New Work: Journal Panels

Journal Panels

I’ve finally gotten around to editing some of the documentation images of work I made and documented during my time at the Gushul last month.  Here are some images of some of the journal panels I did.  More images in my portfolio.

Listen to Your Soul for Direction

History of the Troubled Mind

Use the Good Dishes

Stand Out

I have more work that I finished at the Gushul, more photos to come.

Journal Panels Statement 

I’ve been keeping written and visual journals since Mrs. Henley set us the assignment in her grade two class in 1992.  I don’t know if she realized the impact this would have on my life.  I was eight.

My journals have been my constant companion in my life, confidant through it all.  I could chart out my life by them, an archive of my triumphs, hopes and dreams, and lessons learned.

My journal process involves a lot of collage, collecting of images, text, random bits, song lyrics, and personal memories.  I don’t plan the images out before they happen.  Working on multiple panels or pages at a time, I choose things impulsively, instinctively, without thinking too much about it.  I choose whatever resonates with me at the time for whatever reason, sometimes coordinating by color or theme. Often things that seem completely random gather themselves together to form a color scheme or theme that I might not have come up with on my own.  I paint, collage, stamp with my hand carved linoleum stamps, write and doodle all over them, suspending conscious thought, in an attempt to allow something of my subconscious to shine through.  In a sense, this is my own personal kind of meditation, a compulsion that allows me to relax and process things in my own way.

The work in this series is an attempt to share my journals and the process with a wider audience.  They are at once public and personal, although hopefully not too cryptic.  This particular set acts as a series of pep talks to myself, things I’d like to remember to do, to live my life to the fullest and not worry too much.  I hope that others might find something useful in them as well.

See more here.

Daily Overhead Shots from the Gushul

Every day I was there, I took a photo of the studio from the little window in the extra bedroom at the Gushul Studio.  It functions as an interesting diary of my time there.  I did miss a few days at the beginning, and a couple days when I wasn’t there.

Gushul2_Studio_March04

Gushul2_Studio_March06

Gushul2_Studio_March07

Gushul2_Studio_March08

Gushul2_Studio_March09

Gushul2_Studio_March10

Gushul2_Studio_March11

Gushul2_Studio_March12

Gushul2_Studio_March13

Gushul2_Studio_March14

Gushul2_Studio_March15

Gushul2_Studio_March16

Gushul2_Studio_March17

Gushul2_Studio_March18

Gushul2_Studio_March19

Gushul2_Studio_March20

Gushul2_Studio_March21

Gushul2_Studio_March23

Gushul2_Studio_March24

Gushul2_Studio_March25

Gushul2_Studio_March26

Gushul2_Studio_March27

Gushul2_Studio_March28

Gushul2_Studio_March29

Gushul2_Studio_March30

Gushul2_Studio_March31

New Work In Progress

Inner Theatre_in progress

I’ve been working on some other things in the last few days, sculpture with some electronics. Part of my plan for this residency is to finish up some work I’d just started, and to make more. I’ve finished up a couple of things, and hope to get the documentation photos I took today edited and up soon. This is a work in progress shot, although the work depicted is finished now, and working as it should be! I feel like I accomplished something tangible today! 🙂

(Did I mention the light in here is amazing? I wish I could always use this space for documentation.)

Documenting / Morning Photographs

Jennifer Akkermans_Personal Journey_2014_web

I’ve been working on a few things, such as making these journal “paintings,” all of which are in varying stages of completion. I have realized that I am a documenter by nature, always keeping journals, photographing things, describing processes.  This residency is no different.  Every morning, when I get up, I grab the camera off of the dresser in the other bedroom, and take a photo of the studio down through the window.  Maybe when I’m finished, I will make a little gif movie.  I did miss a few days in the beginning, before the project occurred to me.

Gushul2_Studio_March04

Gushul2_Studio_March06

Gushul2_Studio_March07

Gushul2_Studio_March08

Gushul2_Studio_March09

Gushul2_Studio_March10

Gushul2_Studio_March11

Gushul2_Studio_March12

You may notice that the March 7th and March 8th photos are really similar – I went to Red Deer on the 7th for my opening, and then returned on the 8th (and photographed when I returned), so there was not much work happening in between.

Now, back to work.

Gushul 2.0 – Back in the Pass!

Feet

So I’m here!  Have been for a few days now, actually.  It’s pretty great.  Nice and quiet, I’ve just been doing my thing.  Such a contrast from Puppet Camp, the polar opposite, actually, but really lovely in another way.  I’m also surprised how much different this is than when I was here with Latifa– it’s a calm energy, as opposed to a slightly nervous dealing-with-another-(lovely)-person-I-just-met vibe.  The fact that it’s winter probably affects that too- so far, it’s been really cold, really snowy, really melty (as in, mini avalanches scaring the crap out of me as they slide off the roof/window), and really nice for about ten minutes.

After calling AMA to get my car started because of the cold on Saturday (what would I do without them?), I drove out to the Pass, unpacked most of the car, and got set up in the studio.  Since then, I’ve just been doing my thing, listening to music and making things.  The only time I’ve really left the studio was to get some basic groceries.  There are lots of things to do here (especially in the summer), and I really love the area, but it’s been cold, and since I’ve been here many times before, I don’t feel compelled to go exploring.  I’m happy just to get to work.

I’ve been getting up quite early – 7:30ish – to work, as I discovered on day one that the light is much different in March than it is in September, when I was here last.  During the day, the studio is absolutely wonderful with all the natural light.  When the sun goes down, however, it seems all the light from other sources gets sucked right out that giant window into the night.  You can probably see the studio from space, but I can’t choose colours after 7:00.

It is, however, setting me on a decent working schedule.  I’m feeling productive.

Gushul Residency 2.0

Anyway.  I am quite enjoying being by myself here, just doing my thing.  I have always been more than comfortable being on my own, and as long as I don’t see any signs of depression showing up (which I doubt I will), all is good.  I do have a couple of trips home planned – well, to Red Deer for commitments to my show at the Harris-Warke Gallery, but as Calgary is on the way, I will stop in to sleep – but I am more than happy to just hang out here.  A good friend of mine is coming to visit for the last weekend of the month, and while I am really looking forward to that, her arrival will mean my time here is coming to a close.  I am open to other visitors – should you happen to be in the area, just knock!

Also, if anyone is interested, my opening at Harris-Warke is this Friday, 6-8 PM.  Address is 4924 Ross Street, Red Deer, and the gallery is on the top floor of the Sunworks store.

Home.

TH140117_DSC6503

– Photo of the Raven Girls’ “Epilogue” – Photo by Meghan Krauss. –

So I’ve been home a few days now, coming down from one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  There’s only been a handful of times in my life I’ve felt like that – I felt like I did graduating from ACAD. Or at my opening at the AGC.  Exhilarated, but then, the come-down.  It felt like we’d been together for so much longer than two weeks, getting to know each other, working together, having a hell of an adventure, hitting the wall and climbing over, and now, I feel a little lonely, missing all my new friends.

I don’t have a new placement at work yet, but it’s just as well- my achilles heel is acting up again.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and let it rest, but I feel like I’ve got a lot of work to do in the studio yet too. Instead of hobbling around too much, I’ve been tying up loose ends for projects ending and coming up, and working on some details of things, but I’ve got some ideas and really want to jump into making some more complicated things. I do need to take it easy, though, and be as ready as I can for when I’m needed back.

Not only did I learn a lot about the collaborative process, but I’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks about individual creative processes, by talking to people and by watching people work.  Sara Tilley has a particularly interesting writing process, at least for the book she is currently working on.  She uses masks to channel the essence of her characters, to catch their personalities and writing styles.  (See the Calgary Herald article about it.)  I went to her artist talk the other night, and it was mesmerizing.  Another artist’s intense concentration, dedication and sense of play astounded me.  I remember an interesting conversation about the definitions of “work” and “play” and how they can overlap, even in the same project.  There were a few artists who have been doing these things professionally for some time, and a few pretty new at it.  I was continually astonished by all the talent around me, and while it did make me doubt myself for a few minutes, I remembered that what I do is interesting and is valuable, and is different, and that we all feel that way sometimes. I decided that instead of feeling even the slightest bit intimidated, I would jump right in and learn as much as I could, anywhere I could.

The other particularly valuable thing for me is the start I made on getting my brain to be quiet.  Normally, my brain is constantly nattering away, talking, talking, talking.  It’s probably 90% of the reason I have troubles sleeping, because my brain just won’t shut up.  Slowly, through the morning yoga/warm up and Suzuki exercises, I was able to get my brain to be quieter, focusing on letting my body think/exist on it’s own.  I had varying degrees of success at this, of course, but I see some incredible value in it, and want to continue to work on this, as it is so powerful.  I think this was also why Suzuki was also my favourite part of the day (which is funny, I would have thought it would be Open Studio)- I was open to trying something completely new, which I had very little exposure to, and it really allowed me to connect to both myself and my group members through our bodies and chi energy.  That work (and all the singing) might also explain why we all felt so close by the end of the program.

I’m having a bit of a tough time letting this wonderful experience go, but it’s really time to take what I can from it and move forward.  Time to get back to work, remember the highlights, let go and move forward.  Easier said than done.

Puppet Camp Aftermath

IMG_7620

 – Dress Rehearsal – Statues Excercise, with masks – That’s me on the far right. –

Things got a little crazy in the last few days of the Puppet Intensive- finishing everything up, running spacing and dress rehearsals, cleaning up, and the wind up party.  I don’t have very many photos from this part of the experience- I was too busy participating.  🙂

For the final day, we started with our usual yoga-style warm up and massages, but no Suzuki.  Breaking for lunch early, we went into the theatre to do our spacing rehearsal.  The spacing rehearsal is to decide what needs to go where before the show, and who will help with setting up what, so that the show runs as smoothly as possible.  There was some time where we were waiting for Pete to finish what he needed to take care of with the tech people, and everyone decided to take a nap.  (Funny, I remember a similar picture from Katimavik, six or seven of us sleeping in the Katima-van.)

20140117_131910

After the spacing rehearsal, we took a bit of a break, to get into our black clothes, and get something to eat.  We re-set everything to where it should be, and ran the dress rehearsal, complete with all of the lighting and sound cues, black out and brown outs (to change the scene).

After a few Suzuki exercise demonstrations, our projects were up.  My group, the Raven Girls, went first, with our short show about a baby who realizes it is actually a raven and flies away from it’s mother to join it’s raven people.  A few more wonderful plays later (where we all had specific responsibilities to help with scene changes), we did our Epilogue, a short 3 second scene of the ravens eating the human mother.  Then, one final show, Adeline, a funny little girl with a wonderful sense of adventure.  To end the show, we did one of our favourite (self-indulgent) exercises- our Braveheart killing scene.

20140116_155304

– Nose man puppet in progress. –

After all of the excitement of the show, we still had some work to do- cleaning our stuff out of the theatre and cleaning up the mess of open studio.  I had picked most of my tools and materials up the day before, which was really smart.  I traded a few of the puppet faces I had made with some of the other artists, so now I have a few faces to play with on my own.  We cleaned and vaccuumed the studio, and then did all of our wind up activities, including our final games tournaments (Four Square, Rock Paper Scissors, and Pass the Woody), and gave a couple things the group had made to Pete and Juanita – “Ester’s Squirrel” and a little “Juaneedlefelted” heart.

We drank, and we danced traditional Newfoundland dances, as well as a few others,  played some crazy games, more four square and a few we made up, and as the group got smaller and smaller, we said goodbye.  Tougher and tougher to say goodbye.  The next morning, getting up by myself, packing, and going to find some breakfast before driving home, I could almost hear the whispers of a puppet camp song…. “Sin jen jen jen…. ungame tanda zo….”

It’s hard to believe it was only two weeks, it felt like 3 months in some ways and two days in others, and I made some wonderful new friends.  Whether they knew it or not, they pushed me in ways I would never have been able to push myself, and I think I won’t fully understand the impact of this experience until much farther down the line.  We hit the wall, and climbed right up on over, and what a journey it was!

I will always remember the wave Caleb gave me as I was pulling out of the parking lot- a puppet camp theme turned joke, a long dramatic, reaching wave, which lasted (I’m sure) until I was long out of sight.

Goodbye for now, puppet friends!  Happy journeys, and all the best!

January 16th: BPI Photo Essay

IMG_7530 IMG_7540 IMG_7558 IMG_7559

– From our morning Suzuki class: Mask work, including “Slow Ten” and “Statues” –

IMG_7564

– From our morning Suzuki class: “Chako Hachi” –

IMG_7572 IMG_7572 IMG_7576 IMG_7586 IMG_7587 IMG_7593

– From our morning Suzuki class: “The Station” –

IMG_7609

– Afternoon Articulation Lab –

…And I still didn’t take a photo of the birds.

Tomorrow is lighting cues and rehearsal day, and then Friday is the presentation, and then we’re done. Already getting a little sad to be leaving.

January 14th – Part 2

IMG_7489

– A group shot from the first run though yesterday,  too bad you can’t see Caleb’s face. –

IMG_7490

– Listening to feedback. –

IMG_7492

– Rowan and Pete playing music at the party. (I don’t have a Sparkle Pants photo, or I might have posted that instead. ) –

Today was our day off.  I did laundry, went into town to go to the thrift store, had a lovely little nap, and went off to the studio to work on the raven choir, even though it was our day off.  There were actually quite a few people there, building crazy things.

Here’s some progress shots of the ravens:

IMG_7372

– Paper Mache raven heads –

IMG_7370

– A bad photo of a paper mache raven head with body. –

IMG_7375

– Ravens painted black –

IMG_7377

– Raven head –

And then today, added some black and white and silver, and some texture with feathers, and a great little fabric scarf I got from the thrift shop.

Raven

  – Excuse the awkward studio shot- I had just painted the puppets handle, and so couldn’t hold it up for a good photo.  –

Day…. I’ve lost track. (January 14)

Puppet Crew 2

– The Puppet Crew! –

So it’s been a couple of days.  We’ve been working pretty hard, and then playing pretty hard.  Yesterday after our morning of Suzuki and an afternoon of making, we did our first run throughs for the whole group.  They were magical.  Interesting, well developed stories and characters, and I am just amazed at the talent of this group.  After the critique (God, I didn’t realize how much I missed that!), we let loose a bit, and had a studio party…. Four Square, of course!

I figured out the mechanism for the birds yesterday, 6 ravens, the Raven Choir.  I still have quite a bit of work to do on them, but they’re coming along.  The other girls in the group are building really interesting puppets as well, and we have a wonderful tree that Sydney has made.

I am a little sad to realize that with today being our day off, and Thursday and Friday being rehearsal/ presentation days, we only have one regular day left.  It’s amazing how connected I feel to the puppet crew, even though I haven’t known any of them longer than 2 weeks.  It’s too bad that in just a few days, we’ll all be going on our separate ways again.

Just a reminder, if you’re interested, and in the Banff area friday night, our Presentation is Friday at 7, in the Martha Greenham Theatre.  And it’s free.

Day 9… I think – January 11.

Studio work

– Studio shot. –

My achilles heel was really bothering me yesterday, and again today, but it’s not as bad as it was.  I’ve been trying to take it easy a bit on some of the exercises, but still participate.  I’ve been icing it, and enjoying the hot tub, which helps.

We’re working away on our group projects, making puppets and things, and also trying a couple of run throughs of the basic premise of it.  Pete has given us some feedback, and we have a lot to work on yet, but I feel like we’ve got a solid handle on it, and a good start on building.  I am making a choir of ravens.  Today I did some more paper-mache-ing of the paper and tape forms, and gesso’d them.  I didn’t take my camera to open studio, so I have no photos – maybe tomorrow.

In Suzuki, we are starting to combine exercises, the marching square into statues, into shako hachi.  These descriptions will probably only make sense to those in the program with me.   Every day it seems I find just a little bit more focus, just a little bit more connection to chi, although this morning, there were a few moments when there was more than most.  It is a good challenge for me to be open to this and these ideas, as they are not generally something that I’ve really explored in my regular life.

Tomorrow, we will not do Suzuki, which has become my favourite part of the day.  It’s funny, I thought Open Studio (building things) would be my favourite part of the day.  It is definitely where I am most comfortable, but Suzuki is really about connecting as a group and being in touch with your chi, and I find that really challenging and interesting.

Anyway, going to relax a bit, ice my heel, and go to sleep.  These are long, but wonderful days.