"I dare you not to be enchanted."

The feeling when someone is able to beautifully articulate your intentions. The feeling of being seen. I’m so grateful to Shayla M. Alarie (aka @artsy_historian) for these incredible and generous words.

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Pyromantically speaking

Delightful rabbit hole #23,582, courtesy of Hyperallergic: the oracle bone!

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In ancient China people would carve questions on animal bones, then heat them up until they cracked, and interpret the cracks. This is a form of pyromancy, which (via Wikipedia) also includes:

  • Alomancy, divination by salt, one type of which involves casting salt into a fire

  • Botanomancy, divination by burning plants

  • Capnomancy, divination by smoke; light, thin smoke that rose straight up was a good omen; otherwise, a bad one.

  • Causinomancy, divination by burning (non-specific as to the object burned)

  • Daphnomancy (also, Empyromancy), divination by burning laurel leaves

  • Osteomancy, divination using bones, one type of which involves heating to produce cracks

  • Plastromancy, divination using turtle plastrons; in China, this was done by heating pits carved into them.

  • Scapulimancy, divination by scapulae; in Asia and North America, this was done pyromantically.

  • Sideromancy, divination by burning straw with an iron.

Love!

MOAH Woven Stories

If you haven’t been to the Museum of Art and History (MOAH) in Lancaster, CA, you should go.

And right now is a perfect time to go, because the current show (Woven Stories) is incredible, curated with creativity, wit and brilliance by Andi Campognone.

And I’m in it! Or rather, my largest and most ambitious piece to date—DREAM INVENTORY—is:

DREAM INVENTORY is inspired by my fascination with the mysterious forces that hover on the boundaries of the rational world—dreams and premonitions, the afterlife and the subconscious, memories and desires. Suspended on nearly-invisible threads, forty-six hand-sewn pieces sway in reaction to the viewer. Narrative fragments, symbols and gestures repeat, connect and respond—an ongoing transmission in search of revelation.

Dream Inventory, installation in progress, May 2019

Dream Inventory, installation in progress, May 2019

Dream Inventory, installation in progress, May 2019

Dream Inventory, installation in progress, May 2019

I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share some of my favorite FRAGMENTS. These bits and pieces incorporate secrets, hopes, fears, highly personal bits of mental detritus, ‘automatic embroidery’ and experimentation and exploration of different materials and techniques. They are purposefully imperfect, defiantly human.

Some of my Fragments, pre-installation

Some of my Fragments, pre-installation

Some more Fragments…

Some more Fragments…

Each fragment is individually suspended on invisible thread, and the pieces moves / breathes in reaction to your body as you move near it. There is something magical and otherworldly about the experience.

Other incredible artists in the show:

Up through July 21.

"Pleasure is an important form of knowledge." (Jerry Saltz)

“Trust yourself, for god’s sake, for 2 minutes. Is that so hard?

Put down the urge to be smart.

Put down the urge to be right.

Give up the idea of understanding.

Art is not about understanding.

No one asks, what does Mozart mean? Right? What does an Indian raga mean? When Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are dancing, it’s beyond meaning. It’s about experience.

and what I’m saying to you is: pleasure is an important form of knowledge.

In the west, we don’t trust it anymore. You trust it in who you love and how you dress and the things you buy, because it gives you pleasure. But you get to art and you think I should understand this and be smart… The voices in my head are never mean. If they’re mean, that’s your regular best friend who lives in your head who hates you. That best friend that thinks you’re a piece of crap, she or he is not allowed in your studio. I promise you, the second you come out, they’ll be there. Right? You’re a fake. You’re no good. But in the studio, develop an audience of your friends, your peers, living in debt, and let them tell you what to do. And they will.”

Jerry Saltz, from the fabulous “In Other Words” podcast

Listen to the whole darn thing. It’s so fucking good.

And then, and then, and then.

And then, and then, and then.

"The big hug." (James Hayward)

“If the art’s good, I think it’s got a strength where it reaches out and embraces you. And if you have an open mind and you’re willing to embrace it…

THE BIG HUG!”

- James Hayward

The way he talks about art feels like medicine. So fucking great.

As heard in this very charming video (skip to 4:15 or just watch the whole darn thing):

"It has to be enjoyable for ME." (Sam Esmail)

“The one thing I always go back to whenever I start writing something is:

I have to be a fan of this. I want to enjoy this. It has to be enjoyable for ME.

And if it doesn’t work (with audiences), then it’s out of my control. That’s not something i can negotiate or manipulate.”

- Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot (from his recent Without Fail podcast interview)

Fragments, and fragments of Fragments (2019). I am a fan of taking photos of my art on fucked up cement

"Things that are your friends but are not real." (Marina Warner)

“By symbols, I mean things that are your friends but that are not real.”

- Louise Bourgeois

As quoted in Forms of Enchantment: Writing on Art and Artists by Marina Warner, a current obsession.

I’ve been wanting to write about this book for awhile now. But by “write about it” I mean totally fangirl out and basically quote the whole fantastic, beautiful, inspiring, beyond-beyond-beyond book.

…so for now I’ll just give a shout out to the essay, “Felicity Powell: Marks of Shame, Signs of Grace,” in which Marina Warner mentions an exhibition, curated by Powell, that featured “lucky charms, amulets and folk remedies found mostly in London by Edward Lovett, a civil servant, in the early part of the 20th century.” This led me down an incredible rabbit hole. Behold, souvenirs:

More to come, or not!

Writing on the wall

“The word “graffiti” first entered the English language to describe ancient texts and images on the walls of houses at Pompeii. Prior to the 19th century, Italian words like sgraffito or sgraffiato were used to describe decorative techniques — in architecture as well as on pottery — where scratching through a whitewash revealed a different color beneath.”

and this:

“Writing on walls, whether public or private, interior or exterior, was widely accepted in Europe (not to mention throughout the world) through the early modern period and even later…

It may BE the view of inscribing graffiti as stupid that is unusual.”

From The Clandestine Cultural Knowledge of Ancient Graffiti by Michael Press in Hyperallergic


I can’t get enough of this. The whole article is amazing.

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Artifact (never), 20” x 18”, 2019. I’m obsessed with the idea of private messages in public spaces. The visible clandestine.

"Nothing is sexy." (Andy Warhol)

My first art crush was Andy Warhol.

  1. My friend Matt introduced me to David Bowie in high school. (Thanks Matt!)

  2. I made my way through Ziggy and Heroes and so on, and eventually found my way to Changes, where I found a curious song about Andy Warhol.

  3. Who was this strange fellow that had so captivated Bowie? I did what we did back then and went to the library to find out.

  4. It was there I discovered Andy and Edie and Lou and Nico and the Velvets and Paul Morrisey and the Factory and so on. I fell in love with everything Andy. I bought records. I subscribed to Interview. I dressed as Edie for Halloween. I moved to New York.

  5. And I read The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again, which I just started re-reading.

This book is a mainline shot of sweet nostalgia for me. Time stops. I’m in my teenage bedroom, learning about a world 3000 miles away from my small town. It’s funny and crass and boring and intriguing and charmingly old-fashioned. It’s patently true and blatantly false. It’s everything. That is all.

I posted these to IG while at the salon getting a pedicure. I think A.W. would have approved.

"A slow discovery in which I am more like a conduit." (R. O. Kwan)

“I tend not to write with overarching whys…I don’t have any special messages in mind. Writing, to me, is less akin to actions as willful as inventing and deciding than it is to discovery, a slow revelation in which I am more like a conduit. I sometimes think I’m a witness, rather than a person who makes. I don’t write to provide answers, I say. I quote Cortázar, whom I love:

I’ve remained on the side of the questions.

- R. O. Kwan, from “On Being a Woman in America,” in the Paris Review

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Talisman (dream siege), 2018. A conduit….to what, or whom? Does knowing the answers close the door? Should I remain on the side of the questions?

"Before I have the chance to edit myself." (Ariel Pink)

“I’m basically

capturing me before I have the chance to edit myself…

…I don’t plan it ahead, I have no filter, I just throw it into the world and my words crystallize and get taken out of context and have a life of their own. I’m not for or against what I’m saying, I’m just being reckless about it. I say things without thinking about the consequences.”

— My future BFF, Ariel Pink, talking about how he only writes lyrics right before recording them, which is essentially a kind of automatic writing, which I relate to as a lot of my artwork incorporates this same approach, although possibly for different reasons.

As heard on Episode 1 of the “Are We Still Talking About This?” podcast.


Please enjoy 2 of my fave Ariel Pink songs…


And please enjoy 3 of my most Ariel Pink-ish “automatic embroideries”, circa early 2017.

The long hand of the sacred pool (lukasa)

Thanks to the brilliant Rabih Alameddine (who you should follow on Twitter, if you don’t already) for tipping me off to lukasa, memory boards used by the Luba kingdom, in the 18th & 19th century.

I’ve been thinking about how someone might track their experiences in a visual (non-text) way. I find these nothing short of breathtaking.

The readers of these “long (wooden) hands” were members of an elite secret society. The boards contained origin myths, logistical/genealogy information, as well as top-secret divine king type of stuff (although there are apparently no extant examples of the latter boards, also known as the long hand of the sacred pool.)

So what is known about how to read lukasa? According to Wikipedia the villain was portrayed by a red bead “associated with bloody violence” whereas the king/hero was portrayed by a blue bead to indicate “ambivalent power and secret potential.” MUST. KNOW. MORE.

More here, here, here, here and here.

Talisman (all that is gone, all that remains), 18” x 18”, 2018 (fiber, acrylic paint). A different sort of memory board.

Considerations of scale

Approximate size: 2” x 3”. Made: on airplanes. Photographed: on urban cement. Purpose: undetermined.

Introducing XOJ

I was so inspired by a recent trip to BEAMS in Toyko. Zines galore!

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These are obviously not the zines of yore (gluestick, scissors, staples, late nights at Kinko’s).

Since then, I’ve been obsessed with making a zine of my own. And now the first volume is out! Introducing…

XOJ, Volume 1: Fragments

It’s available in a signed limited edition of 100. 5” x 5” with 28 full-color pages of original artwork.

Inscrutable signs (Petroglyphs)

To live on the Big Island is to live surrounded by mysteries—from the past, the present and even the future. Take petroglyphs. Who made them? When? Why?

Petroglyphs are interpreted to have recorded travel around the island of Hawai`i, express consideration for human longevity and well being, communicate events current and past, as well as mark boundaries and trails. - National Park Service

In a tour yesterday we were told that 3 dots for a head indicates a top ruler (ali’i), 2 dots is a secondary ali’i, a single dot (head) is a commoner. We were told that early Polynesians were over 7’ tall, that the statue of King Kamehameha in Kapa’au is life-size, that the Polynesian canoes were 300’ long. We were told that the lightest carvings (made with rock, not metal) date back to 200 AD. That a figure with an oar raised overhead was the winner of a race. That clusters of figures represented families, or bounty hunters chasing those who had committed kapu to the Place of Refuge.

When the truth is unknowable, do we make our own truth?

Is it more than we can stand, to live in a state of perpetual mystery?

"Trapped in a garish casino filling with seawater"

“…living in his America feels like being trapped in a garish casino that is filling with seawater,

because that is what it is. - David Roth

Read: This Is All Donald Trump Has Left. (as close to perfect as anything can get)

 
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Talisman (the last refrain), 18”x18”, 2018 (fiber, acrylic, paint). Our doomsday cult prepares for the inevitable. What comes next?

"The future leaks out." (William S. Burroughs)

“When you make cut-ups you do not get simply random juxtapositions of words, they do mean something, and often these meanings refer to some future event. I’ve made many cut-ups and then later recognized that the cut-up referred to something I read later in a newspaper or book, or something that happened…Perhaps events are pre-written and pre-recorded and

when you cut word lines the future leaks out.” - William S. BurrougHS

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Artifact (kingdom of end), 2018. The future of the future will one day be the past.

 

"Another thing altogether."

“It’s one thing to know what you want. It’s another thing altogether to

go through the door when it opens.”

- The Other Side of the Wind

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Talisman (the darkest hour), detail, 2018. The door opens.