Crafting Images

Crafting Images

So, yes, that’s what I’ve been doing this week.

These are salt shakers that someone is getting as a Christmas present next week (Surprise!) :

There’s a story being told, I’m sure… but you will have to decide what it is yourself… (something to do with water, most likely).

Same thing goes for this digital double-exposure… (something to do with bees, I’d guess).

Please don’t think I’m being contrary and trying to hide the story from you; that’s not it at all. It’s just that I don’t know what the story is.

I, like you, need to spend some time with the image before I can figure out what it’s about.

For now, I’m just drinking tea, listening to the BBC, and going to check out an old post to help me remember what projects it is I was planning to work on before another idea was had

Catch ya later…

Happy New Year: Get Back to Work!

Yes, it’s December, and since there is relatively no Christmas and even less Hannukah here in Foça, it’s time to get into the New Year’s spirit, which means…

Resolutions! Now is the perfect time to decide to (as Akbar and Jeff used to say) get back to work!

And what better way to procrastinate getting back to work than designing new business cards!

My first choice was this image (above) from an installation that was part of an exhibit I organized around 10 years ago called “Art Windows”. The exhibit was held in vacant shops in Turgutreis (Bodrum, Turkey), which, sadly, accounted for a depressingly large percentage of the downtown real estate. If I remember right, we had about 20 shops lend us their empty spaces to fill with paintings, sculptures, etc. At the opening, we basically walked around town with the mayor, a city-council member, and all of the local press, as if we were tourists traipsing around with a tour guide. The local tv station showed a clip of the event all summer long, making it some of the cheapest publicity the town had ever seen. And the artwork looked good, I must say. My piece was an installation that occupied an empty shop that was once a grocers and was still filled with dusty jars of fruit preserves and tomato and pepper paste.

As far as these cards go, I’m pretty much sure I need that Dewey quote there, since I want to focus on projects involving art and education. I’m also pretty sure I want something multi-media – wouldn’t want anyone to mistake me for “just” a painter… When I took a browse through some old flash drives, I found this:

Evoking curiosity is a good thing, so I don’t mind that it might be hard to tell from the pic that this is a picture of a group weaving project. Anyone who passed by the “Çatal Ada Art, Culture and Environment” association’s stall at the second-hand market in Turgutreis was invited to do a little weaving. While the other charities were selling used clothing, we tried to have a different art project every week – mainly for kids, but we had adults interested, too. In fact, since we were close to Milas, a big carpet center, I shouldn’t have been surprised when one of the women at the market just took over the project… constructed from scrap fabrics from my brother-in-law’s old workplace. “A fun afternoon was had by all.”

The next choice for cards is from an afternoon of fun with my husband on Çatal Ada, the little island off of Turgutreis that our association got our name from. This time I had tagged along with Harun on a fishing expedition, and as usual, I found something to keep me occupied. Since I hadn’t brought my drawing kit with me, I ended up “drawing” with the trash I found on the island. Basically, I sewed a necklace out of it. (We wouldn’t have enough room in our little boat to have taken it back to the mainland and disposed of it properly, so I figured I’d at least string it all together so it wouldn’t blow away and it would be easy enough for someone with a bigger boat to haul back. I am happy to say, that that is exactly what happened.)

The next choice is from the latest work I’ve done, which was exhibited in a group show in Foça (Izmir) last month. It’s a double exposure (i.e., it’s a Photoshopped version) of an article of clothing that had washed up on the shore outside Foça – along with a lot of other clothing, a torn life vest, and a shredded rubber boat of the kind used by migrants attempting to cross the Aegean from Turkey to Europe. I took the original photos during another fishing expedition with Harun. (I’ve been tagging along much more rarely, and these days I tend to take a camera instead of drawing supplies.) I can’t really put into words the feeling that I had that day (“perverse fascination” seems to come closest, “obsession” might do) – which I guess is why I do visual rather than some other type of art. I spent a long time photographing the various articles of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing that had washed up and been caked with sand, and when I was done, I packed up some of the items in a plastic bag I found lying there and took them home. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but I just couldn’t leave them there. Somehow, it just didn’t seem right.

The group exhibit in Foça was an interesting experience, because when we were hanging up the work we got into a discussion about how to “hang” the work appropriately so it could be looked at in its best light as a distinct work of art. I had a hard time explaining that I sort of have a problem with all that lies behind that assumption in the first place, and so I sort of gave up – but I was still insistent that the “quadruptych” of 4 photos didn’t need to be on a white wall, that the glass-brick wall of the space was just fine by me. That led to ensuing discussions over the course of the week-long exhibit about whether or not I was making a mistake… and it also led to an experiment on my part whereby mid-week I added a low table on which the washed and folded articles of clothing from the photos were displayed. I’m not sure whether or not turning the work into an installation added anything or not – a discussion with one visitor to the exhibit led me to suspect it might have even taken something away.

I’d actually done a version of the card with a black border rather than a white border first –

and it’s certainly easier to see it here (against the white page), although the white border looks (somewhat) more like a “traditional” business card.

The other card options are more variations on the “pomegranate” theme,

the last one being without Mr. Dewey’s quote. (Did you know he founded the New School of Social Research in NY? I didn’t. Research.

Input, anyone?…

“Lettuce Enjoy Spring”

So, yes, it appears to be spring…


Little heads of lettuce are springing up out of the ground – I’d forgotten I’d sown them in what must have been winter.
Wish they would look as lovely as the ones I painted in Hope’s garden…

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The poppies are peeking their heads up, too…
although not quite as exhuberantly as Georgia’s.

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The artichokes we transplanted never took, so I have to be contented with the ones at the market – I can enjoy their taste, but not the pure purple of these watercolor paintings.

Image result for artichoke flowers painting

And although I’m looking out onto former Ottoman territory,
there are no tulips in my garden in Foça…

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Palimpsest vs Collage

How many years ago now was it that the aesthetic theoretician Richard Woodfield referred to me as a ‘palimpsest’ artist? Close to 20. At the time, I liked the analysis; it gave me something new to think about, since the idea of my work being constructed of layer upon semi-transparent layer rang true.

Nowadays, I’d have to say my work is more like collage, figuratively as well as literally. This is because even though my work involves putting together pre-existing elements that, like the layers of sediment in a geological core sample, were created at different times, I’m manipulating these elements at the same time. 

How much time depends upon the piece. Of the pieces posted here, the fasted came together in an afternoon’s work – if you don’t count the time it originally took to create the pieces that were already on hand –  which goes back to sometime around 2004, when I went to China and came back with ‘fish paper’ and a horsehair brush – or the time between the time the first piece was produced and the time it ended up in a collage.

Last month, I saw the fruits of some of my long-term labour (and the labour of numerous others), with the first edition of the Foça International Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Film Days – a project which, I realised while in the midst of it, is a type of collage: Putting together pre-existing elements to create some kind of a coherent whole that is more than – or, rather, different from – the sum of its parts.

In contrast to the collages you’re viewing here, Foça Film Days was put together by ‘mining’ the creative products of a lot of other people, mostly filmmakers. The collages I’ve photographed (alas, badly) and posted here were put together by ‘mining’ the paper detritus of my own past, things I saved for one reason or another. (If one day or another you see a strange little griffon head peeking out of a collage, it will be because I saved a copy of the Foça Film Days program and put it to good use.)

Scissors and Sunrises: Waxing Philosophical at 6 a.m. (…ok, 7).

DSCN0632So those are the scissors in question. Harun (husband) found them at his fishing spot. We decided that Omer probably worked as a garment worker in Istanbul until he managed to save up enough money to pay a smuggler’s fee to get him from Turkey to Greece (more specifically, Foça to Mytilene).

These things happen between sunset and sunrise, when you and I are normally asleep.

For months now those scissors have been sitting in a fruit basket (along with an air conditioning remote control and a couple bars of soap – the remote control is ours, but I think the soap came from Omer); they’ve come in handy to snip the ends off things. I guess we’re not doing that badly.

That is my example of “documentary photography”.

I would have liked to explain that to some students – 2, 3 – that showed up for a workshop last weekend. “Documenting Foça: Shooting the archaeological and cultural heritage of Foça”. For an exhibit to be featured during “Foça Film Days” – “a celebration of the archaeology and cultural heritage that has come down to us today in Foça, Turkey, and the world.”

You can picture it, I’m sure: Where the Temple of Athena once stood, the mournful Ottoman Cemetery that most residents let alone tourists have never visited… Suffice it to say, Omer’s scissors will not be included in the exhibit.

And now we have here some examples of “aesthetic photography”: Last night’s sunset and this morning’s sunrise – the “before” and “after” of the crossings of Omer’s brethren. For both the sunset and sunrise, the first image represents “what the camera saw” when I was supposedly not manipulating the image – “supposedly”, because (obviously!) I was the one who framed the image  – and the second is the image that was more close to what I was actually seeing, but which I had to manipulate the camera into allowing me to reproduce.

So, there you have it.  The manipulation of reality to realise a vision.

DSCN0640Foça Sunset (camera vision)

 

DSCN0643Foça Sunset (Deborah vision)

 

DSCN0644Foça Sunrise (camera vision)

 

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Foça Sunset (Deborah vision)

xoxo
d

 

 

“Karne” (Report Card

Btw Foça and Yeni Foça
Half-finished Prismacolor sketch of the sea, just north of Foça

Well, all the world’s school children are onto their summer holidays after getting their report cards for the year. In Turkey, the last day of school is the much-anticipated moment when your kids carry home their “karne” and parents celebrate the accomplishments of their offspring.

I have well passed the age when report cards were a thing of pride (mostly) or fear (math, usually). But last week, after all the world’s school children were already involved with swimming and soccer (or sowing and reaping, depending on your demographics), the thought crossed my mind that it might do to write myself my own report card, going back to my List of Ideas and checking to see how well the implemenation was going. Think of it as a mid-term “progress report” for 2017/2018, rather than an end-of-term final appraisal, because, as that great artist Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over ’til it’s over.” ( Or as I said yesterday, “I’m not dead yet.”)

Report Card – Deborah Semel Demirtaş – 2017/2018

1. Sitting down in my studio and doing some more oil pastels of people in the water, using the photos I took in Georgia, Portugal, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast as sketches. NO PROGRESS. (Studio is a mess, greenhouse effect is making it more than a little unbearably hot… but I did manage to clear enough space to sew me up some summer clothing to make the heat a little less oppresive. As they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the studio!”)

2. Writing and illustrating a children’s book about “The Adventures of Yellow Dog”. In it, the erstwhile Yaprak is transformed into a doggie who had to leave her home for reasons she is too young to understand, but ends up making friends with a chicken and learning to swim. AND 2a, the sequel, “Yellow Dog and Her Friends”, in which Yellow Dog and her chicken-friend, over much objection from their families, end up visiting one another at their respective homes – and nobody gets eaten. PROGRESS. (Okay, this is, admittedly, theoretical progress – meaning I’ve decided that Yellow Dog’s adventures might be more interesting as an animated film than in book form. That’s as far as I’ve got.)

3. Going back and doing some large (for me) oil-stick drawings like the ones in the “swimmer” series I had started a few years ago and then had to abandon because “the princesses” had taken over my “outdoor studio” so there was no room to work out there anymore. NO PROGRESS. (I’ve got a whole lot of paper cut to size, but this has been just another thing that I haven’t gotten around to. For the reason why, see No. 4 below.)

4. A “film project”. (I have this “wild hare” of an idea to organize a festival, or something, of films on “cultural heritage”… please don’t steal this one…) PROGRESS.  (If there’s a whole lot of “no progress” on anything else on my list, this must be the reason why.)

FFG LOGO web

5. Paint some more wooden furniture. (This is not as easy as it sounds – if you place the emphasis on “wooden” – because everything these days seems to be made of pressboard and the like. Boo-hoo.) PROGRESS. (I did one. For proof, see the  photo of the “Camouflage Table” below; bet you have a hard time finding the table leg… designed to blend in with the flagstone…)

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6. Continue making temporary trash sculptures. (This one should be pretty easy; there’s a lot of trash out there.) PROGRESS. (But since I can’t find any pictures, you’ll just have to take my word for it. And by the way, there’s still a lot of trash out there.)

7. Something to do with food! (I’m not there yet…) PROGRESS. (Still not there yet, but undoubtedly there will be some food-related cultural heritage at the 1st Foça International Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Film Days…)

8. An illustrated travel book… NO PROGRESS. (But today I’m going to Kos, with a box of Prismacolors in my backpack and a painter-friend, who might be a good influence on me… or maybe not; we’ll probably just drink a lot of frappes and eat pig.)

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(By Yasemin the Art Teacher – who cannot be guaranteed to be a good influence.)

9. Painting a mural on the top row of kitchen cupboards. (This was agreed with my husband before we got new kitchen cupboards. The choice was not between whether to paint or not, but between what to paint: 1. Beach scene; 2. Abstract painting of the vastness of the universe, with lots of gold leaf and light blue; 3. Tropical paradise. And the winner is… “3, Tropical Paradise”! NO PROGRESS. (But white looks good, too… )

10. Two paintings (oil stick on plywood, 40x40cm, of flower blossoms on a mainly black background with a lot of line drawing done in gold leaf) “commissioned” by my husband in return for making him not hang a painting in a spot that I didn’t want it to be hung in. PROGRESS(One is finished and hung on the wall. One is progress, isn’t it?)

 

There.
A list of 10.
A nice, round number.
“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

Art+Fortunes=Art Fortunes

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A while back I wrote my list of 10 ideas. Of course, as soon as I posted it, I realized that I had left one out. And it was a really important one, too. It involved the next step in an ongoing project of recycling paper by using it in collages and then using the collages to tell fortunes. It even had a name: Art Fortunes.

‘Reading the collages’ had become a really nice way of interacting with people over art. Imagine waiting on line to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and when you finally got up to the window to make your contribution, you were told you had to go around ‘two by two’, and then they paired you up with a total stranger and said to you, “Okay, now go look at the art – and talk about it.” That’s sort of what Art Fortunes is like.

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

I loved Art Fortunes so much I decided that the next step was to ‘spread the love’. So I put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to reproduce the collages as prints and get them out there to people who wanted them (which means, partly “giving” them away as “perks” to “supporters” of “the Art Fortunes Indiegogo Campaign”). I’m even making a handy dandy little ‘User’s Guide’ to explain a bit about the cards and how to ue them to tell fortunes.

Believe me, it’s not at all complicated like Tarot Cards or anything else where you’d have to have some special fortune-telling skills or anything – although I find dressing up in a bit of ‘gypsy chic’ does help the mood along…

hittites

The ‘User’s Guide’ is pretty basic, too. For example: “This card (above) combines a sketch of a Hittite idol with a picture of a detail from a mixed-media painting that sort of looks like a spine, or maybe a bug. Note the olive tree fragments and ‘feathers’. A celebration of flora and fauna?”

Also, I put together a little video so you could see ‘a reading in progress’. Obviously, every one is different, because every person is different; it’s really fascinating (to me) to see how people get into looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with them. In fact, as luck would have it, on an ‘involvement scale’ of 1 to 10, (with 1 being ‘being polite, but trying to get this over with as quickly as possible’ and 10 being ‘hey, I know you’ve got 3 more people sitting waiting to have their Art Fortunes told, but heck, I wanna keep looking at the pictures, and I can tell way better stories than you, anyway, and I think that those feathers symbolize pens, so that means that I am going to get a letter from someone very soon, and, also, you see that that one person has two heads? well that means…”), the person in the video with me was kind of a ‘1’.

If you want to find out more (and I hope you do), you can click on the link below, and it will take you down the rabbit hole and into the land of

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

Have Fun!!!

 

 

 

Heads UP!

Blog reader, be(a)ware:

Next week (god willing and the creek don’t rise) I’ll be launching an Indiegogo campaign to fund printing of a limited edition of ‘Art Fortunes’.

For those of you who missed them, here (and here) are links to some posts explaining the ‘project’ (‘work’), which involves making collages and sharing interpretations of them through ‘readings’ – a series of one-on-one relationships that involve an art maker (me), art objects (the collages), and an audience (a person seeking to have their fortune told). In other words, “Art Fortunes” looks like fortunetelling, but it’s also art!

While I’m continuing periodic ‘readings’, I’m also expanding the project/work to include a limited edition of 60 “decks” of 52 “Art Fortunes” cards printed from the original collages. I’ll post the link to the Indiegogo campaign when I have it so you can check it out and share it with others. In the meantime, if you’ve got any questions, just drop me a line…

Art Fortunes cards in box