Friday, February 14, 2014

Art to the rescue

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The "best school project ever" continues. AppleApple is studying nature art, and has looked mainly at the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a well-established British artist who works with materials found in nature to create ephemeral installations, mostly outdoors: they aren't meant to last (though he does photograph them, and they're definitely worth seeing, if you have time to click on the link).

As AppleApple was working on her project, we discovered that Meghan Harder, a young local artist and recent graduate of the University of Waterloo's fine arts program has been creating nature art right here in Waterloo. (The Canadian Mennonite featured her on the front cover in January.) So we arranged to meet Meg Harder yesterday afternoon in Waterloo Park, where a year ago, with help from some friends, she'd built a "human nest." With her teacher's permission, AppleApple got to skip out of school early, and we trekked through snow banks and found the spot where the nest had been made.

Here's what the nest looked like a year ago
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Here's what the nest looked like yesterday

After our hike, Meg and her boyfriend generously spent another hour with us, drinking tea and answering AppleApple's questions. (I had a few too: I couldn't help myself!) I've given very little thought to conceptual art, and we talked a lot about art that tries to communicate an idea or generate a conversation. For Meg, the process of creation is more important than the final creation. She also talked about the way in which nature art invites passersby to interact imaginatively with something they may not even realize is art, making it accessible to an audience outside of the traditional gallery setting, where we all know that what we're seeing, if we go there, is art.

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AppleApple took lots of notes. I'm fascinated to see how she'll synthesize her material. I also need to find a way to print these photos, which she'll be using for her display. Any ideas? The deadline is fairly tight, and I want to get this bit of the project (the part where I'm helping out) done this weekend.

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one of AppleApple's installations, after the snow fell

A note re health: Antibiotics to the rescue, again. Thankfully, I am feeling much better.

I felt well enough to go to yoga last night, although I struggled at times. The thought that soothed me, as I repeatedly fell out of a balancing pose, was "this is the body I'm in." I just kept telling myself that, and it made me feel better, calmer, maybe. I want to be like my character Aganetha in Girl Runner, who I think fully and without judgement inhabits her body, born with a talent for awareness of its strengths and limitations. Doing a regular practice like yoga puts me in touch with precisely where my body's at on any given day or hour; sometimes I feel strong, and sometimes I feel weak. Sometimes my strength comes as a surprise, on a day when I've felt discouraged or down; and sometimes it's my weakness that comes as a surprise, although not last night. I knew I was feeling crummy. I would like to think that success is not limited to the days when I feel strong, rather success is the willingness to continue practicing, and to meet my body where it's at. These bodies of ours do such amazing things. I don't believe they're just vessels for our spirits, they're the expression of life itself.

Even right now: I'm able to write because my body is stilling itself into quiet focus.

:::

One last thing. My dad forwarded me a review of The Juliet Stories in the MQR (Mennonite Quarterly Review), which is an American journal. The reviewer engages with the book as both a personal and a political work. It moved me to tears. This link is to a PDF file that includes the review (scan down, as it's toward the end). Here's the last line: "After reading The Juliet Stories, I'm convinced Snyder should be named one of the top women writers everyone must learn to know, given the power of a text that questions the permanency of borders, and the ways journeying somewhere new might cut each of us wide open."

4 comments:

  1. May all reviews be as perceptive and accurate! I liked the way she came back to affirmation and strength as a key message, which is also what I ultimately took from the book.

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    1. That was what moved me to tears, actually. I was so appreciative that she found that message in the book, which was what I'd hoped to accomplish.

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  2. The art project is very cool. How do you want to print the photos? If it's normal photo size (say, 4x6), you can just take them on a USB stick to a supermarket like Zehrs -- they have self-serve photo printing machines there. If you need them larger, you could take them to Media.doc in room 2017 of the UW Math building and get them printed on the large-format printer. That's really just if you need them poster-size.

    By the way, CAFK+A (http://www.cafka.org/) is a really good local event for conceptual art. But the main event isn't until summer.

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    1. I was hoping to go a little larger, maybe 5x7 or whatever the next size beyond that would be. Do the self-serve machines go that big? Does the Media.doc room do printing for regular people, or do you have to be a UW prof or student?

      Also, funny you should mention CAFKA because Meg Harder also mentioned it: she's involved as an interpreter and guide. I'm going to look it up!

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