Winter Solstenen Project work up at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle, thru June 2013

Some of my work from my second 4-week residency in Iceland this January/February,  is up now at LxWxH Gallery in Seattle, an installation of wallpaper repeated patterns and large prints on archival rag paper.  Glimpses pulled from days at Lake Myvatn, Kvera geothermal field, Skaftafellsjokull glacier and Jokullsarlon lagoon, turned into a vibrating layered wall of pattern.

PRESSice star monsterTrying to pin down what I had made with words, I wrote:

“Working with a hermetic and intuitive process in the extreme environment of the sub-arctic north of Iceland in January, I began to pull patterns and life forms and  colors out of the essential temperament of the land.  Using snow, ice, lava rock, dead vegetation, lichen and fiber, I held a frozen camera with a frozen body.  A barren snow-entombed solid white lava field begins to glow royal blue as human eyes search for color, for difference.  The myriad layers of turquoise spikes of ancient glacial ice are very much alive as a gobbling monster, gobbled in turn by human greed as heat.  Hot flamingo wings in the snow on the craters of a hot steaming lake become the energy of the magma just barely below the surface, forming everything.  I found myself a woman wrapped in worm skin, seal skin, sheep skin, not battling the cold and ice and sulfur steam, but lured in by the illusion of desolation and silence, and finding endless undulating repeating patterns of energy, appetite and expansion.”

I was surprised by what emerged and where it came from.  The long view was always so alluringly desolate, but just below my hands or my lens I found so much brightness.

Iceland seems like a dream to me now, one I get to walk about in,  sometimes when I have a span of time to open up my little silver hard-drive filled with images and film clips.  I get to coax out  some memories and day dreams of how my body felt in that place, a daily routine that involved exploring unfamiliar rugged landscapes and long stretches of being alone with my family.  It was not paradise or an idealized haze, but sometimes hard and cruel work, trying to find a vision of myself as a maker inside and pushing against those simple structures, as something that mattered ….especially in the blankness of the whiteness of the blanket of sub-arctic snow.

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Because I went to Iceland a second time with no plan, but a suitcase full of old and new, and unfinished plans– and rather a notion of what Negative Capability might be like, to let the land and weather and rock pull me to think on my feet, me like a little metal shard on a magnet — I spent much too much time in anxious fear that I was wasting my time, and my money.

Nothing was complete, nothing was revealed to me.  But…it was only once I dug in and played and prodded, and forgot to be productive, could I see that at some point I would find something that would sparkle.  I would see the steaming white lake of craters with swans and feel open to whatever happened.

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Then to come home and have the distance and a rollercoaster of life events, then have the season turn from cold to spring, to summer, and to dive back in private into the white nothingness of the places I went in Iceland, could I see the patterns I’d captured or tried to tame.  Like making up and twisting memory, as we all do, I coax something out that is more than what I experienced, but the more like the florid desire to return.

I hope you can see the show!  The firestorm gallery owner Sharon Arnold hosts the gallery on Saturdays and by appointment.
come see The Obsessive Unknown Origins of Grotesque Irregular... on Twitpic

I’ll be there as well this Saturday, hosting a light brunch and teaching crocheting from 10am – 1pm, then the gallery remains open until 3pm.  Read more about it here. 

Winter in Iceland

restingmountain-blogWe’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.

Images from “Our Patient Day’s Allotted Span” show at NEPO House, Seattle

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Little jökull, woven fabric and crocheted yarn and fabric, stones, 2012-13

“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.”

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Cave Father, archival ink jet photograph

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Icelandic blueberry, mushroom, bones wallpaper

Solstenen films screened at “Latent Liminal Improbable Exuberance” : Film night at Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater in Seattle

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:

Gala Bent
Jennifer Zwick
Britta Johnson
Mandy Greer
Scott Kolbo and
Vis-a-Vis Society.

Films will begin at 7pm and cycle throughout the evening until 10pm.

Drop in when you can. Delicious treats by the Rendezvous kitchen!  FREE

Film still from "My farm and Yours", Mandy Greer 2013

Film still from “My farm and Yours”, Mandy Greer 2013

2322 2nd Ave., Seattle, Washington 98121

‘Solstenen Project’ residencies were sponsored in part by grants from 4 Culture, Artist Trust and the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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Film still from Scott Kolbo

Film still from Scott Kolbo

Film still from "I shall loan you these rags", Mandy Greer 2013

Film still from “I shall loan you these rags”, Mandy Greer 2013

Film still from "Nothing to give", Mandy Greer, 2013

Film still from “Nothing to give”, Mandy Greer, 2013

Film still from "Birch Play", Mandy Greer, 2013

Film still from “Birch Play”, Mandy Greer, 2013

The geologic calibration of the family: a show at NEPO House, Dec. 22nd, 6-10pm

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.”

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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

NEPO HOUSE

1723 S Lander Street
Seattle, WA 98144

www.nepohouse.org

 

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.

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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.

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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!

Join me at some Community Crochet Workshops…

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!

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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.”

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Hazel as glacier_promo

Intergenerational art making…

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…

Paul shooting Hazel-smallpaul as glacier-small