Sunday, January 31, 2010

one thousand five hundred twenty four

I applied to Skowhegan today and after handing in my application was informed by the computer that I was the 1,524th person to apply this year. Basically this residency is harder to get into than most Ivy League schools, but I guess it's worth hoping? A special someone might chime in here something about the power of positive thinking and make me feel better about dropping $45 on an application fee... to which I respond with only the briefest optimism. Well anyways, in the long shot that I get it I'll be back on the east coast for two month in Maine. My mother once told me that I could do a cushy all-expenses covered residency in their suburban Ithaca home-- not sounding too shabby right now (and there's no application fee). Here are some images I spent the whole day shooting and sprucing in photoshop-- at the very least this part of the tedium of putting together a portfolio is over, so applying to other things will be a little easier.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weitz, Dijeau, and Strunk were here.

Most photographs have nothing on the back. Others a scribble of biographical information, maybe a stamp of a photographers name, and sometimes a letter from one person to another. This image shows the backs of two photographs, one from San Francisco, the other from Reading, PA, and both of these photographers seem fairly hell-bent to not miss an opportunity to be remembered through the self-referential advertising on the back of their products.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

souvenir, revisited

You know the expression, "There's no such thing as new ideas"? Maybe not. But here in art school it's a common tooted piece of told-you-so that hits the heart strings and panic button of any burgeoning artist. Where this is going is that I discovered today that this photograph (one I've had for a long time) was taken in San Jose in 1884 and the man that took it was way ahead of me in deconstructing the words and associating it with the snapshot. What's interesting is that photography hadn't even been around that long in 1884 and already it was being marketed as a stat-of-the-art way to capture your most nostalgic moments and remember them forever.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

in arms

These old baby pictures are always so serious-- the babies are propped uncomfortably in starchy white dresses beside handsome furniture like little adults. I like these pictures because if you pay attention you realize all these kids are in the arms of their beheaded, faded-out parents or photographer assistants, sometimes disguised as a plush bosomy chair cushion. Most of these pictures are about 100 years old, something I think about often when working with them-- few of these people are likely to still be alive. But they were all once little round things held in the laps of caretakers, and well, that's obvious but also pretty neat.

Monday, January 25, 2010


This isn't even all of them, folks. People love to pose their babies upon heaps of fur. A pagan birthrite? A symbol of potential virility? Whatever it is, I vote to bring it back.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

many takes

Since I'm working on this piece with baby pictures of other peoples babies it seems appropriate to show off a few of the gems I've come across. The parents of this kid couldn't mae up their mind and had at least 5 different costume and set changes. My favorite is the blurry one, but that little sweater in one of the bottom pictures is pretty freaking adorable.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

thunder and lightening

Trying to get some old works finished so I can take them down before starting new ones. Last night a crazy storm from all directions whirled around San Francisco and kept me awake thinking about all the things I could have been doing in my studio instead of not-sleeping in my bedroom. Made a few teensy drawings this morning while listening to music before finally convincing myself to leave the house at 7:00am and fare the rain. I've been thinking more about cartouches and speech bubbles and the silence they share of the white space inside of their forms.

Monday, January 18, 2010

maybe/maybe not

I spent a few hours repairing the weird bulge that was occuring on this rag rug. Now it's flat and I'm trying to figure out how to levitate it three feet off the ground. Or maybe not. I found myself talking to Kate Moore at opening last week about how I'm finding installtions of sculptural pieces really difficult to figure out. When I'm making a drawing it has implied edges (that of the paper) and I have an idea in my head about what it will look like when it is finished. When making something that will actually exist sculptually in the world, on the floor, taking up space, as an object and in relation to the human form it gets difficult to really figure out what a piece means-- it seems like it can be manipulated and recontextualized in any number of ways and this multitude of possibilities feels overwhelming.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

day at the museum

I went to SFMOMA today to see the unveiling of Allison Smith's giant quilt. In one small gallery, along with a bunch of wooden chairs that seemed out-of-place, these photos were hung with the following caption:

Photographs are ubiquitous in our visual culture, more so than any other form of imagery. The great majority of pictures taken since photography's invention in 1839 are functional rather than self-consciously artistic: used to document, identify, illustrate, and commemorate, such photographs have been put to uses both public (archival records, mug shots, scientific illustrations, advertisements) and private (family snapshots). This class of pictures is often called "vernacular" photography, adopting a term that originated in the field of linguistics to describe local speech patterns and was subsequently appropriated by architectural history to refer to domestic or working buildings as opposed to high style edifices.

SFMOMA was a pioneer in both collecting and exhibiting vernacular photographs, pictures that might seem to have little to do with the other forms of artistic expression in the museum displays. Yet such pictures help us to understand photography as a medium, its aesthetics and its history. A simple snapshot shows the radical act of abstraction that is performed by placing four edges around a scene, or the way the photographer can confer extraordinary importance upon an everyday object. At the same time, such quotidian pictures demonstrate the extent to which photography is an inseparable part of the social experience of modernity.

Equally important, vernacular photography-- ranging from anonymous snapshots to medical illustrations to real estate photographs-- has served as a fertile source of inspiration to artists. The American photographer Walker Evans was an avid collector of picture postcards, and his compositions often paid homage to the plain spoken quality of such humble images. Lee Friedlander in turn developed a visual vocabulary that deliberately draws on the typical "mistakes" of the amateur photographer, from the poles that frequently bisect his pictures to the inclusion of his own shadow within the frame. Like the designers of the chairs on view in this gallery, who have transformed furniture into sculptural objects, such artists have recognized the integrity and beauty inherent to photography in its least assuming form and created artwork that transcends its origins.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The other half

...of my visual inheritance from the walls of my grandparents home-no-more, Center Moriches, Long Island.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

lessons in genealogy

My mother took this picture of the books she was looking through to try to find out the genealogy of a tree my grandfather Peter Costich cultivated called European Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus). All of these publications come from the library of Hicks Nursery, the nursery on Long Island where my grandfather and great-grandfather worked and where my mother lived for the earlier part of her childhood.

Monday, January 11, 2010

a willingness to be haunted

In her book about the queer experience of grief and loss, Feeling Backward, Heather Love refers to the anomaly of simultaneous disconnection from one's past and incredible longing for identification as "a willingness to be haunted." I've been thinking about this-- about how I've never seen a ghost but want to. What is that desire?

I'm also reading a book from 1967 called Famous Ghosts, Phantoms, and Poltergeists for the Millions by Andrew Tackberry. I'd like to share the beginning of it's wonderful introduction:

"What is a ghost? The answer to this question frequently depends upon who is asked it. To most people a ghost is the stuff from which stories are written, the floating, white-clad, luminous form that is seen in deserted houses or in midnight graveyards moaning out messages of terror to the unsuspecting living. To others a ghost is the substance of dreams, appearing at the edge of sleep as the face of a loved one, long gone and almost forgotten, or as the night-mare symbol of all his guilt and his fears. The child thinks of a ghost as bringing delightful shivers in stories while the scientist considers the word "ghost" as being the collective term for all of the superstitious rubbish and use-less myth of past ages.

A ghost? Why, a ghost is many things to many people, its nature depending upon the strength of their imaginations. But in this day and age it would be easier to say what a ghost is not. In the Age of Science, a ghost is not real. A ghost does not exist, and never did. A ghost, according to the average enlightened adult has no reality, but is merely the product of the credulous and fanciful mind."


The encroaching whiteness in the bottom right-hand corner of this photograph has a character- the threatening rapacity of erasure.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

bedsheets and broomsticks

Installed my piece in PLAySPACE today and am glad to have it outside of my studio for awhile and to see how it looks on the white walls of the art world. Come to the opening! Tuesday, January 12th, 6-9pm!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Obstinate Flesh

"The grotesque body, as we have often stressed, is a body in the act of becoming. It is never finished, never completed; it is continually built, created, and builds and creates another body. More-over, the body swallows the world and is itself swallowed by the world." Mikhail Bakhtin

Presented by:
Rajkamal Kahlon
You Said it Wouldn't Hurt: Perspectives on the Body and Trauma in Contemporary Art

Featured artists:
Mara Baldwin, Nicola Buffa, TigerBrooke, Natalia Gomez, Isaac Gray, Emily Hoover, Liesa Lietzke, Monique Lopez, George Pfau, Indhira Rojas, Sune Woods

Curated by:
Matt Post

1111 Eighth Street
San Francisco, CA

Opening Tuesday, Jaunary 12th 6-9pm

Thursday, January 7, 2010

mapping out the other half

Oh! I'm excited to finish this one. Litarally every single image from the house on Long Island has water in it. I think it's funny to think of my parent's union as the convergence of land and sea.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

mapping out my inheritance

Finished this drawing today-- it took almost two and a half full studio days to make it! I found it ridiculously difficult to render these very little drawing-- I had carelessly thought that because they were small drawings they would take less time. I have never been so wrong. Click on the picture to see in greater detail.

Anyways, this is a drawing of every single thing on the walls of my grandparent's house in Indianapolis. Many of the things are in couplets-- there is an odd and consistent symmetry to the interior decor of that home. These framed images are, in their most literal form, destined to be part of my object inheritance. But their images have already been passed down to me in the form of my understanding of my connection to American historical images and the torrent of antiquities siphoned through thrift stores daily.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


As I've continued working on this rag rug (a process greatly expedited since my discovery that I could use my sewing machine to put it together) the middle section which I had done by hand has started to pop out like a pregnant womans bellybutton. I kind-of like it but also am pretty weirded out about it with the persistent thought that it's not supposed to be that way. I've resolved to leave it alone for now and decide later on-- I'm fairly certain there will be a way to repair it by hand if I decide I dont like it(???). This mistake, however, also opens up the rug to the possibility of having the coil reattach to itself, similar to how I treated the quilt project I made last summer. This rug, efterall, is made from the leftover scraps of that quilt, so it seems plausible that I could finish it with a similar treatment. The question now is what to do with the scraps from this project. I've been thinking about making a nappy birdsnest out of them-- they're practically there already anyways.

Monday, January 4, 2010

potted cosmos

I've been fantasizing about rendering of the spheres of winter-fouled potting soil from aerial photographs I took of the flowerless front porch pots at my parents house. I made this mock up today so I could talk to someone about it once school starts. I'm pretty sure this is an example of a project that might make visual sense before I can really articulate what it's about. What I think it's about is related to that state between two things-- a category of grayness which stony seeds, flowerless soil, mules, ghosts and gays all fall into. All I know is that it HAS to be made for some reason-- a very strong, very rare, and very exciting impulsive feeling. I'm feeling good about the time I've been spending in the studio this week but am starting to feel intruded upon with return of my peers from winter break. School begins next week and every day now there's another person asking me for help with something, another radio playing, and more gossipy hallway conversations to try to block out. I've resolved that it might be time to put up a curtain in my doorway. The countdown to open studios has begun-- 3 months from today.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

to. do.

There's just too much to do. I found myself tonight flooded with projects to start and projects not yet finished. I got back a week ago from my time at home and have been pretty much locked in the studio. I've made a lot of headway on some sculptural fabric pieces but haven't done much drawing at all in the past month. I've got the drawing itch-- I want to draw everything. Some things I want to draw: circles of potting soil from malnourished planters, the pear truck that drove off the bay bridge, the pictures hung on the walls at both of my grandparents houses, ghosts, the contents of boxes, morgan's scar, pictorial directions for how to remember past lives. These things and more to come-- bring it on 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

I've been cutting the pattern out of this king-sized fitted bedsheet for a couple of weeks and I'm proud to rport that it's finally done. Happy 2010!