I had intended to post something late last week as is my habit. As I took advantage of sunny weather and just below freezing temperatures to take a winter’s hike, I obsessed about an image of snowflakes on which I have been working. I was creating my annual surprise for my collectors, and it wasn’t coming together as my inspirational and critical creative self had imagined. More drawing, carving and printing, as I yielded to this obsession, resulted in the following image — which will now be transformed into my New Year’s surprise…
Making art when you are worried or under stress can be hard. I created this linocut, entitled Hope Despite the Evidence, in response to a dear friend’s medical crisis. An homage to the great printmaker M.C. Escher, it portrays barren, flooded fields that capture a hopeful scene of blue skies and white clouds in a reflection. A wise friend observed recently that hope is more than an emotion — it is an action. Today I saw hope in action…
Hope arrived this morning at my progressive church in Bloomington, IN in the form of about ten members of our city who are of Turkish descent. Many are graduate students or faculty at Indiana University, but they are also members of a nonprofit organization — founded in the Midwest — that encourages Muslims to bring Noah’s Pudding to Christian congregations as a way of creating community and understanding.
The making of Noah’s Pudding is a cultural observance in the homes of both Muslims and Christians in the Middle East. It is created (with no animal products) by boiling grains and legumes and sometimes almonds with water and sugar to create a congealed pudding. After sitting overnight, dried fruits, other nuts and spices are simmered, and the entire creation is served cold topped with pomegranate. Recipes are large, and the intent is to make enough so you can share cups with all of your neighbors.
Our minister said that this observance had been scheduled long before the violence in San Bernadino, CA took place this week. He also observed that he could think of no better action that we could take in response to this violence than to establish warm relationships with our Muslim brothers and sisters.
The pudding was delicious, and it was a joy to meet people who have traveled far from their warm, Mediterranean homes in order to study and to teach. They filled our stomachs, and our hearts. I am already wondering how we can reciprocate.
Hope is an action…
I began my Tuesday with the best of intentions. I had spent the previous afternoon carving away tiny areas in my most recent linocut. There is always this sense of excitement and expectation when I print the next layer — as it is hard to predict the effects of the carving and the new color.
In my latest linocut, I needed to transition from a very bright yellow-green to blues, and I knew from experience that unless some of the green was blocked by a more opaque ink, I would not get to the blues that I sought. So I had printed a white ink, tinted with blue.
Alas, when I gently touched the surface of the linocut, I could feel that it was still tacky and wet. A bit of the very light blue remained on my finger. Sometimes the last layers of a linocut dry more slowly…but in this case I think the culprit was the Titanium White ink. With no printing happening on this day, I decided to try and discover why it was that the white ink behaved so differently from my other inks.
Sadly, when I typed in a search of “why does white ink not dry like other inks” I didn’t get any useful information. Complex treatises from the commercial printing industry surfaced, with discussions about squirting inks and plasticity. Not what I needed. (more…)
In the epigraph of my copy of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, E.B.White is quoted:
“I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively instead of skeptically and dictatorially.”
Bees have been all over print and social media lately. Concerns are now being raised about the use of pesticides called neonicotinoids, and their effects on bees. The pesticide affects the nervous system of these tiny creatures, which impedes their ability to navigate and find nourishment. You need to look no further than your cereal shelf or your refrigerator to find foods that rely solely on bee pollination. Cranberries are one of these plants.
I wanted to experiment with creating work that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but might force the viewer to think about the image. What is this pattern? What does it mean? Why did the artist choose to impose this extra element into the work? In Blessings of Bumblebees, I take a view of a cranberry bog at harvest time and place it within the matrix of a honeycomb. Cranberries — a native shrub to North America — are created through flower pollination. While imported honey bees do pollinate these plants, our native bumblebees actually do a better job. The plant and the insect were made for each other. (more…)
|Experimenting with a honeycomb shape, with the addition of colored pencil.|
Light. Artists and art collectors have a love-hate relationship with it. We need some light to enjoy what has been created. Too much light, over time, will destroy the creation.
|Elizabeth Busey. Day’s End on the Ontario Shield. 10 x 28in, Edition of 20, $250 unframed.|
|Dale Enochs. Dialogue. Linocut on paper. Ready for a frame and a place in my house!|
|Elizabeth Busey, Evanescence, Reduction Linocut, Edition of 10, 28in diameter, $550 unframed.|
River deltas are wetlands that carry and deposit sediment into a particular mostly triangular shape. Like other wetlands, they are very important to both people and wildlife. River deltas provide protection from storms, filter run-off, and contain food and other resources.
River deltas don’t just happen anywhere. Strong tides or wave actions from the body of water that they meet prevent many from forming. Many river deltas are sinking because of human activity. Dams and other water control measures change the delicate balance between sediment and water flow. Removal of deltas’ water, oil and natural gas resources are causing their elevations to change. Imagine if these lacy fans vanished into the oceans — leaving places like Bangladesh, Louisiana and the Pearl River in China vulnerable. An estimated 500 million people live on river deltas.
It is a puzzle to me how visual artists can illustrate the lack of something. White canvases a la Robert Rauschenberg? What is the visual equivalent of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring?
Questions like these were on my mind as I spent an afternoon recently at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. On the top floor I came across a mixed media installation by Mark Dion and his studio team. Harbingers of the Fifth Season is comprised of an artist/naturalist’s desk complete with materials. Detailed watercolors on cork board illustrate the many invasive species that have been introduced to new habitats and subsequently damaged existing ecosystems. On the reverse, three chalkboards chronicle the ever-growing list of extinct species.
|Mark Dion, Harbingers of the Fifth Season, Mixed Media Installation, 2014.
Invasive species are chronicled in naturalist’s watercolor sketches.
|Reverse of Mark Dion’s Harbingers of the Fifth Season, 2014.
Extinct species are handwritten on three large chalkboards.
The installation is calm and quiet, belying the real pressure that invasive species are placing on ecosystems around the world. How much can one artist’s work do, sequestered on the top floor of a medium-sized city’s art museum?
Time to reread Silent Spring and try to discover Rachel Carson’s secret.
If you are anywhere near Bloomington, Indiana please consider joining me for:
July 27, 2015
Reception, Friday June 5, from 5pm – 8pm
d’oeuvres, wine & performance by guitarist Atanas Tvetkov
Bloomington Open Studios Tour •
June 6 (10am – 6pm) and Sunday, June 7 (10am – 4pm)
work, enjoy refreshments and try your hand at printing.
BloomingtonOpenStudiosTour.com to plan your entire tour.
May is the beginning of crazy season for me, both personally and artistically. I’m immersed in carving a new round 28″ diameter linocut, with a plan to have two more done by the end of the month.
I was asked by a friend to write something to be sent out to the Arts Alliance of Greater Bloomington, and when I wrote this it was on the eve of graduation at Indiana University. So while I’m carving and printing…I give you my thoughts on Art & Limits. (more…)
Beloved, my latest series of reduction linocuts, looks at places that are in danger because of global warming. Ephemeral Sanctuary looks at the delicate islands that ring the southern United States and the Caribbean, such as The Bahamas, St. Lucia, Barbados, Bermuda and many others. My husband and I spent our honeymoon on Bermuda. These pink sand beaches and shallow aqua waters hold a special place in the hearts of many throughout the world.
|Elizabeth Busey, Ephemeral Sanctuary. Reduction Linocut, 10 x 33in, Edition of 13. $300 unframed.|