Directive #3

  1. punctuation is not always necessary
  2. B. if you can say it without saying it then don’t say it
  3. practice some regularity
  4. don’t be sentimental (of a work of literature, music, or art) dealing with feelings of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia, typically in an exaggerated and self-indulgent way.
  5. report what is there
  6. do what pleases you
  7. don’t give up
  8. look at the edges of things – find the boundaries
  9. wear your walking shoes

 

 

 

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room redux

Photo by Don Worth 1958

Well, first let me say – it has been a long time. September 2014 was my last post and that is because of that one sperm that wouldn’t give up and won the prize of becoming Ayla, our daughter. That’s the fancy way to say I had a baby. And she’s great, and I’m great and so grateful.

In September, after I found out I was pregnant I had to admit to myself that what I really wanted was to just be pregnant. To take the time to slow down and be with the baby. So I did.

And Ellen Bowers died. I met Ellen in my early days in Los Angeles and she was a kind, loving and bookish writer. She always wore a little piece of flair – like a flower in her hair or a beautiful scarf. She was the kind of person that could slip in and out of a room unnoticed but when she focused her gaze on you, you felt like you belonged. We shared our grief when our fathers died. She told me about riding a bike all over town when she was pregnant. She was an enthusiastic and committed fan of Room One, commenting on almost every blog post. She was so engaged that sometimes I felt I was having a conversation with her about art and writing through this project. And I loved that. And I loved her. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. I just wish Ellen, Georgia and I could continue that conversation.

Lately, I feel my fingers itching to be tap tap tapping at the keyboard searching out the rhythm of the project. I just wasn’t seeing how I could continue with a life so changed by this new role. But today I watched the movie Room – which is wonderful in so many ways – and I remembered that the inspiration for this project was to build rooms, to build environments to live in by searching for the artifacts that create these women. And part of the question was always how does that process change me? I realized also that this being a long duration project meant I could make it a little longer duration. So without knowing the end date, I begin again.

This time I’m bringing the fortifying thought that I was able to push out a baby. I’m bringing a changed body and a level of exhaustion like I’ve never experienced before. I’m bringing a  broken heart, and I’m bringing a rusty tool. I’m bringing the deepest yearning to connect to you through Georgia and the hope that, through her, we will both feel that we belong.

 

 

Mucking Around

60.O'Keeffe,LightOnPlains

Light Coming on the Plains II, 1917

Dear Georgia or Ms. O’Keeffe,

I’m not sure which to call you. Georgia seems too intimate but Ms. O’Keeffe too scholarly. Maybe others have struggled with this and that is why some resort to calling you simply O’Keeffe. I would be okay with you calling me Alice, but I’m not sure that the reverse would be true.

So I have set sail on this journey of research, transformation and creation and so far seem to be wandering around in placid waters, watching the clouds go by with no sense of direction and no sense of urgency to get any where at all. Is this related somewhat to who you are, or am I just directionless? I am very much enjoying reading your book, Georgia O’Keeffe (by Georgia O’Keeffe). I am wondering if -in your lifetime – you became comfortable mucking around in the realm beyond language, the space where there need not be labels in order to experience some truth in the body. I wonder if that might be why you refused to speak about your art in terms of what it was about? Maybe you didn’t know what it was about either, it was simply what your body wanted to say.

I love reading the letters between you and Alfred Stieglitz – the way you both describe the world around you with such detail and earthiness! In this book there are such interesting things in the footnotes, like how the artist Marsden Hartley thought your art “too personal”. Stieglitz said that Hartley “doesn’t want to feel struggle – he has had enough himself-he wants greater objectivity-less subjectivity” (pg 136 My Faraway One). I wonder if Hartley knew and was responding to what you said previously about his work; that “it was like a brass band in a small closet”. That makes me giggle. You had a smart mouth on you.

We don’t much write letters anymore, at least I don’t. Mailboxes are being taken off of sidewalks as we are learning to tweet/vine/blog our every moment. When I meet up with friends, we have little news to share because we already read about it on Facebook. I think about your wide open velvety close nights in New Mexico and I remember the night sky in January in Maine when I was a kid, so sharp and clear that I could almost disappear.

The truth is I am scared. I don’t know what is going to happen with you and me and it feels like the rules have changed. Where Marilyn pushed me to reach out in a deeply personal way, create a burst of color and light, and change myself physically you seem to be urging me to listen within. Take long walks. Make salad. Stare out the window. Clean the house. All I want to do is clean the house.

You warn me about the perils of housework. Somewhere I read that when you were painting you let the dishes pile up. For me it is much easier to clean, grocery shop, and make all sorts of lists than to delve into the unknown of creativity.

Today on my walk I was visited by a monarch butterfly swooping and soaring on the breeze. She would come close to me and then flutter away. Her pattern seemed to be effort, effort, effort…soar, swoop, crest…effort, effort, effort again, then maybe full stop for a moment, begin again. This pattern echoed something I heard yesterday in an acting class. We were encouraged to row, row, row the boat of our creativity until the current took us and when the current ebbed, row again. Maybe this is the best lesson for me for today, try to feel when to effort, effort, effort, when to swoop and soar and when to full stop: rest.

With admiration,

Alice

Anatomy of a Project

Welcome! This project is called Four Rooms. The creation of the Room One will take place from July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013.

This year will be spent researching, gathering artifacts and transforming into the woman who lives in this first room. During the year, I will write and publish my findings about the process in this blog. Toward the end of the year, I will create a performance in which I live as the woman in the room created with gathered artifacts. I am particularly interested in exploring boundaries of identity, environment, and performance.

Let’s enter the room. The woman who lives here is Marilyn.