Last week, a magazine published by the art school I attended arrived in the mail bearing news and highlights of various exhibitions including this upcoming BFA show:
“…[the artist] draws on the paradox of simultaneous hypervisibility and invisibility within critical race theory and her own lived experience as a “brown femme queer woman occupying the deviant body of the ‘other.'” Through a combination of video, photo, sculpture, and installation, she explores the construction of the other by responding to the imagery of a “standardized body” enforced by capital-driven industries.”
I’ve never been clever enough to write such
incomprehensible intellectual descriptions of my own work and processes. And I’m not trying to bash my fellow artists here, it’s just… WHAT?
[the artists] collaborate to present Womb, a large-scale 3D animation with the sound developed to incite a dialogue about the connection between digital bodies and human emotion. Drawing from reality to fabricate an invented one, the content and installation of the animation emulates the interior of the human body while the sound element is modulated live based on the vibrations traveling through the physical gallery space. The exhibition creates a metaphysical loop that evokes the human desire to return to the womb.”
Do you have a desire to return to the womb?
I think it’s time I had a retrospective of my own. Since I don’t feel like waiting for the invitation from a major gallery or museum to arrive,* I think I’ll do it here, myself. And I think it will be much more efficient to
plagiarize appropriate text from my art school magazine than to come up with my own pretentious third-person drivel descriptive prose. So, enjoy (and you’re welcome).
Biodegradable Funerary Urns contend with themes of death. The works emphasize mortality, and the process of creation and display to honor departed loved ones and defy traditional commercial funerary practices that rely on the underpaid labor of brown people in other parts of the world to satisfy the traditional 400% industry mark-up.
Sustainable, affordable, non-toxic, and fair-trade, Biodegradable Funerary Urns allow families to explore nuances of death, celebration, and impermanence for several seconds before they (the urns) sink to the ocean floor and eventually disintegrate or are consumed by sea life, thereby expanding Biodegradable Funerary Urns into a collaboration with ourselves.
Botanical Motif Ceramics are inspired by garden life. “One time I took a Plant & Animal Illustration class at art school. It’s been pretty useful.” –Laura Bruzzese
The Screaming Toad™ series investigates the complex layers of selfhood and phony trademark usage in the context of taxonomic background, breeding preference, and personal displacement. Simultaneously satirical and sincere, the works operate in paradox: both seductive and foreboding, they are embedded with the politics of hearing and being heard, loving and being loved — among ourselves, amphibians and unsuspecting neighbors.
Recent praise for Toad Love™ mugs: “My coffee will never be the same.” –Bob
The critically-acclaimed Jumpy draws from reality to fabricate an invented one, creating a metaphysical loop that evokes the insatiable desire of gallus domesticus to eat grapes.
Dia de los Muertos works: “As we artists living [in] Nu[evo] Mexico like to [say], ‘Put a skull on [it] and it will sell… [H]ear[t]s too…'” –Laura [Bruzzese]
Bruzzese has recently extended her masterful range of talents to collaborate with world-renowned wildlife photographer and one of her personal heroes, Nick Brandt.
Although Mr. Brandt has no idea Ms. Bruzzese exists, that might change when his Big Life Foundation receives the first of (hopefully) many donations from the sale of Elephant wares in her Etsy shop. These works espouse hyperbole, creating confusion around lines drawn between “us” and “them,” ignoring categorical limitations of cross-species empathy, innocence, and exploration of permanence: extinction vs. human greed vs. stupidity vs. inexpensive decals.
In Buy My Kid’s Crap, Ms. Bruzzese expanded her internet-based multi-media work beyond Etsy into the wider and more depraved ebay auction audience, examining our relationship with the material world as both a container for, and disposable manifestation of, our childhoods. The ebay store was itself the artwork, including the carefully written item descriptions (more valuable than the objects for sale) as well as marketing materials. This graphic was printed on 6″ x 4″ gold leaf tickets and included with each sold auction item, forcing the recipients to contemplate the implications of “winning,” “admittance,” and the responsibilities of possession/consumerism, while simultaneously suggesting that Bruzzese is, perhaps, insane.
Seeking The Essence of Womb
Friday, March 12, 2014, 2pm
Rufina is recognized as one of the major figures in the artist’s back yard. For more than two years she has been discerning boundaries between industrial sounds and wilderness sound environments, proposing a blind, profound, and transcendental listening freed from the imperatives of knowledge and open to sensory and spiritual expansion. She will present this lecture as performance, a series of movements informed by the unique perspective that only an eyeless, overweight chicken engaged in a largely sedentary life might render. Free and open to the public.
I came across this collection on newslinq.com and thought it was hilarious and laughing on a Thursday is always a good thing. Most of the captions are theirs but I added a few of my own where I just couldn’t resist. Check out the very last ad — write your answers in the comments and maybe it will turn into a contest! With a prize!
Just a quickie today to let you know that I’ve decided to clean out my basement and profit from the spoils. Because there’s no better time than during the vacant days of the holiday season to take on a major project that involves lots of dirt and little tangible reward.
This odyssey began on Thanksgiving when I went down there, looked around, and decided I was turning into the hoarder I bought my house from.
So, I spent the entire day in a dust mask sorting through hideous piles of junk, giving thanks that there was some valuable stuff mixed in: throw away, give away, ebay. Yes! I have discovered ebay to be a wondrous vehicle of dispersal for Isabella’s most treasured childhood possessions, or at least those with some resale value.
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
We make a life by what we give. Then repo and sell on ebay. Make life as profitable self-enriching as possible.
What am I gonna do for others this holiday season? Yeah, right — what am I gonna do for ME. It’s the thought that counts? Forget it! I want my money back.
I don’t know what’s more fun, recouping a percentage of my birthday, Christmas, and yard sale presents to Isabella, or writing the descriptions (click to enlarge).
Who knows, when I run out of doll clothes and plastic toys, maybe I’ll move on to my own collection of useless objects — I still have half a basement to go and the holiday season has only just begun.
Recently, I read a story on Facebook that I loved so much I could hardly stand it. I thought it was especially poignant this time of year, so I asked my friend if I could re-print her story here. Maybe you will love it, too. I’ll post it in three bite-sized morsels, nice and symmetrical during this season of our official, government-sanctioned day of Thanks.
Lili and I were friends way back when, during the era of unfulfilled romantic pursuits and pronounced unpopularity that defined my early high school experience. I was shy, freaky-haired and in possession of few talents save for playing classical piano, a respectable ability that bore no social currency whatsoever.
Lili, on the other hand, was confident, funny, smart, and theatrically gifted.
Perhaps it was the last of these attributes that initially drew me to Lili, as one of my latent adolescent dreams was to be a thespian, this dream having sprung from an earlier, more noble ambition to be a professional rodeo clown (reluctantly abandoned when we severed our rural roots and moved into town).
Acting would be no easy task for an awkward introvert like me, with no training except for a turn as a giant witch in a middle school play. And, okay, to be honest, even that consisted of me hiding under a 7-foot, black-robed puppet, cackling and speaking anonymously while the papier-mache head assumed all the risk of social rejection.
But back to Lili and the theater.
Freshman year, I convinced Lili to audition with me for a local production of The Wizard of OZ. Forget the high school stage, I thought, one is never too young to strive for community theater gold!
Unfortunately, my blind quest for fame and applause left me sadly ignorant of a few of the more subtle aspects of professional acting. The audition process, for example. What I failed to appreciate in advance, and came to understand only after our parents had dropped us off at the audition, was that if you are auditioning for a musical, you really should know at least one song and be able to sing it well. We did not.
But, what ho! I thought, here we are, young and inept, but driven… let’s improvise! A rose is a rose is a rose, I say, bring on the accompanist!
And with that, we auditioned in tandem, singing a perfectly horrible rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow choreographed with much waggling of eyebrows, shuffling of feet, and a great rippling of arms at key intervals. Guaranteed, it was the most cringe-worthy three minutes of the day for the various directors who sat before us, stifling laughter.
A small part of me died that day. The actress part. She resettled into the landscape of anonymity, the dark recesses of that witch puppet who should be blamed to this very day for anything cackling and snarky that comes out of my mouth. She is gone. But Lili, at least, made that otherwise humiliating audition experience fun. (Surprisingly, she has no memory of it at all.)
You know how some people leave their fingerprint on your life by saying or doing something relatively insignificant, but something that creates a shift — a moment so subtle that it would go unnoticed if not for the fact that you can still remember it 30 or 40 years later? Well, for me, above and beyond our Wizard of Oz debacle, one of those moments belongs to Lili. It went something like this: “Laura, you’re really funny. You shouldn’t let [best friend at the time] push you around.”
Lili and I lost touch after she moved to another high school, but reconnected a few years ago on Facebook. I’ll end my introduction to Lili by thanking her for encouraging the funny, ugly-awkward me to come out from hiding in another girl’s shadow (or at least consider why I was there). A girl who was athletic, extroverted, and more popular than me, and under whose dominant personality I couldn’t have begun to discover my own voice or vision. Thanks, Lili.[to be continued]
Okay, so this travel series is almost done. I’ll finish with some gorgeous pictures from the French/Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc in the next few weeks.
But first, a rant. This one about the Customs racket in Minnesota.
So there we were, freshly off the plane, exhausted and hungry (Air France had “run out of vegetarian meals,” so we were surviving on those little butter patches and chocolate). I was feeling nauseous and high on jet fuel fumes and lack of food–truly like the voms were right around the corner. A travel wreckage. I didn’t even recognize our own suitcase until it had gone around the carrier like, 35 times. That was our first delay. Then, it was off to the Customs line.
I had filled out the declaration form on the plane claiming the tea and chocolate we’d bought, remembering at the last minute the half-eaten apple and bread still in my backpack. As we waited our turn, I watched as about 14 bags of dried things were removed from luggage belonging to a couple who appeared to be from India or Pakistan. I could hear the head Customs agent — a sturdy, elfin man with a Fargo accent and a superior sense of himself — lecturing them, “Honesty is always the best policy…”
Glad it’s not me, I thought.
Our first bag went right through, but the second was pulled off the conveyor for what I thought was a routine inspection. Customs Nazi rooted through my underthings and toiletries, fishing around for what I assumed was the chocolate. But no.
I gasped in wide-eyed horror as he whipped out what you would’ve thought, judging from his triumphant “Wooooooeeeeey!”, was a live goat.
“Ah ha!” he exclaimed, hand raised high in the air, white-knuckled fingers curled around a bag of…
What?! Holy crap, I’d totally forgotten about the local, organic, herbed and peppered, specialty hand-sausaged sausages I’d bought for my mom. (I thought this would be a nice present since the last sausage she bought for herself in France was eaten by the dog before she got a single bite.)
Sausage. I had wrapped it in three plastic bags, stuck it in a zipper pocket so it wouldn’t touch the rest of our stuff (we’re vegetarian) and promptly erased it from my consciousness.
I did my best to explain the situation to Customs Nazi, starting with, “I might throw up on you, but….” and using every wild hand gesticulation I could to convey our tale of good-faith declaration, vegetarianism (“Then who’s the sausage for, huh???!!”), sleep deprivation, feeling like Air France was actually the Hunger Games, etc., etc. No sympathy whatsoever.
Rather, after some shuffling back and forth to his computer, and a grand waggling of his eyebrows, Customs Nazi informed me that I would be receiving a penalty that day. Of 300 — THREE HUN-DRID — dollars!!! For failing to declare the contraband, which he victory-slammed into the trash with a leap and a fist-pump. (Strangely, there was no sound when it landed in the big metal can, leading me to believe there’s a chute that connects directly to the cafeteria, or a black market in the basement.)
My weeping pleas for leniency were met with, “I can’t treat you differently than I did them [the Indian couple], just because you’re a US Citizen, now can I?”. Really? So, a few forgotten sausages in the bag of a tax-paying, law-abiding, sickly US citizen should receive the same penalty as suitcases full of lentils belonging to foreign nationals who were clearly lying on their form??
The guy informed me that I could either pay the $300 there and then, or appeal in Federal court, but that would cost at least $1,000. I stared at him blankly and started speaking my faux French, turning to lunacy as a last resort. He remained unsympathetic and asked if I needed medical assistance.
He asked again for the $300 and I said I had nothing but 20 Euros (true). When he asked for a credit card, I said it was over limit (lie). When he asked if there was someone I could call to “help me out”, I said no. So, he finally gave me a copy of my citation and a paper with the address to mail my $300 within 21 days — strange how this offer didn’t arrive until he’d tried to intimidate the money out of me in every other way.
“Soup-SON!” I grabbed the papers and off we ran to our flight home, where they were waiting for us.
I will use the next 21 days to find out how I might get the penalty waived, or at least reduced, on the grounds that while I am guilty of inadvertent sausage smuggling, 1) it was an honest mistake and 2) Customs Nazi was sneaky and obnoxious.
Here is the magnificent Opéra national de Paris (Palais Garnier), designed by Charles Garnier. It was the setting for Phantom of the Opera, which has added significantly to its tourism value.
We went on a paid tour (around 90 min.) and it was well worth it — for the history of the Opéra as well as Pairs. Here are a few interesting things:
Isabella practiced some of what she’d learned on the tour in front of the mirrors in the foyer.
From the Opéra, it was on to Montemarte, the artsy district of Paris where the famous Impressionist painters and other artists hung out.
We almost made it to the house where Van Gogh lived with his brother Theo for two years, but we got distracted by the cafe where Amélie was filmed (looks nothing like it did in the movie). We were hungry so we stopped there for a puff pastry with vegetables and an accidentally ordered (but delicious) salmon tartare.
Montemarte was a great place to wander, with lots of thrift stores and used clothing shops. We stopped at Lila Paris on rue des Martyrs, a shop of jewelry and hair accessories created exclusively by the owner, Lila.
Isabella’s one souvenir came from Lila, this beautiful headband.
When I asked Lila how she has time to make everything, she said she simply doesn’t have a life — when her family gets together on weekends, she is working. After being so accustomed to shops full of Chinese imports in the US, it was great to pay an artist directly for her work.
The next day we were off to Bons en Chablais, France (near the Swiss border) for some fun with old friends. See you there!
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