This post is not a road trip, per se, but it did start in Mom’s Memorial Prius. It was rent day, and I had to go to the landLord’s building in the next city. You can guess that this is not our favorite place. But Oola and I dutifully climbed the stairs.
When we got to the top, we were stunned by the sight of a needle-felted wool sculpture. This, by any standards, was no ordinary sculpture. Oola gulped in recognition of her long lost cousin – a trailer trash zombie named Trailina.
To make a long story short, Trailina’s creator, Bird Mccarger, agreed to come visit us in my studio. Oola and I had discovered not only her long lost cousin, but also the fountainhead of a whole lost family. Oola was overcome with joyous vapours.
Come for tea they did, with a little vodka in a hip flask. Oola and Trailina had a lot of catching up to do. And I had the pleasure of talking art with someone who really understands issues that are important to me. Soon we were cackling in mutual recognition.
Bird, who went to California College of Arts (“and Crafts”, she emphasized), discovered that what she really loves is the process of making miniature things that are personal and intimate.
Then on-line she discovered dry felted dolls. She thought they were hilarious. I went to the web and looked, and the process I saw left me dumbfounded. You use this fragile, barbed needle — that can draw blood — on wool, wrapping and poking over and over to make the shapes and add to them layer by hairy layer. Check this out: the amount of work, not to mention danger to the fingers, involved in making a simple, stupid pumpkin: http://www.youtube.com/watchv=uywwH6lD9wU&feature=related
But, not a lot of equipment is needed, and the process does not poison your space or the environment. It just takes an amazing amount of time in the obsession pit.
Bird confessed to being annoyed by the BIG HIGH ART thing that we both experienced in art school. We agreed that bigger=better is a “guy thing”, a remnant of the “heroic” age of Modernism. I remembered how disappointed I was, having seen reproductions of Motherwell paintings in the art history books, to see them in person. I had thought them beautiful in miniature scale, but in life they looked bloated, overblown, with no perceivable reason for being gigantic, except that maybe they could sport a bigger price tag.
Bird – a true craftsperson — said that big Fine Art is “a manifestation of a hedonistic society that masturbates all the time”. Bird says things like that. So does Oola. I personally do not see any difference between good art and good craft. I think that Bird is an exceptionally good artist who deserves a lot more time to make what she makes.
We talked about the greed of our society, about the need to fill your hut with “stuff” and guard it aggressively. The need to make more money that anyone could ever use in a lifetime. We talked of the aggression of our society, and how that aggression is only a mask for fear, the fear of losing all that stuff that greed piled into your hut. How the oil companies, the banks, the pharmaceutical companies are “entities of fear”. And how fear limits how much of the world you can see, limits your manifestation of your inner self, limits your ability to create.
We talked about humor. How you will be making what you think you are making, and something will sneak into your work and surprise you. Bird likes poking fun at our pop culture, and at what people think they know. I posited my current mantra that humor is — at root — the expression of rage and pain.
Bird agreed, and began talking about the dolls that had come with her. Trailina is a pregnant zombie (there is a story there!) and she is tacky. Trailina talks about Bird’s mother-anger that our kids have to grow up in an over-sexualized, porn, pop-culture that is “frickin ridiculous”. As a mother of a teenage girl, she sees 14 year olds looking like they are ready to “hook it up” on San Pablo Ave.
“Miss Trie Miet” is a drag queen. How come men are more beautiful than me? she asks. Bird posits that it is because men in our society developed the impossible standards of beauty that girls and women foolishly aspire to. Standards that in essence say “Be young beautiful boys for your Greek boyfriends.” (That is “Greek” in the historical sense; forgive me Ianos.)
“Florabella” is reverence for movement and physical control, and for not relying on someone else to tell you you’re beautiful. Flora reminded me about an experience I had once, in my bellydancing days. I was all costumed up and waiting to go “on”. I saw a bellydancer in the room who was beautiful and whom I had never seen before. I stared at her, and she at me. When I cocked my head so did she. Then came the shock of recognition. She was I in the mirror, and we were the REAL THING.
It is possible to be a cranky “bitch” about what bothers you, but nobody will listen. Bird has discovered how to make us listen.
Both Oola and Bird insisted on family snapshots:
To see Bird’s websites, go to: http://www.facebook.com/pages/birds-bizarrium-GET-FELT-UP-NOW-dolls-n-stuff/136796223009124