rush hour, alpacas and donkeys on Casserley Rd, the cacophony of animal sounds that gently wake me at night, coyotes, then roosters, followed by the dogs always willing to contribute and socialize. And my students and everyone at Cabrillo College Extension. My WOWW class and basketry class reminded me why I teach. The gratitude of the students, the joy of sharing simple skills to see them add to the knowledge with their own unique insight, I love it! Which is good to know as I move forward to a full time position with more responsibility that ever before. I am sooo ready!

 Western Washington University Campus near the waterfront!

Western Washington University Campus near the waterfront!

I've already secured a spacious new home, cottage really, just 10 minutes from campus by bike and 10 minutes from the water by foot, right next to Fairhaven, a especially quaint part of Bellingham with all kinds of great shops and cafes. Having room for all my tools and basketry material is a relief. And now I have an excuse to design and build some furniture! I wonder what grows there?

 Wow! Farmers Market in Fairhaven seems to ROCK!

Wow! Farmers Market in Fairhaven seems to ROCK!

It will be such a change to be able to walk to town, flush a toilet! Walk downstairs and make a cup of coffee! This is going to be quite an adventure. Still, I'm going to miss my Santa Cruz family, the doggies, the forest not to mention my Bay area family. Grateful for all the years of support, silliness and love. I must remember I am a nomad and I will be back, always.

Can't wait to start designing my new bed! And school, well that's the whole reason I'm going! Teaching Sculpture in Wood and Intro to 3D this quarter! Flying in August 2nd to meet with new colleagues and do a drive by on my new place. That's next week! Today... it's my B-day and I'm doing what I want, where I want, when I want. Through all this, the last 10 weeks of recovery, I've learned a lot about what I need to feel well, to feel giving and open to others, which is ultimately why I am here... to share and support the community around me... I think that's why teaching stayed with me, even when I gave up, felt as if I had nothing left to give. One has to give away a special gift, that which we've learned and honed like a jewel. It's not about pride, it's about nurturing and sharing those skills, stories that have filled up some of those holes in the heart, and even grown new parts, making a lumpy, little bumpy, misshapen heart, yet a bigger, broader more resilient heart.

Some writing...

Sasha Petrenko // Work Plan: Oro Residency

In April ‘18 I spent 10 days on the isolated Farrallon Islands, with 6 other government employees and volunteers, 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco, California. The islands, a nature preserve, are closed to the public, and notoriously difficult to reach. The ocean swells are particularly choppy beyond the bay due to volcanic outcroppings and strong ocean currents. A major shark feeding ground, the area is also known for being the site of over 400 hundred recorded ship and airplane wrecks since the islands discovery by the Spaniards in the late 16th century. With no dock or pier due to the islands sheer walls, we step off 2 by 2 from the deep hulled fishing boat onto a less impressive raft fitted with an outboard motor and make our way towards a craggy inlet. We are picked up by a crane and transferred safely onto land. Offloading is the same but in reverse and can only be done when the weather is fair. One unexpected swell could thrash the raft or the fishing boat against razor sharp cliffs.

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We spent our time on the island abating invasive spinach, hiking around in white Tyvec suits worn to protect our clothes, we are told, from the blue dye of the diluted pesticide spray we used to subdue the unfortunate intruder. The irony was not lost on us, who are we to call the other an invasive. But the trained ecologists did not respond well when pressed on the issue. Restoration is their livelihood. And so I kept my disturbing questions to myself.

During the day we worked mostly in isolation, wandering the cliffs, clearly outnumbered by the thousands of birds that swarmed, fed and fought around us. Hundreds of seals basked, dove and swam along the islands bays and fingers. When we approached the birds took flight creating sonic clouds of white while the seals weighed down by pounds of flesh and fat growled and barked earthly and guttural, and we humans, stuck in the middle, pulled plants from the rocky soil, much like those who came before us. We were both stuck in the middle between sea and the mainland, heaven and earth.

Within a few days a daily pattern emerged. Up at dawn to brew coffee by the pot, breakfast comparisons, then suiting up in white and mounting 40 pound packs of blue fluid on our backs to dash the island spinach plant that was already haunting our dreams. Around 1 we’d start to fall out for lunch and after 5 or 6, dinner, that nightly was cooked by a different volunteer. Working on the island we developed healthy appetites and our meals together were highlights of the day. Then the evenings were spent describing everything we wish we had with us, whiskey, a guitar, more cigarettes. Later we’d read or write alone in one of the shared bedrooms in the former home for the lighthouse keeper and his family. After over a century of operation it was decided conditions were not suitable for a man and his family. The deaths of several children were recorded in official ledgers. The lighthouse has been automated for 45 years.

The isolation and general lack of what we were used to having resulted in a growing sensory awareness of my body, its vulnerability, on the island, on the rocks, in the wind, which would flap and whip at my white Tyvek suit, as I’d stare out across the prehistoric landscape, and the limitless sea. Like a thousand white kites, gulls rode the wind above me. While the wind filled my ears, I could imagine myself a time traveler or an astronaut dropped down on this barren isle, charged with restoring some lost ecology, while destroying the remaining one.

Time periods coexist. Human time, earth time, sea gull time, whale time, prehistoric time, all time inscribed in the rocks, in the architecture of the buildings pealing white paint and blackening wood, worn down nautical fixtures of copper and brass, submerged and sand encrusted. Violet light racing across the unbelievable and edgeless horizon. The sun cracks through the clouds and spills onto the sea in theatrical display. I’m not religious, but I felt this sense of deep time through and in my body during my stay on the islands which hums in me still. The Farallons. I heard myself asking “Where are we going?” And “Why?” What drives us, in an almost suicidal impulse to discover what? A new land, home, a purpose, a resurrection, our better nature, forgiveness, freedom, love?

What has this to do with my desire to experience time on the Oro Archipelago? My work for the past 6 or 7 years has been about exploring the relationships between human and extra human nature. My performance work, writing, sound work and video is layered, like a cosmic ecological sandwich. I identify systems that involve both human and extra human participants. [In my view there is no divide or border between us, despite our best or worst efforts. Their is no wall long or tall enough to stop the interweaving of our species’ fate.] But I am no scientist, or authority on anything but my own way, and that is even questionable at best. So my work asks questions by drawing parallels between us and them, humanity and animals, plants and people, our bodies and the universe.

My Work Plan: I would like to use my time on Oro to continue research, writing, conduct field work and begin filming a new video series about the human body and how it relates to the universe. Using systems thinking (social, political, botanical, geological, ecological) I will draw parallels between human anatomy, planetary systems and ultimately expand out to the astronomical and universal. Only slightly a kin to the canonical The Powers of 10 film by the famous American designers, Charles and Ray Eames, where as the Eames’s film was concerned with the relative scale of things in the universe, my video series will pay closer attention to a complete collapse in scale.

I plan to spend the first 10 days to 2 weeks of my residency walking around the archipelago, as walking is part of my process, and reading or listening to audio books. [I frequently refer to my work as psychedelic book reports given how much reading I do prior to production.] Typically what happens next is I will write and write and just as I am about to pull out my hair something happens and then it is recorded. I may dialogue with my computer using text to speech and or call on friends to translate and record passages in a language other than my own. And so I begin to fill in and to lay down the grounding tracks for a series. Often all the audio is completed prior to shooting video. This method I find helps me to build a structure for the series before the overwhelming idea of the visual comes into the picture. 

My second 2 weeks will involve much filming and some editing. I will come prepared with essential equipment, my camera, green screen fabric, projector, sound equipment and then I will go out for my walks with my camera, recording and looking for miracles in the soil, in the trees, along the waterways. It’s not hard to find. It just takes time, patience and faith in the oneness of everything there is and a desire to tell this story so we can delight in our connection to each other and to the unbelievable cosmos, right here and now and always. 

It is my hope to begin a work that aims to explore the relationships between our bodies, a sense of place, our planet, the universe and time. Quite a shopping list I agree. But if I can begin to tell the story and show how patterns in our bodies mirror those in plants and the universe, and how time is like a flower and we are all held in it’s scent, sliding down layers upon layers of satin pedals of perception, pulled continuously to the core of all that is and will ever be... it shall be something.

summer skin [final?]

 My bro, cousin Gary, me and Ilya at the Lake, Michigan, 1979.

My bro, cousin Gary, me and Ilya at the Lake, Michigan, 1979.

summer skin

 

Big bugs like matchbox cars

Flutter and click in the shadows

cracking pale blue

chest deep thunder

full and soft

warm summer rain. 


Getting soaked thru cotton 

Rivulets on summer skin, 

tilting your head back, eyes closed, 

You open your mouth and let the rain 

Land on your unfurled 

and pointed tongue. 

The drops prick like wet darts 

 

but damn it felt good. 

What is that feeling like really?

 

Wet hair and lips, arms and legs. 

A little cooler now that the suns gone

You look towards home

Bending down to take off your soaked 

Socks and shoes, barefoot now

You sink just a little. Blades of grass

Slip and tickle between you toes.

 

The rain eases and the sun shimmers 

green and gold as it sets over the hill. 

A warm wind chases the sunset

it brushes your hair and skin

Mama calls from the driveway

Inside there’s big brother, warm food, TV.


Fireflies and tractors, car crashes playing chicken.

We’d pick up cans and glass on the side of the road.

A quarter a can. Time reached out forever.

What was that like? Back then when it rained

In summer.

Like you are alive and it would never end.

 

 

Summer rains...

Movement research at The Watermill Center for Performance, NY. July, 2011.

When I was doing this project I had to walk about 2 miles back to my sleeping place and one summer evening the most intense storm rolled in. Before I was halfway home the storm had opened up on me. Lightening and thunder merged into a singular eruption like some cosmic tear in the universe. I had to run for cover with all my camera and computer equipment hiding in the carports and overhangs of vacant summer homes. I never in my life thought I would be struck by lightening until that day. The storm seemed to be following me, moving back and forth across my path. I was convinced it would hit me once I got out into the clearing. It seemed to be leaving, heading east until it pivoted and started to back track right towards me, now out of the woodlands, exposed on the the road. Am I the tallest thing around, like some human lightening rod? oh god yes, walk faster! I quickened my pace and tried to think of the odds. My luck just wouldn't have it. Looking over my shoulder the storm was indeed heading back towards me. How much further? Finally a dark brown sedan pulled over and took me the rest of the way to the artists house. I handed the driver 15 dollars cash I think and then ran inside, dropped my equipment bags and stood dripping in the kitchen, feeling relieved and electric. For a second I thought I had been struck by lightening owing to my frenetic state. My skin tingled. Heat seemed to emanate from my insides. But as my breathing slowed and I felt a coolness spread from my still wet hair down my back I was just grateful and amazed at the fact that weather had such a hold on me. Something much bigger than me and or any human project. I could feel small and powerless but instead I feel held in some enormous, cosmic entity. We can't control it though by now we know we have made some mortal mistakes in our careless pursuits. But that summer reminds me of how it felt as a child, in awe of the night set blazing white by a heavenly crack and rumble. May we continue to be held in this place by gravity and gratitude.

I'm still here!!

21 days ago I finally had surgery on my ankle to remove an accessory navicular bone and re-attach my posterior tibial tendon! Ouch is what that all mean. It's congenital, so present at birth. For some reason my navicular bone (the boney thing near your ankle bone) decided to develop a little twin. After years of running and jumping and dancing, and one pretty severe ankle sprain, my navicular and accessory parted ways. Which resulted in my tendon taking a ride too and my foot feeling loose and awful for months. 

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Surgery went well. I've been getting around on a strange contraption called an iWalk, a peg leg sort of device that causes people to look at me in horror followed by relieved curiosity. Children just stare. It's limited my mobility, mostly to avoid the awkward stares of strangers. I feel like I have a sliver of some new sense of how it might feel for people who are physically somehow different than most. Inside I think "hey, I'm just me," but people tend to just see my strangeness. This is only one of the things I've learned since my surgery. 

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This whole experience has forced me to find alternative resources in yourself, how to be flexible and optimistic, without  my usual ways to cope. No running since October has been depressing, and now no yoga, no way to avoid all the questions I have about where I am, who am I supposed to be? 

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With a small armful of self help books, some pain killers and a little one-eyed dog named Xena I found that I have a deep well of resources inside. Reading and writing and working on small things with my hands and slow soft yoga practice has brought me through this time, as well as the knowledge that this is, like so much, only temporary. I am grateful for this time to slow down and discover something stronger within me. I can only believe it is the result of all the love around me and years of observation, practice and listening. I am grateful to my teachers.