Art of the birthday

On the morning of most recent birthday, I rose from slumber with a certain knowledge of the world being my oyster. I was finally rested from exerting myself in too many directions of too little sustenance. I put on some water for coffee while I took a novel of satisfying thickness. When I heard the last of the coffee-maker’s slurping sounds and began to smell its pervasive aroma, I held my large coffee mug under the small pot which it eclipsed in proportion as it gulped its contents whole. I stood there in the kitchen taking in the rare feeling of being vacated from my day to day routine at the gallery into the day’s arms, which knew nothing of being bound. I looked outside. The weather was brilliant for this late-December day. The sun was out in clear view and the frosty, chilling edge that had lingered upon the Los Angeles basin had lifted. On recent birthdays, I always feel lucky, like I have found myself in the calm of a storm. I talked with my mom and Alexis and slowly but surely made my way out of Downtown, onto the glorious 10 freeway (I have been getting  a tinge of excited thrill to get on this freeway going West because the further you go the light changes into a shimmer, space expands and the water of the Pacific moans, hushing our racing thoughts and worries. I near the edge.

I eventually made my way into Brentwood, pulled in to a parking complex, parked myself and took the elevator up to the Museum’s lobby. Upon entering the gallery, I grew surprised. The work I came to see struck me as familiar, and basic. As I moved further however, they became more complex and marked by nuance – the voice of this artist began to seep into my experience of it. It lingered, not loud, but calmly and with purpose thick in the galleries. /////////////////

Her ideas – sculptural and conceptual – remain fluid while her experience remains stable. This utterly brilliant exhibition of paper sculptures among other various objects and prints were that of Indian artist Zarina Hashmi. Seeing her works fill me with supreme (de)light. Her works, while sensual and evocative are also rooted in universal themes – religion, geographical and cultural displacement and the body as vessel of lived experience, sometimes in spite of private turmoil. It refreshed my worldview to witness an artist of such integrity to her process that her works, while richly sensual, eschewed decorum or easy commodification. Instead, the various works constantly shift technologies while retaining a strong sense of the above subject matter. She is a out and out sculptress. This is a dreamer of an artist. It filled me with a certain relief that there are artists out there who are able to still make objects without a careerist motive, and exist in order only, to clarify their art. 

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3 thoughts on “Art of the birthday

  1. plum, im still grappling with the content, tone, and purpose of my own blog. so many possibilities and i somehow always feel immature… searching for my own signature voice and individual vision. your writings are always so boldly and endearingly you, there’s a rhythm and technicality that is so instantly recognizable, in the same way that makes haruki murakami’s books so pleasing to read. it has a calming soothing effect on me. thank you for this.

    you’re definitely giving me food for thought 🙂

    • Wow. I’m surprised to hear that from you considering your hands photos as well as that amazing A.Adams photo you posted. The hands photos are wondrous because their simple subject matter contrasts so well to each photos subtext. Below are some guidelines that I have acquired in the last 3 or four months to strengthen my voice. I hope you will find them helpful.

      My advice to myself as I go along, is to be as humble as possible with it, so long as it connects you to your observations, interests and ideas in a simple way and by following threads you’re already invested in. Remember that it should be a work in progress, subject to experimentation to see what sticks and what doesn’t. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be already perfected or easily resolvable. It should really just take its own time and be allowed to take its own shape. Meanwhile, busy yourself with the pieces. Surely in due time, it will add up to something interesting and have a compelling form all to its own. The last piece of advice I give to myself, (I must be sounding plain crazy. Tehe) is to just put something in every day. I think this might be the biggest aspect of finding your voice – is committing to it and learning how your thoughts flow. It takes time and effort initially, so start small. Say a sentence of truth. Go with the truth, let it out and all of a sudden you’ll be writing unconsciously and with hunger and fascination. Just start small. Look at the leaf on the ground rather than the whole mountain. There is a world in that leaf you know. My acting teacher has stressed the notion of specificity throughout the months of taking his class in relation to the details of a character’s life. He explains that the more specific we are in describing the details of a character; the minute and seemingly insignificant details that make a character who he or she is – the forces that have shaped that character into what he or she is in this moment – the more believable you will be. Tease out the details, the thousands and hundreds of thousands of small details in your day to day life – from brushing your teeth to what you see and do upon waking up to start your day. Focus on those details and you’ll always have material. Your voice will arrive without you have to do anything, while you’re working with this material. Good luck.

  2. PS. I really love the shirt in the reflection of your drawing. it makes me sad that i’ve never seen you wear it.

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