despite being told over and over that the beginning of the year is somehow this immense, new time of possibility, i can’t help but remember that our western new year is an arbitrary designation of “new” and “start” and “beginning”.
we begin when we begin, and having this imposed designation, i often think, just harms us more than it helps.
but, as with most things, your mileage may vary.
that all being said, there is a certain energy that permeates the west at the new year that does propel us all forward–whether we ascribe to the imposed “new” or not.
which is a weird, random way of saying that these were my projects from last year, and these are my projects for this year.
so, yeah, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long. sorry. THINGS.
okay, for those of you that don’t speak squid, the last couple-three weeks were spent in a combination of cleaning out my studio at the ARTgarage (for reasons), writing like 4-5 articles a week plus doing the video review things, recording projecTransparency vids, co-hosting my first ever podcast, and fighting up the steep learning curve that is ALL THINGS ADOBE.
So, I’ve been ears deep in writing (and playing the most massive game of catch-up from the Winter Holidays–seriously, who even thinks having three massive obligation-celebrations within a 6-week period is a good idea?), and that means I’ve been neglecting y’all.
My poor, poor darlings.
I really need to do these posts more often so they’re not so fucking long.
On the upside, I’ve pick-up writing a twice-a-month meta column on Welcome to Night Vale, which is a-MAZ-ing.
Seriously, I’m never going to get over getting paid to write about things that I read, watch, listen to.
Best gig is best.
And, in Art Land, I’ve started as sketch-a-day project to get me drawing everyday (because I’m honestly kind of suck out loud at drawing. DON’T TELL.) and trying new things in a low-risk kinda way.
The results are happy-making for the most part.
My favorites so far are:
Tentacles and WtNV are definitely things that happening. *hands*
I–haven’t processed the photos from the Steampunk Show Opening (not that there are a lot because I didn’t really take any during the Opening since there were THINGS going on that I had to handle), but there are better ones that these.
The Festival of Lights in the Church of Αρcετηεθτηισ
(The Moon, The Deep, and The Devourer)
Αρcετηεθτηισ, oh triadic wondrous horror,
illuminate the darkness of winter
as the light waxes and wanes
and the night envelopes us
Αρcετηεθτηισ, all hail!
The Moon, The Deep, and The Devourer
each in their orb
awaiting cold (re)birth
—a fragment from The Words of the Devourer by Τηεοσιδ, Third Speaker of Αρcετηεθτηισ
The Dress Uniform of Leftenant-Colonel Αβιγαιλ Ποδεσ, Order of the Silver Octopus
This is the dress uniform of Leftenant-Colonel Αβιγαιλ Ποδεσ, Order of the Silver Octopus and Oathsworn Protector of the Realm, 7th Regiment under The Victoria Elisabeta the Second, 5th in success of Victoria the Great, may She live in Αρcετηεθτηισ’ eldritchian splendor forever and ever—Madness Be!—who decreed that the Empire, long may it shine, should forever and always be ruled and protected by the women of Her realm.
These’ll suffice for now, yeah?
The Steampunk Show goes down the 30th, so if you’re wanting to see it, best get to the ARTgarage Tuesday or Wednesday.
And–the new Quarter starts Saturday, so that’s also a THING I’m working on.
It–doesn’t really have a name yet. Something about jellyfish and lightboxes and phoenixes.
People always ask me why I participate in fandom, why fandom and (popular) visual culture inform my art-making practice, and it’s not an easy answer—but it’s easy at the same time.
Fandom—and the products created by fandom—was the first place that I saw and experienced reflections of myself. It was not the first place that I encountered a gay character (That was Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey in the Summer of 1990, I think.), but fandom was the first place that I encountered (recreated) characters that were bisexual, that were pansexual, that were transgendered, that were poly(amorous), that loved because of the person and not whatever body that they had been born in (whether that was the sex they would have chosen or not, whether it matched who they felt they were interiorly or not).
Fandom gave me this.
Fandom gave me the words to be able to explain that I can love more than one person at once, that I can love someone because they’re who they are and not what is or isn’t between their legs, that my gender expression (perceived, received and/or imposed) is not the beginning and end of my Self—long before I took a class in autobiographical theory that taught me about trauma writing, about interiority versus exteriority, about performativity.
Grad school may have taught me the terms, but fandom taught me about Othering and alterity long before—that insidious societal coping mechanism that’s really only good for allowing people to feel that they aren’t somehow “deviant” or outside the norm (whatever that is) by shoving people not like them into these categories that they don’t want to be caught in—but fandom taught me that Othering and alterity are just another mechanism of oppression.
And, that’s important. That all is very, very important.
That’s a lot for a bunch of strangers (their not strangers, not really—I really think that fandom is a place that everyone can come to and it’s safe because we all are, largely, anonymous) to have given me.
But, fandom hasn’t even just given me these first glances, first tastes, first experiences into the person I have grown into; fandom also taught me to write, to read, to think critically about situations (on the screen or the page and off of it, IRL), to put myself into someone else’s position—to think about what their situation is/was that has caused them to act in whatever way that they are acting—to not be afraid to try new things.
…there are millions of teens who read because they are sad and lonely and enraged. They read because they live in an often-terrible world. They read because they believe, despite the callow protestations of certain adults, that books–especially the dark and dangerous ones–will save them.
As a child, I read because books–violent and not, blasphemous and not, terrifying and not–were the most loving and trustworthy things in my life. I read widely, and loved plenty of the classics so, yes, I recognized the domestic terrors faced by Louisa May Alcott’s March sisters. But I became the kid chased by werewolves, vampires, and evil clowns in Stephen King’s books. I read books about monsters and monstrous things, often written with monstrous language, because they taught me how to battle the real monsters in my life.
And now I write books for teenagers because I vividly remember what it felt like to be a teen facing everyday and epic dangers. I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons––in the form of words and ideas—that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.
And, yeah, books did this for me—they still do—but (popular) visual culture does this for me too.
But, fandom? Fandom doesn’t have to go through editors (We have betas; they aren’t totalitarian dictators.) and get by puritanical ratings systems that want to maintain a homogenized, heteronormative status quo (We rate ourselves, and we tag for triggers so that readers and viewers can negotiate for themselves whether this whatever is something that they need in their lives right now.).
Fandom is anarchic creation; fandom lets us see things that we might not ordinarily see, experience that which is outside of our everyday experiences.
Fandom lets us share our lives with each other.
Fandom is a community experience, a communal reality. Fandom is participatory—hence, it’s academic name being Participatory Culture–and a place of participation where all are welcome, where everyone has a friend, where everyone has a voice, where everyone has someone to catch them when they fall.
So, yeah, when people ask why fandom is an integral part of my art-making practice, this is what I think about, this is what I want to tell them, but—usually—people don’t want to listen.
Seriously, Bunheads, people. <–Okay, weird name is weird; I totally agree.
But, how is Bunheads fair?
Okay, so I’ve been an Amy Sherman-Palladino fan since forever. Can we say Gilmore Girls and Roseanne (once upon a time)? Actually, if you think about it, Roseanne helped to change writing on TV, which has caused a change in writing in media in general, since geek-god Joss Whedon (All hail, our lord and master!) and pop-culture-divinity Palladino came out of Roseanne’s stable of writers.
But, yeah, fan. Long-time. Me.
And Bunheads? Quiet possibly the strangest collection of geekdoms in the History of Ever: there’s literature (classic and modern); music; movies; ballet, which one wouldn’t think of as a geekdom, but it totally is; and generally just the insular, individuated geek cultures that groups-within-groups and cultures-within-cultures create as a matter of course.
Honestly, there should be some sort of quiz or something to see how many references that a viewer of Palladino’s shows gets ‘cause—I swear—my bestest of best rate is probably only still 80%, and I think a lot of that is because I was a Literature student.
If you’re getting every reference–and you’re not Palladino or her Inner Circle–I want to meet you. We can get coffee or something.
I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND!
Okay, yeah, Bunheads is kinda geared towards teenage girls, but—BUT!—this is Palladino! This is a woman who creates/writes such interesting characters with such undeniably poignant and meta observations that it’s approachable and identifiable for more-than-just teenage girls.
Not only is this scene introducing a new generation of people to the wonders of They Might Be Giants, but for those of us who watched Looney Tune Adventures, we’re being reminded of the episode “Tiny Tune Music Television” as well as even older references to Audrey Hepburn’s beatnik dance in Funny Face (incidentally referenced again in “Channing Tatum is a Fine Actor”).
Or how about the Mice in The Nutcrackers being recast as Wall Street Bankers “’cause they’re rats?”
Or the heart-wrenching moment at the end of the first season in “A Nutcracker in Paradise” when Sasha (and, really y’all, Sasha is so supposed to be one of our primary “ins”—intelligence, snark, culturally literate, and with issues with a capital ISSUES—just like Michelle) invokes Dead Poets Society by standing on a chair—reminiscent of the desk-standing scene at the end of the movie—in a hospital and dressed as Clara—which manages to somehow terrifyingly cite the deceased Neil Perry—declaring “Oh captain, my captain.”
If nothing else, that one moment should indicate how multi-valiant and smart this show—and this creator—is: in one scene—not even one scene—Palladino drastically and dramatically re-frames Michelle’s character from a washed-up once-professional ballet-dancer-cum-Vegas-showgirl-widow with no place in Paradise (an interesting philosophical connotation) to an exciting, challenging, free-thinking, controversial mentor that causes her students to reevaluate everything in their own lives ala John Keating (Dead Poets Society) and Katherine Ann Watson (Mona Lisa Smile), while simultaneously re-framing Sasha—really, all the girls but Sasha in particular—from a typically blasé teenager from a broken (well, breaking) home to an independent individual suffocating in Paradise (again, the metaphor just knocks me over) trying to find a way to be who and what she wants to be rather than what everyone else is telling her to be.
Yeah, this all might be a potentially tired trope but one that is always relevant at the same time. And, in an amazing Third Wave Feminist text*? Yes, please.
Seriously, who writes better female-centered worlds than Palladino? She presents us with worlds that are women-dominated (but not domineering–except for Sasha…and Paris…and Milly–okay, occasionally domineering) and presents a multiplicity of femininities In a world that needs ALL THE FEMININITIES out there and illustrated so that no one thinks that one has to be female in just one way, we all need this like breathing.
So, yeah, really an A+ text. 10/10. Would recommend.
If you don’t like Bunheads, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
*Yes, problematic text is problematic. I kinda think that all texts are problematic in some way, but yeah, this is still definitely one of the smartest Third Wave Feminist meta-narrative texts on TV right now.
I don’t have anything done from it yet (actually, I’m kinda still incubating it a bit), but I think I might be ready to talk a little bit more about it.
So, for those of you playing the Home Game, once upon a time, I was a dyed-in-the-wool academic.
Still am, actually; I just do art-y things now that write papers or present at conference mostly.
And, if you’ve heard this all before, please feel free to skip to the end. Just like in Princess Bride. I promise there will be no damaging of perfect breasts in this. No breasts were remotely harmed in the making of this post. Swear.
But, yeah, academic, and I don’t fanart well because, while I’m an artist, I’m not really a draw-people type artist. I’m conceptual and mixed media with sculptural tendencies and a hankering (sic) for fiber. So–drawing, not really part of my wheel-house except when we’re talking about things like my unnamed friends or the beast series.
It’s just how I roll: fast and outta control.
I’m also post-postmodern (or quixotic postmodern or conscientious postmodern–something of that nature), which means that I deconstruct, analyze (and is it just me that “analyze” is kinda a pervy word?), meta, reconstruct, and meta some more.
Again, this is why popular culture/Visual Culture, fairytales, and mythology are like my THING. They’re inherently meta, and I can just fiddle meta about.
What I’m planning is kinda a two (maybe three?) pronged series where bits and pieces of fanfic are going to be translated into embroidered pieces and/or giant Word Art (because Word Art was always one of those things I enjoyed playing with and working on, but I really haven’t had anything Word Art-y in the process since I left Art School because it always seems to take up so much space and there’s already a space issue in my studio because old art hasn’t sold or hasn’t been boxed properly to be sent to storage), and there’ll be sculptural not-installations that are meta character studies like I’m totally cos-playing evil-werewolf!Stiles from Dogs of War by Saucery and this image by creature13 and have plans to install the costume as an art piece with these sources cited. And I have ideas for semi-Cubist metal sculptures/wall pieces that are, like, gestural experiences of certain characters or moments from fandom and stuff with exquisite-corpse-esque interpretations of media.
So, yeah, it’s gonna be fanart, but it’s gonna be fanart in that was that isn’t in a traditionally-fanart way.
…I’m likely to end up being really unpopular everywhere? Maybe?
I’m very good at citation. I swear.
And, because I know most people don’t read my blog for me being all wordy and blathery and stuff, here’s some yarn (imaged as a process) that I just finished up.
And, believe it or not, I sold these three skeins:
Also, since we’re here and talking about yarn and fiber and things, I’m going to be at ArtStreet off and on all weekend with the Traveling Treadlers. Also, I have my class information, if people are interested in classing with me:
“Give Spinning a Whirl.”: An Introduction to Spinning Yarn <–Sorry bad!title is bad. We tried “Spinning, yo.”, but I didn’t want a Knitta-Please-level of awfulness; the only other thing we were coming up with was “You spin me right ’round, baby, right ’round.”, but we figured it was wrong for the demographics.
When: Thursday, September 13th 4 – 6p.m.
Saturday, September 29th 10a.m. – 12p.m.
Tuesday, November 13th 4-6
Where: the ARTgarage
Cost: $50–includes drop spindle and roving
6-in-6: Six Books Types in Six Hours
When: Saturday, November 10th 1-4
Sunday, November 11th 1-4
Where: the ARTgarage
Cost: $60–includes materials
Additionally, Gallery Nite is coming up on Sept 20th. I’ll be there demo-ing and trying to be charming.
Questions, comments, concerns? What to ask me what I’m thinking with this fandom stuff? Go for it! I do enjoy chatting about this stuff.
Or, ya know *waves encompassingly*, if y’all squint to hard at anything I’m up to.
I’m a complete and utter fangirl/boy/squid, and since my work is conceptually driven by fairytales and popular culture, fandom–in all of its glorious ridiculousness and wonder–is totally my home.
Hell, most of my conference papers, articles, and class papers have involved popular culture in some way.
It’s what I do.
So, yeah, I’ve been kinda absence because fandom sucked me back in in the best possible way, and I’ve been glut-researching for fics that I’m writing–if you like that sort of thing, I have a Supernatural fic about Bobby and a Teen Wolf fic about Stiles that I have recently finished and are posted for the interweb to see…there’s SGA fic over on Wraithbait too–as well as novels that I’m working on because–sometimes–I don’t think of things like pack dynamics, but when you’re writing Therian-based novels, considering pack dynamics is kinda important.
Here’s a weird little taste of The Novel:
Oops, there was the cranky again. “Nothing,” Delilah sighed resting against the smooth, glowing bark of a hugely ancient birch tree. “I wasn’t here because there were any signs of Therians. I was here to live my life.”
:That’s what I was doing here too; before every night became about me running from you and our little bantering flirtation. This is really cutting into my day job, ya know?:
“Tell me about it. I could totally use not doing this every night too.”
:Then why are you? You don’t have too. What are the other Hoods going to do if you don’t actually hunt me down and kill me? How will they know?:
“Trust me. They’ll know.”
:It’s just an excuse.:
“I don’t want to kill you.”
:Well, I don’t want to be killed.:
“Fantastic! We’re all agreed!”
:You make a very bad Hood.:
“And you make a lousy rhetorician. We each have our crosses to bear.”
:And everyone’s favorite professor would know all about that, wouldn’t she.:
Yep. This is what I write: Hunter and Hunted flirting bantering in the woods. How is this my life?
So, yeah, in essence, research ate my brain. It does that sometimes. And I can totally give out a brilliant list of recs for Teen Wolf, Sherlock, Stargate: Atlantis, due South, The Avengers and a number of other fandoms that would make y’all weep.
But, also–in the interim–I’ve had a couple of new series ideas rattling around that are scarilylargelyoh my god, what am I thinking? working off of ideas that would actually take advantage of my fluency in fandom.
So, me with the thinky. But, I’m not going to tell y’all about them right now. I have the basics of the ideas down, but I’m waiting for them to mature so that I can fully articulate them to someone–anyone–who doesn’t have an intimate understanding of how my fan-brain and my art-brain work. So, yeah, ‘Lain’s about it at the moment.
And, I’m still totally PTSD-ing from the Job of Evil Evilness ’cause, ya know, it’s fun for the whole family.
So, the things I’ve been working on in a totally not concentrated or organized way:
I’ve been doing some spinning too (silk is a bitch to spin–just sayin’).
These are mini-art batts that I got from Hello Purl all spun up pretty like.
They were an absolute joy to spin. Just sayin’.
So, yeah, love me, love my art. Love my art, love my fandom habit.
Leave your thoughts in the comments, and we can all have a nice chat about it.
Okay, yes, real art-blog business. Right. A real post.
*tra lala la la la la la*
The ADHD is bad today. Sorry about that.
*insert segue here*
So, my studio at the ARTgarage is the size of a sneeze. Totally. Like, if I take Vincent (my spinning wheel) in there with me, there’s about a foot to a foot-and-a-half of space in front and behind me with maybe 8 inches on either side.*
*I don’t know how accurate those measurements are since I have never actually measured when I was in my studio spinning. That’d be weird.
This is the view into my studio coming through another Ahliah Zia Shashonah’s studio. We actually confuse people because our aesthetics are similar enough that it looks like one big studio. It’s not, though.
Most of the work that I do in this studio is pastel work, spinning, ink, bookmaking, sewing, or the occasionally layer media over monoprint (this is still a developing thing for me). I get a lot done in a small space and have some lovely display space.
…it also means that I actually have to talk to people on occasion. If I only worked in the tentacle-made studio at Hemlock House, then I’d probably never speak to anyone other than you lovely people.
And, lastly, my easel, which I have had since I was a teenager, with the first piece in the beast series still on it.
So, yeah, that’s my sneeze-sized studio. Come by the ARTgarage, and you might see me in it.
And, since we’re on the ARTgarage and me haunting the place on a semi-regular basis, I’m teaching some classes for them this fall: 3 drop spindle workshops (Sept. 13th, Oct, 13th, and Nov. 13th) and a 6 books in 6 hours bookmaking class (Sept. 29th and 30th). So, if any of those are interesting to you, let me know or check out the classes section of the ARTgarage website.
Mine are not currently listed because they were just turned in last week, but yeah, they’ll be there soon. I hope.
Before I go off to rummage, I have a story for y’all.
Gnome and I were talking about subversive, subtextual narratives in Star Trek: TOS: Kirk/Spock, Spock/Uhura, Kirk/McCoy, Spock/McCoy, and Kirk/Spock/McCoy with Kirk as the omni-sexual predecessor of Captain Jack.
These are the conversations we have. Yes, we’re kinda geeky and weird.
And, we got talking about Dracula (Coppola’s adaptation and the original text)—this happens sometimes too—and, I was talking about the narrative in Dracula is unreliable and, in my opinion, seems like it’s been massively retconed—which is something I always kinda feel like with epistolary novels and first person narration.
So, my theory is that, at the end of Dracula where it takes *cough*five*cough* men to kill Dracula, there’s an altertnative ending. What we’re reading is the official story that they took back to England, replete with a gallant death for the American since there’s no possible way he could have survived such close proximity to the supernatural. What really happened is that everyone when all swoony over Dracula and shacked up with him. Quincy decided to stay forever (hence why he’s “dead”), and Mina’s child (that is always presented as some sort of amalgam of Van Helsing, Jack [Brilliant Jack! Do you like it?], Jonathan, Quincy, and Arthur) is actually Dracula’s.
There’s more to the theory, but I may just have to write the Story Of It, ya know?