notes

 
 
 
 

In thinking about moving oracles, necessarily in tow are also questions about why human beings have so many systems for asking questions. in part I think, it has to do with wanting to reach out and be touched by Other - be it Spirit or spirit, that spark of connection satiates a kind of thirst which has long dogged our human travels.

1. Is there such a thing as a (current) artifact of contemporary culture?

2. Must an artifact be old? Or used?

3. How is artifact different than remains, remnant, sample or evidence?

4. Is an artifact dependent on being removed from context/location for insight or interpretation?

5. Historically, cults have used objects or rituals to control resources* - what is the approximation of such cult/objects/rituals at present? And which resources are successfully controlled by them?

6. Archaeologists have long struggled to discern the differences between objects of cult and every day*. Is this questions really just another way of asking questions 1 -4 above?

7. If "objects in archaeological contexts rely on place or landscape to give clues"*, does the landscape in turn  want/not want objects in certain places? Is it neutral? How would we know if we asked?

8. Does bone/object casting use artifacts of present day to interpret situations and answer questions? If so, see question 1.

(*Archaeologies of cult : essays on ritual and cult in Crete in honor of Geraldine C. Gesell / edited by Anna Lucia D'Agata and Aleydis Van de Moortel.)

So all of these are questions came up as I was thinking about object oracles (versus oracles which inhabit people, or inhabit landscapes and are read, etc.)

-slaughter bone oracles

-pyromantic furculamancy

-Yoruab: tobi

-shona:  hakata

-mongolian: shagai

-persian: standing bone oracle

-british fortune telling dice

-gypsy domino oracle

- zulu sangoma

-rootworkers

-diloggun divination (Santeria)

-creatures who, when consulted, "don't make living sounds"

I think object oracles speak to our collecting and naming nature as human beings. Especially at present when we're given messages to surround ourselves with things, usually of small size, to spirit around with us, to consult and rely upon. In many ways telephones and computers and tablets and GPS and buttons that talk to Google or Amazon are all oracles of their own. They gain power in their proximity to us, we look to them to guide us, inform us, educate us. It is a shame, therefore, that they are not of any inherent use or value spiritually. It is a shame that they aren't beautiful, don't have unique personalities, faces, vocal timbres.

I'd like to address that, I think. How might modern day object oracles look if we imbued them with beauty and power reflective only of our own values and questing spirits? What would make us want to hold them, touch them, worry them, bring them from here to there, bear them and bond with them? Thinking thinking...

 

 

studio snaps 5

in response to wanting to disperse the fragments of the work for the show, i've named and ordered all the pieces that seem to want to leave my studio. below are the circular discs which have single holes punched out that vaguely align with the star atlas. Each has a unique title, a unique surface, and is born from the living skin of its mother map.

 
 the map's children, verso

the map's children, verso

 
 the map's children, recto

the map's children, recto

these little packets contain all the stars punched from the map - the empty spaces. these too are uniquely named, but do not match up with discs above, because they are not surface fragments, they are the elements on the constellations. i haven't decided why they are essentially so different, and i'm not sure it's necessary to. 

 the folded up star packets

the folded up star packets

 the stars themselves

the stars themselves

the last envelopes contain fragments from the templates used to punch the holes into the star map. they are neither remnants of map skin, nor living stars from the constellations. they are both older than that (the guides for the constellations) and younger (physically made after the map was completed). These are not named, but numbered: Remnants 1 - 19.

 a remnant

a remnant

 the suite of remnants

the suite of remnants

 

wabi sabi 49

it's been a minute...

 stacking omens

stacking omens

 cold drawing, playground

cold drawing, playground

 moving drawing, the slide, playground

moving drawing, the slide, playground

 chiaroscuro, the other side of the slide, playground

chiaroscuro, the other side of the slide, playground

 some frozen little stalagtites

some frozen little stalagtites

 

the names

the discard discs:

the singing spider

the lightening load

the amputee

the raft rushes

the traveling pot

the future voice

the files

the kindling

the overwatered

the cold hearth

the silent whale

the yawing pit

the clangorous shears

the crouched cat

the wailing pail

the mandible

the braided river

the standard

the sudden peace

the leached lakebed

the brush burners' sons

the waterclock

the flower-hung gallows

the coughed up bone

the buried letter

the white ribbon

the manacles

the burning house

the very safe

the ______ despite all odds

the lesser O

the great O

the type galley

the remarkable victory

the marked door

the great magpie

the lost and delirious expedition

the carrion crow

the locked-away riches

the pendulum

the calipers

the stilts

the asterism stars

the sewers choked with gold

the stranger obscured by dust clouds

the cacograph

the crack beneath the door

penance/penants

the tilted boat at low tide

the wet socks

the manhole

the vacant chrysallis

the gold tooth

the crooked road lines

the broken lead

the rutted road

the brick kiln

the solemn serpent

the suspicious hatstand

the last sheaf

the first sheaf

the eiderdown

the caged cricket

the silvery blight

the bravery

the callous disregard

the scapegoat

the fanged and famished water plant

the barbed mallet

the cracking cold

the fringe which wishes you nothing but ill

the peat fires

the granting of all wishes

the ermine

the victory

the birdmask

the bellows

the topmost

the loaf

the persimmon

the knuckles

the false ____________.

the lame mare

the hen eaten by foxes

the coyote

the halophyte

the throat of the singing dog

the wick | nick of time

the blind kestrel

the songbird stunned by a window

the coldfront

the slag heap

druthers

the fading

the trapline

the false humility

the malevolent horn

the salted furrows

the superfluous limb

the black pool with white moths

the broken stone ring

the changeling

the baleful omen

the stillborn (but) the pause

the straw heap

the pit disguised as a pit

the first gray hair

the wet flints

the miraculous mending

the puncture wound

the ground strike

the emergency dwelling

the beacon

the limbs bowed by rickets

the horse with the strangles

the sack remedy

the lesser ravenous fire

the great ravenous fire

the wind that unseats and ruins picnics

the burnt bones

the agate

the scrying glass

a buoyant anchor

the loose canon

the mending wasps

the waterlogged book

the rotten ice

the wrung rag

the fizzing tablet that may or may not be poison

the turtle who snaps and hangs on

the braided river

the swift conveyance

the well-oiled gate

the fire pouring from the window

the salt panner

the ever-so-slightly off

the furthest marker

the cracked mirror

the will-o-the-wisp

the casting bones

the velvet miracle

the yolk

the circle ghost

verga, the weeping mountain cloud

the milk white light

the haywain

the sacred oil

the whippoorwill

the spokes

the mournful fir grove

the misdrawn map

the winged trees

the spared

the tree bent under snow

the tinsnips

rejoice, spirit

...there is something quietly percolating about the integration of spirit into drawing. Not Spirit, with a capital S, not spirit infused with theological concerns of Western religion, but spirit, as in the animated and innate activating engine in all sentient things. I frequently feel like my drawings are sentient creatures, -- that i provide them circumstances in which to flourish, fail, fight or the like. But, in reading David Abram, who writes so poignantly (in Spell of the Sensuous) about just what spirit is, I feel the ideas about "inanimate" objects possessing some strain of non-human intelligence really resonate with me. I am looking always for venues to step back from anthropocentrism, for dynamics that let the human-driven constraints of perceived control or understanding to be overshadowed by something Else. Anything Else. And to defer to deep knowing of other creatures, other things, is so refreshing, so absolutely joyful, it makes me long for my own kind of permeable, sheerness. I would like so dearly to become thin and translucent, and to hang my husk of person-ness on the nonhuman architecture of my surroundings. What bliss to turn off my feeble humanity for a while, and let Other - spirit - take over - the pallet-yards , the fencelines, the thin cries of coyotes, the scraping resonance of a metal chair being pushed away from a table in a library - all of these things steeped in Knowing that is not Human Knowing. Rejoice, therefore.

perforated.jpg
crop.jpg
 

wabi sabi 49

constellations 

 embossed

embossed

 and debossed

and debossed

 

studio snaps 4

Getting ready for my upcoming exhibition at the Utah MOCA in March. It is a(n ongoing) culmination of all these thoughts about star maps, atlases, asterisms, navigating, naming, grasping and finding peace with being totally unmoored and drifting.

Photo Mar 04, 1 37 11 PM.jpg
 
Photo Mar 04, 1 34 31 PM.jpg
 
Photo Mar 04, 1 37 31 PM.jpg
 

inspired by a good friend who has reinforced a few things - firstly the power of aparagraha (google it), and also that exhibitions can be forums for allowing pieces of "considered" work to be taken away in bits and pieces. --which absolutely appeals to that innate part of me that is attached to both giving and giving up. so the show will have remnants, scraps, discards available to be spirited away by viewers.  think:

 thusly

thusly

 
 or more specifically

or more specifically

 
Photo Mar 04, 1 34 31 PM.jpg
 
Photo Mar 04, 2 19 12 PM.jpg
 

Mostly I am looking forward to all things being done, tidied up, flattened, and left to rest before installation. Show opens 23 March. 

on straw and urban haystacks

haystacks and straw have been finding their way into work lately. symbolically, iconically. these things have crept onto the work of their own accord, without any overt effort on my part.  when i think about hay and straw, two things stand out as significant. first, i think of haystacks as places where things can be hidden or lost- concealment that differs depending on intention.  i think of them as places where secrets convene and rest. lovers, treasure, letters, needles. secondly i think about them in terms of economy- what they say about the relative plenty afforded to some and the gleaned leftovers left to others. and that they are made, literally, from nourishment - reflections of good farming or a land exalted, and gold in color - affirm that they are a symbol of both safety and fear.

they are physical representations of enough. they are labor intensive to make (both to draw and to construct): an energy and engine of line making (pencil lines, or the gestures of arms heaving forkfuls over and over). and though they do not feed any one creature per se, they are nevertheless powerful in their own squat ways,  in their abilities to act as landmarks or monoliths. to signal a pause. a coda. and of course, as often happens, i wonder what our modern equivalent of a haystack is, as few of us pass haystacks on our daily comings and goings.

there are enough signifiers for enough seemingly everywhere we look - litter, food waste, enormous bodies. but the kind of enough i mean isn't so much about having an abundance of meaningful objects - electronics or fancy cars or designer handbags - it's more bare than that. simpler. i was thinking about something that existed in heaps, and rotted quietly. something that reflected the pristine ideal we all have about what enough might look like if it were given form and substance. maybe white, gleaming, heaped. and so... Urban Haystacks.

 

 once white. 

once white. 

 once plentiful

once plentiful

 now a nuisance, and sometimes call for despair.

now a nuisance, and sometimes call for despair.

 

wabi sabi 48

walking is the surest way to cross paths with omens, and thus for new drawings to be made - at least in my particular practice.

 older footprints

older footprints

 

wind is excellent for drumming up artifacts of all kinds. most alluring are those things that squarely do not belong bumping into those things that do.

 one flourescent gob of wintergreen gum, a rubber band, a maple leave, a maple seed plane.

one flourescent gob of wintergreen gum, a rubber band, a maple leave, a maple seed plane.

 
 that moss in particular definitely does not grow round these parts. and where it came from in the midst of an urban office park one cannot be sure.

that moss in particular definitely does not grow round these parts. and where it came from in the midst of an urban office park one cannot be sure.

 

but too, are those things that snag the mundane just slightly. things that do not make sense, or whose provenance seems puzzling...

 not a drawing, but glue from an old sign. Incidentalism as its most pure.

not a drawing, but glue from an old sign. Incidentalism as its most pure.

 
 some old enthusiasm.

some old enthusiasm.

 
 definitely not a trench.

definitely not a trench.

 
 in a restaurant window. Possibly where a very small hoodlum crept behind a dinner booth and made haste with chalk from the outdoor sandwich board. Not incidental, but certainly pure.

in a restaurant window. Possibly where a very small hoodlum crept behind a dinner booth and made haste with chalk from the outdoor sandwich board. Not incidental, but certainly pure.

 

stirs, rushes.

Feeling particularly attuned to small shifts and disturbances in the air. This is natural in the spring time, but this year, here, winter and spring have not followed their usual courses. Winter was absent and now looms and hangs with a cold that feels unseasonable. 

 wall constellations, the Rose Establishment, SLC.

wall constellations, the Rose Establishment, SLC.

 

But these small disturbances are productive, like tiny bellows on a flame that needs new fuel.

 Gladiolus, someone's great misfortune - or the great fortune of the sidewalk. Either way.

Gladiolus, someone's great misfortune - or the great fortune of the sidewalk. Either way.

 

Thinking these days about straw work. That is -- any sort of tangible expression borne from the remains of a harvest - fruitful or otherwise. Many traditions, notably the Hopi and particularly those of Scottish and Irish origin, dictate the making of corn dollies or corn mothers; little figures assembled in the harvest fields from the last sheaves of grain. They are relics - both of history and of a growing season, and they are traditionally brought inside, hung over the hearth and tended to. A corn dolly reminds the household of both hunger and fullness.  They simultaneously signify satiety and the risk of famine. And they are fed, honored, respected, kept dry and free of burrowing worms and mites. What is our equivalent today? What sort of form do we glean from the last evidence of plenty to help us bear quiet hunger? Thinking thinking...

Photo Feb 18, 9 08 48 PM.jpg
 
 
 
 granary, Sudan, (unable to find image credit)

granary, Sudan, (unable to find image credit)

 
 
 meoto-iwa, The Wedded Rocks, a sacred site in Japan depicting the marriage of two gods. Yeesh...way too good,

meoto-iwa, The Wedded Rocks, a sacred site in Japan depicting the marriage of two gods. Yeesh...way too good,

 

studio snaps

in the studio, thinking and nesting.  bringing in color and soft light. bringing in forced heat. trying to wring some sort of cogent narrative out of all the scraps and bits and bobs of ideas that are ever-whirling around. 

which brings us to asterism(s).

asterism - 

a prominent pattern or group of stars, typically having a popular name but smaller than a constellation.

a group of three asterisks (⁂) drawing attention to following text.

______

not quite a constellation, not quite fully formed. the definition leaves out a few questions to my mind - such as, what number makes an asterism big enough? does an asterism deserve an associated story or narrative? does an asterism twinkle dully in a person's astrology? does an asterism always whisper, always just point to 'following text' or can it be a text of itself? what draws attention to an asterism? 

 

Photo Feb 08, 2 27 48 PM.jpg

so i answered myself - an asterism is a truncated aggregate. an asterism is a sentence fragment, a pause, a stutter. it contains parts of stories, but not whole ones. an asterism is the conjunction of many ideas in the murky expanse of space, and accordingly meaning deteriorates along the edges. an asterism draws attention to other asterisms by virtue of its irregular sense of perspective, depth, composition, or otherwise fractured storyline. an asterism is a poem, or a hot mess of word salad. either way, interesting, no? for a little while.

 some frost heaves and doe hooves, or maybe upright deer in the Underworld? a plumb line, a divining pendulum.

some frost heaves and doe hooves, or maybe upright deer in the Underworld? a plumb line, a divining pendulum.

 a straw figure. more on those ideas later. fodder from failed harvests, or nourishment gleaned after the fields have been harvested. a pure, bleached, itching medium to connect those working the land to the Larger Other. 

a straw figure. more on those ideas later. fodder from failed harvests, or nourishment gleaned after the fields have been harvested. a pure, bleached, itching medium to connect those working the land to the Larger Other. 

 a bannerman lacking luster. a penant supported by something discarded - dregs. all the rivers were dragged. twice. what were they looking for? who? why? was it winter? were the banks razor sharp with ice? was anything ever found? all good questions for that asterism.

a bannerman lacking luster. a penant supported by something discarded - dregs. all the rivers were dragged. twice. what were they looking for? who? why? was it winter? were the banks razor sharp with ice? was anything ever found? all good questions for that asterism.

 

wabi sabi 47, denver again

denver, again. 

 on a wing

on a wing

 some errant electrical wire, an alley.

some errant electrical wire, an alley.

 a plaidly sliced up sidewalk, Lawrence street.

a plaidly sliced up sidewalk, Lawrence street.

 some baroque line drawings, also on Lawrence.

some baroque line drawings, also on Lawrence.

 incidental weaving, the Denver Botanic Gardens.

incidental weaving, the Denver Botanic Gardens.

 winter light on ice.

winter light on ice.

 winter ice out of the light.

winter ice out of the light.

 some steaming backlight bamboo, clattering nicely.

some steaming backlight bamboo, clattering nicely.

 bumping shadows, Larimer.

bumping shadows, Larimer.

 a strange figural configuration of reflections, near Union Station.

a strange figural configuration of reflections, near Union Station.

 take note - here, and also here. Larimer Street.

take note - here, and also here. Larimer Street.

 some wavy window light paint, 16th street.

some wavy window light paint, 16th street.

 the trekking trajectories of parking garage lights, near the Denver Art Museum.

the trekking trajectories of parking garage lights, near the Denver Art Museum.

 

wabi sabi 46, the great salt lake

in Utah, this lake is our heritage and birthright. it's a funny analogy really- to be born of a place known for a lake, unfed and dwindling. a lake so saline and still that only the very small, the very brave, or the very stoic choose to dwell here.

 if you are inclined to read the omens in all things, vast tomes of experiences and notations crop up everywhere. and because the landscape is so desolate, so quiet, so devoid of obvious fecundity, every movement, every sound sound, every sprouting thing because immensely powerful and virtuous. 

if you are inclined to read the omens in all things, vast tomes of experiences and notations crop up everywhere. and because the landscape is so desolate, so quiet, so devoid of obvious fecundity, every movement, every sound sound, every sprouting thing because immensely powerful and virtuous. 

 this is true in the evidence of the human-made. (ring stones being things we cannot help but make, and have made for thousands of years.)

this is true in the evidence of the human-made. (ring stones being things we cannot help but make, and have made for thousands of years.)

 and the evidence of a non-human making. in particular trappings of death are everywhere, - bones washed clean and shining, burnished by sun and wind and cleaned by the bite of salt.

and the evidence of a non-human making. in particular trappings of death are everywhere, - bones washed clean and shining, burnished by sun and wind and cleaned by the bite of salt.

 and salt abounds. it rests a a crust over anything near the water that remains still...

and salt abounds. it rests a a crust over anything near the water that remains still...

 ...perpetual ice in the desert. (though in fact these are ice crystals, as sometimes in the very cold months, salt and ice reveal their differences only when touched. melting coolness. or burning.

...perpetual ice in the desert. (though in fact these are ice crystals, as sometimes in the very cold months, salt and ice reveal their differences only when touched. melting coolness. or burning.

 in some ways it is very like a beach - the same patterns of wind and weather wear down the lake shores. the same sandy shrines to the past lives of creatures still humbly dot the strand.

in some ways it is very like a beach - the same patterns of wind and weather wear down the lake shores. the same sandy shrines to the past lives of creatures still humbly dot the strand.

 but in other ways it is unlike the beach at all. for one, there are no waves, no sound, no marine smells. the water burns, and rises and falls only slowly depending on snow or rain. 

but in other ways it is unlike the beach at all. for one, there are no waves, no sound, no marine smells. the water burns, and rises and falls only slowly depending on snow or rain. 

 and that lack of movement, is prime breeding ground for sludges and algaes of many kinds.

and that lack of movement, is prime breeding ground for sludges and algaes of many kinds.

Photo Feb 01, 10 15 29 AM.jpg
 altars are easy to make, because everything is precious.

altars are easy to make, because everything is precious.

 especially the damaged things

especially the damaged things

Photo Feb 01, 10 37 20 AM.jpg
 

Wabi Sabi 45

sometimes walking through areas where children abound necessarily puts us at the threshold of excellent found compositions and drawings. whether or not there is instance of a little human hand or not, there just seems to be a quality in the air, a sense of deliberation and organization that is particularly vibrant and joyful. 

 love omens

love omens

 possibly a kind of perforated pangaea 

possibly a kind of perforated pangaea 

 the best kind of hooligan drawing

the best kind of hooligan drawing

 little house, little light

little house, little light

 lithomancy, - or, well, bark-mancy. the central oracle, the paint chip.

lithomancy, - or, well, bark-mancy. the central oracle, the paint chip.

 a beautiful phosphorescence, ultimately stepped on.

a beautiful phosphorescence, ultimately stepped on.

 whose constellations are those?

whose constellations are those?

 

wabi sabi 44

stuck sometimes. trying to look for the profound can become contrived or brittle. a good strategy has been to let my guard down, to squint around and hope nothing leaps out (otherwise, I reckon, I'll be imposing profundity, I argue with myself). And in those times, large swathes of light some tipping in...

 thusly.

thusly.

 or incidental cartography -- possibly a new phenomena?

or incidental cartography -- possibly a new phenomena?

 or a color that frankly does not belong comes wanging across the street, slantwise.

or a color that frankly does not belong comes wanging across the street, slantwise.

 or some new stick-language evolves

or some new stick-language evolves

 Another incidental map, I think. 

Another incidental map, I think. 

 and lastly, despite cringing, some really beautiful mold.

and lastly, despite cringing, some really beautiful mold.

 giraffe mold, I was told, by a very dear friend. Though I posited cheetah.

giraffe mold, I was told, by a very dear friend. Though I posited cheetah.

 

wabi sabi 43

trying to remain ever- and newly-vigilant about the fleeting moments of rapturous beauty all around. some days I see anew things I tread on often (The Bakery floor, below) and others its the old-standby: Transcendent Morning Sunbeams. Today: both!

 
Photo Jan 14, 10 05 31 AM.jpg
 

magpie altars 3

more juxtapositions calling into question, as usual, what Collections means - what kind of austere deliberation is implied. Why Are These Things Here?

 studio snap, a wall, from left the arm of a sweater from a loved and now-elsewhere friend, the Usual broomstraws, Eleni's breakfast efforts, Eleni's censorship of Trump appointees, a beloved broom and a far less beloved dust pan

studio snap, a wall, from left the arm of a sweater from a loved and now-elsewhere friend, the Usual broomstraws, Eleni's breakfast efforts, Eleni's censorship of Trump appointees, a beloved broom and a far less beloved dust pan

 All the items that are necessary to have on hand daily -- the casting stones, a pilfered Wabi Sabi napkin (thanks San Francisco), some moonstone eggs, palo santo charcoal, many built and broken studies on vessels and teeth, and a much-loved tiny white rubber rat with a tag that reads "This is a Tiny White Rat."

All the items that are necessary to have on hand daily -- the casting stones, a pilfered Wabi Sabi napkin (thanks San Francisco), some moonstone eggs, palo santo charcoal, many built and broken studies on vessels and teeth, and a much-loved tiny white rubber rat with a tag that reads "This is a Tiny White Rat."

 up closer: a passage from Lev Grossman, some very dull pruning sheers, a jawbone, several tassels and coins, a paper model of a rashy little baby and the frail and far reaching arms of a doggedly persistent rose geranium.

up closer: a passage from Lev Grossman, some very dull pruning sheers, a jawbone, several tassels and coins, a paper model of a rashy little baby and the frail and far reaching arms of a doggedly persistent rose geranium.

 

wabi sabi 42

found trajectories

 incidental abacus, the bakery, SLC

incidental abacus, the bakery, SLC

 incidental Rothko studies, the alley, SLC

incidental Rothko studies, the alley, SLC

 some actual crossroads, in close proximity to a pump track, Foothills

some actual crossroads, in close proximity to a pump track, Foothills

 

wabi sabi 41 / some kind of manifesto

what can we know in three seconds? (how much? to what extent? how accurately?) a (set of) very good question(s) posed to me by a curator yesterday. 

still trying to puzzle out this fascination with remnants and discards. below are a series of accidents - well, arguably the third isn't so much accident as consequence - but i would argue that almost no one has given each incident three entire seconds. but when they are scooped out of context and pasted in a viewfinder it is easy to give them three seconds and then some. my interests these days lies in glorifying the overlooked and my mission is to make the viewfinder an unnecessary mechanism. what would be different about us, our neighbors, our communities, our environments, if we were able to fully give ourselves over to looking, contemplating, receiving the impact of the fierce beauty around us? what muscle would it exercise? would that kind of visual training allow us to look at our non-human world with a different kind of empathy? would contemplating the state of politics and the larger contemporary human condition cultivate universal compassion?  and would evolving in that way help the people and places around us to receive (from us therefore) support and camaraderie and bolster feelings of well-being? arguably it could.

 magnificently and accidentally composed. and then run over. in an alley. 

magnificently and accidentally composed. and then run over. in an alley. 

 beautifully and accidentally drawn. and then reported to maintenance for repairs.

beautifully and accidentally drawn. and then reported to maintenance for repairs.

 cast in a fit of festivity of some kind. and then very difficult to sweep up. now possibly causing digestive distress to the birds who forage by the dumpster nearby. but very sparkly.

cast in a fit of festivity of some kind. and then very difficult to sweep up. now possibly causing digestive distress to the birds who forage by the dumpster nearby. but very sparkly.