Sunday, October 28, 2018

And I’m back!

Yes, the waters in my art studio have long since receded.  The combination of busy summer art fairs and travel took me out of the blog-writing routine, but I’m going to try my best to get back into a rhythm that lets me write.  I’m also at a point where I’m excited about creating a whole new body of work that I’ll write about here.  First, let’s do a little catching up to set the stage.

Saturday night was the last performance of Sounds of South’s Guys and Dolls.  I did the costumes and props for the show, all while enjoying the efforts of the kids who put together an outstanding set of performances.  I like creating more whimsical costumes, which I got to do in Hello Dolly, Pippin, and Beauty and the Beast, but I pushed myself into a completely different approach for this one.  I decided to do the opening scene, called Runyonland, all in sepia tones to capture a historical feel.  It gave a warm aura to the movement of background actors who set the tone for the play.  I did the male leads in plaids and the females in polka dots and bright colors. 
The kids really embraced their roles and each performance was wonderful—you never would guess it was a high school production.  Several people, including Uncle Tim visiting from New Mexico and Steve Scott, Jacob’s martial arts instructor, proclaimed it to be the best show of the performances I costumed.  Jacob was charming in his dancing and acting roles, so everything came together Nicely Nicely. 

My most recent art directions have developed around transitions in my life and in the world, especially with regard to places and cultures.  My family emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1968, which brought me to Ontario.  Science brought me to Indiana and the United States, but art and my family have rooted me here. 
I think I’m especially sensitive to migrations and the life transitions they embody, and my latest body of work will be called ‘Where have you been and what have you seen?’  

Some trips are such a part of my being that I can’t imagine not doing it, which makes me think about monarchs and warblers traveling thousands of miles and crossing the international boundaries without noticing or caring.  And of course the human contrast is the single life-changing migrations, such as my family coming here from Europe, or people from South America trying to migrate north to seek asylum.  Each individual has to make a profoundly life-changing decision to commit to uprooting and attempt to re-establish in a completely different environment. 

They each bring their own histories, traditions and experiences to their new home.  
In addition to large scale migrations, I’ve been thinking a lot about the routine travels we make beyond our locale, which might mean our annual vacation to the coast of North Carolina or an unplanned day jaunt to Indianapolis to investigate an art installation site and visit a new restaurant.

I got to thinking about the shorter trips to various places life takes me, such as my trips to art fairs in different states, or just traveling to Indianapolis for a day to explore galleries and restaurants.  Our extreme mobility lets us move hundreds of miles to a place where we don’t know anyone, confident in our security and ability to discover new people and events.  That’s more of a whimsical migration, but we bring our interests and experiences and temporarily plant ourselves in a new place just for fun.  I’m creating work that speaks to each of those ideas about migration, movement, and the transitions that occur along the way. 

Over the past summer I was thinking about the barriers to the life changing single events that exist for humans but not birds or insects. I created a piece called border patrol as I merged the two worlds in my mind.  More recently, having just returned from a day trip to Indianapolis with Dawn Adams, I realized that those shorter, whimsical migrations really make a huge difference in one’s disposition and outlook on life.  A piece that I was working on as individual components suddenly came together as a cohesive composition. 
I’m going to create a piece called Tree Concert Trio.  It touches on the amazing singing that the Sounds of South students have been doing, and I think that somewhere the polka dotted costumes started appearing in the markings for my whimsical bird singers that will populate the piece.  I’m imagining them singing together on purple branches with green leaves.  It’s a happy, feel good piece about my life.   

I have also had some pretty big changes in our family life.  We dropped Tommie off at Oberlin College, or perhaps better said he packed the van, drove us all there, and assumed a new life full of study, Rugby and Aikido in his spare time.  That means the house is a little quieter as we tend to the last bird in the nest.  We did visit him a few weeks ago, and he led me to a big haul of black walnuts on the ground that I scooped up for dyeing.  When I got home, I husked them, broke the husks into one inch pieces and filled my dye pot with them and water to simmer on the veranda.  I didn’t know how the smell would be.  
After an hour boil and overnight steep I pulled out the husks and added a pound of washed, white fleece.  After another boil and steep I pulled out an absolutely scrumptious warm brown fleece, more beautiful than I could have imagined.  I moved on to overdyeing some green, red and teal cottons and wools to great effect, and I’m hoping to do a couple more rounds of dying.  Jim always said you have to embrace the spectrum of browns if you want to be a true Midwesterner!  I’m getting closer.   

I hope you’re not surprised to hear that I’ve had a few pies since I last wrote.  In prime raspberry season, we brought home two pints from Mark at the farmer’s market each week and I had a fresh pie for five straight weeks.  Jim was working on perfecting his tapioca filling technique, and I tried to tell him this was just too many pies for me.  I waited until he was off at work, of course, so he didn’t really hear me....  
We even had a raspberry pie from frozen farmer’s market berries that we got to share with our family members Dave and Martha from Mississippi when they were here for Guys and Dolls last Saturday.  Sadly, the raspberries are now out of season after the frosts, and I’m not much of an apple pie person.  Like in my art career, I guess I just have to wonder what’s coming next!

Until next week, if the creek don’t rise,

--> Martina Celerin