Friday, March 18, 2011

Tucson Artist: Made Bed Finished, Melinda Finds A Way

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It must be assembled

As I was looking for something today with a dust cloth in hand, I found A Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi. I opened it to the "Water Book." There were two things that jumped out at me and related to my sculpture project:

1)"The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze, "Perception and Sight." Perception is strong. Sight is weak."

2) Knowing the Way of the long sword means we can wield with two fingers the sword we usually carry...try to wield the long sword quickly you will mistake the Way.

I considered meditatively how this sand could speak in context, in 3D form. I thought of a basket, as in, "to hell in a hand basket." I thought of the countless birds photographed for the news, some being saved during the BP oil spill in 2010.

There were old milk bottle wire baskets that I thought would hold the jar of sand and containers of oil, perhaps with feathers hanging off the edges. There were wire baskets for sale online with blue preserve jars just like mine! But, the cost was prohibitive. What about a bigger platform? Ah, "You've made your bed, and must lie in it" came to mind. Whoa! The prices of old beds were even more outrageous.

The question became, How to take the large view, and moreover, wield the sword of my idea with two fingers?

Clean the pool. Think some more.

We have a 'no man's land' on our property sectioned off from view. As I went to get something for the pool in this section, I dared not hope that we still had the old 1920s/30s iron bed.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It was there. Could I find a way to use it? When I shared my new idea with my family, it had been three months of waiting for the ideas about the sand to mature. But, even though "it was an ambitious" project, I began.

The iron bed was dragged out and placed in front of the red studio. I took paper towels and stuck them in the wire springs. I ordered white feathers and black feathers. The black feathers were iridescent, as though the birds had spent a lot of time drinking from pools of "gasoline rainbow" water.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

The individual constructs developed quickly: white plastic grocery bags (The ones we're trying to avoid) were cut up and became the inner ball-like armatures. Inexpensive white feathers from a craft store were glued around the ball, followed by the larger white feathers. A pigmented encaustic held them together at the base. These feather constructs were then tacked to small balls of bubble wrap placed in each of the spring openings. Glue and tar bits held the black feathers in place around the edge of the bed--as a kind of bedskirt. A trip to Goodwill resulted in the purchase of glass dishes for the white platter on which the preserve jar would sit. Motor oil was poured around the base of the jar.

Serendipity was everywhere

For a year, I had boycotted Target for several reasons. However, I returned there in January for some household items. In the bedding isle, there were two pillows. Only two.

They were turquoise blue (I later subdued the hue by hand sewing a gauzy, gray knit fabric over the centers.) They were lined with white feathers. The same white feathers I was using.

Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

In addition, while writing the earlier post about this, I googled the BP Oil Spill and clicked on a wikipedia listing. There I learned that the flow of oil lasted for ninety days. I did not know this, or did not remember it. There are ninety iron bed spring openings. That was a major woo-woo moment for me.

I once wrote a poem for a university class titled, I Am Not A Poet. I still maintain that and would add:

I Am Not A Sculptor
I am merely me,
Merely Melinda middle aged
Who sometimes forgets
What time it is...

Made Bed, Pensacola Preserve, Or What I Saved, What I Didn't (tar, feathers, bed, Pensacola beach sand, plastic bags, bubble wrap, pillows and glue) brought it all back to me.

18 comments:

Barbara Muir said...

Wow Melinda. I am flabbergasted and so impressed with your industry, and the exciting result. The bird feathers are both beautiful and sad. The black ones make me think of the crows my father sends to guide me on my saddest days. This poignant piece tells the tale of our not listening.
And once again the story is being told in real time.

I hope your art makes people lie down and think, and then get up and listen to the planet.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxBarbara

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Fascinating story you tell of this construction and the inspiration behind it.

It looks fantastic...you are definitely a poet in my eyes, and a sculptor too!

Edgar said...

I'm so glad to see your beautiful and touching piece. I bet you could find a dozen conservation groups that would love to show it in their lobbies!

Knowing you as well as I do, I have to remark how apt your poem is... "Who sometimes forgets
What time it is..."

... this so well encapsulates your dedication to the work, the timelessness of right-brain concentration, and your refusal to bend to the chauvenism of our age.

Keep battering down barriers between paint, sculpture and poetry, Melinda. You prove it's all art.

Linny D. Vine said...

Edit from Linnyland; needs to read..."Magical Melinda"! An amazing piece for all of us to really "look" at - INCREDIBLE!!!
Thank-you for sharing it all!

Donald Diddams said...

90 days, 90 bed springs? Zowie! I think you found the right bed just waiting in the back yard all this time. Kind of makes your skin crawl...
What a wonderful piece; pointed but certainly not maudlin or heavy handed. I hope many get to view it and understand. Its message goes well beyond the spill. Congratulations!
My only sadness is that those with the most desparate need to perceive and understand what you have done will only see tarred feathers and an old bed.

Melinda said...

Yes, Barbara, I very much hope that I can add a visual to the discussion.

Thank you for commenting!

Melinda said...

Hello David,
You are too kind. Thank you for having a look and thinking about this issue.

Melinda said...

I have my battering ram ever at the ready, Edgar.

Thanks for helping tear down the walls.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Linny!
The magic comes to us and we respond, or not. You know how to do this because you paint with magic always!

Melinda said...

You're right, Donald. On the other hand, the more we speak out, the more pressure is on those who have the power to change how we do things, even if they never feel our anguish.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

Jeane Myers said...

amazing xo

Melinda said...

Thanks, Jeane!! It's always a treat when you stop by.

Karen said...

wow!

:)

not sure what else to say..

Melinda said...

"Wow" is good.

Thanks Karen!

Anonymous said...

I'm very moved by your touching account of the way you came to make this sculpture. Thank you for sharing that.

Melinda said...

Thank you for stopping by painterchum. Welcome! I hope you'll visit again in the future.

I'm glad that you can connect with the work and its description. It was therapeutic to build.

cohen labelle said...

Hi Melinda
i am enjoying your loaded, thought provoking, poetic and hard biting metaphor of the bed which society has made for itself. I confess when I initially looked at the images without reading the text - Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn came to mind - a raft with the iron bedstead on it floating down the Mississippi - kind of romantic - not exactly your district or intention I realize.

Thank you for the reference to Miyamoto Musashi who I hear of from you for the first time. I see from looking at him in wikipedia that he was also a superb painter.
The book of the void looks like it might be interesting to read, also!

Btw - perhaps I should know this but why were you boycotting Tiger - I don't think we have that chain in our area.

So you are an artist with a broad range of media to get your ideas across - multi talented, multi functional - multi, multi!!!
xo Marcia

Melinda said...

Hi Marcia,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. It is my intention that the viewer see Made Bed, Pensacola Beach, or What I Saved, What I Didn't, as beautiful.

There is something about tragedy that has a kind of beauty and psychic disturbance all in the same moment. More powerful, yes, when a work can do this?

I'm glad, too, that you liked the reference to Musashi. It sits just below this computer, with an image of a samurai on the front cover. I see it all the time, but have rarely opened it.

Target is a retail store that I've shopped at for many years. A couple of years ago, I learned that they were letting go workers who had built up seniority and were at the highest pay scale. They replaced them just before retirement, often with bad reviews, to hire young new workers at lower pay. I wrote them a letter and stopped shopping there for awhile.

Then during the last election cycle, I learned that they were handing out large sums of money to political candidates back East--extremist politicians--ones that would like to repeal union laws and regulations. I heard they apologized and I went back there after that.

I don't know if boycotts work well, but sometimes it does help to write letters. It also feels good to take a stand.

Thanks for mentioning the book of the void. I'll check it out.

Hope you're getting a little spring time now.