T. Bonillo 7/30/10...Stills from studio video shoot. In search of identity...Blind Drawing on Burial Ash Covered Mirror ( video shoot by photographer Susan LaGrow)
The return home from Residency 2, with rolled up vultures, groping hands and black spaces turned into several days of decompression ( I hear ya Sergio) all the while thinking about materials and meaning, voluntary and involuntary thought, and of what ride I will be taking next.
It took a while...(it seems that entering the studio, for me is like standing in front of a blank white canvas- or for that matter,in front of the ticket booth, money in hand, for the highest, fastest, oldest wooden roller coaster ride trying to decide whether to buy the ticket- all the while knowing I am going to get beaten to a pulp yet will love every minute of it.)..but finally, I entered.
Here I would like to note that prior to leaving the residency, my talks with Stuart sparked an inner turmoil between beliefs that we as humans can create from "pure" spaces, that we can have unadulterated pure thought, vs. beliefs that yes, we are individuals, but our identities are not simply 'our' doing,that we have been formed through a communal effort and exposure to surroundings.
This was hard for me to take...yet as I retreat to past studies of sociology and human behavior, I realize I have been living two separate 'thought' lives. In my teachings and understandings of my students, I certainly do believe that they are products of their upbringing, their home life, their friends, their teachers, etc. Why, then was I so hell-bent on believing that my life as an artist was different from my life as a student, a teacher, a human?
My question to Stuart was, "Well, if the vultures did not come from somewhere in me that was unintended, where then did they come from?" Why did they just "appear" in my work without a pre-planned endeavor?" "Did they?" This leaves me in my studio pondering how to enter into new works, without creating over-literal, biased, mundane, hokey, corny boring works.
So, what happened was this:
I enlisted the help of a friend to video my first session back in the studio, my process wherever it would lead.
My work was to be centered upon the word "missing", which has been a concurrent theme of late. I decided that it was my identity that was missing.
Thoughts of Derrida (I know ) came to mind. If, in fact my identity was missing then that would mean I could not see myself, and so, just to get it going I decided to draw blindly as I searched in a mirror for 'myself'.
I started with the 'usual'..paper, charcoal, my comfort zone, but what followed was something so very unexpected....
Train of thought... * identity missing
* not really missing, it is there, I just can't recognize it
* if I can't recognize it, it cannot be reflected back to me
(hence the mirror).
* the mirror then, must be cloudy (what could I use?)
* (think materials and meaning--what is the cause of the
inability to see my displaced (not actually missing) self?)
* the death of my husband
* Ah Ha! What better material than burial ashes?
and so, I decided to coat the mirror with his ashes (really don't freak, it is ok)
As I began to use the ashes like a cement (yes, I had to mix them with water, and of course the vessel I used to mix them in needed to have meaning. I just happen to have an antique 'hair catcher' that women used to use to put hair in when they brushed their hair" ..this has spiritual meaning to me.
So I began to mix the ash and spread it on the mirror, placed the mirror on the easel, blindfolded myself, and began to draw into the ash.
Now the drawing, itself really is of no consequence in terms of product, simply process. It was not until I viewed the captured video that I realized the potential for the product. The video showed a moving, clouded image of me in the mirror, as if my identity were prisoner in that mirror. My identity was just in there wandering, and waiting for my 'self' to find it. It is captured in there, hidden behind the ash waiting to be revealed.
I began to think of how we, as humans, are one way on the outside, and how we struggle internally to find ourselves. How many of us can look in a mirror and see our 'true' selves, our happy, content, whole selves, knowing and loving exactly who we are? For me, the ash is the reason for my clouded existence. The materials here, make sense.
I have ideas of what I would like to do with this, so now I need to do my research.
It scares me to think that I want to step out of my comfort zone, of drawing and painting, yet,on the other hand it is very exciting.
I am eager to show my mentor my ideas, and am reaching out to friends in the film and animation industry for cues and technical suggestions.
My roller coaster is in a cloudy tunnel, but I can see the light at the end of it.