Project Progress

PROJECT PROGRESS: To date, I have collected three gallons of pennies! Will tally them soon. Check here for Project Progress throughout the year.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On Perseverance

OK... so I'm a terrbile blogger and it's been a really long time. But in my defense, nothing much has happened. Peope are still decorating tiles and contributing pennies on First Fridays at my studio. In between, I've been sealing/coating the tiles and adding them to the shrine.

The Art Side is almost finished and I'm learning a little about cutting tiles to fit in odd shaped spaces. First lesson learned about cutting tile: It's HARD! The Community Side is filling up and the Money and Compliment Sides are coming along. This month I gave more specific instructions about decorating the tiles to fit in with the themes. I specificaly asked, in a handout, not to decorate with "Jane and Joe forever nonsense" or "offensive items." I got less tiles than on a usual First Friday, but I can use all of them... and use them on the sides that need them. So it was a good night for the Penny Project!

My attention is turning now to creating the Penny Lake and Penny Fountain. And to grouting, which will be a bear of a job. Now entering it's third year, this project is far bigger than anything I anticipated. I still don't know where it will end up... I'm sticking to my "If I build it, they will come" philosophy. A PR aquaintance of mine who worked in the building where I have my studio thinks she can get City Hall to exhibit the piece once it is completed. That would, of course, be AWESOME!!! I'll keep you posted. But completion still seems a long way off. I'm a little overwhelmed, but over-all, I'm still thrilled with the project. It continues to be an incredible journey into unknown territories within my art experience. I'm learning so much.

I'm also learning so much about myself... My unwavering committment to the project and to all who have contributed... My patience (and often lack thereof) for such a long-term, ongoing project... My ability to let things develop at their own pace and as I go along... My dealings with my own limitations and inexperience is some areas... my self-doubts and insecurities... My ability to put myself out there and take risks... My discomfort in talking to and dealing with the public... The way I deal with disappointments and disinterest... My ability to accept a compliment... And especially my perseverance.

The preseverance is often difficult on so many levels. For one thing, I'm spending my own money on a piece that is not really intended or expected to sell. The tiles are expensive. The other materials are expensive. I'm not unhappy about spending the money... It's something I know I should do, but can't really explain why. I know it will benefit me somehow... not only in the learning experiences I described above, but professionally. Secondly, it is taking precious time away from my other artistic endeavors: Digital Art, Watercolor Painting, the decoupage toilet seats and the hand-painted glass... things that occasionally sell and help pay the studio rent. These are all areas I want to spend time developing my talents in. But then, the Penny Project is an Installatioin Piece and I've always wanted to do one of those too! Problem is I sometimes feel spread too thin. No, scratch that. I AM spread too thin. Third, I feel constant stress and pressure; to blog more, to physically work on it more, to spend time doing PR, to find it a "home," to promote it, and eventually to complete it which will take doing things I don't even know how to do yet! But the bottom line is this: I promised to create a piece of art from the pennies I collect, I designed this project and am happy with the design and it's significance, and I'm going to see it through! Period!

Progress Pictures to follow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

And The Tiling Begins!

I am just all over the place with this project now! I've begun the tiling with the main tile in the recess of each side of the shrine and with the pennies filling out the recesses and on all the edges of each wall. It's looking great so far! Also working on building the penny fountain... gluing the pennies together one by one. I've tried so many different glues but finally settled on the old favorite: Super Glue. I've already glued my fingers together more times than I can count! Also still glazing the tiles with the epoxy resin and making additional tiles using fortunes from Chinese Fortune Cookies with messages pertinent to the theme of each side of the shrine. Like I said, all over the place.

Except for making the Fortune Cookie tiles, I have to say that this is not the most creative phase of the project. The tiling and gluing is repetitive, tedious, and boring compared to the design phase and even the building and cementing of the shrine itself. Several community members have joined me in the studio (thank you, thank you, thank you!) to work with me... luckily, they didn't find it boring at all! I guess it's all a matter of perception (and how long you've been doing it!).

Special thanks to Dennis Conatser II for making the main  (4" x 4") tile for the Community Side of the shrine, and Alyssa Acevedo (one of my four incredible grandchildren) for making the main tile for the Art Side. And of course thanks to the hundreds of people who decorated the 2" x 2" tiles that will cover the walls (except for the recesses where the main tiles are. I've taken the summer off in terms of First Fridays, but beginning in September I'll be showing again and there will be more opportunities for the community to contribute.

Here are some Progress Pics:

putting the pennies on the edges and around the main tile in the recess

all the edges now have pennies

main tile for the Money Side of the Shrine

Alyssa's tile for the Art Side with pennies filling out the recess
Dennis' tile (not glazed yet) for the Community Side

main tile For the Admiration/Compliments Side of the Shrine

the beginning of one stream of a penny fountain

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cementing Done... Working on Tiles

All four sides and the top of the shrine are cemented and ready for tiling. It was a tedious process, but I learned a lot and felt more confident with my technique as time went on.

Now it's on to the tiling. I've got hundreds of tiles decorated by visitors to my studio on First Fridays plus many that I created myself. The tiles were bisque fired prior to being decorated. Decorations were done with Sharpies, Sharpie Paints, and some were collaged with clip art and other paper images. Since glazes were not used, firing them in a kiln is not appropriate. I decided, instead, to coat them with an epoxy resin to give them a nice, hard, shiny finish. That is what I'm working on now. I'll also be polishing about half of the pennies so there is a variation of colors among them. Once all the finishing and polishing is done, I'll start on the tiling and grouting. The pennies will go on all the edges and in the recesses around the main 4" x 4" tile that defines that particular side of the shrine. the 2" x 2" decorated tiles will go on the other (non-recess) flat surfaces of the sides of the shrine. I'm really anxious to get this new phase started and see what adjustments I'll need to make and how the project will further evolve.

Still to come: Construction of the Lazy Susan and the Penny Pool/Fountain.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Still Cementing....

I've finished coating three of the four sides with cement. One side left plus the top. Not sure yet what I'll be doing with the top. Once the entire structure is coated with cement, I'll be moving on to the tiling.

Still need lots of tiles, so drop by for June's First Friday to decorate one if you haven't already done so. The edges and the receses will be tiled with pennies. The rest of the facades will be tiled. Judging from the tiles I've already received, it will be fantastic!

There have been a few more evolutions. Now I'm considering having the entire structure on a "Lazy Susan" so it can rotate and be visible from all sides without having to sit in the middle of a room. More work, but I think that will add to the interactive nature of the piece and involve the community even further, on the level of viewer as well as collaborator.

Time to start thinking more about the area surrounding the structure where the Penny Pool/Penny Fountain will be. I'm thinking astro-turf. That may evolve too...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lots to Think About

Well, I posted my dilemma concerning the offensive tile (see previouspost) on my Facebook page and on the Facebook page of the Phoenix Remodernists (an arts group I belong to) and I got tons of feedback, suggestions, options, and opinions. Very helpful, yet UNhelpful in that I now have even more to consider.

Suggestions include using the tile, tossing it, literally tossing it (so it beaks) and including it in broken form, grinding it into dust and including the dust in the grout between the tiles, turning it over and including it as a blank tile as a tribute to rape victims, keeping it out of the project but using it as a coaster at the reception, returning it to whoever made it (not possible.... I don't know who made it), making an adjunct piece from all the tiles that don't fit,

I'm close to a decision, but will let all of the input percolate for a while. Whatever I decide, it will be a very personal decision on many levels (artistic, philosophical, historically, experientially, and societally) and I will not be sharing it. I have several reasons for this: I want the piece to stand on its own and not be overshadowed by the inclusion or exclusion of this particular tile. Plus, I think not sharing the decision adds a little the mystery to the work.

So when it's done, be sure to look for it (or it's absence) in the finished piece!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Artistic/Philosophical Dilemma

What do I do???? Hundreds of people have decorated tiles for this project... most of them showing wonderful talent, great wit, deep thoughts, entertaining personality, and lively spirit. But then there are the exceptions.

One tile in particular is downright offensive. It says, "IRAPE SISTER YOUR." No, I didn't transpose the words or forget a space after the I... that is exactly what he wrote and how he wrote it. There is no design included. So what do I do? Do I include it in the project?

On the one hand, I feel that including it will be as offensive to many who view it as it is to me. I feel it demeans the project and twists what I am trying to say with it. I feel it was not created in the spirit of what was being asked of people; i.e. to decorate a tile that would fit in with one of the four themes of the project: Art, Money, Admiration, and Community. I feel that including it in "my" piece would reflect badly on me.

On the other hand, lots of tiles don't fit any of the four themes. Many are not "artistic." I said that people could decorate tiles and they would be included in the project. I am totally against artistic censorship. and is it really "my" piece?

On the third hand, is this artistic expression or just a prank by an immature person trying to funny or rebellious or outrageous? Are humor, rebellion and outrageousness legitimate components of art? Did I not give people a means to express themselves and be heard?

So, again, what do I do???

Monday, April 30, 2012

Structure Complete! On to the Next Step!

The structure of the shrine is finished and I am in the process of coating it with cement and preparing the surface to accept the tiles that have been decorated by so many menbers of the community when they visited my studio on First Fridays and during Art Detour.

I've been glazing the tiles and they look great! Still need many, many more... so come by the studio on First Friday and decorate one!

I'm ready to let people come in and work on the piece. Since I can only accomodate a few people at a time, let me know when you're available (leave a comment here) and I'll arrange a time with you to meet at the studio. Be prepared to get dirty!!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Covered with glue!

Making some progress.... have cut some more styrofoam pieces for the structure and have glued the pieces Sandi and I taped on day 1. I posted somephotos in the previous post, so check it out if you haven's seen them already. It is starting to look like a shrine! Had a lot of trouble getting the glue out of the tube using the caulking gun. I need to do some hand exercises to build up my squeezing strength! Today went a little better when I cut the a little more off the tip and got the glue flowing a little easier. Still tough though. My hands and forearms are all cramped up. And I have glue stuck to me everywhere!

Luckily I am working with forgiving materials.... mistakes can be addressed and repaired at this stage. After I get the shrine glued together and adhered to its base, I will be using a mixtrue of cement and glue to seal it. Using this mixture, I should be able to patch and build up areas that are not straight or level or smooth so that we have a good smooth, even surface to tile. More ideas keep coming to me as I work... places to incorporate pennies, places to use copper trim. It is definitely a work in progress... not just physically, but creatively!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Construction - Day One

My friend (and mentor) Sandi Whyman joined me in my studio to begin work on the shrine portion of the piece. We cut, scraped, and taped styrofoam for the greater portion of the day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Experiences

I often use a blow torch when I work with resin on my toilet seats and bustiers, and now on the tiles for the shrine. But while using it (and enjoying it!) the other day, I began to think about all the new tools and materials I'm using (and will be using) for this project that I've never used for an art piece before. Here's a partial list:

Sharpie Paint Pens
Graph Paper
Needle, thread, pins, tape measure, and other sewing tools
Doll's Head (this one happens to have long blond hair - with bangs - and blue eyes... coincidence??? See the photo below)
Keyhole Saw
Astro Turf
Caulking Gun
Wire Brushes
And, oh yes, Pennies!

So what do you think.... could this doll's head represent (a much younger) me? Will it add to the autobiographical nature of the piece?

(Not happy with the beret.... will do it over for sure!)