We’ve been here two weeks so far, our second journey into Iceland. Only two weeks left and it doesn’t feel like enough. A week of museums and swimming and soaking and meeting people in Reykjavik, and now a week in a long blizzard in Siglufjordur. Anxious to get outside I made some photographs with some wings that have been in process for quite sometime. Seagull feathers collected in 1999 in Seattle and dyed and made into a sculpture…the sculpture existed for awhile and then I decided to take it apart…and carry it to Iceland…logical. Working on some things during the storm, we’ll see what happens as we move on tomorrow. The blizzard felt like I was in a fog loosing my direction here…but I did need to work on things. I just feel a little wilted if I can’t get outside everyday here and walk around. One evening I when out in the blowing snow and made a snow dome or caldron as we called it. We filled it with fire the next night and filmed it. I don’t know what it’s for or why, but that’s what I do here…I just follow a long with impulses, use whatever I can find.
“Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span” show at NEPO House, which was such a gratifying experience to bring some of the work began in Iceland to closure, to see friends, share my family’s work and share in the hospitality of NEPO House’s Little Treats series. Paul loved standing on the porch serving Icelandic waffles and glogg and egg nog to everyone who arrived.
No one asked me about the odd title…maybe my odd titles are just par for the course now. It’s something from the very beginning of the beginning. As I was writing the first grant proposal for this project in early 2011, trying to coax something concise from the jumble of ideas, I was reading my son my favorite book from my childhood, The Fairy Caravan by Beatrix Potter. And this one scene struck me in the gullet, a powerful monolog spoken by a Herdwick ewe named Belle Lingcropper, about the strength and tenacity of the sheep, as well as the transitory nature of our time here. She says
” What though the hailstorms sweep the fell in winter–through tempest, frost, or heat–we live our patient day’s allotted span.”
Both the wisp of legacy and transience, from the mouth of sheep (but of course Miss Potter really). For awhile I have been fixated and inspired how Beatrix Potter managed to craft a life for herself as a woman writer of her time, as well a attain a certain independence and ultimately to use her own earned money to become a major conservationist of land, of a way of life, and the Herdwick sheep breed. She used her patient day’s allotted span well, and I aim to do the same, somehow.
Anyhow, aside from my admiration for her ability to make a living as an artist, jumping over hurdles, I’m sure, I have never had to deal with — her ewe’s speech seemed to draw me to a place in my mind, not Britian, but to a fantasy of Iceland where things would play out, questions would be met with answers on the wind and stone, if only for a brief time.
But that brief time was wedged in the legacy of the maker, the creator, the individual who has crafted their life’s work from the the air, the land, the water and all that comes with it. My collaborators –my son, my husband — we went on that part of our journey together, a different but interrelated meaning for all of us. Something lasting for all of us, but the geologic text written on the small island of Iceland loomed in my mind as a different time table than our own brief human span.
And Potter’s imagining of the mind of her dear Herdwicks seemed to speak of a pride of one’s place in a long span of time, not just what we experience. I thought the working title would shed itself — and for a while I didn’t think of it all — but once this grouping of work was done, it still seemed to work.
You can also see some of my films from the project here: Films!
Here’s the entirety of little Belle the ewe’s speech. I was startled by the tenderness I felt for the Icelandic sheep we would encounter, their soft eyes and the intense soft warmness they seemed to radiate in the harsh rocky landscape. I always imagined them saying this…
Cool is the air above the craggy summit. Clear is the water of the mountain keld. Green grows the grass in droughty days beneath the brackens! What though the hailstorms sweep the fell in winter–through tempest, frost, or heat–we live our patient day’s allotted span.
Wild and free as when the stone-men told our puzzled early numbers; untamed as when the Norsemen named our grassings in their stride. Our little feet had ridged the slopes before the passing Romans. On through the fleeting centuries, when fresh blood came from Iceland, Spain, or Scotland–stubborn, unchanged, UNBEATEN–we have held the stony waste.
I’m so giddy to be showing some of my new Solstenen Project films with some of my favorite Seattle-based artsts/filmmakers during an evening presentation at Seattle’s gorgeous Jewelbox Theater!
“Latent Liminal Improbable Exuberance : Film night with,
Gala Bent, Jennifer Zwick, Britta Johnson, Mandy Greer, Scott Kolbo and Vis-a-Vis Society at Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater, January 9th, 2013, 7-10 pm
Something old, something new, something odd, something blue.
In-process, foundlings, archived, favorites and brand new films by an exuberant collection of artists:
Films will begin at 7pm and cycle throughout the evening until 10pm.
Drop in when you can. Delicious treats by the Rendezvous kitchen! FREE
‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
I am really finding some peace in bringing some of our works in Iceland to a close ( or sort of…I never seem to be done with anything completely). One strong aspect of Solstenen project was to use my family culture as medium, like it was a one of the materials I had to choose from. I’ve wanted to do a Little Treats show at NEPO House for quite awhile, and presenting some of the work about family archetypes, embracing and rebelling against them, seemed so appropriate for Klara Glosova’s project. NEPO House and Little Treats in particular is about finding new options for sharing and experiencing art, more approachable, less hierarchal, as “a series of exhibitions, performances and screenings at NEPO House. Our goal is to provide a platform for local artists to show new work and an opportunity for the audience to experience artwork in an intimate setting of a home. Ultimately Little Treats is about hospitality, our encounters with art and with each other. In order to avoid moving too much furniture the shows take place only and entirely in our entry room.”
Pleas join us in December 22nd, 2012, from 6-10 pm. We’ll be making Icelandic heart-shaped waffles, Norwegian creme pudding and glogg and eggnog! My favorite day to celebrate is the winter solstice and this opens the day after, so please come share some light with us!
“We Live Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span”
A multi-media exhibition by Mandy Greer, Paul Margolis and Hazel Margolis
1723 S Lander Street
Seattle, WA 98144
Opens Dec. 22nd, 6-10pm
Conflating the private and public — traveling to places unknown, but working as a unit — the Mandy Greer-Paul Margolis clan of multi-generational artists set out to engage with the natural environment of Iceland in an intimate and hermetic approach. Through fiber and film, play-acting, intuitive performance, obsessive accumulation of found natural and man-made artifacts, many of the artistic results explore and tear open the archetypes that each family member inhabits.
Through play and repetition, the roles each member played became refracted, as each sometimes embraced, sometimes rejected what seemed inexorably inevitable. The family culture became medium, and that microcosm was expressed in the macrocosm of the geologic, a move that transcends the heartbreak of the day-to-day.
In this way, the emotional force of the child became the slow but constant pressure of a glacier, both a monumentally creative and destructive force. The maternal instinct both emerges and retreats from isolation, like squeezing water from a stone and appositionally, an endless gorgeous torrent of a glacial swollen river. The distant but shelter-building father figure moves earth and fire in an autonomic process of both steadfast strength and hapless misadventure.
Greer writes, “By locating our bodies at the center of this work about familial bonds, we are attempting to confront, repair and heal rifts in our lives that have both made our artistic life together possible and also strained it to near-breaking. In breathtaking geographic isolation, an honesty emerges about the possibilities and failures of blending our roles as artists, parents and partners.
This presentation of photographs, installation sculpture, video, and performance artifacts is but one outcome of Mandy Greer’s ‘Solstenen Project’, a series of residencies over the course of a year exploring themes of weight and physical burden as external symbols of internal self-transformation — identity metamorphosing into the environmental — including 5 weeks in Iceland in the fall of 2012.
‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.
As part of NEPO “Little Treats” series, Mandy and Paul will be cooking Icelandic heart-shaped waffles and Norwegian Rommegrot (cream pudding), and maybe some glogg!
All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go….not on a jet plane, but to a series of my Community Crochet Workshops, working on Hazel’s Glacier for an upcoming presentation of the piece. Please join us and learn to crochet or teach what you know! All the deets are below!
Community Crochet Events: Mandy Greer: ‘Solstenen’ Project
-December 10th, 2:30-5pm: Beacon Hill Library community room
2821 Beacon Ave. S., Seattle
-December 11th, 1:30-4pm: High Point Library community room
3411 S.W. Raymond St., Seattle
- Dec. 16th, 12:30-3:30pm: Favorite Art Projects @Henry Art Gallery
15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle
“Multi-media artist Mandy Greer, has for years involved the public in the making of her large scale sculpture and installation work, through free Community Crochet workshops, teaching anyone who drops in the basics of crochet and incorporating their stitches into a larger artwork.
You are invited to join Mandy in a series Community Crochet events as part of her ‘Solstenen’ Project, where she will be teaching anyone willing to crochet, giving you the opportunity to contribute to the creation of a large scale fiber ‘glacier’ made of hundreds of different white fabrics and yarn and meant to be worn by Greer’s son. Began on a residency in Iceland, the crocheted and woven glacier now grows larger as it emerges from isolation, accumulating energy from many hands, like a glacier accumulates and transports stones. The Glacier will be exhibited at NEPO House on Dec. 22nd, 2012.
Children are welcome and encouraged at the events on the 10th and 11th, as Greer’s 8 year old son will also be on hand to teach crocheting to other children.
All materials and tools supplied, all skill levels welcome.
Mandy Greer’s ‘Solstenen Project’, is a series of residencies over the course of a year exploring themes of weight and physical burden as external symbols of internal self-transformation — identity metamorphosing into the environmental — including 5 weeks in Iceland in the fall of 2012.
‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.”
I’m deep in ( and almost done with ) the agonizing process of selecting a few images from 17 photoshoots we did in Iceland, for a show at NEPO House that focuses in on some of the intergenerational art making we did while there for 5 weeks. Agonizing because each shoot turned up about 10 good images, but I’m trying to tell a specific story and some of the images fall outside that, but are still my favorites. And there are dreaded moments of ‘everything about this image is perfect but that dumb look in my eyes’ and there is no second shot of it. Lighting/color can be adjusted….dumb looks are hard to manage. It was such a fast and intuitive and rugged process, in many cases pushing the limits of how wet or cold I wanted my cameras, or quickly fading light or how much a child would take. I’m feeling exhausted and could prowl through these files for months, and will be doing that, to focus on different narratives than this one for this show. But this set of behind-the-scene images soothes me….we all miss our time together. More info on the show to come…
Before we left for Iceland, I was invited to participate in this fascinating little project happening at The Henry Art Gallery. Tova Elise Cubert has started up a non-profit called Favorite Art Projects with a “mission to instigate conversations about art and commerce in unconventional ways.” This season’s iteration of Favorite is as a pop-up shop at the Henry Art Gallery that opened November 16th and running until February, in homage to Jeffry Mitchell’s show there ‘Like a Valentine’.
Tova invited a group of artists who, I would say, are all investigating craft, comfort and home in some tangential way, which means they are all investigating the body. Doesn’t it? Jeffry has always been a guru to me of how to make work that slips and slides between boundaries, pleasure seeking, about the body. There is no difference in the electricity of an installation of his and a pickle jar or wall screen. His work is always a teacher for me.
So I went away on my travels, a little perplexed about how to investigate my current ideas in the context of commerce. I have never been very good at translating my ideas into a smaller scale….I think because I have tried to make those small things ‘sellable’. Which I am happy for things to sell, of course, But putting ‘sellable’ in my mind always seems to put a wrench in things. I rarely sell my work, it rarely seems to apply to commerce, and I rarely seem to even think about that exchange (this can be both really good and very bad or both or neither, I guess…..common reaction from some artists). But then I began to think about specific people, incredibly creative strong weirdo women artists I admire, and imagined them wearing things I made, and it suddenly seemed very easy what to make. ‘Sellable’ in my mind had somehow been a cue to hold back, yet my imaginary clients demanded no holding back, and I made what they and I both wanted! (check out a few things here)
I also wanted to use the techniques and textures and colors I was using to take with me to Iceland, as well as what filled my eyes and touched my skin while there. For my bodily experience there was a pull between the essential comfort of the body to stay warm and the sometimes stark land the body existed upon. I wanted to turn landscape into dense softness and warmth. I had been using a super dense hand-weaving technique to make superthick blankets that I then sewed into big costumes for Hazel, Paul and I to wear.
So I continued with the thick weaving and have made thick heavy ‘stone’ and ‘sulfur’ blankets for the shop, made of more than a hundred different hand selected and cut fabrics, reclaimed wool and cashmere sweaters. I have always loved to sleep under a huge stack of blankets, like gravity is thicker in the air. And these blankets do this! I also did a series of neck pieces of pillows of puffy moss to surround the neck and the bright energy propelled by molten lava to represent the intense energy of the body.
I also feel influenced and greatly admired the practice of many Icelandic artists to blend and hybridize art and design. In some way this has always been a source inspiration for me from Jeffry Mitchell’s work, that lack of boundaries between art, craft, handicraft and design. I made this work to celebrate what I love about his work and give the opportunity for my installations to take place on the small scale of the body. I hope you’ll stop by the Henry and see all the other beautiful things by artists such as Izzie Klingels, Nicholas Nyland, Joey Veltkamp, Eric Eley and Seth Damm.
I’ll also be hosting a Community Crochet event at the shop at the Henry (15th Avenue Northeast, Seattle) on Sunday December 16th from 12:30-3:30. (Facebook event here). All skill levels welcome, all materials provided! And will be delivering another round of wearable pieces and blankets in time for the crochet event! Come join us!