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Rebecca Shapiro

Christine Martell

Lisa Sonora Beam

Beyond The Story Exploring Visual Memoir


This show is a fascinating demonstration of the artistic process, how artists collaborate and the variety of work that is generated from the idea of visual memoir.


Hillsboro Public Library Main Branch 2nd floor gallery 2850 NE Brookwood Pkwy Hillsboro, OR 97124 Curated by Christine Martell Photographs by Rick Paulson Photography Š2014


How the Show Came to Be My sister and I had a rough time in our early twenties. My parents decided to buy an old Victorian house on Cape Cod and invited us to come home to embark on a process of rebuilding our lives. A few years ago for my mother’s 75th birthday we all went back to help her rehab the gardens that had become overgrown. We had many conversations that week about when it might be time to stop operating the bed and breakfast and think about letting go of the house. Thirty years ago it didn’t seem like my Dad was participating much in our recovery process. Looking back while we were going to therapy he was lifting up the house, pouring a new foundation under it and replacing all the major systems in the family house. I decided to start capturing that story. I wrote pieces of it, found photographs, and looked back at the art I was creating at the time. I knew almost nothing about narrative writing, scene and story arc so I decided to take a memoir writing class. In that I recognized I had antagonists in my story who would not want me to talk about this. It took decades for me to stop looking over my shoulder -- did I want to risk that again? I went to the visual and started carving stories into my watercolor paper with a bamboo skewer. About this time I did a residency at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology where I spent three weeks carving drafts of my stories into my paintings. I discovered my understanding of the stories shifted. A deep well of compassion and empathy for the other characters surfaced. The stories were no longer the same.


I still didn’t have the arc of the story so I took another class on story structure. When it came time to present to the class I showed them my paintings and story ideas. They were more interested in the train wreck part of the story. They thought it could be a therapy story, maybe a comedy. One of them emailed me after class saying the thing I had to focus on why I didn’t learn faster and why I didn’t leave sooner. I stopped writing. I wasn’t communicating what to me was the most important part -- the transformation. I didn’t want to justify my past choices, I wanted to express the potential for deep healing. I started searching for other visual artists who were also writers. I found Rebecca Shapiro with her work on visual metaphors and asked her to join me to create a show. Later I asked Lisa Sonora Beam to join us with her work in visual journaling. I thought long and hard about what I was trying to say. Difficult things happen to everybody. Acknowledging what happened is the first step but it is not what transforms our lives and heals us. I started learning gelli printing. It has some of the same qualities. There are inputs I can work with, but I never know exactly what I am going to get as a result. Then I have to take that and add things to make it beautiful. I’ve been working with collaging and painting back into those prints. Slowly, bit by bit, after many layers a new image emerges. Just like the story of my life the past thirty years.


Beyond The Story: Exploring Visual Memoir September 5 - October 30, 2014 Hillsboro Public Library, Main Branch Second Floor Gallery 2850 NE Brookwood Parkway


About The Show How and where do words and images intersect? What is the play between language, text and visual story telling? Artists Christine Martell, Lisa Sonora Beam and Rebecca Shapiro interpret the combination of personal narrative and visual image. Their goal is to create, define and present visual memoir inviting the attendee to participate in the artists’ stories through the lens of their own experiences. The artists are reflecting on their own stories and exploring a variety of mediums to learn and understand how to create and show their personal stories. The venue selected for this exhibit is a library gallery. Each of the artists has a personal history with books, libraries, storytelling and writing that influence their work.


Christine Martell


I’ve always been an artist. After art getting a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, I hated doing the seemingly inevitable waitressing so I started teaching workshops and classes. Years later I decided I should learn something about teaching, so got a graduate degree in training and development. I was shocked to discover I would not be allowed to paint pictures in graduate school and was expected to write linear papers. Nothing in my experience had prepared me for such things. I wasn’t very happy about it. I relented when I realized I could write about visual communication and spent the time researching how to bridge the art and education worlds. I created a company, VisualsSpeak, that makes art and photography based tools to change the stories people tell. The tools are used all over the world by a variety of individuals and companies. After years of spending more time writing than doing art I’ve decided to look for new ways to integrate the visual and verbal. My latest work is exploring creative nonfiction. I want to break down the boundaries between the ways I work. Mixing media and disciplines with technology to make art more accessible to all. You can find out more about my art at www.christinemartell.com


Then to Transformation Artist Statement Personal truth is a matter of context and viewpoint. Honing in on a specific memory launches it into motion and blurs the details. But if we examine the patterns in the stories surrounding these memories over time, we may encounter universal truths. Recently, I’ve been excited about exploring the art of personal stories through words and imagery. The story I have been exploring is about a pivotal time in my life when my family restored a Victorian house on Cape Cod. Re-examining this complex time through words and images shifted my perspective on our experience and deepened my compassion for the people involved. Moving back and forth between writing and painting revealed unexpected insights into the wounds I sustained during a complicated time in my life.


Transformation to Now I became less interested in what happened to create the situations that landed parts of my family in difficult circumstances. It was far more interesting to explore what allowed each of us to transform our lives. Upon deep reflection I realized what I wanted to communicate. Getting those hurts onto the page both visually and in writing transforms them into something of beauty and helps me continue to find parallel places for healing as I walk through my life today. Now, the art revolves less around my own specific story. Instead, it invites you to interpret the images through the lens of major events and threads woven through your own life. Technically, I’ve been starting with acrylic paint on a gelli plate. I add paint, influence it with texture tools, but I never know exactly what will happen when I pull a print. Then I am faced with deciding what I am going to do with it to make it beautiful. I collage the paper onto panels with layers of paint. Slowly, bit by bit after many layers a new image emerges.


Source

Surrounded

Complicated

Acrylic collage on panel 9” x 12”, $200

Acrylic collage on panel 9” x 12”, $200

Acrylic collage on panel 9” x 12”, $200

I was surrounded by lots of things. Some were great, lots of love and family. Others not so great. It’s all a part of who I am.

Life growing up was complicated. With a huge extended family, something was always going on, both fun and challenging. It was a crazy time. I was always left trying to figure out what was going on.

My parents are each one of twelve children with threads of abuse driven by alcohol throughout each family. They were determined to makea better life for their children. They tried hard. There were just a few things they never learned.


Centered

Desired

Essence

Acrylic collage on panel 9” x 12”, $200

Acrylic collage on panel 9” x 12”, $200

Acrylic collage on panel 9” x 12”, $200

I wanted things desperately and with singular focus. Sometimes when I got them, they weren’t quite what I imagined.

Many things whirled around in my childhood. Through it all, art was my everything.

Despite all the chaos around me I could lose myself in art. It was my centering force. I always knew it would save me.


Fledge Acrylic collage on panel 12” x 24”, $500

I fought hard to get to art school. Off I went, full of passion. I was totally unprepared for the brutality of the critique system. After fighting so hard with my parents just to get there I was afraid to tell them how hard I was struggling emotionally. Instead I just coped in the best way I knew how. Let’s just say, some of those things didn’t serve me very well.


Transformation


Intuitive Knowing Acrylic collage on panel 16” x 20”, $600

I’ve always had inner knowing. It just took me a long time to consistently listen to it. Part of transforming my world was learning to allow it to guide parts of my life.


Beyond Denial Acrylic collage on panel 18” x 24”, $800

It’s not that I didn’t know there were things that weren’t quite right, I had just learned to ignore them. I needed to learn to face things head on and stop falling in love with potential.


Turning Point Acrylic collage on panel, 18� x 24�, $800

Finally I stopped accepting the unacceptable and started searching for new ways of being. I had a lot to learn. Step by step my life started changing.


Streams Reforming Acrylic collage on panel 18� x 24�, $800

So many habits and beliefs to shift. Each one affected others. Much to learn.


Integrating Flows Acrylic collage on panel 16” x 20”, $600

New ways of being meant new ways of doing just about everything.


Now


Space Acrylic collage on panel 12” x 24”, $500

I’ve learned I need space in my life. Meditation. Time to allow the creative juices to brew. Quiet. Places where I am not continuously doing.


Unfolding Acrylic collage on panel 24” x 30”, $1200

Everything in right timing. When I get out of the way life unfolds in mysterious ways.


Expanding Acrylic collage on panel 24� x 30�, $1200

I can have a lot but not all, what will I chose today?


Balancing Acrylic collage on panel 24� x 30�, $1200

Balance, not evenness. Some places are heavier than others. Overall it works. As long as I attend to the whole.


Complex Acrylic collage on panel 12� x 24�, $500

Most of the time life has moved from complicated to complex. Full, rich, engaging. Full of love.


Rebecca Shapiro


A creator, long before I even knew the word “artist,” I have worked extensively in painting, installation, public art, illustration, photography and graphic design. My art is about offering a gateway, a common place for us to meet, to portray our similar stories, struggles and triumphs. I strive to make art that is both a metaphor and catalyst for creating stronger relationships and communities. In this way, art is a connector, offering opportunities for awareness about ideas, other people and our surroundings that we might not otherwise encounter or consider. In 2013, I was the third Artist in Residence for TEDxMtHood creating the stage installation for the event and giving a TEDx talk. That piece, “Untangled,” was installed at the Portland International Airport from August 2013-January 2014. In addition, I’ve been working with TEDxMtHood to create a robust Artist-in-Residence Program which has been selected to be one of two Incubator Programs that will mentor other TEDx events that wish to create their own Artist-in-Residence Program. Discover more about Rebecca Shapiro at www.rebeccashapiroart.com and www.rebeccashapiroillustration.com


Artist Statement I’m curious about how our stories begin…in particular our personal narratives and how those stories are influenced, built and transformed over time. As I worked on this show, I followed my own story line, looking for beginnings. I asked myself: When does a story begin? When does someone else’s story influence our own? Do we purposefully change our stories so they fit our world view better? Can we change our lives by changing our stories? Can retelling your story rewrite your memory? Does the story you tell create new memories? Is a memory the kernel for a story? This led me to delve deeper into memories. I wondered, what is memory? When can you identify that a memory has taken root? Is it a memory when you’re standing there at the moment of an event you’re experiencing? Or, is it a memory when you first recall that event? How do you know which memories to keep and which aren’t worth retaining? When is a memory triggered? How come sounds and smells powerfully spark memory? I intentionally did not investigate brain or memory science for the show, instead I used , using my own observations and life for my research.


Albert Einstein says “Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events.” I discovered that it is impossible for me to pinpoint the moment of impact when a memory begins. Fellow artist, sound designer and developer, Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., says memories are story generating engines. I’m not sure which comes first, the memory or the story. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s just the cycle of story telling. Either way, I’ve decided I can’t have a story without a memory. I can’t begin to build, refine or rewrite a story without a memory. For the last four years I’ve been working with untangling, spirals and scribbles as a metaphor for Self and found these symbols lent themselves well to the show. As a result, I’ve created a series of encaustic paintings that represent a memory or series of memories that are either the genesis of a story or are influencing an already existing story. Some paintings are complex and layered while others are simple, even stark. I chose colors to represent the building of different story lines and I incorporated sound into the show since sounds are a powerful catalyst to trigger memory. These marks are metaphors for memory.


A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen. - Edward de Bono

Encaustic, 12” x 12”, $427

Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart. - Haruki Murakami, “Kafka on the Shore”

Encaustic, 12” x 16”, $577

Some memories are realities, and are better than anything esle that can ever happen to one again. -Willa Sibert Cather

Encaustic, 12” x 16”, $577


As memory may be a paradise from which we cannot be driven, it may also be a hell from which we cannot escape. -John Lancaster Spalding

Encaustic, 8” x 8”, $197

Footfalls echo in the memory down the passage which we did not take toward the door we never opened. -T.S. Elliot

Encaustic, 11” x 28”, $927


What sticks to memory, often, are those odd little fragments that have no begining and no end... -Tom O’Brien, “The Things They Carried”

Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.

Encaustic, 6” x 6”, $117

-Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Encaustic, 12” x 12”, $427

No memory is ever alone; it’s at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations. -Loius L’Amour

Encaustic, 24” x 12”, $867


Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.

Time moves in one direction, memory in another. -William Gibson

Encaustic, 6” x 6”, $117

-Lionel Hampton

Every man’s memory is his private literature. -Aldous Huxley

Encaustic, 8” x 8”, $197

Encaustic, 8” x 8”, $197


The leaves of memory seems to make a mournful rusting in the dark. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Encaustic, 12” x 12”, $427

Memory is deceptive because it is colored by today’s events. -Albert Einstein

Encaustic, 16” x 16”, $767


It’s surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. -Barbara Kingsolver

Encaustic, 6”x 6”, $117

If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today. -E. Joseph Cossman

Encaustic, 6”x 6”, $117

Most of our childhood is stored not in photos, but in certain biscuits, lights of day, smells, textures of carpet. -Alain de Botton

Encaustic, 12”x 12”, $427


If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song. -Khalil Gibran

Encaustic, 12” x 12”, $427

I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again. -F. Scott Fitzgerald, “This Side of Paradise”

Encaustic, 24” x 12”, $867


He was still to young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past. -Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Love in the Time of Cholera”

Encaustic, 12” x 16”, $577

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. -Michel de Montaigne

Encaustic, 12” x 12”, $427


Memory is the library of the mind. -Francis Fauvel-Gourand

The existence of forgetiing has never been proved: We only know that some things don’t come to mind when we want them. -Friedrich Nietzsche

Encaustic, 6” x 6”, $117

Encaustic, 11” x 14”, $577

It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant... Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just buy something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard... -Wilson Rawls, “Where the Red Ferns Grows”

Encaustic, 10” x 10”, $317


Lisa Sonora Beam


My paintings are created as part of a committed creative practice that encompasses writing, meditation, and keeping richly illustrated, collaged and layered sketchbooks that document the inner journey of making ideas real. For several years I’ve been experimenting with visual memoir — a new genre that encompasses all of my practices while providing the reader with inspiration and ideas for creating their own stories. Since childhood, I’ve kept visual diaries in blank sketchbooks—my writing illustrated with drawings, collage and photographs. As a therapist in psychiatric hospitals, I began to teach others how to use expressive writing and image-making for healing and insight. When I hit a wall with significantly traumatized girls, finding that talk therapy got us nowhere, I showed them how to keep their own sketchbooks—what I did to feel better when I was a kid. Since then, I’ve shared my process with thousands of people—from teen delinquents in jail, stalled artists, engineers running global technology companies, genocide survivors in Rwanda, and all types of creative souls in between. Everyone benefits from having permission, and a process, for confronting the blank page of their life. Teaching and guiding others in their creative process is as much my art as any of my paintings, books, or other creations. Lisa Sonora is an American artist living in Oaxaca City, Mexico. Her books include The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real (Quarry, 2008) and Sketchbooks: My Personal Creative Practice (Volumme, 2013) Her artwork and musings on creativity + travel + courage can be found at LisaSonora.com


Artist Statement In Beyond the Story, 108 paintings are shown from a larger collection spanning over 1,000 works created as part of a creative practice marathon. Each painting in this series takes as it’s title some kind of disorder or condition culled from American human behavior encyclopedias from the 1960’s. The moment I found the encyclopedias at a Los Angeles yard sale, I knew that I would paint and write directly into them. Rewriting old stories into something new.


The encyclopedias reminded me of the thick Diagnostic and Statistical Manuals that marked my passage from teenage psych ward inmate to a streetwise music and art therapist. By the time I was the one holding the keys to the locked psychiatric wards and charting on my own teenage patients, I had doubts about the powers of psychotherapy to heal. What helped me the most were two things: Making art and practicing meditation. A long, circuitous path, filled with detours and adventures that would lead me away from my profession as a therapist almost as soon as it began. As I ripped page after page of the encyclopedias to use in my paintings, it was sobering to grasp just how many conditions filled these volumes. How delicate is the balance of the human organism, and yet most of us are in fair enough working order. The figures in the paintings (many see them as Buddhas) represent the person sitting with what is: the ups and downs of life, the myriad human conditions that affect us all, directly or indirectly at one time or another. They also represent the Buddha nature of the meditator. What are the stories that shape us? Consciously or not? What are the old stories that we carry with us, and how are we burdened by the past?  What are new stories we wish to inhabit, that give meaning to ways we’ve suffered? How can we recast ourselves as the heroine of our own journey? 


Circumstantiality

Emotion (General)

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

6” x 9”, $300

6” x 9”, $300


Causalgia

Family Size

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

6” x 9”, $300

6” x 9”, $300


Field Theory

Logorrhea

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

6” x 9”, $300

6” x 9”, $300


Mania Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard. 6” x 9”, $300

Mental Impairment Tests Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard. 6” x 9”, $300


Cotard’s Syndrome

Daydreaming

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

Acrylic paint, paper and behavioral science encyclopedia page on found cardboard.

6” x 9”, $300

6” x 9”, $300


Looking to Inspire and Collaborate Are you interested in exploring your own story? We’d love to hear from you. You could take a journey through writing, painting, journaling, dance, poety, theatre, song, or any other way that feels right to you. We want to build a community of explorers. We may offer experiences where we can come together and inspire each other. More shows in collaboration with other creatives are definitely a possibility. Tell us what you are interested in.


Ways to Connect: Come to the project page for latest information www.christinemartell.com/beyond-story-exploring-visual-memoir/ Email Christine: cm@christinemartell.com On Facebook, Instagram or Twitter use the hashtag #beyondthestory

Share the Project with Others Do you know other creatives who might be interested? Know of a space that might be perfect for a show, workshop or event? We’d love it if you would point people our way. Link to this show catalog Link for our Beyond The Story project page

A Creative Response to the Show Matt Blair collaborated with Rebecca and Christine to create soundscapes to accompany the work. He then built an app, which is currently available on the iTunes app store. There is a website where you can follow the development and release (and experience a web based taste for those of you without iPhones) at www.beyondthestoryapp.com


Matt Blair


Matt Blair is a writer, software developer, and sound artist. He has been a freelance technology consultant and programmer since 1997, and has been using computers to make and mix sounds for nearly twenty-five years. Recent local projects include iPhone apps and mobile websites that explore Portland’s history, public art, heritage trees, and poetry boxes. In 2010, Matt started Elsewise, a company that makes tools for creators and life-long learners. He is currently working on projects which explore the relationship between sound and language, and dynamic soundscapes that highlight aspects of the built and natural environment. Though he is classicallytrained as a musician, and spent years performing various genres — from 16th Century madrigals to acoustic folk to free improv to pop and ambient — his abiding interest remains the nature of sound itself. A list of projects, and more information, may be found at: http://mattblair.net Matt lives in Portland, Oregon.


Artist Statement What is a sound artist doing in a project with the subtitle “Exploring Visual Memoir”? Rebecca Shapiro and I have been discussing ideas around the use of sound in public art for several months now, and the sounds created for this show are the first time we’ve put our ideas into practice. In our conversations, we’ve been exploring a lot of questions: How does sound inflect our experience of the visual? How does sound trigger and provoke memory? Do we remember sounds as well as we remember sights and flavors and scents? How can we introduce sound into an ostensibly quiet public space like a library? And since we are packaging the sound as an app, how does the app then become an extension of the show? We arrived at the concept of a digital catalog as a wrapper around individual soundscapes to accompany each artist’s work.The visual artists recorded sounds, and gave them to me, along with sounds they found online. These became a palette for me to use as I assembled sonic backdrops for their work. The soundscapes will continue to evolve over the two months that the show is on display. The sound portion of the show is very much a work in progress. The sound app is available for the iphone on the itunes store. You can hear the sound online or link to the app at http://www.beyondthestoryapp.com


When I started composing my own soundscape for the app for this show, I had only seen Rebecca’s pieces. From that starting point, my mind immediately went to orbits and cycles, and then descended to the more mundane patterns of walking. From the celestial to the peripatetic. The melodic/harmonic sounds are derived from an extremely reduced version of one of J.S. Bach’s two-part inventions — the kind of thing that wanders through my head as I walk and think. These musical sounds and fragments form a descant over the sound bed of footsteps on gravel trails paired with the tidal, inescapable flow of traffic. The images I’ve included in my segment of the app are not original. They are culled from historical astronomy texts, and depict centuries of effort by European and Northern African scientists and philosophers as they tried to understand the irregularity of planetary orbits. When they discovered that these orbits didn’t match the divine, perfect circles they expected, they looked for ways to explain away the wobbles and deviations. One solution was epicycles: circles within circles.The cyclic structure of all of these soundscapes is very much inspired by this: a celebration of these subtle wobbles and warbles and deviations from the expected. So what does all this have to do with memoir? I don’t think of my own story as a line. Rather, I often experience memory as an evolving tableau of looped sensations from different moments and phases of my life, replayed at different speeds, fading in and out, overlapping, sometimes reinforcing, sometimes in tension with one another. These loops represent the cycles of intention and aspiration, the cycles of friendships and relationships, the cycles of creative work and frustration, of moving and staying, of learning and forgetting and learning again — cycles inherent in every kind of human effort and endeavor. This, then, is a part of a life, reimagined as the aggregate of all those memories as they transit their idiosyncratic orbits around my head — not unlike the orbits of all the planets, comets, and stars we live within.


Comments? I’d love to hear from you. Email: cm@christinemartell.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/christinemartell Twitter: http:// www.twitter.com/cmartell Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinemartell Google+: http://plus.google.com/+christinemartell Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cmartell/

Beyond The Story: Exploring Visual Memoir  

An art show with three writers who are also visual artists Christine Martell, Rebecca Shapiro, Lisa Sonora Beam and one who is also a sound...