Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Intersections, Cross Sections, Moments in Time

Greetings, everyone! We are definitely in the last days of October and here in South Dakota, temperatures are still unseasonably warm, it seems to me. Memory is faulty, though, and it occurs to me that perhaps I say this every year! Most of the leaves are on the ground, but still a good number on the trees, displaying all manner of beautiful fall gorgeousness.We had a road trip to Minnesota last weekend and admired the colors in the landscape along the St. Croix River that divides Minnesota from Wisconsin. Autumn is definitely a favorite time of year.

In my last post, I mentioned the idea of intersections and how at any moment we find ourselves reflected in the crossing of time with place. As in...you are here. We are crossing a river of time that moves swiftly from a past, through us in the present and on to the future. You can't hold it and there is no stopping it, as the current is swift. But something in the tiny daily drawing I made yesterday made me think about this a little differently.

Moments like this remind me why it is so important for me to engage in the practice of making the daily drawings. My best thinking, my best insights come through my hands. As I made this deceptively simple drawing, I was reminded of tree rings, which are a kind of mirror that reflect time and place. 

All manner of things affect the growth of a tree, all of which are reflected in the pattern of the trees rings. Rain patterns, temperature, conditions of crowding, insects and more leave their mark...a reflection of time and place in the cross section of a tree. 

This lovely photo below led me an interesting site, Urban Remains, that reclaims, recycles and documents antique building materials in Chicago. There is a fascinating blog that reveals Eric Nordstrom's intense interest in the history of these building materials and the other artifacts that are unearthed. I am heading back there to investigate further....porcelain, 19th century nails, ancient wood, all beautifully photographed and documented. This site is all about the intersections and cross sections, revealing lost moments in time. There is a lesson here connected to remembering and forgetting, even as we pause to acknowledge our place in the flow of history.
Enjoy the rest of your week....cheers!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Crossing the River

I've been thinking a lot about another book I recently read, one that I will cherish for a long time to come. Nine Ways To Cross A River by Akiko Busch is a beautifully written tale of swimming across rivers (nine of them to be exact) both literally and metaphorically. While her ventures in seeking out and navigating particular rivers to swim across is fascinating, what most resonates for me is the metaphor of the river, the notion of the crossing and negotiating the current. 

We are each engaged in navigating the river throughout our lives. Maybe because I live on the Missouri (seen below), the river is always present in my life and in my work as a metaphor for the journey we each undertake. Lately, I've come to think of the importance of any particular moment in our lives as an intersection of time and place. And, if we imagine that our life, from birth to death, is the crossing of the river from one side to the other, then our location in that journey is met with the waters that are flowing downstream, from the past to the future. This is where we find ourselves at any moment, navigating the current. Sometimes the current is so strong it threatens to take us under, in others we find ourselves swept downstream during our crossing. And yet, we long for those moments when we can cross without struggle, able to relax and enjoy the view, completely in the flow. Our crossing encompasses all these experiences and more, all of which are difficult to articulate.

I've begun what might become a series of drawings about this idea of the intersection, finding ourselves a particular point in time and in place. Below is a tiny snippet of one of the drawings....really just a layering of marks, lines that come to resemble flow...possibly the flow of a river, even without trying to draw the flow of a river...if that makes sense. This is just the beginning of this layered mark making....I will see where it takes me as lines build, one on top of the other.

I think the inspiration for this notion came to me from glancing over at one of the daily drawings I'd made the day before, as seen below. This reminds me of the importance of the daily drawings and the fact that they are made without thinking, without trying....the only effort is in keeping the hand moving until I feel the moment of making is over. Because it is completely internal and comes from a place without language, I sometimes see patterns and other things that trigger new thoughts and ways of seeing. We all operate from this place throughout our lives in ways we don't realize...but more on that another time!

Now, it is time for me to get back to work, juggling the school work with the studio work. I will say that the studio is definitely gaining the upper hand! I hope you are finding yourself in the flow of your particular river, not struggling against a strong current. 

I will leave you with this quote from W. H. Auden, referenced in Nine Ways to Cross a River. 
"Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings." 

Thanks for reading...it gives me cheer to know you are out there!

Monday, October 12, 2015

So Many Books, So Little Time

I know there are other things I should be reading related to school, but can't help squeezing in time for some other finds. Here are the latest items in my reading repertoire!

I  just finished this delightful book by a wonderful author from here in the midwest, John T. Price. Daddy Long Legs: The Natural Education of a Father, is another excellent memoir from this author, that combines humor, with a strong connection to place and the poignancy of everyday life. There are definitely laugh-out-loud moments, even when you are all alone in the house and with no one to share the humor!

In my ongoing effort to connect my interests in food, in the land and to the place where I find myself (rural South Dakota), I have been delving into ever more serious topics. I have to say that if you haven't seen the film, Food Inc., well it will give you some things to think about and may very well change the way you view the simplest act of going to the grocery store. Since seeing that, I've been broadening my horizons and now have checked out from the library two books that have been on my one-of-these-days reading list: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.

It's all a bit serious, I know, but everything I read becomes food and nourishment that ends up in my work in the studio. Along with that, I'm trying to be more proactive in life, working harder to understand what seems most perplexing and learning to make more intentional choices. I'm overwhelming myself here...I do think I might seek out a can't-put-down novel for balance (any recommendations?). Meanwhile, I must now tend to Chapters 5 and 6 in Nonprofit Leadership and Management for my class.

Happy reading...see you soon!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Greetings Friends!

It is nearing the middle of October and I am in my last semester of graduate school, finishing up my degree in Adult and Higher Education at USD. So, what's next? That's the question running on a playback loop in my head! I don't know for sure, but what I do know is that I am turning my attention slowly, but surely, back to the studio. This space has gone from a place for creating visual pieces to one dedicated to writing and reading, but now it is in transition once again. I will graduate in December, a year and a half after I began. As with any journey like this, much has changed, in what I know and understand, as well as in how I see the world and my place within it. I am looking forward to watching these changes unfold onto the paper in the studio.

In the meantime, I have a couple of things to share. I am grateful to have my transition ushered in with a show scheduled for mid-February down the road at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. Just the kind of thing I need to spur my energy for creative work in the studio! I'll keep you posted along the way as new work unfolds.

Last week, I was fortunate to be part of an exciting and magical event exhibition event in Sioux Falls, SD. This small exhibition featured a group of established women artists held in a 1906 downtown building, which is in the process of total renovation. The building has been gutted and is down to the bare concrete structure....let's just say the space was rugged....and without any electricity....nothing more than a shell. In fact, the building once served as bomb shelter. That space was transformed by a lot of hard work and vast amounts of candlelight into the most elegant exhibition venue I have ever been a part of. I love that something can be so rough and so elegant simultaneously. As the evening wore on and the daylight outside faded, the space slowly transformed into one of pure magic!

Below are some photos taken from that Bombshell(ter) show. The next to the last photo has a few of my pieces from the show, which some of you may recognize from posts in days gone (way) by. I'm  happy that the Nocturne piece on the left has found a new permanent home! The last photo in this series is a shot of an installation by my friend Amy Fill. This was, for me, the highlight of the show. Hundreds of tiny cut paper butterflies trailed up the stairs into the inky darkness. Here again, the moment was made even more magical by the warm glow of the candlelight.

Lastly, I want to let you know that I appreciate your patience....I feel somehow as if I've abandoned my friends in my long absence while back in school. I feel as though I have made many close connections through this blog and I hope to hear from you as I make my way back to studio and to the online world. 

Here's to autumn!