This year I earned a Boise State University Arts and Humanities Fellowship from our enlightened school. Thank you so much, I have a heartfelt gratitude for being granted the year away from teaching to make art. My Fellowship project is about Global Climate Change, as viewed from the Humanities. After a few months of concentrated research on the subject, it's become ever clearer that a large part of humanity is either in various degrees of denial about climate change, or are cashing in on the things that are bad for the environment at an accelerated pace, which of course is quite insane. But one example are all the new coal fired power plants that America and other countries have been building over the past year, knowing full well the overwhelming negative ramifications of their actions.
The above has also made it clear that this Fellowship is likely going to be significantly more controversial than I'd originally envisioned it. The reality of global climate change seemed to be very plain and uncomplicated, but the cover-up actions of wealthy industrialists has made this stance murky and seemingly questionable. More on this later, but the effect on my work has been to make it more direct and hopefully, enlightening for the viewers.
I've been very busy with doing the travel, photography, editing and all of the other creative challenges linked to the Fellowship . For the first time in over a month I have an opportunity to come up for air as they say, and reflect on the work for a moment. This is a critical part of the creative process, because it allows me time to stop and absorb what's going on with the work, let it soak in and make any changes with how it looks, what it's saying, and the ever crucial next step.
Ravens have been a part of my visual vocabulary for a long time and I thought I'd lock him out of this work. I find it to be a bit perplexing how I made a conscious creative decision and raven snuck back in, nearly all by himself. Perhaps it is the intuitive part trumping conscious decisions. Blackbirds. They're everywhere.
Anyway, just one of the prints has a blackbird for now. I call it the leveraging piece that set me free for all the others. It had some of the visual aesthetics I was looking for, including a gritty feel in black and white that I really like for part of the project. I like the reality of grit and the metaphor of black and white, whatever that means. I'm still figuring it out, but keep going back to it.
Part of the dialogue has to do with the traditional role that raven has played as a transformer or changeling, and the reality that human beings play the role of transformers quite well too. After all, there is no other animal that has transformed our home planet as much as humans, at least in recent memory. My work retains its focus on changelings, only there is an obvious shift to the two-legged variety.
One of my favorite creative devices is this simple little pocket journal. It's small enough to just fit in my pocket and as I think of ideas, they go into the notebook. It's not really a journal, but is literally a finely crafted miniature version, made of splendid Italian leather with heavy archival paper. When one is in the midst of an ongoing project, ideas come in unpredictably sometimes, and it's good to try and capture them before they fly off to wherever they came from. So in a way, this is my own version of a dreamcatcher. I am also in love with words and wanted a worthy place for them to gather strength prior to powering up my art, if that makes any sense.
I keep thinking about the juxtaposition of human responses to various experiences and why they are either visceral or intellectual. For an example, this morning a friend posted a photo of a large centipede and I related a story of how I instinctively and instantly killed one that was running under our baby's crib. You can't get much more visceral than that, especially to an overt threat. In my opinion, we humans are lax with our response to the carbon dioxide emissions that are a key cause for global climate change because we simply can't see it. It's invisible, so we don't have the fast and instinctive response to it as we may have if it were visible. Anyway, this is simply a theory that is already finding a visual manifestation in the Fellowship work.
I'll post more entries as I progress, including some about process, because it has been accentuated with the work. Some artists just gloss over this aspect, but I find it compelling because process is such an essential element of my visual strategies, and is why the work looks like it does. In the meantime, it's off to make a pot of sumptuous morning coffee. Pull up a chair and give me your mug, it's pretty good.