2015 Bellingham National by Ellen Ziegler

REAM (detail), burned paper, 21" x 19" x 2.75".

The Bellingham National opens on May 31 at the Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA. Juried by Scott Lawrimore of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery at the University of Washington, it includes 101 pieces from 60 artists from 16 states. The exhibit runs through September 6. I'm happy to have this work included in the exhibit. 

Artist Trust Fellowship in Visual Arts! by Ellen Ziegler

Vermilion Diptych, left panel, 2014.
Chine-collé, pigment transfer, burned holes, stenciled watercolor on paper, 38” x 100.75”.

Very good news: I've been awarded an Artist Trust Fellowship in the Visual Arts based on the Vermilion Series I showed with Cullom Gallery at LxWxH Gallery last summer.

Thanks SO much to Artist Trust, that noble organization that funds individual artists in Washington State. And to Beth Cullom of Cullom Gallery, who has been shepherding this project and the unruly ewe (me) through to a focused body of work. (And she wore matching shoes to the demo!) And thank you to Sharon Arnold at LxWxH who collaborated in presenting the show.

A number of the works in the series are still available through Cullom Gallery; please contact Beth or me to see the drawings and enjoy a studio tour.

Watch this video that shows how this arcane drawing method works.

@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz Island by Ellen Ziegler

The day after Codex, I took the ferry to Alcatraz Island to see @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz. Shattering. Stunning. Installations in several parts of the former prison, itself a wrenching experience to walk through, even years after it was closed and made into a state park. The installation is only there through April 26. Just get a plane ticket. Don't miss it.

Ai Weiwei, himself a detainee forbidden to leave China, directed this massive installation about prisoners of conscience worldwide from his home.  

From the website:

“The misconception of totalitarianism is that freedom can be imprisoned. This is not the case. When you constrain freedom, freedom will take flight and land on a windowsill.”
— Ai Weiwei

"The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned for work that defies the distinction between art and activism. In this exhibition of new works created specifically for Alcatraz, Ai responds to the island’s layered legacy as a 19th-century military fortress, a notorious federal penitentiary, a site of Native American heritage and protest, and now one of America’s most visited national parks. Revealing new perspectives on Alcatraz, the exhibition raises questions about freedom of expression and human rights that resonate far beyond this particular place."

Photos ©2015 Ellen Ziegler

Portraits of prisoners of conscience made of Lego blocks.

Each pixel a single Lego block. Portrait of journalist Salijon Abdurakhmanov.

"Ai’s sculpture, sound, and mixed-media installations occupy four locations in the former prison: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. With the exception of the Dining Hall, these areas are usually restricted to the public, but all are open throughout the run of the exhibition. @Large turns Alcatraz into a space for dialogue about how we define liberty and justice, individual rights and personal responsibility. In artworks that balance political impact with aesthetic grace, the exhibition directly and imaginatively addresses the situation of people around the world who have been deprived of their freedom for speaking out about their beliefs — people like Ai himself."

Faran Hesami, Baha'i citizen of Iran.

The installation BLOSSOM.

"In this work, Ai Weiwei quietly transforms the utilitarian fixtures in several hospital ward cells and medical offices into delicate porcelain bouquets. The artist has designed intricately detailed encrustations of ceramic flowers to fill the sinks, toilets, and tubs that were once used by hospitalized prisoners."

"A vocal critic of his nation’s government, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days in 2011, and is still not permitted to travel outside China. As a result, the artist was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of this exhibition; he has developed the artwork at his studio in Beijing, with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation. Ai has embraced the ironies of creating site-specific art for a place he couldn’t see, and of celebrating free expression while working under severe constraints. Conflict and struggle have only galvanized the artist’s commitment to art as an act of conscience. With this project, he aims to expand our understanding of 'the purpose of art, which is the fight for freedom.'”

Natural forms allude to a stark human reality: many are icons for nations with records of restricting their citizens’ human rights and civil liberties.

Human rights defender Le Quoc Quan.

"Privacy is a function of liberty", Edward Snowdon.

"Privacy is a function of liberty", Edward Snowdon.

Head of the dragon that displays the words of dissidents.

Head of the dragon that displays the words of dissidents.

"Ai’s studio collaborated with Chinese artisans to produce the handmade kites, reviving a craft that has a diminishing presence in China. By confining the kites inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. He also offers a poetic response to the layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens."

The sound installation Stay Tuned is heard through the small heating vent under the sink in each cell. 

The sound installation Stay Tuned is heard through the small heating vent under the sink in each cell. 

"Inside each cell, visitors are invited to sit and listen to spoken words, poetry, and music by people who have been detained for the creative expression of their beliefs, as well as works made under conditions of incarceration. Each cell features a different recording. The diverse selection includes the Tibetan singer Lolo, who has called for his people’s independence from China; the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, opponents of Vladimir Putin’s government; and the Robben Island Singers, activists imprisoned during South Africa’s apartheid era.

"Ai Weiwei has described the texture of the individual voice as a particularly potent vehicle for human connection and communication. Heard inside a cell, speech and singing create a powerful contrast to the isolation and enforced silence of imprisonment."

Read and see more at http://www.for-site.org/project/ai-weiwei-alcatraz/

Photo of Ai Weiwei from project website.

Photo of Ai Weiwei from project website.

Ai Weiwei is a Beijing-based artist and activist whose work encompasses sculpture, installation, photography, film, architecture, curation, and social criticism. His art has been featured in major solo exhibitions including Ai Weiwei at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, UK, 2014; Evidence at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2014; and Ai Weiwei: According to What?, which was organized by the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, in 2009, and traveled to North American venues in 2013–14. Ai collaborated with architects Herzog & de Meuron on the “bird’s nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the Human Rights Foundation in 2012.

Codex Book Fair 2015 by Ellen Ziegler

Site of the CODEX Book Fair: Craneway Pavilion, a former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, part of the National Park Service's Rosie the Riveter World War II--Home Front National Historical Park, Richmond, CA.

Site of the CODEX Book Fair: Craneway Pavilion, a former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, part of the National Park Service's Rosie the Riveter World War II--Home Front National Historical Park, Richmond, CA.

The mecca of book artists is the Codex Book Fair, an international gathering of book artists, dealers, collectors and appreciators of artists' books. Held at the stunning Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, California, it's a four-day symposium and an orgy of looking, touching, chatting, and networking. I decided to go at the last minute and I'm so glad I did. Photos here are mostly by others; I was preoccupied with meeting artists and publishers and soaking it all up.

Photo by Karen Eng.

Photo by Karen Eng.

Hundreds of vendors of books and supplies in this Albert Kahn-designed Ford Motor Co. factory. 

Hundreds of vendors of books and supplies in this Albert Kahn-designed Ford Motor Co. factory. 

A storm blew in on Day One; wonderful to be in a big glass house watching it.

A storm blew in on Day One; wonderful to be in a big glass house watching it.

Poetry by Molly Tenenbaum, book by me. Printed by Paper Hammer, represented by Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

Poetry by Molly Tenenbaum, book by me. Printed by Paper Hammer, represented by Vamp and Tramp Booksellers.

El Torero y la Bailarina, about my mother's romance in Mexico, 1941. In Spanish and English, typed in Mexico City on onionskin paper. Printed and bound by Paper Hammer, represented by Vamp and Tramp.

El Torero y la Bailarina, about my mother's romance in Mexico, 1941. In Spanish and English, typed in Mexico City on onionskin paper. Printed and bound by Paper Hammer, represented by Vamp and Tramp.

I had two books at Codex, both printed and bound at Paper Hammer in Tieton, WA, and represented by the fabulous Vamp and Tramp Booksellers. See ellenziegler.com for more images and information.

D.F. again. by Ellen Ziegler

Mexico City is known as D.F. or, Distrito Federal. We are back at Hotel Maria Cristina. What a lovely place to stay. Our last day on the street, before we leave.

Hotel courtyard. Kind of a Sorrento Hotel-like place, but VERY affordable.

Hotel courtyard. Kind of a Sorrento Hotel-like place, but VERY affordable.

Museum(s).

Museo Soumaya is the creation of Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. We didn't go in because their main attraction is Rodin and Dali.  I will say no more. But it is one crazy-ass museum from the outside!

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And with a crescent moon:

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At the Fundación Jumex across the street, an exhibit by Abraham Cruzvillegas about the community process of "auto-construction", building houses in the DIY manner in the very poor neighborhoods of D.F. He is a conceptual artist who infuses his work with poetry and feeling.

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Hand- painted streets, neon laundromats.

Guy #1 had an orange bucket to keep the cars from driving on his work...

Guy #1 had an orange bucket to keep the cars from driving on his work...

Guy #2 had no cones or buckets, so cars were already driving on his work before he was even done.

Guy #2 had no cones or buckets, so cars were already driving on his work before he was even done.

Chimney brushes and mops for sale on the street, as are most things.

Chimney brushes and mops for sale on the street, as are most things.

Laundromat neon.

Laundromat neon.

Tomás and tamales.

Tomás and tamales.

Coyoacán Market.

The beginning of a piñata, using homework pages.

The beginning of a piñata, using homework pages.

A piñata from the underneath.

A piñata from the underneath.

Finished!

Finished!

Musicians, one with DIY percussion: coffee can, plastic water bottle, cymbal.

Musicians, one with DIY percussion: coffee can, plastic water bottle, cymbal.

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Scary political figures.

Scary political figures.

Hasta la vista, México! Tu tiene nos corazónes! 

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A repurposed aqueduct. by Ellen Ziegler

I once had a fellowship in Rome to study fountains and aqueducts. And I really never stopped. I was so delighted to find an aqueduct in Oaxaca that had been turned into housing. 

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Intrepid exploring man.

Intrepid exploring man.

View of garden and water channel on top of old structure.

View of garden and water channel on top of old structure.

Arches too small for houses are garden fences.

Arches too small for houses are garden fences.

Super Agua now delivers the water.

Super Agua now delivers the water.

Maybe for rent next time were here?

Maybe for rent next time were here?

Very sweet neighborhood.

Very sweet neighborhood.

Oaxaca miscellany. by Ellen Ziegler

On the street, every day, so happy.

On the street, every day, so happy.

Grand Pantéon Cemetery, Oaxaca.

Mausoleum.

Mausoleum.

Loyalty? Or sunshine?

Loyalty? Or sunshine?

Crypts, some still waiting.

Crypts, some still waiting.

More signs, words and foodstuffs.

Hand-lettering AND food!

Hand-lettering AND food!

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Ice cream mall... Really.

Ice cream mall... Really.

Tea house sign at night.

Tea house sign at night.

Chilis, Abastos Market.

Chilis, Abastos Market.

Graffiti, Abastos Market.

Graffiti, Abastos Market.

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Rufino Tamayo Museum. by Ellen Ziegler

Tamayo and his wife collected pre-contact (pre- Columbian) art, and restored an old Oaxacan house to serve as a museum. Their collection was personal, emphasized art over ethnology or religions, and leaned toward the whimsical. The old cultures were fond of humor.

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