Arousing Biophilia

Arousing Biophilia

After a really inspiring artist research residency this past June I wanted to further explore the idea of art, nature and science and also push myself to do something different and new. So after some brainstorming and talking with great artist friends I decided that I wanted to curate an art exhibition. I am really passionate about these subjects and want to share them with the world.  Although I have done some curation before it never has been on this scale with something so close to my heart.

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SWARM - Artist Research Residency

SWARM - Artist Research Residency

I wanted to write about my recent artist residency while still fresh in my mind. Parts of it are already starting to lose their shine and fade away as I slip back into the routine of daily life. I spent 8 days at the Ayatana Research Residency in Chelsea Quebec. The theme of the residency was insects.

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Bats, fireflies, and a whole lot of artwork

The life of an artist can be kind of unpredictable. Even when you try and plan or outline your year you really never know what opportunities will pop up, what you will or will not get accepted or invited to.  When you apply for exhibits, grants, residencies, etc. It can be several months before you know if it is going to work out or not. I’m not complaining, in fact I love it - it’s exciting and fun and always changing. It just means that sometimes things can be a bit overwhelming and challenging to work out; especially when you have an enthusiastic toddler who wants to be a part of everything.residency So in true artistic style my summer is jam packed. I am so so soooo excited to share that I will be attending a week long biophilia artist research residency in Quebec. The theme of the residency is nocturne and each night we will be working with a different scientist or expert in a variety of fields. We will be learning about and catching fireflies with an entomologist, spending the night in the Lafleshe Cave system to witness the departure and arrival of a colony of bats, inoculating grain with bioluminescent fungus, as well as working with and learning about Herpetology, Ornithology, Astronomy and more.

Another crazy thing that I will be participating in is the Sanchez Art Center 50/50 art exhibit. I will be creating 50, 6x6 pieces of art in 50 days in the theme of Bugs and Botanicals. I know, I may be a bit mad especially since my residency is in the middle of those 50 days but I am always up for a challenge.

Adventures in Teaching

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I spent the last 10 weeks teaching a wonderful teen workshop series at the Palo Alto Art Center. The program was titled Compose Yourself and gave students the opportunity to create a collection of visual and literary projects of their own design. They learned about methods in, dark room photography, papermaking, collage, drawing styles, encaustic, bookbinding, and much more. I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of work. Each week was a different medium and that takes a lot of prep. The materials list was crazy, everything from photo developer to Sumi ink and shaving cream. The Palo Alto Art Center was amazing though and always had everything I needed.

I really enjoyed the age group, young teens 13-16 years old. I found that they were open minded, curious and still had a sense of wonder. They were a fun and silly bunch of kids and sometimes I think I learned just as much or more than they did in regards to process and myself.

On the last day we had an art party and exhibited all of their work gallery style. It was really rewarding to see everything they had produced and learned over the 10 weeks.

student gallery

I also thought it would be fun to bring in a white fondant covered cake for them to decorate and art up. They really had fun with that and it was another way to express their creativity in a non-traditional way. Plus it was a delicious way to celebrate the end of the program.

Art Cake Decorating

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At the end of the art party I had a simple and fun project for everyone, an accordion envelope book. It was great seeing how the parents got into it as much as or more than the teens.

Parents and Teens making art together

Some exciting News

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I am thrilled to officially announce my new website project My Art Resources. I have teamed up with a friend to create a comprehensive source of information for artists living in Santa Clara County and nearby cities. It provides information about art venues, local art events, arts education, opportunities, resources and more in a convenient centralized hub.

This site is a work in progress and will be evolving and growing as we continue to add new resources and sections like calls for art, artist listings, art business info, informational blog posts and much more.

Being artist’s living and working in Santa Clara County we felt a need to consolidate all of this information into one spot. The creative community is important to us and we wanted to create a way to provide important and informative information to existing artists as well as anyone new to the area.

While we have tried to list every resource we could find; we know there are many more out there that are new or we may have missed. We would like to ask your help in making this site the best it can be. Is there a resource or section that is not on the site that should be? Please let us know,  info@myartresources.com

This site is a labor of love created by artists for artists and is produced completely through donated time and resources.

We hope you enjoy the site and find it useful. www.myartresources.com

Discovering the Dark Room

This past Thursday was the first class in the "Compose Yourself" teen arts workshop series at Palo Alto Art Center. In this first class I taught students how to make and use a pinhole camera and how to make photograms in a darkroom. I set up a small makeshift darkroom in the basement of the art center. It was so great going back to my photography roots, the smell of the chemicals brought back all the fond memories of working in the darkroom for hours and making magic happen.

The best part was seeing the reactions of the students. They had never experienced that kind of photography or a darkroom before. They were completely engaged and excited. They got to experiment and practice with different light sources (we didn't have an enlarger) we used our cell phones, exit signs and other light sources to expose the photo paper for the photograms. They loved seeing the images emerge from the developer and learned all about the darkroom set up.

The great thing about this program is the students also get to learn about problem solving, best practices of art-making, personal branding and a variety of creative techniques.

There is still space left for students to sign up for the whole module or individual classes.You can learn more about them here. The next class is photo re-imaged where we alter, paint, cut and re-imagine our photos to give them new or expanded meaning.Making a pinhole Camera

Taking Notes

Working in the Darkroom

Photograms

 

Teen Book Art Workshop

I had a great time last week teaching a book arts workshop to teens at the Sunnyvale Public library. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I have taught small workshops with adults and young children but never young teens and never more than 10 students.  It turned out to be a really cool experience. There were about 18 students mostly young women but a few creative young men as well. I started by telling them about the anatomy of a book, talked about how to check if a book is first edition or valuable and then showed them different things they can make with old books. Then we made a bunch of paper feathers to get comfortable with cutting, gluing and shaping. Then we jumped right in and started making the hanging book mobiles. This is where they had a chance to get really creative picking out the book they wanted to use, how they wanted the pages to hang and the finished piece to look. Some got through the project really quickly while others took their time and were more meticulous. One fun thing that I didn’t anticipate was that several of them decided to use the feathers they made to decorate the outside of their mobile.

The staff and facilities at the Sunnyvale library were fantastic too. I appreciated all of their help. I am really glad I had the opportunity to teach the workshop and hope I can do more in the future.

Teen Bppk Art worksop

book arts class

This and That – A week in the life of…..

Here is my latest edition of This and That – A week in the life of…..  A recap of what I have been up to, hope you enjoy. Listening to: I have been enjoying the Art for your Ears podcast by The Jealous Curator. She interviews a new artist every week. It’s fun to hear their stories and processes of each artist and has a bit of humor in each episode. It’s a quick and funny listen.

Art for your ears

Places: We brought the wee one to Children’s Fairyland in Oakland last weekend. It’s a really cool kitschy place that is lots of fun. Got to see a puppet show of the Wizard of Oz and enjoy lots of cute little attractions.

fairylandPhoto by Bobb Amidon

Practicing: I have been doing a 10 min mindfulness guided meditation each day through an app called Headspace. It’s a good practice to help clear my sometimes cluttered mind. I usually have a hundred things, projects, and obligations going on at the same time. It’s nice to stop and forget about all of those things for 10 min. I am hoping to slowly increase that time but for now 10 min is good.

Doing: I am still plugging along with my Tech shop residency. My featured exhibit has been moved to Sept. (thank goodness) so now I have more time to experiment and create my artwork. Here are a couple more of those experiments.

Cut Outs

Reading: I started reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. At first it was a little hard to get into the book but I am about halfway through and am enjoying it more. She makes some really insightful and informative points on artists and our relationship with our patrons/fans. Personally I have always had problems with asking for anything, especially help. I want to do everything myself, sometimes to prove I can do it or that I am self-reliant and don’t need anyone. It’s something that I have been working on because we do need others and help from time to time. I have been running into my limitations and don’t want those to keep me from crating, doing or accomplishing things.

Asking

A Monk Named Jimmy

Here is the story behind my piece of artwork “Making Obstacles into Opportunities” At times I dabble in jewelry making, it fulfills a more crafty, fun side of creativity for me. I haven't been making much jewelry lately, it has been on the back burner as I am concentrating more on my encaustic and book art work. Several years ago I started making jewelry out of old spent bullet shells. I would take semi-precious gemstones, feathers, bones and other natural and beautiful objects and insert them into the casing. Something about the juxtaposition of an object that causes destruction paired with something that is natural and beautiful. They were very popular for a while and I had them displayed at many places. One of these venues was KALEID Gallery in San Jose.

One day I received a message from the gallery that there was a monk named Jimmy who came in and really loved my amethyst bullet necklace. Jimmy didn’t have any money and wanted to know if I was open to any kind of trade for the necklace. So I went to KALEID to meet and talk to him. He wore the saffron robes of a Buddhist monk and had a large staff/walking stick that was filled with talismans that had been tied to embedded into the staff.  They each represented something important to him and he wanted to add the amethyst bullet necklace to it.  The meaning of it was important to him and resonated with his beliefs. He was a very kind and sweet person and as I talked to him I learned that he had had a very difficult life full of pain and addiction. He didn't really have anything to trade, he had barely enough money to live off of and that was in halfway houses but I could tell he really, really liked the necklace. So I asked him to write for me, write about anything he wanted, his life, dreams, experiences, etc. knowing that it would be interesting and that one day I might use those writings in my artwork.  So we traded, one amethyst bullet necklace for 3 written pages.

The writings were about his life and journey they were wonderful and sad and hopeful. As a child of parents who had many addiction issues I know all about the recovery process and how the disease can devastate. Jimmy and his writings really resonated and touched a sensitive spot in me. I saw him a few more times at the gallery but then he disappeared and I haven't seen him in many years. When I first received the handwritten pages I didn’t really know how I was going to incorporate them into my artwork so I held onto them. As I was working on my new series “In the End We all Return to the Earth” they seemed to fit perfectly. I used one of the pages as the substrate for the piece, making sure to highlight the ripped out binder paper edges and his childlike handwriting. The sewn sections representing healing and mending and the phrase that is highlighted in the piece and the title of it is “Making Obstacles into Opportunities". It is a common phrase used in recovery. I remember my Step Dad saying that to me when I was younger – we have to be grateful for what we have and learn how to turn our obstacles into opportunities.Making Obstacles into Opportunities