Friday, September 5, 2014

Marks, Here and Now: "Why, Where and How."

Twelve months have passed since I started my project, and I realize that my work is far from finished.  So much has changed in my world and in the rest of the world.  My marks today are fresher and fuller than a year ago; what I had planned has evolved.   A testimony to how the passage of time makes its mark on us all.  

I want my work as an artist to say, “This is HOW I see the world; with my eyes wide open.”  I now see things very differently than I did a year ago.  The evolution of how I came to this new place is not as important to me as WHERE I have arrived and how I now view the world around me.  At this moment, I want to include the sadness of the world, and how it is juxtaposed upon my world.  It has become very important, as events around the globe transpire, for me to acknowledge the beauty of my own world in direct contrast to the horrors of the rest of the world.  Capturing these universal marks helps me grapple with the WHY.

I have been intrigued and inspired by the art of video since I saw an installation last year and knew I wanted to include it in my Marks Project.   In my quest to celebrate marks and more recently acknowledge the marks that changes make, I’ve come to realize video is the best way to express change.  Movement is intrinsic in the art form of video:  it changes frame by frame.  Ryan Scammell, my videographer and collaborator has inspired me in more ways than he could know.  The world of video can express so much without words.  This is just the beginning of my project.   

Here it is - my first video with Meryl Green, Ryan and I collaborating to make our marks.   There’s more to come...we hope you enjoy this one.

Last year I jumped into “Marks:  Here and Now” and thought it would be a breeze. Now I am realizing the scope of what I have to say is much broader, and my desire to say it, greater.  Thus my project has become a joint project with Ryan, as he helps me tell my story.  In our next video,  we will experiment with Ryan's  work  being superimposed upon my mark.

Our marks are our stories…………mine continues. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Mark of a Lifetime

My project was to come to an end on my 80th birthday.  The irony is that my birthday was marked not by my mark, but by the mark left on my heart by my sister's death.

Phyllis Gold was truly a golden human and I was privileged to be her sister, and to be graced by her presence my entire life.  In lieu of my mark this month, here is the eulogy I wrote for her:

Captain, my captain, she guided my ship.

A big part of me is gone, the best part,
 no longer here, but forever in my heart.

We were so very different we shared it all. 

A beautiful extension of our Mother 
She walked with grace and joy.

As children, in the summer from the shore,
we watched the beautiful boats sailing by;
Never expecting to one day sail our own.

Over the waves and into the wind, 
We shared our secrets we talked of love and life.

She believed that our souls lived on 
For as long as we were remembered.

Phyllis, you will live on for a long time in the
Hearts of your grandchildren and great grand children.

And so dear friends, I am consoled that  
My sister will be with me for as long as I live.

Our Mother nicknamed her “Light of my life”
And so, the light of my life is gone but not forgotten.

This is the mark I wish to share with you this month to honor her.  Next month, on what would have been her 84th birthday,  I will share my mark with you as my gift to her.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Mark Makes a Mark on a Mark-maker.

This is the tale of a tree, a remarkable tree:  "My Olympian." 

A treasure of nature who has been marked by nature in quite an usual way.  I call him "My Olympian" and he's made quite a mark on me over the years.  Even as his own marks evolve as nature changes and ages him, he continues to captivate me.
My Olympian:  32 years of fascination.

I don't know when I first spotted him.  He was a youth then, not fully formed; angular, curved in all the right places, always reaching for the sky.  For the past 32 years, I have greeted him every time I pass on my way home.  As he grew, his body "muscled up" and became ever more distinctive.  I do love him still, he is a rare beauty, continuing to reach up with his split arms raised to the heavens.

Nature formed him and has nourished him even in his stillness.  I cannot know if he is a happy man; he has no head, no face to share his emotions.  I cannot imagine his head, the shape, if he is smiling or sad.  But that has never mattered to me; he was always there to greet me home.

My Olympian:  remarkable from all angles.

Early in our relationship I thought of getting in touch with whomever owns him to ask if I could have him, but abandoned that thought because I didn’t want to cut him down even though his form is near perfection. 

Ours is a romance between us that remains for as long as we live, or one of us passes.  A special quiet meeting as we pass.

* * * * *

Next month my project will come to fruition.  I will share the video we made of Meryl (the dancer) and me (the mark-maker).  It is only a small part of the project, but a very important part.  The video of us making our marks.

After that I will keep you posted on what we do with the video, and how the project will continue to unfold.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How I Came to this Moment

The serendipitous joining of gloves and branch
is my answer to last month's question.

My Start  

Many years ago I was privileged to be at a workshop with Kazuaki Tanahashi at the Zen Mountain Monastery.  It was October 1990, and the beginning of my quest to explore spirituality.  I was so moved by the experience that I’ve always thought of it as a turning point for me. 

Sometime after that I met Barbara Bash. I can’t remember where or when but I clearly remember each workshop and encounter with her and her brush.  It moved me in incredible ways.  At a mountain retreat, a journey to WSW, and many other experiences, each of which I remember clearly even if I can’t remember the exact dates or places, she took me into the world of the Big Brush.

My Journey 

As my craft took me on my own journey, I found myself at Haystack Mountain School for an indigo dye workshop. Though not very interested in  indigo dye per se, I tagged along to support a close friend. We were asked to bring treasured items to dye with the indigo.  I took a collection of used workmen’s gloves that I had been gathering over the years.

The workshop was fun and play, but at the end of the 2 weeks each participant had to show what they had done and learned.  Spontaneously I found a small branch and took my gloves and fashioned a big brush with them, then taped together many sheets of white paper on which to mark.  My life has always been about dance so I thought  to use the brush and the indigo dye to make my mark as part of a dance.  My friend photographed the performance and I kept  the photos as a sort of treasure.  I know not why.  Serendipity at work perhaps.

My Reckoning 

Last August I had my 79th birthday and could not wrap my head around that number.  The last time I was overwhelmed by my age was my 25th birthday.  Somehow, the number 79 seemed to mark me deeply.  How could I shoulder the next year and become “80?”  That emotional hurdle spurred the evolution of “MARKS, Here & Now.”  From the beginning, it’s been less about an audience reaction to my project and more about me simply making my mark.

My Project 

I have studied calligraphy for several years and enjoyed it immensely but never felt it was my mark, but rather an Asian mark.  I thought my own abstract interpretation would be a more authentic mark.  

After experiencing an amazing exhibit at the Jewish Museum of a video performance of dancers, I was inspired to use video.  My concept features two screens and a performance with my brush as I move in a tai chi-like way, moving ink across the paper.  I visualize the performance being filmed and shown as a raw performance on one screen, with another screen showing the same movements enhanced artistically by the videographer using his personal artistic vision set beside it.

A fellow dancer and I have begun to work together and we had our marks filmed last week. It was a momentous occurrence.  It moved me and changed me, the experience leaving its mark on me as I leave my mark on the world.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

When is the Right Time to Make a Mark?

Is making your mark a requirement of aging?  
Or is aging permission to make your mark?

In this chicken and egg discussion, I'd like to weigh in that it is both.  Or neither.  

We sometimes spend our early years "experimenting" with our direction, trying to find our way.  Making a mark sounds so mature, so concrete that some may think they are too young to have worthy marks.   Must we be of  "a certain age" to be mark ready; mark worthy?

I offer there is no age parameters for making marks.  

Instead, that we are an evolving series of marks, to be made from our first day on the planet until our last.  The time to make your mark is now, and the medium is whatever moves you:  clay, prose, paint, dance, culinary, horticulture, architecture.  Wherever you can express yourself.   

My friend Marsi Burns and her collaborator Alice Teirstein are not letting age stand in the way of making their marks.  With "Comin' and Goin'," they pay tribute to the irony of age and the movement they are exploring.  At 85, Alice truly is both "Comin' and Goin' " as she and Marsi express themselves through modern dance.  Bridging the age gap, they delight in making their marks from their different life perspectives.

Comin' and Goin,' in more ways than one.

Their energy alone makes a mark on viewers!

Virginia Woolf also looks askance at aging. 
"I don't believe in aging," she says.  "I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun."  You can make your mark no matter what  your age or where you are in your journey.


Can you guess how I am using:
  • 12 workman's gloves
  • rope
  • a tree branch
in my project to make my mark?

Join the fun and send me your answers or post them below. 
I look forward to sharing the answer with you next month!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why Make Marks?

Many of you have asked why I am so interested in marks.

I have asked myself:  who makes marks and why; whose marks are significant and what impact will they have on others?  With my project, "Marks, Here and Now," I am allowing myself to make my own mark.

So what is a mark?
The public making marks with Pawel Althamer at the New Museum in New York City. 

Can you imagine a huge museum rotunda with everyone making their own mark?

I was there, and it was amazing to experience!

Martha Graham answered that question for me in her musings to Agnes DeMille:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time; this expression is unique.  And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and be lost.  The world will not have it.

"It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open....  You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open."

Is she reminding you to silence your inner critic?  Yes!  To celebrate the process, not the product, and not question the validity of your work.  By honoring the things that delight or anger you, awe or bore you, you are allowing the process to occur naturally, thereby staying true to your own mark.

Thanks for sharing your marks with me.  What mark will you make this month?  Keep in touch.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Will You Dance Today?

Spring is here and it is a time for a celebration of life. 

And what better way to express this celebration
 than through dance? 

Today's international "dance anywhere" event, 
a simultaneous public performance, 
will encourage people from all walks of life 
to join in an impromptu connection and make a mark.

To get an idea of how others 
have made their "dance anywhere" marks
watch this and get your toes tappin'. 
 We can all mark our place by dancing today at 3pm.  
Wherever we are, just a step or 2, uniting us all;
marking peace and harmony. 
Let's dance separately, together. 

Mark your place today, wherever you, whomever you are with, and be sure to share your experience with me.  I can't wait to find out how we all made our marks through dance.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Have You Been Marked by Love?

The context in which we view a mark changes how we feel about it.  Sometimes how we perceive a mark alters how it continues to develop; to exist.

Identical twins, given the same outward marks biologically, cultivate their own personalities and carve their own way... leaving their own mark.

I decided this month to honor Dorothy Judith Finkelstein Alexander, my mother.  Today marks the day she was born.

Never alone, she came into this world the other half of an embryo
with her twin sister Anne.  

Making her mark, her parents thought, as half of a unique pair: Anne the beauty, Dottie the intellect.

Dottie, the smart identical twin, 
was beautiful in other ways; remarkably so.

Her mark was the happiness she shared with all.
As she passed by, she left everyone with love in their heart.
She brought joy and her mark was her gentle caring way.  

She gave me life.

My life has been marked by her love.  She left a deep and indelible mark of love on all who knew her.  There is no greater mark than to give joy and happiness wherever you go.

What marks have you made on others in your life? Teaching a skill? Nurturing? Artistic? Loyalty?  You are more remarkable than you think.

Next month, we will start to explaing my journey creating "Marks, here and now."  Keep in touch.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Will You Make a Valentine’s Day Mark?

There are so many ways to look at marks.
Even marking occasions such as Valentine's Day. 

In the end, I think a person's mark exists as long 
as someone remembers them or takes notice of their mark.

Here's my February mark.

Inspired by Japanese Nihonga
 (F. Suerig, 2014)

A fellow artist, Jim Bachor, shares my intrigue with marks.
Working in mosaics, this piece captures his life philosophy.

"Make Your Mark"
 (Jim Bachor, mosaic, 2010)

To quote Jim,
"It means do a good job in whatever you pursue, 
but don't be boastful about it."
I love that fact that this piece, while encouraging you to make a mark, 
is subtle in its execution.

Next month, we'll expand my marks exploration by launching a blog to share more "Marks, Here and Now."  Keep YOUR marks coming.  They're so much fun to see! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Seasonal Marks of Nature

January brings renewal and awakening.
It may be months until spring, but a new year always inspires me.

Suerig Garden in the Snow

Thoughts on Marks
Some people make a lasting mark
mine will likely be fleeting. As I go, so will my mark, my voice, my name.
It is amazing to realize that my being here matters not to all but  to me, 
my voice, my name, my mark.
The only mark we truly have is with the people we leave who care that we were here,
 our mark, our voice, our name
When none still live who knew my name, 
then my mark and me, one and the same, 
will vanish with my voice and name
It is amazing to realize that my being here matters not to all but  to me, 
my voice, my name, my mark.

The only mark we truly have is with the people we leave who care that we were here, 
our mark, our voice and name.  
Nature's marks always changing but seen with many eyes.

Bonnie's Nantucket Cottage Walk

 My friend Bonnie sent this mark above, made by her mother many years ago.
What beauty to have had a mom who appreciated nature and had an eye for beauty.
   We are always where we came from, even when we try otherwise.

Marks continue to present themselves in many forms.