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.
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.
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
"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."
"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.'”
"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."
"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/
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.
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.
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.
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!
And with a crescent moon:
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.
Hand- painted streets, neon laundromats.
Hasta la vista, México! Tu tiene nos corazónes!
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.
Grand Pantéon Cemetery, Oaxaca.
More signs, words and foodstuffs.
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.