For Happiness

So I haven’t been around much lately. I’ve become a tad bit obsessed with making polymer clay jewelry. It started out as a little endeavor to add a summer-friendly product to my etsy store, but now it’s probably what I think about the most after the cute husband and my lovely daughter. I am having so much fun with it, and there are so many things I can still try. Here’s just a few of the things I’ve been working on.

Jewelry 3

Jewelry 4

Jewelry 5

Jewelry 7

Jewelry 8

I have to say that I’ve been pretty inspired by the artist profiles I’ve been doing. I expected that the last question, what is your unique purpose for creating work, would lead to all manner of profound and earth-shaking answers. I was surprised to find that several artists make art because they like to make art, or because they think it makes people happy, or just because that’s what they do. Hearing that from artists that I really respect and admire has set me free to make these pieces just because I love making them, without having to worry about what kind of impact it’s having on the world or whether this will fulfill the thirst of my soul for significance.

Todd Boss

If you’ve never seen animated poetry, I am delighted to be the first to introduce you. There is something so perfectly gelled in the combination of short film and poetry; I’ve never seen one that I don’t like. But I have a particular fondness for the poems of Todd Boss, and so here is one of his lovely pieces put into pictures by Emma Burghardt and lulled to music by Debra Barsha.

Also, you should check out Motion Poems, because they are responsible for a great deal of this artwork. That organization connects film makers with poets and adds a little magic.

Sara L’étrange

While on a search for something terribly specific, I ran across this amazing piece by Sara L’étrange. It has absolutely nothing to do with what I was looking for, but it is fantastic, and that is the kind of day it has been.

Sara L'trange

Sara L’étrange works almost exclusively with gel pen, and her artist statement has some really wonderful language about the nature of working with a medium that can’t be painted over, erased, or moved once it’s down. I really kind of love her take on it, it’s well worth a read.

Secret Garden

I hate to admit this, but when choosing artwork to post on this page I often run through potential objections that could be made to a certain piece. I worry that people will find the artwork uninspiring, confusing, too literal or too abstract, and I can make myself crazy that way. There are many reasons I can think of that someone might not fully appreciate this gorgeous song by Secret Garden, but I can’t help myself. I’ve listened to it a lot of times now (mostly in an unsuccessful search for a youtube version without a nature montage), and every time it has the same effect on me. It feels like entering cathedral, like watching world class ballet, like meditating, like being prayed for. If you’re very offended by religious themes, you might want to skip this one, but if you’re even a little open to it, please give it a try. It really is lovely.

If you love this music like I do, you might want to click here and peruse some of their albums.

Artist Profile: Patricia Arribálzaga

That wonderful, fanciful, fantastic food artist, Patricia Arribálzaga, whom I featured a while back was kind enough to respond to my request for a short interview. I love her concise, to-the-point responses; she radiates confidence and certainty about her craft.

Cakes Haute Couture 6

What do you love about your medium?

I love working with edible material, my art is ephemeral, my art object are dematerialized when people eat it

Cakes Haute Couture

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

In my case I find boring the artwork that you can find in every places denoting lack of surprise and personality .

Cakes Haute Couture 2

When did you first call yourself an artist, and why?

When I was around 7 years old when I felt a strong emotion with the result of my drawings and hunger to continue working.

Cakes Haute Couture 3

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

The silence of William Turner, the poetry of Fragonard and the colours of Monet

Cakes Haute Couture 4

What is your unique purpose for creating work?

Enjoying expressing myself trough my edible art

Cakes Haute Couture 5

Nihal Erpeden

I’ve started a new little endeavor recently, making jewelry from polymer clay. I’ve successfully created one respectable piece with a minimal amount of cursing. I love the range of polymer clay, how it can look like leather, glass, stone, wood, ceramic, whatever you can imagine. It’s a joy to work with a medium like that.

Which brings me to today’s artist, Nihal Erpeden, whom I came across while I was looking for a little inspiration (hubris, really. There’s nothing I saw that I can even close to approximate), and I found this amazing jewelry artist.

Nihal Erpeden

I love how she combines the free-form, organic detail on a surface so precise and geometric. It really is lovely, and anyone would be lucky to own such a piece.

Federico Bebber

So its been a bit of a day. Running injury, weepy kiddos, and an 18-month old who just learned how to stamp her foot and say “Nnnnnoooooo!” in public. Even now my daughter and the lovely little girl I watch occasionally are upstairs jumping up and down in their cribs just in case I thought they might be sleeping. So when I saw this dramatic photograph by Federico Bebber, it really spoke to the kind of fractured stress I’ve been feeling.

Bipolar Day
Bipolar Day

Federico Bebber‘s work is a little creepier than I usually prefer, but it is perfect for this kind of day. In his artist statement, he says that these images are a result of restlessness caused by discomfort. This guy has my number for sure, and I love that even such dark and frustrating emotions can result in this kind of beautifully detailed and profound work.

Mark Chadwick

Did you miss me? I missed the artwork, but I am back for the last day of the work week with this fantastic piece by Mark Chadwick.

Mark Chadwick

While I often enjoy abstract artwork, I’ve found it particularly difficult to connect with abstract paintings via the internet. Sculptures seem to translate a little better for some reason. But this piece caught me and pulled me in without asking any questions first. Mark Chadwick uses machines to create this flowing pieces of artwork. In his artist statement, he admits to even leaving the studio altogether and letting the art form itself. That seems hopelessly existential to me, and yet I kind of love that theory. I’ve often said that visual art helps me get out of my cognitive, narrative driven mindset, and this seems like one more level removed from that black and white space. In any case, the result is lovely and profound.

Jason Decaires Taylor

My quest for unique artists doing truly original work is just going bonkers this week. Today I have the pleasure of showing off one of Jason Decaires Taylor‘s work. He makes sculptures and then sinks them into the ocean, creating the first underwater sculpture garden in the world.


This sculpture garden is in the West Indies off the coast of Grenada. This artwork was made in large part to help rejuvenate coral structures, providing new places for coral to attach and grow. His work is in a constantly transitory state because of it’s location in the ocean, which inevitably adapts and assimilates the sculptures into itself. In the image above, the “wings” on the figure are not sculpted, they are coral growths. As time goes on, the figures become more and more part of the ocean.

This is a really amazing interview with Jason Decaires Taylor, which is long but totally worth watching. I can’t describe the gentle and transcendent nature of Taylor’s work with still images, and hearing him speak about the purpose and nature of his work is just fascinating.

Artist Profile: Cheryl Sorg

An artist profile of the amazing Cheryl Sorg! Since Monday I was burning my long weekend on a fruitless attempt to potty train my toddler, I didn’t have time to post this very adult, artsy, fascinating profile. Believe me when I tell you, I would rather be blogging.

Cheryl Sorg makes these amazing book-related collage pieces, many of them specifically tailored to the life and loves of the person they’re made for. I love how she brings literature into the realm of visual art and in such a respectful and effective way. Here’s some about her in her own words, enjoy!

What do you love about your medium?

There are a couple of things I love about it.

The first thing I love about it is its very simplicity – I am somewhat gear-averse and like to keep things really simple. My favorite forms of exercise are walking and yoga, largely because they require minimal gear and you can do them anywhere. In my art work, while my process is complex (as well as labor intensive, one might even say tedious), my materials are certainly not – they consist of paper, tape, scissors, a sticker machine – that’s pretty much it!

The other thing I love about my medium is that it is hands-on and labor-intensive, which makes it a sort of meditation for me that soothes my over-active (and often not in a good way) mind.

Children's Booklover Thumbprint Portrait
Children’s Booklover Thumbprint Portrait

Describe a piece of artwork that you find superficial or boring.

While I can’t recall a specific piece of artwork off the top of my head, I can say that, living in a small beach town that caters to beach-going tourists, one sees a lot of kind of traditional or kitschy seascape paintings and while there is no doubt I find the ocean beautiful (it kinda goes without saying), I have to admit my reaction to these sorts of paintings is often dismissive.

Family Thumbprint Portrait Detail
Family Thumbprint Portrait Detail

When did you first call yourself an artist and why?

I have always been one, always knew I wanted to do art in one form or another, but I spent a lot ( a LOT) of years cycling through many of the various ‘practical’ applications for my artistic leanings. All through my childhood I was sure I was going to be a fashion designer and would spend endless hours filling pages with drawings of dresses and shoes and the like. But after a year of college as a fashion design major, it became clear that wasn’t going to be my thing (though I still adore fashion and dream of being able to fill my closet with designer wares). I dropped out and was a bit lost for a while after that, thinking maybe I’d be an art teacher, an art therapist, who knows, until I got a camera at age 26 or so and then decided to return to college as a photography major. I studied photography (with some of the most incredible photographers as instructors) at MassArt in Boston and loved it. But the gear aversion, various experiments with other media, and, well, life, steered me in yet another direction and I began creating things with texts and book pages – collages, installations and sculptures instead of making photographs. I certainly thought of myself as an artist while in school. It’s part of the absolute glorious nature of art school – making art is your full-time job for a while there and it’s fantastic. But in addition to art courses, I took tons of literature courses and literature independent studies and even thought I might go on for a higher degree in comparative literature, so I still wasn’t calling myself an artist to the outside world so much. I think that finally happened during my time right after graduating in 1999 – at age 31. I was working a wonderful ‘day job’ as an administrator at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, in which I had a fantastic boss who was just so supportive of my art life and also in which I got the chance to interact all day with diverse, bright, cultured, lovely students all day. It was a job that supported me financially and psychologically and while I worked there I was able to crank out tons of work in my off time and begin exhibiting regularly.

Family Thumbprint Portrait
Family Thumbprint Portrait

Describe a piece of artwork and/or an artist that you find consistently inspiring.

Oh boy – there are so many. Two that come to mind immediately are from two very different artists, but I find them equally inspiring. One is a video piece I saw years ago at the San Francisco MoMA by Sam Taylor-Wood that was just so genius I was instantly jealous of her and so wished I had thought of it. It appeared at first glance to be a still photographic image of a scene of people sitting in a cafe displayed on a screen, but if you stood there for a few minutes and watched, you would notice that the woman’s cigarette was burning down, that you could see the tiniest tremors that come when people sit so very still for that long. It was brilliant, and I know I will never ever forget it. The other that comes to mind – especially because I got to see it in person for a second time this past summer on a trip to Paris – is a Van Gogh self-portrait. It is so gripping, so riveting, draws me in so completely I have cried both times I’ve stood in front of it. It’s so beautifully rendered I feel him looking at me, and as a person myself who experiences profound sadness and hopelessness and psychological despair myself more often than I care to think about, I don’t know, I don’t know how to explain it – I feel like I feel his pain, I feel a profound empathy through that eye-to-eye connection. In front of that painting, I’m a little like the museum-goer in Ben Lerner’s ‘Leaving the Atocha Station’, who the protagonist watches, mockingly (somewhat enviously?) sobbing in ‘a profound experience of art’.

Interestingly, I find both of these pieces both inspiring and devastating. There’s a small part of me that feels I should throw my hands in the air and give up this crazy art-making thing when I see work so moving, so amazing, so doubtful am I that anything I create will ever move someone in that way. But I don’t. Throw my hands in the air and give up, that is. Because I have to make art, period. And if I can give, one of these days, just one person that feeling, ‘a profound experience of art’, well that would be pretty f*ing awesome.

Overlapping Skies (in progress)
Overlapping Skies (in progress)

What is your unique purpose for creating work?

I love the written word. I love books and the stories held within their pages. I am so inspired by them and comforted by them. My purpose is to celebrate those stories, as well as tell a few of my own. I’ve had this idea of ‘celebration’ in my mind lately (perhaps a summer in France did that?), and new ideas are creeping up as a result. They are not fully formed yet, are a little kooky, and revolve around this phrase: book party. Woo!

Torah (We Are All Connected)
Torah (We Are All Connected)