Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…


2 Comments

Prisoner Ai Weiwei…

The art that drew us to Alcatraz…an exhibition of the work of the Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei.IMG_7860

From the catalog: “At first blush, @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, a major exhibition that pairs a politically charged Chinese contemporary artist with a landmark American national park, seems just as incongruous. Ai, a superstar in the international art world who helped design the “Bird’s Nest” stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is currently forbidden by the authorities to leave China. Alcatraz—over the years the site of a Civil War-era fortress, a military prison, a notorious federal penitentiary, and a momentous Native American rights protest—is now a popular national park site and refuge for waterbirds. But it is exactly the pairing’s intrinsic conditions of contradiction that bring the two parts together-and make for the possibility of soul-stirring art.”

After arriving at the dock, we walked up to the New Industries Building which was originally a laundry and manufacturing facility.

“Both delicate and fearsome, the traditional Chinese dragon kite embodies a mythical symbol of power. Ai Weiwei unfurls a spectacular contemporary version of this age-old art form inside the New Industries Building: a sculptural installation with an enormous dragon’s head and a body made up of smaller kites. The sparrow-shaped and hexagonal kites scattered throughout the room feature stylized renderings of birds and flowers—natural forms that allude to a stark human reality: many are symbols of nations with serious records of restricting their citizens’ rights and civil liberties. The work references some thirty countries, including Cameroon, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uzbekistan.

…By confining the work inside a building once used for prison labor, the artist suggests powerful contradictions between freedom and restriction, creativity and repression, cultural pride and national shame. He also offers a poetic response to the multi-layered nature of Alcatraz as a former penitentiary that is now an important bird habitat and a site of thriving gardens.”

With Wind (Installation, 2014. Handmade kites made of paper, silk, and bamboo)

IMG_7873

IMG_7874 IMG_7882 IMG_7881 IMG_7878 IMG_7877

IMG_7919 IMG_7920

IMG_7875IMG_7879IMG_7889IMG_7890IMG_7884

Somebody I know was looking for birds out those windows and admiring the view to the Golden Gate…

IMG_7887

IMG_7885

In the next large room:

IMG_7892

Trace (Installation, 2014. LEGO plastic building blocks)

“The viewer is confronted with a field of colorful images laid out flat across the expansive floor: portraits of over 170 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled due to their beliefs or affiliations, most of whom were still incarcerated as of June 2014.”

IMG_7893IMG_7895 IMG_7896IMG_7897 IMG_7898IMG_7902 IMG_7907

“From the New Industries Building’s lower gun gallery, where armed guards once monitored prisoners at work, visitors peer through cracked and rusted windows to glimpse an enormous, multifaceted metal wing on the floor below. Its design is based on close observation of the structure of real bird’s wings, but in place of feathers, the artwork bristles with reflective metal panels originally used on Tibetan solar cookers…this piece uses imagery of flight to evoke the tension between freedom—be it physical, political, or creative—and confinement.

Refraction (Installation, 2014. Tibetan solar panels, steel)

IMG_7922IMG_7923 IMG_7926IMG_7927

We walked through lush gardens up to the Cellhouse.

IMG_7931 IMG_7973 IMG_7975 IMG_7978 IMG_7983 IMG_7986

Inside was Blossom (Installation, 2014, Porcelain, hospital fixtures)

Fixtures in hospital ward cells and medical offices are transformed into fantastical, fragile porcelain bouquets.

IMG_7992porcelain2 porcelain

There were other parts to the exhibit inside but it was time for use to go look for birds in earnest…

Now I have run out of episodes with titles I can use the word “prisoner” in, so now I must bring this chapter to a close…


2 Comments

Prisoner of paper…

IMG_8084

I was so taken with our day on Alcatraz, I decided to make a book…what else could I do? This is a nice, simple structure I have wanted to try. I had a sheet of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. paper on hand so the idea stuck and I was imprisoned by it until the book was completed.

Here is the structure.

I tore 5 pieces of paper 6″ x 12″ out of a big sheet of the Fabriano paper. (I have found if you fold and crease the paper three times, back and forth, it tears quite beautifully and cleanly.)

IMG_8066

IMG_8049

Three inches from each side (long way) I scored and folded a flap…

IMG_8062

On the outside I put double-stick tape and stuck the flaps back to back. (This means there was a single 3″ flap, a 6″square, and a double 3″ flap until I had a long line of the pages attached together.

IMG_8069IMG_8070

So that the book closes as a 6″ square, I folded the first 3″ flap over the first 6″ square and then folded the next double flap around to the back and continued as it folded into a book shape.

IMG_8072

I decorated a 6th piece of paper with water-color and pen. (This piece was slightly longer, 12 1/4″, since it had to wrap around the very thick Fabriano paper and even then it didn’t quite meet in the middle. Mathematically it should have, but when it is Lois, the not-quite-precise, one just has to say “oh, that is the way I wanted it” and keep going…

The inside of the cover’s left-hand flap is attached to the outside of the first flap of the inner pages and the right-hand flap inside is attached to the outside of the last page. Both outside flaps meet on the front and are connected with a closure.

IMG_8075IMG_8083

I printed out the pictures I liked from our day on Alcatraz 5″ x 5″ onto presentation paper from Office Depot (it is a nice, matte, two-sided paper that is not as expensive as photo paper. The images are very clear and I use and like it a lot for printing with my inkjet printer.) Photos that were of textures I cut in half and attached to the 3″ flaps, leaving 5 of the 5″ x 5″ prints to be centered on the 6″ pages.

IMG_8077 IMG_8081 IMG_8080 IMG_8079 IMG_8078

IMG_8085IMG_8086 IMG_8087

Oh, and a little silver-striped washi tape because I just can’t help myself…

IMG_8097