Saturday, May 30, 2009

Valerie Mann at WSG Ann Arbor

I went to the opening of Valerie Mann's new show FORTUNES and Other Visual Responses at WSG Gallery last night. The work is fascinating and engaging. Walking into the gallery one literally walks in the midst of an installation of white antique baby clothes, each outfit embroidered with a phrase like "you will trust your instincts". The choice of phrase is resonant, taking one back to childhood hopes, dreams and fears. As a mother of teens these pieces struck at my core hopes and fears for my children. Despite the charm of the embroidered clothing this is not a sweet or sentimental installation. There is something profound about the ghosts of the human figure hanging in mid-air, reminding us of memories and hopes - the fortunes referenced in the title of the exhibition. The fortunes are not all benign and many of them reference the sort of social fears that are such a painful part of childhood and adolescence. In her artist's statement Mann says "I am interested in how we as parents and adults in society teach the next generations to cope. What do we teach them by our actions or inaction? Every one of these fortunes is about someone I know - or myself. Many times, several of the fortunes apply to one person. How is it that someone can be 'orphaned at a young age', 'cherished by many people' and 'always share {their} wisdom at the right time'?" I thought it was a terrific and thought provoking installation. There are other pieces in the show which are also strong and an interesting use of various media but the infant gowns are the pieces that I expect to stay with me for a long time.

exhibition information
WSG Gallery
306 S. Main Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

May 12 - June 21, 2009

Artist Gallery Talk:

Sunday, May 31, 2 pm

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home show - opening images

my piece "climate change game"

Here are a few images from the opening of the Home - Loving it, Losing it, Leaving it show - just in time for the end of the exhibition since it comes down after tomorrow.
Mashawnta Armstrong's big blueprint piece

installation view of my piece "NOLA dreams - after the flood"

Christy Kelley-Bengten's installation piece

installation view of exhibition including Alejandra Chaverri's two encaustic on digital print's and Robin Wilt's Anxiety flags.

looking through Margaret Parker's Escape/Return

another view of Margaret's piece

Candace Compton Pappas' painting and installation "offering"

photos taken by Sam Sobel

Friday, May 8, 2009


Tonight is the opening of the Home, Loving it, Losing it, Leaving it show at the Gallery at the UM Duderstadt Center. This show is sponsored by the Michigan chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art and was juried by Larissa Larson asst professor in the UM Dept of Urban Planning. I'm on of the co-organizers and also have a couple pieces in the show. The opening is from 6-8pm - come and see!

Also on the subject of homes, The New York Times ran a story this week on the removal of the FEMA trailers in New Orleans - pulling housing out from people who desperately need it and only in order to destroy the trailers. It's an obscene travesty to do this and I hope the New York Times article will help spur FEMA to do the right thing although I'm not even slightly optimistic about it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Desert summer, midwestern spring

Michigan is at its prettiest this time of year - trees blooming, delicate film of green on the trees, color after a very long, monochromatic winter. I'm enjoying the loveliness of spring although it feels a little schizophrenic after a couple weeks in New Orleans where spring was far more advanced but where I couldn't simply revel in it given the almost post-apocalyptic state that so much of the city lingers in. What, you may ask, does this have to do with pictures of the desert - especially pictures of the desert in high summer? It's not obvious nor simple. Some of it is just that this time of year I yearn to be out west hiking and the desert is the place I'd most like to be. When the weather finally warms up enough here to really enjoy being outdoors I want to travel. This spring that won't happen. I'm still digesting my experience in New Orleans. I balance between my utter rage at what has happened there, my pessimism that it will ever be made right and a profound personal desire for the serenity that for me has always been found in the desert. Hence the pictures of the last time I was there. These pix are all from my 2007 trip to Canyonlands.

In some ways I've always felt like the desert is the home I belong in. Ironically enough since I've never actually lived there. It's a disconnect between where I am home and where I feel home is - or will be - someday. I can't complain though - I have a home. It may not be the place I most want to be but it hasn't been taken from me or destroyed. My life is as under my control as much as anyone's is these days. At least as much under my control as anyone's life who is the parent of three teenagers can be! After two weeks in New Orleans working with people who have lost just about everything they held dear I treasure the luxury of both the physical home and the spiritual one and the chance to be in both.