Saturday, June 25, 2011

From the Studio

We've officially begun the rainy season here in Perth. Here's a taste of what it is like in my studio when the rain comes in off the Indian Ocean. This video was taken a few evenings ago, right before I made a run for the bus stop. For the full affect you'll need to turn the volume all the way up.

The studio has corrugated metal roof. In case you couldn't tell.

FUZE Week 11

One of my least favorite words ever was the theme this week. Vulnerable… shudder!!! I come from a long line of proud and stubborn stock. If you’ve ever met members of my immediate or extended family you know that I’m not exaggerating here. Vulnerability does not come easily for me. In fact, I often see it as weakness… It’s setting your self up for hurt and that’s just stupid. In an effort to honor this weeks theme in mind but also be wisely self preserving (as needed) I took to heart Matthew 10:16, “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

The FUZE week (which is Friday- Thursday) always starts with B and I sharing a lazy cup of coffee at her house. This week started a little differently as our boss was visiting. We still had our coffee, but I was on my best behavior. Knowing that it is my hope and intention to return to Australia after my internship to work with MTW fulltime helping B further develop and run FUZE I really wanted to make a good impression on my Grand-boss. In situations like this I tend to over share in a way that often looks like verbal bulimia. In this case I had to be vulnerable but wise in knowing when to stop, not out of self-preservation but simply not reaching the point of overkill.

This week I was moving into my new studio in Freo. As I was meeting and getting to know the other artists in the building there was a very different type of vulnerability needed. The first questions artists tend to ask each other when meeting are “what kind of work do you make?” Typically in an effort to protect myself from scrutiny, judgment, exclusion, or further questioning I sidestep this question. Saying my work is couched in the feminine and abstractly explores the processes and rituals surrounding the domestic sphere through reenacting and/or recreating them. But the fact of the matter is my work is often about grace and uses the familiar language of the domestic to point to heaven, process and rituals to point to change or growth, and object to give form to abstract ideas such as hope (like in Now and Not Yet). It took a lot of vulnerability for me to confidently have that conversation with my new studio mates.

The very last day of vulnerability week while I was on my way out to Steve and B’s for the day, at the bus stop I was reading Visual Faith, by William Dyrness. There was a middle aged middle-eastern man also waiting for the bus. Seeing the title of my book and a folder of magazine clippings sticking out of my bag asked me if I was an art student. I simply said not anymore, but I had been and I was a working artist. We chatted for a while and when he asked me about my work I told him about Now and Not Yet at churchfreo.

I told him about the hope and promise of heaven that I have been given through the work of Christ that we remember at Easter. In that few minutes while we waited for our bus, using my artwork as the vehicle I was able to speak to this man about grace. As the 851 bus pulled into the station he turned to me and asked what church I had shown my work at, and was it still up. Unfortunately, the installation had come down weeks ago but I gave him my website address. I don’t know if he looked at my work or if he was just being polite. The point is the same regardless. I had an opportunity and the ability to have a conversation where Christ was proclaimed through art.

As we progressed through vulnerability week I encountered situations that required more and more vulnerability from me. With each event I came across I realized more and more that it was not out of a place of weakness that my vulnerability was coming, quite the opposite actually. It took a lot of bravery, confidence, and wisdom (obviously, not my own)… not to be confused with pride or stubbornness.

FUZE Week 4

Structures seemed to be a natural progression forward from patterns. Taking the patterns observes last week, the plan B and I had was to give bones to them. I though I would leave this week with a schedule, a day in, day out system that I would follow for the duration of my internship. It was a good plan…

In keeping with the patterns I had observed last week I spent Sunday at churchfreo. B and I started doing The Artist Way, which requires daily writing. This added further structure to my days. Monday morning after doing my morning writing I headed into 408 for some studio time. This was becoming the structure of my days… writing first thing in the mornings, studio time till mid afternoon, reading, more writing and fellowship/relationship building in the evenings.

When I got to churchfreo I found Jim Kelley (A once homeless, alcoholic who with the support of churchfreo has been sober and off the streets for a year, and now serves as the main caretaker of the building at 408) there, drunk. It wasn’t even 9am yet. Jim quickly became angry and belligerent. He told me he intended to continue drinking the rest of the day and to find a woman for the night. I left quickly with the realization that the structure that I had in my days was going to have to change.

Here I was at the very beginning of structures week feeling like my structure had been severely shaken. In the midst of sulking, licking emotional my wounds, and trying to devise alternative plans, I found myself in frequent prayer. Prayer for myself, for churfreo, for Jim, for wisdom in the situation we were in. It was in this time that I realized that studio time at churchfreo was not really the structure God wanted me to have. Prayer was. When I was thinking of “structures” I was thinking much more superficially. Through the events and challenges of this week God taught me that the structure under girding everything I do, be it here in Oz, or wherever He takes me needs to be prayer.

Post Script:
This is Jim. After about a week long bender Jim sobered back up. He spent some time "taking a break" from churchfreo. I am thankful to be able to say he is back in our midst on Sunday nights. Last Thursday he gave me a yellow, 12 speed bike, giving gifts is Jim's love language. I am blessed in many ways by his love.

Monday, June 13, 2011