Category Archives: art education

In Bronze

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Syracuse University has wowed us yet again with another fabulous art exhibition at their art gallery in the Shaffer Art Building on S.U. campus.  This time a collection of bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) fills the space.  The art is actually owned by the Iris and Gerald Cantor Foundation – they organized the show as well.

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Penny Santy and I attended the opening reception tonight – it was the perfect thing to do on this back-to-school night, an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the visual stimulation of an artists’ life work and then discuss it all with my fellow artist friend. The kind of discussion that catapults our individual journeys as we sort of translate what we see into how we see ourselves as artists – our respective places on the path.   It is just so incredible how modern this body of work really is – how this master artist took things a step further, editing body parts to emphasize movement.  Doing things because he wanted to, because it was necessary for his own growth without crumbling in the face of criticism.

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Innovation always comes with critics riding shirttails, doesn’t it?  People can be so limited in their thinking and so, when I see a show like this, I see that Rodin’s confidence and trust in what he knew was right is what influenced and still influences artists one hundred years later.

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Inspirational thinking.  So, so amazing!

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Rodin: The Human Experience will be on display until November 18, 2018.  Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday 11:00 am – 4:30 pm.  In addition, they are open until 8:00 pm on Thursdays. (315) 443-4097

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Little Birdie

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I hosted a closing reception for Jamie Santos’ art show.  The exhibition had taken place in the Chittenango Middle School library (Chittenango, New York) during May and June 2018.  Since they administered the algebra regents exam in the library today, we held the party in my art classroom.

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About twenty students attended this end of the year celebration.  Cookies were served.

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Jamie Santos is a tattoo artist.  She works at Tymeless Tattoo in Baldwinsville, New York.  Jamie is a 2003 graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High school.  She says drawing is an important part of her life.  She gets up by 9:00 am and starts the day by sketching ideas for tattoos or paintings – she brought several notebooks full of these wonderfully executed drawings to share with the students.

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Her focus lately has been on birds.

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Students had a lot of questions about the tattooing process – does it hurt?  How long does it take to finish a tattoo?  Do people bring snacks? ( Lol, love that one ❤ )

Jamie was very honest about the process, the time commitment, the pain.  She explained how the needle works, how it vibrates when you hold it, how the artist gets better with every job.

She used to work every day and now she books clients only four days a week, devoting the rest of her time to creating art in her studio.  Designing her own unique look, her own motifs are crucial to her success and she takes pride in the fact that her work ethic has truly improved her skill.

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I asked how many of these eleven to fourteen-year-old students think that they want to get tattoos when they are older and the majority of hands flew up!  Should I be surprised by that?  I guess not.

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The students absolutely loved her!  She is amazing.  Thank you, Jamie Santos, for being such an inspirational voice for your profession.

A thousand thank-yous, as well, goes to my fabulous colleague, Katy Conden, for working with me to make these art talks happen. They are no fun without you!

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If you would like to see more of her work, Jamie will be exhibiting in a show of tattoo artists at the Everson Museum of Art.

 June 30–August 5, 2018

Embracing the Underground explores the rich and diverse culture of modern day tattooing. This exhibition is the second presented through the Everson’s Community Exhibition Program, which provides opportunities for Central New York organizations to present the work of area artists.

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The Invention Story

I’m basically a storyteller.  And all of my stories begin with, “the year was blah-blah-blah”.  Today, one of my students called me over and asked, “will you tell us a story?” and someone else chimed in with, “we love your stories!”  !!!

So – here’s a story for you….

The year was last year.  All of my 5th graders were bringing those fidget spinners to class.  I’m sure you’ve seen them – they are some sort of toy that was created as a way for students to stay focused, particularly students with focus issues – but they were seriously getting out of control.   Everyone had them.  Most had more than one in their pockets. Kids were just playing with them all over the place until pieces flew off.  It was nuts.

One day after school, I was sitting with my feet up on my desk and I envisioned a teacher confiscating those dumb things then sitting exactly as I was . . . and eating them, lol.  I had invented a commercial for chocolate fidget spinners!

OMG, I thought, I have my million dollar idea!  I called Hercules, a candy company in East Syracuse, New York.  I told the proprietor, Terry Andrianos, my idea.  Her response was it takes about a year in development to create the mold for something like this and it is expensive.

So, I thought, that was that.

A few days later, I attended a concert at Traditions at the LinksLetizia and the Z Band was performing.  At their break, the drummer, John Mangicaro, told me this gig was like a full-time job but he did have a full-time job – he was in the technology department at Syracuse University.  He runs the 3-D printer!

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I shared my fidget spinner concept with him.  A few months later, he’d created a mold for me.  I brought the mold back to the candy shoppe and Terry agreed to make a couple samples for me!

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I had successfully brought my invention to fruition and it didn’t cost me a dime.  Law of Attraction brought me face-to-face with these amazing people who helped me just for the fun of it!  Of course, after it was all said and done, I checked Amazon.com and now there are fidget spinner molds available.  Yes, a zeitgeist!

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Students don’t play with fidget spinners anymore.  I have not seen one at all this year.  It was a very short-lived fad, which leads me to believe that nobody really desires chocolate ones anymore either.

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But the point of the story is to illustrate how you don’t really have to know how to manufacture an idea in order to invent something.  Leonardo da Vinci drew pictures of helicopters in the 1500s, as well as all sorts of things he did not actually make.

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My fidget spinner story acted as the launch pad for the active minds of my 5th grade art class.  I gave them a hand-out – to get them thinking about inventing something – why do people need it?  Who will use it?  How big is it?  How much does it cost?

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They filled out the sheet and drew illustrations for a coloring book of inventions.  This took several classes.  We did projects in between, which gave ample time for the students to ponder ideas.  Many shared the project with their parents – some came back with sketches their parents had made of the assignment.  It seems that everyone is a budding Leonardo!

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I sent the pages to Chittenango High School and the person who runs the Xerox printer created these amazing books.  Each student received a book of everyone’s inventions.  We spent one class period coloring them.  I told them to hold on to their copy, to keep the book in a bookshelf for, like, fifteen years.  Then pull it out, maybe when they are moving out or when their parents hold a giant garage sale, lol, and flip through it to see if any of the inventions had really been invented.  Zeitgeists happen all the time.

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My cousin Brian is an inventor at Welch Allyn.  He has something like forty patents.  Engineering type stuff.  I had actually checked on the patent information regarding my idea.  It seems the woman who had invented fidget spinners could not afford the patent and that is why everyone was manufacturing them.  Crazy, right?

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Our science teacher, Beth Bennett, received a grant to purchase a 3-D printer for school.  She will be meeting with John to learn more about the machine and what amazing things can be created with it.  I just love that!

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The sky’s the limit!

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The Spirit Beckons

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Sandra Sabene and Laura Stisser have united in art for an exhibition at the Roji Tea Lounge in Syracuse, New York.  The artwork will be on display through May 2018.  Tonight was the reception, which included a demonstration of meditative painting by Sabene and a musical performance by Zoe Mullan-Stout and Blake Propst.

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Sabene spins her canvas on a mobile contraption-style easel her husband had built for her.  It was pretty cool and reminded me of a similar process I am using with my 5th graders – their paper canvas-based sculptures are propped on banding wheels in order to look at and paint them from all sides.

During her presentation, the artist’s hand, holding a two-inch flat brush, danced across the canvas to the beat of music, dipping that paintbrush in a succession of primary colors, working intuitively and discarding brushes along the way.  She would grab another and another in an attempt to prevent the inevitable muddiness that can occur using this process, as she had mentioned prior to her start.  She lets go of pain, hurt, and the past and focuses on the now.  In the present moment, her hand guides her emotional healing sparking the flow of spirituality and inner peace.

Sabene teaches this method in her studio gallery, the Liverpool Art Center, located near Onondaga Lake Parkway in Liverpool, New York.  For more information on Sandra Sabene and her style visit www.artbysandra.com.

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Both artists create non-representational work.  Both connect to their inner spirit as they work.  Laura Stisser’s work looks to use a marbleizing technique.  She is evolving as an artist (she is a Sabene disciple) while also selling Young Essential Oils in her spare time, as well as making a living as a professional actor!  Connect with Laura Stisser at www.laurastisserart.com.

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The show is titled “A Soul on Fire…is the most powerful force on earth”.  The Roji Tea Lounge is located at 108 East Washington Street #2, Syracuse, New York.  Visit www.rojitealounge.com for information such as their latest menu and hours of operation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqJesktztEE

 

IPA: Spring Show

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Last night I caught the tail end of a three-hour art reception at Clayscapes Pottery in Syracuse, New York.  The IPA (Independent Potters’ Association) displayed their wares in the wonderful gallery in this basement establishment located at 1003 West Fayette Street.

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Clayscapes is where I get the clay I use in my classroom.  It is a retail business with walk-ins welcome; it is a gallery and it is home to studio space for ceramic artists, as well as a venue for ceramics classes for all ages.

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I can’t spend a lot of time in there, however – big secret revealed – I am allergic to clay!  When I do clay projects with students, I limit them to a four-class affair.  I do it, of course, because it is really an important media for sculpture and functional art.

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This gallery is really cool because many of the works are functional and so, when art lovers and customers see them, they want to use them immediately.  And they can because it is a cash and carry show.

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The glass shelves were formerly in the Everson Museum of Art before the museum went through renovations.  Everything looks amazing.  Every artist’s work is unique – there is really something for everyone.

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I spoke with Wes Weiss, a local guy and Nottingham High School grad who spoke of his process in such an interesting way, which totally resonated with me.  He said he took negative feelings of the political climate in this country and infused his feelings with positive text creating the message of melting his painful thoughts and keeping the good ones.  He said an idea grips him and it is almost painful until he purges it via creation.  He is “a slab guy”, using said technique to create tiles, lanterns and other pieces scattered throughout the show.

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You can claim a free tile from his bowl of positive words located at the entrance to the gallery.  I loved the sentiment of walking away with a piece of his goodness.  It really blends with my belief that we all work together to create our experiences.  Loved that so much.

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Also in this show are the following:  Casey Cleary-Hammarstedt, Jen Gandee, Matt Hill, Michael Hughes, Sookie Kayne, Bobbi Lamb, Tom Krahe, David MacDonald, Jamie Noce, Tina Parker, Jessica Pilowa, Margery Rose, Millie St. John, Tim See, Don Seymour, Karen Jean Smith, John Smolenski, Alan Stankiewicz, Peter Valenti, Sarah VanDerVoort, Michele Walters and Rebecca Wind.

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This exhibition continues through May 5, 2018.  Visit IPA at www.ipa.org for more information about this group.  Clayscapes Gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Saturday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm.

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She’s Baaaaaaack!

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Trina Turk top, BCBGMaxAzria pants, Joie sandals

One of the best parts of getting back to work has been reuniting with my favorite photographer/bestie/colleague/art teacher/partner-in-goofiness, Katy C.  We have resumed the #ootd.  Here are my latest outfits coupled with some from before my two month hiatus.

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BCBGMaxAzria tops and pants, Calvin Klein booties
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Cinq a Sept dress, Marc Jacobs booties

I have fallen in love with a new-to-me brand: Cinq à Sept (5 to 7).  I love every piece and am finding room in my closet for these silk confections – three dresses, two tops and counting!

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Cinq a Sept dress, Via Spiga hosiery, Calvin Klein booties
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Honora necklace, BCBGMaxAzria sweater and skirt, Marc Jacobs boots

I am also such a fan of Marc Jacobs boots.  He and I are the same age.  Lol, he really gets me.  I feel like the lasts for these shoes were made from molds of my feet.  Cray-cray awesomeness!

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Honora necklace, Cynthia Rowley cashmere cardigan (bathrobe!), Trina Turk dress, Hue tights, Marc Jacobs booties
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BCBGMaxAzria sweater, Trina Turk dress, Marc Jacobs boots

I love having somewhere to go every day.  People often tell me that they never had a teacher like me, alluding to my work fashion.  When I was growing up the teachers always made an effort – they wore mini shift dresses with high heels.  Had their hair done in the beehive coifs of the day.  Were prim and proper, and so, so smart.  Beautiful.  Miss Emerson, Miss Clancy, Miss Daniels, Miss Adsitt….  I loved going to school back then too.  Thank you, Tecumseh Elementary for a dream.  I guess I always aspired to be just like these amazing women.  Didn’t actually realize it until now – wow!

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BCBGMaxAzria sweater and skirt, Ralph Lauren boots

I love fashion.  Love to get dressed every morning for work.  Love feeling good about myself, happy, relaxed, confident and this feeling contributes to the dynamic of each day.

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Free People cardigan, Halston Heritage dress, BCBGeneration booties
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Rachel Zoe dress, Marc Jacobs booties
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Free People dress, Marc Jacobs boots

We have so much fun.  Art is about imagination – imagining your dreams via learning how to draw, how to visualize solutions.  I am currently working on four or five different things with the students – clay sculptures and bas-reliefs in a couple classes, horse paintings in a couple….  The Studio in Art students are painting barn landscapes using Wolf Kahn’s color palette and my 5th graders are doing double duty – first an additive wood sculpture then an invention à la Da Vinci.  More to come in regards to that one.  I will tell you the story of my invention soon.  It’s hilarious, I promise. ❤

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Bloomingdale’s cashmere cardigan, Bebe top, 7 For All Mankind jeans, Nine West booties
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BCBGMaxAzria sweater and pants, Nine West booties
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Trina Turk top and pants, BCBGeneration booties
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Banana Republic cardigan, Free People top, BCBGMaxAzria top and pants, BCBGeneration booties
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Free People dress, BCBGMaxAzria velvet leggings, Karl Lagerfeld Paris boots

 

Land of the Living

According to the blurb in the SU Art Galleries’ newsletter,

Artist Kiki Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, featured at five Venice Biennales, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among her many honors is the recognition by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.”

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She is a living legend in the art world, a kind of giant, a dichotomy of sorts because in person she really is quite delicate looking with slender features.  Her hands in particular, which seem a stark contrast to the sort of macabre drawings they produce.  Kiki Smith is my favorite artist’s favorite artist.  I read that somewhere decades ago.  Jasper Johns is famously tight-lipped to disclose the inner workings of his mind.  Smith is similarly private.  The language with which gallery director Domenic Iacono uses to describe Smith’s prolific career’s trajectory reminds me of this thing I read by a dating coach who insists women must keep men off-balance by speaking gibberish, like saying one thing and flipping it on its side to keep them guessing, lol.  Not to say that his words are not an accurate portrayal.

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Yes, I saw immediately via Smith’s slide presentation on Thursday evening, February 15, 2018 in the lecture hall adjacent to the gallery in Shaffer Art Building at Syracuse University how the work relates to life from birth to death and how that relationship is reproduced in a type of modern allegory.  It’s just that the description gives the impression that the artist set out to make particular meaning in her work, that there was clear and deliberate intent to be a crusader of issues or whatever.  And so, this presentation was like a breath of fresh air to me because it wasn’t what I expected at all.

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There were around (or over) three hundred people in attendance, many of whom students searching for a road map to art success, a short-cut maybe despite their unique circumstances.  Penny Santy, Laurel Morton and I had a different experience.

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She said, “I don’t know” a lot.  My friends and I responded to the realness of her being. Kind of reminded me of the Star Trek TNG movie where they time-travelled to meet the guy who invented warp drive.  How they had studied him in school and expected him to be a type of god only to find him to have the same sort of trials and tribulations as any one of us.

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Smith sat in a corner until she was introduced then raced up and got caught up in the microphone’s battery, which messed up her hair and caused her to flop into position and, while struggling with the technology, to utter, “I’m totally discombobulated.”

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You can hear my laugh in a large group situation.  I really should get a job sitting in the audience during the taping of TV sit-coms.  It was this unexpected sort of absentminded normalcy that I fell in love with.  Because Kiki Smith was not there to teach us to be like her or offer advice on the inner workings of the international art world or art super-stardom.

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She was here to share her art.  It was her focus on the specific and unique problem solving issues related to art material and rudimentary technique that propelled her journey, which if plotted probably resembles a scribble rather than a connect-the-dot drawing.

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Some people think or expect that you should make the same kinds of art forever because it creates a convenient narrative…I want my work to embody my inherent contradictions.

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Art, she said, is not meant to be permanent and neither are we.  It is simply a thing we can do to make our marks.  It passes the time.  You can sell it or give it away to friends. This despite also indicating that 90% of her art is self-owned and in storage, which most of us can relate to, lol.  She acknowledged that she was priveleged; she mentioned her father several times as well-known sculptor Tony Smith.  She said she was a college drop-out who had an inkling to become a baker and chef but never really learned to cook.  So she began to experiment with cheap or rather, non-archival art materials to sort of replicate the braid strands in challah bread and from that her artwork evolved through the evolution of several decades to sculpture, jewelry making, tapestry and stained glass via printmaking.

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My father was a baker and chef so I was amused by this.  The internet is littered with people who chastise her, thinking her success is solely attributed to her father’s connections and not to her talent, creativity and attitude.  Had she and I been flipped at birth, I can safely say that her self-proclaimed lack of culinary skills would not be in jeopardy.  Parents raise you – they do not do the work for you.  Everyone knows that.  You and you alone create your life.

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Her journey has taken the New Jersey native around the globe – to Germany to paint on glass, Iceland where the tapestries take years to manufacture and, as mentioned, to Venice, Italy several times for the Biennales.  She has even worked on and off as an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia!  It was a sort of Alice in Wonderland type story where help became available when needed.  Experts in their fields there to assist in creating the vision so that she could maintain the integrity of her mark-making, revisit old drawings and turn, turn, turn leaving no stone unturned – flipping everything on its axis until an idea had/has been fully explored.

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It was this part that I just loved.  Naturally, the point to me is meaning.  Not meaning in her work, more like, the meaning of my own life.  I saw the seemingly disparate dreams I have come together.  I saw my own path and how I got to where I am.  I am a dreamer first and foremost.  That is abundantly clear to me.

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A writer, an artist, fashion designer, teacher, friend.  And within these categories, sub-categories (in the case of my art, I am across the board with watercolor, collage, encaustic and all that).  But I do see how it is all related and that is a beautiful thing.

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I am so grateful I had the chance to meet Kiki Smith and selfie with her too, of course!  It truly is all about our personal journeys.  We are all exploring the body, the muse and the spirit in an experimental way.  Smith relayed the bit about how her mother’s passing, as well as the death of a beloved cat affected her work while I have sort of been hibernating all winter, I guess you could say, dealing with my own thoughts of mortality.

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Many of you know that I have been absent from work.  I have another month of healing from a medical thingy and that includes slowly getting back to exercising in a couple of weeks and venturing outside my little corner of the universe.  Before you get all freaky with the I’m sorry-ies, I am totally fine.  Trying to be private and like, kind of forgetting that people have noticed that I have been out of the public eye.  I mean, I put myself here so there it is.

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I am discombobulated in my own way, but I decided that instead of hiding from the world entirely or walking around with a dumb old grimace on my face, I will choose to smile.  Smith said sometimes she is thinking about some weird murder movie while making art.  She doesn’t want people knowing what is going on inside her brain.  I tend to agree with the limits of what should and should not be revealed.  People are going to believe what they want to believe and say things about you and/or about your art and it really is not anything you can control.  But you can/I can control my own experience and I choose happiness.

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So grateful to her – an amazing artist – for coming to our neck of the woods to be herself in such an inspirational way.  We are all here together, in the land of the living, and that is a precious thing.  I appreciate the love I know I feel from friends, family, students and readers of this web-site.  All of you have shaped my world and I appreciate you all very much. ❤

Kiki Smith and Paper:  The Body, the Muse, and the Spirit was curated by Wendy Weitman and is here courtesy of Oklahoma State University Museum of Art until March 9, 2018.  Visit www.suart.syr.edu for more information about the SU Art Galleries including hours of operation.