Sunday, April 15, 2018

Penland Spring Concentration 5th week


                    "Woman with Spring" 2018

In sharing a workspace with seven other people, I've come to realize how much I need the space and solitude of my own studio.  Because my method of working has evolved over the years, I hadn't really realized what the key ingredients were to my making an image until I found that I didn't have those things.  They are 1. Lots and lots of space(I mean 7-8 large tables space)so that I can spread out and make a mess, and then leave the mess. 2. Not to have to think about what other people are doing or thinking or saying. 3. To be able to go in and out of the many moods I evolve through (among them irritability and frustration) without worrying about other people's reactions. And 4.  To be able put up work in progress and look at it, often for weeks or months, until I feel it's done. 

As we've progressed through our time here, I've found myself stealing as much space as I can and working early in the morning or on weekends when few people are around.  I've learned to tune out much (but not all) of need for approval and attention from the other artists I share the space with.  And I've gone ahead and finished pieces in a few weeks without the luxury of living with them until I'm sure they are finished. And that may not be such a bad thing.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Penland Spring Concentration 3rd week



The rules for working on my own images during my two months at Penland School of Crafts are this:  
1.  I can only use materials that I find(or buy)while at Penland.
2.  I should try and use materials that are completely new and/or foreign to me.
3.  Any photo I use should be taken while at Penland.
4.  I have to stop complaining in my head about the lack of privacy and space available to me.
5.  Students needs come first, except after hours.
6.  I can break any rule I want.

"Round Head" is made from the negative space left over from student Troy Skully's portrait, the white marks are made using a new foam roller from a set bought at Michael's, the mouth is from a piece of dry wall mud mixed with polymer medium with the teeth drawn in ink, the eyes are student Beth Kokol's, and the sweater neck is from a photo of Photography Studio Manager, Betsy Dewitt's cap.  Image not yet adhered, could blow away with the next strong gust of wind that blows in periodically when the door next to my area opens and shuts suddenly.



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Penland Spring Concentration 2018


March 9, my husband, Bob, and I left New Mexico for Penland, North Carolina with our two small dogs in tow.  It was a 2 1/2 day drive, and when we arrived it began to snow, and then snowed some more.  It has all melted off and we are left with the purposes of our trip:  me to teach an 8 week concentration and Bob to take an 8 week sculpture class.

I have eight students in a lovely, fairly new painting studio.  I've never worked with students this long, and this intensively(we meet everyday).  It's also a much smaller group than what I'm used to working with.  I have a corner of the classroom for my own materials and work, and have set it up to be as much like my studio at home as possible, which is tricky since at home I have 1200 square feet of studio space and roughly ten tables plus wall space, as well as complete privacy.
I've done a weeks worth of demos for the students, but haven't really started anything of my own yet, and I have quite a bit of trepidation about starting.  I will try and work on the weekends, but have already seen, with this weekend almost gone, and next to nothing done(a trip into Spruce Pine, the nearest town, to buy art and household supplies)how quickly it goes by.  I will be way out of my comfort zone in terms of my ways of working, plus my normal, extreme anxiety anytime I start something new.  I'm going to try and post every few weeks as we progress, so, sit tight, and send a few creative prayers my way.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Not Eating 1997

 As a lonely child I ate for comfort, usually while reading a book, devouring entire bags of potato chips and many many candy bars.  Then, as a young woman, on my own, I found myself seeking out food when I was distressed or upset, which, it seemed, was most of the time.  In the mid to late sixties, there was no information about eating disorders.  I just knew that I was eating too much, always sweet or salty foods, and that I was gaining weight.  I couldn't control it, and it caused me terrible distress. I told no one about it.

Years passed, and I learned not to use food to avoid my problems, instead, dealing with those problems directly. In 1997 I did this painting.  At the opening of the exhibit that included it I noticed a young woman standing in front of the painting, rocking from side to side, clearly distressed.  My memory is that she was very thin, slight and probably in her mid twenties.  I asked her if I could help her, and she turned to me, and said, in a very angry voice, "Why did you do this?  Why?  And what does the red mean anyway?"*.  I don't remember how I replied, only that later I found out that she was from a very wealthy family in Canada and came to live at a resort in Tucson every winter, which is where the exhibit was.  She was, of course,  struggling with her own overwhelming and destructive eating disorder. I wished I could have helped her in some way, but, of course, I never saw her again.

*The red path refers to the cessation of periods in women with eating disorders

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Couple Considering 2017

My relationship paintings almost always portray the woman as being the larger figure, and this painting is no exception.  The woman is from an older photograph of my younger self, and the man, as well, a younger version of my husband. My shoes are red(appropriate), and his green(appropriate but I'm not sure why).  Like the relationship, the making of the image was complicated, involving, but not limited to: many layers of acrylic paint, oil paint, crackle medium, transfers, and direct gluing(not necessarily in that order). The text is Japanese, from what is, I think, a Japanese textbook, but there is no way to know for sure since I don't speak Japanese and don't have any friends that do.  I don't know what is being said, and even if someone were to read the text it would be backwards since it has been transferred.  I simply love the visual look of the letters, and the way they exist and politely enhance but don't intrude. I've found my husband several times pausing in front of the painting and nodding his head in approval. I liked it to begin with, but, with every nod of his head, I find myself liking it a little bit more.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

33 Years: Holly Roberts at the Griffin Museum 2018

On Jan.16 my husband and I flew to Boston for the opening of my retrospective at the Griffin Museum of Photography.  I don't think that Paula Tognarelli(the director of the museum)and I ever exactly planned it as a retrospective, but then, all of a sudden, there it was:  33 years of my work, stretching from 1984 to 2017. It turns out Paula and I are on the same wave length, twins from different mothers. She choose tough images, but also found and underscored the darkly funny ones, like "Sperm and Ovum" and "Snake Truck"(seen above). She ended up selecting over 60 images, filling the beautiful space beautifully, grouping the work following a rough time table of 1984-2003, 2005-2014, and 2015-2017.

 I was there on the opening night to give a walk through to a full gallery, probably 45-50 people.  I went through the gallery selecting images that were especially important or timely for me to talk about, and discussed as well my techniques and processes.  People asked questions so that I could fill in what I do, what I think about, and what I react to when I work.  It was a truly wonderful evening for me, seeing all my children, lined up on the wall, patiently waiting to be appreciated.  I felt proud, a little overwhelmed, and extremely grateful.

There are people like Paula Tognarelli in the art world, but they are few and far between.  She is one of those unique people who love art and artists and have the means and the where-with-all to support us on the rough and tumble journey that we have chosen to take as creative people. It was a night like no other for me, and I can only give thanks to the art gods(and Paula)for having made it happen.

*To see and read about some of the work in the show you can follow this link 
http://hollyrobertsstudio.blogspot.com/2018/01/holly-roberts-33-years-presented-by.html 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Man with Flute 2014

On Christmas Eve of this year, I received a phone call from a friend who had invited my mother to Christmas Eve dinner. My mother hadn't been home when they went to pick her up and it was beginning to get dark. Her car and dog were missing as  well.  I knew that, most probably, she had gone out and then gotten lost trying to return home.  She has no short term memory, and her cognitive functions are getting weaker and weaker. I called the sheriff's office and spoke to a deputy, reporting her missing.  After gathering the pertinent information,the deputy went to work, finally issuing an APB for Mom.  Meanwhile, my husband and I gathered our dogs and headed up to Santa Fe(from Corrales where we live) to look for her, knowing we would probably be spending the night there.

By the next day, from credit card receipts which my sister had access to, we were able to track her voyage, from 2:30 in the afternoon in Santa Fe, to the last place she stopped for gas at 4:00 a.m. in Roswell, New Mexico, 200 miles to the south.  In the meantime, a "Silver Alert" had been issued for her describing an 88 year old gray haired Hispanic woman driving a brown Honda CRV with a brown Aussie mix dog in the back(she isn't Hispanic).  The alert scrolled across the bottom of the screen during the late news and then again in the morning.  About 9:00 a.m., as we were getting ready to head back to Albuquerque(60 miles away), we heard a knock at the door.  It was my mother.  She had almost no memory of where she had gone or what she had done, just that she knew not to let the gas run out, and that she had made it back on her own. I took the car and drove it over to a neighbors so that she wouldn't have access to it, and was accused having always wanted to get her car away from her. We have no idea where she went(other than the credit card receipts), or what was calling to her that would cause her to drive for over 19 hours, in the dead of night, refusing to ask for help.