Friday, October 3, 2008

Peter Doig Acrylics

Yesterday I did my first full set of acrylics. For those of you who don't know, 'acrylics' refer to the false nail extensions a gal can put on her nails. I bought a bunch of supplies, not quite knowing how they all went together, but I managed a full set, including some 'gel' toppins. So basically I gave this girl 3 inch extensions to her finger nails, and I also gave them a real robust look with a heavy coat of thick hard coating. I am sad to say I do not have a photo of this momentous step in my life and art practice, but I do have what you see above: a painting of Peter Doig's painting called '100 Years Ago' that I painted/collaged onto a large false thumb nail. I have to say it was a successful first experiment, and I was happy to donate it to the collection of Nick C. Herro on this, his 26th birthday. I think he will wear it with pride. Now the kids at the salon have started to make a real scene everyday. Nails are getting did, and I am happy to say that the quality of conversation is getting better as the nail doin skills improve. Yesterday I found out that two of the girls who are regulars in my salon have close family in Iraq. All sorts of stuff is coming out over the salon table.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oliver Sachs, let's talk about emotional memory.

Often I can't remember events, people, or facts. When I was young I was known for memorizing license plates, car makes, and could recite entire conversations. Now, it seems that my memory is almost non-existent.

When I do an art project, when it is finished, I all but forget that it ever happened. When I remember it, it is often with bitterness—even if I had a good feeling about it while I was working on it or when it was being shown. It translates as an emotional imbalance, a lack of confidence, or amateurism. I am not disgusted by those traits, all of which I have to some extent, but it does become a bitter war between my intellectual decisions and my gut's hateful memory of my recent past.

About one year ago, my mom moved to Indiana to a farm because she ran out of money and the ability to deal with her previous life. It caused me to recall my childhood, which ranges from unconventional to completely abstract and difficult. I had not really visited my childhood memories since I was in it. It seems like that was a reflex of my brain. It was all protecting my happiness and shit.

I am credited with a very 'present' way of participating in life, but I think it might be that I have no ability to access my memories most of the time. It is great for yoga class, and fantastic at parties and for participating in intense conversation, but terrible for Trivial Pursuit. Sometimes it almost feels like I don't want to escape the forever of the present moment. I dread the end of things, feel anxious and impatient with small changes. I hang on to ideas and forget the reality. But who doesn't?

I haven't spoken to high school friends or had any contact with the past since I left each location. It is undeniably different from the experience of my peers- it is not a generational trend. It has made me a great participant in NY social circles because I easily forget who I was friends with before the present friends came around. When my best friend from High School showed up in NY, I was surprised by the memories she accessed in me and by the feeling of being remembered earlier than my contemporary era. I could not access some of the important memories that Kelly brought up.

For me, every project and experience is linked because it is mine, but I have trouble building on them. I work foundationless, which leads to a sense of always starting over. Everything is always a revolution.

I have trouble interacting with family or even finding a place for them in my life. It is as if I forget them and only their nagging and reminding me can keep me in touch with them—and often it is out of guilt instead of love. It is not that I don't love them, because when I interact with them I do. But I cannot access those feelings when I am moving along through life. I never call to say 'Hi', because it doesn't occur to me.

This is just the first exploration of the failure of my memory. What can I say? I have been disappointed by my brain in the past few years. Maybe I could at least give my mind credit for protecting the rest of my experience from being infected by what might have been a dark history.


A new project. This will take place at BCCP at Brooklyn College this fall.

BEAUTY SALON is a space to explore these two words. The project has many possibilities due to the spectrum of meanings behind the words in the title.
Beauty is something to talk about. As an artist, I am interested in what other people find beautiful.
To begin this project, I will make a map of all the local beauty salons in Flatbush, of which there are many (on the wall if that is ok), and I will begin to install a 'booth' made of cardboard.

Beauty salons are common and often they are able to survive economic downturns because people always need a haircut. Beauty as a pursuit and an interest is inseparable from being human, so no matter what political, economic, or social degradation happens, the salon will be in business.
The beauty salon will be open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2-6 pm, and I will offer beautification services in return for a typewritten receipt that acknowledges the most beautiful thing that the client had witnessed that day.
*The currency accepted is a story, because the dollar isn't worth much.

Clients are also invited to rent a booth at the salon, where they can offer beautification services and expand the client base (invite their friends). To rent a booth, the stylist is responsible for decorating their booth. All stylists must maintain receipt policy and all beautification must be documented.

The beauty that happens in the salon will be documented and put on the wall, salon style. The accumulation of beautiful images will evolve into a beautiful installation.

sa·lon n
Also called beauty salon
Also called beauty shop
1. A large room, such as a drawing room, used for receiving and entertaining guests.
2. A periodic gathering of people of social or intellectual distinction.
3. A hall or gallery for the exhibition of works of art.
4. A commercial establishment offering a product or service related to fashion: a beauty salon.

beau·ty n
1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
2. a beautiful person.
3. a beautiful thing, as a work of art or a building.
4. Often, beauties. something that is beautiful in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
5. an individually pleasing or beautiful quality; grace; charm: a vivid blue area that is the one real beauty of the painting.
6. Informal. a particular advantage: One of the beauties of this medicine is the freedom from aftereffects.
7. (usually used ironically) something extraordinary: My sunburn was a real beauty.
8. something excellent of its kind: My old car was a beauty.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My apartment

These pictures are in my apartment, styled by my roommate, Jenny.
That POP! book is from the Milwaukee Art Museum, and that is the dirty floor I didn't wash for a while.

Those are the stripes painted by Alan Oei, all in one night in 2005. There is a mirror from my mom and a collage from a tiny Argentinian guy who was obsessed with Madonna in London. The couch is from THE BIGGEST FURNITURE STORE IN NY, formerly on Nostrand. It was $300 and it was delivered in plastic straight from 1970. No ass had ever touched it directly before me. Or at least I like to think that.

There is the wallpaper from MFTA, probably once made for or used in a bodega bathroom in a Mexican restaurant. That butterfly is from Dominique, via a friend who had a lot of free jewelry from the store she worked for. I gave it to Jenny before she moved to NY because I thought she needed a status symbol. The red trim to your right is candy apple red and I suddenly stayed up all night one night painting that one simple thing the same color as my tricycle.

That is one really hot jacket in front of a wall piece Jenny made out of wall paper, cardboard, and grommets over a month when she was brand new to NY. What a warrior.

I love to see all this stuff from a new perspective. It all has a new life. It has grown up and out without my help. Now I can set it free and move to Africa.

Woah love

This is Jesi. She is marrying Paul, who I love. Now I love Jesi. Look at her happiness! And her tiny torso! Is that a glow or something?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On starting a new country:

This is a project completed with a group of 4th graders at PS 276, where I asked them to start their own countries.

Step one was to create a new landform out of felt. They became topographical map paintings of imaginary places.
Next we made tools out of the materials we found on the island. Our resources were wood, styrofoam, wire, grass, etc... You know, 'natural' stuff. Pictured above is a microwave, a chair, a table, a bow and arrow, a cell phone- everything you need for basic survival.

Also above, take notice of the coins on the right hand side. You guessed it, we made currency for each country. But that came AFTER we made treasure maps so we had somewhere to hide it.

After we had developed tools, we could get into some serious construction. We built our own shelters, which we hoped would keep us alive on our islands for the first few weeks until we had the lay of the land. That's where the currency became really useful because we could pay other people from other islands for their services. Everyone could use their expertise this way. And sell it. We are not socialists at ps 276.

You can see the passports we made layed flat on the table above. Travel was also a priority for all these adventurous capitalists.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Somebody might read this.

Sometimes it is hard to see through a situation. Why did I waste all that time being uncomfortable? What was I doing? Why am I writing this? Someone might read it.When I was in Finland over the winter I had a dialogue with Jennifer Sullivan. We called it an interview, and I learned a lot of stuff from answering her consciously lame questions.
When she asked me about who my role models were, I learned that I had none outside the people who I have intense relationships with. Those people are the only people I allow myself to know, and for being a social person, I am not very open to learning very much about new people.
The people I elevate to role models are the ones who make me feel the best. It is a waste to spend time around people who make you act in ways you don't like. Or that is what I have been saying. But maybe it can be useful to pit yourself against someone who challenges your idea of your so called self. It is hard to stay in an uncomfortable situation. Immediate gratification in any given social situation usually makes the boundaries for interaction. I only present what I want to show and you only stay in the conversation until you are finished presenting yourself. We both push the easy buttons to get what we want, which is usually some sort of self serving advertisement of what we think the other person will like about us. The more people who like us, the more successful people we are.
In social situations past, I imagine people playing more risky interpersonal games. With less stimulation in other facets of life, socializing and relationships must have been more stimulating. The fertile ground of a context can be explored, an exchange can be manipulated and experimented with, and a conversation can be an outlet for creativity. Instead it seems that our creative output is hoarded, compressed, digitized, and distributed freely to an anonymous public, but it is egotistical or un-hippishly immodest to present your ideas, creativity, or complicated self to a local public. It feels compromising to invest in new relationships because it requires a conversation that goes beyond comfort in order to make it special. They might steal your ideas, your ways, your stuff-- your soul.For these reasons, I stayed home the last few weekends. I don't want to go back outside until I have the will to experience people with fewer needs- more selfless and more adventurous. The rest of me can just fit into this web-like infrastructure.

Friday, April 25, 2008


The mascara test has been going pretty steady. There were definitely some weak moments, but I think the addiction has been reversed. Today and yesterday I wore a slight bit, but it was because I wanted to match my outfit (stylistically- less rugged country bumpkin) but not because I wanted to look like who I think I have to be.

Isn't it supposed to take 3 weeks to be over an addiction or to form a new habit? So maybe I am in the denial phase. Yup, everything is fine. No mascara, no evidence of cry. Maybe what really led to the mascara freeze was the three weeks of depression I endured, and the annoying aftermath of black crust after a sudden dip in mood. Maybe I am making a myth out of a practical decision. Maybe folklore comes out of logistical situations made into something worth retelling.NOT PURENESS.

Sometimes I actually enjoy the concept of eye makeup because I would like to rebel against superficial purity. Like the kind you get in flow yoga class. So while I do want to feel authentic, purity is not what I am getting at by wearing no eye makeup. Sometimes I see people who look pure and often they have heavy eyeliner and eyemakeup on, and it makes their eye balls light up. So I don't want to hate on the practice of putting effort and experimentation into beauty, but it does not have to be basic to existence. It would be great if it became part of a special ritual for a certain kind of day. Like maybe I will wear it only when I teach in the Bronx. Every day in the Bronx is a special day, and any tears shed can be marked with black streaks on my cheeks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Grad School

Why would I do that? Would it mean that one day I could do design work for Gucci? I mean I am already doing a lot of their work for free. I was starting to write my application, stating what led me to the decision to apply... what events? I was born, I saw well designed stuff, I wanted it, and I can't stop trying to make it. Please teach me how to do it better and for free. Done.

A solution

So it turns out I am a scorpio. I feel afraid of what I seem to be doing all the time! Here is my solution.

``I like to ask audiences to consider this as a hiring decision,'' Clinton said on MSNBC's ``Countdown with Keith Olbermann'' show. ``If you were to hire the person you thought was ready on Day One to do the toughest job in the world, what would you look for?''

Everything. And if I was hiring a boyfriend? Also, everything. Let's make everything into a personnel decision. Send it to human resources. Do the paperwork. Invoice later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day 3: No More Mascara

As long as I can remember my mom was wearing mascara. When things were bad it would pool under her eyes. As she got older and the skin around her eyes became looser and drier, she had some difficulty wearing the same eye shadow system that she had developed over several decades, but mascara never caused any problems so it remained part of a daily and weekly beauty regiment. Her eye shadow routine is more complicated than I could understand at its most refined and practiced point, but the application involved layers of dark shadows deepening creases blended with layers of light, bright, iridescent, and undetectable hues to advance important bones and shapes. When she felt she had gained weight and her face shape became rounder and the contours less defined, it became all the more important to feature her eyes with plenty of strategically placed color. As I grew older these types of small adjustments in routine and aesthetic seemed commonplace, and I adopted these systems, though I never refined the processes the way my mother had mastered them.

The weird thing is that my mom developed these operational aesthetic systems by herself. My grandma didn't ever wear makeup, and even bragged to me as a teenager that she never even considered it an option, and her skin was nicer than my young and vibrant mother's ever was because of it. My mom had two brothers and lived amongst farm fields where tornadoes, tupperware, horses, and Catholicism ruled, so her expertise was self taught.

Just because you have nothing doesn't mean you have to look that way.

I guess I thought that the mascara was a requirement for existence. When I was in Finland, isolated from humanity, I was to be found walking across frozen lakes, mascara running down my cheeks when the wind made my eyes tear up. When I was avenged by Montezuma in the Yucatan and hadn't managed to eat for 8 days, I did apply a little mascara before I visited the doctor. It didn't feel like a choice. I also didn't take it for granted.

Every day it feels like a luxury to apply some black muck to my long eye lashes. A little magic trick. I know it changes my whole profile. I worry that I might actually look like a completely different person, maybe not even a female person if I don't have this little accent to my face. Yesterday was day two of no mascara. That makes today day three with no black magic eyes.

Everyone has treated me the same so far. Less gunk is in my eyes when I wake up. No black spots on my pillow revealing the position of my face for 6 hours.

Is this the end of something? I will keep you up to date.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Apple Station

Apple Farm Station, originally uploaded by cassieshotz.

Friday, January 18, 2008

so many times at once

so many times at once, originally uploaded by cassieshotz.

Newspapers, clocks, and VCRs.

What is all this stuff? Do kids know how to use any of it? I suppose the clock and the newspapers are wireless... In a school where there are hidden projectors and remote controlled overhead lamp projector heater wineglass organic microscopes, there are also yellowed newspapers, outdated technologies, and un-digital clocks. I was really refreshed by what I saw in the middle school. The warmth of the institution was easy to locate when I was in the English Department Teacher's Lounge, where a table is always overflowing with homemade sweets, and the chairs were always full with teachers and lively conversation filled the air. There is a sense of community and collaboration that has left the public schools I attended in the midwest and now the ones I work at in NYC. The excitement for experimentation that I received when I proposed outlandish ideas and the energetic effort put into the conversations I had with all the teachers and staff was incomparable to anything I have experienced in my education. So thank you to all the teachers and staff that helped me to get acclimated at the school and allowed me to keep coming back to photograph everything.

my island before snow

my island before snow, originally uploaded by cassieshotz.

I was busy drawing this when all of the sudden...

my island after snow

my island after snow, originally uploaded by cassieshotz.

This is what happened while I was busy drawing the first unsnowed island.

THE island

So this is how it went down. Here is the island I claim as mine. It is off the side of the cemetery in Haukivuori. I sat down to draw it. As I was concentrating, it started to snow. The island changed forms. All the depth of the lake and the surround islands got washed clean, into one flat nordic painting.

I went home and tried to redraw it a few times without my ink getting all fudged by the snowflakes, but the character wasn't the same. Sad thing is that now the ice will definitely not carry me to the island. Anyone have a canoe? I want to go back to say goodbye...

Black Finnish Snowflake

I was sitting on one island, trying to draw another one. It was a sad day because the snow was melting and I barely made it to the island (or so I thought) because the ice was so thin. Some kind of winter.
I was concentrating on shading the one side of the island in my drawing when a snowflake dropped on my paper. I tried to look really close and notice the real shape of it. I haven't spent much time one on one with a snowflake, and this seemed like a good time to try to understand the shape. I kept drawing and redrawing, and the snowflakes kept coming, ruining my drawing. The drawing was getting blacker and blacker with my many layered attempts to sketch the damn things. I wasn't upset, but only so curious and excited to find a basic shape to these snowflakes that I think are different than those I got to know as a kid in the midwest.

So here is the black Finnish snowflake.


I had a dream that someone stole my sketchbook and I killed them for it. I never got it back. So, in case the dream foreshadowed a coming loss, I wanted to show you what I have been drawing.


trees out my window.

A fork in the road of the tree out my window.

Yesterday's shack.

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