A few outstanding items.

More than a few things have happened since last I wrote here. One: I survived Germany. Two: one show has happened, and another is coming. Three: I’ve made some new things. These items are listed in an inverse level of importance, so let’s go from there.

So: hooray! I made things! I’ve also updated my portfolio to reflect this, so check out this link here! Holy exclamation points, Batman! In seriousness: it is rather nice to be able to update with a few items that are fusing my writing with my visual practice, so you know. Nice.

As for shows: The Meeting Waters, my department’s fall show, was pretty exquisite and a good time. Here’s a lovely write-up about it on the MCAD MFA website, in case you’re keen. For those of you in Indianapolis: 5 of my paintings from the Microaggression series are being shown at Electric Light: Fluorescent and Neon in Contemporary Art Practice at the Garfield Park Arts Center. It’s been a lovely experience working with the folks at GPAC to get my work there, and I hope to hear great things from the show even though I can’t come down! The opening will be this Saturday, November 7 from 2:00-4:00 p.m., and although it seems like there isn’t a Facebook event on the item, this page tells you where to go.

Lastly: Germany! Frankly, this write up (again, on the MCAD MFA website) says more, so why repeat myself? Besides, they made everything look so sleek and nice.

We’re at that time of year where I’ll be updating the store and the like very soon, so more as news develops. But until then – well, keep warm. November cometh.

Grüße aus Deutschland.

A week ago, I was in New York.

This seems impossible, of course, given the travel that has subsequently followed. Have you ever been on a trip that seems so spiritually distant that years have taken place within the hours that have clocked up? And yet at the same time, I can remember the ride from Brooklyn to Newark, the harrowing press of young children together as they rode to Secaucus, dressed as if they were diving head-first into Coachella. I remember other things too (I’m afraid New York didn’t treat me kindly, as generous and sweet as my hosts were), but that last glimpse of America is especially poignant. Or, at least, emblematic.

But I’m in Schwerin now, the capital of the eastern state of Mecklenberg-Vorpommern, a place that is half-Baltic and half-steeped in the shadow of the GDR. At least, this is what a lot of the guides have told me thus far on all of the tours I’ve been given; this also explains the fact that what little German I remembered from my first year at Cottey is being put to good use at present. (I am, as it goes, pathetically rusty.) But what shines more so is how beautiful this place is – Schwerin is known, from the German saying, as “The City of the Seven Seas,” which is far more poetic than the literal translation. (See, as it turns out, is German for lake.) Water is everywhere; the city center revolves around cathedrals and an actual castle, which is haunted by a ghost named Little Peter. (The German name for this spectre, Petermännchen, is weirdly adorable given that they draw the dude as if he were a gnarly gnome.) I live in an airy room in a beautiful apartment. The food is cheap and, I hear, the beer even cheaper. (Haven’t had the guts to go into a pub yet, though. I told you: mein Detusch ist sehr rough.) It looks like the makings of a very beautiful, if not eventful, month.

As I begin to settle into my routine in Schwerin, I’ll start to give impressions on what it’s like to live here, to work as someone who speaks the dominant language in a… less than satisfactory manner, and what the non-profit gallery system is like in Germany. The latter-most will probably be of largest interest to my audience here, but hey: you’re not here for “Allison’s Crash Course in German” entries. Consider this the first of many posts, in any event, this one being the “ha ha hello, I’m alive” one. That seems to be a good one to start on, at any rate.

It’s too good to be true!

Welp, tiny unexpected blog post to say that, due to a bunch of technical brouhaha, I’ve had to temporarily disable Stripe from the Big Cartel shop. Key word is temporary: I know how easy it is to shop with just your credit card, and I don’t want to inhibit your patronage. If anything, it’s a good problem to have: new Stripe account + tons of excited folks = funds indigestion, and I can’t get my disbursement. With money in limbo, I don’t even have the funds to actually ship anything, which just holds everything up. Bummerino for everyone!

However, once the first disbursement goes through, we should be off to the races, so while we wait, I’ve decided to hold a little incentive: between now and May 11, there will be free shipping on all small works and prints in the shop. No codes, either – you just pay what you would otherwise and check out via PayPal. Consider this my thank you for your courtesy and understanding during this inconvenience, and everything will be back to normal next week.

New work!

Why dress up what’s being presented: I’ve uploaded new work in the portfolio, which shows the breadth of discovery I’ve been undergoing this year. I’ll probably have a more thoughtful post on this later, but for now, you can see that I’m going beyond painting and into all sorts of weird twists and turns – sound work, performance, and explorations into alternative narrative. It also explains the little radio that keeps on popping up across platforms; Public Service Confessional is the newest of my works and, perhaps, the most exciting to me even a month after its presentation. I’ll write on it more in-depth later, but the blurb I have on its project page speaks well for itself at present.

Non-sequitur: the Big Cartel shop has been burning up with orders! Thank you to everyone who’s made a purchase to my humble little corner of the Internet thus far, and please feel free to pass along thoughts, delights, pleasures, etc. to your friends, my e-mail box, or wherever you may seem fit. It’s been such a wonderful experience to see what’s beloved and what isn’t thus far, and I hope that everyone’s purchases live up to their wildest dreams and delights. There’s something about selling work that puts a little spring in your step, so thank you very much for putting it there.

Less business and more pleasure next post – I’m thinking that I need to talk talismans again.

State of the Studio

It’s spring. I haven’t written in ages. I’m refusing to make a joke about it, especially as it pertains to the long Minnesotan winter, because I’ll be real: my second semester of grad school was crazy as all get out.

Some cool things that happened after my last missive:

  • I passed Mid-Program Review! Now I can move on to my second year of study. Wowza.
  • I was made a 2015 WorkART Kunstverein Fellow by the University of Minnesota’s Center for German and European Studies. This is a fancy way of saying that I’m going to go over to Schwerin, a lovely city in Germany, to learn how the staff there run the local kunstverein (essentially, a non-profit gallery). I’m really honored, excited, and slightly nervous for my journey, which will start in late May and will end in early July.
  • I’ve also netted some time to come visit New York shortly before I leave for Europe, which is p. rad all things considered.
  • In a not-so-grudging acknowledgement that all of the above cost money, I’ve opened up a Big Cartel shop to sell wares. I’m going small right now to see what sells and what doesn’t, but if it does well, I’ll start investing in a larger inventory. Tell your friends! Tell your empty living room that’s sad and grey! Tell your pocket book!
  • I’ve documented everything I’ve done this year, so next update is “wow, I made art for a year, now check my portfolio.” You heard it here first. But up above is a sneak peek, so not bad, eh?

Talismans: Part I

Let’s get to the point: no one wants to read about when you’re having a rough time in the studio. Sure, you want to write about it, but no one wants to hear you speak about it in a public forum. Besides, I already did that a few weeks back and to hop back on the “ha ha, still having a tough go at it!” train so soon seems a bit tired. Rest assured: when I actually make something that I feel is worth sharing with the audience, I will post it up here. Maybe then I’ll be able to coach any people in similar circumstances how I got through it. After all, I’d definitely appreciate the help right around now beyond that of “go into your studio and make, even though it’s turds.” Sometimes, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

Still, I’m not totally plugged up. I’m not saying that what I’m making is amazing, but there are things pulling through, and I have a few things to thank for that. This entry is a tribute to the few, the proud, the talismans that have helped me grit my teeth and pull me by my torso through whatever this wide vast desert of emotional detritus is. Finding these talismans would be, I imagine, my first tip for that hypothetical guide-to-be:

  • Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, Patricia Lockwood – what an exquisite little chapbook full of the most plush and verdant poems, weird poems, looping words that terrify and electrocute and fizz under your tongue, bright pops of lightning in your eyes and gilded moonshine in your paper-thin veins, the glory the glory the glory. She is, as predicted, probably going to be cited most for ‘Rape Joke’ in this chapbook (and it is brutal and wonderful and grotesquely funny), but ‘The Mother and Father of American Tit-Pics’ is so effusively gorgeous, so glib, so tart and bright that it would be a goddamn shame for it to not be so beloved. That goes for approximately any portion of this fine book.
  • A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter –  I love so many podcasts, it is perhaps perverse. I probably need to go on a podcast diet. But if I did submit to a pod-fast, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment would invariably stay on the “must have” list. Alexie and Walter are two of my favorite writers out there right now, least of which due to the exquisite half-finished short stories that they share with each other on this slowly growing endeavor between two friends workshopping with the world. It’s a writing podcast, but really it’s a creativity podcast, because it’s about communication and sharing and vulnerability and slowly, ruthlessly, desperately, breathlessly attempting to accomplish the smallest things every day so that their practices might grow. (Sound familiar?)
  • Descent Into Heaven and Made at MCAD – cheating, perhaps, to include two MCAD events but when it’s the first solo show for one of your favorite colleagues and a great juried show for many others, seeing the accomplishments of your peers can cheer you into doing excellent things. Descent Into Heaven is a series of video and sculptural installations by Essma Imady, a sharp and wise woman whose filmmaking negotiates her experience as a Syrian-American refugee presently living in the States. Made at MCAD is our annual juried show, and more than a few pieces by our MFA department are punctuating the main gallery. Both are up through March, if you’re in the Minneapolis area. (Sadly, if you’re reading this and didn’t attend the opening: you missed Essma’s coffee. Truly, I pity you.)

Unless I decide to pull you down a typical pre-critique week with yours truly (the last of my first year in the program, if you don’t include my impending mid-program review), this may be the m.o. for the next few weeks until I get my sea legs: small, important fragments that push me through. It’s different from citing my influences, I think – this is less muse material, as it were, and more fuel for the fire. And trust me: the fire needs to be huge.

This Must Be the Place.

(All due credit, first of all, to my colleague Eric Yevak for making the promotional banner above. His portfolio is here. Go look.)

As I said before, this post is all business. Namely: I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to show at a lovely one-night art extravaganza called THIS MUST BE THE PLACE. A hefty number of fellow MCAD MFA students are in the line-up, all gathered under the open banner of “works on surfaces.” So paintings? Yep. Drawings? We’ll have ’em. Prints? Yeah buddy. I’m loathe to say that it’s a drawing, painting, and printmaking show, however – for one thing, that involves speaking on behalf of others that might not feel good about that label. But for another thing, I’m more excited about the variety of items that are going to be in the space than what they’re on, the depth and breadth of talent that we’ll be able to show everyone for this one night.

Basically, it’s art salad. Scratch that; it’s an awful metaphorical turn of phrase. But you get the idea.

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is on Saturday, March 7 and is from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. A pretty rad dude called M A K E B E L I E F is performing at 8:00 p.m. I always have a not-so-irrational fear that no one is going to show up, but then I shoot myself in the foot by never telling anyone what I’m doing. So consider this your invitation: come. There will be food. There will also be kind, talented people and jams. What more could you ask for, hm?

(For those looking for photographs of my work: ha ha ha, saving that for next week, which will probably be pictures of me gesturing to my paintings at the show and going “???????” in the general area of my face.)

On fallow time.

Being busy and not writing in this blog are not mutually inclusive. That is to say: although my life’s been a whirlwind, I’ve still scheduled time to write here – and yet, nothing has come to pass. What I usually do when this happens academically is that I allow myself to freewrite, to meander through things I actually want to say in the most blunt way possible and either get the stink out or take that fruit and make something a little sweeter from it. So today’s missive shall be that.

There are important things I need to tell you, of course. I have a show coming up. You’ll hear about it more, invariably as I attempt to pull something from myself and show it amongst my very accomplished peers. But that will come later. My writing is a-shambles now, and I’m going to work on it.

Continue reading On fallow time.

New year, new blog.

Hi, everyone! Behold, my Christmas gift to myself: a portfolio facelift and a server move. (I know, I know: my heart’s racing too as I tell you of such scintillating news.) Although the last iteration of my portfolio was very lovely, with a semester of graduate school in the books and it felt like a new look might behoove this new chapter in my life. You know, like getting a haircut after a bad break-up or something, except instead of haircut it’s “new CSS” and we can go ahead and replace “bad break-up” with “wonderful yet challenging whirlwind of transformation after transformation.” (Not to get all uncharacteristically jubilant and starry-eyed about the entire production, but I rather like graduate school. Let that go on the record.)

Sadly, all blog posts from Ye Olde Studio Blog are not here, but I don’t think it’s necessarily for the worst. It’s only been within the past few months that I actually know what I want to talk about here, so it’s a bit of a celebration of clarity that I have this new, cleaner, tidier version of my content for the internet to enjoy. That’s really what this facelift is about: a tighter, denser, more controlled packaging of my practice as I start to pare down my foci. As anyone who has ever walked into my studio or has been in a critique of my work can attest, this is something I need to work on in the new year. Having a new canvas for the opportunity makes it all the easier.

So cheers – here’s to 2015. I’m excited to share it with you in all sorts of ways.