Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Girl with Yellow Braids 2009

I think this is a self portrait, but I'm not absolutely sure.  I have a school picture of myself from when I was in the second or third grade:  the standard mother's bowl cut bangs, braids on either side of my head, blond.  So there is that memory, but none of the photos in this image are of me.  The right eye and the mouth are my older daughters, but I'm not sure of the origin of the other body parts, the ear, the nose, and the other eye. The chest and neck are from a pile of sticks under a beautiful oak tree in front of my residence in Roanoke, Virginia at Hollins College when I was there in 2008.

When I made this piece I was trying to figure out how to use the luscious scraps of painted paper that I had in my pile of things I'd made but didn't quite know what to do with, which is actually what all my piles of things in the studio are.  The background painting was a small panel with many layers of paint, and it also was something that I felt compelled to do something with-it was just so lovely. When I finished the piece, I was pleased, feeling that it captured something very simple and honest.  It was only today, when I looked at the piece and immediately thought of that small school picture from so long ago, that I realized it was most probably a self-portrait of 7 year old Holly.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lonely Horse 2000

As a child growing up in a rural area outside of Santa Fe, I always had a horse in my life.  At the age of four, my mother and I negotiated :  If I would give up my bottle I would get a pair of cowboy boots.  With the new boots came riding lessons, and then, when I was six, we moved into a house with five horses out back.  It was in an area without many people, and there was a large ranch to the west where I could ride endlessly without fences or roads to impede me.  My horses were my best friends, and I learned about my place in the natural world while on their backs, usually without a saddle.

I was very shy as a child (and still am--I've just learned how to act like I'm not), and I didn't have many friends.  Being around people was  difficult because I didn't know how to interpret their emotions, or understand how they felt about me.  In the third grade I met Jennifer, and she became my best friend.  I was complete for the first time in my conscious life, and not alone anymore.  However, I was a jealous and possessive friend, and by the fifth grade, Jennifer had dropped me for a new group of less demanding girls.  It was a hard lesson, and even now, 49 years later, I can remember the overwhelming pain and sadness of being alone once again.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blue Bird 2010

Sometimes I make an image because my hands take charge and call all the shots, leaving my poor, befuddled, and ego-centric brain to stew in it's usual soup of problems and worries. For Blue Bird I had two things I'd  made that I was excited about:  one was a strange blue paint peel(made from pouring paint on a non-sticky surface and then pulling it back up once dried), and the other was a painted panel covered in glassine paper that I'd dropped small dots of yellow, orange, and blue paint onto.  Preoccupied with itself, my brain would never have married the paint peel and the spotted surface, but my hands did, casually dropping the dried blue paint on top of the panel without any thought or purpose.  And then, there it was, a bird surrounded by polka-dots.  To make it more bird like, I added the tail, another paint peel, but I didn't change the large paint peel at all because to do so would have  caused it to loose it's integrity, it's innate blue birdness. Even the spotted egg under the bird's feet(made from the negative space of a cast off cut out) was hand selected and not mind directed.  The bird's eye, small and a little squinty, was one of hundreds I keep already cut, so it was just a matter of going through them until I found the right one. 

I did have to engage my brain once I started putting the piece together and finishing it off.  Some of the colors I used were not water proof, and ran when I applied the finish varnish, so my brain had to come up with a solution.  Cranky, it solved the problem, but wasn't happy, feeling under appreciated and under utilized.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mean Truck 2007

When the first car was invented, we started a slow descent into Hell.  We've covered the earth with paths of asphalt, created enourmous amounts of pollution, separated ourselves from nature, and are in the process of making a  world that gets toastier as each year goes by(and not toasty in a good way)-- all part of the huge price we've paid for our wheels.  There is an evilness, a monster quality to what we have created. Our automobiles have become Frankensteins and we've lost control of the wheel.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Small Wolf with Forest 1993

This Final Friday, April 27th, Wonder Fair presents the debut solo exhibition of Teal Wilson, a promising Kansas City Art Institute senior and extrovert born into a family of introverts. Into the peaceful world of her parents, “my arrival to the family was like a tsunami,” Wilson writes. “I was rage rocket, hot pocket, bomb drop it.” But above all, Wilson is grateful; A Year of the Horse: Born Into a Family of Rabbits is a nostalgic tribute to the family that raised their misfit daughter with patience, acceptance, and bemused looks on their faces.

Wilson’s work ranges from pure graphite to mixed media works on paper, with colorful embroidery tattoos laid over and into precise pencil drawings. The humans and creatures inhabiting her images are at once terminally awkward and effortlessly comfortable with one another (imagine your summer family reunion, equal parts kinship and forced politeness). In attendance are family dogs, half-remembered houses, and fixed smiles that seem to have been lifted directly from the family photo album. Altogether, Wilson’s exhibition is a fond remembrance of an auspicious occasion, when a year of the horse was born into a family of rabbits.

Teal Wilson, Horse Hat, 2011

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dog with Spots 2001

Home for the summer between my sophomore and junior year in college, I was out on a walk in the rural neighborhood where I had grown up when I came across two pure white German Shepards.  A male and a female, they were very thin,  and both had porcupine quills around their muzzles and into their mouths and throats.  Happy to find me, they followed me home without any hesitation.  Once outside our front door, I called to my parents.  Without much fanfare, Nick, my stepfather, brought out gloves, pliers, and a bowl of warm, soapy water--we had been through this drill before.  The two dogs were good, letting us remove most of the quills and wipe the blood away with a damp towel.  My mother and I held and comforted while Nick did the heavy pulling.  Once done, my mother filled two bowls of dog food for the two, which they ate with huge, heaving gulps.  We put the word out, and within a few days  the grateful owners were found.

That summer I was intensely angry.  I had spent my sophomore year in college at UCSB in Santa Barbara.  It was the year of the Kent State bombings, and on our campus the Bank of America had been burned, a student  shot and killed in the process.  The upstairs duplex where I lived with three female roommates was a hotbed of activity:  two of my roommates dated black panthers who stored dynamite  in our garage, the third was friends with "Roger Red Devil" who alternated between Methamphetamines and Seconal.  Most nights our living room was filled with weed smoking activists planning the revolution while selling/buying drugs from Roger.   When I returned to New Mexico for summer break, I was a different person--a very angry and intense different person.

It's only now, 40 years later, that I realize that I was suffering from PTSD(post traumatic stress syndrome).  I was in trouble but didn't know it, and had been ready to go back and wage the war, fight the good battle.  However, when I found those two pure white dogs something nudged my consciousness and told me to listen up.  It was the way my parents had immediately known what to do with the dogs, and it was the care and love they showed--without any hesitation--that made me understand that was where I needed to be, home, healing. So, because of a pair of German Shepards, I stayed home that fall, got a job selling Indian Jewlery, wrote my memoirs about my year in Santa Barbara, and healed, slowly but surely.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Deer Falling 1995

One of my earliest memories is of being in Hyde Park outside of Santa Fe,  having a picnic with my parents and my brother.  At some point during the picnic, a doe approached us, and we were able to feed and then to pet her.  My memory is clear around the image of the deer and I how excited I was to be with this large and beautiful animal.  As I continued to pet the doe , I found myself underneath her, stroking her soft belly.  This must have frightened her and she jumped away, tangling me up in her long legs as she bolted.  I went from pure little girl delight to pure little girl terror when I felt the hooves trample, then push off of me.  I wasn't hurt, although I know I cried for a long, long time.