Week 13 of 52

May 3, 2010

I realized recently that I am not going to be here for 52 weeks! I looked at my contract and saw that I am only scheduled for 11 months, not 12!! I haven’t taken the time to actually count out the weeks, but I should be able to update the number to something a little more accurate soon. Anyways, on with the real entry… Given that a big part of what makes living here difficult for me is isolation from the rest of the world, it is changing my work. Aside from the problems I have making it to studio and getting work done, the place is changing the work itself and how I think about it. In fact, I’ve apparently started a whole new project based on this isolation. Other than the internet (which I don’t use for news), my only contact with media of any type is through magazines. I have a subscription to Time, which I never read—I only flip through headlines—and the slew of fashion magazines I purchased at the beginning of my stay in order to build the advertising porn wall in studio. These two sources are essentially the only way I have any idea what is going on outside Johnson, VT (weeks or months after the fact—did you know there was a volcano in Iceland? And that military inspired fashion is in?). And of course they are highly edited, specialized and tailored to specific audiences—demographics which I probably fit perfectly. Somehow these media staples, my only lifeline beyond the village of Johnson, came to represent the “real world“ and it was suddenly important to do something with them. So I’ve been working on “mash up“ collages, combining images and symbols from both. I work on them fairly brainlessly, which is great these days when I can’t push my own anxiety aside long enough to think through a whole project. I’m not ready to share any of the actual collages, but they have taken over our living room at home (since there is no space for them in studio) and occasionally get spread through the house with the help of Penny.

taking over the living room...

body parts...

heads and faces

the language of hands and arms

For a while I thought about just building a catalog of parts. I wanted to go through one entire issue of Vogue and cut out all the flesh… In the end I decided against it, because while I would find it to be a fascinating study, I’m not sure anyone else would care and what would I do with it after that? It may still happen anyways if I get sick of the collaging… I’m only sharing about half the pieces collected out of Vogue so far and nothing from Time, but once I’m ready to share some actual collages, you’ll get a better sense of how they end up working together.

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Cut Paper Wedding Cake

September 23, 2009

I haven’t written anything in over a month, which is terrible, but things have been crazy!  I know there’s no excuse so I’m going to distract you with something totally different and fun and pretty!  A wedding cake!  I did this cake for one of my bestest and oldest friends’ weddings back in May.  We’ve known each other since kindergarten and spent a large portion of our lives as next door neighbors… we’ve pretty much seen each other through everything you could possibly see someone through growing up in rural Virginia.  Tina actually came up to Providence from Virginia with her boyfriend, soon to be fiance, now husband, Dave, to see and photograph the Paper Jungle back in 2007, so she was already really familiar with my cut paper work.  When she asked me to do their cake, I couldn’t have been more thrilled and honored, so here goes!

They had already designed several graphic themes for the wedding

They had already designed several graphic themes for the wedding

The main theme was these gorgeous love-birds

The main theme was these gorgeous love-birds

That made it super easy to apply their flower and bird images to paper cut-outs

That made it super easy to apply their flower and bird images to paper cut-outs

Everything was cut in one day, right before the wedding, after consulting with the baker, MaryLou

Everything was cut in one day, right before the wedding, after consulting with the baker, MaryLou

From Left to Right: MaryLou-baker, Dave-groom, Tina-bride, Dave's Grandfather-cake topper maker, Me!

From Left to Right: MaryLou-baker, Dave-groom, Tina-bride, Dave's Grandfather-cake topper maker, Me!

There you have it!  My new career as cake decorator extraordinaire has begun.  Contact me if you’re interested in your own custom cut paper cake for your next big event-it was a total blast and I couldn’t have done it without such a great crew to work with.  Although next time, it will be much easier if I’m not occupied as Bridesmaid AND cake decorator!  Love ya Tina and Dave—happy marriage!  And thank you for the beautiful photos, they were  all taken by Jeff Greenough.

(Next time, news about The Distillery, my new home!  And preparation for the upcoming South Boston Open Studios)

My Website!

August 20, 2007

Check out my brand spanking new website!  www.msarmsdesign.com

So while this isn’t directly related to the Paper Jungle project, I just wanted to let everyone know that I now have a real website in addition to this blog.  For now, the website is meant to give an overview of some of the work I’ve been doing over the last 4+ years.  Eventually it may be expanded to include other things as my interests and opportunities grow and change, but for now you’ll find a main Projects section that shows a few larger, more in depth projects and an Explorations section with quicker studies and experiments.  Now that I’ve finally graduated, I’ll be moving up to Boston within the next couple weeks to continue to pursue my art and design goals in a slightly bigger city than Providence.  I’m in the process of looking for work, although I’m still not sure I’ve decided what exactly I’m looking for!  So we’ll see what happens.  In any event, you should check out the website and if you’re looking to hire someone, check out the resume that’s posted on the homepage as well.  In the meantime, here’s a few of those transitional Paper Jungle photos that I promised a long time ago.  Thanks to everyone who has been watching this project from the beginning, and to those who are just now checking in.  It’s been a great process to go through and tons of fun.  As always, feel free to contact me anytime with thoughts, opinions, questions or concerns!

View from Outside Reflection of Winter Tree  A couple taken on a cold day in March, about a month after the opening from outside in the sculpture garden, looking in.

Still Some Left  There’s still quite a bit left inside, but lots has come down at this point and paper liters the floors.

The Entrance Detritus Wet Leaves and Dry Flowers These were taken about 2 months after the opening.  The entire central column has been destroyed.  Piles of flowers and plant forms fill the corners and center of the floor.  A rainy April day outside with fallen leaves from the previous autumn looking a lot like fallen flowers.

The End

July 13, 2007

So I know I initially promised lots of updates along the way as to how the installation was progressing and did not follow through. All I can say is sorry and I’ll try to catch up over the next month or so! It is now July so the project is completely finished. I tore down what was left of the piece on June 5th in about an hour. It was actually pretty satisfying to take apart the remainder, even though it only took an hour to tear apart what took countless hours to create. I suppose in the end it was OK simply because the entire project felt pretty successful. Things changed and evolved along the way and parts had to be left out or altered, but for the most part, it all worked out quite well and in accordance with the initial concept. So here are a few photos of what was left on the 5th and the de-installation process. I’ll go ahead and post these now so you can compare them to the opening photos and then I’ll write a couple new posts over the next month that fill in the 3 month gap inbetween. Enjoy!

Welcome to What’s Left Welcome to The End. This is what it looked like when I arrived on a very grey rainy Monday morning in June. Compare, if you will, to the same shot taken through the entry door labeled “Radeke Garden” the day I installed it. Quite different…

Rain Outside Ceiling at End Looking thin as you look out into the sculpture garden, or up to the ceiling. Now the framing structure is very clear whereas upon initial installation it was fairly well hidden. Then the real fun began!

Tearing it Down Pile on Floor Matt Mourning Rolling In It So here’s how de-installation worked. I ripped down everything as high as I could reach, threw it all on the floor and proceeded to roll in it while Matt, my faithful helper, mourned the loss.

CeilingGrid Cleaning Frames The End Next a view from above the ceiling grid I constructed. Now that the paper is mostly gone, you can actually see how it all fit together. We lowered each wood frame out of the aluminum grid, ripped the last of the paper off, took all the wood frames apart, removed the aluminum grid and we were done! That was how months of hard work ended!

Opening Part 1

March 28, 2007

Before Anyone Else has Touched it Taken around sunset Before the Chaos  Finally the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  Photos of the actual piece and of the opening party/reception at the museum.  I know these are a month late so I apologize but there’s lots of them!  Consider this part 1 of the documentation of the piece and the party.  This first set of photos was taken the moment I finished installing everything on February 22nd before anyone else had touched a single piece of paper or walked through the room.  They were taken right around sunset so there’s beautiful cool light coming in from outside in contrast to the warm flourescents.  There are more of these photos–I’m just showing a few to entice you into checking back later.

Close Up Close Up 2 Close Up 6                       Close Up 3 Close Up 4 Close Up 5  All of these are close ups taken during the actual opening by my lovely friend Ashley who came the furthest distance of all–all the way from North Carolina just to see my show and hang out for the weekend.

Christopher Robbins’ Plywood Tree Line to get into Jungle Liz, Julia and Kacper About to enter Jungle                                             Miscellaneous People in Jungle Dad in Jungle Simon and Zehra exiting Jungle  This first one is of the other Sitings piece, Christopher Robbins’ Plywood Tree, and the next is the line up the stairs of people waiting to enter my Paper Jungle.  The rest are of people interacting with the space.

The Party Agus’ Basement Blues, Agus, Matt and Mark Parents The Sitings Winners (Christopher Robbins and I) Chatting with Chrissi Upstairs Housemates Leon and Roger Greg and Leila Architecture Friends, Shana, Jen, Kacper–all the way from Boston and NYC Brown Orchestra kids, Sarah, Jonathan, Ho and Lisa  And of course all the fun photos of everyone hanging out in the main gallery, eating Kabob & Curry and listening to Agus’ Basement Blues (live rock band!) amidst the museum’s awesome collection of Modern Art.  My favorite is the photo of the band in front of a Rothko with a sign above them questioning “What Happened to Art?”–it really doesn’t get much better than this…  Thank you so much to everyone for coming out!  Especially those of you who came from long distances including North Carolina, Virginia, New York and Boston.  You guys are amazing.

There are many more photos of the opening and the disaster that was my piece afterwards!  So keep checking back and perhaps next time I’ll actually organize them into a slideshow since I know clicking on each photo individually is a huge pain…

Installation Time!

March 20, 2007

Brochure Oustide Brochure Inside Inside Bios  Alright, so now we’re getting close to the real thing.  But first, these are the brochures printed by the museum about the Sitings projects. I didn’t really scan these correctly, but whatever, you get the idea.  Nice map of museum front and back.  Tri-fold thingie with both of our artist statements on the inside plus our bios plus a blurb from the museum director about why Sitings is so awesome.  Not sure how legible these will actually be when you look at them so if you want to know what they actually say, let me know and I’ll post the text alone in the next entry.  A grad student in graphic design who works for the museum on their special events advertising also made a set of invitations and posters for us for the opening reception.  I’ll get some photographs of those soon and post them in the next entry as well–they were beautiful and a pain in the ass to make happen due to museum negotiating…

Matt Helping around 2am More Bags Bags Pretty Bags  So here’s how the transporting and installing happened.  I bought a bunch of giant black garbage bags and string and basically bagged the bottom half of each frame.  Sadly, I don’t really have any good photos of what the room looked like in its bagged state, but lets just say it was creepy and leave it at that.  Matt came over to help because this was a process that just wasn’t possible by myself (you know I would have done it alone if I could’ve!), and he happened to be ready and willing that night.   We worked until about 4am on the first day of the spring semesterd, also the night before installation day, carefully shoving paper plants into these garbage bags and pulling them up as high as they’d go before the plants started getting destroyed.  It took hours and hours of fenagling…  But the result was beautiful and unexpected.  The lighting in the room just happened to work out so that a lot of the bags were illuminated from the inside out.  You’d get these amazing shadows of the plants pressed up against the sides of the bag combined with the transparency of the bags themselves and the effect was amazing.  See for yourself.  Gave me lots of ideas for a future installation project, purely by accident!

Pre-Installation Passageway  Anyways, here’s a big ugly panoramic of what the space in the museum itself looks like.  I meant to post some of these way back at the beginning of the project but never got around to it.  This is the glass passageway leading to the Pendleton House and the Radeke Sculpture Garden.  The door directly in front leads to the Pendleton House, which is actually just full of offices on this floor so visitors aren’t actually allowed in it.  The door to the left leads to a really tiny outdoor area with a table and chairs (not really sure what purpose they serve) and the door to the right leads to the outdoor sculpture garden.  This view is approximately what you see upon entering the space from the main part of the museum.  As you can see, it’s really tiny–only about 12′ X 11′ with 8′ ceilings.    I loved this spot because it was so obviously a threshold between outside and in.  Whoever built this little addition (and it was obviously an addition after both bulidings had been built since all the walls are exterior walls of brick and stone) was really thinking about what it would be like to slowly transition from cut and dry museum, to this odd little room and then out into the garden itself.  There’s very little lighting in here, minimal climate control, and as I said before, the walls and floors are all based on what was there originally–the outside.  Stone floors, stone and brick walls, and then just the addition of a ceiling and 2 glass walls on either side.  Pretty minimal.  This is the room that inspired the project that is to come…

Blah blah blah, so I came in on Tuesday (Day 1) and spent the ENTIRE day just installing the ceiling grid and bringing in the frames.  What a debacle that was.  So the plan was, I would make these column collars which wrapped around each column in the corners of the room so that they could be tightened down on the colmn and then angle aluminum fastened to each one.  The aluminum in turn would hold up the galvanized steel slotted ceiling in a 3′ grid formation and the wood frames would each be 3′ square so they could just be dropped in place with all the plants already hanging on them.  It sounds kind of complicated, but it’s actually really simple.  In the end, I decided to outsource the work for the column collars just because I didn’t have the time to make them nicely and wanted to be able to just concentrate on the paper and the other parts of the ceiling.  I outsourced it to a friend, who the next day told me he couldn’t do it after all and had handed off to someone else.  Just for the record, that’s really not cool.  Especially when I’m paying for the work.  You don’t just hand it off to someone else without asking me first–or hand it off and don’t tell me about it!  I didn’t appreciate the going-behind-the-back-ness of that particular move.  So the second guy down makes the parts for me and they seem fine so I pay him for the work without testing any of it myself first.  BAD IDEA.  I went to the museum on installation morning with all my parts and materials in hand and the first thing I had to do was put the column collars on before I could do anything else.  ALL of the ceiling parts relied upon the column collars, and I certainly couldn’t get any paper in there until the ceiling was up.  Well, the column collars he made didn’t work at all.  Like, not even a little.  It was a big problem.  I couldn’t fasten them to the columns correctly, then I couldn’t tighten them down at all so they would slide down, and then when I put up the angle aluminum, it didn’t fit because the collars were no longer at a right angle.  It was bad.  After lots of panicking and running around trying to buy some new fasteners and parts to make them work, I finally just bought a bunch of tiny C-clamps and clamped the whole thing together… Sketchy.  Thanks so much to Julia and Kent who worked with me all day that day and dealt with my panic attacks when things kept failing right and left.  When we finally got the collars to work, putting the rest of the ceiling up went really quickly-maybe 10 minutes to fasten the rest of the parts together?  But of course by then, it was already lunch time because the collars had been such a disaster.  So the afternoon was spent transporting all the frames to the museum.  We cut each frame down from the ceiling in the studio and carried them one at a time to the freight elevator and then out to the museum’s box truck.  We could only fit 4 or 5 frames in the truck at a time so it took a couple trips to get everything over to the museum.  Once we were in the museum, we once again had to carry each frame one at a time into their freight elevator, up the spiral stairs and into the space.  Each frame was dropped into its appropriate spot on the ceiling frame and installation was done for the day!  Don’t let me downplay it too much though.  Just carrying the frames around and loading them into the truck, driving them over and dropping them into place took the rest of the day.  We got the last frame in place right as the clock hit 5 and that was the end of the first day.  It was crazy.  Thanks again Julia and Kent–you guys are lifesavers.  I never would’ve gotten it done that day without you.

Installation in Progress! Day 2: Since all of Tuesday was spent just getting everything into the museum, that left all day Wednesday to de-bag the paper/plants and start arranging it all!  The way I set up the frames in studio was as dense as I could possible manage.  I didn’t cut or drape any paths of any kind–just left it all equally dense everywhere with the plan of waiting until I was actually in the room to “cut” a path and make room for people to walk through and open doors and get in and out.  Wednesday was much more calm and stress free.  Just me and a pair of headphones from 9-5 ditching trash bags and draping a path.  Note the Installation in Progress sign!  These photos are when I was halfway through the de-bagging process.  The morning light in the room was beautiful so I had to take a break to take a few photos…

Passageway Entrance Sun and Bags Garden View Panoramic Photo 1:  The door to the room–glass door with text printed that says “Radeke Garden” (kind of perfect).  You can see that I’ve taken the bags off the paper on the left half of the room and still have the right half to go.  Photo 2:  Sunlight striking the bags filled with paper on the right side of the room.  Note the trees outside in the background…  Photo 3:  A little panoramic of the view out the glass on the right out to the sculpture garden.

Aftermath  And of course a photo of my studio back in the ID building after all the frames had been removed.  Total empty wasteland…  It has since been cleaned up and re-organized for classes, but wow was it gross in there immediately after everything had been moved into the museum…

Next post:  Finished Installation Photos!  Opening Reception! (If someone sends me photos by then…)  Posters and Invitations!

Pre-Installation

March 14, 2007

Ceiling Grid  So after assembling all of the wood frames and cutting all the aluminum and steel to size, I temporarily wired the wood frames to the ceiling in my studio so I could start the arduous task of transferring all my cuttings to the frames that would eventually end up in the museum.  It would have been way smarter to do this at the beginning of the project so I could hang each sheet as I cut it, but I was so not into building the ceiling that I just couldn’t make myself do it until the last second.  In the end it may have actually worked out for the better.  Since I already had a lot of cuttings to work with, I could arrange patterns next to each other that I thought were complimentary and sort of set up a progression of how plant forms changed as you moved from one section of the room to another.  As I added the flower forms to the larger sheets, I could do the same–select which flowers went on which patterns to get the best effect and locate families of flowers near each other so they sort of grew in groves.

Covered Balcony As I transferred sheets onto frames, lots of strands were destroyed or torn off here and there, and I also had to collect and sort through a lot of the negatives that I had kept.  Here they are taking over the hallway/balcony outside of my studio as I untangled them all and selected which negatives would go where in the mix of already hung patterns.  These only stayed in the hallway for one night, which was good since public safety had already given me a hard time in the past when I left a few ceiling parts in the hallway for a couple hours.

Welcome! Welcome Part 2! Out of Space!  Welcome to my studio pre-installation!  These photos were all taken in the last few days before I had to transport everything into the museum itself.  Installation happened February 21st and 22nd, which of course was the first week of the spring semester.  This meant that I spent my week of break between wintersession and spring here in my studio, slaving away trying to get everything perfect before the big move.  If you recall, there are two doors into my studio, so the first two photos show the view in from both doors.  It was a little crazy.  At one end of the room I managed to space the frames out so that there was actually some room to work in so you can clearly see how each frame is super-densely hung but with a pathway inbetween.  During installation, all the frames were butted right up against each other so that the effect was a super dense paper jungle.  The 2nd photo gives you more of an idea of what that looks like because that set of frames were hung really close to one another.  Incredibly hard to work with, but closer to what the real thing was actually like.  I took a video of what it was like during this time trying to walk around in the room–basically impossible.   People who came to visit would be afraid to try and walk around, and a lot of the time they voluntarily crawled around on the floor rather than try and disturb any of the hangings!  Pretty funny.  The video is a little long, so if I figure out how to edit it down a little, I’ll post it, or maybe I’ll just post it without editing it.  Either way, keep an eye out for it in future postings.  Since my studio was only a little bigger than the actual room in the museum, it was pretty packed in there once I had everything hanging from the frames so I had to do some major re-arranging in order to keep doing new cuttings.  The 3rd photo shows the new arrangement, with table and projector and cutting mats all crammed into one corner cause that was the only strip of space left!  Not that I can complain, it was certainly beneficial that the room was bigger than the museum space–it meant when I was arranging the sheets on the frames, I could get a really clear idea of exactly what it would be like once I moved to the museum…

Last Pizza and Paper Party Ever Results of Last Paper and Pizza Party And photos of my last ever paper and pizza party.  Much smaller and less eventful than past parties, mainly because everyone was away on break.  Thanks to those of you who came and helped even while on break!  You guys rock my world.  Extra props to Jesse and Haesung for being the only two with perfect attendance–I still owe you guys something special…  We managed to finish all the kits that Rachel, Matt and I had organized for the 2nd party, so it worked out perfectly!  No drinks or partying afterwards because I stayed in studio and continued to work after everyone left, but look at how much we got done without extra distractions!  And there was pizza leftover which came in handy at 2am…

So Dense! Prettyyy… Looking Up in Studio And finally some eye candy to end this post with.  Like I said, photos taken in the last few days before the installation/transportation nightmare.  It’s so beautiful and calm and peaceful now… The first photos is the jungle without any flowers attached yet–just larger sheet/patterns hung from the ceiling frames.  The last two show what the patterns look like once flowers have been added…

Still to come!:  Bagging the plants for transportation, the drama that was the first day of installation, the drama that was the 2nd day of installation, miscellaneous headaches like brochures, invitations, posters and hateful museum bureaucracy…  But in the end, it opened and was great and so much fun!  And it’s still there… living and breathing every day…

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