Thursday, May 9, 2013

But is it "cute?"

(To find out about my personal secretary series, read the previous blog post.)

I've been working on a multi-level personal secretary, a commission.  She asked me to make a cabinet with six unusual compartments.  So I started thinking about differently-shaped doors and drawers.

I came up with this basic design, and started construction.

I realized it would be a good idea to make a diagram numbering each piece so I could keep track of them as I cut them.

So, over the months, as time allowed (which it didn't do very often) began to build the piece, starting with cutting the various pieces, covering them in a layer of neutral-colored paper and acrylic matte medium, and joining them together when they were ready.  As I worked, I learned what steps had to be done before others, and what techniques worked and what didn't.


Even though all the levels weren't constructed, I couldn't help myself from moving on to covering the first layer with the final papers.

Since then, I've been putting in many more hours, and made quite a bit of progress.  As you can see, I decided to reverse the orientation of the top layer.


Here's the thing:  when I describe the series to people (not easy), or sometimes when people see the pictures I post, they say "That sounds really cute" or "Your work is so cute."  Hmmm. "Cute" is not the first word I would want to come to people's minds when looking at my work.  "Clever," maybe.  "Intriguing," definitely.  But as I keep working, like today, making a small beach scene that fits in one of the drawers, and it was turning out to be rather "cute," I wondered if the project is doomed to be "precious."  And yet, the choices I'm making feel true and right for the piece.  How can I rescue it from mere cuteness?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What I've Been Up To: Personal Secretaries

#3 of the series: October 2012; 4" x 2" x 2.75"
#3 holds two miniature scrolls

When I was growing up, my family owned a secretary desk with a fold-down front. It was a rather plain piece of furniture on the outside, but I loved the tiny compartments it contained, especially the ones accessed by opening a door or sliding out a drawer. I continue to be drawn to artwork that has these qualities of revealed mystery and discovered treasure for the viewer adventurous enough to search within.

During a particularly hard time in my life, I accumulated a number of phrases and images that served to carry me through my most difficult moments. I began a sculpture piece with one-hundred tiny drawers, each one intended to hold a mini-assemblage representing of one anchoring thought and memory from my collection. The words “Always Remember” is inscribed across the facades of the drawers. I call this piece Personal Secretary because it is meant to remind me of what is most important, what keeps me going, what I never want to forget. The piece is far from finished—I anticipate adding to the insides of the drawers for the rest of my life.

#1 of the series: August 2012

The small boxes in this project are meant to have the same anchoring effect for the viewer. Some already contain words, phrases, objects, and images that evoke anchoring sentiments. Others are left empty so the owner may add his or her own items. They are created as drawers, cabinets, cases with lids, or a combination of these. The exteriors are embellished with a variety of colors and materials, but they all incorporate the phrase “Always Remember” in some way.

#2 September 2012; approx 4.5"x 3.5"1.5"

#2 with door and drawer open

The drawer has a miniature adjustable telescope!

# 4 in the series is in process.  It will have 6 compartments and open spaces as well.  Here's a preview!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Back to the Blog

I'm back, I guess.  I thought of this poem today by Mary Oliver and needed a place to share it.  Please enjoy and post a comment so I know this blogging thing is worth it.

The Place I Want to Get Back To

is where
  in the pinewoods
     in the moments between
        the darkness

and first light
   two deer
      came walking down the hill
          and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
    this one is okay,
       let's see who she is
          and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
    so quiet, as if
        asleep, or in a dream,
             but anyway, harmless;

and so they came
   on slender legs
       and  gazed upon me
           not unlike the way

I go out  to the dunes and look
    and look and look
        into the faces of the flowers;
           and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my heand, and what can my life
    bring to me that could exceed
       that brief moment?
           For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods
    not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
       Such gifts, bestowed,
           can't be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
    come to visit.  I live in the house
        near the corner, which I have named

--Mary Oliver (from Thirst, Beacon Press, (c) 2006)