Tuesday, January 15, 2013

He who holds Paradoxes and the IMA Islamic art exhibit

The past few days have seemed quite culturally rich, and a blur.
I felt like sharing!

I still had a free pass to see the special exhibit at the IMA:

BEAUTY and BELIEF: Crossing Bridges with
The Arts of Islamic Culture

The exhibit was ending in only a few days, and I knew I wanted to see it, especially after a friend posted some (covertly taken) photos of ASTROLABES in the exhibit - and Dave and I both got very excited about the ASTROLABES, because we watch WAREHOUSE 13… and if you watch WAREHOUSE 13, you know what we are talking about! If you don’t watch Warehouse 13, the simplest explanation I can provide is that in the show, a special astrolabe was used as a very potent and very dangerous supernatural tool to reverse time and potentially released a terrible evil into the world.
Ahhh… the joys of science fiction and fantasy - they inspire us to get excited by and learn more about things in our own physical and natural world.

Astrolabes are very complex mathematical devices used for navigation and locating astronomical objects, and in the Islamic world, could be used to locate the Qibla direction and the specific times to pray.
They image I’m sharing is from about 1400, but they were also around as early as the 900s.

Astrolabe of Jean Fusoris, made in Paris, 1400
Check out the Wikipedia page for more info - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrolabe

I was compelled to share this because I am FASCINATED by early complexities, the use of mathematical devices as WELL as ANCIENT ROBOTIC SCIENCE … aka: AUTOMATA… One of the displayed illustrations was a depiction of an AUTOMATA by Al-Jazari (1136–1206)  (read about in at Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Jazari

A few other fun tidbits from the show:

The first piece of art we come across is a very looooong scroll. It looked like a combination of a sacred text such as an illuminated manuscript, a sketchbook or journal with writing in the margins, and a children’s activity book, as there were quite a lot of large bold designs with little writing inside - as if it were a game or a brain activity.

In the intro video to the exhibition, we learned some basics of the connection between the arts and the sacred in Islam. Some of the names of god were mentioned. I wrote down one of the names - but yet, when I search for the 99 names of god, or even this phrase online - NOTHING SHOWS up, and it seems all to appropriate and coincidental that the phrase I heard doesn’t actually seem to exist… but I wrote it down! “He Who Holds Paradoxes”  … I think I may have to paint something inspired by this descriptive. Again, I find it odd that this ‘name’ doesn’t appear anywhere. Perhaps I heard it wrong, perhaps it’s a message from god, perhaps its just my universe playing with me, I don’t know, but it makes me smile. And I have always perked up at the mention of paradoxes.

Most of the art in the exhibit was covered in beautiful writing. This is a major part of the culture. I’m not going to lecture here why it is or the relation to the culture  - as enlightening as that would be, it would take too long. Instead I’ll share some of the inscriptions I took note of:

“The taste of Wisdom is first bitter, then sweeter than honey”
(written on a Jug, IRAN, end of 12th century)
so TRUE! Same with KNOWLEDGE.  And Learning. Something that seems... 
difficult at first - I mean, the brain IS a muscle, and you have to think hard to pump it up
but after a while, learning becomes a craving. I should tell this to my students. 

“Beware of the Dream of the Horse”
(written on a horseshoe, 18th century Turkey - I love how the simplest of things can be personalized by such phrases)

“… It happened that he was wetting his face with the blood of his heart; he repeated this poetic verse with his spirit” (a snippit from a story, involving a Sufi watching a poet)

“There is no god but god” - Many of the inscriptions were religious in nature like this one - this being one of the more common ones… I normally gloss over references to god in religious art, but the phrasing of this caught me and got my brain thinking. Earlier in the exhibit, there were paintings that came from a specific place and time where many religious communities lived harmoniously without conflict - (Muslim, Christian, Jewish) - that combined with the phrase above got me thinking about the potential harmony people of faith could have if they took this literally - something so profound and simple at the same time. Rather than saying ‘there is no god but my god’ - if one truly believes that ‘god is everywhere’ and ‘god is in everything’ - then it would be without question that anywhere people encounter the sacred, then that is where god is. There is no conflict. Ever since college when I participated as the secretary in the student based organization ‘Earth Religions’, I’ve always been a bit interested in concepts where religion, spirituality and belief can combine with full acceptance of each other no matter the specific belief or region.

ANYWAY, (no, that's not an inscription) there was so much more and it was an amazing exhibit - also a lot about patterns and reflection of nature’s patterns and how that ties in with philosophy and belief etc - but these were the specific things I grasped onto during this visit. Too bad the exhibit is over now that I have undoubtedly inspired you to go visit. Regardless, I now want to learn more about Medieval Islamic culture, I want to write all over everything, and I want to paint a picture of a being that holds paradoxes.

Dave and I also went to see


An experimental Swiss mime troupe that have been around for a LONG time.
Dad took me to see them when I was a kid, and it had a huge impact on my playful spirit.
Dave had never seen them but was a fan, so that was his birthday gift. :)
See a youtube video of my favorite segment by Mummenschanz! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe95sn0cN3k
Clay faces…. jealousy, humor… *grin*

I am feeling blessed.
Tomorrow I start teaching a new 16 week class at Ivy Tech (basically ancient - medieval art history and non-western cultures). I am not as familiar with some of the culture’s art so I am extremely excited to be delving in to the subjects myself so that I can teach! The best way to learn is to teach, so it is said.

Also, the illustrator in me is smiling big time. I think I found my ~author~
I always get an ache when I see an author and illustrator match that seem to work well together, and stick together for a while - like Gaiman and McKean for example.
I can’t say too much right now, and I don’t want to jinx anything, but we’ll see what happens after I get a few of these book covers under my belt!

-------- fin --------

Well, I have not much else to share here, most of my recent images I’ve shared on facebook.
 So... have a fuzzy picture of the cat Frankie who lives with dad. There was a cat door on the entrance to the basement, but after several attempts, dad gave up on training him to go through the door, and just removed it. Frank now has no inhibitions going through the HOLE in the door. Much Love, he's the snuggliest cat ever. I'm also allergic to him, but I still give him lots of love when I visit.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Twin Blackbirds Have Landed, 2013 here we are

2013, you come to me like a new lover
promising a year full of adventure and beauty and creativity, if only I make the effort to stand up and embrace you.
Shine for me 2013, beckon me away from laziness and complacency. Kiss my cheeks and smile for me - for then I will want to show off for you, to create for your eyes and dance excitedly. I want to feel the rush of adrenalin as I hurry home to show you all I've accomplished each day. To feel your light as I wake up, ready to make the day proud... This is my wish. This is my wish for us, 2013, that we rise together and make great things.

Thank you 2013, for starting me off well, with direction. And thank you to the authors who are commissioning me for covers, the friend who showed me a path to a new job, and the university who changed their requirements, thus allowing me to teach there again.

Now all I have to do is stir up my self drive. To let my artistic and academic dreams scream louder than the comfortable couch and the glow of the computer.


So Yesterday I got my very first tattoo. Did I start small? Did I start with a simple image? NO! *grin* I got a fairly large and VERY SHADED piece on my lower right leg and ankle.
~See more photos of the process on facebook HERE~

 But let me start at the beginning.

Many years ago, while pondering the universe, infinity, unripe bananas, creative paths, chimeras and dreaming... I also wondered what I would do should I lose a parent. What would I do to honor them or to remember them by? I determined that if mother ever passed over to the great beyond, I would get a tattoo that would make me think of her. I determined that it would probably be a blackbird. Or a bluebird. Eventually I landed on twin blackbirds - to represent us both. And it would inspire me to be creative.

Well, in 2011, that event happened way sooner than I could have anticipated. After about a year I decided to start seriously thinking about getting the twin blackbirds. About a month ago, I get a notice that my favorite tattoo artist and one of my favorite artists would be coming through Indy. Sarah Frary. As soon as she began tattooing, I KNEW that I wanted HER to tattoo me SOMEDAY. Her mark would not only remind me to stay creative - but to hold onto the sense of adventure I crave - reading about her travels of starting a life out west and exploring the inner and outer worlds are always an inspiration to me.

So the two desires came together.
Now here's the awesome part. Sarah's best work comes when she works free-hand. Her art and energy shine. I never thought 'freehand tattoos' made much sense until I saw what she was doing. Now I know that they make the BEST sense. We met up on the 5th - and thanks to another incredibly awesome artist/tattooist Amory, we had a perfect little tattoo studio atmosphere to let the art happen.

I told her the perameters of 'twin black birds' , she performed some hot sharpie action on my leg to make sure she had a direction to work in - and that I was comfortable with the general idea. YES.
Sarah Frary Style! *breaks into dance*

 I was not quite prepared for the sensation of getting a tattoo. No one can ever know what it truly feels like until it happens. Because its not just the pain one has to imagine - it is the pain combined with the acceptance of that pain as a journey toward a beautiful destination. At times it felt like cat scratches, at times like bee stings, and around the ankle, upper foot and calf it felt like a knife or razor cuts. But I just smiled, grabbed my upper leg and stared VERY INTENTLY at the wall, or the air in front of the wall. At times I was frozen, my mind very preocupied with processing the feel. What made things smooth was the laid back creative atmosphere. Amory was also tattooing another patron and another friend of theirs was in the room. The laughter and jokes that floated in the warm room made for a very comfortable, friendly and light hearted situation.

(...Funny enough as I write this, and have all my music on RANDOM, the song that is playing right now is "Fever Ray - Dry and Dusty" - and I keep hearing - "We are capsules of energy". I could write a small novel on how this fits, but I'll just shorten it by saying that Sarah is one of the people I think of when I listen to Fever Ray.) 
I am very very very happy with the outcome. I am excited that I decided to let my first tattoo be a freehand expression and collaboration between my basic idea and Sarah's hand. This could not have come at a better time. A heartfelt thank you to Sarah, the universe, Amory for the use of his studio and David for his constant love and support, and thanks for all the comments and love on fb after I posted the first picture. This was an important step for me. Like, leveling up on a video game. Wheres the level up music? XD


More Self Drive Please 

Yep, I changed the name of this blog BACK to the self drive thing. I feel it helps me keep at it.
I plan to try posting generally once a week, but my life is never on a schedule so who knows how often I'll post. January 3rd saw the first of my random art pieces.
"My Dreams are made of Gold" 9x12 mixed media on bristol paper.

In other news today, its Daves b-day! We had sushi with friends and it was grand. My b-day gift to him happens next Saturday when we see Mummenschanz!