August 17, 2009

Portraits of Chairs

I was 11. It was November. And the Monona Police Department called my mother to tell her that her brother, my uncle Paul, was dead due to suicide, due to shooting himself in the chest with a shotgun. But before they told her that, they asked her if her husband was nearby and they told her it was best to sit down. I did not know who had called, but I very distinctly remember her running from the kitchen, through the living room, and into her bedroom, phone in hand, calling out for my daddy. And I even more distinctly remember the sound she made when she cried out in what I can only imagine was pure agony. I ran in fear to my bedroom and sat on the floor in front of my bed. Later Daddy took me into their bedroom where I found Ma sitting on the green loveseat with brown leaves, crying. You see, sitting is comfort. And the chairs are the support.

So here I am, sixteen years later, sitting at my computer, sitting in my chair. I’m doing the boring part of Photoshop – cleaning all the dust from my negative – and I’m thinking to myself I better come up with something really profound because this is an important show. Really important. I start fiddling and I look down at my arm and wonder, “Why the hell did I just tattoo my favorite chair to my arm?” Permanently. I will now have the pleasure of this particular chair forever in my life—not to mention the mixed look of disbelief and disappointment when I answer the eager question “What’s that one mean?” with “It’s my favorite chair. I just like chairs a lot.” I look over at an old photograph pinned to my wall. My uncle Garry sits in a highchair and Grandma is feeding him breakfast. Ma sits there too, with pigtails, and Great-Grandma, my own namesake, is tending to Ma. This is my highchair. All four of us – Paul, Ma, Garry, and me, grew up in this highchair. And in time, my kid(s) will grow up in this chair, too.

I remember the hideous gold colored rocking chair Ma used to rock me to sleep in. This is also the same rocking chair that Daddy taught me to tell time in with a clock puzzle. I remember the stick that the piano bench held against my bare legs. I remember the creak Daddy’s leather office chair made if you moved even a centimeter. And I remember the blond colored pressed wood table and chairs set I had as a little girl. There I sat and played such games as grocery, library, and office. This set stayed in my bedroom through high school, and even then I was attempting to sit in the chairs that no longer fit.

I was around age 20 during my first major furniture purchase. I went to the Salvation Army in south Oklahoma City with Ma. I got a lime green, cream, and black striped low-to-the-ground 70s burlap sofa. I also found a metallic dark olive green recliner that I hoped would be as comfortable and nostalgic as the gold recliner I grew up in, but it was not. In fact, I never sat in it. This chair belonged solely to my bookbag and my cat. But my most prized purchase, the thing I simply cannot let go of, is an incomplete kitchen set. Pressed fake wood table, round, with rusted bolts that keep the legs on. And three chairs. The middle bars under the chair legs are now falling apart, glue unhinging, and one of the chairs is split down the middle of the seat (caution: pinched thighs). These three are my special chairs.

My early years in college were when I began to sit a lot (due to chronic hip and leg pain), initiating my love affair and possession of my computer chair. I was paralyzed by the kind of depression that facilitates eating only $1.50 Mexican TV dinners, watching middle-of-the-night TV, and definitely only leaving the house to go to Wal-mart and buy more Mexican TV dinners. Sitting ameliorated the pain by a marginal fraction, but even a marginal fraction felt better than not.

To cope, I began a self-portrait project, including one of the kitchen chairs with me in the photographs. It was always the same one—the one that still had the most polish on it and least amount of cracks and breaks. I rarely sat in the chair—I mainly stood or sat next to it. My body became a ghost in those images, but never my chair. It was solid and visible, something stable and unmoving in what was my unpredictably emotional disaster of a life.

The summer I left for graduate school was the same summer that my photography mentor and close friend, Andy, was forced to move his studio space. While I only felt complete disorder and chaos—I had to climb over boxes, camping supplies, and tools to reach his couch—he felt inspired, at home, and comfortable. This was his space for over 20 years, and he was forced to move to a new studio a fraction of the size. There was no room. And thus, I inherited several of his chairs. His studio chairs became my studio chairs.

But the point is—and the truth is: I just love chairs. Mine especially, but also others. The first napoletan word I learned was chair. I like sitting. And I love stories. And the comfort that come from both of those actions. I love the person that gave me nearly every chair I own, and I love the people that now occupy them. All the stories that happen in them, like the ones I just told you. All the breakups and movies and books (facebooks and real books) and gossips and dinners, conversations, laughings, quick goodbye kisses, nailbitings, and wall-starings. All in this chair. My chair. It’s really important.

Portraits of Chairs

July 29, 2009


i photographed chairs. and it's important.

opening: saturday, august 1, 7-10 pm. gallery hop, roy g biv gallery

March 9, 2009

ricordare l'autunno

la rete (golfo di napoli, novembre 2008)

dove capivo quasi tutto, dove sentivo pace, dove ero senza problemi

e ti vengo a cercare

January 16, 2009

new work/still working

well, we are up and running here. i FINALLY got a scanner of my own!! slowly, but surely, i'll be scanning and color correcting. i have about 40 rolls from italy to organize first, and i need big tables to do that. so, i was going to head to the library today. however, it is, um, about -20 outside, so i am not leaving the house (as that is not only painful, it is also unsafe). as a comparison, it's low 50s in rome. i have yet to find one awesome thing about columbus compared to italy.

December 11, 2008

some sort of bitter sweet something

well, i'm broke as a joke, but apparently still manage to show my work in juried shows. how, i'm not sure. since i've graduated, i've been overwhelmed with the receipt of my work. now, even lucy lippard herself, mother of feminist art theory and criticism, has accepted me into the Analogous show in New Mexico. AND, i won honorable mention.

you can find these at runnels gallery, eastern new mexico university, january 30 through february 25, 2009:

December 1, 2008

la brutta ritorna

well, i'm "here", i'm "back". in columbus. splendid columbus. it's freezing out and raining. without sun. though, to be fair, we did have nasty days in italy too. it's not perfect 100% of the time, just most of the time. i've got about 40 rolls of film to process, 10 extra beautiful pounds, more friends, and an unwavering desire to move.

plan = work my ass off to save and then get the hell out of here. i don't care where, frankly. umbria and south. anywhere. as long as they speak italian, drink caffè all day long, and cook with olive oil. :)

napoli, michele, olimpia, luigi, leo, paolo, gabriele, barbara, said, alberto, gennaro, ciro, vanna, loredana, cecilia, alessandro, anna, marianna, sandrina, gianpaolo, rosa, e tutti gli altri: mi mancate.... assai!!!!!! non vedo l'ora quando posso ritornare.

September 11, 2008

5 weeks and counting

until i return to my "where-i-really-belong-homeland."

tentative plans include roma, napoli/capri, orvieto (e la campagna), e forse sicilia o puglia.

a presto.....!

September 3, 2008

A Sense of Place 2008

I have a piece in a show in Augusta, GA this fall. Since my printer is on the fritz, I also can't use the crappy scanner connected to it (?), so I don't have the real card to show. (Image below from the application).

Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art
Augusta, GA
September 19 - October 17, 2008
Opening Reception: Friday, September 19, 2008, 6-8 pm
Juror: Amanda Cooper

September 2, 2008

BRAVO: "Italy's dead man walking"

BBC story of napolitan author uncovering La Camorra: here

PLEASE read this!!! we must fight this imposed silence!

August 16, 2008

slowly but surely

i finally am breaking down and opening a youtube account. i've uploaded to blip as well. but today i was bored, and youtube is so damn ubiquitous, how could i not be a member??

so, here i am.

July 11, 2008


By Rachel Maria Berna...

you, too, can support my obsession with your very own purchase!!

May 29, 2008

mi manca

sometimes i forget just how much i miss it. you know how it hits you hard? it comes out of nowhere and you're paralyzed. i randomly stumbled across this photograph online.

dear napoli,
i'm sorry... i got so distracted. i forgot that every inch, every crack and crevice, every second of you is truly beautiful. i let my goals get distracted. i'll come back as soon as i can. how could i have ever left you???

May 11, 2008

il mare tra noi/the sea between us

All this time, I thought I could make you believe I didn’t need the answers – that this search was something bigger than myself. But instead I only lied to myself because I don’t have the answers. And to be perfectly honest, I’m completely lost. The dictionary says that space is unlimited and that is where everything exists. It also says space is empty. I wanted space to collapse between us. And all I feel is a gaping gully of space pushing upon me.

I exist here and there and maybe also nowhere. If I could just see the sea again: how it lasts for infinity, how it never fails me. How something doesn’t leave me. How loss seems so natural and maybe not so bad. There is space and nothing between us. I am myself and the opposite, I am space and not space.

Stavo cercando ciò che volevi, ma invece ho perso me stessa (Toscana o Umbria, Luglio 2007)
I was looking for what you wanted, but instead I lost myself (Tuscany or Umbria, July 2007)

Non Sapevo: forse io non ho capito. forse io non sapevo dove sono stata. (Tavernanova, Casalnuovo di Napoli, Dicembre 2007)
I Didn’t Know: maybe I did not understand. maybe I did not know where I was. (Tavernanova, Casalnuovo di Napoli, December 2007)

Prevedere il dolore, acquisire consapevolezza della perdita. Cosa dovrei dire? (Il mar tirreno, Agosto 2007)
Anticipating grief, realizing loss. What should I say? (Tyrrhenian Sea, August 2007)

L’abisso: perdere ciò che vedo (e perdere di più) (Caserta, Dicembre 2007)
The abyss: losing what I see (losing more) (Caserta, December 2007)

April 22, 2008


today for lunch
sauteed sweet onions
feta cheese
olive oil

grape juice mixed with sparkling water
(i'm too busy eating to take the foto)

last night for dinner
sauteed eggplant
red pepper
tomato (only at the end)
a lot of salt
olive oil
pasta corta

April 18, 2008

April 14, 2008


could there be anything more depressing than knowing berlusconi is president again?

8 years of bush and i have to deal with 5 more of berlusconi?

there is nothing less romantic than realizing that italy is full of conservative idiots just like the united states. i wanted to flee america's ignorance!!!!

horray for fascism! hooray for privatizing everything (including schooling)! hooray for corruption and greed! hooray for berlusconi!


(let's not even think about how many of his votes were mafiosa)

April 6, 2008

March 15, 2008

la pasta part 2

la pasta part 1

i am noticing a frequency with which i am preparing and consuming pasta. nearly every day. which is actually quite a significant milestone. somehow this signifies becoming italian to me now. when i go into the kitchen and wonder what to fix, and it becomes second nature to look for tomatoes, pull out the olive oil, and decide between spaghetti or rigatoni (which is my current favorite shape).

i want to tell you everything in italiano.

March 9, 2008

Plagued with memories I’d rather forget (like when I listen to The Smiths’ Louder than Bombs)

And you said to me:
“For this reason I say there is nosense in world and for this reason we are able to create what we want for us it is the story of infinity space there is no center so everyplace is in the same moment the center and the opposite of it so the only thing to do is to give our sense”

And now I know:
All that time I was anticipating grief and I watched you experience loss. And now, months later, I realize my own loss, a quasi experience, because I can’t really admit what happened. Maybe I will understand with time. I am myself and the opposite, I am space and not space. And there is space and nothing between us. I exist here and there and maybe also nowhere.

I am lost.

I wonder for how long I could float at sea, bobbing about, caressed by water licking my skin. How I become enveloped, encased. Every inch of me is covered in that liquidy ambiguity. How the waves will hold me, rock me, lullaby me into a peaceful space that has left my soul (I fear for how long). To be lost and to be comforted at the same time: this must be what I had needed, what I still need. When Fabio and I laid in bed, we would spoon and rock ourselves, swaying back and forth. It was innate, intuitive; our bodies moved involuntary into our rhythms. It wasn’t sexual.

In his loss and my own isolation, we existed insieme. Adesso, sono io da sola con nessuno per consolazione. I’ve left myself vulnerable without a way reclaim my potere. If I could just see the sea again, how it lasts for infinity, how it never fails me. How something doesn’t leave me. You said che mi vuoi bene, ma perchè?? Invece, sono confusa, sono smarrita. Non vivo in realtà. Rimango nell’abisso. Senza l’abbraccio del mare o di te.

March 1, 2008

non sapevo

forse io non ho capito; forse non sapevo dove sono stata

February 29, 2008

che bella!!!

le poesie di peppino impastato
(a perspective of the sea, of space, of time)

Lunga è la notte
e senza tempo.
Il cielo gonfio di pioggia
non consente agli occhi
di vedere le stelle.
Non sarà il gelido vento
a riportare la luce,
nè il canto del gallo,
nè il pianto di un bimbo.
Troppo lunga è la notte,
senza tempo,

I miei occhi giacciono
in fondo al mare
nel cuore delle alghe
e dei coralli.


Seduto se ne stava
e silenzioso
stretto a tenaglia
tra il cielo e la terra
e gli occhi
fissi nell'abisso


tra il cielo e la terra e gli occhi fissi nell'abisso!!!!

February 18, 2008

language isolation

it's too cliche, too easy, to say i fear the unknown

(herb says the sky is blue because the sea is)

sinking or maybe floating

can someone please tell me how i am lost and why am i lost? can someone please tell me where am i going and why i am going there?