Thursday, January 28, 2010


I have been reading an old issue of the Parabola that explores Grace, Gifts bestowed from Above (Volume 27, No.3, Fall 2002)

from The Burn, ©Jane Fulton Alt

In an article titled Through Beauty by Rebecca Robison, she states,

“In attempting to render the forms of the world transparent to the transcendent, an artist looks at things not as the things themselves but as manifestations of mystery. When we begin to see an “it” as a “thou” our experience changes: the beauty of everything touches us and lifts us to a higher place. When we become so inspired by the glory around us that we attempt to express ourselves creatively, we find that “art attunes the soul to God.” Suddenly, in the creative act, we become so totally absorbed and fascinated that minutes and hours pass by without another thought. We are completely immersed in the present moment, oblivious to time and place, forgetful of our very self. The creation of art can release us from our individual everyday desires and intentions so that we become a unique expression of something that is not of our self or of nature. This creative act, in which the source of beauty flows forth, is the middle space beyond oppositions, a central holy place of the Absolute that forms all turning points. From here, outside of time, the grace of transformation enters into us and passes through us. Only the center unfolds the turning point of transition and transformation.

from The Burn, ©Jane Fulton Alt

It cannot be looked for and cannot be held; in every moment it is creation from nothingness as pure present, independent of the past as well as the future. The artist who turns and is transformed is a medium through which the divine passes and thus becomes its interpreter of symbols and expressions.

from The Burn, ©Jane Fulton Alt

The creative process is generation and birth as well as transformation and rebirth. The perpetual self-renewal and the dependence on grace of the person who opens to create are a human parallel to the eternal rebirth of all that is created. The rapture of the flowing deathlessness of creativity is just as much a work in man as nature; indeed, it is only in our creative flowing that we become a part of nature."

(Erich Neumann, Art and the Creative Unconsciousness (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1974) p.202.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

this was my world...

Getting ready to take leave, again. A few parting shots from Ragdale...

now go and apply!

Monday, January 18, 2010

One Year Ago

I still have HOPE and I still have FAITH.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

with love and gratitude

The Burn, Fall 2009

As my time is coming to a close at Ragdale, I am so, so grateful to all the people who make a place like this exist. Friday I stopped by the Barn house to retrieve some items from my room and the dining table was filled with staff. I was initially very surprised because usually it is the residents having a delicious dinner there created by chef Linda. As I left, I marveled at how many people it takes to support this endeavor. And what an endeavor it is! I have been working on several projects. Yesterday was an undistracted 10 hour day of culling thru images. What an incredible luxury. NO DISTRACTIONS! And I got to listen to Paul Simon all day (thanks to Alden's play lists). A deep, deep appreciation to the staff, the board of directors and all who contribute to create such an amazing, magical place.

The Burn, Fall 2009

Thursday, January 14, 2010

St. John of the Cross

Again, another entry from Bill Viola's note book writings, Reasons for Knocking on An Empty House. Here is a poem by Spanish poet St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)
He was imprisoned for nine months in 1577 in a cell, unable to stand or see any day light. He wrote many poems while there.

To reach satisfaction in all,
desire its possession in nothing.
To come to the knowledge of all, desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all, desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing.

To come to the pleasure you have not,
you must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not,
you must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not,
you must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not,
you must go by a way in which you are not.

When you turn toward something,
you cease to cast yourself upon the all.
For to go from the all to the all,
you must leave yourself in all.
And when you come to the possession of all,
you must possess it without wanting anything.

In this nakedness the spirit finds its rest,
for when it covets nothing,
nothing raises it up,
and nothing weighs it down,
because it is in the center of its humility.

___ St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)

Monday, January 11, 2010

more on the creative process

this is a new piece of public art on Maple Street in Evanston. I don't know who the sculptor is but it is very, very striking.

So I am at a Ragdale artist residency, trying to sink into the creative process. It is not so easy to empty oneself and be open to whatever muses offer themselves up. It is often a struggle (see 2 posts earlier). I feel that one of the purposes of this blog is to offer up any helpful hints that might help cultivate your creative process...

so here it goes.

I have been reading some of Bill Viola's Reasons for Knocking on an Empty House. The writings are taken from his notebooks of the past 25 years. I bought the book a while back and am only just now delving into it.

In 1979 he writes,

"Landscape can exist as a reflection of the inner walls of the mind, or as a projection of the inner state without. Flat open vast space lends itself to a cleaner monitoring of the subjective inner world...Removing all cues, from the outside, the voices of the inner state become louder, clearer."

My studio is situated on the prairie with with lots of light permeating the room.

It feels so vast and expansive. It is a privilege to live in it for 2 weeks, watching the light change throughout the day. Years ago I worked with ice in the depths of the winter and decided to explore it once again. I am most productive when I take myself out of the equation, when I can empty myself and just wait and see what the universe offers up.

For those of you interested in an artist residency, I highly recommend it.
You can learn more about it and obtain the Ragdale application here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

from Mark Strand

I woke up this morning and the first thing I read was this poem by Mark Strand...

The Idea

For us, too, there was a wish to possess
Something beyond the world we knew, beyond ourselves,
Beyond our power to imagine, something nevertheless
In which we might see ourselves; and this desire
Came always in passing, in waning light, and in such cold
That ice on the valley's lakes cracked and rolled,
And blowing snow covered what earth we saw,
And scenes from the past, when they surfaced again,
Looked not as they had, but ghostly and white
Among false curves and hidden erasures;
And never once did we feel we were close
Until the night wind said, "Why do this,
Especially now? Go back to the pace you belong;"
And there appeared, with its windows glowing, small,
In the distance, in the frozen reaches, a cabin;
And we stood before it, amazed as its being there,
And would have gone forward and opened the door,
And stepped into the glow and warmed ourselves there,
But that is was ours by not being ours,
And should remain empty. That was the idea.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

A few updated images from New Orleans

I returned to New Orleans this past December, 2 years having passed since my last trip. I found a few locations I had photographed in 2005...

Much to my surprise, the "Broken Steeple" church in Algiers was still broken with just the facade intact. The steeple was resting on the grass, patiently awaiting its return to glory.

this is the original photograph taken in 2005

This church had been completely demolished.

After driving around I found its new, second location.

Here are the Make it Right homes that have been reconstructed in the Lower Ninth.

There are definately pockets of construction and activity that were not happening on 2007, including the Lower Ninth Village and the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development.

Things keep changing. No, it won't ever be the same, but then what is?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Body in Transformation ~ Anne McDonald

Anne McDonald is showing an amazing "body" of work tonight at the Ad Hoc Gallery in Brooklyn. The images are unique prints on roll photo paper and made without using a camera-the bodies are life-sized. I can only imagine the fun she had while creating these works. It is so refreshing to see photographic materials stretched beyond their original intent. This work inspires one to get in there and play!

Body of Light
detail, made by sprinkling powdered bleach onto developed photo paper, 50 x 111 ins.

The Metaphoric Body

detail, Contact print of small objects, 50 x 130 ins.

Disease and Decay, the fragile skin

detail, Made by making a body of glue, and digging down through it with chemistry, 42 x 96 ins.

Monday, January 04, 2010

the transformative power of art ~ lauren e. simonutti

If you ever wondered what it is like to struggle with a mental illness, just take a look at Lauren E. Simonutti's work. She has been featured on LensCulture, Shots Magazine, and will be having her first solo exhibition titled "8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass" at the Catherine Edelman Gallery, opening January 8th. The work is stunning, incredibly raw and courageous. Giving full expression to the tormented psyche is a gift to us all as we peer into our collective humanity.

The Devil's Alphabet: V (2007)

Edelman states:

"Mental illness is not something easily understood. Most of us only hear about it through television or the cinema, which tends to sensationalize the condition. Rarely do we meet a person truly afflicted with mental illness who can explain it. In 2006, Lauren E. Simonutti started hearing three distinct voices in her right ear, the ear she lost hearing in years prior. After numerous hospitalizations and mis-diagnoses, Lauren was finally given a name to her illness, rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder, and given proper medicines which allows her to function with great clarity on a daily basis.

Tomorrow is My Birthday and All My Friends are Here (2006)

Taking pictures since she was twelve, Lauren turned the camera on herself, photographing within the confines of her home, which she has rarely left since 2006. The result of this self-imposed isolation is a haunting, honest body of work about mental illness and a testament to her resilience and need to confront and understand her condition."

As she says in her artist statement:

"Madness strips things down to their core. It takes everything and in exchange offers only more madness, and the occasional ability to see things that are not there....The problem with madness is that you can feel it coming but when you tell people you think you are going crazy they do not believe you. It is too distant a concept. Too melodramatic. You don’t believe it yourself until you have fallen so quickly and so far that your fingernails are the only thing holding you up, balanced with your feet dangling on either side of a narrow fence with your heart and mind directly over center, so that when you do fall it will split you in two. And split equally. So there’s not even a stronger side left to win.....Over three and one half years I have spent alone amidst these 8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass. And this is what I saw here. This is what I learned."
— lauren e. simonutti

"As for my working technique: All work is 100% digital free. Any manipulation has been done either in camera (occasionally), or in darkroom (usually).

Let me clarify that I have nothing against digital. I do not desire to disparage, denigrate or disrespect it. I simply prefer to get my hands wet.

Nearly all my images are large format (4x5 or 5x7 inch negatives) contact prints, exposed under a 100 watt bulb, then selectively bleached and toned. I apply the chemistry with brushes.

While I have my preferred techniques, (sepia, selenium and silver bleach are my main palette), there is always the element of chance. Chemistry does not always react the same, water does not always run in the same direction. I have been known to spill things. Each print is different.

For some reason I only listen to music in the darkroom. I find watching clocks tiresome so I time film processing by music — I have a range of songs of the proper length. Film goes in, music goes on (Tom Waits, Bowie, Bauhaus), song ends, film comes out.

I don’t time prints, I print by inspection. My favourite papers have both been discontinued to date, (Azo & Bergger contact printing papers), so at some point I will have to adapt my working technique, as I have virtually no supply. I am curious to see what will happen."