Hopping, happily

atreespring

Busy! Things are hopping here, but I have two bits of news:

I love being on islands and in the mountains, and summer 2013 will bring both.  In fact, I’ll be island-hopping, sort-of: in June, I’ll be traveling directly from the residency at Haystack on Deer Isle down to Martha’s Vineyard, where the wonderful Sandy Bernat of Seastone Papers has invited me to debut a brand new class I’ve been thinking of for awhile. I’m excited!

Anita!

It’s lovely to have a nice wee studio, even better when shared with friends who smile like Anita Garza.

Also, I’m honored to be the latest entry in Susan Mills’ excellent Bookbinding Now podcast series; Meredith R. Winer, the founder and director of the innovative Transit residency program visited to interview me a wee while ago; we had a fine time, which I hope resulted in something interesting. I can’t hear podcasts, but I’ve been told only good things about the series.  And of course I’m pleased to be joining Velma, Aimee, Peter and so many others.

Anitabaca

Some of Anita’s 90-minute abaca for her project, after 18 hours in the stack dryer.

And finally, I’m back in the studio, while Chicago struggles to bring forth spring.

Aspring13

Doubly Honored

I’m going to be cutting my self-imposed six months at home short, but only by a few weeks, and for a very good reason: I’ll be attending the first Haystack summer residency. I’ve never been to Haystack, but had promised friend and mentor Marilyn Sward I would go there someday; this seemed like the perfect opportunity for a thorough introduction.  Not to mention the fact that it’s in Maine. On an island!

Book 2_2

The wonderful Nora Maynard has done an excellent interview with yours truly for the blog section of the literary magazine, Ploughshares.  She’s currently working on a series on book arts, and I loved her first entry, featuring a place (North Branch Projects) and person (Regin Igloria) I admire very much, so I am especially honored to be the second in the series. Just published this morning, the interview is already traveling around. Thank you, Nora, Ploughshares, Haystack!

Good Questions

question1

Battling with the last of the text and then (alas) taxes, but: Return To Studio is imminent! So is spring, and already the improving weather is bringing Chicago people (including me) out more: I have had and am having an upswing in visiting friends, catching up: another reason to be happy to be home. My computer had been seriously rebelling, making me a captive of the Mac spinning color wheel over and over again, so I also had to spend two days upgrading and clearing out old files. I found this from 2008:

“Interesting conversation last night here at Ragdale with authors from across the spectrum: novelists, poets, essayists.  It began with the writers’ incredulous reactions to artists’ statements, and was the most fertile conversation I’ve ever had about them.

Their observations: artists’ statements are written in interminable language, which seems deliberately obtuse and nonsensical. Artists’ statements all sound the same. Artists’ statements rarely offer even a shred of human insight into the work.  The most intriguing observation to me was: writing IS an art, a difficult and demanding art that takes years to hone.  Poets and writers are never expected to clarify their work for their audiences in visual form; they’re not required to become photographers, painters or sculptors in order to BE writers. Why is it that all visual artists are required to write?  Why isn’t a visual experience enough in and of itself, particularly when so much of the dismal writing actually detracts from the work?”

Good questions, to which I’ve never found answers beyond the homogenization of MFA programs, particularly as colleges and universities have become more and more corporate in outlook and structure (which was my answer then). These questions are still particularly poignant to me, especially after this recent period of struggle with words while longing to use my hands, heart, mind and body doing what I do best, and love.

question2

Closer by an hour

I’m still wading through a swamp of words; as soon as I finish one thing, another comes in, so my studio-and-home-project schedule is now totally derailed.  But there was this:

assisted

It happened slowly, over four stages (some of which cannot be seen) but transforming an experiment I wasn’t thrilled with into something I now like very much brought a bit of light into the foggy-text-bog. I’ve got fiber soaking for a beater run as soon as I reach the solid ground at the edge. And today, our clocks have sprung forward, moving closer to light.

assisdetail

I should have a couple of pleasant announcements soon to liven up the blog bog too; one is even text-based.

Holding pattern

buds

Buds on the back-window maple!

March did not come in like a lion for me; more like a sloth. I finished – or thought I had finished – the text-based work, spent a day on beater maintenance (sharpening, greasing) and then was hit with a fast-onset flu, and slept for nearly four entire days. While I was knocked out, I learned that the most time-intensive text file needs to be completely re-done from scratch, and three new text-based projects with fast deadlines came in as well (one is a good one, but still: more sitting, writing). On the literal bright side: today there is bright beautiful sunlight and I am going to attempt a short walk.  Hello, March. Bring on your light, warmth and growth.