Friday, January 30, 2015

My Mother and Betty Crocker, mixed Media, 2014.

This piece was created for Eating Cultures, an art exhibition by the Asian American Women Artists Association curated by Margo Machida.

I adapted a chapter from my memoir-in-progress and replaced Jane Wyatt, the all-knowing TV mom in Father Knows Best with Betty Crocker, the cookbook icon that General Mills created to sell enriched flour, and later Bisquick and cake mix.

The 1950s pink stove is covered with found objects: 1980s Woo and Locke refrigerator magnets of hot dogs, hamburgers and Chinese take-out,

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Visceral Memory

One needn’t live through an experience to store it within one’s bones.
Japanese American children born in the late 1940s and early 1950s inherited not only the trauma of their families’ incarceration in American concentration camps, but by the memory of the bright atomic flashes that ended World War II. Even if one didn't have family in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, the retinas of the imagination were irradicably seared.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Solo show: Ephemeral Allure at UC Santa Barbara Women's Center

Ephemeral Allure; Eternal Struggle
UCSB Women's Center, Nov. 2, 2011 - Feb. 3, 2012
Forty years ago, when Ms. magazine was founded and the Equal Rights Amendment sought ratification, women knew they were oppressed. The external barriers were well-defined: they were expected to be wives and mothers, discouraged from going to college, denied advancement in the workplace and reproductive control over their own bodies. The list goes on and on.  

Gains have been made, but true equality remains elusive. Today's barriers are much less obvious, and consumerist distractions are insidiously seductive.

These 39 artworks contrast my paintings from the early 1980s with recent photographs to ask "How much progress has been made? Can women really have it all? Or do we need to choose carefully what we buy into? The fight for true freedom begins within." 

Ephmeral Allure opening

When I was their age, sensible shoes and natural fibers were not a fashion statement; they were a  move towards healthy and affordable lifestyles. Today's young women may be liberated from corsets and pantyhose but are tooth whiteners and nail spas an improvement?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

High Country News Article

Whoo-hoo! Ben and I have been asked to work on an upcoming New Orleans atlas being shepherded by Rebecca Solnit's friend Rebecca Snedecker. We're already plotting roadtrips.

High Country News magazine has a fabulous article about the Laramie atlas, complete with images of seven maps and sound bites of the writers describing their concepts.

But you have to visit the exhibit to see Meghan Cochran's mordantly funny 3D  responses to Kristen Gunther's map of taxidermy and guns. Kristen's map put us on the trail of the jackalope on our last day in Laramie. More later.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Laramie: A Gem City Atlas - continued

" Laramie: A Gem City Atlas" is a project of  the University of Wyoming's MFA program in creative writing. The project was launched by Rebecca Solnit's  four-week visit to Alyson Hagy’s graduate seminar.

Inspired by the visionary author of "Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas."  The student writers pondered various facets of Laramie, and teamed up with local artists and with "Infinite City" cartographers Ben Pease and Shizue Seigel. The result is an intriguing set of maps and artwork that delve into the multiplicity of views that layer any location. 

What is the third largest city in the most thinly populated state in the continental U.S.? A 
Wild West town, a college town, a railroad town, the county seat? These maps ponder the effects of global warming and cold war, the costs of healthcare, the uses of guns, the history of violence and traces of the East in the West.

Cold War, Warm Planet

To accompany an essay by Kathryn Flagg. Illustration by Kelsey Giroux, graphic production by Shizue Seigel, cartography by Ben Pease,
Writer's statement: This map juxtaposes the extent of beetle kill in southeastern Wyoming's forests with the locations of decommissioned nuclear missile silos. One illustrates the landscape of Cold War-era policies that brought nuclear warheads to Wyoming, and continues to fund silos still in operation; the other examines the bark beetle epidemic that is ravaged Wyoming's forests, spurred on in part by a warming climate.
In examining these spaces, I hope to answer several questions: What is a landscape of anticipated disaster? What feelings do these landscapes provoke in us? And also, what nuances do we overlook when we assign mark a landscape as belonging to "disaster"?

Birds, Birding and Birders

To accompany an essay by Tshering Dema. Art by Gabrielle Reeves.
Writer's statement: Laramie with its vast expanse of sagebrush, aspens, conifers, and riparian areas is a haven to a variety of birds. The water fowl—ducks, geese, teals, shovelers, pintails, swans, grebes, herons, pelicans, egrets, terns, shore birds, and gulls—swim and wade in the ponds, rivers, and lakes of Laramie. Other birds like falcons, hawks, and eagles soar in Laramie’s skies looking for food on the ground from their high vantage point. Male Sage grouse strut and dance in their leks, in an open field surrounded by sage brush, to impress the females. Woodpeckers, with their chisel shaped bills, drill the soft cottonwood trees and dead Aspen to find a nesting place. From a distance, mourning dove calls “coo-OO-oo,” as I walk on Garfield Street heading downtown. Songs and calls of other songbirds accompany me as I walk from my apartment at twenty-second street to get to the University. Outside the Wyoming Hall, a Brown Creeper clings to the bark of the conifer, using its stiff tail for extra support as it probes the bark with its long decurved bill looking for insects while House sparrows greet everyone at the entrance of the library.

Each of these birds symbolizes different things to me. Some have cultural significance in my life while I associate others with different places and events. By birding, I find a way to relate to this foreign culture: Through these common creatures, I find beauty in our cultural differences. The strange yet wonderful culture of birders and birding is fascinating, but also grounded in a curiosity and passion with the natural world to which I can easily relate.

Birds, Birding and Birders

Concept by Tshering Dema. Art by Elizabeth Cochran

An Apple a Day

To accompany an essay by Alyson Hagy. Illustration by Valerie Pexton, cartography by Ben Pease, design and production by Shizue Seigel.
Wrtier's statement: Laramie is a small Western city situated on the high, dry plains. It is very hard to nurture certain things in Laramie. Humans didn't even try to live here year round until the Union Pacific Railroad came through in 1868.
What is precious in Laramie? Many things are. But medical care (particularly primary care) and fruit trees are among the most prized--and difficult--things that can be sustained. So I have created a map that begins to map apple/crabapple trees and important healthcare sites in town.
I want people to think more carefully about the complexities of healthcare access in Wyoming (i.e. How many of us depend on government support. How our population is aging. How expensive insurance can be in a rural state.) and compare it, perhaps, to the rare care that fruit trees require to survive in this tricky environment.

Quarries and Climbing

Concept and research by Paula Ann Wright, drawings by Paul Wright and alex borgen, cartography by Ben Pease, design by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: The university campus began with the construction of Old Main, completed in 1897, and is formed of rock quarried from just outside Laramie city proper. This type of stone, a rose-colored sandstone, also makes up several of the other buildings around campus and in the downtown district, and is said to reflect the character of the greater Laramie landscape, including the “mass” and “ragged cliffs.” "Quarries and Climbing" details the local quarries and some of the buildings they were used to construct around campus and juxtaposes paths into the vertical with paths below the Earth's surface. 

Geography of Strays: A 2010 Census
To accompany an essay by Mary Katherine McCarney, cartography by Ben Pease, Design by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: Laramie Animal Control keeps an arrival log that includes an entry for every animal in residence. Each page features 32 one-line entries for 32 incoming animals. The 2010 log is 40 pages long. The arrival log is potentially an actionable dataset and certainly an intriguing one. Pattern recognition is the first step in solving many problems, as perhaps it will be for Laramie’s unwanted animals. Within the raw numbers (the totals and divisions) and the obvious statistics (the averages and trends), patterns emerge, questions about Laramie’s pet population are asked and answered. A branch of mathematics—combinatorics—studies the structures that emerge through the act of counting. The best known application of combinatorics is a census, a catalogue of populations, their attributes and geographies. The geography of strays, a census of at-risk animals, is a proxy for understanding how a city struggles and prospers.

Animal Control, Laramie, WY

Art by Courtney Googe to accompany Mary Katherine McCarney's essay, "Geography of Strays: A 2010 Census"

Ghosts and Cottonwoods

Artistic response by Tessa Dallarosam who writes: My piece is a response to Tasha's concept to map cottonwoods and ghost stories in the Laramie area. What I liked most about Tasha's concept is how many ghost stories remain in the town of Laramie, despite the fact that the current residents may be unaware of the supposed haunting of their home. These tales continue to be told, long after a building has been moved or demolished. The rings within a cottonwood's trunk seem symbolic of these stories, both hidden and housed. Just as a story changes over time, expanding in embellishment and contracting as memory fades, so too do the wispy lines within a cottonwood tree take on new shapes with the development of the expanding spiral.

Wild Wild East

To accompany "Wild Wild East: Finding Asia in the West (An Essay in Parts)," by LuLing Osofsky, design by Pauiius Staniunas, cartography by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: This map aims to highlight the surprising prevalence and diversity of Asian traces found in Laramie. Like many college towns in America, Laramie’s downtown is dotted with a handful of Asian restaurants, as well as studios for yoga, martial arts, and acupuncture. But setting it apart, Laramie sits in the high plains. The bucking bronco is ubiquitous; the town’s old lore teems with lawlessness. Truth or myth, or mixed, it’s the Wild West. Yet, you may now eat Chinese take-out and curry and sushi, practice yoga, drive a Japanese car, drink chai, take an Asian religions class at the University, get your eyebrows threaded, and so on. Thus this map aims to capture the presence of Asia, as well as the unique and ironic interplay between ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ influences, asking us to rethink just how much of Asia has been integrated into Laramie and our daily lives.

 怀俄明 (Wyoming)

To accompany an essay by LuLing Osofsky. Concept by LuLing Osofsky, artwork by Tristan Ahtone.
Writer's statement: Like the American flag, or the Wyoming flag, Chairman Mao too is an icon. He is a symbol of China’s power, perhaps merciless and totalitarian. Mainstream America has a fascinating and dialectical relationship with the East: the simultaneous fear of its rising strength and domination, and an intrigue, or at least a convenient commodification, of its culture. But what does it mean when 70% of goods in Walmart are made in China? How should it feel to buy a tshirt with the words “American Patriot” sewn across it, made in Bangladesh? Is that irony worrisome, or just funny?
When we raise the flag, and pledge allegiance to it, what are we hailing, swearing loyalty to? In a largely material world, where we spend our money is where we, intentionally or not, proclaim our allegiance. The state flag represents the buffalo as “once the monarch of the plains.” Who are the new monarchs of our lives, our money and our time?

 Female Trouble

To accompany an essay by Kelly Ann Herbison. Illustration by Jessica Tanguay, cartography by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: The 2010 census revealed that Wyoming had the largest gender wage gap in the country, with women making an average 64 cents to the dollar. The national average is 77 cents. I found this to be peculiar considering that Wyoming is nicknamed "The Equality State" for the great strides the legislature took towards women's rights in the 1870's, long before any other state in the union. The first woman to vote in the US did so in Laramie. One of the largest wage gaps is in the health care sector, partly due to the fact that more women hold jobs as nurses and more men hold jobs as doctors. As an entomologist, this situation reminded me of the poor reputation of a group of all female insects, the ants (there are males, but they're only around long enough to mate). Both ants and nurses serve roles as caretakers in Laramie and both are under-appreciated for the important roles they play for the community of Laramie. This map aims to reveal the abundance of undervalued female work that transcends species boundaries.

Racks and Rifles
To accompany "A Scavenger Hunt," an essay by Kristen Elizabeth Gunther. Design by Shizue Seigel.

Writer's statement: In this map, I highlight public locations featuring taxidermy, as well as locations in which guns are shot, stored, or sold. Laramie occupies a tenuous place on the plains -- an established settlement on land that, in many ways, has always demanded migration, transience. This map is meant to raise questions about our relationship and interactions with the environment, particularly those related to human-wildlife and predator-prey interactions.


Meghan Rowswell’s artistic response to Racks and Rifles map

Saloons and Salons

To accompany an essay Jacklynn Pham. Art and design and Jacklynn Pham, cartography by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: This map of the saloons in and salons directly subverts the narrative of Laramie as a wild, western town. By showing that Laramie has twenty 23 bars (includes bars, pubs, and lounges), but 34 beauty salons (includes hair, nails, and tanning services) it contrasts the idea of a hearty, rough-and-tumble, beer-drinking, knee-slapping, horse-riding, truck-driving, “forever west” Laramie with Laramie the modern, domesticated, commercial, and vain. It confronts viewers with a comparison in order to tell a different story, Laramie: The Wild and the Fabulous.

Velocity, Ferocity, and the Gem City

To accompany an essay by Chavawn Kelley. Artwork by Travis ivey, design and production by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: If you wanted to know Laramie, you could start with the bullet hole in the mirror at the Buckhorn Bar. Overlaid on a map of the city, its dominant vertical crack aligns with the Union Pacific Railroad and its curved horizontal crack takes in the sweep of Interstate 80, situating the point of impact at approximately First and Garfield. The circumference of the bullet hole takes in the locations of a triple hanging, the former Fireside Lounge, and the tourism board promoting Laramie’s outlaw past. The Buckhorn Bar also makes it into this ballistic eye we ask to be the mirror of Laramie’s soul.

Velocity, Ferocity, and the Gem City
Key map. Concept and resarch by Chavawn Kelley. Art by Travis ivey, design and production by Shizue Seigel

 Landmarks, Landscape

To accompany an essay by Katie B. Booms. Illustration by Katie Booms, cartography by Shizue Seigel.
Writer's statement: Here in Wyoming, we're surrounded by these famously beautiful mountains, and the mountains, openness, and altitude seem integral to Laramie's character. But it's also easy to lose sight of the mountains if you stay within the city, and it seems strange to define a place based on the views or access it offers of somewhere else. This map is attempts to show Laramie in the context of its environment, mapping both spots where you can see the mountains and what you might use as landmarks when the mountains aren't in view.

Many Homes: Five American Indians Map Wyoming

Concept by Kristen Eixabeth Gunther. Photography by Kristen Gunther and Shizue Seigel, cartography and design by by Shizue Seigel.
This is the map of Wyoming generated by five American Indian students when asked to pinpoint the locations they believed were most important in the state. Four of the students are originally from the Wind River Reservation, while a fifth hails from the Crow Reservation in Montana. The lines on the map represent the students' travel routes to their various homes, both past and present, starting from their current homes in Laramie.

Cartographic Collapse I

To accompany an essay by Irina Zhorov, design by Tristan Ahtone. 
Writer's Statement: I use familiar and personal maps to drive a more theoretical exploration of maps and the purposes they serve. I hope to encourage both viewers of the maps as well as readers of the essay to (re)consider the assumed objectivity of maps and the reasons behind a particular map's creation and existence.

Cartographic Collapse II

By Irina Zhorov & Tristan Ahtone, to accompany an essay by Irina Zhorov.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Laramie: A Gem City Atlas - in progress

My partner, Ben Pease, and I had the privilege of being the cartographers on Rebecca Solnit’s Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas, a brilliant collection of essays and maps that explore the layers of meaning that cohabit a location. Rebecca was invited to  the University of Wyoming as an Eminent Writer in Residence. She inspired Alyson Hagy’s graduate creative writing students to create Laramie: A Gem City Atlas. Ben and I were invited along to help the students create maps to go with their essays.

The writers choose topics and researched locations that we placed onto a base map of Laramie. They then looked for artists to embellish their maps. To give the students some notion of possibilities, I created some responses to their data. The writers are working with artists now to create responses of their own. We’re working with them long distance to help them marry art with maps, and I'm looking forward to the exhibition of Laramie: A Gem City Atlas, opening May 2 at the University of Wyoming Art Museum.

Tasha LeClair’s idea was to combine locations of ghost sightings with Laramie's ubiquitious cottonwood trees.

And Luling Osofsky searches for signs of Asia in the Wild West.