Thursday, March 27, 2008

It Winds and Forks, But It's a Trail

What a hike my creative self has been taking over the past 24 hours! Pick up your walking stick -- here are a few highlights.

Found another interesting snippet about Jasper Johns, this one from a different exhibition. "However, MMoCA’s curator of collections Rick Axsom, who organized 'Jasper Johns: The Prints', says the significance of Johns’ art is found in his exploration of meaning itself and how meaning cannot be fixed." Does this imply that when an artist paints a flag, the meaning of the image of "flag" becomes a consideration for the viewer? That the viewer who associates flag as a literal symbol of a country now must look at this object/symbol "flag" in a new way?

Another surprise, a serendipitous e-mail. My friend Janet sent me a link to a site, and to a specific item for sale, an antique woodblock print book, because she knows I love calligraphic marks. Of course I immediately bought it!
David, one of her fellow professors at U. of R. who teaches Japanese, said these pix are from a genre called utaibon, the form in which dramatic plays and other recitation forms were published. They are composed of written text with a complex system of vocal and interpretive annotation included (and added in red) alongside the text. We're going to get together once the book arrives and David will translate some of the text for us. Honestly though, its appeal to me is not the meaning of the individual words but the beauty of the calligraphic marks and the way it's been bound into a book format. I don't need to understand the language to appreciate the form and movement of the strokes, and it's those I would like to consider incorporating into my own work somehow.

Stumbled onto another interesting idea when I happened onto some workshop descriptions at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester. I'm actually signing up for one this July taught by Judy Natal called "Mapping the Self" -- pretty evocative given all the map imagery I've been collecting for at least four years. I'm now seeing ways to connect mapping with language forms in my work.

Tate Shaw is offering a workshop this summer as well that I can't take because of the time frames it's being offered; "Writing for Artists' Books." The description mentions exploring four types of writing -- found writing, illegible writing, uncreative writing and diagrammatic writing (which I see as a form of mapping.) Fascinating. I have NEVER thought to categorize writing into types, so it was a discovery that immediately set off my mind into fertile new territory and new connections.

I also happened to notice that the Visual Studies Workshop has a collection of over 5,000 artist books -- Mama Mia, where have I been?!? Artist books explore combining language and images. So I have left a message to get an appointment. How do you suppose they categorize the works in this collection? That alone will be interesting to find out.

So I hope to continue my brisk pace along this creative trail today, where ideas and new sources of inspiration are bubbling up like shoots from the warming ground in spring.

1 comment:

  1. To continue the hike:
    After reading today's posting, I looked at the cover page of the April 3rd issue of The New York Review of Books and I saw the headline, Richard Dorment:Seeing Jasper Johns. Dorment's article is a review of the Gray show. You might want to take a look at it.stbt