Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weapons of Mass Construction

To make the "bells" which have become flower-like, I need a variety of snips and scissors. Two of these are on loan, and I am so greatful to have them. They have saved my hands. As of today, I have at least 600 full pieces done, 400 more tops to finish off with wire tomorrow. Over 650 more to go after that is done, but by now it's a lot easier since I have broken in my arms. My right arm is beginning to look like Popeye's with all of the piercing, cutting, folding and twisting!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Recycle Night Is All Right!

Tonight was our local recycling and trash night. You really get to know your neighbors when you are asking for their trash.

I have lived in my neighborhood for over three years and just met a few people on my block for the first time a week ago because of this project. I didn't know one neighbor who is trying to sell his house, so we talked about the state of the economy. Matthew knows me well now and puts his beer and soda cans in a bag to make it easier for me to carry. Very sweet! We talk about art and his kids and I think he waits for me on Wednesdays now. The neighbor to our left, Charles, is an avid gardner and we talk over the fence all of the time. He's a diabetic who likes his soda and tries out different kinds to see what works well with his blood sugar levels. Tonight we talked about the difference between diet Pepsi and Coke Zero on his system. Pepsi is winning, but a real Cherry Coke would make him happy.

First Test

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Idea

The idea for "The Bells Ring for Thee" came from the presentation artist Jay Critchley and Robert O. Jones of the Preservation Society gave when a call went out to do projects for the North Burial Ground. Those present took a tour through this cemetary of ornate stones, with a history going back to the beginning of Rhode Island. When the Potters Field came up, I learned that it was also called the "Strangers Vale" and the name stuck with me.

I live down the street from the cemetary and passed through the burial ground many times for a walk or a ride on my bike. There are many trees, a pond and the ornate stones are like art to me. But going to the back of the cemetary, where the Potters Field is located, never occurred to me. Why go? Only numbers on stones, a little dishelveled with time.. a lonely place next to the highway, within view of the Bonanza bus terminal. Those who are buried there have no names, just a number; a body lost with time and a bad turn in life.

I thought this part of the cemetary deserves just as much attention as the rest. So I started thinking about artful and poetic associations with untimely death. Bells kept coming to my mind and I kept hearing blues songs, poems by Edgar Allen Poe and the final scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" with Zuzu Bailey saying, "Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings." I wanted this place to sing,too, to let the voices come out again.

I take a walk every day in my neighborhoood and collect what I find to make sculptures and textile art. I decided to collect cans around the cemetary and in my neighborhood to tread lightly with my materials. Everything will be recycled or repurposed when the show ends.

Cryptic Providence

I will be creating a site-specific piece for this summer-long project in Providence, Rhode Island. My intention is to bring the public along the way with my creation of the piece, working in the studio and outside. My work will be located in an area that needs to be mowed, so it will be going up and down all summer. I will create a video so if someone comes on a mowing day, they can look at it online. The press release is below:

"The historic North Burial Ground in Providence, Rhode Island will host a summer long art and performance project by Provincetown artist Jay Critchley, entitled Cryptic Providence. Fifteen projects from visual artists and performers from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Ontario, Canada and New York City were invited by Critchley to create original, site-specific installations and performances throughout the cemetery.

Cryptic Providence opens Friday the 13th of with performances on the first two weekends. The cemetery is located at 5 Branch Avenue (at North Main Street) and is open to the public seven days a week from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm daily. All events are free and open to the public. For more information contact ArtTix at, 401 621-6123.

Visual artists creating summer long, site-specific installations include: Critchley’s Final Passage−a vintage Chevy “mummified” and installed in the abandoned mausoleum; from Brooklyn, Joseph Burwell’s archeological mausoleum installation, The Purity of the Vikings; Justin Pollmann’s disintegrating text installation, We Live, Brooklyn; artists and designers from Michigan and Ontario, Canada: Rochelle Martin, Valentine Mancini & Jay McGuire who construct a place of repose, Message Board; filmmakers Sandrine Silverman & Alfred Schoeninger, Quincy, MA, Our Stones Last Beyond Our Years.

Rhode Island artists include: installation artist Rebecca Siemering, Pawtucket, The Bells Ring for Thee, activates Potter’s Field with handmade bells; Erik Carlson & Erik Gould, new media artists from Pawtucket and Providence with the web-based, geo-tagged, Strange Loop: An Ethereal Walking Tour of the North Burial Ground; visual artist Jae Willard, Barrington, constructs an eight-foot, mixed media Tree of Life; installation artist Jen Raimondi, East Greenwich, creates a flock turkey vultures with Big Hair; and from Providence; historian and project consultant Robert O. Jones creates an historic guide; Nancy Austin, Newport, & Caroline Woolard, NYC, Footnotes −a tribute to Albert J. Jones (1821-1887), The forgotten founder of RI's first “Art Museum”.

Cryptic Providence performances are scheduled for Friday, June 13, the opening, from 5:00 to 10:00 pm; Saturday, June 14 from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm; June 21 from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm; and the closing weekend, Saturday, Setember 27. Performances include: dancer/choreographer Wanda Gala, Brooklyn, & sound artist Bob Bellerue, Oregon, collaborate on a durational movement/sound piece in the mausoleum, The Blue Storm; Hannah Verlin, Boston, Nest Eggs, an installation of burning ceramic eggs; JUMP! Dance with Mary Paula Hunter, A Grave Dance; musicians Arvid Tomayko-Peters & Christie Lee Gibson from Brown perform a voice and electroacoustic Requiem Mass; Constance Crawford directing the Coalition of Perishable Goods from Perishable Theatre, presenting a multi-site narrative, Otherworldly Voices.

Cryptic Providence is funded by a New Works grant from the Rhode Island Foundation and sponsored by the City of Providence Parks Department and the Department of Art, Culture & Tourism, with support from AS220. The Rhode Island Foundation’s New Works program was established to support artists in the creation of original art and exploration of new artistic directions. The program awarded grants from 2000 to 2005 to artists partnering with nonprofit arts and community-based organizations to expand the state’s cultural richness, develop new audiences and strengthen community connections to the arts.

Selected artists will examine and interpret the history of North Burial Ground, established in 1700, and burial practices in relation to the rich history of Rhode Island. The project also hopes to create new ideas, perspectives and images about our relationship to death, dying and burial customs, and bring increased visitation and use of the cemetery by highlighting the historical and cultural resources of North Burial Ground."