Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Whoooo Goes Where?

Playing around with my composition for this new painting I've started, There Were Owls All Around. I seldom settle on a title before a painting is complete, and never at such an early stage. But this one has been floating around in my head for a long time. It was such a relief to start it at last! You can always tell that I'm having fun in my studio when I've kicked off my shoes. :)

The latest issue of Uppercase has arrived! In my (admittedly humble) opinion, the magazine gets better and better with each new issue. I love this article on illustrator Olaf Hajek:
Let them eat cake! Mmmmm. Cake.

Artist Gennine Zlatkis is a new discovery for me. I found her gorgeous blog last week through this post on Heather Smith Jones' blog. (While you're visiting Heather, I highly recommend fawning over her pinhole bird leaf. Go ahead, fall on the floor in raptures. You're not alone.)
But getting back to Geninne, I just can't get over her divine studio space.
In her own words, she is "drawn to natural history museums, science labs and collector's spaces. A place for everything, and everything in its place. I always find peace in order (Uppercase Issue 3, p. 82)."

I've been thinking about natural history collections for the past few months, ever since I read the following passage in Middlemarch, (quite possibly my slowest novel-reading experience to date!): "Lydgate was more surprised at the openness of this talk than at its implied meaning–that the Vicar felt himself not altogether in the right vocation. The neat fitting-up of drawers and shelves, and the bookcase filled with expensive illustrated books on Natural History, made him think again of the winnings at cards and their destination (Oxford Press 1989, p.192).

When I was in graduate school at Tufts/The Museum School, I used to accidentally (I swear!) sneak in to the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology to bask in it's strangeness, and draw all of the stuffed (stuffed as in taxidermy, not plush) animals. I went there about once a month and just walked right in the back door and up the service elevator without realizing that it wasn't the main entrance. I would meet the custodian in the elevator every single time I went there, and he would always wish me well, so it never occurred to me that I might be in the wrong place. And I used to think it was so generous of Harvard to open their museum to the public for free. Woops! I'm such an avid rule-follower that once I realized my mistake I stopped going there, since I couldn't afford the $10 entrance fee.

There are some ways in which the ideas behind, and aesthetics of these kinds of natural history museum and collector's spaces relate to parts of my own work. Someday, when I have my very own studio, I would love to be able to incorporate that sensibility into the workspace itself. Right now I share my studio with another artist, and my little bit of blank wall space is sacred, so there's really only room for those purely functional essentials. But someday.....!

No comments: