On Terrible Times

Bees and sunflowers, an allegory for these days. (Taken in my garden last year.)

I struggled to write this post – any post, really – for a long while.

I have things to say, news to tell, but how can I write about my career and work and personal life in the horrible and tragic context of the world right now? It seems so discordant and even inappropriate to talk about myself. I guess I’m not alone in this feeling.

But I think maybe I’m wrong about it – not wrong in my emotions, but maybe wrong in my thinking. I don’t know, but freezing in place is not an option, regardless of anything else. I must work, I must speak, so here I am.

Because I’m an artist. A creative. If I’m not speaking and showing, then what am I doing? Why am I here? These times when things are so bad, when our hearts are being crushed every fifteen minutes by the news of war (and before now, by pandemic, and before that by racist brutality, and before that by environmental disaster, etc., etc.), this is when people in my line of work have to step up. Whether we provoke or comfort, give clarity or reassurance, this is what our profession is for, ultimately.

So I hope, in the coming days, you will find something in what I offer this year – relevance, escape, inspiration, whatever. I hope it will help – me as well as you.

Finally, since I do express my opinions on this site, I will state for my own public record my personal support for the nation and people of Ukraine and my absolute condemnation of Putin, his indefensible war of choice, and his crimes against humanity. I also express my anger and disgust at the general tolerance for fascism and aggression in many countries, including my own, which I believe helped to encourage that murderous bastard to do this insane thing. 

My feelings on this are strong, and honestly, together with other strong feelings I have, I’m reaching the limit of my willingness to soften my manners for the sake of politeness. No, really, I have actually been doing that up to now. Things can and probably will get even pointier and slappier here at the studio, so I hope you’re okay with that, because I’m kind of thinking I’ve been wrong in my approach, like so many of us in so many ways. And I’m kind of done with that.

Anyway, the experts all say the public want to get to know the artist. So, okie-dokie then. Blame the experts.

-Jen

PS: Sketches, new works and projects, and studio news will begin flowing shortly, in a series of posts. Watch this space.

Books, Bees, & Sunflowers

This month, I finally finished one of my projects, the re-binding of my Pictorial Key to the Tarot. You saw it in progress in my last posting. Below are some photos of the finished book.

The new cover uses the boards of the original cover wrapped in a one-of-a-kind decorative paste paper I made recently. I salvaged the torn, beat-up, original spine label, fading it a bit more with a lick of paint. The lines of fine black ribbon on either side of the spine are the exposed stitching attaching the cover to the book. I went with my preferred adhesive-free, sewn binding. The inside covers, front and back, have double pockets for notes, and I included five permanent ribbon bookmarks. As you can see, the book lies open very easily. Closed, it looks quite fetching on my bookshelf as well.

What else is going on? Flowers! Bees! The garden is a satisfying riot of gorgeousness and buzzing. We’ve suffered through some heavy heat and rain, but all is well on the flora and fauna front.

I learned today that the sunflower is associated with the women’s suffrage movement. It was used on a button of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for their 1867 Kansas campaign, and was Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s pen-name in the women’s newspaper, The Lily. (Elizabeth Cady Stanton Hometown Association) As 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the vote in the US, I’m feeling a little extra pride in my lovely, tall, nodding, giant flowers.

Also, exciting announcement, a shop-like arrangement is in the works. Watch this space for updates on when works will become available to buy. I’m a little terrified by the prospect, but it’s really happening. The paperwork is mostly in hand.

And if you haven’t yet subscribed to my monthly newsletter, do give it a try. It offers exclusive glimpses into my art practice and study, as well as things to do outside the studio. You can sign up here and receive three printable bookmarks as my thank-you gift.


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, re-bound


In the Garden