Mnemonic Whale’s fix-up – pt. 1

mnenomic whale pt

The front and left side of the Mnemonic Whale is completed. For the left end, I added/modified a few tiny paintings I did years ago to the top + silicone, wood glue, gold and red ink. On the front, I sanded down the edges of the doors so they closed completely and I outlined the whale carving in gold ink. Now all it needs is the top layer, right end card catalog drawers, and proper innards (more about that soon).

autumn at work

work

It is highly unlikely that I will ever teach a library course, but I’ve been curious to see what it’s all about. My colleague was kind enough to offer to let me sit in on his library instruction session for a writing class today.  He gave me a copy of the syllabus last week, I came onto campus in the morning (my circulation desk shift starts at 2), and I scribbled my usual illegible notes while he demonstrated how to utilize databases for a persuasive essay.  I was struck by how the students were actually engaged with answering questions, and how much the air of approachability makes all the difference. Speaking/demonstrating in front of a class for two hours still seems absolutely terrifying to me but I think the more I observe how it’s done, the less alien it will be.

Last Friday at my other job, I was surprised with a task of assisting my other colleague with hanging a series of illustrations from our archive in the library’s gallery in the main lobby. Elmer and Berta Hader wrote and illustrated children’s books together, and Concordia has an amazing collection of their artwork:

http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv82788

We picked about 10 pieces that looked close enough to Halloween-themed and did our best with hanging them according to what we thought were correct wall-to-frame measurements. We then discovered that we hung them too low, and we gifted a very appreciated student worker with the task of moving each of the frames up by 3 inches.

pinholes

I decided to add a page for some photographs I’ve been taking with my pinhole camera (120 color film).  They’re certainly not the best, but it’s fun for me to play around and try different things.  Focusing on making work has been keeping me from unraveling due to the current/future state of the world.

The prints can be viewed here : https://sylviedakotahuhn.com/photographs/

 

anslem kiefer and joseph beuys at The S.A.M and The Broad

As 2017 comes to an end, I’d like to dedicate a post to two museums I visited in Seattle and LA during September – the S.A.M (Seattle Art Museum) and The Broad – and how Anslem Kiefer and Joseph Beuys unexpectedly connected both of them for me.

Earlier in February, when I was visiting my sister in LA, I fell in love with Anslem Kiefer’s work when I picked up a retrospective book on him at LACMA’s Art Catalogues Bookstore.  From his color palette, his subject matter (German history, mythology) manifesting in landscapes/spaces and the residue of objects, textural surfaces, to the cursive text on some of his pieces – Kiefer’s paintings were almost (minus specific subject matter, of course) everything I had been wanting to work towards in my own paintings.  It’s a beautiful surprise, but also slightly devastating to be reminded that the work you’ve been wanting/trying to do has already been done and done BETTER.  Up until this point, however, I was beginning to unconsciously shut out influences from major figures in art – but Kiefer would become a new easter egg for me to keep my eye out for.

In July, I attended Art of the Archive: The Intersection of Archives and Art by by Jennifer Strayer and Geoff Wexler at the Oregon Historical Society.  The presentation included slides of artists whose works drew upon existing archival collections or were interpreted as their own archives, along with blurring the line of what is and is not an archive.  One of the artists mentioned was Joseph Beuys and his vitrines – glass display cases holding a variety of items such as animal fat, wax, felt, jars, a painted violin, and beyond. Beuys’s almost-anthropological survey of objects encompassed both the organic and the industrial – human struggle verses healing.  I was already slightly familiar with his other works (most famously, his performance installation I Like America, America Likes Me (1974) ) – but I was unfamiliar with his vitrines.  But if my Mnemonic Whale had an Opa, it would certainly be them.  Thus, I found my second easter egg for wandering museums.

Kiefer was a student of Beuys when he taught at the Dusseldorf Kunstakademie between 1961 and 1972.  These artists, who both worked in various mediums, have been continuously linked together because of their timelines, nationality and how their work illuminates Germany’s post-World War II-struggle to reckon with the country’s dark past. It was only fitting to find the work of both Beuys and Kiefer displayed in the same room.

So when my friend Kim took me to the S.A.M for the first time, and I saw Beuys’s Felt Suit (edition of 100) on one side of the wall and a couple of Kiefer’s massive paintings on the other, with Katharina Fritsch’s Mann und Maus (1992) in between – I squealed and hopped up and down.  This is something I never do (“squealing” especially).  When my sister took me to The Broad in LA a week later, I let out another minor squeal.  There they were, a few of Beuys’s vitrines right next to Kiefer’s Deutschlands Geisteshelden (1973).  It was settled – my Beuys/Kiefer room radar was activated.

I loved The Broad – my sister and I stumbled upon it during a free admission day.  I’m aware that this 2017 blog post about the two very famous male artists who inspire me does a disservice to the many other inspiring talents on display.

My other loves include: Jenny Saville, Jean‐Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Ellen Gallagher (eXelento, 2004), Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Julie Mehretu, Cindy Sherman, Susan Rothenberg, and Kiki Smith.

The Broad

Seattle Art Museum

Reception at Tiny’s

I made the kind folks who showed up to my opening each fill out an answer card from my archives/preservation info table, which included a display of articles and a Hollinger catalog.

The questions were:

“If we were to become extinct, what would you want to leave behind as an artifact of yourself to be found by future inhabitants (if the earth is still inhabitable)?”

(For example: your favorite jacket, your ashes posthumously pressed into vinyl, your paintings, your writings, your skeleton posthumously bronzed with two middle fingers raised)

“What preservation processes would you take to make sure this artifact survives extreme temperatures/time?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about death and ecological ruin these days… must be something in the air…

The tiny cards are now safely behind the Z section door of the Mnemonic Whale, but I hope to eventually put them in a tiny card catalog drawer I’ll be attaching to the right side. I will definitely be welcoming more answers from folks, so I’ll be keeping a few blank cards on me when I’m out and about. In the future I’ll be putting together a handmade book expounding on these ideas from friends.