Friday, November 19, 2010


I had never heard of this before: an internet-based way to get funding for creative projects. People make a webpage proposal for a project (film, book, exhibition, etc) they are hoping to do, and request funds from internet benefactors. The benefactors pledge a certain amountof money, which they will only give if the project reaches it's stated monetary goal in a given amount of time. Such a great idea! Artistic funding by the people, connected by the internet.
Check it out:

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Sometime shortly after Halloween last year, I decided that I HAD TO go as a deep sea diver this year. I have always thought old diving masks and diving presses (the hard-exterior type, which can go deeper underwater) are really cool-looking. There are many many different types of mask designs and breathing methods, all created by different people around the world to serve the same basic purpose; keep a human alive while exploring the ocean floor!

Originally my plan was to build the entire thing out of closed-cell foam, but I didn't realize that you can't just buy that kind of foam at Lowe's. I called the fantastic Cory Gilstrap, who was my mentor at the Museum of Outdoor Arts' Design and Build internship. Cory is a puppet master and he taught me and the other interns how to build amazing things (giant puppets, carousel horses, etc) out of this foam. So I called him up as I was wandering around Lowe's and he had a lot of great suggestions for me.
This is my helmet, early on in the process. Cory suggested that rather than try to make a dome using the foam (which it was too late to buy anyways) that instead I use a regular plastic witches' cauldron and some PVC drains. I cut holes in the cauldron and stuck the drains in to be my 'port holes'.

Bronze spraypainted the whole thing...
I also made a trip to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which is an awesome place to get all sorts of random tools, hinges, doo-dads, and other unidentifiable crusty metal things. I gathered a big bag of said things and when I brought them to the counter to check out, the manager said, "What are you doing with all this stuff?!"

I'm building a R-378 Aquatic C02 filtration system, of course! Nert, nert.
Next, very crucial- the neck plate (in real deep-sea divering gear, this and the helmet are all one piece, of course, but I actually needed to be able to breathe). The base for this is heavy Bristol board, plus more bolts and knobs I found at the ReStore, string, and bronze spraypaint.

I also bought a painter's jumpsuit, a terrible cheap plastic thing, but it worked for this purpose. I really wanted to make myself a yellow diver, based upon a distinct memory of a diving outfit I once saw at a marine museum in Oregon . There has been considerable backlash to my wanting to be a yellow diver (ahem, Jason!) but I carried through with the plan anyways.

Here I am outfitted in the entire costume. I attached even more doo-dads onto a belt, and made "weighted" shoes out of cardboard boxes to drag myself down to the ocean floor.
And although I didn't win the costume contest at Balliceaux,a hip bar near here, (which was so crowded and wild I don't even think the judges saw me), I did get a kiss on top of the helmet from Bruce Lee. Hee, hee.
If you are interested in seeing pictures of real deep-sea diving wear, I found this great website during my preparation/ research.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nesting Opportunities

Before: Very bland and boring!

There's a loft thing above the bed that could actually hold a mattress, but it doesn't work well for when you have to get up to pee in the middle of the night. Nonetheless, the loft was ugly, especially on the underside, so I stretched some canvas over the bottom like one would stretch a painters' canvas. Hides the raw beams and catches the dust!

A young girl inside of me must have always wanted a canopy bed, haha! I went a little nuts. I bought fabric and tassels, etc, for the top, and had made those flower lights previously. The blue lamp holds a tealight. My mom and I chose the fabric for my bedspread and throw pillows at SAS in Phoenix. I got the bedspread mostly done before I left and then mom finished and sent it to me. It's a quilt, really- held together with tiny turquoise pom poms on top!
So much cuteness, it's almost embarassing!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hope Ginsburg

(Hope is in white... Photo by Terry Brown)
I have begun working as an artist's assistant/ Sponge HQ Coordinator for Hope Ginsburg. She's a social practice artist who gave a talk and studio visits during my post-bacc program at VCU. I was really intrigued by her work (it's interest in community and non-traditional approaches to art-making, etc) and was happy to find out that she was in need of some help. I have some difficulty explaining what she does, but in essence she is interested in the sharing of knowledge and skills across disciplines and between people. For this process she uses the metaphor of the Sea Sponge, which for a long time was thought to be a plant and not an animal. The Sponge is the only creature that doesn't move, looks the same inside and out, and if wounded, is able to completely regrow itself into a full adult Sponge. Like Sponges holding water, we have the ability to hold large amounts of knowledge within ourselves, and once we learn we can pass on knowledge to others (so they may grow, too).

( Wool felting is also a big part of the Sponge HQ...Photo by Terry Brown)
Hope's recent work has been housed in a room known as the Sponge Headquarters, at the Anderson Gallery. This room is being used for many ongoing and in-progress works including a Sponge Conference, drop-in yoga classes, and wool Felting workshops. I'm helping her with a lot of web-presence stuff, blogging and uploading photos, etc, and probably other stuff as time goes on. Hope is really brilliant and energetic- I've really enjoyed working with her so far. There are many links, here are a few:
Hope's website or the Sponge blog. She also did a project called Colablablab where she enrolled as a VCU student (oh, yes,Hope's a professor at VCU), and she and other art students took a Bio class and Lab together and then made artwork inspired by what they were learning. Totally awesome!

Friday, September 24, 2010

My photoshop class

I'm learning so much in my Photoshop class at the Visual Arts Center, including new ways to tease my sister! heh, heh.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Places that Smell Bad near VCU

View Places that Smell Bad in a larger map
Found this while looking up something on Google maps. This is so funny, and also quite necessary; I have noticed many places around VCU area smelling bad, too. Reminds me of my mom's famous line while touring in China: "Sometimes, there are odors... that make you wish you weren't here."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chris Verene

I found Chris Verene's work when I was browsing Ada Gallery's website (located in Richmond).

"Amber in Step-Daddy's Trailer"
"Dorothy says that when she was a little girl, a star fell on her head."

Chris Verene's website.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

David McKenzie and support for artists (or, Internet Tobogganing #1)

Recently I felt the need to come up with a term for something that occurs when one has some free time (or something to procrastinate on) and is on the internet. I was sitting on the couch with my mom, and after asking her to look up a simple embroidery stitch for me (I was embroidering a pillow) I watched her go from embroidery stitch blogs to a very well established embroidery networking and education site, to lists of books about embroidery, antique books on embroidery, antique and rare books, to finally someone's completely digitized collection of rare books from the 16th century (or so). The moment of awakening came when we were looking at sheet music for a "catch" (another word for a round) and the lyrics were something like "if she has nice eyes, she must also have nice thighs". We decided our experience of rushing full speed ahead into the depths of the internet, following interesting links and losing grip with reality wasn't a singular event, this must happen all the time! Hence Internet Tobogganing. Or Internet Trivia Tobogganing, as you might say if you think you've learned something mildly useful (as, we did; now we know what a Catch is).

Anyways, tonight I just had another unforseen happening of Internet Tobogganing. There is nothing negative about I.T.; in fact, my journey this evening has been quite informative. I started out on Etsy, which led me to a tutorial on how to make sandals , annekata's blog ... and so on. Highlights from the most interesting bumps in the hill:

United States Artists is an organization that promotes artists as individuals and the important role they play in society. It seeks to alter the bizarre paradox that exists in American's view towards art and artists. While 96% of Americans value the arts and are inspired by them, only 27% believed that the artists themselves "contribute 'a lot' to the good of society"(read the essay). I found the site to be really inspiring- a foundation that advocates for artists of all disciplines and hopes to inform people of the crucial role artistic individuals make to enriching the lives of us all. They provide fellowships each year for a handful of well-established artists in each field each year. Very cool.
Dave McKenzie is one artist who received one of the United States Artists fellowships. My professor from the VCU summer program, Michael Jones McKean, had recommended I look at McKenzie's work previously, but I had mispelled his name in google searches. Hooray for Tobogganing, then! McKenzie's work is often conceptual and "explores notions of public space and cultural exchange in relation to the private self" (REDCAT gallery writeup). Perfect person for me to be looking at, no? The same review describes a work where Dave McKenzie prints and distributes a day planner that lists where he'll be and when so that people reading the planner are able to meet up with him. The piece above, titled Self-help: hyperventilation bag, was included in a show that came to Richmond earlier this year (SO bummed I missed it).
This show, called Slightly Unbalanced, featured the work of quite a few big-name artists (and quite a few that I really like, as well) including Sophie Calle (I wrote about her here), Tony Oursler, Louise Borgeoise, Sean Landers and Bruce Nauman. The works in the show deal with psychological concepts such as anxiety, depression and obsession and figuring out what is "normal". Just from reading the curator's introduction on the website, I'm salviating. Where can I get the exhibition catalogue? The show came to the University of Richmond's Joel and Lila Harnett Museum.
Okay. Enough Tobogganing for one night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


20X200 is a website that sells limited edition runs of artist's prints- mostly photography but some painting, etc, too. The smallest print, usually 8X10", only costs $20 and comes in a run of 200 (hence the name). The larger prints get exponentially more expensive.

Resting on a Bush Yijun (Pixy) Liao

Midwife/ Middle School Science Teacher/ San Antonio, Texas/ 3-person household (including dog)/ First week after deciding to eat locally grown vegetables Mark Menjivar

Paris Gregory Krum

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rush Hour

Found this at the Public Art Network blog: artist Joel Kyack puts on puppet shows from the back of his car for people stuck in LA traffic jams. Brilliant!
Read the story here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

VCU Summer Studio Program Final Exhibition

The Summer Studio Program which I have been a part of the past two months is having it's final exhibition at the Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Fine Arts building. The show opened Saturday the 24th, and will stay up until Tuesday the 27th. I am exhibiting a new video work, and will post it here soon!

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Direction: Video

Made this in my very small bathroom in my apartment in Richmond. I am still thinking about personal space and 'fitting in', as well as privacy and the transition from growing up in the spacious south-west to now living in the urban, more densely populated south-east.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Year Letter Project

Hey all! Life has been a bit of a whirlwind- I graduated from Oberlin on May 31st and then immediately moved to Richmond, VA to start a post-bacc class at Virginia Commonwealth University. I'm in my third week of the class now and am really enjoying it. It's really intensive and I hope I am taking as full advantage of it as I can.

One of the projects I am working on right now is a participatory art piece. I have been introduced to Relational Esthetics and Relational art, and have been looking at the work of Harrell Fletcher, Erwin Wurm and Tino Sehgal. I don't really want to go into a long lecture about what all of this is about, but what a lot of what these artists/ ideas have in common is using human interaction as the basis for a work of art.

SO. I am currently inviting people across the country (and, perhaps, the world) to write a letter to themselves, send the letter to me, and then I will return it to them in three years. I will not be opening or reading the letters, I am merely the 'keeper of letters' and will make sure they are not lost and will perhaps be a nice surprise for the writer three years from now. I encourage anyone reading this to write a letter! Please send it to this address:

Three Year Letter Project
419 N Stafford AVE
Richmond, VA 23220

I am also keeping a blog specifically for the project, check it out. Tell your friends/ family/ neighbors/ hairdresser! I'm hoping to get as many letters as possible.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Perfection is a Trifle Dull

The year of the senior studio program culminated in a thesis exhibition on April 9th, 2010. I showed work with Lucy Engleman, a sculptor and video artist. Above is our show poster, designed by Eliza Koch.

Below is my artist statement for the works I've been creating this year. Note- if you came to the show, this is a different artist statement than the one you saw there. As of right now, I like the following one better.

Ever since I was a small child, I have had intense physiological and emotional reactions in crowded public places. Until I spent a semester in Beijing, China in the Spring of 2009, I thought I had successfully dealt with these feelings. I arrived during the Chinese New Year and my first tourist excursion was to a Temple Festival. I have never in my life been someplace so densely packed with human bodies, bodies like a river or a stampede. I literally had to clutch my friends or risk being torn apart from them by the crowd. I was incredibly overwhelmed and needed to leave. The emotion I felt during that experience was the most intense of my entire five months in China.
Since returning to the United States, I have worked to visually express that emotion and the related thoughts it conjures up. I am investigating issues of human density, populations, and personal identity within a crowd. While drawing and sculpting literally thousands of people, it is impossible to not ponder issues of human consumption: the physical space we take up, the air we breathe, and the waste we leave behind.

Show photos

Here is the completed Tags piece- with me standing in it for staffage. I wanted the tags, filled with faces, to come around the viewer and feel like a hug or at least give the impression of a densely populated space.
Detail of some of the paintings. I started this project in January of this year and painted nearly 500 tags with gouache. Each tag only had one person painted on each one.This piece was on the wall perpendicular to the tags. I made 8 'dioramas' out of paper and hung them on strings. Poking through the outside of the box were metal pins. Most were folded down, but others stuck straight out, creating a somewhat uninviting exterior.
Each of the pins were actually part of a 'pin ticket' (a tiny 11/2" by 2" card) that I had done drawings on and then pushed through to the outside of the box.
Most of the pin tickets (which say "Sale Price" at the top) also had tiny pen drawings on them- many of people, either singular or together, but some of feet, bananas, pets, bikes, and other everyday objects. At the back of each box was a mirror, so when the viewer looks inside the box they see a reflection of the interior space, making it look twice as big. They also see their own eye reflected in the mirror, making the viewer become a part of the work.

The third piece I included in the show were the clay faces that I have been working on since October 2009. Inspired by Daumier caricature busts, I made 40 faces out of air-drying clay.

A close up and a side view. This winter I started making some of the faces smaller, or 'submerged', so they didn't have ears showing, or only a nose and some eyes. I was interested in making the faces look like they were emerging from water, but despite many, many tries, I was unable to make that happen for the show. In the end, I'm glad I just showed them how they were without trying to add any other materials.
Each face was unique. Some of them were silly, like the one above, but most had average expressions of content, happiness or confusion.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Installation of tags piece

These photos are what Fisher Gallery looked like at the start of the installation process for my senior studio exhibition. My show, titled "Perfection is a Trifle Dull" opened April 9th, 2010 (just getting up photos now though, heh) and stayed up until April 12th.
This is my show partner, Lucy Engleman, and our professor Susan Umbenhour having a seat on Lucy's sculpture in order to provide pressure to help glue adhere properly.

These pictures are from the two weeks prior to my show and show the installation process of the Tags piece. I first built a frame out of chicken wire and painstakingly tied 1,200 tags onto it. The hallway that you see was about 5 feet wide and 8 feet deep. I painted many of the tags (which are roughly the size of an index card) with portraits of people- some of them I painted while looking at pictures or people walking by my studio window, and others were just people I imagined.

More pictures of the final piece to come soon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nick van Woert

Interesting sculpture by Nick van Woert, found on butdoesitfloat. His work could get gimmick-y real fast, but based on everything he has on his website, he isn't just a one-trick pony.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Theora writes about Public Art

During the Fall semester and the month of January, I've been writing essays for my Chinese class and East Asian Studies capstone project. The essays are in Chinese (of course) and are about contemporary Public Art in the US and China. I am currently posting these essays on a Chinese blogging site; I am hoping that some Chinese people might find it and learn a little about art they might not otherwise have access to. I have toyed with the idea of posting these essays here, too, but there are very few people who read this blog, and even fewer that can read Chinese. If you are interested in taking a look at the blog, click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nanomuseum reopens in Beijing

The Nanomuseum, a conceptual museum idea that is housed in a folding 2x3 inch frame with space for two artworks, was began in 1994. Several exhibitions occured, including the work of Gabriel Orozco and Gilbert and George (above). The final exhibit was to be put together by artist Douglas Gordon, but he lost the tiny museum at a bar. Hmm.
Now, the space in Beijing, a gallery and creative organization in Jianwai SOHO has proudly reopened the Nanomuseum as of Jan. 1st, 2010. The first exhibition will be organized by Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu.
To see the official blogpost about the grand opening, click here, and scroll down to read the english.