“In the Bag” show at Olive Hyde Gallery, ends 7/11

My “purse” sculptures were originally created in an artist collaborative made up of Melissa Harmon, Judy Johnson-Williams, Lauren (JJW’s daughter), and Naomi Raine. We wanted to focus on feminism and we settled on the purse as the vehicle for our works. These pieces are much smaller than I usually work and I enjoyed the precious feeling the size difference made.

The Olive Hyde Gallery in Fremont did a wonderful job of jurying and displaying the work. The gallery is in beautiful California style building which was once a private residence which was given to the city. It is located across the street from Mission San Jose and is also near Ohlone College. Catch the show before it ends on 7/11/09.

Olive Hyde Art Gallery
123 Washington Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94539

What is a purse? I find it interesting that originally purses were used by men because they were the ones going out into the world and needed a place to carry their possessions. Later as women began emerging from their cloistered homes, they carried their purses hidden under their skirts. Eventually purses became more visible as fashion statements.

The purse as canvas, served as a way for me to explore different feminist issues in my life and culture. Since the purse has an outside and an inside it brings up the public view the seen view, and the hidden, internal inside. And because the purse is meant to be carried with you, it brought up questions for me like– what do I take with me? What is necessary? What is something I can’t let go of?


I use found objects, often those cast off, in my work. Their lovely patina, familiarity, and attractive shapes, combine to create a new piece with all kinds of feeling and meaning. For example a self portrait piece, “Osmosis Purse”, explores how I move in the world, exposing myself to issues and culture, trying to maintain an open framework. The strainer has a translucent open weave and reflects the osmosis between the inner and outer world. The strainer and the old mattress spring, .contrast with the light in the center of the assemblage.


I explore memory in two of the pieces. “Maki Purse” resembles a “maki sushi roll” which my mother and grandmother used to make for special family events. In the center of the purse is a set of chopsticks which are the exact same as the ones my family used to eat dinner with. The purse acts as a precious memory holder for me.



The “Feed Purse” is made of dry pointed vegetation and resembles a bird’s beak. It deals with eating discomforts.


I continued with the assemblage direction, incorporating organic matter. The “Family Jewels Purse” uses shells to hold my father’s family who raised oysters on the Puget Sound in Washington.


“Hana Mama Purse” has an almost spiky ring of playing cards circling it. The cards are from a game called “Hana”, meaning flower in Japanese. When I was growing up, my mother played this game once a month with a group of women. Besides bowling, this was the only time she took for herself and her women friends.

What’s my inspiration?

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Iflirtation on twitter recently asked what inspires me and I found this an interesting topic to write about. What does “inspiration” mean to me? It is those things that get me excited and motivates me to action or at least have a thought. I jotted down quickly what came to mind and the order in which it popped in. Most of these 10 things have inspired me to create.

1) My loved ones – who falls into this category? My partner, my family, my kitties, and my friends. These are the people (and creatures) who support me and question me and really help me do the best art I can do. I have created art around emotions, history, and portraits concerning my relationships.

2) Mystery – I don’t mind not knowing everything. I like the revealing process – in events, relationships, in my art. Just being with it and enjoying it.

3) Simplifying – I am constantly in the process of streamlining my lifestyle. It feels great to be lighter. I am very inspired by folks who make a small footprint on this earth.

4) Creativity – is everywhere and in many different forms. I like it when it appears and delights me. I find creativity in music, conversations, art, cooking, dancing, being.

5) Nature – is a big one for me. Nature recharges my batteries. I like to incorporate bits of it with man made materials for contrast, for softening, for remembering where we came from.

6) Injustice – motivates me to create a response, a visibility, an awareness.

7) Social media- I am jazzed about connecting and relating and learning and exposure to people and things I would not know about on my own. I like participating and contributing to the world this way.

Teaching– my way of teaching is to provide a safe place and opportunity for people of all ages to explore themselves through creativity. I provide a way in through a lesson. It is inspiring to see where people go with it and to see their transformation.

9) Peace – in a moment, in nature, in silence, in community is like a breath of fresh air. The idea, dream of peace in the world is inspiring.

10) Traveling – is like a shot in the arm. It can be a way out of my head and concerns. It is a way to just be delighted and aware of what else is happening in the world. And often it is a way of appreciating where I live and my community even more.

Tweet inspiration


I am part of a 3 person art collaborative that is focusing on image transfer techniques.

As far as content I am playing with the idea of overhearing some one. My first piece is based on a tweet I read, “Why doesn’t she get her hair out of her eyes?” If you are not familiar with a “tweet”, that is an instant communication of a thought, or information, on the digital sharing network called “Twitter“. I do not personally know the person who tweeted this phrase, or who she was referring to. I just liked the question out of context. I wondered if she was tweeting about some one she knew? Or if it was about a stranger? And who was she sharing this info with and why? It sounds like a bit of a criticism.

I decided to play on the phrase as a question about consciousness. The hair is often regarded as a symbol of power. The idea of “getting her hair out of her eyes” says to me that her power or ego, may be blinding the spoken about woman, and to move the hair or veil may help her to truly see. It can also be about being seen. Is she hiding behind her hair, her power, her beauty?

Here is the transfer process I used:

1) Select black and white image (also tried with color and worked fine) and make copy with toner copy machine at a copy shop. I did not flip it so it transferred reversed, but if you want it going the original way, you can scan into computer and flip it and then copy.

2) Use matte gel (must be gel, tried it with just plain matte medium and did not work) to coat area of cotton you will be transferring to and also coat cut out image on the print side.

3) Place image down onto gel area of fabric and rub till faint image shows.

4) Let fabric dry (do not remove till dry otherwise you will rub off image, I know, I did it). I got impatient and dried it in front of a heater. Rub off image with wet sponge.

5) Dry fabric and then add paint.


I just put this piece into the mail so the next artist can riff off it to create her own piece. I am not sharing the inspiration for it till we all finish our works, so I hope the participating artists are not reading this post. It will be interesting to see how my art is interpreted without the words.

29 Day Giving Challenge – I’m doing it!

I read about Cami Walker on the Art and Healing Network site and fell in love with her story and her cause, 29 days of giving.


Here she explains how she started it:

I decided to do the 29-Day Giving Challenge as an experiment. I was in a very dark period in my life dealing with a chronic illness (Multiple Sclerosis) as well as a major move from San Francisco to Los Angeles. One of my spiritual teachers, Mbali Creazzo, suggested that I give away 29 things in 29 days in an effort to get outside my own struggle for a few seconds each day. I wrote down Mbali’s suggestion in my journal and then promptly forgot about it. I couldn’t fathom giving to others at that point. I was very attached to my struggle and really believed that I had nothing to give anyone. I believed I needed all of my energy for my own healing. I was forgetting that healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens through our interactions with other people. The first day of my personal 29-Day Giving Challenge was preceded by a sleepless night. I was awake all night feeling angry and sorry for myself. When insomnia hits, I often go through old journals and read them. I found a note that I’d made during that phone session with Mbali two months before. The note said, “Give something away each day for 29 days.” It was 3 a.m. and I decided in that moment to take the suggestion.

Read more about Cami’s story and her cause on her site: http://29gifts.org/about.html

I joined today and I will be reporting where this new journey takes me!

The Book of Qualities

I went into Coastside Books today. I don’t know why. I was hoping I would come upon something quickly that I just had to have. I was supposed to be working on a powerpoint presentation – weird I had not been doing those is a long while and now I find myself doing two presentations on art in the last month.

Well anyway, the book. I found the book I had to have. A small book called “The Book of Qualities”, by J. Ruth Gendler. The author (who is also the artist) has written and illustrated a book about a cast of characters. These characters have names like: Truth, Blame, Beauty, Joy, Harmony, Panic, and more.

Here is the story about “Faith”.

Faith lives in the same apartment building as Doubt. When Faith was out of town visiting her uncle in the hospital, Doubt fed the cat and watered the asparagus fern. Faith is comfortable with Doubt because she grew up with him. Their mothers are cousins.Faith is not dogmatic about her beliefs like some of her relatives. Her friends fear that Faith is a bit stupid. They whisper that she is naive and she depends on Doubt to protect her from the meanness of life. It is the other way around. It is Faith who protects Doubt from Cynicism.

I googled Gendler and found out that she is a transformative art and poetry teacher in Berkeley!

And she is speaking on her new book “Notes on the Need for Beauty” 7pm, September 18 at the Gateways Bookshop, in Santa Cruz.

Check out more about her at her website: http://www.ruthgendler.com/default.asp

“When nothing is sure…”

“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.”

— Margaret Drabble (1939-) English Novelist

I think it is interesting that most of us do not think this way. We want to “know” what is going to happen. It is uncomfortable when we do not have a clear direction or answer. I wonder if this is an American pattern? Or is it a human way? What do you think?

Number thirty-four

Today the corresponding Tao Te Ching reading is #34:

The Great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it, it holds nothing back.
It fulfills its purpose silently and makes no claim.

It nourishes the ten thousand things,
And yet is not their lord.
It has no aim; it is very small.

The ten thousand things return to it,
Yet it is not their lord.
It is very great.

It does not show greatness,
And is therefore truly great.

Sometimes you don’t see it

I was in Reno a couple of weeks ago. While up on the roof terrace of the Reno Art Museum, I saw this incredible cloud. The shape and texture of it was like nothing I had ever seen before in a cloud. I took a bunch of photos of it.  


Later I looked though the earlier photos I took that day and here is what I found! I had actually been taking photos of the same cloud all along but was unaware of it.

Here I thought I was taking a photo of the Reno sign.

And here I thought I was shooting the funny “COED Lodging Motel” sign.

Just goes to show how I wasn’t seeing the natural wonders, blinded by the tacky human advertising.