studio diary

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).

All one brown shoes are finally here in my studio, photographed, the photos printed and corners clipped and addressed and enveloped and ready to be sent to the shoe-makers! Thank-you for your patience. Look out for the photos this week. Exhibition of all two hundred shoes is very soon, at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

Lenka Clayton makes use of people, places, and things. By counting, alphabetizing, employing the possibilities of the post office, local newspaper, and the most common domestic objects – and doing all of these things often almost to their utmost – she transforms both the world around her, and the way we see that world. It’s no surprise then that museums are often the site of her exploration, being that they purport to provide order, but often end up accumulating and displaying with the same levels of subjectivity, exaggeration, and subtly-laced playfulness and even wonder, which are the hallmarks of much of Clayton’s work. What follows is an inventory and classification of many of her projects.

Number of times Lenka counts things (and sometimes puts them in order): 12

- 1/57th of Andy Warhol
- 10,000 Pennies
- 7,000 Stones
- Accidental Haiku
- Berlin Berlin
- Hello
- Local Newspaper
- Number of People
- One Million
- People in Order
- Same Age Sculptures
- Time = Money

Number of times this counting has involved peoples’ ages: 3

- People in Order
- Same Age Sculptures
- Time = Money

Number of times the number 100 defines the set: 3

- 100 Returned Postcards
- One Brown Shoe
- People in Order

Number of times Lenka employs the number 2, mirroring, or a pair: 10

- 100 Returned Postcards
- Artist Residency in Motherhood Business Cards
- Berlin Berlin
- Berliner Zeitung
- Conversation
- James to Lenka
- One Brown Shoe
- Same Age Sculptures
- Two Collections
- Voices

Number of times Lenka puts things in ABC order: 4

- Alphabetical Shopping
- Berliner Zeitung
- Qaeda, quality, question, quickly, quickly, quiet
- The Top Deck of the Number 30 Bus

Number of times when peoples’ names matter: 9

- Artist Residency in Motherhood Business Cards
- Business Card (Adjustable)
- Business Card (Romanian)
- Hello
- James to Lenka
- Local Newspaper
- Mysterious Letters
- The Top Deck of the Number 30 Bus
- Women’s Intuition

Number of times Lenka might not finish a project because she is mortal: 2

- Mysterious Letters
- One Million

Number of times Lenka makes magic happen in cities: 10

- 10,000 Pennies
- A Walk with Erich Honecker
- Accomplice
- Hello
- Mysterious Letters
- Number of People
- Palm Tree Interviews
- Slow Magic Tricks
- Ta Da
- The Top Deck of the Number 30 Bus

Number of times Lenka makes magic happen in the country: 2

- 7,000 Stones
- Amish photographs

Number of times Lenka makes magic at home: 1

- The Baby and the Magician’s Suitcase

Number of times Lenka directly uses her son in a beautiful, non-creepy way that articulates the complexities of motherhood, and the haphazard relationships we all have – to each other and the world around us: 6

- An Artist Residency in Motherhood
- The Baby and the Magician’s Suitcase
- Maternity Leave
- Mother’s Days
- The Distance I can be from my Son
- Things Found in the Mouths of Babies

Number of times Lenka directly uses her son and the results are uncomfortable, and express the complexities of motherhood: 1

- A Nice Family Portrait

Number of times safety results in sculpture: 2

- Childproofing as a Sculptural Practice
- Dangerous Objects made Safer

Number of times Lenka cuts up a perfectly good garment to conceptually resonant effect: 2

- 1/57th of Andy Warhol
- Man, Baby, Boy, Man, and So On

Number of times Lenka uses the post: 3

- Flock
- Kite Flown 7055 Miles
- Mysterious letters

Number of times the newspaper plays an important role: 5

- 10,000 Pennies
- Berliner Zeitung
- Local Newspaper
- Mysterious Letters
- Two Collections

Number of times Lenka takes trips using a “non-traditional” guidebook or map: 5

- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- James to Lenka
- Lost
- A Day in New York City
- The Distance I can be from my Son

Number of times Lenka gently tweaks the authority, behaviour, collections, and atmosphere of museums: 9

- Herd
- 7,000 Stones
- Childproofing as Sculptural Practice
- Coat Check Exchange
- Intact
- Iceberg
- Man Looking
- Maternity Leave
- Your Contribution to our History…

Number of times Lenka (potentially) breaks the law: 5

- Accomplice (Örebro)
- Accomplice (Vienna)
- 10,000 Pennies
- Hostile Reconnaissance
- Mysterious Letters

Number of times Lenka (might) make people mad: 6

- Accomplice (Örebro)
- Accomplice (Vienna)
- Hello
- Iceberg
- Hostile Reconnaissance
- Mysterious Letters

Number of times Lenka uses something seemingly random that she finds in the world, and makes rational meaning and function for it through new context: 8

- 7,000 Stones
- Accidental Haiku
- Man Looking
- Moons from Next Door
- A Day in New York City
- 100 Returned Postcards
- Things Found in the Mouths of Babies
- Time = Money

Number of times Lenka makes something with a rational function or meaning seemingly random or abstracted through a new context of display or organization: 9

- 1/57th of Andy Warhol
- 10,000 Pennies
- The Baby and the Magician’s Suitcase
- Berlin
- Dangerous Objects Made Safer
- Herd
- One Million
- Qaeda, quality, question, quickly, quickly, quiet
- Two Collections

Number of times Lenka makes art based on the occasion of someone conscientiously seeing something: 4

- Man Looking
- Number of People
- Slow Magic Tricks
- Typewriter Drawings

Number of times Lenka makes poetic, humorous, critical, or whimsical use of the natural world: 7

- 7,000 Stones
- A Piece of the Moon
- Flock
- Herd
- Iceberg
- Moons from Next Door
- Slow Magic Tricks

Number of times Lenka talks to or writes to strangers: 20

- 100 Returned Postcards
- A Piece of the Moon
- Accomplice (Örebro)
- Accomplice (Vienna)
- All the Art on Kopenhagener Strasse
- Amish Photographs
- Berlin Berlin
- Conversation
- Flock
- Hello
- Hostile Reconnaissance
- James to Lenka
- Local Newspaper
- Lost
- Mysterious Letters
- Palm Tree Interviews
- People in Order
- Sweden (Borrowed and Stolen)
- The Top Deck of the Number 30 Bus
- Your Contribution to our History…

Number of times Lenka has built houses without building a house: 2

- House
- Repairing Lebanon

Number of times Lenka takes things from people: 4

- Accomplice (Örebro)
- Accomplice (Vienna)
- All the Art on Kopenhagener Strasse
- Sweden (Borrowed and Stolen)

Number of times Lenka has returned something: 1

- 100 Returned Postcards

Number of times Lenka gives things to people: 3

- 7,000 Stones
- Mysterious Letters
- Your Contribution to our History…

Number of times Lenka has re-created something using a wildly different material than the original: 5

- Amish Photographs
- Dangerous Objects Made Safer
- Intact
- North Korean Pointing Stick(s)
- Repairing Lebanon

Number of times Lenka makes me feel pretty great about being alive, and generally positive about other people: 14

- 100 Returned Postcards
- A Day in New York City
- Accidental Haiku
- Accomplice (Örebro)
- Accomplice (Vienna)
- All the Art on Kopenhagener Strasse
- An Inadvertent Collaboration
- Flock
- James to Lenka
- Maternity Leave
- People in Order
- Slow Magic Tricks
- The Top Deck of the Number 30 Bus
- Typewriter Drawings

Number of times Lenka makes me feel (mostly) kind of sad, and frustrated with other people: 2

- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- Hostile Reconnaissance

Number of times Lenka makes me feel both pretty great about being alive, and kind of sad: 4

- A Piece of the Moon
- Conversation
- Deutsche Boerse – Anders Petersen
- Repairing Lebanon

 

By Dan Byers, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Carnegie Museum of Art & co-curator of the 2013 Carnegie International. Also, mentor of An Artist Residency in Motherhood. Essay originally published by MOCA Cleveland for the exhibition Realization is Better than Anticipation, June 28–October 13, 2013.

Page 56 “Ran into Jean Kennedy Smith in Bloomingdale’s in the men’s shirt department. We had the same salesgirl.”

Page 72 “I reminded her that I saw her in Bloomingdale’s the other week when we both were in the shirt department, and she said, “Oh yes, those shirts were Christmas presents for my family.” 

Page 87 “Victor was there, performing, cutting up a shirt.”

Page 89 “Victor had glued parts of his shirt together.”

Page 165 “She had as a present for Victor a bag of Hawaiian marijuana that a couple of fag friends who have a ranch there mailed to her in a box of perfumed shirts so you wouldn’t smell the marijuana.”

Page 218 “Bought a “fairy shirt” that has my name on it.”

Page 377 “But I would try to make every box a little interesting. I’d throw in one of my dresses, or an old shirt, a pair of underwear – something great in each one.”

Page 446 “Brigid says she watches him when he’s at the office, spraying chloro-something on his shirt and then sucking on it.”

Page 724 “Went to a couple of shirt stores with him.”

Page 823 “As soon as we came in they told us it was this crazy day where all the women chase the men. They cut off your ties. But since we knew it was happening – we saw these drunken ladies running around -we took our ties off and hid them in our pockets. But then they got my shirt tail and they cut it off and it was my good shirt and I was so mad. These women were really bullies. We got back in the car and drove back to Han’s gallery. I was so tired, and I was really upset about my shirt.”  

Page 1237 “I got my B-12 shot at Doc Cox’s, only Rosemary missed and I got black and blue and a bloody shirt. On my way out a guy tried to pick me up.”

Page 1325 “Jon called from Massachusetts and wanted to know what shirt size I wore. I was the only one home, so he had to ask me.”

Page 1390 “I’ve gained weight. I don’t know what to do, my shirts are getting too tight for me.”

Page 1913 “I remember when I was with John Lennon and he was buying thousands of dollars worth of clothes and didn’t say, “Do you want a shirt?”

Page 2357 “And Dick Cavett got Bianca to talk on mike and she took a look at me and said, “What are you wearing?” I’m telling you, I was really a mess. My buttons didn’t button, my tie wasn’t straight, the turtleneck was showing through the white shirt.”


Idea & quote collecting by the wonderful Michael Crowe in response to 1/57th of Andy Warhol.

 

I have been working on the complicated database for One Brown Shoe. It lists amongst other things the shoemakers names, shoes sizes in inches (l x w x h), and their provenance. The materials lists of bits and bobs found lying around one hundred houses read like poetry. My favourite:

Childhood shoe saved by mother, fake fur, hot glue.”

How to decide what to keep from these days? I am experiencing almost constant nostalgia. As the baby grows out of things I’m torn between getting rid of them immediately (the space!) or saving them forever to remember her smallness by. But how many to save? And why this and not that? Part of her umbilical cord is coming off and I am literally waiting to put it in a little plastic box. Two years on Otto’s placenta is still in the freezer in the red plastic bag from the hospital. I wonder what the imaginary day in the future where I get out and look at all these objects will be like? What will the weather be? What will I be wearing? Where will the kids be? I wonder too how to collect the ephemeral artefacts, for example the words that Otto taught us but has now abandoned. Doo-doo (car), Dee-dee (cheese) Da-doo (diaper). We still use them accidentally sometimes and he corrects us. We’ve already been left behind his rapid cognitive growth, two nostalgic illiterates.

 

 

I am delighted to announce that I am a recipient of a Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant that will fund the extension of the Artist Residency in Motherhood until Early’s first birthday on the 20th May 2014. The grant will buy me two mornings a week of studio time, and some other costs. It is a unique grant, especifically for artists who have families. From their mission statement:

“Too often, creative impulses are set aside to meet the wonderful, but pressing, demands of raising a family. The foundation’s goal is to encourage parents to continue pursuing their creative passion, and to rekindle it in those who may have let it slide.”

There are two rounds each year. The next deadline to apply is August 31st 2013. Good luck!