“1 + 1” (Bedroom, Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland)
Here’s my Dylan Fareed letterpress print from 20×200.com in a frame I bought at the Grace Episcopal thrift store yesterday for $1.00. I like how the baroque frame both contrasts with and complements the unadorned but rounded font of the text. You can’t tell from this picture, but the frame is gilded wood, which makes me think of the actual wooden blocks used for handprinting. I was fortunate enough to speak with Dylan on Friday (for work), and I learned that his art practice is primarily about collaboration. So not only is it quite rare to have a piece for which he is both artist and printer, but the sentiment speaks very much to who he is as an artist (though, I think it was actually inspired by a love affair). It’s also a good reminder to me that sometimes I need to ask for help and stop going it alone all the time. Practice makes perfect (or something close), right?
“Bathroom with Eiffel Tower Collection” (Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland)
I first fell in love with Paris through the words of others: Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, May Sarton’s I Dreamed a Phoenix, and, most of all, Colette, who I discovered in the pages of Victoria magazine. Then, of course, there were the movies—Daniel Auteil in Mama, There’s a Man in Your Bed (and in almost anything else he’s done), Audrey Tatou in Amelie. When I finally decided to use a chunk of my graduate student loan money to take a trip in the first part of the oughts (with Ronica my BFF from college), I was terrified that Paris wouldn’t live up to my imaginings. But wandering the tiny handbag shop we found in an alley on the way to Notre Dame or giggling through tea at Mariage Freres or eating creme brulee for dessert every night for a week or strolling in the hushed reverence of the Picasso museum in the Marais, Paris became even more magical. Each morning as I snuck out of our room in search of croissant and cafe creme (with my journal and my jauntily tied new peach scarf), I watched the green-uniformed sanitation workers swab the streets and thought, “Ah yes, I see, I have come home.”
“Self-portrait with snow and colorful hat” (Living Room, Silver Spring, Maryland)
In this photo, snow is only snow. This is, in fact, a story- about my vanity. Catching a glimpse of myself in the webcam as I turned away to look out the window, I decided to look left rather than right, so that the left side of my face–with its darker patches of hyperpigmentation would not show. Then, I used the touch-up tool, to remove some hyperpigmentation fromthe exposed right side. If I knew how, I would have erased my double-chin. I’ve never thought myself particularly vain in photographs. I am she of the bright and cheesy smile no matter what. What has caused my vanity to leak out here when I am the one holding the camera? I suppose we all are storytellers and liars both . . .
“At the Bus Stop” (Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland)
” [My day] looks from afar like a snarl of dead ends and broken places—sere, not serene. But I know different. . . . Things are stirring . . . just as the sap is rising in the tangled and hidden world outside.” (Catherine Calvery, from Victoria January/February 2010)
Seeing is a tricky business. How to know exactly which narrative will survive the shutter’s guillotine click? Or that long lonely distance from imagination through wrist through pen or keystroke to paper? James Baldwin said, “All art is a kind of confession.” I’d add too that it is a gamble, out of our hands perhaps before the work even leaves our hands. We neither know what the eye truly sees nor what narrative we confess in response.
“The Door is Open” (Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland)
I like how the plants on the windowsill are reflected in the mirror, as if in the darkened apartment, a jungle has stealthily started to overrun the living room. Or the moon has come down to play Peeping Tom, surprised the plants into revealing their true natures. What dramas unfold in that long moment between opening the door and turning on the first lights?
“Office Space” (Old Post Office Pavilion, 6th Floor, Washington, DC)
I have been making collages for as long as I can remember: countless pages from “16” magazine tacked up above my bed (John Stamos in a mint-green polo against a pink background, C. Thomas Howell with a horse, Matt Dillon as Dally in The Outsiders), several magazines’ worth of phrases and pix on the door to my single my junior year of college. I like the idea that a collage is at once a fractured yet coherent narrative. Each of the elements belongs together yet the connections aren’t always explicit; they hover , instead, slightly out of reach of the tongue. (I’ve never been uncomfortable—as some poets I’ve known can be—with the idea of borrowing/appropriating/stealing-with-acknowledgement from others to articulate my own story as poem.) This particular wall touches on the deep affection I have for my day family, George Clooney, my heritage as a New Yorker and an Asian Indian, the Alvernian Drama Society, the aesthetic influence of Billie Holiday on my work, the price women pay for being artists, and the properties of light . . to name just a few threads.
“The Other Room” (Debbie’s soon-to-be-old house, Charlotte, North Carolina)
I must not forget that, for me, being with people or even with one beloved person for any length of time without solitude is even worse. I lose my center. . . I must have time alone in which to mull over any encounter, and to extract its juice, its essence, to understand what has really happened to me as a consequence of it. (May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude)