Saturday, January 3, 2015

Heart box

I think many people forgot First Friday last evening.  Or perhaps it was too cold for folks to venture out.  Either way, pity.

I have been working with my sweetie and conspirator on little automata.  Together we created a little blue bird automaton.  Last night was its public debut.  It was an interesting one.

This is it in motion:

However,only a few people even bothered to ask what was in the box.  In previous evenings I have had the black box that seemed to compel folks to ask what was in it.  My thought was that this box would do similar things.  I was wrong-ish.

Only a few folks seemed curious enough to completely engage.  One gentleman said that I was a puzzle that he NEEDED to figure out an engaged in "conversation" for almost 2 minutes.  The "conversation" was so long that my sweetie (who watches from the sideline to keep me safe) thought that I was verbally talking to him.  Eventually, this gentleman figured that he needed to ask to see in the box.  He laughed, seemingly delighted when he finally saw the bird.

My point in this piece is not to deal with emotion.  My heart is not broken nor am I seeking any spiritual enlightenment for myself or the community.  My point is to get people engaged in asking.

I placed myself near another artist friend, Abbeth Russel last night. She was juggling and is all around wonderful. (She also is a founder of The Hidden Ladder Collective.)  We were among the small handful of artists out.  After being out for a bit we went off to have a beer and debrief ourselves.  On of our questions was: How to engage people? and Why do people NOT engage?

I wonder if people feel exposed when they are curious.  Is curiosity too risky?  I know I did not engage one person last evening while I was walking to the corner of Brown and Congress because I was focused on walking and there was a bit of fear around talking (or in my case non-verbally communicating) with people.  I was fixated on my own goal and thereby negated her curiosity.

Other folks seemed pompous and self important.  They seemed to already know everything about what I was doing even though they really couldn't have.  Perhaps this was a fear mechanism as well?

I would like to thank those folks who did stop to engage with me last evening.  Sharing my art with you is the reason to stand out in the cold.  And the interaction with you made me forget about how cold it was for at least the duration of the engagement.

See you soon!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year's End...

This is how I have felt for much of 2014.  I am both the crazed larger creature and the smaller bound figure.  It hasn't been a bad year, just a year that I am ready to say goodbye to.

And that I offer up tidings of potential happinesses and warm wishes.  Here's to a bright and shiny 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Blue Bird (Happiness) Automata

 I have begun working on a little automata with help from my sweet husband.  This has be more of a collaboration than a solo project: my husband providing the mechanical know how and the logics of the thing.

This first foray is a crude little thing that I do not think will hold up to the masses of First Friday Art Walkers.  However, it has offered us valuable learning opportunities.  The materials for an automata MUST be rigid an durable. The wire we had on hand for the gearing was too pliable.  And the cardboard structure for the bird will not durable enough for use outside a small delicate circle.

This little piece will be shelved and held in esteem for helping us gather information on actually how to make these things (both my husband and myself are learners by doing...).  Hopefully, the new piece will be completed by Friday for the Art Walk in Portland Maine.  If you see me, you know you just need to ask politely to see the new automata.  I would love to share it with you!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Icy Consent

On First Friday I head out onto the street in disguise.  I want to be obvious and still remain somewhat anonymous.  I want people to be drawn and repelled by how I look.  

This past First Friday, December 5, it was very cold and dark here in Portland Maine.  So I layered my self in thick clothes and sewed lights on to the outside of my dress and in my white wig.  I lined my black bow with lights on the inside so that when it was opened it shone out brightly on the darkening street.

If folks who approach me and ask my permission to see what is in the box are able to do so. If they don't ask then they may not have my permission. There are treats in the box. If they ask for permission to have a treat the they are welcome to have it. But if they do not ask and try to take a treat I close the box. If they make snide comments I ignore them or glance at them sidelong. If they are rude and disrespectful I will walk away. 

It is interesting to see folks try to figure it out. Often people think that I am trying to deal with feelings but really I just want people to start using consent.  Although my feelings are important, they are mine.  Consent and permission is that intersectionality between people.  It is the way in which we create safety and trust.  It is more important perhaps sometimes than feelings.

Also during the whole thing I do not talk verbally. I make facial gestures, simple sign language and head shakes. So much of interaction between us is non verbal. But sometimes we get lazy with our words. We forget that some people "speak" in ways different than ourselves.  We forget that people are dragging around all those feelings behind them like chains.  We trip over them and see not the person standing before us but what we think we should see.  We forget to look at people as individuals.  We forget to look and see.

But sometimes we have to take a moment and figure it out. Sometimes we have to see that the person before us is entitled to their own space. But when we see the space between us- when we ask permission to share that space, we can begin a type of communication that involves trust and caring- without having to trip over all those feelings that may or may not be there. 

Then if we ask for consent, we might perhaps be rewarded.  Sometimes the asking is its own reward.