Anyone else feel like they’re clinging to a rocketship as it hurtles through space? Life feels like it’s moving so fast . I fell into that dangerous train of thought, “I’ll write when things calm down” Anyone else’s life calming down??! Not mine, for sure. It’s been strangely windy in New Mexico for the last three months ( wind is my least favorite season here), we now have the largest wildfire in New Mexico history, and it seems like everyone I know is getting covid. And then, there have been some moments of joy , like my daughters birthday, 27, and a dear friend graduating from college, and I have been rushing around like a crazy person, not wanting to miss any opportunities for joy. That was a good call, because even though these two events were on opposite sides of the country, it was so worth it to be at both.
I took an Intaglio printmaking class at our Santa Fe Community College this past semester. I took it because I once saw Kiki Smith drawing on a copper plate in a video, and I was SO excited by it. It was humbling. Learning a whole new process. Printmaking literally has its own language. I felt like I was learning Russian, or computer coding. Somehow I got a teacher who had the patience of a saint, and classmates who were generous. The first few classes I was so lost, and frustrated, and hanging in by a thread. But I could feel that it was good for my brain, to have to stretch. It also felt a little vulnerable because printmaking is a cooperative art. It involves asking for help-something I am not skilled at- and working together. I always hated working on group projects in school. I wanted to be at my own table, doing my own project. Every time a teacher said “ Okay, now we’re going to break into groups…” my insides flipflopped, and I felt like I was going to be throw up. So at the ripe old age of 57 I learned to ask for help (a lot) and that actually it was kind of nice to work with other people. I was at a dinner recently where a friend mentioned a John Cage quote. “ I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I am doing.” I’m curious how this lands with you. I took it as I am trying to have fresh eyes, or beginners mind. Doing something new, way out of my comfort zone, felt like it helped me in staying unfamiliar with what I am doing.
A highlight of this last month was getting to hear Jaune Quick To See Smith interviewed by Jeffrey Gibson at Site Santa Fe. Gibson and Smith are both Native American artists, and Gibson currently has a great show at Site. Jaune Quick to See Smith is eighty-two years old. She grew up in incredibly adverse circumstances, but spoke about as a little girl “I just knew that crayons and paste made me happy.” She also spoke about how incredibly difficult it was to be a Native American woman artist. It was not a thing for a Native woman to get an MFA, she was only encouraged to become a teacher. It was so moving to feel the tenacity she had, to become who she is. I will always remember her at the end saying to Jeffrey Gibson while they both cried, “It is a miracle that we are here, it is a miracle that we are alive.”
I listened to the poet David Whyte being interviewed by Krista Tippet on the “On Being podcast”. It’s # 1068 “Seeking Language Large Enough”. He said, “ A good elegy is always a conversation between grief and celebration. The grief of the loss of the person and the celebration that you were here at all to share the planet with them….We have this physical experience in loss of falling towards something, it’s like falling in love, except it’s falling into grief, and you’re falling towards the foundation they held for you in your life that you didn’t realize they were holding, and you fall and fall and fall and you don’t find it for the longest time, and so the shock of the loss, to begin with and the hermetic sealing off of grief is necessary in grief, but then there comes a time when you finally actually start to touch the ground they were holding for you, and it’s from that ground you step off into your new life.”
A new life…what will that look like?
Meanwhile…I’m in the studio, working on new work for the Santa Fe studio tour in October, working on writing, taking a micaceous clay class at the community college in Santa Fe, and gardening. So much going on in the world. I'm staying close to the ground this summer. Trying to find that balance between grief and celebration....
love from me and Agnes xo