Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spider and Kite: The Homecoming

Hey everyone.

I've been home for a little while now, but it's only been recently that I've looked through the remnants of Spider and Kite thoroughly. Here are some of the letters I wrote Jackie in Indonesia. That place changed me. And so strange to be reunited with these documents of those changes. It's something like a full circle, maybe.

On the trip it was comforting knowing this space in the world existed.

Piles. Letters, postcards, objects, drawings.

Information and poetry from the few amazing activists I met in Australia. The good loving and fighting are happening everywhere.

Letter on reverse side of image above:

Dear Jackie,

We are on the train in Yogya waiting to pull out of the station and begin our fourteen (empatbelas) hour ride to the Eastern tip of Java. And now we are moving. This is a very long ride so the next few letters may or may not be from today. Beautiful paper, huh? (referring to envelopes). It's all handmade recycled paper made by this fantastic local group called Milah (short for 'a very long dream'). Atik told us about it. Veggie grub, handmade goods, preschool, art programs, organizing and organic everything...

You would love Yogyakarta (pronounced Jogja or Jogjakarta). Everyone is so ready to wisk you away to their favorite spot, or just walk you to where you want to go and have the same wonderful conversation. It's different every time.

Yesterday I was led to a puppet maker. Wayang is the Javanese art of shadow puppets. They were once made out of leaves, but now they use a this semi-opaque leather. There is so much detail! The two main stories told using these puppets are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata , but originally, the puppets were part of Javanese animism culture. The spread of Islam was also made possible through Wayang.

The visual culture here makes my mouth water.

The most beautiful part of the artwork here, however, is how it is ingrained with the philosophy of the area. Every Batik pattern has a history and meaning. Every part of the puppet means something--so much so that the puppet itself tells a story before the story even begins. As an artist (seniman), one should live life as they make their art- in love, with patience, and with one eye on the small action at hand, and one eye on the long-term task. That is how you batik, that is how you live life. Here, art is, to many, a deeply spiritual, essential part of life.

Art is the bridge between this life, this earth, this human experience, and god, the universe, the Cosmic We. Art is love. Art is a weapon. We are magicians, Jackie. I believe it now more than ever. If puppets can spread a foreign religion to millions, they must be full of magic. This place, more than anywhere I've been, realizes this. They don't need to theorize about life as art or art as life because they know it. It's in their bodies, breath and DNA. The two are inseparable from each other and there is no point trying to make the distinction.

Oh. It's not just the traditional arts, either. Do forgive me if I have made that impression. Yogya has taken to the spray paint and transformed itself. It's hard to find a wall without a tag, mural or wheatpaste. The city is painted fearlessly and feverishly. In Yogya, the warriors are young and they're covered in paint.

Everything, Everywhere, Always,


Letter on reverse of image above:

Dear Jackie,

Harry and I are in Ubud now, Pemuteran and our illness behind us. We caught a ride with a wonderful couple from Vancouver- rich and retired-good people.

The architecture here is so intriguing- i will draw as much as I can.

Today in Bali there are ceremonies in honor of the goddess of education and knowledge--everyone dressed so nice so colorfully bringing thanks of fruits and cakes to the temples. Ketut's wife returned home with temple offerings to share with the family and gave us some to enjoy-bringht pink and green cakes, oranges, rambustans.

Found a stand selling Mangosteens sweet Shiva and Jesus I thought I would never have them again.

Every culture has so much to teach the other. Seeing the ways people think and dream elsewhere-the diversity is overwhelming- as is the rising tide of Western homogeny.  What a tragedy it would be if this place disappears-the place will be here, but the essence of the place- the whispers, the dreams, the food stuck between teeth, the songs sung under breath- I don't need to witness and photograph these things. I know they exist and that I don't have a place in them and that's okay. I would rather know a dance exists than to see it and have it exist a little less by my seeing it. I don't want to buy empty shells of rituals past. Keep them real, even if that means keeping me out of it. That's not to say travel passive (or not travel at all), rather, seek out a world that thrives without you, and feel honored to be in its presence. One person's ritual is not your entertainment.

All my love,


Monday, March 11, 2013

Something Old

Here's some stuff I was working on before I went to Warm Town (Southern Hemisphere). I'd say they are musings on migration. It's never easy seeing a loved one leave a loved place. I've moved around all my life and now is the first time I'm the one staying behind. It's a strange sensation--being in a space that you equate with people who no longer fill that space with you. So many of my nears and dears have up and left this beautiful city that I have started loving hard. Oh, too many good things in all directions. What a dilemma.

Sky Flight City Goodbye

Something New

Today I head down to Asheville to plot big and hard with my criminal cohort, my Magical girlfriend, studio soulmate, Jackie Maloney. Before I do though, wanted to share with you our latest project. Our alma mater invited us to be a part of a small exhibition, deliciously complicated by the fact that I was in South East Asia and Australia and Jackie was in Asheville, NC.

As part of Kerdieekrdaad for the first time in two years, I proudly present to you,

Spider and Kite

The piece is an open writing desk. There is a chair there, please sit down if you'd like.  

The writing desk is full of postcards, bones, thread, letters, archeological dominoes and feathers. 

It's overflowing, really. 

There is a stack of letters from a circus troupe in Asheville--

filled with constellations and dreams and drawings as delicate and complex as spider legs.  

There are letters from Thailand, Indonesia, Australia--sketches and confessions scribbled on maps from the last town, common epiphanies, justice-hunger, awe.

These letters wait for their recipients here at this writing desk. You can wait here too. We have stamps and empty pages. Add something, write to someone, leave a relic.

The exhibition runs until the 16th.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Something Borrowed

I suppose everything I do has a bit of borrowed in it, but this series has more appropriated images than most. The open mouth comes from these fantastic May Day General Strike posters. It was love at first sight and I stowed four away for the perfect project. I made this series to commemorate Occupy Philadelphia's one year anniversary. They're darker, more political than anything I've done before. It was hard. I let them get ugly. Some things just can't be done up, something shouldn't be said quietly.

What We've Lost, What We're Losing

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Something Blue

I did this small series last year just before I left the country. It started long ago as a giant painting of a blue whale that I tore up, much to Jackie's dismay. I still don't think she's forgiven me, but the last pieces of the monster have found their way into this small study.

Parts of a Whale

Right now I don't have any studio (or bedroom), but I have LOTS to show you all since we last spoke. So here's to more updates!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Valedictorian Speech

Hey all, this is my graduation speech. Just dusting it off.

That first, strange, new year, we all learned how to mix colors and use a band saw. We even built chairs out of cardboard, though many of us weren’t quite sure why. We learned how to fend off sleep, sometimes for days on end, and we learned how to work so that sleep could happen almost every night. We have learned the delightful balance of marijuana and a near-perfect GPA. We have learned and overcome the frustrations of muslin, three- point perspective, CAD and Photoshop. We found friends that will last us the rest of our lives, in smoking courtyards and under cherry trees or splashing through the fountain in the dark hours of the morning.

And now, here we are four years later, creating paintings and gowns and photographs and fonts that our first year selves could not even imagine.

Coming into an art and design school, we obviously knew we’d be learning something, but the lessons we are taking We are taking away extend beyond the classroom and studio.  so many lessons from these last four years. While we have learnedSome of these lessons were taught in classrooms, I have learned from so many people, and I would like to take a moment to recognize a few of them.
There are some lessons I was not expecting learn, teachers in unlikely places, and one piece of advice that ended up becoming

Janet Kaplan taught me the liberating and fundamental truth that “anything can be art.” I’m glad I never have to delve into one of those unending debates again.

Scot Kaylor taught me that everyone makes bad art; it’s not only okay, it’s necessary.

From two very different kinds of teachers, Frank Hyder and Rachel Luthy and Frank Hyder, I learned that nothing is worth not being your self.

From Jackie Maloney I learned that the creative process and love can be the same experience, anand that both artists and friendships can help save the world.

Brit Brennan, one of the great teachers in my life, taught me that caring is never ever a sign of weakness.

I learned from Jonathan Wallis that to start improving the world, we have to start with the part of the world that is around us, within arm’s reach: our friends, our family, our neighborhoods, the river and soil we depend on.

There are three people here today that have helped me constantly, who I will never be able to thank enough. Without question, they are the three hardest working people I know: My dad, tireless and unshakable, and my mom, endlessly giving and always growing.  I have learned from their actions the meaning of true sacrifice and selflessness, although I doubt I have ever been an example of such altruism. And Harry, my partner in crime, strong in every sense of the word,  is, is always teaching me presence and fearlessness.

I could talk at length about any of the contributions these friends and teachers have made on my life.There are so many things I’d like to say to all of you right now. We are all walking away with lessons we have taught each other, our own newly gained insight and I know . While hile I could talk about the importance of hard work, or the necessity of true friends, or even how, oh, I don’t know, how a Valedictorian can be a proud, upstanding potheadthere’s only one message I really want to leave with you today.

It’s something I learned from a professor who used to teach here, a man that many of us know and love, Dr. Art DiFuria. During that disorienting, tumultuous time known as sophomore year I was going through a particularly acute moment of personal crisis.  I was in his office explaining to him why my latest rough draft was going to be late when he told me something I will never forget. He said, “Brianna, being a good person is more important, and harder, than being a good artist.”

Being a good person is more important, and harder, than being a good artist.

It’s an idea that’s easy to forget, especially when we’ve spent the last four years working so hard to develop our craft. , but if you remember anything from my time up here, please have it be this. It is in life as it is in the studio: being a good person requires practice and action, patience and self-forgiveness, keen senses and honesty.

My junior year, I spent some time in Braddock, Pennsylvania, where I volunteered labor to an art-based community project called Transformazium. I helped resalvage construction materials, and dig the foundation for a sustainable community space. This was the first time I saw artistic practices reflecting a resolute value system.

Lilly Yeh, who we are fortunate enough to have with us today, is further proof that this, to live as both a good person and artist, is possible. She has taken her talents and have used them to build a life that is compassionate, empowering, and socially aware.

Now, I’m not asking you to forget you goals and dreams and join the Peace Corp, and this isn’t about all becoming “Lilly Yehs.” All this is is a plea to move forward with conscience, to consider the numerous impacts our everyday artistic actions can have on the world. We are entering fields and industries that have the ability to be both beneficial and harmful to our society and planet.

I mean, I hope by this time you have all realized the huge impact artists and designers have on our world. The transformative power of art is apparent in every trend, cultural movement, and era. We make visible the thoughts, dreams, desires of our civilization. We make the spaces people live in, the clothes they wear, the books they read and the websites they visit. People unite under images; they find comfort and solidarity in images.  As artists and designers all have a profound impact on the people, creatures, and world around us, and it takes hard work to make our impact a good one.

You can make sure the clothes you design aren’t assembled in sweatshops half-way around the world, you can make sure your studio practice has a little material waste as possible. Our valuable time and skills can be given to non-profits, like some of the amazing Graphic Design senior projects. And of course there are hundreds of things that can be done to reduce our damaging impact on the environment.

This is a strange time to be alive, and an especially strange time to be twenty-two and graduating. This is a time when most of the planet and its people , most of the world is sufferingsuffer for our comfort; where thousands die over the disagreements of a handfulfew. Now, more than ever, this “real world” everyone is telling us about, needs us more than ever, and I hope we’re all up for the job.

As we move on to the next stage of our lives, do not let yourselves become apathetic. Please, please, please. The world doesn’t need more apathy, and we are all too talented, too smart, too amazing to stop caring.

Don’t stop making art.

Don’t stop questioning the world around you; it’s the only way to discover how it could be better.

Have you guys seen the stuff in those galleries? Are you aware of what we have accomplished? We are innovative and empowered, and with the courage that is evident in this year’s senior show, we can do so much good.

In the true words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

I love you all, thank you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Beautiful End of The World Project

Hello All,

This is a sneak peak at what I've been doing in the studio since graduation. My new body of work is a stream-of-consciousness collage-based series. I am sourcing all materials from all the paper work I have amassed over four years at art school (which is a lot). This includes not just work that I have made, but text books, DVD covers, postcards, posters, letters, receipts, assignments and sketchbook cutouts--all accumulated, and now appropriated into narrative collages. It's so exciting finding relevant content in work or objects that, when created or aquired, were without content. If you see anything you like, let me know. All smaller pieces (36"x36" to 4"x4") are probably for sale (shameless and unemployed). I am also happy to do commissions or take requests.

Thanks for looking! I always appreciate feedback.