Sunday, February 6, 2011

New creations emerging...

For an upcoming show as well as a few galleries in Richmond who want to see new work, I am creating like mad.
"In Her Honour"

A nondescript end table has emerged with the strength of Frida. Eventually I will leave her strength aside but for now I am loving her presence in my work. Mexican art is so lovely and the colors so vibrant...

The new series of trees...

In the midst of Old Dominion University, there is an angel.

The influence this one woman brings to this corner of the world ripples through to reach globally. Without ego, with an immensely open heart, she teaches her classes and opens eyes to incredible worlds. It is subtle, most times, the effect she has but long after sitting in one of her classes does the affect continue to flourish within the student.
In her class Chick Flicks, the world of movies is opened up in a way that one never sees a movie the same way again. Names that roll through credits are now paid attention to, the threads of the movie machine are recognized, and the history of movies has a spotlight shining down on it. It is this new world that these trees were created.
Josephine Baker...
Names of people have always run through my mind, regardless of not knowing anything about them. I recall seeing pictures of Josephine Baker and knew she had quite an influence but on what I had no idea. Her name kept popping in my head and with glee I began research.
Now I am in awe.
Her place in life was boundless. Her beginnings were full of reasons not to become anything. Yet within these meager beginnings, she emerged to rule dance halls, rule Harlem Renaissance, to cross countries and influence a Europe that was beginning its rule in Art Deco. She was in the midst of Folies Bergeres.
That wasn't the only side of this amazing woman.
Josephine Baker stood in her beliefs to aid in going against the Nazis. Her success as a performer aided the war effort; so much so that her adopted country of France bestowed many awards on her and full French military honors at her funeral.
Her sexuality wasn't within bounds, either. She lived fully and without apologies, rising while the world around her were exposed to something they had never seen before. She performed with zest, lived life on her terms and her influence remains without bounds.

Marlene Dietrich...

Marlene is another woman who lived life on her own terms. The movie machine of the early 20th century is known for ruling every aspect of the life of one of their contract players, but Marlene made her movies and became a glamourous movie star in her way. Her legacy remains as a person who embraced both male and female sides of her personality and didn't apologise for it.
Marlene Dietrich also supported the anti-Nazi war effort and was recognized from both the United States and France. In doing so, she received alot of backlash from her home of Germany.
Her daughter's book lovingly sits on my bookshelf and I adore delving back into the many facets of her life. She died in Paris, a month before I graduated high school. How I wish now that I paid more attention back then to the women who would have such an influence.
When I started these trees, I never knew the many coincidences between these two women. Until I began writing did I see how similar they lived their lives. Their affect on me came from completely different corners but now I see the common thread that invisibly drew me to them.
Isn't it interesting what life brings to you and only unveils itself when you sit down to look?
Pausing in this hectic life to see the path that brought these trees to life, to see the immense influence Professor Vaughan Frederick still has on my daily life, and to witness the result of the richness that surrounds each and every one of us is awesome.

And I wish each and every person that they have a Vaughan in their life.

And the birth of the furniture...

After much blood, sweat and tears in some disasterous craft shows I delivered my first commission to redo a dear friend's end table that was so far removed from his personal taste.
His love a Korean soap opera, Frida Kahlo and Day of the Dead iconography came through to become a piece he loves.

Another dear friend commissioned me to redo her great-grandmother's bookcase. Her travels to South Africa resonate deeply within her as well as her love of Frida. Desmond Tutu's "Ubuntu" speech resides over Frida's commanding presence. The strength of two vibrant people.

The birth of the trees...

This past year has been a maelstrom of creativity and has brought together the creations that have passed and the ones that have yet to be birthed from the past 18 years.
I had created trees off and on for the past 10 years. I gave them to the healers in my mum, dear friends, my amazing chiropractor whose healing still keeps me from being bedridden, and a loving massage therapist who gave so much healing physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I created a couple of trees for an auction a friend was having to support the domestic violence shelter at the YWCA. I was thrilled beyond belief when I found out that the woman who bought both trees was the same woman who was integral to the Women's Studies department I was about to graduate from. I was also awared the scholarship in her name the previous semester...she definetly has iconic stature in my mind.
The whirlwind of graduation and reuniting with my mum made the first 6 months of 2010 fly by.
My mum had been sick since the previous year and spent so much time in and out of hospitals. We had a tentative reunion and then a misunderstanding but in June she called me and said she wanted to see me happy before she died. She wanted to meet my partner and on my son's 19th birthday we had dinner with her. Her smiling face was the balm I needed and she was almost as enamored with my partner as I am.
We planned to get together for July 4th weekend but on Saturday, July 3rd we got a call that she was back in the emergency room. We met my pops there and was by her side as she was in and out of conciousness. She gained comfort from my partner in her state.
The next day I spent with her, the last time I had a length of time with her concious. She went into a coma and we stood by her side until she passed July 16.
While we waited in hopes that she would come out of her coma, I gained healing in my trees. I made a bonsai for each of my immediate family members. It became a labor of love to give them a tangible memory of my vibrant mum.

I took the surge of inspiration of trees to launch my Etsy shop. Here are a few of them...

Previous Showings

I showed at a local art show, Renewal, in 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, I showed "Frida Meets Day of the Dead" which lovingly resides in my living room. She was my first furniture piece and spurred my upcycling.

In 2009, I showed my first public tree and my first painting ever.
It's totally trippy to walk around and admire work and then realize your work is among those that you admire. It's also trippy to see people looking at your work and hearing what they have to say...
I was stoked and proud to show.

The beginning of this journey

This flyer was created by Brenda ( for my art show to fund my studies in San Francisco. Her amazing talent in graphic design aided many non-profit works as we tried to create a LGBTQ community center in Virginia.

Gathering a bunch of artists, many who haven't shown before, but had amazing talent was awesome and inspirational. The collective energy was stellar....especially since I've never put on a show before.

Once I came back from San Francisco and faced my last year in my undergrad, this experience and the many inspirations experienced in San Francisco marinated until I graduated in May, 2010.