My new photographic transfer technique using methylcellulose and toner doesn’t require a flat surface for the substrate, so I also created this piece Gardens of Memory: Homes. Eventually displayed on a small marble pedestal, it is a mixed media sculpture including a found snail shell, bird’s nest, methylcellulose, and toner. The piece is probably a little larger than you might imagine - its core dimensions without the pedestal are 5.125 x 5.125 x 3.5”. The snail shell is that of an apple snail, so titled because they can grow to the size of an apple. I sold this piece while in Buenos Aires to another artist, the very talented Masako Kano.
Here’s a well-written lament from The Atlantic about the ongoing extinctions of a huge number of native Hawaiian snail species.
Zooming out from just Hawaii, here’s a map of how many species are being pushed to the brink globally.
This is a sad photographic illustration of how littering - even when the litter is biodegradable - negatively impacts wildlife.
Here are a few more photos from my Finding Light exhibition currently up in USM's Goppert Gallery! I'm taking photos in batches (it is very hard to get good photos in low-light settings, so I take some, see if I have any good ones, post, and repeat!). It's not hard to take photos of the non-interactive parts of the show, so I haven't been focusing on those just yet since it's more important to figure out the photography for the interactive pieces since they're so tough to capture! So first up - here are some additional photos of All That I See. The algae that is growing on the sculpture is a local species - I took water from USM's pond and have been cycling it and keeping it alive and flourishing for several months now within the sculpture's glass container.
This Friday was my opening reception for my Goppert Gallery exhibition Finding Light. I will share a more comprehensive set of photos with you in a bit, but here's a teaser! The show is up through March 9th if you want to experience it firsthand.
When I skyped with Juan about coming here, he mentioned that some of my work that interests him the most are my interactive plant pedestals. I really enjoyed making those, but I made those in graduate school - a period in which I spent almost all my time making artwork and had access to a large woodshop and other facilities as well. Now that I teach and often only really produce work during the summers and while on residency, it's much simpler to create more transportable (and easily exhibitable, which is a bonus) two-dimensional work. I've started to push back at that limitation already - my pieces that I made in France are so delicate that showing anywhere other than locally is pretty difficult, and the sculptures I made earlier this summer in Portugal are even more fragile due to the found branches and lichens I used. I decided I'd take Juan up on the challenge to create some new interactive plant pieces, and began brainstorming even before leaving for Europe.
The clay I helped Dr. John Pojman create, 3P QuickCure Clay, is waterproof, and that's an angle I've been wanting to explore for a while. I decided I'd like to create a sculpture that I'd then house in a glass container underwater, and as algae grew in the container, as algae tends to do when provided with water and sunlight, the sculpture would become partially or totally obscured - except I would coat the sculpture in a glow-in-the-dark powder and provide viewers with a black light to set the sculpture aglow. Even back in Portugal, I'd briefly toyed with the idea of sculpting Balancing Act (my painting of a tower of snails), but then I thought I'd save it for this project instead.
So when I started work in the studio, I began sculpting snails.
A sculpture is different from a painting, though, and in order to have the 3D version of the tower actually stand on its own, I couldn't have the bottom snail be upside down. I didn't want them all to be upright, either, though... so I decided to have one snail be on its side and have that snail be on the bottom of the tower in a nod to the potential instability of all the rest.
After assembling all my individual snails into a tower, I hastily patted some glow powder onto it and cured it (the tower was moderately unstable while uncured). I thought the amount of glow powder that actually adhered to the clay wouldn't be sufficient for my purposes, so after thinking about it for a day, I sprayed it several times with an aerosol satin varnish and each time before the varnish dried I added the glow powder to it until I felt I had a fairly solid coating.
As all this was going on, the fountain water I had collected from the Real Jardín Botánico had been sitting in the window, slowing growing more algae. Once the sculpture's coating seemed dry, I put it into a glass vessel I had purchased from a Chinese bazaar and poured the fountain water (and some additional tap water) in.
The piece will hopefully be ever evolving as the algae grows, but it's already far enough along for me to share some photos!
This is acrylic on pastelbord which is a clay ground textured with marble dust granules. Due to the high heat here, most of the time the snails spend sealed inside their shells to conserve moisture, but on the summer solstice the rain brought several of them out and one explored my left thumb for quite some time.
Titling this one Balancing Act.
Here's the first painting I've been working on. I'm tentatively calling it completed, but I may revisit it as the residency progresses.
The paper is heavily textured with ridges and translucent stripes, and the snails are painted in acrylic. The working title is Côclea Casas.
There are donkey pieces in the works as well, but they're all still very early...
The second day we went into Camallera in the morning with her car so I could stock up on groceries beyond what would comfortably fit in my backpack. I accidentally bought yogurts with sucralose in them again. This always happens to me when I'm traveling internationally, so you'd think I'd learn, but I always am so wrapped up in making sure there's no gelatin in the new brands I encounter that I completely forget about making sure they don't have artificial sweeteners. I just hate the taste. And I bought eight of them. We'll see how many I can force myself to eat before I throw the rest away.
Clara also had to run an errand at a donkey farm, and mentioned in passing that she didn't think I'd be interested in going at all, but... WHAT??! Yes, the person who applied to your residency with paintings of animals and abstracted natural landscapes does in fact want to join you on your excursion to a donkey farm.
We arrived at the donkey farm and it pretty much immediately started to rain. But these were not your typical North American donkeys. These were Catalan donkeys, which have ridiculously proportioned ears and are super adorable and sweet. So despite the rain, I took a ton of source photos of the donkeys in between scratching their ears and trying not to step in donkey poo. My poor camera. I kept tucking it under my shirt for the worst of the rain, but seriously, this camera is a trooper. I also encountered an insect called a hummingbird hawk moth, and it is a magical creature. As in, it appears to be a unicorn/fairy/not of this world.
The rest of the day passed in a very sleepy, leisurely, jet-lagged state. I did manage to get outside long enough to note that A) there are a lot of snails around Nau Côclea (to which Clara responded that côclea comes from the latin for spiral) and that B) there are a TON of ants. As in, if you stand still outside for more than two seconds ants will swarm onto your feet and up your legs and bite you all over. Clara commiserated and said she accidentally made them a home here with her when she installed underground drip irrigation and that she'd brought an entomologist in but they said there was nothing that could be done. There is a powder she gave me that I can sprinkle just outside my doorway to try to keep them more out than in.
The third day was spent entirely on drawing and painting.