I’m back from a road trip and supposed to be working on developing my new online class “Advanced CSS” at BCC. But I’m still fired up from Sonora, and putting the finishing touches on this image is so much more fun.
It’s just what I do, mucking about in Photoshop, putting Oola in sometimes awkward situations in Western Art History. Some of you, gentle readers, may be familiar with the 17th century paintings of Artemesia Gentileschi. One of my photos got in the way of the action here, and I am so grateful. Oola however had a grand time working on some of her anger issues.
If you are not familiar with the paintings of Artemisia Gentileschi (she was a rock star of 17th century Europe), look her up.
Stacy’s home is amazing. There is art — completed and in process — everywhere. There is no separation between her family’s lives and their art.
Stacy has been making monoprints since I have known her. But she says that the prints she has made in the past years since she stopped being Artist Facilitator and started being a correctional counselor (read: overworked, undervalued, prison case worker) have not been satisfying to her and never felt finished. So — now that she is out of the prison business entirely — she has started cutting them up and making collages.
They have a wonderful intelligence. They are stories of short, high flights experienced by one who is spiritually bonded (in the best sense of the word) to Mother Earth.
I like how the process gives the viewer a “punched through” access to different layers of different worlds.
She thinks of them as divertimenti, little works that grow bit by bit as she “shuffles” creatively from project to project. I for one would like to see these grow into giant “opuses”. With her hard-earned new freedom, where might they go?
It’s time to thank Stacy and family for their warm hospitality during cold rainy days and frosty nights. Time to move on.
More adventures on the road will be coming, maybe in the Spring.
It’s raining and Oola and I are in Sonora in California’s mother lode to visit a friend from my Prison Arts days, Stacy Hay. All during the leisurely drive up here on Hwy 120 I had time to remember my past many trips on this road and to note the changes – mostly bigger little towns and more subdivisions.
I made a point of stopping at Knight’s Ferry on the Stanislaus River, a place I had passed by so many times in the past (thinking I should go there sometime when I had more time, or when it was not so brutally hot). There Oola and I discovered a tidy State recreation area. And she noted that there is something strikingly melancholy about picnic grounds in the rain.
But Oola enjoyed her walk across the longest covered bridge in the State, and I found out that bridges are covered to make their wooden construction last longer. Wood can remain perfectly preserved under water, but will disintegrate in cycles of wet and dry. There must be a homily in there somewhere.
As we got closer to Jamestown my spine began to creep with the memories of working as an artist in the State Prison there, something that I 1) would recommend to all artists, 2) would never do again, but 3) am glad that I did. Surreal is a kind word for it.
For several years Stacy and I were Artist Facilitators (Fine Arts Administrators/teachers) and as such brought writers, visual artists, actors, dancers, and musicians into the prison to teach their skills to our inmates.
Artist Facilitators were a strange, efficient, compassionate, tough-minded, energetic, firm, knowledgeable, stressed, and inventive breed of artist. They had people with NEEDS (inmates, staff, supervisors, and family) pulling on them from all directions. They worked hard to make positive things happen in a (racist, sterile, hellish, and human) place few can imagine who have not been there.
I know that many of the institution staff where I worked thought I was bringing “milk and cookies” to the inmates. But I know that through the arts small miracles happened: that (at least in the moment) racism was overcome, that inmates kept out of trouble, and they kept trouble from happening in my program — because I had all the colored pencils and they wanted access to those colored pencils. And I also know that — through the arts — some lives were changed.
Stacy and I dealt with inmates who appreciated/needed our efforts, and we worked with jerks. I always said that I did not want to know my students’ crimes. Nor could I be responsible for their futures. As an artist I worked with individuals in the moment when they had the opportunity through the art form to be the best human being they could be at that moment.
The AIC program is gone now due to penny-wise, pound-foolish budget cuts. But some inmates’ lives were changed for the better. They are your neighbors now, and so, your lives are the better for it too.
AND…Oola –Ta-DAAA — was born in an Arts in Corrections class, one of the few where I had time to join in. The perfect doll, Oola stayed in a plastic bag for her first several years. But now she is an outspoken advocate — of what I am not always sure.
If you want to know more about Arts in Corrections and the Prison Arts program, here are a few links to get you started.