#Selfie 17: new moon

It’s been a week since the morning after #Selfie’s opening at Gallery de Boer.  That was such a profoundly good time, rich with love and excellence, risk and joy.  We all of us had about an inch of air beneath our feet as we walked through the space and played together on the roof afterwards.  That felt so good I’ve barely touched the ground since.  Thank you thank you to the 150 and more people who agreed to meet in that space & do marvelous things.  To Ron de Boer, Sarah, Jean and everyone at the gallery who jumped on the #Selfie train and rode it, screaming around corners to the station.  Deep deep gratitude especially to my incredibles who held centre:  david sereda, Coco Love Alcorn, Larry Jensen and Kristan Anderson.  That was fine fine work.

playing in photoshop- me layered & floating between two shots of the same painting.
playing in photoshop- me layered & floating between two shots of the same painting.  I’m frowning because I’m not awake yet- this is about 6am…

#Selfie work continues.  I am compiling the oceans of material I’ve collected from social media, written response pieces, research and documentation of my own process into a book, which is coming along nicely.  We hope to have this published and available by the third week of July – write to me here if you’d like a copy or two.  I’ll keep everyone informed about how that project is progressing.  I’d also like to put a couple of new pieces in before the show comes down on August 1 – they are whispering in the back of my mind, and would like to be manifest.  We’ll see how that goes.

An 'out take' from the last #Selfie shoot before the show.
An ‘out take’ from the last #Selfie shoot before the show.

Much has occurred between last friday and today – a noon-hour concert with david sereda in a church with wonderful resonance, a gathering of friends to move me from country to town, a reclaiming of things I’ve not seen for ten months, a sort and file.  I’ve been especially challenged by the process of coming back to normal sleep patterns – by 19th June I’d become accustomed to a 3-hour sleep then work then sleep then work out routine, like some subterranean sleep cycle experiment.  Mostly back now, but that was interesting.  It got the work done, though, and perhaps more importantly it put me in a place where I was open to imagery and resonance beyond what was immediately obvious.  Love that edge.

Me loving the edge.
Me loving the edge.

Cello is calling me to practise this morning – I have two solo gigs this weekend, and need to build that stamina back.  Wonderful.
Life is incredibly, marvelously rich.

more coming, too.

#Selfie 15: You get what you need

I once played a minor (non-musical) part on a Rolling Stones Tour – ‘Steel Wheels’ in the ’80s. I have a tour jacket, even, that boyfriends past have happily worn… and torn and stained. This comes up now because I wrote the blog title first.

It's true.
It’s true.

It’s still a good jacket, and I keep it to remind myself that I was there in my 20s, watching them play Sympathy for the Devil when Mick (atop a 20-storey stage tower) forgot the words…  I asked myself in that moment – Really? Really? How can you forget the words to THAT song?

There were many moments on the tour  (way more telling than that one) that turned me off the ‘Stones permanently.  For me it was like watching the end-play of 60’s dark side play out in industrial money-grabbing meanness – utterly devoid of relevance to the real world of human beings.  Hope you can forgive me all die-hard fans.  They’re a piece of history, granted, but I do not worship at that altar.

An almost-finished selfie painting of the waterfall I grew up with on the Niagara Escarpment.  I don't have words to describe for you how sacred this place is - not just to me, but ... just sacred.
An almost-finished selfie painting of the waterfall I grew up with on the Niagara Escarpment. I don’t have words to describe for you how sacred this place is – not just to me, but … just sacred.

Nothing worthwhile is accomplished without limitation, I believe.  This is not Protestant sensibility, but a law far older – we are not supposed to have every whim answered, every passing wish fulfilled.   There’s a muscle of ingenuity in the human brain that requires ‘lack of (……….)’ to work effectively.  Many folks default to complaint well before this happens, but if you can get beyond discomfort and engage ingenuity, you’re doing your job.

 

This is photo reference for "White", which is on the boards now
This is photo reference for “White”, which is on the boards now

#Selfie is a fine example of this.  I started the project as I was just entering the heavy spring concert season.  It was an impossible thing to commit to – fill the space at de Boer’s with art, write and hand-make a book, write and rehearse a performance art piece, and immerse my#self regularly in #Selfie online via social media.

…in 14 weeks, while working full time teaching, coaching, rehearsing and playing cello, planning 2 summer camps in art and music, and attending to those things not work-related, but oh so important…

I said yes because I knew I wanted to take a risk and do a show, and this was the only way to make that happen.  Ingenuity has had to kick in, big-time, especially in these past two weeks.

Photo reference for black canvas
Photo reference for black canvas

Here’s the thing, though –  throughout the 14 weeks, but especially in these last two, I have had great need for some things that could have stopped me in my tracks, were they not fulfilled.  No tripod, poor cashflow – a friend chips in half as a gift.  Low on essential materials only available in Toronto, no time to get there – Tim at the Colour Jar finds what I need in days.  Dangerously low on basic confidence and faith in myself some days, spinning my tires – someone says just the right thing (so grateful for this, every time) to kick my butt in a better direction.  I need pro help to sign on for the Performance piece, since we have next-to-no rehearsal time available – david sereda, Coco Love Alcorn, Kristan Anderson, Larry Jensen, Sandra Swannell and a few other incredibles say ‘Sure!’ with no hesitation.  I need social media ‘response’ material for the Book and the opening – eight people agree to put pen to paper and pitch in.  I’ve never even met some of them.

Here’s Brad Morely’s haiku, just in:

Narcissi beckon
in the light blue facebook pool
cam’ra bugs fly off

 

…you get what you need.

photo reference for Totem 1
photo reference for Totem 1

Paintings are due in three days.  They’ll get done.  Book and show have only next week – they’ll be fine.

See you there.

#Selfie 13: Loving Narcissus

This wire is familiar – the one I’m down to.  Six paintings, eleven days – I’m now working on two at the same time.

(also workshop and rehearse the Performance Piece for Opening night, compile the Book for #Selfie and make at least two.  Then my breaks:  three rehearsals, two concerts, teaching cello lessons and art class, sleep, exercise, eat….)

 

The one just finished.  Biggest in the show, and difficult to understand scale here (thumbnails are same size as my face).  It had me on lock-down for the last two days of its' fulfillment.
The one just finished. Biggest in the show, and difficult to understand scale here (thumbnails are same size as my face). It had me on lock-down for the last two days of its’ fulfillment.

This past weekend the most difficult task was to hold my own in recurring conversations with self doubt.   I managed it, I think, by utilizing every trick in the book – bull-headedness, steel-jawed determination, nonchalance, distraction, humour, tears, goading….

Next up (one of two) is on red linen, just for a challenge.... (what was I thinking?)
Next up (one of two) is on red linen, just for a challenge…. (what was I thinking?)

This morning and late yesterday as I worked on the content of the next two I began to think differently.  It’s as though each piece is a school.  When I graduate, I get a few hours off (though this will undoubtedly change as the days pass), and then I start a new series of courses in the examination of #Selfie and … me.

As I wrote to Kristan this morning (he and I are in workshop mode with tandem and solo spoken word for the opening performance), School Rules are:

1. go consciously and directly at whatever chafes and disturbs you, or makes you squirm in discomfort.

2. find imagery that resonates with that.

3. draw, paint, sing, write – quickly, to manifest it as clearly as possible.

4. Do NOT succumb to melodrama, self-pity, cynicism, terror or denial.

5. Remain open to shock.

6. Don’t forget to breathe, sleep and eat.

Here's the photoshop sketch for Red.  Looking also for another image to layer on top of this for symbolic reasons... it will come.
Here’s the photoshop sketch for Red. Looking also for another image to layer on top of this for symbolic reasons… it will come.

I want to say something about the myth of Narcissus, which has come up in conversation as a way to describe #Selfie behavior.   Ovid’s telling of the story has been most resonant in western culture (book III of Metamorphoses.) though it’s interesting to see what Encyclopedia Britannica has to say:

Narcissus, in Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. He was distinguished for his beauty. According to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book III, Narcissus’s mother was told by the blind seer Tiresias that he would have a long life, provided he never recognized himself. His rejection, however, of the love of the nymph Echo or (in an earlier version) of the young man Ameinias drew upon him the vengeance of the gods. He fell in love with his own reflection in the waters of a spring and pined away (or killed himself); the flower that bears his name sprang up where he died. The Greek traveler and geographer Pausanias, in Description of Greece, Book IX, said it was more likely that Narcissus, to console himself for the death of his beloved twin sister, his exact counterpart, sat gazing into the spring to recall her features.

The story may have derived from the ancient Greek superstition that it was unlucky or even fatal to see one’s own reflection. Narcissus was a very popular subject in Roman art.

Narcissism has long since become a psychiatric term used to describe extreme self-centredness – often so pathological that it prevents any meaningful engagement with anything not self-referenced.  A Narcissist will project himself and his needs onto anyone and everyone he/she meets, and then become confused when that ‘other’ has needs of their own.  We all do that, to some extent, myself definitely included.  It’s conditioned into us.

Obeying School Rule #3:  I will never ever get used to this #selfie thing.  Still very much squirming.
Obeying School Rule #1: I will never ever get used to this #selfie thing. Still very much squirming, but I needed an image, and so I shot myself, again.

I want to offer another idea about Narcissus and why he died.  It refers to my last post – #Selfie 12:  My face belongs to you.

I actually do believe that our outer selves belong more to those people we relate to than to us, and that we need to recognize this.  What if our fascination with our own face is more about a longing for relationship?  I would propose that taking a #Selfie and posting it online is the action that follows that longing.

Do we do this because we believe that someone out there will actually be able to ‘see’ what’s inside us (as in Avatar’s “I see you”)?  It’s interesting then that instead of this ‘recognition’ what often happens is that the anonymous viewer projects his or her self-image onto your Selfie, and then writes hateful, destructive messages in response.  Artist Lindsay Bottos has published a compelling piece that illustrates this perfectly, called Anonymous.   It’s worth taking a look at.

I like it better when they're blurry.  Does that mean something.... oh, probably it does.
I like it better when they’re blurry. Does that mean something?  Oh, probably it does….

I need to get back to painting very soon, and I’m struggling to articulate the crux of this idea.  Here goes:

If we all search for meaning through relationships, but find that meaning only when we stop projecting our internal needs onto ‘the other’, then really what we long for is a good, honest, trusting relationship with our own Self.  My needs are my own; I am responsible to and for them, and I respect that you are different from me.

Certainly Narcissus’ beauty was legendary in the myth – so many pursued him, gazed at him, idolized him for it.  What if he died because he got caught in the idea that his outer beauty was so great that it completely overshadowed who he actually was?  What if he died out of starvation for himself?

That’s happened to a few people in this culture that makes gods out of movie and pop stars.  How terrible.

a place I love.
a place I love.

So, back to it.

Wish me luck and speed and clarity, if you would.  It’s all corners on two wheels time…

Here’s the actual invitation, no longer a work-in progress.  Please come if you can.

front
front
...back.  The gallery would like you to R.S.V.P., so they know how many to set up for.  much appreciated, K
…back. The gallery would like you to R.S.V.P., so they know how many to set up for. much appreciated, K