A quick update to yesterday- While I spent most of my day grading, I did cap the evening off with a truly Icelandic experience... going to the outdoor pool. Pools are a very big thing here and are open year round. It seems like it is where everyone goes to just meet, hang out and talk. Another resident and I agreed we would go together on day one (or so, but who's counting).
The pools are geothermal so they are heated and around the perimeter are "hot pots" which are hot tubs heated to set temperatures. While I loved being in the hottest one, my friend needed to moved to the next one down. I eventually did too and we spent the evening discussing foreign languages and places to visit next. We befriended an Icelander who was hilarious and great to have in the conversation mix. Conclusion: we are going back! Soon!
PS. One does not take their towel outside. One dashes from the locker room to the desired pool or hot pot and jumps in. It's a cold dash but I came to find you don't need it after time in the water.
As a break from grading yesterday, I decided to write a bit more about drawing.
A definition on drawing:
My recent performative work really grew out of the act of drawing and my early work in my studies that responded to the body through adornment.
I view drawing as an act of mark-making and anyone who has ever taken a class with me knows that I value the power of the mark. Three years ago I began to make drawings based on body proportions and measurements. I considered them figural works, although not obviously the figure as we know it. I had grown tired of depicting the figure with marks applied to its image. I grew to feel that the overall imagery seemed disconnected- that the figure was still a passive object to which the artist applied marks to and around.
These newer works were meant to be more psychological and ontological. They embraced error and the interdependence of the artist to drawing. The artist creates the mark, intentionally, methodically while the drawing expresses the narrative. While the drawings became more satisfying to make and felt less objectifying of the figure, the thing that emerged as most important was how it felt to make these works.
The ACT of making the drawing I noticed to be physical. I had the same feeling creating a drawing as I did after a class of yoga. It either cleared my head or drew attention to parts of my body I hadn't thought about in a while. While this was invigorating, I soon grew bored of working on paper, not matter how many different ways I thought about making marks that reference the body.
It grew into more drawings that were based on the body proportion while also involving the body. And then there were drawings that happened just on the body. This further grew into sculptural work- which also is quite physical but one doesn't lose oneself in a sculpture like they do a drawing (or knitting for that matter). If my wrists weren't such a mess, I'd knit night and day.
Last winter, I made a piece that was a simple object oriented around the body. It was rope and it used the same proportions as my circle drawings but the rope came to mean so much more. Length of my Infinite Love is the length of my arm span but made from material that is meant to bring things together, secure them from falling apart, yet it can go too far and have a destructive quality to it. I struggled with making other art pieces with this material that were as potent and meaningful as this one.
In the Spring, I was challenged by my advanced drawing students to the "Obstruction" assignment. This is an assignment I base off of Richard Linklater (more info here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0354575/) to my advanced students- to each write a "rule" to consider when remaking what you consider your masterpiece. I worked with the Length of my Infinite Love and if I remember correctly, I had to 1. use a personal item, 2. no circles, 3. no cats, and 4. use watercolor (the one that threw me most for a loop). It wasn't a great piece (a sandbag made from a mattress casing hung from 2 ropes, watercolored) but it opened the door to a small performance I did carrying seven 3 pound weights around my neck. The piece ended up as The Weight of These Decisions. Three pounds is the weight of the average human brain and I wanted to mark the physicality of one's decisions- emotions that we feel in our body and know as real. Seven of these weights represent a finite amount of time around these decisions.
While THIS wasn't a great performance, THIS was a great drawing. This is what I wanted drawing to tackle for me- authenticity. Why draw about something when you can draw with and on it? I wanted a visceral connection to the work. And this is very different than drawing ON my body a few years back. The marks are felt. The weight is carried. The message is engrained.
Drawing is a vast modality. It no longer needs to be matted and framed on the wall. For me, my experiences can be recorded in the skin of my body, using that as my medium. And our life is carried in that body; we express our individuality in our body, why not use our body as the source, medium, and product.