Adirondack Roots

When my parents came for a visit a couple of weeks ago, Barry and I took them to the Adirondacks for a weekend. One of our adventures, while we were up there was climbing ‘Bald Mountain’.

To get to the top, it is a nice little hike that takes around 45min. On the way, one is exposed to a great landscape, a fascinating mix of trees and enormous ‘bald’ rocks.It is a great contrast that shows the roughness but also the survival instinct of nature. One observation that I found the most interesting was the way the trees grow their roots in this environment. Of course, I have seen roots before but not as often as exposed as on my way up to the Bald Mountain summit.

While climbing, I felt a weird connection with those roots. I could not really put it into words back then but it led me to take a lot of pictures. I like to document things that interest me, even if I am not sure if I will ever use this inspiration for my work. In this case, I think it will find a way into my artistic practice in some sort, as the roots seem to have found a hold not only on Bald Mountain but in my brain! Since the day of the climb, my mind keeps going back to those roots and I come to think that the connection might be in me finally trying to figure out where my roots were, are and where I want them to be. For the first time, after all my travels, it feels like I have arrived. This does not mean that this is where it ends, I see it more as the beginning of something new that has its roots here.

Roots at Bald Mountain

Funny coincidence… This morning, I stumbled over the work of artist Henrique Oliveira, thanks to the contributions of the friendly duo of the Hovercraftdoggy blog. Seeing Henrique’s work made me smile. There couldn’t be anything better to express the way I feel at the moment and what I am looking for to express in my own work.

Henrique Oliveira, ‘Tapumes – Casa dos Leoes’, 2009

Henrique OliveiraHenrique Oliveira, ‘Alley Abscess’, 2011

Henrique Oliveira, ‘Dead Fire’, 2012

Henrique Oliveira, ‘Boxoplasmose’, 2011

I am not sure, if I will use actual wood in my future pieces or experiment with more contrasting materials. Right now, I opt for the latter, as I am thinking about experimenting with Faience and 3D printing. I had the idea to try and work with Faience when I went to see the ‘Shodow of the Sphinx’ exhibition at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY. I then found this great blog about making and working in Faience and I am very much looking forward to trying. I love the origin of the material, being the first high technology ceramic, one of the first man-made materials mankind worked with. Working in this material really means going back to the roots! Right now, I am still trying to figure out where to get all the materials from that are needed to make the paste. If anyone has some suggestions, I would very much appreciate to hear them.

I can’t wait to start experimenting and finally work with my new pink kiln. I will keep you posted about future developments.

Thank you for reading.
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Utica Buildings I

Aside

It has been a while since I wrote last and this had mainly to do with me constantly running around, wrapping things up, packing, moving, flying to four countries in 20 days and curing a heavy tonsillitis I caught on a farm in Taiwan. Apart from my sore throat, all good things and very exciting but quite exhausting too and I have to admit that it is pretty nice to have some peace and quiet at the moment. Right now I am in Utica, NY, and I will stay here for the next 80+ days before returning to Germany.

The reason why I am in Utica is because of my partner. Utica is his hometown and whenever you ask him to describe the city in one sentence, he will say ‘Oh- it’s a little slice of heaven on earth!’. Honestly, I haven’t heard the angel’s singing yet but I have to say that the ‘Utica Halfmoons‘ are pretty heavenly and there are lots of other things that make this little city very interesting. Apart from the really awesome Adirondacks State Park, which is just a short car ride away for all of those times when I can’t stand the four walls anymore and need to see and breathe some Green, there are a lot of interesting historical sites in the city as well. Just to speak of a few, the Stanley Theatre, the Hotel Utica and of course the Gold Dome are popping into my mind.

Of course Utica has issues, but I guess quite a few smaller cities have had similar issues in the past, and there are signs now that show that it is on the track of getting back on its feet. For me, being an artist and being interested in what is going on in this sector, it is great to see that there are quite a lot of people here trying to make a change. I think there is an interesting, rising art community on the go and I hope I can eventually contribute to it. There are quite a few art projects in the making of which I have heard of in the few days I have been here and I am very excited to see them finalised and open for the public. (I will write about those another time.)

When it comes to jewellery, I think there are quite a few interesting projects and sites as well. First, there is Pratt MWP, which enables students to spend the first two years of their bachelor of fine arts degree program at the campus in Central New York before they complete their studies at Pratt’s main campus in Brooklyn. Then, there is the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, which has quite an impressive permanent body of work on show (They have a Louise Bourgeois ‘Maman’ Spider on the wall… a piece that I instantly fell in love with!). They also show shorter, topic-specific exhibitions. At the moment, there is the ‘Shadow of the Sphinx – Ancient Egypt and its Influence’ on show. Last year, I came to see a show on wedding dresses from the last 100 years.

Also, there is Sculpture Space, an organisation that offers twenty residency places to national and international artists. I am not sure, if there has been a jeweller so far but since, in my opinion, jewellery is a form of (wearable) sculpture, it might be an option for jewellers as well…!? I certainly hope so… it would be really exciting to get the chance to work BIG!

Another very positive aspect I find about the city is that a lot of private people are trying to make a change as well. We have had the chance this week to go and see the ‘Preview of the New Offices and Loft Apartment‘ at Bonacci Architects’. Once one disregards that some of the buildings in the city are pretty run down and looks behind the facade and the possibilities that hide in there, one recognises the beauty that is hidden in the city. There are so many old brick buildings, some of them had an industrial purpose, some of them were meant for living quarters, that are just waiting for rediscovery! The Bonacci’s have taken on one of those industrial buildings (actually two to be exact, since the building is made from a building that was erected in 1840 and that was then joined in 1880 with the next door building from 1860) and they have turned it into a modern-old building, housing two companies on the ground floor and a fabulous loft on the first floor.

Here are some pics of the building before renovation.

The Bonacci Building after renovation.

There were several presentations and speeches on how this project was possible and the advantages of making an old home new.

The main speaker of the ‘Landmarks Society of Greater Utica‘ mentioned that she is a ‘Building Hugger’ and I have to say that I feel the same way. Strolling through the downtown area, passing all those beautiful buildings that have so many stories to tell, puts a smile on my face and I hope I can contribute in a similar project in the future.

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