voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
Psychiatrist: What was your last depressive episode like?
Me: Well, it was the end of the semester. Mostly I just stopped taking care of myself at all, I'd stay at school overnight and not sleep for days, not eat properly, and I was incredibly anxious and having panic attacks.
Psychiatrist: Oh. Well, that's normal for students.

I just. I can't. I don't even.

EDIT: When I pointed out that this may be normal for students (school is hard, news at 11), just because it's normal doesn't make it healthy, especially not for someone who already struggles with depression and anxiety, she shrugged at me.

voltairine: (nom)


This is my cat (cat #1, that is) with a teapot I made, the one with the cracked base.

Pictures of the sample masks under the cut. )


Feb. 9th, 2011 11:50 pm
voltairine: (raeg)
I have a site for my public art installation, and a plan. Proposal is in the works.

I finished some test pieces and decided that I really like the smushed masks, actually. Each one is unique, and I can do some really interesting things with surface treatment.

I've been frustrated lately with my classes - not the content of the classes, but with the lack of critical thinking exhibited by my fellow students. "I was trying to deconstruct the male gaze in my picture of a stereotypical 'hot' woman with straight hair and pale skin having an orgasm! Sure, it's totally sexualized, and serves to normalize a certain body type, and portrays a woman in this way that women are always portrayed, BUT IT'S SUBVERSIVE BECAUSE I SAY SO!" Ugh, just SAYING you are deconstructing something is not the same thing as ACTUALLY working to deconstruct that thing, okay? Okay. Let's move on now.

Last semester I felt stifled creatively by my academic classes, and this semester I feel stifled creatively by my studio classes. There has to be a balance somewhere. Probably it only exists outside of academia, though.
voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
My big piece for ceramics still isn't dry. It's pretty huge, so it's to be expected. But I want to finish it so bad.

I'm so happy with that project, and so unhappy with my work in Urban Clay so far. I took my mask molds and started making these weird, misshappen faces by knocking the casts out of the mold before they are properly set, and then pressing them with my fingers into distorted shapes. Then I glaze them by dripping glaze onto them and letting it pool and smear in and around the mashed-up features of the face. I don't know what it's about, but I think it looks neat, although I'm disappointed in my own lack of substance. Sometimes I hit on ideas that I really like and find fascinating and meaningful and full of opportunities to explore and I approach it with a rigorous, research-focused kind of technique, and sometimes I just throw images and stylistic tricks and whatever against the wall and see what sticks. I'm always more satisfied with the former, but sometimes the latter turns up stuff I really like, and full-on experimentation is a good way of exploring ideas I didn't know I had sometimes. I like to sit down with a ball of clay and start forming out of nothing, meditatively, to see what I produce. Sometimes I make beautiful things, and sometimes I don't make anything, but at least I'm working.

Next week I'll start on my monster pieces, I think. Brain fog is strong this week - this has got to go. Ugh.
voltairine: (Default)
I recorded a radio ad today at CKUT for the annual memorial march for missing and murdered women. You can listen to it if you want. Yes, that's my voice - no, not the one singing, the one talking. The song I picked is Rae Spoon's "Come On Forest Fire, Burn The Disco Down". Here's an accoustic version of it:

Come on Forest Fire

I'm finally drying the ceramics piece I've been working on for the last few weeks. Timing the construction of the thing so it didn't collapse on itself was a constant battle. But hopefully it will be bisqued soon and no longer such a pain in my ass.


Feb. 4th, 2011 11:23 am
voltairine: (Default)
NPO stuff has taken a turn for the worse - backlash, I guess, to a group of people within an organization taking a stand against a culture of psychological harassment and dysfunction, but still really upsetting, triggering, and generally shitty.

I want to write more about art stuff but I think I may take a break from processing my thoughts publicly or semi-publicly for a little while? Or, I dunno. Something. Vernissage is coming up for the art matters exhibit, in a little over a month now. Need to start hauling some more ass on the preparations for this.

I did my first print run in litho. My prof was really skeptical about printing on rice paper but I pulled it off and it looks great. Suck it, expectations!
voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
EDIT: Okay, so, in my own privilege, there's a phrase I used in here that's pretty ableist itself (comes from mocking folks with developmental dis/abilities, which is SO SHITTY). I'm erasing it, not because I want to pretend like the fuck-up never happened - it did, and was awful, and I'm so sorry - but because I don't want to leave something in that's hurtful to people. Thanks to bulhana for pointing this out to me. I'm really, really sorry about it and won't use that phrase again.

I want to be clear here, because you seem to be unclear.

You should, undoubtedly, take care of your own health. But

There is no "but". People should take care of their own health. But is where you get into policing other peoples' abilities, and you do it again

If your response to this is debilitating, of course you won’t do it. That’s understood. If you can’t do something, then you can’t do it. But

and again

I cannot speak to anything else that might be covered under “disability,” because I don’t experience those things. But

and again

you should take your own health and abilities into consideration, judge wisely, and if it’s impossible, don’t do it. But

Is it so hard for you to say, People should take care of their own health. If your response to this is debilitating, of course you won’t do it. That’s understood. If you can’t do something, then you can’t do it. I cannot speak to anything else that might be covered under “disability,” because I don’t experience those things. you should take your own health and abilities into consideration, judge wisely, and if it’s impossible, don’t do it.

You own personal experience is legitimate. For you. It is not a qualifier for statements like "You should take care of your own health". That is not okay.

You have belittled people with debilitating anxiety (that is, people with debilitating anxiety that is debilitating in ways that differ from your own) with phrases like, This isn’t about you: This is about the fact that our level of commitment will match our impact and the worst that happens is that you stammer and feel bad and hang up the phone and You’re more powerful than your fears are. This is the problem with platitudes like these; they sound encouraging on their face, but they are really about denying the legitimacy of any kind of difficulty.

Like this:

I share the specific obstacles people are talking about, but this is not as scary as it looks, and it’s actually very easy and possible, so while I’m not there and can’t tell you how debilitating your fears are, you also don’t know how debilitating they are until you try to overcome them, and I believe the vast majority of people dealing with anxiety around this are going to be able to overcome it

I mean, this is just so loaded that I have to break it down. First you imply that you are, in fact, qualified to speak to other peoples' experiences, because you share the same obstacles as them. (Note: you do not know this.) Then you dismiss fears as baseless because it's actually very easy and possible. THEN, after you've dismissed peoples' fears about their anxiety making this potentially harmful for them with stuff like it's not as scary as it looks, THEN you claim that I'm not there and can't tell you how debilitating your fears are which you IMMEDIATELY FOLLOW UP WITH MORE DISMISSAL: you don't know how debilitating they are until you try.

Sady, do you know how many times in my life I have been told to just "try"? And you know, I am not a stranger to doing things that are scary. I don't think most people with mental health issues are. People are clearly communicating to you that they know their boundaries, they know what they can and can't do; where we get into "how fucking DARE you" territory is this, where you deny this knowledge, you specifically say that we don't know how debilitating our issues are, UNTIL WE TRY as though TRYING is something that OMG NEVER OCCURRED TO US BEFORE.

Seriously: how fucking DARE you. And I say this, whatever this means, as a "highly functioning" person with mental health issues who actually does quite a lot of visible activism in my own life: how dare you.

Finally, you finish with, I believe the vast majority of people dealing with anxiety around this are going to be able to overcome it, which implies that those who can't overcome it are outliers and exceptions to the rule. Yes. Most people with severe anxiety already feel this alienation. Thank you for clarifying, Sady Doyle, that we are not "normal".

I, for one, totally needed that, just in case I wasn't aware, as I struggle with my own anxiety in my own activism, that if I fail to be the "good" mentally ill person valiantly overcoming their personal obstacles, people will see me as an outlying freak.

I don't want to project shit onto you, Sady, which is why I've focused on the impact of your words and not on your actual intentions, which are probably good (although: not magic!). But I think that you need to do a lot more self-education and reflection before you ever speak about mental health issues on a level larger than your own personal experiences again. Speaking to your own experience is one thing, which you should do. This is entirely another, and it is fucked up.
voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
Ugh, I want to engage, because I used to really like Sady Doyle until several months ago when she did another pretty huge (but more private) ableism fail around mental health issues and hurtful language, but I just came out of a meeting that was several hours long and involved yelling and I just need to cry and go to sleep and not dedicate any more brain space to toxic, entitled people and fucked-up dynamics of privilege and marginalization from folks who should goddamn well know better.

Maybe I'll have something to say tomorrow.
voltairine: (nun)
I am gearing up for a series of intense meetings today. I am going to wear power boots and makeup.


oh lord

Jan. 28th, 2011 11:59 pm
voltairine: (zine)
So thanks to the really really free market, I now own my first ever pair of skinny jeans.

I am in art school.

I have skinny jeans.

I am a beer snob.

You guys. You guys. Am I a hipster?


Anyway. Today we did a review of our work to date in ceramics 230. My prof is really pleased with my work this semester, says it's much improved from last semester, which is not really a surprise - the level of financial strain I was under last semester definitely affected my work. This semester, I'm actually eating enough, and can afford things like doing laundry and paying my lab fees, which goes a long way towards how productive I can be! Who knew. The less I have to worry about basic survival, the easier it is to keep up in class, the less alienated I feel, the more energy I have to put in to making awesome stuff. I'm even starting to feel like I might have some business being in university?

Don't worry, I'm not getting full of myself or anything. My piece for the ceramics show was rejected, so I'm not exactly batting a thousand. But two out of three shows for the semester ain't bad, either.

Tomorrow a friend of mine is having a shower. Of babies. Which is to say, a baby shower? I am going to go, and eat cake, and squeal about babies, and not think about art or politics at all.


Jan. 27th, 2011 12:23 pm
voltairine: (Default)
The really really free market is today!

Pretty much all my clothes come from free clothing swaps like the really really free market. I'm a fan, and I'm always excited when they happen.

I'm also gonna take a piece in to be juried. Pretty sure I don't stand a shot, but there's no submission fee or anything so I might as well, right?

I didn't head in to school to unload the kiln this morning, because I had a migraine, but it's mostly cleared up now. I almost never get migraines anymore, after a year or so of having them fairly frequently - it's a little unsettling to get hit by one now, a little reminder of the power my body has over my movements and the things I want to do. It's not a reminder I particularly feel like I need.

Getting ready to head out and start the day with some Joel Plaskett music makes me feel good, though. And hey, really really free market! Last time I got a new silkscreening squeegee :D

Through & Through & Through

I like how the women in the video look kind of goofy and embarrassed by how into the song Joel Plaskett gets. Oh, Joel.


Jan. 27th, 2011 01:04 am
voltairine: (nom)
Last couple of days have been so so busy. I finished the second etch of my litho plate and got it all prepared for printing. This weekend I need to make my paper kit - I splurged on a roll of mulberry paper, very fine rice paper, although my prof wants me to print on rag paper instead. She's never printed on rice paper (!) and doesn't think it can be done with litho, which I feel is probably false. If I can print lino on rice paper I can print litho on rice paper.

I did a glaze firing this morning with another girl in my ceramics class. She gave me a piece of hers to fire but didn't tell me that it was glazed all over. When you're glaze firing ceramics, you can't let any glazed parts of your piece touch anything, because the glaze - which is glass - will fuse to whatever it touches. If you're firing a piece that has no exposed clay, it's a whole production, and I've never actually done that before because it's such a hassle and I don't feel it's worth it. So I put the piece down on a shelf and started the firing, and then she got there at like one thirty in the afternoon (firings start at around 9 am) and was like, "so what did you do about the fact that my piece was glazed all over?" and I was like, "Um. You didn't tell me it was glazed all over?"

I mean: it was covered in stuff. But I thought the stuff on the bottom was white engobe, which is a clay slip and won't stick to anything not-clay when fired.

So I ruined a kiln shelf. I honestly don't feel that this is my fault; I asked her if there was anything particular about the piece and she said no, I should just put it in and start the firing. And some of the spectrum glazes, the white and black ones in particular, are really hard to tell apart from engobe at a glance when they're dry. But I still felt like an ass.

(At least my piece should be fine. So, hah.)

Tomorrow is the jury for the department ceramics show. I have to get up early. Should go to sleep. Didn't sleep must last night - I missed the last metro home, and ended up crashing at a friend's place. Meetings are ruining my life, I swear.


Jan. 25th, 2011 12:05 am
voltairine: (raeg)
my teapot looks gorgeous, but there's a crack on the bottom so it doesn't hold water. There's also a tiny hair crack on the side, so even if I did re-glaze the bottom I dunno how well it would hold up to another firing.

I guess it can be a display piece. And I can always make another - the colours are AMAZING, which is really what I was going for, and I can work the details out. It will just take time, and I've never been a particularly patient person, which has always been one of my biggest challenges as an artist. When you're making some kind of art, shit just needs to take the time it takes, and if it takes a long time then you need to work harder to make up for that, and that is just how it goes.

Wednesday I have a glaze firing. I made two vases last semester, one large and one small, by coil building a simple vessel and then cutting a delicate lattice pattern into the neck of each vase. It was a good exercise in timing and working with structure and gravity. I raku fired the smaller one, which was a gamble (raku firing is a harsh, fast process that tends to break more delicate pieces) that paid off with a GORGEOUS piece, and the larger piece I glazed with a white crawl over bright blue spectrum (which fires to a deep, dark blue colour, not a bright blue at all, but it's still my favorite spectrum). I may submit them together to the juried ceramics show, if they come out well. I mean, I am definitely planning on submitting the raku piece, but it would be nice to have the larger piece along with it.

I worked on one of my term projects for ceramics today - it's a wall-mounted deer bust, like those taxidermied deer heads that gross people put on their walls, with a human face. I'm doing a companion piece in my litho class - a print of a human with a deer head. I'm not sure what it means, but the ceramic bust is frustrating as hell.

Didn't get a chance to roll up and do the second etch of my litho plate (speaking of litho). Hope I don't get shit for it tomorrow. I didn't have shop rags, couldn't get ahold of someone from that class to help me, lots of excuses but it comes down to I was just too goddamn tired to deal with that studio.

Psychiatrist appointment next week. Memorial march coming up on the 14th of February, which I am co-organizing and will be MCing, I guess. Day of remembrance for missing and murdered women, and also for solidarity with Sisters in Spirit, who are holding vigils in Ottawa on the same day in protest of their organization's funding being cut despite the fact that no one else is doing the research they are doing, and we still don't know exactly how many Native women, girls, and Two-Spirit folks are missing in this land, and without that knowledge there's no way anyone can hope to effectively measure the success of any movement to end this violence.

Rargh. Rage. Futility.

Time for bed.
voltairine: (nom)
Charlie Winston - In Your Hands

This is such an amazing video, I haven't been able to stop watching it since a friend of mine showed it to me a week or so ago. And that end, jfc, always makes me want to jump up and dance.
voltairine: (Default)
Talked to my beau about my project proposal for the public art class last night. The more I think about it the more my initial idea is just a bad one: for starters, it's kind of mean, and students won't want to participate in something that sort of insults them by implying that they're disingenuous (even if many of them are). For second, visual/facial representations of poverty are tricky to do without it becoming generally icky/being open to icky interpretations, and I don't want to go there.

The beau suggested that I continue with the theme of my Art Matters show pieces, which is (to simplify it vastly) the ways that popular culture represents, appropriates and colonizes the experiences and bodies of the "other" through monstrous narratives and tropes that are disconnected from the historical/legal implications of the term "monster" and the realities that reflects. (IT'S COMPLICATED OKAY. I wrote a paper about it last semester.)

I dunno, is the mask thing faily? I'm scared it is faily. I want to do something that engages the public with issues of appropriation and privilege. But if I end up hurting one person who has experienced the appropriation of some aspect(s) of their identity my project will have failed.

As a person with mental illness/health issues, chronic physical illness, a queer person, a person from a poor/working-class background, I feel that I have experienced appropriation and the harmful essentializing of my identity. But as a white person and a cis person, I also have been vested by society with a huge among of privilege, and privilege loves to appropriate, to claim what it doesn't own. I want to speak as an artist from all of these places, to members of my community, about issues of appropriation.

My friend Katie Earle handled this really well in her exhibit Home On The Range, through reinterpretations of maps and borders drawn by colonizers and a series of amazing silkscreens designed to inform and incite. I hope I can complete this project with half her grace and insight.
voltairine: (Default)
So, I'm taking a class on ceramics and public art this semester, and I'm supposed to go around my university and scope out public spaces for an installation. Most of the spaces I've found don't inspire me at all; the only spaces I'd be interested in working with aren't really accessible for public art. I'm vaguely interested in partnering with the gender advocacy centre, but someone did that last year for the same class and I'm afraid of being redundant. I guess there's also QPIRG, but their space has tons of art already.

What I'd like to do is make a series of masks for my final project, and hand them out to students on the condition that they wear them for at least part of the day. There are a number of advantages to this:

1. It's temporary and won't leave any marks or physical impact on the space
2. It involves redistribution of art, a principle which is at the heart of my whole artistic approach
3. It directly involves the population that uses the space where the art will be, instead of just dropping a piece in the middle of somebody's space and being like "here, look at this" - the distribution would mean talking to people, involving people, etc

As for the theme, I'm torn. My first idea was to make masks that are reflective of the airs that I've seen a lot of students at the university put on around issues of class and class consciousness; there's a widespread appropriation of working-class identities and a glamourization of poverty that I want to expose and highlight. Masks are, naturally, disguises that you can take off at the end of the day - much like an appropriated identity from a culture or background that you have no real lived experience in. But I don't want to alienate participants by being like "here, wear this thing that I feel will prove my point about something that infuriates me"; people just wouldn't participate.

What to do, what to do.

Changing the theme seems like a cop-out, but maybe it's just not a good theme in the first place, at least not for that project.


Jan. 23rd, 2011 12:39 am
voltairine: (raeg)
I realized the other day that all of the documents I have submitted so far for the Art Matters show have my legal name on them, and so for the purposes of promotion, etc, I am being promoted by my legal name.

It's not THAT big a deal - not like it leads to misgendering or other serious stuff, it's just a personal preference. My given last name is boring as hell, and I haven't talked to that side of my family in five years or so (also: no plans on starting any time, well, ever).

I dunno if my curator has time to change it, but I have e-mailed her to let her know.

Fffff, I should have been on top of that, but I completely fucking blanked. Fuckin' derp.

I finally finished my mask mold - it looks good, but I haven't had a chance to cast it yet. I tried to take picture of it this evening, but my camera was like, "oh look, I'm going to turn off every time you try to take a picture." And then I borrowed a couple of molds from a friend and tried to cast those and totally failed at that - none of them came out at all.

Now I am going to eat garlic bread and sulk. Maybe tomorrow I will be slightly more effective?

Oh also campus crusade for christ is having a "debate" - that is, a recruiting session - at my campus next week. I want to crash it and cause a big fucking scene. Is this a good idea y/y
voltairine: (neurological faultlines)
I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning out the plaster sink, which is actually called a "cink" because it's a special device designed to keep plaster from getting into the actual plumbing of the school. The cink uses water that is constantly recycled (so you can't drink from it!) in a closed circuit. Water is drawn from one bucket, and filtered as it goes back down the sink into another bucket. A tube connects the two buckets so the water can be recycled. It was a system designed for buildings with really fragile plumbing, or no plumbing, so it wasn't designed for plaster specifically, so every week it needs to be taken apart and cleaned out. It's a smelly process.

Plaster is fun but working with it so much has caused the skin on my hands to dry out completely and start to peel, which would be fine if a) it wasn't winter, which makes it so much worse and more painful, and b) I didn't already have a problem with compulsive skin picking. So now I'm starting to see the wisdom in regular use of hand lotion.

In other news, I'm starting a new medication this week. I'm not looking forward to the vivid dreams but I am looking forward to feeling like minor obstacles are merely minor obstacles and not major crises. I've actually been unmedicated for quite some time - never until now had an experience with meds that wasn't coercive and icky-feeling - and frankly I'd prefer to stay that way, but the simple fact of the matter is that my coping skills are crap, and I need some help until I can learn better ones, and if that means exploring med options for a while then I can do that.

Also, my student loan came in! So that's exciting. It's five months late. I FINALLY got my tuition paid up, paid my school back for the emergency loans I had to take out, I'm settled up and have some cash to spare. Miraculous.
voltairine: (Default)
I scrapped my mask mold in favor of making another one. Looking over the first one this morning, I realized that I didn't like it - there were just too many little things wrong with it, and the mask I used left me feeling cold anyway. So instead of using another papier-mache mask, I sculpted a face myself out of stoneware and will be casting that tomorrow. The stoneware relief is so much more to my liking than the papier-mache mask! And, it won't suck up plaster like paper, so I won't have to spend an hour cleaning my mold.

I also got my teapot back out of the kiln. There was a small crack on the bottom, which I think will be fine once the whole thing is glaze fired, but I need to figure out how to avoid that when coil-building. My last three major coil-built vessels had the same problem. I think the pressboard platforms I build them on suck the moisture out of the base faster than the rest of the vessel dries? Guess I should make more use of plastic, ew.

art update

Jan. 19th, 2011 07:45 am
voltairine: (godless)
+I'm participating in two upcoming exhibits. Beauty In Obsession is being curated by Hania Souleiman, and taking place at Galerie Rye as part of the annual Art Matters Festival. The vernissage is on the 17th of March. I have an illustration series that I'm tentatively calling "Beautiful Monstrosities",which will be part of this show. My woodcut class from last semester is putting together a briefly-running exhibit at Cafe X as well, so I'll have something in that. (I'm also applying to a juried ceramics show, but chances of getting in seem sketch.)

+I'm preparing a public art installation as a final project for my urban clay class.

+Yesterday I etched a lithographic plate, bisqued a teapot, and made a cast for a slipware mask series. I am still exploring ways of incorporating print media into ceramics. Hooray?
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