Monday, October 24, 2016

Quotes: David Foster Wallace

"If your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything." –– David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), American author

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Work & Life

Front porch cicada; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
I've been a bit absent from blogland for a few reasons. I've been writing various artist statements during my daily 30 minute office practice. It seems that the words and time that I normally dedicate to my blog are being used for my statements. On Monday I felt disillusioned with the results of this new month-old habit. I expected that I would have a resolved Poetic Memory statement and already be writing an essay for another series. Nope. Then yesterday I had a breakthrough for how to install my tags. Today I realized that the results of my 30 minute office practice are non-linear. Yes, my Poetic Memory statement is moving forward, but I am reaping other rewards too.

The other reason I've been absent is that I had surgery a month ago and I'm still recovering. S l o w l y. I've since learned that it can take 4 to 6 weeks for all of the chemicals to work their way out of your body. Like my new office practice, I've learned that recovery is non-linear: Some days I feel like my normal self and then I'm exhausted for a few days. Such is life.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Quotes: Cheryl Strayed

Negative space
"One of the basic principles of every single art form has to do not with what's there –– the music, the words, the movement, the dialogue, the paint –– but with what isn't. In the visual arts it's called "negative space" –– the blank parts around and between objects, which is, of course, every bit as crucial as the objects themselves. The negative space allows us to see the nonnegative space in all its glory and gloom, its colour and mystery and light. What isn't there gives whats there meaning. Imagine that." –– Cheryl Strayed (b. 1968), American author
* source: Cheryl Strayed. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. New York: Vintage Books, 2012.

Tiny Beautiful Things is among my top five reads for 2016. Strayed is wise, funny, and deeply honest. The book is part advice column, part memoir and it's powerful stuff. I highly recommend it.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Quotes: Antoine De Saint-Exupéry

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it." –– Antoine De Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), French writer and aviator, Wind, Sand and Stars
*source: Gretchen Rubin. Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. 2015.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rachel Zeffira: Poetic Memory inspiration

I'm in the midst of writing a third artist statement for my Poetic Memory series. Most series have a snag: usually it's an artwork that takes a long time to resolve. For this series, the statement is my biggest challenge. My new habit of keeping regular office hours is now one month old and I continue to enjoy it, a big surprise. It's in this time slot that I am sitting with the Poetic Memory writing and I'm giving myself as much time as I need to set down the words that will express the essence of this series. Yesterday, to help the writing, I listened to most of my Poetic Memory soundtrack and Rachel Zeffira's Here On In was among the songs. I hope that patience with the writing process will pay off ... the sooner, the better.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Quotes: Rei Kawakubo

"If I do something I think is new, it will be misunderstood, but if people like it, I will be disappointed because I haven't pushed them enough. The more people hate it, maybe the newer it is." –– Rei Kawakubo (b. 1942), Japanese fashion designer, founder of Comme des Garçons.
*source: Oswald Gallery (Alex Taves), Friday August 19, 2016

Friday, September 30, 2016

Watermelon Patch

Watermelon patch; Photo © Karen Thiessen, 2016
During the high humidity and temperatures of late August and early September, hubby and I took to evening walks when the summer swelter had abated somewhat. One evening I spotted a mysterious front yard plant whose leaves intrigued me. Hubby knew what it was in an instant: a watermelon plant. The light was dim and I didn't have a camera, so I had to go back the next afternoon in the unfortunate heat, but it was worth it. 

I couldn't believe that I had never seen a watermelon plant, even though the fruit is significant to Mennonites and my family. My Opa loved loved loved watermelon. According to family lore, he would stash his crop covered in straw in the hayloft on the ground floor of the barn and disappear after lunch for some secret sweet sustenance. My Thiessen clan would gather for spontaneous Roll Kuchen and Arbuzen (watermelon) suppers. Some Mennonites made watermelon syrup when they had a more than sufficient crop. It's made like maple syrup: take a lot of watermelon pulp and boil it down until it forms a syrup, then can it as you would peaches or cherries. Watermelon syrup cake is mighty delicious, as is pickled watermelon.

The long story short is that I have a new leaf to explore and interpret for my accidental Mennonite series and it's a very satisfying leaf to work with.