New piece I installed this past week into the Mine Factory for the show “I Just Want the Paper,” curated by Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi. For this piece, I handcut rice paper and added in details with graphite. Normally, I’m adding wax, burning paper, or adding a jumble of processes into the sculpture. But this time it was just me, my knife, and the paper. Relaxing. A relief, actually. It was as though I was challenging myself to get back to papercutting basics.
Even more of a challenge was examining the space and adapting the piece to it. Install week was renamed papercutting week in my book since I had to make an extra 400 cutouts in 48 hours. And this is the final product!
Things this month have been absolutely amazing and absolutely busy! I am proud to announce that I am the Grand Prize Winner of the 2014 VSA Young Emerging Artist Program with the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.! This year’s theme was “The Journey,” and prompted artists to submit their work that concerned their own personal journeys living with a disability. With this award, my piece is exhibited in the Smithsonian in Washington, it is also part of a nationally traveling exhibition, and I receive a cash prize of $20,000. I have been invited, along with the other 14 winners, to attend a Congressional Reception in January so I’m already starting to plan my outfit! I am extremely honored to be receiving this award and am so excited to see what this next year holds for me.
My winning papercut sculpture, Never Stopping, deals with my experiences as a heart transplant recipient, specifically the overwhelming feelings related to my physical issues as well as the desire for healing. The entire original sculpture is about 16 ft in height and is made entirely of handcut paper. I also added screenprinted cutouts of hands, legs, oranges, and bananas. These symbolize offerings and milagros, or physical representations of intentions. The idea behind it was for the viewer to become overwhelmed with the structure, in order to mimic my own feelings. For the Kennedy Center, I brought the piece down to a smaller scale, which you can see in the photo.
My transplant is a major part of my life, and I am open to any questions readers might have. I received my heart at the age of 14 months at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. That transplant team became my family, and I am always going back every now and then to visit. They still follow up with me and my procedure results even though I have switched to the cardiology team at UPMC Children’s Hospital. Right now, I still have my original heart making my transplant one of the oldest single organ transplants in the country.
This past week, I opened a show in Oakland, CA for First Fridays. It was so much fun and my first exhibit on the West Coast! I had a bit of help with some of the bigger installation, and for the first time went on scaffolding. Since I’m a short little lady, I was terrified of being so high off the ground. But I did it and everything turned out so perfect. Really, I don’t think I’ve ever had an easier install and it’s all thanks to the awesome, generous people from the gallery. There’s an espresso bar connected, so I suggest to anyone from the area to stop by! The show is at Hat Rac Gallery up from June 6- July 25.
Boys setting up the scaffolding.
Gold and black cutouts going up on the wall. Yes, they’re all handcut!
Lately I’ve been experimenting with some new ideas. Well really, these are ideas that have been brewing in my brain for some time and need to just get out. So, here they are, out in the open, and looking for a direction to go in. These little triangle guys are a particular favorite of mine but I’m not sure where I want it to go. I’ve covered them in wax, burnt them and here they are dyed with ink. I’ve dyed them with turmeric which I love, but I’m not sure if I like the wax. They look so much more delicate and like coral which is the inspiration.
I’m doing a show at Hat Rac Gallery in Oakland in a bit and am thinking of doing an installation with these little guys. They won’t be little, of course. They have this great front window that has so much space and light that I have to go crazy with whatever I put there. Looks like a lot of cutting in the future… This little white situation here is a kind of collage. It’s a rice paper cutout on top of BFK paper. I like keeping the pencil lines in there. Even though I won’t be using this piece for anything, I just wanted to try it out. I would love to be able to use a press to roll it through and make an even, clean pressing.
This post is a little random, I’m aware of it so that makes it ok. I guess… Anyways these are some photos of my inspirations for the day and what I have going on in my studio.
This little orange patch doesn’t leave my mind. I found it on a rock right outside my studio while I was taking a walk. First off, the color. I can’t even handle it. Second off, I love seeing how it forms. A lot of my work deals with swarms and natural growth. It’s nice to see some ideas on how to make my pieces seem more real….
Here you have turmeric dissolving in Linseed Oil. Yeah, I know it looks just like that previous photo. I need to figure out a way to capture this… Ideas are brewing.
More turmeric pigment. This one is mixed with water. I’m going back to my obsession with circles. It was only right that I made one piece with a circular shape.
These guys don’t leave my side. That’s nice because sometimes at night it gets creepy. But they pass out all day and all night in my studio. I guess they like that I keep a tropical climate in here. Plus I give them treats…
Some more cutouts. This one is a largescale installation in progress… I was inspired when I first saw Keira Knightley wearing a hat with mesh in some movie that I really hated… anyways she had a similar pattern on the mesh and I instantly knew I had to make something with it. It also is supposed to resemble rainforest plants/sea coral. Really, all of my images are jumbles of representations that are only meant to seem familiar. You know it’s some sort of organism, but not what kind exactly.
My fanny pack has become my new best friend. I take it everywhere and it’s so easy to carry. I’ve had it for a while now, but I recently studded it. Gold studs of course…. and this is my little hook of clothing goodies. The dogs know it’s time to leave whenever I walk over to this hook and grab something off it.
Bones out drying. They’re all washed but the next step is to grind them down and then wash again. Little branches. So beautiful, I don’t know what to do with them first! Do I put them in a piece? Copy the shape and the growth pattern? I don’t know!
Today I experienced what some people call the Bone Yard. If you know me or my work, you know that I’m obsessed with bones and all sorts of dark things. My goal while in Wyoming was to find some more bones for sculptures. Needless to say, I found bones. This place was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s a dumping ground for taxidermists and hunters, so there was a whole lot to choose from. A lot of pieces weren’t too clean, but I tried to grab some skeletons that were cleaner. I wasn’t even mentally prepared for what followed. First of all, I’m used to cleaning off bones in smaller quantities. These were from cattle, and were as big as me. They weren’t the cleanest, but I thought I could take the bones apart with a saw and then rebuild later. WRONG. The cartilage was so tough that I had to kick, stand on, and pull apart some of the bones. I even ran into a few in tact spinal cords which was far too much for me to handle in one day. I’m never grossed out by these types of things, but the spinal cord gave me an icky feeling. So I kept cleaning what I could, and ended up getting a whole lot of material out of these guys. Unfortunately, I had to throw out a lot of them, too. There was one spine I couldn’t bring myself to throw out, and so to save it from the ranch dogs and other critters, I hung it from a tree. Doesn’t it look like some sort of offering? Things got weird today, as you can see.
How I cleaned my bones: Try to get the cleanest bones possible. No blood, no flesh on it. And as little cartilage as possible. I made a hydrogen peroxide and water mix. Soak for 24 hours (I’m a clean freak) and then a second soak after that in a new mix. No bleach, that messes everything up. No boiling either!
I want to make a note here: I don’t hunt animals. I’m not killing anything to make my sculptures. The bones I use are all FOUND in the environment. I don’t spend money on buying the bones. This is solely a found object deal.
Hey, all. March 6 – 9 is the Scope show in New York and I’ll have a few pieces in it with C. Emerson Fine Art Gallery! If any of you are in the area, go and check it out! Usually Scope shows some absolutely amazing artists that always get me motivated to keep on creating.