In the past week I finished adding the budget text to the Lymphatic System work and started working in oil to rough in another layer of imagery: scenes from the operating theatre.
At this exact moment, I’m not exactly sure where to go next, but I am on my way to Chicago on Wednesday, so I will be taking a break from the studio for a week. I will be visiting the Art Institute of Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and the Museum of Contemporary Art while I am there. I’m sure I will get a few inspirations while I am away.
My work this semester is inspired by an essay by Donna Haraway entitled “The Biopolotics of Postmodern Bodies: Constitutions of self in Immune System Discourse”.
I am embedding into this underdrawing an essence of her work as summarized in one of her quotes:
“Bodies have become cyborgs-cybernetic organisms- compounds of hybrid techno-organic embodiment and textuality. The cyborg is text, machine, body and metaphor- all theorized and engaged in practice in terms of communication”
My goal this semester is to address the culture of medicine; a system that is dictated by history, politics, belief and clear limits and boundaries of knowledge.
This week I have layered excerpts of this year’s budgetary constraints within the my regional Health Authority.
Sometimes, I can’t help taking pictures of things that catch my attention. We get used to seeing the everyday world around us, but then sometimes mother nature puts a spotlight on something and makes me stop and pay attention. Luckily, I always have my iPhone in my pocket, so that I can capture certain moments. I would not be surprised if the essence of these images make it into the paintings I am working on this semester.
I stopped by the Big Little Science World this early week to see if there had been any idea’s added to my Petrie Dish display as part of the “Microbes r Us” show. I was thrilled to see how well the colony of idea’s had grown! I had thought I might need to reorganize post it notes, but decided to leave it organically as is. I feel like I could make some additional art pieces using other’s idea’s about bacteria as inspiration. Some beautiful little art works on display here…
Today was the tedious work of designing circuitry around the bodily systems. I used graphite to metrically grid the canvases and to design a preliminary circuitry system. Once I am happy with the circuit design, I will render the drawing into a more 3D form using acrylic paint.
I finally got into my studio/work space yesterday. After cleaning up months worth of dust and dead flies and making space by moving old projects and canvases, a new priority emerged. I sat and dwelled on the project I outlined in my last post, I have an idea of what I want to do for that using “fake pamphlets” and a form of surveillance, but I couldn’t get motivated to start on it as there were canvases that were bugging me in my studio. This one in particular was calling me to fix it:
This oil sketch of my shed is on a 3′ x 4′ canvas. I painted it in PNTG200 or 210. It was unresolved at the time and when I unearthed it in my studio yesterday, I felt the need to work on it again. I started by editing with white.
Then I sketched in a human form. In my nursing degree, I took a lot of anatomy and physiology classes. I know schematically what lies within the human body, but it is hard to reconcile diagrams with what we feel and sense. This ‘knowledge’ versus ‘experience’ is something I also grapple with in my work. I am also interested in layering information within my work as I feel everything we see and do in our day is within a context or interaction of learned knowledge and sensory experiences. We are constantly editing input, which is also something I try to symbolize within my painting work.
More editing by removing more white…
Now I feel like I have something really want work with. It looks like I may focus again on painting this semester (instead of the projects I mentioned in my first post). Last semester I didn’t paint at all and it was a relief. I find painting frustrating, but I do understand the only way to maybe figure something out is to just keep trying. So to start off, that is what I will do…
I used the left over white from this painting session to edit another unresolved canvas…
Well this first week has been a little rough as I’ve been sick with a head cold. I am just starting to feel a bit better, though it has moved into my lungs and now I have an annoying cough. On Friday, I installed one of my petrie dish works from the Human Milk Project at an exhibition called “Microbes R Us” at Big Little Science World. This was a challenging space as it essentially is an old classroom. I was given wall space with a chalkboard which was not ideal, but it was a good opportunity to meet up with the microbiologists I worked with this past spring. I was initially excited to display the petrie dishes on the chalk board as I thought I could use chalk and build up a good background, but alas, I was not allowed to use chalk. I’ve included some pictures I took during set up. This work will be interactive as people viewing the display will be asked to draw what they imagine a bacteria to look like on a post it note and then to add their sketch to the wall. I want the bacteria to keep replicating and colonizing the space…
What I really have been doing all summer is working full time making as much money as I could. I will continue to work 4 days a week for this fall as I have some financial obligations that need to be cared for (AKA kids). While I haven’t had time to physically make things over the past couple of months, I have had time to think about things and come up with idea’s. I have been thinking about and tentatively experimenting materially with the things I use in my job everyday. I work as a nurse, and spend most of my days vaccinating infants, monitoring their growth & development, and educating parents and school populations. Between clients, I have been pondering the syringe, the sterile package it comes in and the plastic yellow sharps container the needle eventually comes to rest in. I have imagined melting, bending, exploding, marking and puncturing these items (methods I have used in the past) and have experimented with using the syringe as a tool for things other than immunizing. I will continue to ponder and play with these items while at work (while no one is watching) and see where it takes me.
I also have an interest in how knowledge is culturally acquired and have theorized that human knowledge is a limited, opaque patch over the vast unknowns (think of the complexity of the universe, atoms, the natural world and the human body). My professional job is to impart brief understandable tidbits of knowledge to clients, but I have been working long enough to see that knowledge changes over time, and information that was thought to be leading edge 10 years ago, can later be discounted as harmful (for example, think how popular the “low fat” diet and antibiotic usage was 10-15 years ago. Now we know “low fat” diets often lead to higher carbohydrate consumption which is contributing to obesity, and over usage of antibiotics has led to antibiotic resistant super bugs [and also probably contributed to obesity by affecting gut flora]). A more recent cultural development that adds more dimension to this concept of unstable knowledge, is the yellow headed American President’s concept of “Fake News”. We have entered the era of information overload. It is increasingly hard to disseminate accurate from inaccurate. On TV (September 15, 2017) I watched a Marketplace episode about people acquiring work as counsellors and university professors after buying their Masters and Phd’s from fake universities. It brings into question where we get our knowledge from.
With these thoughts in my mind, on Thursday I rescued this Public Health brochure holder (complete with labels like “Suicide Prevention” and “Canada Food Guide”) from the garbage bin at work. This seems to be a relic from a simpler time, replaced now by search engines like Google. Tomorrow, I I will develop a concept further…