studio diary

I’ve been seeing sculptures I might/should have made in Otto’s books:

“O Shaped Box” / card, brown paper, address label, string, postal service / from Crictor by Tomi Ungerer


“Stack of Caps Arranged by Colour” / caps, gravity / from Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina


“Pot of Tea Made With Tears” / teapot, tears, tea / from Tear-Water Tea in the collection Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel

The tears were generated by thinking of sad things such as mashed potato left on a plate, or pencils too short to write with.

Collect old defunct business cards for expired or unclear trades. The descriptions should be somewhat open such as “Sharpening Service”, or “Inventor”. Spend a period of time undertaking the perceived labour of that trade.

I have these two; manufacturer of infants shoes & collector of Indian Relics. Here are a few others I have my eye on:

Recently at one of my favourite shops, where I go shopping for new ideas, I bought this;

A 1 pint mason jar containing a crumpled, once-sellotaped shut, now torn open envelope that has been sent 214 miles through the post from a Mr. & Mrs. Bernstein in Wheeling, West Virginia, to Carolyn Harper in Washington D.C.. Inside is a dense clump of thick, curly, dark brown head-hair.  On the back of the envelope someone has written in biro blue capitals “Steve’s Hair”.

A man I admired very much died recently. He was a collector of things. Not specific types or sets of things, but things that caught his eye, things that belong with him, next to the other things. Collecting like this for years. Now he is gone and with it the rules of his collection. I keep imagining all those objects, single again and alone in the world.

Who/where is Steve? Which Steve? I know two. The hair looks like a man’s hair rather than a child’s, which is odd. What did Steve do to have his hair remembered? The envelope has been sealed up, then someone has opened it again to look at it. Kept hair seems like one of those things that you might just have to know that you have it. Is there be a nostalgic compulsion to look at old hair? I love the combination of all the certainties; the four named people, the addresses, the titled object vs. all the unknowns; who? what? why? etc. And all the stories that this collision of the known and the unknown writes.


To celebrate the last day of the exhibition ”An Artist Residency in Motherhood” at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, three people/groups were invited to respond to works in the exhibition, to give voice to the silent pieces.

The poet Joy Katz read from her collection “All You Do Is Perceive” in which she records the mix of peril and ecstasy she experienced in the fever-pitch of early parenthood. The reading took place against the backdrop of “Dangerous Objects Made Safer”, a collection of household tools encased in grey, felted wool.

Three Mothers (Kate Joranson, Kari Morehouse, and me) concurrently read entries from Mother’s Days; a typed archive of one hundred written reports of activities undertaken over the course of an ordinary day in the lives of one hundred mothers. Where things happened at the same time in the lives of the three women (in Israel, Texas and New York), the three voices read together and over the top of one another.

Finally, Susan Spangler, Marriage and Family Therapist, guided exhibition visitors to embody one of the two hundred brown shoes in the work One Brown Shoe, and to write a letter to their partner.

(photos; Jenn Myers)

This coming Sunday, November 3rd is the last day of the first exhibit of much of the artwork from An Artist Residency in Motherhood, including One Brown Shoe, and Dangerous Objects Made Safer. To celebrate we’ll present three accompaniments to works in the exhibition: a poetry reading by Joy Katz in front of Dangerous Objects Made Safer, a collective conversation with marriage and family therapist Susan Spangler in the One Brown Shoe exhibit, and concurrent readings by a trio of mothers from the collective diary Mother’s Days.

When: Sunday 3rd November, 2013

Where: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh

Special events will begin at; 1pm and last until approx 2.30pm

Galleries open; noon – 5pm

Contact; Rachael Cooper (412) 361-0873

Refreshments provided

When I get photographs of friends’ children I spend as much time analysing the objects accidentally included in the photograph as I spend looking at the sweet faces. This is the background behind my dear niece today. Possible facts: about to leave for/just got back from a trip (suitcase and plastic bag too full to be from shopping), wearing new clothes (new type of plastic clothes hanger with sticker on floor. Mothercare?), she’s growing up (electric sockets off but no longer covered up, cable on floor).