Quote for Today: Billy Collins

Chair Seat Gloomy Treatment Interrogation

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.
Billy Collins, The Apple that Astonished Paris

Public Domain Image via MaxPixel

Quote for Today: Annie Dillard

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The color-patches of vision part, shift, and reform as I move through space in time. The present is the object of vision, and what I see before me at any given second is a full field of color patches scattered just so. The configuration will never be repeated. Living is moving; time is a live creek bearing changing lights. As I move, or as the world moves around me, the fullness of what I see shatters. “Last forever!” Who hasn’t prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying; it is a canvas, nevertheless.
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

 

Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Jay Woodman

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Awareness can be quite sensual (which can add to your sense of feeling empowered). Think about how your body moves as you live your life, how amazing it is; think about nature, observe the intricate beautiful details of natural things, and of things we create, and breathe deeply to soak it all in. Focus on the taste of food, the feel of textures in cloth, the feel of you partner’s hand in yours; smell the sea breeze, listen to the wind in the trees, witness the colours of the leaves, the children playing; and be thankful for this life we are experiencing – this life we can all help to keep wonderful. Feel the wonder of being alive flood into you anytime you want, by taking a deep breath and letting the experience of these things fill you, even just by remembering.
We all have that same stream of life within us, so you are a part of everything. Each one of us has the power to make a difference to everything.
Breathe in that vital connection to the life source and sensual beauty everywhere, Feel loved and strong.
Jay Woodman

Public Domain Image via PxHere

Quote for Today: Kemi Sogunle

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Take a look at the plants. They come together and thrive peacefully in the garden or park. They lean on each other without trying to outdo one another. They serve as a sign that we can see beyond our differences and embrace each other in love while allowing our uniqueness to add color to our world. If plants can live in harmony and show their beauty to the world, we as humans can do much more.
Kemi Sogunle

Public Domain Image via Pixabay

A Testament to Motion: The Art of Toots Zynsky

Have you ever created something that made you feel more alive? Amazing things can happen when we follow our passion.

 

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Delizioso, Image © Dane Gallery

 

Mary Ann Toots Zynsky, known as Toots, decided as a pre-teen that she was meant to be an artist, beginning her creative life as a painter and sculptor. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which she had been told was the best of the best. And yet, nothing really sparked her interest; everything felt stilted and quiet. In fact, she planned to leave the school at the end of her Freshman year in order to pursue studies leading toward medical school. One day she grabbed a map and decided she would visit each department, perhaps hoping for a reason to stay. Everything changed as she walked down a hallway to a room that had been deliberately placed far from the main studios. Here, loud music played and hot glass swirled in the air, manipulated by artists that moved together to make colorful shapes that solidified into glass. I’m sure the music was loud and the atmosphere somewhat wild… it was 1970 after all…but the voice inside of her must have spoken with a voice to match. The next week, after classes ended, the glass studio, which had recently gained independence from the ceramics department, opened its doors to anyone who was interested. Toots Zynsky did not miss her opportunity.

Video via Corning Museum of Glass on YouTube

It is fascinating to note that Toots was not drawn so much to the final product as she was mesmerized by the process. It was the music reverberating in the space, the concept of collaboration as a kind of dance, the roar of the furnace, the hot liquid glass in motion and the counterpoint of color that quickened her pulse. When art comes from this kind of place, the final form it takes is secondary. It also didn’t hurt that this was a new medium for art and there were few rules to be broken. It was an exciting time to work with glass. On top of that, she earned her BFA working under the guidance of Dale Chihuly, who remains one of the biggest names in glass art worldwide.

In the early 1970s, along with Chihuly and some fellow RISD graduates, Toots was part of the founding team of the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington state. Her work was groundbreaking: experimental installations featuring slumped plate glass and forays into video and performance art in collaboration with artist Buster Simpson. Finding new and interesting possibilities, she wasn’t sure she wanted to stay with glass. She returned to the east coast to pursue new projects in new media.

“I started wondering what I was doing with glass and why. There were other materials and ideas that fascinated me, and I started working with cloth, light, wire, and barbed wire. I was interested in barbed wire because it’s such a powerful symbol of the failure of humanity— that we had to come up with this material to keep each other apart.”

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AWOL, 1982 © Toots Zynsky

In 1980, Toots became assistant director and head of the hot shop at the New York Experimental Glass Workshop in New York City, now UrbanGlass. Here she pioneered works that combined glass with barbed wire, pulling her interests together. She began to work with nets made from heavy glass threads which she dubbed filet de verre. These threads were fused and shaped inside of a kiln. Her first piece made entirely from filet de verre was Clipped Grass (1982). It is a beautiful, humble work of realism, glass fashioned into the image of a nest made from grass clippings. This simple piece was the precursor to the fanciful colored forms which would become Toots’ signature work.

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Clipped Grass (1982),  Image © The Corning Museum of Glass

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Spring Grass (1983),  Image © Yale University Art Gallery

In the early days, she had to employ teams of assistants to pull the glass into threads using an old Venetian method. This took time and resulted in unevenness. There was also a limit to the length of thread that could be produced. When Mathijs Van Manen, an inventor who had also worked with special effects for film and television, came to New York from Amsterdam to check out her work, he was amazed at what she was doing and dumbfounded at how she was doing it. Within 24 hours, he rigged a machine to turn rods of glass into threads. Toots took a trip to Europe to collaborate further on the design of this machine and stayed on the continent for 16 years. Together, she and Van Manen produced a series of kilns which she still uses in her work, although these instruments now incorporate cutting edge software and electronics. She also has special heat resistant gloves that allow her to reach into the kiln and twist the work into shape. These are the product of a desperate moment in Italy when, showing her technique to Italian craftsmen, she plunged her hands into a kiln to rescue a piece that was going awry.

“The architects were so curious and I was so nervous and the piece just wasn’t going right. All of a sudden, I reached into the kiln, grabbed the vessel, and gave it a big squeeze. Finally, I had the form that I wanted! And I thought, Why didn’t I think of this before? I was fed up with the piece, so I tried something different because I had nothing to lose.

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Contrappunto, 2015 Image © Habatat Galleries

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Davvero, 2014 © Habatat Galleries

There is more to her work than technique, innovation and boldness. There is a great deal of sensitivity. As a synesthete, Toots relates sound to color. The rhythms of music are translated into patterns of colored glass that are like frozen portraits of sound.

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Pajaritos en la Cabeza and Cabellos de Angel (“Tierra del Fuego” Series), 1988 © Toots Zynsky

 

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Sottacqua, 2005 Image © Hooks-Epstein Galleries

After going through a period of loss in which she no longer felt like dancing, or even moving or listening to music, she began to create darker pieces with fewer colors and more shading, explorations not of music rhythms, but of the feelings she had for people she had lost. What an honor to be remembered in such a personal way by such a great artist!

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Avvincente (left), Avviluppare (center), Avvio (right)
2010 © Toots Zynsky

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Rondine, Image © Echt Gallery

Toots Zynsky continues to make beautiful things that fill a need in her life and delight others. She has collaborated on costume and scenic design for theatrical works and continues to explore what glass can express. Please check out more of her work on her website.

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Riposo, Image © Echt Gallery

 

 

 

 

Quote for Today: John Steinbeck

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“I live alone,” he said simply. “I live in the open. I hear the waves at night and see the black patterns of the pine boughs against the sky. With sound and silence and color and solitude, of course I see visions. Anyone would.”

“But you don’t believe in them?” Doc asked hopefully.

“I don’t find it a matter for belief or disbelief,” the seer said. “You’ve seen the sun flatten and take strange shapes just before it sinks into the ocean. Do you have to tell yourself every time that it’s an illusion caused by atmospheric dust and light distorted by the sea, or do you simply enjoy the beauty of it? Don’t you see visions?”

“No,” said Doc.”
John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday

Public Domain Image via PublicDomainPictures.net

Quote for Today: Anonymous

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Coloured

When I was born, I was black.
When I grew up, I was black.
When I get hot, I am black.
When I get cold, I am black.
When I am sick
, I am black.
When I die, I am black.
 
When you were born, You were pink.
When you grew up, You were white.
When you get hot, You go red.
When you get cold, You go blue.
When you are sick, You go green.
When you die, You go purple.
 
AND YET YOU HAVE THE CHEEK TO CALL ME COLOURED!!!

-an anonymous student at King Edward VI School, Birmingham, UK

Public Domain Image via pexels.com

Quote for Today: Anne Lamott

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And then, unbidden, seemingly out of nowhere, a thought or image arrives. Some will float into your head like goldfish, lovely, bright, orange, and weightless, and you follow them like a child at an aquarium that was thought to be without fish. Others will step of the shadows like Boo Radley and make you catch your breath or take a step backward. They’re often so rich, these unbidden thoughts, and so clear that they feel indelible. But I say write them all down anyway.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Quote for Today: A. S. Byatt

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The black thing in her brain and the dark water on the page were the same thing, a form of knowledge. This is how myths work. They are things, creatures, stories, inhabiting the mind. They cannot be explained and do not explain; they are neither creeds nor allegories. The black was now in the thin child’s head and was part of the way she took in every new thing she encountered.
A.S. Byatt, Ragnarok

Image: Hubble Looks at Light and Dark in the Universe © NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with CCLicense