I’m excited to have found a new partner in collaborative art adventures, Marci Senders. Check out her Etsy shop too! We were friends in art school what seems like ages ago, although really it’s only almost 10 years. I’m horrible at keeping in touch with people, and I lost track of Marci entirely until she showed up on Facebook. Have I mentioned my love-hate feelings about Facebook? Well, this is one of the reasons I love it- finding people I’m glad to be back in touch with, and finding new creative opportunities.
So, we’re doing a collaborative book exchange project. We’re each starting with a book, adding some drawing, painting, collage, whatever, to it, and then switching. Then we get to add stuff to each other’s images, and then switch back, and then we’re trading two more times so we each end up with each other’s book. Our styles are quite different (although there are some similarities perhaps- some colors? mixed-media-ness?), so it’s going to be a lot of fun to interact with each other’s work and see what evolves.
Marci came up with a theme for the project of “what I’ve been up to for the past 10 years.” It’s been interesting to actually sit and think about what has happened since graduating from art school in 1999. I never would have thought this ten years ago when I was FREAKING OUT about what the hell was I going to do with my life after graduating, but I’m actually really happy with how things have turned out.
I got my book already for the project. It’s a guidebook to Italy, which seemed right for a couple of reasons. Marci and I (and another friend, Liz, who I’ll add a link to when she gets her site up and running!) were roommates in Rome during spring semester of 1998. I’m the first to admit that I’m not a very good roommate, but we had some fun times, and the apartment we lived in was such a cool place. It was itty-bitty, but beautifully decorated, and it was on the top floor of the building and had this amazing terrace garden, and a ladder so you could climb up and sit on the roof, where there was an astounding view of San Pietro. I had to go and dig up a photo of it to prove how amazing it was- here’s me on the roof (good god I look fat but it’s just really baggy clothes, what was I thinking!) :
The second reason I wanted to use a book about Italy for this project is because the semester I spent there was really the first opportunity I got to explore making books, and I fell in love with it. I really think that semester was a huge turning point in my artistic development. I was a double major in Painting and Printmaking, but I never felt quite right doing just one or the other. I was always interested by the idea of mixing mediums, but that was (understandably) frowned upon- you were supposed to paint in Painting and make prints in Printmaking. But in Rome I took a class called “Sketchbook,” where we went to different places in Rome to draw. The professor (Gennell Miller- here’s a link to a recent show of hers, which is about all I could find online) encouraged us to do more than just basic drawing- she was really into making these crazy mixed-media collagey books herself, so we basically had free rein to do whatever. It was amazing. I also had a painting class that semester, and felt so horribly blocked, and bored, whenever I tried to paint the requisite large-scale oil paintings. But whenever I worked on my books all was right with the world and I’d stay in the studio for hours on end cutting and pasting. I accumulated a large box of ephemera and magazines and odds and ends, very much like how I still work now. I ended up with a huge pile of painted, collaged, etc. books by the end of the semester. (You can see some of them here: Lungotevere, Roma, Xray, Silver, Nuovo)
Last week I started tearing out pages from my book to make space for extra collaged things, and I spray-painted the cover gold. Of course looking at this guidebook made me feel super nostalgic for Italy. Is it possible to feel homesick for a place that was never your home, or only a very temporary one? I was only there for four months but it really got under my skin. I haven’t been back since then, and although I hope to get there someday I know it will be totally different, and probably vaguely disappointing. Because really nostalgia isn’t ever just about a place, it’s also about a very specific time and set of circumstances, and who you were and what you experience and think and feel, and you can’t ever go back to that or recreate it.
As the project progresses, I’m going to post in-progress shots, to document the evolution of the two books.