I've changed the path of my holocaust memorial project for hands to try to remember the 11 million lives killed during World War 2 which includes: Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Gentile Poles, people with disabilities and Jehovah's witnesses. As this is really slow going I'm now convinced this idea/project is going to take a life time to collect 11 million hand photos as its really hard to find people interested. I get a significant amount of hate mail and yet there are lots of people who are just now starting to get involved. I suppose its going to be like this (lulls and so forth) for a while so I need to just get used to it. I think when and if I get to one million hands then I'll probably feel a bit better about this actually working but for now I'm creeping along with under 700 hands which is still impressive and I'm very appreciative but wow its mind boggling how much that is and yet how little it is by comparison to all those 11 million who were killed. I can't even fathom 100 lives. I don't know that many people in my daily life so this is the problem isn't it. Comprehension of the amount of individuals that represents and making it human and not a number. I've written to some people I admire who I think may help me get this project shared a bit more but I'm doubtful it will be noticed as its just so slow going and I suppose I feel very small and wish I knew more people. I'm going to enlist some friends to help me talk to people on the street perhaps and help generate interest. I just have to make sure we don't hound or invade peoples privacy as I am never fond of being approached by strangers so they can sell their wares and this is exactly what I'm proposing to do. Madness for sure. But a good learning experience and hopefully in the end (I can't even imagine the end) but when its finished then perhaps just perhaps it will have made a difference. I know it will have a huge impact on me so fingers crossed it works for others too.
I've got "6 million" stuck on the brain since I started my holocaust memorial sculpture three years ago. Its like my sculpture has opened a flood gate that I can't shut.
I've put a halt sculpting on anything until I'm properly moved back to the UK and settled but I'm twitchy because I'm not sculpting. In six weeks or so once I'm there I want to get back to sculpting or I think I might go crazy if I have to wait longer.
I'm moving back to the UK for better health care and better work in the arts so I hope I'm making good choices here but then everything is a leap of faith these days.
Got to ship my Six Million Pod Sculpture to myself after a month or so and I'm worried it'll be damaged en route but I'm doing lots of research for shipping companies that ship artwork so hopefully it will arrive in my new home in one piece rather than millions of pieces. My giant collection of donated toothpicks will be shipped at different intervals so I don't go bankrupt all at once as there are a lot of toothpicks yet to put on the piece and I'm eager to get on with it and get it finished perhaps in 2015.
While agonizing about not sculpting, I've got other plans and projects related to Six Million Pod and the Six Million Hand project still continues but ever so slowly as I've been recovering from an unfortunate foot injury for the last few months and haven't been able to walk properly or be very mobile for months. Now I'm almost healed and ready to to tackle and finalize my Six Million Hands project and find a place to exhibit the project. I've got to get cracking though and I'm anxious about that too.
Now I want there to be another element to my Six Million project and so I'm obsessing over the number again because there just has to be another way for me to get my hands on the number and understand it as I want and need to. I just crashed Google Drive trying to type up six million words and it didn't even touch the surface of the number. So its words next but cataloged in a different way and I've got to exercise patience and not try to rush things.
I also need to learn Yiddish I've decided. Or actually I think I should learn every language in the World but just for one word perhaps. I wonder if that's possible. Somehow and someday this project is going to be a success and its going to help me understand that number and then I hope it will help the rest of the human population so that we stop such slaughter in future. I'm mad to wish this but why not wish big.
Its turning into a networking extravaganza recently and though I must say I do enjoy the networking, I am beginning to feel disconnected from my studio work and am beyond eager to get some time to draw and sculpt again.
I've been meeting a great deal of fascinating people who all inspire me thoroughly as they're all so talented in so many ways and it seems just talking about art makes them come alive which is wonderful for me too.
I long for a day or two in studio with time to sculpt or draw all day and hope it will be soon. I've been struggling to find a job or income for the last few weeks so my life has been consumed with the never ending job search cycle. I think things are changing for the better but can't wait to have my studio settled and creative days ahead of me.
Freelance teaching is sustaining me so far but can't pay all my bills. I can't wait until life gets easier but I'm excited for the good things coming and my new art networking connections. Its all looking very good which is nice.
I put the drawing above up because he's leaping away and I want to leap away into my studio so it relates!
I've been sculpting and drawing a great deal in the last few weeks. Mostly getting work ready for two upcoming art exhibits but also because I'm full time in the world of freelance now because its near impossible to find work in other area's at this time. If all my job applications were on paper and not online I'd have destroyed countries worth of forests by now for all the jobs I've applied to but not gotten.
On the other side of the spectrum I'm trying something new and different in studio which is quite fun as accidentally my work has become really tight and more analytic than it has ever been before which is really strange but different so I hope it takes me to good learning experiences. Sculpting and drawing nonstop makes a person think a huge amount. About everything. Its been a good time to be productive in studio and I'm glad for this time I've had to finish up some pieces and start others. Hopefully it will all lead to good things in the future.
I've got my sculptures and my drawings in two different art exhibits coming up in the Autumn which I'm really pleased about as the venues are really brilliant places as are the gallery owners and their artist contacts so I think it will be a great autumn. I'm waiting for the details on the exhibition dates and opening nights so that I can post them here on my website and hopefully help gather interest for the local art scene here in Dallas.
I've started a series of drawings that are providing therapy for me after losing my teaching job recently. The one you see next to these words is my "Job Loss" drawing which has a lot of symbolism in it relating to my experience thus far in terms of yet again becoming unemployed in a world not kind to unemployed artists. I lost my job due to low enrollment where I taught and this is the third time in the last eight years that I've been laid off by an employer because there wasn't enough work to make my position worth it. Its brought my level of trust in employers to zero. I taught because I wanted to build an exciting art program for my students and I think from what I saw they enjoyed their time in my classes for the last three years which is good at least. I miss my students like crazy but I hope somehow I helped ignite creativity in their hearts and perhaps my time with them will be remembered for a bit longer.
So I've been drawing to be ready for an exhibit I have in August in Dallas which will be a selection of my current ink drawings. I hope I can sell a few then as I will need to survive on those sales more than ever! I do hopefully also have another exhibition in the autumn for my sculptures which is also exciting so I'm preparing for that as well. Working in studio is mixed with a heavy dose of anxiety over money and job related issues as I still have yet to find any employment. I think that my efforts to continue teaching are a bad idea as I'm not drawing enough interest to use private teaching as a means to survive anymore. I think after my June workshops I'll pack the teaching in. All the shops I've applied to tell me I'm over-qualified which is perplexing as I can't imagine that my teaching counts as "over-qualified". It wasn't that long ago that I worked in a bookstore so I'm going to keep trying and hopefully someone will hire me and then I'll stop worrying about how I'm going to pay my bills!
I have other creative practices in the works and at some point something good has to happen so I keep trying. I'm still working on my Six Million Pod sculpture though I'm taking a few weeks rest due to a shaky wrist (this happens when I cause repetitive strain injury by repeatedly squeezing a hot glue gun for hours and hours and days and days). After my rest I'll get right back to work and if all goes well even though I'm now unemployed and really poor perhaps there will be more donated toothpicks and I'll get one million more toothpicks done by the new year. That is the hope.
I sculpt on Six Million Pod on a daily basis and have done for the last two almost three years because I believe that if I stop even for one day that I won't be able to finish by my proposed September 2013 deadline in which I hope to catalog all the people who donated to it so I can list their names and donations with my sculpture when it goes to the Dallas Holocaust Museum who have kindly agreed to let me donate it to them when its finished. So I sculpt everyday for as little as an hour to as much as eighteen hours depending on my teaching schedule and holidays and so forth. I will finish on time but now that I've decided to try to fund the remaining 3 million toothpicks and so few people have come forth to help fund it I feel the tendrils of doubt entering my mind and the fear that I may not finish on time has crept into my mind. I have 3 donations thus far, 2 from people I know and one from a person I would like to know because to donate to my project means they must believe in what I'm doing is for a good cause and if they believe in me and my cause then I feel so good inside that I want to sculpt constantly! But as I've mentioned it looks like no one else is keen to put forth finances through my USA Project to help support this sculpture so its entered my mind that if this funding idea does indeed fail and those few donations are refunded to the lovely people who believed in me then all I shall do is resort to twigs and sticks from the natural world around me. I don't know why I never thought of this before as nature doesn't charge me a fee to collect fallen sticks. So I give my USA Project a month more and if it looks as though I'm not going to get the support to buy the remaining toothpicks then its into the woods I go and still I will be able to complete my project by my chosen deadline. It will look very different though with twigs and sticks which may or may not be a good thing. I think though of those Jews who escaped into woodland areas during WW2 and how some survived living in the woods and others didn't. So then perhaps this new path makes sense for those who died among the roots of the trees.
It has been a long time since my last update but it has been a busy time as usual. I'm still sculpting on Six Million Pod and as of January 2013 I managed to make it to 3 million toothpicks which felt like climbing a mountain so it was wonderful to know I have made it half way to my 6 million toothpick goal! With the help of the LuminArte Fine Art Gallery I was able to offer my sculpture to be donated to the Dallas Holocaust Museum when it's complete and they have happily accepted my sculpture so I am very pleased as it is wonderful to know that my the passion for my sculpture will perhaps really play a part in changing the world with toothpicks and that future generations will be educated via being able to touch my sculpture and understanding what six million means when applied to families lost. I hope it does some good in the world and I hope it has an impact so that nothing like this happens again. I'm applying for a grant through USA Projects to help me finance the completion of my sculpture as I don't know how I'll buy the remaining 3 million toothpicks without help. I don't earn much as it is so extra help is a blessing and the more people who want to be a part of my sculpture the happier I feel that I'm doing something good. I've had some unexpected excitement in the early part of January too when I visited the Dallas Museum of Art and stumbled across an amazing toothpick sculpture done by a high school student selected for the 2013 AP Arts Young Masters. I was drawn to this sculpture because it was of course made of toothpicks which are the best material in the world clearly and also because she had manipulated them into flowers that were really beautiful and delicate. My jaw hit the ground when I read the label below her piece and discovered she was influenced by my sculptures. I got to meet this wonderfully talented student at the event for my holocaust memorial sculpture on January 26th which was fantastic. I wish all the best to Swetha Nelakanti and her beautiful sculpture which positively blew me away!
I find it especially inspiring for myself when I know I've inspired young artists so the discovery of lovely Swetha and her incredible sculpture really got me working faster and longer in studio so my production on Six Million Pod has been sped up quite a bit. I find that on days when I teach its hard to put in the six hours of sculpting I can do on my half days of teaching so it was nice to have that boost of inspiration. I've become a little tired this week as I've been working a bit too much at several jobs at once but next week I'm planning to get back into the routine and get more done hopefully.
Between work and studio time I am slowly getting myself organized enough to enter competitions, residencies and other art opportunities in an effort to surge forward with my ambitions for my art career foremost in my mind but it seems very slow going. September was full of a good deal of work that didn't seem to result in anything I was aiming for but now things are happening and there is now some relief. It has also fueled my focus to put more effort in my studio work. Teaching is important and I know it but before I was a teacher I was an artist and I have to keep reminding myself to focus on that so I don't forget to keep creating even when teaching seems overwhelming. I've been working on ink drawings and have been exploring repetitive patterns in the simple black and white that seems to be so exciting to me. It has also helped me get a bit further on my never ending holocaust memorial sculpture, Six Million Pod which consumes large portions of my studio time and now that its so very large I can hardly tell what a few hours worth of work looks like on its massive surface. I cleaned my studio this evening and this will be more inviting to get to work now that I've relocated two other very large sculptures into my bedroom. It was getting very difficult to cross the room with them sitting or leaning in the chairs. Now it is late and I must sleep in order to teach tomorrow but at least I've updated this blog with something interesting and to show my latest ink drawing which I am in love with right now.
I had this clever idea a while ago in which I thought it would be fun to try to share various images of some of my sculptures with the owners of the sounds that inspired me during the making of them. In this day and age I don't think anyone genuinely just shares much especially if its art related unless of course they want something from the act of the sharing. As I can't think of what I'd want from sharing an image of one of my sculptures to the source of my inspirations I thought it was simply a nice idea to make contact with those that have influenced me and helped me move forward. Sort of like giving back to the Universe I suppose. So I've been embarking on the task of tracking down contact information for various sources of my inspirations and managed to go in massive circles in which I have accomplished nothing except several times accidentally signing up for online things that I didn't want. Its a great shame I can't send Mozart a letter as I bet he'd respond but its a real pain in the neck trying to find simple physical contact information for actors (deep voices for Draco) or composers of TV soundtracks (Merlin for Euclidean Pod) and a few others that I've simply completely given up attempting to track down. I've had people contact me many times because of being an influence or an inspiration to their life by what I do and I love to read their messages to me as its like a window into someones life and the idea that I've had even a small impact on them gives me a lovely feeling and keeps me sculpting! I'm certain the composers of TV shows couldn't care less that a toothpick sculptor with Synesthesia is being impacted by their music and I suppose it was a nice thought to share but at this rate I think I'd be more successful sending a letter to aliens from outer space! Years ago when I made "Laughter Pod" I sent the comedians who created that laughter letters and many responded and I even got some autographed letters which was tremendously exciting so I won't give up hope on contacting composers no matter how elusive they seem to be. Euclidean Pod is too beautiful to not share what they've helped me create even if explaining what I experience makes me sound like a bit of a nutter to them! I think Mozart would have been curious at least which is an interesting thought as his "Marriage of Figaro" is playing a big part in Euclidean Pod lately.
I've happily been selected as one of the artists for Craighead Greens exhibition "New Texas Talent" which is so tremendously exciting as I've loved that gallery for several years and I can't wait to meet the other artists also chosen. The exhibition will be from August 4 to August 31 and will be a mixture of all types of art and all types of artists. My sculptures Ganymede Callisto Pod and Laughter Pod were selected so now my studio is super insanely crowded as I've just picked up my sculptures from a previous exhibition at the LuminArte Fine Art Gallery this past June. I'm having so much fun meeting so many interesting artists and enthusiasts and I can't wait for the next reception! I've also leaped into some new toothpick sculpture projects that have been on my mind for some time and honestly I need to work out how to create more room in my studio as its getting to be a toothpick jungle! I love it though. Its so far been a glorious summer of sculpting and exhibitions and I'm really looking forward to my next exhibition adventure. One brilliant thing about exhibiting is that it really puts some serious inspiration in me. I hope it goes on forever as its pure happiness for me.