Posted in Emotions, Jewelry, Photography

Anger & Earrings

I’m still angry. This week, something from 50 years ago came back and demanded to be thought about. When I was in junior high, I had to take an art class. Seating was assigned and I got stuck next to a boy who thought he was clever. He kept singing, “Hey baby won’t you take a chance. Spread your legs while I drop my pants.”

After several weeks of this, I found the courage to tell the teacher. She asked why I hadn’t said something before. Because someone else had asked to have his seat moved and she didn’t let him. I spent the rest of the classes sitting somewhere else. I was happy that she moved my seat. I’d have been better served if she had told me how unacceptable his behavior was and how wrong it was to treat women like pieces of meat.

Some of the boys thought it was wonderful fun to pull up a girl’s skirt. I expressed my displeasure – an inkling of who I would eventually become. The response from one boy, “You’re not the coolest.”

It would take another 10 years before the boy’s behavior had a name: sexual harassment. It would take 10 years beyond that before women could begin to really fight back. Now, 50 years later, I see how damaging that boy’s behavior was. I see that my worth then was embedded in a part of my anatomy I couldn’t see without a mirror. It didn’t matter if I was smart. It didn’t matter if I had any sort of talent. It didn’t matter what goals and dreams I had for myself. All that mattered was if I was pretty. If I let the boys tease me and pull up my skirt.

Now, I understand. I think. I have worth and value. My worth isn’t concentrated in my bra and my panties. My worth is intrinsic. This is my body. I decide who touches it and when. I decide what behavior I will tolerate and what I will not tolerate. Treat me with dignity and respect or get away from me. I wish I had known this 50 years ago. 

I’ve been working on my photography because I need to assemble a portfolio and I need the portfolio to be really good. A friend gave me a gray scale, and I’ve been using that as a backdrop for my jewelry. I posted the photos on the Digital Photography School Facebook page and asked for suggestions. The result? Think outside the fishing line. I had been stringing fishing line across the light box and dangling earrings from the fishing line.

Nice, but I’m still having problems getting the entire earring in focus. I posted my photos on the Digital Photography School Facebook page and asked for advice. One poster sent me to Pinterest to see how other earrings had been photographed.

I did a little playing.

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I put the earrings on a piece of granite. This will work for some earrings, but the stones get hidden with some of the earrings.

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I suspended a piece of plexiglas over the granite to see if that would help with the color contrast. Nope. Showed off all the scratches in the plexiglas, though.

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Next, I tried putting the earrings on a quilted piece. I like that the best, but it does show off uneven free motion quilting.

Eventually, I will get this figured out.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Check out what some other great artists have been doing.

Posted in Photography, Pottery, Quilts

Are We Being Taken Seriously?

I got to chatting with an art student yesterday. We were talking about designing a quilt and she told me she couldn’t sew in a straight line. No problem…. work with art quilts. She asked what happens when you sew the pieces together. I explained quilts don’t have to be geometric. I explained that an art quilt was sort of a cross between a painting and a quilt.  I sketched out the Tree of Life Quilt and explained that I used water color pencils and oil paint sticks along with fabric. That’s when she became intrigued.

This reminded me of a conversation Jim and I had with one of his art teachers. This particular teacher taught painting, and I don’t think he put quilts into the category of art. While he liked and accepted Jim’s art, he didn’t seem to think my art was Art.

Why is it that when it comes to Art, fiber and fabric are considered merely utilitarian? Ceramic teachers don’t discourage functional pottery. Design teachers don’t discourage combining functional and beauty. Painting teachers don’t discourage painting merely because it’s not functional.  What is it with fiber and fabric?

Is it because fiber and fabric have traditionally been limited to women? Think back about 15 years when male quilters were an anomaly. In some quilting circles, they are still an anomaly. A friend’s husband was ridiculed for taking a quilting class. The ridicule came from some of the women in the class. Now think back about 40 years when female and artist were words rarely used together. Women artists weren’t taken seriously. I suspect vestiges of that remain. The art classes I’ve been in have all had more female students than male students. Will Art become art if Art is practiced by women? Sexism is far from dead.

Maybe what we need is another Art Deco movement where we concentrate on combining beauty with function.

I’ve been playing with photography again. Here’s the original shot.

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The sun was getting low and the light was getting weird. Perfect time to take photos.

Here’s how I played with the shot.

And my favorite result:

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I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by her blog and see what a number of artists have been doing.

Posted in Emotions, Photography, words

Once upon a mood so terrifying…..

I’m back to what passes for normal. I think. I’m calm. I can function and this functioning calm feels stable. That could change in an instant. I had a manic event that lasted for three weeks and became unbearable earlier this week. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t function. But I sure wrote a couple doozy stories for my writing class! This one is for an assignment where we had to write a story based on one of the fairy tales we read. I chose to write about Hans Christian Anderson’s The Toad.

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The Very Pissed Off Toad

Once upon a time, there was a woman named Yael who didn’t like closets. Or boxes. Or girdles. Or cleaning the bathroom. Or being told she was inferior.

“Either there’s no difference between men and women – except for plumbing – or I need a sex change operation” said Yael often.

Oh, my. The people of the church were appalled. And terrified.

“What if the girls thought like that?” cried the fragile men.

“Who will make my supper and wash my socks?” cried the lazy men.

“Isn’t it time we had another baby?” cried the misogynous men.

Yael had a husband, but no children.

“You should have a baby!” screamed the terrified women who like to call

themselves girls even past menopause.

“You should have a baby!” screamed the terrified men.

Instead, Yael went to college. She started a week after her 25th birthday and

a week after she got the braces removed from her now straight teeth. Yael studied hard.

“We hired a woman once. She didn’t work out so we don’t hire

women now,” said the asshole in Human Regulations.

Yael fought hard. She didn’t lose, but she didn’t exactly win.

“I didn’t mean anything by that! You’re overly sensitive,” said the

jerk employer who thought he could grab Yael whenever he wanted.

“I don’t know what your problem is,” said the jerk at the New York

State Human Rights Division when Yael tried to file a complaint after being fired by the jerk employer.

Yael still fought hard. She didn’t exactly win, but she didn’t lose,

either.

Yael went to law school. And to court. And to trial. And to the

Supreme Court where the chief judge said, “This is an historic morning! All the attorneys are women and two of the judges are women.”

Say that shit in New York and you’re permanently off the bench before

lunch, thought Yael while she tried to smile without sneering.

Yael continued to fight hard. She didn’t exactly win, but she didn’t

Lose, either.

One day, a peacock jerk came up to Yael and demanded she pay

attention to him. Yael told him to leave her alone. “Hey, you were coming on to me, bitch!”

Yael looked into the peacock jerk’s eyes to hold his attention. She

smiled. She reached into her left pocket, removed the stun gun, pressed it to the peacock jerk’s groin, and pressed the trigger. She did this until the screaming stopped.

Yael won.

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I like to think that bipolar disorder doesn’t define me, but I’m trying to believe the impossible. I can’t cope without proper medication. Even on the best meds I’ve ever had, I still had a three-week episode that effected every part of my life. On the worst day,  I got an email from the College of Arts & Sciences – part of New Mexico State University – asking for art submissions for a symposium on mental health and justice. I’ve been to these things and never once has there been a speaker who is actually mentally ill. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do before we remove the stigma attached to mental illness. If there’s never one who is mentally ill speaking, that says people are convinced that the 26% of the US population with a diagnosed mental illness are too stupid, too crazy, too irrational to be allowed to speak. Remember when women were considered too irrational, too emotional and not smart enough to speak in public? In case you missed it the first time around, now that the US has a Sex Offender in Chief, you can catch it now.

At the very depths of this manic event, I had to stop what I was doing and make art to submit for the symposium. I’ve no illusions about my work being chosen. I needed to say what I had to say.

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I subscribe to the Digital Photography School newsletter. This week, there was an article about photographing cats. Cats refuse to pose, insist on squirming and leaving as soon as they see a camera. Using the suggestions I read about, I got a fairly decent photo of Tinker.

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I had to play a bit with it.

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I’m linking with Nina Marie. You can see her blog and links to other terrific artists  here.

Posted in Emotions, Quilts

Beyond Rage

I am filled with fury, rage, anger, and I’m pissed off. I’ve had to tweak my psych meds because I am having stress pains. I’ve been pissed off since January 20. Often, when I’m this emotional, I don’t understand what’s going on inside of me. This might be a function of bipolar disorder, but it’s hard to tell. I’ve no idea how the “normal” brain works. I live with an interesting brain.

When I don’t understand what’s happening inside of me, I made art. It’s only through art that  I can identify the emotions and allow them to escape. I’m working on a quilt. It started with a fuzzy idea and grew. First came a phrase. “If you touch this without my permission, I will break your fucking arm. ”

I wanted to make an anatomically correct vaginal opening. Rather than squat over a tripod mounted camera and hope I got the focus right, I went on the internet and found photos. I wanted the vaginal opening to be three-dimensional. This took some fancy figuring and sewing. That’s a Swarovski crystal for the clitoris. I neglected to leave sufficient room for the urethra so it’s not represented.

First Draft:

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It’s a bad photo because I didn’t feel like hanging the quilt on the clothes line and just propped it on my cutting table. The blue/green lines are basting to hold the three layers together.

I needed another couple days to figure out what to do next. I had wanted to hand quilt words on the piece, but when I tried to lay the sentences out, I realized I couldn’t say what I wanted to say with stitches. I needed to write the words onto the quilt.

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I didn’t think free motion quilting would be a good idea for this quilt, so I am quilting the word “NO” in assorted sizes and in assorted places.

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Found my needle.

Will this quilt make the rage dissipate? I doubt it. The last time I went through this, I made a good half dozen sculptures. I’m beginning to understand what’s causing the rage, the depth of my rage, and to let the rage out in an acceptable manner.

I am linking with NinaMarie. If you have any interest in art, her blog is the best spot to visit. Lots of art and lots of artists. NinaMarie’s blog is here.