Friday, February 10, 2006

Vermont Studio Center Day Five

(Click on the link to go to the VSC website.)
February 9, 2006

Last night the art residents presented the first series of slide talks. Impressive. The work is wildly diverse, but all of it engages, challenges, and surprises. Two individuals paint with wax (that’s called encaustic, if I remember correctly) and their images were particularly haunting because of the way in which the wax obscured the underlying layers of paint. One of them, Vaughn Bell, created wonderful winter scenes by cloaking her landscapes in blizzards of white wax. Another painter, Sze Man Ho, from Hong Kong, creates installations with life-sized, traditional folk art dolls of paper arranged in rooms with furniture, flowers, paintings on the walls … complete environments that she created entirely in vivid color and detail.

Toni Small uses a pinhole camera to create self-portraits that evoked Julia Margaret Cameron, the 19th century British photographer. Jim Schantz paints sky-filled New England landscapes that made me think of the work Lynn Randolph recently presented at WIVLA. Alyce Santoro has invented a process to makes fabric from cassette tapes. You can play the clothing and listen to the sound still residing on the tapes after she weaves them! She showed us beautiful weavings and many unique wearable installations. Louisa Armbrust paints game structures – people at play – with a wicked sense of humor.

I wish I could remember the names of everyone who presented. Next week, I will take a notebook with me to capture that important information. Tomorrow at mealtime, I should be able to track down the missing names from last night.

We writers will have our first reading next Tuesday evening. I will read then. I might have preferred to wait until the second or third reading, but my new friend Holly has to leave next week and she flattered me by expressing a desire to hear me read. Vanity, thy name is Writer!

Speaking of writing, I have been working hard. It is incredible, actually. I spent Monday and Tuesday on structural issues – mind mapping the contents of the book – and reading/marking passages in my journals that pertain to the period I’m working on. Wednesday I began writing. In the last two days, I have written over 5,700 words. I did make a promise to myself to concentrate on quantity, not quality, so they probably aren’t the best 5,700+ words I ever wrote, but I don’t care. I am so productive it frightens me. And thrills me.

There is something about living in a room with your computer staring at you and having no diversionary tasks available to you. I have nothing to do but write. What a concept!

On Friday morning, the poet Brenda Hillman will present her craft talk to the writers. I will be there, of course, even if I am not a poet. Who knows what could happen in a place like this?


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